Saturday, September 23, 2017

Section 0: THE DARK LIGHT: Exposing The Antichrist Virus

                “If the light that is in you be darkness, 
                                how great is that darkness  - Jesus

      A devastating "theological virus" has been introduced into the more modern Protestant/ Evangelical Church over several generations now.  It is a belief system which, when left unchecked, devastates the true teachings of redemptive faith.  And, it has already infected a huge number of believers, cutting across all denominational lines.  But, its lies are so subtle that those affected remain oblivious to the reality that their very soul has been subverted.

An Overview

    The Dark Light: 
           Exposing the Antichrist Virus 

This series has 12 installments to enable easy study and reference. Also, to that same end, Section 10 is a Quick-Link Study Outline. In that Study Outline the Section Numbers are linked directly to that particular section of the writing. So, you can simply click on the Green Section Link to jump immediately to that section of the writing - in a New Window. Then, just scroll down through the Subtitles to the precise area you want to review. When you are finished reading, close the Window which you are reading in and you will be immediately back where you were previously.  
[Got it.   Jump now to Section 1 ]
  Section 0:
      An Overview

  Section 1:

  Section 2: 
  Section 3:
            God’s Authentic Redemptive Process: 
  Section 4:
            The Winds Of Change: 
  Section 5:
            Re-establishing Some Critical Concepts: 
  Section 6:
            The Dual Roll Of Christ:
  Section 7:
            A Return To The Roman Dilemma: 
  Section 8: 
            An Important Question: 

  Section 9: 
            TheUltimate Question:

   Section 10:
            Quick Link Study Outline:

  Section 11:
            Glossary Of Terms:

[Jump now to Section 1]

[Jump now to Study Outline]

[Jump now to Glossary]

Section 1: THE DARK LIGHT: Exposing The Antichrist Virus

Foreword:  The Long Way Home:

            A long time ago God created this physical reality.  The focal point of His creation was, of course, mankind, the single creature which is truly made in His image.  Certainly, God began His creative work with the real anticipation of a deeply meaningful and completely fulfilling friendship with His Creature.  And, that anticipation continues today, checked only by His necessary patience, as His loving endeavor progresses to a successful conclusion in Jesus Christ.

            From the beginning, however, mankind’s naive innocence was the big risk factor.  Nevertheless, God's graceful heart insisted that man should have the moral autonomy to make life decisions as he would - even if those decisions went against the wishes and values of his Creator. 

            So, God granted to every human being that risky personal sovereignty over his or her own life in order to produce a friendship that would ultimately be based in a genuine and truly unforced agreement of hearts.  God took this risk because of a simple but immutable premise:  Love is not really love unless it is fashioned from and based in truth.

            Thus, possessing this personal sovereignty, each human being became a true influence in the Universe, capable of having a real impact on their own and the larger circumstance.  And, because of this personal autonomy and the very real personal influence which it produced, each person incurred a consequential responsibility for his or her motives and actions.

            And, as we now know, in the course of time, man did, indeed, fall from innocence.  And, our easy, daily fellowship with our Creator was lost.  And, man did experience the dire consequences of his actions.  But, God immediately implemented a restorative plan.  

            This relational repair was not, however, the short path of some shallow and feckless quick fix.  Rather, it is the long path of the believer’s thorough personal renewal – a renewal sustained by the divine energy of the Living Christ as He merges with and begins to live symbiotically within the believer in Spirit form. 

            And, this true and sacred redemptive process has no cheap goal of sensationalism or personal aggrandizement.  And, it is not the stuff of “feel good delusions.”  It is the means to a very real, here-and-now character newness for the believer, which, in turn, becomes the basis for a truly natural and very durable daily friendship with God.    

            Without question, the outstanding redemptive benefit of these New Testament times is, indeed, this thorough, Christ-enabled transformation of the believer’s heart and life experience.
            This transformation of the believer in the real terms of the here-and-now is what truly makes the New Testament new and distinctive.  And, this immediate availability, through Christ, of an elevated life plane, has entirely renewed the human possibility. 

            The downward slide of the human race has truly been arrested by the redemptive work of Christ.  The upward journey has, indeed, begun in Him.  And, our easy and intimate daily friendship with our Creator has been entirely restored by His redemptive work – but, not for all. 

            Even at this late hour in the evolution of redemptive truth, many continue to be confused and duped by the constructions of the same dark mind, Satan’s mind, which originally designed man’s downfall.  Even with the advantage of history’s long deposition, still, some have been unable to see the Darkness for what it is.  Nor do they see the simple beauty of the divine plan which saves us from that Darkness.  And so, the devilish treachery does, indeed, still succeed on a broad scale among our species.
            But, with time, at least the pattern of this treachery has become more easily identified through the enlightenment offered to humanity by the Holy Spirit.  Thus, the enlightened are now able to clearly see that the Darkness really only ever perpetuates just one essential idea

            From the moment Satan said to Eve, in the Garden of Eden, “You will not surely die. For God knows, that in the day you eat thereof you will become like God, knowing good and evil,” his treacherous lie has remained basically unchanged.  His essential sales pitch to every generation continues to be, “You, and not God, are your own best hope for fulfillment in life.”

            To the worldly non-believer this idea is typically presented in its rawest and most abrasive form: "God is only holding you back.  Forget about the consequences. There aren't any.  Take your destiny into your own hands.  Own your own life and decide the good and evil of life’s issues and elements for yourself.  You, and not God, are best equipped to make those decisions."  And, by now, it is easily self-evident that the worldly have, indeed, wholeheartedly bought into this deceptive life approach.  

            But, it is not just worldly non-believers who are subjected to the treacherous charms of this idea of “Self-determination.”  Believers also continue to be assaulted with and do actually succumb to this same idea every day - but with a disarming twist. 

            Satan is able to defeat the true faith motive, a willing humility before the Lordship of Christ, by introducing a simple error into the thinking of the unwary believer.   It is the belief that one’s statement of faith in Christ enables his or her complete “Non-responsibility” in the resulting relationship

            In the simplest terms, the contention is that, beyond a statement of faith in Christ as their Savior, believers have absolutely no binding necessity to express their faith in the real terms of everyday life.  Thus, this illusion of the believer’s non-responsibility actually becomes deadly to their relationship with Christ.  This is true because, with the embrace of this contention, the reality of what still remains a mostly self-determined lifestyle is masked. 

            In truth, this non-responsibility lie encourages the continued arrogance of self-will rather than humility (faith) before the lordship of Christ.  Thus, it leaves the believer merely practicing a heart numbing lip service to Christ’s lordship.  When, all the while, she is actually still living a mostly self-directed life under the illusion of what she now understands to be her, “acceptable brokenness” in God’s eyes.

            And furthermore, this non-responsible belief system must necessarily, and absolutely does, deny any possibility of a here-and-now believer empowerment by Christ to remedy that brokenness.  And, indeed, it must vehemently perpetuate this denial because the idea of a Christ-empowered believer would entirely threaten the idea of the believer’s non-responsibility on every level.  So, this non-responsible belief system does very emphatically deny what is actually the truth:  that the Living Christ does, indeed, live symbiotically within the believer to empower her to rise above her brokenness.

            And, the denial of this redemptive reality is actually, in essence, the same idea which the apostle, John, identified in his New Testament writings as originating from the antichrist spirit.  He said in the book of 1st John, chapter 3, in the Bible, “... and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.  And this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”  

            So, this is the question which becomes a very central issue between the authentic Gospel and this antichrist gospel of non-responsibility: “Can and does Jesus Christ live in the human form?”  And, the implications of this question reach far beyond just that controversy which erupted in the early Church surrounding the nature of Jesus, Himself.

            This is true because the crowning necessity of God’s authentic redemptive process is that the Living Christ must live within in the human form.  This ability was required first of the incarnate Savior who walked among us in His own flesh and blood body to bring us a true awareness of redemption.  And now, it is required that His divine Spirit live symbiotically within the believer’s human form to empower a thorough renewal of the believer.  So, very obviously, this undermining antichrist gospel must adamantly deny such a possibility to protect the idea of the believer’s non-responsibility in his relationship with God. 

            Thus, this denial of  an indwelling,  believer-empowering Christ becomes just another, version of that early, antichrist refusal to acknowledge that the Living Christ can and does, indeed, live within the human form – first in His own, and now, in that of the believer.  And truly, nothing could be more anti- Christ than to deny that He has this believer-empowering capacity.
            Nevertheless, the authentic Gospel, which absolutely confirms the imminent renewal of the believer by the Spirit of the Living Christ within, is now numerically dominated, by this non-responsible idea.  Sadly, this antichrist ethos has, indeed, now permeated across all theological boundary lines at the rank and file level of the Protestant / Evangelical segment of the American Church.  In spite of our differing denominational perspectives, this non-responsible idea has, indeed, widely become the everyday, working theology “at the street level.”

            Thus, in these more modern times, the most essential truth and the most distinguishing promise of the New Testament, the imminent and thorough renewal of the believer by Christ, has been largely stripped away from the thinking of this very important segment of the American Church.  And so, we are left with a majority rank and file which now has little motivation to pursue the reality of a true newness of heart and life experience as the very essence of their Christ encounter.  

            Without question, this non-responsible approach to redemption has precipitated the greatest crisis of truth which the American Church has known to date.  Not since before the Reformation has such abject heresy gained such broad credibility, to the subversion of so many.

            Therefore, this idea of the non-responsibility of the believer has become so far reaching, and so deeply ingrained, that it is now very impractical to attempt to expose this fallacy without doing so in a closely comparative way to the Authentic Gospel.  And that is precisely what this writing does. 

            And, as we compare God’s Authentic Redemptive Design to this horribly flawed Non-responsible Re-write, the great failings of this antichrist version should become very obvious to all but the most stubbornly closed mind.  And, the beauty of God’s authentic redemptive process should, indeed, sparkle like an exquisite gem as we observe both the Dying and the Living Christ operating in perfect concert to entirely renew both the believer’s heart and his life experience.

                                   [Continue to Section 2]


Section 2: THE DARK LIGHT: Exposing The Antichrist Virus

God’s Expectations:

            Perhaps we should begin by simply considering the Creator’s expectations for humanity.  Certainly, this is a primary awareness that is obviously necessary to a successful friendship with Him.  The following scriptural glimpses easily demonstrate the kind of response that God has always sought from mankind and the response that He continues to look for today.  We can clearly see, in these excerpts, His expectation of a relationship that is faith-expressive, that consistently results in a humble obedience from an elevated people. 

            Also, we should note that the following excerpts from scripture are by no means the only ones available to us.  But, this small sampling will be more than adequate to demonstrate God’s vision of relationship, a high and noble vision, indeed.

In The Old Testament

             Genesis 2:15 "Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it.   And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;   but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.' '' 

            So obviously, from the very beginning, God placed man in a daily reality of responsibility and accountability.

             Ezekiel 18:20 "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.  

           "But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.   None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live.  Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die, says the Lord God, and not that he should turn from his ways and live?  

        "But, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.   

     "Yet you say,  'The way of the Lord is not fair. '  Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?

            "When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies.   Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive.  Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.  

            "Yet the house of Israel says, `The way of the Lord is not fair.' O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?   Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord God.   Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.

            "Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?   For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies, says the Lord God. Therefore turn and live! '' 

            These verses indicate God’s very straight forward way of accounting.  It is a way that obviously keys on a personal accountability.

             Ezekiel 36: 23  "‘And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,’'' says the Lord God, "‘when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.   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.’"

            Here, God gives us a very inspiring glimpse of His vision for His people.  It is clear that He intends to have a very elevating impact upon His people. 

In The New Testament

            Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
            Obviously, this verse demonstrates the clear redemptive expectation of faith-expressive works and a reality based righteousness as a result of the believer’s renewal in Christ.

            Matthew 5: 17- 20 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.    For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

            "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.   For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

            These words of Christ bring emphasis to God’s intention for a Christ-empowered, reality-based righteous.  And, they call to mind His promise in the Old Testament for these New Testament times, to no longer write his laws on tablets of stone, but rather, now, in Christ to write them in our heart so that His values are truly and naturally shared by us.

            Romans 8:3 (KJV)  "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."

            In this juxtaposition of those who are flesh driven and those who are Spirit driven, we are shown, not only the source, but also the extent of Christ’s renewing impact – the righteous essence of God’s value system is now empowered in the believer by the indwelling Spirit of Christ.   

            Ephesians 4:11 (KJV)  "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [mature] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. "  

            These verses paint a beautiful picture of God’s anticipation of our maturity in Christ – the here-and-now of a life empowered and directed by His Spirit.

             Galatians 5:19 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,   Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying’s, murders, drunkenness, raveling’s, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. " 

            Again, we see a no-nonsense, straightforward, Godly accounting and the simple expectation that sinfulness will be expunged from the life of the believer.

            Matthew 22:8 "Then he said to his servants, `The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.  Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.'   So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. 

            "But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.    So he said to him, `Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless.   Then the king said to the servants, `Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness;’ there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  For many are called, but few are chosen.''
            This parable indicates that the universal invitation offered to humanity through Christ does not absolve those who respond of the obligation to participate in a responsible way.  The opportunity portrayed here is obviously universal; but, it is also obvious that it is not without requirements for those who respond.

Summary and Conclusions:

            All of these references indicate the Father’s expectation of a people who are truly responsive and faith-expressive.  From the very beginning, God has anticipated and called to a people who are willing to experience a truly renewing friendship with Him.  

            Realizing this, we should also realize something else.  God did not start out looking for a people who would truly and thoroughly embrace his values and directions, only to abandon that desire out of frustration.  The redemptive workings of the New Testament do not represent some divine fallback position, where God suddenly becomes willing to embrace an “acceptable brokenness” in His people in exchange for a statement of faith. 

            And, Christ is not an after-thought, a Band Aid to cover the unsightly boo-boo of humanity’s chronic waywardness.  He represents God’s carefully planned and very effective remedy for that waywardness.  He is the cornerstone of a redemptive process which gives final reality to God’s oringinal vision of a deeply intimate and completely fulfilling friendship with His consistently faith-expressive people.     

                                  [Continue to Section 3]           


Section 3: THE DARK LIGHT: Exposing The Antichrist Virus

God’s Authentic Redemptive Process:
Shaped By His Expectations

            At this point we can make some general observations regarding God’s authentic redemptive plan.  We should probably start by recognizing that it is first shaped by God’s expectations, and after that, by the human need.  However, the popular, modern tendency is to view it first, and sometimes almost exclusively, through the filter of human need.  This tends to create a skewed understanding of God’s plan. 

            So, man’s guiding question, when it comes to understanding God’s redemptive work, should be, “What does God expect of me?” not, “What do I need?”  Truly, when all is said and done, the most important need of the human creature is to measure up to the expectation of his Creator. 

It’s His Plan

            Also, we should note that God's plan is God's plan.  He designed it.  The specifications and parameters are entirely His.  They are set in place by His sovereign grace and are not subject to anyone’s approval or disapproval.   And, whether interpreted correctly or incorrectly, they remain the same.   The simple role of humanity is just to accurately discover and embrace His design for our renewal. 

It is a Precise Plan

            God’s plan for our redemption is also very precise and specific.  It is by no means loosely organized or vaguely defined or casually administered.  It is a very carefully crafted prescription, aimed at accomplishing very specific things, in a very precise way.  And, it is not, in the slightest, altered or diversified by man’s varying interpretations or his ignorance of the true plan.

The Plan Employs a Process

            Also, God's redemptive plan should be understood as a process rather than one event.  Today, it is common that the event of conversion almost entirely defines the believer’s concept of salvation.  But, taken alone, this event does not even come close to adequately defining the redemptive work of Christ. 

            The conversion event, that actual moment in time when one consciously embraces the lordship of Christ, is but one milestone event in a long redemptive journey.  The journey actually begins long before that place and continues far past it.  And, each of the various milestones and phases which make up its course are every bit as indispensable as that conversion moment.

A Quick Overview of the Redemptive Process

A Binary Nature:
            When we step back and take the long look at the redemptive process, we can easily note the Binary Nature of the process.  In other words, it has two major facets in its basic make up.  The Redemptive Process is composed of both a Reconciliation aspect and a Renewal aspect.  And, it brings both of these indispensable benefits to the believer in very real terms.

            And this dual nature of the redemptive process is both mirrored and confirmed by the duality of the major events involved in the redemptive work of Christ:  The Cross and The Resurrection.  In the Cross of the Dying Christ, we find forgiveness and reconciliation to God.  And, flowing out of the Resurrection and Living Christ, we find the here-and-now means of the believer’s thorough renewal.

First Contact: 
            Now, let’s take a quick overview of the essential events and phases which are linked together to become God’s authentic redemptive process.  Obviously, in the details, we each have a very unique and very personalized encounter with God.  But, in this wondrous redemptive experience there is also a very basic and common path which we all experience and share alike.  

            For example, one can easily note what might be called the “First Contact” in the redemptive process.  The Church often describes this as a time of personal “Conviction.”  It is that time when the Holy Spirit first begins to intensely call to a person’s heart.

            The conduit of this awareness may initially be constructed around very finite issues:  perhaps financial, relational, or metaphysical struggles etc.  But, regardless of the triggering issue, this is typically a time when the status quo of our life is disturbed and seriously called into question.

Decision Point: 
            Then, if all goes well, there eventually comes what might be called a “Decision Point.”  By this point in the redemptive process, the Holy Spirit has typically enabled us to see beyond those beginning trigger issues which first got our attention.  Thus, at this juncture, we have realized that those issues actually have larger, underlying spiritual implications.  And, as a result of that realization, at some point we are confronted with the need to make a decision.

            It is a decision between two basic life approaches.  There is the Faith Choice.  This is the choice to fully embrace the lordship of the Living Christ, His values, His truth, and His daily directions for our life. 

            And, there is the alternative choice.  This is the choice to continue our Self-determined approach to life.  This is the choice to continue to trust our own value system and set our own life course.   

The Faith Coin:
            Regarding the Faith Choice, if we parse it carefully, we can notice that this choice is really a two sided coin, so to speak.  On the one side is the decision to humbly embrace the lordship of Christ.  This decision is what the Church typically refers to as one’s “Conversion” to Christ.  

            And, simultaneously, on the other side of the “faith coin,” is the complementing decision to entirely abandon our previous, self-determined approach to life.  This side of the faith coin is what the church calls “Repentance.” 

            So, on the one hand we are turning to a Christ directed life.  While at the same time, on the other hand, we are turning from the previous, self-directed approach to life.  Nevertheless, both of these decisions are just two aspects of that same Faith Choice which brings to us divine Forgiveness.
            And so, at this Decision Point in the redemptive process, we make our choice, either for or against personally embracing the lordship of Christ.  And, assuming we choose to embrace Christ, this milestone decision marks the beginning of our Faith-based Relationship with God through Christ.  But, what it does not do is mark the conclusion of the redemptive process.  Rather, this Faith Choice sets the stage for a whole new phase of the redemptive process:  The Renewal Phase

The Humbling Period:
            In a normal, healthy conversion to Christ, there is typically a celebration time as the believer revels in the “lightness” of her forgiveness and her resulting friendship with God.  And, that is certainly as it should be.

            But eventually, the Holy Spirit begins to lead the believer to begin confronting the full depth of her own brokenness and spiritual need.   This is necessary in order to remove the residual and much more deeply ingrained sense of self-sufficiency which still exists, even after conversion, in the believer’s subconscious person.  So, this humbling period is a time when the Holy Spirit starts to truly empty the believer of her latent, self-directed inclinations.        

            And certainly, this emptying process, for a time, becomes, in effect, a kind of personal wilderness experience such as those so often noted in scripture in the lives of God’s people.  In fact, Moses, in his writings in the Old Testament, described the Jewish Exodus Journey through the wilderness in just such terms of humiliation.  And that journey was very much a prophetical foreshadowing of this New Testament Humbling Period.

            Moses described the Jewish wilderness experience this way.  He wrote in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 8, in the Old Testament part of the Bible, “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 
            “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.”

             And so it is with God’s New Testament child in Christ.  She too, is prepared and confirmed by this challenging period of personal humbling.  But, this preparation is indispensable to the wondrous redemptive event which comes next.  

The Target Event:
            And, what comes next for the believer is what can very appropriately be called the “The Target Event” of Christian Redemption and the crowning distinction of these New Testament times.  It is this event in the redemptive process at which all previous redemptive steps are aimed and around which all following are oriented.  This Target Event is the believer’s very literal and very personal merger with the Living Christ

            This is that mystical integration of the believer with Christ which the Church calls the Spiritual Baptism.  It is at this point in the redemptive process that the divine vitality of the Living Christ is actually integrated with the human nature of the believer.  And this life-changing connection becomes the believer’s energizing means to experience a whole new and very elevated life plane in the here-and-now.

True Newness:
Then, enabled by the positive impact of this milestone event, the believer begins to experience what can only be described as “A Christ Empowered Renewal.”  And now, living daily in this symbiotic relationship with the Living Christ, the believer is freshly enabled by the resources which Christ brings.  And, through this Christ-enablement the believer is, indeed, over time, entirely renewed in his heart, and flowing out of that, in his behavior and life circumstance. 

The Basis For Relationship:
            And, this thorough heart renewal of the believer then becomes the basis for a durable, lively, and very fulfilling daily friendship with God in all the Persons of the Trinity.  And, it is this Christ-empowered renewal and the resultant deepening of the divine friendship which entirely occupies the remainder of this Renewal Phase of the redemptive process for the rest of the believer’s natural life.    

It’s All Essential

            So, hopefully it becomes obvious at this point how each of these important milestones and phases in God's redemptive plan builds on the previous one to ultimately bring a true and thorough newness to the believer in the here-and-now.  And hopefully, it is equally obvious that Christian Redemption is a truly Transformative Processand not merely one isolated moment or event.

The Process Requires Completion

            And, it follows that, if redemption is a process, then the process requires completion to be successful.  The true redemptive reality is that, should a believer chooses to stop moving forward in this thoroughly renewing process, he has, in effect, once again assumed control of his own life course, becoming once again self-determined and no longer God-directed.  And, to do this, to balk at any point in the redemptive process is to reject the Lordship of Christ, to fail our own Christ-enabled potential in the here-and-now, and to doom our self to a miserable eternity.

            All of these ideas will be explained in much more detail later, but for now, the encouragement of the writer of Hebrews may suffice when he says in chapter 3 of that New Testament book, “Beware brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the Living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end...”

The Father’s Anticipation:

                Consider, for a moment, God’s anticipation of the transformation of His children through Christ.  He knows, that those who come to Christ from the darkness of self-determination have stepped into the new morning of a lifelong day of discovery - a day packed with all the promise that His boundless grace can devise.  And, His excitement, entirely revolves around the reality that His children will, indeed, be obtaining the hidden treasures of this lifetime adventure.

            Imagine what a joy it is for God to experience with His child the beautiful release which occurs in that first moment of forgiveness.  How gratified He must be to see the nobility of His child as she endures the humbling process on her journey from spiritual childhood to spiritual maturity.  How pleased He must be to see His child growing up in Christ to grasp the lessons of divine truth.  

            This is God’s process of heart-binding – ours to His and His to ours.  The Greeks described it as “ginosco - the deep and intimate knowing of another.”  This is the authentic redemptive process enabling our true elevation and renewal which, in turn, results in the restoration of our easy, and intimate, and durable daily friendship with our Creator.    

            This is not the stuff of a momentary encounter.   It is not the stuff of a marginalized and distant God.  This is the stuff which ultimately brings us back to a Christ-brokered heart-oneness with God enjoyed in an everyday friendship. 

                                                          [Continue to Section 4]

Section 4: THE DARK LIGHT: Exposing The Antichrist Virus

The Winds of Change:

The Original Message

            It cannot be overstated that the message of that ancient and authentic Gospel is a very positive one for those who truly give their heart to Christ.  It is a message of immanent and radical change for the better.  Jesus said it this way as He spoke of the divine intentions regarding His redemptive work.  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed...”
            The Apostle, Paul wrote this, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."  Obviously, the redemptive work of Christ will not leave us unchanged.  Rather, it is a work of real liberation and true transformation.

            And, the message of the authentic Gospel of Christ is one of power.  Again, Paul wrote in the book of Romans, chapter 6, “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.  For sin shall not have dominion over you...”

Christ, Our Perfect Way Back

            Here, then, in a very basic, overview form, is the larger redemptive picture.  It begins with the reality that God has always held, and continues to hold, the expectation of sensitive obedience from His people.  Man failed that expectation when Adam and Eve chose to become self-determined, to do things their own way.  God, then, mercifully offered a way back to a truly meaningful friendship with Him. 

            But again, this was no “Band-Aid Redemption.”  It was a thorough healing of the rift – the cause, as well as the effect.  And this divine remedy has now been playing out over many centuries.  But, in these New Testament times, we now know that Christ is the sum total of that divine redemptive plan.  He is the means to meet both man’s need for restoration, and his need for renewal.  And, He serves these two purposes in two distinct roles. 
            In His role as the Dying Christ of the Cross, He brings to mankind forgiveness and reconciliation to God.  In His role as the Living Christ of the Resurrection, He brings an empowered renewal to the believer enabling him or her to comfortably meet God’s expectation of sensitive and consistent faith-expressiveness.

            So, the redeemed are not merely reconciled to God through the death of Christ. They are also empowered to meet God’s expectation of consistent faith as they share in the empowering vitality of Living Christ through their very real Spiritual merger with Him. 

            And this symbiotic life in Christ results in a very natural, everyday friendship which is intimate, deeply meaningful, and completely fulfilling.  The apostle, Paul, wrote of this dual-phased redemption this way, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

            This, then, is the authentic Gospel message, a message of forgiveness and real elevation for the believer, which is all singularly enabled by Jesus Christ.  It is a message of the vanquished sinful reality of self-determination and an empowered faith which consistently expresses itself in our daily lives.  This is the authentic Gospel given to and experienced by the Church across all of its previous historical ages.

But That Was Then...

            But, that was then; and, this is now.  In these more recent times, there is a competing approach to relationship with God, a “treacherously revised gospel.”  As noted earlier, it is an antichrist approach that touts the “non-responsibility” of the believer.  Under this approach, the believer sees himself as necessarily released from all accountability for his lifestyle realities.

The Foundational Idea

            Again, the foundational idea of this approach is that man, even redeemed man, is simply not capable of rising above a lifestyle of daily sin in some form.  This is the Prime Tenet of this non-responsibility gospel.  This idea of mankind’s incorrigible waywardness is then extended to the conclusion that if man is not capable of rising above sin, a just God cannot and does not require him to do so.   All else in this corrupted gospel stems from this progression.

The Term, Itself

            But, before we go further with this explanation, let’s briefly consider more specifically the term “Non-responsible,” itself.   We’ve chosen to use this term instead of “Irresponsible” to stay clear of the idea of intentional carelessness.  A conscious and willful disregard of their responsibility is largely not the situation with those who subscribe to this bogus gospel.  Rather, the more accurate description is one where those subscribers are simply unaware of any compelling responsibility on the part of the believer.

The New Version

             So, here, in essence, is the prevailing grassroots thinking across the modern American Protestant / Evangelical Church regarding Christian redemption.  What follows is, in a nutshell, the corrupted, “pop-theology” that is presently carrying the day, numerically, across this segment of the modern Church.

            But, please understand, this is not to say that this non-responsible idea has changed the formal theological positions of the various denominations involved.  Oh no, those positions, and the books they reside in, are still quite safe and intact in their ivy covered collegiate enclaves. 

            Rather, far worse, this idea is moving through and becoming deeply engrained in the American Church as simply, the everyday, practical theology of rank and file believers.  And, in this way, this theological virus is able to easily transcend those more formal and traditional theological borders and books since those are mostly ignored at this grass roots level.

            So, subsequent to their statement of faith in Christ, by far, the dominant, everyday, working theology in the mind of the American Protestant/Evangelical at the rank and file level has come to be this.  “Because I, even as a believer, cannot live above sin, then grace has to mean mercy (unmerited favor).  And, righteousness has to be merely assigned (imputed) to me in Christ without any basis in my own reality.  And, God’s love has to be always unconditional.  And, faith can impose no necessity of material expression in my lifestyle.  All of this must be so in order for me to become entirely non-responsible before God, and thereby, to become able to survive His scrutiny of my life.”

This Changes Everything

            Thus, this non-responsible approach changes everything.  Obviously, a radical revision to the authentic Gospel becomes absolutely necessary in order to substantiate this idea that a believer is not held accountable by God for his or her lifestyle reality.  This revision must happen because the authentic Gospel never held any expectation that a believer would peacefully coexist with dominating sin in an environment of non-responsibility. 

            Rather, the ancient expectation, as we’ve seen, was the absolute conquest of both the essential sin motive within the believer’s heart and its real expressions in his or her life.   So, when we subscribe, instead, to the idea of a comfortable coexistence with both, it does, indeed, change everything.
The Perfect Example:  THE “ROMAN DILEMMA”

            We can look to the writings of Paul for a perfect picture of what this antichrist gospel considers the normal and unalterable state of the believer.  In the passage which follows, Paul is simply putting himself in the place of the novice Christian and identifying with their struggles as he writes this in chapter 7 of the book of Romans.  “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.  Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 
            “I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.  For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

The Devil’s Normal

            The condition which Paul describes here might, indeed, be correctly understood as that “Incorrigible Sin Motive” which still exists in the subconscious of a new believer.  But, God has the perfect remedy for this condition in the Living Christ, as we shall see.  Nevertheless, the contention of the antichrist gospel is that this frustrating condition is the normal and enduring condition of the believer – an every day and life-long dilemma which the believer cannot escape. 

            But, in fact, we will discover, that this is absolutely not true.  In truth, this confliction is shown to be a very abnormal and temporary condition when viewed through the lens of the authentic redemptive process.  And, in fact, Paul goes on in chapter 8 of the book of Romans to clearly expose the believer’s deliverance from this condition through the Living Christ.
Discrediting the Non-responsible Approach

            And really, to expose the remedy for this “Roman Dilemma” is to completely discredit the prime tenet of the non-responsible approach to relationship with God.   To refresh that idea, it holds that human beings, even redeemed human beings, are not capable of consistently living above the essential sin motive of self-determination.

            So, the idea is that even believers, remain compelled by the self (sin) motive within, to gratify their own desires in various ways – even at the expense of God’s.  And so, again, the thought necessarily follows that since it is impossible for the believer to resist the sin impulse, God cannot and does not require this of mankind in this life.
            But, if, in fact, a remedy can be shown to exist for this chronic waywardness which Paul clearly describes here in Romans, then the non-responsible approach to relationship with God is, indeed, entirely discredited.  This is true because its prime tenet, which holds that there is no such remedy, is shown to be an error.

            But, before we directly address this Roman Dilemma, it is necessary to first confirm an accurate and uncorrupted understanding of the most essential concepts of the Christian faith.  So, let’s briefly leave this Roman question for now to begin this confirmation in the next section. 

            There we will simply take a little time to correctly re-set those most critical concepts of redemption as we, at the same time, expose the corrupting revisions made to them in these more modern times by this antichrist gospel. And, then we will return to this Roman Dilemma and directly address the picture which the apostle paints here.

                                 [Continue to Section 5]