Search This Blog

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Are First Commandments Neglected?

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

How can anyone get to “first base” neglecting first commandments?

Strange as it may seem, God has given several “First Commandments.” There are others besides the First Commandment in the Bible. One is the command to recognize. Another is to hear. Yet another is to seek. It depends upon where and to whom a “First Commandment” is required!

God’s Commandments are given to different persons according to their relationships; to people in general, including those outside Israeli and Christian culture, their first commandment and necessity is to recognize the witness of His creation.

The Apostle Paul cites the testimony creation bears:

“For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made, so that they are “without excuse.” (Rom 1:20). Every revelation by its nature is an obligation to the one receiving it. Here it is an opportunity and a built in command to respond (John15:22).

In view of this testimony, people must begin to respond for God to lead them to more light, and then to the special revelation in His Word. Not to have this progressive attitude to seek for more, God has no logical reason to give more. From this testimony, “. .there is no excuse!” not to seek for more from these primary revelations!

Unfortunately, many make conclusions before they think through the evidence. Hasty generalizations are never a virtue, thinking through any observation is not only reasonable, but safe (Prov 2:3-11). Many of these people recognize the need of help beyond themselves, as seen in the structures of life. But without thinking through, they deify the immediate means of blessing. They have made gods as symbols of women, the planetary elements of the sun, moon, and stars. They also have done this with things they can manage, such as monkeys, cows, leopards, lizards, etc. Thinking through makes this to be illogical (Isa 44:11-20). So the first command is to think through the knowledge of the universe to find its original cause.

The second commandment is to respond to God’s universal inward witness.

In Romans 1:19, the Apostle Paul testifies: “. . that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.” “God IS!” This is what John referred to, as the Living Word (John 1:9).

This is what he pointed out to the Greek Philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece: “. .TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, . .” (Acts 17:23, 24 KJV). He went on to say that if “. . they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;” (Acts 17:27).

As the Psalmist wrote:

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.” (Ps 19:1-4).

The dynamic principle has always been:

“. . if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8).
“There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” (John 1:9, 10). That Person is the incarnated Christ! For from eternity past, He is: “. . the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” (Heb 1:3).

When people begin to become conscious of a supreme Creator, they are doing from Christ’s manifested presence. It is the work of God’s Spirit. His job was and is to make people aware of Christ’s presence as the abiding presence of God! “He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:13, 14).

So the first obligation or commandment has always been: All must use the knowledge of God and the inward testimony of His existence from whatever source they have to seek Him through creation’s and Christ’s testimony. He will give more light until they find Christ and then trust in Him and His promises, but few do so.

Abraham is one who did and possibly others like those associated with the religion led by Melchizedek (Gen 14:18). At this period of time, Abraham’s call to begin a central witness of God was coming about because of the general apostasy from the earlier witness of Noah and his family. Paul spoke about a universal falling from the knowledge of God in Romans 1:18-22 for philosophical and idolatrous religions. The basic reason God called Abraham was to call a people for a world wide witness was to convey an objective and complete revelation starting from the Old Testament Scriptures to mankind. With the giving of the New Testament, and especially the body of revelation centered in and concerning Christ, will be the judgement of all people at the end of the present creation:

“He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.” (John 12:48).

From the Mosaic revelation, called the Law, what Commandment did Christ say was The First Commandment?

“He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment.” (Matt 22:37, 38).

So the first, in the sense of “the great and foremost commandment,” is to love God with completeness of heart, soul, and mind!

The balance of this essay will be how to obey this command with these three parts of our being! The Greek word for “and” that connects the heart with soul and mind can be translated as “even!” With this understanding, soul and mind are a part with “heart.” So with this understanding loving God gives emphasis on emotion, while the soul would add the emphasis of will, and the mind would bring the emphasis of loving with one’s intellect.

The heart is the summation of a person’s personality (Matt 12:33-35). Heart is used for both the sinful and the regenerated nature of individuals. It becomes whatever influences a person to accept, especially in regard to what an individual exposes one’s self to. It is spoken of as a place of complete deceit (Jer 17:9) or of full harmony with God (Matt 22:37), or a contradictory personality (James 3:10; Matt 12:34). In Proverbs 4:23 young men are told: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” Because the word heart is used concerning anything, the heart entensifies desire. It sees a value in something that is desirable for some reason whether for pleasure or something good to look at, or that enhances self life and there focuses emotional desire towards it. This is what happened to Eve as a result of being deceived by Satan (Gen 3:6). This is the reason believers are not to love the world’s culture (1 John 2:15-17).

For this reason, the Lord Jesus requires His disciples to immerse themselves in the ministry of His Word to find spiritual freedom:

First for salvation: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Rom 10:17 and context 7-18). 2 Thessalonians 2:10 says a lack of love for the truth prevents the experience of salvation.

And then from the domination of sin: “Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:31, 32).

In Luke 9:23, 24: Jesus describes this process as a cross for disciples. The Apostle Paul testifies that this changed His life:

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal 2:20).

Emotion, the energy of the heart is a stupid thing, emotion, i.e., the heart must be directed to what has real value. For emotion can attach itself to either the good or the evil. The renewed soul has the capacity of gathering information to make decisions. The Lord Jesus requires the soul of His disciples to be one that He gives by the exercise of choice. He says that this comes by obedience to Him to the crucifixion of natural choice, it requires choice even in the face of pain to the place that the soul or personality has a fixed disposition upon His will. The process is a spiritual weapon of sorting out values so as to have the mind reconstructed to be in agreement with Christ:

“. . for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, . .” (2 Cor 10:4, 5).
This takes the exercise of the choice of exposure to choosing the circumstances that shape the choices of the mind pictured in the first Psalm. To let God shape the soul means that meditation on the things of God until one understands its value enough to treasure the benefits therefrom. This is what the Apostle Paul prayed for his readers in Ephesians 1:15-23, i.e., “. . a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.” For when this is experienced love with the soul becomes its nature, which will govern one’s heart!

Finally, believers are to love the Lord with all one’s mind! The utility of loving God with all one’s mind has been demonstrated by the discussion about loving God with all one’s soul. But the mind is like a stage in a play or the battle field. Eve wasn’t asking Satan to “speak up!” He just did at a time when he saw she was weak in some way. Christ was tempted by Satan when His body was weak from prolonged fasting and when Jesus was contemplating the suffering of God’s wrath on Him because of man’s sin and sins. He won the victory by remembering God’s will and Word! This was the result of an eternity of living in the love and will of God, the Father. Knowing and valuing God’s Word is loving God with all our minds. 2 Timothy 2:15 pictures such a mind: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

Love is a spiritual cultivation. For “love” to be complete, be an “all,” it must be cultivated, that is, what is against “love” must like a weed, be plucked out so as not to steal nutriments from that flower of beauty. That flower, in this case, the heart, soul, and mind, needs to be evaluated and treasured for its supreme values so as to be nourished and cultivated. This is where contemplative study must be applied so as to understand the surpassing value that comes at the end of life and in the presence of the Lord. First to see His surpassing value and glory. Then, with the treasured words from Him: “Well done, enter into the joy of your Home!”

So to neglect these “first commandments” is to neglect the destiny of one’s being - for eternity!

No comments:

Post a Comment