The Dramatic Continuum
So, we’ve now viewed the roles of the main players in the redemptive drama. And, now that we better understand who the players are, let’s allow our eye to once again proceed up the program for a quick recap of that thumbnail overview of this epic story.
We do this, now very
aware that this story does, indeed, span many millennia and two life dimensions.
But, as mentioned earlier, the essential storyline is really not that complicated.
Again, it is just basically about an intense love story between God and man
being played out amidst the backdrop of a long and fierce metaphysical war
between the Light and the Darkness.
The foundational issue which forms the dramatic continuum of the story is this, “Who gets to decide what stands for truth?” Satan contends that everyone has the right to decide their own truth, to make and live by their own interpretation of reality. God, on the other hand, contends that He, alone, is the only authoritative Truth-giver, the correct Interpreter of reality.
So now, we as human beings are left with this. Having been swept up, as a species, into this conflict by Satan’s Eden deceptions, now we each must face the necessity of a very personal and a very consequential decision. We must decide if we will embrace that “life according to me” approach, which Satan advocates, thus making our own values and our truth (interpretations of reality) ascendant over God’s? Or, will we decide to humble our influence before God’s and embrace His values and His truth, thus making Him truly our God, and thus, our loving life-guide.
So, the whole redemptive
work of Christ, the convincing love of His Cross and the promise of
renewal found in His Resurrection, is all aimed at helping humanity
correctly respond to this critical question of “To whom will I entrust
my life and my influence?” Will I entrust
myself to myself? Or, will I give myself
to Almighty God’s loving care and guidance.
Indeed, it is only that latter response, our embrace, in the Living Christ, of God’s truth which restores us to a meaningful relationship and true heart-oneness with God. And, it is within the context of this easy, Christ-enabled, like-minded relationship, that the divine truth then begins to generate God’s loving daily directions for a genuinely good and deeply fulfilling life. And, reciprocally, our humble response to those divine directions then consistently confirms, in very real terms, where our faith truly lies.
So, the Foundational Issue of redemption, which ultimately becomes this for the individual, “Who is my Truth-giver,” is just not that complicated. And the soul saving and truly life renewing response to that questions is not that complicated either. Redemptive faith, always and tenaciously insists that God – not ourselves, and certainly not Satan – is ever the Ultimate Truth Authority. And, in turn, the humble, faith-expressive believer, then becomes, in the Living Christ, the hugely fortunate beneficiary of God’s truth-based love and guidance, as well as His very real and precious companionship in our day-to-day lives. See? Simple.
But, There Are Also Outflow Issues
So, that Truth Issue, who gets to define and decide it, is, indeed, what forms the underlying storyline of the redemptive story. But, obviously, going off from this are innumerable other subplots.
These subplots are the personal stories which happen within the larger drama. And, in these days, and the troubled days which lie just ahead, we should remember something that is very important in this regard. Ultimately, life ceases to be about worlds, or nations, or social movements. At the bar of God’s final judgment, life comes to be only about the devotions, character essence, and influence of the individual.
So obviously, these personal subplots are also very important to the larger redemptive story. Thus, it seems only right that, before we end this writing, we take a more magnified view of how redemption plays out on this more personalized level.
And again, certainly, in the details of our lives, there are great differences in the way we encounter God, even within the realm of Christ’s lordship. And, to plot those innumerable variations far exceeds our ability here.
But again, there does remain to us, even here, a simpler version of these personal encounters with God. It is what might be called “The Essential Experience” which all true disciples of Christ, share in common. So, let’s just briefly review this more personalized, but still common, redemptive path which leads us all to God’s central heart and His intimate friendship.
The Basic Human Needs
Let’s begin with a simple breakdown of the four basic needs involved in the redemptive journey. They are these:
1. The need for Forgiveness. (Ref. Hebrews 9:27)
2. The need for “Rightness” before God. (Ref. John 3:16-20)
3. The need for the Real Renewal of our Character Essence. (Ref. Ephesians 4:20-24)
4. The need to Consistently Express that Newness in real terms. (Ref. Galatians 5:19-25)
The Basic Remedies For Those Needs
As discussed previously, the two remedies that God has provided to answer these basic needs of humanity reside entirely in Christ. They are the Cross, the death of Christ; and the Resurrection, the life of Christ. (Ref. Romans 5:9-10)
Thus, through the Death of Christ on the Cross, three things are furnished to the believer. He or she is provided: 1. Forgiveness for sin (their previous embrace of the self-determined value and approach to life). 2. Relational Reconciliation to God. 3. An Imputed (assigned) Righteousness before God, as discussed earlier. (Ref. Romans 4:1-8)
On the other hand, flowing out of the Resurrection and the life of the Living Christ is provided the Thorough Renewal of the believer in both his inner person and outer life. Specifically, this renewal brings to the believer: a New Character Essence, and flowing out of that, a Reality-based Righteousness. (Ref. Ephesians 4:11-32 // Colossians 3:5-25 // Matthew 3:5-10 // 13:18-23)
The General Phases Of Redemption
Also, when we look at the redemptive work in this overview kind of way, we can notice that there are really Three Basic Phases involved. And certainly, there is some overlap between these different phases. Nevertheless, they can be easily identified as distinct by their different emphases.
For example, flowing out of our embrace of the Lordship of Christ (our conversion) the first phase of redemption is easily characterized as simply the Forgiveness Phase. In this phase the overriding emphasis is the believer’s forgiveness and restoration to relationship with God.
The second phase of redemption is easily identified as the Renewal Phase. In this phase, the believer is primarily involved in the conquest and expulsion of that essential sin motive (self-determination) and its resultant external expressions in her everyday life.
In phase three, what might be very accurately called the Fruitful Phase (or the Mature Phase), the believer is primarily involved in continuing the cultivation of, and giving practical expressions to, the renewed character essence that the Living Christ is now empowering within him or her.
The Experiential Steps
So, these are the larger segments of the redemptive work. But now, let’s look at the actual experiential steps which we all encounter as God initiates and we begin pursue a friendship with Him. This is what might very appropriately be called the “Street View” of our personal redemption.
Typically, our first awareness of what God is doing to stimulate a relationship with us comes as we begin to feel a kind of drawing. This stimulation could probably best be described as simply a growing personal awareness of God.
The Holy Spirit cultivates this inner pull on our heart in various ways including intellectually, emotionally, circumstantially, and providentially. But, however this divine “tap on the shoulder” gets through to us, it causes us to begin to pay attention. And, a greater awareness of God starts to grow.
Then, if all goes well, as the process continues, the “Conversion Chemistry,” that perfect circumstantial blend of conditions in our life, becomes correct. And, in this wondrous moment of clarity, we are able to see our own need juxtaposed against God’s offer of help in Christ.
And, if we react properly to this personal revelation, a true humility before God erupts within us. And out of that profound humility comes a heart-felt penitence (very impactful sorrow) for our previous arrogant attitude of self-determination in all of its various expressions. And, in this humble moment, we are finally able to truly embrace of the Lordship of Christ – if we choose to do so.
If we do, there is typically a profusion of various emotions which attend this breakthrough moment. But, the real significance of the moment goes much deeper than those emotions.
The thing which truly distinguishes the conversion moment is our agreement, either consciously or intuitively (the far more common occurrence), to actively embrace the values, truth, and daily leadership of the Living Christ for our life from that point forward.
This sincere intention is the very essence of a genuine personal embrace of Christ as Lord and Savior. And, without this intent, there is no real conversion to Christ. Anything less is really just game-playing.
But, when this broad-based faith intention becomes heart-felt within us, we are, in effect, recognizing God as the one “Truth Giver” (the interpretive authority) in life and, more specifically, in our life. And, simultaneously, with the rise of that faith value in our heart, we are rejecting the satanic philosophy of self-determination and the validity of the idea of a universal truth authority.
So, this heart-felt embrace furnishes us a true personal reconciliation with God. And, with this reconciliation comes the assignment of imputed righteousness, the first benefit of Christ’s death on the Cross, as discussed earlier. And, another very wonderful thing also happens here.
Before our conversion, we are dependent only on our human intellect and our physical senses for our perception of life. But, after our conversion moment, our means of perception is significantly altered. Now, we gain an entirely new means of perception.
In fact, this is an entirely new sensibility, a kind of metaphysical sensibility, which becomes available to us in Christ. And, this new sense is, in essence, an additional sense of “inner hearing.” It is just a kind of inner God-awareness which enables us to sense in our heart what might be thought of as the “divine whispers.” (Ref. John 14: 19-21)
Thus, through this new, Christ-provided inner perception, we are able to gain the divine perspective, both cognitively and intuitively, on this physical life. And, we are also able to gain a new and growing awareness level of that more ethereal metaphysical dimension of life from which our soul originates and to which it will eventually entirely return - what we commonly call, “The Spiritual Dimension.” Indeed, this dimension cannot be truly and broadly understood in any other way than by these inner perspectives provided by the Divine Spirit.
And The Good Just Keeps On Coming
But, the redemptive process is not finished here. In fact, it has only barely begun. Now, we start to move beyond the faith decision of the conscious mind, and mere forgiveness. Now, the Divine Spirit begins to urge the believer forward, toward a personal renewal – toward a truly advancing maturity.
Now comes the believer’s Subconscious Renewal. In this phase of the redemptive process, the believer begins to address that subconscious sin-instinct which still pressures him or her toward self-direction and self-interpretation every day – even after conversion.
This is that carnal “Roman Dilemma” which we looked at earlier. Thus, this subconscious renewal is simply the next natural step in the redemptive process.
But, this stage is not about removing the consequences of our previous attitude of self-sufficiency. The Cross has already taken care of that.
This stage is about removing the essential sin-value, itself, (the motive or inclination for self-determination) which still remains on the subconscious level of our mind. At this redemptive point, God is dealing with the actual root cause of the believer’s post-conversion tendencies toward waywardness, which are based in his or her subconscious. Thus, it’s normal in a healthy relationship with Christ that, shortly after their conversion, the believer encounters this nudging from the Holy Spirit to confront these wayward urges.
A New Beginning – In Real Terms
The beginning of this Renewal Phase of our redemption is always marked by the same event. It begins with our Spiritual merger with the character essence of the Living Christ, again, usually shortly after our conversion.
This life changing, stand-alone, redemptive event establishes a true merger between the Savior’s divine nature and our human nature, as explained earlier. And this connection becomes the empowering means of our thorough personal character renewal. Thus, in this redemptive stage, we are literally empowered over that sin-instinct for self-determination by the Living Jesus.
A Magnification of the Process
In the main, this Humbling Process which leads to our personal merger with the character essence of Christ goes like this. Initially, after we embrace the Lordship of Christ, we usually experience a sense of great relief and a new enthusiasm for life.
Yet, almost immediately, if things go correctly, we move into a confrontation with all that we were, and still are, on that subconscious level of our being. Again, this is really just a confrontation with our subconscious “evil twin,” which remains still very committed to that self-determined value and the lifestyle that it generates.
So, we begin to confront this residual sin value within us. We begin to do battle with this self-concentric thing which is still under the skin and still pushes us toward waywardness, even though, in our conscious mind, we are now determined to please God with our life.
Thus, we enter into a time which can be very accurately described as a time of separation and humiliation. As mentioned earlier, it is a kind of personal wilderness (not unlike that described in the book of Exodus in the Bible), where we discover our God and ourselves at new levels. And certainly, this time of discovery is, sometimes, painful and disconcerting.
But, it also very effectively serves God’s redemptive purposes. Its purpose is to finally empty us of that subconscious arrogance. It is in this way that God prepares the believer for what is truly the “The Target Event” of the New Testament - our personal merger with the character essence of Living Christ.
Thus, at the end of this humbling process, when God determines that the time is right, it occurs – the merger between the human character essence of the believer and the Divine character essence of the Living Christ. At that point, the Living Christ, comes to literally live in the character essence of the believer. And, through this completely unique event, we become empowered by His vitality to consistently embrace God’s will and purposes for our life, as our conscious and subconscious minds come into complete agreement regarding our faith-intention.
The Immediate Benefits
As the immediate benefits of this merger, as described earlier, we are connected to the faith (consistent humility toward the Father) and grace (naturally occurring goodness) of Christ. Thus, now, we are able to become consistently faith-expressive in Christ’s empowering faith. And, we are able to govern and guide our lives by his naturally occurring goodness (grace) within, bringing an easy affinity to our relationship with God.
Finally, the believer’s days can now be lived consistently and successfully under the natural heart government of Christ-imparted grace! It simply happens, as the faith and instinctive goodness of Christ begin to express themselves within our own character essence to easily and naturally guide our daily steps from within.
So, this transforming, Spirit-orchestrated merger with the nature of Christ actually marks our entrance into the mature stage of Spiritual life. In essence, this is the “bar mitzvah” of the New Testament, our right of passage to Spiritual maturity.
We are considered Spiritual adults at this point. Granted, we are still young Spiritual adults, with a minimal experience level and a lot of room for growth - yes, but Spiritual adults, nevertheless.
An Empowered New Direction
Now, with the faith motive being firmly established by the Living Christ throughout our being, the redemptive process becomes a strong and efficient directional current. We begin, with new vitality, furnished by the indwelling Christ, to embrace, in an ever increasing way, the divine value system. And, over time, and resulting from that growth, we also continue to confront and expel the sin motive at the more secondary levels of our heart (character essence) and life (influence).
And, growing out of this process, the actual expressions of the sin motive begins to disappear from our lifestyle reality. Thus, as God intended, we grow more and more consistent in a godly lifestyle through Christ. We begin to show the signs of true maturity. And, somewhere along the way, still something else occurs. A shift happens.
The Fruitful Phase
Somewhere along this Christ-empowered pathway of success, our focus starts to shift, altogether. Our walk with Christ begins to become more about being fruitful in our character (developing Christ-likeness) than merely rising above the impact of the sin motive. And, eventually, this positive character development in Christ becomes the guiding interest of our later Spiritual maturity. And, as the believer continues this polishing and maturing process, he or she begins to naturally reflect Christ. And, he does so in heart, in mind, and in actions.
Thus, the believer literally is always moving forward in a growing oneness of heart, a mature and completing harmony, with his Creator. And on, and on, this new and deeply fulfilling friendship grows, transitioning eventually, even into eternity.
This is the great human success story that only Christ could write - first in His blood on the Cross, and then in the rich vitality of His shared life essence flowing out of the Resurrection. This is the common path, the common personal plot line of a true and thorough redemption for every believer who chooses to pursue it to its end. This is God’s Authentic Redemptive Agenda for the truly faithful.
Again, in the life-details of the individual believer, the redemptive drama is immensely intricate. But, in this essential redemptive experience, the gift of a thorough personal transformation and a completely fulfilling new life in Christ, the story remains the same simple reality for us all.
We travel a beautiful, and graceful, and ever elevating path which very methodically brings us fully back into the eternal embrace of the God who created us. And, it is all entirely the perfect work of the world’s only and very perfect Savior of the human soul – Jesus, the Dying and the Living Christ.