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The Overarching Theme

The series in this blog-site focus on the broader topic of “God, Revelation & Scripture”. We are currently working on the unique identity of Yahweh our God, who revealed himself to be a Triune-God: Father Son and Holy Spirit. The overarching Theme of the teachings can be summarized as follow.

GOD

Interestingly, the New Testament does not reveal a new conception of the being of God. The being of God revealed in the OT remains in full force through the New Testament. For instance to the writer of the book of Hebrews, God is the living LORD of the Old Testament Heb 3:12; 10:31. We will continue with this study in our current topic “the Living God”. Stay tuned.

SCRIPTURE

In Hebrews the writer ascribes what the prophets in the OT has spoken simply as ‘God said’. (We will further study this topic in the ‘Doctrine of the Word’ series, mentioned above) This close association between the voice of scripture and the voice of God is extremely important for the NT believers and especially for our time, as confusion is rampant among us. We will be back to Hebrews. Let’s pause for a moment and read Galatians 3:8-9. It reads:

Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”

Did you see that? First Paul ascribes scripture an anthropomorphic (human like) character of seeing ahead and speaking to Abraham. Does scripture speak and see? Second, go back and read to what Paul is quoting from. It could be one of these text from the book of Genesis: Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4. Go back and read it. It was God himself verbally addressed to Abraham saying All nations will be blessed through you. Paul here simply ascribe what God says to Scripture. Do you see that? In other words Paul heard God through scripture. To hear scripture is to hear the words either that God himself has spoken or God through his holy prophets has spoken. Thus “what God says = what scripture says”. This is what Paul said above. Likewise, the writer to the Hebrews reverses that order. “What scripture says = what God says“. That is to say, even when the person speaking it is not God himself, if scripture says it. Then God says it. It is His Word! What the human author have written, God has written. Precisely because scripture was written by the Supervision of the Holy Spirit and it is a product of the Spirit (theo-pnuestos – mistakenly translated as in-spiration, more like ex-spiration). 2Pet 1:21 “for prophecy never had ”its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Spirit of God.

  • Thus NT treats OT prophecies as decisive expressions of God’s mind. (Acts 2:16-36; 3:18; 10:43; 13:22; 17:2)
  • Jesus took OT prophecy as containing His father’s blueprint for His own messianic mission. (Matt. 5:17; 26:53-56; Lk. 18:3; 22:37; 24:25, 44; Jn 13:18; 15:25; 17:12)
  • The apostles treated them as utterances of God or of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:16; 3:21; 4:24; 7:48; 13;22, 33-35, 47; 28: 25; Heb 3:7 | Ps. 95:7-11; Heb 10:15 | Jer 31:33; Acts 4:25; 28:25)
  • OT authors were regarded as prophets and forth-tellers of Christ (Lk. 24:44; Jn 5:47; Acts 2:25-31; 7:37)
  • Moses were regarded as the supreme prophet, Duet. 34:10; and the mosaic revelation was said ‘living words to pass on to us’ (Acts 7:38)
  • The word of the lord stands forever: (1Pet 1:25; Cf. Is 40:8; Matt. 5:18)
  • The writer of Hebrews express the abiding authority of the word: Ps 95:7-11; as the holy spirit says and not said. The holy spirit testifies…not testified. Heb 10:15

Therefore Scripture is not one medium of revelation among several others. Today, many Christians and ministers of the Word have little understanding of the nature of scripture as the Word of God. If we had understood it, we would have taught it like never before. However we preachers read the word for about 5-10 minutes from the pulpit and dedicate the rest 40-50 minutes to run our loose commentary of it and run with our own little stories and topics, shows us that we have little understanding of scripture as the Word of God. To teach God’s Word faithfully and carefully is to unleash the all powerful creative Word of God to those who hears it. Preaching is powerful. But Preachers must be faithful in hearing it well and preaching has to be explaining the Word, as someone puts it “bending our backs and placing our index finger on the text of scripture!”. No wonder saints bring thier bibles no more to church. Why? We hardly read it from pulpit! We need clarity!  We need the power of the Word to be back! Why am I saying this? Because confusion is all over the place when it comes to the nature of what scripture is. Ask the apostle:

Romans 1:1–3 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh

Romans 16:25–27 “Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ (Scripture in the New Testament sense), in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known [where is it made known?] through the prophetic writings (Scripture in the Old Testament sense) by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen”

Scripture, itself is the revelation of mystery and the fulfillment of promise. In scripture God’s eternal plan is concealed. In scripture God’s saving promises have been given. Both of these came to reality in the person and work of the Son when he appeared in the flesh and taught in Galilee. Therefore, now,  through the person and work of the Son, what was mystery in scripture was revealed and what was promised through holy prophets was fulfilled. (That is why Jesus said I didn’t come to abolish the Law but to fulfill them).  Therefore, what God hid in holy scripture, and what God promised in holy scripture, were both revealed and fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah, the Son and the Lord of the world and The Spirit of the prophets worked with the Apostles of the Messiah to produce final words, what we call scripture containing both the voice of the prophets and the apostles. That is why the angel in the book of Revelation warned John he himself is nothing but a mere servant, what John is going to write is a product of the Same holy Spirit who worked in the prophets is now causing John to write additional words about Jesus “For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus. Rev. 19:10”.

Revelation 19:9–10 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.

Thus,  it is impossible to separate the revelation of Christ and Scripture. In order to understand what are God’s redemptive purposes in Jesus Christ, His Son, we must understand what scripture is.  Because of this reality scripture is viewed as Christ’s book.

“you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life…Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” John 5:45–47 (ESV)

 

REVELATION

The fullness of Yahweh’s revelation came to fruition when Yahweh, now is known as Father and sends the Son and the Holy Spirit. Because of this reality, the new covenant differs significantly from the old covenant system, in which God the divine being reveals Himself through mere non-divine agents such as prophets and working through non-divine mediators such as angels, priests and kings. This makes the OT inferior and incomplete. It could not transform the hearts of men and women (but this does not mean that there were not redeemed people of God in the OT). The author of Hebrew comments:

But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:6–7, 13)

One Mission, Two agents and Three persons

The New Covenant was inaugurated by two agents with a unique mission of rescue. They came into this time-space, the world, for a single mission with two fold agency, for no other reason but to save sinners, like you and me. Thus, the mission of the Son and the Spirit was redemptive in nature. However in this very ACT of saving, (the son dying for sinners and the Spirit applying that same redemptive work to sinners by dwelling in them) imparted to us an intimate personal knowledge of the living God, (the God of the OT) who is now revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (As I will show you later these two agents, were also one with the father in Creation of the universe as Word and mighty breath of God. These two were present in the one creative act but with two agencies described in manners of ‘Speaking’,being spoken‘ and”hovering‘. Remember we said that there is only one act of God). Therefore this man Jesus Christ is not only the Lord, but after the resurrection his role in creation was transposed back before time. If Jesus is not what he claimed to be, this would have been flat out blasphemy. The New Testament writers identify Him, as preexisting with the father before time began and identify Him as one with the father in creating the world. This is attested in several text of scripture:

  • Identified as one with the Father in Pre-Existence:
    •  In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the word was God He was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1)
    • And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Col 1:17.
  • Identified as one with the Father as an agent in Creation
    • All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:2–3.)
    • He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.Colossians 1:15–16
  • Identified as one with the Father as an agent in Redemption
    • Hebrews 1:3–4 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
    • “through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled bin his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, Col 1:20–22.
  • Identified as one with the Father as an agent in Revelation
    • Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
    • For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, Col 1:19.

Now we know and see Him in fulness…

As an OT believer, David would address Yahweh in prayers as follow: “Blessed be Yahweh”:

  • Psalm 28: 6 “Blessed be the LORD! בָּר֥וּךְ יְהוָ֑ה (Baruk Yhwh/Adoni)- for he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy”
  • Psalm 31: 21 “Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me”
  • Also see: Psalm 41:13; 119:12; 1Chr 29:10;

In scripture we find this prayer formula. David addresses his God as “Blessed be the LORD” and then mentions what he blesses the LORD for. Also during the second temple period (before Christ and continuing to the New testament period) Jews used to pray with a formula “Baruch Atah Adonai elohaynu“, if I translate it roughly it means “you are blessed the Lord, our God!” and list the reason why they bless the LORD, their God.  This formula is also attested in Jewish prayer book preserved for prayer twice a day. In addition, we also have an evidence in a Qumran writing known as 1QS 11:15, a scroll found in cave #1 (around 981 scrolls were found near the dead sea between 1946-1956.). It reads: “blessed are you my God….” and he lists why he blesses the LORD for: namely for giving him knowledge, for establishing his works in righteousness, etc…” Therefore in the New Testament period Jews normally address Yahweh (to be exact Adoni) in prayer as “You are blessed the Lord our God…..” Now compare this with the New Testament Prayer formula:

  • (Eph 1:3) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing gin the heavenly places”
  • (2 Corinthians 1:3–4) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
  • (1 Peter 1:3–5) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
  • (Romans 15:6–7)  that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Do you see this? The God of Israel, Yahweh, is now known as the God and Father of Jesus Christ the Lord. This is a new revelation in the NT. Let me start from the last text. Why is it absolute necessary for the church to be composed of both Jews and Gentiles? It is because the promise of the prophets is for nations to come together in harmony in order to glorify with one voice (but pay attention to the wording). It does not simply say ‘to glorify God‘. It adds, to the common Jewish prayer formula, the word “…God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” . The God of Israel. Yahweh Elohim, is now praised as Father together with his Son, our Lord! As a fellow Jew both Paul and Peter must have prayed “Baruch Atah Adonai elohaynu – Blessed are you the Lord our God” several times. But after the coming of the Son, having experienced the redemption of the cross and the indwelling Spirit who was out-poured on the day of Pentecost, their prayer was significantly changed and now directed to persons in relationship to each other. Paul addresses the God of Israel as the Father of Jesus Christ who is none other than the LORD of the Shema (Deut. 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one). Hallelujah! That is why the confession Jesus is Lord is powerful. In the account of the burning bush, Moses worshiped Yahweh as the God/Elohim of his fathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ex. 3:1-13). The children of Israel worshiped Yahweh as the God/Elohim of Israel, the covenant making God. But the New Covenant people of God worship Yahweh as the God and Father of Jesus Christ. Now the revelation is complete, now gentiles can know His name and worship him as: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19 Go into the nation baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit). This is progressive revelation culminating in the coming and mission of Jesus and the Spirit.

Persons in Relationship to each other

There is one more. For the first time in human history, we saw the Son relating with the Father and the Spirit, on the streets of Galilee and Jerusalem. People heard God speaking to God in front of Lazarus’ tomb in Bethany. That is to say God is now addressed as the Father of the Son Jesus Christ. There is identification (Father and Son) and relationship (fatherhood and sonship) Let me give you a faint illustration. Imagine a closed conference room with several security guards around the entrance. Imagine we are not allowed to come closer to the door and neither you know how many people are in there nor you know who they are like. But periodically you get to see few people allowed to come closer to door and over hear the conversation and thus through their testimony we get to hear some of those conversations. But Imagine now, the door finally opens, two persons came out of the room. Interestingly their conversation has not interrupted with the one who still remains inside. They keep talking to each other out loud as they walk out to where we are. Now for the first time we get to see who they are and could know the nature of their conversation. Because they still are talking to one another. Likewise, when the Son came into this sinful and condemned world, he didn’t stop talking to the God of heaven. He continued his eternal conversation, but now as a human being in human words that we can understand, in human terms that we can relate with. We get to hear him, now praying as he addresses the God of Israel as Father (John 5:19). For instance the “blessing formula” that we looked at above,  shows us, not only the Son is blessed and worshiped with the Father, but that this God is the Father with respect to the Son. The God of Israel has a close intimate relationship with Jesus of Nazareth as His own unique Son, Father-Son relationship.  The messiah of Israel, is God’s Son who brings salvation to the ends of the earth. It does not end there. We too are made sons because of His redemptive work, so we too call His Father, our Father (John 20: 17) Therefore, not only now we know the God of Israel, Yahweh as three persons, but we also know how each relate with the other divine person- to a degree (much remain still a mystery other than affirming the fact. For instance what does it mean for divine being of the son to be begotten? It is beyond our understanding. we affirm it but we can’t explain it. We simply don’t have enough biblical revelation). That is to say the one mission of the Father with two fold agency of the Son and the Holy Spirit, reveals the being, the person, and the glory of God.

Blessings of the broken and restored sinner!

I bless you the God and the Father of Jesus Christ my Lord. For I too, who was a sinful rebellious person, who deserved eternal damnation, now able to dare call you, Father, through the ransom blood and shameful death of your son whom you made a scarifies offering on my behalf. You and the person of your Son have come and made your dwelling in me through the promised Holy Spirit who sealed me, guaranteeing my inheritance until the redemption of those who are your possession, this is to the praise of your own glory. Amen!

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