The Cosmic Christ – Part 3

Christ on His Throne

I just searched for the words “new age” on Google and 777,000,000 results popped up. As often occurs, Wikipedia is the top result for searches. Here’s what Wikipedia says about “new age.”

“The New Age movement is a non-religious Western spiritual movement that developed in the latter half of the 20th century … According to author Nevill Drury, the origins of the movement can be found in the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly through the works of the esotericists Emanuel Swedenborg, Franz Mesmer, Helena Blavatsky and George Gurdjieff, who laid some of the basic philosophical principles that would later influence the movement. It would gain further momentum in the 1960s, taking influence from metaphysics, self-help psychology, and the various Indian gurus who visited the West during that decade.” Wikipedia

The “new age movement” is anything but new. In fact, it’s thousands of years old. It has a strong religious history that had its birth in Eastern culture. It began with an ancient lie that has been repeated trillions of times since – “Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5) We learn the secret to Satan’s power and influence in this one lie – and all the secrets of the so-called “new age movement.”

  1. “You will not surely die”
  2. “your eyes will be opened”
  3. “you will be like God”
  4. “knowing good and evil”

People may believe they will experience hundreds of lifetimes in their effort to improve the standing of their soul. They may believe they are enlightened and have the spark of god within. They may claim to have the secret knowledge of the gods and be among the spiritual select. However, what they’re doing is simply repeating a lie Satan told their most ancient ancestors.

The Apostle Paul and the young Church of the 1st Century were surrounded by “new age” thinking. Most of the Gentile believers of the early Church came out of the “new age movement” of their time. Whether it was the worship of Roman or Greek gods, the cult of imperial worship, the mystery religions, estrucan mythology, or gnosticism, the early Church was surrounded by it. The challenge Church leaders faced was that “new age” thinking did not dominate the minds and hearts of believers.

Gnosticism (from gnosis, the Greek word for knowledge) was part of Satan’s lie – “your eyes will be opened, you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Gnostics believed they had “secret” knowledge and were the only ones able to impart that secret teaching to their followers. Gnosticism became a huge problem in the life of the Church in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries, but the philosophy was already well established around the Church in the 1st century. The news Epaphras brought the Apostle Paul about what was happening in the Colossian Church greatly concerned Paul, so he wrote a letter to the saints at Colossae that addressed their spiritual need, and in doing so, gave the Church God’s Counsel on dealing with gnostic thought for generations to come.

Paul summed up the gnostic threat powerfully in the second chapter of his letter.

“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8

The word “cheat” in the Greek is sulagogeo and means “to carry off as spoil, to rob, to take captive.” Paul knew that the “mind tricks” Satan was playing through gnosticism was extremely dangerous and could carry away Christians as his “spoil.” How did Satan do it? Through “philosophy” (philosophias), empty deceit (kenes apates), according to the tradition of men (paradosin ton anthropon), according to the basic principles of the world (stoicheia tou kosmou), and not according to Christ. An important phrase Paul used three times in this sentence is “according to” (kata).  The word kata means “down, down from, down upon, down against” and carries the idea of something being over, pushing down and holding down something else. Domination is a key to understanding Satan’s tricks and the power of gnosticism in the early Church and its power today. Satan wants to dominate people. He does it easily, until a person becomes a Christian. Then Satan has to work harder to regain his former domination of the person’s mind, will, desires, emotions, and beliefs.

Gnostics placed a great value on their experiences of gnosis in life – what they learned from their teachers, from angels and other mediating beings, from their study of the stars, and ancient alchemy. They believed that angels were involved with the Demiurge in creating the lower heavens and the earth. Paul addressed a similar issue in his letter to the Galatians, where they were facing opposition from gnostics and judaizers. Notice the emphasis on how angels from heaven might “pervert the gospel of Christ.”

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9

In Colossae, as in thousands of other cities around the world, Satan dominates through worldly philosophy (the love and pursuit of wisdom) and empty deceit (that which gives a false impression through deception), the traditions of men (teachings and beliefs handed down through generations by men) that are dominated by the basic principles of the world (living by the rules and orders of the world system), “and not according to Christ.” The Apostle Paul has just given us our secret to fighting back against Satan – “according to Christ.” The power of Christian thought is having our mind, will, desires, emotions, and beliefs covered and dominated by the Mind of Christ.

Let’s pick up with our study where we left off last week. We’ve seen that Jesus Christ is the Logos of God – the Eternal Word of God – and that we’ve been delivered from the “power of darkness” and conveyed to the “kingdom of the Son of His love.” It is through Jesus that “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” We also saw that Jesus is the “image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

In the verses that follow, Paul made a full frontal assault on the dualistic beliefs of the gnostics. They believed they had secret knowledge about the nature of the universe and the origin and destiny of the human race. Gnostics claimed that the Supreme Being was remote and could not be known and that a powerful and evil and imperfect supernatural being called the Demiurge had created the world and was its dominant force. This idea was put forth by Plato in the 4th Century B.C., so it had developed into a strong belief system by the time of the founding of the Colossian Church.

Gnostics believed that a select group of individuals – including themselves and their chosen followers – had a divine spark within their material body and that through gnosis the spark could grow into a flame that would liberate them from the evil world created by Demiurge (knowledge of evil) and unite them with the Supreme Being (knowledge of good). Do you see Satan’s original lie here? “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The gnostics taught that only they had the secrets of the knowledge of good and that anyone who did not know their secrets only had knowledge of evil. That was the same thing Satan told Eve when he tempted her to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan told her that if she ate of it, she would be “like God.” That was the same message of the gnostics in the first few centuries of the Church. If people wanted to have the secret knowledge of good and evil, they would have to learn it from them.

The gnosticsm that developed within the Church during the first few centuries taught that Jesus was a messenger from God who brought gnosis to believers on earth. They also taught that Jesus inhabited a human body only temporarily and denied His Death on the Cross and Resurrection from the grave. Gnostics also taught that Christians were divided into groups – spiritual and carnal. The spiritual believers were in the select group that had the divine spark within them that allowed them to be redeemed. Gnostics taught that only those with this special gnosis would be saved.

Paul took on the most important issue first – the Identity of Jesus Christ. If Jesus was who the gnostics said He was, then He did not die for the sins of the world, did not rise from the dead,  and had no power to save souls and give them eternal life. Paul addressed that issue first because everything else was of little importance in comparison to whether Jesus Christ is Who He and His followers claimed Him to be.

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Colossians 1:16-20

Verse 16

“For” should be “because.” “By him” is more correctly translated “in him” because it is locative of sphere rather than instrumental. Dr. Marvin Vincent in Word Studies in the New Testament wrote: “In Him, within the sphere of His personality, resides the Creative will and the Creative energy, and in that sphere the creative acts takes place. Thus creation is dependent on Him.”

Things that “are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible.” Paul is taking all of creation here: physical and spiritual, everywhere. Look back at Genesis Chapter 1 and you see God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Creating the heavens and the earth. “Whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.” Paul aims these words at the gnostic heresy. Dr. Vincent wrote: “The passage is aimed at the angel worship of the Colossians; showing that while they have been discussing the various grades of angels which fill the space between God and men, and depending on them as media of communion with God, they have degraded Christ who is above them all, and is the sole mediator.”

Dr. Earl Ellis wrote: “Whatever cosmic powers there may be, they have nothing to offer or deny a Christian; in Christ he has all things.” Jesus Created everything and everything was Created for Him. “All things were created through Him and for Him.” Look around at what we call “nature” and you see everything Christ Created.

Verse 17

Christ is “before” all things. He is in front of, prior to, superior to all things. The gnostic heresy made Jesus lower or at the most only equal with other mediating powers. That teaching should seem ridiculous and absurd to Christians, but it was a teaching that divided the early Church for centuries.

“… and in Him all things consist.” This means they “stand or are compacted together” in Him. Jesus is the Cosmic Glue Who holds everything together! Bishop Lightfoot wrote: “He is the principle of cohesion in the universe. He impresses upon creation that unity and solidarity which makes it a cosmos (an ordered system) instead of a chaos (an unformed mass). Thus (to take one instance) the action of gravitation, which keeps in their places things fixed and regulates the motions of things moving, is an expression of His mind.”

How beautiful and powerful that truth is to a believer! Jesus Christ is not just one of many mediating beings who have access to God and can speak on our behalf – Jesus is the ONLY MEDIATOR between God and men. He is the One Who holds all things together.

Verse 18

“And” connects the many truths about Christ that Paul is presenting to the Colossians. Just as Jesus is Lord and Soverign of the physical creation, so He is Lord and Sovereign of the new spiritual creation, the Church – His Body – of which Christ is the Head. Jesus is also the “beginning” – the chief, the origin. He is “the firstborn from the dead.” That refers to His resurrection from the dead. He is first in the physical creation which began at the beginning. He is also first in the spiritual creation which began at the resurrection. In all things Christ is first!

“that” speaks of purpose

“in all things” speaks of sphere

“He may have the preeminence” speaks of position (preeminence is “first in rank and influence”)

Jesus is first in everything and should be acknowledged as such. He is Supreme!

Verse 19

“For” is “because” God was pleased to have all His Fullness dwell in Christ. God thought well of having His completeness housed permanently in Christ.

The heretical teachers of Colossae used the term “fullness” in a technical sense to express the sum total of the divine powers and attributes. They believed that mediatorial beings had some of God’s powers, but in diluted form. They were only partial and blurred images. They ranked Christ with these inferior images of the divine. However, Paul wrote that Christ is the likeness of God and that all the divine powers and attributes were housed permanently in Him. “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9)

Verse 20

“reconcile” means “to change completely” … “having made peace” means “binding together, harmonizing.” How was this peace made? “through the blood of His cross.”

The false teachers at Colossae aimed at affecting a partial reconciliation between God and man through the interposition of angelic mediators. The Apostle Paul spoke of an absolute and complete reconciliation of universal nature to God, effected through the mediation of the Incarnate Word. Jesus shed Divine Blood on the Cross and that brought peace to God and His relationship with sinful man (Hebrews chapters 9 & 10 have great insights into how the Blood of Christ made peace with God.)

Paul wrote the same thing to the Ephesian believers.

“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13

Application

We can apply Colossians 1:15-20 to our lives and practice in many ways:

  1. Jesus Christ is the Only Way to God – trust Him alone for all Truth
  2. Rejoice in the Power of Christ as the Creator and Sustainer of all things
  3. Worship Christ alone – have no other gods before Him – He alone is worthy of our praise
  4. Test all spiritual teaching with God’s Word first. If it is false, put it away from you.
  5. If you are in a position of leadership in your church, stand against any false teaching
  6. In light of Who Jesus is, obey His every command
  7. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength!

Christians around the world are surrounded by false teaching and heresy today. Thousands of religious groups place Christ Jesus into a realm that is inferior to Who He really is. Paul’s warning to Christians of the 1st Century A.D. is still true today in the 21st Century A.D. We must be wise and on our guard at all times.

Blessings!

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministries

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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How To Walk Like A Brother 3

Person walking along road

The Bible is practical. The truths we learn in God’s Word are meant to be practiced in the real world under real-life pressure. Christianity is not for the weak. It takes great spiritual strength to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. God has never been theoretical about life. It’s always practical. So, how do we practice walking like a brother?

We’ve already seen the first two steps: 1. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.” 2. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Here are the next steps:

“… that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

Step 3 – Put off the old man

Step 4 – Be renewed in the spirit of your mind

Step 5 – Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness

The Apostle Paul told the Ephesian believers that they had been taught, with regard to their former conduct (way of living), to do these things. Remember that Paul spent a lot of time ministering to the Ephesians. Pastors Timothy and Titus also invested time teaching in Ephesus. The believers there knew the how and why of walking like a brother.  It started with deep love and devotion to God and each other, and moved to putting off the old man, being renewed in the spirit of their mind, and putting on the new man. What does that mean? Putting off and putting on? Is it something we have to do or does it happen automatically to every believer?

Putting off and putting on is what we do in concert with the Holy Spirit Who lives in us. We do not accomplish anything in this life “for” God “without” God. That’s one of the reasons why the Spirit of God resides in us. He provides us with the strength and wisdom to accomplish His Will for our life. The word translated “put off” is apothesthai. It is the process of taking something off and putting it away. The ancient Greeks used the term for taking off clothing. It’s something they did after making a choice.

Every Christian has a choice. Do we love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength or do we not love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength? Do we love our neighbor as ourself or do we not love our neighbor as ourself? Do we obey God in everything or do we not obey God in everything? Choices – the Christian life is about making hundreds of thousands of choices during a lifetime. We make important choices every day that impact our walk with God and others.

Paul says making the choices that please God begin with loving Him and loving others, then moves on to the process of putting off the old man. What is my “old man?” The words are palaion anthropon – the man of the past, that which is obsolete. It’s the way we were before God changed us through spiritual regeneration. It has nothing to do with our new life – it is the old life – the way we used to be – our former way of life. Paul tells us to “put off” that past man, that old man. Why? “… which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” Our “past man” is in the process of corrupting (phtheiromenon – destroy through corruption, bring into worse state, to waste, decay). There are physical and spiritual forces applied to all people because of sin that are causing this corruption (present passive). They are filled with deceitful lusts (epithumias tes apates – very strong desires excited through deceit, seduced through delusion). Life for an unsaved person gets worse and worse because of the decay and corruption they experience in every aspect of their life. As Paul wrote the Ephesians earlier in his letter, Christians were once like everyone else in the world with no ability to change their spiritual situation – so God had mercy on them because of His great love for them.

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:1-10

This is the doctrinal foundation for everything we do and can do as Christians.  We were dead in trespasses and sins, but God made us alive together with Christ! We experience life from death because Jesus conquered death for us. In the verses leading up to Paul telling the Ephesians to “put off” the old man and “put on” the new man, he reminded them that their life should look a lot different than the lives of the unsaved.

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” Ephesians 4:17-19

That’s what the Ephesians had been before God saved them. Their thinking had been futile. Their understanding had been darkened. They were alienated from the life of God. Why? Because of the ignorance that was in them and the blindness of their heart. They were past feeling. They had given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. That’s how Paul expressed the pitiful condition of being lost. That’s what the Ephesians believers were like until God saved them “by grace through faith.”

The Ephesians knew what to do. Most Christians today know what to do. We need to “put off” the old man and “put on” the new man. How do we do that? “… be renewed in the spirit of your minds …” The word “renewed” (ananeousthai) speaks of your being made new (made young again) at the present time. This present renewal is happening in the “spirit of your minds” (to pneumati tou voos humon). It is a reviving of your human spirit, which affects your attitude and intent. Who does this for us? God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is the One acting on our hearts and minds every day, giving us the ability to “put off” and “put on.” Once we make the decision, we find all of God’s Heavenly Resources available to do what we decide to do.

That is such a comfort to me – knowing that living for God is not something I do alone and without help. I do make the choice to obey God, but He is the One with the power to help me make the choice, fulfill the choice, and live for Him. I like it that way. God gets ALL the glory. He doesn’t get “some” of it, or even “most” of it. God gets ALL of it.

A good example of this is the Apostle Paul. Look at what he accomplished during his ministry. Who got the glory?

“Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God.” Romans 15:15-17

“But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:30-31

This is not something Paul hid from the Ephesian believers. He made it clear that they existed for God’s glory as well. It was a choice God made long before the Ephesians were born. “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:11-12)

Moving now to the next step in this important process – what does it mean to “put on the new man?” Who is the “new man?” The words “put on” are endusasthai. It was used for people putting clothing on themselves and wearing them (middle voice). The Christian life is more than putting away the former things of our life. It is becoming new in every way that matters to God. Paul helps us understand what we “put on” with the next part of the sentence: “which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” The word “created” is ktisthenta and was used by the Greeks for the founding and forming of a place for people to live (e.g. village, town, city). New Testament writers used the word for creating or producing something from nothing. Who does this creating? “… which was created according to God …” The words “according to God” are ton kata theon and speak to the dominance and control God expresses in this special work in a believer’s life. God creates within every Christian a spiritual laboratory where great experiments of life can occur. It is in our spiritual lab that God works with us in the putting off and  putting on. He equips our laboratory with all the necessary tools we will need to carry on this great experiment – “true righteousness and holiness.” Just as a scientist needs mixing bowls, flasks, burners, and basic elements to conduct their experiments, God gives us what we need to put off and put on – Himself. Who loved us, chose us and blessed us from before the foundation of the world? God. Who had mercy on us? God. Who shed His Blood for us to pay the price for our sins? God. Who lives inside of us to pray for us, support us, teach us, and guide us in every spiritual thing? God. What are the primary elements God has placed within our laboratory to assist us in putting off the old man and putting on the new man – “true righteousness and holiness.” The Greek reads en dikaiosune kai hosioteti tes aletheias – in righteousness and holiness of truth.

The most essential element of Christianity is “truth.” Everything is based on God telling us the truth about everything. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) He also said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) That is the foundation of our faith and trust in God – truth. Jesus is Truth and He will set us free! God uses this Truth as the basic element for every experiment we will ever conduct in our spiritual laboratory.

What springs from His Truth is His righteousness and holiness. Think about that for a minute. Can we really put on the new man without God’s righteousness and holiness? There’s no way. We’re wasting our time if we think we can. Our goal is to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). That is the most amazing thing to ever come out of a spiritual laboratory. Take a sinful human being, spiritually dead and without hope – mix in the Blood of Jesus Christ, the Truth of God, and the Power of the Holy Spirit – and we have a human being who God fashions by His Grace into the very likeness of His Son! How can that happen without the righteousness and holiness of God in truth? It can’t. Putting on the new man will NOT work without God’s righteousness and holiness in the sphere of truth. If we’re not focused on that in our Christian lives and ministries, we need to stop right now and not take another step until we take care of that first. It is that important!

What happens when a Christian puts “off” the old man and puts “on” the new man? Their world changes. People take notice of the change and react to it. They may or may not like the change, but they will react. When Christians put on the new man, “created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness,” hearts, minds and lives are affected for eternity. We’ll see how – next week – as our study continues about How To Walk Like A Brother!

Blessings!

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministries

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

The Meaning of Worship

Worship Words

What does it mean to worship God? The word “worship” is used almost 200 times in the Bible. Let’s go to the Hebrew and Greek to see what words God chose to use when He inspired the writing of His Word.

Hebrew

  1. shahah — depress, bow down, prostrate
  2. hawah — bow down, pay adoration
  3. abhadh — serve, work, labor

Greek

  1. proskuneo — kiss forward, make obeisance, do reverence to
  2. sebomai — to revere with devotion
  3. sebazomai — honor religiously
  4. latreuo — to serve, render homage
  5. eusebeo — act piously toward
  6. sebasma — an object of worship
  7. ethelothrekseia — to will worship
  8. threskeia — external religion, religious worship, ceremonial worship

The ancients would demonstrate devotion by bowing their heads to the ground while kissing and pushing their hands forward above their heads. It was the idea of “kissing forward” and was a demonstration of devotion and obedience. Here are some examples of the use of “worship” of God in the Old Testament.

“And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” Genesis 22:5

“Then the man bowed down his head and worshiped the LORD.” Genesis 24:26

“And I bowed my head and worshiped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God of my master Abraham, who had led me in the way of truth to take the daughter of my master’s brother for his son.” Genesis 24:48

“So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.” Exodus 4:31

“And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’ So the people bowed their heads and worshiped. Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.” Exodus 12:26-28

“All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door.” Exodus 33:10

“But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God).” Exodus 24:13-15

“Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her.” 1 Samuel 1:19

“Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD.” 1 Samuel 15:25

“So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate.” 2 Samuel 12:20

“And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the LORD, worshiping the LORD.” 2 Chronicles 20:18

“Moreover King Hezekiah and the leaders commanded the Levites to sing praise to the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshiped.” 2 Chronicles 29:30

“And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” Nehemiah 8:6

“And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God.” Nehemiah 9:3

“You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.” Nehemiah 9:6

“Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.” Job 1:20

“But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.” Psalm 5:7

“Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” Psalm 29:2

“All the earth shall worship You And sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name.’  Selah” Psalm 66:4

“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” Psalm 95:6

“Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.” Psalm 96:9

“Exalt the LORD our God, And worship at His footstool— He is holy.” Psalm 99:5

“Thus says the LORD, The Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One, To Him whom man despises, To Him whom the nation abhors, To the Servant of rulers: Kings shall see and arise, Princes also shall worship, Because of the LORD who is faithful, The Holy One of Israel; And He has chosen You.” Isaiah 49:7

What do we learn about worship from these and other verses in the Old Testament? Worship is the correct and proper response to God’s commands and provision. The Lord God created the heavens and the earth. He deserves our worship. The Lord God is above all gods. He demands our worship. The Lord God is holy. He is worthy of our worship.

Worship became even more personal in the New Testament when the Son of God stepped from Heaven to earth and became as one of us. Notice in the early part of Matthew’s Gospel that Gentiles from the East knew that the Child they searched for deserved their worship. Also notice how Satan desired worship from the Son of God and how Jesus used Old Testament truth to teach Satan about the priorities of worship.

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2

“And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.” Matthew 4:10

Other people who met Jesus also had the spiritual sense to know that He was worthy of worship and adoration. Knowing Jesus should have that effect on us. Here’s insight into worship from the Synoptic Gospels.

“And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Matthew 8:2

“While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.” Matthew 9:18

“Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:33

“Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” Matthew 15:25

“And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.” Matthew 28:9

“When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.” Mark 5:6

“Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.” Luke 24:51-53

John’s Gospel gives us unique insights into the meaning of worship.

“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” John 4:21-23

The people living during the time of Christ, even as the present time, are confused and misled about the meaning of worship. True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, “for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” That’s a clue. God is looking for people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. That is a unique combination: in spirit and in truth.

God created us for the purpose of personal fellowship. That relationship is based on God loving us and our loving, adoring and worshiping Him in return. God provides the fertile soil for our worship. He made us spiritual beings so we could have a deep relationship with Him. He gave us the Holy Spirit to convict us of the sin that separates us from God, comfort us with His compassion when we repent of our sins and receive Christ as our Savior and Lord, and connect us to our Heavenly Father so we can commune with Him. That’s worshiping God in spirit and in truth. God provides both. We respond thankfully and emotionally with our worship.

Worship is personal and emotional. Study the word “worship” throughout Scripture and you’ll find people who felt deep emotions as they worshiped. They may have experienced great joy, deep sadness or great fear, but God’s Love and Grace met their every need and their heart-felt and emotional response was to worship God. They often fell down and worshiped God. They bowed their heads toward the earth. They cried, they sang, they lifted their hands to Heaven, they danced before the Lord. So many emotions. Such a deep, personal thing it is to worship the Living God.

In Christ’s Love and Grace,

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministries

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

The Spirit World (Pt 1)

Spirit World 2

I used to laugh at Christians and other religious people who believed in a spirit world with a supreme God, a devil, good and bad angels, and demons. When I was an atheist the idea of an invisible world of spiritual beings around me was ludicrous. However, when I opened my heart and mind to God and began to learn about the worlds He had created, I quickly learned that the spiritual world is just as real as the physical world.

The spirit world is usually “invisible” to us. Our physical eyes don’t have the ability to see the very active life of the supernatural spirit world. There were many times in the Bible when God allowed humans to see into that invisible world, but most of the time people didn’t see it. However, the fact that we can’t see the invisible spiritual world does not mean it doesn’t exist. On the contrary, it is very real. God created the spirit world before He created the physical world and the two worlds do affect each other.

We get an insight to the beginning of the spirit world from Job 38. God is speaking to Job. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?” This tells us that at least two groups existed at the time God created the earth. One was the morning stars. The other was the sons of God.

Let’s see what we learn about the earliest creatures of God’s imagination. First, the “morning stars.” The Hebrew words are boqer kokabBoqer means “morning light, dawn, day-break.” Kokab means “blazing, shining.” It is used for stars we see in the sky and figuratively (or metaphorically) for “an illustrious prince.”

Kokab is first used in Gen. 1:16–“Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.” We’ll look at the creation of solar systems later, but suffice it to say that a God Who could create at least 200 billion billion stars with temperatures of up to two million degrees each, some up to a billion miles in diameter and billions of light years away from earth, is a most powerful, wonderful and capable God!

The combination of the words “morning stars” usually means someone from the spirit world. God uses it six times in the Bible. The first usage, Job. 3:9, probably means literal stars in the sky, but the other five speak of the spirit world. We’ve already seen that the morning stars sang together at the creation of the earth. Other usages are Isa. 14:12; 2 Peter 1:19; Rev. 2:28 and 22:16. The words are used in Isaiah 14 to speak of two figures: Satan and the King of Babylon. “How you have fallen from the heavens, O morning star, son of the dawn!” (NIV) Who was that morning star? The KJV and NKJV translate the Hebrew word for morning star as “Lucifer.”

The “morning star” is the brightest of all the stars. It’s a dazzling light that exceeds all other stars in brightness. The “morning stars” in the context of Job 38 may have been used for the most powerful angels (i.e. Lucifer, Michael, Gabriel).

The usage of “morning star” in the New Testament is the Greek phosphoros in 2 Peter 1:19; astera ton proinon in Rev. 2:28; and aster ho lampros ho proinos in Rev. 22:16.

In 2 Peter the author is writing about his being an eyewitness to the power and majesty of Jesus Christ. Peter also writes about the return of Christ to set up His Kingdom on earth. “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19) The word phosphoros means “light-bearing, light-bringing, giving light.” The words astera ton proinon mean “star of the morning.”

In Revelation 2 Jesus speaks to several churches. In verses 18 – 29 He speaks to the church in Thyatira. Jesus encourages the saints to overcome and persevere in tough spiritual times. “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations— ‘ He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’— as I also have received from My Father;  and I will give him the morning star.”

In Rev. 22:16, Jesus makes it very clear that He is speaking of Himself. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” aster ho lampros ho proinos is similar to the wording in Rev. 2:28 except it adds the word lampros which means “shining, brilliant, bright.” The use of the adjective seems to set it above all other usages of the words “morning star.” Jesus is the ultimate Morning Star!

At the creation of the world, the morning stars sang together and “all the sons of God” shouted for joy. We’re already seen that “morning stars” are the brightest stars in the sky and probably used for the most powerful angels. The Hebrew words for “sons of God” are bene elohim and often translated as “angels.” The insight we gather here is of God’s creation of a special division of angels. We’ll learn more about that division and their special duties to God and us as we go through our study this week.

The Hebrew word for angel is malak. The Greek is aggelo (pronounced “angelo”). The English word “angel” is a transliteration of the Greek. The words are found more than 300 times in the Bible. Angels are created beings. The psalmist calls on angels to praise the Lord. “Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts!” (Psalm 148:2) Paul wrote that Jesus Christ created all things, the invisible as well as the visible: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” (Col. 1:16)

Angels are spiritual beings (Heb. 1:14). They can be invisible or make themselves visible to human beings, depending on what Jesus allows. The angels’ primary responsibilities are to praise and serve God and watch over and bring messages to God’s people. We don’t know much about what kind of service they performed prior to the creation of the world, but the Bible is quite specific about their service after creation.

The Biblical account of creation (Gen. 1 & 2) tells us that everything God created was “good.” There is no reason to think His creation of angels was anything other than good and perfect. However, from Gen. 3 through the end of Revelation, we learn about evil angels. Their evil leader is Satan, formerly known as Lucifer. Did God create evil angels? Did God create evil?

We’ll see as our thoughts continue tomorrow.

Blessings!

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministries