At Ramah Jesus had the memorable discussion with the aged Greek philosopher who taught that science and philosophy were sufficient to satisfy the needs of human experience. Jesus listened with patience and sympathy to this Greek teacher, allowing the truth of many things he said but pointing out that, when he was through, he had failed in his discussion of human existence to explain “whence, why, and whither,” and added: “Where you leave off, we begin. Religion is a revelation to man’s soul dealing with spiritual realities which the mind alone could never discover or fully fathom. Intellectual strivings may reveal the facts of life, but the gospel of the kingdom unfolds the truths of being. You have discussed the material shadows of truth; will you now listen while I tell you about the eternal and spiritual realities which cast these transient time shadows of the material facts of mortal existence?” For more than an hour Jesus taught this Greek the saving truths of the gospel of the kingdom. The old philosopher was susceptible to the Master’s mode of approach, and being sincerely honest of heart, he quickly believed this gospel of salvation.
The apostles were a bit disconcerted by the open manner of Jesus’ assent to many of the Greek’s propositions, but Jesus afterward privately said to them: “My children, marvel not that I was tolerant of the Greek’s philosophy. True and genuine inward certainty does not in the least fear outward analysis, nor does truth resent honest criticism. You should never forget that intolerance is the mask covering up the entertainment of secret doubts as to the trueness of one’s belief. No man is at any time disturbed by his neighbor’s attitude when he has perfect confidence in the truth of that which he wholeheartedly believes. Courage is the confidence of thoroughgoing honesty about those things which one professes to believe. Sincere men are unafraid of the critical examination of their true convictions and noble ideals.”
On the second evening at Ramah, Thomas asked Jesus this question: “Master, how can a new believer in your teaching really know, really be certain, about the truth of this gospel of the kingdom?”
And Jesus said to Thomas: “Your assurance that you have entered into the kingdom family of the Father, and that you will eternally survive with the children of the kingdom, is wholly a matter of personal experience—faith in the word of truth. Spiritual assurance is the equivalent of your personal religious experience in the eternal realities of divine truth and is otherwise equal to your intelligent understanding of truth realities plus your spiritual faith and minus your honest doubts.
“The Son is naturally endowed with the life of the Father. Having been endowed with the living spirit of the Father, you are therefore sons of God. You survive your life in the material world of the flesh because you are identified with the Father’s living spirit, the gift of eternal life. Many, indeed, had this life before I came forth from the Father, and many more have received this spirit because they believed my word; but I declare that, when I return to the Father, he will send his spirit into the hearts of all men.
“While you cannot observe the divine spirit at work in your minds, there is a practical method of discovering the degree to which you have yielded the control of your soul powers to the teaching and guidance of this indwelling spirit of the heavenly Father, and that is the degree of your love for your fellow men. This spirit of the Father partakes of the love of the Father, and as it dominates man, it unfailingly leads in the directions of divine worship and loving regard for one’s fellows. At first you believe that you are sons of God because my teaching has made you more conscious of the inner leadings of our Father’s indwelling presence; but presently the Spirit of Truth shall be poured out upon all flesh, and it will live among men and teach all men, even as I now live among you and speak to you the words of truth. And this Spirit of Truth, speaking for the spiritual endowments of your souls, will help you to know that you are the sons of God. It will unfailingly bear witness with the Father’s indwelling presence, your spirit, then dwelling in all men as it now dwells in some, telling you that you are in reality the sons of God.
“Every earth child who follows the leading of this spirit shall eventually know the will of God, and he who surrenders to the will of my Father shall abide forever. The way from the earth life to the eternal estate has not been made plain to you, but there is a way, there always has been, and I have come to make that way new and living. He who enters the kingdom has eternal life already—he shall never perish. But much of this you will the better understand when I shall have returned to the Father and you are able to view your present experiences in retrospect.”
And all who heard these blessed words were greatly cheered. The Jewish teachings had been confused and uncertain regarding the survival of the righteous, and it was refreshing and inspiring for Jesus’ followers to hear these very definite and positive words of assurance about the eternal survival of all true believers.
The apostles continued to preach and baptize believers, while they kept up the practice of visiting from house to house, comforting the downcast and ministering to the sick and afflicted. The apostolic organization was expanded in that each of Jesus’ apostles now had one of John’s as an associate; Abner was the associate of Andrew; and this plan prevailed until they went down to Jerusalem for the next Passover.
The special instruction given by Jesus during their stay at Zebulun had chiefly to do with further discussions of the mutual obligations of the kingdom and embraced teaching designed to make clear the differences between personal religious experience and the amities of social religious obligations. This was one of the few times the Master ever discussed the social aspects of religion. Throughout his entire earth life Jesus gave his followers very little instruction regarding the socialization of religion.
In Zebulun the people were of a mixed race, hardly Jew or gentile, and few of them really believed in Jesus, notwithstanding they had heard of the healing of the sick at Capernaum.