Archive for God

Walking in Truth – NT

Posted in NTBC C&C with tags , , , , , , on June 5, 2010 by Mark Hanson

Last week we looked at the Old Testament understanding of Walking in Truth. This week we’ll look at the New Testament understanding of the same concept and compare the similarities and differences to see if there have been any changes in God’s program. The apostle John talks about walking in truth, and makes mention of some things of interest to our study:

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

In context John is not saying that the law was not truthful, rather he is making the argument that the grace and truth found in Christ is what gives the law any benefit because it finds its fulfillment of mercy and forgiveness in Him.

John 8:31-32; 14:6 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free… Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Christ’s life in action and His words are placed on the same level as direct revelation from God it is Truth. But Christ goes further in the giving of truth as He also gives the Spirit for guidance and direction:

John 14:17; 16:13 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… 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.

So now we have a direct spiritual guidance and oversight by a the third person of the Godhead who will lead us in truth. This will never be in disagreement with Christ’s revelation, but will be to prompt proper obedience to both God’s previous revelation as well as Christ’s revelation. It is truth which sanctifies. It is truth that changes. It is truth, and it is found in God’s word’s.

John 17:14-21 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.  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.

Verse 20 is an amazing prayer as Christ is not just praying for His immediate disciples, but for ALL disciples that would follow. He prayed for US! He prayed that we would be sanctified by truth! How precious the truth of God’s Word should be to us! But what does that look like?

1 John 1:8; 2:4; 3:18-19 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us… 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him… 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

A life marked by sensitivity to our depravity and knowing that our nature is prone to sin. If we deny this, we deny the truth because it is exactly how God describes our condition. God’s commands are a direct admonition to us to correct our erring ways back to truth and that is way keeping His commandments are so vital. And when we can put these things into practice both in what we say and in what we do, then we will find assurance of our relationship with God.

John was a minister who established churches and brought people into relationship with Christ. As he writes to some of these we find that he takes great joy in seeing that they continue to walk in truth:

2 John 1:3-6 3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.  4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. 5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

3 John 1:3-14 3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; 6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well.

John’s definition of walking in truth is exactly what he learned from Christ [Mark 12:30-31] and is not so very different than David’s:“[It is] not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it” [2 John 1:5-6]. So the question then is, do you follow what David and John and Christ taught? Are you walking in truth?

Walking in Truth – OT

Posted in NTBC C&C with tags , , , , , , , on May 30, 2010 by Mark Hanson

How many of you think the Old Testament, for daily practical living, only applies to the Jews? This morning we’re going to explore whether this is a reality or not in one particular concept: Walking in Truth. David uses this phrase, “walking in truth,” so this week we start by looking at its use in the OT and follow up by looking at its use the NT. Both the Hebrew and the Greek roots for these words have similar definitions.

Walking conveys the meaning of acting, doing, performing, going, behaving, and living.

Truth carries the connotation of being trustworthy, faithful, truthful, and maintaining consistency over time.

David’s use of “walking in truth” really centers on his specific understanding of truth. And David’s understanding of truth is directly connected to his concept of God:

Psalm 86:10-12 “For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.”

David focuses on who God is. He understands God teaches man to follow after Him, and as a result of that teaching, man will have the ability to walk in truth. Walking in truth can only be accomplished by truly understanding who God is. Understanding who God is directly related to a proper walking in truth. It is only in knowing God’s way that we will be able to follow after Him properly. This then in turn produces praise that is completely focused on God’s glory. David also connects walking in truth to the privilege of being in God’s presence.

Psalm 15:1-2 “LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.”

While David takes time to connect truth to the person and presence of God, he also shows how we are able discover this truth:

Psalm 119:30 “I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.”

Psalm 119:142 “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.”

Psalm 119:151 “Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.”

David makes a choice to both know and follow the instructions that God has revealed for us. He is following something that is intrinsically right, and that value will never change. And because God’s law is forever right and true, it is the one standard by which we can measure right and wrong, good and evil.

Psalm 25:4-8 4 Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. 6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.  7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD. 8 Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.

Psalm 51:6-12 6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. 9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

In Psalm 25 and 51 (David’s Psalm after his sin with Bathsheba) one can see that David understands that God is not some distant and far off impersonal being who’s only relationship is one of correction, but rather that God desires a real change of heart which then allows for a real relationship.

These passages give a picture of David’s understanding of truth and how it is to be integrated into life. Knowing where David is coming from is critical when looking at this passage as he is stepping down handing over the throne to his son Solomon.

1 Kings 2:1-4 Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, 2 I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; 3 And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: 4 That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee a man on the throne of Israel.

1 Kings 3:6, 14 And Solomon said, [to God] Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day… And [God said] if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.

There are some principles that David touches on in his writings (in the broader context than the verses listed here) about truth:

  • Understanding God’s “otherness”
  • Understanding that we must learn
  • Understanding that we must be taught
  • Understanding that we must be led
  • Understanding that we must be dependent
  • Understanding our sin
  • Understanding our guilt
  • Understanding that we must humble ourselves
  • Understanding that we must seek forgiveness
  • Understanding that God demands internal change
  • Understanding this change is complete: heart, mind, soul
  • Understanding that this produces appropriate response
  • Understanding that this leads to God’s presence
  • Understanding that this change is dependent on the holy spirit
  • Understanding that this is all found written in God’s Word
  • Understanding that God’s Word IS truth and must be obeyed

Walking in Truth is what God desires from all of us. David was a man after God’s own heart and God sums it up at the end of David’s life that this entailed walking after God by keeping His commandments. And this is the very same relationship and drive that David wanted to pass on to his son. We should strive to do the same.

Some things you just can’t visualize…

Posted in theoflections with tags , , , , , on April 14, 2010 by Mark Hanson

You know… there are some things you just can’t visualize. What is the breadth of this seemingly endless universe? How do you visualize that? When we try to relate an experience we’ve had, often phrases go “oh well you know its kinda like…” or “just picture… it’s similar to that.”

When I was younger (talking single digits now) I received a picture Bible during Vacation Bible School one summer. I remember that Bible fondly as I would enjoy following along in church since I could visualize with the pictures. I know my mother probably has that book packed up somewhere in one of my boxes. I’ve been trying to visualize what the pictures look like in Romans where Paul floods his book with abstract concepts…

SIN – “No one understands; no one seeks for God,” “Their throat is an open grave,” “The venom of asps is under their lips,” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness,” “Their feet are swift to shed blood,” “Their paths are ruin and misery.”

Paul uses visual imagery to help capture emotive power to project a tangible sensation to associate with a concept, in this particular instance–sin.

And yet even with all the visualization we have both mentally and now through technology, there are somethings you just cannot translate into an image. The above example of sin illustrates the fact that to capture the breadth, depth, height, nuance, power, importance, etc., it requires multiple visualizations. But even with a multitude of images one can draw one, it still does not ever fully communicate the whole truth in a single moment.

God is described as a Father, a husband, as having human-like manifestations such as eyes and hands, He can hear, He can turn away… He is the ultimate judge both in mercy and justice, He is the king, He is sensitive, He is harsh. And yet each one of these elements is just scratching the surface of the whole. Thinking about my little picture Bible, I’m wondering how they portray God. I want to look back and see how they visually represent the person of God. He is too much for one image to contain. And He is the ultimate example of why there are some things you just can’t visualize.

Failure of Reverence

Posted in theoflections with tags , , , , , on February 15, 2010 by Mark Hanson

I’m reading a book by Steve Gallagher, At the Alter of Sexual Idolatry, and he makes a rather astute observation:

“If God’s wonderful presence alone does not capture their devotion how will they ever be satisfied with anything else?”

It makes for a good reality check to reflect on whether or not God’s presence really is enough alone to keep one satisfied in a world that vies for ones affections.

Revealing – Part I

Posted in theoflections, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 16, 2009 by Mark Hanson

After my last post I decided to take a deeper look into each of the main points from my Love… as Christ does the church post. While this is more for my own personal challenge in being the husband God has called me to be, all of these elements should challenge us in our daily lives as we strive to reflect Christ as being evident in all of our relationships.

Revealing God

Christ’s statement: “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world (the church)… I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known” in John 17:6, 26 denotes that Christ took upon Himself the responsibility of manifesting or revealing God’s very essence to His people the church.

1) Revealing God is seen in obedience.

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me… I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” – John 14:23-24, 31

2) Revealing God is seen in relationship.

“And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples… he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick… he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” – Matthew 9:10, 12; 14:14

3) Revealing God is seen in sacrifice.

“The love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.– 1 John 4:9-11

Christ sacrificed via a human relationship by obeying God. As such He revealed more of God to us. May we strive to do the same in our relationships and marriages.

Render unto Caesar…

Posted in render unto caesar, theoflections with tags , , , , , on December 9, 2009 by Mark Hanson

Recently (Dec. 1st) the Wall Street Journal ran an article on how Pittsburgh is considering a new tax on college students.  In the article it mentioned students complaining that this tax would be taxation without representation, and that it was unfair and illegal. I started thinking through our American heritage of taxation. While I can honestly state that I am not up to date on legal code, it would appear to me that if the elected officials voted to add a tax without enough public opinion to dissuade them otherwise, it would then pass into law and be completely legal. IF this were to happen, then rendering unto “Caesar” (i.e. – the governing authority) would be proper in this instance. The history of exempt students can be traced back more than two centuries to Boston where “only the governor, lieutenant governor, clergy, schoolmasters, and anyone connected with Harvard College—including students—were exempt” [1]. So the precedent for exempting college students is a longstanding American tradition. The unrest that caused the Revolutionary war was not from being taxed in and of itself, but the fact that England was imposing a higher “royally imposed” tax structure in which the common people had no local appeal or voice as opposed to their community collection systems. This case in Pittsburgh does not fall into that bracket unless the students do not fall under the local governance and voting system (which many possibly may not, being from out of town, or out of state), literally giving them no voice in the matter.

So how does that line up with this Biblical mandate Christ set forth? With my recent schooling I wondered what my reaction would have been if it were to affect me, and it brought to mind Christ’s words when He said,

“Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” | Matthew 22:21

While I do not like paying taxes (much like the Jews in Christ’s day), the real issue is not my own personal feeling on the matter, it is what God has called us to do. The tax rate in the 1st Century was between 1-3% [2],  which is in keeping with Christ’s coin that Peter found in the fish, the denarius [3].  God holds us responsible to live peaceably with all men, Romans 12:18 and to be respectful and supportive of the government that God has placed over us, 1 Timothy 2:1-2. Paul is clear in Romans 13:3-8 that God is the one establishing authority, and ultimately our response to them is a reflection of our response to Him.

It is interesting that the Jews complained of a 1% tax; I would gladly take that over the 10-35% taxes that can be found today. But we all tend to be complain about whatever authority is imposing rules upon us. Which gives even greater meaning to Paul when he states:

“For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” | Philippians 4:11-13

And even after this life, I think that there is a semi-hidden comfort when we  read the broader context of Matthew looking for Christ’s interaction with taxation:

“When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?”  He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” | Matthew 17:24-27

There appears to be a veiled message indicating that when all is said and done, and we are under the lone rule of God our Father. He will remove all of these human restrictions and give His sons complete freedom. However, until that day we need to honor Him in respect to those to whom He has granted authority over us.

_____________________

[1]  Menand, Catherine S., http://www.historycooperative.org, “The Things That Were Caesar’s: Tax Collecting in Eighteenth-Century Boston.”

[2] http://www.unrv.com, “Taxes in the Roman Empire.”

[3] A denarius was equal to a days wage.

[2]

Who…

Posted in poetical poetry with tags , , on December 7, 2009 by Mark Hanson

Who forms the the human frame, bits of dust held together for so short a time…

Who weaves the veins in and out of all the interworkings contained therein…

Who places life into the form, giving life to the lifeless, animating the inanimate…

Who sets the clockwork of the body to its own rhythm and rhyme…

Who gifts breath to begin and continue automatically again and again…

Who commands the heart to beat unceasing, from beginning until its abate…

There is no such “what” which can do such things without being a facade…

There is one alone with the power mentioned above, tis only God.