Here’s my list of questions that I’ve asked God along with the answers that He’s given me in one way or another. . .
Well . . . it’s my autobiography. It tells what I’ve been doing for you –for all of mankind– since the beginning. You’ve seen various people’s biographies –at least in bookstores. Some of those seem long and they cover human lifetimes. I’m eternal. Just how long do you think my autobiography ought to be?
I’m asked that pretty often. I suppose the most common variant of that question is “When Jesus was here those many years ago, why did He speak in parables?”
That’s a really important question. I created people with a deep-seated curiosity. They investigate and reason in search of answers about their particular interests. That suffices for some –or for a while– but it can’t satisfy their desires for knowledge. Truly satisfying answers, no matter what the subject, have to come spiritually –not just intellectually. It’s an intentional built-in path to me.
Parables are part of that path. When people read “my autobiography” I want them to wonder what those are about; to study them; to talk about them; to guess about them. Then I want them to ask me –much like a child asks his father to explain something. And yes, I do respond and explain. Those that I’ve already answered help by passing on what they’ve learned. But even so, for the answer to resound within, it has to be confirmed by me. So I say to everyone “Let’s talk about this in your prayers.”
First of all, my intent is, and always has been, to develop intimate relationships with people. I like the term intimate; there’s an implication of depth that goes way beyond even the closest friendship. For that to happen there has to be lots of sincere, open, two-way communication.
Usually people pray for me to fix a pressing situation. That’s fine. I expect and welcome that. However, they have decided for themselves what they expect me to do. I always do what’s best for them, but they’ve determined that grandma needs to get well (so that she can love and be loved), that dad must soon have a job (so there will be food and shelter and security), that troubles will go away (so life will be easier). When my results don’t line up with their requests, they think that I’m not listening or I don’t care. They’re wrong on both counts.
The thing is that this relatively short time that you have on earth is when an eternal relationship with me is established. As harsh as this might sound, that’s all it’s for. And I’m involved in every moment of it –for your benefit. To that end, I do what it takes for all of the billions of people –all at the same time– to know me on the deepest level and to trust me wholeheartedly.
Sometimes things go contrary to what you ask for so that it works out for someone else. Sometimes it goes contrary to show you later that you didn’t really know what was best. Sometimes it goes just the way you want. Whatever the case, both the struggles and the results are carefully assembled to draw you and me closer together –so that you know that I care for you. I care so much that I’d belittle myself in front of the whole world and give up my life for you –in fact I did exactly that.
My point is, keep on with your talking to me –and try listening. It’s supposed to be a “two-way conversation.” Look for the good that’s happening in and around your life. I am with you for the long haul not just the quick fix.
It’s my turn to ask you a question. “Why do you think I authored the Bible?” You don’t know do you? Most think that I was trying to get people to do good and quit doing bad. But that’s not it.
Earlier I mentioned that developing an intimate relationship takes “lots of sincere, open, two-way communication.” Well, the Bible is where I started a conversation with you by telling about myself –and about my concerns for you. Then through your prayers you’ve been telling me about yourself and your concerns. Of course I already know what’s on your mind, but our conversing is what’s important.
As you read it, I’m expecting you to have all kinds of reactions. “How can anyone read this whole thing and understand it? Most of the names are impossible to pronounce, what’s more remember. It puts me to sleep just trying to read it. Are all these things even possible or are they just fairy tales? Life back then was sure different from today; how is it relevant to today? With so much bad happening, why didn’t God just scrap the whole thing? He wrote the Ten Commandments; then why did He tell people to do what He said was so bad?”
Theologians do their best, but I hope you realize that I’m the only one who can authoritatively answer these questions. I had Paul plainly write that I want you to know everything about me –even my deepest thoughts. All you have to do is ask. Be patient. Allow me to answer over time and I will tell you more than you could ever imagine. (That’s what 1 Corinthians chapter two is about.)
There are certainly many of them to choose from. My advice, for what it’s worth, is to find one that is sufficiently easy to read. They’re pretty much all based on those Hebrew and Greek originals. No one is going to translate the meanings just right –just the way that I spoke to the authors. But it really doesn’t matter.
If you’ve been following along with all this so far, you should know that your intellect can read and memorize and speak about anything –even something that isn’t what I was trying to communicate. But I have put my Spirit within each believer so that he can understand me –regardless of a misstatement in a printed book.
The reason that I say to find one that’s easy for you to read is so that we’re not trying to jump a vocabulary hurdle at the same time. It’s just easier that way. I’m looking forward to hearing from you as you read.
When you look at the world you might see beauty and potential but there’s also corruption, pollution, destruction, poverty, sickness and death. You probably think it ought to be like the Garden of Eden was in the beginning –that it needs to be fixed. You and I agree on that last part; it does need to be fixed. But everything –everything that you see as bad– is going exactly the way I originally designed it. It really is.
Before I ever made you (mankind) I knew that you would try to take over –try to establish yourselves as gods over everything that you could. So I gave you an ultimate challenge –to restore the earth and its inhabitants (including yourselves) to their initial condition. Everyday, from somewhere, you’re told what you can do to help stop the problems and save the planet –save the wildlife –save a child –save yourself. They say that everything would be good again if everyone would just do their part.
That hasn’t happened –it won’t. I was talking to Paul about this very thing (he wrote it down in Romans, the eighth chapter). I intentionally subjected my whole creation to frustration so that people would have to come to me for resolution –for peace –for satisfaction –for life. Then, when the time is right, I will fix it. I’ll start the whole thing over with a new heaven and new earth. My believers and I will be there in perfect harmony. There will be no need for the problems to draw them to me because we will already be united together like a husband and wife. That will indeed be a wonderful day. You know you’re invited, right?
Ah, you’ve picked one that everyone seems to be confused about. People have tried to rationalize those Bible references to me: “Father, Son, Holy Ghost –or Spirit”. Sometimes I’m thought of as three persons, other times I’m in three parts. And for that matter there’s my Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ. . . Of course you’re confused.
It’s easier to understand than you might think. When I created mankind I made you with a body; it has senses that allow it to interact with your environment. You have a soul; it’s what experiences thoughts and desires and emotions. You have a spirit; it’s what I use to communicate with you.
In the same way I have a body. It was one like yours when I was with you on earth. If you were a Jew you called me Joshua, else it was by my Greek name, Jesus. That earthly body has been replaced with a heavenly one but it still carries the crucifixion scars. I also have a soul. It’s what I call the Father. That’s where my desires and plans and emotions come from. That only leaves my spirit –the Holy Spirit. That’s how I convict, teach and comfort as I’m connecting with mankind.
By the way, as a believer, your spirit is just fine. I am working on your soul though –correcting somethings and teaching new ones. Your body however needs to be replaced –and I have one that’s perfect and ready just for you.
So, you ask, “Why did I use ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’?” They’re the simplest concepts for people to grasp and they translate to people’s knowledge of authority and roles and realms –regardless of their culture. But really, you don’t need to know my make-up to perceive me –to know that I’m the author of all creation –to know my compassion for you –to realize what I have done and am doing for you all day long. Whatever phrase or word that you use, I know when you’re talking to me –and it makes me very happy.
The answer to that one begins with Moses. He and I were the best of friends –actually we still are. We had some wonderful talks. He asked me lots and lots of questions. I answered them all and gave him some to record for people to read after he was gone. One was simply “How does this relationship work?” He was talking about the one between mankind and me.
I explained what happened in those early days in the Garden. Most people don’t realize (or they refuse to accept) that in that story I also describe your beginnings. Disguised in the narrative of me taking a bit of Adam to make Eve is the account of me taking a bit of myself to make mankind. Let’s consider the implications.
I’m going to put this in human terms. I am alive. My blood flows through every part of my body. My breath refreshes my blood. My food and drink are nourishment that is carried in my blood. At the moment that I made you –gave birth to you– you were on your own and separated from me. My life-sustaining blood quit flowing though you just as a mother’s blood quits flowing through her baby when it’s born. Right then I gave you an expiration date –you were dying. To continue living you have to be rejoined with me.
As independent beings, every one of you (just like Eve) have proved that your desire is to keep your independence –to be your own god. That’s what eating the fruit from the tree of knowing good and evil demonstrated. You elevated yourselves to be the judge over right and wrong –and ultimately over life and death. I knew that was going to happen; it was just a matter of when. But I had already provided the remedy –the tree of life.
As god, I left heaven to follow you into your depravity and be with you (like Adam left the garden to be with Eve). I did it so that you could know the depths of my love. The tree of life was the cross and its fruit is my flesh and my blood. You can eat it and be rejoined eternally with me. You’ve heard the quote, “life is in the blood.” It really is.
You asked about the purpose of the law. Like all the other laws, it describes how things work. In this case, it describes the workings of my relationship with mankind. Its many aspects include the priesthood, the rituals, the feasts, the tabernacle, the ark, the sacrifices, the rules. . . And everything about it retells the story that I told Moses.
For example, all of Israel agreed to do everything that I said –and right away they judged that life in Egypt (the foods, the idols, the security) was good and following me had no value (that’s the fruit from the tree of death). It took a mediator (Moses, like Jesus) to appeal to me to spare their lives. Also, every year they were faced with their rebellious ways and were shown that their impending death sentence could be prevented by the death of a perfectly innocent sacrifice. That innocence was proven in Pilate’s court when I came to die for them.
That law was the means that the Jews were tasked with to present my story –the gospel– to the world around them. It also does one other thing –it shows that no matter how hard someone tries to do what my autobiography describes, they are not me.
That’s a topic close to my heart. Sometimes I refer to them as the chosen –or the elect –or the few. It should stir readers to ask the obvious question. You would ask if someone said “Congratulations, you have been chosen!” You would certainly ask them “Chosen (or picked or selected or elected) for what?” Sure they might tell you that you won some fabulous prize. But it could also be the IRS informing you to appear at a tax audit. Or, it could be the security people at the airport demanding a thorough search of you and your luggage. Or, it could be your supervisor at work telling you to take a polygraph exam or a drug test. That term needs to be understood in its context.
My purpose was to choose a people that would preach my good news. That monumental task was to act out the gospel through every aspect of life –very much like actors on a stage. There were three primary roles. First, there was the high priest who communicated directly with me –he came right into my throne-room. His task was to make peace between us (you and me). Next, there were the priests. They knew the high priest and they also knew the people. They experienced life with them and told them about me. Lastly, there was everyone else –they needed to hear about, and get to personally know, me.
Through those acting roles, the Jews showed the need for a mediator who would really bring reconciliation between me and you. Of course that was what true high priest, Jesus, did. All those priests are characterizations of you as believers. You know Jesus and when the time is right, you tell your neighbors (the non-priests) about the salvation available to them.
In reading their story, you’ll find corruption, addiction, adultery, murder, wars, slavery, hatred –just like your world today. I led them into difficult circumstances to show them that I was the only one that was trustworthy. I use the same kind of difficulties today. Some have trusted me and my salvation, many haven’t.
Speaking of today, I find that people are troubled by that word . . . elect. They are concerned that they should be –but maybe aren’t– in that group. If elect meant saved, they would have reason to be concerned. But salvation is a matter of faith in the the one –the chosen one– who came to save. He is the one who was predicted by my chosen people –my elect. It’s a profound title for a unique people; but it’s reserved for those who dedicated their lives under the Old Covenant. It made them a kingdom of priests who preached through imagery –symbols –pictures. You have a better role. It’s preaching about me –a true high priest –one you have met and who saved you through my own blood. Let’s talk. . . and I’ll tell you more.
Almost everyone blames him for their troubles. And rightfully so. I’ve heard people say that he’s a loose cannon –uncontrollable –does everything contrary to my ways. But you do realize that he works for me don’t you? Remember my conversations him? They’re recorded in the first part of Job –in fact they’re the basis for that whole report.
Job was a real upstanding guy. He was liked by everyone in the neighborhood –and everyone in the church. He shared and he prayed and he was compassionate. What more could he have done? In case you don’t remember, the answer is in the ending of that account.
With everything going his way, he didn’t need me. He was self-sufficient and had no use for anything that he couldn’t see. So I conspired with my devious servant to issue Job a series of increasingly harsh troubles. There was a nasty illness, the loss of family and property and reputation, three provoking church friends, a nagging wife and my outspoken supporter. That was a full set of troubles!
He argued –mostly with himself and his church buddies– about how right he was and how wrong I was. But in the end, his foundation crumbled and he saw me for who I am. And he marveled, admitting that before his encounter with Satan, he only heard about me but afterward he knew me as though it was face-to-face. It’s nice to be with him all the time now.
It’s the same for you. Satan has several roles that he performs. He accuses you of all wrongs of your past and your weak and faithless present. It’s so that you have to talk with me –I’ll continue to explain that I’ve resolved your past and given you a new present, and a perfect future. He’s also called the father of lies. That title comes from his arousing Eve’s inner desires back in the Garden. He does the same for you. He’s your adversary so that you will have your defenses ready at all times –prepared to combat every doubt as you’re confronted. I want you to know –to intimately know– the security of your relationship with me.
There’s a little noticed saying that I had placed early in “my gospel to the Hebrews” (that’s what I call it). There I plainly say that all of the angels –all of them– are ministers for those who will inherit salvation. That includes Satan –he’s also leading you to me. That’s his part of my work.