[NOTE: There was a previous version of this essay that is accessible here. It was originally the second article of the "foundational concepts" section, and is preserved for historical purposes.]
Motivation for This Essay
This essay is a follow on to "Only A Metaphor?", which was the first half of this prior version of "In Christ". In this essay, I will address the meaning behind the terms "In Christ" and "Christ in us". As can be expected, I will touch on a variety of associated concepts that always seem to come up when I write these essays. In retrospect, I now see that the length of these essays stems from the need to briefly explore those associated concepts to establish their validity so that we can have confidence in the truth of any contribution they happen to make to the understanding of the main subject. In a sense, the more fundamental and important a truth is, the more it impacts on other truths, including those not initially seen as true or relevant. This appears to be the case with this version of the essay, where its length partly comes from the fact that I 'toss off' and briefly explore many important side-truths. This was not the case with the former version of this essay, which was essentially a dead-end once we got past the discussion of metaphors. Thus, if there is any apology required, it is because I may explore a side-truth whose discussion gets so long it deserves being spun off as a separate essay, or it turns out to be a fundamental truth understood in a way that up-ends a lot of invalid pre-conceptions. This also accounts for the long time period between this one and the previous essay.
Only A Metaphor?
In the prior essay, I cited the following text from Ephesians 3 as an example of how the "its a metaphor!" counterargument is employed:
14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Now, this passage appears to be fairly straightforward: the bolded text states that it is Christ that dwells in our hearts by faith. However, the bold text with the grey backgound in verse 16 that precedes it is also a straightforward statement that needs hardly any interpretation if we view it in light of Symbiosis. The only way to evade the literal implications is to damn it by calling it a proof text, implying that anyone trying to take it literally is a clueless amateur unable to really extract the "nuances" of this verse that only those privileged ones who have a Theology degree are capable of doing. The "proof" of amateur-hood is the fact that I am interpreting the text as if it actually meant exactly what it says. In support, modernist Bible scholars will cite the bolded text in verse 17 and point out that that proves that this entire passage is metaphorical. Jesus Christ is clearly "That Christ" in verse 17. How can it be said that Jesus dwells in us when he came in the flesh (bodily and physically) and later ascended to heaven? It is these people who then go on to tell us that verses 18 and 19 are to be understood metaphorically, not literally, and are "really" just Paul telling us that Jesus and God really love us, and that's all there is to this passage.
I disagree, and insist that the reverse interpretation is the correct one: because verse 16 is a plain reference to an actual reality (symbiosis), then verse 17 is not metaphorical, but must refer to a reality as well. The appeal to "It's a metaphor!" has actually prevented the investigation of a phenomenon of vital importance to living the Christian life.
Paul's Claim to Be an Apostle
What appears to be confusing or metaphorical word usage on the part of Paul and the Apostle John is actually a faithful reproduction of terminology used by Jesus Christ himself. The Disciples, of course, were there in that upper room, but one of Paul's claims to apostleship is that he got the details of the Last Supper through a revelation of Jesus Christ himself. A similar claim is given in Paul's letter to the Galatians, where he points out that he preached the Gospel before he had consulted with or was "vetted" by the Disciples. He makes the same claim to the Corinthian church here and here. The question of whether Jesus Christ appears in visions for the purpose of revelation and education should be forever settled if one considers that the proper title of the book of Revelation is "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him..." (Revelation 1:1-2).
Why the need to make this claim? Paul was being accused of "not being authorized" to preach the Gospel because he was not a follower of Jesus during the latter's sojourn on earth, nor personally chosen by him to be an apostle. Instead, he had been an enthusiastic, efficient, and zealous persecutor of Jesus' disciples. It was argued by Paul's opponents that Paul's Gospel of Grace was merely him creating a loophole for himself that would allow the Church to receive him as a member in good standing. It was through that same loophole that Gentiles were being admitted into the church without being circumcised and being made to keep the Law of Moses.
This denial of Paul's Apostleship on for years until he went to the Disciples, laid out what he was preaching, and got "approval" in the form of "the right hand of fellowship". The account shows that he felt that this "vetting" and "approval" were mere formalities with no real substance, bordering on the totally irrelevant. His account of his run in with Peter in Antioch over table fellowship with the gentile believers proves that, when it came to "vetting" who was right and who was wrong, Paul was right up there with the disciples. Peter himself, in 2 Peter 3:15-16, not only acknowledged Paul's greater understanding of the Gospel and its implications, but warned people to treat Paul's epistles as carefully as the Scriptures when it came to figuring out what they were saying.
How Jesus Chose The Apostles
The qualifications for being a Disciple of Jesus Christ were laid out by Peter in Acts 1:21-26:
21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. 23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, 25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. 26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
The criteria were correct, but the method used to make the actual choice was invalid. Here's how Jesus did it in Luke 6:12-13:
12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
The choice of who would be an apostle was too important to be made by a pseudo-choice expressed through the casting of lots to select between two pre-vetted individuals. That choice was too important to be done by anyone else except by Jesus Christ Himself. While it would be nice to know what he was thinking that influenced him in his choices, we must remember that he took responsibility for choosing Judas Iscariot. Thus, there had to be something about Judas himself, or the position he held, or the function that he fulfilled in the group, that was the reason for Jesus choosing him.
But back to Paul. One of Jesus' criteria that was cited by Peter was that the new Apostle had to have been an eyewitness of Jesus' life from his baptism by John to his Ascension. This could not be the case with Matthias, because the record is clear that only the Eleven, without Judas Iscariot, were present with Jesus in the Upper Room for the full duration of the Last Supper. If Matthias was not qualified because he was not present in the Upper Room, then how could Paul be qualified?
Paul attained his qualifications for being an Apostle because the post Resurrection and Ascended Jesus explicitly chose him, and took him through the important events of his life while he was here on earth via that series of visions that Paul claimed to have experienced himself. For instance, it was through this vision that he claimed to have witnessed the key events that took place at the Last Supper. His first encounter with Jesus was certainly an indirect way of attesting to the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ, since dead men are not known to smack people off horses by shining a light from heaven on them.
We must not assume that the disciples were given a vision from Jesus Christ to accept Saul/Paul as an apostle, since we have this from Acts 9:27:
27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
Readers of "Only a Metaphor?" should recognize that Barnabas appealed to the disciples to accept Saul based on the fruit he displayed. This fruit was not only the cessation of his persecution of Christians, but also his vigorous witness to the Divinity of Jesus Christ while he was in Damascus. Faced with someone whose behavior was fruitful and explicitly based on a knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Disciples accepted Saul into the brotherhood of believers.
We should note that Acts records several appearances of Jesus Christ to Saul/Paul, in addition to those appearances in visions that Paul cites in his letters. Of these, the vision of the Last Supper will be the most pertinent. It will be after that discussion that I will touch on how The Eleven came to accept Paul as one of their number.
The Accounts of the Night He was Betrayed
The details of the Last Supper given in the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are fairly consistent, in that they state the revelation of Judas as a betrayer, the institution of the Communion as Jesus' modification of the Passover Seder meal, and a discussion of the fact that He would die and be resurrected. Luke adds some extra color with the "arming" of the disciples and Jesus' prediction of Peter's denial of him, but all the accounts are essentially the same, with Luke's being the longest from the time the disciples arrive at the upper room to the time the group arrives at the Garden of Gethsemane, mainly due to the additional bulk from including those extra details.
John's account is radically different. First, it is the longest account of all the Gospels, stretching from John 13 to the end of John 17. Second, it omits the institution of the Communion which, in itself, is rather startling. Third, it includes the footwashing of the disciples that the Synoptics omit. And fourth, the greater proportion of the account happens during a time period about which the other three Synoptics say nothing.
We get so used to the idea of Jesus speaking in parables that we forget that he started to be more explicit about his fate the closer he got to the time of his Passion. These phrases, and the way they are used, are from the account of the Last Supper as given by the Apostle John, which is about as close to the Passion as they were going to get and still have the luxury of learning from him in a congenial atmosphere. Thus, we will sift through John's account looking for certain phraseology employed by Jesus to gain an understanding of what "In Christ" and "Christ in us" means.
The one-ness/in-ness texts occur in key portions of John's account, and thus also account for its extensive usage in Paul's writings. Other phrasology depends on this phraseology as well.
We first encounter this phrasology in John 14:10 and 11. I will quote the larger passage from verse 4 to 11:
And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.
The cyan text in verses 10 and 11 are the "in-ness" texts, and are intertwined with two other kinds of phrases that I will analyze shortly.
Another passage is John 14:20:
19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
The next in-ness passage is John 17:21-23:
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Do not be misled by the fact that there are only six of these passages since many other phrases used in the passage or by Paul are founded on these. For instance, there is John 13:20:
20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
The seriousness of this passage rests on the in-ness texts: if you do not believe Jesus is in the Father and the Father in him, then the implied threat in this passage of consequences of not receiving the one who sent Jesus is empty. The in-ness texts establish the identity of Jesus with the Father. Here is John 14:1-3:
1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
The purpose of identity is to ensure substitutability with confidence: if A equals B, then where A appears, then B can be substituted as well. If Jesus was not in the Father and the Father in Jesus, then the claim that one can believe in God and in Jesus equally is pure hubris. In addition, Jesus here claims that he has the property right to add on to the Residence of God the Father, and to invite sinners to enter that residence and abide with Jesus and God! I don't know how it goes in your house, but in mine, my sons still have to clear with me any invitation of someone over to our house. If it appears they didn't vet it with me, it was because I gave a 'standing invitation', which meant I knew the person being invited enough to give that sort of authority to my son to invite just that person.
There is a type of equality that is called property-equality : for two entities to be truly interchangeable, every critical (significant) property of one must also exist in the other. Interchangeability rests on the fact that the function of that which is being changed is tied to the properties that it has. Consequently, interchangeability does not exist if a critical property required for some function is different between the two entities. You can substitute painted wood for painted iron girders if the intent is to make a work of art, but not a skyscraper: strength is a critical property in the latter function, while color is the critical property in the former. It is the critical properties that allow us to know that the two entities are truly "one" or not. In John 14:7-10, Jesus builds on his "one-ness/in-ness" with the Father to state that they are property equivalent:
7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?
The John 14:20 passage adds something new:
19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
as does John 17:21-23:
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
These statements are carefully phrased so that there is no doubt that the one-ness/in-ness of Jesus with us is equivalent to that of the Father being in Jesus.
To what extent is this one-ness/in-ness a true one-ness/in-ness? There is no doubt about Paul's view of this "in-ness" relationship, since it can be deduced from this passage from 1 Corinthians 6:15-20:
15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. 16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
The language used here is quite graphic, and attempts to convey the literal shock Paul felt when thinking about Christian men sleeping with harlots and temple prostitutes. Apparently, while eating meat offered to idols was of no import to his mind, he was truly offended and greatly objected to the practice of commercial or ritual sex outside of marriage, viewing it as Christ, through the Christian, joining himself as one body to a representative of a demonic spirit. The language tells me that Paul viewed this oneness literally. (An aside here: I have been guilty of picturing the Holy Spirit as being within my brain-case, the size of a pearl, and situated on the border between my cerebelium and my cerebrum toward the back of my head. I now see that this is way too gnostic on my part based on this passage and on the observation that we are in him as well as him being in us. This language implies a form of co-extension, compatible with the Jewish view of the creation of God (including the human body) as being good. If we were to look at ourselves through the eyes of a spirit being such as an angel or a demon, I conjecture that we would see the Holy Spirit encasing our entire body quite closely, with the primary site of contact being where I imagined that pearl to be. However, it would be false to believe that he forms a thin outer layer either, for that would convey the notion that, though protective, the Spirit is reluctant to touch the physical body. Again, too gnostic: the "interface" between Sprit and the physical body of the Christian is three dimensional and thoroughly permeating and penetrating. I will not be graphic concerning the physical act of sexual union, but those familiar with it should realize that "one-ness" is attained by a partial physical inclusion of one partner within the other, and it is that three-dimensional aspect of unity and one-ness that is happening when the Holy Spirit inhabits the believer.)
I believe that Paul, while witnessing this conversation in vision, nodded knowingly while the memory of this particularly embarassing incident passed through his mind (Acts 9:1-9):
1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
Paul could honestly say "Did Jesus mean exactly what he said when he said we are one with him? You betcha! Been there, done that, got the mental trauma scars to prove it!"
Verse 22 of John 17 (the yellow mark-up) gives us another clue as to how true this "one-ness/in-ness" relationship is: the glory that Jesus gets from the Father is given to us! This builds on John 13:31-32:
31 Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.
Here is John 14:12-14:
12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
And here is John 15:7-8, finishing the parable of the Vine and the Branches:
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Here is John 17:1-5:
1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
and we have already noted what John 17:20-23 has said.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
There are many who look at verse 22 with extreme discomfort and will hastily remind anyone bold enough to believe it that Isaiah 42:8 and Isaiah 48:11 state that God would not give his glory to another. In a sense they are right, for an examination of the context of the Isaiah passages reveals that the "another" the Isaiah texts were referring to were the false gods represented by graven images. God's glory is the glory of acting on behalf of His people, and the verses mean that He won't tolerate the granting of the credit for his working, such as giving the rains in their due season, to another, such as Baal. The John 14:13 passage refers to Jesus getting glory because he answers the prayers of his disciples. The John 15:7-8 passage also promises the granting of whatever is asked of God, but it is God the Father who gets the glory. This goes against the assertions of those who hold it to be presumptuous or offensive for Christians who ask things of God based on a belief that He is a God who keeps His promises, pretending it is insulting to dare to "hold God to His Word!"
I think it is due to the "problem" that John 17:22 poses that few pastors preach the full impact of the in-ness/one-ness verses I have cited (lest the people "get uppity"), preferring to preach the single "abiding in" passage, which is from John 15:1-7:
1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Certainly the "Abide in me" phrasology is much more congenial for pulpiteering, since it is tied to the people bearing fruit, as well as providing a good excuse to chastise the people if they do not bear the fruit that the pastor thinks they must bear. ("Ye are idle, Ye are idle!")
Holding the "abiding" verses as being distinct from the "in-ness/one-ness" verses is contrary to John's later teaching on the matter. In 1 John 3:24, he says "And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." In 1 John 4:13 he says "Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit."
In my mind, the "abide in me" verses illuminate the human side of the "in-ness/one-ness" phenomenon that the phrasology attempts to describe, for one has to be "in him" before you can "abide (stay) in him". The implication of these verses is that, once we are "in him", the responsiblity for "staying (abiding) in him" is ours. As mentioned above, this is accomplished by the Spirit's indwelling in us.
To object to believing John 17:22 is clearly perilous, for Jesus' statement implies that the giving of the glory to us is necessary for us to be one "even as we (Jesus and the Father) are one". Given the centrality and foundational character of the "one-ness/in-ness" terminology being used in this passage, and which Paul clearly copied from the visions Jesus gave him of this time period, the giving of this glory (and our reception of it), is vitally necessary. It was very likely that this extensive use of this phrasology that led the disciples to believe he had really experienced a vision of Jesus Christ
So what are we to make of John 17:22? I finish with this aspect of the In-ness/One-ness terminology because this leads into the next pertinent theme of these passages from the Gospel of John.
God's Presence as His Glory
If the Bible provided a "Noah Webster" definition of "glory", there would be two entries. One would cite the Isaiah texts (and others) as "praise and credit given for a beneficial action". Another meaning is defined by its usage as signifying the presence of a "field effect" unique to God's presence. Just as an electric field is evidence that charged particles are present, and a magnetic field is evidence of a moving electric field, so the "glory of God" is evidence of God's presence. This seems to be what Jesus is talking about, since in John 17:5, he speaks of having this glory "which I had with thee (God the Father) before the world was." That is, long before the existence of foolish people who would credit blocks of stone and wood for the workings of the Ever Existing and Living God. Passages that use this word to signify the presence of God are Exodus 16:6-12, Exodus 29:43, Exodus 33:18-23, Exodus 40:34-35, 1 Kings 8:10-11, and Chronicles 7:1-3. The physics of God's Glory are hazy due to the non-existence of words that would convey the details with more precision. The few details we have are that the human sensory system perceives it as light, and there are adverse physiological side-effects when the field strength is especially high. In the Exodus 33:18-23 passage, when Moses asks to behold God's glory, God notes a few difficulties that He, God, has to work around:
18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. 19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. 20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. 21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: 22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: 23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.
There are some things that God physically cannot do, of which one is directly sustaining a person while that person is viewing His face. However, God makes use of a certain aspect of the nature of His glory to enable Moses to view it, which is that it is not evenly distributed throughout what passes for God's "body". God has a face, a back, and at least one hand. The glory "streams" from His face the most, and the physics of it and the structure of human beings does not allow God to spare or sustain the life of anyone who sees his face. However, it "attenuates" or becomes less intense based on how far away the body part of God is from the head. Thus, the hand is far enough away that it does not have a perceptible glory coming from it, so it can be used to shield Moses while God gets into position. God's back parts are intermediate in distance, so there is enough glory streaming from them for Moses to appreciate, yet not so much as to be totally overwhelming. Even then, God mandates that a certain amount of shielding is required between Himself and Moses, specifying that the view be constricted by Moses putting himself into a cleft of the rocks. This is similar to taking advantage of pre-existing structures in a radiological work environment to cut down on the amount of radiation picked up from nearby radioactive structures.
Follow the Glory
In Exodus 34:5-9, God makes good on his promise to show his back to Moses. What is significant is that it is the first thing God does when Moses returns to Sinai with two new tablets of stone for God to write the 10 commandments on. Exodus 34:28-35 reports the following:
28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. 29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. 30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. 31 And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. 32 And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai. 33 And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. 34 But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. 35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
I think it is obvious that Paul could not have helped but notice the significance of what Jesus said in John 17:22, and decided that the "glory" Jesus was referring to was this field effect that indicates the presence of God. It is the above passage that Paul expounds on in 2 Corinthians 3, the entire chapter of which is so significant that I will quote it here in full:
1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? 2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
The dark blue mark-up is to be read as counterpoint text to the green mark-up. The oppositions are designed to explore the differences in the "glory" as experienced by Moses and the Israelites, and the "glory" promised by Jesus Christ in John 17:22. Paul here is, to adapt a modern phrase, "following the glory". The first opposition is in verse 3, contrasting the hearts of the Christians against the tablets upon which the 10 commandments were written. The stone is hard and dead, while the hearts are fleshy and alive. The writing on the stones is done by chisel, while the writing on the hearts is the Holy Spirit (not by the Holy Spirit). The second opposition is in verse 6, where Paul contrasts the letter (of the law, the Torah) against the Spirit, stating that the letter kills but the Spirit gives life. To ensure that the "letter" he speaks of is understood as the Torah, he states that this killing letter is "the ministration of death written in stone". He admits that, based on Exodus 34, that ministration of death was with such glory that it made making Moses' face shine with acquired glory, terrifying the people. Yet, he insists that the glory that accompanied the ministration of condemnation is matched by the glory accompanying the ministration of the Spirit (Verses 7-8). For starters, the glory of the ministration of the Spirit exceeds the glory of the ministration of death (Verse 9). The contrast is so great, he claims, that the former glory cannot be counted as anything in contrast to the Latter glory (Verse 10). Why is this? Eventually, the glory in Moses' face died away. It was temporary. That glory passed away, to yield to the Glory that "remaineth" (Verse 11). Those who preach the ministration of the Spirit can speak plainly (verse 12), while those preaching the ministration of death have to hide the glory because it terrified the hearers (verse 13). What is tragic is that "the glory has departed", but the veil remains, clouding the vision of those reading the texts of the ministration of death, while those looking to Christ have the veil removed (verse 14). The veil was worn by Moses when he talked to the people, but he removed it when in the presence of the Lord, so Paul argues that the Christ takes the place of God, and the believers Moses. The veil is not a physical one, of course, but it shrouds the heart (verse 15), preventing an understanding of the Scriptures as well as keeping the Spirit from coming to write Himself upon it. This shrouding of the heart is taken away when one turns to the Lord (Verse 16). Not coincidentally, this same Lord is also the Spirit, and that Spirit is a liberating one (verse 17). Paul then transitions to the image of the believers beholding "as if in a glass" the glory of the Lord (verse 18). This beholding causes a transformation of the beholders into the same image from glory (like Moses' glory) to glory (the present one). And how is this effected? "Even as by the Spirit of the Lord." This last opposition is implied, and takes off on the origin of the glory. The glory that attached itself to Moses was attained by him beholding God's Back, while we move from glory to glory by beholding the face of Jesus Christ "as in a glass". The glory of Moses was attained by being in God's presence and may have received booster shots when Moses took the veil off, but it eventually died away. In contrast, the believer who beholds the glory of the Lord "as in a glass", moves from one level of glory to a higher one "even as by the Holy Spirit."
(An aside: this passage is so full of significant information pertinent to the activity of the Holy Spirit that it would take an entire essay to do it justice. However, I will point out one aspect for my readers to meditate upon. This is the phrasology of verse 3, where it is said that the Epistle of Christ is written on the human heart (the page) with the Holy Spirit as the ink. It is not that the Holy Spirit writes on the heart, as if He was a scribe impressing the thoughts of Jesus upon the paper, in the same way that the words of the ministration of death were forcibly chiseled into a stone by the process of gouging from it pieces of the stone itself. The violence of the chisling process is greatly moderated when the technology shifts from chisel and stone to pen, ink, and paper, but there is an image of separate-ness involved and being conveyed. This is not so with the Holy Spirit, who does not take on the role of the scribe, but of the ink. One of the major problems that had to be solved when modern laser printer technology was being developed was the problem of getting ink to be bonded to the paper quickly enough so that it does not smear while the printed page goes through the last few rollers and wheels. The letter being written would get smeared and become less legible if the ink does not become part of the paper itself. The ink must merge itself with the paper so it is "one" with it, so that the message cannot be smeared and rendered illegible, but remain plain and readable.)
The phrasology of 2 Corinthians 3:18 is of interest to us, for it talks of the Spirit changing us.. This is done as we "with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord". This is interesting terminology, for the word used for "glass" is actually better translated as "mirror". It is not the same glass that is darkly looked through in 1 Corinthians 13, but reflects the face of the beholder by design. We are not seeing Jesus through a mirror, but we are looking in the mirror and behold, reflected in that mirror, "the glory of the Lord" that is emanating from us. As we behold this glory, "we are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Holy Spirit." What we see in this mental mirror is not Jesus Christ. Rather, it is His glory, which he said, in John 17:22, that he got from the Father and would give to us. This glory can be likened to radiation, which allows us to see and will transform us as we expose ourselves to it. As I have noted before, this glory is not God, but is an emission of sorts from God that is an infallible indicator of His presence. Those objecting to people sharing in the glory of God per the statement of Jesus ignore the evidence out of a mistaken reverence while implying that Jesus is a liar. Moses is an example of a human being sharing in God's glory. So what member of the Godhead, therefore, is present within the believer, who is the source of the glory that is the unmistakeable evidence of their presence?
The Comforter Passages
I will now address the "Comforter" passages of John's account. Some of Paul's teaching and thinking about the Holy Spirit have their base in these passages, reflecting points in the evening that Paul saw in vision. Unlike the "in-ness/one-ness" passages, they are all fairly consistent. The first is from John 14:16-18:
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
This passage is familar to us, describing the Comforter as coming from God the Father, abides within us, and stays with us forever. He is called the Spirit of truth, and he is knowable because he dwells with us and within us. He has a personality because Jesus uses "He" instead of "It". It is through the Comforter, by whom the Father and the Son commune perfectly together, that allows Jesus to say, in verse 18, that he would come to us. This fits perfectly with Paul's phrasology of the Spirit being the ink that writes the message of Christ in the human heart. The apostle John also had no problem understanding that the Spirit abode within people. Here is 1 John 3:20-24. Note that he uses the "abiding in us" language when Jesus gave the parable of the Vine and the Branches, and tells us plainly how we know we abide in Him:
20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
The next is from John 14:25-26:
25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
And here is John 15:26-27:
26 "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
While the first described the Holy Spirit, these two define His mission. Firstly, he is to teach us all things. For this teaching to be useful, it has to be true, so one would expect good teaching out of the Spirit of Truth. The second is that he is to bring all things to their remembrance, including the words that Jesus spoke. Just as Paul, in his letter to Timothy, counseled him to read and teach the Scriptures until he came, I recommend a continued study of the Scriptures. I will discuss how the Spirit interacts with such a regimen of study later in this essay in brief, and more fully when I address Stage 2.
Here is John 16:5-11:
5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? 6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
This passage teaches that the Comforter not only interacts with the disciples, but His coming also convicts the world of sin (unbelief in Jesus), of righteousness, and of judgment (the judging of the prince of this world).
The first work of the Spirit is an indirect reference to the Weslyan concept of prevenient grace. The only way that the Spirit can convict anyone of sin is to physically enter into the person and physically affect neurotransmitters and current flows to generate the sense of being convicted of one's sins. This conviction is all that the Spirit does within that person while they do not believe in Jesus Christ. The moment the person accepts Jesus as the Christ and their Lord and Savior, then sin is erased by the atoning effects of his spilled blood, removing the need of imposing conviction on the individual. Further conviction would constitute an unjust accusation, which God has historically treated as being equivalent to the accuser committing the crime of which he is accusing the innocent person. This the Spirit never does, because the Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and knows the true state of the individual.
It should be pointed out that the imposition of conviction is a work of the Spirit, and not of man. While evangelists are called to preach the Word of God, they should not believe that they create conviction within the hearts of their hearers. It is notable that the most well-known "hellfire and brimstone" preachers who preach as if it was their job to convict the sinner happen to be Calvinists, so it is rather ironic that those so zealous for God's glory insist on taking on a job reserved for the Holy Spirit.
The second work of the Spirit can be somewhat perplexing unless it is seen in light of what happened to Stephen. Recall that the Sanhedrin ceased being a Court of Law and became a bloodthirsty mob in response to Stephen's testimony that he saw Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of the Father. These were the men who had condemned Jesus as a blasphemer, so this testimony was actually a statement that God had found their judgment as wrong, and that their hands were stained with the blood of an innocent man. The Ascension of Christ, and the continuing fact of his being ascended, is a testmony to the entire world that Jesus is right and that all other men claiming to speak for God are wrong. In passing, I point out that this is a clear contradiction of the Muslim belief that Mohammed was the greatest of the Prophets: he supposedly had visited heaven briefly before he died, but the "prophet" he supposedly displaced as the "greatest" lives on and has resided in heaven since his Ascension, per the testimony of the Koran itself! It seems to me that Solomon's observation that a live dog is better than a dead lion applies here, although when talks of Jesus, he is more a live lion than a dog!
The third work of the Spirit has more implications than at first sight. Note that "judgment" is not reserved for the world, but for Satan, the true ruler of this world. The world, at this time, does not get judgment from the Spirit, but conviction of that judgment. Judgment implies that guilt has already been established and that all that is being carried out is the sentencing and carrying out of the punishment: there is no chance of blocking judgment nor evading the punishment.
It is a fact that the majority of wars cease when the leadership of the enemy is destroyed or captured. Remaining elements of the enemy naturally give up their arms and cease fighting when informed by a trustworthy means, such as an order issued through the military chain of command. Holdouts are either uninformed or are mutinous units meriting ruthless elimination. This language states that the Head of the World system is judged, implying that all hold-outs informed of the judgment yet still rebel against the conqueror are mutinous and no longer deserve the protection of the usual Laws of War. The coming of the Holy Spirit does not perform that judgment, for that was done by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Rather, the job of the Holy Spirit here is to duly inform (convict) the world of that judgment. The world may not believe the message given by the Spirit of that judgment, but because it is coming by the Spirit of Truth, they have no excuse for not believing it. Continued belief that the devil is "the ruler of this world", rather than a rebel leader on the run committing acts of terrorism, is akin to surrendering the portion of the world you are responsible for to him. Why people should believe that the Great Commission is binding on them and yet do not believe the preamble that "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth" haven't thought through the implications of the Cross and what Jesus did on it and through it.
Here is John 16:12-15. It is a "Comforter" verse because the Comforter is the Spirit of truth as well, so the phrase "spirit of truth" signals a "Comforter" verse:
12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
Verse 12 is Jesus' frank assessment that the Disciples were not mentally prepared to accept everything that Jesus wanted to tell them, so he assures them in verse 13 that the Holy Spirit would teach them and guide them unto all the Truth. Verses 14 and 15 are equally pertinent: the Spirit was to take of Jesus and show it to the disciples, including those things that the Father gives to Jesus. This teaching even extends to "glorifying me (Jesus)".
I can now state my belief of what Paul "brought to the table", and is based on the fact that this passage explicitly states that the disciples were not mentally prepared to absorb everthing that Jesus wanted to tell them. This is a common phenomenon encountered by educators at all levels of instruction, and a considerable amount of work is invested in coming up with different formats and orders of presentation. Students considerably underestimate the value of them asking questions to clarify their thinking about the material being taught: they may believe that they are only clarifying some point in their own minds, but the truly great educators use the questions to gauge the effectiveness of their instruction for the entire class.
My belief is that the difficulty the disciples were having truly understanding what Jesus was saying was because they were hearing these passages pre-Pentecost/pre-symbiosis. While they certainly had a lot of personal experience with people who had the Holy Spirit (Jesus and John the Baptist), they had zero experience with the Holy Spirit himself. I am continually frustrated with the belief people seem to have, when I am giving some involved explanation of a technical issue, that they can reproduce everything I am saying without taking copious notes. It isn't until later, when they have to actually perform that which I was trying to instruct them in, that they realize that their belief in their abilities to recall complex information and instruction as being adequare is actually quite unfounded. I am sure the Disciples were nodding their heads and thinking they would have no trouble recalling every detail of this Last Supper, but the reality is otherwise: the lack of this discussion in the Synoptic accounts of the Last Supper clearly tell us that they "didn't get it".
What Paul "brought to the table" was a brilliant mind trained by rigorous debate at the foot of one of the finest Rabbis of that age listening in on this conversation with the benefit of a post-Pentecost experience. It was easy for him to compare what he experienced when he received the Holy Spirit with what Jesus was saying. He would be nodding and saying, "Yes, I can see what Jesus meant by that!" all the time. Although he did not have the benefit of the modern concept of Symbiosis, the experience he had with the Holy Spirit being literally within him led him to realize that Jesus' vocabulary was the most optimal for describing the phenomenon. Ask any educator, and they will tell you that a steel-trap mind pre-prepared by experience to have the correct initial assumptions that help them capture and focus on the real essenials is the mind that will benefit the most from instruction.
There is a lot of dispute about the dating of the Gospels and of the supposed root document ("Q") from which they sprang, but there seems to be no disputing the fact that any written documents that were the Gospels, or the prior document on which they are supposedly based, did not include these details of the Last Supper that John's Gospel divulged decades later. It was the use of this vocabulary that established, in the minds of the Disciples who had heard it directly from Jesus, the truth of Paul's claim that Jesus showed him, in vision, the key events of his life on earth. To their credit, they did not behave toward Paul like the people of Nazareth behaved toward Jesus when confronted with this evidence of intimate knowledge of a time period they had not written or spoken about publicly because they did not understand it at the time they heard it. The Nazarites were openly offended at the thought that Jesus had somehow broken out of the intellectual box they had constructed to contain him in over the years of his childhood and early adulthood among them, but the disciples avoided that pitfall. In truth, if they were the suspicious sort given to conspiracy theories, they would have all looked at John and accused him of coaching Saul/Paul.
These verses are quite explicit in saying that the Comforter is sent by the Father at the request of the Son to dwell in the disciples, and there are measurable benefits. This is in contrast to the "one-ness/in-ness" verses, which give information about what appears to be an internal relationship between the Father, Jesus, and those who believe that Jesus and the Father are One. Jesus promises that this one-ness allows him to bestow the glory he has from the Father on us, but that merely is an indicator of the internal presence of Diety.
However, there is a signifiant point that further distinguishes the Comforter verses from the "one-ness/in-ness" verses: the Holy Spirit is notably absent from the latter set of verses. There is no talk of the Holy Spirit being in the Father or in the Son: the only "in-ness" talk worth noting is that the Holy Spirit will be "in us", but there is no talk of us being in the Holy Spirit coming from Jesus' lips during this discourse. However, there are many other verses elsewhere in the New Testament that imply that there is such a thing as us being "in the Spirit". Jesus talks about worshipping the Father "in spirit and in truth" in John 4:23. He masterfully stumped the Pharisees and lawyers by citing a verse from the Psalms by David. Here is the passage from Matthew 22:41-46:
41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.
In this case, David was "in spirit" when he prophesied about Jesus in verse 44.
The letter to the Galatians was Paul's first written epistle, and he states in Galatians 3:1-5:
1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. 5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
In Galatians 5:16-26, he further elaborates what it means to walk "in the Spirit", tying it to the production of the Fruit of the Spirit:
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
In Romans 8:1-9, Paul again contrasts being "in the Spirit" against being "in the flesh":
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
These verses explicitly state that being "in the Spirit" is the same as the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.
What was John the Apostle's take on being "in the Spirit"? In 1 John 3:24, he says "And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." In 1 John 4:13 he says "Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit." Thus, the evidence of us being "in the Spirit" is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
There is a definite functional aspect to being "in the Spirit". In Ephesians 6:18, Paul states that prayer is to be made "in the Spirit". adding to Jesus' words in John 4:23 to worship God "in Spirit and in truth" (which Paul also echos in Philippians 3:3). Since prayer is a vital part of worship, it makes sense that the component practices that constitute worshipping "in spirit" should also be "in the Spirit".
The Nature of the Holy Spirit's Work within the Trinity
In the absence of self-revelation, speculation on the natural history of Deus would be an exercise of vanity and a striving after wind. However, the above verses constitute a member of Deus giving information about the inner workings of the Godhead. This is not merely to satisfy our curiosity, but to help us understand the profound offer being made by Jesus to the disciples, and to us through them. My understanding of the reason that the "one-ness/in-ness" verses never mention the Holy Spirit is that the Holy Spirit is the mechanism by which the Trinity is made One. The Holy Spirit appears in the phrasology as the sentence structure within which the nouns referring to the Father and the Son, gluing the two together. Take the phrase "The Father is in me, and I am in the Father". Remove the nouns and you get "__ is in __, and __ am in __". Take the phrase "I am in you, and you are in me.". Remove the nouns and you also get "__ am in __, and __ are in __". Outside of the frame of the sentence, the two nouns stand apart. Place them within the phrase, and their unity is effected.
As an illustration, consider any really fine piece of wooden furniture that has been glued together. The skill of the craftsman is determined by the invisibility of the glue. Without the glue, the wood pieces of the furniture are many and apart. They cannot connect together or remain together. They need the glue to "become one". However, the illusion of "oneness" is maintained by the fact that the glue is not seen, and any signs of glue apparent on the exterior of the furniture is a sign of sloppy craftsmanship.
Here is how this concept of the Holy Spirit being the bonding mechanism within the Trinity explains Jesus' verbiage: the Spirit is given to each believer to effect a bond between him and Jesus that constitutes Jesus being in the believer and the believer in Jesus. This bond is exactly the same as that between Jesus and the Father, because it is effected by the same mechanism, which is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Being a member of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit's presence is signalled by "glory". This "glory" is exactly the same as that which the Father gives to the Son, and which Jesus then gives to us. Just as a magnetic field indicates the presence of flowing electrons, so the glory within us indicates the presence of Diety within us.
The "in Christ" and "Christ in us" phrasology is thus a remapping of Jesus' "The Father is in me and I am in the Father". The first part of the mapping requires that Jesus have the Holy Spirit to enter into the "in-ness" relationship effected by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was given to Jesus at his baptism, and it was at that moment that he was literally connected to his Father while in human form. Though he was conceived of the Holy Spirit, it was not the same as John the Baptist's being anointed with the Holy Spirit from Elizabeth's womb. The fact that he did not have this connection was the reason why he insisted that John baptize him "in order to fulfill all righteousness". The phrasology is interesting: Jesus' righteousness was not fulfilled until the Holy Spirit came. He may have lived a sinless life, but "righteousness" demanded that he be baptized. Baptism, as John the Baptist preached, was symbolic of the Baptism by Fire that the one who would come after him, and who was greater than he, would baptise his followers. This was essentially a prediction that was fulfilled at Pentecost, establishing the truth of John's preaching and his claim of being a true prophet sent from God. John the Baptist's doubt about the truth of Jesus being the Messiah was alleviated when Jesus exercised miracles of liberation in front of the messengers he sent. (An aside: the term "righteousness" is not only a theological term, but also an engineering one as well. "Righteousness" is essentially doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, for the right reason. Engineers know that one has to get all these things "right" before any mechanism, complicated or simple, will function as intended. Indeed, the more complex the mechanism, the more rigorous one must be in this kind of "righteousness".)
In these verses, Jesus prays that the Holy Spirit be given to the Disciples (and to us, per John the Apostle). This effects a unity similar to that between Jesus and the Father. The bond of the Spirit between Jesus and the Father forms the Trinity. In the same way, the bond of the Spirit between Jesus and us pulls us into the Trinity.
Having accomplished my goal of explaining the "In Christ/Christ in us" terminology, I will address the benefits that this unity gives us after I address a "pet peeve" of mine.
Too Good of a Job?
Based on my reading and listening to religious radio, I believe that many theologians, pastors, religious writers, and bible scholars have adopted an extremely unhealthy attitude toward the Holy Spirit that is not only scripturally unjustified, but may prove harmful to them at a personal level. These individuals appear to believe that John 15:26 and John 16:13-14 teach that the Holy Spirit has a zero-footprint personality, leading to such a belief manifesting itself as a perverse delight in putting down Pentecostals and Charismatics who demonstrate manifestations of the Holy Spirit by reminding them that "the Holy Spirit doesn't speak of Himself, but only of Jesus!" in a tone and manner that suggests "And you shouldn't either!" Such people would lodge similar complaints against the emphasis of this website on the Holy Spirit and his interactions since, "after all, he doesn't speak of Himself, but only of Jesus, so you shouldn't either!" It is rather strange to read the final book of Dr. LaHaye's "Left Behind" series, Kingdom Come, where its wooden biblical characters (including Jesus) continuously spout long passages from the bible in semi-King James English (as if they themselves were incapable, in real life, of an original thought), yet encounter far fewer words concerning the Holy Spirit in the book than what Jesus and Paul said and wrote about Him. This attitude reaches astounding depths in Frank Viola's "From Eternity to Here". As an example, he adapts the story of Rebecca's courting to his concept that the Church, as a collective entity, is the literal Bride of Christ (and illustrating the problems inherent in taking a metaphor too far). He maps the Church to Rebecca, God the Father to Abraham, and Jesus to Isaac. The Holy Spirit is relegated to the nameless servant Abraham sends to fetch a bride for Isaac. Mr. Viola has him talking up Isaac to Rebecca to illustrate how the Holy Spirit plays up Jesus without calling attention to Himself. (An aside: a review of Mr. Viola's personal history that he gives at the end of the book indicates a man of questionable character since he is not above stooping to the use of a patently invalid argument to put down the charismatic branch of Christianity. He is probably counting on the intellectual and scholastic distain potential reviewers have for the "hands-on" "blue collar" emphasis of a personal interaction with the Holy Spirit emphasized by that part of the Body of Christ to "avoid" noticing his hypocrisy. While he shows good scholastic rigor in some of his other books (such as "Pagan Christianity"), the intellectual foundations of "From Eternity to Here" are rather shaky. The introductory quote of the book is from Ivan Illich, an Austrian philosopher, who states the best way to change a society is to put forth an alternative story more gripping and exciting than the currently held one. His "narrative" explanation of the "new creature" in Jesus Christ as a new species is so woefully and painfully inadequate, I felt like a Quantum Phycisist reading an amateurish stab at explaining his latest work by a fifth-string science reporter. Truth? Provability? "Irrelevant to The Alternative Story!" I hear him saying. Mr. Viola's re-interpretation of the "real meaning" of the Rebecca story also betrays his lack of attention to details, for he overlooks the fact that the servant makes no attempt to locate Abraham's family upon his arrival at Haran as he was ordered to do by his master. Instead, he resorts to "potluck" by sending up a prayer to Abraham's God asking for someone to water his camels insead of doing it himself. No one, in a real sense, selects Rebecca: the girl selects herself by her willingness to work for the benefit of the nameless servant. If Rebecca had respected the servant as "much" as Mr. Viola respects the Holy Spirit, she would have perished nameless in Haran, her name among our daughters long replaced by one who possessed more sense and less pride.)
There is no incongruity nor contradiction with a Holy Spirit who does not call attention to Himself and the attention paid to Him by Charismatics, Pentecostals, and this website, as is claimed by such critics, for just because someone doesn't draw attention to himself in the course of pursuing an objective in a professional and deliberate manner for the benefit of others does not impose a requirement of silence upon his beneficiaries. In the real world, pointing out the vital function that such people play in a society, praising them for their service, admiring their selfless professionalism, encouraging our youth to emulate their example, and informing everyone that their work is made easier and more effective on our behalf by an educated cooperation on our part, is called gratitude. However, it appears these "educated" individuals hold such an attitude as superfluous with regard to the Holy Spirit. If the explanations coming out of the mouths of theologians regarding our obligations toward the Holy Spirit in response to His working sound eerily like the explanations coming out of the mouths of teenagers explaining why they don't have to thank their grandparents for their birthday or Christmas presents, with names changed, then a rebuke of them as being lazy and ungrateful is called for. In the same way that a rarely seen skin cancer in Homosexuals became a reliable marker for AIDS, ingratitude has always been recognized by the wise as a spiritual disease that is a reliable marker for pride.
I would normally grant a measure of indulgence to such people if they pleaded an ignorance of the Holy Spirit's implementative work within us due to the fact that the Spirit Himself does such a good job of representing Jesus within us without calling attention to Himself that missing Him was easy to do. However, I cannot do so because this explanation is patently untrue: the witness and works of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements should have given notice that something bigger was at play, but to recognize that would have been an admission that God had bypassed the religious wise of the present age to work on the Church "from the ground up". Instead, the "few King Sauls, the few Baalams, the few Samsons" (Viola, "From Eternity to Here", P 294) are brought forth and paraded about as reasons for not inquiring further into the matter, depriving the movement of an orderly analysis and exposition that would have put matters on a firmer basis. Saul and Samson were followed by David, and Baalam by the Prophets of Israel, all of whom were better than their predecessors because they studied what had gone wrong before, took warning, and eventually figured out how to separate the baby from the bathwater. The spectacular proportions of the failures of Pentecostal ministers of late is entirely consistent with the size of the forces they foolishly mis-manipulate. Popping a test tube of hydrogen in a school science lab to impress the girls is one thing, while fusing the same to vaporize Elugelab is quite another, but to deliberately confound the two to excuse oneself from exploring the real differences takes a certain amount of deliberative misrepresentation that does not deserve any indulgence when one gets caught doing it.
I remind all with an ungrateful attitude toward the Holy Spirit to recognize, from Paul's illustration of the balancing of the parts of the body and James' counsel on the treatment of the poor in the Church, that God continues to balance function, power, and honor by investing those lacking one aspect with a greater measure of the other two. The exact distribution will be discussed in the introductory essay of Stage Two.
Works as Benefit and Proof
There are two different defintions of "works" that are given in the New Testament. One definition is embodied in the phrase "works of the law". This definition has "works" being those human efforts to keep the law and gain righteousness and good standing before God based on the power of one's will and effort. Paul's teaching is that all such works are vain and useless when it comes to attaining right standing before God. Those attempting to gain right standing before God in this way are said to be "in the flesh".
The second definition is exemplified in the below passage from John 5:16 - 20, after Jesus healed the paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda:
16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.
Jesus had told the paralytic to take up his bed and take it home, and the paralytic had obeyed, incurring the wrath of the Pharisees. In his defense, the paralytic had reasoned that the one who healed him had the authority to command him to "break" the Sabbath.
17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. 19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
In this case, the works that Jesus did were the works that his Father did.
To go over all the verses which refer to Jesus' works and show that they were miracles would make a long essay even longer. Instead, I invite you to visit this search results page where I searched for the word "works" in the Gospels and note how many obviously refer to Jesus' miracles.
Having established that the works Jesus did were miracles, I cite these verses from John 14:7-14:
7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. 12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
The blue mark-up is the basis for John the Apostle's "dwelling in" terminology in 1 John 3:24 and 1 John 4:13. Jesus' claim that the disciples would do the same works he did (and greater ones) in verse 12 is because of the indwelling of the Father within him. Since there is no record of Jesus doing any such works before his baptism and recepit of the Holy Spirit, we conclude that these works flow from the connectivity between himself and the Father that the coming of the Holy Spirit effected. The works, in a sense, flow from being part of the Trinity. Similarly, the reception of the Holy Spirit within us effects a connection between us and Jesus that causes us to become part of the Trinity, enabling us to do the same works that Jesus did. And if we are not to make Jesus a liar, we must do greater works than Jesus did.
I know that there are many in Christendom that are skeptical of what I have just said, and strive to turn these verses into commands to perform acts of charity that require personal sacrifice and effort, citing the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. However, this is merely doing works according to the flesh rather than of the Spirit, as well as being selective with what one believes from the Gospels. This is not to say that these are bad works: I have no doubt that up until his baptism by John, Jesus performed many good works of charity and kindness that were based on his physical, mental, and social capabilities that we, looking at them, would recognize as being within our abilities as human beings as well. In this case, a work of the flesh is better named a work by the flesh. That is, these are done by natural physical and mental capabilities that we all are born with.
This seeming conflict between what can be done and what I argue Jesus is promising in the John 14 passage can be easily resolved if we recognize that Jesus was talking to people pre-Pentecost. In his wisdom, and with the support of the Father, Jesus gave commands that he knew were within the span of the capabilities they possessed at that time. In contrast, he demanded more of his disciples, and dared them, in John 14, to believe that they would exceed him in greatness of works. To whom much is given is much required. That they failed is not due to any invalidity of Jesus' words, but is due to a lack of belief in his words. These men had worked miracles themselves, and yet their belief was not deep enough to allow them to accomplish what Jesus said they could do.
Having said this, it would be uncharitable for me to say that the disciples got utterly nothing from this post-Supper/pre-Gethsemane discourse of Jesus'. They got something. Unfortunately, it was not based on doing what I would call a thorough Post-Pentecost "audit" where they compared what Jesus had said with what subsequently happened. I think John did something like that afterwards, but probably in response to Paul's laying out of his understanding of the Gospel to the disciples that Paul later recounted in his letter to the Galatians. John didn't make much of an impact, for it seems that, being the junior disciple in age, he suffered from the cultural bias against youth in the face of aged experience that Paul later warned Timothy about. For all we know, Paul probably had John in mind when he gave his counsel to Timothy. It was not until John was much older, with all the other disciples martyred, that he came in on his own and, as we have seen, came down solidly on an understanding of the Christian life similar to Paul's, which was one based on the power of the Holy Spirit working within and through the individual believers acting in concert as the Body of Christ. Paul's pithy comment about "reputed pillars of the church" is probably his rueful assessment of the disciple's continued inability to "get it".
I will begin to address what that "something" was on the next page.
The "Word" Passages
The "Word" passages refer to those verses in John's account of the Last Supper that contain or refer to words. Allow me to requote John 14:7-10:
7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
Note the very interesting transition in verse 10, where Jesus starts with speaking about "works", but transitions from the works of the Father within him to the words that he spoke.
Most people, reading this passage, would not think a second thought about it, but this happens to be the basis of how Symbiotic Christianity works. Although we do not know the exact details to the extent of duplicating it ourselves mechanically, we know that "words" that are "heard" within the mind are actually thoughts generated by neurons being stimulated by neurotransmitters and electric discharges across synapses, and which are perceived by the Inner Man. When the Holy Spirit suppresses a thought or generates a thought, He does so by miraculously interacting with brain chemistry and electric currents. This "work" affects neurotransmitters and electric discharges. If these chemical and electric interactions create the same thought patterns that occur when we recall a memory of someone speaking to us, then that same memory is faithfully reproduced.
It is by this same mechanism that the Father "spoke" to Jesus: Here is John 12:48-49
48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
It is by this same mechanism that the Trinity speaks "words" that we hear. In what had to have been under very memorable circumstances, the synoptic gospels (Matthew 10:19, Mark 13:11, and Luke 12:11-12) all report the following words of Jesus:
11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say. (Luke 12:11-12)
John does not cite his version of this verse because he has a more encompassing definition of what is happening. This comes from John 14:24-26.
24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. 25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
The process by which what happens in verse 24 is identical to that which the Holy Spirit does in verse 26. That is, the Holy Spirit both teaches all things and brings all things to their rememberance (especially what Jesus had said) by working within the mind of the believer by generating thoughts within the mind that the Inner Man perceives as words.
Note that this working of the Holy Spirit within the mind that generates thoughts interpreted as words is characteristic of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus desired to communicate with men after his ascension, he exclusively used visions that took over the visual system. The only seeming contradiction is illustrative of the very real problems inherent in this communication process. Here is Acts 16:6-11
6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis.
Verses 6 and 7 recount two attempts by Paul and his companions to enter areas into which they presumed that the Spirit was leading them, only to be blocked. This is known as "God opening and shutting doors", and is regarded in some circles as an optimal method for determining the Will of God for unfathomable and incomprehensible reasons known only to God the Holy Spirit, who was privy to the circumstances of their generation but whose words (generated to express a contrary opinion) were not allowed to get in edge-wise. In the end, the Spirit gave a "vision" that uttered the words that I am sure he was speaking, but which Paul, for equally unfathomable and incomprehensible reasons, did not allow himself to entertain. The combination of "vision" and word established the validity of words previously submitted but disregarded. They proceeded to Greece, eventually arrived at Philippi, and founded one of the most trouble-free churches known in the New Testament epistles.
I put "vision" in quotes, because the circumstances of the "vision" do not classify it as a vision. A "vision" not involving Jesus Christ that takes place at night which confirms a word being generated by the Spirit, but not heeded, is not actually a vision but a dream. Doubtless, the avoidance of the actual word was intended to not lend credence to the belief that God always speaks to men via dreams, which seems to be a belief universally afflicting the spiritually immature of all ages and all cultures, and which Luke was doubtless taking pains to avoid activating or endorsing. We will discuss the problems inherent in hearing the words that Jesus promised we would hear from him via the Holy Spirit when we start Stage 2, but I will remark on one here, which arises from the phenomenon of cogeneration. I have written before about the vigorous dislike of the Holy Spirit to be confused with demons. One aspect of demon possession that the Holy Spirit goes out of His way NOT to emulate is the totality of mental possession. The full taking-over of the consciousness of the man with the consequential erasure of all volition and choice is characteristic of demon possession. This is so abhorrent to the Spirit of Liberty that the accusation that He does the same in any specific case is regarded as the unforgiveable sin of Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. To preserve human will and the ability to freely choose, the Spirit opts to "cogenerate" thoughts. These thoughts are mixed in with the thoughts of the Heart, and it is the duty of the redeemed Inner Man to learn to distinguish between the two and to always "select" to obey those thoughts identifiable as the Holy Spirit's.
Because righteousness does not bring inerrancy, the process of classifying thoughts is still prone to error. It appears that when correct identification of thoughts is absolutely necessary, the Holy Spirit resorts to taking over the vision system so that the words heard while the vision is being shown can be correctly identified as coming from the Holy Spirit. In this case, because Paul was used to visions being visions of Jesus, the Spirit opted to work by generating thoughts that created a "vision" while Paul was asleep so that it was not mistaken as a vision from Jesus. While people may have great problems with God taking over their vision system while they are awake, there is a general acceptance of God giving "night visions" that generates visual imagery (dreams) while asleep. Dreams are generally uncontrollable by the Inner Man, so there is little objection to God stepping in and influencing what is otherwise uncontrollable. Even then, we see the hand of the Holy Spirit in Paul's "night vision": the main message is communicated by spoken words coming from the image of the Macedonian. The imagery does not replace the words. Rather, the imagery is used to "validate" the words being spoken, serving as a "marker" that can be used to properly classify the words/thoughts as being from God.
This issue of hearing thought words is much more fundamental than it first appears. It actually was the basis for the very first battle Jesus fought against the forces of darkness.
The Symbiotic Temptations
Much has been written about the three temptations of Jesus in the wilderness, all of which attempt to adapt them so that preachers and pastors could apply them to Christians under the assumption that they continue to be sinful and prone to temptation. The implication is that what Jesus did to combat them could be used by Christian sinners to avoid sucumbing to temptation as well. This is a mistaken view, founded upon the core misunderstanding that the apostles gained from Jesus' Last Supper discourse recorded in the Gospel of John. In reality, the temptations target key elements of Homo/Deus symbiosis. We must properly analyze and understand The Symbiotic Temptations to dispose of an argument that would be given to defend the mistaken interpretation of Jesus' discourse that the apostles (with the exception of John) promulgated after Paul was chosen as a disciple.
Mark refers to the temptations in passing, and John does not mention them at all. The detailed accounts are in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, differing only in the order of the last two temptations. I am inclined to believe that the order given in Matthew is correct for reasons that I will give later. While Luke is the more careful historian, Matthew as a disciple of Jesus was closer to the primary source of this account than Luke.
The Real First Temptation
1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
I have been reading the collected writings of Smith Wigglesworth, a Pentecostal preacher active in the late 19th through early 20th centuries. It was his view that many of the miracles of healing that were effected through him required the casting out of demons from the physical body parts that were diseased. I point this out that, while "we" have been casting out demons for decades, a fresh set of eyes on the problem always seem to yield new insights. John Eldredge's systematization of the tactics of demonic activity as given in his chapters on "The Battle" in his book "Wild at Heart" is one such new insight. While the focus has traditionally centered on detection and eradication of demons, Eldredge focussed on what one could call their "battle tactics". He has proposed that specific demon tactics are employed in a phased sequence of battles that are part of a larger overall campaign to bring down the Christian. The first tactic is "I am not here." That is, various temptations, trials, conflicts, and troubles that are actually caused by demons are not correctly attributed by the targeted Christian to demons because the demons have convinced the victims that "we are not here". Thus, the victims pursue various methods in a vain pursuit to fix the problems, address the conflicts, and endure the temptations. I recount here my personal experience with one such goose-chase. Obviously, this tactic works only as long as the victim remains ignorant of the demonic origin of the problem, and I note from Wigglesworth's writings and sermons that he stated several times that Pentecostal preachers were occasionally ineffective in healing someone because they did not distinguish between illnesses that had natural causes and afflictions of the body and mind that sprang from demon activity. In other words, those preachers thought that demons "were not here". One of the most singular failures of mis-diagnosis is given in Matthew 17:14-21, where the disciples could not "heal" a boy whose father insisted he was "lunatic". The people of Jesus' time have been wrongly accused of atrributing all menal disorders to evil spirits, but this ignores the many passages where people attribute certain behaviors to being "out of one's mind" or "lunatic". The disciples assumed the father was right and tried to heal the boy rather than exorcise the devil that was the true origin of the affliction. Jesus' reference to "this kind comes out only by prayer and fasting" makes people believe that "prayer and fasting" brings spiritual authority, but this is not the case. Prayer and fasting helps you connect more closely with God, and especially with the Holy Spirit within you, improving the communication process between you so that the Spirit can be more clearly heard when He speaks about the spiritual reality behind physical conditions.
I am aware that the first tempation has traditionally been regarded as the temptation to turn stone into bread. However, I hold that the purpose of the temptations were to destroy the symbiotic union of the first Homo/Deus Exemplar. The text expressly says that the Spirit told Jesus to go into the wilderness and gave, as a reason, that he would be tempted by the devil. Jesus goes, and a week passes, and no temptation. The second week goes by and still no devil. Three weeks go by, and what happens is that nothing happens. Four weeks pass, then five, and still no devil.
What is the temptation? It is Jesus saying to himself, "Did I hear the Holy Spirit correctly? Did He really say that I was supposed to come out here for the purpose of getting tempted? Sure doesn't look like it to me!" This is the devil using the first tactic, "I am not here", to sow doubt in Jesus' mind regarding the validity of the thoughts coming from the Holy Spirit.
I believe that the lesson for present-day Christian Symbiotes is this: often that which the Spirit tells us is coming up or is to be done is conditioned on the actions and spiritual maturity of others as well as ourselves. Delay is not a disproof. It is said that God answers every prayer in three ways: yes, no, and wait. The problem is that "wait" is actually a "yes" that looks like a "no". The writer of Hebrews precedes his Roll Call of the Heroes of Faith (Hebrews 11), with a short passage (Hebrews 10:32-39) that reminds us, in verse 36, that we receive the promise by patience and obedience. Given that patience is a fruit of the Spirit, we see that His presence and His active work enables and equips us to handle any circumstance whatsoever.
The Traditional First Temptation
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Some treatments of this temptation play on the fact that people give in to their appetites, so they say that Jesus refused to do the miracle because to do so would give in to his appetites. However, this ignores the fact that the sin of gluttony is one of overeating and being extremely selective and picky about what one eats. Jesus was legitimately hungry, and bread was a ubiquitous food, which motivated its selection as representing Jesus' body in the Communion Service.
Another treatment plays into the fact that Jesus was being asked to exercise a miracle on his own behalf, since doing so would be selfish. One's own needs are to be satisfied naturally, not miraculously, we are told. These same probably believe that the righteous life is to be lived naturally and not miraculously either. There are several instances of Jesus exercising the ability to pass through hostile crowds to escape, stilling storms that threatened to overwhelm the boat he was riding in, and walked on water. These are dismissed or explained away in naturalistic terms to avoid the obvious implication that miracles can be worked on one's own behalf. We also probably are expected to believe he didn't drink any of the wine he miraculously converted from water, ate any of the bread he multiplied, or ate any of the fish he "caught" without net or hook that he cooked in the last chapter of John's Gospel.
The better treatments get close to what I think the truth is by pointing out that the point of the temptation wasn't really to assuage his own hunger, for Jesus dying of hunger in the wilderness after being led there by the Spirit would have served the devil's purposes equally well. Rather, the devil was calling into question the claim that Jesus was the Son of God, and asking that the miracle be done to establish that claim. In a sense, this was a demand that the proof of something mental and internal (the leading of the Holy Spirit of Jesus into the wilderness) be backed up by exercising a miracle. This has considerable traction based on my personal experience: I have talked elsewhere about the need to maintain one's health and alertness to maximize the ability of the Holy Spirit to work through one's physical brain. Forty days and nights is putting a considerable strain on one's body, and I would have to believe that Jesus' ability to maintain contact with the Holy Spirit was being severely challenged. That challenge, in my case, worked out to a more difficult time perceiving the Holy Spirit's thoughts within me. I can see how this would be part of the challenge facing Jesus.
However, there is a much more subtle danger here whose subtlety is founded on the fact that nobody has any real capability to do what Jesus did. That is, nobody in the world today will be tempted to turn stone into bread because the state of Christendom has rendered no one capable of believing that they can multiply bread apart from growing it or getting it from people who already have it. Since the purpose of this website is to help train people that are capable of turning stone into bread (or making bread out of "nothing"), correctly handling this temptation as Jesus did is of vital importance.
In light of this consideration, Jesus' response of "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." has been widely misunderstood. Those looking for a way out of temptation sieze on the "It is written", and conclude that throwing bible verses at the Devil and the temptation is the way to go. It isn't, for the next temptation shows that the Devil can not only handle bible verses thrown at him, but lob a few back as well. Others taking the "selfless" tack use this verse to preach a form of aceticism alien to the Jewish culture that Jesus extended and embedded into Christianity.
The symbiotic interpretation is rather simple: all miracles spring as a result of a process of cooperation between the indwelling Holy Spirit and the Host, the details of which were lost in the persecutions of the first and second centuries AD. All miracles are powered by the Holy Spirit at the instigation of the Host. However, when the request happens to be coming from the sworn enemy of the Holy Spirit, the logical thing to do is to ask the Holy Spirit whether to do the miracle. If the Holy Spirit is the active agent of the miracle, then asking His permission before attempting the miracle is a good and proper thing to do. I state that Jesus, prior to his response, asked the Holy Spirit, "I know we can do this, but should we do this?" In response, the Holy Spirit said "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God". This sentence came up in Jesus' mind as a thought stream of spoken words. He recognized it as scripture, and by that thought and by the fact that it came from the Torah, acted on the implication that the verse was an answer to the putative question. The Holy Spirit's contribution was the verse. Jesus' contribution was "it is written", followed by citing to the Devil that which I say he got from the Holy Spirit.
There is today a great reluctance to put the thoughts that pass through one's mind that are generated by the Holy Spirit on an equal level with the Written Scriptures. Yet, if the symbiotic thesis is true, then every thought that is generated by the Holy Spirit is necessarily good and will result in good if selected and acted upon. The problem, of course, is determining which thoughts come from the Holy Spirit and which do not. This is where the written Scriptures come in. Jesus' view of the scriptures was one of helping people make living contact with those who God sent to speak His words to them. In John 5:39, Jesus said "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me". In Acts 17:10-15, the Berean Jews were praised, not for swallowing the words of Paul without any critical thinking, but went to the Scriptures to see if Paul's words were backed up by the Scriptures they already accepted as true. The result was that the fruit from Berea was so great that the Devil was unable to find any Berean native who would oppose Paul, forcing him to import troublemakers from Thessalonica to stop the working of God. These examples show scripture being used to validate a message originating from the working of the Holy Spirit within the messenger.
I will address, as a part of Stage 2, the establishment of protocols for helping to determine the origin of thoughts. In the meantime, I give this recommendation: Thoughts that come in response to a mental question you pose to yourself that you want the Holy Spirit to answer that are NOT quotes from Scripture, or which cannot be backed up by Scripture, are very likely not from the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, if you get a thought that is a Scripture quote, or which immediately brings to mind an applicable scripture passage, then that thought deserves a more careful scrutiny because the probability that it is from the Holy Spirit is very high. If nothing comes to mind, then the answer is to wait for an answer. The last possiblity is getting two alternating thoughts, both of which cite scripture, but they seem to be in conflict. I will address this possibility in the next section of this page. (An aside: I call this a "recommendation" and not a protocol. A protocol is a recommendation given in a step-by-step format that is also accompanied by a careful analysis that demonstrates the adequacy of the recommendation in addressing the problem that the recommendation purports to solve. Often, it is the step-by-step format that facilitates the demonstration of adequacy. The difference between a recommendation and a protocol that gives the same recommendation is that the latter enables the recommendation to be more precisely carried out with confidence that it will work. Often, the difference between success and failure in performing a recommendation lies precisely in the amount of confidence one has while doing it. This is why the results of research by think tanks can be summarized in one page, but the justification for the summary can take up hundreds to thousands of pages. One should not only know what to do, but also know why it is the right and effective thing to do.)
The Second Temptation
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
The bulk of the commentary on this passage centers around the partial quotation of Psalms 91:11-12. Satan skips over the part where it says "to keep thee in all thy ways", so some have rested their interpretation of Jesus' refusal to act based on the fact that Jesus was in Jerusalem ("the holy city") because the Devil had taken him there and not because he went there himself of his own volition. We need to remember that it is not the jumping off of the temple that is bad since Jesus later does a greater miracle by walking on water: The devil's proposal would have had Jesus submit to gravity for a while, then thwart it by being rescued by angels. Jesus' walking on the water is a denial of the power of gravity over his earthly body altogether from the beginning of the miracle to the end. Rather, I believe Jesus once again asked the Spirit within whether to jump or not, and the Spirit answered by a thought sentance scripture quotation of Deuteronomy 6:16.
Recall that in the "recommendation" I gave in the previous section, I did not address what to do if one gets two contradictory thoughts, both of which seem to come from Scripture. It should be obvious that Jesus faced a variant of this, in that one thought came from his mind and the other from outside. The resolution, for Jesus, was to favor the one from inside, not outside, and my recommendation in that variant would be to do the same.
This advice, of course, is going to create a lot of trouble for me, for the focus by the preachers on the misquotation by the devil of the original passage evades the issue of which takes precedence: scriptures quoted to you by another person, or a thought-sentence-scripture "spoken" by the Holy Spirit from his residence within the human heart in response. It seems rather inconsistent for bible expositors to insist that scriptures spoken by the devil to manipulate the Christian are to be disregarded, but scriptures spoken by preachers, or even non-believers, to manipulate the Christian are to be seriously considered, if not slavishly obeyed. The behavior of Israelis with regard to terrorist acts against them is mainly due to non-Jews telling them to be "a light to the nations" and "to be an example!" In response to Pope Benedict's Regensburg speech regarding the use of force to replace debate, a group of Islamic Scholars accused Christianity of hypocrisy by not "turning the other cheek" when attacked by Islamist terrorists. This indicates that the following strategy is being followed: If the Christians under consideration are Conservative, they will be requested to do something, with the request based on a quote from scripture taken out of context or on a plea to "be like Jesus!" If the request is granted, then the goal of the non-believer getting what they wanted is accomplished! If the request is denied, then the non-believer accuses the Christians of hypocrisy for not following the scripture. If the accusation is met by pointing out the improper use of scripture, the complexity of Christianity is then brought forth and complained about, or the phrase "I don't understand. I think the scripture is obvious enough, so why don't you follow it?" is brought forth.
I have some good news when it comes to combatting this form of "religious" manipulation by the ir-religious: the symbiotic response of "I don't get a thought from God telling me to do that for you right now", or "God tells me to do something else", where that something else is also scriptural or cites scripture, really stumps them. If they ask me what I am talking about, I launch into an enthusiastic account of how the Holy Spirit indwells the believer and makes them a better person, which is exactly what happened to me. I talk about the presence of God being literally within my brain, and gush about how wonderful it is to have him there and guiding me from bible-verse-spouting manipulators like Jim Jones. While I am talking, I know that the Holy Spirit is working on my listeners to convince them that what I am saying is true. While I am talking, I also am sensitive to how the Holy Spirit is leading me to talk about this important subject. Eventually, they either are convinced, or degenerate into behavior that is patently obvious manipulation.
Being able to effectively deflect "scriptural" manipulation using historical texts that are "inspired" by obeying thoughts generated by the Holy Spirit that cites those same historical texts becomes more important when Stage 4, manipulation of physical reality through conscious cooperation with the indwelling Holy Spirit, begins to manifest itself. The chief drive of the current age is to pursue, acquire, and exercise power. Like Pharaoh's magicians, they will yield only when someone demonstrating greater power bests them. Like Simon Magus, they will either seek to acquire that greater power, or like the Pharisees and Sadducees, attempt to manipulate the miracle worker to serve themselves and their agendas. At the same time, there will be those coming who have deep needs that only the exercise of divine power can satisfy. The wisdom and knowledge to discern between the two, and deal effectively with each, comes from heeding, always, the voice of the Holy Spirit that comes as thoughts citing Scriptures that appear in the Bit Stream.
My recommendation for the more general case of two conflicting scripture-thoughts is based on the time-criticality of the action called for by the thoughts. If the conflicting thoughts come up as part of a general discussion or train of thought, and no immediate action is required, then spend the time analyzing the scriptural basis for each using traditional methods. Any attempt to make the situation or the decision time critical when it is obviously not should be regarded with suspicion and caution. If immediate action is required, always go with the first scriptural thought This may seem simplistic or unusual, but it is not if one keeps in mind the fact that "first" is a relative term when it comes to dealing with thoughts coming from an Entity residing in your brain Who can see the future. The Holy Spirit, being God and the entity behind prophecy, can pre-generate thoughts that pop up into your mind long before the Heart is able to react to them. The second scriptural thought, if it is contradictory, is the Heart trying to use scripture to manipulate the Inner Man in the same way the Devil tried to use scripture to manipulate Jesus. This is especially the case if a non-scripture thought came up first, followed by the first scripture thought advising otherwise, follwed by the second scripture thought attempting to justify the first non-scriptural one: this behavior is merely the Heart scrambling for control, because the Holy Spirit would have lead with the scripture first, then follow through with a non-scripture thought that helps to interpret the scripture within the situation. By the way, that first scriptural thought doesn't actually have to quote a scripture, but merely reference a scriptural thought that you had earlier in the day or week, such as during your devotions where a certain scripture gripped your mind and you meditated on it a lot. That is evidence that the referenced scripture is the right one to follow, since being able to see what you will need a week in advance is a piece of cake to a Being capable of predicting and handling time-lines and time-forks spanning centuries and involving billions of independent decisions.
The Third Temptation
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
I am convinced that the order of the temptations in the Matthew account is the correct one based on several internal evidences. Firstly, the stakes and the inducements increase in size and intensity, cumulating with the biggest thing the Devil could possibly offer Jesus. Secondly, the Matthew account has each temptation taking place at a higher elevation than the preceding one, emphasizing the higher and higher stakes involved with each temptation using a pattern that the Luke account does not have. Thirdly, the use of the phrase "If thou art the Son of God" by the devil is logically abandoned after the second temptation in the Matthew account while being inexplicably re-tried in the Luke account. Fourthly, the audience being impacted is progressively larger with each temptation. Thus, the audience of the first is limited to just the devil and Jesus, while the audience of the second are the locals of the Temple and the religiously faithful. The audience of the third is potentially the entire world. Luke's order has the third, and last, temptation has all the air of a "letdown", going from the entire world to the local yokels. Fifthly, the desperation of the devil is logically sequenced, where he quotes scripture for the second temptation after the first failed, and he offers everything he has as a final desperate gamble for success. Again, the order of the Luke account conveys the picture of the Devil making a pitiful and lame stab at success on the off chance that Jesus can be caught off-guard. Sixthly, and most importantly, the Luke account has Jesus ordering the devil in the second temptation to "get thee behind me", but the devil doesn't. The Matthew account has Jesus ordering Satan to "Get thee hence", and the devil does. Thus, the Matthew account is more consistent with what we know about the power relationship that Jesus, the disciples, and Christians, have over demonic forces.
The attempt to subvert the trust of Jesus in the immediate and present guidance of the Holy Spirit is apparently abandoned in favor of a more direct attempt at retaining control. The standard treatment of this passage by bible commentators and preachers is that Jesus is being offered a "short cut" to saving the world so that the right way to save the world, by saving the people in it from their sins by dying on the cross, is abandoned.
Readers familiar with John Elderedge's work recognize this temptation as being the tactic of "Let's make a deal!". And like Faust's bargain with Mephistopheles, we would be correct in assuming there is "a catch". The offer of all the kingdoms of the world is an empty one, since the price demanded assures that Jesus cannot rightly own them. By worshipping Satan, Jesus acknowledges that Satan is superior to him, so His rulership would be compromised by having to serve Satan. Jesus' reply explicitly ties who one worships with who one serves. What Satan is proposing is what is known in the corporate world as a "re-org", with Satan coverly proposing that he remain the captain of the world ship while offering Jesus the position of First Officer.
While the standard treatment is broadly correct, there is a single detail that makes this temptation a symbiotic one, and that revolves around the concept of "the one you worship is the one you serve". I have said the following so many times in my United Methodist church that if they hear it from someone else, they would conclude that I said it to them first: Christians serve God, not people. This is because service and serving implies an authority relationship that includes a master as well as the servant and the one served. Because Jesus is our Lord and Master, but not physically with us, those who are served by Christian Service are necessarily people. However, none of those people are our master. Imagine a party at a mansion whose master has commanded the servants to serve the guests, one of whom demands that the servants allow him to take away and sell the silverware, telling them "You must serve me, because your master commanded it!" If this sounds like a replay of my discussion on manipulation using scripture, then you are correct. Who you worship is the one you serve and the one you obey.
This point of "the one you obey" lies at the heart of the Symbiotic process of the Holy Spirit communicating with the believer via words expressed as thoughts. The whole of post-Pentecost Christianity can be summed up in the following protocol: figure out which thoughts are from the Holy Spirit, and always obey the ones you are sure come from Him. The Scriptures are the thoughts from the Holy Spirit that were given to the prophets, confirmed to be from the Holy Spirit, and written down in readable form. Thus, thoughts from the Holy Spirit that tell you to read the Bible, tell you what to think about what you have read, or which are scriptures that are fed into your Bitstream when a situation arises, are to be obeyed. Prayer is a conversation between you and the Holy Spirit that takes place by you thinking or saying thoughts that respond to thoughts that come from the Holy Spirit, and obeying the thoughts that come from the Holy Spirit in response to yours. A "Godly" Sermon is a spoken exposition by the pastor of thoughts that he got from the Holy Spirit and was told to pass on to you. Christian Education boils down to educating children and new Christians on the thoughts known to have come from the Holy Spirit and which were written down, educating them on how to recognize thoughts that come from the Holy Spirit, showing them the many ways that such thoughts are "obeyed", and mentoring them on how to correctly obey such thoughts with the goal of getting them to the point where they can be "all taught of God". Corporate worship and life within the Body of Christ consists of every member of the Body recognizing which thoughts with regard to each other come from the Holy Spirit, and obeying them, striving to correctly sing their small part in The Greater Choir. Obedience, of course, takes on many forms, ranging from simply hearing and believing to doing, with doing ranging from giving permission to suppress a compulsive thought, to giving someone a cup of cold water, leaving a can of corn in the back trunk to be later put into the food closet, forgiving your enemy, turning the other cheek, putting a lesson plan together for Sunday School, casting out demons, chasing money changers out of the temple, and facing down the tyrant ruler of a corrupt empire. If the Holy Spirit is really and truly within you, then the Kingdom of God is within you, and you can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you.
And that last sentence encapsulates another symbiotic aspect of this particular temptation, and revolves around the curious absence of the second tactic of the Devil as given by Eldredge, which is "I'm too much for you." If the first tactic of "I am not here" doesn't succeed, then the Devil usually transitions to an attack mode, initiating such persecution that the Christian is often discouraged and falls away. This is what Jesus was talking about with regard to the seed that fell on rocky soil in the Parable of the Sower. However, the devil did not try that here. What happened?
The devil does things, or avoids doing something, for very good reasons, even though those reasons are not obvious to us. Every species has a specific set of characteristics and capabilities which determine their modes of defense and attack, and this is true for Homo/Deus. Here is Mark 16:14-18:
14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. 15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
It is obvious that the demonstration of such capabilities would be extremely advantageous in any battlefield with a spiritual dimension. Verse 17 outlines capabilities to combat spiritual enemies, while verse 18 outlines only a few of the abilities available "against" physical threats. Recall my discussion on what to do if one gets two conflicting scriptural thoughts, where I founded the correctness of my recommendation on the Symbiote's ability to see the future. The book of Acts is full of accounts of allied capabilities, and Paul's first letter to the Corinthians contained advice on harnessing spiritual capabilities for the purpose of worshipping God and convincing unbelievers. While there are a lot more beneficial miracles than miracles of destruction, an interesting pattern was recently called to my attention by the Spirit when I was meditating on the moral aspects of the physical principle of symmetry: the slaying of Ananias and Sapphira is the symmetric opposite miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus, the blinding of Saul/Paul is the symmetric opposite miracle of the giving of sight to the blind man, the withering of the fig tree is the symmetric opposite of the healing of the man with the withered hand, and the handing over to the Devil of church offenders by Paul is the symmetric opposite of casting demons out. This principle is reflected in the Old Testament when Elisha imposed the leprosy taken away from Naaman upon his greedy servant Gehazi. I have, like all physicists, a deep belief in symmetry that leads me to conclude, from these examples, that every miracle has a symmetric opposite, implying that there is a wider selection of defensive and offensive capabilities at our disposal than we think or believe.
It is high time that we recognize in ourselves what the devil is obviously seeing, which is that the Homo/Deus symbiote that is born when a human being is saved is an extremely dangerous one! Thus, any attack by the Devil on Jesus would have resulted in a humiliating defeat.
However, one would be hard pressed to see anything remotely dangerous about the present day Church and present day Christians. My current working hypothesis is that this failing is a matter of both faith and training, since the trend that is seen by field biologists is that instinct becomes less and less of a factor in passing on survival behaviors as a species relies more on intelligence as a critical survival factor. A few instincts do remain within Homo Sapiens, but the vastly greater species superiority latent within Homo/Deus dictates that the transmission of defensive and offensive capabilities be totally by training. Doubtless that training starts with helping the New Species unlearn and disregard instincts retained by the Host. For instance, to strike back when struck is instinctual, but Jesus approved of turning the other cheek when the strike is a ritualistic one. The wise man understands that there is a time to kill and a time to heal, a truly wise man knows when to kill and to heal, and Homo/Deus knows how to kill and to heal. This kind of training requires a great deal of faith and trust in the instructor and in the attainability of the potentially more beneficial capabilities that can be attained, but only when the old has been eliminated from one's habits, thinking, and doing. While Jesus' main mission was to become the sacrifice that would atone for and abolish every sin of all who come to him, he could have accomplished that immediately after his Baptism. Nor was his three year ministry intended to relieve the suffering of mankind, since he never travelled further than 50 miles from his place of birth after his baptism. Rather, his purpose was to train the disciples to carry on his work in a greater way than he did. A great deal of that time was spent helping them get "the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees" out of their system. I do not recall a time when Jesus was unwilling to heal, but the unbelief of the people of Nazareth rendered him unable to heal. My experience indicates that mental preconceptions tend to filter out thoughts before they are even considered for the possiblity that they come from the Holy Spirit. An examination of the Gospels reveals that many of Jesus' miracles took the disciples by surprise. Students desiring to taste the powers of the age to come should not be surprised or discouraged if they discover that it takes them more time and work to unlearn the old than to learn the new.
I discuss the potential power latent within the New Species because part of "the deal" the devil was offering to Jesus would have logically required that there be a truce between the Devil's forces and Jesus' troops (i.e. us). Obviously the Devil's forces would work to undermine "the deal" where they could get away with it, while Jesus' forces would scrupulously honor it. Such a truce would doubtless require that the New Species not exercise certain capabilities unique to them and uniquely iminical to the Devil's forces, such as casting them out of human beings, and whose exercise would promply put a stop to any such cheating. Whatever the devil was bargaining for, it is obvious that underlying his efforts was the desperate, but unspoken, plea of "PLEASE DON'T HIT ME!"
To His credit, Jesus not only saw through the subterfuge, but went ahead and HIT HIM, telling him to depart, which the latter promptly did. It should be noted that the first miracle Jesus does after returning from the wilderness experience "full of the Holy Ghost", was to cast out a demon from a demon-possessed man in the synagogue. (That a demon could be in a Jew and in a synagogue at all is itself an interesting occurrance, doubtless telling us something of the singular lack of power "owned" by the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Priests. The persistent presence of an active demon within a church today should certainly call into question the spiritual competence of the pastor and lay leadership.) This capability became so wide-spread that people not directly associated with Jesus or his inner circle were casting out demons in His name, which is why the disciples urged Jesus to put a stop to those "poaching" on "their turf" because "they do not follow us". That he refused to do so is indicative of a divine disregard for the niceties of human power relationships when they hinder helping the people.
The strategic aspect of Jesus' choice is rooted in the biology of species synthesis and survival. Field biology and the theories of darwinian evolution tell us that there are two ways that a new species can survive. The first way is to occupy a less optimal ecological niche and cooperate with the existing and dominant species occupying the most favorable niche for the new species. This eventually leads to a loss of species capabilities as the new species does not use them while adapting to better survive in the less optimal niche. The second way is for the new species to use its species specific capabilities to destroy or drive out the dominant species to make room for itself in the niche most favorable for its survival. Darwinian evolution theorizes that this is the optimal way for a species to retain and maintain those capabilities that are required to survive within that niche. Jesus' choice was the second, which was for the New Species to fight it out with the Devil and any foolish enough to support with him. This strategic decision is reflected in a certain phrase that Matthew reports that Jesus consistently used during his ministry, which is illustrated in the follow-on to the temptations from Matthew 4:
11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
What is the Kingdom of Heaven/Kingdom of God? Space does not permit a full discussion of the implications of the phrase "Kingdom of heaven," that being a subject planned for another essay, but I will give a brief preview here. Understand that God has always had a Kingdom, although in the light of the true scale and extent of time, the existence of space, time, and population has allowed, for an extremely brief period of time, the establishment of kingdoms as we know them. In reality, the Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven is God Himself. The Kingdom has always existed as the union between the Father and the Son as mediated by the Holy Spirit. All the language Jesus employed that said that his Kingdom was not of this world and yet exists within us was an expression of the fact that the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit makes us part of the Trinity, and thus a part of the Kingdom of God. Jesus himself said that the miracles he did was proof that the Kingdom of God was among them. In his response to the accusation that he cast out demons by Beelzebul ("But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." (Matthew 12:28)), he explicitly tied the presence of the Kingdom of God with the presence of the Spirit of God. Once we truly grasp that the center of any City established by God would be His Temple, and that we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17), then perhaps we will not commit Jacob's mistake of attaching spiritual significance to a place, but repent of our blindness and say, "Surely the Lord is in me and I did not know it! How awesome is Your Work, oh Lord! How should I live now that You have made me the House of God and the Gate of Heaven?"
13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. 14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.
The above quotation comes from Luke 4:13-15, not Matthew 4. Both accounts agree that Jesus' ministry began first with spirit-filled preaching, like John the Baptist's, and that miracles began to be worked by him after his defeat of the Devil. I cite the Luke account because it indicates that the power of the Spirit began to manifest in Jesus after the temptations were overcome. This is important for our work in Stage 4, since a full restoration of the power of God in the Church must necessarily be evidenced by "greater works" than Jesus did. I make the following important observation: this power did not come because Jesus overcame the temptations. Merely overcoming temptation does not bestow power, for that was the premise of the pharisees and the basis for the countless rules, regulations, and customs they imposed on themselves, their followers, and eventually the people. Rather, this power became manifested when Jesus, our Example, after receiving the Spirit, demonstrated the ability to follow the Spirit and walk after the Spirit relibably. At this moment, my working model for conducting advanced Stage 4 operations is as follows: Receive the Spirit, demonstrate reliability in following the Spirit's leading, preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven by the Spirit's leading, then work miracles to back up that preaching, also by the leading of the Spirit. This is the pattern followed by Jesus, who commanded the disciples not to start preaching, but wait at Jerusalem until the Spirit came (the 'arrival' of the kingdom of heaven that Jesus preached 'was at hand'). After the Spirit's coming, Peter preached a message, and the record states that the Spirit confirmed the preaching with signs and miracles. This is also the pattern followed by Stephen and Phillip, who were elected to their deaconates because they were already full of the Holy Spirit. They both then preached the Word, then demonstrated it by signs and wonders. This is the pattern followed by Saul/Paul, who received the Spirit, preached the Risen Lord boldly in Damascus and Jerusalem, followed the leading of the Spirit by undertaking the first missionary journey when the Spirit spoke to the leaders of Antioch, and worked his first miracle of blinding Elymas to convince Sergius Paulus to become a believer after he heard Paul preaching the Gospel to him.
We can now address the misunderstanding that the disciples had with what Jesus said at the Last Supper (and throughout his ministry), and how it manifested itself as not honoring Jesus' strategic direction as the Exemplar and Master Template for the New Species.
Rhema versus Logos
I have discussed in the preceeding pages the concept that when Jesus talked about "his word", he was referring to the words that the Holy Spirit would generate within the heart of the Host on his behalf as thoughts. Jesus talked about getting words from the Father and speaking them to his hearers. These words included the written scriptures,but I want to emphasize that they were not restricted exclusively to them. Peter himself pointed out in 1 Peter 1:19-21 the origin of the written scriptures:
19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
In other words, the Holy Spirit spoke words to holy men of God who first spoke them to the people. Some wrote them down afterwards, such as Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel. Others did not, but we know their words because others wrote it down for them, such as Elijah and Elisha. All such words came from the Holy Spirit moving holy men of God.
Here is 1 Timothy 3:15-17:
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Paul's terminology was that of the words being "given by inspiration of God". The word used for that five word phrase is Theopneustos, "God breathed". The imagery is one of God talking to someone while giving mouth-to-mouth respiration, and the imagery of Spirit is closely allied with that of the wind. In the first chapter of John, we see the gospel writer talking about Jesus being the Logos, the Word of God. How are words given? Why, they are breathed out. Spoken words, rhema, are vibratory impressions upon the air that are initiated by breathed wind. In a sense, the two are as tied together as the Holy Spirit is with Jesus within us. The wind bears the words but remains merely wind if there are no words to convey. The words bear the message (the logos), but cannot be communicated apart from the Wind. Of course, if there is wind bearing the words (rhema), there must be a speaker, from whom the words proceed and bear the thoughts (logos) of the speaker in the same way that a Son proceeds forth from His Father and bears His image. The fact that the word logos is different from that of rhema, an allied greek word that refers to the spoken word rather than to the essence of the meaning of that which is spoken, emphasizes the difference: Spirit bears logos in the same way that physical air bears rhema. and without Spirit/air, logos/rhema cannot be communicated. And at the same time, communication is not happening if there is only Spirit/air without logos/rhema. This inter-relationship/dependency between Spirit and logos means that the phrases "In Christ" and "Christ in us" virtually requires that the Spirit be present as the communicating medium within us. It also means that the presence of Jesus Christ within us is in the form of logos, the core intent and meaning that drives the selection and utterance of physical words. It is often the case that people can "hear" words without understanding them. They heard rhema, the physical speech, but not the logos that existed within the mind of the speaker that guided the generation of the spoken words, and which were uttered with the intent of re-creating that same logos within the mind of the hearer. It is that process of creating the Logos within the mind of the believer (and which, per the first chapter of the Gospel of John, is Jesus Christ) that is the main (but not sole) mission of the Holy Spirit.
I apologize for the preceeding descent into semi-mystical language, but the nature of the subject requires that I work within the context created by Jesus, John the Apostle, and Paul, if we are to get a feel for how they intended us to understand the few physical examples they gave us of this unique aspect of Deus.
What the Disciples Misunderstood
It is thus regrettable that, when the disciples heard Jesus talking about words, they misunderstood those words as being what the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the lawyers, and the Priests told them was the Word of God, which was exclusively the written scriptures interpreted by humans. This was probably to be expected, since up to the Ascension, they still labored under the belief they were taught from their youth by their Rabbis that the Messiah was to come once and physically deliver Israel from her physical enemies. It was probably made worse by a false interpretation of Jesus' use of the scriptures with his two disciples on their walk to Emmaus to explain that the Crucifixion and Resurrection had been predicted. His usage was consistent with this passage from John 5:39-40, where Jesus says:
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
The purpose of the scriptures was always to testify of Jesus, just as the purpose of the Holy Spirit within us is to testify of Jesus. We regard the Gospels as an extension of the Scriptures, but it is often not noted how rarely Jesus is quoted as quoting scripture, preferring to summarize them prior to extending them or applying them to himself. They certainly are not as dense in quotations as the Book of Hebrews or the Letter to the Romans. Even when it is obvious that Jesus did quote scriptures extensively, such as to the disiciples on the way to Emmaus and to the Eleven later that same evening, the texts uncooperatively do not record what was said. So why is that?
I have quoted at the top of this page verses that refer to the origin of the Scriptures in the Moving of the Spirit. It is my belief that it was Jesus' intent to communicate, via the Holy Spirit, with each believer in the same way that God communicated, via the Holy Spirit, to the prophets the words that eventually were written down and became the scriptures. The latter set of communications came first and were written down, the former set came later and were not written down. It is my position that both are equally valid, equally scriptural, equally from God.
I admit that I am making a rather unwarranted concession to the elevated stature of the written Scriptures. Paul's discussion in 1 Corinthinans 3, which I looked at on page 6 of this essay, uncompromisingly declares the superiority of Life in the Spirit over the Deadness of the Letter. Though Paul recommends the study of the Scriptures to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4: 13, he also reminds his student in verse 14 to not neglect the spiritual gift given to him when the body of elders laid their hands on him. Peter himself admits that the Spirit, speaking through Paul, qualified the latter's writings as being equal to scripture. Here is 2 Peter 3:15-16:
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
The Dangers of Misusing Scriptures
I am very much aware of the current position that the Written Scriptures, as embodied in the Old and New Testaments, hold in the Protestant tradition. The fate of the people who followed Jim Jones is but the latest example of many that are given when the validity and authority of the Scriptures is denied. And the Reformers' position of sola Scriptura was vitally necessary to begin the recovery of a more authentic Christianity. The tendency is either to exalt the Scriptures above the leading of the Spirit or to deny the validity of both. The middle path, where the Scriptures are used in conjunction with the leading of the Spirit, who speaks from those same Scriptures, is an option never considered. However, it is the middle path that I recommend for the moment, the details of walking therein to be given in my discussion of Stage 2. Here, I will address the flaws of the extrema.
In my view, the error of denying the validity of the Scriptures is obvious: if the records are not valid, from whence does Christianity gain its structure and belief system? I believe that the record shows that those who deny the validity of the Scriptures do so to impose a structure and belief system of their own making. These are those who seek to cash in on the hard-earned cachet of "Christianity" that they may push their own agenda "under its skirts" so to speak. To turn it into what C.S. Lewis called "christianity plus". In the light of the research results reported thus far on this website, I consider this position to be as thoroughly refuted in the same way that James' postulated "faith without works" was refuted by being shown as inferior in results to the faith that is "shown by my works".
It may seem heretical to suggest that the leading of the Spirit be taken above that of the scriptures, but the heresy is in the phrasing of the suggestion. Often, when somone is disputing that the Spirit's guidance is to be preferred to scriptures, they actually are fighting the Spirit's guidance in the face of a specific interpretation of the Scriptures being presented by them. I point out that Jim Jones built up his influence among his followers by first teaching from the Scriptures. Once that confidence was established, the scriptures eventually became a hindrance to his desire to take them in a different direction, leading to his public rejection of the Scriptures and those who opposed his new direction when it clearly contradicted those Scriptures. Because there are actual heretics and heresies out there is no reason, however, to believe every accusation of heresy when a cherished belief or doctrine is effectively contradicted and refuted. One can just as perniciously "wrap oneself in the Scriptures" as one can "wrap oneself in The Flag", and for similar reasons.
Of course, not all who champion the Scriptures as the be-all and end-all of Christian experience do so with evil intent. To be fair, it is rather hard to live by the Scriptures as interpreted by the Spirit if your belief is that the leading of the Spirit was confined to the Prophets and Apostles for the sole purpose of writing those Scriptures. If one is urged to walk by the Spirit (Romans 8), but one can't hear the words being generated by the Spirit in the course of that walk, then the next best thing to do is to fall back to walking by the words last given by that Spirit to someone else that you trust who heard that Spirit. That would be a good course of action if you knew how to adapt the words given to that person to your situation, but to do it right would require (surprise!) being led by the Spirit, which merely shoves the problem a level deeper. The desire to avoid an improper adaptation is why we tend to gravitate to bible characters whose situations and personality match our own, and thus whose words from the Spirit reflect advice that requires the least amount of adaptation. The problem, as I see it, is an extreme fixation on the Scriptures themselves rather than "following" the scriptures to let them lead us to that which they point.
This "pointer fixation" problem is familiar to owners of dogs and cats who occasionally interact with their pets by feeding them by hand: a tidbit is dropped, and the owner points at it to direct the animal's attention to it, but the animal sniffs at the finger pointing at the tidbit. "Pointer following" is a concept that doesn't enter into their thinking. In their minds, the finger is part of the hand from which earlier tidbits came, so it is regarded as the infallible source for all future tidbits, regardless of the fact that fingers have multiple uses, one of which happens to be pointing to tidbits.
Some may argue that this isn't always true for all dogs since police and military dogs are trained to attack targets that are designated when their handler "points" at the target. However, this actually proves my ultimate point which is that "pointer following" is not natural, and requires training of the "pointer follower" to recognize when a "pointing signal" is being given and to properly "follow" it.
In fact, a closer analysis of the training process shows us the exact point at which "bible pointer following" fails. Attack dogs are never trained to eat the target. Rather, they are breeds with a high enough intelligence to be trainable by "deferred gratification", where they know they have to attack the target before they are rewarded, either by tidbits or by praise. When it comes to direct feeding of tidbits, the house pet sees the hand as the source of tidbits, and thus pays attention to the hand itself, rather than to its configuration that indicates that it is pointing at a tidbit.
There is utterly no doubt in my mind that the Scriptures are a source of comfort, strength, and wisdom. The Psalms have spiritually fed millions for millenia, while wrestling with the Proverbs have made many a person wiser than their teachers. The Prophecies have always given people a "heads up" of what was to come, despite the fact that the warnings were rarely ever heeded. I myself enthusiastically testify to the blessings that are available through the promises contained in the scriptures (when properly understood and believed). The intellectual rise of the Jews after the return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity can be traced to the codification and systematic propagation of the Old Testament by Ezra the Scribe through the synagogues. An impressive demonstration of the power of the Scriptures that has been successfully repeated so many times that I consider it a virtual proof of their divine origin (including that of the much maligned 'wisdom' literature) is what could be called the "Krell Mind Machine" effect: As a former college professor, I have had several students come to me for help on the subject that I was teaching express a sense of frustration about their academic performance in general. In response, I would give my personal account of how my Grade Point Average jumped in High school from C's to straight A's after I had begun a systematic study of the Bible. I then recommended that they use the "Daily Proverbs" study program to see if what happened to me would work for them. That program consists of studying the chapter in Proverbs whose chapter number is identical to the day of the month of that day (March 17=>Proverbs 17, April 2=>Proverbs 2, May 31=>Proverbs 31, etc.). Every student that I gave this counsel to followed it, and they always later came back at the end of that academic period to tell me that their academic performance had dramatically turned around, and thanking me for giving them the most valuable piece of advice they had ever received during high school or college. Dr. Marjorie Dobbins of Brewton-Parker College heard this testimony, replicated the experiment in her "dumbell English" class, and came back reporting similar results.
Without any doubt whatsoever, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path!"
Yet, it is this aspect of the Scriptures that causes pointer following failure. Having been a source of blessing to us, we have elevated it to being the sole source of blessing, with the obvious implication that the only blessings that we can obtain are only those provided by it. This is fundamentally incorrect: the real effectiveness of the Scriptures comes from the fact that they are the words of a trustworthy God who personally and cooperatively responds to those who believe in Him. Where the specifics of that belief are expressed by words in the Bible, then belief in the Bible is an act of cooperation with God. Where the specifics of that belief are expressed by a stream of mental words created within the mind of the believer by the Spirit of God, then following those words is also an act of cooperation with God. Abraham had no scriptures, yet he is called the Father of the Faithful, and it is through the Covenant that he made with God that all peoples of the earth are blessed. The power of the Scriptures is not inherent within the words of the text itself, for then we would be obliged to believe in oral magic. Rather, the power comes from the One who spoke the words that eventually got scribed into text. Take two men who swear to do something, with both using the exact same words, yet we will trust one and not the other. Hypocrisy? Favoritism? A double standard? Not at all, for experience teaches us that words are cheap. Our trust (and distrust) is based on our knowledge of the characters of the two men which leads us to put our trust and confidence in the one whose track record shows that he consistently follows through on the words he says.
The Right Use of Scripture
When Paul counseled Timothy to rightly divide the Word of God, he trusted his protoge to know that "there is more than one way to skin a cat." For my purpose, I propose that we "skin the Scripture cat" via the employment of some elementary principles derived from military science. We will classify its use in terms of logistics, strategy, and tactics.
I have already discussed the logistical aspects (and benefits) of the Word of God several paragraphs earlier. While Muslims claim that the veracity of the Koran lies in its exquisite literary style as expressed in the Arabic text, I claim that the veracity of the Judaeo-Christian scriptures as a whole lie in this logistical aspect of its use as a real source of aid and comfort. Many critics of the bible continue to be confounded by the continued persistence of any reverence for what they consider to be outmoded and ancient texts, not realizing that their attitude toward them affects their ability to see that they supply power and ability to those willing to take the time and effort to acquire and wield them. Yet, like the weapons and supplies received by any army in the field, some of the stuff is easy to use while others requires more skill and knowledge to make their use truly effective. Similarly, certain capabilities and benefits outlined in the Bible require more skill and knowledge to use than others. With some weaponry, quantity brings its own unique quality, while others need a great deal of thought before one even thinks of using it. In the same way, some capabilites that look weak in isolation (such as prayer) gain immense power in their own right if universally adopted. And like in any modern army, those proposing new weaponry often find their creations totally useless when put in the field, while other weaponry that would prove immensely effective may be rejected out of hand by those in the field. The best army continues to be the one that remains the most flexible and creative with the stuff that is given to it, and best expresses to the "home front" their exact needs. In the same way, many teachers in Christendom tend to be pre-emptory in their dismissal of the validity of some capabilites that prove their vality and immense benefit to those practitioners who prove themselves more open and persistent in learning and wielding them.
One would rightly conclude that doctrine comprises the strategic aspect of the Word of God, and they would be correct. However, strategy embraces more than setting the rules of engagement (10 commandments, the Golden Rule, definitions of the fruit of the spirit). What is often missed is that strategy dictates the alliances one must make in the course of fighting the larger war. A brilliant strategist knows where his own forces come up short, and so works to seek out companions and allies whose contributions would make the difference between victory and defeat. Strategy dictates that one must modify one's behavior, attitudes, laws, tactics, logistics, and use of materiel and personnel to amplify the benefits that the allies bring to the table, as well as win and maintain their approval and support. It is here that the thoughtful reader may see the similarity in war between a weak nation making a strategic alliance with a far stronger nation and the similarity in Spiritual warfare of a totally powerless humanity joining itself in a symbiotic alliance with Diety that is proposed and effected by the latter. The scriptures persistently teach the utter weakness and inability of Homo Sapiens to fight a corrupt variety of Spiritus (the Devil) in a hostile battlefield (the world) while saddled with influential traitors within (the flesh/heart). The essays on this website show how the scripture calls for Homo to join itself symbiotically with Deus to form, out of strategic necessity, a logistically and tactically superior species, and sketch an outline of the conditions, battlefield protocols, and rules of engagement that would enable the conjoined participants to leverage the unique advantages and capabilities made available by that alliance. However, the benefits of such an alliance would be rendered null and void for all those who are ignorant of it and of its benefits, and thus who continue to plan and fight without them.
It is the tactical aspect of the Scriptures that give us the most trouble, since the current fashion is to confuse tactics with strategy. There are those who teach a pacifist Christ, and counsel turning the other cheek in all cases, but pointedly ignore the Christ who drove out the money changers and knocked Saul off his high horse. They applaud the Jesus who said "Judge not", but hope nobody notices that Jesus also said "Judge not according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement." They love the Paul of 1 Corinthians 13, but are uncomfortable with the Saul who blinded Elymas. Paul Coughlin's latest book, "Unleashing Courageous Faith", while an excellent call to living a courageous life, cannot seem to muster an argument against such misuse of scripture other than to say "But if we do nothing, the bad guys will win!" To that argument, his opponents will merely smile and say "Well, it didn't look as if Jesus won on the cross either, but appearances are deceiving, you poor deceived-by-appearances person!"
The real solution is to insist that the Scripture supports all of the above tactics, but that disaster will surely come if we insist on elevating a specific tactic to a strategy. Our strategy is to be firm, consistent, and unchanging regardless of the circumstances. Our tactics, on the other hand, must be selected based on the circumstances facing us, the resources and abilities we have available, and on what the enemy is doing with what he has. And when it comes to selecting tactics, solid and actionable intelligence on the reality of the situation and the likely consequences of various possible actions is worth an Army Corps. This is where we have to swallow our pride and call on our Deus Ally within to tell us what tactic to use in every situation and how to use it. Consider this a plug for the vital necessity of hearing and obeying the words that the work of God the Holy Spirit generates within our heart.
The Kingdom of God
I have mentioned before the strategic choice made by Jesus that he and the New Species, of which he was the Master Template and First Member, was to duke it out with the Devil and his minions, both spiritual and worldly. The name given to the collective New Species, including Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, is the Kingdom of Heaven/Kingdom of God. It is thus unfortunate that the disciples continued to be influenced by the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Here is Acts 1:1-9:
1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Jesus continued to talk about the Kingdom of God, as shown in the green mark-up of verse 3. Yet, the yellow mark-up in verse 6 shows that the disciples continued to talk about the worldly kingdom of Israel being re-established. Though the pharisees and priests were correct that the Old Testament predicted a restoration of the Davidic Kingdom, that kingdom and the Kingdome of God are two different kingdoms. The citizenship of one is by blood and birth, while the citizenship of the other is by the Spirit coming. Jesus, in the blue mark-up, notes that the timing of the establishment of the Davidic kingdom was a matter within the purview of God the Father, and would be established "in his own power" (exousia, power of authority). In contrast, the Kingdom of God would be marked by the earthly members, the disciples receiving power (dunamis, power of ability) after the Holy Ghost would come upon them, after which they were sent to be witnesses of him to the entire world. This is part of the great commission, given in Matthew 28:18-20:
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
The word "power" in verse 18 is exousia, the power of authority, and is given to Jesus. In turn, Jesus told them they would have power, dunamis, or power of ability, in Acts 1:8. This is the standard process of power delegation in a Kingdom, for it is the head of the Kindom that has authority, while it is his military that is given the permission to project literal military power in the form of physical bombs and bullets, in the interests of the Kingdom. The President of the United States is the Commander in Chief of the military forces of the United States, yet literally does not carry a pistol or other weapon on his person. He has exousia, however, through and by his position as the Commander in Chief to direct the dunamis of the military. In fact, it is doubtful that any member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff carry a weapon themselves, except as ornamentation. The ones who actually pilot the weapons of power (dunamis) and pull the triggers or push the buttons that unleash that power, are the ones at the bottom of the military organization. That is, the citizen solders drawn from the people of the United States itself who makes airpower and seapower effective by "putting boots on the ground". Yet, in a stunning misapplication of the basics of establishing a kingdom, the Church had reserved the exercise of power to the disciples who didn't work to put spiritual power in the hands of the church members. This left the entire body of Christ defenseless in the face of certain persecution.
Am I too hard on the leadership of the Church? Here is the most shameful passage of Acts:
Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
"Except the apostles." "Except the apostles." I don't think Saul of Tarsus was an ignorant persecutor. His persecution was done with the full awareness that attacking the apostles would have been, ahh, "counterproductive". He knew they did miracles. He knew Stephen did miracles and wonders. He knew what happened to Ananias and Sapphira. He knew of the jailbreak of the apostles. I believe that the stoning of Stephen, with no spiritual response from the victim or the apostles, encouraged him. He avoided the apostles and persecuted "the little people", and the apostles did nothing. This wasn't fortuitous: Saul was counting on their inaction, and on their decision not to explicitly empower the laity of the Church.
Were the apostles supposed to "turn the other cheek", as "Christian" pacifists and "peacemakers" counsel us today? Well, WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) You have to ask? We don't have to ask. We KNOW What Jesus Did!
What We Have To Do is answer a simple question: why did Jesus wait until Saul got to Damascus to act? I think it is rather obvious: He had all authority in heaven and earth, gave it to them to "bind and loose" (twice), and waited for them to do something with it. What they did with it was SQUAT. not only not bothering to grow dunamis in "the little people", but not even having the guts to use what dunamis they had to defend them. When it was obvious that they weren't going to do anything, and were doubtless breathing a sigh of relief when Saul had left Jerusalem to go after "the little people" in Damascus, Jesus intervened Himself, giving Ananias the "gift" that people who claim to know the Bible declare is "only reserved for the apostles", so that Saul could receive the Holy Spirit from one of "the little people" he was persecuting, as well as recover his sight. People who argue that the apostles had no authority or ability to act ignore the fact that Saul/Paul later blinds Elymas "without authority", demonstrating a Homo/Deus capability that the apostles could have used to stop him, as well as ignoring the fact that Jesus blinding Saul did stop him. (It is my belief that Paul's non-regard for the Apostles is based on their cowardly inaction to his persecution. I further believe that this eventually translated into a disgust of them that led him not to initially humble himself and go to them for the removal of the Thorn in the Flesh that God allowed Satan to impose on him.
I have talked before about writing a "Pentecost crash report", outlining what the disciples did wrong after the Acension. It is my belief, based on the above discussion that goes back to the third temptation, that one of the reasons we have a mostly powerless church today is because the disciples failed to follow the teaching example of Jesus Christ. While they should have preached after Pentecost, they should have done it the way Jesus did by splitting up the 109 other disciples that were also in the upper room, and who had also received the Spirit of God in the form of tounges of fire, among themselves. They would have trained those disciples in the same way they were trained by Jesus, and then split them up after a three year training period so that they would also form-up groups of 9 to 12. Assuming a group of 10 apprentices to one disciple/instructor, and assuming a one-time fork-off (no instructor takes on subsequent sets of 10 apprentices, an unreasonable assumption), and 10 teaching disciples to start with (to make the math easier) there would be 110 instructor/disciples after 3 years, 1110 after another 3, 11110 after another 3, 111110 after another 3, and 1111110 after another 3. Obviously, there would be attrition from persecution, but I also point out that these Disciple/apprentice groups would have been preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God as part of the instruction process, creating more followers of Jesus Christ, so the actual size of the Church at the end of 15 years would have been considerably larger than just the 1 million plus instructors that the process would have generated in the same period of time. These converts, obviously, become the pool from which instructors draw their apprentices. Clearly, such a cadre with each as capable of working miracles as the original 11 (if not the greater works Jesus promised), would have sealed this teaching tradition into the church and left an even larger footprint in history than what actually happened. I leave the development and writing of alternative histories as an exercise to the reader, with a note that this would probably be a lucrative book series, and that this essay is in the public domain.
Another possible reason for the failure of the Church was due, I believe, to the continued working of the Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees regarding the nature of the Messianic Kingdom. Simply put, it appears from the account in Acts 1 that the disciples were not entirely free from the belief that the Messianic Kingdom was to be a literal one. Both they and Paul continue to talk about the Kingdom of God as a literal physical kingdom yet to come with God as the leader. This ignores the entire process of Kingdom Generation demonstrated by God in Genesis and Exodus: God's Kingdom always begins with having a people, with the armies (drawn from that people) next, followed by a taking of the land, and ending with a government and the recognition by other nations of being a nation. As an illustration, I point out that there was an American people in North America before there was a nation called the United States whose purpose was to protect that people. This fundamental misunderstanding led the Disciples, and Paul, to believe that Jesus, as the Messiah, would come quickly in their day, founding their belief on Jesus' core teaching, which was that "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!" This misses the fact that The Kindom of Heaven came at Pentecost, and started by creating a new people, in the form of a new species of human being. Part of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees was the belief that perfect living in accordance to the Law and their traditions would eventually lead to the re-establishment of the Davidic/Messianic Kingdom of Israel. Doubtless, the disciples themselves thought that the leaders were wrong on the details, but right in the overall thrust "The leaders are just wrong about the traditions and the identity of the messiah./ What counts is the actual biblical requirements, which the Holy Spirit can enable people to perfectly live. We have what it takes to do what the religious leaders cannot do, which is bring about a pure nation of Jews that would cause Jesus to return to earth!"
I am led to this belief based on the passage from Galatians 2:1-10 where Paul recounts going to Jerusalem 14 years after his conversion to lay out to the Apostles his understanding of the Gospel. Note that verse 9 contains the following enigmatic passage "that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision." This seems to imply that the disciples in Jerusalem were of the belief that their mission was to bring Jesus Christ to Judaism, while Paul's was to go to everyone else. If the problem they saw was just to convince the Jews to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah, then dedicating themselves to converting Israel by staying in the Heart of Judaism, Jerusalem, would very likely have worked without the million plus instructor cadre I postulated they could have grown in the 14 years cited by Paul.
This attempt to work within Judaism to reform it, rather than take the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven to the entire world, is also illustrated with the one fatal mistake that terminated Paul's work, and which could have been avoided if the proper mental attitude necessary to develop the instructor cadre had been present. In a sense, the apostles did not trust their converts to be good instructors/disciple as much as Jesus trusted John the Baptist's converts (themselves!) to be good disciples/apostles. Perhaps they realized that they were flakes and figured that everyone else was in the same spiritual situation than they were, but Paul and his ministry showed that they were wrong. Yet, at the close of his third missionary journey, the Spirit moved through the Gentile Churches to warn Paul of the threats he faced if he returned to Jerusalem. They used this knowledge to urge him not to go, but he disregarded this advice. I transition to the narrative in Acts 21:17 - 26:
17 And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. 19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: 21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. 22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. 23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; 24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. 25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.
Paul goes along with this "kabuki dance" to appease the Jews, winding up in the Temple on the seventh day of the purification process when some Asian Jews familiar with him, but whose opposition to his work is the reason for the discontent of the Jewish Christians cited in verses 20 and 21, recognize him in the temple, make a wild accusation, and start the riot that gets him arrested. The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees continues its work of trying to convince people that works according to the Law, rather than works provoked by the Spirit Within, is what God desires and whose manifestation will lead God to usher in The Promised Kingdom on this earth.
This leaven continues its work today.
We will not be able to reboot Pentecost until it is thoroughly purged from among us.
I will now close this essay with a summary and some concluding personal commentary.
In this essay, I have been able to show, or suggest, the following from the Scriptures:
- The phrasology "Christ in us" and "in Christ" is to be taken literally as a presence of Jesus within us.
- The presence of Jesus within us is identical to the presence of God the Father in Jesus.
- This presence of the Father in Jesus was accomplished by the presence of the Holy Spirit within the latter.
- The Holy Spirit is that mediating presence that makes the Trinity One.
- The presence of the Holy Spirit within us, as in Jesus, makes us one with the Trinity. This union makes us part of what has always been the Kingdom of God, which is God Himself.
- Just as the presence of the Holy Spirit in Jesus was, and is, literal, so the presence of the Holy Spirit in us is literal.
- This literal presence was seen by Jesus as God the Father working in him to give him words to speak. In the same way, the literal presence of the Holy Spirit in us allows Jesus to work within us to generate words.
- These words often came as quotations from the Holy Scriptures. This is evidenced by Jesus citing to the Devil those quotations that the Holy Spirit gave to him when he was faced with specific temptations by the Devil in the wilderness.
- The Christian life is lived symbiotically by us following the scripture quotation given to us by the Holy Spirit.
- Upon establishing that the Symbiotic Christian will reliably follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, God sends that Christian to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
- The miraculous powers that accompanied Jesus when he preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to confirm his word and to do good works will be worked by those also preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to confirm the word and to do good works.
I want to conclude this essay by again apologizing for misleading anyone because of the prior version of this essay, which was written too close to the beginning of my experience with Symbiosis to really be authoritative. In a sense, the prior version violated an important guideline of this website, which is that I write either from my personal experience or from a belief that I felt was very certainly true. In that case, I foolishly went for the most glitzy explanation whose manifestation would be put off to what would later be called Stage Four: I already was experiencing a "voice" within that had reliably guided me through a lawsuit whose cost was running well into five figures, so I pre-maturely assumed that the "video" would soon follow the "audio" as a kind of signal that I had spiritually matured enough to start displaying Stage Four capabilities. The better choice was to do a detailed analysis of the relevant scripture passages that would have indicated that the "audio" was not only necessary, but also quite sufficient.
In retrospect, I believe a contributing factor was the rigid publication schedule I was following at the time, the cure for which was the transition to a more fluid and relaxed "un-schedule" that is more in keeping with the personality of the Spirit Within who was revealing all this stuff to me by working within me to bring it about. When I was a teenager, I struggled to try to figure out and implement a synthesis beween my Doctor-Father's American-style fast paced pursuit of money and success via the acquisition and employment of highly technical and scientific skills, and my Nurse-Mother's more "laid back" Euro/Carribean-style quest for personal enlightenment, inter-personal relationship building, service delivered with personal commitment as well as professional competence, and an aesthetic appreciation of the arts. I eventually decided that the synthesis was impossible because I found that I preferred eating to starving, so I adopted the former rather than the latter lifestyle. While satisfying the mind and pocketbook, my choice proved rough on body and spirit. For me to realize, as I write this paragraph, that the Spirit has not only accomplished the cultural synthesis into a practical mix, but had also set Himself to surreptitiously implement it within me as well, is another personal evidence of the gracious and nurturing nature of this member of the Trinity.
The current agenda as of the publication of this essay (latter third of May, 2009) is to start on Phase Two, the leading unto truth of the Host by the Symbiote. The main goal will be to reproduce in you, my readers, the process outlined in this essay of the Spirit's working within the heart of the believer to create thought words and sentences that will not only convey Truth to the Inner Man, but but also the thoughts, feelings, and desires of the Trinity. I want to share in this final paragraph my private fear, which is that this process, in which I seem to have been operating long before I stumbled upon the doctrine of Symbiosis, but which has flowered and grown into a passionate dialogue since that happy day, is unique only to myself or would be possible only to a limited few. To this former skeptic when it came to "love" within the context of the Christian religion specifically, and to life in general, the prospect that the majority of my readers might not be able to interact with, experience, and come to passionately love and follow this uniquely wonderful, beautiful, inspiring, nuturing, comforting, and graceful Being, would be a great and ghastly failure on my part. Given my background, I used to find the Love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, tedious, extreme, and an exquisite example of bloated and overdone romance-novel style language. However, if you replaced "have not love" with "not know His love" in the relevant passages, it would perfectly express my sentiments. If you were to possess every Stage Four capability that I have stated or outlined or remotely suggested, and yet not know or experience the magnitude and passion of the love of God toward you that I have come to know and experience, would be to attain perfect vanity, perfect emptiness, and perfect uselessness. Despite his standing, I do not agree with Paul that a mere enumeration of the virtues of Perfect Love with an injunction to seek after it is sufficient to produce within us that kind of love. It simply cannot be commanded or urged or encouraged or praised into existence, because it is completely alien to our earthly knowledge and experience. It must first be shown by God and experienced yourself if the goal is for you to appreciate, admire, and emulate it. Recently, I have been faced with a mounting number of situations that called for what can be classified as "a tactical Christian response". Invariably, my very best, most edifying, and most successful responses have been structured and carried out after a panicked glance at the Spirit within as a living example, or after a quick rifling through of my memories of how the Spirit responded before in a similar situation, followed by a quick prayer of "Please help me get what you did right!" while I tried to emulate that which had been shown or bestowed on me by that Presence within with fear and trembling. Afterwards, I would pray "Oh let them see that that came from God so that they would ask me how to really know Him!" Sometimes, all I could do was to mentally yell, "TAKE THE WHEEL!" I have never been disappointed in those times, because He has never failed to take it and bring good out of what looked like impending disaster.
My prayer, hope, and intent is that you will not be disappointed either.
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