by Fred Pruitt
(2012 note. I had this email exchange with a man in Texas during the spring of 2001. It begins by his taking issue with something I had written. The conversation — many of them — became a progressive revelation for him. He presented his objections one by one, to my claim that he was living Christ as he was, i.e, as a born again brother, Christ was one with him, and manifested Himself into the world as him. Same thing we always say. But he just could not believe it. However, that changed as the conversation went on, and you begin to see as the Light starts to dawn in him. I think my friend echoed many of the “objections” that are almost universally usually raised wherever we go, and in that sense I think this is why this could be very helpful to someone who is just beginning to see that he is one with Christ and living as He is in this world.)
Conversations with a brother
(The following pages contain excerpts from an ongoing email conversation I had with a man I had never met in the spring of 2001. In the way of email, something I’d written and sent to a friend in Texas found its way to this brother. He responded to my friend, who then sent me his, etc., and so it goes. Below is the initial little “blurb” I sent out, followed by his response and on from there. (Please be patient with the lack of formal English grammatical structure. It is in the form in which it was written, and I felt to edit out the informalities would take away from the conversational tone. Thanks, Fred)
i’m convinced, more and more and more, that “being ourselves” is the real meaning of the Incarnation …. God became man in Christ, and he extends that “becoming man” in us, and that “becoming man” doesn’t mean everybody being cookie-cutter reproductions of somebody’s ideas of what we should be, but finding our own inner identity and living from the truth of that without fear …. that’s what Jesus did, and when we find Him in ourselves that’s the real challenge of our lives — to simply “be ourselves” ….shakespeare was not far off when he said “to thine own self be true” ….i guess it’s that hippie-spirit in me still going on, but that part of the “hippie-spirit” is true ….
< “being ourselves is the real meaning of the Incarnation”>
I wish it was that simple, but the point is WELL taken.
Sometimes “I” have to resist what “I” want to do or say,
and i don’t think it’s ALWAYS clear who’s who.
wouldn’t it depend on which “self” is calling “itself” “I”?
no wonder the enemy confuses believers on this one! HA!
Paul said “in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing”.
A constant clarification of who “I” am … is always necessary,
isn’t it? Identity is SUCH a CENTRAL issue in our walk.
doing what feels natural is, of course, not always God’s will,
“i” very much want to have the courage to be “myself” too, so
i appreciate the point fred is making…i just don’t think it’s
altogether simple all the time. and the statement about”the
meaning of the incarnation” someone will have to explain to me!
I hope the incarnation means a lot more than that.
God’s blessings on you.
…………………………..to which i responded the following —
Hi, this is Fred Pruitt. Your reply to my little thing I wrote was forwarded to me, and I hope you don’t mind if I attempt a reply to you. I know we don’t know each other and I hope you don’t think me presumptuous for writing you. Honestly, I had settled down to check my email before going to bed after too long a day, and well, here I am, one more time, late at night, but your note intrigued me …. so ….
I certainly agree with you that living out what I described as the “meaning of the Incarnation” isn’t so simple …. and i certainly see your point that sometimes doing what “seems” natural may not be the right thing to do …. and your point is “well taken” that it makes an altogether difference “which self” we are naturally living out of ….
So I have two things to say, and please understand this is not debate, because I certainly do see what you are saying, but just to clarify a little bit what I was attempting to get across when I wrote that piece ….
First of all, I truly do see the real meaning of the Incarnation in the simple statement of “being ourselves.” I know you know what I mean by being “myself,” i.e. the self that has emerged from the Cross-death-resurrection Rom 6-8/Gal 2:20 process, through which we learn that we (our old self — old union with the god of self-for-self) has died with him in His death, and that a new self, a new “me” (He in me as me — “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”) arises, and “I” (as He in me) live again in newness of Life, His life, being no longer a “slave to sin,” but now a “slave of righteousness.”
That’s “old hat” to a lot of us but do we see the absolutely tremendous meaning behind the whole thing? …. i.e. that God has from eternity predestined us to walk in Him as His Sons, co-heirs with Christ, who walked the earth in the fulness of the Godhead bodily, i.e. a FULLY HUMAN PERSON (EMMANUEL), and that the mystery of the gospel is that EMMANUEL is now walking the earth in us, His adopted Sons, so that we, too, might become fully human persons (which means persons in union with the Almighty), and in that union which settles into a fixed unity in our consciousness as we embrace Him by faith, we “walk as He walked,” (because it is Him walking in us), we “love as He loved,” we lay down our lives as He laid down His. “As He is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17). His Life IS natural to us because He has now become our nature! “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and CAUSE you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Ezek 36:26,27
That’s nice “theory” isn’t it, because it gets sticky in the daily life, doesn’t it? I don’t know about you, but my life doesn’t always look like that “perfection” I described above. It looks pretty messy sometimes. And that’s the second thing I wanted to say. Faith is the only way to go here. We really have two choices in this matter. Either we go back to striving and trying and keeping a watch and check on ourselves, or we cast ourselves off into the apparent uncharted (to us) darkness of a faith cliff-abyss …. into the Living God, who has made those promises I quoted above.
Surely trial and error teaches us (as it should) that our own efforts don’t work. The Lord cornered me in my life, put me down on the ground, until I knew my total lack of ability to do anything — ANYTHING — and then by grace showed me His faith that operates in me (the faith “of” the Son of God — Gal 2:20) and that by faith in HIS Life, i could for the first time relax and trust in Him the Doer, who does ALL in me (Ps 4:8).
And that’s where the onslaught of all Hell comes against us, because the devil is quite content that we keep striving and checking and worrying about ourselves and “which self” we’re operating out of, and since that’s his kingdom he doesn’t need to do much with us there …. but faith, brother, is his enemy, because in faith we walk without sight, without feeling, without experiencing, and trust in nothing but Him Alone (who is not seen, felt, or heard to the “human” sense) — and those onslaughts against our faith only serve to act as slingshots to propel us further and further into Him Who Only is our refuge and our Life …. It’s in the daily walk of FAITH (not sight) that we learn just to to relax and BE – ourselves — by those continual thoughts and attacks and apparent evidences that we are NOT that! But WE ARE! Hold fast to the truth! The LIE is you’re not that, you’re not WHO you are, you’re still just your striving, hurt, sin-prone self — but you have been reborn in Him, have become a COMPLETELY NEW CREATURE, and you can now walk in freedom and liberty and freedom from fear and simply, be the “self” GOD made you to be!
So, in FAITH, we boldly trust ourselves as Him in ourselves — in Faith! “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” “And what is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” “Now faith is the SUBSTANCE of things HOPED FOR, the EVIDENCE of things NOT SEEN.” “And Abram believed in the Lord, and it was counted unto Him as righteousness.” “And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.”
You sounded disappointed that my “meaning of the Incarnation” might be all there is to it. But I think it’s the MOST EXCITING THING I can imagine — i.e. THE SON in the sons manifesting Himself in ever expanding love-horizons (each being themselves in their own individualities in HIM) throughout all eternity! What a wondrous plan of Love from our Living God!
Love in Him,
to which Brother replied:
i spent some time in your website yesterday, reading one of the articles and wanted to go back to it , but (duh!) i didn’t save the website address!
would you kindly send it to me? i know there is more than what the Lord has already revealed to me (there always is, isn’t there?), and i do hunger to KNOW HIM.
for a year or so i asked mature believers about the nature of “the fellowship of His sufferings”. Either i have not been ready or none of the people i have asked knows, so i stopped asking, knowing the
Lord will give it to me in His time…after all HE is the one who puts these things on our hearts.
i have chronic pain, which i see a “pain specialist” for. i live a more or less normal life, but pain is always present. physical suffering has dramatically
helped me realize my need for dependence on God. consequently, it has served to draw me closer. although this could be a part of “the fellowship of His sufferings”, it is not the sum of what Paul was referring to, i’m certain. If the Lord has revealed anything to you about this “obscure” but obviously important part of paul’s prayer, would you share it with me?
“…that i may: know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings”
i know that, since we are in Him and He in us, we suffer to see others hurting, the world in agony, darkness all about and so forth, but the fact that paul is giving this sort of equal importance with “knowing Him”, makes me think i’m missing something…coupled with the fact that the Lord doesn’t seem to let me just let this slide. it’s more than a “curiosity”, but that doesn’t mean i’ll get my answer anytime soon, i realize.
first of all i’m no “expert” …. i’m a seeker & learner just like you …. and yes, there is always “more” …. but we have learned a thing or two, haven’t we??? …. but we give what we do know, i.e. we give the understanding that we have — which is, by the way, the Lord’s secret to its increase in us …. since we’re not part of a dammed-up lake, but an eternal river flowing out of the Living God through our very humanity into the world without us ….
Let me quote a passage to you that coincidentally a person pointed out to me just yesterday in an email …. it’s from the writings of a 16th century contemporary of Luther, named Sebastian Franck ….
“As in Palestine, so everywhere, Christ — not only Christ after the flesh, but after the Spirit — is a crucified Christ. Only those can open the Sealed Book — can penetrate the divine Revelation — who bear the mark of the Cross on their forehead, who have eaten the flesh and drunk the blood of the suffering and crucified Christ, who have discovered that the Word of God is eternally a Word of the Cross. God is nearest to us when He seems farthest away. He was nearest to Christ when He was crying: ‘My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ So, too, now he who is nearest to the cross is nearest to God, and where the flesh is being crucified and the end of all outward things is reached, there God is found.”
the last part of the verse you quoted from Philippians says “being made conformable unto his death” …. it’s really a very simple thing as i see it …. it is intensely “deep” in its meaning & import, but it is all wrapped up in the very thing i sent before that you responded to …. i.e. that the “meaning of the incarnation is in being ourselves” …. “take up thy cross, and follow me” is intertwined with “being ourselves,” as it was with Him …. you can’t “be yourself” in Jesus without taking up your Cross & following Him into His death …. because the Life we’ve been born into works in us a willing reception of and experience of “death” to bring Life (Him) to others …. in a million different ways ….
when we say, “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” then we are testifying to the fact that we have died to the “old man” that we once were, who was for himself …. we have risen again in Him to walk in this earth in reenactment of His death working in us on a daily basis for the purpose of the redemption of the world, which He is completing in time (what is already done in the eternal) by means of our manifest human lives, walking in the Spirit of the Lord ….
your chronic pain is His chronic pain — have you realized that??? …. God is paradox in us, for my weakness is both His weakness, and the means whereby His strength is made perfect …. never never never do “I” cease to be weak …. IN my weakness, IN my pain, IN my turmoil, IN my disgruntlement, IN my mental confusion, IN my not knowing for a moment which way to go, IN my moments of wondering where is GOD, IN my fears, IN my lacks — in other words, wherever I am feeling most human and most lost and most in need, farthest away and most insignificant, THERE HE IS!!! …. Jesus submitted Himself to death — for what purpose? — to bring many sons unto glory …. was it a real death? …. did He really “feel” forsaken by God? …. did He COMPLETELY give up the ghost? …. was His mind torn in confusion and desperation, wondering to Himself if actually He’d been a fool to submit Himself to this? ….
such is the taste of death that we feel, in some measure, every day …. what i’m saying here is that life in union with God in Christ is NOT a life that seems to “work” according to the flesh …. people reason after the flesh and think that they shouldn’t feel any more pain or sickness, any more doubt, any more financial lack, any more family problems — you get the drift??? …. that life, if you are in Christ, should now be “rosy” ….
but i find that not to be the case …. i see that “all the day long we are given as sheep for the slaughter” …. we have joined now, with Him, in His love purposes for others …. His purpose is redemption in our world, to turn darkness into light, evil works into works of praise, despair into hope, unbelief into faith, selfishness into love …. when He left the earth He said He was sending His Spirit to live in us so that we might be One with Him and the Father, even as they are One …. which means we are now joined with them in their eternal purposes, and which also means, if we can see it, that ALL that we experience is NOW, this DAY, this MOMENT, part of that redemptive activity which He enacts within & through us as we walk daily in faith …. and that daily walk of faith, is of course, not just “we” ourselves walking, but He in and as us, walking out His life, manifest in our mortal flesh …. and our “mortal flesh” is the “place” (and mortal flesh means more than just body, but our whole human life in this world) where this whole scenario is experienced and enacted, and where GOD HIMSELF says HE is manifest ….
our pain is His pain, our suffering is His suffering, our doubt is His doubt, our confusion is His confusion — HE willingly has given Himself to know and experience and BE the full human condition (see Isaiah 53 & Psalm 139), for the purpose of redeeming the world through His blood and body, and continues that redemptive action through us His sons ….
when you hurt, do you think God is “apart” from you not feeling that hurt as deeply as you do? …. He IS the inner depths of your own selfhood, the Source of who you are, and is closer in to you than your own thoughts about yourself …. when we begin to grasp that, when we begin to know the absolute safety of His keeping hand, (rather than our own feeble efforts to keep ourselves “saved”), then we also begin to relax and know that we walk in “death” every day, Jesus’ death, where we experience real fear, real torment, real confusion, real anguish, real lust, real despair, real pain — i.e. the whole gamut of the human experience (He was tempted in ALL points like as we) and to also know that in dying those deaths every day HE is faithful to Keep us without sin and bring us to resurrection every day, not for ourselves (for we’ve settled ourselves in Him) but for the purpose of bringing Life to the others He sends us to …. and we stop condemning ourselves for “feeling human” and begin to rejoice in what He is doing by means of His Spirit operating IN our weakness ….
in short, in succinct terms, our humanity is the “right negative” for God’s “positive” to flow through and out of into the world …. we really can trust Him in us, and having settled that He IS the real US, we can then trust ourselves to be His expression of Himself, for He is the One “in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” …. He CREATED US and PREDESTINATED US to walk in His works!!! ….
who are we to deny the Lord of Hosts His plan from eternity????
so, that’s my little bit on “the fellowship of His sufferings” ….
thanks so much for your explanation. it’s difficult to speak of spiritual things with our limited earthly vocabulary, isn’t it? thanks for sharing what you can of what you know. i’m pretty sure the truth i’m looking for is contained in my living out the reality of what you have expressed. some of it is already a reality to me, but not all.
i guess if paul had added a “bonus chapter” explaining all this, no one would “sign up”, huh? ha! and i suspect only a relative few choose to go this far with the “program”… those whom He has chosen. I know I must see God’s love in each part of it to find its real meaning.
fred, i think one of the reasons this has been hard for me to “fit together” is that i have received so much teaching on the “finality of the cross”, how that “Christ has suffered once for all sins, the just for the unjust…” (1 Pe. 3:18). Heb.9:24-28 is another that i think i am having difficulty with (“so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many…”) i think you know i
am not wrangling over words here…would you explain in your words how these fit in? i know from the scriptures that after the cross, there is still suffering to be done, but this is where my understanding fades. is it that they are just 2 different kinds of suffering for 2 different purposes? …one for sin (Christ) and the other to maifest His glory in the earth.
brother, you can see i’m trying to wiggle my way out of this suffering deal! ha! no, i just want more understanding, and i realize this is revelation territory, that is, if the Spirit doesn’t reveal it to me it ain’t gonna get revealed…that i am sure of. my heart longs to understand, which makes me believe i will. i AM able to give thanks for the physical pain, seeing the effect it has had on me… making me “press in” to know Him and His purposes, as well as seeing Him bring me through. But no, honestly i haven’t seen that my pain is His pain…help me understand this better if you can, fred, it sounds right. thanks so much for your willingness to help.
much love in our Savior,
thanks for answering again ….
i think you are right, it is very difficult to express in “earthly” terms “heavenly” concepts, and we are presumptuous if we think that by doing so we’ve got the whole ball of wax …. it’s an understatement of infinite proportions to say that God is beyond our understanding and our limited conceptual expressions of Him ….
so I think you are right in what you say, in that you have to know by living it out …. it is not a matter of the intellect, in which, if you will permit me to say, you seem to want to find some satisfaction ….
obviously there is a difference between Jesus’ “once-for-all” death on Calvary, and our daily living out the Cross life …. Jesus, as Emmanuel, Son of God AND Son of Man, was the “man from Heaven,” the “Second Adam,” the sole progenitor of the new race of “men from heaven,” as our forefather Adam was the progenitor of the “man of the earth” (1 Cor 15:45-49) …. only HE, Jesus, could effect the sacrifice required to raise man from his fallen state and imprisonment in captivity with the false god of this world …. only HE could break those chains whereby we were held, effecting the forgiveness of our sins through His shed blood, and in His physical death taking Sin unto Himself and dying to it in place of all imprisoned humanity (1 Cor 5:21), and in His being raised by the power of the Father, raising all humanity with Him into His kingdom — all those who turn to Him (Eph 4:8) ….
but, He is also the “Lamb slain from the foundations of the earth” (Rev 13:8), which means to me He has from eternity been “the Lamb slain” …. so we see it once, in time, yet it is an eternal event, past-present-future, the Lamb slain — “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Heb 13:8) …. so that, what was seen and effected for our benefit in time, 2000 years ago in Palestine, is a timeless event, for He is FOREVER the Lamb slain …. in the book of Revelation He is called the Lamb 25 times! …. He is still called the Lamb in the last chapter, when everything is “wrapped up” …. it is an eternal event …. what does that mean? ….
to me it means that the Cross, the Lamb of God, is an eternal principle of the Living God, which though displayed in history one time only, nevertheless is enacted in US His Sons always and forever (2 Cor 4:10,11), because that eternal “Lamb slain” lives in us! …. He is forever the Lord of Glory, sitting on a throne on the right hand of God, and forever a Lamb slain for others, giving Himself over to death that others may live …. we both live, with Him, seated at the right hand of the Father (Eph 2:6) where He is, and we are also the Lamb in the midst of the throne (dying that others may live), for we are One with Him ….
if i may be permitted one more observation of what you say to me …. you and He are One …. do you see that??? …. one person, one spirit — ONE!!! (“But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 1 Cor 6:17 [“spirit” IS “person” — “I AM”]) …. when you say you can’t quite see your pain as His pain, then “whose” pain is it? …. who are you??? — some independent, separate, apart being? …. i think there might be a gap in your consciousness, and it’s alright for it to be there, for He is the closer of all gaps, not us, but I really think that “gap” in your consciousness is where the problem is, not in “getting an understanding” about the mystery of suffering …. you might be reluctant to close that gap of saying “Christ and I are ONE,” thinking maybe that’s presumptuous, maybe that’s just a little too far, but, dear friend, that is the KEY to it all ….
it’s a fearful thing, because to finally and completely say in faith that “He and I are ONE PERSON” means that we DIE to that false conception of ourselves we’ve always lived with and known …. as “good” Christians (or even “bad” Christians) we falsely think that by declaring the truth of this union which is so absolutely evident in scripture and Jesus’ stated reality for Himself and for us (John 17), that we somehow make God less, and that to protect the “integrity” of God, who is perfect (and we are so “imperfect”), we surely cannot make that final plunge and say “He is US!” (isn’t that why the Pharisees & Chief Priests crucified Him — to protect the “integrity of God” because He said He & the Father were ONE???) …. but He is the ONE who determined all this, He is the One who sent His Son to don flesh, to be the Son of Mary, of Man, and WHO by HIS Spirit has taken up residence in Man ….
for us to say, “I NO LONGER LIVE, BUT HE LIVES IN ME” is DEATH to that false man we’ve been, but is the TRUTH of GOD, and by doing so we die, and live again …. paradox, madness to the flesh, foolishness to the world, the absolute opposite of what we appear to see, but nevertheless THE TRUTH! “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18).
“Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?” Matt 21:42 …. that Stone is the Head of the Corner in YOU!!!…. He IS you! ….
YOU and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, ARE ONE! That IS the mystery of the gospel, that IS the incarnation, that HE is alive, whole, complete, perfect — IN YOU! …. AS YOU!
and that makes “your pain” to be “His pain,” since there is now no longer any difference between “your” and “His” ….
and once again, this is not a matter of intellectual understanding, or acquired knowledge, but FAITH! …. accepting what you do not see, having no empirical evidence of, as true!
Lastly, I just want to really thank you for your willing and humble spirit …. I’m just a guy who works data entry in a home-inspection business, not some big evangelist or teacher or preacher. Like I said before, I’m no expert, just a seeker and learner like you — but paradoxically, ONE with Him who fills ALL in all — just like you!
I’ve been “chewing my cud” regarding your last email. thank you for that!
Fred, in the midst of our deep ponderings, i am feeling myself being strangely drawn back to what strikes me as the simplicity of the gospel, the Son and the cross. I’ve asked the Lord to fill in the gaps as He pleases, but
the more i muse on the notion of our being more or less co-equal with Christ, the more it seems a “principle” to me, not a person, Christ. This is just my honest confession. Honest question: where do things like worship and sanctification (for lack of a less theological word) fit in to what you are saying to me? Forgive my ignorance, but i am asking in all sincerity. I don’t want to miss anything the Lord has for me, but i can’t ignore the fact that something about this is not settling in my spirit. I don’t want to go on and on with endless questions, but i would like your feedback on these two things, with regard to the way you see our relationship to Christ.
much love and thanks,
written from California, at Ed Lassiter’s
I can’t find anything simpler than the Son living in me. I worship Him with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, because ONLY unto Him belongs all glory, honor, wisdom, power, love, and holiness. Like the elders around the Throne in the book of revelation, I cast the crown of the kingship of my own life to HIM, to Him who fills All in all. My worship and praise is in glorious thanksgiving for all that HE has done, is doing, and will continue to do, in all the earth, in all the heavens, throughout all time and eternity. And having found myself dust before Him, then FREE to receive the totality of His grace, which is unlimited toward me, in me, through me, and as me, since it is “no longer I, but He” ….
Lovingly I say that to me there is nothing more simple, and that it is NOT a principle on which i depend and in which I trust, but THE PERSON (I can’t love and worship and give thanks to or for a “principle”) WHO IS ALL in all.
This is, to me, the simplicity of the gospel, the crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected Lord living His promised Life in us His sons. That to me is the whole purpose for which He did what He did — “to bring many sons to glory,” who we are.
But you are right, that can’t be to you just a “principle,” or a “doctrine,” but can only come about as He reveals it to be your Living Reality in Him. But we enter in by faith, even in the same way we entered in by faith to salvation, when we didn’t understand or comprehend it, or even barely believed it.
Just a few thoughts …. let me continue to hear from you.
thank you indeed, brother! so much of what you say rings true in me.
this is probably my reluctance: i have a healthy (i hope) “fear” of falling into erroneous thinking that would exalt myself or reduce the honor and glory due Christ (as you have mentioned previously)…as if that were possible to do, but you know what i mean i know.
i have prayed that i not miss any of my inheritance, even the part that’s for now… here on earth. this includes understanding the riches that are mine in Christ…especially with regard to KNOWING Him and His love toward me and others. And i believe i won’t. i think i just need to keep walking in what i do know and keep an open mind and heart. there is obviously more than what i grasp at this point… ( i don’t think these questions are coming from the “evil one”)…there always is more, but i’m ready to accept the fact that all my effort to “take the next step” in understanding Christ and Him crucified, may not produce an immediate windfall of spiritual understanding. No doubt this will come at the very time i’m not straining my brain to get it…that seems to be the pattern.
by His grace, i’m going to just keep walking by faith knowing today i’m probably as smart as i need to be about things eternal…a bit of a simplification but you know what i’m saying. this doesn’t mean i take a passive attitude about growing in grace and the knowledge of God… my 53 year old gray matter just needs a rest…think i’ll try to turn it over to the Spirit! (easier said than done sometimes, huh?)
my plan for “returning to the basics” didn’t work. i was drawn back to your wesite and your emails. after reading hours worth of the materials you’ve
provided (thank you by the way), i can’t help but feel that there is definitely something there for me the Lord wants me to understand.
i have been fearful of falling into “error”, but my hunger for whatever
i’m missing has now surpassed that fear. Looking back i realize everything i’ve learned about Christ, at first seemed “too good to be true” and still does. (except for the suffering which i’ll come to appreciate
with time, i’m sure) so much of what i’ve read from your emails and website rings true, and gal. 2:20 has been “dogging me” for a long while now.
your question has returned to my mind many, many times in the past 3 weeks, “who am I …some independent, seperate, apart being…?” even by logic if i died, and now live, but don’t live, except that Christ lives in me, there can be no other “me”… except the “Christ-me”…no one who is alive and real anyway. i am filled with awe as this seems to actually be dawning. to think that even my thoughts are HIS thoughts and my self…
His self…is overwhelming.
what about the “other” thoughts…the ones about me that are contrary to the truth? if there is no independent self, are all those thoughts from the “evil one”? directly originating from the “evil one” … or just “erroneous” thoughts, “echoes” so to speak, from the old me who died?
fred, i’m sorry but you’re the only available one i know who thinks Christ is living as him, i can ask the question to right now! if you can’t get to an answer right away don’t worry about it. but would you respond when you get time?
you know i was trying to avoid all this, but that was not God’s choice. it seems He is pressing me to decide, “who do you say i am” but with an added, “who do you say you are”? “neutrality” doesn’t seem to be an option.
thank you, fred, for your kindness and help,
I’ve also been “chewin’ my cud” thinking over your questions you asked in your last email to me …. a thousand speculative esoteric answers have come to mind …. great doctrinal theses (what does that rhyme with?) rushing through my brain like trains at rush hour at Grand Central Station …. because your latest questions, i.e. regarding your supposed “evil thoughts” and this “independent self” question, pretty much dovetail into the heart of the matter for us all …. and that is “ok, i’m in union with Christ, so what about this ‘me’ — how do it work?” …. and truthfully, many have gone their separate ways over just these issues, and not just among “union” folks, but in Christendom in general …. because most everybody is looking, it seems, for a “formula,” some way to hold our mouth right, to grip the ball, a cure for the common cold, that’s going to “make life work” ….
my wife janis & i went to the grocery store this evening, and as we were speculating over what to have for dinner and looking at prices and considering the best deals on coffee and i was occasionally enjoying the skanty summer wear of some of the young women while at the same time thinking on these questions and my upcoming due bills and the poor condition of my dilapidated car, all those theses i was going to write in answer to you (as if i was somebody who COULD answer those questions) just spirited themselves away and i was just left with being just me buying groceries at the kroger …. and there, i saw, was the answer ….
i can’t give you a 1+1=2 answer on your questions …. reason: it DON’T work! …. why? — you hit on it in one of your recent emails to me, when you told me that i seemed to be setting forth some kind of “principle” and you had a mind for the “Person” …. that’s the IT, that’s the whole ball of wax, and it’s already yours! You ALREADY see IT (HIM)!
dear brother, we are called to FREEDOM! …. the first response i sent you, after you sent your note on my “be yourself” little thing, could as well be the answer to the questions you ask now ….
wake up in the morning and BE …. our stand, our life, our heart, our testimony, is in FAITH! …. and what is the “object” of our faith??? …. “I AM” …. HE IS! ….
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Prov 3:5,6)
It is the Living God with whom we have to do, whom no “flesh” can approach, whom no “man” can see, who in this lifetime can only be “seen” through the eyes of faith ….
there is almost no deeper scripture in the Bible than Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” And the whole theme of Hebrews 11, and indeed much of scripture, is on this faith issue …. we are thick-crusted indeed in our thinking, for it truly takes years & years it seems for the Lord to get through to us (but that’s HIS timing, not ours, since He can open our understanding anytime He likes) …. through the years and years of my reading of that verse the real impact of it didn’t dawn on me — but one day it did ….. FAITH IS THE SUBSTANCE!!!! ….
i’ll say it again — FAITH IS THE SUBSTANCE!!!! ….
AND — FAITH IS THE EVIDENCE!!!! ….
and where does that faith come from??? …. from the “other side” — from “beyond us” — i.e. from HIM …. we could not believe except by His grace HE imparts His own Spirit into our being to believe …. that FAITH IS the inner word of God in our spirits, in our inmost selves, speaking the invisible things of God, that seem foolishness to our eyes of flesh, for that FAITH (which is Christ Himself in us) testifies to the eternal realities which our finite-thinking minds cannot grasp or comprehend ….
in the new birth we are made a completely new creature …. this is where we stand …. we stand when we see it, that He is OUR VERY LIFE & PERSONHOOD when we grasp Gal 2:20 ….
and what is the result of that in this life??? …. for me it means this …. it means that in many ways i still seem to be much the same person i have always been …. “i” am still “i” …. this guy i’ve known inwardly as “myself” since my first self-awakenings as a small child i still seem very much to be …. learned a lot on the way, matured and changed here & there, but still very much the same …. most assuredly i can testify of some radical inner “change” in me in my new birth, but it’s hard to put my finger on it …. over time there has been a shift of attitudes, outlooks and values, but i didn’t suddenly wake up one day and go down to the nearest hospital and cure everybody in it, and then on down the road to the nearest psychiatric unit and heal everybody there, or raise kids who never had any problems, or got money out of a fish’s mouth everytime i needed to meet an obligation ….
“i” am still “me” …. and that means that i still feel and experience the whole gamut of human life …. every thought that is possible for a human to have, every feeling, every emotion, every doubt, every fear, every problem, every obstacle, every desire — “i” am a microcosm for the whole of the human race, since we all experience everything in common …. (whether we know it or not) …. the difference, however, is that “I” really, truly HAVE become a new creature — Christ in me, so that in experiencing within myself the whole gamut of human existence, by the faith which He operates in me, through me and as me, I am now able by Him to divinize all that experience, i.e. in my faith to call forth the Light of God — “Let there be light” — so that in that whole experience of human living which i am living out every day of my life, my personal existence then becomes the focal point of His redemption for my world ….
long ago, even before I saw this great liberating truth of our union with Christ, i saw that HE is the upholder, the sustainer, the DOER, of all things …. at the time that i saw that, i was in the midst of the greatest despair in my life, where i felt myself standing over the abyss of hell, in stark terror of being apart from God for eternity, afraid i couldn’t find the will of God for my life, afraid i’d been abandoned, rejected by God, tempted to the utmost to just give up and die, when one day while at work at A-1 Rents in Monterey, California, walking across the parking lot, the Lord gave me a scripture which has since been the stay of my life: “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” (Ps 73:24) …. the two words: “THOU SHALT” have been the foundation of my life ever since, because at the time i was walking through, i felt, a minefield, where the slightest step wrong in any direction would blow me up and send me to hell forever, and when i saw the “THOU SHALT” it was the greatest liberation i’d ever known, and am still reeling with that same realization after 22 yrs …. i KNEW in a moment that HE WOULD walk me through that minefield, that i didn’t have to depend on what “i” could do, or know, or believe, but that i could rest in that HE IS ALL, and that HE IS faithful, and that i could actually fully relax and put my complete resting trust in HIM to do what He said He would do, i.e. “guide me with His counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” ….
so it all boils down to this, to finally get around to answering your questions …. i don’t really think too much about what is an evil thought or what is a good thought in me …. neither do i pay any attention to whether or not “independent self” is operating in me …. (it would actually be truer to say i don’t think about it at all, or at least almost never) …. because i’ve given that all over to the Lord of Hosts a long time ago, to HIM Who is able to walk through that minefield, picking out the right thoughts as we walk along, throwing the rest out as the case may be …. He walked me through that minefield oh so long ago, and I trust Him in me to continue to be His own manifestation out of this human life called “me” that HE HAS CHOSEN to dwell in & show forth His power & love through …. (“the prince of this world cometh, but he hath NOTHING in me” — Jn 14:30)
so that leaves me here, just being my normal human self, by grace believing in what i do not see, embracing a promise “afar off,” yet having the certain “evidence and substance” in my inner being in the “here & now” …. seeing now through a “dark glass” what one day i will behold “face to face” ….
we walk in faith that He is WHo He is, and that therefore WE are Who we are — His manifest life in this world ….
“This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes” ….
Hope this helps ….