By Fred Pruitt
Sooner or later, we realize this is an all-or-nothing proposition.
People want to debate the “free-will question,” but the answer will never be found in the right words about it.
We only know how the water tastes if we drink it — and it is impossible to describe to others. They can only know if they drink. “Drinking” is nothing else than receiving by faith.
”He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38)
Well, what do you believe? This is something that becomes very personal. What do YOU believe?
Let me rephrase for clarity. I am not asking what you “think.” Thinking can go here and there. What I am really asking when I say, “what do you believe?” is more clearly asked by, “What do you SAY?”
Are living waters flowing out of you right now?
How can you know? By what gauge would you measure it?
What does the scripture say? (see above)
Do you believe it?
So then, what do you say? Are living waters flowing out of you right now?
There are many “ifs” in the New Testament. They are only there, that the Spirit might disturb us right there as if to ask, so what do YOU say about this “if”? Jesus just as easily could have phrased it, “If you believe on me …” But He just cut out the “if” and simply said “he that believes it,” which is simply meaning, I have taken the “if” away by saying, “Yes, Lord, it is as you have said. You have said there are living waters flowing out of me and I say it is according to your Word?” We might join with Mary and ask, “How could this be, since I have not known how this could be birthed in me, being nothing in myself?”
And like Gabriel told Mary that the Holy Spirit should come upon her, and the power of the Almighty would overshadow her, and that which would come from her would be the Son of God, the Spirit says the same in us, and in the same way the Child grows up in us and flows out in rivers, just as He said. Without realizing it over time at some point we come to the awareness that this truth, this divine plant, this Christ, has grown up in us, we have become organically one in consciousness, and by the Spirit are like that tree planted by the water, that is shade and shelter and sustenance for man and beast.
We are not speaking complexities here, but simplicities. We now see only Him. There is nothing within or without that stands apart from Him or is somehow outside Him, or that does not work in Him according to His Love and Righteousness.
And in that mercy and grace He has resurrected as a new you and a new me, as ourselves being just ourselves, with no thought or effort on our part to be anything that who we really are, with no pretense or “trying to be like” required. How silly that we ever thought God would be impressed by our “trying.” It gives Him a good belly-laugh!
So we ask again then: Has God spoken this Word to us and do we believe that it is true and that it is describing the truth about me (He in me)?
What is this truth? That we are vessels or containers of a Life that is out of the deepest depths and highest heights, universal but coming out into this existence formed individually as you and me. We are totally and completely the vessel for another. But in another miracle out of God’s depths of Freedom, we are only “us” all the while. He in us.
But – He is the hidden life, the Life behind the life, because the mystery of the Gospel and the completion of the Incarnation, is when Christ has formed Himself in us so that we are we, and we are He, and this is simultaneous in time and spirit. We are most assuredly containers, vessels, temples, branches of a vine, created to live not out of our own innate created resources, but out of the infinite resources of the Father, through Christ, distributed by the Spirit. But all of this is in invisibility! Because all that majesty, all that mystery, all that wisdom and knowledge and finally and ultimately ALL that glorified perfect Love, comes out into expression as just regular you and me being human people in human situations with human problems driven by human motivations. As Jesus said of the Father, ”For as the Father hath life in Himself, even so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself.” As vessels, for in Jesus of Nazareth He was surely a vessel, the vessel Jesus was given to have life in Himself, and in the same way as vessels so are we.
Human motivations? That might cause some to buck up, to say, “Well, God doesn’t work according to human reason, but according to His own will.”
And yes, absolutely, that is the case. Everything most assuredly “worked after the counsel of His own will,” (Eph 1:11), which includes all the human reasons and seeming “motivations” going around in and through everything.
Everything goes into the mix. It’s all Him. And it’s all individual freedom at the same time. Couldn’t be anything else because God is free in His own freedom and has given us as forms of Him with “life in ourselves,” the same freedom, which really is not something He “gives” but is of course something God IS, free as He is free.
That’s all it is. God calls us and takes residence in us, by His choosing, and by our inner mark of eternal personhood (spirit), we exercise in our “royal choice” of, “choosing His choosing,” (for He is King of kings – and kings make policy – kings decree – so that is where this royal mark of personhood comes from, that we, even as vessels, are chosen to be kings in the King, sons in the Son, co-Creators, Co-heirs!). And there it appears what the scripture says, that the issues of life flow from this heart held in the hand of the Lord, and they are all the Lord’s issues, for He is the “heart” we have “kept with all diligence.”
And it is fulfilled, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” (Prov 21:1)
To be completely the vessel of another, in our case the Lord Jesus Christ and the Living Father and the Outgoing Spirit, is absolute and total Freedom. Completely yourself, completely He Who has bought you with a price.
And we learn after a time that we no longer need come to Him seeking Him like the needy masses who thronged Him for a blessing – but yet still did not have any clue as to Who He really was, or who they were, just like the needy masses today coming looking for earthly bread and temporal things. To those needy masses in the past and perhaps to many who call Him “Lord” now, He was just a miracle worker to them, somebody to heal their bodies and feed their bellies, somebody who maybe could be a king who could kick out the Romans, or some other disagreeable worldly power.
So they came to Him to get something, and He in compassion gave them all He had, and then finally Himself, to point them away from the bread that perishes, toward the Bread which came down from heaven which gives and IS eternal life.
But He transforms this vessel in understanding and consciousness, from a needy “bless me, heal me, fix me, make me feel better, me-person,” to someone who has no time for that anymore. Not that the nags aren’t still there, the condemning thoughts, the self-pity waiting around every corner, the doubts, the fears, for they still hang on at the edge. But who cares about that, once we see?
Why, don’t we want to be fixed – to be healthy, prosperous, mentally balanced and alert, feel good, smiles on our faces, well-fed? Of course, nobody likes being uncomfortable. Poverty’s not a lot of fun. Food is nice on a regular basis, too. So we’re human, certainly.
But we don’t live for that anymore. Eyes on the prize, as they used to say back in the Civil Rights Days. Whatever the suffering or trials they had to endure, they knew to be in it for the long haul. Eyes on the prize, the motto of the MLK days.
Well of course MLK borrowed that from Paul, because that is where our eyes are now, too. “Not as though I have already attained … but I press toward the mark … of the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.”
This is not seeking some greater rewards for service and sanctity Paul is speaking of. He has long ago left some great self-concern for his own piety or spirituality. Once Paul was clear, from Romans 8 onward, that He was no longer himself for himself, but now the vessel of the Spirit, the container of Christ, no longer seeking something for himself, He saw now in totality that his life was given for the benefit of the ones God had sent him to. Even as Christ was a “ransom for many,” the life of Christ is in us now, not to save us, but to use us as the Father says to the Son, “A body hast thou prepared for me.” This is the body given by which the worlds are reconciled, by which the captives are freed, the blind see, lepers are cleansed.
And now we are part of this body, and individually are this body. This is what the “rivers of living water” flowing out of us are doing. We are bearing about in the body the “dying of the Lord Jesus.” Is this for ourselves, for our sanctity, for our elevation to some high spiritual position, for us to win some big prize and a big crown that says, “Best Saint, What a Guy!”? For us to get 10 cities instead of 5, or to attain some “better resurrection” as some reason why we went through all this?
Hell no! No one dies and goes to hell for others and likes it. But when the real prize comes into view, then it is eternally worth it. No matter what it is. He has made us safe sons that may bear anything for the prize.
See, the real prize of the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” is not those “heavenly rewards,” that somehow elevate “us” as we might imagine, but rather, the heavenly rewards are those in whom your shed love and broken used-up body and mind has brought out the True Light in others. The “joy set before Him” is just the same “joy set before [us],” because it is not some heavenly blissful peaceful eternal repose, but rather all those the Fisher caught and is catching with our hook (us), whose faces certainly must shine eternally in our sight and joy.
So that is the transformation that takes place in this vessel as He changes our consciousness. We are by default those who lives primarily not for ourselves, but to be spent in outgoing life through others.
And we just are that. We don’t work up to it, don’t earn it, attain it, but one day we realize, as a gift, beyond your comprehension, above your understanding, despite appearances and even attitudes and thoughts to the contrary, God has truly taken up residence here (in us) and we finally realize He runs the whole show – and always has. Not because He is “All in all,” and we have no choice in the matter whether we will have Him run our show or not. We are speaking to those who have passed that crisis. So to those, there is a one day (and it even keeps increasing after that) and sense of finality to it all. NPG used to say we were “inwardly fixed.” We just see, “O Lord, this really is only your ball game! O hallelujah! And somehow you’ve decided in your love to show yourself and reconcile the world through this little outwardly-appearing insignificant human life I am here living.”
When do we believe? When do we say, “Yes, this is so, in me!”?