The Substance of Things Hoped For | Jay Fesperman (1/3)
On many occasions I have been thrown together with a person whose language was completely foreign to me, and mine to him. Trying to convey a thought to another under these circumstances is most frustrating. The ability to understand one another demands a commonly understood language. My conversation sounds like so much gibberish to someone who only speaks and understands only German or French or the Lunda tongue of southern Africa. And theirs to me. It’s wild babbling!
We talk about hearing the Word of God. What language does God speak? Before you try to answer that, with what kind of mouth does God speak? Do His words have some kind of physical effect on my ear drums and I hear WORDS? Just what IS the Word of God?
Words put into phrases and sentences are meant to convey thoughts, ideas, concepts, and facts. But to think the thought before we speak it, the idea or the concept has to be formed in words and phrases. Otherwise, we wouldn’t even be able to understand ourselves without language. But it takes speech to get it out and send it to another person. That is the basis of communication for almost all of mankind.
Animals express themselves in physical ways, with grunts and groans of a sort, not with words as we understand the word “word”. Birds call to one another with whistling sounds which they understand. In other parts of the animal kingdom movements carry certain messages, but we humans depend on W-O-R-D-S! Spoken words! And we are constantly saying, “I need to hear God!” HOW? How does a man who understands by hearing sounds. . .hear God?
When I spoke to the African people in Zambia, they couldn’t understand me, except that I spoke through an interpreter. This man understood my words, took what I said phrase-by-phrase, and then spoke them into the Lunda language so that the people could understand what I had been saying. They had to hear words, which they did when I spoke, but they had to hear they words in their own language. They had to hear with their ears before they could understand with their minds.
But beyond that there was more required. How did they know that what the other man said that I said was true? And how did I know that what he said was exactly what I had wanted them to hear? It was a matter of TRUST. It came right down to the place that required that they absolutely trusted a man to rightly interpret ideas that made up the message. That’s all! . . .or was it?
There is something deep within each one of us which God Himself put there; a something which assures us or warns us about the veracity of what we hear. It is a thing of the spirit, a quality of our very being that gives witness to the truth or to the lie. But since God put it there, one has to believe there is a God in order to be able to depend upon this intangible something that lies within. I believe this “thing” to be FAITH. It is probably connected with, or is the same thing as, that warning system which guides us as we walk in the unknown or in the dark. Some animals have a keen sense of hearing, which is their protection; others a sharp, acute sense of smell, but man depends upon this inner sense, this thing of the spirit, or, as some call it, their sub-conscience mind. I believe that man, made in the image of God, has been given a knowing capacity that does not depend on the physical senses so much as it depends on this inner knowledge of good and evil, of right and wrong, of danger and safety.
The Bible says that we have it “in Christ”. And I believe that since the world was made through Him, we all have this safety factor, both in our spirit and in our nature. So if we apply it as a protection to the natural man, it functions in that realm. But if we are “in Christ”, then we have it as a gift of faith for the KNOWING of what God has to say to us, and for what we are to be in Him.
I KNOW there is a God. I KNOW Him. I know Him because I know to be true what I have heard and read about Jesus Christ. I KNOW God, because I KNOW Jesus Christ!
From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation”, Volume 5, Number 4, June/July 1985.