God's Promises to the Hidden Man
Dear Friends in Jesus,
Greetings and love. In the last letter we covered a lot of material. Today I want to go back and spend time on one particular point from that letter:
This was a particularly "heavy" and condensed topic — reconciling our relationship to Jesus alone and our relationship to Him through creation. Today I want to give an "exploded" view of everything I said in that section, piece by piece, as best I can. Hopefully in the process we will be able to unlock other mysteries that touch us all very deeply — the mystery of unanswered prayer, and the mystery of failure at seeing our faith work to change the here-and-now.
- Have you ever seen your prayers go unanswered though you know things were right between you and God?
- Have you ever been "burned" by the promises of God that you believed but that didn't work when you needed them most?
- Have you ever experienced failure in stepping out in faith even though you know beyond all doubt you heard from God?
- Have you ever felt "lied to" by God and betrayed because of such things?
- Have you given up hope of ever being able to see God do the things He has said He would do for you here and now?
If any of these things sound like you have felt (or feel), then this letter is for you. And as we discuss all this, we will reconcile our call to pure identity and our call to faith for the here and now.
I. Dispelling Dualism: Finding the Place Where Earth and Heaven Meet
Ancient philosophy has always had a problem reconciling the earth-world to the spirit-world. This "dualism" has come down to us today through our different schools of theology in the Church. One school is the "holiness" school. Holiness theology majors on developing our relationship to the Lord alone. It dwells on the purely "spiritual." It has little or no interest in practical earthly applications of faith or in bringing changes to pass in the earth-- except spiritual changes in people.
The other school is the "faith" school. Faith theology majors on making changes in earthly situations and circumstances through miracles. It dwells on the "earthly" manifestations of faith. It has relatively little interest in the spiritual character-changing applications of faith— ie, seeing people become more like Jesus in their character and distinctive identity.
People in these two schools tend to take on another dualism in personality that is descended from ancient philosophy. One is called "stoicism", the other "hedonism." In stoicism, the earthly is seen as "evil" while the spiritual is "good." Stoics see it as virtuous to deny themselves all sense of earthly pleasure and enjoyment in favor of the purely spiritual. (This is also the philosophy of "asceticism" and "buddhism.”) By contrast, hedonism values earthly sensual gratification and pleasure. It scoffs at the idea of self-denial in the interest of spiritual things.
Given these descriptions of stoicism and hedonism, it should be easy to see that Christians who major on holiness tend to be stoical in their outlook. They are down on earthly pleasure. Meanwhile. Christians who major on faith-for-the-earthly tend to be hedonist in their outlook. They emphasize the present pleasure to be found through God's fulfilment of faith here and now.
II. Purified Identity and the Promises of God
It was against the backdrop of this dualism conflict that I wrote the section on Purified Identity and the Promises of God. The call to purified identity is a "holiness" message. It requires the stoical self-denial of who we are in this life apart from Christ. That is clear from the nature of the message.
But in the section on the promises of God, I wanted to show that the call to pure identity is a balanced message. It is not just a holiness message, but also requires faith for the here-and-now. It is a "faith" message, promising fulfillment in this life also. The purpose of this letter is to elaborate on that balance.
Jesus prayed for the kingdom of God to come to earth. In fact. He was praying for the dispelling of all dualism in our outlook on life. He wants to destroy the dichotomy where we find ourselves forced to choose between "holiness" and "faith." He wants to eliminate the choice between having to be either a "stoical, self-denying" people or a "hedonistic, self-gratifying" people.
Jesus' prayer is for harmony, resolution, and reconciliation between these apparent opposites. There is to be resolution between being heavenly-minded and earthly-minded.
If we are functioning as "kingdom" people then we ought to be seeing this resolution come into increasing focus in our lives and in our approach to reality. True, we find ourselves in cyclical seasons where God seems to deal with us more according to holiness or to faith at a given time. Yet we ought to be moving toward resolution of this as Jesus prayed.
Personally, I am not satisfied with the dichotomy between the holiness message and the faith message. Furthermore, I do not believe these messages are mutually exclusive but are actually indispensable to each other. It is now my intention to bring this resolution into focus for you. Purified identity is not just holiness, but requires faith in the "now" for present fulfilment if we are to enter into it. Purified identity requires relationship to Jesus alone through restored relationship to creation.
In our study, we will give special attention to the issue of failure relative to our attempts to see faith manifest itself. It is failure that divides us into being either "holiness" or "faith" people. People whose faith succeeds develop into the "faith" school. They join with those who also succeed and develop a theology around their apparent external success in God. These lock failure out of their thinking and vocabulary, ignoring it when it occurs.
Oppositely, people whose faith tends to "fail" develop into the holiness school. They become more persuaded of God's desire to change inward character only. These lock out the possibility of present success, developing a theology that blanks out of consideration the idea that God wishes to manifest Himself through practical, present manifestations of successful faith.
We will unlock the mystery of failure to show how that both faith and holiness are indispensable to each other in God's ultimate purpose of purified identity.
written from Pleasant Valley, Prince Edward Island, Canada
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
Page created June 19, 2015