Seeing the Tapestry, Knowing God

tapestry: [noun] a heavy handwoven reversible textile used for hangings, curtains, and upholstery and characterized by complicated pictorial designs. (Merriam-Webster)

From Genesis to Revelation, there is a progressive and complete revelation of what we need to live for the Lord in this life. It is certainly not a complete revelation of all that God is, but it is enough for the child of God. As with many a tapestry, what can be seen is a sweeping panorama. From the moments of creation, and even hints of before, to the day when the new heaven and the new earth are fashioned and delivered.

The reverse of this glorious tapestry has a veil over it, as what is behind that veil is the spirit realm. We have clear images of how that realm touched this one, as we work our way through the word. One thing that is important in knowing God is to understand that He is the artist and author of the sweeping vista that we know as human history.

He is not “in control” of all that happens, as so many like to claim. Yet, He is directing the movement of history toward the outcomes he has declared. Before I expound on that, it is necessary to explain that there is often confusion concerning truth. What I mean is that people who are new to the Bible often suggest that it contradicts itself. In fact, great debates have raged between Bible scholars over the various meanings of different verses.

I do not purport to know God in His fulness, but since I don’t think anyone alive does, I am emboldened to speak on points that I believe God has revealed to me, concerning His true nature, the way He operates, how creation really happened, and how all of that brings us to an understanding of God that can empower our transformation!

I found an interesting article in a book called Foundations of Pentecostal Theology (© 1983, L.I.F.E. Bible College; Duffield and Van Cleave, pp. 132-3). The article is an excerpt from something written by Paul Tournier called, The Healing of Persons (1965).
Science, in fact, works only by analysis, by dividing ad infinitum the object of study…. What happens then is like what happens when we separate a jigsaw puzzle into its five hundred pieces: The overall picture disappears. This is the state of modern medicine, it has lost the sense of the unity of man (in 1965! How much more in 2022?).

He goes on, “(sciences’) discoveries … reveal valid and important facts. But they do not lead to a true understanding of man, because he is a synthesis. We shall not come to understand man by adding up all the items of analytical knowledge … but by comprehending him as a unified whole. Man is not just a body and a mind. He is a spiritual being. It is impossible to know man if one disregards his deepest reality.”

The analogy of science and analysis by dividing, I believe, applies to much scholarship around the Bible. People study topics, verses, or people and fail to consider the syntheses of the Logos of God. Part of what affects this is both the premises and preconceived concepts that people approach the word with.

That latter is difficult to avoid, as what we are trying to learn often requires that we fit new knowledge in the storehouse of our existing knowledge. Consider how we teach children about things like our sun and our solar system, and how they function. We can’t simply show them a picture and expect them to understand, so we give them aids. So, when it comes to learning spiritual things, we often must work with natural, physical examples. Jesus understood this very well, using parables or stories, to communicate truth.

This is one reason it can take a while to move from having knowledge, to having understanding, to walking in faith. It is a process. In that process, we must recognize that the truth is layered. In other words, we may read a word such as Mark 16:16, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Taken alone, it seems that this verse is telling us, that Jesus is telling us (it’s in red), that we must believe AND be baptized to be saved. That there is no middle ground. I mean, Jesus said it, it must be a rule.

Enter the paradox. Jesus, when dying on the cross, broke His own rule, if that was a rule. When the thief asked for forgiveness, Jesus immediately responded saying, paraphrased, “you are saved.” No time for baptism. No reply from Jesus, requiring baptism. Why?

Layered truth.

First, there is more than one baptism. There is more than one baptizer. John the Baptist declared that he baptized with water, but the one coming after, Jesus, would baptize with the Holy Spirit. (Mark 1:8, Acts 1:5) We are instructed to be baptized with water, but is that the baptism being spoken of when Jesus said you must believe AND be baptized?

As we read through the book of Acts, being baptized in water is prominent as people were born again. Water baptism is commanded and should be received by every new believer. However, water baptism is a symbol. Romans 6:3-4 tells us what happens when we believe. “Or do you not know that as many of us a were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death. 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Emphasis added)

When we believe, we are crucified with Christ, as stated in Galatians 2:20. That is a spiritual activity. That is not accomplished by a physical baptism. Physical baptism is an open demonstration of a spiritual thing that took place, when we believed.

There is more to learn on baptism, because … layers. You get the point, I hope. We must examine what the Greek calls the logos (logos), or the complete book. Much as we might step in close to see some detail of the tapestry, and then step back to see how that detail enriches, and is enriched by the full sweep of the scene before us. That is the point of 2 Timothy 2:15. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (Emphasis added) Dig in, dig deep, come to know Him in depth, but always see the depths in the context of the whole. Step back and see the panorama. You will be transformed!
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