Ezekiel (Program #24) – The River Flowing from the House
An outstanding feature that appears again and again throughout the pages of the Bible both in the Old Testament and the New is a river. The river was prominent in Genesis and the river appears in the books of history and the books of the prophets in the Old Testament. This river is still flowing in the gospels especially in the Gospel of John where the river flows out of the pierced side of the Lord Jesus. And it continues to flow right through the final chapters of Revelation where it is seen proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb in the New Jerusalem. In all of these mentions the river is a very positive factor, very much related to the matter of the divine eternal life. One of the more striking appearances that this river makes is in Ezekiel 47 where it’s seen flowing out of the house of God. In this chapter it becomes a deep river – too deep and too wide to be passed over. The one that we have no choice but to abandon ourselves to and swim in.
2 Corinthians (Program #6) – The Ministry of the New Covenant (2)
Metaphors play an important role in Scripture. Webster says a metaphor is the use of one set of words to describe or illustrate a similar point.
John uses the technique when he speaks of Jesus approaching him in the gospel. “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Surely he wasn’t saying that Jesus was a literal “lamb”. But the metaphor or picture gives us a much richer and clearer understanding.
The apostle Paul was also very fond of metaphors, particularly when conveying his deepest thoughts in teachings. We see it used intensively in 2 Corinthians. For example in 2 Corinthians chapter 2:14 he says “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in the Christ“ Here, the metaphor is the triumphant possession of captured and vanquished folks after a Roman battle. And Paul says that we, the believers had become such vanquished ones in the train of the victorious Christ.
Now, we come to another marvelous metaphor in the very next chapter, chapter 3 of 2 Corinthians begins this way:
1-3 “Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some do, letters of commendation to you or from you?You are our letter, inscribed in our hearts, known and read by all men,Since you are being manifested that you are a letter of Christ ministered by us, inscribed not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tablets of stone but in tablets of hearts of flesh.”
Living letters of Christ. This is our topic today.
One book in the Bible that always seem to stir interest is the book of Revelation. This book gives the account of the apostle John receiving the revelation from God. This revelation actually came as John saw vision after vision, prophetically revealing the key elements of God’s eternal plan. But if one is really to understand the book of Revelation, it is equally important to know the parallel Old Testament book, the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel and Revelation go together in many critical aspects as you’ll see in the coming weeks.
The seeking ones among God’s people need to know the Lord as life, and they need to experience Christ as life, and they need to study the Bible in the way of life. It is for those seekers that we commend the life study of the Bible. Listen and enjoy Christ as life.
The Gospel of John is simply profound. It’s simple. The words, the vocabulary, the expressions appear so simple. In the beginning was the Word. The Word was God. The Word became flesh. But, it’s profound also. If you’ve had the opportunity to follow us through the heart of chapters 14 through 17, you perhaps have some sense of appreciation of the profound depths of the Gospel of John.
The Gospel of John is a Gospel of life and building. We need to really dwell on these two crucial words: life and building. Life is God Himself. Life is Christ. He said “I am the life”, “I came that you may have life”, and “life is the Spirit.” Eternal life is not merely an eternal state of existence in another realm. Eternal life is God dispensed into us. It cannot reasonably be denied that the Gospel of John is the Gospel of eternal life.
We should treasure the way the Lord has ordained to be present with us now. May the Lord really open our eyes: that what is precious to God, that is the invisible, indwelling, pneumatic Christ, would also become precious to us.
In John 20 as in the Gospel of John as a whole, we see the Trinity both in His essence and in His economy. The Divine Trinity is a trinity of essence eternally that is the Father, Son, and Spirit coexist and co-inhere in the Godhead eternally. This is the Trinity in essence. But in order to have the fulfillment of God’s economy, the essential Trinity must function as the economical Trinity to pass through the process in order to, on the one hand, enter into God’s people, and on the other to bring God’s people, now redeemed and regenerated, into God. By the time we reach chapter 20, we have at least the initial completion of this process in which the very God who became a man and died for our redemption, in resurrection became the Spirit, so that, economically speaking, the Father, Son, and Spirit may indwell us.
John 1:14 says, the Word became flesh. That means the Word, who was God, became something that He previous was not. When God came out of eternity into time to accomplish His plan, He became flesh. In this sense, God did change.
When we cover these two aspects (God being unchanging and God having changed), what we’re touching is the mystery of the Divine Trinity. So, what we need to do is look at the entire Bible and just say Amen to whatever the Bible says about the Triune God. On the one hand, you know people uses this verse Malachi 3:6, which says that God changes not. And, this is true. But of course, if you look at the context of Malachi 3:6, it’s talking about that God changes not in his principles, in the way that He deals with His people. But also, we know that the Bible shows that God in His eternal being is unchanging. The Bible reveals that the Triune God, the three of the Godhead. On the one hand, they are distinct. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are eternally distinct, but they also co-inhere. That means that they mutually indwell one another. The Father is in the Son. The Son is in the Father. The Father is in the Spirit. more…
John (Program #49) – Life Processed for Multiplication (4)
Let us all let the wind blow where it wills. And, instead of trying to systematize or schematize the experience of the Spirit, let’s experience the Spirit for the carrying out of God’s economy, letting God truly be God.
John 20 is in many respects, a chapter of realization or actualization. By using these terms, I’m trying to say, that in this chapter we have the reality in actual experience of what the Lord revealed concerning His process elsewhere in the Gospel. He made it emphatically clear in chapters 14 through 16 that He needed to go, that is, die on the cross, and come again, that is come into the disciples as the pneumatic Christ in order to indwell them. He had, as the first half of the Gospel emphasizes, become flesh and tabernacled among human kind. But, God’s goal is to be in His chosen and redeemed people, not merely among them.
John (Program #48) – Life Processed for Multiplication (3)
I really like this marvelous term here. “Go tell my brothers.” In the Gospel of John, He was with these disciples a lot, but He never referred to them as brothers. He always called them either by name or referred to them as friends. But, after His resurrection for the first time, He calls them brothers.
In this Gospel, the presentation of the crucifixion is really more complete and more meaningful than you have it in the other three Gospels. First, the account here brings out the two aspects of the Lord’s death by mentioning two substances, which came out of the Lord’s side when the soldier pierced Him. When the soldier pierced Him, out came blood and water. The blood of Christ there is to answer to our need for the dealing with sin. The blood of Christ cleanses us from every sin. And, the water that came out is really meeting the need for our life. Water in the scripture is often a picture of life. There’s the water of life that’s in the book of Revelation. And, there’s the water that flowed out of the rock in the Old Testament. So, water really means life, the imparting of life.
John (Program #46) – Life Processed for Multiplication (1)
The main thing is that these garments were left there in this orderly way as a testimony of His resurrection. This was not something like someone got in and stole His body as reported. No. He did this Himself. He resurrected.
The account of the crucifixion in the Gospel of John is different in the fact that it brings out these two aspects(redemption and imparting life). In the other Gospels it only mentions the redemptive aspect. But, in the Gospel of John, you do have the two aspects which are shown by the two substances that came out of His side. In verse 34 of chapter 19, it says, “one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.” When the soldier pierced His side, out came blood; that’s for the redemptive aspect. And water, that’s for the life aspect.
Because of the deceit of religion and the darkness of politics, He was delivered to death. He was proved to be without fault, but religion and politics were exposed to be dark, deceitful, and corrupt.
We’ve come today to the section of John 18 through 20 dealing with the Lord’s death on the cross and His resurrection. Generally, we consider the Lord’s death in relationship to the work of redemption. But we will see once again today that this Gospel, though certainly not minimizing the redemptive aspect, has another emphasis; the release and multiplication of life which resulted from Christ’s death.