"But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, 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. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1Co 2:7-13)
The upshot here is that the things of God are revealed through the Holy Spirit. It may be that most often the text of the Bible initiates the process of understanding, provides a check on "vain imaginings" and also serves as a common ground of communication. However, without inspiration the Bible remains a closed book. We can also bear in mind that God spoke to the prophets directly and they did not get all of their understanding from prior writings. You might say that God didn�t write the Bible out on a word processor and fax it to us. God spoke to the prophets, the prophets converted the speaking of God into human language using the idioms of the day, and then it all got written down and transmitted to us through the ages. In short:
�Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.� (2Pe 1:20-21)
This verse is often misunderstood. To say that prophecy was not �private interpretation� is to say that the prophet was not simply speaking from his own opinion on the matter. Rather, the prophet was inspired to speak by the Holy Spirit. However, we are still left with the problem of interpretation. It would be nice to be able to state categorically that the Bible means exactly what it says and nothing more. Bear in mind that the text is in human language with all of its inherent vagueness, cultural idioms, symbolism, changes in meaning over time, etc. No matter what your view on the text, there will have to be careful study and interpretation.
Even more significant, we are struggling to understand eternal things that often go beyond reasoning. Oftentimes this requires the use of poetry, hyperbole, and paradox to express the spiritual idea. That�s why I say I always bear in mind that �the map is not the territory.� The way something is expressed is not the same as the thing being expressed, and there may be multiple expressions that mean the same thing. In addition, the expression of an idea may be a partial description and thus what appear to be contradictory statements are in fact complementary -- an epistemological problem of perspective, in other words.
You say toh-may-toh�
I say toh-mah-toh�
Oh, let�s call the whole thing off.
It gets even more interesting if you include the possibility that the Bible is layered in meaning, as with an allegory. A given passage may have a literal interpretation and multiple layers of symbolic interpretations. See, for example, Galatians 4:22-31 where Paul mixes the story of Abraham and the law of Sinai with quotations from Isaiah. Furthermore, a given verse may be limited in meaning in its context while expressing a general principle by itself. Galatians 6:6-9 is example where Paul does that very thing.
But, we were talking about some interesting ontological possibilities --- A friend wrote:
If we think about the concept of inversion (image below to assist visualization), my main proposition is that our reality, our �universe� in its limited dimensionality is really inverted from eternity (or the metaverse) and is in fact a limited �Invertiverse�!! In fact, each of us (lambs), are inverted into this reality from eternity and therefore exist in both simultaneously!!
1 - If we are in Christ, then our true spirit nature is inverted from eternity and always has, does now, and will continue to exist there, regardless of our inverted �flesh� experience in this �Invertiverse�.
I think that�s a very interesting �model� and consistent with the Bible. First, there are verses in the Bible that seem to make no sense in an �L'^3^'T� only universe.
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jer 1:5)
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Eph 1:4)
Logically, this doesn�t make much sense. How could someone be �chosen� before he even existed? The idea that God simply had foreknowledge is one possibility, but can run into a slippery slope of determinism. A more intriguing idea is that we exist in eternity always and exist physically with a beginning and end.
And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. (1Ki 17:1)
This image if Elijah is one I find most interesting. Elijah speaks as if he is standing in the presence of God while simultaneously standing before Ahab. Certainly that is not to mean that Ahab was God.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Gen 2:7)
The Bible talks about the soul of man in somewhat vague terms and there is quite a difference of opinion as to what it all means. The same word (nephesh) is used in the Hebrew to represent both the physical body and the soul. However, in the Greek of the NT there are two distinct words. Thus we can�t equate the physical body with the soul. They seem to be joined in some mystical way, but are nevertheless separate. One way of describing the difference would be that the body exists as a physical thing while the soul is somehow outside space-time. The soul, in constant communion with God, would provide a kind of link between the finite physical and the infinity of God�s existence. Man is then a special creature designed to serve as the vessel by which the infinite is projected within the finite. God sees through our eyes and hears through our ears. Although He is omniscient, he can experience our sense of uncertainty and surprise as we live in this time-bound existence. Hence, man is the �image and likeness� of God in physical form.
The problem the soul is faced with is that the sensory input of the physical overwhelms the perception of eternity. Man gets trapped (so to speak) in the flesh and loses the connection to God. A non-time soul that thinks it is only a physical body is going to be in �hell� forever once the physical body dies and no more sense input is available. The soul must regain its spiritual nature to avoid that eternal torment. Thus the need for a rescuer to come into this existence and become the means of regeneration and the bridge to bring us back out.
Thinking in terms of an �inversion� is intriguing. I usually think of it more as a conical projection with the soul as the singularity of the apex and the spreading out of the base as the intersection with the �ontological plane of physical existence.�
But, that�s just the model I use.