The beat goes on!
We’ve only been gone 5 days on this trip, with 7 more to go. I cannot believe how much has gone on, how many different people we have seen, and how the Truth of Christ has been going out doing some major liberation!
Lights in people’s minds going on. Understanding dawning so clearly you can see it! Tears rolling down the cheeks because the burdens of our futile self-efforts have been shown to be the wood, hay and stubble they really are.
Listen – this is not a “message.” Nor is it a new doctrine, new teaching, nor, God forbid, a new “set of principles” that if we apply, we’ll finally “get there.” No, no, no! We repudiate all that in the most vehement terms.
If I was asking people to live by a set of sure-fire teachings, guaranteed to work if you apply them correctly, chances are the crowds would flock to me. It’s amazing to me how people constantly choose bondage to self-effort and the law, rather than the working grace of Christ in us. The former, in which we attempt to “please God” by doing as much as we can as effectively as we can, produces futility.
We cannot do enough! There aren’t enough hours in the day, and our bodies and minds don’t have the stamina, to get everything done that we believe needs to be done, in order to “please God.” And since we can NEVER measure up, instead of the free flow of the Spirit out of the inner life of Christ in us, (Jn 7:38), we find ourselves burdened down, constantly under self-condemnation, and, as far as we can tell, “ineffective” as far as the gospel is concerned.
But Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)
One day I had to face it, that this “easy yoke” and “light burden” Jesus was referring to, I was NOT experiencing. I was NOT living an “abundant” life. Why not?
Because I had wrongly thought “my” part involved my “effort” and essentially my “work,” in order to become pleasing to God, by the stuff I did or did not do. Of course the reason people flock to the mistreatment and condemnation of the law (they don’t know that going in), is because they think they can do it, “with God’s help.” And as long as we think God is pleased by our efforts and that we “advance” by those efforts, even though we continually fall short (in our own minds), we’ll keep it up.
Because it seems the far more “logical” thing to do. Self-effort is the way of the world, and we think it is the same in the kingdom of Christ as well because when we come into the kingdom initially, we bring a lot of the old in with us. Even though we know we are “saved by grace through faith,” it does not occur to us that our life after that is lived by that same “grace” activity that brought us into the kingdom in the first place. An almost universal response by newly converted believers is the desire to show our appreciation by doing things for God.
One of the main things we do not know in that stage, is that GOD IS ALREADY PLEASED WITH US, before we have done one “thing” in the kingdom. When we come into Christ, we come into the Father as well, and when the Father looks at the Son and sees us IN the Son and the Son IN us, He says what He always says about His Son –- “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” When the Father said that of Jesus at His baptism, Jesus had not done any works either! His work was yet to come!
If Jesus had done it the way we do it, He would have had to have gone out and done some “works,” in order to get that commendation from the Father. But He had done nothing. God was simply pleased with Jesus because He was His Son. And the “benefit” to Jesus (and to us when we see it), was that He went away from the Jordan, the Spirit actually “driving” Him into the wilderness, out of an inner consciousness of the love and pleasure of God the Father, simply in Him as His Son.
And it is the same with us. The moment He sees us in Christ, He is well-pleased with us and He never changes.