In the New Testament we learn a lot about the importance of faith. It is by grace that we are saved, through faith, and not that of ourselves – it is the gift of God, not by works lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9). The crux of Jesus’ preaching was to repent and believe the Good News of the Kingdom of God. We are also told that faith comes by hearing, hearing this message from God. The apostle John wrote his entire account for one purpose. His hope was that it would encourage the reader to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and thereby to find life in His Name (John 20:31). Elsewhere we learn that faith was an important factor in the lives of many Old Testament characters as well (Hebrews 11:1-40).
Many if not most of you reading this already believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and also believe that you have eternal life in Him. I certainly hope that this is no small matter to you! You have heard about Jesus, His teachings, His life, His death on the cross, His resurrection, His ascension and the promise of His return. As you have embraced all the above your life has been already enriched. You have eternal life in you even now! It is my hope that we who believe in Jesus will continue on this path and grow in grace and in the knowledge of Him.
The tried and true way to do this is daily fellowship with Him and His people and to let His Word dwell deeply within us. For me, reading and studying the Bible is very important but not enough. I am compelled to share what I have learned, and I find great satisfaction, pleasure and joy in doing so! I am amazed when I hear pastors and preachers speak of the opportunity to preach and teach the Word of God as if it is a chore. Try this for yourself: listen to good Bible teaching, or read something that inspires you, or find something in your own reading of the Bible that encouraged you. Then share it with someone as the opportunity arises. What was the result? Perhaps the listener was bored or did not get it. Perhaps they were even annoyed at you. Forget that. What was it like when it came forth from your lips? Did it not revive that original encouragement that you received when you first learned it? Was it maybe even better when sharing it? Did you feel the very presence of Christ at that moment? Was it a chore to you?!
Of course there is more to it than simply sharing it. we need to walk it out in our daily lives. But I have found that there is a blessing in this sharing that actually helps and empowers us to walk it out, to become not only hearers, also but doers of the Word.
The Original Blessing
Many will testify to the way their faith in God has grown by learning more of the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments. In order to have a greater understanding of the New Testament I have found that knowledge of the Old Testament is critical. A respected teacher from early times put it this way, “In the Old Testament Christ is concealed, In the New Testament Christ is revealed.” When we begin to see what that means, the Bible opens up, and becomes more than a collection of various authors from various times and places, on various themes. We can begin to see that Christ is the central theme of the bible. As He did with his friends who walked with Him on the road to Emmaus, Jesus will open our understanding of all things written in the law, the prophets and the psalms concerning Him!
As far back as the very first chapter in the Bible, we can see Christ on the scene, not as a man of flesh of course, but in His pre-incarnate state as the living and creative Word of God!
1 In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (KJV)
The Lord Jesus Christ is actually hidden here until we come to the New Testament and the Gospel according to John, who writes:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 The same was in the beginning with God.3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (KJV)
In verse 14 it becomes plain who truly is “The Word of God.”
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (KJV)
Consider also the writer of the letter to the Hebrews, who introduced his letter with these words:
1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
The apostle Paul also agreed concerning Jesus, the Christ:
15 He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Christians all around the world confess that the Almighty Creator of the universe is God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, three in one. Here we see that the very earliest believers acknowledged that Jesus existed in the beginning and took part in the creation of all things. Yes He was fully revealed in the Incarnation but even before then, before all time He existed equally and eternally in the Godhead. This is a great mystery which by faith we understand. This is not blind faith, but a powerful inward conviction that lifts us upward above our material existence to see as the eyes of our understanding are opened by God Himself!
It is commonly agreed among Christians that we as human beings in the beginning were created in God’s image. After He created humans He blessed them and and directed them to be fruitful, and to multiply, replenishing the earth and taking dominion over it. (Genesis 1:26-28) At the same time we also learn from both Genesis and the experience of life itself that something went wrong long ago. Sin entered in and death was the result of it. The remainder of the Old Testament is the story of the terrible consequences of what has been called the fall of humanity. Murder, disease, war, theft and all manner of violations have been committed against humans and against the God Who made them. The other side of the coin is that the Old Testament is also filled with promises of a better time, in which we will be restored to our former state of peace and harmony.
Since Christ died on the Cross for us and rose again for our justification we can look back upon the many promises and how they have been fulfilled in Christ. For many centuries the focus has been on our fall and Christ’s redeeming us. Could it be possible that there might be more for us to understand? We know about Original Sin, but have we considered God’s Original Blessing? Could this be the time for another Copernican Revolution, another paradigm shift? Have we been too focused on our situation – our fall – our sin – our need for redemption and Christ’s redeeming us? How about God’s ultimate desire, His plan from the beginning, His Original Blessing?
Is our great Almighty God, Savior and King, who created all things, able to accomplish His plan to fill the earth with bearers of His image? Is the devil that He created too powerful for Him, or is our failure as humans to believe His Word a problem for Him? Of course not! In fact I believe strongly that He is calling on people like you and me today to catch a glimpse of this greater purpose. We can begin to see that throughout the ages He has continued to work out His plan in the earth. It came to a climax when Jesus first appeared but is continuing to build until all of the universe will be shaken by His wonderful and holy reality!
As we trace the thread of redemption through the Old Testament we can see the unfolding of God’s plan to restore His Creation to it’s former glory. When we work through the promises of God and their fulfillment, the New Testament becomes even more wonderful to us! Think about this for a moment: many religions and belief systems promise a great reward beyond the blue, but how many hold forth the proposition that something beyond our imaginations can actually be worked out in God’s own creation? Yes, evil and sin entered into humanity and marred the image of God that He created, but nothing has taken Him by surprise!
How big is your God? Is He not able to do what no great religious or political leader has ever accomplished? Is the Prince of Peace truly able to bring peace to the earth He created? Is He not able to answer the prayer that He Himself taught us to pray, that His Kingdom would come and that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven? In the opening verses of the bible we are just beginning to see His plan, but as we patiently and carefully proceed through its pages, the picture will become brighter and clearer to us. Then with the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament we can see the explosion of light and life that is really there!
In spite of the tragic and horrible failures of each of our biblical heroes, God has relentlessly shown in them glimpses of the human beings portrayed in Genesis 1:26, who were destined to fully reveal the nature of their heavenly Father to all creation. In history, only Jesus of Nazareth completely bore the image of God, and yet God has planned from the beginning that He would have a family of sons and daughters to share that image in all of His glory. It is of great importance and a great inspiration that we who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus can even now begin to see God’s eternal purpose for us. Not only can He and He alone deliver us from the pit of sin and despair that we have found ourselves in, but He alone also has the great desire to lift us up to His original intention for humanity!
If we could just for a moment set aside what we hope God will do to please us, we could possibly get really excited about what He plans to do for His own pleasure. Think about it! We as poor minute beings actually are destined to bring pleasure to God. This is why we are here, and this is the privilege He has offered those who believe in and receive Him. Make no mistake. Giving pleasure to Him is without doubt the greatest pleasure a created being can know!
This is the original blessing!