God and the Imagination

By John Thiel

We want to know how to walk with God. It’s lovely to hear people talking about God. It raises a note of romance in some people’s minds. You go through experiences and you think that it can’t be the Lord if it wasn’t romantic. Whether happy or unhappy experiences, it doesn’t need to be devastating if not happy. We want to know how this is to take place. Why did God want the Hebrews to build him a sanctuary? To dwell among them. What a thought that God wants to dwell with us.

Exodus 25:8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.

God wants to dwell among us. What does that mean? That we can dwell with him. God wants to dwell among people who are rebellious.

Psalm 68:18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, [for] the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell [among them].

One danger we face is we listen to the preacher preaching but we don’t read for ourselves. What does Psalm 68 say? We are trying to understand God speaking to us. How does that speak to your mind? Let your thoughts dwell on that. You have to meditate about it. Jesus gave gifts to give the people. He gives to the rebellious. Even to the rebellious God gives gifts to dwell among them. God does not refrain from working with us just because we have been rebellious.

2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

The children of Israel were murmuring and complaining all the time but still God wanted them. God wants to dwell not only with but in us. If that is the case that God wants to walk with us, how do these statements apply to us? God can walk with you and me in a very tangible way.

As in the days of the apostle’s men tried by tradition and philosophy to destroy faith in the Scriptures, so today, by the pleasing sentiments of higher criticism, evolution, spiritualism, theosophy, and pantheism, the enemy of righteousness is seeking to lead souls into forbidden paths. To many the Bible is as a lamp without oil, because they have turned their minds into channels of speculative belief that bring misunderstanding and confusion. The work of higher criticism, in dissecting, conjecturing, reconstructing, is destroying faith in the Bible as a divine revelation. It is robbing God’s word of power to control, uplift, and inspire human lives. By spiritualism, multitudes are taught to believe that desire is the highest law, that license is liberty, and that man is accountable only to himself. {AA 474.1}

The Bible has been inspired by whom? The Holy Spirit. Many read the Bible without the oil in it. Then when you start reading you criticise and analyse it. I still feel that today, the influence I had in school to read for conjecture.

The follower of Christ will meet with the “enticing words” against which the apostle warned the Colossian believers. He will meet with spiritualistic interpretations of the Scriptures, but he is not to accept them. His voice is to be heard in clear affirmation of the eternal truths of the Scriptures. Keeping his eyes fixed on Christ, he is to move steadily forward in the path marked out, discarding all ideas that are not in harmony with His teaching. The truth of God is to be the subject for his contemplation and meditation. He is to regard the Bible as the voice of God speaking directly to him. Thus he will find the wisdom which is divine. {AA 474.2}

You can actually discover God’s divine wisdom. The Bible is to be a book where we hear God speaking directly to me. Think about it. What is necessary to go beyond the words in the Bible? Something happens in your mind when you do different things. Do you ever imagine things? There are many children who dwell in the imaginations which makes life look pretty. David prayed a prayer for the people.

1 Chronicles 29:18 O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee:

What a prayer. He is praying that God would prepare our hearts toward him in what way? Imagination. You need to exercise your imagination when you read the Bible. Some read it as a text book. Do you like imagining things?

If they in humility entreat God for purity of thought and a refined and sanctified imagination, He will hear them and grant their petitions. God has not left them to perish in their sins, but will help the weak and helpless, if they cast themselves in faith upon Him. {CG 463.1}

Some children say, I get bored going to church, as they are not imaging what they are hearing. Imagine God is right near and talking to you personally. It is called a sanctified imagination. When you read stories or watch TV you go to bed at night imaging it and you go on dreaming about what you read.

If the Bible were studied as it should be, men would become strong in intellect. The subjects treated upon in the Word of God, the dignified simplicity of its utterance, the noble themes which it presents to the mind, develop faculties in man which cannot otherwise be developed. {CG 507.1}

Faculties are your ability to think and to be creative if you read the Bible aright.

In the Bible a boundless field is opened for the imagination. The student will come from a contemplation of its grand themes, from association with its lofty imagery, more pure and elevated in thought and feeling than if he had spent the time reading any work of mere human origin, to say nothing of those of a trifling character. {CG 507.1}

The word imagination comes from the word image. If you can’t see something physical so you use your imagination. I looked after psychiatric patients and they could see and hear things because something happened to their imagination. God can do something to our imagination.

The student will come from a contemplation of its grand themes, from association with its lofty imagery, more pure and elevated in thought and feeling than if he had spent the time reading any work of mere human origin, to say nothing of those of a trifling character. Youthful minds fail to reach their noblest development when they neglect the highest source of wisdom–the Word of God. {CG 507.1}

This is what we do if watch TV and stupid rubbish. We imagine it and it destroys our faculty to imagine right things.

Truth in Christ and through Christ is measureless. The student of Scripture looks, as it were, into a fountain that deepens and broadens as he gazes into its depths. Not in this life shall we comprehend the mystery of God’s love in giving His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. The work of our Redeemer on this earth is and ever will be a subject that will put to the stretch our highest imagination. {COL 128.4}

As you look at Jesus and all that God has done with Jesus, it will put your imagination things that are true or fairy-tale? Do you want to imagine fictitious stories? Do you know fiction is? Something isn’t true. Fictitious stories are different to the truth. As God gave you the truth, he gives the story of Jesus in all your imagination. Look at Jesus on the cross and he says, my God, why has thou forsaken me? Why did he say that?

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

This is where you are allowed to imagine. Let your imagination take hold upon this.

Proverbs 4:11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.

4:12 When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.

4:13 Take fast hold of instruction; let [her] not go: keep her; for she [is] thy life.

What is your imagination to be fed with? What must you take hold of so you can imagine things that are good? Take fast strong hold of instruction. If you get instruction, what are you to do with instruction? Let your imagination continue to hold it. This is what you are to exercise your imagination on. Instruction is your life. It’s the instruction of things you don’t know yet. What is another word for imagination? Faith. Imagination is faith? But imagination on something good. This is why you need to exercise your imagination. What should you be doing all the time with your imagine or faith?

Oh, how much we lose by not educating the imagination to dwell upon divine things, rather than upon the earthly! We may give fullest scope to the imagination, and yet, “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Fresh wonders will be revealed to the mind the more closely we apply it to divine things. We lose much by not talking more of Jesus and of heaven, the saints’ inheritance. The more we contemplate heavenly things, the more new delights we shall see, and the more will our hearts be brimful of thanks to our beneficent Creator (Letter 4, 1885). {6BC 1085.3}

At school you are taught to read fictitious stories that are not good for the mind. Let your imagination run strong. What will happen? Fresh wonders. That is what will happen as you apply your imagination to divine things.

Precious jewels of truth, that are of the highest value to the meek and lowly ones who believe in Christ, are as foolishness to him who is wise in the world’s estimation. But truth, eternal truth, is ever present with the true believer. The Spirit is the appointed instructor of such a soul, his guide, his continual strength and righteousness (MS 29, 1899). {6BC 1085.4}

-You need to dwell upon the assurances of God’s Word, to hold them before the mind’s eye. {6BC 1085.2}

As you permit that, hold on to it with your mind’s eye.

Point by point, day by day, repeat the lessons there given, over and over, until you learn the bearing and import of them. {6BC 1085.2}

What is this saying? Can you get it straight away? Over and over. You don’t always get the import straight away. You found something else in the imagination. I can see many beautiful things in the Bible but people forget. When I get Bible studies by someone else, I go over the study in my imagination.

We see a little today, and by meditation and prayer, more tomorrow. And thus little by little we take in the gracious promises until we can almost comprehend their full significance. {6BC 1085.2}

I can see more if I exercise my imagination.

His ministry was nearly completed; He had only a few more lessons to impart. {4T 374.1}

The disciples didn’t pick it all up as they had their own thoughts. Jesus did something to make them think.

And that they might never forget the humility of the pure and spotless Lamb of God, the great and efficacious Sacrifice for man humbled Himself to wash the feet of His disciples. It will do you good and our ministers generally, to frequently review the closing scenes in the life of our Redeemer. Here, beset with temptations as He was, we may all learn lessons of the utmost importance to us. It would be well to spend a thoughtful hour each day reviewing the life of Christ from the manger to Calvary. We should take it point by point and let the imagination vividly grasp each scene, especially the closing ones of His earthly life. {4T 374.1}

What must we do with the word? Meditate. Look around at nature and be not like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and have Jesus walking with you and not notice. We are to occupy our mind with God. Were there children close to Jesus when he was speaking?

These poor afflicted ones need to have a clearer knowledge of Him whom to know aright is life eternal. {4T 579.2}

When you listen to preaching you may not know how to throw open your heart.

The most exalted spiritual truths may be brought home to the heart by the things of nature. The birds of the air, the flowers of the field in their glowing beauty, the springing grain, the fruitful branches of the vine, the trees putting forth their tender buds, the glorious sunset, the crimson clouds predicting a fair morrow, the recurring seasons–all these may teach us precious lessons of trust and faith. The imagination has here a fruitful field in which to range. The intelligent mind may contemplate with the greatest satisfaction those lessons of divine truth which the world’s Redeemer has associated with the things of nature. {4T 579.2}

As you look around nature and what the creator made, your imagination can learn something. As you are driving along the road and see wheat coming up you can gain lessons from it. You don’t have to pick up story books or watch TV.

The intelligent mind may contemplate with the greatest satisfaction those lessons of divine truth which the world’s Redeemer has associated with the things of nature. {4T 579.2}

Do you remember the story of Enoch? What was so special about Enoch? He walked with God. Did he have the Bible? He heard it from Adam and he let his imagination move on. Why did God take Enoch? He had faith.

Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

11:6 But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

This underlines for us what pleases God. Identify imagination with faith. What pleases God? Imagination, let your imagination please God. Enoch walked with God by faith and we are today living in the time when God wants to do for us what he did with Enoch. Do you want to please God? Pray to him in gratitude. This is the way to read the Bible.

Amen.

Posted on October 2, 2010, in Sermons by John Thiel, Short Studies. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. That is some really very good & inspirational stuff there, brother. Alot of truth i be hearing(reading) right here. i would like to subscribe to this site. dont know how. Love ya bro. Shalom

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