Metaphysics and Mystical Experiences

Continuing the train of thought from my earlier post on metaphysics:


The video speaks for itself, so I won’t waste your time repeating its content.

Another topic I consider metaphysical – though some might not – is the topic of the make up of the spiritual realm. I encounter many people who seem happy to believe in Elohim – the Creator – and that a man named Yeshua (Jesus) existed some 2000 years ago. They may or may not believe in the miracles. They may or may not believe in the resurrection. They emphatically agree that loving God and loving your neighbors are the right way to live. But, often because of the history of the Bible or misunderstandings concerning how ancient texts are analyzed and translated, these well meaning people conclude we don’t need the scriptures to tell us how to pursue a relationship with God. When push comes to shove, they often cite their own “spiritual experiences” to back up their assertions.

Now, when I said I considered this topic somewhat metaphysical, it’s because it has to do with the nature of reality that is in fact much more real than observable reality. It kind of goes back to the difference between temporal reality and eternal reality – the spiritual realm is where angels, both righteous and fallen, reside. The Bible clearly affirms the existence of angels, as well as demonic spirits, and the spiritual realm. But if you are one to throw out the scriptures, you may argue that there are no such things as demons, or that Satan is just a metaphor for human misconduct, or there is no such thing as “evil.” And you might be arguing this because – and listen carefully – a demon disguised as an angel of light whispered sweet things in your ear about tolerance and respecting all paths to God and so on and you – being untrained in the scriptures; not believing in the scriptures; not recognizing Yeshua as King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the way, the truth, and the life – are now living according to doctrines of demons!

But what really are “spiritual experiences,” especially if people who don’t prescribe to a certain religion can claim to have had such experiences from God? I think William James did a pretty good job summing it up in 1902, though he called them mystical experiences. To summarize, mystical experiences are defined by two major and two minor qualities – in the major, they (1) defy expression, (2) are authoritative as providing insight into truth; in the minor, they (1) are transient (cannot be maintained for a long time) and (2) are passive (i.e. cannot be voluntarily induced).

Don’t believe the what I said 2 paragraphs ago? Despite being exactly one of the people I describe (having succumbed to my own spiritual experiences, and consequently coming to some odd conclusions), the scriptures testify of these matters. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (NKJV), Paul warns the church about false apostles but also expounds on Satan’s power to deceive:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

Paul also warns Timothy – and by extension Church leadership – about doctrines of demons in 1 Timothy 4:1 (NKJV):

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons…”

Not every sweet voice that whispers to you good sounding things is of God! 1 John 4:1-3 NKJV:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Yeshua HaMashiach has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Yeshua HaMashiach has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

Why is it so critical we place our trust and faith – pledge our fealty and sacrifice our lives – to Christ? In large part because Christ is truth and everything else is a lie! John 18:37 (NKJV):

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”

Yeshua answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

John 14:6 (NKJV) reads:

Yeshua said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 8:31-32 (NKJV) reads:

Then Yeshua said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in my word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Most people remember verse 32, but not verse 31, which instructs us to abide in Yeshua’s words, to be disciples (disciplined ones) of Him! We can see clearly from the scriptures above that a chief aim (or even THE chief aim) of Yeshua’s earthly ministry was to prove there is an absolute truth and to lead people to that truth! Ever notice how Paul frames spiritual warfare almost in the terms of a debate in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5? The scripture reads:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…

Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to Christ – the mind is central to spiritual warfare, and truth is central to obtaining the mind of Christ!

We now know that we cannot come to the Father, except through Yeshua. But are we allowed to worship our Father in just any way? Well, the answer has some depth. While Abba – YHWH our Father – is absolutely a loving God (1 John 4:8 NKJV: He who does not love does not know God, for God is love), he is also absolutely a Holy God – Jehovah Tsidkenu, the LORD of righteousness. (Leviticus 19:2 NKJV: “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I YHWH your Elohim am holy.”) In our Father, there isn’t even the slightest hint of evil – James 1:17 NKJV: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

In the Old Covenant, there were many rituals and laws designed to protect people from YHWH’s holiness. You might be saying – say that again? Because the people were sinful – and because the only mediator between YHWH and man was the Law, which was perfect but unattainable for man – YHWH had to protect the people from Himself lest he obliterate them with his holiness. Take for example the story of the profane fire from Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10 1-3 NKJV):

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before YHWH, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from YHWH and devoured them, and they died before YHWH. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what YHWH spoke, saying:
‘By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.'”
So Aaron held his peace.

Nadab and Abihu offered profane fire in a manner not instructed according to YHWH’s righteousness and were consumed by his holiness.

Now, Yeshua has come, and stated in John 4:24 (NKJV) “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Moreover, by His death and resurrection, He tore the veil between God and man, pouring out His Spirit and serving as Mediator of a new covenant that grants direct access to our Father (Hebrews 9:11-15 NKJV):

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Yet this still doesn’t mean “worship any which way you please!” As 1 John 2:3-4 states:

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Yeshua had many commandments – such as the one above, “abide in My word.” Or the whole Sermon on the Mount. But it’s about time to wrap this post up.

The take away I’m getting at is, you can’t just trust your emotions when it comes to spiritual encounters. Satan is deceitful. Most people aren’t going to knowingly worship something evil, but they might be duped into abandoning the truth for a sweet sounding lie. (This is sometimes called COMPROMISING!) Make sure you know the truth. Pray that the Holy Spirit aid you in living the truth.

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Musings on Metaphysics

Because it’s been coming up every so often in my personal life, let’s discuss metaphysics, shall we?

Solomon laments the task of philosophizing in Ecclesiastes (a book estimated to have been written nearly 3,000 years ago) when he states (ch 1 v 9-11 NKJV):

That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who come after.

Some of the most basic questions pondered throughout the eons concern questions of metaphysics. What is the universe and how did it get here? Is the universe eternal or was it created? If it was created was it created by one god or many gods? If there is a god or gods, where did s/he or they come from? And one of the most fascinating questions is, how is it possible that there came to exist anything at all?

Regrettably, a lot of the discourse on this matter in contemporary times is sullied by a false dichotomy that pits science vs. religion, as if having faith makes it impossible to see the utility in science or being a scientist requires one to abandon the “God hypothesis.” On the extreme end of things, certain scientific explanations take on faith-like qualities of their own – I would argue, in any case, that it takes a lot of faith to believe that something can be derived out of nothing, or that a universe with this much order (from the laws governing celestial bodies to the laws governing microbial bodies and everything beyond and in between) was a result of mere chance. But I don’t mean to get into a protracted analysis of science and faith here, particularly when I’m out classed and others have already written well on the subject.

Nor do I mean to drag out all the old philosophical arguments for and against different worldviews – though, I may get to that one day. No, today I just thought I’d share some scripture that has spoken to me and ask if they speak anything to you. The metaphysical question I’m addressing is whether or not God (YHWH) exists. First, I submit a small quote from Romans (ch 1 v 20-25 NKJV):

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Paul’s argument here is that mankind has always known God existed. As David rejoices in Psalm 19, “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork.” Creation itself is evidence for a creator – when we stumble across a cabin in the woods we don’t assume nature put it there through a combination of chance, luck and time…we assume someone built the cabin!

But soon man was overcome with futile thoughts (take note of this, as the mind is the strategic center for spiritual warfare, which I’ll write about in the future) and his heart was darkened. Professing to be wise – and surely, many atheists and agnostics and critics of YHWH, Yeshua, and the Bible come across as not merely just wise, but articulate, cogent and intelligent – man began to create their own God or gods. And one must ask where this wisdom comes from – as James would warn us (ch 3 v 15), some wisdom “does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.”

I could quote the rest of Romans chapter 1, which essentially deals with a reprobate mind, but the sum and substance of it really comes down to people being deceived. They think life is better free from YHWH’s “rules” and “laws” and system of morality – certain influential atheists have even gone as far to say they developed and propagated their views simply because they wanted to be free to sleep around and do drugs (direct quotes available in this video – sorry, don’t have time stamps – and here). Now, I don’t mean to impute judgment on people who want to live that kind of a lifestyle, but what I’m getting at is that people like that don’t realize they’re being deceived into thinking they are free when really they’re creating bondages for themselves.

This notion that one needs to prove that YHWH exists or prove He doesn’t exist is silly to me. Admit it, like it, or not, all we have to guide us through this life is our belief system. Changing beliefs is famously difficult. Most people demand “evidence” and pretend to “objectivity” but really we all have the human tendency to listen to what we want to hear and believe what we want to believe. This, I think, is one distinguishing mark of a true disciple of Yeshua – Yeshua promises the path will be narrow, full of adversity, and that, just as he did, his disciples will have to take up their own crosses and lay down their own lives (die to self) for their brothers. But he also states in John 18:37 that the entire purpose for his coming was to bear witness to the truth, and elsewhere in John that most famous of quotations that the truth shall set us free.