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Archive for July 10th, 2010

The Hidden Kingdom: Finding our Lost Spirituality

By Jorge Madrid Sr.  (Posted with author’s permission)

.. as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.”’ (Rom 11:8)

Young Schliemann

Young Schliemann

Around the time of the California gold rush a brilliant German entrepreneur named Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890) came into prominence because of his astute business acumen which led him to become a multimillionaire at the young age of 26. In addition to his acuity in the business world young Schliemann was fluent in several languages and trained by his father in the classics of western civilization. But above everything in his life he became enamored with the Greek culture, language and folkways. So much so, that he wrote to a Greek friend to find him a Greek Lady who shared his love for Greece and the Greek people so that they could study the Greek Classics together.

Of all the Greek classics none seemed to appeal more to him than those of Homer and his epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. As he studied these books of poetry. He became more and more convinced that the State-City of Troy vividly described in the works was not merely  a figment of Homer’s imagination, but, in fact, was a place that actually had existed. In his determination, he researched all of the pertinent characteristics and geography he could glean from the Homer’s poetic classics. Armed with this information, he set out to locate this fabled city. After much effort he finally located a hill in northwest Asia Minor where he was sure the city of Troy once stood. Since money was not a problem, he financed and directed the dig himself.

From the very beginning his efforts were met with ridicule and scorn. All the notable classicists, historians, and archeologists were united in declaring Schliemann’s project as sheer folly and merely a publicity stunt to raise money. After all everyone knew that Homer’s  Iliad and Odyssey were just mythical poetry and that only someone completely devoid of his senses would be willing to believe it literally.

But Schliemann did believe it and he began his excavation with great awe and expectancy. Several months into his project, nothing had been found other than the usual sort of artifacts found in the general area.

One day as Schliemann and his wife were digging in the area of an arch they believed to be the entrance to a palace, a small hole appeared as they moved a stone behind a wall. Peering through the hole the Schliemanns caught  a glimpse of  what appeared to be gold. Immediately he told his wife to declare a holiday for the workers to celebrate his “birthday”. Going back to the dig later they uncovered a treasure unequaled in beauty and wealth except for that discovered in Tutanhkamen’s tomb.

Skeletons in Golden armor were everywhere, the golden death mask of a king, whom Schliemann presumed was King Priam, the King of Troy, was also found. It was presumed to be one of greatest archeological finds of the century![1]

By now, you might well ask, what does all this have to do with helping us to live a spiritually empowered Christian life?

By analogy, I make the following application of this story to our lives as Christians. We have in our hands the greatest book in the world – The Word of God as contained in the sacred scriptures, a book that contains indescribable spiritual treasures. Yet because we fail to understand it or believe it, we wander about looking for a deeper understanding and knowledge of God elsewhere without realizing that God himself has placed the very means of achieving that in the hands of every believing Christian, namely, the sacred scriptures! Our problem is our lack of spiritual understanding of the Word and its importance to living a life that draws on its energy and power.

How often do we treat the Word of God as merely “religious poetry” or “apocalyptic symbolism” or a “book of rules and mythical morality stories” and in this way close our minds to the great spiritual truths that are to be found in every book of scripture. How often have we laughed to scorn those who have come into revelation knowledge of the Word and have attempted to share their treasure with us? How long has not the Treasure of the Ages been buried in the hills and mountains of our traditions?  How few there are that actually believe this Guide-Book to that treasure and begin to enter in to the depths of the Lord’s Messiah.

If a secular and profane man such as Schliemann can study and believe in a worldly book of poetry written by a long-dead human author and discover the reality of what was thought to be a mythological kingdom, why is it so difficult for some Christians to believe the words of the Living God?  The words of the Father, who not only made us inheritors of the Kingdom through the death and resurrection of His Son, but who also, gives us His Holy Spirit TODAY, so that His words may bring us to a deeper understanding of the eternal life he has placed in us?  Is it possible that the words of the Living God are less meaningful than those of Homer? Why is it that man cannot understand that the Lord God wants to lead us not to a kingdom of the dead , but into His Kingdom of Life through the Archway of Salvation in Christ Jesus, His Son? A kingdom we can enter TODAY and not after we have left our physical bodies!

The basic problem is ignorance – ignorance in the spiritual sense. For you see, when the Lord, speaking through the prophet Hosea said, “ my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”[2], he was not referring to intellectual knowledge. For of all the people of the Near East, perhaps none were as assiduous as the Israelites in undertaking the study of the Word of God. Yet God’s word stands true not only regarding them but also for all of us living in this modern world, where theological studies abound. Because we have not come into the spiritual understanding we need to know God and His Ways, we are prevented from functioning effectively as the people of God.

The main cause for this lack of spiritual ignorance is clearly attributable to western society’s emphasis on the rational, intellectual, psychological, and physical nature of man and the rejection of anything spiritual. A rejection, which is sometimes covertly covered over by presuming that man’s spiritual side, is demonstrable through his psyche or his intellect and the assumed notion that there is nothing else in man’s nature beyond this. The current wisdom being, “ if a phenomenon cannot be categorized into one of our existing sciences or medical disciplines it does not exist”. Unfortunately, this type of thinking has so crept into our churches that true spirituality, instead of being sought, is avidly avoided (especially by us men).

Yet it is only through a renewed spirituality that we can know God and come to an understanding of His Word. For Jesus, said, “the words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are Life”[3].  Thus, since the unspiritual man cannot understand spiritual things[4] we could study the Bible for a thousand years and not obtain a single spiritual value from it. It is only when we let The Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh in Hebrew) enter our hearts, that is our spirit, that the Word of God can be  of any spiritual value to us. The Lord provides the grace for His Word to enter our hearts. All we have to do is receive it and act on it. When this happens we begin to have a true understanding of what the Lord really wants to say to us individually through His Word. It is a manifestation of the grace of revelation knowledge. Once you have experienced such a grace you can personally understand the comment made by the two travelers to Emmaus who were privileged to have the Lord explain scripture to them: “..were not our hearts burning within us?”[5]. This infused understanding is the spiritual heritage of every Christian.

You see, the spiritual understanding of scripture is not something you get automatically by going through a course of study, it is a grace given by God to all who ask. Just as for the disciples, Jesus “opened their mind so they could understand the scriptures[6], so must each of us ask to receive the revelation we need from our daily reading of God’s Word. This is the reason that whenever scripture mentions belief, it is with the heart not with the intellect. For example, when Paul exhorted the Christian community in Rome, he said “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that Jesus rose from the dead you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the lips and so is saved[7]. This is not to say that our intellects do not come into play – because they do, but not to discern spiritual things but as a filter to determine the veracity and type of materials we permit into our spirits and as a reasoning engine to “rightly divide the Word of Truth”[8].

Once we have received the Word, meditating on the Word of God is the means the Lord has instituted for permitting His word to go deeply into our hearts. Acting on His revealed word to us as individuals is what brings forth fruit. Once we understand that to access God, we must approach Him in the spirit, then the Lord is able to be in fellowship with us. Without that understanding we cannot expect progress in our spiritual lives, nor can we expect to discover the Glory of His Kingdom through the scriptures.

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(excerpted with permission from “Thy Kingdom Come” by Jorge Madrid Sr.; © 2003 Madrid Family Trust, all rights reserved)

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[1] There is a great deal of controversy regarding Schliemann’s discovery of Troy. There is no doubt today that the site he discovered is that of the City of  Troy. The only problem is that there were nine cities built on the same site over 2000 years so which one was really Homer’s Troy?

[2] Hosea 4;6

[3] John 6:63

[4] 1 Corinthians 2:14

[5] Luke 24:32

[6] Luke 24:45

[7] Romans 10:9-10

[8] 2 Timothy 2:15

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