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.  So, one more time, let's return to the “program” for a summary of the main plot of this cosmic redemptive drama.

            It has, indeed, now spanned many millennia. And, to attempt to follow out all of its details, to say the least, would be very complicated. But, its essentials are not really complicated at all.

            The general plot of the redemptive drama is merely that of an intense love story between God and man. And, as we’ve seen, it is a love story being constantly played out amidst the backdrop of a long and fierce metaphysical war between the Light and the Darkness.

            At issue in this war is a simple answer to a simple question, “Who gets to decide what stands for truth?” Satan contends that everyone gets to decide their own truth, the correct interpretation of reality, for themselves. God contends that He, alone, is the authoritative Truth Giver, that He, alone, is the final authority when it comes to interpreting good and evil in reality.

            And, indeed, it is how we, personally, come down on this simple question which has determined the fate of every human soul, from the beginning to this present day. And, the whole work of Christ, the Cross and the Resurrection, is simply His attempt to enable a correct response to this critical question in the heart of every person.

            So, the first issue of redemptive faith is ever the same. It is simply a question of allegiance.  We are, in this life, essentially deciding whether our ultimate allegiance is to our self, as Satan contends, so that we interpret life for our self, establishing our own personal truth as ascendant over God’s.   Or, will we embrace and maintain a loyalty to God as the authentic Truth Giver - the truly authoritative and correct interpreter of reality. 

            And, this question, in turn, begs the larger one, “Will we hold to, and govern our lives by the divine interpretation of reality, born of the divine values, and distinctly offered to mankind as authentic truth through Jesus Christ.”  

            This role of Jesus as the divine Truth-bringer largely defines His redemptive ministry.  Jesus is the only means by which mankind can come to accurately know divine truth, and thus, to accurately know and appropriately respond to God.  It is this unique “Truth- bringer” role which prompted Jesus to say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.”

            All of the other issues of redemption, the nature of God's love, the nature of true love, faith, grace, righteousness, sin, and good works –  all of these necessarily spring from the foundation of truth.  Thus, to embrace the Lordship of Christ is really to embrace God's superseding truth - His superseding interpretations of life. 

            And, it is this response, our embrace of His interpretation of reality in Christ, which restores us to a true heart-oneness with God and that perfect peace which “passes understanding.”  And, it is within the context of this easy, like-minded daily relationship, empowered by the Living Christ, that God’s truth generates His loving daily directions which guide us to a good and deeply fulfilling life.   And, our humble response to those divine directions then confirm, in very real terms, where our true allegiance lies.

            So, the basic issues of redemption are just not really that complicated. And our proper response to those simple basic realities are not that complicated either.  

            Authentic redemptive faith, always and tenaciously insists that God is the only authentic “Truth Decider.”  And, the believer is merely the fortunate beneficiary of His loving guidance upon our day-to-day lives through the Living Christ. 

            This simple, but heartfelt view, is ever the very essence of a true embrace of the Lordship of Christ.  And, this proper elevation of Divine Truth and the recognition of God as the Ultimate Authority regarding Truth is ever the first foundation of true faith.  

But Certainly, There Are Also Subplots
           
So, these issues surrounding Truth, and who defines and decides it, are what compose the most foundational plot line of redemption. But, obviously, going off from this are innumerable subplots in the redemptive drama. 

            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 resulting actions of the individual.

            So, 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 basis.

            And again, certainly, in the details of our lives, there are great differences in the way we encounter God. And, to plot those innumerable variations far exceeds our ability here.  But still, there does remain to us even a simpler version of these personal encounters with God.  It is what might be called “The Essential Experience” which all true disciples of Christ, hold in common.  So, let’s just briefly review this more personalized, but still common, redemptive path which leads us all to God’s heart and His intimate friendship.

To Begin:  Consider 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 be able to 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 those 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 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)

            On the other hand, flowing out of the Resurrection and the Living Christ is provided: 1. The Renewal of the believer in both the inner and outer person.  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. But, they can also 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 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.

     First Encounter

            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 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 (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 distinguish the conversion moment is our agreement, either consciously or intuitively, 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 Savior.  And, without this intent, there is no real conversion to Christ. Anything less is really just game-playing.

            But, when this 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 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.

New Access

            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,” so to speak.

            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 dimension of life from which our soul originates and to which we will eventually entirely return - what we commonly call, The Spiritual Dimension.

            Indeed, this dimension cannot be truly understood in any other way than by these inner perspectives provided by the Divine Spirit. Because, it is an unseen dimension, it remains otherwise mostly 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 Divine Spirit begins to urge the believer forward, toward a personal renewal and completion – toward 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 him or 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 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 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 merger with the character essence of the Living Christ, again, 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 redemptive stage, we are literally empowered over the sin-instinct by the Living Jesus.

A Magnification of the Process

            In the main, this process which leads to our personal merger with the character essence of Christ goes like this. We usually experience a sense of great relief and a new enthusiasm for life after we embrace the Lordship of Christ.

            Yet, almost immediately, if things go correctly, we move into a confrontation with all that we were, and still are in some ways. This is really a confrontation with our subconscious self who remains still very committed to the self-determined lifestyle.

            So, we begin to confront this residual sin-attitude which still exists in our subconscious mind, even after we embrace the faith-attitude in our conscious mind. Thus, we begin to do battle with this selfish 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.

            So, we enter into a time which can be 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 and self-assurance. 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 – a 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 own faith-intention.

The Immediate Benefits

            As immediate benefits of this merger, we are connected to the faith (consistent humility toward the Father) and grace (naturally occurring 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 themselves 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 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 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.  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.

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 personal plot line of the redemptive drama for every believer who chooses to pursue it to its end. This is God’s Authentic Redemptive Agenda for the 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 play remains the same simple reality 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