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Apprenticeship II

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What do you think?

A rich man had an only son whom he loved.  One day, he bought a fattened calf to celebrate his son’s birthday, but as he was coming home, he saw some families who had lost everything to a cruel master.  Out of compassion, he slaughtered the fattened calf and gave it to them, then went home to his son.

Later, he sent his son to these same people with more food, aged meats, good wine and the finest grain.  But these people would not believe he was the son and beat him and killed him… but the son lived and went home to his father bearing the scars of his ordeal.  When the food had run out and they were eating rubbish from the bins outside, the rich man heard the people weeping and crying out for food again.  What do you think the rich man will do?

In the same way, the Father will send His Son on clouds of glory with all the angels and His elect and deliver the people from their misery, except this time they will know who He is and they cannot harm Him. 

And the story continues…  Some amongst the people saw what they had done to the son and repented.  Going to the father, they confessed their crime against him and asked him to do with them as he pleased.  What do you think the father will do?

What did you think?  The clue is well thinking and thinking well of those who are your enemies.  The ability to anticipate whatever the Father is doing and to know what He is thinking begins with believing, no, knowing what Jesus said about Him is absolutely true.  “No one is good—except God alone.”  The greatest hindrance to our ability to know the thoughts of God is not because God doesn’t want us to know what He is thinking, but the fact that we inherited two traits from our parents, Adam and Eve.

From Adam we inherited the need to have something of our own, our need to possess.  For when he saw Eve, he immediately called her, “‘Woman,’ for she was taken out of man,” a name that left out any mention of God and a name that made mention only of the part he played.  Even though the only thing Adam contributed was his rib, which was removed whilst he slept, this same attitude possesses every man, woman and child on this Earth with each new day until they learn to change their thinking.  For with each new dawn, every person wakes up to the new day as if it belongs to them, that this is their day to do whatever they want in it and with it.  And even for those who pray and believe in God in some format, the general flow of prayer or the theme of their prayers tends to be requests of God to bless them, protect them, look after them, that is, God serve them today.  Rarely do we realise that we have come upon a new day that we did not work for, but only fell asleep to awake to see it, just as Adam fell asleep to see Eve being brought to him by God.  We have an innate tendency to take possession of the best for ourselves without due consideration for God; this we received from Adam, the tendency to exclude God in our thinking.

From Eve, we received the tendency to think harshly of God.  For when Eve replied the serpent, saying, “But God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die,’” she made God out to be vague and harsh.  Vague, that is, imprecise so that His instructions can be subject to misinterpretation because Eve said that she was told not to eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden.

However, as we know, there were two trees in the middle as it is written:  In the middle of the garden were the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  There wasn’t one tree in the middle, there were two, but Eve said, “…the tree that is in the middle of the garden.”  God was very precise in His command to Adam:  “You must not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”  Now, if Eve had simply said, “No,” then she would not have opened her mouth and revealed her thoughts to Satan so that Satan could deceive her.  A person who does not know what you are thinking cannot deceive you.  A simple ‘no’ from Eve would have declared Satan a liar there and then because God did not say, “ ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden,’ ” but He did say, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden.”

Now, see the devil’s cunning and understand your enemy, then understand yourself.  The devil’s line, his deliberate misquotation of God, “You must not eat…” when God said, “You are free to eat,” was designed to portray God as a harsh God who puts you, Eve, in the middle of this beautiful garden full of food that is good for food and says, “ ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden.’ ”  If Eve’s own mind had not already harboured hostility to God, she would have recognised the statement for what it was straight away, a lie!  God didn’t say that, God said, “You are free to eat…”  But you see, the devil’s line sounded like, yes, sounded like, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’?”  It sounded like, “Did God really say, ‘There is one tree you cannot eat from’?”  It seemed to convey that meaning, but when looked at plainly, what do you see?  The first four words are in direct contradiction to God’s first five words—look!  “You must not eat…” verses “You are free to eat…”  And that has always been Satan’s favourite trick, give you something that sounds like what God said when God never said it.

For instance, many Christians tell others of different faith that “Jesus is God,” and that is a stance many faiths challenge us on:  Is Jesus God?  You can believe He is, you can conclude from Isaiah and from your understanding of Scriptures that He is, but as a witness before any court, you can never say that Jesus Himself ever said that He is God.  Those actual words were never spoken by Jesus, for He said, “I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me.  I and the Father are One.  Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.  Why do you accuse Me because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?”  And He called Himself the Son of Man, and when asked, “Are You then the Son of God?” by the Sanhedrin, He replied, “You are right in saying I am.”  You see, Jesus was not crucified because He said, “I am God,” but because He said, “You are right in saying I am,” when they asked Him, “Are You then the Son of God?”  He never testified that, “For God so loved the world that He came to save the world,” but that, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”  God never testified that, “This is My beloved Self, whom I love, with Me I am well pleased.  Listen to Me!”  No, it was, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.  Listen to Him!”

If you have eyes that are good, that is, eyes that can see plainly, honestly and accurately like Jeremiah’s, you would see that Satan’s first line, first sentence ever recorded, was a lie.  That is why Jesus said, “He is a liar and the father of lies.”

However, Eve was susceptible to his deception because Eve couldn’t see a lie when she saw one, and if she did, she wasn’t prepared to say so.  The truth was not in her heart and if it was, she wasn’t prepared to let it out for fear of offending the person talking to her.  Now, how many times have I done that and have you done that?  We know the truth, but we would not say the truth because it might offend.  But worse than that, instead of letting the truth out plainly, she then added in her version, which is just as bad if not worse, a lie.  Firstly, she made out that God’s instruction was not precise.  “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle…” so that a mistake would be made for there were two trees, not one in the middle.  And then she made the order even harsher, saying, “…and you must not touch it, or you will die.”  Like Satan, Eve made God out to be a liar, for God never said, “…you must not touch it, or you will die,” but said, “You must not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” 

So, from Adam and Eve, you and I have inherited these traits, a tendency to claim God’s creation for ourselves without due regard to what God might say or have in mind and a tendency to make God out to be vague and a liar, but after a few thousand years, we have actually improved on our forefather and mother.  Now we have learned to disguise our selfish plans and ingratitude, our covetousness, in religious mumbo-jumbo, and in order to hide our intentions, we make God even more mysterious and vague and an out-right liar.

As it is written:  Let God be true, and every man a liar.  If God really said, “You must not touch it,” then what business did Eve have any further to listen to Satan whose every word was to accuse God of being a liar and a miser who was not willing to share with Eve, saying, “You will not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”?  You see, Satan’s first and every trick is always to make God out to be a cruel, harsh, selfish liar, not prepared to share what He has with His creation and not telling His creation the truth.  Once you allow yourself to think that way of God as well, just like Eve, you are open slather for Satan’s deception.   That is not to say you should have a fairytale image of God that because He is God He is always nice, sugary nice, never harsh and certainly would never kill, never send plagues and famine, and who would not rebuke and discipline His children, even harshly.  You see, if God was fairytale, sugary nice, He would never have put two trees in the middle of the garden so that we had to make a choice, He would have put just the Tree of Life first, and after we had eaten of it He would then plant the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil next to it.  But then, man would never have learnt to make a choice as God makes choices.

You see, when it is written that He made us male and female in His Image, He wasn’t joking.  Just as God makes choices all the time as He said, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion,” so He wanted all of us to learn to make choices and understand the consequences of our choices in the hope that we would learn to choose as He chooses.  And in order to learn the way God chooses, we must learn the way He thinks.

So then, where do we begin?  Jesus said, “But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’”  And again, “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.”  Beyond knowing what was said and done by Jesus, we must learn what mercy means to God and know and understand He is full of mercy for us, for He knows the plans and thoughts He has for us, for His plans that are good for us, to give us a hope and a future, are to raise us up to the fullness of the Stature of His Son, and God alone knows how hard, how painful, how impossible it is for us.  If it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and impossible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, then how much harder and more impossible it is to enter into the fullness of the Stature of Christ.  But you see, “…with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  What is needed are one and ones who would worship in spirit and in truth, in spirit that thinks well of God and in truth that testifies about the truths of God and not lectures on theories about God.

If Adam had thought well of God, he would not have taken possession of Eve as his own, for as we men know, the female is more pleasing to the eye than we are.  Adam would have seen that Eve was outwardly different to him and therefore since she came after him, must be an improvement on him.  Had he thought well of God, had he thought well of God’s affairs, he would have not taken possession of her as ‘woman’, someone who came out of him as his possession, but rather might have called her by a different name that spoke the truth that the Almighty made her out of him.  While he himself only came from the dirt, Eve came from the living being who is the image of God.  If Adam had thought well of God, he would have lifted Eve up and not subjected her to his possession.  So likewise, if we have thought well of God, we as man would have lifted the Son of Man up and not subjected Him to a fate that none of us would want for ourselves and made Him our slave instead of our Master.  We would have lifted Him up so that at all times He is and will be greater than us, for He is the Son of Man.  What good father does not want his son to do far better than he has done?

So, why did the father divide the property between his two sons when “…the younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’”  Do you think the father foolish for doing so just because you know the story?  Or do you see the goodness of that father who gave his son what he asked for in the hope that this son would outgrow him, out succeed him, in the hope that with his share this son would go to a foreign land and there prosper in a way the father had not achieved?

When we say Jesus clearly portrayed before us and honoured us, yes, us, by calling Himself, “the Son of Man,” did we see in Him the best of all we could ever hope to be, a Man of peace, a Man of compassion, a Man of truth, a Man of such gentleness despite His immeasurable power, who would not put out a smouldering wick or break a bruised reed?  Or did we see a Man we should despise and shun because He could do what we could not do and say what we would not say, a Man we must lie about and even kill so that we may make up myths and lies about Him that we can use to our advantage over other men.

If Eve thought well of God, she would have seen God was protecting us from the one thing that could kill us, but put it in the garden to show us so that we would not be ignorant of the danger, and so that we would never have to live in fear wondering was there anything that if we ate of it, it would kill us.  In His goodness, God made plain to Adam exactly what would kill him so that we need never fear the unknown.

Likewise, when Jesus warned us, “…anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come,” was He trying to frighten us or was He in fact removing all fear of sin from us so that we might have the assurance that there are no sins, except one, that cannot be forgiven?  As He said, “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”  And just so that there would be no vagueness, speculation, theories or fanciful doctrines made up by high-minded religiosities that would cause us to fear what the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit might be, Jesus then said, “…anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”  It is not anyone who is ignorant of the Holy Spirit or hates the Holy Spirit or speaks on behalf of the Holy Spirit who is in error. 

Indeed, if these were blasphemies of the Holy Spirit, those who penned the letter of Acts 15:23 and wrote:  It seemed good to the Holy Spirit… to have us practise these things that went against Jesus’ own teachings, would already be in the Lake of Sulphur by now.  They are not and they will not be there because they never spoke against the Holy Spirit.  They spoke against Jesus, yes, but the Holy Spirit, no!  If Philip said to the Spirit, “I will not go to that chariot and stay near it,” when the Spirit said to him, “Go to that chariot and stay near it,” he would have spoken against the Holy Spirit.  If Simon said, “No Lord, I am not going downstairs to meet those three,” when the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you.  So get up and go downstairs.  Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them,” he would have spoken against the Holy Spirit then.  If the Antioch church had said to the Holy Spirit, “No, we will not set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work You have called them for,” when the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them,” they would have spoken against the Holy Spirit.

No, you see God didn’t put those two trees there and then gave us a vague instruction.  He didn’t put that Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil there to kill us.  He put it there so that we would know what would kill us and have no fear of it as long as we obeyed God.  Perfect love drives out all fear, someone wrote.  God is Perfect and God is Love, there is no place for fear in the things of God.  He shows us what is good for us and what will harm us so that we would have no fear of the unknown, ever.  He tells us the problems, as Jesus said, “Each day has enough troubles of its own,” so that we would not fear them but be reassured that “…your Heavenly Father knows that you need them (answers) …and all these things will be given to you as well.”

In the same way, He didn’t tell us that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit would never be forgiven without telling us exactly what it is:  Don’t speak against Him!  So that we would know exactly what will sentence us to the second death, and once we know, we will not fear because we only need to obey and live.  That tree standing there in plain view; the unforgiveable sin, the only unforgiveable sin, in plain view is the goodness of God to help us avoid precisely exactly what can harm us, irreparably.  Nothing else can harm us.  It is like “You are free to eat from any tree,” now it is, “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men,” just don’t speak against the Holy Spirit.

And what was the last thing the Spirit said of His own?  He said with the bride to Jesus, “Come!”  And it goes on to say:  And let him who hears say, “Come!”

The false prophet and the beast know the Holy Spirit says, “Come!” to Jesus, but they will choose to oppose the coming of Jesus.  They will not only say to Jesus, “Do not come!” they will not allow Him to come by gathering their armies on the field of Armageddon to make war against Him.

It does not matter if the church wants to die and go to Heaven.  It does not matter if they want to be raptured and go to Heaven.  It does not matter if they want peace on Earth before Jesus arrives, as long as they don’t speak against this word the Holy Spirit speaks to Jesus, “Come!” they will be forgiven.  For with this one word the Holy Spirit made a promise to Jesus.  He promised Jesus that He can come back, that it is safe to come back, and that the work Jesus sent Him to do will be done and is done.  So, what do you think of God the Spirit?  Do you agree with His plans and thoughts?  Can you say, “Come!” with Him to Jesus Christ, the Son of Man?

So what did you think the father would have done to those people?

 

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