That Not of Yourselves 2

“That not of yourselves” in the area of a journey of faith erases self-works or salvation through merit or performance.  It excludes self-righteousness, boasting, or worldly standing.  It makes a journey of faith universally accessible to every Spirit-born Christian (Jn. 10:27-29).

Because by definition a God-composed life-script contains the element “that not of yourselves,” no one has to possess an advanced degree in theology to be able to walk through a journey of faith following Jesus.

In the perfect plans of God, Mary Magdelene can be privileged to be the first person to discover the empty tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea on Resurrection morning.

The security of knowing that Spirit-born Christians are eternally saved enables us to confidently listen in the Spirit, begin to obey God in small things to build trust, and to venture out into our first steps in a walk of faith.

If our salvation is in the slightest doubt, based upon our performance, then no one would summon the courage to risk entering into an uncertain biblical quality journey of faith in the first place.  No one would assume the eternal peril of losing our salvation inherent in the inevitability of challenges to our faith contained within a God-composed adventure of faith.

If continued salvation is based upon our merit and performance, then no one would exercise the freedom to honestly question God’s leadership as the spiritual journey gets steeper, tighter, and more costly (Jer. 12:1).

But if we start out knowing upfront that God has already taken into account our weaknesses, which can have no effect upon the security of our salvation, then we are liberated to go out into an adventure of faith relying and leaning totally upon God.

If our salvation is insecure and partially dependent upon the quality of our performance and merit, this places people in the murky gray-area of human judgment and self-evaluation in the exclusively divine area of spiritual salvation.  Paul judged not himself (1 Cor. 4:3).  Salvation by grace through faith opens the door through the cross and the resurrection, free of vain imaginings and doubtful judgments as we listen to Jesus, study the Bible, walk in the Spirit, and discover God’s higher ways.

This is one of the secondary themes of this book.  As Abraham walks from Haran to Canaan, God is displacing whatever horizontally conventional plans Abraham had according to the norms of the cities of Haran and Ur, with God’s unimaginatively higher destiny that God had planned for Abraham.

A journey of faith involves risk of failure.  But God would not ask us to place our eternal salvation at risk by entering into a journey of faith following Him, if by doing so that journey of faith could in any way jeopardize that salvation.  Placing our salvation at risk by entering into a journey of faith would call into question the character of God at the most fundamental level.  God invites us to pick up our cross and to follow Him precisely because the Spirit-born Christian now possesses eternal salvation.

This is part of the loving outreach of God through the Bible to us.  A risk-filled adventure of faith leading to the discovery of “all truth,” and the great biblical salvation doctrines of the grace and mercies of God, are integrally linked together.

Every positive character in the Bible follows a God-composed life-script they could not possibly imagine or self-generate on their own.  This bears constant repeating because this is a feature of the Bible that withstands the corrosive cynicism of radical skeptical unbelief in our modern culture.

My contention in this book is that a biblical, God-composed journey of faith through the second half of the cross is so outside of and contrary to horizontal, worldly conventional thinking that it can only originate from a supernatural Author God.

If Jesus therefore is “for us” within a God-composed journey of faith through all of the circumstances and events of life, divinely tailored for us according to a formula that will mold and craft us into a blessing to ourselves and to others, then who or what can be against us?

The second half of the cross, in the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible, is as orthodox as orthodoxy can get for the highest reasons.  Immanuel…”God with us”…cannot get any more orthodox than as portrayed in the biblical stories of God personally and intimately enlisting people into their callings of destiny.  The biblical narrative stories of faith point out the right road of eternal life in harmony with God, with us, and with others, which repeatedly and consistently begins each journey of faith at the foot of the cross.

Again, if our salvation is a probation conditionally based upon our performance, then we could not confidently surrender all to Jesus and follow Him up into the highest mountaintops or down into the darkest valleys.

Without knowing beforehand that I am saved for all eternity, I cannot confidently take the risk to follow Jesus to places I do not necessarily want to go, or in directions I do not initially fully understand.  Without being eternally secure in my salvation, I cannot in confidence hand over the control of my life to Jesus to lead me into the sometimes challenging, difficult, and character-stretching life-lessons…that inform the writing of this book.

Without being confident in my eternal salvation, how can I honestly and openly share my natural doubts and frustrations with God in prayer?   When I am figuratively in Pharaoh’s prison like Joseph, or have a King Saul chasing after my life like David, or am in the process of getting up to carry on after being nearly stoned to death like Paul, how can I take my honest, questioning complaint to God if my salvation is unsecure and constantly in doubt?  How can I cry out to God in desperate need of help if by doing so I am acknowledging my shortcoming in keeping up my end of the “bargain” in a merit-based salvation program dependent upon self-generated works, at the edge of “losing” my salvation?

Some Reasons for the Second Half of the Cross 4

Going Back to the Cross

The postmodern view of religious relativism, which says that everyone’s beliefs and religious experiences are equally valid, is merely a clever variation of the age-old “ye shall be as gods” deception from the Garden of Eden.  Any religious experience or churchianity that maintains self on the throne of our lives is ineffective, counter-productive, and doomed to produce misdirected mediocrity.

Going “back” to the Bible to review the cross contained within the lives of the people of faith recorded for us in the Old and New Testaments, is not a backwards move.  It is the most progressive step forward we can take.

The one and only Person in all of existence who is the most interested in “diversity” is the Person who created all of our individual personalities, character traits, and abilities to begin with…Jesus Christ.

Surrendering our all to Jesus Christ ironically is the one single approach that will produce in practical application the very thing that the postmodern philosophy of individualism cannot and does not have the spiritual power to actualize.

Jesus Christ is waiting for us to begin our journey of faith with Him.  Jesus is waiting for us at the cross.

This is why a biblical journey of faith, made possible through the second half of the cross, is so important.  This is why the Bible is our divinely sanctioned pattern and guide for right Christian experience.

We are not supposed to re-make God into a lifeless philosophical creation who will allow us to continue to sit atop the thrones of our lives.  We are supposed to fall upon the living Stone that is Jesus Christ so that God can re-make us into the people He lovingly created and intended us to be.

This is why self-realization and religious relativism are such gross and abominable frauds.  They displace the one and only agent, Jesus Christ, who can actually fill the large God-shaped void we find within ourselves.

Lucifer’s temptation that “ye shall be as gods” was so subtly deceptive, because it was not that far off the actual truth.  Lucifer stole and corrupted God’s brilliant plan for purposeful and meaningful fellowship with mankind, precisely because we were created with the capacity for this very thing (Rev. 20:6).

After the fall in the Garden, God has simply taken the added ingredients of sorrow and suffering resulting from sin, and broadened and deepened the experience of a walk of faith to include the element of the “knowledge of good and evil” into the mix.

That is why we need the elevated insight of God to sort it all out for us through the situations and circumstances of a God-composed walk of faith.

Jesus Christ willingly suffered the abhorrent and ignominious death of the cross, so that we could have the opportunity to learn through experience the very thing that Lucifer could not possibly deliver through his deceptively empty temptation in the Garden.

Jesus Christ, through the singular events of the cross and the resurrection, opened up a new and living way, and demonstrated the exemplary quality of character that is needed for the right use of power.  “Ye shall be as gods” only rightly materializes within Spirit-born Christians when it is blended with a non-self-seeking lack of personal ambition, well-meaning thoughtfulness towards others, Christ-like humility, and genuine righteousness.

The high quality of character training that accompanies the right use of power comes only through the tutelage of God.  This is what we read about in the adventures of faith portrayed in the lives of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Esther, Ruth, Daniel, Elijah, Peter, and Paul in the Bible.

If the pinpoint accuracy of the temptation of Lucifer hit its mark, God is also a good marksman in accurately devising the journey of faith to nullify and overturn the damage of sin and unbelief in our world.

If the temptation to be our own independent gods hits at the center of our vulnerability as “in-God’s-image” created beings with an in-built drive for excellence, the God-composed journey of faith satisfies this need at the center of our being with a challenging set of life events and circumstances designed to restore faith and trust in our relationship with God, which are the cornerstones of any meaningful friendship.

A journey of faith based upon the second half of the cross inserts God back into the Equation of Life.  A journey of faith through this broken world is God’s better answer to Lucifer’s clever attack upon the vulnerable character of non-divine beings created with free-will.

The concept of the second half of the cross brings the sometimes spectacular participation of God in the lives of the people of faith in the Bible, down within reach of our own present-day lives.

Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life reconnects the open circuit of real purpose and meaning in life, through the myriad of individualized life-plans and schemes imagined within the mind of God, because these life-plans and schemes were first contemplated at the time God created each one of us.

The cross is the universal leveling reality through experience (1 Cor. 4:9), common to all believers in every age and generation, which today enables us to relate to and understand the Bible on equal footing with the great men and women of faith, as we study the second half of the cross in the lives of the people of faith described in this book.

Most Christians understand in a general way the cross and the surrendering of our lives to Christ.  But do we clearly see and understand this in the narrative stories of the people of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible?

If we can see the cross throughout the Bible, we then have a solid scriptural foundation to go forward into our own personal journey of faith built upon the Rock that is Christ.  If we can capture this vision in scripture, if we can see the cross in the life-scripts of faith in the Bible, we can surrender and yield ourselves to Jesus Christ according to the rock-solid foundation of the Word of God.

The story of Abraham makes no sense whatsoever through a purely humanistic lens.  Why would Abraham go to Canaan unless he is hearing and responding to the actual voice of God calling Abraham into this new reality of a journey of faith?  Without the element of the supernatural participation of the living God, this opening narrative of Abraham picking up and moving to Canaan is just a bland story of a person migrating from one city into another geographical region.

The story of Joseph completely falls apart without the active participation of a brilliantly creative God who has all of the personal, political, and social factors within His command, and has the power to supernaturally enter into and intervene in detailed events and circumstances within the four-dimensional medium of space and time.

Even though the cross of Christ is a continuous thread running throughout the Bible from beginning to end, the wide range of varied storylines of the positive characters in the Bible demonstrates God’s creative ability to take each of our innate capacities and life circumstances, and craft them into something uniquely beautiful.

Jesus Christ looks at us like a sculptor looks at a rough-hewn block of marble.  The virtuosic figure in stone is not found in the finished statue, but in the pieces of marble that must be meticulously chipped-off the rough-hewn block to arrive at the final masterpiece.

Only God knows what needs to be chipped away from our fallen natures to arrive at the masterpiece that God first envisioned when He created each one of us.  This is another way of describing the second half of the cross process that is contained within a biblical journey of faith following Jesus Christ.  This is the uniquely original and living portion of our relationship to God as Christians, that we can recognize throughout the Bible, and that we must pursue with all of our hearts and minds.