What Do I Know?

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“We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”  John 6:69

Today I am wondering if thinking too highly about the power of our own belief is a dangerous thing.  I know that this word, “believed,” is the word “pisteuo” again.  And it means to put our trust into.  And at this instant in time, a lot of followers just walked away from You, Jesus, and threw whatever belief they had in You out the door, because it wasn’t lining up the way they thought it should.  But Peter says that they were committed to You because they believed and were sure that You were the Christ, You were the One with eternal life.  “Lord, we believe and we know.”  But what about Your response?  Does that commend Peter’s belief and knowledge?

“I chose the twelve of you, didn’t I?  Yet one of you is a devil!”  Hmm.  You didn’t say, “Right on, Peter, you guys did it!  You finally got it!”  Instead, You point the emphasis back to Yourself.  “Did you guys choose yourselves?  Did You guys bring yourselves to this conclusion?  Do you really believe and know like you think you do?  Because there is stuff I know about you that you have no idea of.  If I were to tell you right now, you wouldn’t believe it.  Peter, you are going to deny me three times.  What kind of belief and knowing is that?  All of you, you’re going to run and scatter.  Judas, you are going to actually betray me to my death, and with a kiss none the less.  Yep, how’s that for belief and knowing?”  Hmm, maybe sometimes we are a little overconfident in ourselves instead of in You, Lord.

Today, I’ve been looking into this word for “know,” “ginosko.”  And it’s not as strong a word as I thought.  Ginosko is never used to imply intrinsic knowledge.  It’s not the knowledge acquired by experiencing something.  There is another word for that.  Ginosko “describes knowledge as a result of factual investigation,… ‘intelligent comprehension,’ including understanding, recognition, perception and informed opinion…knowing God in this manner means knowing that there is a God, that I am not God, and that He is responsible in some manner for what is.” (Skip Moen)   The obligation to the divine was so strong in the Roman Empire that it was a capitol offense to be an atheist.  To not acknowledge the divine as existing was considered foolishness!  Wow, that’s a far cry from today.  But ascent and acknowledgement isn’t really committed belief, is it?  Well, Paul didn’t think so.  “For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  Romans 1:21

So You mean to say that I can know all about You and think I know You and be totally off target?  I can think I know You, I can confess I know You with my mouth, and yet I can not honor You as God with my life?  I can think I know the truth and yet be futile in my thinking and understanding?  Wow, my words, and thoughts, and discussions, and reasonings  can be empty, foolish, and idolatrous?  And all this in the name of belief?  All this in the name of knowing You?  Hey, those aren’t my words, they come from Your Word.

There was this Jewish American Rabbi, Abraham Heschel, who was alive during the Civil Right’s movement.  He said, “Unless God is of supreme importance He is of no importance.”  He believed that knowing God was more than knowing Scripture.  Knowing God was based on “the living and dynamic relationship between God and man.”  Philosophy and theology weren’t enough. 

It’s not enough to conclude that there is a God from the evidences around us.  That does not a committed believer make.  Listen to what Jesus says in John 6:35,36, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.  But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.”  See, some people had seen You and touched You.  But they had not imbibed You.  They kept You on the outside where they could handle You and manipulate You and let go of You when they didn’t need You any more or if You became uncomfortable.  But they didn’t take You inside.  You didn’t become their life source, their sustenance, their food and water.  They wanted You but they didn’t need You.  They were superficial believers, not desperate believers.

So it all starts with seeing God in the middle or over everything.  He’s sovereign and good over all.  His evidence is everywhere.  He’s over the serpent in the Garden, He’s over the tsunami, He’s over the typhoon, He’s over the holocaust, He’s over every personal tragedy.  That’s why everyone cries out, “If God is a loving God, why?”  But don’t you hear, that they are all crying out and acknowledging that it is God, it is You?  But that is just the start.  That is not committed belief.

There are two words used in the the Greek Scriptures to denote “knowing.”  Here was “ginosko.”  The other word is “oida.”  “Oida” is a fullness of knowledge whereas “ginosko” is to come to know by experience, and suggests a progress in that knowledge.  The danger is in thinking that we know it all.  The point that You, Jesus, are trying to make here is that we need to be open to growing in knowledge in You.  We have to admit that we are needful of knowing You more and knowing You more deeply and intimately.  John wrote, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)  We need to grow in our knowledge and experience. 

I have to be willing to commit to progressing in You.  I have to be willing to commit to experience the situations You put in my life and to not only experience them, but to put them in Your light and not my own.  I need to stop asking “Why?”  and start asking “What?  What are You teaching me about You and about me?”  I need to stop collecting information and start looking at what You are teaching me about You and about me.  There has never been a lack of evidence, but how am I using the evidence?  Has this become “internal intuitive witness”?  This is what John is talking about.  It’s like knowing my back is hurting.  I know the realness of it.  That’s how we know the witness of the Holy Spirit. 

I know it when I am in harmony with You, Lord.  I know the experience of the Holy Spirit.  I can’t exactly explain the experience of my back pain, but I know it.  I can’t exactly explain the experience of the Holy Spirit, but I know it.  I can be under Your authority, I can be doing Your will, I can be living with Your view of the world.  I can be fully committed in You.  It’s more than words.  If I say I believe something then I live it out.  What I say I believe, I do.  These words are real.  These Words are Life.  Is that what they look like in my life?

“For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”  (1 Corinthians 1:21)  It began with gathering the facts.  I acquired this knowledge or information needed about You.  I examined the evidence.  I drew conclusions.  That made me a scholar.  I knew things and I knew things about You.  But it’s not enough to know about You.  That will not bring me to know You.  Somewhere along the line it has to become “intuitive understanding, revealed truth and knowledge that comes from the essence of the subject.”  And You are the Essence of the Subject.  You have to reveal Yourself to me.  I have to receive the knowledge that comes from above.  I’m not “smart” enough to bring myself to this knowledge.  “No man comes unto the Father, but by Me.”  You draw us and You give us the intuitive knowledge of You.  Without that, I am just a scholar and not a believer.  “All that the Father gives me will come to Me.”  I come to You, because You drew me to You. 

I am a human and I will think like a human unless someone changes me.  And there is only One who is able to change me like that.  If I want to know You, if I want to understand You and think like You, I have to let You do that in me.  You have to change me.  You have to do something supernatural in me.  Because, naturally, I’m just flesh and I think with my flesh.  But You think in Your Spirit and You live in the Spirit.  And “this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”  (John 6:40)  This is not just about getting to live forever with You.  Oh my, this is all about being in You because You alone are the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE!  This is all about being raised up in newness of life in You!  It’s about looking on You and seeing You for who You really are, all of it.  It’s about seeing the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE, and believing in all that it means and all that it entails and committing myself into that, into You.  And it’s all about You changing me into Your image more and more every day.  It’s about a life of living in You now, and into eternity.  It doesn’t start in eternity, life in You starts the minute I allow You to place me inside of You when I commit my life and thoughts and ways and spirit into You.

All our gathered information is not enough to produce relationship with You, Lord.  It produces commentaries and blog devotions and discussions.  It produces theories and doctrines.  But all this can just prove that people can know a lot about You, but still not have intimacy with You.  Information means nothing unless it produces relationship. 

I can’t tell you how to experience Jesus.  All I know is that You have to listen to Him and respond.  It’s not enough to listen and be able to repeat His words.  They have to become reality in our lives.  We have to come to the point of feeding on His flesh and drinking His blood.  That’s the only way to abide in Him and Him in us.  2000 years ago that offended people and caused them to turn away.  But it’s the same today.  Are we willing to be changed?  Are we willing to accept His words and live by it no matter what the cost?  Am I willing to change my plans and dreams and values and line mine up with Yours, Lord, no matter how much it hurts or how much I don’t understand?  Maybe, obedience is a precursor to understanding.  Maybe it’s not about understanding at all.  I mean, isn’t it a might precocious to think that I should be able to comprehend the thoughts of an all-knowing God?  Maybe, I need to finally acknowlege that You are God and I am not and stop trying to understand like I even can!  Maybe now would be the perfect time for me to let go of my control and just place it all in You.  What a relief that would be.  What a tremendous weight off of my shoulders!

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Arms of Love

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And I have declared unto them Your name, and will declare it:  that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”  John 17:26Image

What’s really in a name?  What does it mean that You have declared unto us God’s name?  What does it mean to believe in Your name?  What do I have to know about names to really understand things here?

In Hebrew thought, a name is never something that is pulled at random out of a hat and assigned to a person. “The name conveys the nature and essence of the thing named. It represents the history and reputation of the being named. ”  (Judaism 101)  It’s not just what you call someone; it’s who they are, what they are like, and what they’ve done.  “Because a name represents the reputation of the thing named, a name should be treated with the same respect as the thing’s reputation. For this reason, God’s Names, in all of their forms, are treated with enormous respect and reverence in Judaism.” (ibid)  

Here’s an interesting thought, “[t]he meaning of Hebrew words are always based on something tangible. Something you can understand through the five senses. ” (Deborah Sexton)  I wonder if that applies to You, Lord?  Well, let’s just hold that thought and we’ll see if Your other words bring that home today.  Right now, I want to think about this name thing.

Your name always represents Your character.  It’s who You are.  It’s what You are like.  It’s what You do and how You act.  It is You.  

A Hebrew text, Tanchuma, Vahak’heil 1,  shared this thought on names, “In life, you discover that people are called by three names: one is the name the person is called by his father and mother; one is the name people call him; and one is the name he acquires for himself. The best one is the one he acquires for himself.”  Now, I’m not so sure that the best name is the one acquired on our own.  But, that is often the strongest name, the one that represents us most.  And of those, You have acquired a name, a reputation that is Your own that You have shown and made known Yourself.  And in Your case, it is the best one.  Because we call You names, we learn Your characteristics by Your demonstration of Who You are as You make Yourself known to us.

Your name is You.   It is Your essence.  It brings identity.  And not only does it show us You, but it identifies You with us!  It relates You to Your people and allows us to be related, to know You, and therefore to make You known.

Now here I’m going to switch to the Good News Bible Translation.  “I made You known to them, and I will continue to do so, in order that the love You have for Me may be in them, and so that I also may be in them.”  I don’t want to miss this because it is just reverberating through Your words.  The King James Version chose the word “declared.”  And yes, You told, but You did more than tell; You showed.  “Gnorizo” and its root are all “rooted” in “knowing.”  Knowing goes deeper than telling.  Knowing as You wish us to know goes as far as experiencing for ourselves.  It’s one thing for someone to tell us about someone else, but it’s a whole new ballpark when we experience that person for ourselves, when we see Him, when we touch Him.  See, even though You are God and You are Spirit, in Jesus You have become tangible.  Actually, I think You always were.

In speaking of You, Jesus, John says, “We write to you about the Word of life [that’s You, Jesus], which has existed from the very beginning.  We have heard it [You], and we have seen it [You] with our eyes;  yes, we have seen it [You], and our hands have touched it [You].  When this life [You] became visible, we saw it [You]; so we speak of it [You] and tell you about the eternal life [You] which was with the Father and was made known to us.  What we have seen and heard we announce to you also, so that you will join with us in the fellowship that we have with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”  (1 John 1:103)  Well, it certainly appears that You can truly be experienced by the five senses.  John expressed You as very tangible.  You can be seen.  You can be touched.  Because in the seeing You and in the touching You, and in the being seen and being touched by You, we are joined in fellowship with You.

See, this is all part of Your prayer for us.  You didn’t just pray for us to have eternal life.  Yes, You prayed for that.  But in Your own words You said that eternal life was knowing You, knowing God.  There’s the same root “ginosko” in our previoius Greek word.  You, Jesus, came to glorify the Father.  All these words swirl around each other like the angels circling Your throne in worship.  “Doxazo”, glorify,  “acknowledging Him as to His being, attributes and acts.”  Vine’s Greek New Testament Dictionary shares this quote, “As the glory of God is the revelation and manifestation of all that He has and is.” 

You are the manifestation of God that we can see and touch and comprehend.  We heard Your “logos,” Your words.  We have been given Your “rhema,” Your words in a way that we can receive them and get hold of them by the power of the Holy Spirit.   I really think that every word  matters.  And Your words matter above all words.  And the thing is, You are the First Word.  I mean literally.  And everything in what we call Your Word is based on You and is there to help us to see, and know who You are.

So, who are You really?  That is so hard to describe.  And I think it’s hard because we don’t even know ourselves.  I mean what do we say when we introduce someone?  “This is Sharon, my wife.”  Is that all I am?  Of course not.  I’d rather be introduced as Sharon, child of God, because I think that leaves my identity more wide open.  That gives me a glorious beginning, a present, and an eternal future identity that’s all wrapped up in You.  And who can describe You fully?

What did You think was important in Your prayer?  Who we are depends on our personal knowledge of You.  To know You is to be known by You.  To know You is to enter into Eternal Life, You.  You receive back to Yourself the wonder of all that You are, this is being glorified.  It’s like Your light shining back on Yourself and continually making much of You.  It’s all about You continually making Yourself known, manifesting Yourself.  And as we support You with our lives and thoughts and are supported by You, You allow us to shine back on You and shine from You.  We become evidence of the character of God.  I resemble the Name.  We glorify you by entering into Your holiness which is You.  We dedicate ourselves to Your absolute standards.  

You prayed that we might be filled with Your joy.  And the interesting thing about joy is that this kind of joy comes out of knowing You in the midst of struggles and is learned by experience.  This is yet another opportunity to understand and know Your name, Your person.  We get to experience being kept and guarded and watched over by You.  You make us holy like You.  You send us out into the world just like Jesus.  And we’ll be one with You and each other in You because of how much we are becoming like You and getting to know the real You and experiencing You.  

I could go on and on.  But my eyes are getting physically sleepy.  The point here of experiencing isn’t that this is one way.  Experiencing means doing.  Trusting and believing means supporting.  Supporting You means showing we are banking everything on Your word, on You, by living according to it, according to You.  Then, You show Yourself True and support us back.  Because You are True and we were created to shine forth Your Truth, Your Character, Your Name, You!  And one of the greatest rewards of this relationship is experiencing the depths of Your love.  For as deeply and intensely as You loved Your only begotten Son, You love me that deeply too.  Jesus prayed that You would love me as You had loved Him.  And not only that, but You asked that the same love that was in You, would be in me.  

To experience You is to experience Your love because “God is love.”  This is what we get to see and touch.  “…[T]he love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5)  It is shed abroad, it gushes out, runs out, just like the blood of Christ was shed abroad for us on the cross.  This same love is flowing in us from You.  And because You dwell inside us as believers, nothing can ever come between us while we are in You.  “Not height, not depth, not any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Because if I have placed my self IN YOU and You have placed Yourself in me then LOVE dwells in me because it is who You are.  You become my identity.  You define me.  I live by Your words, guard Your words, obey Your words, keep Your words because by It, and in It, and through It all things consist, are held together.  So, in You, I am held together by Your love and in Your love and You and Your character are consummated in me.  See, in You I have “a current state of moral maturity, moral perfection, or moral completeness lacking nothing.” (sermonindex.net) because it’s imparted from You and You are in me.  As I walk in You, as I live my life in You according to You, I am like You.  You are love.  “Every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.”  (1 John 4:7)  If I want to know real love, I must know You, because only You know how to love for real.  Remember how I said this is what we experience?  “And we have KNOWN and BELIEVED the love that God has to us.  God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.”  (1 John 4:16)  God’s character cannot be separated from the one who is dwelling in God, who is walking with Him moment by moment.  Which leads to this, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.”  (1 John 5:3)  This is faith.  It is placing all my weight, all of me to be supported in all of You.  It’s made tangible in me by my demonstrating the tangibility of who You are by living out Your Word.  I cannot love without walking it out.  I have to follow IN Your example, in You.

Lord, I want nothing more than to abound, have Your love pour out of me.  I am so grateful for the treasure You have shared with me, that the measureless love with which God loves You, You turned back to me by going to the extent of physically pouring it forth for me on the cross.  And it’s not just that I can touch the wound in Your side or in Your hands like You told Thomas he could do.  But I can believe by all the evidences  that You show me, all the ways You allow me to experience You, that go beyond the physical, and into the depths of my soul.  “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”  (Romans 10:17)  There is a spiritual hearing that is more valuable than the physical.  And by Your love, You offer each one of us the ability to hear and discern Your voice, the voice of Love.  But we have to be listening, listening for Your voice in Your word.  We have to listen for Your utterances, for Your whisper as we seek You, as we seek to know You.  Well, Lord, I’m so glad that You know how to put it all into words, because I don’t.  But I’m even more glad that You are continually putting Your word, You, into me.  Let me always remain walking and dwelling in You and in Your words that forever wrap me in the arms of love.  And in that embrace, may I embrace others in and with the same arms of love.