Categories: Uncategorized
Paradox

Paradox

 

God’s paradoxes 

Paradox

 

God’s paradoxes 

Another reason that we cannot rely on our own logic is that the principles of God’s Kingdom make no sense at all to the natural mind.  And as we travel the Illuminative Way, we must learn to understand and apply these principles. 

Most appear to be bald contradictions.  Give to get.  Die to live.  The greatest among you must be the servant of all.  Faith “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). 

Other Kingdom principles—sowing and reaping, binding and loosing, blessing and cursing—teach us how to get things done.  And principles like forgiveness, bitterness, and defilement reveal the anatomy and physiology of relationships. 

Our Guide 

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things.”  (John 14:26) 

One Sunday morning back in the 1990s, a friend named Joe Martin, then one of the pastors at Sojourn Church in Carrollton, Texas, stepped up to the pulpit carrying his Bible and a stuffed dove.   

“The Holy Spirit is not a bird,” he announced, then proceeded to preach about the personhood of the third Person of the Trinity.  Deepening relationship with the Holy Spirit as a Person is a key part of the Illuminative Way. 

Bound by earth, time, and our deceptive senses, most of us have a tough time getting a clear picture of what God looks like.  So did the first disciples.

Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”  Jesus said to him,  “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

To most of us, the Trinity is usually a group shot.  Our image of Jesus evolved from classic paintings and “holy cards,” which rendered Him either as a rosy-cheeked cherub or a blue-eyed surfer, depending on the artist’s fancy.  Our image of our Father bears a curious resemblance to the muscular Elderly Man reaching out to Adam on the Sistine ceiling. 

 HolySpiritJesus

 

And the only snapshot we have of the Holy Spirit was taken at that poignant moment when He appeared with Jesus in the Jordan River, prompting everyone since to think of Him as “It.”

 

 

But the Holy Spirit is God, Guide, Giver of spiritual gifts, and Source of wisdom and power.  His passion is to reveal and exalt Jesus.  And one of His most formidable challenges is to teach us how to live a supernatural life in our new realm.  Some people describe the Holy Spirit as a “Gentleman” because, despite His limitless power, He does not force us to accept His wonderful gifts, nor does He work through them without our permission.

An interesting phenomenon is the way in which people tend to be drawn more deeply into what the church of history has called sacraments as they walk with the Lord over time, discovering their supernatural dimension.  Sacraments are defined as “outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace.”

The outward sign of baptism, for example, is immersion in water.  The spiritual reality is that we are separated from the power and influence of sin in our lives, just as Israel was separated by the Red Sea from the power and influence of Egypt and as Noah and his family were separated by the flood from the power and influence of a world in which “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and . . . every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

The outward sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, or confirmation as liturgical Christians sometimes refer to it, is the laying on of hands.  The spiritual reality is supernatural empowerment by the Holy Spirit.

Laying our hands on the sick is the outward sign of healing by the Holy Spirit:

Is anyone among you sick?  Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:14

Catholics and Anglicans may confess their sins to a priest or as part of a service, and Protestants confess their sins privately.  The spiritual reality is reconciliation, based on the assurance that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

A man and woman exchange vows and rings as an outward sign of the new unity into which they are entering. 

We also begin to perceive that the Lord’s Supper, or communion, is much more than a ceremonial remembrance of the crucified Christ.

Eucharist

It is deep, intimate fellowship with the living Jesus.  It is an opportunity to receive healing, spiritual nurture, and even divine revelation.

Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.  And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”  (Luke 24:30-32)

As the Holy Spirit illuminates our lives, the supernatural becomes more real, more desirable.  And the sacraments are increasingly seen (and even proven) as wonderful instruments through which God manifests His power. 

By the book

As we are empowered and our minds are renewed by the Holy Spirit, we also experience a rekindling of interest in Scripture—not a desire for information but a quest for life.  We may lose track of time as we spend hours or days with the Lord in His Word.

At the same time, we discover a new kind of revelatory prayer called meditation—focusing on a passage in the hopeful expectation that the Holy Spirit will open it up to reveal something about Himself and His Kingdom.

The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. (I John 2:27)

We begin to know Jesus as the living Word, “powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

 

© 2005, 2012 Bill Atwood

Previous