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A study I did, based upon the book "The Shack". Because it challenged me.

The Shack - a bible study
Based on the book "The Shack," by William Paul Young.

A very quick overview of the book - After the tragic loss of a child, Mack struggles for answers and finds redemption in God’s love.

There are things in the book that will challenge your understanding of who God is, how you deal with anger, judgment that you pass upon others, and how much God loves you. In an effort to walk you through some of those challenges, I will attempt to give you theological reasons to believe. My hope is that you find yourself more in love with the Creator of the universe, God, Papa if you will, than when you started.

How many paths are there to God?

One of the biggest deceptions being told right now is that there are many paths to God. I am convinced that God can find you and draw you in no matter what path you may be standing on, but it was not the “path,” necessarily that brought you to Him. John 6:44 RV Says, “No man can come to me, except the Father which sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day.” Noah’s saga can help to bring that home. When the floods came there was only one way of escape and redemption, through the single door on the ark. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father but through me.” This is neither a paradox or irrational; it is just the way it is. When Nicodemus came to Jesus, in the night, what Jesus challenged him with may have seemed irrational. “You must be born again”; for it could be taken two ways. Nicodemus took it as being re-birthed through a mother, and that was not going to happen, although being re-birthed is exactly what happened to us, and it happened on the cross; believe it or not. Funny thing about saying something like “believe it or not”, acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior requires us to believe, perhaps not all at once, but as you learn of Him then you must make a decision, choosing to believe so that you receive all that he did for you, or living an unfulfilled, and selfish life.

Why would you choose to only accept an adoption on your own terms. I suppose many do that and keep their rebellion tucked neatly inside, saying “I will go along with you, but don't expect me to cooperate or do what you want.” As a child, in a sense, you become a child within that family. If there are others, you join the ranks of the existing children. As a family member, and child, you have to understand that sometimes even the children in the family have to learn to take out the trash.

Nicodemus was a man who was educated in the Torah, the law of God, and therefore Jesus spoke to him in terms he should have understood. Do you realize that the writers of the New Testament found God's grace and freedom in those same books of the law, with a little revelation of God's love thrown in.

In contrast to Nicodemus we have the Samaritan woman, a Gentile. Look at John chapter 4 and observe the conversation she has with Jesus. Jesus draws her in and tells her plainly that he is God, unlike Nicodemus there was no veiled allusions.

A piece of history about the Samaritans. They rejected the prophets but accepted the books of the law written by Moses. Moses had said that the Messiah would come, and he would be a prophet like Moses. When Jesus told her about her life and then says that he was that prophet, she knew immediately that she was in the presence of the one. Her reaction alone tells you that.

God presents His case to us and we seem to have the ability to choose to follow Him or act out of our own selfish desires. Adam chose to be selfish and the results were devastating. Thankfully, Jesus chose to be a man and chose to be obedient to the Father’s will.

How does God speak to us?

Mack finds the note from Papa, in his mail box, inviting him to come to the shack.

I would like to call this a paradox, but I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around God choosing to speak to me in a manner such as this; Mack had a hard time with it too. Maybe this is one of reasons I can relate so well to this book, Mack is so much like me, in many ways.

A paradox is something that is seemingly absurd, yet true in fact, such as, Christ on the cross of Calvary. Everything about that scenario is absurd to the human mind. His own disciples thought that through Him they would topple the governing bodies and here he voluntarily sacrificed Himself to a brutal death.

In the opening paragraph of chapter 5 William Young states, "There are times when you choose to believe something that would normally be considered absolutely irrational. It doesn't mean that it is actually irrational, but it surely is not rational."

So how does God speak to us?

This may take a moment to get through this, but bear with me. The word teaches us that everything is to be verified by two or three witnesses, so allow me to try.

The primary method is through the Word of God. God's word is God’s voice to us.

(1.) Through the Word of God, Jesus voice to us.

Hebrews 1:1-2 (GW) In the past God spoke to our ancestors at many different times and in many different ways through the prophets. (2) In these last days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God made his Son responsible for everything. His Son is the one through whom God made the universe.

Here I have opened by saying that God speaks to us through His word and yet in Hebrews it says that God speaks to us through his Son. If that is a problem then how do we resolve it?

Jesus during his temptation in the wilderness responded (and you can find this in both Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4) to Satan by taking a scripture that we would consider out of context, and quoting it to Satan. The passage was from Deuteronomy 8:3, where God had been explaining why he had tested Israel in the wilderness. Now we have the Son speaking the Father's words.

And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you knew not, neither did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of Jehovah does man live. (Deuteronomy 8:3)

The passage I have shown above is a translation that reads differently from what we have become comfortable with. The KJV reads: “that man does not live by bread only, but by every word the proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord does man live.

Contrary to our opinions of how we should treat scripture, this worked for Jesus quite well. There was no great and sudden theological debate about whether he could use the passage in such a manner, nor was there any chastisement from the Father about it's lack of effectiveness because he pulled only a portion of it.

The word “word” was not in the original text and was placed in the sentence out of logical assumption. It makes sense for it to be there and adds a logical flow to the passage, but that in itself does not make it necessary. The original language translates more closely to the ASV, which is the version that I used. The word “everything” in the Hebrew means: any, each, every, anything, totality, and everything. In other words God's word has no restrictions on it. You may speak out whatever is necessary for the moment.

I went through the Faith movement and still hold to some aspects, but I am sadly disappointed that we were, and still are, teaching people that God's word is a tool that you use to get your own selfish desires fulfilled. If you are praying God's word to satisfy your lusts and bolster your ego then you are acting out of your own will and God is not the least bit interested in that. (Acting upon his own will is what caused Adam to fall, taking all of us down with him.)

Read the book of Romans sometime, and ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the truth that is in there. If you are looking for a pattern to follow, try Jesus. He did nothing outside of the will of the Father, had nothing here on this earth, and yet you will not find a man more free, considered more prosperous, nor more educated.

John opened his gospel by stating:
John 1:1-3 GW In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was already with God in the beginning. (3) Everything came into existence through him. Not one thing that exists was made without him.

John went on to quote Jesus as saying:
John 15:3 now you are clean through the Word, which I have spoken to you.
John 17:17 sanctify them through your truth. Your Word is truth.

If all we had to work with was the statement “the Word was God” that would be easy enough. My mind would have no argument with God and His word being the same. Perhaps this should take us back to a simpler time when a man's word was worth something; it was the measure of trust and character he had. In other words, if I said it I meant it, and you could count on it being done. It is easy to understand that God is that way, if you read the bible, and in so doing, you get to know His character.

Now here comes the part that can cause some difficulty. John continues to say that “the Word was with God.” That in itself gives the Word a somewhat separate identity. To be with someone almost sounds like a couple that goes to the high school prom, but this is no prom. This has similarities to a marriage; the union between Jesus and His Father. We have such difficulty understanding the trinity but not a duality such as marriage. When couples marry they legally join together in name, in debt, and identity (Again, this will be a point of argument. Because of selfishness, people have demanded their own identity.); this is not much different with God and His Word. John finishes the sentence by saying the Word was God almost as if he was a minister presenting the newly married couple to the audience by using the one name.

He was already with God in the beginning.” He is still referring to the Word.

Everything came into existence through Him.” The Word

Not one thing that exists was made without Him.” The Word

John 1:4 says that “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” We are still talking about the Word, but John is about to make it very clear who the Word is. John 1:6-8 talks about John the Baptist, Jesus cousin who was six months older. He came as a witness of the light, but he, John, was not the light. Here is the good part. John 1:10 says that “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world knew him not.” Jesus was the one that we understand was in the world. John knew this by revelation from the Holy Spirit. (Remember that John was filled with the Holy Spirit while inside his mother.)

The reality that Jesus was the Word is spread all over the bible. Jesus told the Samaritan woman exactly who He was.
John 4:25-26 MKJV the woman said to Him, I know that Messiah is coming, who is called Christ. When He has come, He will tell us all things. (26) Jesus said to her, I AM, the One speaking to you.

By saying I AM, He effectively told her that He was God, for the term He used, ‘eimi,’ carries the connotation of I exist: - am, and have been. Jesus made it very clear that He was God, He is the Word, and He is the Spirit of Truth that is come into the world.

I said all this in an effort to anchor down the fact that Jesus is God, the Word, the Truth, the Light, the Son, so much more, and our soon coming King.

The writer of Hebrews says that 'He' has spoken to us through His Son.

Hebrews 1:1-2 GW In the past God spoke to our ancestors at many different times and in many different ways through the prophets.  (2) In these last days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God made his Son responsible for everything. His Son is the one through whom God made the universe.

By demonstrating who Jesus is should make this passage easier to understand. The Son and the Word are the same, and yet God tells us that He has spoken to us through His Son. Jesus declared, “what you hear me say is not my word but the word of the Father who sent me.” (John 14:24 Moffatt NT). There should be no difficulty in this, Jesus stated that He only did the will of the Father, and only spoke what the Father would have Him speak.

Jesus told us that He and the Father are one. Perhaps a way to picture this is to remember Mr. Spock from Star Trek, when he would put his hands on someone's head and do a Vulcan mind meld. He would say your thoughts are my thoughts. The frail, human mind says there has to be a physical separation between Jesus and the Father, or else how could Jesus have been here on earth and in Heaven at the same time? God does not operate within the parameters of your confined thinking. Yes, I am sure that you are educated beyond compare, but God's word has told us that the mind cannot conceive of what God holds for us in the future. Truth is we cannot understand all that He is now, but we have an invitation, while on this earth, to search out the depths of the one who created us, for we have the mind of Christ. Perhaps that mind of Christ is His written word.

Genesis tells us that God spoke and creation came into being. Gen 1:3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. John went on to quote Jesus, as He referred to the branches, a part of the vine, and how they are cleaned. John 15:3 now you are clean through the Word, which I have spoken to you. Jesus, praying to the Father, said the Father’s word, is truth. John 17:17 sanctify them through your truth. Your Word is truth.
Jesus told the Samaritan woman exactly who He was. John 4:25-26 MKJV the woman said to Him, I know that Messiah is coming, who is called Christ. When He has come, He will tell us all things.  (26) Jesus said to her, I AM, the One speaking to you. By saying I AM, He effectively told her that He was God, for the term He used, ‘eimi,’ carries the connotation of   I exist: - am, and have been. Jesus made it very clear that He was God, He is the Word, and He is the Spirit of Truth that is come into the world.
The reality is that Jesus was the Word. He was in the beginning with God and He was God.

(2.) The Holy Spirit – Occasionally using the voice of men, directed by the Spirit.

We know that God is a triune God; His name in Hebrew even conveys plurality. One of those aspects, no so different than the relationship Jesus shares, is the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that when He went away the comforter would come. He spoke of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit showed himself on the day of Pentecost, and they spoke as the Spirit prompted them to speak. (Keep in mind that at this point there were about 120 people gathered together, including Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Acts 2:3-4 MKJV and tongues as of fire appeared to them, being distributed; and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled of the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

1Co 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, which God has hidden, predetermining it before the world for our glory;

Act 4:20 for we cannot but speak the things, which we have seen and heard.

1Co 2:13 These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Gal 3:16 and to Abraham and to his Seed the promises were spoken. It does not say, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, "And to your Seed," which is Christ.

(3.) Alternate methods - The paradoxes

“Something that is seemingly absurd, yet true”

God has demonstrated that He lives outside of the boxes our finite minds try to put Him in, and He has done this on many occasions. The mind cannot conceive the reality of who God is and how He operates. He operates outside of our dimensions and time.

Unto us God has revealed things through the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10 RV but as it is written, Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, And which entered not into the heart of man, Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him. (10) But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes even, the deep things of God.

In Daniel 5:5 God speaks by having a hand write on the wall.
Daniel 5:5 RV In the same hour came forth the fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.

Moses had God talk to him out of a thorn bush was burning.
Exodus 3:2-5 LITV And the Angel of Jehovah appeared to him in a flame of fire from the middle of a thorn bush. And he looked, and behold, the thorn bush was burning with fire, and the thorn bush was not burned up! (3) And Moses said, I will turn aside now and see this great sight, why the thorn bush is not burned up. (4) And Jehovah saw that he turned aside to see, and God called to him from the midst of the thorn bush, and said, Moses! Moses! And he said, behold me. (5) And He said, do not come near here. Pull off your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.

Balaam, a false prophet, who succumbed to the desire for money, had his donkey talk to him.
Numbers 22:28-30 LITV And Jehovah opened the mouth of the ass, and she said to Balaam, What have I done to you that you have struck me these three times? (29) And Balaam said to the ass, because you have insulted me. If only there were a sword in my hand now I would kill you. (30) And the ass said to Balaam, Am I not your ass on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Was I ever known to do so to you? And he said, No.

Consider Balaam’s reaction. You might think he would have freaked and ran. Perhaps Balaam understood something our civilized minds do not.

God can speak through a variety of methods that are beyond your wildest imagination, but we are told that His primary method in these days of ours is through His word. If you recognize all that Jesus encompasses, then you can begin to see all the possible ways God can speak to you.

Papa - What do you look like?
"Guess who's coming to dinner" Chapter 5, pp.82-

What we do know based upon God's word.

(1.) God is a spirit.
John 4:24 MKJV God is a spirit, and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.

The word John used for spirit is the Greek word pneuma - a current of air; that is breath (blast) or a breeze, by analogy or figuratively a spirit. This should have a familiar ring to us, as this was the designation for the Holy Spirit's arrival and presence.

The question then, is God merely breath?

Of the names of God, one is Elohim. This name to the Hebrew tongue means plurality, or a God of multiple characteristics. One of those is the Holy Spirit which Jesus, another aspect of God, said would come. The name most distinctive of God as the God of Israel is Jehovah, a combination of the tetragrammaton (YHWH) with the vowels of 'Adhonay, transliterated as Yehowah, but read aloud by the Hebrews 'adhonay). In Hebrew, it is pronounced almost as if it were breath sounds.
Keep in mind that if the kingdom of God is within you

(2.) God answered Moses when he asked to see God.
“…no one can see me and stay alive,”

Exodus 33:18-20 LITV And he said, I pray, let me see your glory. (19) And He said, I will cause all My goodness to pass before your face. And I will call out the name of Jehovah before your face. And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. (20) And He said, you are not able to see My face; for no man can see Me and live.

The Hebrew words God used to explain this carries the implication that your physical body does not have the ability to perceive what I look like, for no one in a physical body has the ability to stand in the presence of pure love. Your bodies cannot handle it

(3.) God is love - "Agapao" love

1 John 4:16 LITV And we have known and have believed the love which God has in us. God is love, and the one abiding in love abides in God and God in him.

Love is not something you can see with your eyes, unless you can see its effects on the one that feels that strongly about something. To be in love with plants, is to be passionate about them, having an excitement that longs to excite others.
Wuest says: "'AGAPAO' speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize it. It springs from an opinion of the preciousness of an object. It is a love of esteem and support. The quality of this love is determined by the character of the one who loves, and that of the object loved. "
So then love is an action, based on an inner sense of value that moves us to act on behalf of that which we love.
(4.) Love is God’s character
1 John 4:16 LITV And we have known and have believed the love which God has in us. God is love, and the one abiding in love abides in God and God in him.
By learning about God you begin to recognize the love God has for us, and in so doing you begin to understand God. God does nothing outside of His character, which means He does nothing outside of love, no matter how it appears at the time.
(5.) God’s love is demonstrated by His actions
John 3:16 GNB For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.

(6.) His love is something that you can comprehend
2Th 3:5 LITV And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.
The Good News bible translated the verse this way; "May the Lord lead you into a greater understanding of God's love and the endurance that is given by Christ."

The word direct is taken from two other Greek words and means to: to straighten fully, that is, (figuratively) direct: - guide, direct.

Side note: A popular radio apologist says that it is blasphemy to think that God looks like a man with perceptible features, and yet we know that God measured out the heavens with a span (Isa 40:12). The Hebrew word for span is zereth (zeh'-reth) meaning: the spread of the fingers, that is, a span. (We should also know that “God is light and there is no darkness in him at all” )

Why would God make a reference like this?
Is it because that is what He used, His hand. Or is God merely trying to make an analogy so that men could attempt to visualize who God is. If God made analogies that were not consistent with whom He was, that would make Him a liar, and nothing He has claimed could be trusted. It would also make the cross a futile effort, and Heaven could be considered a myth. Reality is that God is not a liar; He has never misrepresented Himself and science, as well as history has proven Him to be reality. God, acting out of love, has withheld judgments; there is nothing inconsistent about that, if He follows through with His word. Nineveh is an example of God’s withholding judgment, and yet Nineveh was finally destroyed, just as Jonah said.

Bottom line is that only Jesus who came from the Father knows precisely what the Father looks like. Jesus was and is the express image of God, in all ways. So that image we have of God being huge, mean and unapproachable should be rethought in light of Jesus. Jesus, himself said: “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”

Authors note:
This was as far as I got, and there is so much more. Perhaps someday I will find the time to continue. I hope this helps you in some way, it did me. The book was a challenge to me, but I choose not to throw it aside. I choose to keep an open mind and lead with my spirit. Things that challenged me became things that I pursued in God's word to find out if that is true or not. One of the biggest challenges was how God presented herself to Mack. That is not that difficult considering that one of God's names carries the connotation of being the breasty one. If God is light, then the color that God appears is irrelevant. Any problem you have with a black woman is your prejudice, anger, and judgment getting the best of you. You do not have any business acting that way, scripture tells you that. Try to remember that God loved you before Jesus death on the cross forgave and cleansed you of your crap filled life, and God has not changed his mind about you. Consider your emotions a wake up call and ask God to forgive you, then learn to walk in a new freedom. Love you guys! OZ


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