Monday, July 8, 2019

Heaven's True Pathway Explained in 350 Words


The ultimate divine purpose in redemption is to re-establish a true heart-oneness between man and God, so as to create a durable and mutually fulfilling daily friendship. What must happen in order for this heart-agreement to occur is the believer’s literal connection to the character essence of Jesus Christ in a truly symbiotic way whereby the vitality and virtue of Christ's character renews that of the believer. This thorough character renewal is effected through a redemptive process which is wholly centered on Christ and involves two indispensable facets: The Cross of Christ and the Resurrection of Christ.

Christ’s substitutionary death on the Cross furnishes man with two things:  1. The forgiveness necessary to restore a relationship with God and  2. The preliminary assignment, in God's eyes, of a non-reality-based righteousness. The Resurrection furnishes the believer with a Living Savior whose vital and virtuous character essence can then be symbiotically enjoined to the human character essence through a metaphysical merger, wherein the Divine Spirit becomes a conduit to literally connect the character essence of the Living Christ to that of the believer.

This connection then enables a download of the values and truth contained within the character essence of Christ to the character essence of the believer. This divine rewrite within the believer’s core person begins immediately with that Spiritual connection. It then proceeds over time, in the context of an intimate daily friendship with Christ, and utilizing the believer’s own God-directed life experience, to profoundly renew the believer’s character, which in turn, yields a genuine reality-based righteousness.

Thus, this redemptive process, entirely enabled by Christ, eventually brings a true heart-oneness with God, since, through Christ, the believer now owns, with God, the values and truth within the divine heart - resulting in a view of life which consistently matches God’s view of life. And, out of this matching interpretation flows a wonderfully easy, harmonious, and durable daily friendship with our Governing Creator.  So, by enabling both man's Forgiveness and his thorough Character Renewal, God's graceful plan of redemption restores all which was lost in Adam, and infinitely more, through Christ.

Biblical References:  Ezekiel 36: 24-28 // John 14:15-21 //  Galatians 2:16-21 //  Philippians 3:9 //  John 17: 20-23 //  Romans 5:10 // 5:17-19 // 8:1-4 // Ephesians 4:11-24 // 2 Corinthians 5:17

For a more detailed look at Christian Redemption read, "Spiritual Dynamics:  The Metaphysical Realities Explained," also in Reading Room 3.  Jump There Now

Friday, August 31, 2018

Reality Wireframed: Unabridged, Unadulterated, and Un-veneered

     
  Watch The Video

 NOTE:  Please excuse our sentax, grammer, and punctuation.  This is not a normal article.  It is a Video Script designed to fit the formatting of the video.

Sometimes we spend so much time “Inside the box,” we forget that there is also a much larger - “Outside the box.”  This Physical Dimension of Life often becomes just such a Captivity to our mind.  And, this simply should not be.

Certainly, if seen only in the Small Context of the Physical Reality, humanity appears "Bigger," more "Aware," and more "In Control" When, in fact - we really are not  We simply seem so in that small context But, even seen in this limited way, our true "Smallness" is exposed every day For example, we have yet to discover how to overcome the pervasive power of "Temporary"

Indeed, staving off the impact of “temporary” consumes most of our energy - every day. From our archiectcture, to our health, to our relationships, to the height of the grass in our front yard  Nothing stays the same for long  For all of our effort, still, we are powerless to maintain the status quo of anything, over time

And, "temporary" is by no means the only glaring "Smallness" of our species. From violence, to the chronic dismissal of our better judgement, to that relentless aging thing, and for that matter - dying, itself  So very many things show us not to be nearly so "arrived" and "in control" as we typically prefer to believe.

So surely, it is abject arrogance to believe with certainty that our puny Intellect Even when bolstered by our relatively simplistic Bi-nary Based Technology  Has now brought us to the limits of all that can be known - an awareness of all that's "Out There." Not hardly

Truly, there remains a largely unfamilar “Out There,” just beyond this small Physical "Box" with which we are all - so very familiar  And, this more Sprawling Dimension of Reality is waiting to be explored, and experienced  But, that can only happen if we are willing to venture beyond captivity of our "Familiar"

And certainly, if our Physical Sensibilities are Marginal in this smaller physical reality, They are Altogether Inadequate for that much larger and more sophisticated reality.  So, that dimension must be investigated more Intuitively,  And that, in the context of a Profound Humility on the part of the investigator.

 But, when these conditions are in play, truly, that Encompassing Dimension is entirely knowable. The following is a kind of “Wireframe” Presentation of that more Comprehensive Dimension of Reality.


Reality Wireframed: 
                        Unabridged, Unadulterated, and Un-veneered

THERE IS ALMIGHTY GOD
 Recognized or unrecognized does not alter the reality of His existence [Psalm 90:2]
                               
 He is loving, and forgiving, and patient [Psm. 1: 1-6]
               
 But, at the end of His patience, He is decisive, and fierce, and implacable [Rev. 6:2-16]

THERE IS THE BI-DIMENSIONAL REALITY
  FIRST, THE SPIRITUAL DIMENSION:  This more Ethereal Dimension is, nevertheless, chiefly defined by the idea of “Permanence” [Rev. 22:1-5]
               
Elements within the Spiritual Dimension “Endure” [Heb. 1:8]

The Spiritual Dimension is the All-encompassing and the “Governing” dimension of reality [Psm. 103:19]

SECOND, THE PHYSICAL DIMENSION:  This much more “Touchable” dimension is chiefly defined by the idea of “Temporary” [Heb. 1:10-12]

All elements within this dimension are always short-lived – from the physical life, itself, to everything within it – all is fleeting [Psm. 39:4-6]

The Physical Dimension of reality is the Smaller and the “Governed” dimension [Psm. 74:17]

These two dimensions of Reality are, at once, intimately Inter-connected and yet very Distinct [Psm. 66:1]

 Ultimately, God absolutely rules over both dimensions of reality [Psm. 103:19]

THERE IS THE DIVINE PURPOSE
  The divine purpose is simply to create a Consummate Reality of Unadulterated Beauty where a renewed mankind can experience Permanent and thoroughly Fulfilling life   [Rev. 21:3-7]

That purpose involves time and a transformative plan and process entirely centered around Jesus Christ  Eph. 4:11-24]

This divine purpose is ultimately Unalterable and Unstoppable [Isa. 55:10-13]

THERE IS POWERLESS YOU
You control nothing of Enduring Consequence in this present dimension of reality - except your own Moral Agency – 
and even that, only precariously   [Psm. 144:3-4]

You now Temporarily occupy only - a Small Space in, and a Short Span of - this physical reality; and, you will soon physically die - as have all before you  [Jam. 4:13-14]

But, in fact, you were created by God to transcend the temporary nature of this physical dimension 1 Th. 4:13-18]

You were created to experience and be part of the permanent beauty of God’s Consummate Creation in the spiritual dimension of reality [2 Pet. 3:9]

THERE IS AMBIENT EVIL
This physical reality contains an ever present and very pervasive evil [Rev. 12:9]

This Satan authored evil forms the Antithesis to the Divine Goodness [Jn. 8: 37-47]

This evil employs sophisticated deceptions to Diminish Human Awareness, Especially regarding: >The Consequences of embracing of Evil  >Christ as the one true "Renewer" of Humanity and >The Authentic Redemptive Process 
[Gen. 3: 1-19]

These deceptions have, indeed, largely achieved their purpose in all of these areas [Jn. 1:1-5]

THERE IS JESUS CHRIST
 He presently offers Himself to all as the living but invisible Divine Spirit who is willing to  intimately interact with mankind on a very Personal Basis [Mt. 1:23]

He is the only Divinely Authenticated “Renewer” of the human Perspective and Character Essence who can prepare the individual for transcendence into God’s Consummate Creation [Acts 4:5-12]

 His beautiful character essence is the Living Template for the thorough renewal of the human character  essence [Rom. 8:1-9]

 His simple Redemptive Mission is to Complete that Character Transformation in all who sincerely respond to Him 
[2 Cor. 5:17]

THERE IS A PERSONAL RESPONSE REQUIRED
God Requires a personal response to Jesus Christ [Rev. 3:20]

THERE ARE ONLY THREE POSSIBLE RESPONSES TO JESUS CHRIST
 Response #1:  A Sincere, and Profoundly Humble Embrace of the Lordship of Jesus Christ  That Embrace must include 3 Essential Elements:  >His Values   >His Truth  >His Daily Directions for Life. [Jn. 14: 15-27]

 Response # 2:  An Insincere or Shallow Embrace of the Lordship of Jesus Christ – one which Fails to  Adequately Invest in those 3 Essential Elements

 Response # 3: A Non-response to the Lordship of Christ [Jn. 3: 18-19]

So, the individual is Free To Choose between God’s Love and Satan’s Deceit; but, a Valid Choice for Christ requires Real Investment [Jn. 3: 1-10]
                 
THERE ARE ONLY TWO EXTANT OUTCOMES
 Response #1:  Brings God’s immediate and intimate Friendship, personal Character Renewal, and  Permanent Life in God’s Consummate Creation. [Mt. 11:28-29]

Responses #2 and #3: bring God's Rejection and horrible suffering in unending oblivion [Mt. 22: 1-14]

In all cases, these outcomes are Eternally Irreversible [Rev. 20: 10-15]

THERE IS A TIME LIMIT FOR RESPONSE
This Time Limit is Defined by the Limits of the Physical Lifespan [Heb. 9:27]

 -OR- The Loss of Capacity to respond [Heb. 13: 1-15]

  -OR- The Clarion Return of Jesus Christ to the Physical Dimension [1 Th. 5:1-3]

THERE ARE THE GENERAL DYNAMICS
 As a Whole Species, humanity is presently in a kind of “Developmental Womb,” i.e. this Physical Dimension of reality [1 Jn. 3: 1-3]

 Individually, human beings are moving toward Existential Permanence – whether for Better or Worse –  based in the Quality of their Response to Jesus Christ [Rev. 22:1-5]

 The Prime Purpose of this physical life is to Decide on and Verify that individual response. [Acts 2: 36-42]

THERE ARE THE ETERNAL OUTCOMES
 Some souls will, indeed, be Irrevocably lost to a horrible oblivion, having succumbed to the Treacheries of Evil 
[Mt. 3:1-12]

  But, those who humbly embraced the Lordship of Christ will know Surpassing Beauty and Permanent Life  in God’s Perfected Creation [Rev. 21:1- 22:5]


               

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spiritual Dynamics: The Metaphysical Realities Explained


 
by Larry Burnett

Author's Foreword:

Section 1 of 10

              Please Read This First

You don’t have to do so, of course.  But, if you don’t – you go directly to jail.  And, you do not collect $200 for passing “Go.”


Metaphysical – now there’s a word for you.  In the Greek language where "Meta" originated, one of its primary meanings was simply "beyond."  Thus, that is how the term "Metaphysical" is used in this writing.  It is simply used to describe the non-physical realities, which root their existence outside this physical dimension.  You know, like, for example, God.

So, there is this physical dimension of life, which our physical senses and our intellect pretty well equip us to explore and grasp.  And then, there is that more ethereal metaphysical dimension of life which lies beyond the physical dimension, and is not nearly so easy.  Nevertheless – here we go!

~

So, it would seem that in the mind of modern mankind, the question has become, does God really matter in a world like this? With science, technology, and materialism now so very ascendant, should we even care anymore about the divine purpose or the abstract concepts of the metaphysical (or spiritual) realm? At the present, enormous level of social, political, and economic stress, do those things still hold any practical relevance?

            But, here’s the deal.  In truth, God and His purposes are all that ever do remain relevant at any point in time. This is true because of one invariable reality. It is this. The conditions of the present are always short-lived. 

    Always, for better or worse, time sweeps the human condition irresistibly forward, on to some new “present condition.” And, as it does so, only two things ever remain unmoved and impervious to this force of passing moments.  And, those two things are God and His agenda. All else is eventually swept away. 


So, in fact, the divine issues are the only issues which ever really do continue to matter. Thus, the smart move is to focus on what will endure to confront us in our tomorrows.  And, inversely, it’s really kind of a dumb move to be consumed by the things which time will soon blow away like so many dry leaves. 


But, to be brutally frank, it seems most don’t really play it very smart in this life.  Instead, they allow their priorities to be mostly shaped by only their most immediate and basic (and sometimes, their most base) needs.  It is a shortsighted approach.  But, it would seem that most of us seem to think that small and up-close is way more important than big and far off. 


Seemingly, we humans, as a whole, have a real problem grasping the idea that, in fact, life’s “big” just simply won’t always be “far off.”  Indeed, it is ever moving our way.  And, life’s largest import will, sooner than we think, have a huge and lasting impact on our existence – for better or for worse.

            And so, I write, at God’s behest, “me thinks,” for any who do still retain their spiritual wits in this ever more tin-hearted world. I write for any who still hear the divine call upon their heart above the screeching friction of shifting and crumbling social structures. And, I write for those who, even at this late hour in human history, are willing to take in life’s bigger view. 


And, I write for those who are still tenaciously seeking the answers to those supremely important life-questions which far too many have simply stopped asking in these harried days.  And finally, I write for those who are still enamored with that mysterious personal pilgrimage which restores our soul, our intimate friendship with our Creator, the goodness of our personal here-and-now, and the quality of our forever. 


            At the time of this writing, I have, myself, enjoyed that renewing journey for half a century.  And, across the course of that long path, I have discovered that it all simply comes to one thing. Indeed, it is about a durable and meaningful friendship – for both God and man. All theology, if it is accurate, ultimately leads us to that simple reality. 

            And, even after all the elements of my own journey – the formal study of high-sounding theologies, the real life struggles, the failures, the successes, the praying, the soul searching, the agonizing, the times of great joy, the mistakes, the apologizing, the surprises, the drama, the relationships (good and bad), the revelations, the impacts of aging, the technological impacts, and the just-in-the-nick-of-time rescues – I can find no better way to sum it all up than this. The spectacular work of Christ, in its ultimate purpose, is really only about creating, for each soul, a durable, intimate, and wonderfully fulfilling “League of Two” with our loving Creator. 

            It seems so obvious now, looking at it from this end. My redemption – as is everyone’s – was always only about awakening within me, through Christ, this trans-formative daily friendship. And the living Christ has been, and is, even now, constantly enlarging and deepening this amiable divine companionship. 

            He is ever expanding this comfortable oneness of heart with my Creator. And this Christ-brokered heart-agreement has, indeed, over the years, become the strong matrix of our consistent and enduring friendship.

            So, my uncomplicated purpose for this writing is to provide a thorough, A-Z exposure of the beautiful workings of this life-transforming God encounter. My hope is to simply achieve a real clarity in the mind of the reader concerning the nature this renewing odyssey of the heart.

            Obviously though, any religious writings are fertile ground for the unintended cultivation of contention. And, I’m sure that these will be no different. When the old timers and religious insiders, for example, don’t recognize their seemingly “canonized” words and phrases, the language by which they learned, they are not going to be happy about that. And so, almost certainly, many of them will simply reject these writings out of hand, assuming them to be some new and illegitimate thing. 

            Neither will others be pleased, who have chosen as their security blanket, a cobbled together, pick-and-choose, patchwork sort of theology.  And that often remains true even if greater clarity and coherence might be in the offering. So, in fact, their insecurity will almost certainly cause them to choose the seeming safety of their disjointed religious cliché’s over a broader and more coherent explanation. 

            And, for a thousand other reasons, many others will reject these ideas as absurd and far inferior to their own more familiar religious ideas. Nevertheless, for all of those self-justifying protests, the truth which Sir William exposed so many years ago remains true. Merely casting the “rose” into the fresh light of a more vibrant language has absolutely no impact on its immutable qualities. 

            And, so it is with this attempt to display, in the brighter light of contemporary language and frames of reference, the import and mechanics of the metaphysical dimension of our existence – and more specifically, the work of Christ within that larger existential picture. 


The idea, here, is not to reinvent or pervert the workings of God’s redemptive agenda.  Rather, it is simply to freshly frame it - in order to better communicate its opportunity to these contemporary times.

            Obviously then, it falls to the reader to be willing to lower, at least somewhat, the defenses you may have established to protect your religious status quo – or the lack thereof.  Most all of us harbor those security measures on some level, either to keep God at arm’s length, or to keep our existing perspective on God safe from corruption.  But, by their very nature, these defenses get in the way of new levels of relational discovery.

            Perhaps it would help to simply remember that, in fact, you are always in charge of the “buy-in.” You, alone, decide what you will believe and what you will not. 

            So, there is really no need to, at least at first, fend off every new, and thus, less familiar, exposure which may, after all, actually hold some real value. So, it’s my simple hope that every reader will give themselves a real chance to find out if, indeed, that is the case with this writing. A “fresh eyes” approach always requires a willingness to venture beyond the zone of the already familiar.

            So, all of that being said, if you choose not to be driven away by these and other various types of insecurity, you are about to read something I think you will find extraordinary - not so much for its literary beauty, as for the real worth of its content. And, indeed, I hope you will consider giving yourself permission to just relax and explore the issues of this writing with some curiosity.


And, if you do decide to come along, we will do this by viewing the issue of each section through four distinct lenses.  We will explore them through the lens of personality, the lens of mechanics, the lens of immutable realities, and the lens of plot

 

Wait! don’t panic.  All of that sounds much more complicated than it is.  You’ve actually already been looking through all of those lenses for years.  They are the same perspectives we employ when, for example, we view a stage play or watch a drama on TV. 


We look at the actors in their various roles (personality).   We explore the logic of what they say and do (the mechanics).  And, simultaneously, we factor in the time and setting within which the play is set and to which the actors must therefore adhere (the immutable realities).  And finally, we take in the play by observing the continuum of the story line as it unfolds (the plot).  

 

And, when you think about it, we also view life in these same ways.  Life is just a bit more grandiose and truly consequential than a stage play – both for better and for worse.  Nevertheless, real life is also typically understood, in both its physical and metaphysical dimensions, by observing it from these four very basic directions. 

 

And, one additional thought along these lines.  It becomes exponentially more difficult to understand all of these perspectives and how they work together in a play if you come in at the middle of the performance.  So, for that same reason, I would advise the reader not to do that with this writing.

 

Certainly, you can hop around in a pick-and-choose fashion, reading the different sections in some random order.  But, a front-to-back approach is much better.  This is so because each section of Spiritual Dynamics builds on what has already been said in preceding sections.  So, a pick-and-choose approach will unavoidably leave you vastly short on context. 

 

And finally, very obviously, the world is in a huge hurry these days.  We seem to want to get to everywhere, so we can’t stay long anywhere.  Hence, surfing has gone from being a California pastime, to a world-wide way of life.   

 

But, in fact, some things still do deserve, and necessarily require, a reasonable amount of time and mental focus.  And, woe is me, since I must here remind the reader that the subject matter of this writing, the metaphysical reality, is one of those things. 

 

So please, I know it is asking a lot, but please, slow down, breath, and focus for a bit.  Truly, the stuff which follows has a far reaching import of the highest magnitude.  So, Luke Skywalker, maybe warp speed might still be OK.  But, hyper-drive just simply won’t do here. 

 

Oh, and by the way, that “going directly to jail” thing that I mentioned in the subtitle of this section – just kidding.  But, I wasn’t kidding about the “no $200 for passing Go.”  That part was true.  Nevertheless, I do sincerely hope that what follows will be a huge blessing to your life in very real terms.  – LB
  

                          Continue to Section 2



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Section 2: Spiritual Dynamics: God's Friendship


The Higher Purpose Of Faith

 God's plan to elevate the human circumstance involves a beautifully sophisticated process. But, in its basic aspects, the process of God’s help remains very simple – though we often try to make it otherwise. 


            Nevertheless, in what follows, you’ll see this life-changing process presented in the clearest terms. And this knowledge is, indeed, valuable as it can produce a priceless result: a vital personal friendship with Almighty God - and from that friendship, an entirely new and empowered you. 

On Friendships

            But, there are friendships, and then, there are friendships. Obviously, some friendships are all that you would hope for them to be. But, there are also friendships which are hardly worth it.

            For example, some friendships are very high maintenance with very little pay back. Others are so shallow as to be almost meaningless. Still others are so pretentious that they actually become disconnected from reality. Obviously, all of these are just bad relational deals.

            But, God doesn’t really traffic in such emptiness when it comes to the interpersonal. His interest is in high quality, deeply meaningful, and mutually fulfilling relationships. 

            In a prayer for their well-being, Jesus revealed the level of relational access which He envisions with those who would be His friend. He said, “… that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

            “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (Ref. John 17:20-23 NKJV)

            To be a true friend of God, is to come to this distinctive oneness of heart with Him. Always, in the redemptive relationship Christ moves the believer in the direction of this wonderful relational harmony with God. And what does this growing connection mean in terms of the everyday human reality?

The Dividends Of God's Friendship


            Well, for one thing, it means we will always know the reassurance which comes from an ever present divine companionship. Thus, in Christ, we never wake up alone, consigned to the surrounding circumstance with only our own puny resources with which to face it.

            Rather, there is always with us, the Divine Presence. And, from this everyday partnership flows a new confidence and an empowering synergy. Thus, this intimate league of two is exponentially more substantial in every way than a life lived alone and apart from our divine friend.

            And, God’s friendship also means that we are not forsaken to humanity’s chronic inner darkness. Whether that darkness takes the form of some latent and unexplained anger, or an ugly appetite, a blazing character flaw, or some unresolved guilt or insecurity etc., a friendship with the Almighty means – “It’s all solvable.” 

And Then, There’s The Voice

            And certainly, one incredible element of the divine friendship is the most life-changing resource of all – God’s voice. What could possibly compare to actually being able to converse with God in one’s heart on a moment to moment basis. Certainly, His inner voice becomes the everyday matrix and means of our relationship with Him. 

            To hear in our heart the divine “whispers” exposing powerful, even life-altering, insights does, indeed, profoundly impact us. To know the joy of being able to ask for divine direction in our life circumstance is so confirming. 

            To experience God’s comfort in our devastation, His encouragement in the face of our discouragement - such intervention is incomparable. Certainly, this ability to get an answer, to discover God’s wisdom, or to hear His inspiration or correction changes everything. 

            In addition to the intellectual exploration of God’s written Word, His inner voice becomes the daily connection which enables real depth, and sophistication, and personalization in our friendship with Him. And, without this conversational interaction, a truly intimate relationship with God simply wouldn’t be possible. But, in Christ, the divine conversation is, indeed, our everyday ongoing privilege.

What The Larger World Is Missing

            The reality which escapes non-believers, at least in concrete terms, is that Christ truly is a Living Savior. And, because He is alive, He is able to live in Spirit form within devout believers. 

            And, in the privilege of this shared essence, the devout are then afforded this invisible, but constant and very real, daily access.  And through this affectionate access, we are enriched in a thousand ways every day – far beyond just the most immediate need of the redemption of our soul.

            The world needs a Savior of the soul; and, Christ is certainly that. But, in more “earthy” terms, the Savior also brings to us the new reality of this energizing divine companionship. 

            And, in that closeness, Christ becomes our confidante’, our advice giver, our direction provider, our forgiver, our encourager, our helper, our therapist. 

            He becomes our rescuer, our teacher, our mentor, our loving confronter, our enlightener, our counselor, and our defender. And, in all of these roles, and many more, He remains, through all of the ups and downs of our life experiences, our unfailing and very true Friend – always looking out for our highest good.

The Joy Supersedes

            It’s true, nevertheless, the divine friendship does, indeed, involve a willingness to embrace the real requirements of that friendship - and there are some. Every important relationship has these. But eventually, these “mechanics” are simply swallowed up in the glorious shinning of our easy daily companionship.

            And again, that’s what the uninitiated don't really get. They simply miss the great joy of it all. But, indeed, the sheer beauty of this every day friendship stands in diametric opposition to the larger world’s mistaken idea that a renewed life in Christ is entirely defined by some Spartan lifestyle and “The Big List” - i.e. an oppressive catalog of do’s and don’ts. 

            To be sure, the divine friendship is one which changes us - but not by oppression. Rather, in essence, the redemptive process remains, first and finally, merely the process of a good friendship - doing what a good friendship always does. It elevates and enriches and enlarges our existence. 

            The writer of Proverbs put it this way.  “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”   So it is when God becomes, not just the Savior of your soul, but the “Renewer” of you’re here-and-now. 

 

Think he can’t do that for you?  Think again.  He absolutely can.  He is doing it for countless millions right now.  Why should you be any different?  Oh, did I mention, He is almighty.


                            Continue to Section 3

Section 3: Spiritual Dynamics: God, The Father

The Redemptive Drama

            So, indeed, the process by which God creates these very personal friendships with us is a thoroughly redemptive process, as we shall see. And, this “Redemptive Drama” (to continue the earlier metaphor) has, over time, become very large.

            It actually now sprawls across the whole of human history. And, at this late historical hour, it involves virtually endless subplots stemming from each new life that Christ has touched and is touching. So, there are many, many players filling the various scenes of this “redemptive play.” 

            But, reduced to its basic plot, the story line actually becomes very easy to follow. And, the main players are reduced to only a few, at least in general terms. 

            So, let's go over the “program” of this cosmic redemptive drama and use it as you might use the program of any play. Let’s discover the identity and the roles of the main players. And, let’s also pay careful attention to the changing scenes and the basic plot of this epic story of God's love and His life transforming process of friendship building.

First, The Relational Process


            We could hardly talk about a meaningful friendship with God without first discussing some principles of relationship in general. So, let's begin there.


            The process of friendship-building is discovery. And, the purpose of discovery is appreciation. And, the hopeful intent of appreciation is achieve some level of heart-binding, thus establishing a meaningful relationship. 

            Now, to expand on those ideas a bit, in building a relationship we first simply seek to know, to build a larger awareness. The point is to probe the positive possibilities for relationship by discovering some level of appreciation.  And, this appreciation then becomes the binding matrix of our heart to that of another. And the greater the appreciation, the more deeply and durably bound our heart becomes. 

            So, for example, how many young ladies have found themselves sitting under those Friday night lights of a high school football game focused on one special player on the field? And, as she observes him in this, perhaps his most flattering environment, she starts to admire what she sees there.  He’s a true star on the field.  And, besides he has really nice hair, even when it has been disheveled by a helmet.

            And, what of the proud parents who sit under those same lights to watch the same young man, their quarterback son, direct his team with precision and skill under great pressure? And, as they watch, they too gain a new level of awareness, which goes something like this as they swell with pride, “He really is growing up!”

            These, and countless other such situations, are just the very gratifying process of relationship-building. Discovery is how we do it. It’s how we start relationships. It’s how we sustain, and deepen relationships. And, it’s how we keep our relationships updated. 

            At the end of this discovery process, if all goes well, perhaps we will find a truly valuable and durable relationship. But, if we do, again, it will always be based in some level of appreciation which draws us and amiably binds our hearts together. And, the level of that cohesion will absolutely depend on the real level of appreciation that we experience.

The Other Side Of The Coin

            Obviously too, this discovery process also carries with it an intrinsic risk. Certainly, it can result in a negative outcome. It can result in rejection born of a lack of appreciation. But, this is the risk we take to experience relational success.

The Universal Mistake


            It’s also on this side of the relational coin, where the universal mistake often occurs. And, that mistake is this: an involvement based in only a narrow range of awareness. 

            How many couples, a few months into their marriage, have found themselves sitting across from their pastor, or some other counselor, in a state of total surprise?  So, there they sit expressing deep disappointment at what they consider some outrageous post-wedding behavior on the part of their mate? 

            This disappointment is usually easily traced back to a rush to relationship where little real discovery has taken place. Thus, in their great hurry to become deeply involved, a couple sometimes fails to become broadly involved – failing to develop a wide-ranging awareness of their partner. 

            Now, in the stark light of a broader reality, she comes to a realization: “Actually, all he ever really had going for him was his football prowess - well, and that nice hair.” Obviously, even with the good hair thrown in, however, that’s a pretty narrow ledge upon which to base an important and long term relationship.

            And, it doesn’t really matter if we’re talking boy-girl, parent-child, or God-man.  All-important relationships are the same in this regard.  Strong appreciation based in the broad awareness of a larger context is essential to a solid relationship. 

            So, to minimize this essential, at best, consigns the relationship to turmoil and constrains it to the more shallow levels. And, at worst, it dooms it altogether. 

Now, the Role of God the Father


            So, with this bit of relational bedrock under our feet, we are better able to begin exploring the role of God, the Father knowing that our relationship to Him is still a function of this same relationship-building process which we have been discussing.  Obviously then, to really grasp who He is, as described previously, we will need to experience life’s everyday hills and valleys with Him. 

            It is simply impossible to grasp more than the mere basics of His identity unless you are willing to actually experience life with Him.  A thorough and accurate God awareness only ever comes through this simple, but very up-close, discovery process.  As with any other important relationship, to really discover who God is, involves celebrating and crying together through life’s everyday issues.  God, held at arm’s length, simply will not produce such a friendship.

The Look of God’s Friendship

            So, what does God’s friendship look like in everyday life? Well, like any friendship, it goes through different stages in its development. And, certainly, it is fair to say that, especially in the early days, sometimes - the relationship just “ain’t” that pretty. Indeed, it can be quite awkward and clumsy at first.

            But later, as it goes through its various stages of development, and the discovery process has a chance to work, that all changes. Indeed, the divine friendship becomes very precious and deeply and mutually fulfilling. But, that’s later.  First, comes the turmoil of “the trenches.”

The Early Stage Friendship

            To speak of a friendship with God, even in these general terms, we must assume that there has already occurred, a conversion moment – a time when one consciously and sincerely embraces the Lordship of Christ.  That true embrace of the Lordship of Christ necessarily includes sincerely embracing His values, His truth, and his daily life-directions.  There is no possibility of befriending God, the Father without first sincerely bowing to the lordship of the Living Christ is this very honest way.  Jesus said it very succinctly, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me. (Ref. John 14:6 NKJV)

 

            So, the believer comes to this early stage friendship with God which can probably best be described this way.  It is, a transformative confrontation of love. It is not unlike the relationship between a good parent and a young child.

 

            As time goes along, loving parents are required, by their love, to confront the childishness of the child - while they still are a child. The idea is to mold the child’s heart, while it is still moldable.

            The parent does this in view of a time when this parent/ child relationship will morph into an entirely different kind of relationship. A wise parent always anticipates a fulfilling adult friendship with the child, which is based in shared values. 

            In order for that to happen, this loving confrontation is essential while the child is young and teachable. What is really occurring through this parental imprint process is the shaping of the child’s value system, which is the central essence of his or her character.  As a result of this parental imprint, the child’s basic world view then becomes well defined and in general agreement with that of their parent.  This core agreement then becomes the foundation for a later enriching adult relationship. 

            You have probably already noticed that in this cultivation of that later friendship, it is the child who is required to do most of the changing and adjusting. You’re quick. You’re very quick. Welcome to “God Friendship - 101.” 

            So, indeed, as with that parent/ child thing, in the God/ man relationship, the onus is on man to embrace this “agreeability” of heart. In this analogy, of course, God is the “mature parent” and we are the “developing child.” And that is never clearer than early on, in our pursuit of His friendship. 

            However, this transformative confrontation is not nearly as off-putting as many assume. It is always, after all, a loving, process. And, it is couched in patience, and time, and careful explanations, and the joy of gaining new and valuable “life-stuff” on the child’s part.

            And, as should be the case with our children, the process incorporates some latitude for our necessary trial-and-error confirmations. Although, after a while, and more than a few bumps and bruises to our “headstrong,” most of us do eventually realize - “Ooo, trial and error - not really the easiest way to confirm God’s truth.”

The Rubber Reality

            Now, let’s go back a few paragraphs and begin again at that conversion moment in order to take a more detailed view of this early stage relationship with God.  So, the new believer, having been pursued by the Divine Spirit, finally embraces the Lordship of Christ in those three essential way that were mentioned.  At that point, there occurs a significant change.  Whereas, before, God was pursuing us, now the tables turn and we start to pursue God. 

 

            We begin to be newly fascinated with who He is and what He is up to.  We start to be curious about His view on life and his divine way of doing things.  Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we are moved to know, to see, to understand this new thing which has happened to us and the God behind it all. 

 

            So, we suddenly find ourselves chasing Him instead of the other way around – just as it should be. God, Himself, said through the prophet, And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”  And, the reciprocal idea is, of course, that we will not “find Him” if we do not seek Him in a truly diligent way. (Ref. Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV)

            So, suddenly, the new believer finds himself now chasing after God, instead of being chased. Now, the “Divine Hunter” becomes the hunted.  Sorry, I just always wanted to say it that way. 

 

            But, superfluous sentences aside, this eager pursuit of God then leads us smack dab into a very intense time of discovery.  It is a time which is not quite like any which will follow it. 

            Generally, in this early phase of our developing friendship with God, the learning curve is, typically at its steepest incline. And, it’s in this early phase of the process that we first encounter what might be called “The Rubber Reality.”

            The Rubber Reality is a situation which is naturally generated by our naïve faith. This is the reality which always occurs when the smallness of humanity bumps into the bigness of a loving God. It is the place where our metaphysical childhood encounters His divine parenthood. 

            Essentially, the Rubber Reality which we encounter in our early metaphysical development in Christ is the parental molding process - on steroids. It is God’s means to challenge us, and stretch us, and stimulate us to experience and explore both his values and his behavior.  And, it is, to say the least, a very effective means of divine imprint.

            This new reality not only encourages us to understand what God is presently doing and why, but more ultimately, it enables us to better understand the God whose “doing the doings.” And, with those insights – we are changed.  The New Testament writer put it this way, But we all, with open face beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (Ref. 2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV)


            The simplistic reality that we know before this faith-generated reality comes along is the more concrete reality of our own self-determination. This self-directed kind of reality is the reality that we were born into and have always known before we encounter Christ.  It is this self-determined reality where we typically feel that we are uniquely in good command of the facts in arising situations.  And thus, we feel not only competent, but entirely entitled to form authoritative interpretations and make all definitive decisions regarding those situations.

            Ah, but not so in the Rubber Reality. Its interpretations are much more challenging and disconcerting. This is true because in this more elastic reality of faith we are usually playing catch up with the facts, by divine design, as a part of this God-orchestrated discovery process.

            So, for us, the Rubber Reality of faith is a much more uncertain and a much less entitled existence. It is a place where we often find ourselves searching for God’s interpretation of, and purpose in, a given life situation. 

            It is a reality in which we are often left wondering, for a while at least, what in the world God is up to, or where he might be taking us. It is a reality where all facts, interpretations, and conclusions remain debatable while we search for what is truly God’s view of things and our proper response to that view.


            In both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible, we see this Rubber Reality of faith in operation. Again and again, we can notice God bringing His people into what would once have seemed to be a very concrete situation.  But then, suddenly He morphs it into a very elastic situation which, in turn, lends itself to the God-discovery process.

            For example, we can notice how God rubberized a fairly concrete reality when the nation of Israel became trapped between the military legions of Egypt and the Red Sea during their historic Exodus Journey. The concrete reality was this, “Oh no, we’re trapped, between the sea and the harshness of our Egyptian pursuers!” (Ref. Exodus 13-15)

 
            But, God changed the concreteness of those facts into this more elastic version.  “Oh no you’re not. Because, I will part the sea. And then, you can spend some time pondering the why, the how, and most importantly, the Who of it all.” 

 

            And, on and on this Rubber Reality goes from the manna which fell from Heaven, to the falling walls of Jericho, to the miracles connected to the prophets of old. God challenges the usual to stimulate us to understand Him and His ways at higher levels. 

            And certainly, in these New Testament times, this divine tactic continues. From the miracles of Jesus and the apostles, to the Resurrection, itself, our personal growth in Christ is stimulated by these divinely-orchestrated, very “stretchy” situations.  And certainly, the inappropriateness of our previously self-determined method of interpreting life is also exposed in the process. 

            And, well beyond the realm of miracles, God often immerses the faithful in the elastic realities of the everyday. From a counter-intuitive Biblical principle like turning the other cheek or tithing, to a delayed answer to prayer, to a moral inversion where the guilty escape while the good suffer - God uses these Job-like situations to confront our status quo and our cliché’ ideas of God and our relationship with Him. Always, this Rubber Reality asks us to move beyond the more childish levels when it comes to understanding our life in the Living Christ and its real possibilities.  

A Bit More Difficult 


            Obviously, when compared to the non-faith-based, more concrete reality of self-determination, where we are able to pretty much call all of the interpretive shots, the Rubber Reality (where God pretty much makes those calls) is a more difficult place to navigate. But, this faith-generated reality is also much richer in the dividends of that difficulty as we find ourselves actually growing in a more accurate understanding of God’s heart and actions. 

            Thus, the Rubber Reality facilitates relational strength and maturity through this increasingly higher level of God awareness and a more accurate and increasingly enlarging self-awareness.  So, this faith reality stands in stark contrast to the easier to navigate but infinitely less beneficial reality of the self-directed life. 

Essentially, It's A Humbling Process 


            What we are describing as the “Rubber Reality” is what the Church has, from the beginning, understood to be a divine Humbling Process.  Again, this is still that same process we can notice in that Old Testament “Exodus” journey, which we briefly referenced above. 

 

            Moses, himself, reviewed that historic journey this way.   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.” (Ref. Deuteronomy 8:2 NKJV)  

 

            So, this let’s-get-you-down-off-your-high-horse-and-find-out-what-you’re-really-made-of process has, in fact, always been a part of what it means to draw near to God.  The idea has always been that our completely comfortable humility before God, and this very strategic humbling process which brings us to that cherished state, are simply among the foundational necessities required to achieve a vital friendship with Him. 

 

            The truth is, no relationship, including the God/ man relationship, flourishes in a constantly discordant, uncomfortable, non-fulfilling state.  And so, God is about the business, in the redemptive process, of creating, not just a passable, but an absolutely spectacular relational atmosphere which is firmly based in truth and will thus allow our friendship with Him to truly endure and flourish across our lifetime and beyond.  And, this early time of humiliation which follows one’s embrace of the lordship of Christ is the beginning place of the divine cultivation of that relational atmosphere.

 

            And, with his statements above, Moses brings us to the idea of measuring up in the face of this challenging time.  Indeed, if this period, which is intended to abrade away our subconscious arrogance, is a bit challenging, and it always is, the idea, then, is just to “stick” until we get through it.  And, stick we must, if we want to become big boys and girls holding a correct and comfortable view of God as the Governing Director of our life and a correct and comfortable view of ourselves as – well, not that. 

 

            But, when that basic humbling work is done – once we start to see and actually cherish this view of the bigness of God clearly juxtaposed against the reality of our own frailty – look out world.  We are in the right relational place.  We are then positioned to rise from the ashes of our previous haughtiness to a humble but empowered and deeply fulfilling newness of heart and life in Christ.

 

From The Trenches To The Blessing

            And, it absolutely does happen.  As we do, indeed, follow Christ up and down the hills and valleys of this humbling new Reality of faith for a time, we do, eventually, come to the “Promise Land,” so to speak.  Only in these New Testament times it is actually better termed the “Promised Life.” 

 

            We start to experience the whole point of the Rubber Reality as we begin to taste the priceless blessing of a true and growing “heart-oneness” with God as it expresses itself in our daily life. Jesus said, as he prayed for his disciples on one occasion, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word; that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us...” (Ref. John 17:20-21 NKJV) 

            So, indeed, our pathway through the Rubber Reality may meander from one life lesson to another. And, it may take us through various facets of personal growth. Yet, there is always one constant to the journey – its basic direction.   There is ever this movement toward an enlarging Harmony of Heart with God.

 

            A similar harmony is easily seen in couples who have continued to grow together over the period of a long and healthy marriage. Eventually, these wonderfully special relationships reach a point where the partners can easily anticipate each other, because they have become so merged in heart.

            Consider an enlargement on the passage previously quoted from the Book of John, where, again, Jesus says, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.


            “And the glory which You gave Me, I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect [mature] in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (Ref. John 17:20-23 NKJV – Brackets added) 

            “Heart-oneness,” it is the ultimate quest of our friendship with God. Everything that Christ has done and is doing is about effecting this eclipsing harmony with the divine heart.  

 

So, Who is God the Father, after all?

 

            Obviously, to define the entire dimension of our Governing Creator defies both intellect and empirical means.  But, there are some important attributes that we can and do observe even in this early encounter that we have been describing. 

 

            For example, we can see that He is, indeed a loving God who sincerely desires a deeply and mutually fulfilling companionship with us.  And, we also discover that though He is almighty, yet, He is also a merciful and a just governor of Creation. 

 

            And, beyond these things, we are able to understand that both He and His will are immutable. So, it does not matter whether individuals recognize or refuse to recognize Him.  He, nevertheless, is.  And, he will, without restraint of any kind, accomplish His purposes.  And always, without exception, His purposes are defined by unmingled goodness. 

 

            Always, in all of His actions, there is but the perfection of goodness.  And, if we fail to see that constancy, it is merely the fault of our own low perspective, not the real lack of its existence.  Good parents often do what wayward children perceive to be evil – only because the child cannot see the larger picture.

 

            We can also easily pick up on the reality that the Heavenly Father is not so “easy” as some would portray Him.  Certainly, He is willing to be quite patient in the pursuit of a high quality relationship with us.  But, He does not, and never will, settle.  Ultimately, when it comes to relationship, His requirement is always that it be of a high quality, mutually fulfilling, and completely founded in the larger moral reality of divine truth.

 

            Nor is it hard to understand this about God.  As any good father would, He desires to see His own good values replicated in the hearts of His children.  But, contrary to the ill-informed stereotype, in fact, He has no preference for the rod of oppression in order to achieve this. 

 

            Rather, He has well demonstrated His preference for inspiration over oppression.  The idea is that He prefers that His children be moved toward His heart-likeness by their own true and profound appreciation of the virtues which they observe there.  And, in fact, this desire to replicate His own character essence (essentially His value system) within His children in this way has entirely designed the redemptive opportunity which He offers through Christ – for those who very intentionally choose to reach for it.

 

            But certainly, it remains true that even the most careful study of God’s magnificent expression of redemptive love may not answer every conceivable question concerning the nature of the all-knowing and all-powerful God of Creation.  But, as the following poem indicates, what we do know of Him will probably serve well enough to allow us to accurately interpolate most of whatever else might remain of our questions.  

 

God’s End

 

Lord I cannot see the end of you.

Your bounds are much too far.

You’re bigger than my universe,

Farther than... Oh! my stars!

 

                      So - while I'm sure there’s some I'll never see,

Still, I've seen the better part

For I've gone boldly past the veil

And looked upon your heart.

 

And, I surmise that could I see

The end of all you are,

It would be but mere reflection

Of this familiar part.

                                                                                                    P. Davis

                       Continue to Section 4

Section 4: Spiritual Dynamics: God, The Son


   
But First, The Trinity

      Before we begin to talk about Christ who is God, the Son, and the one true Savior of the world – perhaps we should talk about a couple of preliminary issues.  The first would be the nature of the Divine Trinity.

 

            The term “Trinity” refers to the incorporation of the semi-distinct personalities of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  The enigma surrounding the idea of the Trinity arises because the Bible makes clear that God, even as this incorporated Trinity, still remains but one God.  So, the usual question is, “How can this be?” (Ref. Deut. 6:4 / Mk. 12:29 / Eph. 4: 4-5 NKJV)

 

            The second preliminary issue that we will consider is the nature of the very elemental shaping mechanism which God employs to renew and grow His people.  But, for now, let's just begin with the nature of the Divine Trinity.

 

            In later sections, we will delve into the very intimate details of the unique operational means of the Trinity.  But, let’s first begin with some very basic ideas and illustrations here.  And, let's begin with you – yep, you – because you are also a trinity of sorts.

 

            In the genesis of mankind, God said, “Let us make man in our image.” And, He did.  Among other ways in which He made us to be like Himself, He also made us to be our own kind of trinity.  And, He did so in this way.  He made us to be an intellectual being.  He made us to be an emotional being.  And, he made us able to be a blended expression of the two.

 

            Indeed, it is possible for human beings to express themselves in a purely intellectual way.  It is also possible for us to express ourselves in a purely emotional way.  But, most of the time we express ourselves in a blended way which involves both our intellect and our emotions at the same time. 

 

            Thus, we are these three expressions of the same personality.  And, even though we may choose one mode of expression over the other two in a given moment, that expression remains entirely one with our corporate personality. 

 

            There is that, however:  as human beings we have to make a choice.  We must choose to act in only one of those three modes of our personality at the time.  For example, we cannot express ourselves in a blended way and a purely intellectual way at the same time.  Or, we cannot express ourselves in a purely emotional way and a purely intellectual way at the same time.  


            God, on the other hand, can act in all three expressions of the Divine Trinity as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit at the same time and yet remain entirely incorporated.  And, as mentioned earlier, it is this more complex operational nature of the Divine Trinity which often gives us pause.

 

            It’s likely that we only struggle with this complexity in the Divine Trinity because we tend to think in terms of the human limitations.  But, God is, after all, an all-powerful Spirit.  So, being entirely free of corporeal limitations, and resulting from His much more sophisticated nature, God is simply capable of more complexity than is afforded by our more limited physical nature. (Ref. John 4:14 / Isaiah 55:9)

 

            Nevertheless, when it comes to this greater complexity of the Divine Trinity, a good illustration of its workings exists in the world of computers.  Think about it.  Often, we set up powerful, large capacity computers (called mainframes) which have multiple outlying terminals connected to it.   That mainframe computer is defined and “singularly identified” by its central store of data and its unique computing architecture into which the outlying terminals are all tied.


            These outlying monitor terminals then essentially all become the different “faces” of that one mainframe computer.  And yet, those outlying terminals are all capable of doing different things at different locations, at the same time.  Nevertheless, these terminals are still merely an expression of the mainframe, in that all of them only ever draw from the shared informational content and capabilities of that primary mainframe computer.   


            Similarly, in the case of the Divine Trinity, that singular central source is the divine character essence.  It is that divine heart or core essence, which is, at all times, shared by all three persons of the Trinity, no matter what different things each may be doing at any given moment. 

 

            Thus, God’s “Complex Oneness” is simply a function of His various “faces,” the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, constantly sharing that Divine Character Essence.  And, like the data which defines the mainframe computer, the divine core essence is chiefly defined by the divine value system which it contains, and which is constantly shared by all three “faces” of the Divine Trinity. (Ref. John 14:7-11) 


            So, to put a point on this illustration, it follows then, that we human beings are merely simple PC's, while God is a powerful mainframe computer with multiple terminals.  OK, now that I think about it, maybe that’s just too fine a point to put on the whole matter.  But, you get the idea.  It is the shared central content of the one divine heart which enables all three persons of the Trinity to ever remain completely singular in their essential identity. (Ref. John 17:17-23)


The Divine “Shaping Mechanism”

 

            We will revisit this idea of the Divine Trinity in more detail later, but for now let’s jump to that second preliminary idea.  It too, is a necessary precursor to our discussion of the Savior and the nature of His redemptive work.  So, let’s consider what seems to be the favored divine mechanism for shaping and renewing the human heart.   And, that mechanism is simply composed of two elemental values.  These two very primary heart motives are simply, Respect for Authority and Love.   (Ref. Jude 1:20-22 / 1 John 4:17-18)

 

            We can easily observe how God employs these two basic values in concert with each other in some very strategic places.  For example, in the binary makeup of the Bible – the Old and New Testaments.  This division clearly demonstrates the concerted use of these shaping motives. 

 

            In the Old Testament, the overarching message is the “Fear of the Lord.”  The idea conveyed by the world “fear” in this case is most accurately understood to be simply, respect.  The larger idea is, then, respect for God’s authority.  However, in the New Testament the overarching message is clearly the message of God's tender love. 

 

            And, here’s another strategic use of this shaping mechanism.  In the home, again we see these two elemental values operating together.  The father figure has typically represents and models respect for authority.  And the mother figure has generally represented and modeled the idea of tender love.  And through the mingled influence of both parents, comes a balanced blend of these molding motives acting upon the child for his or her proper formation.

 

            And finally, when we look at God, Himself, we can easily see these same two primary shaping values working in concert within His nature.  God the Father, is easily seen as portraying to His creation, the requirement of respect for His authority.  While Jesus, God the Son, is easily seen as primarily portraying God’s tender love.  And, God the Holy Spirit then becomes the everyday perfect blend of these two defining motives.

 

            And, it is easy to see how this Respect / Love employment well serves the business of friendship building and heart-oneness with God.  It is not unlike what happens in an ideal home situation as noted above.  These two concerted motives, are carefully used by God, in balance, as part of our Christ-enabled growth process toward heart-oneness with God.

 


Now, The Role Of The Savior

 

            So, as we begin to discuss the role of Christ in the redemptive drama, the first thing to understand is simply that He is, indeed, that Second Person of the Divine Trinity, and thus, every bit God.  He is of the very same character essence as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. 

 

            Arguably, the best way to grasp the scope of Christ’s role, is to begin at the beginning.  So, let’s first look briefly at some key events and issues rooted in previous times.

 

Christ In Context

            Let’s first go back and re-examine what really happened to mankind, as a species, in the Garden of Eden. This early probe will explain much about why we do what we do and why we are the way we are. And, it will explain much about the role of Christ as our Savior.

            The early existence of Adam and Eve was nothing less than precisely what we have been talking about in this writing - a wonderful friendship with their Creator. It was a beautifully uncomplicated – though, by no means, unsophisticated - daily walk with Him. It was an easy, unforced companionship which was truly fulfilling to both God and man.

 

            And, there was, indeed, a sophisticated responsibility involved in the relationship.  It was the responsibility of choice.

            When God created Adam and Eve, it was with the privilege and the responsibility of personal autonomy. And, this afforded them a true personal sovereignty over their life and destiny. And that sovereignty even extended to the opportunity, at any time, to choose self-determination over God-guidance.

            Thus, in effect, Adam and Eve became truly independent influences in the Universe. They were, indeed, from the very beginning, capable of making independent choices and taking independent actions which affected their own and the larger circumstance around them in the most real ways.


The Great Lie First Appears

 

            Adam and Eve were, of course, the first of our species to address this question of personal sovereignty and what to do with their personal influence. And, in fact, these were the underlying issues of that first temptation. 

            Essentially, Satan’s temptation to the first couple was an enticement to reject God's authority, and assert control over their own life and destiny. His goal was to get them to assert their influence in a way which, first and foremost, pleased themselves. (Ref. Gen. 3:4-6) 

            Satan’s indication was that they could take control and elevate themselves if they chose do so.  He encouraged them to do that by trusting in their own interpretations of good and evil, rather than God's interpretations, in order to bring personal fulfillment to themselves. (Ref. Gen. 3:4-6) 

            So, The Great Lie which Satan presented to the first couple is a fairly uncomplicated proposition, though it was, indeed, presented in a very deceitful way. It is the same one he still uses, in each new generation, to subvert human souls.  In essence, it was simply this:  “You, not God, are your own best hope for personal fulfillment.”

            The underlying inference is that there is really more security and a greater certainty of experiencing  fulfillment in life if we direct our own life affairs instead of entrusting that responsibility to God.  So, this is the delusion which has become humanity's chronic downfall. And, this is the glittering emptiness which continues to mesmerize and entice humanity to this very day – the temptation to risk ourselves to ourselves. 

            Thus, Satan encouraged the first couple to become self-sustaining instead of remaining God-dependent. He encouraged them to ignore the consequences, and simply risk themselves to their own initiative. He said to them, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it [taste your own perspective on life] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Ref. Genesis 3: 4-5) [Brackets Added]

            With these words, Satan made Adam and Eve to believe that they really were their own best hope. And beyond this great error, they were also made to believe that there were no consequences for pursuing life on these terms. 

            So, the first couple ignored God’s protective warnings and decided to act on this false promise which Satan held out to them. But, as we now know, the outcome was not exactly as promised. In the end, Adam and Eve were actually completely duped. Instead of becoming elevated by their choice, they were destroyed by it - just as God had warned that they would be.

            The toxic psychological change which they were tricked into experiencing instantly ruined their relationship with God and with each other. It entirely distorted their view of life, and thus, undermined their whole existence. And it also did so for their posterity. So, let's explore a bit more, this thing which so devastated the psyche of mankind.


What Really Happened In Eden

 

            The knowledge which Adam and Eve actually gained from that forbidden fruit was not an objective, broad-based knowledge, which is based in unchanging principles, such as scientific knowledge or divine truth. Rather, just the reverse occurred. The knowledge which they gained was a completely subjective knowledge.  It was a perspective on good and evil which was entirely based in the individual's point of view. 

            So, for Adam and Eve, instantly, good and evil ceased to be based in the objective thoughts and decrees of a loving, holy, and all-knowing God. Instead, good and evil suddenly became defined by their own individual perceptions and preferences.

            Thus, good and evil became this: “Good” is what seems good to me. And, “Evil” is what seems evil to me. Good and evil became entirely determined by how “I,” as an individual, perceive a given circumstance, which was, in turn, largely determined by how “I” am affected by that circumstance.

            And, this very subjective view of good and evil goes far beyond mere moral issues. Good and evil are involved in all of our life choices and directions. Our view of good and evil colors all of our thoughts, everything we do, and all that we are. So, our view of good and evil is very basic to our life perspective.

            Thus, we see Adam and Eve’s new self-awareness, their new personalized perspective on good and evil, beginning to exert itself immediately as they decide to drape themselves in fig leaves. Suddenly, they now view their nakedness as an evil thing as they begin to diverge from the views and interpretations of their Creator. (Ref. Gen.3:7)

            And, because this poisonous personal perspective on good and evil was passed to the rest of humanity through the psyche of the first couple, every subsequent generation has been affected in the same way. And, this chronic self-centered perspective on life, which places each of us at the center of our own universe, has been wrecking our relationship to God and to each other, ever since.

            This immutable penchant for self-centeredness subconsciously colors all of our relationships, be they familial, business, or political.  And then, conflicts come as this selfish motive in us collides with the same in others.

 

            Thus, this very subjective view of life creates the ever-present potential for interpersonal contention and competition. And, even when we try to resist it, this latent selfishness remains a stubborn and ever present pressure, always urging us to use our influence to bend reality to our own preferences, to our own perception of good and evil – often at the expense of others.  (Ref. James 4:1-3) 
           
            So, it is this subjective view of life’s circumstance which destroys marriages. It makes nations go to war. It makes children rebel against the good advice of good parents.   It is the constant and underlying threat to all of our cooperative endeavors. And, worst of all, this self-based view of good and evil has entirely estranged humanity from God.  (Ref. James 4: 1-10)

            Thus, this personalized, designer view of life actually keeps us in constant turmoil on every level of our existence and on every stage of human activity. Deep within our subconscious, it always prescribes various levels of disagreement, with each other and with God. (Ref. Rom. 8:7)

            So now, it has come to be that, from the moment of our birth, this self-based view of what is “good” and what is “evil” pressures us to reject God’s ideas on the subject in favor of our own. Thus, we now enter this world with every intention of asserting and maintaining a personal sovereignty over our own life choices. And this makes us more than a little contentious regarding the issue of who is in charge of charting our life course - or, more precisely, in a larger sense, who gets to determine truth? (Ref. Psalm 51:5 // Rom. 3:23) 

            All of this is not to say that human beings cannot agree with each other, even for a moment. Obviously, that is not true. Nor is this a contention that our every act is selfish, or that humanity is not at all capable of rising to true charity and selflessness. That is also, obviously, not true.

            But, the inescapable reality is this. While we have our high and noble moments, we are always under pressure from our own self-centeredness. And, not unlike gravity, it is a constant background force which acts on us in every circumstance, though certainly, with varying degrees of impact depending on many factors. 

            But, bottom line, this personalized knowledge of good and evil is a psychological poison which skews and blurs our entire view of life. And, if we are able to sometimes get beyond its deceptions, it is with no small effort; and only on a limited basis. 


The Obvious Effects


            So now, in this late hour of human history, the impact of that Garden treachery is easily observed and understood. Mankind has now spread far and wide across the planet. He has organized himself into groups and built great civilizations across the centuries. 

            But characteristically, we have struggled to make those civilizations to long endure. Our competing selfishness constantly disturbs, and disrupts, and destabilizes, and eventually, destroys them.

            Always, the results are essentially the same. It is constant turmoil, growing out of this divisive and relentless “Me Perspective.” And, while it is obvious that mankind is intellectually capable of great accomplishment; yet, it is equally obvious that we are also constantly defeated by this embedded selfishness which ultimately imperils our every momentary success. Thus, the real stuff of self-determination is shown to be merely emptiness.

Clarity

            So, we are left with this. Good and evil are the most elemental issues of life. And, the question, “Who gets to decide what is Truth regarding those issues?” is, indeed, the central point of contention in our relationship with God. 

            Thus, the basic effect of the satanic treachery in the Garden of Eden has been to create a kind of “alternative truth,” an alternative interpretation of good and evil, an alternative interpretation of reality. And these alternative views are essentially endless, replicating themselves in each new human being.  And, in each of us, this personalized alternative view of truth, puts us at odds with God as we contend for our own viewpoint as opposed to His. 

            But, here are the facts - the truth, if you will.   Authentic Truth is always and only “the correct interpretation of reality.” And, that determination is always and only based in God’s view of things, not in man’s. 


            So, it’s only God’s interpretation of reality which actually defines true good and true evil. And, any alternative view of reality is nothing more than a competing error.

            Thus, as we grasp this larger context of what’s really going on in the human economy, indeed, it does explain a lot concerning our relationship with God. It becomes obvious why God makes this issue of Truth, and who gets to determine it, to be the Prime Issue in our relationship with Him. It is because this issue is at the very heart of a trusting relationship.

Enter Jesus Christ, 

          The One True Savior Of Mankind

            So, the real situation is this. If we choose to assert a personal sovereignty over our life and develop our own interpretations of reality (our own sort of “designer truth”), then we become estranged from a true enlightenment, an awareness of God’s truth – God’s correct interpretation of reality.

            In this condition, we are simply stumbling through life in the darkness of our own self-determined delusions regarding reality. And this arrogant, self-concentric life-approach keeps us separated from God and defeats our friendship with Him. This is owing to the fact that this arrogant life-approach is the exact opposite of faith, a genuine humility of influence which allows us to trust and embrace God interpretations of reality. 

 

But then, enter Jesus Christ, our Enlightener and the Bringer of God’s authentic truth.  The New Testament describes Jesus as “the Way, the Truth, the Life” and “the Light.” Jesus, Himself, said, “No man comes to the Father but by Me.” (Ref. John. 14:6 / John. 8:12)

            These simple ideas give great definition to the role of Christ as the friendship builder in God’s redemptive plan.  It tells us that He is the Way back to God’s loving embrace. He is our means to rediscover and live in the “light,” the enlightenment of an accurate awareness of God’s truth.  It reminds us that He is our Life, the true means to enduring personal fulfillment. 

            Very simply, it is the role of Christ to extricate us from the delusion of our own self-sufficiency. It is His mission to bring us back to a real agreement with God’s interpretation of good and evil. And this Christ-restored heart-agreement with God, then enables our true friendship with Him.

The Binary Nature of the Savior’s Role

            Sometimes, it is also helpful, as we explore the scope of Christ’s role in redemption, to briefly step back and take a larger overview of the redemptive plan, itself.  The idea is to let some of the more intricate details fade temporarily away.  In this way, we can more easily comprehend just the basic facts and how they relate to Christ. 


            For example, using this lesser magnification, we can then quickly notice that redemption is really about only two primary things. It is about Reconciliation, restoring the true friendship with God, which was lost in Adam.  And, it is about Renewal – fixing what broke the relationship in the first place. (Ref. Eph. 4:20-24)

            So, let’s begin with this Reconciliation Aspect of God’s redemptive plan.  And, the first thing to notice is that our reconciliation is based in our sincere decision to stop trusting in our own self-sufficiency and begin trusting in God’s guidance through Christ.  And note, this decision primarily happens in the conscious mind of man. There, on that upper level of our consciousness, is where we decide to bow to the Lordship of Christ and simply trust God’s love and sufficiency to guide and sustain us – thus we embrace His values, His truth, and His daily directions for our life, as mentioned earlier. 

            However, the Renewal Aspect of redemption must go further to achieve its end – a thorough newness of heart and life.  To achieve this end necessarily involves, not just the conscious mind, but the reclamation of the subconscious mind also.  This is true, because it is in the subconscious mind where our most basic self resides. It is the subconscious which is the real seat of our character essence and our value system.  And, it is in that subconscious core person where that “Me Perspective” of self-determination really lives.

 

            So, in short, redemption must necessarily involve both levels of our consciousness if we are to be not only forgiven, but renewed. And certainly, God is aware of this wider scope of our need. 


            Thus, God’s graceful mind designed a redemptive plan, entirely centered in Christ, to thoroughly answer the whole of man’s brokenness in both his conscious and subconscious being. Therefore, the authentic redemptive plan addresses, not just the surface issues of the conscious mind, but also, the very depths of our brokenness in the subconscious mind. 

Christ: Our Solution On Two Levels 

            The Apostle, Paul, wrote in the New Testament, “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”  The thorough renewal of our consciousness – this is exactly what Christ does for us.  And, it changes everything.  


            As we have seen, mankind has been deeply and chronically affected in his mind and heart by Satan’s deception in the Garden. Through the first couple, Satan has, indeed, infected the whole of the species with what might be called the “Sin Instinct.” This is that powerful inner motive for self-determination. And, it actually does affect both the conscious and subconscious make-up of the human psyche to this very day. 

            Thus, Christ, as our Savior, must necessarily solve this essential sin problem (that ingrained instinct for self-determination) both on levels of human consciousness.  This binary renewal is indispensable if man is to be durably reconciled to God and genuinely renewed in his character essence (his heart, his core being). 


            And, the two major redemptive events which underwrite this reclamation of mankind are the Crucifixion (Christ’s death on the Cross) and the Resurrection, (His coming back to life from the grave). Thus, when the redemptive work of Christ is finished, the faithful believer is left with two wonderful benefits flowing out of these two pivotal events: 1. Forgiveness, bringing a wonderful new Reconciliation to God, and 2. A thorough personal renewal on both the conscious and subconscious  level of the mind.

On The Conscious Level: 

           The Work Of The “Dying Christ”

            So, let’s begin with the Cross and forgiveness. Obviously, the first things we need in redemption are Forgiveness and Reconciliation to God. Forgiveness is the only thing that will allow us to escape the consequences attached to that essential sin motive of self-sufficiency

            Christ secures this forgiveness and heals the rift in our relationship with God by His death on the Cross. His death on the Cross is essentially Jesus stepping into our place, at the moment we truly consciously repent of our self-willed approach to life, to spare us the punishment that has always been assigned to this intention of self-determination. In spite of what Satan may have told the first couple, and even whispered in our own ear from time to time, there are always consequences to the self-determined life-approach as we have already noted. (Ref. Gen. 2:16-17 // Eph. 2: 13 - 18)

            So, in a true embrace of the Lordship of Christ, when an individual makes a conscious decision to bow before the Lordship of Christ, rejecting the great lie of self-sufficiency, Christ then becomes their personal Savior.  And, for Christ's sake, God then forgives that previous arrogance - without punishment. The reason being, Christ has already taken their punishment on Himself by His Cross, thus satisfying God’s sense of justice. (Ref. Rom. 6:23)

Imputed Righteousness

            Something else also happens at this point as a direct benefit of Christ’s death on the Cross. We are assigned a personal righteousness. That’s right, this righteousness is just ascribed to us because the death of Christ immediately absolves us of all guiltiness before God.

            This Imputed Righteousness has absolutely no basis in reality. It is gained through no merit of our own.  Again, it is simply the initial benefit of the atoning work of Christ on the Cross.  It is true that, eventually, Christ also does bring a Reality Based Righteousness to the believer. But initially, we simply enjoy this imputed righteous as an initial benefit of the Lordship of Christ.


            But, here is what the Cross does not directly fix. It does not provide a fix for that root cause of our brokenness hidden deep within our core being, on the subconscious level.  But, as mentioned, it is in those deeper recesses of our character essence that the root of our brokenness still lies.    


            The reality is that even the Cross does not eliminate that gnawing, subconscious motive which pushes at us, down deep, to still prefer that self-determined life-tactic, the freedom to decide life’s affairs for ourselves and to form our own truth perspectives. Like some resistant virus, that Sin Instinct still lingers there in our subconscious, even after our conscious embrace of Christ as Lord, attempting to defeat our new found faith.   This dilemma is precisely as the apostle describes it in Romans, chapter 7.  So, the Cross does not repair this subconscious malady because our subconscious renewal is not really a function of the Dying Christ of the Cross.  So, how does God’s redemptive plan address that deeper problem?  (Ref. Rom. 7: 14-25)

On The Subconscious Level: 

             The Work Of The Living Christ

            Our subconscious renewal primarily flows out of Christ’s Resurrection, not His Cross.  It is the Living Christ who actually facilitates our very intimate, deeply fulfilling, and completely durable friendship with God through this indispensable subconscious renewal.  (Ref. 2 Corinthians 5:17 / Ephesians 2:10) 

 

            In reality, the Resurrection of Christ is much more than just an assurance to believers of their own eventual resurrection.  Rather, it also affords us the real means to experience a thorough personal newness – in the here-and-now. 


            Through the Living Christ, the believer is afforded an empowerment, far beyond his or her own, which can rid us of that residual, subconscious instinct for self-determination, thus undividing our heart and establishing the faith motive as ascendant throughout our consciousness.   (Ref. Rom.8: 1-11)   


            All of this, and much, much more, is accomplished through a very personal and very literal metaphysical merger between the character essence of the believer and that of the Living Christ.  This is what the Church has come to commonly refer to as The Spiritual Baptism.  And, the simple and indispensable progression toward and beyond that metaphysical merger with Christ is as follows.


            The purpose of the Resurrection was (and is) to provide us with a living Savior. The necessity of a living Savior is to make possible the sharing of His renewing character essence. The purpose of that access is to enable the nobility of Christ’s character essence to empower an “overwrite” of the brokenness of our own, as He literally lives there in Spirit form. And, the purpose of that core renewal is to bring us to a true and profoundly peaceful state of heart-oneness with God – to a genuine, durable, and enduring friendship, ever sustained in the vitality of the Living Christ, living within.  (Ref. Col. 1: 27 / Eph. 4: 1-13)

 

            Thus, this integration with the Living Christ enriches the believer.  It provides the needed empowerment to completely transform and renew the believer in his or her core person. And, owing to this inner renewal, the believer’s external life is also then transformed.  It is, indeed, simply a process which brings all into the blessed harmony of a beautifully enriching daily friendship with our Creator.

Jesus, The Completely Unique Savior of the World


            So, very obviously, Jesus is, indeed, the central character in the Redemptive Drama. He is the one, perfect Savior who, alone, can reconcile mankind to God - as well as - entirely renew our capacity for an intimate and durable daily friendship with Him. 

 

            And, as per God’s authentic redemptive agenda, Christ does all of this through what is actually His dual role as both the Dying Christ of the Cross and the Living Christ of the Resurrection. In coming sections, we will delve much more deeply into the details of, not only the what, but also the how of all that Christ does for the believer in His completely unique role as the one true Broker of God’s graceful redemptive offer to mankind. 

                        Continue to Section 5