The Elements of Meditation in the Word

Joshua 1:8(NKJV) 8This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Yesterday we came to the understanding that in order to meditate in the Word we must first study the Word. When we study the word we are coming to the place where we have a clear natural understanding of what a particular section of scripture says. (See yesterday’s post for the details of how to study.) Once this is done we can begin to meditate on the passage of scripture.

There is a distinct difference between study and meditation of the Word of God, however I want to make sure we understand that these processes work together. I have separated the two and put study first. This is generally correct. We have to start with the study process, but often as we meditate more avenues of study will open. We will go back and look at more definitions or examine the culture more closely.

In the same way, we may be in the midst of study and something will so catch our attention that we will stop and begin the meditation process right then and there. This is a living thing we are talking about and, although there are principles we can learn which will help, there are no “laws” that say you must do this part at this time. It is a flowing interaction between you and the author of the book, the Holy Spirit.

This brings me to the idea of meditation in the Word of God itself. As I said yesterday, this is not eastern transcendental meditation, yoga or anything of that nature. It is not emptying the mind it is reprogramming the mind. It is not open to any and all input, it is only open to a very specific channel. It is opening our minds to the Word of God and the influence of the Holy Spirit. Nothing else is acceptable in this process.

The difference between Bible study and meditation in the Word of God is that the study process primarily involves our minds and our natural effort, while the meditation process involves the intimate interaction of the Holy Spirit with your spirit. That is not to say that the Holy Spirit will not help you in study, but meditation is more intimate. In the process of meditation we allow what we have learned to be underneath and we open our minds to the input that comes from the Holy Spirit himself. As we look at the elements of meditation in the Word from Joshua 1:8 this will become more clear.

The first thing God tells Joshua is “This book of the law.” We must first understand that the only thing we use as the standard of our meditation is the Bible. Anything that we think we see in our meditation time must agree with the Bible. If it does not we should put it aside until we can see how it does or until we can check it with someone who knows more than we do. Meditation is an inward and personal thing. As such it is open to the influence of our own preconceived ideas as well as deception by the enemy. Making sure the Bible is the foundation will protect us.

The next things God says to Joshua is to keep the Bible in your mouth. This might seem a little strange since we are talking about something that is inward not outward, however one of the meanings of the word translated “ meditation” is mutter.

Muttering is repeating something quietly to yourself. Let me explain this process with one of the scriptures that my wife and I had to learn to meditate on early in our ministry.

Philippians 4:19(NKJV) 19And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

From the day we began in the ministry we have had to trust God for our natural provision. My wife quit her job in January of 1978 and I quit mine in April of the same year. We did not know you could work and be in the ministry. It just never crossed our minds. We stepped out and God began to meet our needs. Although he has been faithful over the years, you can imagine that we have faced some challenges in this area.

Early on in our ministry life we learned the truths I am sharing with you today. When my wife and I began to face some desperate times financially, God led us to this scripture. We studied it, heard some teaching on it and began to do what God told Joshua to do in Joshua 1:8. We began to meditate on Phil. 4:19.

As we began the process, one of the first steps was to walk the floors confessing, or speaking, this scripture. We were not confessing it to anyone but our selves. I would say it over and over again. As the worry tried to come into my mind I would replace it with the declaration that “my God is supplying all my need.” It started out as a battle, but soon I felt that there was another presence involved leading me and giving me insight into this verse. I began to stress each word until that word sank in.

My God: Not someone else’s God and not some other god was going to meet my need. My God was going to meet my need. What does the word “God” mean. It means almighty. It means all-knowing and he is not just my God he is my Father. I am a father and I know what I will do for my children, so what will God not do to meet my need.

Space does not allow me to take you through the whole process, but you can begin to see how it works. The more I “muttered” this verse the more the Holy Spirit revealed to me the depth of what it truly meant. The same process was at work in my wife. There came a day when we looked at each other and the revelation of Phil. 4:19 had dropped into our hearts. “My God will meet our need.” It was not words on a page it was a personal message to us.

I cannot say that I knew more than what I had gained in studying the verse, but I knew it on a different level and in a different way. It was as if a sheet was pulled back and I did not just know the verse I could see the revelation of it. I do not know any other way to say it, but when it happens to you, you will recognize it.

For the last 38 years we have been living on that revelation. God is the supplier of our needs. We have never had a “home office” to ask for help. We have never had anything that we could really depend on except the truth we saw from this verse. In those 38 years we have had some financial challenges. We have known worry, but we have always seen God come through. When the worry would try to overtake me I would go back to the Word again and begin to mutter it to myself. Soon the same sense of confidence and faith would rise in my heart.

I like to say that in more than 38 years, “what if” has never happened. You know what I am talking about. “What if we lose the house.”, “What if we can’t pay that bill?”, “What if God doesn’t do it this time?” It has looked like “what if” might happen a few times but it never has.

Find a promise that speaks to your need. Once you spend some time studying it, put it in your mouth and you will see the same process work in your life. Once you “see” the truth of the verse you will never be the same and the faith to see the need met will rise in your heart.

Study First

2 Timothy 2:15(KJV) 15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

In our quest to walk as successful Christians in the world, we have discovered that we must first renew our mind. We must reprogram how we think so that the soul, our intellect, will and emotions, become a clear channel for the Word of God to enter our spirit and the voice of God to affect our outward life. To do this we must learn to meditate in the Word of God. Meditation in the Word of God requires that we learn to cultivate “stillness” in our life. (Psalm 46:10)

Once we have begun to learn to be still before the Lord, we must also understand that meditation in the Word of God first requires that we study it. There is a distinct difference between these two things. Study opens the door to meditation. Attempting to meditate without studying will usually lead to “revelations” that do not come from God. They may come from the devil or, more likely, from our own imagination. Either way, if we fail to study we will never be able to meditate productively.

In today’s scripture, Paul is speaking to his son in the faith, Timothy. Paul is at the end of his life and he wants to be sure that Timothy will be able to carry on without him. Nothing is more important to a father than the success of his son. Paul is the one who coined the phrase “renew the mind.” His writings point emphatically to the practice of meditating the Word of God. However, here he does not tell his son to meditate he tells him to study.

What are the elements of study when applied to the Word of God. I believe it begins with some principles. First, we must know the context of what we are studying and ultimately on which we will be meditating. Never ever read just one verse. In the end you may meditate on just one verse, but you should never just read or study one verse. If a verse catches the attention of your spirit, read the whole chapter. It is good to read the chapter before and after this verse as well. In this way you will have a good idea of what context the verse is in and you will have a clearer understanding of what it really says.

Although I do not recommend many of the modern versions of the Bible as your main reading or study source, I do use other versions to get a broader picture of what a verse is saying. The idea is to get as clear an understanding as possible of the verse you want to meditate on. Today we have tools available to us that can make this easier than at any time in history. There are many computer programs, some free, that offer commentaries, Bible dictionaries and numerous translations all at our fingertips to help us with the study process.

If you are not computer literate, some good tools to acquire would be Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, The Thompson Chain Reference Bible, as well as a commentary, study Bible and Bible dictionary. All of these tools will help you get a clear picture of what the Bible is saying in any verse.

You may also want to use an encyclopedia or a book such as Manners and Customs of the Bible to get an idea of how the people lived in Bible days. This can often be invaluable when it comes to understanding what the Bible really means.

If you do not have any of these things you can still do what I think is the most important part of Bible study. You can use any dictionary to look up the meaning of the English words. It is good if you can look up the Greek and Hebrew definitions as well, since there are often shades of meanings that do not come through the English, but I find we do not always know the full meaning of words in English. It is easy to assume we do, but if a word seems important, look it up. You will often be surprised at how much the written definition will add to your understanding.

There are some other principles of Bible interpretation that will help you in your study. One is the law of first mention. This states that whatever meaning the first mention of a word is given in the Bible will be carried through the whole Bible. If there is a word that catches your attention, find out how it was first used in the Bible. You will need a concordance for this. A concordance lists every occurrence of a word in the Bible.

We will use the word “righteous” as an example. According to Strong’s concordance we find that the first mention of this word is in Genesis 7:1.

Genesis 7:1(KJV) 1And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

What conclusions can we draw from this “first mention?” No, I am not going to tell you, that is for you to study out. You can share your conclusions with me via the comment section of this blog if you like.

Another principle is that the Old Testament says what the New Testament say it does, not the other way around. The Old Testament is very important, but if we do not interpret it in light of the New Testament, we will usually come to the wrong conclusion. The New Testament, or more accurately the salvation that was provided through Jesus Christ, is the point of the whole Bible. The Old Testament is the New Testament in preparation. All God did in Israel was to lead up to or demonstrate what he was going to do in Jesus.

Once you have gotten a good idea of the context of a verse, the meaning of the words and of the background in which it is set, you will be ready to begin to meditate on that scripture. Remember this, the Holy Spirit is the author of the Word of God. He lives within you. Let him be a part of your study time. He will lead you in what to study.

You may be reading along and a particular verse seems to “jump out” to you. Do not ignore this. Take some extra time with that verse or section of scripture. Apply the principles of study to it. As you gain natural understanding you will be in a place to receive the revealed knowledge we talked about in Matthew 16.

Remember Paul’s exhortation to Timothy. Study will show that you are approved by God. It will cause you to be able to be unashamed. It will lead you to becoming a good workman in the Kingdom of God. Finally, it will cause you to “rightly divide” the Word of God. This means you will understand the Bible correctly and be in a position to receive the wonderful life contained in it pages.

Meditation in the Word of God: Stillness

Joshua 1:8 (NKJV) 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

In this verse we find Joshua in the position of replacing Moses as the leader of Israel. That could not be an easy task. Moses had done things no one had ever done. Now Joshua must find a way to be the leader Israel needs to take them into the promised land. In this first chapter God gives him the key that will bring him “good success.” We need to learn the same key if we are going to have “good success” in our Christian walk. That key is meditation in the Word of God.

In the west we do not have a clear understanding of meditation. It is not something we tend to do. In the east on the other hand, meditation is a strong part of the culture especially within certain religions. The problem with eastern meditation is that the goal is usually to empty the mind in order to be “in touch with the universe.” This is dangerous because an empty vessel wants to be filled. God will not intrude on us against our will, but the devil has no such hesitation. He will come in and fill the emptied mind with things that can seem very good and spiritual. However, they will always lead us away from God not to him.

In the west meditation is rarely used at all and if it is it is usually connected to eastern practices such as yoga. In the east meditation is a dangerous practice in which Christians should not engage. However, we find in Joshua 1:8 and many other places that God tells us to meditate. What is the answer?

I have heard it said that the bible is an eastern book. It is not. God is very wise. He did not place the bible lands in the east. He also did not place them in the west. The bible is a middle eastern book. There is a touch of both within it. It might be closer to say that both east and west have been touched by the bible. At any rate, it is neither completely eastern nor completely western.

The bible does not teach us to empty our minds. Nevertheless, if we look at the Word through a western mind set we will discount anything that cannot be proven through rational, logical analysis. Meditation uses our imagination. In the west that is fine if we are talking about fantasy. It is not considered a tool for living in the real world.

The bible gives us the answer. Our meditation is not to empty our mind but instead to re-program our mind. We are to change what it is filled with. We are not trying to get in touch with the universe, we are trying to open a clear channel to the God of the universe within us. How do we do that? We make the Word of God, the bible, the center of our meditation.

The bible is the source of every bit of revelation knowledge you will ever receive through meditation. God will never say or reveal anything to you that does not have its source in the bible. He will never say anything that does not agree with the bible. We have been given a tremendous tool in the written Word of God to aid and guide us in our meditation.

As we focus on the Word of God we unlock the life that is in the it (Hebrews 4:12.) This produces the affect that we saw last week in Peter’s life. We become more stable, we obtain keys that will cause us to be successful, we build the kingdom of God and we win battles against the enemy of our souls. Joshua was the first leader of Israel to have the written Word of God, and God immediately told him to put it to use in his life.

Psalm 46:10 gives us a vital skill we must develop to be able to meditate in the Word of God.

Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) 10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

If you read this whole chapter you will find that it describes a difficult and violent time, yet in the midst of it God is moving. It almost seems that verse 10 is out of place, however it is not. He is telling us that in the middle of turmoil we must find a place of inward quiet in order to “know that he is God.”

It is impossible to hear the knowledge that comes from our hearts if our minds are full of “noise.” We must find a way to “be still” so that we can meditate on the Word of God and receive what God wants to give us through the process. The goal is to come to inner stillness, but to do that we are going to have to make time for some outer quiet as well.

I do not have the space today to get into how to do that, but we all know what I am talking about. We are so busy and so used to noise that can we hardly even tolerate silence. Many people cannot sleep unless the TV is on in the background. We must have music in the car, the workplace and when we exercise. We cannot meditate because we are never alone with our thoughts.

I encourage you to find some time this week for stillness. Take a few minutes at least with nothing but the Word of God and your thoughts. Communicate with the Lord. Talk to him in prayer and then take some time to listen for an answer. You may not hear anything right away. You may not hear anything for weeks, but if you never listen you will never hear.

I know this is not easy. I can assure you that the first few times you try there will be a million thoughts that want to push their way in. There will be all kinds of things you need to do. If that is the case, write them down so your mind can know you will get to them later. It can be helpful to begin by playing some quiet instrumental music. You do not want the words of a song to get in the way, but instrumental music will stimulate the area of your brain you will be using.

It will take some time to develop this skill so do not try to go too far. This is the mistake most people make. They think they can start by getting still for an hour. You will never make it. Try 15 minutes. They also think that if they do not get a revelation right away they have failed. The first goal is not revelation, it is to get still.

In 1 Kings 19 God told Elijah that he was going to speak to him so he went into a cave to wait. (Have you ever been sent to your cave? I have.) There were three powerful manifestations that Elijah had to ignore. There was a wind, a fire and an earthquake. Elijah did not respond to any of them. When he heard a still small voice, he immediately knew it was God.

Take some time to find a place where you will be able to hear that still small voice. When you are in the place to hear, God will eventually speak. Make the bible the center of that time. In its pages you will find not only the answers that you seek, but the safety to know that what you hear will be from your loving heavenly Father and not from some other source.

From Simon to Peter

Matthew 16:17-19(NKJV) 17Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth £will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

In Matthew 16 we have been looking at the experience of Peter. Jesus asked two questions of his disciples. The first involved what men thought about Jesus’ outward ministry. In other words, what does sense knowledge, that which is gained by hearing and seeing in the natural, say about Jesus. The answers to this question were anything but spiritual.

We live, for the most part, on the basis of sense knowledge. Western society has made a god out of sense knowledge. Anything that cannot be proven by logic or intellect is discounted. However sense knowledge alone cannot lead us to spiritual conclusions.

Yesterday I described how Peter answered Jesus second question and how Jesus pointed out to him that the source of what Peter had come to understand was not sense knowledge. Peter had received something that would become the foundation of biblical Christianity. He had received “revelation knowledge.” God had revealed this truth to Peter by the Spirit.

Peter had seen what Jesus did and heard what Jesus preached with his senses. He had sense knowledge of Jesus and could have concluded from what he heard and saw that Jesus was the Messiah, but that was not the source of his answer to Jesus. He knew Jesus was the Messiah the son of God at a deeper, more profound level. This truth had been revealed to him by the Father.

How did Peter come to this revelation? What was the process God used to reveal the truth about Jesus to him? I believe it goes right back to what God told Joshua.

Joshua 1:8(NKJV) 8This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

How had Peter meditated on the Word. I believe that he would have been aware of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. I also believe that Jesus was the Word of God made flesh. (John 1:14) Jesus said his words were spirit and life, so that everything he said was the bible. As Peter saw and heard Jesus he began to think about what he was experiencing. He kept it in his heart. He spoke it with his mouth. The truth of what he was seeing and hearing placed a seed in his heart that grew the more he thought about it.

I do not believe that Jesus simply picked a random time to ask these questions. I believe that Jesus could see that something was happening in Peter. When he asked, “Who do you say that I am?”, it became a catalyst in Peter that released the revelation that Jesus was the Messiah, the son of God. That revelation had been building as Peter meditated on the Word of God.

This is the process by which we all receive revelation from God. It often seems to be a momentary event, but it is not. As we meditate on the Word, the life in the word grows in us until the truth explodes in our hearts and we really “see” what God wants us to know. At that moment our lives are changed.

Jesus tells Peter what changes occurred through the release of revelation knowledge into his life. First, Jesus gives him a name change. The name Simon means “reed.” A reed is a thin plant that is easily blown by the wind. It waves one way then the other depending on how the wind is blowing. In that way it is unstable. Jesus says I am not going to call you Simon anymore. I am going to call you Peter.

The Greek word translated Peter is “petra”, which means stone. Jesus is telling Peter that this “revealed knowledge” has made Peter stable in a way he was not before. When we begin to walk in knowledge that has been revealed to us by God it will cause us to be stable and consistent. It will firm our whole life because we will know things that the knowledge of the natural world cannot challenge.

Second he says “upon this rock I will build my church.” The word translated rock is “petros” not petra. He is not saying he will build his church on Peter as one denomination teaches. He is saying that the rock of revelation knowledge is the foundation upon which the church is built. When we are walking in revelation knowledge we will be able to build the church of Jesus Christ in the earth.

Third he tells Peter that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church built on revelation. Gates represent the power and defense of a city. Jesus is telling Peter that those who walk in revelation knowledge will be able to defeat the enemy. They will win wars over the Satanic kingdom by this knowledge.

Finally he says, “I will give you the keys of the of the kingdom, what you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and what you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Revelation knowledge gives us the keys to walk in power and authority in the earth. We will be able to bind, or tie up, the forces of darkness and release the power of God into earthly situations.

We have been given the ability to live by revelation knowledge. God wants to reveal the truth of his Word to you and me. He wants to give us keys that will lead us to victory in every area and circumstance of life. If you are a Christian you can receive the same kind of revelation that Peter did. He was a common man. He was not overly educated. He was not a priest or a king. He was a believer who gave himself to meditation in the Word of God and as a result God was able to reveal something to him that changed his life forever.

There were other struggles in Peter’s life. At the time of Jesus’ arrest, Peter denied knowing Jesus, however I do not believe he ever doubted who Jesus was. He doubted his ability to stand with him. He was confused as to how the “Christ the Son of the Living God” could have been arrested at all. Nevertheless, I believe he never again doubted who Jesus was.

As you look at your life and see the challenges before you right now, I encourage you to find some promises in the Bible and begin to do what God told Joshua to do. Put these promises in your mind. Speak them with your mouth. Picture the action with your imagination. You will find that, at some point in time, you will know God has revealed something to you at a deeper level than before. You will find some keys and you will break down some “gates of hell” in your life. You will no longer be “Simon the reed”, you will become “Peter the stone” at least in that area.

On that “rock” of revelation knowledge, Jesus will be built in your life and together we will build his church in the earth.

Who do You Say I Am

Matthew 16:15-17(NKJV) 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Yesterday we began looking at Matthew 16. In this chapter Jesus asks two questions. The first was looking for an opinion concerning what other people thought of Jesus outward life. The answer the disciples gave him was a product of the knowledge that comes to us through our 5 physical senses. This is called sense knowledge or natural knowledge.

This is the kind of knowledge that most of us use every day. It is the knowledge upon which western society is built. Anything that cannot be proven by logic and reason must be discounted as legend, myth or fantasy. However, sense knowledge is limited. It cannot bring us to spiritual conclusions. We will never be able to walk in the spirit if we are limited to sense knowledge. The disciples answers show us this.

What kind of knowledge do we need? What kind of knowledge will “renew our mind” in such a way that we will be what Romans 8:6 calls spiritually minded? I believe the answer is in today’s verses.

Jesus asks his disciples a second question. “Who do you say I am?” In yesterday’s question Jesus uses the term “son of man.” In this second question he does not use that term. He is not asking for a “sense knowledge” opinion. He is asking them what they personally know about him. Not the “son of man” outward him, but the real him. This does not require a simple opinion, it requires a decision. “Who do you say I am?”

At first no one answers. As I read this passage and picture it in my mind, I do not think Peter answered the first question. Now no one is ready to answer the second one. They all suspected who Jesus really was. However to voice that conviction required a real commitment and would mean they were going down a path that could take them through some difficult times. Finally Peter stands up and walks toward Jesus. He looks him in the eye and he utters these words. “You are the Christ (Messiah) the son of the Living God.”

This is a revolutionary statement. The declaration that Jesus is the long awaited Jewish Messiah was very important and significant. However, Peter does not stop there. He also declares that Jesus is the son of God. Israel was one of the only monotheistic nations in the world. Their whole identity was wrapped up in the statement, “Hear oh Israel the Lord thy God is one God.” How can “one God” have a son? Does that not constitute two Gods? We know today that it does not because of the nature of the Godhead, but Peter would not have known that.

Peter is making a statement that could get him killed. He was making a commitment that would separate him from everything he knew to be true. What kind of knowledge could make such a change in Peter? What could cause him to believe something so radical? Jesus gives us the answer.

“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

What Peter knew he did not know on the basis of “sense knowledge.” Flesh and blood knowledge did not bring Peter to this conclusion. He had a great deal of knowledge about Jesus that had come to him through his senses. Much of that knowledge could have led him to the conclusion that Jesus was the Messiah. He had seen him heal the sick. He had heard him teach things no one else had taught. He had seen miracles of every kind. Nevertheless, Jesus says specifically says that Peter did not come to this conclusion as a result of this kind of knowledge. “Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you.”

Where did this knowledge come from? What was its nature? Jesus’ “Father who is in Heaven” revealed this knowledge to Peter. It came, not from what he heard or saw, but from God to Peter’s heart. It was a totally different kind of knowledge. We call this knowledge “revealed knowledge” or “revelation knowledge.”

Revelation knowledge takes into account what we know by our senses, but it processes this information through a different channel. It takes what we learn by our senses and sends it through our heart where God begins to “reveal” to us what the truth behind it really is. What does God say the information means? How does his power and wisdom affect it. How does all this change life for me? “Revealed” knowledge is just that. It is knowledge that is shown or revealed to me by God himself.

This kind of knowledge had powerful effect on Peter. It can have a powerful effect on you and I as well. Peter could have concluded by what he saw that Jesus was the Messiah but I am not sure if he could have come to the realization that Jesus was the manifest son of God. Somehow the sense knowledge Peter had of Jesus went to a different level. He did not just come to a logical conclusion. He knew Jesus was the Messiah and the son of God himself. He did not know it just in his head. He knew it in a place where something else besides logic lives. He knew it in the place faith comes from.

All of us have had this experience at one time or another in our Christian walk. We have read a verse of scripture for years, but one day, as we read it, something changes. Maybe we were in a crisis. We may have been under pressure financially and we read Philippians 4:19 that promises God will meet our needs. We read it a thousand times before, but one day it just “drops into our heart” so to speak.

We do not have a greater understanding of what the words say, but something is different. The words are no longer just letters on a page in a book. They are not just quotes from some long ago writer. They become what Jesus called “spirit and life.” They become our words. They become our thoughts. They become the Word of God but made flesh in our life.

At that point the knowledge from the Word, “My God shall supply all my need,” has been revealed to us by God. It is knowledge on a deeper level than just our intellect. Once it has been revealed to us by God, faith is produced and we will never again doubt that truth in our heart. That is how we got saved. Romans 10:17 tells us that the faith for salvation came from the preaching of the Word. It became “saving faith” when God revealed it to us.

How does “revelation knowledge” affect our lives? Come back tomorrow and see!

Who do Men Say Jesus Is

Matthew 16:13-14(NKJV) 13When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

The scripture above represents one of the most significant exchanges between Jesus and his disciples during his earthly ministry. Jesus asks two questions that every believer must answer. I think it is significant to point out that he is not talking to the world here. He is talking to people who already believe in him. He is asking us the same two questions. If we want to go farther and deeper into God’s will and presence, we must answer them. No one can answer for us. We must decide ourselves how we answer the questions Jesus asks his disiciples.

Peter was a very real person. He is many people’s favorite disciple because he is so like us. He is too outspoken. He is impetuous and often he gets himself into trouble. He cries out to Jesus when he sees him walking on the water as he comes to them in a storm. He says, “Lord, if that’s you out there, ask me to come to you on the water.” What is Jesus going to say, “No Peter, it’s not me. Stay in the boat.” Instead the Lord says, “It’s me, come on out.”

Like many of us, Peter starts out well and then gets into trouble. Before long he is sinking into the waves. Jesus must come and rescue him. As he does he chides him saying, “Why did you start doubting.” Many of us can see ourselves in Peter. However, in the scripture we will study this week, he seems different.

Jesus and his disciples have just left from yet another encounter with the Pharisees. They were resting and Jesus asks them a question. I always pay special attention when Jesus is asking questions. When he does so he is about to say or do something important. Jesus never asks anything just to get information. When he asks a question, particularly of his disciples, he already knows the answer. He is looking for their response so he can teach them something. He is also looking for our response.

His question almost seems out of character. “Who do men say that I, the son of man, am?” Jesus never cared about what people thought. He was not moved by public opinion or the opinion of the leaders of his day. Why would he want to know what people were saying about him? He did not. He wanted to make a point about knowledge.

There are two kinds of knowledge available to the believer. One kind is the knowledge that people use all the time. It comes to us via the gates of our 5 senses. We gather it by what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell. These information gates are the source of everything we have learned from our life experience. This knowledge is processed through our minds, where we come to certain conclusions. It is stored in our hearts where it makes up the basis for how we think. This knowledge is called “sense knowledge” because it comes through our senses.

The problem with sense knowledge is that it is based solely in the physical realm. We have made sense knowledge a god in the western world. We are told that we cannot accept anything as true which cannot be proven in the natural. Let us look at this first question Jesus asks.

He wants to know what others are saying about him, not what the people he is talking to are saying. He uses the term “son of man” to describe himself. The son of man is what he is outwardly. He was human because he was Mary’s son. He had a physical body just like ours. He ate and drank and slept just like we do. So, his question is really, “What do other people say about what they see in my outward life?”

Their answers are interesting. “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” You will notice a couple things about these answers. First of all, they do not require any commitment on the part of the hearers. They simply require opinions. The opinions they give are based solely on sense knowledge. They are asked what they have “heard” people say.

They are also outside of spiritual thinking. For Jesus to be John the Baptist come back to life was completely against the Jewish teaching. To say he was Elijah would have fit with the religious idea that interpreted some of the prophecies to say that Elijah would reappear to announce the coming of the Messiah. To say he might be one of the other prophets is just a foolish statement which is not at all based in spiritual truth.

You see sense knowledge will never lead us to spiritual conclusions. The whole Jewish world was looking for the messiah at that time. However, when he stood before them they did not recognize who he was. Some suspected He could be the Messiah. but they could not accept it. Why? Because they read the Scriptures from a sense knowledge base. They were focused on a physical leader who would set them free from the bondage of Rome.

Jesus could not be the Messiah because he had not raised and army. He had not taken up arms against their oppressors. He was not a political leader negotiating their freedom. He was a simple carpenter from a faraway province who did not seem to care about the freedom of the nation. As a matter of fact, his miracle working was just making life harder for the Pharisees.

Sense knowledge would not allow them to see the suffering servant in the Messianic prophecies. It would not allow them to see that Jesus had come to rescue the whole world, not from Rome but from sin. Sense knowledge would not allow them to come to a spiritual conclusion.

As you go through your day today, look around at your life and circumstances. How much of what you see is interpreted solely based on sense or natural knowledge? How many of the conclusions you come to are based on what can be proven in the natural world? If you are limited to that you are losing out on a great deal of the power of Christianity.

Tomorrow we will continue and discover that there is another dimension of knowledge that can revolutionize our lives.