Thursday, January 8, 2015

Section 9: Spiritual Dynamics: The Simple Story Line

   The Main Plot

So, we've now reviewed the roles of the main players in the divine drama. But now, let's return to the "program" for a summary of the main plot of this epic play.

The main plot of the redemptive drama has, indeed, now spanned many millenniums. And, to attempt to follow out all of its details, to say the least, would be very complicated. But, its essentials are not.

Essentially, the general plot of the redemptive drama is merely that of an intense love story played out amidst the backdrop of a long and fierce war between the Light and the Darkness, spanning two existential dimensions of life. So, this divine play is always unfolding in both the very visible physical dimension and in that quite invisible ethereal dimension, which lies beyond the grasp of the physical senses.

And this redemptive story line continues to play out around us every day, ostensibly, as human history. But, when we view human history through the combined lenses of both of these life dimensions, we realize, as some have already noted, that history is really just “His story.”

Indeed, the redemptive work of Christ is the story of our world. And certainly, some do think to limit their gaze to only the physical and interpret the events of our world in that very one dimensional way. Yet the larger redemptive story absolutely remains the overarching and immutable plot line of human history.

And Then There Are The Subplots

But, within this huge historical plot line, there are also innumerable subplots in the redemptive drama. These 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 actions of the individual.

Ultimately then, it’s the subplot, our personal story, which becomes all important. Thus, it seems only right that, before we end this writing, we take a smaller scale view of the redemptive path.

And certainly, in the details of our lives there are great differences in the way we encounter God. But, there also remains this essential redemptive path which all true disciples of Christ, hold in common. So, let’s just briefly walk, in our minds, this basic pathway which leads to God’s heart and His intimate friendship.

But First, A Quick Review
    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 Renewal of our character 
     essence. (Ref. Ephesians 4:20-24)
4. The need to Express that newness of character 
     in real terms. (Ref. Galatians 5:19-25)

The Basic Remedies

As discussed previously, the two basic remedies that God has provided to answer these needs 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 self-sovereign approach to life). 2. Relational Reconciliation to God. 3. An Imputed (assigned) Righteousness before God, as discussed earlier. (Ref. Romans 4:1-8)

Through the Life of Christ flowing out of the Resurrection, on the other hand, the Living Christ provides for: 1. The Renewal of the believer in both the inner and outer person – bringing to the believer: A. a New Character Essence, and, flowing out of that, B. 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 in these different phases. But, they can also be easily identified as distinct by their different emphases.

For example, the first phase of redemption is easily characterized as 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 the 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 (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 has empowered 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 we pursue a friendship with God. This is what might very appropriately be called the “Street View” of our personal redemption.

The Experiences We Hold In Common
     First Encounter

Typically, our first awareness of what God is doing to stimulate a relationship with us comes as we begin to feel the drawing. This stimulation could probably best be described as simply a growing personal personal awareness of God.

The Holy Spirit cultivates this inner pull on our heart in various ways including intellectually and emotionally, circumstantially, and providentially. But, however this divine “tap on the shoulder” gets through to us, it cause 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 for our previous arrogant attitude of self-determination in all of it's forms. And, in this humble moment, we are finally able to truly embrace of the Lordship of Christ.

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 distinguish the conversion moment is our agreement, either consciously or intuitively, to actively embrace the value system and daily leadership of Christ for our life from that point forward.

This sincere intention is the very essence of our personal conversion. And, without this intent, there is no real conversion to Christ. Anything less is just game-playing.

But, when this faith intention (the intent to humbly embrace the values and directions of Christ going forward) becomes heart-felt within us, we are, in effect, recognizing God as the one “Truth Giver” (the interpretive authority) in life. And, simultaneously, we are, with that faith attitude, rejecting the satanic philosophy of self-determination. Thus, this real embrace of God’s interpretive and governing authority through Christ, then, erases that age old issues.

Thus, 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 happens at our conversion, too.

Voice Access

Before our conversion, we are dependent on only our physical senses for our perception of life. But, after our conversion, 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 sixth sense, which becomes available to us in Christ. And, this new sense is, in essence, an additional sense of hearing. It is an inner hearing which enables us to hear the “divine whispers.”

Thus, through this new, Christ-provided inner perception, we gain the divine perspective on this physical life. And, we are also able to gain a new and growing awareness level of that more ethereal dimension of life from which our soul originates and to which we will eventually return.

Indeed, that dimension can be understood in now other way than by the inner voice of Christ. Because, that unseen dimension, remain forever imperceptible to our puny physical senses.

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 Holy Spirit of Christ begins to urge the believer forward, toward renewal and completion – a true Spiritual maturity.

Now comes the believer’s subconscious renewal. In this phase of the redemptive process, the believer begins to address the subconscious sin-instinct which still pressures her toward 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 step is not about removing the consequences of our previous attitude of self-sufficiency (sin). The Cross has already taken care of that.

This step is about removing the sin-attitude, itself. This step is about removing this actual root cause of the believer’s wayward tendencies, from his or her subconscious. Thus, it’s normal in a healthy relationship with Christ that the believer encounters this urging from the Holy Spirit shortly after their conversion.

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 baptism into the character essence of the Living Christ, usually shortly after our conversion, as mentioned.

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 renewal. Thus, in this phase, we are literally empowered over the sin-instinct (the penchant to be self-guide) through this merger with the Living Christ.

How It Typically Goes

In the main, the process which leads to our Spiritual baptism into Christ goes like this. We usually experience a sense of great relief and a new enthusiasm for life after our conversion to Christ.

Yet, almost immediately, if things go correctly, we move into a confrontation with all that we are - naturally. This is really a confrontation of our subconscious self who remains still determined to be self-determined.
So, we begin to confront this residual sin-attitude which still exists on our subconscious level, even after we embrace the faith-attitude in our conscious mind. Thus, we begin to do battle with this carnal thing which is still under the skin, which still pushes us toward waywardness, even though, consciously, we are now determined to please God in our life.

So, we enter into a time which is accurately described as one 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 its purpose. And its purpose is to empty us of our subconscious arrogance and our self-assurance. It is in this way that God prepares the believer for The Target Event of the New Testament - our personal Spiritual merger with the Living Spirit Christ.

Thus, at the end of this humbling process, when God determines that the time is right, it occurs – a merger between the human nature of the believer and the Divine Nature of Christ. At that point, the Living Christ, through the conduit of the Holy Spirit, comes to literally live in the believer. And, through this completely unique event, we become empowered to consistently embrace God's will and purposes, as our conscious and subconscious minds come into agreement regarding our faith-intention.

The Immediate Benefits

As immediate benefits of this merger, we are connected to the faith (consistent humility toward the Father) and grace (natural goodness) of Christ. Thus, now, we are able to live consistently in His 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 itself within our own character essence to easily and naturally guide our daily steps from within.

So, this transforming merger with the nature of Christ, through the baptism of the Spirit, actually marks our entrance into the mature stage of spiritual life. In essence, it 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 Christ on the foundational level of our inner being, the redemptive process becomes a strong 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 begin 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.

The Fruitful Phase

A shift happens. 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 consuming interest of our later Spiritual maturity

And, as the believer continues this polishing and maturing process, he or she begins to naturally reflect God. He does so in character, in values, in heart, in mind, in actions.

Thus, the believer literally moves toward a tangible oneness, a mature and completing harmony, with his Creator. And on, and on, this new and deeply fulfilling friendship grows, transitioning eventually, even into eternity.

Only Christ

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 plot line of the redemptive work. This is the Authentic Redemptive Agenda.

Again, in its subplots, the details of the redemptive drama are as varied as the individual believers involved. But, this essential redemptive experience remains the same for us all.

We travel a beautiful, and graceful, and ever upward 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.

                   Continue to Section 10