Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO on 5/12/02
"And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" (II Pet. 1:19, NIV).
The topic today is near and dear to my heart. It represents a personal journey which has lasted for at least 30 years. During that time, I have hung on to the coattails of God in an attempt to get answers for the yearning of my heart to know what Jesus meant when He said: ""Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father" (John 14:12, RSV). He said this to His disciples, who at the time they walked with Him, sometimes had trouble with the basic miracles, let alone the greater works. I'm thinking of the time when Jesus, James, Peter, and John were on the Mount of Transfiguration. Meanwhile, His other disciples, were at the foot of the mount trying to deliver a boy from a demon which had afflicted him with seizures, making him unable to speak. Hearing from the boy's father that the disciples had utterly failed to cast the demon out, Jesus groaned, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me" (Mark 9:19, RSV). These men lived with the Light of the world, but they walked in darkness at times, because the morning star had not yet risen in their hearts.
There are those today who infer in their teachings and writings that they have penetrated the secret places of the most high and have found the source of all power and all wisdom and all knowledge about the deeper things of God. I have read some of their writings, but I was never quite sure if they had really found the power source, or just the money source. In the last book of this type I read, the author kept saying that when our eyes are opened we will see how wonderful it all is. Chapter after chapter, he repeated this until I wanted to scream. Perhaps I was looking for a "how to," or perhaps I was picking up on the fact that what he was talking about was works, specifically my works, my efforts, rather than God's. He was quite a lot more subtle than the Word of Faith teachers are at times, but still, he insinuated that there was something I needed to do, though he failed to mention exactly what it was. I asked the Lord about it, and He gently suggested, "Just keep walking." So, I closed the book and groaned in my spirit, with the longing still there to know what Jesus meant when He said we would do greater works than He did. I have had people tell me that those greater works are the born again experience, the recreation, regeneration, and rebirth of the human spirit, which was chained in a hell of trespasses and sin until Jesus came to set us free. True, this is a possible explanation, nevertheless, it does not entirely satisfy my questions about the greater works.
To put it another way, like many others, I would be thrilled beyond measure to do the SAME works Jesus did: healing the sick, causing the blind eyes to see and the deaf ears to hear, and raising the dead, and oh yes, walking on water and controlling the storms and winds. That would be a handy gift to possess here in "tornado ally," though I suppose raising the dead would constipate the local undertaker. But truthfully, those works have never been duplicated in the order and magnitude that first Century Christians beheld, and if they were, the world would go nuts. CNN would have camera crews working round the clock documenting the miracles. But would that turn the world to God? Not unless He had opened their eyes and hearts to receive the truth. Jesus spoke in parables, and when His disciples asked Him why, He gave this mystifying answer: "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'" (Mark 4:11-12, NIV). That is a direct quote from the prophet Isaiah (Is. 6:9-10). It is repeated in the gospel of Matthew (Matt. 13:13-15), who adds: "But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it" (Matt. 13:16-17, NIV).
What is it that the disciples saw and heard that prophets and righteous men longed to see and hear? The Apostle John gives us the answer "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life, the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us" (I John 1:2, RSV). Christ, the gift of eternal life, was manifested to us in flesh.
When I was meditating on light this week, and how the light of the world was made flesh and dwelt among us, I saw in my spirit "the big bang," which is how scientists think the universe began. I believe the bible describes this seminal event this way: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light" (Gen. 1:1-3, RSV). Out of Himself, the substance of all things, God created light and everything else that we can and cannot see. Then, glory of glories, wonder of wonders, He made us in His image and likeness (Gen. 1:26-27). The creation of man, His crowning achievement, is recorded in the first chapter of Genesis. However, here's a puzzle. In Genesis, Chapter two, we read, "there was no man to till the ground" (Gen. 2:5). It was at this point, that God scooped up a handful of clay and from the dust of the earth, He "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Gen. 2:7). It is important to understand what happened here. Before God gave us a body to house our spirit, we were spirit beings only, yet we were created in His image and likeness. I'm sure you remember that Jesus affirmed to the Samaritan woman that God is a Spirit (John 4:24). Here's the sequence again: in Genesis, chapter one, we became living spirits and in chapter two, we became living beings with a body of flesh. We have no way of knowing how long creation took. It matters not whether it was seven actual 24 hour days, or eons, or whether it was instantaneous. God dwells in eternity, where time is not, where time will be no more when we get there with Him again. Perhaps you have noticed in your own life that He does not operate by your watch.
Bear with me as I give you the sequence of how the Lord unfolded all this to me. After I "saw" the "big bang" in my spirit, the Lord reminded me of one of my favorite verses: "For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (II Cor. 4:6, RSV). With my spiritual eyes, I "saw" the light shining out of the inky black darkness as God brought out of Himself the worlds, the cosmos, every living thing, and I heard with my spiritual ears, that He called His creation of man, not just good, as He had the rest of creation, but "very good" (Gen. 1:31). Right after that, I began to "see" that humanity is a metaphor for the entire creation. God said, "Let light shine out of darkness." Why? Because He planned all along to shine forth from flesh. Where does He shine? "in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." The God who created heaven and earth, who flung the stars into the black void of space, lives in our hearts. Oh, the wonder of it. Who can really grasp it? Is this not the "unseen" which we deal with daily? Because we can't "see" this truth, we can't "see" the greater works, or even the lesser works, for God Himself is the "unseen" in our lives.
We had a horrific storm in the middle of the night this week, which was so loud that it was impossible to sleep through it. So, I got up and opened the bible to the gospel of Mark. I read again the accounts of the feeding of the five thousand (Mk. 8:11-21; Lk. 9:10-17; Jn. 6:5-13), and the feeding of the four thousand (Mk. 8:1-9; Matt. 16:1-12). Here again, from the substance or essence of Himself, Jesus created enough provision to feed thousands of people. The disciples were right there, of course, distributing the food to the waiting people. Later, as they were crossing the Sea of Galilee, Jesus said to them, "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matt. 16:5). They heard His words with their natural ears, and concluded that He made that statement because they didn't bring any bread with them (Vs. 7). Here's the passage: "Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, "You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees " (Matt. 16:8-12, NIV). Isn't this a classic picture of human nature? They had witnessed His feeding five thousand men and who knows how many women and children at one point, and another four thousand men at another time. They feasted daily on the bread of heaven and yet, they were fretting because they had not stopped by Wal-Mart for a loaf of bread to take on their journey with them. This is the essence of the human condition. We are so programmed by flesh, that we must see with our eyes and hear with our ears in order to believe, but as this verse proves, seeing does not always equal believing.
Remember Thomas? He was not present on several occasions when Jesus had appeared to the disciples after the resurrection. When they told him about it, he said "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe" (John 20:25). The story unfolded this way: "Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe" (John 20:26-29, NIV). Many of us are doubting Thomas types, I suspect, not willing to believe that God would still do a miracle for us unless we saw it with our own eyes and touched it with our own hands. This is the darkness of flesh, out of which God shines in our hearts. When you consider the millenniums which have come and gone since God created us in spirit, and factor in the effects of Adam's sin on our souls, it is really no wonder that we have had such trouble. Our flesh is the veil which separates us from God. Traditional religious thought taught us to believe that only when the veil is removed by physical death, do we enter into the presence of God. This is the significance of the Temple veil being rent from top to bottom when Jesus died. That curtain which kept men out of the holy of holies, separating them from the place wherein God dwelt under the Law, was destroyed by the giver of eternal life. There is now NOTHING separating us from God, our Father of light and spirit. Hallelujah!
This is why the Holy Spirit is the only one who can lead us into all truth. He is the only one who can reveal to us the unseen, that which intrigues us and beckons us to walk on into knowing God. For 30 years, I have known, understood, and firmly believed that God can do today what He ever did. He is total provision, supplying all our needs by His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19). He is total healing, having taken our stripes on Himself, by which we are healed (Is. 53:5; I Pet. 2:24). He is our all in all (Eph. 4:6; Col. 3:11), and yet, we only have the "earnest" of our inheritance at this time (Eph. 1:14), by which Paul means the Holy Spirit. Jesus had the Spirit "without measure" (John 3:34), and this is our inheritance as well. The Apostle Paul wrote so beautifully about the transition which awaits us all, for we will all be changed, in the twinkling of an eye. The reason this change is necessary, he says, is because "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable" (I Cor. 15:50, NIV). Here's the rest of this beautiful passage: "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 15:51-57, NIV). Notice that the sting of death is sin, but the power of sin is the law. Is there any better reason than this to give up trying to live by law and throw ourselves into the everlasting arms of grace?
We will all be changed, some by passing through physical death, and some, Paul says in a "twinkling of an eye." However it happens, we will pass from the shadow land of flesh in which we now dwell, into the light. Jesus said, "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known" (John 1:18, RSV.) Christ came to reveal the Father, to enable us to "see" God. He said that He did nothing on His own authority (John 5:3), and of His works, He affirmed, "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works" (John 14:10, RSV). We are in the Father as well, and we are indwelt by the light so that those who look upon us will see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Father, open our eyes to see You and the Your glory which surrounds our daily lives. Let us see through the veil of flesh to know You as You are, for then, we shall be like You. Amen.
To be continued.
I find it very odd that we can't see you, God.
What does it mean that you can't be seen?
Where do you go when you go away,
when I can't find you night or day?
I want to hug you and hold your hand;
I want you to show me the Promised Land.
Take me where I've never been. Come on, Father, let me in.
I want to see hinds feet on high places, stags running fleet races
mountain crags and meadows lush, roaring waters and twilight's hush.
Here I am child, open your eyes. See me in a sunset's purple skies,
the smile on a baby's face, the galaxies swirling out in space.
See me in trees after a shower, flowers blooming in a hidden bower.
Displayed in beauty everywhere, I am in the hearts of all who care.
Open your mind; see with your heart that we are not ever really apart.
I live in you. You live in me. We're together forever, eternally.
You are my child, created to love, to be sent to creation, below and above.
Love is the key for you to see, that I am in everything, for all came from me.
Open your eyes, child, drink it all in, the unseen is God, who will never end.
In atoms and protons, in all DNA, in all my creation, at work or play.
In you, and through you and as you,
I'm helping and guiding and leading you through
the tight spots and dim places of your life
through sin and trouble and gloom and strife.
I made it, I sent it, and I'll bring you through,
it all depends on me, not on what you do.
So, sit back child, relax and smile, for this life lasts such a little while.
At the end of your personal story, you'll come with me to walk in glory,
where, with all creation throughout time and space,
you will behold your God, face to face.
Written for the Saints of the world on 5/8/02
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
"A lamp shining in a dark place"
"Gift and Giver"
"Baptized in the Spirit"
"Bearing fruit in the Kingdom"
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 5/10/02
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/29/08.