by Fred Pruitt
(The writing below is another excerpt from something previously published. This was actually what I was looking for the other day, when I found the “Living in the Light” writing, and published it, thinking it was the one I wanted. But then it popped into my mind again this morning, with the words, “fire and light,” and it hit me THAT was the one I was looking for. They are in a sense the same topic, but I wanted to further underline what is here below regarding fire and light in this new excerpt. It also serves as more foundation material for the next “Basic Truths of union life” piece, which brings up the issue of “the wrath of God.” For those interested, understanding this below might be helpful in comprehending what the “wrath of God” is.)
What is love’s goal? That Christ be formed in the object of that Love! And anybody who has lived into adulthood knows that one aspect of love is sadness and sorrow. Jesus said, “in the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”(John 16:33). Once I realized that the “peace” Jesus gives us is not soul-peace, “outer” emotional peace, but the inner peace of the Spirit which is steadfast and our true inner dwelling-place, I began to live in glory and light even in the midst of hardship and sorrow.
That is the key. If we live in the world and we have anything to do with other people, we are going to experience the sorrows and troubles of this world. When we realize (and sometimes it takes a while to come to this) that EVERYTHING we experience is life-for-others, that is, that our problems and hardships are intercessory in nature, “bread of heaven” for others, we are able to live in the light in joy and glory, instead of in the fire, in the torment and anguish.
((To further “prove” that all our experiences, negative and positive, are intercessory in nature, consider a fuller meaning of Romans 8:28. We are always relieved when we remember that verse, especially to how it relates to me and mine. I’ve always seen something of the universal nature of that truth, still, its center had always been “me.” Everything works together for good for ME! Which is as much as saying, the entire universe and everyone in it works in an intercessory way for my ultimate good. And that is correct.
But let us go further, exclusive to those in Christ. First of all, the promised effects of Rom 8:28 is for those, said Paul, who “love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” I know there is much controversy these days as people are questioning some of the most basic issues that Christians have believed for 2,000 years. There is a great move on the part of many, who are wanting this verse, and others like it, to have no “exclusivity” in it. It would be better for that mindset if Paul had stopped at, “And we know that all things work together for good.” Period.
Left like that, the promise includes everyone, Christian or not. But Paul did not stop there, and we are left with the second part of the verse as truth, also. This promise, according to Paul and not me, is not for those who are in the darkness. Nothing of the kingdom of God is for those in the darkness of self-will, self-might, self-arrogation. That is the kingdom of the enemy, which includes the enemy as prince, and all those who refuse to come to the light who are held in the enemy’s grasp, as the “children of disobedience.”
“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Eph 2:2,3)
Now, that can be changed as long as we are in this life. But until we are drawn by the Spirit and come into Christ by grace through faith, the above passage is our reality. We were, as others still are, servants of unrighteousness, of sin. While we may see others by faith in Christ, we cannot at the same time fail to be aware of the veil that is yet over their eyes, until they see for themselves.
The church consists only of those born the second time, of the Spirit. Those who have yet to come to that second birth, are not yet of the household of faith. Jesus plainly told that to Nicodemus. Paul makes that clear distinction in this chapter in Ephesians. To further underline the difference between those in Christ and those still in the world, Paul exhorts the believers to not be too deeply partnered with those not of the faith, who Paul (not me), called “Belial!” Here is how Paul put it: “For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial?” (2 Cor 6:14).
I have said all that, so that we can see more clearly the second part of what I saw about Rom 8:28, and the fact that our lives are always intercessory even when we do not know it. What I saw, was that even while I am considering everything in the universe “outside” of me to be working for “my” good, at the same time in the most perfect sense I can convey, everything in MY life is working that same good for all the others! That is why we can say with confidence that our lives are not for ourselves any longer, but given to Him to be His expression in the world, that He, as us, might continue to lay down His Life for others.
What then of the unbelievers, if this promise is not positive toward them? The promise would change in a heartbeat and become Eternal should they enter in by grace through faith. But the same thing applies. Their lives are used as vessels by God also, but as what Paul called, vessels of dishonor, whose lives work the plan of God by their oppositions, such as Pharaoh, Joseph’s brothers, or Esau, called vessels of dishonor by Paul in Romans 9. The vessels of dishonor, or of wrath, receive the wages of dishonor and wrath – Paul even called them “vessels of wrath fitted for destruction.”
Not to worry, God has a purpose even for the wrath. God means us to realize, in this life, the consequences of sin. Without even considering eternal things, the life of sin (and I am not meaning primarily outer habits and/or actions, but MAINLY the unregenerate self-indulgent self that is at its heart the willful pride of the devil) wreaks havoc in our lives. That rebellious jackel in all of us was/is the culprit! And as long as we are that rebellious jackel, identifying with, believing in and protecting that jackel which is our prized possession and best face to to present to the world to hide ourselves from the world, then we are in, of, and living the wrath. It is fear within and roaring loud without, always looking for some way to gain the mastery.
It is the false “self” that cannot stand in the Majesty of the Godhead, and flees from it, because it does not want to be undone. God receives no “flesh” in His presence. This is not talking about physical flesh, though that, too, would fall away in the full glory of the Deity. No, this flesh we are speaking of, is the sin of self-will, of independence from God, retreating into false self in a denial of God. That is what cannot come into the presence of the Lord, not in this world, nor in the one to come.
What of forgiveness? Does the Father not forgive them for it and receive them into Himself anyway? As we have stated many times, forgiveness is at the heart of the Love of God, and the Eternal Lamb Slain in the midst of the throne has provided His cleansing blood and forgiveness for everyone, even from the Cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
So, yes, everyone is forgiven, and all are welcome! But it can only be that those who are born of God’s Spirit dwell in His Presence, because He IS Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. One cannot be a part of that outside God’s Spirit. If even the church on earth may have no unequal yoking together of Christ and Belial, how much more so may it be said of the new heavens and the new earth, where anything that offends has been cast out forever?
And I am not apologetic in the least to say that those who are drawn by the Spirit respond, also by the Spirit, in faith toward God, which is a free decision on the part of the receiver of the gift. No one has to take a gift if they do not want it. But if we want it, God has given us the way to discover it and find its truth in our own lives. This is not antithetical to grace – THIS IS GRACE!
Paul, the teacher and announcer of grace, gives it to us in its simplicity:
“But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom 10:6-10).))
Enough on that. Back to “Fire and Light.”
From the time I first heard of it over thirty years ago, Jacob Boehme’s “fire and light” analogy for God and “nature” (Boehme’s word for the creation, including us), I have been intrigued by it. My understanding of God and our reality is embedded in the miracle of fire and light. I have talked much of it in my other writings and cannot go into it here. But I am bringing it up because only a few days ago the Spirit showed me another great “key” to everything, that even with studying and meditating on this for over 30 years, I had not seen so clearly.
Like all of God’s great truths, it is an ultimate simplicity. I was somewhere where there was an open fire, and began to think of Boehme’s fire and light principle. And though I’d read it countless times, that the light comes from the fire but it does not dwell in the fire, it suddenly came to me how true that is. The fire is the cause of the light, but fire is not light. It emits light, which is sent out and “escapes” the burning wrath of the fire, and once “light is,” instead of the burning and searing property of the flames that created it, its properties are gentleness and enlightenment. Everything is lit up and made visible, by this fire-less light, existing as pure light. So that, imagining a campfire perhaps, we know how close we can be to the fire and still be warmed but not burned, and within a radius around us, according to the size of the fire, everything around the fire experiences light. We can see each other and the tents, etc. The light is the “joy” of the fire, we might say.
And it is the same with us. Every one of us experiences the troubles of life. We all have them. We have the right to fully grasp them and even vent our frustrations, as did the psalmists many times over. But we do not stay there – the venting and our frustrations are lawful – but once we have the inner acknowledgment of our frustrations and unfulfilled desires, we leave the fire of that turmoil and out of that turmoil live in the light of its fire. We live in the light – not the fire. But we experience the fire, over and over and over, that we might continually call light out of darkness, not just for ourselves, but in the lives of those God give us.
When we were babies most of us were scared to death of “tribulation.” Somebody in my first church told me to never pray for patience, because it brought tribulation. I found out it did not matter whether you prayed for patience or not, it found you anyway. We don’t know what to do with “tribulation” then, except fear it, be condemned about it, but somehow get through with “God’s help.”
But now, having been taught and seasoned by the Spirit, we realize these “tribulations” are often the very “deaths” we are experiencing to bring life to others. We begin to embrace what we call the “negatives” of our lives, because God has purposely proven Himself trustworthy to handle and direct them, using the strength and power of those negatives to propel us into new resurrection heights in Him, which bursts out in Life-giving Light into our world.
As Paul said, “So then death worketh in us, but life in you.” That’s it. It is our privilege to participate in the ongoing manifesting works of Christ, and to be “grains of wheat that fall into the ground and die, that we might bring forth much fruit.”(John 12:24).
Hebrews said that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame, for the joy that was set before him.” What was the joy – going back to heavenly bliss with the Father, no pain, no worries, no flesh anymore, all back safe and tidy in heaven saying, “Whew, I’m glad that’s over”? I don’t think there would have been much joy in heaven if He had showed back up alone. He came for US!!!! WE were, and are, the “joy set before Him.”
And now there are others still waiting to be found, other “joys set before us” that have yet to come home, or some who have come home but have not yet found their rest, and these “joys set before us” are the motivation by the Spirit that causes us to get into John’s car and ride around carrying nothing but Jesus with us, on His nickel, and a few extra clothes.