Eyes On The Prize 1
(This is written to comfort the Body of Christ in a time of turmoil and upheaval. Many are thinking the world has gone to hell, or is about to do so. Many are very afraid. It touches all of us. It reminds me of a story my mother told me about a Faith At Work Conference she attended in the early 1970s. She had gotten to know Norman Grubb (before I knew him) at previous conferences and had become his friend. After the opening night speakers, my mother helped the aged Norman get to his room in the conference center. While they were walking, she confided with him regarding her reservations about the conference that weekend. She told him, based on the opening speakers, that the conference seemed to be headed into a more psychological direction, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Norman replied, “O my dear, let’s wait and see what Jesus does!” She told me that FAW conference turned out to be the most Jesus-oriented conference she had ever attended! Let us take Norman’s words to heart! Instead of “What would Jesus do?”, let’s “Watch what Jesus DOES!” Has the Church forgotten He turns evil into good, failure into success, death into life? Why is everybody so upset as if the whole world is falling apart? Do we believe God has taken a vacation? Do we really think “evil” has finally gained the upper hand? Do we really think the devil has a snowball’s chance in hell to “get his way” and that he is on the way to get it? Do we really think the Lord God, Who bruised His only Begotten for our redemption, will finally let the whole thing fizzle away because of men’s good or evil doings? Or do we believe God ALWAYS has the victory? Do we believe He has never been thwarted in ANY WAY? Or are we so small thinking in America, that we think it is all about us, our country, instead of the WHOLE COSMOS???? Where is the Spirit of Intercession? Believe me, people who are hot to call down curses are not intercessors; they are people who ARE NOT standing in the gap, NOT presenting people righteous before God! Jesus died and rose TO PRESENT PEOPLE RIGHTEOUS BEFORE GOD! How do we DARE turn that into cursing men to HELL????????? In our ministry, perhaps the most quoted verse is Colossians 1:27 – “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Less quoted is the next verse, where Paul says, “that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” THAT is what we are after, not destruction! GOD SAVES!!!!! That is our message! Keeping our “eyes on the prize” therefore, means to me, to keep the purposes and plan of God uppermost in our minds and hearts at all times, because that gives us our true focus and commission from the Father. It is in this spirit I offer the following article, originally posted in November 2013, as “Eyes on the Prize 1.”
Basic Truths Three – Felix Culpa – The Happy Fault
By Fred Pruitt
This is the night
When Christ broke the prison-bars of death
And rose victorious from the underworld.
Our birth would have been no gain,
had we not been redeemed.
O wonder of your humble care for us!
O love, O charity beyond all telling,
to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!
O truly necessary sin of Adam,
destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!
O happy fault
that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!
These are words from one of the most well-known Catholic liturgies, the Exsultet, prayed and sung during “Easter Vigil,” the night before Resurrection Sunday morning. It is not somber, as was the service on Good Friday, but is instead very joyful, expectant, knowing that Resurrection will soon come!
In a most unique way, amidst the joyful celebratory, knowing that Resurrection will make all things new, the liturgy almost seems to thank Adam and Eve for sending us down this road. Their “happy fault” (and ours), is the fuel that fanned the flame of Redemption in heaven and on earth.
We do not know what it would have been like if Adam and Eve had not eaten from the Tree. Most describe the Fall as a disaster, bringing on disease, hatred, violence and earning our living by the sweat of our brow, trying to till an earth whose ground is cursed. It did bring all those things, and in that regard, yes, it was a calamitous disaster of nearly universal proportions! A look into the history of human civilization provides all the evidence we need to call it a total calamity!
However, we are not simply talking about human history – not the world’s history nor our own. If that was all it was, we would continue to be “men most miserable.” (1 Cor 15:19), because there is no hope for substantive change in human society, as long as it is governed by self-for-self on the human level. No matter what patches we might attach to human society that make it seem like we have come a “long way,” the world at heart remains the same, dog-eat-dog, jockeying for position and power, everybody at heart out for themselves. Though on the surface it appears as if human society has become increasingly enlightened over the centuries, bemoaning the sins of our ancestors, nothing at heart changes. Individual hearts change through Christ, but the world is still a place where “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph 6:12).
Instead, we are talking about the plan and purposes of God that are greater than human history and the powers that be in our present world! Just as it looked to the majority as if Jesus’ “mission” was a failure, when he was tried and convicted of blasphemy (which is quite ironic in and of itself), and then tortured until finally He was hung from a tree – He became a curse, for the scripture says, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” (Gal 3:13, referring to Deut 21:22,23).
His own followers along with everyone else, at first thought that all was lost with the death of Jesus. The apostles were stunned and almost bereft of hope, cowering in fear in hiding, hoping the Sanhedrin would not come looking for them. Though Jesus had told them many times He would rise from the dead, in that pit of despair they found themselves in, they must have found it hard to keep believing. He was truly dead and they knew it, as some of them witnessed His crucifixion until the end, as well as the women. All seemed lost. The dream of the Messianic Kingdom, where they each would have places of honor and glory, was over.
But they had not factored-in the Spirit! They found out that, like Yogi Berra said, “the fat lady hadn’t sung yet!” It was not the end, but the BEGINNING of the open revelation of the plan of God in Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
Back to the Fall. We can see the Fall in exactly the same way we are given to see the death and resurrection of Jesus. What was to man calamity and disaster, in the plan of God, it was the beginning of the road of Redemption. The Fall, and Genesis 3:15 – “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel…” – leads right through the stories of Abraham and his seed, Isaac, Jacob and the 12 sons of Israel, which leads right through to Revelation 21:3-7:
“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”
That is the end, the goal so to speak. However, from our side of things, post-Fall, this reality in which we live now is all we know. In Part Two, I wanted to communicate somewhat the greater spiritual reality that was the Edenic world. It is helpful, in order to understand the Fall, to have some sense, though not direct, of what we fell “from.” I could only speak of it in a parable, because it cannot be directly described. That is why Jesus would always say, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto …”
The Edenic world, Paradise, Kingdom of Heaven, are all phrases with deep meaning that overwhelm the intellect, because it cannot go there. Therefore, this story of Eden is of far greater depth than the Church has widely known through the centuries, having been couched by the Holy Spirit in a simple story that even little children can understand.
However, most of us continue to see it in a child-like way. We see Adam and Eve the same, physically and mentally, just like us. They just happened to be born in God’s Paradise, which I think most of us picture in a tropical setting with always perfect weather, where they could play all day, name the animals that they ran into, and generally have leisurely fun ad infinitum. Like having your own private well-stocked island resort, with all the delights that bring tropical pleasure. We even see them running around naked as jaybirds, too, frolicking playfully, eating the abundant fruit that grew on every tree in the Garden. Maybe we can’t quite figure out how they didn’t notice they were naked during that time, but we really have never seen it any other way. (The fact that they had not noticed before they were naked, is another good clue that the perception and quality of their Edenic world was different from our current one, as were they themselves.)
Then, for disobedience, they are kicked out of Paradise, Eden, and have to go to work in a ground that has been cursed. So we see them tossed out, the Gate shut behind them and a Cherub with a big sword guarding the Gate so that they cannot return. They are wearing sort of caveman attire, depicting the animal skins in which the Lord God clothed them. From then on, it’s blood, sweat and tears!
But as I pointed out in my last, the qualitative difference between Adam and Eve, and the Earth, before the Fall, and Adam and Eve, and the Earth, after the Fall, is an almost infinite divide. Their first world and ours are so qualitatively different, we cannot even compare them. We could if we “knew” Paradise, but it is not yet ours to know in fullness in this present time. It exists in a principle apart – in modern terms – in another dimension!
The only Adam and Eve we truly know, are the post-Fall Adam and Eve. Because they’re us. We ARE the post-Fall Adam and Eve. We know nothing of the Edenic world. Because once Adam and Eve were cast out, even their memories of past days in Paradise darkened, so that in subsequent generations from then until now there has been no direct memory of it. (Though through all the ages of human civilization there have been those who have found it. He always has His Remnant on hand everywhere for everyone through the grace given to Noah, and all stand invited to the feast. Come, let us keep the feast of Christ’s bread and wine!)
In fact, in the Biblical account in Genesis, by the time of Noah, eighth generation from Adam (they were long generations, seeing most of those individuals had life spans in the hundreds of years), men had no memory or sense of God whatsoever, with the exception of Noah and his family, who “found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” (Gen 6:8,9).
But outside Noah, God looked into the earth and this is what He saw:
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”(Gen 6:5,6)
Nevertheless, the plan of God progressed onward, and was never thwarted or changed one time because of the sins of man. How the devils must have rejoiced when they saw the unbelievable Fall of God’s first son and daughter! What a seemingly great victory for the powers of rebellion, to have captured the pinnacle of God’s creation, the VERY creature He created to most fully display His own personhood! The devils might have been shouting, “Self-for-self rules! See, even Your greatest created being cannot help it! It’s time to face facts, God, for just as we are, YOU, GOD, are self-for self, too! You have LOST!!!”
It was true, partly, as are many of his lies. This creature had been created and filled with the very image and likeness of God! But Satan had slithered in and vandalized God’s greatest creation, by soiling the divine image within them, and through his darkening of their minds, he blotted out the divine likeness and changed it into his own, so that from Adam onward, men were born in the false kingdom of self-for-self, which is the devil’s kingdom, and it was his desires we found ourselves doing. Who would not consider that a tragedy beyond any scope of tragedy we have known or can imagine? How could darkness come into Paradise?
These are the answers that come to me:
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:4,5).
and “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Cor 4:6,7).
I have written here and there on the Fall over the years, as I believe I have increasingly understood it. I have analyzed it, picked it apart, made it personal, sought understanding, because I couldn’t help it for one thing, but also because I kept being drawn there as the beginning of our well of understanding.
Today, the one overriding thing to me, is to rejoice in it.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. (Ecc 3:1-10).
Let’s look at the record. See this record historically if you want, because it works that way, too. But seeing this record inwardly and personally, is where the real jewels are buried.
For every Cain, there has been an Abel. Cain got lucky, because Cain also had a Seth.
For every Ishmael, there has been an Isaac.
For every Esau, there has been a Jacob.
For every 10 sons of Israel, there has been a Joseph, and likewise for every old Jacob, there has been a Benjamin.
For every Eli, there has been a Samuel.
For every Saul, there has been a David.
For every Saul of Tarsus, there has been an Apostle Paul.
For every First Adam, there has been the Second Adam, Christ!
That is why Jesus said we must be born of water AND the Spirit. Flesh, earth, first, then Spirit, Christ, last – the last shall be first. The elder shall serve the younger.
This is more certain than the time of day on our smartphones!
So, to the devil we say, “Yes, we fell, so what? Yes, we sinned, so what? What is it but the annunciation of the Lamb of God? Begone with you!”
Do we say, “Go sin, that grace may abound”? No, of course not!
Certainly we acknowledge the darkness is there. We just do not believe it is permanent. Not only that, but we take heart, because we know the darkness is the place from which God shines!
There is so much more to say about this road that Adam and Eve started for us all, and how it is the perfect road to, “them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb 6:14).
But of course, it is much more than that! This is an eternal road, and everything about it is of the eternal. The visible is the signature of the invisible, and what is happening in each of us, whether we have been in positive or negative circumstances, has been in every case the workings of God. Whatever the situations have been, they are the Redemption and Reconciliation of Christ, always and in every way, for those who see it. They are the same for those who do not yet see it, but since they do not yet see it, for many the negative place of suffering or hardship, etc., is in their own minds defeat, injustice, hurtful, demeaning, whatever they are.
The message of the Fall IS the annunciation of the Restoration! Praise God for Father Adam and Mother Eve! Praise God that through their error, we were all subjected to vanity from birth! Praise God that we languished and suffered in our vanity, that we might seek Him from Whom we came! Praise God the world is an unjust place, praising evil masquerading as good, that spiritual wickedness reigns in high places, for that is just the set stage for the New Heavens and the New Earth! Praise God for the sufferings and cryings out of the many for deliverance and justice – because there IS a God Who hears! There IS a God Who sends deliverance!
Praise God for His Sons, who rise like Phoenixes out of the ashes of destruction and despair! Praise God for His “wounded healers,” who so know the disease themselves, they can perfectly empathize with those still stricken!
Praise God for the Serpent raised on a brass pole in the wilderness, because all those who gazed upon it, were healed of their snakebites!
Praise God for Jesus of Nazareth, Who suffered Himself to be that very serpent raised upon the pole, that all for all eternity those Who gazed upon Him, are eternally healed of the bite of their serpents!
Praise God that we fell into separation and aloneness, that we might know the bliss of oneness in Christ and the love of the brethren, who are Christ to us.
In short, in the Garden man fell, and became the stolen property and slave of the devil. Skipping a whole lot in between, Jesus Christ came to redeem man from his slavery to evil and Satan, and to bring Him back into full fellowship with the Father, in a greater reality and understanding than had our first parents in their innocence. What was lost, has been found again, and we can only rejoice in all the works and purposes of God!
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” (Rom 11:33-36).