Point of Reference
by Fred Price
We often say we wish God would deal with us more directly, but do we really mean it? Almost every time scripture details an instance where God approached people directly, their response was to fall down in fear and ask Him to stop, to shield them from his awe-filled – or awful – glory, power and overwhelming presence. (For example, see Genesis 17:3, Is. 6:5 & Ezekiel 1:28b) One early orthodox writer contending that, “God cannot be grasped by the mind. If he could be grasped, he would not be God.”1 A concept more readily accepted by the Eastern mind than those of us from the west.
The experience of the Israeli people at Mt. Sinai proves typical of most people’s response to God’s presence in their lives, even when we profess that that’s exactly what we want. God spoke to Moses, telling him to come to the mountain, ascend it and take back to the people the instructions he would be given there. The people were allowed to go to the base of the mountain but weren’t permitted to force their way on up to “see” God for themselves, probably disappointing many. But after God’s first “conversation” with Moses, the mountain blazing in fire and billowing with smoke, the ground trembling and shaking at His presence; the people were perfectly content to have Moses experience that for them, even if it meant God’s message to them was received second-hand. (Gen. 2-:18,19 See also Job 37:1-5)
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews lists a number of deeds done by faithful people who lacked “hard” evidence that their efforts would bring the desired – or promised – results. In that same vein, Jesus scolded Thomas for his demand of proof in exchange for faith by saying, “Because you have seen me, you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29 (See also Deuteronomy 29:15)
The Old Testament isn’t the only place scripture gives evidence of the power of God displayed in unusual ways. Jesus himself exhorting those who took issue with some of his claims to authority to, “…believe the miracles, that you may believe and understand that the Father is in me and I in the Father.” John 10:38 (Or, “…at least believe the evidence of the miracles themselves.” John 14:11) Peter reminding the crowd gathered in Jerusalem for the celebration of Pentecost that, “ Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” Acts 2:22 (Not to mention the stupendous miracles of Christ’s resurrection and his several post-resurrection appearances.)
A number of miracles Jesus performed, from his first – turning water into wine – John 2:1-11, to healings of mind, body and spirit are recorded in Matthew 9:24,25; Mark 1:25,1:40 & 2:4; Luke 18:42; were all meant to prove the point of his words. His supernatural control over natural law displayed in his facilitating an over-abundant catch of fish, Luke 5:6; calming a storm, Luke 8:24; walking on water, Matthew 14:26; and his multiplication of five loaves and two fish to feed a multitude, Matthew 14:17; were likewise confirming miracles, some of which were then recreated by the Apostles in their own ministries proclaiming Jesus as Messiah. (See Acts 5:12-16)
The life altering principle of the equality of all people in the eyes of God, miraculously delivered to Peter in other-worldly fashion, and then vigorously carried on by others – particularly Paul – often gets overlooked. ( Acts 10:9-16) But it was pivotal to God’s design and foundational to the universal aspect of the church. God continued his life-altering, miraculous provision for his followers by rescuing Peter from prison at a critical time for the early church ( Acts 12:1-7) and later did the same for Paul. ( Acts 16:25-30) The necessity of his coming to our recue from time-to-time being self-evident, the way he chooses to do so not so much. That’s because he is so very different from the creatures he created. (See Is. 55:8,9 & 40:13 as well as Romans 11:33-36) Yet Paul reassures us that even though we can’t comprehend God fully, enough of his purpose has been revealed to us through His Spirit for us to know him as our Savior and respond to His call to follow Him. (See 1 Corinthians 2:9,10 & Philippians 2:5 & Romans 12:2)
The supernatural “evidence” of God indwelling us fosters a fuller understanding of God in Christ – Christ in us; leading us to salvation from sin, the redemption of our lives to a purpose beyond ourselves, and teaching us how God interprets righteousness in and through his son. The third part of the Triune God was supernaturally revealed to the Apostles ( Acts 2:1-4), enabling them – and us – to become who we are meant to be in Christ. The Spirit of truth ( John 14:17), not only reminding the first disciples of everything Jesus said to them but teaching and revealing to us the meaning of His word and will revealed and preserved throughout scripture today as we continue to search its depths and ponder its meaning. (See John 14:26 & 16:13) Allowing – even compelling – us to testify concerning him and our faith even as the Spirit “testifies” to our souls of Christ. (John15:27)
1Evagrius Pantos, Christian History, Vol. XVI
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Fred Price - married (50 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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