Tuesday, February 7, 2012

101. - The Destination, The Cost, & Where It All Starts

101.0 The Ultimate Destination Of Faith - Oneness With God: In John, chapter 17, Jesus said, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word; that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us..."

While the redemptive path might meander from one life lesson to another; while it may move through various phases; nevertheless, as surely as a river flows toward the depths, the redemptive flow always maintains a constant direction. It always and intentionally moves toward its ultimate end: Oneness with God.

This goal entirely establishes the directional purpose of our salvation. This ideal of concerted hearts, a mature harmony with God, is the ultimate prize toward which believers are always moving.

This is not, of course, as some world religions hold, oneness in the sense of actual identity. We do not become God. Neither does our own identity or personality cease to exist.

Rather, this is an intellectual oneness, an emotional oneness, a spiritual oneness. A similar harmony is easily seen in couples who have continued to grow together over a long period of marriage. Eventually, these wonderfully special relationships reach a point where the couples live in a beautiful and consistent harmony, and thus, can easily anticipate each other, because they have become so merged in heart.

Consider the larger passage in John, where Jesus says, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. "

There are many paths in life. And, some lead to the most pleasant places of comfort, gratification, and joy, at least in the short term. But, if you do not experience the glow, the light of "heart oneness" with God, reject that path. It is not the true path.

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101.1 - There Is A Cost To Salvation: The Bible says in Genesis 1, (KJV) "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

From that very moment, man became an influence in the universe, capable of independent and self determined thoughts and actions. As such, mankind came face to face with the first and most primary question of his existence - "What will I do with my influence?" 

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There are essentially only two options. Option 1: We can choose to maintain our independence, our personal sovereignty, limited though it may be, and simply express and exert our influence however we see fit. In essence, we choose to be "self-determined," and remain the masters of our own destiny.

Or...

Option 2: We can choose to surrender our personal influence back to our Creator. So, rather than our own, we embrace His plan, His destiny for us through Christ. Thus, we become God directed instead of self directed.

And therein lies the redemptive cost to us. The toll of our redemption is the surrender of our personal soverignty. We must give up (pay in) our right of self determination in order to travel the path of faith.

To become God directed is, in fact, an expression of profound personal humility before God. And that is, indeed, the only faith expression that saves our soul. And, in the sense that we have discussed, it is the contribution we make to our salvation.

So, to experience the Redemptive Path, we must pay this toll. We must surrender our life plan, and become a "pursuer" of God's plan, rather than our own. Thus, in fact, the path marked "totally free" is not the right way after all, though it is widely touted as such. The so called "free way," which does not involve the surrender of our right of self-determination, will always only take us to the lower regions, never to the higher.

Jesus put it this way in Luke, chapter 9, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it."

101.2 - Salvation Starts With God's Intentions: Sometimes, we allow our awareness of human frailties and inabilities to limit the redemptive possibilities in our mind. This constriction usually starts out something like this, "Well, after all, we are only human." The problem with defining where God can take us in this way is that it does not take into account the resources and intentions that a limitless, Almighty God brings to the table. So, we should first factor in the Godly intentions and resources. These are what truly define our possibilities as believers, not our human limitations.

The scope of God's aspirations for his people actually fills the Bible. So, let's just begin to get the idea by looking at Ezekiel, chapter 33. Few places in Scripture would afford us a more inspiring picture of God's absolute intention to raise His people to an elevated life plane.

God, speaking through the prophet, reveals His intentions this way, "...For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them."

Notice, there is no mention of human limitations in the passage above, and for good reason. Human limitations, though they are a reality, do not alter the larger and more forceful reality of God's capabilities.

Now, let's move briefly to the New Testament. Consider Romans, chapter 8, where Paul writes, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (KJV)

Again, God reveals His wonderful intention for renewal. In short, he plans to empower His people to fulfill the "righteousness of the law" through the power of His Spirit. That is the certain outcome of his redemptive work. Human limitation will not defeat that expectancy.

And so it goes. When we start with God's intentions, we "cut to the chase" so to speak. In doing so, we are able to see more accurately the sweeping scope of God's redemptive work instead of getting caught up in the obstacles.

Certainly, there are obstacles, but the God declared outcome is all that ultimately matters. We may be weak, but God is strong - a simple statement, but so profoundly true.

So, to experience The Rising, you cannot follow the small trails defined by human frailty and excuses. They are always too short, too narrow, and the vistas are just too small and uninspiring.