(Taken from a reply to an email)
by Fred Pruitt
More and more I am hearing from otherwise “evangelical people,” that it is no longer correct to say we “receive Christ.” It surprised me to hear the objection. It was as natural as breathing almost for me to use the term “receive Christ” in my early days. Now, I’m not in the evangelistic ministry much these days, though my early days were mostly that, and that is still a common phrase we have used.
Someone recently took me to task over that phrase in my little “Free Will” booklet. She said, “We don’t ‘receive’ Christ, it is just revealed to us that we are His.” My reply was that I had come into Christ that way, and so had myriads of others, and I said, “Well, if it’s not right to say we “receive Him,” nevertheless this seems to be “how” most are coming in. At some point, for some reason, there is a “moment” where we say, “Yes, Lord.” It is not formulaic; there are no certain words that must be said, no genuflecting or prostrating on the ground, but somehow, some way, it happens, and WE ARE INVOLVED, and we know that we are.
Let’s understand the issue here. This is not about correct theology. This is about what it means to be a person, about becoming who we truly are. A “person” is involved with the working out of his own destiny. In some sense, we are each determiners of that. Now I don’t want to tread on theological toes, clash against predestination, etc., but I do not believe I am doing that. No matter what the theology books say, no matter what our doctrines say, down in our innermost being there is a battle, and the battle is between life and death, between being the true person we were created to be, or to reject the truth and continue to live in the deception of independence and “I am in charge of my destiny.” Who will win the battle? Our faith says it is won, which sounds fine on paper, but down here in the streets it’s hard to know the outcome day by day.
And this idea that we do not “choose,” completely takes away our personhood, because grown-up people do nothing but “choose” all day long, and each choice determines the next fork in the road and the next choice, and the next choice, etc., etc., etc.
Trees don’t choose; dogs don’t choose; they just are. But the race of man is not like that. From the beginning, a choice awoke them to self-consciousness. In a sense, until the temptation began with the Tree, they were unconscious of choosing anything, but simply doing it without understanding. Adam “named” the animals, which to me does not mean, “I think I’ll call that a bear and that a cat,” but rather an identification in his consciousness of a particular distinction, a bear, or a cat, and knowing that a cat and a bear are different. He doesn’t just “know” this. He is not born omniscient, nor is empirical knowledge of the world just “poured into him” as a gift. Naming the animals creates his consciousness of the world, opening in his mind the world’s form, context, movement, purpose, a place filled with living creatures, and therefore a place of wonder and discovery. This was how he came to knowing the world he was in, of which he was its lord and guardian.
Since in other places I’ve gone over the Tree story numerous times and it’s easy to get bogged down there, I think I’ll skip it with just this summation. The earthly beginning point of our spiritual heritage began with Adam’s and Eve’s departure from the Garden, after having succumbed to the devil’s temptation and eating (same as choosing or speaking a committed word) the false fruit.
We must understand that the whole concept of “choice” is intimately wrapped in what we call “faith.” All of life is choice; all of life is faith. These two statements say the same thing. Every “choice” is a leap of faith into an unknown. We say, “I’m going to the store to get groceries,” which seems a natural thing we do which we count of no importance in the great scheme of things, but but in effect we are expressing faith, and predicting somewhat of an outcome. Of course, odds are that when we go to the grocery store, we’ll come home with the groceries, but occasionally such a mundane activity, which may not seem like an expression of faith, has a different outcome than the one we originally imagined.
So though quite routine and mundane, it is still a leap of faith into the unknown, for any choice, decision, etc., that we make. Everything in life is like that. Faith in spiritual things, is taking the same “faith-choosing faculty” which is inherent in all our life’s doings, and places it into the “unknown” of God. And just as each and every temporal choice we make has some degree of consequence or outcome, so that we experience that “outcome” as the fruit of our choice, in the same way we can see that in faith toward God (which by the way, originates in God, then out through our inner parts back into Him), has its fruit, too, and we are partakers of the fruit of what we have sown.
Norman Grubb had a saying, “What you take, takes you.” Like eating a meal that is disagreeable to your system. Once down the hatch, we have to ride it out til its done with its rumblings. It “takes” us, after we have taken “it.” And it is the same in “taking” Christ. And I must say, even to those who say we “just wake up to the fact that we are His,” and do not need some “outer” choosing or deciding, that when one just “wakes up,” and sees it, there is some faculty in us at that point, that says, “Yes, I see that, yes, that is true, that is Who I really am!” It is the mating of the Divine and the human. He is the WORD, and it is in the expressed WORD we know Him, and as individual spoken “WORDS” of His, there cannot help but be a recognition, and an acknowledgment, and a receptivity, and finally, an “Abba, Father!” for who would not recognize such a Father?
Every example of a Spirit-led life in the scriptures, involves interaction between God and man, and interaction between man and man, and all that interaction involves the person saying, “yes,” or, “no.” He has called us to be Kings and Priests, Royal Priests. Kings decide. Kings have authority. Priests bring God to the people and the people to God, and decree the decrees of God. These roles are not merely the people at the front of the church on the platform “ministering,” but each of us! Moses said, “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets!” (Num 11:29).
Even the liturgical churches that practice infant baptism (I am a non-practicing Episcopalian), also have some form of “confirmation” service when the children come of age, so that they can commit to Christ in agreement with the prayers that went up for them at their baptisms, when in their tradition, they were “received into the household of God.” Here is an example of what we might call a “predetermined” choice, when the parents and the church congregation express faith for the child’s reception into Christ and his rejection of Satan and all his works, which later on the church realized that even though considered already a part of the Body according to baptism, they must at some point “choose for themselves,” to affirm it, and make it their own.
Everything in life is that way! A million choices every day, about myriads of different things. Choose what you want to wear, what you will eat, where you will go, whether you will do your homework or not do your homework, choose your higher education, choose your political affiliations, choose your spouse or lover, choose which house you will buy. Each one of those “choices” says yes to one thing and no to anything other, and our “path” is determined every single day by those choices. Why would we think that the one most important issue of our lives — a gazillion times more important than which house we will buy or where we will go to school – why would we think we make no choice about that-?!!!!
Let me just identify the “choice” I am speaking of, because I might be scaring someone talking about all this “choosing” and they may be tempted to think we are falling back onto self-effort. No, it is the opposite. I am speaking of maybe the one “choice,” out of which all our sub-choices come, which is light or darkness, love or hate, self-for-others or self-for-self. The only solution to the whole dilemma of man is in this choice and it is in some sense in every man. It is whether we will serve the Lord or “ourselves,” which is tantamount to serving the devil.
(Are all our choices predetermined? What difference does it make if they are or are not? How can we answer that? And even further, how can we argue with each other about it when all of that is contained in the mystery of God, quite beyond our ken as it is now, and whether everything is predetermined or we are working out an uncertain future day by day with some sort of “free will” that we believe we have, as far as I can tell, it really does not matter. Life has its tensions and enough stuff to challenge us that we’re really exercised every day making the daily choices that are put before us – if we don’t make some of those choices, we could end up drugged in a looney bin! We get up out of bed. We decide to go to work. Etc. Do I “feel like” I am outworking some already predetermined course, and am thus held in safety? Hardly!! Most of the time it seems like it’s up to “lil ol’ me,” to figure it all out. But then, “not I but Christ,” kicks in, and I realize another time, “the government is upon His shoulders,” which brings inner peace, but does not necessarily quell the storm swirling outside.)
Now, I happen to believe that we are all working out of one Single Master Plan, and we are all exactly doing the parts called for in the Single Master Plan – the one mentioned in Eph 1:11. That’s the “big view” from God’s perspective. We can only see the “big view” darkly, by faith, whereas God continually knows the end from the beginning.
So our perspective is really only the trees around us – this forest is way too big for us to take it all in. And down here in these trees, it doesn’t “seem” that God is sovereign. I am very much involved in the decisions of my life. Even though long ago I came to realize as fixed fact that, “it is no longer I, but Christ,” I am not spared the almost daily temptation to unbelief toward such an absurd (to the reasoning mind of man) truth. In those times Paul’s word to, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” sounds much louder in my ears than does the following verse, “for it is God who works in you both TO WILL AND TO DO of His good pleasure.”
What am I saying? I think it was Augustine or one of those old writers that said something to the effect that we live in faith in the election and grace of God in the spirit, and live in the world as if it falls on us alone to find the willing and doing of God. He was not talking about a point of theology, but rather our living experience. As well as the living experience of others around us. No matter WHAT we believe, either full-on total predestination Calvinism, or scary day-by-day Arminianism, (and I think most of us are somewhere in-between), it still feels like we’re alone and self-responsible. In fact, it amazes me that legalism is so pervasively rampant in Calvinistic groups or “eternal security” environments, when one would think with that kind of assurance (being one of the pre-chosen elect), it would produce a freedom and joy of being unparalleled, instead of the strict, stern, somber, unyielding, Pharisaical, doctrinally-focused way of life often associated with those groups. Why would that be, except maybe they don’t feel as “absolute” about their election as their theology says, and have to fall back on self-effort to “make sure we” do the right thing? Couldn’t be hedging their bets, could it?
My point is this. Down here in the trenches of day by day living, election is not so clear, and inner assurances come, but it is a daily walk by faith, trusting in the invisible rather than the visible. When living that “walk,” we have placed all our hope and trust in Him and His Promises to us (particularly to “us”), as Paul wrote: “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Tim 1:12).
I don’t know about anyone else, but I have never been able to live by a doctrine. A doctrine does not satisfy me. A doctrine does not comfort me. A doctrine does not save me or give me salvation. A doctrine is not God. The only way I’ve ever been able to get through, day by day, has been this “faith-walk” in the Living God, believing Him only, only that, and nothing less.
The 2 Timothy scripture I quoted above, was one of the first ones I wrote down in a little notebook to memorize in my earliest days. I don’t know if I memorized it incorrectly, or it was due to my “thinking” at the time, but for years when I thought of the passage, I quoted in my mind this way: “For I know in whom I have believed.” “In” whom! Then one day it hit me the “in” was not there. The passage without the “in,” (correctly), says, “For I know Whom …” The “in” is not there. The “in” acted as a degree of separation in my understanding, in some sense, making God still “out there,” with me believing “in” Him, sort of like we “believe in” Santa Claus.
Of course we start there with our faith, because the “outer,” “out there” God, is the only way we can relate in the beginning. But one day for me a shift came in my consciousness, in which I began to know God “in here,” thus losing in some sense, God “out there.” Taking out the “in” of that passage, I realized that Paul was speaking of something more direct and immediate than how I had been seeing. I know HIM! This was the “mixed with” kind of “knowing,” as Adam “knew” Eve – a oneness has occurred, in which I had been taken into the subjective presence of God, rather than relating to God, (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) as out there or up there, with me “over against” Him so to speak, i.e., “gazing” at Him sort of knee to knee. Instead I find myself looking out from the Throne and begin to “know” Him in His flowing out into the world AS me, for what else can, “I and my Father are one,” mean to us, (the same oneness Jesus said in John 17 we would also have with the Father), except that when they look at us, they see Him!??
Isn’t that the “goal” for every Christian person? Whenever a speaker took to the pulpit in a church I used to attend, he would always see a little sign on the podium that read: “Sir, we would see Jesus.” That’s the goal! That’s what the preacher wanted, and what the congregation wanted, too. At least, that’s what they said they wanted.
The problem was, and it is the problem almost universal in the church, is that nobody really believed it was possible, except for maybe a moment here and there. So when somebody pops up and says, “I have seen that Christ and I are one,” they are immediately suspect and often drummed out, not because of having any legitimate objection to offer, but because of unbelief. People think, “That cannot be for me, so HOW DARE HE say such a blasphemous thing!”
Like Jesus’ friends when He came back to Nazareth to announce Himself – He had grown up among them, a man like themselves, so how can He dare to say He is the Messiah? “He is just like us, Joseph the carpenter’s son, how can He be the Messiah? No, he’s gone crazy!” They rose up in anger and would have killed Him, but it was not yet Jesus’ time. And that is what is happening now in our time, as people are rising up all over the world with the revelation of Christ in them, that He is no longer separate from us, with us always trying to close the gap of separation, but now we are “one,” (1 Cor 6:17, Jn 17: 11, 20-23), so that, “when you see Me, you see the Father.”
Here is how I see it in summation:
- I only find “eternal security” in Him. HE IS my eternal security!
- I only find God’s election in Him. By faith HE is my election. The Father’s promise through Christ extends to me: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him” (Is 42:1).
- HE is the One Who both “wills” and does of His good pleasure by means of “me.”
- The invisibility of God is more real and certain than the visibility of the temporal.
- He and I are “one,” even as Jesus was “one” with the Father.
- He has CAUSED ME to walk in His ways and continues to do so. “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. 27 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.” (Ez 36:26,27).
- I have received His Personal Promise that, “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” (Ps 73:24).
- I cannot transfer His Promise given personally to me, to anyone else. I can only point to it because it is in You. One must find the Pearl in himself and sell all he has to buy it. In other words, as John says, I can, “show unto you that eternal life,” but it is for the purpose that we have fellowship one with the other, and this fellowship can only be found in “the Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 Jn 1: 2-4). “Fellowship with the Father and the Son,” therefore, is not a concept, but the reality in which we live when we live in Christ, and the central and only basis of our fellowship. The only way to enter into eternal life is to enter into the fellowship of the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
- There is ultimately only one “choice,” that is “mine,” alone, to say – “Jesus Christ is Lord!” But of course, one cannot even say that except, “by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Cor 12:3). It is the heart choice, whether out of “free will” or totally predetermined, either way we come to that point. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”(Pr 16:9), and “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Pr 4: 23). Also “With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward.” (Ps 18: 26).
- The “source” of our spiritual life, whether light (God, Christ) or darkness (Satan, Sin), is the rider on our horse. Being in and of the kingdom of God through Christ Jesus in us, it is this reality, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Light and Love, out of which we live and function. It is this reality that sets the course of our lives, and determines day by day our “choices” by the Spirit in us. We live by a “oneness” of persons, in the same oneness in which Jesus functioned with and in the Father, as He prayed in John 17.
- That “oneness” has not blotted us out, nor has it replaced our essential personhood, so that there is no more “me,” but rather in the resurrection, a completely new “me” arises in newness of Life. This new “me” is not just “me” improved, but Christ in and as me, and yet as distinct as can be, because it is truly “me.” This is the life “hid with Christ in God,” (Col 3:3), that we find after we have realized that first we, the old us, the man of sin, died in Christ in the Cross. As Levi was in the loins of Abraham when he gave tithes to Melchizedek, (Heb 7: 9,10), in the same way we were in the spiritual loins of Jesus, and were as present at Calvary as anyone else who was standing there on that Day. So that when He died, we died, and when He was buried, we were buried, and when He was raised up by the power of the Father, so were we raised up by the power of the Father. This action which Jesus alone accomplishedin our spiritual being, has severed us forever from the stronghold of Sin, in that Christ became the Sin that we were, died to it and in Him we died to it also, with the result that because of this sacrifice once offered for all sins for all time having been accomplished, we became the living manifesting righteousness of God.
- We continue to live that life in weakness, as vessels carrying a divine treasure, that the excellency of the power may be seen, not in the “body” life, but in God in the Spirit. We are the offscouring of the world, set forth last even as Jesus was “Last,” “accounted as sheep for the slaughter,” “yea, for thy seek we are killed all the day long,” becoming in our inner being that which He is Eternally, an intercessor, one who stands in the gap for others bringing them through. The “way” He does that is that we carry around in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal (perishing, temporal) flesh. (2 Cor 4:8-14).
So let’s leave the “choice” issue, and go to the other you mentioned – “Is Christ in everyone?” And if so, why the passages that talk about two simultaneously occurring opposite truths at the same time, that there are sheep and goats, those who “went out from us,” the “children of the enemy” as in the parable of the tares and wheat, etc.? The New Testament is filled with references to those who remain unbelievers, those who oppose, those who rebel against God and suffer the wrath instead of the Glory of God. So if “Christ has already saved everyone,” why do these passages exist?
Let’s look first at God Himself, and that as we said above, He is Love in All. None of the things we have experienced have been outside the love of God. Since He is above all, through all, and in all, then He is Love above all, Love through all, and Love in all. However it comes to us, in wicked form from man or devil, or in righteous form from someone in the family of God, it is, in the end, God’s love. That is simply because that is all God can be, Love.
Now, this is the foundation out of which we are, and therefore it is the same out of which we speak! I am speaking of God as Universal. Simply put, by “universal” I am meaning that God is equally present in His Total Fullness everywhere there is, and in every state of being there is, as well as being greater than, “everywhere there is, and in every state of being there is,” and much more than tongue can express or mind could imagine.
What we are speaking of could fill libraries, but let’s keep it simple. When Paul preached to the Athenians on Mars Hill, (Acts 17: 22-32), who were unbelievers but “religious” in a pagan way, he told them that it was just as some of their own poets had said, that they were “the offspring of God.” He told them that this “unknown God whom they ignorantly worshiped,” was the God of heaven and earth and had created everything there is, and then he told them the most marvelous of things. That marvelous thing, said to unbelieving Greek pagans, was that they all, “live and move and have their being,”in God. And of course we could likewise take that statement of Paul’s and would be perfectly correct to say the same for all who are living in our generation now. This has always been, and it will always be. All, “live and move and have their being,” in God.
What’s more, Jesus extended the “all live and move and have their being” in God to everyone who ever lived on earth or will live. “Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.” (Luke 20: 37,38).Dead or alive (humanly speaking), Jesus said, all are alive to God.
But Paul does not stop there, simply telling them that they are living in God. This idea, this concept, that everything has its being in God, is truth, but in itself not enough truth. There is nothing in that “knowledge” that has the power to save, to reconcile or to transform.
In fact, Paul is telling them something their natural reason can grasp. In another form, that revelation of Paul’s, by itself, would agree with similar statements in many of the eastern religions, as well as their 21st century “new age” counterparts in our time. But Paul says more than that.
This God Who made the heavens and the earth, in Whom Paul says we all live, move and have our being, has “winked” at the times of ignorance, when men made false images and worshiped the false images as gods. Athens was a city of hundreds of temples. They had many gods, including “foreign” gods brought in because Athens was a cosmopolitan city even then, and every one of the gods had a temple. Maybe the politicians of the day campaigned with the slogan: “A temple for every god!” However, in one swoop of his hand, Paul dismissed all of that excessive religiosity, and said that the days of ignorance have passed, because now the True Light has shined, and now God is commanding men everywhere to “repent” – to change their minds and direction.
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17: 30,31).
Now this is the point where natural reason balks. Paul’s meeting broke up at the mention of it. They were tracking along with him until he introduced the Cross of Jesus Christ and Divine Judgment. Why? First, they were caught, as we all have been, as servants of “the prince of the power of the air,” (Eph 2: 1-3). It is first this hidden “prince of this world,” who has us in his grasp and does not want to let us go, who hears and trembles (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). He knows his domination is threatened.
And then secondly his servant, the false idol of self-deification he has sold us to be ourselves, becomes “righteously indignant” that someone could dare suggest there could be a “higher” god than itself. Why? Because it desires itself more than anything. This “death and resurrection,” of “Another” for its benefit, is an offense to it, calling into question its integrity, its goodness and its righteous independence, and it will not have it. “Who would dare say ‘I’ must suffer judgment?” So it denies the Divine Seed originating from “Another,” and tries to germinate its own personal divine seed. It mimics the actions of its true father, the “prince of the power of the air,” and in so doing continues to oppose itself, still caught in the snare of the devil.
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Tim 2: 24-26).
So here we’re faced with this dilemma. God is in everyone and everyone is in God. It cannot be otherwise. That’s from God’s side of things. From man’s side, things look different. There is no “evidence” of God. There is nothing in the temporal world that is a “hook” into pure divinity. He encompasses the temporal world and is everywhere present in it, but man cannot see or sense Him because man is beguiled by an hypnotic relationship with the world around us, and that is, for the most part, all we can see or know. Though He “comprehends” us, we neither comprehend Him, nor do we apprehend Him. However, as He draws us and we begin to “know” we are being apprehended of Him, we begin little by little to apprehend Him, i.e., take Him into us as part and parcel of ourselves, which becomes fully ripe fruit when, “Christ is formed [in us],” as Paul wrote to the Galatians. (Gal 4:19).
My wording on this “Christ in every man” concept, is more like, “the Seed of Christ is in every man.” As the “mother of all living,” Eve received into herself in the Fall, the “seed” which would bruise the head of the Serpent, and no “man” could be that except the Man Who was the Lord from Heaven! (Gen 3:15). And Eve would have had to have passed on that seed to all her sons, first Cain, then Abel, and then Seth after Abel died. In Seth and in Cain, the seed split into two lines – the line of flesh and the natural world, and the line through which the “seed” would be carried into spiritual fruition in the fullness of time, as the Seed popped up again prominently in the story of Abraham, with God showing Abraham the stars and the sands of the sea, saying to Abraham, “So shall thy seed be.” “Seed” singular, and not plural, as Paul pointed out in Galatians. So this singular one “seed” is to be the same “seed” that sprouts as Christ in us. And we know the lineage of that one particular seed in the physical line, from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to Judah … to Boaz to Obed to Jesse to David to Solomon … eventually to the birth of Jesus Christ in the “fullness of time.”
The “natural” seed, however, exists as a potential yet to sprout in each and every human being. None of us can claim Jesus as our earthly relative. Once the Seed came to full fruition in Mary and the birth of Jesus, the physical part of that line was finished, and Jesus’ legacy to us was to that “natural” seed, to call it back, to call it to life, to nurture and tend it until it begins to sprout.
People tend to think the first, “natural” Adam, is forever lost. But I disagree! It was to this end that the Savior came, to recover everything that had been lost, Adam being preeminent in that recovery! Abel died and Seth rose that Cain might recover himself from the “snare of the devil,” who deceived him and caused him to oppose his own true self. And every Adam since (being that “Adam” simply means “man”), the Lord calls, “Adam, where are you?” And without something left of God in their being, Adam and Eve would no longer have been able to hear Him.
The elect? I see a wide open field ready for harvest. That’s what Jesus told us. His elect, many of whom may not know it yet, are out there, waiting to be called, or touched, or brought out of darkness. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Rom 10: 14,15).
When I was first saved, I went out and told everybody I could. I wasn’t thinking so much of saving people from hell, but more that I wanted them to experience this new “life” that was happening in me, that was so wonderful I could not contain it. It was a drive that grew and grew, in that I wanted to go out and tell all the world that Christ had come and was available to “whosoever” would call upon the name of the Lord! I didn’t know anything about “predestination,” or an “elect,” I just knew I had been blind, but now I saw!
It became almost an obsession (a good godly “obsession) for me, to get the gospel out to everyone. Eventually God led us to a church where world evangelism was the goal, and I hungered and thirsted to be a part of that. In fact, I cannot imagine a “Christianity” that does not have true evangelism as one of its main activities. Only now I am hearing from many quarters, that there is no need to repent, there is no need to believe, there is no need to worry or fret over salvation or the end of us, God will bring everyone in because of His “grace,” and “the finished work of the Cross.”
But Jesus said: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matt 10:34-36).
I had something of a spiritual “washout” back about 14-15 years ago, and it lasted almost a decade. There were many reasons, but the most predominant reasons in my mind at the time, were the constant disagreements and “judgings” of each other in the Body of Christ, over what we “believe.” Contention! Contention! Contention! It seemed to be getting worse, not better. So eventually I became full of it, didn’t like all the contention going on (with me often in the center as an instigator, and as a result also in the line of fire), so I finally took my ball and went home. It had become so taxing to my being, to be in such constant conflict, that I had to flee. And for years, the LAST thing I wanted to argue about with anybody, was about their “beliefs” in God. Live and let live, was my adopted motto for those years. I became silent on the things of God.
After being left out in the cold for almost a decade, the Lord sent some folks my way and “got me” again. I had never inwardly left Him, but the memory of the contentions and struggles were so painful, I could not talk about the things of God for all that time. And the last thing I wanted when I decided to “rejoin” the others again, was to go back into that life of contention and strife.
So I understand the “hurt ones,” who have come out of maybe something like I came out of, and want it all to be just “peace.” I didn’t want any more struggle. I didn’t want any more pain. I didn’t want any more strong disagreements, or splits, or I’m right and you’re wrong, or visa versa. I didn’t want it to be true that some were God’s people, and some were not. I wanted the earth to be one, big, happy family. I hoped I had seen the last of all that “judging” and contention.
The Lord was gracious and brought me back in gently for the first few months, but it did not stay like that. Eventually contentions arose again, surprisingly about some of the same things, though from different folks. I wanted to hide, but the Spirit faced it in me, and I reconciled in myself that this was part of the “price” of proclaiming the Word of God. There will be opposition, sometimes from those we thought closest to us.
The “exercise” we get from that contention or opposition, is always fruitful unto God! This is what we can begin to see! There is no getting around the fact that the new testament plainly speaks of those who are of God, and those who are not, the children of God and the children of the enemy. The 1 John letter is perhaps the most cut and dried. He is the one who talks about the spirit of anti-Christ. And in this letter, “anti-Christ” is not some last days world ruler, but “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 Jn 4:3). One or the other, John says – which is it?
The most telling parable of Jesus on this subject is the tares and the wheat in Matthew 13: 24-30:
“24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”
And the explanation in Matthew 13: 36-41:
“36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.”
I think this is pretty clear and needs little explanation. Until the end, the false will grow up, intertwining itself with the truth as much as it can, and be so close to the “truth” that some are deceived by them. It is not in us to fully discern as the Father does, since God keeps the hearts of others within Himself as He does ours, thus making Him the only judge of “hearts.” That is why Jesus said to not try to root them out. First, He knew that eventually they would expose themselves, because iniquity eventually shows itself; it is its nature. Secondly, He knew that whether exposed or not, they would all suffer the judgment of God, and some things are held until that time.
Our job is not to “root out evil,” but to declare the righteousness and love of God! Evil will be dealt with in its day. It may seem to have free reign in our time, but its time is limited. Until then, what have we to fear? What can man do to us? What can the devil do to us? Maybe a lot, but overriding all of that, is that “nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ!” We have nothing to fear in the love of God. And we have only the expectation of victory, and we know it even now!