12. Defining God Defining Man
We understand that the Bible says many things about God, but that, almost in opposition to the things "said about God," God shows Himself to His creation as He really is only through Jesus. And thus we come full circle. The way God gave us to know and to define Him is by a Man, Christ Jesus. We cannot define man without first defining God because man was created just like God. To enable us to know God, God sent a Man. We can only truly define God by looking at that Man.
12. Defining God Defining Man
"What is man?" David
"There is a man after My own heart." God
"He who has seen Me has seen the Father." Jesus the Son of David
I have an entire series titled What is Man. But since man is the spitting image of God in both earth, the physical side of the creation, and heaven, the spiritual side of creation, it is impossible to define man without first defining God.
What is God?
Now, here we could say all sorts of grand-sounding things. We could say that God is an invisible Spirit or that He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. We could even say that God is love and truth and life. The problem with saying these things is that they are, to us in themselves, ideas. God is not an idea (though He is certainly Love).
Now, we understand that the Bible says many things about God, but that, almost in opposition to the things "said about God," God shows Himself to His creation as He really is only through Jesus.
And thus we come full circle. The way God gave us to know and to define Him is by a Man, Christ Jesus.
We cannot define man without first defining God because man was created just like God. To enable us to know God, God sent a Man. We can only truly define God by looking at that Man.
To those who live in the tree of knowledge, this is all mindless gobbledygook and faulty circular logic to be rejected out of hand.
To those who walk in union with Christ, this makes perfect sense. God is Himself; man walking in utter union with God, reveals God to His creation. Thus man "looks like" God because God is always showing Himself through man.
Never do we say, "This over here in me is 'God,' but that other over in that part of me is 'man.'" No. We know in our own hearts the One who fills and the one who contains and reveals. We know that we are one with Him and with each other. We know that God reveals Himself through all the silly idiosyncrasies of the human. We know that others, by seeing us, see the Father showing Himself through Christ, the only life we are. We know there is no meaningful distinction.
Enter the dragon.
Lucifer is not like God, not now and not in the beginning when he stood in perfection before all creation. Lucifer was the "greatest" of all creation. He was the smartest, the largest, the most beautiful, and the most gifted creature God designed. Lucifer, in his superiority - he was also granted the place of covering over all creation, the anointed cherub who covers - convinced himself that God made him that way in order to show all creation the "superiority" of God.
Lucifer looked at himself and liked what he saw.
Now, if Jesus shows us the Father, that is, if we can know God as He really is only by seeing Jesus, walking upon this earth, then we must understand that every point of Jesus' life and walk is telling.
[Don't make the mistake of mis-defining Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 5 that we no longer know Him "according to the flesh." That is not talking about Jesus revealing God in human form. That is talking about how we see. We ourselves no longer see Jesus as if we are separate from God, that is, according to the flesh."]
Paul built the entirety of his gospel upon two or three obscure phrases found in odd places in the Old Testament. The words "faith" and "grace" are found only once or twice in all the Old Testament. Yet Paul understood that because those phrases were there, they must rule all things. If God said, "The just shall live by faith," one time by one obscure and late prophet, than that word must rule all things God said in the Old Testament, even to obliterate the strongest statements of the law (Galatians 3).
In the same way, the two most important points of the revelation of God through Jesus are not stated directly in the gospels; they are only implied. Yet their implication must, by the very nature of those two things, rule everything else we know about the definition of God given to us - called Jesus.
The most important point is the bodily resurrection of Jesus. The gospel accounts imply that bodily resurrection, but no direct account of it is found in the narrative. The second most important point is found the Friday morning before.
Consider carefully. In particular, every step Jesus took from Gethsemane to the open tomb is the very fabric and being of Almighty and Eternal God showing Himself AS HE REALLY IS, not just to earth, but to all heaven as well.
[Paul and Peter are clear, the highest angels of heaven do not know God; they are waiting with great anticipation for a future age when they will finally know Him through us (1 Peter 1 & Ephesians 3).]
And in the middle of that tearing open of the very fabric, heart, and being of God - Who is this guy who calls Himself "Father"? - the narrative implies the very most extraordinary thing that we could possibly know about God.
He stumbles and falls on His face; He cannot carry His own cross, nor does He do one thing to defend Himself against anyone. He does not have "what it takes." He is certainly not "manly."
These two things go hand in hand: a God of weakness rising out of death.
God is always stumbling and falling, never defending Himself; God is always rising out of death, ascending above all things. The moment of time when Jesus stumbled under the cross, not calling on 10,000 angels, the moment of time when Jesus' body "came alive" and He walked out of the tomb, are simply the true nature of time. That is, those moments are the eternal nature and being of God showing Himself in the physical part of His creation. That's what time is. To say that "time ends," as the King James translators wanted, is to say that God never again shows up in the physical half of His creation. Nonsense! Every moment of every day in every individual's particular circumstances is, in fact, an "eternal" God showing up in our lives.
And so, at some point way back when, God whispered to Lucifer, "Sorry, buddy, you're not like Me at all. Man is like Me." God's whisper did not penetrate Lucifer's mind.
Jesus said, "I am come to serve." He said, "Always take the lowest place." Why? He was showing us God.
God is beneath; He is meek and lowly of heart. He never defends Himself; but neither does He submit to manipulation and control.
God is always rising out of death. If Jesus rose from the dead in a moment of time, then we know that God, by His very nature and being is always rising out of death, alive again, new every morning, spontaneous and fresh.
God DID NOT "stoop" to rescue man. Where on earth did that way of thinking, that definition of God and man come from? It is of the most vital importance for us to know where the definitions of God and the definitions of man that fill the thinking of Christianity came from.
Lucifer loathes and despises man more than we can possibly comprehend. To equal measure, Lucifer is in love with himself.
Now, Paul said, "you . . . 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 . . ." (Ephesians 2:1-2) In the same vein, John says, "the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one," and "the serpent deceives the whole world."
In other words, the "spirit" that animates this world and gives "life" (that is, death) to those who walk in the darkness of their minds cut off from the knowledge of God is the same serpent from the garden. That serpent is a spirit that, not by his own finite being, but, by extension, through the billions of demons under his whip, fills and pervades both the minds of those who live in darkness and ALL interactions (the world) between those who live in darkness. That spirit is by its very nature a Lie and a Liar as well as a murderer.
By nature also, we understand this simple reality concerning that spirit: he adulates himself and he loathes man.
Now we look at the serpent in the garden. He said, "You will be 'like God.'"
First, we know that God was not in the serpent's mind; more than that, he didn't even know God except in some external sort of way. The serpent's mind was full of himself. Yet, not himself in actuality, but rather, the heated imagination he had carefully crafted of his own picture of himself in his own delusions.
When the serpent said, "God," he meant the fevered delusions of his own imaginative definitions of himself. Whenever people in this world talk about "God," it is this definition of God to which they refer. In other words, the "highest" thing that man in his vanity aspires to be.
The same definition of God, stripped away from humanistic man's aspirations for himself and forced upon the Father, is the one that fills Christianity as well. That definition came into the church through a particular historical incident which we must understand to know the deceit in which our brethren are trapped.
Now, although the world retains the exalted definition of "manly," strutting, and violently ambitious manliness inspired by the spirit that fills all minds separated from God, the church has a completely different take on man.
The same loathing of the serpent for "man" fills Christianity.
"Man is a worm, filthy and low; God "on High" in His great mercy took pity on this base and despicable creature and saved a few of them from eternal hellfire. The rest get what they naturally deserve."
This definition of man is not found in the Bible; it is found in the heart of the serpent.
Now, neither exalted ambition nor groveling lowness has anything to do with any definition of "man." Yes, all who live in darkened minds separated from the knowledge of God carry in themselves varying degrees of both of these imaginative descriptions of "man." But both are nothing more than the made-up thoughts of a very nasty and fallen spirit.
First, fallen man is crucified, dead, and buried. Second, God does not do anything with imaginative ideas; He does not know them. Therefore, He does not see what man himself sees about who and what he is.
Man, as he is to be defined, is nothing other than the exact image and likeness of God to both heaven and earth. Man is God revealed.
What is man? Man is God revealed.
Tell me, in light of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, both infinite and absolute, what other accurate definition of man is to be found?
Now, there are two terms found in the New Testament that we must define from a godly perspective. Those two terms are "from above" and "great."
John the Baptist said, "He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all."
Jesus said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant." (Matthew 20) He said, ". . . the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life . . ."
Clear thinking comes from clearly defined terms. Jesus uses the word "great" in Matthew 20 for two completely opposing things. First, He says that those among the Gentiles who are "great" exercise authority, then He says that in the kingdom those who are "great" are those who serve. It is clear that the same word bears two completely opposing meanings. When we use it, we must know which of the two meanings we intend; neither should we ever confuse them.
Satan rules in the church all the way through by confusing these two meanings of the word "great."
In a similar way, "from above" as Jesus uses it to speak of Himself also has two completely different meanings, as stark as the difference between "great" and "great." "From above" as Jesus used it is a metaphor only, meaning the realms of spirit. Look at your heart. There is spirit "below" your heart in a geographical sense. "From above" cannot be literal.
In complete contrast, "from above" as part of Lucifer's definition of himself is "superior," "dominating," "authoritative."
Remember man is hanging upside down. "Up" to God is "down" to us. God is beneath our feet. In contrast, "up" to man is "down" to God. God never looks down. (Man is not down, that's just his imagination, that he is "great" in a worldly sense.) Conversely, "great" to God is "low" to man, and "great" to man is "despicable and low" to God.
We know that this inversion is true (we could go on, man's "wisdom" is foolishness to God vs. God's wisdom is foolishness to man.) The problem is that we use man's definitions that come from Lucifer's darkened mind to define God and to define man.
That is exactly what Augustine did. Look at those who attempt to "defend" Augustine's Trinity. They stumble down the same intellectual path of mis-defining God.
The President of the United States is "great." A homeless drunk on a park bench 10 blocks away is "low and vile." If you serve the President, you serve baseness; your reward is contempt. If you serve the homeless drunk, you are touching God.
As an amateur student of history, I have some concept of human "greatness." I have known one "great" man in my life, Sam Fife. Now, let me explain what I mean clearly. (A man who is "great" in this world can, in fact, serve.) Let's say you are in a large room filled with hundreds of people. Everyone is milling around, visiting. Others enter, no one pays attention. Then the King and Queen arrive and everyone stops immediately with all attention focused on those two individuals. The King and Queen are not necessarily "great," they just hold that image and everyone responds to the image. Then the King and Queen leave and everything goes back to what it was.
Next, let's just pull a figure from history; the Duke of Wellington enters the room. The response is immediate, but entirely different from the entrance of the King and Queen. No one bows outwardly; there is no scraping and pretending. Rather, the impact of the presence of this one individual flows through the room like ripples. Everything shifts. People continue talking, but everyone knows. The Duke of Wellington speaks; everyone quiets, not because of outward show, but because everyone wants to hear every word this man says. His person, his carriage, his victory, imposes itself upon every heart in that room.
History and the human experience are scattered with individuals like this. Napoleon and Nelson from the same time period were similar. To meet Lord Nelson was to instantly devote your life, body and soul, to the man; all who met him felt instant overwhelming loyalty to him. To meet Napoleon (if you were French) was even more that way. None of that was outward show, but rather the impact of intensity, of internal power, of devoted purpose, that flowed out of these men, swallowing up every lesser individual in the reach of their persona. Serving men like these gave the common individual a deep sense of being part of something great and meaningful, far larger than their own little lives.
Sam Fife, as an individual man, had a similar effect on people. I am not speaking of something hypnotic, but rather of something real. You knew this man was devoted absolutely and without reservation to a large and glorious cause. You knew the intensity and the fire of his person. When he spoke, every word counted.
This "greatness" is an outward gift. It does not give us a true definition of God. As a gift, this "greatness" is like every other quality given to man as a gift, it can be used for evil, it can be used for good, but almost always it is used, back and forth, for both.
Jesus, as an individual man, and Paul, had this gift beyond any other individuals in the first century church. This gift of commanding the attention of others is not what made either of these two individuals "great" in the eyes of God IN ANY WAY. Jesus said, "I can do nothing of Myself." Paul said, "I am the least of the apostles."
Now, let's define "God" in the only way we can, through story. Please take the time to read this story, "Where Love Is, There God Is Also," by Leo Tolstoy; you may have read it before, it will bring tears to your eyes to read it again. http://thriceholy.net/Texts/Tolstoy.html
Consider these words: "Martin! Ah, Martin! Look tomorrow on the street. I am coming."
And again, these: "For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in." And on the lower part of the page he read this: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
"From above" is a metaphorical phrase; that is, it represents something other than the literal. It also means the opposite of any human "above."
"You have done it unto Me" is not a metaphorical phrase; it is one hundred percent literal. God is the least and the lowest - from man's hanging-upside-down point of view.
When we use the kings of this world, their role and their place, as a means of defining "God," we do not have a definition of God, but of Lucifer's imaginative self-portrait. Yet that is the definition forced upon our Father by most of Christianity. How did that happen?
Now, please don't make the mistake of thinking, "Not me, I don't study 'carnal' things, all I do is read the Bible and think spiritual things." Those who think that way only fool themselves. The thinking of this world and of Christianity in this world works its way all through our minds. Over and over, no matter how hard we "try to be spiritual," we impose fallen man's definitions upon God and upon the words of the Bible. Not only do we do this all the time in ways we do not consider, but God made it to be so. God imposed vanity upon the human experience so that you and I would bust out of that vanity to set creation free. We haven't done that yet, but we will.
It is one thing to use the serpent's definitions to define God in ignorance; it is something different entirely to cling to those definitions and argue for how "right" they are.
Before we look at how, exactly, this way of defining "God" forced itself into Christianity, let's re-iterate the meaning of "great." I find that I have fleshed out three definitions of "great," not two.
First, there is "greatness" as an outward gift from God. This is the kind of "greatness" that Lucifer was given by God in the beginning. It is simply one of many different outward giftings, neither superior to nor inferior to any other outward gifting. Both Lord Wellington and Lord Nelson had this kind of "greatness." Genghis Kahn was another such that I have studied in recent years. These men used their power mostly for others, but partly for themselves. Sometimes they did wrong things with their intrinsic power to command men's hearts. They were just like most of the rest of us; they were human.
Just as Lucifer was totally mistaken to imagine that his outward gift made him more "like God," so we are mistaken when we imagine that the gift of "greatness," and its ability to draw into itself spiritual power and anointing, has anything to do with the image of God. Certainly, Jesus had this kind of "greatness" as an individual person. But here is where we turn "being like Jesus" into satanic nonsense, when we imagine that we must "be like Jesus" outwardly to be the image of God.
Second, there is "greatness" that is a put-on, a show, the image and trappings of human power to force violence on others as is held by most rulers in this world. The presidents of the United States in my lifetime (with the possible exception of Kennedy) have not been "great" men in any sense of the word, but they strut in the images and pretending of power as if they have something to do with anything. Americans feed this false image with total abandon. No potentate in history ever strutted across the world as Bush, Jr. did. Yet Americans wrap these individuals with the robes of "greatness." Pathetic - and just; people are given the rulers they deserve.
This second definition of "greatness" is what is usually imposed upon God and upon the definition that many call "God the Son," something God Himself never ever says, with reason.
Look at the arguments of those who defend Augustine's definition of "the Trinity," They use only separation and tree of knowledge arguments in a desperate attempt to "exalt God," which is nothing more than putting God "lower" than man. That is the power of Augustine - immense and dominating.
Third is the true definition of greatness: the one who takes the lowest place, who serves - who is the servant of all, who walks in tenderness and compassion towards others, who lays down his life, never defending himself, never bringing hurt to anyone else, never imposing himself on others, nor compelling anyone against their will.
Let me give you another definition of greatness in God's meaning of the word. Watch Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, the Jennifer Ehle, Colin Firth rendition.
Besides being one of the most brilliant stories written in all the history of the world, and a great movie as well, I want you to notice something as you watch. You will have to look carefully lest you miss the most important people in the story by God's definition: the servants.
Keep your eye out, especially, for Hild; she appears the moment the Bennet's return home. Watch what she does. But also look for the servant who pours wine during the dancing - you will see only his hand. Those servants in their outward presentation are most like God of any human quality. In God's kingdom, Hild is the pastor of the church and the man behind the hand that pours the wine, standing unseen in the shadows, is the APOSTLE.
Notice that they do what is their duty, that they stand always in the background waiting for that one moment when their service is needed, and then return immediately to the shadows again, always waiting.
Notice also the great respect and deference the servants show to the Lords and Ladies of the house, that is, to the regular everyday Christians and little people in the body of Christ.
This is Jesus' definition of His ministry in the Church.
It is not man's definition. Christians are always trying to turn the servants into the "authority.""Rule over us for our benefit and well-being." Sadly, too many little men are all so ready to oblige; it makes them feel "like God."
Jesus said, "It shall not be so among you."
What would Mr. Bennet have thought if the cook's helper had confronted him upon returning to his house, "If you don't submit to me, you are rebelling against God"? He would have dismissed her from his service immediately and not given it another thought.
Yet in one way or another "ministry" in the church of Christ dare to make this same assertion. Even worse than that, they persuade people to believe that this "top-down" (from man's point of view) hierarchy is "God's order" for all things. And thus the abomination that makes desolate rules in the house of God.
Jesus said, "It shall not be so among you."
The entrance of this false way of defining God into the bedrock of Christian theology I hold for another letter. I will say this, I am referring to the collusion of two perverse individuals who found that by working together they could achieve the ambition of their own personal lusts: Constantine and Athanasius.
Meanwhile, in conclusion, I want to come back into the start of this letter: Defining God; Defining Man.
God is invisible and unknowable. You and I know absolutely nothing real about God in any way, shape, or form. We have a bunch of ideas about God, but those ideas are not God Himself and they are colored and defined entirely by the spirit that fills all mankind under the vanity of this world. That is where we start - six thousand years of human darkness from Adam until now.
Then, God Himself shows up in the middle of that darkness in two unbelievable ways.
Jesus, from His conception to His ascension, is the only thing real that we know about God. Jesus, as He walked this earth, in all things that He did and said, is the anchor of the promise of God, that we would know Him. God is known to us as a Man. (Thus, turning Jesus into "God the Son" defeats the very purpose for which He was sent.)
But that is not enough. For Jesus as He walked this earth is yet entirely on the outside of us. Though He is the anchor of any and all definitions of "God," yet outside of us, He is just one more set of ideas and thus, not God to us.
And so we come to the second unbelievable way in which God shows up inside of this frame of human darkness.
"Christ lives in your hearts by faith." "Christ, who is your life." God shows up as us.
There is no other way we can know anything of Him in reality except by these two appearances of God inside His physical creation: Jesus as He walked this earth, and the Holy Spirit who fills all of our humanity in all ways with Christ. There is no other way for us to know and thus define God untainted by the serpent's image of himself.
God is known only by man. There is no other way to know Him. The highest of heavenly angels are waiting with bated breath for the age to come, when finally, for the first time, they can know their Creator - by the church.
"What is man?" David
"He who has seen Me has seen the Father," Jesus the Son of David
God is Himself; man walking in utter union with God, reveals God to His creation. Thus man "looks like" God because God is always showing Himself through man.
God is meek and lowly of heart; He always takes the lowest place. The gift of "greatness" given to certain created individuals whether angelic or human, does not "define" God, even when that outward gift is accompanied by a powerful anointing from the throne of God. We can never be more like God than when we offer a kind touch, a gentle word, a cup of cold water to a thirsty soul.
Martin the Shoemaker had no idea how much like God he was; he was the image of his Father.
But the moment we try to revert back to external definitions of external character traits in order to "define God," we fall into the same trap Lucifer fell into, the false image laid upon the church by Augustine.
John said, "We shall be like Him (Jesus), for we shall see Him as He is."
"We shall be like Him." If Augustine's definition of "God the Son" is correct, then John's words are a mockery, a cruel and vicious joke of pretense and delusion.
Is Jesus divine? Of course He is. Jesus is God revealed.
And so are we. We are just like Him.
What is man? The day that we answer that question correctly is the day we know God as He really is.