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He Never Left - Part Three
By John Gavazzoni

Let's retrace our steps a bit in this series to help the process of understanding get the best possible foothold. At least one very pertinent, basic language element must be emphasized with sufficient force so that it will become more difficult for the reader to retreat to the comfort zone of a familiar theological paradigm.

The Greek word, "parousia," conventionally translated as "coming," does not essentially convey the idea of a departure from one location and arrival at another. Even Dr. Strong in his concordance gives its essential meaning as "a being near." Given its root-meaning, the Holy Spirit's choice in inspiring its use in the New Testament, especially as related to the subject at hand, clearly indicates that we ought not to have our focus placed upon a future event, but upon a present reality.

The problem is that when one comes across passages dealing with the "coming of the Lord," pre-suppositions are projected upon the text, leading to a spiritual expectation-posture out of alignment with what the writer is emphasizing.

One might argue: "Well, how can there be "a being near," without a coming, without an arrival?" If the subject had to do with a geographical repositioning, the question might be pertinent, and deserving of an answer, but we're not dealing with a geographical repositioning of something or someone, we're dealing with a (thoroughly biblically documented) present, immediate, repeated, and habitual Presence calling for our very focussed attention. (Thank you, Jonathan Mitchell, for your very careful attention to the Greek in John 14:3, emphasizing the present, repeated (habitual) "coming" of the Lord concurrent with His going).

[As an aside, consider, Paul's revelation that "in Him Christ) all things consist (are held together/cohere). That being so, for the presence of Christ to absent itself from any portion of creation, would mean that place would disintegrate. He is the glue which holds the cosmos together. He upholds all things, not from a distance, but from within the very structure of creation. And He grants His redeemed a special "presencing" from within our depths, and by us, He reveals His same - though presently latent - relationship with all mankind].

Proceeding with the rule of exegesis that calls for the obscure to bow to the explicit, we need a refinement of our understanding as to just what occurred on the mount of ascension when Jesus was taken up from the midst of His gathered disciples, accompanied by the angelic question, and instruction: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go." (Acts 1: 10 KJV).

Was Jesus, according to this account of His ascension, going away to some distant "heaven" to remain at a distance awaiting a future return? Or, if as we have seen thus far in our series, He did not absent Himself from them at all, then we must place the account we're dealing in the relatively obscure category. First of all, given that He said, according to another account of that same event, "Lo, I am with you always," then just what happened there on the mount?

It demands, for one, a rethinking of what we understand "into heaven" to mean. A minimally mature grasp of the heaven of God's abode, frees one from the childish notion that to "get there," one would need to be zapped a zillion light years through space. We need to contemplate the relationship of upward movement as comprehended by our physical senses, with what is going on in the Spirit. When spiritual reality is translated into what physical senses can comprehend, it is easy to misinterpret what is really going on.

During Jesus most intimate communion with the Father, in the Garden of Gethsemane as recorded in John Chapter Seventeen, words of pure revelation pour out of His heart. At the center of the prayer-discourse that issued from that most intimate communion, He did not speak of journey through space to "get to heaven." He spoke of going to the Father, AND that the Father was in Him, and He, in the Father. He spoke of being given the glory which He had with the Father before the world began. Wouldn't you say that speaks of an inner journey? And please remember that we were all in Him, and He took us with Himself into His inner glory, into the real heaven.

Now, dear brethren, I'm going to stop short of spoon-feeding you. You have enough of that from institutional teachers. It's time, sitting in your spiritual highchair, when you ought to be able to pick up off the tray some bits of meat yourself, and get them into your mouth. What I've shared with you thus far requires pondering, deep reflection, meditation that shuts out all else but ponderously glorious truth of this series of lessons

You are going to have to get beyond a mere casual acquaintance with the Spirit of Truth. But I will, toward that end, point out something that the Holy 'Spirit insisted that I not miss about the ascension passage in Acts. We have assumed that when the angel said that the Lord would "so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go" that the messenger meant something like expecting that someone who walks away from us around a corner will come back around that corner. No, that was not his meaning.

The manner by which the Lord left was from the midst of, in the company of His disciples. To repeat, He left from their company, and He will "so come in like manner." He will come from their company, from their midst, for He never left there. He is the I-AM-with-you-always One, and He keeps presently, repeatedly (habitually) coming from within and among us.

The very clear, explicit statements re: our Lord's present location as with/in/among us NOW, demand that we interpret comparatively obscure, and often highly symbolic passages in the light of the former. That is a basic rule of hermeneutics/exegesis. The clear and explicit must be our point and frame of reference.

A case in point: "He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." The "and fire," part of that statement, unless one is of the crudest mentality, introduces, relative to our mind set, an obscure element in John the Baptist's declaration, unless one is thoroughly grounded in the place of "fire" in the economy of God. Without that thorough grounding, the "and fire," begs for explicit reference points, such as "God is love," and ". . . our God is a consuming fire," otherwise all kind of demonic imaginings are triggered by the obscure left to itself.

Go to this series: Part One, Part Two, Part Three or Part Four, Part Five

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