The Correct Vision: Correct Vision of God
We are continuing the series of the foundations of the spiritual life. These foundations are important for those who are called to ministry and have the desire to serve the Lord.
Ministry is the measure which reflects whether the spiritual life of the minister has been built and established on good and solid foundations or not.
When we minister to others, it becomes clear to everyone whether there are good foundations or not. This will be clear and apparent to those ministered to, to our fellow ministers, to oneself, and to heaven –the angels who listen to us and serve us. It is written that the angels desire to hear the mysteries of redemption, of love, and of the Kingdom. They desire to hear them from us. We were granted to proclaim these mysteries. This is written in Ephesians 3:10 and in 1Peter 1: 12: ‘things into which angels long to look’. Also Apostle Paul writes that: ‘we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men’ (1Corinthians 4: 9). Thus, every time a minister speaks, the angels, even the evil principalities, as well as the people listen and observe.
Those ministers who have good foundations will be bearers of life, carrying life to others. They will light the way and provide the landmarks and signs of the path. God desires us to show the people signposts and help them in the way. In Jeremiah, God says: ‘Set up signposts, make landmarks; set your heart toward the highway, the way in which you went. Turn back, O virgin of Israel’ (Jeremiah 31: 21). Here God was speaking to His people, His nation, telling them: ‘why are you stumbling in the path; are you not able to see the way or the signposts?’
A true minister whose spiritual life has been built on good and proper foundations becomes a landmark or a signpost on the road for those he ministers to.
In this series we are focusing on the foundations of the spiritual life because of their great importance.
To recapitulate, we have already spoken about two main foundations; namely, counting the cost and the direction of the heart. We highlighted that the heart should be an undivided heart and that we should determine the direction it desires to take. One of the negative things that we often do is that we leave our heart without a direction. When the heart is not taking a specific direction, it swings up and down, right and left; once in the world and another time in the church. Often, the heart has no direction at all; it is neither in nor out nor up nor down; it has no flavour. On the other hand, there are some people who have set their heart on the road and have been filled with holy zeal and insistence on following Christ, regardless of the cost –even if this means that they crucify themselves daily, deny themselves, bear their cross, and follow Christ.
The third important point in the foundations of the spiritual life is: the correct vision: a correct vision of God, of myself, and of my enemy.
Therefore, the three main pillars of the foundations are:
- Counting the Cost
- The heart being undivided and taking a specific direction, directed towards the Kingdom of God and following Christ
- The correct vision; this comprises:
- Correct vision of God (God is a Trinity; Having a correct vision of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit)
- Correct vision of oneself
- Correct vision of the enemy
Correct vision of God
It is important to have a clearer vision of God because this clear vision changes and transforms our life. This vision should not only be heard but it should be revealed to us more and more as we read the word of God and pray. Hearing about it and seeing it are the channels that the Holy Spirit uses to reveal this correct vision and understanding to our minds and allow it to be formed deep within us in a supernatural way. When I give my eyes and my ears to the Holy Spirit, through them, the Holy Spirit imprints in my heart and mind a correct image and vision. He forms it inside me; corrects the marred vision that I had before; and completes what has been missing in this image or vision of God. The result would be a correct image and vision of God that leads to genuine and true change and transformation. This leads me to gradually grow in the spirit towards correct image and a vision that has been drawn and formed in my mind by the work of the Holy Spirit. This will have been formed from what one has heard and seen. Apostle Paul repeated this phrase several time; In Philippians 4: 9, we read: ‘What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things’. Learning and receiving result from the channels of hearing and seeing. This leads to a true formation of the correct image of God in our minds.
We have previously spoken about God as the Trinity. Today we will give some highlights about the Fatherhood of God. This will be followed by a talk about Jesus, the Son and then the Holy Spirit.
These topics can be presented at different levels. Our focus at this stage is on the basis and the preliminary level.
Correct vision of the Father
Who is God, the Father?
There is much to be said, but I just want to give some basic and simple highlights.
As we grow in the spiritual life, we will understand and realise how amazing and sweet it is to be in fellowship with God, the Father. He totally and fully satisfies the inner depth of man. He corrects many misconceptions that we have about Him.
We are often afraid of Him –though we do not dare to admit that. When He draws close to us with His sweet Fatherhood, He will say: ‘you are afraid of Me’. We will say: ‘no, no, Lord, we love You’. He will say: ‘But, I can see that deep within you are afraid of Me because you have learned and understood many confused things about Me’.
When a certain problem or crisis happens we often say: ‘Lord, why did You allow this?’ People would then tell us: ‘It is all for the good’. As a result, we start to form in our minds a conviction that God allows sudden crises and dangers to happen and we should accept them and say that He allowed it and it will work out for the good. Our minds became filled with the view that God is the One who causes the sudden and unpleasant things. Deep within us we say: ‘Lord, I love You and even if something bad happens to Me, I will say that surely You have allowed it for my own good.’ By doing so, we are making ourselves learn something which is not true.
If God the Father draws near us, He will tell us that He loves us unconditionally and that all what He has towards us is absolute goodness. Anything which is contrary to this is not from Him.
It is written that God is good and His mercy endures forever. It is also written that His will is good, acceptable and perfect (Romans 12: 2).
We need to learn to turn the divine biblical revelations about the Person of God into principles that we follow in life and change our thinking accordingly. We need to understand correctly and apply correctly.
Therefore, if the bible says that God is good and His will is good, then these should be the principles I follow and live by. If something adverse happens, I should not be confused and the first thing I should do is to proclaim that this is not from God because He is good and all His ways are upright, just, and righteous. If there are circumstances which are mixed up and not upright, they are not from God because His ways are upright; He is good, and His ways grant deep satisfaction because they are acceptable and perfect.
If I know that the adverse thing that happened was not from God, the natural question that will come to my mind would be: from whom, then?
As we journey in this world, anything that comes in our path has one of two sources: either God or the devil. God is good; His ways are good; and His will is good. The devil, as stated in the bible, is a thief who comes to steal, to kill, and destroy (John 10: 10). It is also written that He was a murderer from the beginning and is a liar and the father of it (John 8: 44).
God is good; while, the enemy is evil. God’s ways are straight; while, the ways of the enemy are deceitful because he is a liar and the father of it. God gives life and fullness: ‘I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly’ (John 10: 10); while the enemy came to kill and to destroy.
These are the two sources that work in our life. The hand of God leads me in straight paths; fills my life with goodness day after the other; and allows me to delight in Him and be satisfied with all that He has for me as it is written: ‘You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing’ (Psalm 145: 16). It is also written: ‘I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness’ (Psalm 17: 15). Everything that comes from God is fullness and satisfaction. It is written: ‘In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore’ (Psalm16:11). Fullness, goodness and blessings come out of God’s hands. His ways are upright.
If I find something happening in my life which is not upright and which involves destruction and deceit, this will be the typical way of the enemy.
The following inevitable question would be:
What makes the hand of the enemy come near me?
As one walks in the journey of life, he can sometimes slightly deviate from the straight path without noticing. This takes one out of the safe path. As long as I am in the safe path –the path of clinging to God and submitting to His will, the good Hand of God will be stretched over me; as we read in Nehemiah 2: 18: ‘I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me’. As long as the good hand is stretched over me, it will lead me in straight paths and fill me with righteousness, pleasure and blessings of God. This Good Hand which is stretched over me protects me and gives me abundant life that flows in me.
However, if I am not watchful and vigilant on my prayers and hence lose connection with God, my feet may slip away from the safe path. The bible describes this path as the narrow path of following Christ. By failing to be vigilant and watchful, I may find myself outside the safe path without even noticing. Outside, there are other hands; the devil exploits all his principalities. Therefore, the hand of the devil and his principalities may surround me. As a result, I may face problems, find the doors closed, and everything may be confused and in a mess. This is not the Good Hand; it is the hand of the enemy.
This hand of the enemy does its evil work and it then manages to deceive us. The evil hand disappears and the evil mouth starts its work telling us: ‘wasn’t it a very weary day; where is your God?’ The person then starts to call upon God, but the mouth of the devil would say: ‘don’t try to pray; God has abandoned you; and in all cases, you are tired today; just sleep now and leave it for later’. The next day one wakes up in a worse state, having listened to this deceitful voice. One wakes up heavy with a lot of confusion in his head. The person starts to pray but finds himself so distracted and confused not even sure if this was proper prayer or not. In fact, true prayer means connecting with the source of life, making one come out of the presence of God filled with abundance of life, peace, and light. However, in this case, one would come out of prayer tense and confused with many thoughts jumbled in his head.
We need to learn to discern and have a correct vision of God and of the enemy.
God, the Father is full of goodness and has prepared all goodness for us. It is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him’ (1Corinthians 2: 9).
When my vision of God is corrected and my relationship with Him is corrected, I will have these expectations every day. Each day, I will be filled with positive and blessed expectations for what I am to encounter that day because it is a day on which the good hand of God is stretched. New things will come from this good hand to my new day. It is written: ‘Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness’ (Lamentations 3: 22, 23).
In reply to the question about why this evil hand reaches us and why God allows this and is silent, I again highlight that it is because God is righteous and has everything in order. If I am walking in His path, His hand will be stretched over me; but if I were to come out of this path, He will not go after me.
Why will God not go after me?
This is because He gives me free will. Out of my free will, I came out of the path; He does not control my will nor does He compel me; He gives me freedom to choose. If I am in His path, He embraces me, but if I go out of His path, He will still be close to me but he will not interfere in my free will or compel me to do something against my choice.
The other reason why God will not go after me is that the devil is the one who deceives me; and so, if God comes after me, the devil will tell God: ‘give me my chance; you are being unfair to me’. This is clearly mentioned in the book of Job where the devil went to God telling Him that Job is righteous because You are blessing Him and You made a hedge around him; give me a chance to touch these things and You will see that he will blaspheme; he does not love You out of his free will; You are compelling him to do so. God’s reply would be that He does not compel anyone; He gives total freedom to each person; but He embraces those who choose Him. God told Satan: ‘do you want to know if Job loves Me out of his own will or not; well, touch him but only with the limitation I give you’. Satan touched Job, but finally Job was approved and God was approved and the devil was put to shame; and ‘the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning’ (Job 42: 12).
It is important to highlight here that there are instances where people commit sins, are negligent in their spiritual life, and they gradually deviate from God’s path; but, when difficult circumstances happen, they complain to God saying: ‘why did you do this to us while we are walking with you and serving you?’ These people are unaware that they have been gradually deviating and not being vigilant.
However, there are other instances where we can go through suffering when we have not deviated from God’s path. God allows these sufferings, though He is not the One who brings evil. He then turns these difficult situations for our good and benefit. This can be for our sanctification, purification, preparation for ministry, or reshaping us. This can also be a fellowship in His suffering or even persecution and unfair accusations which commend us; they become a testimony to others of our love to Jesus and bring many to Christ –as was the case with the martyrs and many church fathers.
We need to know the Person of God, the Father and know His ways. In order to present Him to us in a personified way, the Church has placed the icon of the Father in the bosom of the Church, presenting Him as a Bosom. In fact, when we learn the fellowship with the Father, we will experience it as a bosom full of love and life, embracing everyone who draws near this bosom. One would experience being embraced in abundance of life, love, warmth, and strength; one would experience heaven while still on earth. This is the divine bosom and embrace. He is a Father and a Mother. He is the One who says: ‘On her sides shall you be carried, and be dandled on her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you’ (Isaiah 66: 12, 13).
We often think that God only wants us to pray and worship Him, but He actually wants to pour out His love to us, carry us, and comfort us. We sometimes worship Him with the spirit of slavery, but He is a Father and we are His children not His slaves.
In any family, children would not say: ‘Good morning dad; good morning mum; any requests or orders today?’ We sometimes worship God in such manner! If this is not the norm nor is it suitable or acceptable with the human parents, how much more with our heavenly Father!
We then pray saying: ‘Thank You Lord because we are Your children; You made us children not slaves’. Do we really live as His children? We often say certain words in prayer; yet, we do not apply them in practice, in our relationship with Him.
We live in spiritual poverty and scarcity because we live a life of slaves while it has never been God’s purpose to be a Master worshipped by slaves. He is the God of Life who shares this life with His children.
When we enter into this true level of fellowship with the Father, when we start to pray, we will feel that we want to enter into His bosom and receive the warmth and love. We then go out to offer it and radiate it to others; it will overflow from our whole being; it will shine in our words. By this, we become life-bearers.
This is but a glimpse about the Father. If we continue to talk about the Father, words will never end. But let me finally sum up in 5 main points based on the references we discussed earlier:
- God, the Father always welcomes us as children in His family and His household.
- He desires to wash us continually from our sins. He is not waiting for us to tell Him that we are good, wholesome, and perfect. He does not mind if we go to Him saying: ‘Father, I fell today and I am covered with mud’. He will say: ‘come, I will cleanse you and forgive your sins’.
- He cares for and looks after our life. He is the Shepherd. It is His pleasure to give us good gifts every day. The bible clearly states: ‘If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him’ (Luke 11: 11 – 13).
Why do we sometimes expect God to give us a scorpion! He never gives scorpions. If we as humans do not do so, how do we accept the heavenly Father to do so! He only gives good gifts to His children.
We need to change our expectations based on what the bible tells us and what the Church teaches us by presenting the Father as the bosom so that anyone who lifts up his eyes in prayer would see His arms desiring to embrace him. When He embraces us, our sins dissolve and spontaneously fall off our shoulders because He forgives and forgets: ‘For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more’ (Jeremiah 31: 34).
- He defends us against our enemies because He is a mighty God.
- He prepares for us an eternal inheritance in heaven.
Heavenly Father, the Source of love and comfort, You know that there are many suffering souls who have not yet known that You have richly prepared for them comfort in Your bosom.
Please, draw us near You.
O Source of Life, You know that death chases us everywhere in the midst of an evil world. Please draw us near You so that death may flee away and we dwell in Life.
O Source of riches, You know that we unknowingly go after poverty until we become surrounded by poverty and distress in every step. Please draw us near You so that poverty may flee away in Your presence and we may understand the words of the Scriptures that say: ‘that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich’ (2Corinthians 8: 8).
Not only do we become rich, but also ‘making many rich’ (2Corinthians 6: 10).
You are our Father; even if we do not fully comprehend this.
Please reveal Yourself to us; drive our steps forward; correct our understanding; and watch over us.
 Hebrews 1:14
 Luke 9:23; Romans 8:36
 Exodus 32:4; Psalm.92:15; Ezekiel 18:25
 Psalm 91:11,12
 Job 1: 6 – 12
 Philippians 3: 10
 According to the Coptic tradition
 Isaiah 63:16
 John 1:12
 Psalm 51:7, 8
 Psalm 19:14: the word ‘Redeemer’ is repeated a lot throughout the whole bible; it refers to all needed protection.