Relearning God

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A.W. Tozer opened up his seminal work Knowledge of the Holy with "We are called to an everlasting pre-occupation with God."

Everlasting means eternal, and we don't wait until our deaths to gaze at God. Despite this common misconception, eternity commences while we still draw breath, and our eternal preoccupation with your creator only amplifies during life-after-life. Therefore, it does us well to heed the advice of the profound thinker, Han Solo, "Get used to it, kid."

Gazing at God is at the heart of faith; God Himself is the object that faith fixes upon as it runs; rather than the track itself. Paul instructs us to "fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" in the here and now, knowing that we so often take our eyes off of Him in our daily race.

Two thousand years ago, there was a Jewish man who appeared to his colleagues to be determined to outpace everyone around him in his pursuit of God. As a pharisee Paul before poured endlessly into the Torah hoping for a glimpse of the Holy One between the ink on the Hebrew pages. Paul knew that despite the laws, stories, poems, proverbs, and prophecies, the ancient scriptures were essentially the revealing of God Himself.

Leaving Tarsus to study under Gamaliel, Paul may have imagined himself a Jewish missionary of truth who would correct the paganism infiltrating his beloved homeland and return his own people to the truths of Yahweh. A zeal for preaching the truths about God did not start on the road to Damascus when he encountered Jesus; they merely shifted. Paul's own account of his prowess of studying the Torah is chronicled in his letter to the Galatians, "I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles..." (Galatians 1:14-16)

Paul was determined to know Him. Perhaps this is why it is so touching that Christ mercifully appears to him in the 9th chapter of Acts and gives him the revelation on the par of Moses meeting God face to face, blinding his eyes. Back to back, Acts 9 chronicles a pharisee who is as lost as the pagan centurion Cornelius in the chapter, Acts 10. Paul's experience with the risen Christ was no less significant than Moses's encounter with Yahweh at the burning bush, and is the New Testament equivalent of it. Both men were tasked with taking the word of God to the masses and communicating who God was.

Slowly, and for many years, Paul went back to the scriptures, searching for Jesus there until he found Him. The vast amount of references to specific Old Testament show that Paul had pieced together a deep and robust theology blending the warp of the Old with the weave of the new. Paul was the living, breathing embodiment of Jesu's statement "a scribe who receives the teachings of the kingdom will be like a treasurer bringing out of his storehouse treasures both old and new".

This begs the question; as Paul came to know Jesus, what knowledge of God did he already bring to the table? What aspects of Paul's understanding of God's nature changed as a result of encountering Jesus? What aspects remained untouched? What aspects deepened through the lenses of Christ? Paul had the unenviable task of crafting one whole faith out of the two. The new relationship with the risen savior who had appeared to him after His death, and the majestic Yahweh of the Torah that he had studied his entire life.

And this is where the two seemingly divergent testaments converge; in the same way that the Old Testament revealed God's character, in the same way, "Christ Himself is the express image of the invisible God." The written inspired word of the Old Testament and the living word of John's logos were both intended to reveal the nature of God Himself. Jesus highlights this convergence when speaking to pharisees just like Saul of Tarsus, "You diligently search the scriptures hoping to find eternal life, yet they testify of me."

Where the Paths Converge

At NewBreed, we've designed an entire course and cohort around the question: where did the Old Testament, the life of Christ, and Paul's writings converge on understanding God's nature? We call it Ancient Pathways. As we consider deeply the character of God, it transforms us from the inside out.

Join us for the next Ancient Pathways cohort, starting September 14 for 8 weeks. In addition to course content, you'll join a weekly Zoom cohort with Peyton Jones to discuss how to apply these ancient principles to your life and ministry. Click here for more information.

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