GROWING SPIRITUALLY and LEARNING ABOUT GOD
I am hoping that everyone has had a wonderful and very beneficial set of fall festivals! We are now moving forward to the close of the year and into dark time, with one Sabbath already past.
The Feast of T., upon reflecting back to it, gives us the opportunity to not only re-inforce the truths we have already learned over the years and are holding fast to; but to add new understanding and growth to that when possible. I also realize that in some cases, we are not always given things that are helpful and on track with truth of Scripture, having to sort through those, using diligence and rightly dividing the truth. (2Tim.2:15) However, that has always been the case as long as I can remember and even looking back through history. Not everyone, even in the ministry of the COG has been converted. Some have fallen away and others will in course of time. We must look to God and rely on what He reveals from His word, learning from it. Of course those truly in the ministry of Jesus Christ are here to help us in growing spiritually.
With the annual festival cycle (2018-Lev.23:4-39) now behind us for another year, (See Parallels-Calendar for how these Holy Days fall on the secular calendar) have we asked ourselves if we are really moving forward, (2Pet.3:18) with spiritual growth and understanding? We have to be growing spiritually, as most of you know, if we are to be of service in the Kingdom of God as a first fruit. Are we assuring that we are growing spiritually and learning more about our great God, or just assuming we are? Do we really believe the Word of God and what it reveals in everything?
The Holy Spirit has to be leading us (Rom.8:14 & Gal.5:18) and always moves us forward in Godly understanding from truth, (John16:13) but only as we seek and can handle it. If we cannot handle spiritual growth now, we may not be ready for the Kingdom of God as a first fruit. We cannot teach humanity things during the 1000 year reign and beyond that we have not yet come to agree with; the way the sons and daughters of God will have to have and are required to have. (Mark10:29 & Phil.2:5)
It is a sad thing to realize that after many years of hearing the truth; many seem to be stuck in the rut of their own opinions, handling only a few things (even among those in the COG) having no apparent growth in their understanding; sometimes even unknowingly going backward from where they once seemed to be! What causes this to happen? Some simply are, once again allowing themselves to be puffed up, with importance or pride and Satan the devil subtly getting to them again. Many others have never really learned in the first place; (Not being fully converted—1Cor.1 & 3;1-3) just going along for the benefits and the free ride with the people of God, hoping to gain something for themselves along the way. Still others are following men and what they come up with as truth by twisting or reading into Scripture what they want to teach.
So for the remainder of this article, it is my purpose to focus on only one thing; growing Spiritually in the knowledge of our Savior-God! (2Pet.3:18)
(Listen to the Gospel message titled “Jesus, the Savior” for a beginning of understanding on this subject) There are all kinds of beliefs about God and Christ in the falsely named world of “Christianity”, being void of true understanding on many things. They have not even come to the point of understanding they are not yet Christians! (Rom.8:6-9) Why? Because they are deceived by the god of this world. (2Cor.4:3-4) But what about those who have been called and given a chance at having the Holy Spirit guide their minds? Would that not include ALL who are in or at least consider themselves to be in the true COG today? How well have we come to grips with what the true COG really is? Is it a bunch of differing organizations or is it one true church- a spiritual organism- that is now scattered?
With that said, do we really know the God that has made our eternal lives a potential possibility?? Was it only the “Father”? That potential was lost right after creation for all humanity, because of deception, the death penalty being chosen instead. All humanity had to be redeemed back from the devil & his captivity. There are some in the COG who do not really know the extent of all this and cannot grasp what Scriptures teach on how that is being accomplished through God and their plan. Did the “Father” do this totally on His own authority or was another in existence with Him that had an enormous part to play? What about the one who became Christ; is He a created being as some believe and teach or somehow lesser in authority than the Father, as others seem to believe? Can we even answer these things from Scripture? YES WE CAN, if we believe; so let us try and grow in that understanding, yielding to the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, found only in the Word of God. (Ps 119:160 “The entirety of Your word is truth”)
HWA said many times that the true beginning of all things recorded in the Bible is in the NT, not the book of Genesis. So let us begin there, in John 1:1-2 (NKJV throughout unless otherwise noted) “In the beginning (before creation-see V.3) was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.” These words for God here are all “Theos” by definition, which is the same as the OT “Elohim”—which is plural, making them both equal—there is no indication one is superior to the other at this point in time, (& time itself was even created for the purpose of God and His plan) so we do not see a “Father-Son” relationship in these passages. When we read in Gen.1:26 where God says; “Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness”—it is the Word God who spoke those words—not the one now known as the Father! He, the Word, is the GOD who worked with man and then became our Savior, (V.14) as many Scriptures reveal. Notice these from the OT; Isa 49:26 says; “All flesh shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." And Isa 60:16 “You shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
What about in the NT? In Titus 1:3 Paul makes reference to “God our Savior” and the next verse he distinguishes who he is referring to. 1 Tim.3:16 is another example that Christ was and is God. This distinction is found in several places in the NT, including the book of Revelation. Many cannot grasp what Phil 2:5-8 is meant to tell us. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, (WHY do we need this kind of mind?? Christ had a mind that was willing to give everything—all there is to give—His very being even as Almighty God, and manifested it by coming in the flesh! He requires the same commitment from us (See Mark 10:29) and that is why we need that same mindset! Going on here with V.6, saying; “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, - (The ASV says; “who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped,) V.7 but made Himself (Lock this away in your mind—no one made Him do this) He made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” This was His choice and part of the plan, in case of sin!
How did we humans ever even come to know there was a Father and how did that come about? Even though visualized as a possibility for salvation, it was only when Christ volunteered to become the Son, (revealing it to only a few in the OT) then it was put into action by becoming a reality. The Majority of the world has never known this, and you and I only know because Christ revealed it to us in His Word.
John 1:18 (ASV) “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared (him).” Think about this now; John 1:18 (from New International Version) No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is (Now; present tense, when this was written) at the Father's side, has made him known.” Let us notice some more about this by reading from Heb.6:13. “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,---.” If the one who became the Father, was at that point in time superior, as many claim; then this God being, which was the one who became Christ, could have sworn by the Father as the superior—but he did not and God cannot lie! (V.18)
John 17:25-26 (from New International Version and in Christ’s own prayer) 25 "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they (His disciples) know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, (NKJ also has “declared” here) and will continue to make you known (Declare) in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."
We find in this definition; DECLARE, DECLARATION (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers) “In John 1:18, in the sentence "He hath declared Him," the other meaning of the verb is in view, to unfold in teaching, "to declare" by making known.” Christ did this revealing/declaring or making known with His own person in everything He did, just as the Father would have done if their roles were reversed.
Christ Himself said, reading from the ASV; John 14:1-9 “Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, (there) ye may be also. 4 And whither I go, ye know the way. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; how know we the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye would have known my Father also: from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father? (ASV)
So in conclusion; In John 1:1 and at the beginning of creation, (God had no beginning) these two beings are the God realm & the same, Elohim or Theos—they were equal and one in everything, making their plan together—they were equal at that point and what one did to further the plan the other one would have done exactly the same, if the roles would have been switched. God is Love (1John 4:8,16) and that is revealed to us in Christ and by His very actions—setting us an example of what we must learn about the God realm, to strive to be like as much as is possible and with the help of the Holy Spirit. That is the only way we will ever be added into His family! Our own ideas and opinions that go astray from the revealed word of God will get us no closer to becoming a God being than we already are as a human. We must be growing spiritually and learn all we can about God, from His own Word. Christ rightly spoke of the Father as being superior to Him, while in the flesh and certainly a change came in the God realm when Christ submitted Himself voluntarily to be born of the flesh. He lowered Himself but remained pure for the purpose of exalting us; molding Godly character in us through the Holy Spirit. May God help us all to be submissive to the true guidance and revelation of the Spirit, learning and then believing all that He opens to us from His Word. Do you know who & what your God is? May you be one of the few who learns and then simply believes, while growing Spiritually!