Tuesday, February 7, 2012

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

101.1 The Direction and Destination Of Faith:  
Truly Redemptive Faith is always moves in a single and constant direction toward "the light" - the light of Heart-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 is always toward this completing oneness of heart with God.

This goal entirely establishes the dynamic, the directional flow and purpose, of our salvation. This idea of a mature harmony, our heart in a consistent concert with the heart of God, is the ultimate prize toward which true 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 distinctly exist in this oneness.

Rather, this is a oneness based in shared values, share truth, and shared life perspective, leading to a beautiful relational harmony with God. 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 [mature or complete] in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. " [Brackets added]

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 a path does not take us ever toward the beautiful glow of a true "heart oneness" with God (the sharing of His values and truth), it is merely a path of misdirection. It is not the path of true redemption.

101.2 - There Is A Cost To Salvation:  
Christian Redemption always requires two things of the believer: Our Personal Sovereignty and a Daily Faithfulness.

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?"

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 are then choosing to be "self-determined," and remain the masters of our own destiny. But, the simple reality is that with this choice we estrange ourselves from God's friendship and condemn our soul to an eternal death.


Option 2: We can choose to humbly surrender our personal influence back to our Creator by embracing the Lordship of Christ.  Again, in real terms, this is our agreement to embrace His values, His truth, and His plan for our life.  Thus, again, in real terms, we are surrendering our personal sovereignty and and choosing to become God-directed instead of self-directed.

And therein lies the redemptive cost to us. The toll of our redemption is the full surrender of our personal sovereignty. We simply choose to give up our right of self-determination in order to travel the path of faith.

And, this intentional choice to become God directed is, in fact, the precise and only expression of humility capable of saving the human soul.  Indeed, no masking expressions such as shallow homage, or mere lip service, or a self-limited terms of surrender can suffice for this divine requirement of a complete "sell-out."  So, in this sense, it is true, our personal redemption through Christ, does, indeed, cost us everything.

Thus, in truth, the path marked "Free way" is not the right way after all, though it is widely touted as such. Any path which does not require the complete and consistent surrender of our right of self-determination is not the true path of redemption.

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 [retain control over] his life will lose it, but whoever loses [surrenders control of] his life for My sake will save it."  So, there is, indeed, an initial and a daily cost to the believer who aspires to walk the true redemptive pathway.

101.3  The Redemptive Path: God's Intent vs. Human Frailty:   

Regarding the true redemptive pathway, if we start by seeing its direction as being set, and its possibilities as being limited by the human frailty, we will become very confused and often misdirected at the very beginning of the redemptive journey.   

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 which a limitless, Almighty God brings to the table. 

So, in seeking to understand the correct redemptive path, we should always look first to the divine intentions and resources, not to the human frailties. It's God's power which truly defines the scope of redemption, not human limitation.

And, 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 plans 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 capability.

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 transformation which God envisions for mankind through Christ - in spite of our frailties.

And certainly, there are challenges, 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 Path of 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 low and uninspiring to fulfill the believer or please God.