Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sacrificed On Purpose -- Part 2

image used under Creative Commons license,
photo by Jody Lehigh on pixabay

Let's start where we left off, last time.  Monday, we ended with John 16:23, "And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.".  We often hear the tail end of that or the next verse, without the beginning or the context.  Questions answered and things that are asked for, now being given.

John 16:24 (KJV)  Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

Those verses are followed by:

John 16:25 (KJV)  These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.

No matter how intelligent or spiritually mature we are, right now, we have a limited capacity to fully understand the spiritual realm.  As long as we're in the present era, that won't change.  But there is hope for more.

John 16:26 (KJV)  At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:

Out of context, that sounds kind of dismal,  But 1 John 5:7 tells us, "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.".  And you may be asking, "So?".  But this is important.  Remember that Jesus told the disciples that He and the Father were one (John 10:30, John 17:21), the same in nature and they could see the Father by seeing Him.  It's our capacity that's the limiting factor.  The "joys" of having a sin nature.

Verses 23 and 26 say in or at "that day".  That's not "end times" or leading up to it.  "That day" goes back to John 16:19, where it says, "Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?".  Bingo!  It's Jesus' second coming!  At that point, our spiritual capabilities mature, we recognize and become able to make use of our connection with God.  And our spiritual perception is raised to the point where Jesus no longer needs to intercede for us.  We become more fully an active part of the Body.

Unless I'm totally misreading John 16:26, Jesus isn't stopping intercession because He doesn't feel like doing it any longer.  Instead, He's stopping because His return ushers in a time when we no longer need an intermediary!  And, if that's not exciting enough, go back to verse 25.  While verses 23, 24, and 26 lean in the direction of asking and getting, Verse 25 appears to do something different.  Or does it?  Think of what James tells us.

James 4:1-4 (KJV)  From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?  Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.  Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

The focal point is "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.".  We battle amongst ourselves and against God because what we prioritize is incorrect. Remember Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."?  And that's what's promised to explode to a whole new level when Christ returns.  Lets look at verse 25 again.

John 16:25 (KJV)  These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.

We've already said that our capacity to understand is presently limited.  While we think we're wise, much of what we go after has limited value.  It looks good because our perception of it is wrong. Some are better than others at overcoming that to some degree.  Others are really good at looking like they're overcoming.  And still others give in to wrong priorities.

With that in mind, think about what verse 25 really says.  A proverb is a saying that clarifies a truth, so that we understand its full meaning.  Jesus isn't saying that He's stopping speaking in proverbs because He gave up on us or doesn't want us to understand.  He's saying that, upon His return, our spiritual fog will dissipate.  We won't need proverbs for explanation because our relationship with God will reach a level where we no longer  need proverbs as a learning aid!

Consider what that means for the Christian:

  1. No matter how good our relationship with God has been in the past, we go to a whole new level of oneness.
  2. That closeness to God gives us a greater understanding of what should be, how things are intended to connect and interact.  We truly comprehend the mind and heart of God.
  3. That understanding continually enhances our oneness and unity with God.
  4. Because we now live in Matthew 6:33, we no longer "ask amiss".
  5. Our direct connection with each aspect of the Trinity means we hear directly, without the need for teaching aids, without the possibility of misinterpreting.
  6. We live and grow in the circular nature of our relationship with God.  We grow closer to God because we understand more.  And we understand more because we grow closer to Him. That's a cycle that never ends.
That's exciting!  And, when we look at the surrounding verses, there's even more.  Jesus was here, He returned to the Father.  During His time away from earth, it may appear that the world, the flesh and the devil are winning.  But that's an illusion.  As the saying goes, "I cheated and skipped to the back of the Book.  We win!".  So, when we ask, whether it's for something we want or to get away from circumstances we don't like, "if it's Your will" needs to be an integral part of the thought process.  

The closer we are to God, the more we trust Him, which gives us the peace needed to get through "interesting" times.  That's another cyclical reality.  As we see God carry us through, we trust Him more and seek Him instead of the things He can do, which allows Him to do those things more, which helps our trust in Him grow, which....  You get the picture.  

When we stop limiting God with our own misdirected understanding, we allow Him to do more in our lives, because He isn't spending time getting us back on track, so that we can comprehend what's going on.  Yes God is infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, etc.  But, in the things we need to understand, God seems to choose to allow our level of spirituality to slow Him down so He doesn't get too far ahead of us.  Much like a parent, going only so fast, doing only so much, sharing only so much, so that the child isn't overwhelmed by so much to experience, and too quickly.  

God's willing to wait for us to reach spiritual adulthood to let us fly.  And that starts with Jesus' second coming.  I'd bet I'm not the only one excited by that prospect.  What do you think?

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