Monday, April 29, 2013
What Is Meant by ' the Kingdom of Heaven' ? Who Is 'the Father in Heaven' ?
Jesus (while he lived on earth as a man some 2000 years ago in the Middle East) always had trouble trying to explain to the apostles (his disciples) that, while they proclaimed the establishment of the kingdom of God, the Father in heaven was not a king.
At the time Jesus lived on earth and taught in the flesh, the people of Earth knew mostly of kings and emperors in the governments of the nations, and the Jews had long contemplated the coming of the kingdom of God. For these and other reasons, the Master (Jesus) thought best to designate the spiritual brotherhood of man as the kingdom of heaven and the spirit head of this brotherhood as the Father in heaven.
Never did Jesus refer to his Father (in Heaven) as a king. In his intimate talks with the apostles he always referred to himself as the Son of Man and as their elder brother. He depicted all his followers as servants of mankind and messengers of the gospel of the kingdom.
Jesus never gave his apostles a systematic lesson concerning the personality and attributes of the Father in heaven. He never asked men to believe in his Father; he took it for granted they did. Jesus never belittled himself by offering arguments in proof of the reality of the Father.
His teaching regarding the Father all centered in the declaration that he and the Father are one; that he who has seen the Son has seen the Father; that the Father, like the Son, knows all things; that only the Son really knows the Father, and he to whom the Son will reveal him; that he who knows the Son knows also the Father; and that the Father sent him into the world to reveal their combined natures and to show forth their conjoint work.
He never made other pronouncements about his Father except to the woman of Samaria at Jacob’s Well, when he declared, “God is spirit.”
You (the people of earth) learn about God from Jesus by observing the divinity of his life, not by depending on his teachings. From the life of the Master you may each assimilate that concept of God which represents the measure of your capacity to perceive realities spiritual and divine, truths real and eternal. The finite can never hope to comprehend the Infinite except as the Infinite was focalized in the time-space personality of the finite experience of the human life of Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus well knew that God can be known only by the realities of experience; never can he be understood by the mere teaching of the mind. Jesus taught his apostles that, while they never could fully understand God, they could most certainly know him, even as they had known the Son of Man.
You can know God, not by understanding what Jesus said, but by knowing what Jesus was. Jesus was a revelation of God.
Except when quoting the Hebrew scriptures, Jesus referred to Deity by only two names: God and Father. And when the Master made reference to his Father as God, he usually employed the Hebrew word signifying the plural God (the Trinity) and not the word Yahweh, which stood for the progressive conception of the tribal God of the Jews.
Jesus never called the Father a king, and he very much regretted that the Jewish hope for a restored kingdom and John’s proclamation of a coming kingdom made it necessary for him to denominate his proposed spiritual brotherhood the kingdom of heaven. With the one exception—the declaration that “God is spirit” —Jesus never referred to Deity in any manner other than in terms descriptive of his own personal relationship with the First Source and Center of Paradise.
Jesus employed the word God to designate the idea of Deity and the word Father to designate the experience of knowing God. When the word Father is employed to denote God, it should be understood in its largest possible meaning. The word God cannot be defined and therefore stands for the infinite concept of the Father, while the term Father, being capable of partial definition, may be employed to represent the human concept of the divine Father as he is associated with man during the course of mortal existence.
To the Jews, Elohim was the God of gods, while Yahweh was the God of Israel. Jesus accepted the concept of Elohim and called this supreme group of beings God. In the place of the concept of Yahweh, the racial deity, he introduced the idea of the fatherhood of God and the world-wide brotherhood of man. He exalted the Yahweh concept of a deified racial Father to the idea of a Father of all the children of men, a divine Father of the individual believer. And he further taught that this God of universes and this Father of all men were one and the same Paradise Deity.
Jesus never claimed to be the manifestation of Elohim (God) in the flesh. He never declared that he was a revelation of Elohim (God) to the worlds. He never taught that he who had seen him had seen Elohim (God). But he did proclaim himself as the revelation of the Father in the flesh, and he did say that whosover had seen him had seen the Father. As the divine Son he claimed to represent only the Father.
He was, indeed, the Son of even the Elohim God; but in the likeness of mortal flesh and to the mortal sons of God, he chose to limit his life revelation to the portrayal of his Father’s character in so far as such a revelation might be comprehensible to mortal man. As regards the character of the other persons of the Paradise Trinity, we shall have to be content with the teaching that they are altogether like the Father, who has been revealed in personal portraiture in the life of his incarnated Son, Jesus of Nazareth.
Although Jesus revealed the true nature of the heavenly Father in his earth life, he taught little about him. In fact, he taught only two things: that God in himself is spirit, and that, in all matters of relationship with his creatures, he is a Father.
On an evening (to his disciples) Jesus made the final pronouncement of his relationship with God when he declared:
“I have come out from the Father, and I have come into the world; again, I will leave the world and go to the Father.”
But mark you (people of the earth) ! Never did Jesus say, “Whosover has heard me has heard God.” But he did say, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” To hear Jesus’ teaching is not equivalent to knowing God, but to see Jesus is an experience which in itself is a revelation of the Father to the soul. The God of universes rules the far-flung creation, but it is the Father in heaven who sends forth his spirit to dwell within your minds.
Jesus is the spiritual lens in human likeness which makes visible to the material creature, Him who is invisible.
He is your elder brother who, in the flesh, makes known to you a Being of infinite attributes whom not even the celestial hosts can presume fully to understand.
But all of this must consist in the personal experience of the individual believer.
God who is spirit can be known only as a spiritual experience.
God can be revealed to the finite sons of the material worlds, by the divine Son of the spiritual realms, only as a Father.
You can know the Eternal as a Father; you can worship him as the God of universes, the infinite Creator of all existences.
[Reproduced from My Favorite Book of Life Guidance]
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Posted by Rajan C Mathew