By Fred Pruitt
(Two previous articles joined as one. It seemed appropriate to restate this as one whole.)
“Could the problem at hand be that people are not taking the Bible seriously or literally enough? I’m thinking about what Jesus said to the Pharisees in John 5:39ff about searching the scriptures but being unwilling (unable??) to see that they point to Christ who is life?
If that is true – perhaps the fitting response is to pray mightily for the Holy Spirit to open blind eyes and soften hard hearts…
None of this stuff is particularly new either, is it?”
(Revised from the original) … I’m sure you are seeing something there. But in a way I think (humanly) it might be the opposite, people taking the Scriptures too seriously (in the wrong sense), in that the BOOK is the idol. The BOOK in that regard is like to many people a beefed up God which consists of “The Bible” + “The Trinity.” Or in the past I might have thought that when John says Jesus is the Word (logos) of God, I could not separate the true meaning of “the Word of God,” a “living word,” even in the Old Testament, and make the “writings” the infallible Word of God when that claim can only be made by the Living God Himself. He is the Word that upholds all things, by Which all things consist, says Colossians. This “Word” is something much more than a printed book though that book, mysteriously like nothing else, points us to that Word that has made and upholds all things.
But at least everyone agrees (among Evangs mostly anyway) that whatever the BOOK says is right. Problem is, nobody agrees with each other over what it says, or what it means when it says the things it says. There are a lot of different tunes purporting to all be the same Song.
Because, as Jesus told them they were doing, they took the husk (the stone-inscribed Scriptures) and didn’t peel them back, like the husks on an ear of corn, to get to the sweet meat inside the case — the corn kernels themselves. We do not eat the husks, but the meat within. Same with nuts. We do not eat the shells, but break open the shells and get the Prize inside. Jesus was the corn in the husk of the Holy Writings.
It would probably make some people right angry for me to describe the Scriptures as merely “the husk.” I can understand that, because it is hard for me to say that, because from the first moment I woke to Jesus until now the Scriptures speak God’s Word to me in mystery and clarity everyday, every time I pick it up. Its words bring tears, joy, renewal to this day. By God’s grace somehow from the beginning the Spirit has taught me Himself coming through the Scriptures, not bypassing them or tossing them out, but revealing the real kernel inside, that existed in the invisibility of spirit.
So yes, pray your prayer. Before you call He will answer and the redemption you have desired is at hand.
No, none of this is new. This struggle in the church is only a symptom of the inner conflict in every human person, between substance and form, between God and the creation, between God and our perception of us. That is what Jesus was getting to in that John 5:39 passage.
Through the fall we find ourselves, our worth, our identity, our supply, in the fleeting “things” of the world, whether physical, intellectual, emotional, or even spiritual. We cannot find a place of rest, all is unrest deep within, and we cling to these physical, mental, emotional “things,” all of which we learn more and more as we go through life, are all fleeting, temporary, and in them we can find no real true sustenance. “All things must pass,” as I learned early on from George Harrison. All the things of this world, as long as they are seen only in the light of their temporal nature, can eventually produce only sadness and vexation of spirit.
But as we move into this new reality of Christ living as “me” and the resultant sight of seeing God in His Love purposes in and through all things, we begin to more and more “see” the True Real, behind the “mask” of the things that are fleeting past our vision as we ride around the carousel of human living. Like passing scenery from the window of a moving train. There it is, this “life,” this daily grinder we all live in, and there is always something unfinished, something left yet to accomplish, something more to get to, and we are on the ride every day without thought except for that occasional “scenic view” along the highway, as we get to pull off the road for a while and consider all we’ve seen and are seeing.
So that’s what God is doing in the church and all over the world. Breaking dependence on the outer, on the fleeting, and bringing us through into realizing “no longer I, but Christ,” the Spirit begins the “positive” side of our education, teaching us through life the true Rock which we begin to know and see behind every fleeting thing, so that after everything “flees,” there is only this Rock still there, ever there, ever sure.
Finding that true Rock, which is within us and joined as one with us, we find ourselves. So that’s what it’s all about.
Praise the Lord He is bringing this all about in all of us in this conversation, and also throughout the whole world in all that are His.
Follow up comment and question:
Thanks for the response Fred. It stirs and helps clarify my thoughts!
I thank many evangelicals struggle with Bibliolatry – worship of the Word, instead of worship of the Author of the Word.
I like the husk metaphor – it’s good. It would offend some evangelicals, but that is exactly the point.
Maybe using the word literal is misleading. A better word might be plain or common sense. That plain and common sense meaning of the words you’ve written make perfect sense to me. So wouldn’t we agree the plain sense of the scriptures point us to the heart and nature and character of the Author? Or point us toward the spirit of the word over the letter of the word?
Yes, I see what you mean. I think Norman one time said something like “living by the Spirit is often just normal common sense.” And Norman was a visionary and a rebel and a troublemaker, so for him I’m pretty sure “normal common sense,” meant something other than what other folks might think it meant. I’m pretty sure he meant “normal common sense,” from the platform of his sight, which by the Holy Spirit had extended into seeing in the end only God or God only. He never lost sight of the creation or the forms. Because, what the push really is, is from spirit to form, as spirit’s means of expression.
It is not to be interpreted as something which is just “pure spirit.” Not just off in the invisible.
It is not just that – off in the invisible. Spirit seeks expression, seeks form by which it may be manifest and participate in its part of the ongoing expansion of the kingdom by love, i.e., by desire.
Spirit and desire are part and parcel of one another. Desire is another word that is connected with love, because desire, once divested of its “for-me” aspect through the Cross of Christ, becomes pure, and is the “push and pull” that creates the creative tension in our lives which explodes into the outgoing love of God flowing out of our lives. That is the purity and common sense of the gospel. It is God “Emmanuel.”
This is the real truth Adam lost sight of. He lost sight of God in the garden, really the “garden” of himself, and thus the garden turned into a cursed earth that he had to till with the sweat of his brow, and Eve’s desire turned toward her husband as her all. Doesn’t sound too bad, but Adam could never be her all. He could never do or be enough to fill the void or gap created by the lack of the consciousness of God. Therefore sorrow filled all existence, tinged here and there with moments of joy. But I know this right well, and everyone else does too – that “feeling” that keeps us from rejoicing “too much” with temporal joy, because “sorrow” is obviously (to our consciousness) just around the corner.
But it all changes when we find the invisible God, expressing in us as Himself, but in our human identity, and not in His own transcendence or universality. We don’t “find” this, but it finds us, of course. He finds us and says, “Hey, you’re the house I live in to be ‘you’ in the world. Relax, do not fear, and only believe. I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
And as it overtakes us that He is as He says. He is He Who is First, Last, He Who Was, He Who Is, He Who Is To Come, Author, Finisher, the Same – Yesterday, Today and Forever, then we find Him in expression all around us in everything and everyone we see.
Oh, there are distorted forms perhaps, folks who haven’t yet seen that He has called them, too, to Himself, but because we are able to see past the temporal in to the Eternal, so therefore what is to prevent us from seeing these the Spirit brings to our attention as not fixed in their distorted condition, but inwardly joining in the reconciliation that is already freely provided for all?
And in that we become agents of the Spirit’s release in their direction. Some may say, “Well, God is sovereign, He will draw them to Himself,” and that is true, but the agency by which He does that includes you and me, by simply us being the containers and expressors of Christ in the flesh as He has declared us to be. He has made us a fit house for His dwelling; we are dwelling in inner innocency in Christ, being without guile for He is without guile, but simply declaring by word or life whatever words or deeds the Spirit determines, that by US, the world joins in its reconciliation to God.
None of that, obviously, comes through formula or applied techniques, but simply through the normalcy of walking every day, doing what comes next in the rest of the Spirit, though we may be drawn into a thousand temporal distractions daily, all of them buzzing by in our consciousness as we take care of one thing after another. Perhaps we may take a moment here and there to give attention to and praise for the Obvious hidden in the mundane, that this has all been Christ in everything – that there is no part in our universe, in which He is not Lord and IS the Word by which all things consist. It has not depended on our constant attention to or nurturing of our “relationship” to Christ, but rather a simple settling into a relaxation of being He walking around — with no real “sense” of that whatsoever in most of my daily living — but just having been fixed in this consciousness (awareness, understanding) by and from the Holy Spirit — and by that Spirit’s “fixing,” life then becomes sort of an unconscious consciousness, of simply being “me.” Just “me.” But I know as deep as I know that I am not I, but Christ.
Logic cannot carry us here. Formulaic systematic knowing cannot grasp or encompass this. But it is a gift of the Spirit by the simple receiving in faith that Galatians 2:20 is the literal truth of who I am, period. It may be right costly to say that, for who can claim to such a thing? That “revelation” surely must be something special for somebody so holy as St. Paul, but not for us regular folks! But it is exactly for us “regular folks.” Paul learned it through the Spirit and spoke it for all of us.
And as we are taken by this “invisible” truth, as I said above, the temporal comes back into view, but with new eyes. “I had fainted until I saw the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” cried the Psalmist (Ps 27;13). This is true in every level, in every sense.!
But then, the world becomes a safe place for us. Why? Because we have changed kingdoms, changed perspective, changed sight, changed natures, from wrath to mercy, from darkness to light, from Satan to God. “All things have become new,” and the world as it was to Adam the first before the Fall, is restored in us who are still part of this lost and wandering Adam, as we find the Second and last Adam as the very fount of self in us.
The world is now safe for us, and us for it. From then on whatever we do we re safe, holy and righteous in it all, because we are in it but not of it, and because we are for it, rather that it for us! Now we exist to emanate God outward, rather than draw in others into our possession.
This safety then becomes a settled thing in us, after a time, as what we have taken, takes us, but He has changed the world inside us and therefore has changed the whole landscape/ He has removed the curse; He has restored the Tree of Life in the midst of us, and we the leaves of that tree which are for the healing of the nations. What could be more wondrous or miraculous than this treasure, this gold and diamond contained in an earthen vessel that shines with a glory not its own — but shines nonetheless? Only God is capable of this impossible “miracle”!