TruthInvestigate

“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Faith


We often wish we had more faith. But how much is enough? Jesus said we don’t need much in terms of quantity. The disciples plied Jesus about this. “And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” (Luke 17:5,6).

In this definition Jesus was saying that we don’t need a lot of faith to move mountains. That’s because our faith doesn’t do the work of moving mountains. God does the lifting and heaving; the mountain obeys God, not puny us. So, if we only have a little faith, that is enough. And, that’s a relief. If I thought I had to do the work of removing a mountain of sin from my chest, then I would have to do a lot of emotional, neurological grunting. It might even lead to a stroke. Trust me, Ive tried.

Is this what causes strokes? It makes me wonder. We know that if we break one commandment we broke them all. Then, if we break one of the 8 laws of health, we get disease. Right? Yes, that’s right. And how many people do we know who have eaten right, drank their daily 8 glasses of ultra-purified water, got their 15 minutes of daily sunlight, ran or walked their 7-10 miles each week, got their 7-9 hours of sleep, abstained from everything bad and were careful of everything good, and still got cancer? It happens. Why? Because maybe they failed in the eighth of the 8 doctors—Trust in divine power. Faith.

I used to think that trust in divine power meant trusting God to heal me when I finally get sick or am on my death bed. But, over the years I’ve realized that trust in divine power goes way beyond healing from sickness. It includes healing, but it also more likely means a preventive measure. As an ounce of prevention is better than a ton of cure, so is trusting Jesus all the time worth much more than waiting to trust Him until all is almost lost.

What does it mean to trust Jesus? It means to trust Him as a friend, to know Him to be a friend. If I know that He was a friend alike to disciple, leper, and even Pharisee, then I can have a mustard grain seed of faith that He would be my friend also. And, to God, who is trying to save us all, thats enough for starters.

For many years after being rescued from my life of sin and misery, I still had a misconception of Jesus. One day, the Spirit of the Lord gave me a thought: The love of God. That’s all it was. But as I thought about it, that phrase which seemed to be drilled into my psyche by millions of sermons had lost all realness to me. It was just another nebulous Bible cliché. I knew the God who saved me; that much had been the power that kept me faithful to Him in all of my troubles since returning to Him. But, in the Bible, where was this faithful Person?

As it turned out, I never ran across the God of love in the Bible! I never really met Him there. In my ignorance of Jesus, all I saw in the Bible was a cold, controlling God to the Israelites who had hardened His own heart, and an argumentative know-it-all Son who bullied the rabbis and Pharisees because He was the Anointed One who knew the Old Testament infinitely better than they did. He knew the Bible better because He knew its Author.  And the Author was His Father. Actually, Jesus was the Author through His Father. So, He couldn’t lose any debate with the religious leaders; and He didn’t lose any. He was the hero all the time, almost fictional. So, I had some good theology down pat, but I also had some bad theology. My theology which seemed so airtight was not satisfying. The reality is that my theology had many holes; and it still has an infinite number of holes, though the Lord has plugged some of them.

One day I decided to write down every instance in the Bible where Jesus demonstrated that He loved. I didnt bother with the Spirit of Prophecy because I wanted to go to the source. So, in the Bible I could only come up with 2 places. John 6:37 and Matthew 11:28-30. The many other places didn’t convince me that He really meant love when He said it. For instance, Revelation 3:19. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” That just didn’t seem like love. You love me, so that gives You permission to criticize me and command me to repent? What kind of friend does that? I could never confess my doubts as the adult Sabbath School teacher (!), but, I remained somewhat standoff-ish to Jesus.

How about Isaiah 1:18-20. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isa. 1:18-20).

So many times I had heard a preacher quote verse 18 and it sounded real good. Then when I went to look at it for myself to be sure it was true, I made the mistake of reading on. That really blew it for me. Devoured with a sword because I won’t be willingly obedient? What kind of love is that? Is that really mercy? Reasonable? How could anyone accept that kind of invitation to “Come unto Me”? Lord, You sound like a monster!

Obviously, my faith was floundering. Like a fish out of water, I was gasping for hope. And my happiness factor registered 1 on a good day. Instead of rejoicing with the God of love, I struggled under a God of wrath. And this is what the Bible said happens in my case. “He that believeth on [trusts in] the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not [doesnt trust] the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36).

I couldn’t bring myself to trust Jesus, which left me out in the cold with respect to my Savior, and under the heat with respect to God. Until we open our heart to Jesus, we are standing in the presence of the Almighty God without an intercessor. I disturbingly found the Bible to be true on this doctrine. But, seeing that the Bible was right on this idea gave me some faith! And hope.

So I ventured out on a journey to find this God of love and the proof that He truly is love. This world had proven itself unloving, therefore living for this life was not an option. I was surrounded by enemies because I needed to be loved, and they couldn’t do that. Whether work, marriage, even church, no one could love me after they knew me for a while. I couldn’t change myself, so I was doomed to a life without love. That was my incentive to search for the God of love. It helped to have a working knowledge of the Bible. I knew that in Him I moved and lived and that He wasn’t very far away from every one of us.

It took many years, but over time I began to realize that when the Bible says that I’m a destitute sinner, it is telling the truth. Over and over the unloving reaction I got from people toward my unloving actions and words shouted to me that again the Bible was true when it summed up my condition. I needed a savior from sin. I was a sinner, and that fact humbled me some, enough to rethink my resistance to Bible verses that sounded detrimental to my hope. Good sounding or bad sounding, it was true. I deserved to be devoured with the sword.

Looking heavenward from the corner of my eye of faith, I acknowledged Jesus’ right to rebuke me and warn me. It wasn’t the warm and cozy kind of love that I had yearned for, but I knew that it was coming from a faithful friend. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Prov. 27:6). In a roundabout way, Jesus had proven Himself as my friend. And maybe the long, patient route to Him was the only one that could be the longest enduring. I’ve since come to see that that long, circuitous path to Jesus is the only way. It is within God’s science of salvation.

“But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3:22-24).

“Now the end [the goal] of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1Tim. 1:5).

I more fully understood the first part of my original hope, when Jesus promised “him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37). That is, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me. I saw that the Law of condemnation is God’s Law and tool to bring us to His Son, our friend. Through His Law God gives us to His Son. As much as we need a friend in Jesus, we must come to Him humbly, or we won’t come to Him at all. There are many look-alike Christs, as Baalim was a look-alike Elohim. Satan has deployed many imposter Fathers and Sons, many Gods.

I picture a line of Jesus's, all looking more or less the same. But, only one in the middle is the true Jesus. Multitudes get off the bus and head for the true Jesus, but just before getting to Him, almost everyone takes a detour to a “Jesus” next to the real Jesus. Or, they head for an obvious imposter down closer to the ends of the lineup. But, they all begin heading for the one, true Jesus. This must be very hurtful to Him.

If we’ve not been humbled by the Law of God, by His condemnation of sin, then we can never have the correct need for a Savior. The only real Savior is a savior from sin. Without the curse of the Law causing our heads to burn with fire and brimstone, having no rest because of the smoke of our torment, we cannot ever come to Jesus—that is, to the true Jesus. It’s only those who submit to the condemnation of the Law that can receive the faith that takes captivity captive to the very throne of grace. They may feel completely unworthy to go to Jesus, yet desperation drives them there. Whisked into His presence by grief and need, they bring their argument to Jesus, and their cry wakes up a God who is pleased with such a child. Without faith it is impossible to please Him; and need creates such acceptable faith, because it is humbled faith. The heart has been humbled. The soul has been poured out. Crucified with His Son, they are heard. He gives that person the blessing which they sought from Him. “And He blessed him there.” (Gen. 32:29).

Since learning this, the whole Bible has come to life. I understand it now because I’ve accepted its basic premise of surrender to the condemnation of sin and then surrender to the Savior from sin. Let the Law grind until you fall on it and break, and then you can see more clearly the cross of Him who has taken the brunt of my pride and coldness which have crucified His heart afresh day after day.

It didn’t take much faith to go all the way to repentance and move the Almighty. On my part it took need and humbled desperation. Whatever faith came out of that moved a mountain. All of my presumptuous grunting to move God would never get me into His presence. It would not be faith. It would be only work, my work, some kind of high blood pressure thing that I thought I needed to do in order to get God’s ear. Certainly, it would be detrimental to my neurological and physiological health.

The answer was the Law; it was the Bible’s strange, lawful, strict, stern affront to sin. What I needed I didn’t think I needed. Condemnation didn’t seem to be a remedy for my emotional pain. If God were an earthly psychologist, He would get a class action lawsuit by a world of traumatized sinners. Yet, His wrath is just what we all need. We need the humbling, the stumbling over His firmness and authority to rebuke our sinful condition. He is our Father. Doesn’t every father correct and instruct?

“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him:
For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.” (Heb. 12:5-12).

Maybe it seems unfathomable to come to Christ under these conditions. But, I can assure you, it is the only way to know Jesus to be the Friend who never leaves or forsakes, and the Physician who never lost a case. His science is real science. Let’s surrender to it, and to Him.

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