How Did Paul Worship God According to the Way?

TODAY’S READING: ACTS 24-26

“But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets.” – Acts 24:14

The Way was the first name given to the group of apostles and disciples who believed and followed Jesus. The name implies that believers in Jesus are on a journey, a road, from one place to another.

In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

The apostles and disciples were on the narrow way that leads to life. They were called the Way because they were on a journey from death to life.

“In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.” (Proverbs 12:28)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)

“Present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life.” (Romans 6:13)

“We know that we have passed out of death into life.” (1 John 3:14)

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness [death] and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son [life].” (Colossians 1:13)

Paul was once on the easy way that led to broad gate that opened to destruction, to death. “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1-2)

As Paul confessed to King Agrippa, “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.” (Acts 26:9-11)

Paul went about threatening, persecuting, approving of, voting for, and seeking the murder of those he disagreed with. He was on the broad way, entering the wide gate, going to death and destruction and destruction.

But, something happened to change that changed his way from death to life. “At midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.” (Acts 26:13) Paul encountered Jesus. And, it was Jesus, the Lord, that Paul himself was persecuting, seeking to murder, and putting to death.

Why did Jesus appear to Paul?

“For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and the Gentiles – to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:16-18)

Jesus appeared to Paul so that Paul could turn Jews and Gentiles from darkness to light.

Jesus appeared to Paul so that Paul could turn Jews and Gentiles from the power of Satan to God.

What is the power of Satan?

“The one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Hebrews 2:14)

Jesus appeared to Paul so that Paul could turn Jews and Gentiles from death to life, the way of death to the way of life.

Paul would turn people from death to life by worshiping God according to the way.

How would Paul worship God according to the way?

“By believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets.”

Does this mean that Paul believed everything written in the scriptures, the law and the prophets, literally?

Does this mean that Paul believed everything written in the scriptures, the law and the prophets, word for word?

Does this mean that if the scriptures said then Paul believed it, no questions asked?

The answer to each of these questions is no.

Emphatically no.

“And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit [life] have even more glory? For there was glory in the ministry of condemnation [death], the ministry of righteousness [life] must far exceed it in glory.” (2 Corinthians 3:3-9)

At one point in time, Paul believe the scriptures according to the literal letter, word for word. If the scriptures said it, then he believed it. But, Paul said this is a ministry of condemnation and death for the letter, the literal reading of scripture, kills. Indeed, this is exactly what testified to  in front of King Agrippa.

But, not Paul reads the scriptures by the Spirit instead of the literal letter. The Spirit has a ministry of righteousness that gives life. Paul no longer literally read the scriptures word for word. Instead, Paul read the scriptures by the Spirit.

How did this change come about in Paul?

“Since we have such hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:12-18)

Paul no longer read the scriptures literally, word for word, by the letter because Christ removed the veil that was over them. Christ removed the veil over the scriptures when he was crucified. This was when the veil in the temple that prevented anyone from seeing the most holy place was torn in two.

Therefore, it was Christ’ suffering on the cross and rising from the dead that allowed Paul to read the scriptures by the Spirit instead of literally, word for word, by the letter.

What did reading the scriptures by the Spirit instead of literally, word for word, by the letter, do to Paul’s reading of the scriptures?

Regardless of what the scriptures said, Paul now read all death and destruction as coming from Satan. Paul now saw it just as Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Paul even gives us an example of how he assigns death and destruction to Satan even if the Old Testament literally says that God is responsible for it.

Numbers 21:6 says, “Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit people, so that many people of Israel died.”

Numbers 14:26-35 says, “And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, ‘How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. Say to them, “As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, i will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected. But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And you children shall be shepherds in this wilderness for forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.” I, the Lord have spoken, Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.'”

Who did Moses say sent the fiery serpents that bit the people and caused them to die?

God.

Who did Moses say would kill all the people in the wilderness that grumbled against God?

God.

Paul at one time believed this. But, now he sees it differently because the Christ that suffered and rose from the dead has removed the veil.

“We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.” (1 Corinthians 10:9-10)

While Moses said these deaths were caused by God, Paul says the deaths of the people in the wilderness were caused by the serpents and the Destroyer. The deaths were caused by Satan.

Remember, Jesus told Paul he was going to turn people from the power of Satan to God. Paul’s ministry is to open the eyes of Jews and Gentiles to the fact that darkness and death belong to Satan but light and life belong to God.

Therefore, Paul interprets the scriptures by the Spirit, who is life and gives life, to show that the Old Testament is wrong when it literally attributes actions that brought death to God. Those actions were actually done by the power of Satan, who is the one with the power of death.

So, Paul concludes his testimony to King Agrippa, saying, “To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:22-23)

Here we are again at the theme of the last week – the Christ must suffer and rise from the dead. This is what we are to see and know from the scriptures. This is what Christ shows the disciples in the scriptures in Luke 24.

That the Christ must suffer and rise from the dead is the meaning of the scriptures.

The Christ must suffer.

God suffers.

The Christ dies.

God dies.

The Christ does not cause suffering.

God does not cause suffering.

The Christ does not kill.

God does not kill.

It was necessary that the Christ suffer and rise from the dead must be firmly rooted in our hearts and minds. It must be written on our hearts by the Spirit. We must have no doubts about this.

If we do doubt this, then we are blinded by Satan, led down the wide way to the broad gate that leads to destruction, to death, which Satan has the power of.

By saying the Old Testament is wrong when it ascribes death to the hands of God, by saying we need to reinterpret the the Old Testament by the Spirit instead of reading it literally, word for word, by the letter,

  • I know I will be mocked
  • I know I will be told I’m wrong
  • I know my salvation will be questioned.
  • I know I will be told I’m leading people astray
  • I know I will be called a false teacher
  • I know I will be told I’m out of my mind

But, that’s exactly what happened to Paul.

“And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.'” (Acts 26:24)

Festus told Paul that all his learning and all his study was making him say crazy things. Perhaps, Festus even meant that Paul was creating his own God.

“But Paul said, ‘I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words.'” (Acts 26:25)

I am not of out my mind.

I am not creating my own God.

I am speaking true and rational words.

I am speaking the only words that make sense when you know that is was necessary that the Christ suffer and rise from the dead.

I am speaking the same words as Paul.

I am speaking the same words as Jesus.

I will worship God according to the way, believing the scriptures say that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and rise from the dead.

The Teacher Reveals His Way

TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 29-31

“And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, ‘Be gone!'” – Isaiah 30:20-22

A teacher that was hidden is now seen, or made manifest. But, the teacher calls from behind you, “This is the way.” Therefore to go the way of the teacher you have to turn or repent. Having repented, it is then that you get rid of your idols and no longer worship them. Instead you worship the teacher.

This passage of scripture immediately called to my mind Jesus. He had been working all through history, but he was hidden. Then, the word, the son of God, became flesh. He was manifested. He could be seen. And, when he was manifested, Jesus showed everyone how he could be seen in all the scriptures, the law and the prophets.

This passage of Isaiah also brought to my mind the scene in Revelation 5. John is looking for one to open the sealed scroll. John could not find anyone in heaven, on earth, or under the earth to open the scroll. So, he wept.

But, John heard an angel cry out, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” When John looked he saw “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain.”

John heard about the Lion but when he turned to the throne he saw a slaughtered lamb standing. John knew of the Lion of Judah. This lion was like the teacher that was hidden. But, when John turned to the throne to see the lion, the truth was revealed. Instead of a lion, he saw a lamb. The teacher that was hidden was now revealed.

It was as if John had heard a word behind him, “This is the way.” Our way forward, our way to victory is the lion, which implies strength, power, force, violence. To us, to progress forward and bring the kingdom of God to the earth is the way of the Lion.

But, we have to hear to the teacher, who is behind us. He calls from behind us saying, “This is the way.” And, when we turn to see who is calling, we see not a lion, but a slaughtered lamb. Instead of force, power, strength, and violence, we see that the way, the true way to bring the kingdom of God to earth, is sacrificial suffering – love.

It’s fascinating that this way of love is behind us. The truth is 180 degrees the opposite of what we expect, what our natural mind tells us.

The true lion, the king of beasts, that slaughters is actually a slaughtered lamb.

True reigning is serving.

True power is weakness.

True living is dying.

Creation: A Witness to Jesus

In addition to the written teaching below, here’s the audio to tonight’s CUMO Mid-Week Bible Study.

Creation-A Witness to Jesus

To go along with this week’s study, I prepared a chart to make it easier to follow along with the teaching. You may want to print it out for easier viewing as you read or listen to the teaching.

WHAT IS THE POINT OF GENESIS 1?

Genesis 1. The account of creation.

Why is it in the Bible?

What was the point of Moses writing, “In the beginning, God created…”? Why did Moses write about creation the way he did?

Was it written so that we would all be creationists, taking the account literally and matching it up with science, proving that God did in fact create everything? If so, then how many creationists believe in and espouse a flat earth supported by pillars with a dome on top of it? For, that is what the account of creation (as seen elsewhere besides Genesis 1) and the science of the Bible say.

Was it written to tell us, to help us know and understand, the scientific processes by which God created the universe? “See, first God created light, which is energy. He did this because you need energy before anything else. Then…”

Was it written to tell us the age of the universe and, therefore, the earth? Was it written so that we would have ammunition to defend a belief in a young earth because God created in seven literal days or an old earth because we found a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 that would for billions of years to have taken place?

Job 38:1-4 says, “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: Who is it that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you…”

And, for two chapters, God mocks the debate between Job and his friends with question after question regarding Job’s knowledge about how God created the heavens and the earth and how he maintains different aspects of his creation.

Therefore, to understand the story of creation in Genesis 1, we need to remember what the Bible is and is not. First, the Bible is not a science book. Treating it, and in particular Genesis 1, as if it is about science creates an argument that is a distraction to the real purpose of the account of creation and the Bible. Instead of being a book of geology, biology, ecology, exogeology, etc., the Bible is a book of theology. It is a book by which we study God. Therefore, the Bible is a revelation of who God is. And, in Jesus’ own words, it is a book that bears witness of him (John 5:39-40).

So, the point of Genesis 1, the reason it was written, is that we would know God and have a witness to Jesus.

GOD CREATED

The first thing the Bible tells us about God is that he is a creator. This tells us something very special about God as he is the only one that ever creates in the Bible (a study of the Hebrew and Greek words for “create” will show this, but that is another teaching).

So, what did God create?

Let’s look at just the first three days of creation in Genesis 1. You will understand why I want to focus on the first three days below.

On day one, God said, “Let there be light.” God separated light from darkness.

On day two, God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters.” God created an expanse, or a firmament, that separated the waters above from the waters below.

On day three, God said, “Let the waters under the havens be gathered together into one place and let the dry land appear.” God separated the seas and the dry land appeared.

So, on the first three days, God brought forth light, a firmament, and dry land. All were brought forth through a process of separation. God creates by separating.

GOD’S INVISIBLE ATTRIBUTES

Romans 1:19-20 says, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”

So, God has invisible attributes. Paul says these attributes are God’s eternal power and divine nature. Further, these invisible attributes have been known since the creation of the world. “The creation of the world.” That’s Genesis 1. So, somewhere in the six days of creation (I would argue the first three) we should be able to know, or clearly perceive, God’s invisible attributes.

Do you clearly perceive them? I didn’t think so.

To do so, we need to get more specific about exactly what are God’s invisible attributes. I propose there are three.

  1. God is light. According to 1 John 1:5, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
  2. God is love. According to 1 John 4:8, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
  3. God is life. According to 1 John 5:20, “He is the true God and eternal life.”

As you read, remember the order that 1 John lists God’s invisible attributes – light, love, life.

Now that you know God’s invisible attributes, do you clearly perceive them in Genesis 1? I will give you light, but I doubt you see the other two.

JOHN: THE NEW GENESIS

To see God’s invisible attributes in creation, we need to understand that the gospel of John is the new Genesis. How so?

Genesis 1 starts “in the beginning” which is followed by a series of days. Just like Genesis 1, John 1 starts “in the beginning”. But, did you know that “in the beginning” in the the gospel of John is also followed by a series of days? Maybe you haven’t noticed because the days are spread out over several chapters instead of clustered together like Genesis 1. This is John’s clue that he is writing a new Genesis about a new creation.

Further, when we understand that John is writing the new Genesis and we read the Bible in the language of Son, with the understanding that the entire Bible is a witness to Jesus, then we understand why Genesis 1 was written. It’s real purpose is to bear witness to Jesus.

So, let’s compare the account of creation in Genesis with the account in the gospel of John.

Day 1

In Genesis, on day one God calls forth light and separates it from darkness.

On day one, John 1:4-5, 7-9 says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not over come it…He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not that light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”

On the first day of John’s gospel there was light. And, when the light shined in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it, light and darkness were separated. John tells us that this light is Jesus, equating Jesus with the light called forth on the first day of creation.

Therefore, the first day established light as one of God’s invisible attributes that could be known through creation.

Day 2

In Genesis, on day two, God made the firmament and separated the waters above from the waters below.

John 1:29-34 details the second day in John’s gospel. Verses 29 and 31-33 say, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!…I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John bore witness: ‘I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”‘”

So, Jesus, the Lamb of God, gets baptized on day two of John’s gospel. Jesus’ body went down into the water and separated the water. Jesus’ baptism, in which the body of the Lamb of God separated the waters, links day two of John’s gospel with the waters being separated on day two of Genesis.

Throughout the Bible, waters being separated represents baptism.

Exodus 14:22 says, “And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right and on their left.”

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 that this was Israel’s baptism. “For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”

Therefore, when we read that the waters were separated on day two in Genesis we should immediately think of baptism. But, what separated the waters in Genesis? The firmament, which is key to linking Jesus’ baptism on the second day in John’s gospel with the “baptism” that took place on the second day in Genesis 1.

To see the connection, recall that baptism is symbolic of death. On the second day of John’s gospel, John the Baptist declares Jesus to be the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Jesus, the lamb of God, that was baptized and symbolically died on day of two of John’s gospel, fulfilled this symbolism when he died on the cross.

On the cross, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, breathed his last, and yielded up his spirit. Right then, according to Matthew 27:51, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Now we have a connection between Jesus’ baptism, his death on the cross as the lamb of God, and the veil being torn in the temple.

What was the veil? The veil was what separated (there’s that creative word again) the holy place from the most holy place, the place of God’s presence. The priests were allowed into the holy place, but only the high priest, and that once a year with an offering of blood, was allowed beyond the veil into God’s presence. Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ is the high priest that took an offering of his own blood beyond the veil into the presence of God. Here is another connection between Jesus’ body and the veil.

What does this have to do with the waters being separated by the firmament in Genesis?

Psalm 78:69 says, “He built his sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth, which he has founded forever.” The psalmist is saying that God built his earthly tabernacle, the one Moses built, which was patterned exactly after the heavenly one, think Jesus, just like he built creation. In the tabernacle, there was a veil that separated the holy place from the most holy place, the place of God’s presence. This veil is just like firmament in that separated the earth from the heavens, the place of God’s presence. So, now we have a connection between the veil and the firmament to go with our connection between Christ’s body and the veil.

But, to drive the point home even further, Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above [the same word as firmament or expanse in Genesis 1] proclaims his handiwork.” The firmament proclaims God’s handiwork. What is God’s handiwork? Hebrews 10:5 says, “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you not desire, but a body have you prepared for me.'” The firmament proclaims the work of God’s hand, which is Jesus, the lamb of God to be offered up for the sins of the world. Like Jesus’ death tore the veil giving us access to the most holy place, so to did Jesus’ death tear the firmament, reconnecting the heavens and the earth.

So, the second day in Genesis is linked with the second day of John’s gospel through baptism and the crucifixion of the Lamb of the God.

(As an aside, have you ever noticed that God did not call anything that happened on day two good in Genesis? I believe that is because this day spoke prophetically of the death of God’s son.)

So, how does this reveal one of God’s invisible attributes on the second day of creation?

1 John 3:16 says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us.” And, 1 John 4:9-10, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

The death of Jesus, the event of day two of John’s gospel and Genesis, is how we know love.

Therefore, the second day established love as one of God’s invisible attribute that could be known through creation.

Day 3

In Genesis, on day three, God gathered the waters below and the dry land appeared.

Finding the equivalent of day three in John’s gospel gets a little tricky.

John 1:35 says, “Again, the next day…”

John 1:43 says, “The following day…”

John 2:1 says, “On the third day…”

We need to know two things about John. First, he uses a lot of symbolism in his writings. Second, John is not writing an historical account of Jesus like we would today. In John 20:31, he tells us exactly why he wrote the gospel, “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John is writing more a theological treatise than an historical account.

Given those two points, it is important to note that John 2:1 is the only place that any of the days in John’s gospel is numbered. This is important because when you read through the Bible you will notice that an incredibly large number of events happen on the third day.

Given the great theological significance of the third day, it is not by chance that John marked out this day in John 2 with a number. By specifically identifying this as the third day, John is telling you to pay very careful attention to what happens on it.

John 2:1 says, “On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee.” This is familiar story. Jesus, his mother, and his disciples attended a wedding where they ran out of wine. One thing led to another, and Jesus tells the servants to fill six water pots with water, which he turned into wine. John 2:9-10 says, “When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine…the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and when have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept good wine until now.'”

Jesus turned water, which is ordinary but necessary for life, into wine, which is much sweeter and richer than wine, or better life. Wine, because it is sweeter and richer than water, is often a symbol of spiritual revival. While we are alive right now, Jesus gives us eternal life through the resurrection. Day three of John’s gospel is speaking to the resurrection of Jesus and the new life he gives. This is why John 2:11 says, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory [eternal life]. And his disciples believed in him.” This first miracle, turning water into wine, was such a big deal to the disciples precisely because it spoke to Jesus’ resurrection and the eternal life he would give.

We see more support for the connection between the third day of John’s gospel and Genesis in Psalm 104. This psalm is a retelling of the days of creation.

  • Day 1 – verses 1-2
  • Day 2 – verses 3-4
  • Day 3 – verses 5-18
  • Day 4 – verses 19-23
  • Day 5 – verses 24-26
  • Day 6 – verses 27-30
  • Day 7 – verses 31-35

What happens on day three in this psalm? Verses 14-15 say, “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.” The psalmist writes that on day three of creation there was “wine to gladden the heart of man.” That’s exactly what Jesus did on day three of John’s gospel.

Further, in Isaiah 25, the Lord prepares a feast for those that have come out of the city of confusion. Isaiah 25:6 says, “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.”

Aged wine is better tasting wine. This is what the master of the feast said about the wine Jesus served. And, this is the wine that the Lord serves to those that come out of the city of confusion, to those enter new life.

I should note also that in Genesis it said the waters were gathered and the dry land appeared. In a sense, the dry land came up out of the water, speaking to new life or resurrected life after death or baptism. But, it very specifically says that the dry land appeared. Jesus appeared on the third day to his disciples on the third day after his death.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” People have long struggled with what Paul meant as there is no one scripture that says Jesus would rise on the third day. But, could Paul be referring to Genesis 1?

Therefore, the third day established life as God’s attribute that could be known through creation.

Now we see how creation has made known the invisible attributes of God. And, when we put them all together:

When the light of God shines on the love of God it produces the life of God.

Also, we can read what Paul wrote in Colossians 1:15-20 in even greater wonder.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn form the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross.”

As we have seen from all of the above, Jesus is the image of the invisible God and the firstborn of all creation.

JESUS IS LIGHT, LOVE, AND LIFE

In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Light and truth are closely related throughout scripture. As examples, see Psalm 43:3, John 3:21, 1 John 1:6.

Love is taking an action on behalf of another at the expense of oneself. Love is giving of oneself. God and Jesus are gratuitously self-giving. They do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine. Love is the way Jesus has lived from before the foundation of the world.

Jesus is eternal life.

Do you see what Jesus is saying in John 14:6?

I am the way, the truth, and the life is the same as saying I am love, light, and life.

When the truth of Christ shines on the love of Christ we get the life of Christ.

Jesus makes another similar statement in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

What is the resurrection? It is Christ raised life after defeating death by forgiving us for our murdering him. The resurrection is light shining on love, the truth shining on the way, which leads to life.

WHAT CREATION SAYS ABOUT YOU AND ME

In the first sermon preached, Peter told the Jews that they crucified Jesus, the one who is the Messiah, the one who was sent from God to be their king. But, death couldn’t hold him and he was raised to life. The people that heard Peter’s preaching were cut to the heart and asked what they should do.

In Acts 2:38-39, Peter answered, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

What is repenting?

A change of mind. Understanding. Light.

What is being baptized?

Paul tells us fully in Romans 6:3-11, but the short answer is baptism is being baptized into Christ’s death, which is how we know God’s love.

What is forgiveness and receiving the Holy Spirit?

The life of God. The life of Jesus. God’s forgiveness knows no end. That Jesus forgave us for killing him is how he defeated death and was resurrected to life.

So, repenting, being baptized, and receiving the Holy Spirit are the same as light, love, and life.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, “Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But, it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”

Another way to think of ourselves and creation is being transformed and conformed.

Paul writes of the veil being removed and the light of the gospel shining out of the darkness into our hearts. In 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, he writes, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Then, in Romans 12:2, Paul writes, “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” The Greek word for transformed is where we get our word for metamorphosis. That is to go from state of being to a completely different state of being.

To be transformed is to repent and be baptized!

What are being transformed into?

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

One turns to the Lord and the veil is removed – repentance, light. Being transformed – baptized. Into the same image. Being conformed to the same image as Jesus, the son of God, life.

In Romans 8:29, Paul writes that we are predestined to be conformed to image of God’s son so that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. We are to have the same attributes as Jesus – light, love, and life.

2 Corinthians 5:16-20 sums all that I have written above:

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them [forgiveness], and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

God’s creation made known his invisible attributes – light, love, and life. That creation bears witness that Jesus is the image of these attributes. He is the way, the truth, and the life or the resurrection and the life. If we repent, are baptized and receive the Holy Spirit, then we are in Christ and therefore a new creation of light, love, and life. As new creations, we have been given the same ministry of reconciliation as Christ. Therefore, we are his ambassadors.