OK, that sounds as pretentious as I can probably make anything. But I do not really know any other way to put it. If I try to put myself in the place of a reader I’d tend to think either, “Here comes a load of offal that may be fun to poke through for a while until the writer slips off his cliff” or the worse imagining “This fellow must believe he has something to say of some gravity”. (And gravity is a great help to slipping…even off cliffs when need be)
My learning to live in apparent paradox finds me engaged with a tireless tutor. Whether He finds me, or better, how He finds me is completely beyond my present apprehension. Am I diligent or slacker? Mindful or mindless? Attentive or distracted by every shiny presentation of puffery, truly, I do not know. I know I think I know “how I am”, but if I told you that is the set up to what I consistently find as one of the most hilarious and Heavenly jokes would you get it?
When I feel as though I am being taken aside by the Real One as though being led by “Come, do you want to see something really funny?” (And my response can never be anything less than “of course!”…) “Here, then, I’ll show you a man that thinks he knows himself…” Our joined laughter as the spotlight falls where it must is never without a fullness of joy. And, you either get it, or don’t. I shudder to think what it must be like to not hear His laughter, especially in exposure. But, I am told…it can happen. God forbid!
Do I not want to be taken seriously? Ha ha! God forbid I lie here! Oh yes, a thousand times, yes…I want very much…to be taken seriously. But the Wise One who never ministers to me but of grace (even if I doubt it!) sees past my desire for submission to my necessity of concession. He concedes to me allowance to be me, though my desire is always toward the being “something greater”. Talking mud ever seeking to see itself as beyond mud, able to exact from other mud a hearing, (And even more laughable, an understanding!) and perhaps that is where the greatest grace is ministered, to find laughter there. 2 Cor. 4:7
These paradoxes, as they seem paradoxes, are where we as believers, live. Where the least is greatest, the first is last, the dead truly live, and the man who hates (and loses) his own life shall find it. There are many many more mention-able and I do not doubt you are in some way familiar with them. After all, we follow Him whose continuous confession was in coming to die, and this despite all the most remarkable things we see spoken and done “in His life”…His singular purpose (and to which all led), was His own death. “Father, what shall I say? ‘Save me from this hour…’?” John 12:27.
Who “comes to live” for the sole purpose of dying?
Who will explain…being sent…to do this?
And if we have in ourselves what seems any explanation at all, such that we might think we can now explain it, have we yet found the perfection of frustration in trying to do so? How that necessity…cannot be explained but only experienced? Here the “wisdom of the wise” perishes, the logic of the great logician fails, the smart are smarted by their own smartness, and the clever are forbidden.
Men always and inevitably seek relief from necessity and the suffering found in it. Lack, in whatever form identified, and then perceived in that man as lack, is then the mainspring informing all of his motions, expressions, and thoughts to its satisfaction and resolution. (And here it is of no matter at all whether one consider the Princess and the Pea to a man waking to find his house afire) Oh, how we easily judge between them; the one being frivolous in motive and motions toward comfort, the other quite really (to us) in dire necessity of safety. But to each one necessity is working, regardless. Again, judging the thing or things they consider necessary seems unavoidable to us, and we inevitably (do we not?) judge their character/nature according to our own necessity. The Princess is manifestly silly and vain, no? But, the man scrambling to wake his household? Well “there is no fault in him, at all!” It also then seems we are of necessity thrust no less, into place of judging. And as believers, we know Jesus Christ has much to say about this.
Let’s face it squarely, if we can. We like judging. We ascend from position as mere observer to now overseer, assigning (as it were) from there our ascription of good and evil. We dole out. We are supplier to creation! We are the determining One! What “should be”…and what “should not”.
We may do well to remember Jesus’s response and particular addressing by name the one who would correct His vision, knowledge, and purpose of being and direction: “far be it from you Lord…”.
“Get thee behind me Satan!…”
Harsh, huh? To a disciple, an apostle (how do we think Peter “felt”?) in the way of it. For Jesus was addressing to the heart, essence, spirit of a thing.
Yikes! (Are we learning?)
Have you ever tried to salve your own wounds? Who hasn’t? “I was just trying to be nice to you, Jesus…you’re just so good and all (in my ascribing!) that I was only trying to forbid a bad thing, and evil thing (in my ascribing) happening to you!”…”I just don’t see the necessity of that for someone as you, indeed it’s all of unnecessary.” Even to the absurd.
Of course Peter had no idea for what he was speaking. “Father forgive them, they know not…” But he was being motivated (yet even for God’s purpose) to speak against the work of salvation.
Yes, the Devil can supply many reasons for his being as he is…even to our acting in accord with him in his influences, that seem above all…good and reasonable.
Yes, the Devil most often speaks…not as supremely clear malevolent one, plainly rubbing his hands in fiendish plotting, but as a “nice guy”. Is it any wonder we are told he is so easily mistaken by transforming himself through his subtlety as an Angel of Light? He seems so very…reasonable! Here, we must be cautioned. Especially, particularly, essentially…to “our own” reason. And we find…Jesus alone, clear discern-er both to us, and for us. He alone divides soul, and soul(ish) from Spirit. Heb 4:12. He remains…the Living One, and active. Only He, by His spirit can bring us past our own reasoning(s) of what is better or best, what should or should not be…to what truly…is.
Censure of certain thought, plain rebuking of such, and clear forbidding are the work of the Holy Spirit by bringing Jesus Christ to sight and reminder. This is His work being done in us. For us it seems progressive who are now experiencing it in time. But the axe has been surely laid to the root of the tree in we who believe; and whether we behold its withering (to us) swiftly, or attenuated to some form, is of no matter. That work is done, and sure. Our soul is being informed of spirit (where our reasoning takes place) to be conformed in spirit to Spirit. The once barrier that locked our soul “down” in fear of death is destroyed in Christ. The barrier that locked us up likewise to “our own” reasoning as alone supreme is no less annihilated. Reason Himself has entered the place of “our reasoning”. As He is no less righteousness, wisdom, sanctification and redemption. He is the Logos. Here is fulfilled “come, let us reason together”.
And it is here as we continue, as we present our reasonings, God through Christ then presents His reason. The light that falls here, is revealed here, made plain here, begins to uncover the foundations of our own reasonings, and they are disclosed. The unexamined assumptions and presumptions upon which our reasoning has sprung forth are displayed here and their under girding of all we previously thought perfectly reasonable, crumbles.
The above paragraph deserves your unwavering inspection. Not because there is any deserving of attention to anything I say or do, that is not the matter at all. But if you do not see it plainly for its naked proposition that there is nothing established to any end of matter by the reasonings of man; or any work, concept/idea able to withstand its own consequence, the point is entirely missed. We all must come face to face with this matter as either true to us as stated in the scripture, or not:
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
You and I will probably read this in one of two ways. There may be more than two, God knows, but let’s deal with the obvious. Is it:
“God being wise is seeing that the world is unable by its wisdom to know Him, and therefore has ordained another thing, the foolishness of the preaching of the gospel in order to save those who can, or will, believe it.”?
Is that a reasonable sounding rendition or interpretation? It seems so…except for one thing. It makes God reactor to man’s estate. It makes God the provider after His wisdom is informed of man’s inability to use his wisdom to come to know him. And that would be fine…for a god that is not omniscient, for a god who needs to come to see things, learn things, be made aware of things. For a god who does not see the end from the very beginning.
And likewise…does it not seem to have an element of challenge in our hearing? Almost as though a proposition is being offered, “I (God) am giving you the opportunity to dare to believe something so outlandish (foolish), that if you will do that “crazy” thing, I’ll give you salvation”? I am persuaded, that despite our often feeling challenged, God does not challenge us to believe. He remains clear through Christ to the otherwise…instead telling us how things…are. If we feel challenged in that, it is our own view(s) that have taken up opposition…and “come out” to do battle.
But, might another reading be this:
God in His wisdom has ordained man’s wisdom insufficient to knowing Him (locked him up to its futility) but has likewise ordained release from this futility by the preaching of what appears foolish to that futile wisdom, the gospel, for its very undoing of that futility amongst those who believe it.
Does that second reading “throw” any light upon this:
“For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”?
“For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.”?
Do you yet see man “locked up”? And where in particular…in doing, in thinking…in being. And by Whom?
“For the creature was made subject to vanity…”
Another frequently used word there for vanity is frustration. Now, this becomes all of unreasonable to man. First because he does not at all like being told, or learning, all of his finest reason, all of his exquisite logic is to frustration. All he may set out to acquire in understanding by himself, must always fall short of incorruptible truth. And not only so, but be in opposition to it.
The simplest way of putting this perhaps is this: Man reasons to “a” reason for things, and God, not being thing, neither requires, nor is dependent upon “a” reason for being. God is. And all else, whether principalities and powers in the spirit, or things made visible to the natural all find their reason in Him, alone. Please understand, this writer is not saying at all, that God is without reason or unreasonable. He is simply not reason dependent in His being. He is the source of all reason…and not subject to it. This seems a subtle thing perhaps, but when seen (as it may only be by the man called of God) its plainness becomes most clear, and also the many experiences of frustration are also made apparent. Especially in matters of seeking to apply man’s intellect to either bring oneself to a “seeing”, or in attempting to bring another to such. God must intervene (as we experience that must) in matter of revelation of Himself, or there is simply no knowing of Him. How much then, might a man rejoice in considering Jesus’ words to those who desired to have that power He demonstrated, “what must we do to work the works of God?”
Jesus’ reply holds for us now such great promise and truth, where once frustration only reigned.
“This is the work of God, that you believe upon Him whom He has sent”.
This is the work God is about, especially amongst those called His own in Christ…God is forever working to perfect our faith, or make clear to us that faith found in Christ, (and this done through Christ) that this matter of faith, once appearing as all of laughable to the natural man (and no less, often a vexation to us) and the weakest form of “knowing”, is now made to us as strength and the perfection of it, in creation. We may admit at some point our own handling of the faith, has caused us to often consider “but, how does this stuff work” how is it used…rightly? What is it? How do I wring the power from it?
There is neither need nor benefit in any attempt to explain faith, at least as a thing. Are there limits to it? As one might seek to explain a refrigerator, or a beetle; able to see it as a discrete thing with a boundary able to be contained in eye of such and such form and limit…and from there enter into it for its deconstruction to their parts with knowledge and reason…and “break it down” to components understood? We work from both inside and outside…from outside to determine its limit, from inside to deconstruct to that very limit. We get to the exoskeleton of the beetle satisfied we have gotten to its limit, from there everything in our seeing from the outside is called beetle…everything beyond that, is not. Or refrigerator, (and metal skin…or paint upon it)…but we do not poke around an inch or a foot away from what we see of the refrigerator or beetle for more knowing…for we have already summed up these “things” to their limit in our sight. We can contain them in both eye and mind (or so we think).
But God? (and it serves every man well to remember he thinks and speaks in His presence) There can be no determination of knowing from “outside” what is of no limit in or to sight or understanding. We cannot define His border, His perimeter and there with such knowing, assay now to know the inside to the very outside. If anything at all is to be known…there must be a bringing of our consciousness to the inside. The wiser among you will already recognize that such usage of “inside/outside” is useless to the absurd in such a matter for there is no thing outside or an outside to the limitless. And so faith, which once appeared the weakest form of apprehension, knowing, determination is now shown not the strongest among all other forms…but the only amongst any form, that avails. For here is where we encounter all that is not thing.
And faith as we know it is delivered, given, bequeathed…for we discover it is not a feely touchy thing accompanied by some spooky background music or chorus…but all that is of the conviction, the hard, firm, resolute, and immovable conviction we come to see and then know, in Jesus Christ. It is all and only what is not airy fairy, spooky, nor theremin accompanied. Faith is of all practicality, but not a tool, the substance of the all consciousness that can never be divided or dissected from it for its “own” inspection.
There is no more reason for faith than one might find for reason for God. Oh yes, we may expound upon the reasons (as they appear to us) for why we believe, and are not forbidden, the “things” we may see as antecedent to our believing, events, (even miracles as we perceive them) experiences, appeals to our knowings. But in leading to God we must all ultimately see He is all that has no reason to be. There is no antecedent to Him, no before that in “because” affirms His being, nor after in consequences to reason back from or supply reason to. We may yet have not understood the full significance of Jesus’ saying “All things are possible to him who believes”, but we dare not deny it, nor His saying it. Dare we…if we are learning…correct the Lord as to what “all things” means?
The truth there is as indivisible from God…as Jesus Christ has shown Himself in being. He cannot be separated, there is no place of occupation where a man might stand to perceive some division in God. To us, in our understanding it could appear so…some “He (God the Father) is this, Jesus is that”. But we begin to also understand the “why” of seeing Jesus, if we do, is never apart from the selfsame seeing of Him, (as) at the right hand of God. It is not as though God the Father thrusts His hand into the picture (so to speak) there is never a seeing of One, apart from the seeing of the One, who is One. (Do I become too tedious or cryptic? God forbid) As Jesus said in reference to what must command attention over fear of what can kill only the body “I will show you whom you should fear…” And “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father” If you see. If I see.
It is in that seeing Jesus walked.
Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
Do we see? Do we see what Jesus is saying? And just as surely…what is not being said?
Do we see how this goes far past the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) that has made its way in popularity? Jesus is not saying “I try to figure out what God my Father would do, or even is doing, and do the same”. No, it is not that at all…it is not a copying or seeking to copy, trying to copy, reasoning to a copying. The dependence is not made to the doing…but the seeing. The seeing is all that enables Jesus to “do anything”. Could it ever be any different…for us?
Listen if you will to what Jesus is saying here:
For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
“and He will show him greater works than these” Do we hear? Is Jesus not saying and reiterating His total dependence upon the Father’s showing (and His seeing) these works, and not only that, but Jesus is content (and confident) in the place that He will see more? Is this not faith? As in: “I do what I see, but, I shall see even more and greater?” Is this not the faith of the Son of God being spoken?
How much this puts to rest the notion of Jesus simply being a miracle worker doing His own thing. As if he were some sort of all powerful being simply “popping” off miracles from His own repository of the supernatural. No, in truth Jesus also puts that whole notion quite to rest in saying “The Son can do nothing of himself”. Again then, how much more, as we who follow, should we know this…perhaps than we do?
It brings us back to those marveling at Jesus’ demonstrations of power, so awed by their own weakness in comparison to ask “What must we do to do the works of God?”…in short, “what do we have to do, to have this powerful stuff?”
Jesus answers, not by giving them something to “do” to get this, as though a performance “of something” would suffice in exchange. As in “do this and God will make you supermen too”. God forbid. But, how does He respond?
“This is the work of God (God’s works) that you believe upon Him whom He has sent”.
All of this is just to bring us to believe in you, Jesus? Not only that…but this is all that God is about in any labor, all that God is working for and toward?
Now, this is and has been a very disappointing response to what only craves mere power. This helps not at all. The seeming limits of it to one purpose…is very discouraging to what has any lust toward having power “to do its own thing”…relieve itself of its own powerlessness. But what at first may seem discouraging (yes, even to the disciple “I believe you Jesus…now where is the POWER!!??) such a disciple may, through the patience of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, see what and where such lust for power originates. And that he has been called apart from that lusting thing. Oh, it is a great and marvelous work, such deliverance! We are able to then discern a separation, a parting of the ways with which merely follows…not based upon a love of the truth…but a desire for power. It seems a subtle thing, a difficult thing to express; how that we must come to terms with the nature of true power, as from true authority, and not be any longer captivated by seeking the means of our own deliverance. For, isn’t that what mere power often speaks most clearly to, until we are enlightened? If you had power…you would need not suffer…anything against yourself. You needn’t ever bear…anything contradictory to your being. You could fix all for yourself. Yes, power can dazzle. (And it is not as though God is ignorant)
Is God not awesome in power? Only the silly would have any answer other than yes. But is that ultimately (and here the winnowing gets quite severe…all to our benefit and, yes, glory) what God shall remain to us? Just a huge dynamo? Faceless and ineffably churning of light? Or do we believe Jesus? That what would otherwise appear to us as a gazillion volts of unending and self sustaining power…is to be known…as Father? And not only so…but knows, and relates to us…as Father to child? Oh! We desire power (God knows!) and yet in such blinding glory we know we must be consumed…but that does nothing to diminish our desire to be “plugged into it“. Yes, we have (or at least had) a fatal attraction…to power. No man can touch that gazillions of volts…tame it, subdue it, control it…without getting fried…but somehow…even that intuitive knowledge…does not diminish the desire to “ascend to it”, grasp it, and have it. And many the fool has tried to “handle” that power. (See Simon Magus.)
One came specifically…to be handled only…by it.
Thankfully, blessedly, wonderfully, gloriously, unutterably, Jesus shows us in His being the way of true power, the revelation of that true power, as being under the authority of that very and ultimate power, its great exercise of the power which is true…not only (or merely) includes restraint, but is of that very nature, restrained. Do we not yet see that in Jesus Christ, who is made salvation to us? He who could have asked of His Father 12 legions of angels…but did not…how can we not be at least as captivated (even puzzled if need be) by such character, as once display of naked sizzling power held our attentions?
How much might we say about this? Could there ever be “enough”? How that…without an iota, without one syllable uttered against the most glorious power of God, Jesus showed the true glory of that ineffable power through the power of restraint. And that…for us. Being made salvation, for us. It is not that “power of restraint” is greater than “other power”…it is that the true power is constituted in it. (if we might say God’s power is constituted of anything…which I concede to the absurd). Simply….we have just been all wrong…about power. “How” it is. Really, how He is.
We may ask “how so”? How could we be so wrong about the nature of power? As with anything in which we have found a perception or concept in need of most drastic revision we are are reminded that the “fall”, our fall in Adam, was not some small error. Not a something that bumped the rudder and sent us slightly off course. Our direction from that moment was all opposed, not merely slightly askew. This is, of course, impossible for the natural mind (and naturally inclined, even believer) to receive, for to himself he may yet think himself in some way kindly affected toward God, or the idea of Him. It is only the mind of Christ, which reveals the experience of Christ that demonstrably shows the opposition of darkness to light. It is in every way the stance of opposition, of enemy.
Now, the wiser man. who will not consider himself wise for this, for he did not figure it out, nor come to it by some innate ability to calculate, has had this issue pressed to him in lesson. He did not choose it, and he knows he could not have, would not have. But the lesson comes, nevertheless. It is part and parcel of lesson(s) that underscore the reality of what Jesus said in “This is the work of God…”. God ever working to bring us to believe upon Him whom He has sent. And so the man who has been in this lesson knows this “I see what is opposed to Christ, I even see that once I was opposed to Christ. But now I do not perceive myself so, now I perceive myself as a “saved man” with affection for God. I perceive in myself an affection for Jesus Christ.” One may even have testimony bolstered among other men, or find at hand those things that encourage such bolstering…from other men. This I have learned to call the wooing to, or by the “amens”. The things we may look to for assurances. I believe I love the Lord, others tell me they see that in me…therefore…(and such reasoning) “points” me toward conclusion, “I am a/the man who loves the Lord.”
How God may reveal to such a man the corruption of such reasoning is not of consequence. That God brings such to a place of defeat in that concluding, I am persuaded. It is made plain to the man his inability to “choose the good” despite all his prior self convincing he is himself now ably made to do so…because he “loves God”. It will appear an unkind lesson, a very severe lesson, indeed even an enemy’s work! But when the man awakes to the seeing the very Whom to which he was so strongly opposed, and even opposed as enemy, he begins to see. He begins to see the folly of assuring himself…to anything. Of anything…and particularly, especially, as a “lover of truth”. For he begins to see this is at work in all…all are (with that man no exception) summed up in this: “Every man is convinced he is right in his own eyes”.
No man thinks himself a liar, no man thinks himself opposed to truth, (and surely what has been self convinced of its salvation could ever imagine it is opposed to God!) no man thinks himself so particularly perverse…as to hate the truth. But when this lesson begins to bear fruit he sees the profound meaning of the condemnation found in refusing here:
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
While “in the lesson” the man begins to understand “fear and trembling” as he is brought to survey his enmity against God and His way (Jesus Christ) and such conviction of “lostness” is overwhelming to the very point of despair. And such a deep despair of himself where, despite torment, terror, and such anticipation of the finality of righteous judgment of himself (for though he with all is experiencing all dread…he has not the strength to hate it toward the manufacture of excuse, no ability to stand in response except “this is precisely where I have earned my place”, no answer at all against the plainness of his position as being rightfully ministered, where he is completely “shut up” that even squirming to be free is denied) something can happen. It is the only “something” to happen that has ever had any consequence, the only “something of happening” in which the man now sees he has had no part, is even beyond appeal for in conviction of such lostness of deserving…salvation. He is plucked from that place, by another, and another’s work…
“If the righteous be scarcely saved…” he awakens to. “Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” he awakens to. He awakens to an understanding that he may at best (in fear of presumption now of declaring what “he knows”) see in some part vague…but O! so true…”It has taken nothing less radical than the slaughter of the innocent Son of God on my behalf to touch me” In one sense he sees “all of creation was caused to suffer reversal” that I might see. All that had no death within (Jesus Christ) was caused to enter death…all that had no sin…was made to be the very thing it is by nature not…that I might live. And here he knows he could never have reasoned to this, nor even find reason for it as a “something” in consequence that his reason could cause submission to.
He is being brought past reason to necessity. Man must be saved. And, I am that man…that must be saved. Wherever now he touches his own reasons and reasonings…(where once he felt quite at home) he is touched by the Spirit’s censure and caution “nothing is unseen”. All previous delight in a buffet of dainties “I am a christian”, or “I am of God” or “To myself and many (or even a few, or some) others I am doing well” or “Of course I love the truth!” (As he now sees not one man does not swear to himself in what he once believed “hidden chambers”)…and has learned “love of the truth” is all that is foreign to man, all that is as far from man as true being is to what is false…and that it may only be…received. And that, not because he desired it, but because it is ordained given, in the gift that is Jesus Christ.
Some may rightly see a need of some further light. Some may say (and quite rightly) this is all received when receiving Jesus Christ! Yes. Surely. The seed has within all the experience to full grown-ness necessary. Indeed He does. The outworking is true and sure. Just as the Philistines brought the Ark into their tent only to find Dagon’s idol falling over, then broken…we begin to understand why John wrote “Little children, keep yourself from idols”. For you will grieve to the extent you have attached yourself to them when they are crushed in your sight. You are being set, have been set to the tearing down of all within to which you previously attached yourself, and found comfort. Only Christ stands.
And Christ is. Without reliance upon reasoning to be. Indeed, all man’s reasoning is upended, shown corrupted…of less than in-utility here. The reasoning that says “If man was so bad/evil as to need such saving…why then save what is so unutterably lost and corrupt?” No man does this, no reasonable man could, or would attach himself to a thing so strenuously opposed with all its might against him”. There is no reason (as man could arrive at) for taking into himself all that is so against himself as to make him into what he is not“.
“He who knew no sin became sin for us…”
This is statement of truth, without supply of reason for it to man. God saves. This incorruptibly true thing is not bolstered by any man’s reception, nor diminished by a multitude of rejection. Nor is it increased by explanation. It is all beyond man’s touching to increase, or man’s ability to tear down. What is…is. What has been accomplished by Father in Son, we learn, and that for us…is as much apart from our doing except it be that we acknowledge “our part” is in the being of so corrupt as to its necessity. That is all we have in contribution. Wrongness, perversity, lostness, despite, enmity…opposition. If we would, or will, or must (for even grace is found here to “allow for man”) be compelled to add our doing…this is all and only what we “have” to offer. When, and as, this is settled in us…to a repentance…the frank acknowledgement that even desire to be more, or other than that abysmally lost thing, is not enough to its undoing, grace comes by revelation. It is not that grace is not there, as it has been from the creation of the world…indeed is all around suffusing all of creation…but that we have been so inured to its being, so blind to the very plainnest of “things”…that the cure of such blindness is made so appallingly radical to us…God’s slaughter of His only begotten Son.
Here we lose all trust in any plea “But Father, I don’t want to be wrong…lost…a sinner”, despite its seeming sound of such rightness! It is all “But I do not want!” is the basis of plea. Does God despise? God forbid. But what is the answer? Is it “I am so glad you do not want to be wrong”? Or is it “See my Christ”? (After all, what man ever utters from his heart a desire to be found “wrong”?) Oh, what Christ steals of our falseness…that truth be seen! What entrance into all the secret places of darkness…that light be shed. Not one place…un-entered, not one, untouched. What must be to bring us out of all the hidden places of where we abide alone (believing none see)…that we not abide alone…in isolation of darkness and lostness…where once we even sought succor…is complete. Where we have eaten the bread of such lostness in solitude with ourselves, those places where we have found excuse, not favor of forgiveness…where we tell ourselves…even in the presence of whatever we may find against ourselves “I yet! have good reason…to be who I am and the way I am”.
Do we think God does not see the insults we have treasured, slights, or abuses against us (real or imagined…makes no difference) whereby we now justify ourselves in that deepest place…treasuring them as idols to save us? Our reasoning tells us “because of that, or this, or some other thing I have found against me…even with my “faults” they are reasonably excused…because of their being” It matters not if we tell ourselves we are good…or even faulty (with excuse) in that secret place…no, it is of no matter at all. We are always able of ourselves to settle our own ledger, there. The principle matter ultimately is that we are “alone” in it. And despite the seeming comforts, the apparent great appeal of it, the “seems” of it…in all attraction, this place where we hide to justify our selves with all our own reasons…(Do you really doubt such as Hitler had his?)…God sees. And has sent (as we come to see) His Christ to abide there…not that the man “be better”, not that the man may mistakenly even think…”I am now a better man”…but that man begin an understanding of the truth of all evil he would otherwise accept by rejection of God’s knowing of him. The lie that he can abide in an unseen place, and by that lie choosing for himself…that hell of isolation.
“It is not good for the man to be alone”.
Oh, brothers and sisters. Let us not take such undeniable favor, and by our reasonings overturn such goodness shown us! Let us not reason “But now I have God’s Christ, then, now I am good!” Christ…even with all of God’s goodness within refused to himself such esteeming. It is the very goodness of God that seeing what is “not good” for man…He supplies. Oh, may we see what may seem subtle to us (for there is one yet working in subtlety to keep things hidden). The supply is the goodness of God, the Christ is the goodness of God, Jesus himself…is the goodness of God toward us…to even (might I say?) deliver us from seeking to satisfy ourselves that we are “good.” That we are esteemed worthy of fellowship is our ultimate bequethal by God! And some may come to this place, see this place (and all the misery that has flown from man’s seeking to show himself “good”) where that the pain of choosing, of choice, of trying to reason to the best “choice” (and all of its attendant grievous burden to ensure the “right choice” is made and manifest) is crushed in what becomes no choice at all…to have within sight so plainly made by grace that is grace indeed…the reduction to two things…the desire to appear right or good (first to oneself and then to others) or to abide in fellowship, not alone, with the One who has come to abide with all who know they are not right. (The physician comes not for the “well”.)
Don’t underestimate the pull of the first, nor underestimate the exceeding value of the other.
And God forbid I be clever here, but God has a way of pressing us to one, to complete abandonment of the other. It is of no value whatever what we think of ourselves, how we esteem ourselves, what we would “like” to appear as, may even have some hope of appearance as…all is consumed in the revelation of the “rightness” of Jesus Christ…given to us, and for us…to abide with, and in.
Listen to what Paul says in regards to the matter of rightness and/or wrongness…”I know nothing against myself (perceive no guilt)…but this does not make me innocent”
My feelings about myself (may I be so bold…even if they be guilt!) no more make me guilty than feelings/perceptions of myself as having nothing against myself…makes me innocent! I am totally unable to fix myself (in both repair and fixing as to position) in my appraisal of myself…in anything! How much the more must this extend? How far “out” dare I, can I, (must I?)…if unable to judge myself to any surety find myself then, in total reliance upon another for that “intelligence”? (“What does the message mean? Well, our intelligence tells us that the message means “they” are suing for peace…” “Well who’s the man in the field from which this intelligence comes…can he be trusted?” It’s Jesus…). Sound a bit silly? God knows.
Peace. Peace with God. Through Jesus Christ. Not “peace with God because one wants it badly enough” Does God despise such wanting? God forbid! But not “peace with God” because one understands all mysteries, not peace with God because of station, gift, or calling (as to office)…or (may I again be so bold?) because of great consuming interest or activity of apparent devoutness? Even much speaking (or, in my case, writing) about Jesus Christ? Ha ha ha! (I laugh only...at myself!) Does God forbid such? Again…ha ha ha…this is a gift, a favor shown, an allowance…a provision to pleasure, not an endeavor to secure what has already been made sure…only in Jesus Christ. May I learn, may you…as we go about? Of course! Are matters uncovered, discovered…made perhaps clearer? Of course…but never by our endeavor…for all is of grace! We are gifted “to do”, doing in Christ whatever we may find in doing…and all favor is toward us, being done us…now matter our previous persuasions otherwise. The wise preacher, perhaps even once convinced he must “tell others” and so goes in such doing…may find to whom he is really preaching and by receipt…be blessed. We are gifted…to the sharing of the gospel.
(How many turn this to burden? A weight?)
So Paul wrote to those who believed they “only” had instruction to and for others…would write:
Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
Oh! I am not qualified to anything…nothing at all…but to delight in Jesus Christ! To delight in all being done me, and you, through Him alone! This is all and only what I am called to: the joy of God found in Jesus Christ! Have I been mistaken? Oh, most assuredly so! Did I, have I, do I yet sometimes succumb to a form of thinking “those others really need salvation! So I must tell them of it!” Ha ha ha ha ha…again! Or…”those others obviously have much to learn of Jesus Christ…and I am the man needed for this!” Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…I get tricked… maneuvered even…and so wonderfully so by such presumption of station….that I may learn of whom really needs instruction in Jesus Christ! And of such abundance of grace…working despite such presumption (it may even come with great pain at the time!) Who can do this…take all of man’s unrighteous presumption…and turn it to joy? Who I ask…and again…who? Who can take such wrongheadedness and use it to His end?
One might learn…it is in the preaching of the gospel…that we (as gift to us) begin to even learn the gospel. We are not sent because we are the wise and knowing! God forbid…we are sent that the gift is assured to us and learn of its great and marvelous power (His great and marvelous power) against all contradiction against us! Who is so superior to sin…as to make it…this things so very opposed to Himself…merely a means…and not the end?!
God forbid I sound as though I recommend sin, and God knows how easily this comes when considering His overwhelming grace. “Shall we sin that grace may abound?” God forbid! Grace is abounding ineluctably so…regardless of sin! It is “not needed”…but…even sin serves God’s ultimate purpose…to show Jesus Christ’s ineffable triumph over it! In short…nothing is needed to “make grace abound”…just as nothing…can hinder it. It is all found in One…Jesus the Christ! And whatever God in His wisdom has ordained to this revelation to any man he chooses…is His alone. Much resistance…so be it! Much depravity to seeming irrevocable despair? So be it! An abounding of such a thing…that grace might be shown to much more abound? So…be it! Such world weariness to the point of self destruction? So be it! All is made grist to the milling of man to the reception of Jesus Christ as God deems. The “good” man made so grievously burdened with continuing to “trying to be good”…the grievous sinner finally tripped by his cleverness.
The most craven despot to the most benevolent appearing ministrant. Grace is abounding! Grace is…abounding! Our question, if and when such question may come (as we endure many trials of our faith) may turn from “why is it not there?” to the better (if I am allowed an opinion of “better”) “why am I not seeing it?” for the referral will always be to the only place it may be found if not being seen in any present situation by the believer…”look to Jesus Christ”. He has not been dethroned. He has not succumbed. He has not changed…nor will be again…
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Behold! What a glorious instruction! What a glorious command! “Look”…and see! Nothing is ever meant of God to our discouragement in Christ, and of being in such grace as to always be ready to remind us…if, and when we believe we are seeing only discouragement…receive instruction to look where none is ever found. Redirect. And we may come to love, and admit our necessity of redirection…when we come to admit how little we have esteemed it, overlooked it, resisted it.
We are blessed to believe, called to believe, given the faith that is in Christ to believe…as unutterably glorious gift. We do not “come up with faith” of ourselves as gift to God for approval in exchange. “OK, I’ll believe…now where’s my ice cream?” Is God not pleased with faith? Am I seeking to make a “something less of it”? God forbid. But where must one look to see how very pleased God is with faith? As with grace, there is a One given us to look to.
Can we all rejoice in God’s tireless redirection of us? His weary-lessness in a thing Jesus was delighted to share with us to our knowing…even when we may wonder to our estate when faced with the power of God…that is indeed both toward a coveting, and also to fearful terror simultaneously? There’s only one place a man escapes being fried by what he longs for.
“This is the work of God, that you believe upon Him whom He has sent”.
Thanks be to God He ain’t tired of showing off, and showing us…Jesus Christ. Without that…that power of ineffable tirelessness, that unyielding blazing glory of righteousness beyond all description would speak only to our demise. But grace abounds that we hear…something else. “C’mere children…and be with me.”
May I say…that to myself…it seems all of unreasonable that God would want to spend a second, let alone an eternity with me. My reason simply cannot get to that…how that I can come up with any “because” I could hold God to to make it so. I might just as well set out to find the reason…of love. Or for love. I am glad it is so. I am beginning to appreciate what I see of the why of it…but only such as given by God that I am only beginning to accept. Grace makes no sense to a mind I was once accustomed to, indeed all that is found there is argument against it. I have had, it seemed, little trouble believing how evil man can be, or so it seems, easily seeing it “out there”. Till I found how gross an evilness resided where I did not want to find it. Then I knew beyond reason “I must be saved” because I was experiencing something well beyond reason…so much so that in that experience…reason was not only failing to be found…but absent in the altogether. A thinking thing (to itself) reasonable thing (to itself) may be plunged into such a thing of experience that absolutely nothing is known or seen…but terror. To say “overwhelming” actually diminishes it, for it then ascribes varying degrees of a thing that is essential in its reality…
It would be both presumptuous of me to assume I experienced the all of anything there, but I can testify it is a place where in that moment…nothing else was for the experiencing. Not even, if you may understand…”thought about it”. I could not find, no, there was no place for its examination…it was not being “beheld”…but the all…erasing any seeing of it that could construe a distance from. It would also be presumptuous for me to have any assumption that this is an appointment for any other, or should be, or must be.
Likewise I cannot but concede to any man who might argue God has not appointed any terror to us. I only have in experience, what I have in experience. But I also only have in conviction what I have in conviction believing that I too, have the spirit of God. If I am shown otherwise…how could I resist…for there is only One able to show. I make nothing of myself by the experience. But I do say this, if only of myself, there is a being saved from a what that God would not have us to know, but truth tells us is real. If I were only being allowed to skate the most remote edge of it that I might be sobered…I do not know. But I know there is a place a man cannot even know himself. Or know of himself, anything. A place of absolute…no recourse. No knowledge of being heard…or seen…or “having” being…yet being in that.
Yes, how great a salvation has been given in Jesus Christ!