DO WE REALLY KNOW HIM?
By: Eric C. Wheeler
Below are a number of articles that the Holy Spirit has given me over the past few years that I haven’t publicly shared until now. I felt like they all had a similar theme and admonishment, so I wanted to publish them all under one-group heading entitled, “Do We Really Know Him?” I hope that they bring each of you, my readers, encouragement and enlightenment, and that they help better define for all of us the unique challenge and joy of what it truly means to be a Christian – a follower of Christ Jesus.
WALKING TO GOLGOTHA (11/8/09)
Joseph was sent ahead of his brethren to Egypt to prepare a way for them so that they could live. Although they hated him, and abused him, and mistreated him, yet, he loved them more than they knew. Because he loved God, and trusted Him, Joseph was, in a sense, willing to suffer in order to “prepare a place for them” so that they could be with him where he was and be saved. Likewise, Jesus told His followers, “I must go to prepare a place for you. So that where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:2-3). And He said, “I have come so that you may have life; and that you may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10). Because a great famine was soon to come over the whole land, Joseph was sent ahead of his beloved family to prepare a great place for them, which would ultimately enable them to survive and to live (and flourish) during a time of great distress, which was going to occur over the whole earth. Not only was Joseph used to help provide for and deliver his family, but God also used him to help reveal the sovereignty and glory of the Lord to the unbelieving Gentiles. Likewise, Jesus, in His suffering walk to Golgotha and subsequent rising from the dead (being raised to glory), did the same thing.
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers. His coat of many colors denoting honor was stripped from him and he was made a slave; and subsequently put in prison. Jesus too was betrayed by his brethren. He was stripped of His glory, subjugated to the bondage of sinful human flesh, and ultimately put in a grave – a type of prison. In the Bible, the word hell is translated both prison and grave depending on the Hebrew and/or Greek word used. In due time, both of these men – Joseph and Jesus – would be raised-up by God from their individual “hells” and exalted to the right hand of the king/King.
Many don’t realize it, but the word “hell” not only refers to a place where the incorrigibly wicked are thrown-in and burned-up, such as in the idea of a lake of fire as described in the book of Revelation, but it also can simply mean “a place of restraint or a prison” and/or a pit and grave. Unfortunately, in the English language, we only have one word for hell. But in the original Hebrew and Greek languages (the languages of the Bible), the word hell was translated into English from three different original Hebrew and Greek words, each having a different meaning. With its various original connotations and uses, the word hell referred to:
1) a grave and/or a pit (from “sheol” Hebrew/ “hades” Greek);
2) a dumping place outside of Jerusalem where refuse and trash were burned-up and destroyed (from “Hinnom” Hebrew/ “Gehenna” Greek). This particular usage denotes the idea and concept of perpetual burning fires or a “lake of fire” that destroys garbage and refuse.
3) a place of restraint and incarceration – a prison (from “Tartarus” Greek).
Knowing and properly understanding which original Hebrew or Greek word for hell was used in each passage of the Bible can give us better insight and a more meaningful idea of what was truly being communicated and intended by the original authors of the Bible. Unfortunately, because the various concepts and ideas for hell were all loosely translated into our one English word hell the original meanings have all been lost in our English translations. Thus we have lost the original intent and meaning of the inspired authors of the Holy Bible; all of who were directly writing under the divine leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, the word hell therefore can have three different meanings depending upon which Hebrew or Greek word was originally used.
Jesus said that if we were not willing “to pick up our own individual crosses and follow Him” to Golgotha – to the place of execution – then we could not and would not be His disciple (Luke 14:27)! Most Christians simply do not know what this means. They have deceitfully been told that they can have “their best lives now”. And indeed, that is exactly what the followers of Joel Osteen and the many other false “prosperity preachers” are getting – that is, “their best lives now” (they are getting their “rewards” now). I hope they are enjoying them; because as Jesus forewarned, that is all they are getting (Matt. 6:2-16; Luke 16:19-25)! “For what good does it do a person to gain the whole world, and yet, lose their very own soul?” Jesus asked (Mark 8:36). And again, Jesus said, “Whoever breaks one of the least of these My commandments, and teaches others to do so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19).
I don’t think most Christians realize that in order to live, we must first die. The Apostle Paul tried to reveal this great mystery to us in and through his letters to the carnal Corinthians of his day; yet in their spiritual immaturity they did not understand his writings. Neither do most professing church-going Christians of today understand either. For Paul wrote: “Do you not know that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God? Neither can corruption inherit incorruption. Do you not realize, oh foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies?!” (I Cor. 15:36, 50). Jesus said the same thing this way: “He who seeks to preserve his life will lose it; but he who loses his life for My sake, will find it.” (Luke 9:24; 17:33) Paul went on to explain that those who have repented (who have renounced their life and their ways), and have been baptized in water (completely submerged, thus symbolizing their “death”), and have “put on Christ” (that is, they have received His Holy Spirit living within them) have therefore died to the flesh, and as a result, no longer live to serve the flesh with all of its sinful impulses and evil desires; but instead have now been transformed into a living sacrifice – a holy and pure vessel and temple of the Holy Spirit – that is, they now have the very Presence of Christ Jesus and God Himself dwelling within them! For it is written: “This mortal must put on immortality, and this corruptible must put on incorruption. And when this has occurred, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ O Death, where is your sting? O Hades [hell = grave/pit], where is your victory?” (I Cor. 15:53-55).
Do we not yet realize that Christ Jesus said, “I Am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die [referring to those who have tasted death], he shall live. And whoever lives [has My Spirit in them] and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26)? Remember, He said to His disciples and to the believers that were with Him on the night before He was crucified: “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day [when this happens – that is, when you receive My Spirit] you will know that I Am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will cometo him and make Our home [Our permanent residing place] with him.” (John 14:18-23).
God is not dead. And neither are we if we have Christ Jesus living in us. For it is written: “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. For all live to Him.” (Luke 20:38). And again, Scripture says, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” (I Cor. 15:51). And in another place it says, “If Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. For if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors – not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom. 8:10-13). For Christ has tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9); and it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us (Gal. 2:20).
Let us therefore be crucified with Christ; putting away the old man and living in the newness of the Spirit; having a righteousness that comes by faith in and through Christ Jesus the Son of God who indeed loves us and gave Himself for us. Reckon yourselves dead to the world, and freed from sin, that the Spirit of the Almighty might raise you up in due time, and exalt you to your rightful place as an heir of God and a joint-heir of Christ; sitting in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus who was also raised-up and exalted, and who now sits at the right hand of God. The very Christ Jesus who now says to us, “Be you faithful and overcome, even as I Am faithful, and have overcome the world, sitting down with My Father on His throne, even as you also will sit down with Me on My throne ruling the nations, whom I will spread out before Me and will righteously sift and judge as My Father has given Me to do.”
Just like Joseph was thrown into a pit (hell) by his brothers (those of his father’s house), and then sold into Egypt (given over to the world), and then further humiliated and betrayed by his new brethren who had accepted him (the Egyptian house of Potiphar), and as a result was further thrown into another prison (hell); so likewise, Jesus as the living Word of God, was voluntarily thrown down to the earth by His Father’s House, sold into the world as a slave and as a servant of all to humbly wash our feet; and then was further humiliated and betrayed by those who had accepted Him in this world, and was consequently cast into a deeper hell (grave). But out of this hell (prison for Joseph/grave for Jesus), God raised both Joseph and Jesus to glory – to sit at the right hand of the king/King and to rule the nations with him/Him.
Brethren, we too have this same destiny – if we are faithful! We are called to be like Him as He is. First, we too have been given the opportunity by our heavenly Father to voluntarily “humble ourselves” – to “come down from our lofty and comfortable living places”, so to speak, in order to rightly and properly learn obedience by the things which we undoubtedly will be made to suffer (Heb. 5:8); so that we can help save, lead and guide, and eventually help provide for and teach our fellow man – that is, our brethren. We have to take on this same mindset that Jesus had “who made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men, who was obedient even to the point of death, that is, the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:7-8). Notice that! Jesus voluntarily gave up His royal position, with all of its glory, riches, honor, and comforts, and willingly went to Golgotha (the place of death) for all of us, His brethren. As it is written: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (II Cor. 8:9). And notice, Moses too, being a faithful servant and follower of God, “chose to suffer affliction with his brethren, rather than enjoy the passing pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ [the reviling which comes because of the cause and sake of Christ] greater riches than all the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the [heavenly and eternal] reward” (Heb. 11:24-26).
DO WE EMBRACE THE REPROACH OF CHRIST? (9/4/13)
In the Book of Hebrews we read, “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Heb. 11:24-26).
The Amplified Version of the Bible translates this verse this way: “(Aroused) by faith Moses, when he had grown to maturity and become great, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; because he preferred rather to share the oppression (suffer the hardships) and bear the shame of the people of God than to have the fleeting enjoyment of a sinful life. He considered the contempt and abuse and shame [borne for] the Christ, the Messiah (who was to come) to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt, for he looked forward and away to the reward (recompense).”
Recently the Holy Spirit translated this verse to me this way: “By faith [that is, by earnest, persistent, and consistent belief] Moses, in the course of his spiritual maturing and growing, refused to be called a prince of Egypt – that is, he refused to be a product and proponent and supporter of this world – choosing rather to suffer affliction alongside the true people and servants of God than to enjoy the temporary pleasures and indulgences of sin which are meaningless, and which will soon pass away along with those who take pleasure in them; for he esteemed and embraced the reproach of Christ – that is, he valued and chose Christ’s package which involves being reviled, humiliated, unjustly treated, worldly poverty, being excluded, mocked, lonely, rejected, and belittled; for he found Christ’s package to be of far greater riches than all that this world has to offer.”
“FOLLOW ME” – WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? (5/17/12)
Most people have heard the expression, “Don’t judge another until you have walked in their shoes.” By saying this, we are relaying the age-old idea that we shouldn’t “evaluate” a person or think that we can identify with them until we have actually walked as they have walked. That is, until we have been in that person’s place, we shouldn’t even think that we could know how they feel and what they feel. In fact, we use this wise age-old expression to denote the idea that it is impossible to really know a person, or to be able to truly identify with a person until we have actually literally walked in his or her shoes. Believe it or not, the same is true when it comes to Jesus. We don’t truly KNOW Him until we have “walked in His shoes”.
When Jesus said, “Follow Me” what did He mean? Unfortunately, many, if not most, Christians think that means that Jesus already did everything, and now we don’t have to do anything but believe that He did it. I tell you the truth; these so-called Christians don’t know Christ at all! The word christ (from the Greek word christos) simply means, “anointed” or “having an anointing”. If you are anointed, that means that you have the Spirit of God upon you or in you. In other words, you have the Spirit of Christ Himself (the Anointed One) on you or in you. This anointing is what allows you to walk as He walked. “If any man has not the Spirit of Christ, then he is not His” (Rom. 8:9). And again, it is written: “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (I John 2:6).
Nobody can identify with Christ – the Anointed One – unless they have His same anointing! This is what separates the true from the false. Quoting Scriptures means nothing; going to church means nothing; reading and studying the Bible isn’t anything. Heck, Satan himself can, and does, do all of these things! He has many ministers parading themselves around as Christians and so-called followers of Christ. Yet, the anointing of God – the Holy Spirit of Christ is what makes a person either a true christ (anointed one) or a false christ – referred to in the Bible as an antichrist. The word antichrist literally means “against christ” or “against the anointing”. It refers to someone or something that is working against the anointing of God – that is, someone or something that is opposing the very work and anointing of God! The Greek prefix anti not only means “against”, but in the original Greek it also means “instead of” or “in place of”. In this way, antichrist is used to refer to a false substitute and/or an imposter. “Unless you have the Spirit of Christ, you are not His,” the Bible declares (Rom. 8:9)! Therefore the person, who is working against that anointing, or in place of that anointing, is an anti-christ.
Following Jesus literally means walking in His shoes – following in His footsteps – walking as He walked! It means having an anointing on your life as He did, and living and working in that divine anointing. For it was written of Jesus “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). And just what exactly did that anointing – that christos of God – bring Jesus? I think the biblical list below will definitely shock a large number of professing Christians on what this anointing (christos) of God actually brought Jesus:
Rejection: Jesus was forsaken by not only His own brothers, but also His disciples.
Sorrow: Jesus was called “a man of sorrows”.
Most Christians would readily accept the fact that this anointing from on High gave Jesus authority and power. They don’t have any problem with that. After all, this part of the “anointing” is what most of their comfortable and lavish churches already anxiously teach and promote, and might I dare say, sell. But I would like to focus on the whole counsel and truth of God as we are biblically admonished to do (Acts 20:27). Most church-going Christians are never told or shown the whole truth of what this anointing of God brought Jesus. That is, this anointing brought Him the very same thing that it brought every other true prophet and servant of God down through the ages. For even as the faithful servant and martyr Stephen keenly observed, just before the religious church leaders killed him, he asked: “For which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? For they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One [Jesus], of who you now have become the betrayers and murderers of” (Acts 7:52). The Apostle Peter told us that these anointed prophets all had “the Spirit of Christ” in them (I Pet. 1:10-11). And this is what it brought them – rejection, sorrow, persecution, and death. Just like it did Jesus!
Here are verses that I am sure many church-going Christians aren’t familiar with:
“He is despised and rejected by men… and we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” (Isa. 53:3)
“He came unto His own, and His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:11)
“But His citizens hated Him, and sent a delegation after Him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’” (Luke 19:14)
“For even His brothers did not believe in Him.” (John 7:5)
“Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” (Matt. 26:56)
“But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses… This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’” (Acts 3:14-15; 4:11)
“He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief… Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted… He was oppressed and He was afflicted… Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.” (Isa. 53:4-5, 7, 10).
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psa. 34:19).
“For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” (Ecc. 1:18).
“And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’” (Matt. 26:37-38).
Jesus came to show us the walk! He told you and me to FOLLOW HIM! He instructed us to walk as He walked and to do as He did. Scripture says that if we truly are of Him then we will have that same anointing on us – that is, the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us and upon us – or else WE ARE NOT HIS (Rom. 8:9)! And if you have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in you – you must walk as He walked – and be accomplishing the same things that He did and more. For Jesus Himself said, “Most assuredly, I say unto you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father” (John 14:12).
Brothers and sisters, be not deceived; neither deceive yourselves: “He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (I John 3:7). Let’s quit pretending that we’re the followers of anointed Jesus, and start being the anointed followers of Jesus!
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