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The Sanctifying Gifts (Part 2) : Understanding the Gifts

“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,

And a branch from his roots will bear fruit,

And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,

The spirit of Wisdom and Understanding,

The spirit of Counsel and Strength,

The spirit of Knowledge and the Fear of the LORD,

And He will delight in the Fear of the LORD “ (Is. 11:1-3)

My fellow pilgrims and brothers and sisters in Christ,

In my previous article I reflected on the Sanctifying Gifts and the Inner Anointing as the expression of our partaking in the personal relationship between the Father and the Son. In this article I expand my reflection to the structure of the Gifts and what that structure tells us about their manifestation in our lives.

First of all, let me summarize the Sanctifying Gifts as they are normally adduced from the quoted scripture from Isaiah Chapter 11.  They are, namely: wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety (devotion) and the fear (reverence) of the Lord.

Now, activating these gifts with which the Lord has graced us, let us, prayerfully, begin our journey into understanding the nature of these gifts.

In the quote from Isaiah 11 regarding the Gifts of the Messiah, we see that the first six gifts are coupled or linked in pairs. This coupling is not accidental (everything in the Word of God has a reason). The coupling is such that it indicates the manner with which the Holy Spirit works in order to infuse Himself into our lives, First He infuses His gifts into our hearts (spirits) and then uses that infusion to activate a corresponding gift in our minds (souls) which then causes our will to act, thus, bringing forth God’s will and His fruit in our lives.

For instance, Wisdom and Understanding are linked (with an “and”) because the operation of the Holy Spirit is such that He first infuses His gift of Wisdom in our hearts. Then He further helps us by translating that non-verbal inspiration into an understanding in our minds that will lead us to take an action in consonance with God’s will.

WISDOM

The Gift of Wisdom

Now, Wisdom, is the non-verbal, non-conceptual infused spiritual ability to discern God’s will, His judgments, and the desires of His heart in our spirits. However in order to actualize that wisdom in our lives by acting on it, we must first come to an intellectual understanding of what the Lord has placed in our hearts. Thus, the statement of these gifts: “… the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding”, infers that the Holy Spirit not only places the specific wisdom we need to understand God’s will in a particular circumstance in our hearts but He also assists our minds in converting that non-verbal inspiration into a particular set of thoughts that will move our will to act in accord with God’s will. It is through this, the process of  “renewal of our minds”, that this transition can occur. This is the Divine Wisdom under which Jesus lived His life here on earth and now wants us to share in it!

Wisdom, then, leads us to understanding God’s ways with our minds. For since the Lord has told us that,  “ … my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways (Is 55:8), He must, of necessity, infuse us spiritually with the capacity to come to an understanding as to what His thoughts and His ways are if we are to be truly in fellowship with Him. That is why this is a spiritual gift and NOT just a natural human gift that is blessed by God.

In the same manner, the statement, “… the Spirit of Counsel and Strength”, infers that the grace of steadfastness (fortitude, or strength) to remain in God’s will and way regardless of circumstances derives from the gift of spiritual counsel or guidance we first receive in our hearts from the Holy Spirit. For He alone indeed is our Counsel and our Strength! And if we know in our hearts that we are following the guidance of the Shepherd of our souls and what we are called to do is HIS will then we will, through this gift, obtain the strength to not deviate from His Way!

“Who has learned Your counsel,

unless You have given wisdom

and sent your holy spirit from on high?” (Wis. 9:17)

The Gift of Knowledge

The Gift of Knowledge

The statement, “… the Spirit of Knowledge and Fear of the Lord” is perhaps the most awesome gift because it tells us that we share in Jesus’ knowledge of the person of the Father. You see, the term “knowledge here refers not to human intellectual knowledge but to the intimate relational “Knowledge” or “Love” that exists between the father and the Son at the spirit level and it this Knowledge of the Father’s Love in our hearts that brings us to our knees (indeed on our faces) before Him. Thus our response to this “Knowledge” is a heartfelt, sincere adoration of Him who is above all – Our Creator and our God. It is a Knowledge that Jesus promised to all who believe in Him. For as scripture tells us, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27). And as , Jesus himself told the Pharisees, “…if you had known me you would have known my Father” (John 8:19)

This gift of Knowledge, then leads to a reverence of God that is born of this intimate “Love” relationship with Jesus who reveals the Father to us. This is the “fear” or reverence that God desires in us, not an insincere reverence that is based on legalism, an outward reverence that is not based on Love,  but rather, a reverence such as is derived from a personal intimate “Knowledge” of His Person. The Apostle Peter corroborates the concept that this spiritual Gift of a personal and intimate Knowledge of God as a person brings us into a sharing in the Divine nature.

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust ”(2 Peter 1:2-4).

The last statement , “… And He will delight in the Fear of the LORD”, is  probably the most misinterpreted and therefore most misunderstood of all the Gifts. Because it mentions Fear or Reverence a second time, most interpretations interpret the first time it is mentioned as “Piety”, whereas at this mention it is interpreted as the gift of “Fear” or “Reverence” although it is the same term or word in the original Hebrew.

The misunderstanding arises because the statement is taken out of context.  In order to fully understand this “gift” we must look at the verses that follow as well.  Thus the full statement we are attempting to understand should be read as:

The Mercy Seat

The Mercy Seat

“And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with mercy for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.” (Is 11:3-5)

Taken In the full context, and in the appropriate understanding of the original Hebrew, the full quotation might be better transliterated as follows:

The Gift of Divine Mercy

The Gift of Divine Mercy

“Because He (the Messiah) will be extremely sensitive to the reverential Majesty of God and His Righteousness (Justice), He will not judge in human terms but will rely on the Spirit of Divine Mercy and Justice to guide Him and with that sense of Mercy and Justice He will judge the poor and decide with fairness for the afflicted and execute judgment on those who mistreat them.”

When understood in this manner this last Gift really sounds more like what we would call Social Justice, but it really exposes the Heart of God’s Love for the poor and oppressed, which is expressed through the Spirit of His Divine Mercy  or Justice. I, somehow, think this gift should be renamed.

What we have to ask ourselves is, “Am I living this gift out in my life?”, and if not, why not?

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Now, my brothers and sisters, I don’t expect you to totally agree with me on these my reflections on the sanctifying Gifts, rather, I present this theme to you to challenge you.  Yes, to challenge you to test my reflections against the inspired Word of God by calling forth the Inner Anointing you have received in Baptism, and you, yourself, asking the Holy Spirit to give you the Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding to comprehend to the depths the scripture regarding the Gifts of the Messiah in Isaiah Chapter 11 and see what He will reveal to you. For has not God promised: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ (Jer 33:3)?.

For you see brethren, you can only grow in these spiritual gifts if you experience them yourself and continue using them in your lives.  You will not experience or grow in these gifts if you merely take for granted every religious or theological concept that is handed you (including mine), and you accept these uncritically without understanding the depths of the Word of God from which they should proceed. The Gifts of Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding and others are activated by any inquiry directed to the indwelling Holy Spirit that is impelled by the sincere desire to Know God, to Obey Him, and to Love Him and Him alone!

Be careful, however! In opening our spirits we must also be aware that not all that our spirits sense is of God. That is why the Apostle John tells us (1 John 4:1), that in order to truly discern the Holy Spirit’s work in us we must test every spirit, including our own. That grace also comes through prayer and practice!

I pray, brethren that that by sharing my reflections on this subject you will be incited to really desire the true Gifts of the Inner Anointing so that, in doing so, you may truly come to truly KNOW Christ intimately and not just know about Him!

Praised be His Holy Name!

Your Fellow Pilgrim and Brother in Christ!

Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2010])

Related Links

§ The sanctifying Gifts (Part 1)

§ The sweet Yoke of Love

§ The Key of Knowledge

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THE KEY OF KNOWLEDGE

The Key of Knowledge

The Key of Knowledge

“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.” (Luke 11:52)

My fellow pilgrims,

There is nothing more important to “entering the Kingdom” than spiritual knowledge.  I say “spiritual” because our modern mentality seems to think that the only kind of knowledge is intellectual or conceptual.

When speaking of “Knowledge of God” scripture is not referring to intellectual knowledge but of an intimate “knowledge” of the person of God that can only come through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  John’s Gospel clearly tells us that … “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” (John 1:18)

The reason that Jesus accuses the scribes[1] for taking away the “key of knowledge” was that, as the custodians of the Word of God, they were interpreting the Word in a legalistic manner, mainly to maintain control over the people and augment their own religious stature rather than to help the people understand  the spirit of the Word rather than the letter.  As a result they were obscuring the Good News of the Father’s Love and true character of the Messiah who would manifest that love to Israel.

As a result, through their culturally biased teaching they were hindering those disciples to were drawn to Christ by presenting a human-based interpretation of the Word  and the prophesies relating to the Messiah.

The Word of God in the Old testament was not only meant to be God’s way of guiding His people into  how to live a full life in His Love but really He intended that through the Word they would come to understand His Love for them and thereby come to know His person and thus  through that knowledge enter into a relationship with Him . That is why He said through the prophet Hosea that He desires steadfast love and not sacrifice (Hos. 6:6).

In the New Testament He reveals His love through His Son and it is through His Son, the Living Word of God, that He reveals himself to us so that through Jesus we may enter into the true intimacy of Knowledge He desires for us; a knowledge that comes only through a relationship with Him through Jesus His Son. It is this gift or “Spirit” of Knowledge which Isaiah  prophesied would be  one of the seven spiritual character traits of the Messiah, (Is. 11:1-3) and ours when we are baptized by the Spirit into Christ (Rom. 6:3, Gal. 3:27).

Simon Peter, our first pope, who ought to know about the Keys to the Kingdom, states the following in his second epistle:

2Pet. 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
2Pet. 1:2 May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
2Pet. 1:3 His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

…..

2Pet. 1:8 For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful     in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2Pet. 1:9 For anyone who lacks these things is nearsighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins.
2Pet. 1:10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble.
2Pet. 1:11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.

Later in this epistle Peter also exhorts all Christians that this gift needs to be nurtured so that through this gift we may grow spiritually.

2Pet. 3:17 You therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability.
2Pet. 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen

As one of the sanctifying gifts we receive at baptism and conversion, growing in the gift of knowledge is key to the process of being conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). It is not a gift that we can just take for granted, it is a gift that has to be received and acted on daily through an act of our will. All we have to do is ask in faith.

St. Paul, through his epistle to the Colossians, exhorts us about this process of renewing the new self as follows:

Col. 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
Col. 1:10 so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.

……

Col. 3:9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices
Col. 3:10 and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.

But how, you may ask… “can I come to this ‘knowledge’ of which you speak? I have been baptized and confirmed but I don’t know whether I have such knowledge. And although I consider myself a faithful Christian, I ‘m not sure I can say I have a “personal” relationship with Jesus.”

My dear brother or sister in Christ, let me assure you all you have to do to intiate a relationship to Jesus is to sincerely ask in prayer and faith for Him to come into your Heart and reveal himself to you!

Of course, when I say sincerely, I mean that you are willing to surrender yourself to his Love and let Him reign as King in your life.

When you do this, the Holy Spirit will activate your spirit so that you become sensitive to His presence in you.  He will also activate your prayer life so that you may dialogue with Him and strengthen your relationship as you let him tell you about yourself and the Love He has for you! The fruit you then bear will, in itself, be a witness of His Life in you and of His relationship with you; for without Him you can do nothing (John 15:51)!

“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13)

Then, in order to nurture the relationship and grow in Him, turn to His Word and meditate daily on it so that the Holy Spirit may continue to communicate the Knowledge of Him through His Word.

“My child, if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;

if you indeed cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding;

if you seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures—

then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. “ (Prov. 2:1-5)

Thus scripture reveals to us how the seven sanctifying gifts of the Spirit interact in us to activate the transforming gift of knowledge which brings us into conformity to Christ.

May the Lord richly bless you as you proceed on your walk with Him to whom all honor and glory belong! Praised be His Holy Name!

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2009]


[1] The scribes were also responsible for teaching and interpreting the “Law” or the Torah to the Jewish people. Because of this they were also sometimes termed “lawyers”

 

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