The Message of Symbols Part 3

The last symbol I want to address in this brief series is the idea of Jesus coming on the clouds. There are references to the clouds Jesus mock trial prior to His crucifixion, His comments to those who saw Him depart after His resurrection and the broader scriptural context including Daniel and Psalms. First Jesus trial.

63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 What do you think?”

They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.” Matthew 26:63–66 (NKJV)

Here Jesus is accused of blasphemy. What did the high priest and others understand from what Jesus said? The answer is in Daniel’s vision and the Psalms.

13 “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. 14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13–14 (NKJV)

4 Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds, By His name Yah, And rejoice before Him. Psalm 68:4 (NKJV)

3 He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters, Who makes the clouds His chariot, Who walks on the wings of the wind, Psalm 104:3 (NKJV)

There are other references as well but these serve to illustrate the understanding held by the high priest and others at Jesus trial. When Jesus spoke of coming on the clouds and being at the right hand of power their minds went to Daniel and the Psalms. Yahweh was the one who moved in power in the heavens and the one who held authority. In fact the phrase ‘power’ was a Jewish expression used to avoid pronouncing the sacred name Yahweh. When the heavenly court scene was displayed in Daniel the one being given authority over the earth came on the clouds to demonstrate that He had the power and authority of Yahweh.  

 So now we look further at what Jesus had to say about Himself and clouds.

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:29–31 (NKJV)

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9–11 (NKJV)

If in our minds eye we see Jesus gently floating down out of heaven on a cloud we are missing Jesus message. Jesus ascended on a cloud, again demonstrating His authority over nature. His return on the clouds of heaven will be both a demonstration of power and judgement. The clouds speak of His deity, power and authority, an everlasting dominion. That is what we need to see as well. I close with two more cloud references from scripture.

16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 (NKJV)

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. Revelation 1:7 (NKJV)

The Message of Symbols Part 2

Here we will look at an agricultural symbol pointing to Jesus. It starts with a question that Jesus asks the Pharisees, trying to get them to think beyond their preconceived religious ideas. Had they understood the symbolism in the scriptures they revered they would have been able to see Jesus as the Messiah or at least they may have had the humility to seek clarification from Him. This exchange took place in the days leading up to Jesus arrest and crucifixion.

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?”

They said to Him, “The Son of David.”

43 He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: 44‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” ’?

45 If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” 46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore. Matthew 22:41–46 (NKJV)

These the last questions the religious leaders asked of Jesus prior to His arrest and subsequent crucifixion. The Pharisees were both puzzled and silenced by Jesus question. Yet Jesus gave them a clue in the paradox between the Messiah being David’s son and yet David referring to Him as Lord. The answer lay in the scriptures they studied. First we have Isaiah, and later a clearer exposition of this verse in Revelation.

            1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. Isaiah 11:1 (NKJV)

In context it is clear for us looking back that that Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus and it is made very explicit in Revelation from Jesus Himself.  

16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16 (NKJV)

The clue to answering Jesus question to the Pharisees is seeing Jesus as both the source (root) and outcome (branch). They lived in an agricultural context with olive trees and grape vines being very important in their daily lives. The Hebrew word translated as ‘stem’ could refer to either a stump or stock but clearly pointed to a source. It is humanly impossible for someone to be their own ancestor, thus the need for spiritual revelation.

Jesus was quoting Psalm 110 when He asked His question about David calling the coming Messiah Lord. The Pharisees knew it because Psalm 110 was a well known Messianic reference. While it is obvious to us, the answer was still available to the Pharisees had they understood the symbol of the Messiah being both root and branch.

Here are further clues, also made explicit by Jesus.

4      Who has performed and done it, Calling the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the Lord, am the first; And with the last I am He.’ ” Isaiah 41:4 (NKJV) – see also Is. 44:6, 48:12

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8 (NKJV)

As both the beginning and the end Jesus was the root and branch, the source and outcome. As such we can celebrate His work in our lives as Hebrews presents Him.

1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1–2 (NKJV)

We can have confidence that no matter what we are walking through in this season, He is faithful.

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

The Message of Symbols Part 1

Oftentimes when we read some of the things in scripture, particularly symbolic things in books like Revelation or Daniel we are left shaking our heads. It is easy to simply move on to something easier to grasp. Yet if we see the scriptures as a unity, 66 books inspired by one divine author and penned by many human authors, we can draw wisdom from these symbols. There are patterns that we can see across scripture if we look. Once we see the repeated patterns some of the symbols are easier to understand. An example is the image of Jesus as the Lamb in Revelation. However understanding the symbols in Revelation requires a solid foundation in the Old Testament (OT).  

And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Revelation 5:6 (NKJV)

Here we have Jesus depicted as the Lamb. The word ‘midst’ is used twice in this verse showing that the Lamb is the focal point of the attention of John as the observer. Earlier in 5:1 we have the Father on the throne holding the scroll. Then we see the Lamb in the same place. In my mind’s eye I see this lamb as superimposed over the image of the Father on the throne and at the same time in the Father and the Father in the Lamb. 

The Lamb has seven horns and seven eyes. The passage tells us that the eyes are the seven spirits referred to earlier in 1:3, 3:1, 4:5. The point is not that Jesus is an actual lamb but that He was the sacrificial Lamb for the sins of humanity. The fulfillment of the OT type. Seven in scripture is the number of completion or fulfillment. Some refer to it as perfection. I prefer the idea of completion or fulfillment as Genesis refers to seven days to complete creation and seven days complete a week. The seven eyes mean that Jesus has complete access to see everything. Nothing is hidden from Him.

The seven horns. Horns represent power or authority because they represent the power of horned animals. We see examples in the OT of horns that represent power and authority, both good and bad.

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2 (NKJV)

4     “I said to the boastful, ‘Do not deal boastfully,’ And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn. 5 Do not lift up your horn on high; Do not speak with a stiff neck.’ ” Psalm 75:4–5 (NKJV)

17   For You are the glory of their strength, And in Your favor our horn is exalted. Psalm 89:17 (NKJV)

10   But my horn You have exalted like a wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil. Psalm 92:10 (NKJV)

“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words. Daniel 7:7–8 (NKJV)

Now back to the Lamb with seven horns in Revelation. What the image communicates is that the Lamb has complete authority. We see this in The Great Commission.

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18–20 (NKJV)

The message of the Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes is that Jesus sees and knows all and that in the events about to unfold He has complete authority. If we know Him we can rest in this reality in scripture.

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Romans 8:28–30 (NKJV)

This use of symbols may seem like a roundabout way to get to the message of Romans 8 but John knew the OT so the message of the horns, eyes and seven would not have been mysterious to him. Instead they would have brought assurance, as they should for us. 

I will continue looking at symbols in scripture in future posts.

Following His Leading

Let’s take a fresh look at the brief battle between Davie and Goliath in 1 Samuel. This battle is generally presented as the underdog achieving victory against overwhelming odds and has become a cultural icon. It is true that if David had fought Goliath on the terms that Goliath anticipated he would have been easily defeated. However David didn’t do what everyone else expected. David’s key to victory was thinking about the battle differently and thinking differently about who he represented and was. Below we see some different perspectives.

Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 1 Samuel 17:8 (NKJV)

10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” 1 Samuel 17:10 (NKJV)

26 Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Samuel 17:26 (NKJV)

Goliath referred to the Israelite army as the servants of Saul and the army of Israel. David saw Goliath as defying God’s army. Furthermore, David saw the source of deliverance as the Lord not his own skill or strength.

37 Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” 1 Samuel 17:37 (NKJV)

I recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s 2013 book David and Goliath. It is not a Christian book but what I appreciate about Gladwell is that he thinks differently and examines his topics in a way that most don’t. His book was about people who overcome against all odds. It is also a book about seeing things differently, like the biblical account of David and Goliath.

In looking at what happened with David and Goliath he references the three kinds of warriors in ancient battles, Calvary (horsemen and chariots), Infantry (foot soldiers in heavy armour) and Projectile warriors (those who used arrows and slings). The battle between David and Goliath would have been quickly over with David dead if David had tried to fight Goliath as an Infantry soldier. However, David fought as a Projectile warrior, not on Goliaths’ terms or the terms all the spectators from both armies were anticipating. Gladwell said a ballistics expert from the Israeli Defence Forces calculated that in less than two seconds David could have fired a stone at Goliath that would have hit his forehead with the force of a bullet from a modern small handgun – a rock traveling at about 200 kilometres per hour. It could have easily penetrated his skull or minimally rendered him unconscious.

David’s key to victory was twofold. First, he trusted in the Lord. Second he did the unexpected and met the enemy from a positon of his strengths and skills. David did what he was good at not what Goliath wanted. In thinking about this I wonder about thinking differently and being a bit paradoxical in our approach.

David took what he had. We can to do the same. He is clear that His ways are not ours. For example He sent Peter the uneducated fisherman to the Jews and Paul the educated Pharisee to the Gentiles. The opposite of what we would expect. So whatever He has called us to do let’s bathe it in fervent and frequent prayer and then we follow His leading based on what He has given us.

Enjoying Jesus

In my last post I wrote about the importance of a ‘what.’ The importance of ministering to the Lord. Here I want to address more of the how, including the relationship between a season and a lifestyle.

In walking with Jesus most of us likely have encounters or significant moments we can point to, highlights in our walk with Jesus. I know I have had seasons where His presence was more real, where He felt closer. At the same time, I know that there is a connection between these quality times with Him and faithfulness in quantity times. Feeding on Jesus and His word is best perceived as a daily practice. I have eaten a lot of food over the years and while I remember very few meals, I know they all had some impact on me. I know I have had times of focused enjoyment in my meals and I have had times of mindless eating. I have at times eaten wholly nutritious meals and at other times eaten things that tasted good but were not necessarily good for me. 

So, while I bring different degrees of attention to different times of sitting with Jesus, my general experience is that the more focused I am when sitting with Jesus, the more real my encounter with Him. At times I find I simply need to confess I feel distant and am not experiencing His presence and my experience is that His presence usually becomes more real out of my confession and acknowledgement. I have long believed that the best summary of the goal and outcome of sitting with Jesus was expressed by Paul.

18  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

When I choose to develop a lifestyle of daily turning to Jesus and focusing the gaze of my heart upon Him I craft a lifestyle that leads to seasons of deeper encounter. I do not always have deep moving encounters but I do have them. For me most of those are connected to worship. I find when I deeply encounter Him in worship my heart is softened, and yes tears may flow when He touches my heart. My desire is that my life will be marked by His presence as an outflow of ministering to His heart.  

A final thought on the how. Oswald Chambers summed it up quite nicely when he wrote regarding 2 Corinthians 3:18, “The most difficult lesson of the Christian life is learning how to continue ‘beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord….’ Imperturbable.” Let’s develop the habit of continually turning our hearts to Him that Jesus may be glorified.

Ministering to the Lord

The church at Antioch was different. We find this group of believers in the book of Acts. The only mentions made of Antioch outside of Acts are both by Paul (Galatians 2:11, 2 Timothy 3:11). The first mention in Acts 6:5 identifies Nicolas, one of the first deacons, as a proselyte from Antioch (a proselyte was a non-Jew who converted to Judaism). The gospel came to Antioch as a result of the persecution following Stephen’s martyrdom and was first preached to the Jews and then began to spread to the Gentiles at Antioch so the Jerusalem dispatched Barnabas to help ground them (Acts 11:19-22). Barnabas responded by leaving Antioch and going to Tarsus and getting Paul and returning with him to Antioch. The two of them taught there for a full year and it was here that the followers of Jesus were first referred to as Christians (Acts 11:25-26).

Having provided some background it is time to look at Luke’s record of what made Antioch unique.

1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

Here Barnabas and Saul (Paul) are prophets and/or teachers. As the church ministered to the Lord the Holy Spirit called them to commission Barnabas and Paul in their calling. The work to which they were called was apostolic and Barnabas and Paul were commissioned and sent out by the Antioch church as apostles (Acts 14:4, 14). Other churches in Acts were birthed or established by apostles, the Antioch church raised up and released them. As a result, Barnabas and Paul were now both released into their apostolic callings and the first of their apostolic journeys began. 

In looking at what led to this unique event it is important to focus on ‘ministering to the Lord.’ First however a brief detour to the sons of Zadok. Zadok was one of the priests under David and when Absalom rebelled and drove David into the wilderness Zadok remained faithful to David, and more importantly, faithful to the Lord (2 Samuel 15:24-29). Ezekiel described it this way.

11 It shall be for the priests of the sons of Zadok, who are sanctified, who have kept My charge, who did not go astray when the children of Israel went astray, as the Levites went astray. Ezekiel 48:11 (NKJV)

Ezekiel further describes the privilege passed on to the sons of Zadok. They could come near and minister to the Lord.

46 The chamber which faces north is for the priests who have charge of the altar; these are the sons of Zadok, from the sons of Levi, who come near the Lord to minister to Him.” Ezekiel 40:46 (NKJV)

19 You shall give a young bull for a sin offering to the priests, the Levites, who are of the seed of Zadok, who approach Me to minister to Me,’ says the Lord God. Ezekiel 43:19 (NKJV)

As believers we have the incredible privilege of a daily audience with the King of creation. In this audience we have the opportunity to place our request before Him, which He welcomes. Yet, in the context of this privilege, we also have the opportunity to minister to Him to worship Him simply because He is worthy. That is how the Lord’s Prayer starts, with worship of our Father. I wonder what will happen if we as the church give more time to ministering unto Him? What might He release in our midst? Who might He commission and send out? Let’s give ourselves to it and see.

Walking in the Spirit/spirit Part 4

In concluding this series, I have some final thoughts on the importance of paying attention to and engaging our spirits. This relates to character, the growing of spiritual fruit. If we have been a Christian for any length of time, we likely know some version of these two verses.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

A key aspect is the connection between our spirit and His Spirit. While these fruits appear to be the character of Jesus on display, which I think they are, we need to look at how do they grow in us. Paul says we are to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25) and to be led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:18). In practice there isn’t anything mysterious here. We display love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control through submitting our will to His and following His leading.

This is a two part process. Our submission requires the engagement of our spirit, paying attention to the inner promptings He gives. When we want to respond with anger or impatience and choose not to because of His leading we are submitting to Him. When we then take the next step and respond in patience and gentleness, we are following His leading and manifesting the fruit of submission to Jesus in us. In essence hearing and bearing are connected. As we hear and respond to His voice and presence inside of us, we produce the fruit of His presence. Jesus described this same process elsewhere.

4  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. John 15:4 (NKJV)

A story that illustrates well this abiding and bearing fruit is something that happened in the life of the great Corrie Ten Boom. Her father and sister died in Nazi concentration camps. After the war she wrote, travelled and spoke, sharing the love of Jesus. People would often come up at the end of events to speak with her. One time a man walking toward her had been one of the guards where she and her sister were imprisoned and where her sister Betsie died. She shared how difficult it was to first not respond in bitterness, to choose in the moment to forgive and then reach out offering her hand in friendship and forgiveness.

Most of us are unlikely to need to forgive something this horrendous. However, we are all called to submit to His inner voice and conviction and demonstrate the fruit of Jesus character in our interactions with others. In short, we are to walk in the Spirit/spirit.

Walking in the Spirit/spirit Part 3

A brief breakdown of spirit, soul and body is helpful as we continue our study. Our body is obvious as we see, touch and interact with it. I understand our soul as our mind, will and emotions. We think, reflect, exercise choice and feel emotions. Our spirit has three functions as well – conscience, communion and intuition. My point is not to create fine distinctions as much as to identify processes. At the end of the day the Lord designed us to function as an integrated whole. With our spirit we encounter Him, we feel joy at His presence and open our lips and raise our hands in worship. A wholistic response to encountering His presence.

In looking at our spirit we grow fruit in it (Galatians 5:22-23), we commune with Jesus with it (Romans 8:14-16) and our conscience and discernment develops as our spirit is nourished by a daily diet of His word (1 Peter 2:2, Hebrews 5:13-14). Thus, if we are walking in the Spirit, we will experience the growth and maturing of the fruit of Jesus character in our lives, a deeper sense of His presence leading and guiding us and a clearer sense of the decisions He would have us make.

In my own life I remember a few years into my walk with Him I was going to do something, the what is not important and frankly I don’t remember exactly what it was I had planned. However, I had been feeding my spirit on His word. In the course of making a decision I very clearly heard inside of my spirit the following verse.

This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. Galatians 5:8 (NKJV)

I didn’t do whatever it was I was going to do. This demonstrated to me the very obvious fruit of being in His word. I wasn’t sitting reading scripture when this happened, I was walking around somewhere but He used my time in His word to guide my decision making.

At other times I have had the sense to do or not do something but not from a scripture verse. It is more of an internal sense or leading. It may be an inner prompting to call someone or to pray for someone. Many of us have probably had the experience of thinking about someone and they call us or vice versa, we call them and they say, “I was just thinking about you.” He is very practical in how He leads us and as we pay attention to these inner promptings our relationship with Him deepens.

I have had dramatic examples of His leading over my 35 years of walking with Him. Yet most of the time it has been the simple promptings, a scripture or person coming to mind. I am committed to being in His word and find that out of that I grow in my knowing of His presence and purpose. I have things I am still seeking direction on, some that I have been holding before Him for many years. In cases like this I seek to trust that His direction will be revealed in His timing. It doesn’t mean I never question of wonder; it means that when I pause and reflect, I come to a place of rest in His faithfulness.

So, let us pay attention to His leading and promptings, let us nourish our spirits on His word and let us desire what Paul gave expression to, our whole being given over to His purpose.

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV)

Walking in the Spirit/spirit Part 2

In looking at how we practically use our spirit to the engage with the Holy Spirit there is a key verse in the Old Testament and a key passage in the New Testament.

27   The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord,

Searching all the inner depths of his heart. Proverbs 20:27 (NKJV)

The Lord engages with and uses our spirit. I think it is key to note that while those who walked with the Lord in the Old Testament were not born again as in the New Testament, they still had a functioning spirit, just one that did not possess Jesus nature and character. Hence the statement in Proverbs that the Lord uses our spirit to engage with us. We see this clearly in the examples already provided regarding Isaiah and Mary (Is. 26:9, Lk. 1:46-47). Now Paul further explicates this process for believers.

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,

Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:9–12 (NKJV)

Paul has two primary points in the broader passage. In the verses above he highlights that we know spiritual things by our spirit interacting with the Holy Spirit. Previously in 1 Corinthians 2 his point was that spiritual realities are not understood through natural wisdom (vs 1, 6) but through the wisdom of God (vs. 7).

So, given what the scriptures teach let us consider how this works in practice. I believe and experience that my mind and spirit both need to be involved. I generally get a sense of something deep inside. I experience something as Proverbs 20:27 says, in the ‘inner depths’ of my heart. A reference note in my bible says the Hebrew literally says, ‘rooms of the belly.’ That is in fact where I have a sense of Him speaking or drawing me to something. It may be a sense to do something, call someone or look up a verse or passage of scripture. I then need to engage my mind and exercise discernment regarding what I am sensing. I may also need to seek wisdom from others. The main point here is that the process is very practical. Spiritual things are not meant to be mysterious or esoteric, they are meant to aid us in our day to walk with Him from a surrendered and humble heart.

Walking in the Spirit/spirit Part 1

I remember as a fairly young believer wanting to do some writing on Walking in the Spirit. I quickly realized two things. One, I didn’t really have much to offer as I would be speaking from theory rather than experience. Two, even though I did not articulate it this way at the time, I realized that it was a twofold process involving engagement with the Holy Spirit and the engagement of our spirit. Over the years I think I have learned a few things and will share them here.

The New Testament presents us as spirit, soul and body (1 Thess. 5:23, Heb. 4:12). The idea of man as a duality comes from Greek philosophy, primarily Plato. A study of church history establishes that, which is not my focus at this point. I want to focus on what we see in scripture regarding our spirit as Christians. First, we have a comment made by James referring to all people in all times and places.

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26 (NKJV)

This may seem like a passing comment but Jesus reinforced it.

63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63 (NKJV)

We then have Paul describing what happened at our conversion as us becoming a new creation.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Our spirit is reborn at conversion and we receive Jesus nature in our spirit.

22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 1 Peter 1:22–23 (NKJV)

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:5 (NKJV)

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. 1 John 3:9 (NKJV)

The scriptures place significance on what took place at conversion. We don’t receive a spirit, because as James noted, we already had one and we can see in scripture the importance of our spirit. In scripture we see this even in people who were not born again but were committed to the Lord, Isaiah and Mary being great examples.

9 With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; For when Your judgments are in the earth, The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Isaiah 26:9 (NKJV)

46 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46–47 (NKJV)

Isaiah and Mary both differentiated experiencing something in their spirit and soul. Isiah desired the Lord so sought Him with his spirit. Mary experienced something in her spirit and expressed it with her soul.  

In future posts I will deal further with how we practically walk in the Spirit engaging our spirit.