Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
On Jesus’ Open Ministry
Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. (John 18:20, ESV)
By the gates of the mighty she (wisdom) sits, in the entrances she sings aloud (ranan).*
One of the myriad things I appreciate about Jesus’ ministry to his followers that I, too, have also gleaned in my relationship with Him as the Holy Spirit continues to “grow me up spiritually,” is the availability of Jesus‘ availability.
Specifically, what I have learned is that if I have a question about something, the first step is to, well, ASK Him for the answer.
I have also learned that I may have to search for a bit, though sometimes the answer does “sing” through the spiritual ether, so to speak, immediately.
But if I do wait for it, it can be a grand quest with many challenges and discoveries. Or, as in the case of Daniel whose prayer was delayed due to the Devil’s interference, I might learn there is some other reason for the delay. Here is one source of general information on prayer.
But as any believer will attest, every question, yearning, longing, and/or mystery will be answered at some point–verified in God’s Word, of course, for there are many false “words” and gods out there, and we need a reliable guide.
And fortunately, we have one: the Holy Spirit...
On Mankind’s Secret Knowledge
But until we become acquainted with that source of trustworthy information, the Holy Spirit, Who leads and guides us to the font of truth, we are most vulnerable to the potent influence of the myriad false gods and spiritual misinformation in the world; we are babes in a mystical wood, you might say, “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7 KJV).
And mankind has no end of false, counterfeit truths, and not just in the spiritual realm although that realm is most potent because we all have this internal hunger, a longing for ultimate meanings and answers that seems baked in our spiritual DNA.
For if we are honest, we’re all desperately seeking God–and from the first time we look at the sky and our young minds have evolved enough to ask what’s beyond.
Or it might be at some other time and in some other place of sincere inquiry which, of course, is where all the other gods wait.
Just think (or best not) of all there are, too, of false ideologies, philosophies, paradigms, mindsets, realities (including virtual reality powered by technology), doctrines, theories, and tenets, many conjured up with even more potent “secret knowledge,” i.e., the occult (astrology, alchemy, and natural magic) that greedily parade in front of us. There seems to be no end of such, and old notions are ever re-packaged for new minds and hungry hearts.
Worse yet, the greatest hits of the above list always have a little bit of truth in the mix as well, the better to deceive us by.
Of course some hearts are not hungry. They are evil. But that’s another topic.
But rather than cite or list what is NOT truth from the cache of poisonous goods hawked by our real enemy, my purpose is actually to “sing out” how we can know the difference.
It all begins here:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, ESV)
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter [helper, aid, assistant], that he may abide with you for ever…” (John 14:16, KJV)
In other words, when we are born again, we get help “from the inside,” so to speak, thanks to Jesus’ prayer and the entrance of the Holy Spirit Who leads, directs, and guides us if we allow Him to. Prayer is the beginning of that quest. A simple, sincere, “Help me understand…” suffices.
What mankind’s “secret knowledge” can only guess at “on the outside,” and/or work-around, exploit, and, at worst, counterfeit, will never be able to imbue this kind of information.
From my own experience in a highly legalistic childhood religious system, I saw, heard, and felt mostly reasonable facsimiles of spiritual reality, but the power of that system could not penetrate the brain-spirit barrier because I didn’t yet have the “right” Spirit to clarify things, and in some cases, given free will, to have them clarified several times over when I “forgot” or resisted.
And our real enemy is brilliant in the myriad ways he deceives–even deceives believers if we close our eyes and shut our ears to Him.
That said, Satan is, after all, as one preacher put it, “God’s devil.” Think about that. Kind of renders him a lot smaller, a lot less powerful, and very limited in ability.
But to the third topic, i.e., the one I’m most excited to share with you, which is the powerful lesson that is a very good analogy of the difference between external knowledge of God versus internal, read (and view) on.
On A Powerful Analogy from Helen Keller’s Life Story
I love this analogy.
Can you see it too?
Helen certainly had a lot of sensual information, smell, taste, and touch, with which to navigate her young world (after an illness in infancy robbed her of both sight and hearing), but as to obtaining the key to complete “knowing” what it all meant, she, too, needed a helper, guide, teacher (just as I “knew” something about God as a child, you might say, and how any of us can know a little about Him via the world’s limited knowledge and artifacts).
Then in came Anne Sullivan to completely transform Helen’s world.
And here comes the Holy Spirit in ours.
Rather than distract the reader any more from the powerful message in the video clip I will stop here, trusting in my own prayer that this analogy will comfort and enlighten you, too, as it has me.
But with just one more aid and assist from God’s Word:
7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. (1 Corinthians 2:7-13, NIV)
And may I encourage you to revel in this knowledge today and always…even as the Holy Spirit whispers also…in your spirit and in mine…”Teacher.…”
*As to the continuous and generous, “singing out” of God’s wisdom, as the Septuagint renders the words “cries out” in Proverbs 8:3 indicating God’s wisdom is EVERYWHERE for “ears to hear,” consider this encouraging and comforting explanation from “Pulpit Commentary” at https://www.biblehub.com/proverbs/8-3.htm, access 07 July 2020:
The expressions in the text indicate the position which she takes and its capabilities. At the hand of the gates (1 Samuel 19:3). She posts herself at the side of the city gates, under the archway pierced in the wall, where she is sure of an audience. At the mouth of the city, inside the gate, where people pass on their way to the country. At the coming in at the doors, by which persons enter the town. Thus she catches all comers, those who are entering, as well as those who are leaving the city. Here standing, as in the Agora or Forum, she crieth; she calls aloud, saying what follows (vers. 4-36). It is a fine picture of the comprehensiveness of the gospel, which is meant for high and low, prince and peasant; which is proclaimed everywhere, in the courts of kings, in the lanes of the country, in the hovels of the city; which sets forth the infinite love of God, who is not willing that any should perish, but would have all men come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Peter 3:9).
As to the “high and low,” “prince and peasant,” I am reminded of this, also.
What an excellent post, Phyllis. ‘God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform….Deep in unfathomable mines of never failing skill; He treasures up His bright designs and works His sovereign will’ (William Cowper). Word and Spirit in harness, powerful guiding lights to illuminate the darkness of this world.
To cite yet another metaphor for the Holy Spirit, I am particularly fond of this scripture (John 3:8, ESV): “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Counterfeiters (starting with the original thief) can only try to guess at the “hidden things” of God in order to get at our “hidden things,” if you will, to steal us away from God.
But not only will their efforts ultimately fail, God’s Spirit will always be a step ahead if not multiple steps ahead–“whithersoever it wills”.
It encourages one to remain “in the shadow of God’s wings” (Psalm 91:4), so to speak, where there is refuge from counterfeiters among other evils, and in the truth of His Word–a truth that Jesus, in His life and ministry on earth, put on full display so we can know for sure the powerful love of the Father for us.
The illumination of the truth by the Word in the text and “the Word Made flesh (aka Jesus),” also makes it far easier to recognize evil, which is the opposite of love: destruction–no matter how the counterfeiters try to dress it up.
However, they can be very convincing–especially if we don’t know the truth.
But we also have help in that department–embedded in that very Word. As St. Paul put it in his letter to the Hebrews: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (4:12).
Cheers and blessings,
Beautiful word Sister, beautiful Word! We wash ourselves in the cleansing water of the Word guided by the patient and fervent guidance of the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you, Yvonne! Always glad to hear from you. I hope you are well.
There is just so much more to say about the work of the Holy Spirit in us, so many metaphors! I’m glad you brought up the “cleansing water” aspect…
Cheers and blessings,