Saturday, January 11, 2020

Seeing Our Savior in the Hearts of His Men

When we see Jesus always doing whatever the Father was doing, it means that, in everything Jesus did for people, we see what the Father was doing for people.[1] The gospels not only tell us what Jesus is like; they clearly tell us what the Father is like.[2] 

When we see the apostles doing their ministries as branches of the vine bearing fruit to this day, what we see them willing to do for the church expresses something of what Jesus was doing for his church.[3] The apostles “flesh out” what it looks like for Jesus to shepherd the church because the Triune God loves the church. 

When Paul told us, “For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you…”,[4] he was telling us how strongly God was working in him to will and to work for his good pleasure, and how devotedly Paul was working out his own salvation with fear and trembling because of the reality of God’s work in him.[5] 

This means that, Paul’s desire that “their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,”[6] is our Father’s desire for us.[7] 

I encourage each of us to turn on our relational circuit with God as best we understand how to do so,[8] and thank him that he wants our hearts to be encouraged in fellowship with one another, that he wants us to know the satisfaction of hearts that are truly knit together in agapè-love,[9] and that he wants us to feel the restfulness of full assurance of understanding.

Thank our heavenly Father that he wants us to have the genuine knowledge of his own mystery, which is Christ. Thank him that he wants to make his hidden and secret reality known to us so that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are hidden in Christ are revealed to us so we may, “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.”[10]

Not only will our joy-based relational circuits build in our brains as we express appreciation for these wonders no matter how little we have experienced them, but our willingness to know God like this means that we will be encouraged, just as he desires for us. We will be blessed with the very attachments in Christ that we long for way down deep under our layers of self-protection. We will feel that elusive assurance of understanding and knowledge that is desperately needed in a world of ignorance and blindness. And knowing Christ in his kingdom will feel like we have found a treasure in a field that we would give up everything to enjoy as our own because it is so much more valuable than whatever we have experienced in the world.[11] 

Not only is this specific lesson an encouragement to us all, but it is also an invitation to look at all the men who served God so devotedly and allow our hearts to receive their work as evidence of the Father’s great love for us. His agapè-love consuming these men’s hearts, minds and souls, tells us how determined our Father is to seek us, find us, and bring us home.[12] 

As was said of one man of faith, the same can be said of all the servants of God who gave us the holy Scriptures: “through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.”[13] And what each of these men speaks is that their God is here for the knowing as our God. 

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”[14]

© 2020 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] John 5:16-21
[2] John 14:9
[3] John 15:5-8
[4] Colossians 2:1-3
[5] Philippians 2:12-13
[6] Continuing Colossians 2:1-3
[7] This is also obvious from II Timothy 3:16-17 that shows that the words written down by the human writers of Scripture were actually breathed-out by God himself, which is why we can live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God as Jesus taught (Matthew 4:4) by letting the words of Scripture dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16).
[8] In physical terms, this means trying to relate to God in relational attachment rather than merely left-brain agreement. In spiritual terms, this means deliberately seeking to abide in Jesus as branches in the vine so that his life and ours are united in fellowship.
[9] Agapè is the distinctive love that unites God and his people. It means: “love (affection) n. — a strong positive emotion of regard and affection” (Bible Sense Lexicon).
[10] I Peter 1:8-9
[11] Matthew 13:44-46
[12] Luke 19:10; I Timothy 1:15; John 14:23
[13] Hebrews 11:4
[14] John 1:12-13

Thursday, January 2, 2020

When a Word is Worth a Thousand Words

We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words. However, the same can be said about words themselves. Not only is this true of those who love writing, but it is very distinctly true in relation to the breathed-out words of God. I often find in my prayer-journaling that one word of Scripture can easily take a thousand words or more of pondering and meditation.

Over the Christmas break I have been struggling through how to obey by faith God’s instruction to, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”[1] This is God’s plan for reconciling with him when we are caught in spiritual adultery with the world.[2]

My problem is that I feel like an utter failure at not only doing this, but even knowing HOW to do it so that I am real in the doing and it is real in the fulfilling.

With all that in mind, I began my time with God by starting with the first word, “submit”. I immediately began to wonder if the grammatical breakdown would tell me something I was missing. It had the sense of, “Oh no, is this another ‘plural’ I’ve been trying to apply as a ‘singular’”!?

Sure enough, not only is that the case, but unfolding the word in each aspect of its grammatical properties blew me away with how much God is telling me/us. It is very encouraging.

So, first of all, the definition of the word, “submit”.

Submit: to be submissive v. — to be or become inclined or willing to submit to orders or wishes of others or showing such inclination.[3]

Already, just from the definition, this word is telling us to let ourselves become willing to submit to God’s orders or wishes regarding the issue of our adulterous activities with the world and our corresponding animosity towards him.

Even if we already knew that, look at how the different grammatical qualities of this word help us appreciate it all the more.[4]

The grammatical breakdown of “submit” in the original Greek of the New Testament is: verb, aorist, passive, imperative, second person, plural. Let’s look at how each quality helps us understand God’s expectation.

Verb = an action

This means that submitting to God is something that will be evident in what we do. Of course, it is very fascinating that one of James’ themes in the book is that our faith shows itself by what it does and that faith that does not “do” is dead.[5] Our response to what God says is not complete while we’re still thinking about it, but only when we have done the thing required.

Aorist = (ingressive) stresses the beginning of the action or entrance state

Don’t worry, I had to look that all up to understand what it means. The sense is that, the aorist is not focused on the tense of “submit” (whether it is past, present, or future), but the aspect of “submit” (in this case leaving it as a simple action). The focus seems to be on “just do it” without limiting it to when it should be done. The expectation would seem that, if Father just told us to submit to him, we would submit to him, and we would know we have done it when we have done it.

Passive = the subject undergoes the action of the verb

Since we, the church, are the subject of this exhortation, this already tells us that this is something we bring on ourselves rather than on others. Agapè is something we can only express by doing unto others,[6] while submit in the passive is something we surrender to ourselves. We are not trying to get someone else to submit to God, but to get ourselves to submit to him.

Imperative (with the aorist) = a task expected to be completed

While the aorist stresses the beginning of something (get started on submitting), when it is combined with the imperative it means that the task we are to get going on is expected to be completed. No dawdling. Get started and don’t stop until you’re finished.

Second person = you  

James is not telling us what he is going to do, but what we are going to do. In the single word, “submit”, it is clear that the expectation of fulfillment is on us. If we’re the ones submitting to the world’s deceptions; we’re the ones who let ourselves repent (change our minds) and have the faith that submits to God instead.  

Now here is where that notorious problem with English comes in because we tend to interpret “you” in the singular and try to do these things all by ourselves. However, the Greek regularly brings out that the “you” is not singular and that is why we have so many problems trying to do what we are told!

Plural = you who are the group addressed

This is actually the biggest part of the lesson to me. My focus cannot be on how I do this, but on how we do this. The problem was that the church itself was committing adultery with the world together, so they had to corporately turn this around together (corporate repentance + corporate faith).

It isn’t that we can’t individually do this while our church culture continues its adultery with the world. Rather, it is a picture of our Father’s will in the matter, which is that the whole body would actively enter a submissive relationship with him once again. As it is possible to have healthy parts of our body while all the rest is suffering with a disease, that is never the best choice for each part of the body. It is best for everyone that the whole body is in a state of health for the good of all.

I just checked on the other verbs in this sentence and both “resist” and “draw near” are “verb, aorist, active, imperative, second person, plural”. That means that they are identical to “submit” except in switching from passive to active.

So, since submit is the only verb that is passive, it sounds like it means that, once we have surrendered to Father’s will and let ourselves submit to him, we then become active in resisting the devil so he will flee from us, and in drawing near to God so he can draw near to us.

It must be noted that, when God calls us to draw near to him, it is talking about the God we have offended with our adultery. And yet, when we return to him from that adulterous relationship with the world, we will find his overwhelming grace drawing near to us in agapè rather than bending us over his knee for a behind-the-shed spankin’.[7]

Does this make you wonder how much of our freedom to resist the devil so he will flee from us when we are together, and draw near to God so he will draw near to us when we are together, is resting on our willingness to let ourselves be churches that submit to God together?

Up to this point, my word processor says I have used 1373 words to ponder and share this with you. A word from the Lord is so picturesque that it is truly worth thousands of words of meditation and prayer to attach to him in what he is saying and doing, and join him in his work with all our hearts, souls and minds.

Right now, joining Father in this work of submitting to him means getting started right away to let this take over my full being right now, and encourage all my relationships with fellow believers to do the same together.

© 2019 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] James 4:7-8
[2] James deals with this in James 4:1-10 where he describes “friendship with the world” as “enmity with God”, and reinforces this with the synonymous expression that being “a friend of the world” makes us “an enemy of God”. Any churches that live this way together are “adulterous people” (vs 4).
[3] The Bible Sense Lexicon
[4] I had to look this all up, so it was probably as new to me as it will be to most of you.
[5] James 2:14-26
[6] Agapè is that distinctive love of the kingdom of God that actively pursues what is best for others in the sight of God (rather than what we would like to get out of the relationship).
[7] The parable of the Lost Son shows the repentance that changes its mind about what it loves from loving the world to loving a home with Father. As the son drew near to his father, he discovered his father was running down the driveway to draw near to him. Definitely not what he expected.