Rick Sutcliffe's opundo  opundo   by
  Rick Sutcliffe

Logos & Thura

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The Word and the Door


I hope you enjoy opundo. It's fun to play with words, inspect them, toy with their sounds and meanings, and toss them around to see what happens.

Words are important. They are the sounds/symbols by which we communicate ideas, the revelation of our thinking, the "fleshing out" of our minds in a tangible form, If we could not effectively communicate our ideas, our values, and our thoughts to other people, we might as well not have any.

Logos -- The Word

There is one Word, or revelation that is more important than any other--the Word of God. It seems to be innate in us humans to believe in God. Most people do. The Bible itself remarks: "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." (James 2:19). The ancient Greeks were well aware of the existence of one God who transcended all the myths of the pantheon (gods created in human form and with human weaknesses and foibles). This One, Who had created all that exists, they called the "unknown God". Obviously, there can only be one such true Deity, but, being creator, he was unknowable, above or outside all creation, unless He would deign to send a revelation of Himself (a logos, or word) into His creation to tell of him.

To them, true knowledge was something apprehended by a revelation from the Divine realm, comprehended by human reasoning, and communicated by rhetoric. Such knowing was logos, from which we get the word logic.

So when Jesus' friend and Apostle John writes: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1), he is announcing that the true God and creator of all things has indeed sent His revelation of Himself, His Logos, in the person of His Son. As another part of the New Testament puts it: "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word." (Hebrews 1:3) The Son, Jesus, shares the same Divine nature as the father. He is God, come down to demonstrate himself.

The people He came to weren't completely in the dark, for God had sent information about Himself through various prophets and messengers all along. There was a written Word of God already. But as the writer to the Hebrews comments: "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe." (Hebrews 1:1-2)

By this written Word, God had already told us that He, the Creator of all things, was an ethical God, with absolute standards of right and wrong, and that as our maker, He could and did hold us to account for our behaviour and would judge us if we violated His ethical norms.

When people have a set of rules to go by (say, the ten commandments), they have a tendency to follow the letter but not the spirit. In Christ's sermon on the mount, he brought us back to reality. God holds us to account for our very thoughts, not just our words and deeds. One of his examples: "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28) In saying this, Jesus, the Living Word, was authoritatively telling us that obeying the letter of the written word is insufficient.

Sin and death

Our situation is much worse, for further study reveals the true demand of God is: "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) Impossible, you say. Quite so, as summarized by the Apostle Paul: "...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." (Romans 3:2) The penalty for missing the mark of perfection is clear too: "...the wages of sin is death.." (Romans 6:23) and, again, "in this way death came to all men, because all sinned...(Romans 5:12)

Now, there was a provision for sin made in the Old Testament. Typically, the repentant sinner brought an animal sacrifice as a substitute for him/herself, laid their hands on the animal as a sign that their sins were put on the lamb, then slaughtered the animal and the priest sprinkled the blood on the alter as a token of atonement. Unfortunately, the remedy was not permanent, for such sacrifices had to be repeated day in and day out for centuries. Moreover, through the sacrifice was supposed to be unblemished, such animals were not perfect (for they were not God, either), and they only symbolized the sinner dying for sin; they weren't human.

The remedy

John the Baptist, on seeing Jesus, said: "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)

Jesus the Christ came to do two things:
(1) life a life of perfect righteousness to completely satisfy the demands of the law, and
(2) take all sin on himself, becoming the perfect sacrifice at the cross when God poured out his wrath on his son instead of on us.

Thus, because he was a man, he was a sacrifice that could logically be applied to the rest of us humans (he was one of us), and because he was God his sacrifice could be infinitely perfect and sufficient for as many people as necessary. So Jesus was the complete word of God, perfect in life, and showing both God's justice and mercy in death. The prophet Isaiah, foreseeing these events centuries ahead, said: "my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. ... he bore the sin of many..." (Isaiah 53: 11-12) After the cross, Christ proved that he had indeed paid the penalty for sin by rising from the dead. The curse of sin was lifted, first in Him, later in His people.

How is Christ's death applied to me?

"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31) " and "if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)

Some people have the notion that if they do enough good works, the weight of these will balance off their sin, and they will be accepted by God. This is a salvation by works doctrine, and was apparently followed by the Pharisees in Jesus' day. But, no, if the discussion about perfection above were not enough to disabuse us of this notion, other passages of scripture should: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no-one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8) Also see: "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." (1Jo 5:13)

Good works in the name of Christ follow receiving God's salvation, done out of gratitude for receiving it and because God dwells in the one He saves to perfect for good works, but good works never produce salvation in the first place, because we can't be perfect. The deeds are the evidence of the free gift of salvation, received through faith, they are not the cause of it.

Thura -- The Door

In the Old Testament, we are told: "Jacob ... had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it." (Genesis 28:10-12) Millennia later, Christ interpreted this dream to Nathaniel as follows: "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." (John 1:51), thereby declaring that he personally was the entrance to heaven. The same idea is present in other places: "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved." (John 10:9) [The word for "gate" is "thura" or "door".]

Also, in the Old Testament, the way to God's presence in the Holy Place at the heart of the Tabernacle (later the temple) was blocked by an enormous, thick curtain. The High Priest could go through it once a year to make a sacrifice for himself and for the atonement of the people, but he daren't enter with out the sacrifice or with unconfessed sin on his heart, or he would die. At the very moment that Christ, the Lamb of God, died on the cross to be the sin bearer for all, "The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom." (Mark 15:38) Thus the way to God became open forevermore through Christ. "we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body..." (Hebrews 10:20)

Q Is there only one way, one door to God, then?

A Yes, according to the Bible

"Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to." (Luke 13:24)

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.' (John 14:6)

"Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

In a day when the equality of all values, beliefs, and religions is widely touted, the exclusivity of Christianity may seem scandalous. But there can only be one God, and only one true revelation of Him. Christ is that revelation (logos) and the only door to gain access to God and His heaven. He demonstrated he was the eternal and authoritative life-giver by curing leprosy, healing deafness and blindness, and raising the dead. He claimed to be God, a claim clearly understood by the religious leaders who more than once tried to kill Him for it, and he accepted the worship of his followers, as only God could do.

One illustrative incident is: "Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 'Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?' Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, 'Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up, take your mat and walk"? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins....' He said to the paralytic, 'I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.' He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all." (Mark 2:6-12)

Who indeed but God can do either? Christ proved Who He was--God's Logos and God's Thura. As an eyewitness put it: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life." (1John 1:1)

All other religious systems, gods, holy writings, ways to God, and prophets, no matter how well-intentioned, are false. So are those that claim to serve the true God, but deny the deity of Christ, His resurrection, or the efficacy of His salvation, or that do evil but claim it is in His Name. Their god is someone else, their word a lie, their door closed. To employ another metaphor, Christ is the Rock. All other rocks are sham rocks.

The bottom line

Jesus is the Living word of God and the only door to God. The only way to know God is by repenting of sin, believing in Him, accepting the salvation He worked at the cross, and receiving the eternal life He gives to His people. "See, I have placed before you an open door that no-one can shut. (Revelation 3:8)

That open door is Jesus Christ, the Living Word of God. He welcomes one and all to Himself. Trust in Him for salvation and walk through the door to the presence of God.

If you want to enquire further, I suggest you read the book of Romans carefully, then find a local church where the Bible is upheld as God's infallible word and Christ is preached as the only door to God.

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