Sunday, April 19, 2009

Another Mystery??

When I went to the gym on Friday, I took along something to read as I often do as I am hoofing it on the treadmill. I took Part 5 and 6 of the Kingdom of God series. I read Part 6 out of order…by mistake…maybe. A few paragraphs about the incarnation stayed with me. Then later that night, after I noticed the Whispers of the Mysteries in the bookcase by happenstance (maybe) and was leafing through the chapter about the mystery of Christ, I came upon a very similar passage about the very same thing…even including a similar explanation of the Greek word “express”

First from Eby.....

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Christ is “the express image of God’s person” (Heb. 1:3).  The word “express” is from the Greek word CHARAKTER from which we get our English word “character.”  It means that Christ is the CHARACTER IMAGE of God. The transcendent essential factor is that God is PERFECT SPIRITUAL CHARACTER.  It is the supreme intelligence, combined with holy and righteous character, that most importantly distinguishes God from every other life form.  Of course God, too, possesses supreme and omnipotent power and eternal, incorruptible existence.  But without right CHARACTER, such power and perpetuity would be destructive and dangerous.  A monster would be in control of the universe!  And should any one of us acquire an immortal body prior to having developed a holy and incorruptible character, a devil would surely be born!  

Then later, after I had taken the Whispers of the Mystery off of bookshelf and was leafing through the chapter about the mystery of Christ, I came upon a very similar passage about the very same thing…even including a similar explanation of the Greek word “express”

From Ray Prinzing’s Whispers of the Mysteries….

We need always to remember that "God is a Spirit." [John 4:24]. That is His substance. While the various titles we use. Jesus (Saviour), Christ (the Anointed), and Lord (Sovereign Master), all speak of the various dimensions of His position in manifestation. "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature." [Colossians 1:15]. "Being the brightness of glory, and the express image of His person." [Hebrews 1: 3].
         "Express Image . . . "  from the Greek "charakter," thus, literally, the IMPRESSED CHARACTER. This word was used of an engraver, one who mints coins, a mark engraved. Metaphorically it meant "a distinctive mark or token impressed on a person or thing, by which it is known from others, a characteristic, the character of." Jesus Christ was a revelation of all the character of God, a visible expression of the Invisible.
"Express image of His person." Now we note the word "person" from the Greek word "hupostasis" or "substance." The word is a compound of HUPO meaning "under" and HISTEMI meaning "to Stand." Combined it means, "that which stands under," or, THE SUBSTRATUM.

Thus we understand that the essential being of God is conceived as setting its distinctive stamp upon Christ, coming into definite and characteristic expression in His Person, so that the Son bears the exact impress of the divine nature and character. He was a manifested exact reproduction of the divine essence-- He IS THE SON OF GOD.

Still from the “pen of Preston Eby”

A dear brother  in Christ has penned these valuable words of admonition: “The opinions we form by hearing about people are usually found to be wrong after we have come to know them personally and intimately.  This is also true concerning God.  When you come to know Him as He really is, you will find Him very unlike the description given by theologians.  You will come to know that much that they teach is only rubbish because it is contrary to the nature of God.  It certainly was so with the Jewish theologians and doctors of the law.  When Jesus came He smashed their theories to bits and tore the robes of their ecclesiasticism to ribbons.  He ate with sinners, cast the devil out of the Syropheonician, let a sinful woman of the street wash His feet, forgave a thief, healed on the Sabbath, ate with unwashed hands, called the most esteemed religionists of His day liars, hypocrites, children of the devil, whited sepulchers, and a generation of snakes.  They thought that they knew God, but they didn’t.  He was more pleased with the sincerity of sinners than with the ritualism of scribes and Pharisees.  When you come to know Him, you will find that it is the same now as it was then. 

And he quotes Bob Torango…

Two thousand years ago the same beloved apostle John who wrote so extensively of God’s marvelous love also left us this solemn warning, “Little children, keep yourselves from IDOLS (that is, false gods, or false ideas and representations of the true God)” (I Jn. 5:21).  “Little children, keep yourselves from false ideas about God!”  Do we have false ideas about God?  I fear we do.  How the world and the church are filled with them!

I’ve often said that there are four gospels…all telling virtually the same story…with minor variations so that WE get the point. So that the teachings and behavior and mercy and kindness of Jesus sinks into our thick skulls. THIS is Jesus…and furthermore…THIS is God. If you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen the Father!!! Someone on a message board once said…Jesus came to RE-present the Father because everyone had his SO wrong. The God they worshipped was nothing more than a capricious, jealous, raging, unpredictable, blood thirsty tyrant. Truly…who wants to draw close to the God so much of the Old Testament proclaims? I think he was the God they made in their own image. They had it so wrong. So Jesus came. He burst into history (as my friend Dena pointed out in a post this morning…into HIS story) so that we could finally see God as he really was. And what’s more, he told us that at our core, we possess the indwelling of that God. He is the real root of our tree and all the while we are living as if adam is the core of our being. He came to tell us, to show us, to lead us. Yet, so many today STILL get it wrong and worship a schizophrenic mixture of the God of the OT and the God Jesus tells us about, shows us, explains to us, mirrors for us!!

And more from the above mentioned “dear brother”

“Furthermore, to know Him who is truth empowers one to immediately recognize all that is error.  The more you come to know Christ, the more you come to recognize the flagrant error of so much that is taught in the name of truth.  If the doctrines that men try so hard to prove run contrary to the very nature of Christ, then know that all that is contrary to His gracious Spirit is error.  For years without number the evangelicals in their missionary fervor have taught that all heathen men will be condemned forever to groan in eternal flames in unremitting torment because they did not accept Christ, their ignorance of His existence being no excuse whatever.  I have no hesitation whatsoever in calling this a lie, because everything about it is contrary to the very nature of the blessed Christ I know.  It is contrary to His love, contrary to His kindness and mercy, contrary to His foreknowledge, contrary to His immutable wisdom, and contrary to His great and all-inclusive redemption, of which it is stated that as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” 

Which brings me to another mystery……Why do different believers who “know him” see different truths? Something to ponder for sure...but for today I can only answer for myself….with the words of Jesus himself….

“What’s that to you? You follow me.”

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