Example Two: The Principle of Type and Anti-type

The second principle of biblical interpretation is similar to the first. The first principle uses the repetition of knowledge and prophecy – the second principle uses the repetition of history. It is called ‘The Principle of Type and Anti-type.’

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word ‘typology’ as “a doctrine that things in the Christian dispensation are symbolized or prefigured by things in the Old Testament.” Another way of expressing this concept of type and anti-type is, by understanding it as, the shadow and the reality. For example, we understand that the sacrificing of animals, for the forgiveness of sins, was merely a shadow of the reality, which was the sacrifice of the true “Lamb of God,” Jesus Christ (see Jn. 1:29; Heb. chapters 9, 10). Abraham understood this concept when he was instructed to sacrifice his only son, Isaac – this incident was the shadow pointing forward to the reality – the sacrifice of God’s only son. What did Abraham learn from the type (the shadow) – Jesus said that “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (Jn. 8:56). In other words, Abraham understood the Principle of Type and Anti-type.

The use of types and antitypes is one of the most comprehensive teaching devices that the Holy Spirit uses to teach Bible truth, especially in the prophecies. Almost, every prominent person in the Old Testament can occupy the role of a type of Christ. It is very easy to examine the life history of people like Isaac, Joseph, Moses and even Cyrus the Persian and find fascinating parallels with the life and role of Christ. Thus, these historical figures become types or shadows of Christ.

The principle is not just applicable to historical figures but also to historical events. Reviewing the history of the Israelites, Paul wrote: “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples and they are written for our admonition” (1 Cor. 10:11). In other words, there is instruction in the history of God’s people in the past – for God’s people in the present.

An example of this historical principle is: the exodus from Egypt and the journey to the Promised Land. For the individual Christian Egypt is a type of sin (the land of slavery) from which we all must escape. The Promised Land is a type of Heaven (the goal of every Christian). The wandering in the wilderness is a type for the difficulties encountered on the journey. The parting of the Red Sea is a type for the miraculous help that Heaven is willing to provide to overcome the difficulties. Other examples are: Jesus told us that the history surrounding Noah and the history of Sodom and Gomorrah are types that will have their anti-types in the future (see Lu. 17:26-32).

The Scripture that uses the Principle of Type and Anti-type, more than any other, is the Book of Revelation. One example should suffice. The Jewish religious year begins with the Festival of Passover and ends with the Festival of Tabernacles – making a total of seven months. As each month began (at the new moon) they were required to blow the trumpets (see Num. 10:10) – making a total of seven trumpets to be blown during the religious year. Do we find seven trumpets being blown in the Book of Revelation? Yes we do! Is there a connection? Absolutely! The Jewish trumpets are the type and the Revelation trumpets are the anti-type. Understanding the Principle of Type and Anti-type is essential to understand Scripture – especially prophecy and especially the Book of Revelation.

Example One – The Repeat and Enlarge Principle

The Estonian people have a proverb: “Repetition is the mother of wisdom” – and if you were to ask a teacher what is the most effective teaching tool, the teacher will invariably say, “repetition!”  Repetition is the most effective teaching method – it is a memory’s best friend.  Therefore it should not surprise us if we were to discover that the Bible has a very effective and sophisticated system of repetition built into it.  Basically, the Bible is telling the same stories over and over again but it tells these stories in many varied ways, using many methods.  Thus, repetition is one of the foundational principles in the science of salvation.

The very structure of the Hebrew language is based on repetition.  Hebrew poetry is not based on the same principles and rules as other languages.  English poetry generally is based on rhyme and rhythm – Hebrew poetry is based on repeat and enlarge – and it is in this repeat and enlarge process that dominates most of the Bible.  It is an intricate and sophisticated process – each repetition not only contains elements of the original statement (or thought) but it always adds new information.  Most often the first thought will be repeated in a different way by the second thought (the repetition) – the second thought offering additional insight into what is being said, and in some instances even explaining [and defining] what the first thought means. 

The best way to illustrate this structure is to provide some examples.  David crafts his psalms in exactly this manner.  The following are verses 7,10 & 17, from Psalm 51:

 

First thought:         Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean

Second thought:    wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

 

First thought:         Create in me a clean heart, O God;

Second thought:    and renew a right spirit within me.

 

First thought:         The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:

Second thought:    a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

 

Sometimes a whole verse is used as the first thought and the next verse contains the second thought, as with the following example from Solomon, Prov. 2:3,4:

 

First thought:  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge,

and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

Second thought: If thou seekest her as silver,

and searchest for her as for hid treasure;

 

Although extensively used in the Psalms and wisdom literature, it is by no means restricted there.  The same structure is used throughout the Scripture.  Compare Isa.1:18:

 

First thought:         Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;

Second thought:    though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

 

The prophecies in the Bible are based and built on the same principle of repeat and enlarge.  The Bible is a carefully constructed book. – and why not? – what else should we expect, when we know that it has been inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Broadly speaking the Bible is constructed like a house.  First a solid foundation is laid.  Then the walls are built on top of the foundation.  Lastly, the roof is put on top of the walls.  No builder will start with the roof, before the foundation and the walls are complete.  When it comes to understanding the Bible, many people are beginning with the roof.  Some ignore the foundation completely, others are content to climb only the walls and think they have completed the tour of the building.  The important thing to remember is that the walls hold up the roof, and the walls are held up by the foundation.  Each of them are connected and relying upon the other.  The book of Revelation is the roof, but it cannot be understood in isolation to the walls and the foundation.

Another illustration that we can use is that of the music symphony.  A music symphony is generally composed of several themes that are introduced separately, then they are interwoven together, and then the symphony concludes with a dramatic crescendo.  This is also how the Bible is constructed.  For example, what is the theme of the book of Psalms?  Answer: praise.  But we do not even see the word praise until Psalm number 7.  However, as we near the end of the book the frequency of the word praise increases – praise is repeated and enlarged upon until there is a crescendo of praise in the last Psalms (especially the very last Psalm).   

Bible construction can also be compared to the game of dominos.  Each link in the chain of dominos is connected to the other.  A chain of dominos can be made into a circle – making the end connect to the beginning. The book of Revelation is the end of the beginning – it contains all the themes presented in the Bible.  The Book of Revelation is a repeat and enlargement of the entire Bible – it is the dramatic crescendo of the Biblical Symphony.

And again, Bible construction can be likened to that childhood favorite, the treasure hunt.  The seekers are given cryptic clues, and in order to make correct progress they have to solve each clue.  The interpreting of the clues are governed by principles that even children understand.  As each clue is correctly interpreted, steady progress is made towards the eagerly awaited reward.  We too need to understand the principles of interpretation as we hunt for heavenly treasure.  Perhaps the desire to do so and the success we achieve are in direct proportion to how much we desire the reward.

The best illustration of the principle of repeat and enlarge, used in a prophetic context, is found in the book of Daniel.  Daniel had four main visions.  Each one covers the history of the kingdoms of this world and the history of God’s kingdom, from Daniel’s time, to the end of time.  The first vision, of the statue, is the foundation for all the others.  Each subsequent vision repeats what was previously revealed, and then adds additional information.  For example, after Daniel had his third vision, he said it was similar to his first vision (Dan. 8:1).  When He was about to have his fourth vision the angel said to him that the purpose was to give Daniel “skill and understanding” (Dan. 9:22), about his third vision (Dan. 9:23).  Although not quite as obvious, the book of Revelation is constructed in a similar way to the book of Daniel.  And in addition, it extensively repeats and enlarges on the prophecies found in Daniel, and other parts of the Old Testament. 

The repeat and enlarge principle is one of the most important principles, because it operates like a “spelling checker.”  As one makes progress through the prophecies and as one “spells out” what they think each prophecy means – the repeat and enlarge principle ensures that the interpretation of each prophecy must agree with the one that went before it.  In this way, it operates as a “prophecy proof checker.”  It not only helps us with the correct application, it ensures that our application will harmonize with what has been discovered previously.  The repeat and enlarge principle ensures, that every domino in the chain remains in its correct place.

When one recognizes and accepts the validity of this principle, the Bible can become almost like a new book.  Panoramas and vistas that have not been discerned before are now revealed.  The reading of the Bible is no longer just a surface skim through.  The descent into the mine for the riches awaiting us there can begin.

Biblical Principles of Interpretation

In spite of all the Apostle Paul’s hardships and trials he had a burden for those who would come after him. One of his favourite understudies was a young man called Timothy, and Paul wrote Timothy two letters. He was trying to prepare Timothy for the task ahead, so his letters are full of advice, warnings exhortations and encouragement. One piece of advice was on how to understand the Scriptures, Paul wrote:

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15.

From Paul’s advice to Timothy we can immediately deduce that there is a ‘right way’ (or method) for ‘dividing’ (understanding and teaching) the word of truth. And, if there is a right way to understand the Bible, then there must be a wrong way to understand the Bible. Peter points us in the direction of the wrong method when he wrote about the “sure word of prophecy” – Peter tells us to beware of ‘private interpretations:’

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. 2 Pet. 1:20.

Peter makes it very clear from the context, that a ‘private interpretation’ is any interpretation that is attempted without the Holy Spirit. He points out that the inspiration (or Originator) of the prophecies is the Holy Spirit, therefore the guidance of the Author is essential for the interpretation of the prophecies. Those who are not led by the Holy Spirit produce a ‘private interpretation.’ Therefore, there are two opposing methods for dealing with Scripture one produces a ‘private interpretation’ the other ‘rightly divides’ – only the latter constitutes the science of salvation.

Once we know there is a right way and a wrong way to understand Scripture, it naturally follows that we should ask: “How do we know the difference between the two?” – or – “Does the Bible itself, provide us with any clues, as to how we can discover the correct method and avoid the wrong method?” The answer is yes it does!

The author of the epistle to the Hebrews (most likely Paul) tells his readers that he has many things to say about the great high priest Melchisedec (Jesus). However, he goes on to say that, what he has to say to them is hard and difficult because they, (the readers – the Hebrews) are too ‘dull of hearing’ to understand. Therefore, because of their spiritual dullness, Paul proceeds to explain to them, that they need to have the basic (or first) ‘principles of the oracles of God’ explained afresh to them (see Heb. 5:10-12). What is interesting for us is the manner in which Paul explains how the ‘oracles of God’ are managed or constructed – he says they are organised in the form of ‘principles.’ So what is a principle? The dictionary definition is that a principle is:

A fundamental truth or proposition upon which others depend.
A general statement or tenet forming the basis of a system of belief.
A general law or rule adopted or professed as a guide to action.
Shorter Oxford Dictionary.

In others words, a principle is a law or a rule. The biblical principles are therefore just like the natural principles. For example; the law of gravity or the laws of thermodynamics, or any of all the other laws of nature that operate in God’s universe.

Just as experience has taught the human race that the observance of these natural laws leads to physical good fortune and the non-observance of these laws lead to disaster – in like manner, in the study of God’s Word, the observance of the biblical laws of interpretation, lead to spiritual good fortune, and the non-observance leads to spiritual disaster.

Just as the study of the natural world has eventuated in an accumulated body of harmonious truth, produced by what is known, as the ‘Scientific Method’ – in like manner, the careful study of God’s Word eventuates in an accumulated body of harmonious truth – which we can call the ‘Science of Salvation.’ Just as God’s universe is governed by natural law, so too, the Bible. is governed by ‘spiritual law.’ Just as the scientists who study the natural law have to have the ‘eyes to see’ (education and wisdom), so too, those who study God’s Word have to have ‘eyes to see’ (the Holy Spirit). This is why Jesus reiterated one particular point, more often than anything else – after almost every sermon and after every parable he said: “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear” – “Let him who is led by the Holy Spirit understand what I am saying.”

So how do we discover these biblical principles? We discover them in the same manner, that scientists over hundreds of years have discovered the natural laws – by observation. We do not come to Scripture and impose upon it principles of interpretation that we think apply to it – that is ‘eisegesis’ (putting in). We ought to come to the Scriptures and practice ‘exegesis’ (taking out). We discover what is already there waiting to be discovered we do not insert into the Scriptures what is additional, in the form of human reasoning or human philosophy – these things only distort and obfuscate the true import of the Scriptures. Jesus warned against all such ‘private interpretations’ when he said: “I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book (Revelation), if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18).

The first principle of the scientific method is observation. The same first principle applies to the science of salvation – we ‘observe’ the Scriptures when we read them. The second principle of the scientific method is to test what has been observed. If the testing process is proven to be consistent by always providing the same result, then it is considered to be scientific fact. The second principle of the scientific method also applies to the science of salvation – once we discover the true principles of interpretation – further testing reveals a tightly interlocking series of principles that produces a beautiful harmonious picture, breath-taking in its scope – which when seen strengthens ones faith in the correctness of ones methodology – (a right division of the word).

Next posting: examples of Biblical Principles of Interpretation.

The Science of Salvation

When we understand that the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth – the next issue that should naturally spring to mind is: how does the Holy Spirit lead us into all truth?  This is a particularly relevant question when we are also aware of the plethora of ‘voices’ in the religious ‘market place’ all crying out that their wares are the best and the only genuine article.  The Holy Spirit distinguishes the true from the false by teaching us the scientific method of biblical interpretation – the ‘science of salvation.’

Before embarking on a journey it is wise to prepare.  If the purpose of the journey is to arrive safe and well at the final destination, it is wise to have maps, charts, compass, a full fuel tank, global satellite positioning and whatever else might be necessary for a satisfactory outcome.

Spiritual exploration requires the same sort of preparation and the same sort of instruments.  A full tank (faith) is definitely required – the global satellite positioning system needs to be replaced with the heavenly positioning system (the Holy Spirit) – and the maps, charts and compass, are biblical principles of interpretation.  Equipped with the right tools, one can then engage in, the science of salvation.

When scientists seek to unlock the secrets of the natural world, they apply a system of investigation called the ‘scientific method.’  The scientific method recognizes that an accepted set of rules, laws and principles, must be applied before science will declare that the conclusions drawn are the TRUTH.  Many major discoveries have been made, by correctly using the scientific method.  This body of established truth is being continuously added to and built on.  Further, and future progress, is always dependent on the former discoveries and conclusions, being correct ones.

When we seek to unlock the secrets of the spiritual world, we also need to apply a ‘scientific method.’  There is such a thing as the ‘science of salvation.’  And it is this science that we need to apply to the spiritual world if we going to understand it.  Some great Bible students who have travelled this way before have discovered the biblical scientific method:

The science of salvation is the most important science to be learned in the preparatory school of earth… The opportunity of learning the science of salvation is placed within reach of all…There is a science of Christianity to be mastered – a science as much deeper, broader, higher, than any human science as the heavens are higher than the earth.   E. G. White, Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, pp. 19, 20.

Just as natural science discovers the laws and rules that govern the natural world by observation and testing – in the same manner, it is by observation and testing that we find the rules that govern the proper and true understanding of the Bible.

In the past natural science sought to understand the natural world with preconceived ideas (such as: the flat earth, the earth the centre of the solar system etc.), whilst ignoring evidence that was readily available.  This approach resulted in the crippling of intellectual advancement and the stifling of physical progress.  In the same manner, spiritual discovery is crippled, whenever preconceived ideas are imposed upon, any attempt to unravel the ‘mystery’ which is the science of salvation.

Therefore, just as progress in natural science, can only be achieved when the principles of interpretation are discovered, recognized and observed – in like manner, progress on any spiritual journey must discover, recognize and observe the biblical principles of interpretation.

It took many hundreds of years and great effort to discover the principles of the natural scientific world.  Principles which we take for granted today such as Archimedes Principle, the law of gravity, the laws of thermodynamics, the laws of chemistry and many more – these are all governing principles of the natural world, with which, if we had not discovered them we would not have the modern civilization that we have today.  In like manner, if we want to have a true, enlightened, progressive and transforming spiritual life we have to discover and practise the biblical laws of interpretation.  It is the only safe and logical method – it is the science of salvation.

The Role of the Holy Spirit

What was it that Jesus said more often than anything else?  What was it that he said repeatedly, not only in the Gospels but also in the Book of Revelation?  He virtually finished every sermon, every parable and every admonition with these words: “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  What did he mean by these words?  And why did he say these words so often?  Obviously, whatever he meant by these word was very important – they are still very important.  With these words, Jesus was referring to the role of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was speaking spiritually, so that, those who were led by the Holy Spirit, would connect with the Spirit.  The science of salvation is only understood by those “who have ears to hear.”

The disciples were perplexed. They saw that the people did not understand Jesus, and they barely understood him themselves.  They reasoned that if Jesus was better understood then he would be better accepted.  They thought they had identified the problem, it was a lack of communication – Jesus needed some public relations assistance – Jesus needed to speak ‘plainly.’  They began their PR upgrade campaign with a question: “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” (Matt. 13:10; cf. Matt. 13:3, 34; Jn. 16:29).  But Jesus almost always preferred to speak ‘spiritually’ using parables, metaphors and symbols.  This is because Jesus practiced, ‘the science of salvation.’

We might well ask the same type of questions today.  Why is the Bible written so symbolically?  How are we supposed to know the difference between what is meant to be understood literally and what is meant to be understood symbolically (spiritually)?

When it comes to biblical understanding and interpretation, one of the most confusing issues is: how do we distinguish between what is to be understood physically and what is to be understood symbolically?  To illustrate:  It was the first college class on Bible Prophecy.  The teacher wrote on the white board many items and phrases taken from the Book of Revelation such as; Armageddon, the Mark of the Beast, the 144,000, the Great Multitude, Babylon, the Seven Last Plagues, the Kings from the East, the River Euphrates, the Temple, Mount Zion, Gog and Magog, etc., etc.  He then asked us to write down whether we thought these things were meant to be understood literally or spiritually.  When the results were analysed and collated there was a 50/50 split.  It was found that approximately half the students, thought that half of the selection from Revelation should be understood literally and the other half of the selection spiritually. However, the rest of the class thought almost exactly the opposite. The teacher then made his point, he said: “You will never understand the book of Revelation, until you understand how to distinguish between what is meant to be understood literally, and what is meant to be understood spiritually!”

It is not generally understood how spiritual the Bible is.  For example, it is not generally understood that Jesus spoke almost exclusively in a spiritual manner.  The life and teachings of Jesus Christ are illustrations of the science of salvation.  Part of His teaching method was to use the literal to illustrate the spiritual.  When Jesus referred to literal things He almost always and exclusively used them to teach spiritual lessons.  When He was using or touching or seeing literal things, He used these things to make spiritual applications.  Some examples are:

THE TEMPLE

After Jesus cleansed the temple for the first time, the Jews demanded some evidence that He was ‘authorized’ to act in such a manner.  Jesus’ replied:

Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.  Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?  But he spake of the temple of his body.   Jn. 2:19-21.

This is an easy example to begin with, because John tells us that we are not meant to understand this literally, but spiritually.  Jesus used the literal temple and applied it spiritually.  He used the literal temple because He was literally standing in the literal temple.  He used what was literally to hand and turned it into a spiritual illustration.  His authority to do what He did rested in the fact that He was the Messiah, and this would be proved by His death and resurrection.  The Jews, however, understood His words literally and therefore they misunderstood.

NICODEMUS

When Nicodemus came to consult with Jesus at night, Jesus said to Him, “you must be born again.”   Today’s Christian, with a two thousand-year heritage behind him, has no difficulty in recognizing that this should be understood spiritually.  To Nicodemus however, the concept of a spiritual new birth was not part of his literalist heritage.  His reaction was “how can a man enter his mother’s womb again” (Jn. 3:3, 4).  Jesus rebuked him by saying, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?”  If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?  (Jn. 3:10, 12).

The literalist understanding of the Jews was a stumbling stone to them.  Jesus had much more to share.  He said to His disciples, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now” (Jn. 16:12).  Jesus wanted to share “heavenly things” with people like Nicodemus and His disciples, but He was restricted in what He could impart because the people could not distinguish between literal and spiritual.  Jesus rebuked Nicodemus because he should have known better.  He should have known how to distinguish between literal and spiritual.

The Woman at the Well

Progressing on in the Gospel of John, Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.  This incident provides an interesting contrast to the same sort of discussion that Jesus has just had with Nicodemus.   The woman at the well makes the same mistake as Nicodemus she fails to understand the spiritual meaning of Christ’s words.  But in contrast to Nicodemus, she receives no rebuke from Jesus. [This is almost certainly because Nicodemus, a religious leader of God’s chosen people should have known, whereas the woman not being a Jew, was not privy to the same privileges that Nicodemus was].   Jesus asked the surprised woman for a drink.  He then said to her:

If you knew who was asking you for a drink of water, you would be asking Him for a drink of living water.  Jn. 4:10.  TCW.

Is Jesus referring to literal water or spiritual water?  We do not need to be confused here, because Jesus is very kind to the woman at the well, He did something that He seldom did He explained the spiritual meaning of His words:

The water from this well may be good water, but it’s like all other water – after you drink it, you’ll get thirsty again.  The water that I can give you is special.  Once you drink it, you’ll never be thirsty again.  It will constantly bubble up inside of you like a fresh mountain spring, furnishing eternal life.  Jn. 4:13,14.  TCW.

The woman indicates that she would like this water.  But even with Jesus’ explanation she still does not understand that it is spiritual water, because she thinks if she had this water, she would not have to continue coming to the well for water.  Once again we see Jesus using the literal things to hand and using them to teach spiritual truths.  And even when He clearly indicates that the water is meant to be understood spiritually, it is still misunderstood literally.

While Jesus has been having this conversation with the woman, His disciples went to the city to buy some food.  They bring the food to Jesus and urge Him to eat it, they say, “Master, we know you’re hungry please have something to eat.”  Jesus replies, “I have been eating while you were gone, and you have no idea how good it tasted”  (Jn. 4:31,32).  TCW.  The disciples are confused they begin to wonder if someone else had brought food for Jesus.  But Jesus was speaking spiritually, He explains to them, “The food I am talking about is the happiness that comes from doing God’s will and accomplishing what He sent me to do”  (Jn. 4:34).  TCW.

Whilst the woman went back to the village to tell the people whom she had met, Jesus took the opportunity to continue teaching His disciples about spiritual reality by using the literal things to hand.  In all probability there were fields of ripening grain around the well, and as was His normal custom, He used the concept of literally harvesting the grain to illustrate a spiritual truth:

When you talk about God’s work, never say, Four months from now it’ll be harvest time.  The spiritual harvest is always ripe.  Just look around you and see how people are longing for the word of God, how they’re reaching out for something to give them faith and hope.  Jn. 4:35.  TCW.

As Jesus was instructing the disciples about the spiritual harvest that is constantly ready to be harvested, He would have been looking at a literal crowd of people emerging from the city to meet Him.  These people were hurrying to see Jesus at the urging of the woman.  She was saying, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ”?  (Jn. 4:29).  As they approached Jesus continued to talk about the harvest.  He spoke about how some sow and others reap.  After, His death and resurrection, Phillip, Peter and John would come back to Samaria and reap what was sown that day, when Jesus met the woman at the well (see Acts 8:5-25).

The Feeding of the Five Thousand

Soon after the events at Jacob’s well, we come (in John’s gospel) to the feeding of the five thousand.  Food was on everyone’s mind.  And the people wanted to make such a miraculous provider of food their king.  But Jesus was not interested in ephemeral literal earthly glory He was interested in spiritual heavenly realities.  Using what was on the people’s minds, He said to them:

Don’t spend your lives working only for food that spoils, but work for food that lasts and gives eternal life.  Only the Son of God can give you this food because the Father has put His seal of approval on Him.  Jn. 6:27.  TC W.

Remaining with the theme of miraculously provided food – Jesus then goes back to the Old Testament incident of the miraculously provided manna.  He wants the people to understand the spiritual connection between the miracle of feeding the five thousand in Galilee and the miracle of feeding the people in the desert.  Jesus made the spiritual application very plain to them, when He said to them twice, “I am the bread of life” (Jn. 6:35, 48).  He also said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven” (Jn. 6:51).

Jesus elaborated on this subject extensively.  He told the people that if they ate the bread and drank the drink that He provided they would never be hungry or thirst again (Jn. 6:35, 48-58).  Jesus concluded His spiritual application of the bread by saying:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him.  Jn. 6: 53-56.

Sadly, it is recorded that when the people heard these words of Christ, they did not understand them.  They understood them literally.  They said to each other, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”  (Jn. 6:52).  They understood the words but not the meaning – they had ears but they could not “hear” – they could not distinguish the spiritual from the literal.  Their reaction was, “This is a hard saying, who can hear it?”  (Jn. 6:60).  Jesus then revealed to them (and to us) why he spoke spiritually.  He said:

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.  Jn. 6:63.

With these words Jesus reveals why he spoke spiritually.  He was speaking spiritually so that only those who were being led by the Holy Spirit would understand.  It is the Holy Spirit that ‘quickens’ (gives life), to the words of Jesus (and to the Bible as a whole).  This is why Jesus added that his words were ‘spirit’ and the words of ‘life.’  There is great power in his words (and all inspired Scripture).  This is why God says that his word: “…shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa. 55:11; cf. Heb. 4:12).  Scripture tells us that it was through the spoken word that God created the heavens and the earth (see 2 Pet. 3:5).  And God does the same with errant humanity, he recreates us in the image of his Son – through the power of his word – but this can only happen to those who are led by the Holy Spirit – only to those who have “ears to hear.”

My Sheep Hear My Voice

Soon after the “this is a hard saying” incident, Jesus made it ‘plain’ that only those who lead by the Holy Spirit will understand.  The disciples were not the only ones who thought Jesus lacked communication skills.  The Jews were of the same opinion they came to him and demanded: “If thou be the Christ tell us plainly” (Jn. 10:24).  Jesus refused to answer them plainly (literally), he answered them spiritually, he said: “Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep… my sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me” (Jn. 10:26, 27).  This is a beautiful metaphor of the relationship between the Lord and his people.  Just as the sheep recognizes the shepherd’s voice and will not follow another, so too, do Christ’s people recognize his voice (his words) and understand them.  They recognize the voice because spiritual things (the words of Jesus, and Scripture in general) have to be ‘spiritually discerned’ (see 1 Cor. 2:13, 14).  In other words, in order to understand the spiritual words of the Spirit, one first needs to have the Spirit.

Therefore, the role of the Holy Spirit in the science of salvation cannot be overestimated and the role of the Holy Spirit cannot be ignored, denied or discounted.  Without the Holy Spirit in our lives we will never understand Scripture, we will never understand the will of God, and we will never understand the Plan of Salvation or the Science of Salvation – “he will guide you into all truth” (Jn. 16:13).  How important is the Holy Spirit? – “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God” (Rom. 8:14).

Receiving the Holy Spirit

We have been told that we need to ‘rightly divide the word of truth’ (2 Tim. 2:15).  We have also been told that, Scripture is not to be ‘privately interpreted’ (2 Pet. 1:20).  From these two verses we can understand that, there is a right way to interpret Scripture and there is also a wrong way.  How do we know the difference?  How do we know what is the right way to interpret Scripture, and how do we know how to avoid the wrong way?  This is the role of the Holy Spirit – and this is only natural, because it was the Holy Spirit who inspired Scripture in the first place (see 2 Pet. 1:21).  Therefore, we should expect the Holy Spirit to be actively involved in the understanding of Scripture – “he will guide you into all truth” (Jn. 16:13).  Therefore the receiving of the Holy Spirit is vital to the understanding of the Science of Salvation – if we want to understand the deep things of God we need the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, it is equally vital to understand how to receive the Holy Spirit.

One of the great debates within Christianity is this: are there conditions to salvation?  In other words, is salvation dependent on choices that we make, or is salvation something that God chooses for us?  When it comes to receiving the Holy Spirit, are there conditions that need to be fulfilled, in order to receive the Holy Spirit?  Or is the Spirit only given to those that God chooses?

These questions can be better understood, now that we understand that Jesus is the Creator, the Sustainer and the God of the Old Testament.  That it was Jesus who led the Israelites out of Egypt and that it was Jesus who gave them the Ten Commandments.  With these fundamental facts in place, we are much better placed to understand some vital words concerning the receiving of the Holy Spirit.  These words are: “If you love me keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15).  What commandments is Jesus referring to here?  Since we now know that Jesus created everything – since we now know that Jesus gave Moses the Ten Commandments – the commandments referred to must be the Ten Commandments – the commandments that he himself wrote with his own finger.  [See below for more on this point].

What do we do when we love someone with all our hearts?  We want to please that person, don’t we?  We want to do everything in our power to comply with their wishes.  Therefore, if we love Jesus with all our heart, we will want to keep his commandments.  Notice what happens next:

If you love me keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter that he may abide with for ever…”  (Jn. 14:15, 16; 26).

What happens when we keep the commandments of Jesus?  We are given the Holy Spirit.  In other words, the receiving of the Holy Spirit is conditional on loving Jesus and the keeping his commandments.  This fundamental truth is taught another way in the experience of the disciples after Pentecost.

The powerful preaching of the gospel stirred up the hostility of the Jewish leaders and the disciples were imprisoned.  However, God intervened and the disciples were miraculously freed by the angel of the Lord.  They then went straight back to the temple and carried on preaching and teaching.  They were then brought before the Jewish council again, and accused of disobeying the Jewish council’s commands.  They boldly replied: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). The disciples then continued with a short testimony about Christ and what the Jewish leaders did to their own Messiah, then they concluded by saying:

“And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:32).

Thus the disciples not only testified to the truth about Jesus, they also testified to the truth about receiving the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit is “given to them that obey him.”  Therefore, the receiving of the Holy Spirit is conditional on obedience.

What else happens when one fulfils the conditions of receiving the Holy Spirit, by obeying the commandments of Christ?

“If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (Jn. 14:23).

Because we are given the Holy Spirit we receive in addition, much more.  In addition to the power of the Spirit, we enter into intimate fellowship with both the Father and the Son.  The Father and the Son come and live in the one who chooses to obey them.  [In Old Testament times the presence of the Godhead dwelt in the Temple, now the followers of Christ are a spiritual temple and the Godhead dwells in them: see 1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19; Eph. 2:19-22; 1 pet. 2:5].

The Outpourings of the Spirit

There are conditions to receiving the Holy Spirit and there are different degrees or outpourings of the Holy Spirit.  For example, in Noah’s time, God tells us that: “My Spirit shall not always strive with man” (Gen. 6:3).  In other words, all of mankind receives a degree of the Holy Spirit, with which mankind feels the Holy Spirit ‘striving’ with them.  What was the Holy Spirit ‘striving’ for in the time of Noah?  Obviously, to convince the people of their sin, to convert them and to save them – this work, the Holy Spirit does in all of us.  But this ‘striving’ by the Holy Spirit is much different to other interactions that the Holy Spirit has with mankind.  For example, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was much different to the ‘striving’ that the Holy Spirit did in the time of Noah or in our own time.  This is because there are different levels of engagement that the human race can have with the Holy Spirit.  Or to state it another way, the Holy Spirit is given to the human race in different degrees.  The converted man has more of the Holy Spirit than the unconverted man.

Just before his crucifixion, Jesus said to his disciples: “It is better that I go away, so that the Holy Spirit can come” (Jn. 16:7).  Does this mean that the Holy Spirit was not already there?  No! It means that the Holy Spirit had not come it his fullness.  When Jesus first met with his disciples in the upper room after his resurrection, he breathed on them and said: “Receive ye the Holy Spirit” (Jn. 20:22).  Does this mean that the disciples did not already have the Holy Spirit?  No! It means that the disciples had stood the test and Jesus was rewarding them for their faithfulness.  And more, Jesus was giving them an extra degree of the Holy Spirit’s power, to help them understand and to prepare them for the future – there was still much work to be done, before still more of the Holy Spirit was to be poured out upon them.

What did the disciples do with their extra portion of the Holy Spirit?  Initially, following instructions, they went home to Galilee, and they met Jesus there (see Matt. 28:7, 10, 16; Jn. 21:1-7).  But they are soon back, in Jerusalem, (with Jesus) where they accompanied Jesus to the Mount of Olives for his ascension into heaven.   Before Jesus left, he told them to wait in Jerusalem for ten days (until the Festival of Pentecost).  What did the disciples do with their extra portion of the Holy Spirit during the ten days that they were waiting?  During those ten days they fasted and prayed and came to one accord (see Acts 1:14; 2:1).  They became a unified body of believers.  Whereas previously they had been disunited, fractious and self-seeking (see Matt. 20-28; Lu. 22:24).  Now they were in harmony with one another, working together for a common purpose.  The special prayers of Jesus, on behalf of his disciples had been answered.  Jesus had prayed that his disciples might be one, as his Father, and he, were one (see Jn. 17:11, 21).  How was this unity achieved? – It was achieved because they put enough of self aside, to allow the extra portion of the Holy Spirit, to work his wonders in their lives.  The results were spectacular – there was an even greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Pentecostal power and three thousand people were converted in one day (see Acts 2:1-41).

Does this mean that the different degrees of the Holy Spirit are conditional?  Yes!  The principle is: if the believers allow that portion of the Spirit to work in their lives, and achieve the purpose of the giving of the Spirit – then they will receive even more of the Spirit.  Or to state this principle another way: if the believer is prepared to allow, the diminishing of the power of self in his life, the presence of the Spirit will grow in direct proportion to the diminishing (see Jn. 10:10; Matt. 25:14-30; Lu. 19:11:27).  Therefore, the fullness of the Spirit is conditional on obedience to the commandments and conditional on allowing the Spirit to destroy our obsession with self.

Conclusion

It is easy to become a Christian – it is much harder to remain a Christian.  The work of the Holy Spirit is vital in bringing us to Christ.  The Holy Spirit’s work in keeping us with Christ is equally (or even more) important.  Therefore it is vital to know if there are conditions to receiving the Holy Spirit, and if there are conditions what are they?  Jesus told us that the deceptions in the last days would be so great that maybe even God’s elect would be deceived (Matt. 24:24).  Many of these deceptions in these last days involve the role, the person and the conditions of acceptance of the Holy Spirit [which is a testimony in and of itself of the importance of the Holy Spirit – if God’s people can be confused about this, then they can be confused about everything].

But Jesus has not left us helpless, he has told us how to distinguish the true from the false, he said: “By their fruits you will know them.”  In other words, if those claiming to possess the fullness of the Spirit are not keeping the commandments of God (or doing the will of God), then there is “no light in them” (see Matt. 7:15-23; Isa. 8:20).

Extra note: When Jesus said, “If you love me keep my commandments” one could argue that Jesus is referring to: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (Jn. 13:34).  But this commandment is not new in the sense that it has never been said before. It was already part of the law given to Moses (see Lev. 19:18).  Jesus came to exalt the law, not to diminish or abolish it (see Matt. 5:17-19).  He also summarized the Ten Commandments, explaining that the first four commandments were about loving God and the remaining six commandments were about loving your neighbour (see Matt. 22:36-40).  Thus, the principle of loving your brother as yourself, was not new, it was always a part of the law from the time of Moses.  So then, in what sense were the words of Jesus ‘new? – when he said: “a new commandment I give you.”  It was new, in that, Jesus had just lived out the principles of the law for the entire world to see.  He came to demonstrate the true principles of the law.  For three and a half years he had given practical lessons on what it meant ‘to love God with all your heart, and your neighbour as yourself’ – this is what was new – this had never been seen before.  And after providing this detailed demonstration of love in action, he then said to his disciples ‘I have shown you how to live, I have shown you how to love, follow my example’ – “as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (Jn. 13:38).  This was very ‘new’ for the disciples – it is still very ‘new’ for the world.

 

Who is Jesus?

WHO IS JESUS?

Shortly after Jesus was anointed as the Messiah, on the banks of the river Jordan, he went to visit his home town of Nazareth. The people of Nazareth thought they knew him well – he was the carpenter’s son. During the course of his visit, he stood up in the village synagogue and declared that the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1 was fulfilled in him (see Lu.4:16-21). They were so enraged they tried to kill him – they did not know him at all. But it was not the time or the place for his death – he departed from Nazareth and never returned. When Jesus stilled the storm on the Lake of Galilee, the disciples were astonished and whispered to each other: “What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him” (Matt. 8:25).

All generations are faced with the same issue: “What manner of man is this?” –“Who is Jesus”? Was he just the carpenter’s son? Was he just a great teacher? Was he a prophet of God? Or is he the Son of God? Everyone has to deal with this issue. Even those who totally ignore this issue and give no thought to it at all – that in itself is one way of dealing with this issue. This question has always provoked controversy, confusion and consternation. Nevertheless, this question is the foundation of Christianity. All who seek to know Jesus – all who seek to follow Jesus must begin with: “who is it that we follow?” – “Who is Jesus?” In order to answer this question, we need to turn to the Scriptures, because Jesus himself said: “They (the Scriptures) are they which testify of me” (Jn. 5:39).

Who is the Creator?

In our first posting, ‘What is Truth?’ we noted that, the debate over how the universe came into existence is virtually over and the ‘Big Bang Theory’ is virtually bust. Furthermore, the scientific debate over origins has determined that there must be ‘intelligence’ behind the universe and everything in it. When science finally picks up the Bible, they will begin to understand how the universe was created and who the ‘intelligence’ behind it is:

“All things were made by him (Jesus); and without him was not anything made” (Jn. 1:30).

“For by him (Jesus) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Col. 1:16).

God the Father is not excluded

Surprisingly, not all who profess to be Bible believers understand that, the Bible clearly sets out Jesus as the Creator – and not just the Creator of this earth and everything in it, but the Creator of the universe and everything in it. The reason why they find this difficult to understand is because it is generally assumed that, God the Father is the Creator, and to focus so exclusively on Jesus as the Creator, seems to denigrate the role of the Father. However, even though Jesus created “all things” this does not mean that the Father was excluded. In fact, the Father was just as involved as the Son – but they obviously had different roles to play:

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb. 1:1-3).

“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:9).

These verses tell us that God the Father was also involved in the work of creation. And we must not forget the Holy Spirit – he too, was involved. In the creation account, it is said that: “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2). The inner workings of Heaven are not part of what has been revealed to us, so it is not always possible to understand which member of the Godhead did what. However, from what has been revealed, it is clear that Jesus is set forth as the Creator of the heavens and the earth – and everything in the heavens and the earth. Understanding that Jesus is the Creator is one of the foundational principles of the science of salvation – because the story of salvation is all about the Creator taking responsibility for what he created.

Jesus Sustains the Universe

In addition to being the Creator, Jesus is also the Sustainer of the universe. Everyone knows that if you build something, such as a house, then that building requires maintenance. In the same manner, Jesus takes responsibility for the maintenance of the universe: “And he is before all things, and in him all things consist” (Col. 1:17). The phrase: “and in him all things consist” incorporates more than just maintenance. Scientists know that there is something that holds the universe together, but they do not know what it is. They call it ‘dark matter’ because it is invisible to their eyes and invisible to science. They cannot test it, examine it, or discover it – but they know it is there – it is one of the biggest mysteries in modern science. On the other hand, the theologians on the mountain top have known for centuries that, the reason why the universe does not fly apart is because of the Creator. He not only created the universe he also sustains it. If it was not for Jesus our very existence would cease – this is who Jesus is. What did he say? “Without me ye can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). We cannot do anything without Christ, because: “In him we live, and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28 cf. Neh. 9:6). Even those who do not follow Jesus – even those who refuse to believe in him – even they, are dependent upon him for their existence. This is why it is written: “The fool says in his heart there is no God” (Ps. 14:1).

Who is the God of the Old Testament?

If we understand and acknowledge that Jesus is the Creator, then, it logically follows that Jesus must be the God of the Old Testament. For example, the Bible begins: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen.1:1). We already know that: “without him was not anything made that was made” – “by him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth” (Jn. 1:3; Col. 1:16). Therefore the God of the Old Testament must be Jesus.

Another example is given, in the origins of the nation of Israel. We are told the following: “I am the Lord, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King” (Isa. 43:15), Here again, we must conclude that this is Jesus speaking – because Scripture tells us that Jesus created everything – therefore, he must be the God that created the nation of Israel – therefore, he must be the God of the Old Testament.

There are many other ways to prove that Jesus must be the God of the Old Testament. For example Jesus said: “The Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (Mk. 2:28). So, Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath day. What does it mean to be Lord over something? It means that he rules over it – he defines it – he makes the rules and regulations for it – he states the purpose of it etc. etc. When we examine the Old Testament we find that the God called ‘YHWH’ creates the Sabbath, he defines it, he states its purpose, he gives us the rules governing its observance etc. etc. Therefore, Jesus and YHWH is the same person. In the Old Testament JESUS is called YHWH and in the New Testament YHWH is called JESUS.

JESUS is YHWH

Another way to prove that Christ is the God of the Old Testament is to demonstrate that the Old Testament name for God (YHWH) is also applied to Jesus. There are no vowels in written Old Testament Hebrew. Therefore the name of God is simply written as ‘YHWH’ (which is known in Greek, as the ‘Tetragrammaton’ – ‘four letters’).

In the past it was generally thought that ‘YHWH’ should be pronounced as ‘Jehovah’ – but today it is generally accepted that it should be pronounced as ‘Yahweh’ – even Jehovah’s Witnesses are on record, stating that the correct pronunciation of YHWH is Yahweh (see below).

When it comes to most Bible translations, YHWH is generally translated as ‘Lord’. When the King James Version translates ‘YHWH’ it indicates it, by using all capital letters – thus in the KJV ‘YHWH’ is written ‘LORD’. In other words, whenever the word LORD appears in capital letters, this is indicating that the Hebrew word, in the original text, is YHWH. So let us now investigate how this helps us to show that Jesus must be the God of the Old Testament. Let us compare Scripture with Scripture.

“Because I will publish the name of the LORD (YHWH): ascribe ye greatness unto our God, He is the Rock…” (Deut. 32:3,4).
“And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” 1 Cor. 10:4).

In our first example (above), we are told that Yahweh is ‘the Rock’ – in the second verse we are told that Jesus is ‘the Rock.’

“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD (YHWH), make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isa. 40:3).

“In those days came John the Baptist… this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Matt. 3:1-3).

In the first of these verses we see that it is prophesied, by the prophet Isaiah, that Yahweh will come. And in the second verses we see that the coming of Yahweh is applied to Jesus (hopefully we all know that John the Baptist was announcing the arrival of Jesus – if not see Matt. 3:13-17; Jn. 1:19-34).

“Thus saith the LORD (YHWH) the king of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” (Isa. 44:6).

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last…” (Rev. 1:11).

In our first verse we find that one of the titles belonging to Yahweh is ‘the first and the last’ – and it is emphasised that there is no other God. Then in the Book of Revelation we find Jesus has the same title and he repeats it several times (see Rev. 1:17; 2:8; 22:13).

“And when the LORD (YHWH) saw that he (Moses) turned aside to see… And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel I AM hath sent me unto you” (Ex. 3:14).

“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (Jn. 8:58).

One of the names that Yahweh used in the Old Testament was ‘I AM’ – when Jesus was in dispute with the Jews, he told them that he was ‘I AM’ – there is no doubt that Jesus was telling the Jews that he was Yahweh, because they (thinking that he was committing blasphemy, according to their laws), picked up stones and tried to kill him.

“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD (YHWH); and great shall be the peace of thy children” Isa. 54:13.

“For I came down from heaven… It is as written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God…” Jn. 6:38, 45.

Jesus is applying the prophecy about Yahweh teaching the people of God to himself. Therefore, he is telling the people that he is Yahweh.

There are many other ways of demonstrating that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament (YHWH). For example, if Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, then, it must have been Jesus who led the Israelites out of Egypt. The Apostle Paul certainly thought so! When Paul wrote about Moses leaving the pleasures of Pharaoh’s court choosing “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God” – Paul calls this choice on the part of Moses: “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt” (Heb. 11:25, 26).

On another occasion Paul was writing to the Corinthians about the history of the Israelites. He relates how, on the journey to the Promised Land, the people’s needs were provided for. Paul then tells the Corinthians that these needs were provided by the ‘Rock’ which followed them “and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4).

Again, we see the history of the Israelites rehearsed in Hebrews, where it is written: “While it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation… But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?” (Heb. 3:15-17). In these verses we have two pronouns (underlined). The question we have to ask ourselves is: “Who do the pronouns ‘his’ and ‘he’ refer to? In other words, whose voice was it, that was not heard, during the journey to the Promised Land? And who was it that was grieved forty years, by the behaviour of the people? If we go back to verse 15 we find that the two pronouns refer to Christ. Therefore, it was Christ who led the Israelites out of Egypt. Therefore, Christ is the God of the Old Testament (cf. Heb. 3:6-11).

It is not always possible to say with certainty that, every time YHWH is mentioned in the Old Testament that this must be referring to Jesus. The Father is also called YHWH and Jesus is also called the Father (see Isa. 9:6; Jn. 14:8, 9). We do not know the intimate details of the relationship between the Father and the Son, but we do know that there is enough Biblical evidence to understand that Jesus is the Creator, the Sustainer and the God of the Old Testament.

Conclusion

So why is it important for us to know that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament? There are several important points. Firstly, it is fashionable within Christendom to make a huge distinction between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Supposedly, the Old Testament presents a God of wrath and the New Testament a God of love – the Old Testament is a God of law and the New Testament is a God of grace etc. However, when we realise that Jesus is the God of both Testaments then this false and fallacious argument cannot be made. Those who are enthusiasts for the great divide between the Testaments fail to understand the harmony between them – a good starting point is to understand that they both feature the same God – Jesus.

Secondly, it is also fashionable in Christendom to teach, that the Ten Commandments given in the Old Testament era, are now abolished in the New Testament era. Often the advocates of the abolished law, state that they are now following the law of Jesus (the Sermon on the Mount etc.), instead of the out of date Ten Commandments. However, who was the God who gave the Ten Commandments? – It was Jesus. When the God of the Old Testament called Moses to meet him on Mount Sinai, God identified himself by saying: “I am the LORD thy God which have brought thee out of Egypt out of the house of bondage” (Ex. 20:2). We already know who it was that led the Israelites out of Egypt – it was Jesus. Therefore it was Jesus who gave Moses the Ten Commandments. When we understand these things, verses such as: “If you love me keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15), take on significant new meanings.

Lastly, understanding that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament gives additional significance to what happened on the cross. Consider this: if a child breaks a neighbour’s window, who takes responsibility for the damage? The child certainly does not – it is incapable of repairing the damage. Only the parents – the creators of the child can/must take responsibility. In the same way Jesus takes responsibility for his creation (the Sustainer). When something goes wrong – it is Jesus who steps in to fix it – this is why it is Jesus, throughout the entire Bible, fixing the problems with humanity (see 1 Cor. 15:21, 22). Therefore, when mankind broke the law, the Lawgiver (Jesus) did not say: “That’s OK we’ll forget about it, this one time” – “Or don’t worry, we can change the law.” No! The Lawgiver himself said that he would take the penalty of the law upon himself: “I the LORD (YHWH) am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer…” (Isa. 49:26 cf. Lu. 2:11; Gal. 3:13). Our salvation and our redemption was wrought out at the cross. Thus, the cross is the greatest evidence of all, that Jesus is the Creator, the Sustainer and the God of the Old Testament. This is something that we (sinful human beings) can barely understand. But while we are struggling to understand the deeps and the heights of this amazing love – let us acknowledge what we do understand – and send our thanks and praises to the heavenly courts above.

Note:
In the Foreword of “The Kingdom Interlinear Translation” p. 23, the Watchtower Society (the propriety organization of the Jehovah’s Witnesses) admits, that even they know, that the more correct pronunciation for ‘YHWH’ is ‘YAHWEH.’ However, they then say that they prefer to retain Jehovah:

While inclining to view the pronunciation “Yah-weh” as the more correct way, we have retained the form “Jehovah” because of people’s familiarity with it since the 14th century.

CAN WE TRUST THE BIBLE?

The Bible has a simple message – but it is a complicated book.  The Bible is like a gold mine – a very rich gold mine – a very generous goldmine.  There is gold lying at the top of the gold mine for anyone to pick up: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31) – many are content to pick up this gold and walk off.  But there is more gold in the gold mine.  If we are prepared to linger, and dig a little, we will find that the mine will yield more gold, the deeper we go the more gold we will find – the deeper we go, the higher we climb: “Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection…” (Heb. 6:1).  The Science of Salvation leads us deeper and deeper into the Bible – the riches are inexhaustible – the TRUTH shines brighter and brighter.

But is the gold genuine – or is it fool’s gold?  How are we going to know the difference?  What tests are available to distinguish the true from the false?  This is the role of the Science of Salvation – just as there are observable laws that govern the universe, so too, there are laws that govern the understanding and interpretation of the Bible.  These laws are not imposed upon the Bible from the outside.  It is the Bible itself that provides us with these governing laws and principles of interpretation. It is these laws and principles that constitute the Science of Salvation.  If we follow these laws and principles we will no longer be in doubt as to what constitutes TRUTH.  This is because the Bible provides us with ample evidence, that, it is of heavenly origin – the Bible has internal evidence that it could never have proceeded from the hand of mere mortals.  It just takes a little time and a little patience to discover its wonders – gold mining takes effort and perseverance – but the rewards are worth the effort.

When we examine the wonders of the Bible, the origins, of the Bible are a good place to start.  The first five books of the Bible were written by Moses – where did Moses get the information contained in these books?  He got it directly from God.  Moses had many encounters with God on a face to face basis.  God taught Moses face to face: “as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Ex. 33:9-11; cf. Num. 12:8; Deut. 34:10).  We can safely say that God was the inspiration of the first five books, and Moses was his scribe.  [It is commonly accepted that Moses also wrote the Book of Job].

So here is the first extraordinary thing about the Bible.  God himself left the care of his universe and came to this planet and taught Moses face to face as a friend speaking to a friend.  There is no other claim like it, in all the annuls of human literature (religious or secular).  Only the Bible has God intimately interacting with the human race.  And this is just the beginning.  This interaction goes on for hundreds of years.  The record of this interaction is the contents of the Bible.

Because Moses spoke to God face to face and was personally taught by God – the books of Moses now become the benchmark for all other prophets and their writings.  In other words, if a prophet speaks or if a prophet writes, and it is found that they speak or write that which is contrary to the books of Moses, then that prophet and that prophet’s words, have to be rejected.  Conversely, if it is found that a prophet speaks and writes in accordance with the books of Moses, then this prophet’s words can be added to the Bible.  Thus, we have a law or principle established, for that which is true and accurate.  The Bible states it this way: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20).  We can call this rule or law: ‘The Present Must Agree with the Past Principle.’  This is one of the ways the Bible determines what is genuine gold and what is fool’s gold.

Using this authorisation method, the Bible was built up over many centuries.  As each prophet arose, what he preached was carefully measured against what was preached in the past.  What he wrote was carefully compared with what was already considered inspired Scripture.  If no contradictions were found, then the prophet’s writings would be added to the ‘canon’ (term for officially accepted Scripture, from the Greek word meaning ‘rule’ or measuring ‘stick’).  This process continued until the death of the last of the apostles (those taught by Jesus).  Thus the Bible was completed.  It begins with God speaking face to face with Moses, explaining how it all started – it finishes with Jesus, revealing to John, how it all ends.

Is it true?  What we can say is that it has been true so far.  We have travelled through history from the time of Moses, and at every step of the way the Bible has proven to be true.  Therefore, if the Bible has been correct for the past four thousand years, why should it not be correct for whatever few remaining years we have left?

This is another purpose of the Science of Salvation, namely, to demonstrate how accurate the Bible has been.  This accuracy is just one of the many ways that are available to demonstrate that we can trust the Bible.  There are many more proofs contained in the Science of Salvation for the divine inspiration of the Bible.  You are invited on the journey, to explore the goldmine and take away some gold.

WHAT IS TRUTH?

What is truth? – This is the question that has occupied mankind, ever since he looked around and wondered where he came from.  It is the fundamental question that has occupied great minds for centuries.  It is the foundational principle, from which all forms of philosophy, religion and science seek to begin.  Some like Pilate (during the trial of Jesus) are dismissive of all such endeavours to find an answer, believing the task too difficult, or impossible.  Others find it is the premier pursuit of their lives!

Is the truth important?  If it is important, why is it important?  To illustrate, consider this: you are about to embark on an airline.  You take your seat and the captain welcomes you on board with these words, “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, we will be traveling at 10,000 metres and at 800 kilometres an hour – our plane today is only 99% true to the laws of aerodynamics – thank you for traveling with us, please relax and enjoy your flight.”  Would you stay on the plane?

There are laws that operate in the universe.  Any deviations from these laws, any errors here, even the smallest, will result in disaster. In most cases, any deviation or error results in instant disaster (which is why we observe these laws so carefully – we take action – we get off the plane).  The same principle applies to philosophy, religion, morality and all areas of human relations.  Truth is vital, and all errors result in disaster.  The only difference is that, the consequences of errors in the field of human relations are seldom experienced instantly (which is why we show do not observe them as carefully as the laws of nature).  Nevertheless, we are aware of these laws.  This awareness is evident in popular expressions, such as: “we reap what we sow” – “what goes around comes around” etc.

Truth is vital in human society, because what we believe truth to be, determines our behaviour.  How we act (in any given situation) is dependent on what we believe.  Our actions are the outward manifestation, of what we inwardly believe.  However, if our actions are not in harmony with what is true, our actions will result in disaster (maybe not immediately, but ultimately disaster will overtake us).  We can call this relationship between truth and disaster, ‘the Principle of Truth and Consequences.’

We can demonstrate how vital this principle is, if we consider another question.  This question is one of the greatest conundrums mankind struggles with, namely, how do we bring peace to this troubled planet that, we all share together?  This is a goal that is greatly desired, heavily invested in and anxiously awaited.  However, it remains elusive, thwarted and perennially beyond reach.  Why should it be so difficult, when it is so keenly sought after?  Is it not because we cannot agree on what constitutes truth?  Is not the wide diversity of opinion and belief, all over this world of ours, the main cause of trouble and strife?  If we all agreed what truth is, and if we all behaved in accordance with that truth, then what would we have to fight about?  For example, if we all believed in the principle that says: “Love God and love your neighbour as yourself” – what would be left to fight about?  It is precisely because we do not agree, on vital issues that, we do not have peace on this planet.

The Bible is very positive about any pursuit after the truth.  Jesus said: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matt. 7:7,8).  So let us take the advice of Jesus and see if we can find: What is truth?

Most people, who occupy themselves with this question, normally begin with what is obvious and observable.  The inquiring mind looks around and cannot help noticing that he/she is a part of a greater whole.  Even the most uninterested minds have asked themselves, at least once, in their lives: “Where did this all come from?”  Additional questions flow from the original question, such as: “Where did I come from?” – “Who am I?” – What am I here for?” etc. etc. – asking such questions is a natural part of the human experience.  All these questions have a common denominator – they are all about origins – and surely, any inquiry into ‘what is truth’ must begin with origins.

Where did we come from?

When it comes to the question of origins, mankind has basically agreed that there are only two possible options: one is the theory of evolution; the other is the theory of intelligent design (or creation).  In the past, the evolutionary theory has been the preferred version of truth.  However, the tide has been turning.  In recent years, intelligent design has made a dramatic comeback and enthusiasm for evolution is waning.  This is because science itself is undermining the theory of evolution and it is science itself that is bolstering the claims of intelligent design/creation.

There is a paradigm shift taking place in the world of science.  Scientists all over the world are starring into their telescopes and staring into their microscopes, and what they are finding, is shaking the accepted dogma of the scientific world.  Scientists are looking at their scientific data and more and more, they are admitting that their own scientific data either, contradicts the Big Bang, or proves the ‘Intelligent Design’ explanation for creation. Consequently they are being compelled to make some painful and disturbing (for them) conclusions.

These conclusions are shaking the accepted scientific dogma about evolution (and the big bang theory), to its very core.  Some scientists are now making an intellectual leap of faith and acknowledging that there must be an ‘intelligent entity’ behind the existence of the universe.  One scientist, Robert Jastrow (astronomer, cosmologist, physicist, university professor, founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies), described the journey that science has been making this way:

Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover. That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”  Robert Jastrow, ‘A Scientist Caught Between Two Faiths’ Christianity Today, August 6, 1982.

Robert Jastrow, is not a ‘believer’ – he is an agnostic.  But he is honest enough to realize and admit that, the scientific evidence does not support evolution/big bang theories, rather the evidence supports ‘supernatural forces’ that are outside of and independent of the universe.  In other words, there has to be a Creator.  It is worth quoting from his book, ‘God and the Astronomers’:

Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.  Robert Jastrow, ‘God and the Astronomers’ (W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 1978), p. 14.

For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.  Ibid. p. 116.

If he (the scientist), really examined the implications (the evidence for creation), he would be traumatized.  As usual when faced with trauma, the mind reacts by ignoring the implications…  Ibid. chapter 6.

Other scientists go even further.  Hugh Ross (astrophysicist, member of Royal Astronomical Society of Canada), says, that not only do recent scientific discoveries authenticate the Bible, but that they also discredit all the other major religious/theological systems.  For example, he says that reincarnation is scientifically impossible.  Watch here (nine minutes into video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GauQ0gSjSHw

Unfortunately, most evolutionary enthusiasts have not yet read the memo (from their colleagues), that their system of belief is falling apart.  They cling to evolutionary theory, not because the science supports their position, but because as Robert Jastrow says: “As usual when faced with trauma, the mind reacts by ignoring the implications…”  Nevertheless, in spite of the reluctance of many scientists to acknowledge the ‘implications’ – there are hundreds of other scientists who are willing to acknowledge and accept the ‘implications’ – many of them have become believers in God – the God of the Bible.

Thus, by observing the natural world (macro and micro), science has finally discovered that, which the Bible has always claimed was there to be found – the Bible has said from the beginning that, if we were to observe and contemplate the workings of nature, we would understand the existence of God:

For the invisible things of him (God) from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead: so that they are without excuse.  Rom. 1:20.

Notice that, what modern science has recently affirmed, the Bible claims, has always been available and possible.  The Bible says, that nature makes it so obvious that there must be a Creator that, we are without excuse to think otherwise.

The Bible is a scientific book.  It is more scientific than science itself.  It simply assumes that we should be wise enough to observe nature and conclude that there must be a Creator – it then invites us to move on and embark on a new scientific journey of discovery.  This is not a journey of telescopes and test tubes – it is a spiritual journey of discovery.  We can call this biblical science: ‘The Science of Salvation.’

It is the purpose of this blog to explore this ‘Science of Salvation.’  It is a big subject – it is a fascinating journey – it is the pathway to TRUTH and the solution to mankind’s problems.

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