Seeing from God’s Point of View

 “We are asking God that you may see things, as it were, from his point of view by being given spiritual insight and understanding.” Colossians 1:9, J.B. Phillips Translation

 “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

 God’s point of view is primarily internal – not external. God considers the heart – not external activities. From God’s point of view, what does it mean to be transformed and conformed to the image of Christ? Well, it has more to do with being than doing – less to do with doing prescribed activities, and more to do with being like Jesus in nature and character. (Doing naturally follows being.)

From God’s point of view, the Old Covenant, its “letters”, and the way it operated (externally) was inadequate[1] (except to reveal sin)[2]. And from God’s point of view, the New Covenant, the Law of Christ directed by the Spirit , and the way it operates (internally), is perfect (complete) – and reveals sin in a much deeper way[3]. In order to truly see and understand Jesus as our Pattern, we must see and understand the New Covenant from God’s point of view – specifically, the way it operates – that is, internally, and as directed by the Spirit. I believe the apostle Paul began to explain this in 2 Corinthians 3:2-6:

2 “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known, and read by all men; 3a “being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us.”

Here, Paul is stating God’s calling and purpose for His people in the New Covenant: To be a human “letter[4], an epistle of Christ, to be known and manifested to others. This epistle of Christ is something internal – that is, written on hearts – something of Christ’s nature and character which is communicated to others. This human “letter” is not an instruction on a set of prescribed external activities.

3b “Written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

 This epistle of Christ, “written” on hearts, is something which can only be authored by the Spirit of the Living God. This is true because Jesus said: “No one knows the Son except the Father”.[5] In Luke 10:22, the Greek verb ginosko[6] is used meaning knows by experience. Matthew 11:17, the Greek word epiginosko[7] is used meaning fully knows. And Matthew 16:17, Jesus indicated that the Father is the One who reveals the Son. So, only the Spirit of the Living God can “write” this epistle of Christ – and write it on human hearts. This process is in a different category from writing with ink on paper – for two reasons:

Firstly, what is communicated to and through the heart is not that which can be “captured” (contained) with ink on paper. We can attempt to describe with words of human language that which is being communicated by the Spirit of the Living God. In fact, this is a necessary and worthwhile exercise for us human beings to engage in – namely. Theology – the study of God. But human words written with ink on paper cannot communicate the full knowledge of what is being written on hearts by the Spirit of the Living God, which He desires to communicate to others. The New Testament scriptures speak of knowledge[8] – that which is known through mental comprehension, and full knowledge[9] – that which is known through life experience. This is God’s standard in the New Covenant – to speak through His Son, and also through each member of His body[10] – specifically, to speak THROUGH LIFE, and not just through “letters”.

Secondly, this living epistle of Christ cannot be “captured” (contained) in the writing of human words with ink on paper, because the revelation of the mystery of Christ is infinite and, therefore, “unsearchable” or unfathomable”.[11] This is not to say that the Canon of scripture does not contain the full revelation of Christ. Rather, this is to say that we need – and God desires – to have a living example of the full spectrum of all the various aspects of Christ manifested through human lives and human experience in order to understand[12] the full meaning of the very words the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the scriptures to write with ink on paper. This is a “living epistle” of Christ. The Prototype of “living epistles” is Christ in His incarnation through Jesus of Nazareth – Jesus is our Pattern. 

 “Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God[13], who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  2 Corinthians 3:4-6

The law of the New Covenant surpasses[14] the law of the Old Covenant.[15] The Mosaic law of the Old Covenant could be written in “letters” captured (contained) on tablets of stone. The Law of Christ of the New Covenant is “of the Spirit” and written on hearts”. Because of its internal nature, in order to walk in the Law of Christ, one must “receive the Spirit of Christ”[16], be “born of the Spirit”[17], and be “led by the Spirit”[18]. Author Charles Leiter put it this way: “The Law of Christ is as inexhaustible as the Person of Christ Himself. To ‘love as Christ loved’[19] is too penetrating of a standard to be exhaustively conveyed by any finite list of rules.”[20]

The key to walking in the New Covenant is not trying to do what Jesus did, but surrendering to be what Jesus is like. It is not about doing prescribed activities; it’s about being like Jesus in nature and character. We can do what Jesus did without being like Him. But if we are like Him, we will naturally do what He did.

This is NOT to say that all of the commandments written in the New Testament[21], including all of the Lord’s commandments written in the gospels[22] are of no value. That which is “written with ink on paper”, since it is inspired by God, is to be held in utmost esteem. As the apostle Paul said, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable[23] for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”.[24] But, Paul also said it is of “no value” as “the letter of the law” to be accomplished through the self-effort of the flesh.[25] It is important to understand that being “led by the Spirit” includes reading, studying and reflecting on that which is “written with ink on paper”, because the Holy Spirit primarily uses the scriptures, which He inspired, to teach, reprove, correct, and train disciples of Christ in the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”[26]: The Holy Spirit is continually giving us more and deeper understanding of the scriptures – as we read the same verses from time to time in different life situations, He gives more and deeper understanding of the very same verses.

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did[27]: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh (and according to “the letter”) but according to the Spirit.”[28]“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”[29] 

“The fruit of the Spirit”, as well as “the Beatitudes”,[30] are examples of the attributes of Christ’s nature and character. So again, if we become like Him, we will (super)naturally do what He did. What is “written with ink on paper” – “the letter”, so to speak – is a description of what He is like. But the power to be what He is like and do what He did is, not of “the letter”, but “OF THE SPIRIT”.   

What Jesus is like cannot be totally captured in “the letter”. When God reveals an aspect of Christ (through the scriptures and the Spirit), we can attempt to communicate it through “letters” (writing messages); but we will never be able to record all of Christ. He cannot be contained in “written letters”. He is to be communicated through “living letters”through human beings – just as Jesus of Nazareth communicated the Father.[31] Of course, only “the only begotten Son”[32] is the exact representation” of God.[33] Human beings can only REFLECT the glory of the Lord.

The writer to the Hebrews, who so completely contrasted the New Covenant with the Old, opened his letter with these words: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.”[34] Jesus is to be communicated, not through prescribed activities which can be written down in a list on stone tablets, but through you and I – living letters”[35], living stones”[36], human letters”. This is God’s purpose in the New Covenant.

* * * * * * *

“Seeing from God’s Point of View” is an excerpt from the eBook “A New & Living Way”, pages 239-245. See the corresponding eBook on our website.

At Christ’s Table – ACTpublications © 2018

“Explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” 1 Corinthians 2:13

* * * * * * *

FOOTNOTES

[1] Romans 8:2-4; Hebrews 7:18

[2] Romans 7:7

[3] Matthew 5:27-48. I have found that the Holy Spirit intentionally reveals my sin at levels deeper than my mere external misdemeanors. He patiently reveals implications and ramifications of my attitudes and actions, which I naturally would not have considered. This revelation process does not lead to a sense of condemnation, but rather a fuller appreciation of God’s perspective on sin – viz. “hating the sin and loving the sinner”.

[4] Greek: epistole, Strong’s # 1992, a literary correspondence. (Not a letter of the alphabet).

[5] Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22

[6] Strong’s # 1097

[7] Strong’s # 1921

[8] Greek: gnosis, Strong’s # 1108. Ibid, Vine: knowledge of an object “as an enquiry, investigation”. Ibid, Renn: “concerned primarily with human knowledge”.

[9] Greek: epignosis, Strong’s # 1922. Ibid, Vine: “a strengthened form of gnosis, expressing a fuller knowledge, a greater participation by the ‘knower’ in the object known’. Ibid, Renn: “knowledge of moral and ethical values, intimate acquaintance with of God”.

[10] No one person can contain or fully communicate Christ in His fullness. Romans 12:3

[11] Ephesians 3:8. Greek: anexeraunetos, Strong’s # 419.

[12] This is in reference to understanding which comes through nothing less than divine revelation by the Holy Spirit.

[13] Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:7-12.

[14] “Better” is a key word found a number of times in the Letter to the Hebrews, an epistle which compares the New Covenant with the Old and describes the New to be “better than” the Old in every way.

[15] Matthew 5:20; 2 Corinthians 3:7-11; Hebrews 8:6-7.

[16] Romans 8:9-10

[17] John 3:3-6

[18] Romans 8:14

[19] John 13:34

[20] “The Law of Christ”, Charles Leiter, p. 181.

[21] For example, the “One Anothers”.

[22] For example, the “Sermon on the Mount” and all the other written references to the “Law of Christ”.

[23] Greek: ophelimos, Strong’s # 5624, helpful, beneficial

[24] 2 Timothy 3:16

[25] Colossians 2:20-23. “no value” – Greek: time, Strong’s 5092, in this case: of no spiritual value, or of no spiritual efficacy, usefulness, effectiveness.

[26] Romans 8:2

[27] And continues to do through the Spirit.

[28] Romans 8:3-4.

[29] Galatians 5:22-23.

[30] Matthew 5:3-11.

[31] John 1:18. Greek: exegeomai, Strong’s # 1834. Vine: “to unfold in teaching, to declare by making known”. Vincent: “to draw out in narrative, to relate in full, interpret, translate, thus, exegesis, interpret, explain”.

[32] John 1:14

[33] Hebrews 1:3

[34] Hebrews 1:1-2

[35] The heading for 2 Corinthians 2:1-3 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

[36] 1 Peter 2:5

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Quo Vadis

God is always moving forward in His kingdom plans and purposes. He never moves backward. And for those who love Him, He never stops moving in our lives for His glory. But to continue moving on with God “from glory to glory” requires our living “from faith to faith”. It takes an act of faith