Thursday, January 9, 2014

Always Aspire to Comply with the Full Counsel of God

A minister I hold in high regard recently said “Good News! –There is even “grace” for those who are attacking the “grace message!”  I say in response, “More Good News!—There is even “law” for those who are attacking the “law message!”  Grace and Law are obverse ideas, two sides of one coin; attack one, you attack both.

We all know the new covenant is all of grace (especially the mature); we also know that the law is holy and eternal, never to be done away with (along the ideas of discarding it away like trash anyways).  Rather, it was (and is) fulfilled and transfigured and internalized from an external fiat to an internal nature.

In pictorial form it looks something like a barb-wired fence guarding and defining with parameters a spacious but still technically limited pasture plot; a place where the freedom of man and the sovereignty of God coexist in harmony.

Sheep are supposed to be in the center foot-hills on designated paths following their Shepherd, but they technically have the freedom to roam about wherever they desire.  Instead of an onerous external restraint of law to keep them in order and safe, however, is a kind internal constraint of grace infused into their new nature.

Nonetheless, they do not always obey either their Shepherd or their new nature perfectly.  Thankfully the law is a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ; the barb-wired parameter is that law in our picture.  The Lord leaves the ninety-nine and seeks the one when he comes up missing.

Law IS grace in that when the sheep goes astray from keeping close to Jesus and the inner paths, he entangles himself in its barb-wired outer-limit fence and is thereby graciously kept from falling over the cliff into a premature death.  It is hoped that while thus captured no wolf will come to eat him; Jesus is of course diligent and caring beyond any, and never fails to hear the bleat of his fallen and rebellious sheep.

These words of G. Campbell Morgan might help shed some more light on the subject: “We do not believe He is the slave of His own laws.  At the same time we do not believe in a God who is lawless, but law-abiding.  His knowledge of all law is, however, such as to enable Him in the overruling of one law by another so to perform what to our limited vision appears to be miraculous.  Our doctrine of God makes us believe that it is possible for Him to do in answer to prayer that which appears to be contrary to law, but which is in reality wrought by the operation of a law of which we know nothing in relation to another law of which we know something.”

Grace is simply the out-working of the inner-working of Law written on the heart.  Grace is Law fulfilled; an attack on grace is therefore also an attack on law, and vice versa.  But a paradox to us is a panorama to God; the junction of two ends or opposite poles is only irreconcilable to the linear-thinking human mind.  But to the multi-dimensional mind of God, who knows and experiences all things as possible, that which appears to us as attacks and collisions are hardly more than the processes which are designed to lead us to deeper and more dimensional truth.  Laws, attacks and collisions are made into grace, love-taps and reconciliations, not so much in substance or by circumstance, as in attitude and by surrender to God’s will to do anything He desires irrespective of our agreement with it.

An article just posted today (1/9/14) on the Elijah List, by Bob Hartley with Michael Sullivant, said: “He (God) told me that we presently know 1% of the 100% of the knowledge of God that He wants to reveal to us in this life, not to even mention what the future age will reveal about Him. It's not that the divine attributes revealed in Scripture will be contradicted by what we learn, but it's that WE SO EASILY MISUNDERSTAND AND MISJUDGE HIS GREAT HEART AND HIS MANIFOLD WISDOM AND THOUGHTS REGARDING THE PEOPLE AND SITUATIONS IN OUR WORLD” (I capitalized what he bolded so it would remain accentuated in this FB format).  I agree; we are too blind to see the entire landscape, a panoramic landscape which is inclusive of both law fences, grace lands, and many other things of which our imagination has yet to grasp. 

We that see more than others are always both more free and more restrained; we are like a parent who is free to do anything he wants on one hand, but is not free to do anything he wants on the other hand (because of children).  Because of love, we must place ourselves under law for the sake of those who cannot live without law: children.  Likewise, the mature in Christ, who are free to do anything they want (being set free for freedom’s sake), who indeed have grace unlimited, for the sake of love, relinquish their freedom of their own free-will to express it through the constraint of law to babes in understanding who are not yet ready to live unencumbered by external force.  Sight and maturity comes with more freedom to make more choices, but also more responsibility for which choices we eventually make.

Love demands that we become all things to all men, not by arbitrary fiat, but by its humble nature.  Indeed, I agree with Apostle Paul: “Although I am free in every way from anyone’s control, I have made myself a bond servant to everyone, so that I might gain the more [for Christ]. To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to men under the Law, [I became] as one under the Law, though not myself being under the Law, that I might win those under the Law. To those without (outside) law I became as one without law, not that I am without the law of God and lawless toward Him, but that I am [especially keeping] within and committed to the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law.  To the weak (wanting in discernment) I have become weak (wanting in discernment) that I might win the weak and overscrupulous. I have [in short] become all things to all men, that I might by all means (at all costs and in any and every way) save some [by winning them to faith in Jesus Christ]” (1 Corinthians 9:18-22 Amp.).  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Reconciling the Rock of Eternity with the Sands of Time

“And I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall know (understand and realize) that I am the Lord, that you may [earnestly] remember and be ashamed and confounded and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I have forgiven you all that you have done, says the Lord God” (Ezekiel 16:62-63 Amp.).

Diplomacy is too often conciliatory, too often compromising down to attempts to move immovable foundational truths.  Yet, just as the apostle Paul tried to be all things to all men (so he might win them), and just as art is still science (but more), and law still obligatory (but more), so the superstructure building of love cannot withstand the contrary environment it is expressed in if it is built on anything other than the sure ground of the Word of God, Jesus Christ. 

Though it is impossible to not have an opinion or to speculate or to have a working theory about all things, inclusive of religion and theological ideas, these opinions, speculations, and theories are nothing more than grains of sand, tiny and numerous rocks all congregated together, which even in their tremendous unity does not a solid rock make.  At best, sand can be placed in sandbags and temporarily hold back rising tides of disasters, but once again, not a solid rock or permanent barrier against disasters do they make.  

At best they are, even in unity, nothing more than shifting sands, and unworthy of supporting anything as a foundation upon which to build something concrete.  At best sand can be melted down by extreme heat and fashioned into translucent images by the mere breath of a glass-smith blowing out fragile figurines.  We grains of sand, even unified, and salted by fire, are nothing more than fragile, threadbare, and decorative.

Even Solomon in all his glory, described as having breadth of mind like sand on the seashore, only touches the margin of the sea, something God holds in the hollow of His hand.  Something greater than Solomon is here; something greater than Jesus Christ and His apostles is being made ready today, but it will never be made outside the margin of His foundational footprint in breadth or weightiness.

The superstructure of love which covers a multitude of sin and towers over all understanding is firmly built upon the solid bedrock of every jot and tittle of God’s Holy word, the Logos, the Bible, the sixty six books in order from Genesis to Revelation.  All Rhema wording, all prophecy spoken through human lips, must be plumb-lined to the cornerstone, and held to the margins of the foundational footprint.

Though human unity reaches the sky, and optimism the stars; though our voice be one in melodious harmony or many in discordant cacophony, God is greater than all of us together, like a boulder is to a grain of sand (individually) and to grains of sand (corporately).  Neither I, nor all my brethren together, inclusive of every insight, every wonderful revelation (and even bad ones for that matter), every opinion, knows enough of the truth to honestly be dogmatic.

Yes, we all have evidence; we have FAITH; but the greatest of these is love (which wraps around all people and sin without placating or agreeing with anything but God’s love for them).  We are bought with a price, and new covenant of grace or not, we need to ever be in remembrance of how God forgave us.

AND because of this (God forgiving us), we ought NEVER TO OPEN OUR MOUTHS AGAIN BECAUSE OF THE SHAME we should never forget (grace and being the righteousness of God in Christ notwithstanding).  Yes, I said it: NEVER FORGET THE SHAME.

Not so that the tongues of hell's fire might perpetually lick up at us and keep us in constant condemnation, but that our works might no longer be based on our merits, but on the grace He showed us. REPENTANCE IS STILL THE FOUNDATION UPON WHICH A CHRISTIAN LIFE IS BUILT.

We are no longer entitled to our opinions. We have changed our minds (the essence of what repentance means) and we are now, yes, every one of us, prophets declaring only what He thinks.  Anything more or less is adding and detracting from the truth and is therefore only shifting sand and fragile glass.  The Rock is eternal; sand is but a moment.