Christ and the Bible (3)
By Titus Chu
The Inner World of God
I Am Who I Am
God is very interesting. One day Moses asked God what His name was. God answered, “I am who I am” (Exo. 3:14). None of us could even dare to say such a thing. We are all temporal. First I was a baby, then a boy, and few years later I became a young lad. Eventually I was a young adult, then a young man, then middle aged, then some years later I became old. Now I’m becoming ancient. Every young boy is handsome and every young girl is lovely, but one day they will all look old like me. We can say “I was who I was” but never “I am who I am” because we are always changing. Only God is eternally the same, and so only He can say “I am who I am.”
Today some of us may be able to say “I am a student,” but some day we will have to say “I was a student.” Today we may say, “I have great plans for my life,” but those plans change often, and some day we won’t even be able to remember them. God has a plan and a purpose also, but His purpose has never changed. That is why He called us and can never give up on us. Praise Him that He is the “I am who I am.”
We might think that because God is eternal, self-existing, ever-existing, and all-sufficient, there’s nothing more to be added. But this is because we do not know the inner world of God. God has had a plan from eternity past. He desires a kind of enlargement, an extension. In mathematics, no matter how large the number we think of, it is always possible to add to it and make it larger. Even infinity can be expanded. This is like our God.
God’s purpose means nothing to those He hasn’t called. If Lord has never moved in them, spoken to them, or restored them, they have not even begun. We must see that the Lord didn’t save us simply for our salvation. He saved us for His eternal purpose. All our experiences aren’t just for us but for something eternal. Everything is for His mysterious unchanging purpose, hidden within Him from eternity past.
Satan and Institutional Enlargement
The first one to get a glimpse of God’s eternal purpose was probably Satan, and he got it all wrong. He saw that God wanted an enlargement, but he misunderstood it. He thought God wanted to extend His kingdom. He was just like a very good pastor, always looking after the enlargement of his congregation. Perhaps Satan began to say, “If God wants an enlargement, then I have to do it. I’m the top archangel. It got to be up to me, right? I’m the big shot here!” He didn’t realize that God was not after an institutional enlargement, but an organic one.
God described it this way: “But you [Satan] said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven [go higher]; I will raise my throne above the stars [angels] of God, and I will sit on the mount [the highest point] of assembly, in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isa 14:13-14). Satan sought to enlarge God’s kingdom institutionally, and as a result he was “thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit” (v. 15). What God wants is altogether organic.
The Believers and Organic Enlargement
How easily we also misunderstand what God is doing. We quickly try to “sit on the mount of assembly.” But there is nothing we can boast in, nothing we can be proud of. The apostle Paul wrote, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Eph. 2:1-3). In other word, we were all in the Satanic kingdom.
Paul continues, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (vv. 4-7).
These verses must be compared to the ones in Isaiah 14. Satan says, “I will ascend.” We say “I will go down.” Satan says he wants to sit with the most high, and we say, “I love the world.” We all love the world. But, when Satan says “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High,” God says that He will instead take the most fallen of men and make them alive together with Christ, raise them up with Him, and seat them with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Everything Satan desired seemed to be according to God’s desire, yet God desired something organic while Satan desired something positional. Satan wanted to exalt himself administratively, while God wants to exalt man organically. We must ask ourselves if we know the difference. If we are not careful, positional things can be very serious. God desires to take us through an organic process to make us able to sit with Him in the heavenlies.
Organic vs. Administrative
Administrative things don’t work. Only organic things work. If the young people tell their parents they love them because they are told to do it, it doesn’t mean much. But if they do it on their own, that means a lot because it is organic. In the same way, we can tell the Lord that we love Him because it is expected of us, or we can tell Him because we have spent time with Him and genuinely love Him. We can say we love the church but only come to the meetings and sit quietly in the back row, or we can demonstrate our love by considering the other members, praying for them, visiting them, and pursuing Christ together for mutual benefit. The first is administrative, the second organic.
Lucifer became Satan not because he wanted too much. Actually, everything he wanted God has given to us. He got a glimpse of what God was after, but he prayed for it wrongly. He said, “Lord give it to me! I will do it!” God said He would not give it to him and sent him down to the air, not up above the stars as Satan desired.
Image, Likeness, and Purpose
God instead chose to work with man. He made man in His image, according to His likeness (Gen. 1:26). Image is to be like God on the inside. Likeness is to be like Him on the outside. Do you want to know what God is like? Look at us. Inside we have a spirit. Outside, we match the incarnated Jesus. Even more, God made us with a purpose: “Let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (v. 26).
Where Are You?
But man fell. At this point God asked, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9). He is still asking this of us today. Depending on our condition, He may ask it in a rough way, a tender way, or even a desperate way. There are so many ways He can call us. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard God call to me “Where are you?” When I’m pretty messy, I hear God call loudly. When I am seeking Him desperately, He calls so tenderly. Sometimes God calls with judgment. But He always calls with the purpose to take us higher.
When I was first saved, I loved to go to the movies. I felt this was not becoming of a Christian, and was always afraid that someone I knew would see me. I wanted to have a good testimony in the church life, but in this matter I was pretty messy. So I prayed, “Lord, save me. Please stop me and take this away.” I even try to memorize Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ,” but then I would go to movie theater again. Nothing worked.
Then one day as I was riding my bicycle to the theater, I began to pray. “Lord, I don’t know how long this is going to last. There’s too much sorrow for such little pleasure, but I can’t stop myself. I have to go. I can never overcome it. Lord save me, save me, please save me.” For no apparent reason, just then I fell off my bike and found myself right in front of the place I got saved. As I picked up my bicycle, I heard the voice, “Where are you? What are you doing?” I turned my bicycle around, went home, and my desire for the movies never came back again. It was over. I was saved organically because God said. “Where are you?”
God’s salvation is organic through His speaking. When we are doing well, God would say gently, “Where are you?” When we are doing terrible, God would say strongly, “Where are you?” When we are wandering around in the world, God would call inquisitively, “Where are you?” He wants to bring us to the place that we can we answer, “I’m serving You, I’m loving You, I’m one with You, I’m in You. My life is for you.”
God’s Inner Feeling
The first time God asked this question was to Adam in the garden. Adam was found in his sin. Then God did something marvelous. “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21). The garments of skin, most likely from sheep, typified the death of the Lord, and the skin typified Christ as our covering of righteousness.
God’s inner world is full of feeling. God has feelings of joy, sadness, compassion, and tolerance. He has all kinds of feelings as He foresees what will come in time. He was full of feeling as He slew the sheep to make clothing for Adam and Eve, knowing that likewise He would come and shed His blood for us all. As the skin was put upon them. He knew that He would become our righteousness. He knew that His death would release His life, so His life could organically join to the Adamic race. God had a lot of feeling at this time because He loved man. Man was His purpose, His goal, and His satisfaction. Man was the reason for Him to be God.
The Bible tells us, “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for me” (Heb. 10:5). The body God prepared was His own, so He could be our savior and be organically one with us. He was so joyful that He would be able to bring us into his resurrection life and raise us up to sit together with Him in the heavenlies.
We need the rest of our lives to even begin to consider the inner world of God. Within God are all kinds of feelings for us and our organic salvation. He loves us as those who fulfill His purpose. We must tell the Lord, “Lord, I’m so thankful. I’m just a sinner, but you are so faithful to come to me and ask ‘Where are you?’ You always bring me back to yourself. You prepared yourself as my redemption, so that I together with all your people can be organically saved and brought to your presence. In your resurrection, we can sit together with you in the heavenlies. Praise You!”