Free in God’s Eternal Freedom – Part One
“If you love somebody, set them free”
By Fred Pruitt
(This article as well as Part Two, is a complete rewrite and major expansion of two previous articles, “Sting Song Says,” and “Follow-up to Sting Song Says,” originally posted on April 28th and 30th, 2011, respectively.)
Sting wrote a song that said, “If you love somebody, set them free.” That is a great truth. That is what God did with us. We are free from the beginning to take paths of our own choosing.
Of course, what I just stated above is subject to much debate in Christian circles, i.e., the issue of “choice.” I am not going to try to solve the apparent disconnect between 1) “God is Sovereign” and “works all things after the counsel of His own will,” so that nothing we do or are, has anything to do with the choices we make, because God does all, with 2) the opposing position, which is that we are always products of our own choices, and because of that God blesses or does not bless us based on those choices. Both of those points of view are provable through Scripture.
With many, it is an either/or position, that is, it is one or the other: logic says it cannot be both. One says God does everything and we have no say-so in our own salvation or anything else because it comes by grace alone based on nothing whatsoever from us, God’s created sons. Therefore, there is no need to ever choose anything. To that way of thinking, “choosing” is at best superfluous, but more likely to many it is a subtle form of self-pride and legalism.
And then the other, more “Arminian” way of looking at it, i.e., says that I am responsible for the choices I make, and my life’s circumstances reflect whatever those choices have been, for good or evil.
For me, I have found a working synthesis between what seem to be opposing viewpoints. For instance, the apparent disagreement between Paul and James is a great example. Paul wrote, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2: 8,9). James seems almost to be responding to Paul when he wrote and sent it far and wide to the brethren everywhere saying, “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2, whole chapter). Now, honestly, I don’t know if James and Paul got along. I would almost say they did not get along, but the Scriptures do not bring it out, so I don’t make much of it.
But what I am trying to say is that in the end, considered as a whole, James and Paul complement each other. Both points of view are the Truth. There is Total sovereignty in the Throne of the Father, along with Divine attentiveness to such detail that He knows when a particular sparrow falls to the ground.
Everything in the universe is all ordered and maintained in and by Christ, and all things have always been and are happening now in this moment according to the determinate will and foreknowledge of God, who from Eternity to Eternity works ALL THINGS after the counsel of His Own Will. And that is laid out in a sense “opposite” from us, as almost a contradiction to and complete nullification of the total freedom of man who has been given freedom of choice along with the consequences that go along with whatever those choices are.
The freedom of humanity works out over the millennia and ages to be that which God purposed from the beginning – a new race of “other-lovers” and “lay-down-our-lives-for-you” people, the Sons of God manifest in the fullness of Time. From the first Word of God in Genesis, “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light,” (Gen 1:3), to the last Word in the Apocalypse, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Rev 22:21), getting and raising up the Sons who have learned to “love not their lives unto the death,” (Rev 12:11), is the main occupation of the Holy Spirit. Christ came to “bring many sons unto glory,” (Heb 2:10), which is Who we are, those Who have been raised even now to glory! (John 17:22 – though more is yet to come!)
And that is our commission, too! Our main job here is not to fix the world and make it a better place, mainly because neither can ever happen. We cannot put new wine into old wineskins. As occasion arises we “fix” what we can and make things “better” as God does it by us.
William Wilberforce in England, who campaigned to stop any and all British involvement in the slave trade, and the Society of Friends (Quakers) in America during Underground Railroad days, who campaigned for abolition and operated safehouses to get escaped slaves to freedom are examples that come to mind. They were out fixing the problem while their evangelical brethren were sitting in their parlors hemming and hawing about freeing the slaves, but finally justifying their lack of action because it was God Who had made them “slaves,” after all.
They got that from Genesis. Ham was one of the three sons of Noah. When his father, Noah, got drunk and lay naked on his bed in his tent, Ham went in and saw the nakedness of his father, perhaps unwittingly, but went out and told his brothers. In that society gazing at a father’s nakedness was an abomination and forbidden. Because of that, Noah prophesied that Canaan would forever be a servant to the other two brothers of Ham. So the evangelicals of 19th century America could relax and pat themselves on the back since they found a scriptural “out” to fall back on, in order to justify their good deeds of “civilizing and Christianizing” the heathen slaves. Wilberforce and the American abolitionists stand out as examples of “fixing” what we can. May things like that continue.
However, it does not change the fact that the whole world lies in the lap of the wicked one (1 Jn 5:19), and that will not be changed until the final consummation. We’re here in this time first to get the Sons and second to raise them up into what I call “consciousness of Christ,” which Paul described like this:
“The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Eph 1:17-23).
We seek them, the Sons in The Son, whoever and wherever they are, and like the Captain of our Salvation said, we are likewise here to “bring many sons unto glory.” It is our GREAT PRIVILEGE!
Getting the Sons is part one. Raising them up into Christ-consciousness is another matter. God also knew that a son cannot truly be a fully functioning and conscious son except he is tried and comes to love on his own. As it says in Hebrews of Jesus — and us in Him as well — “he learned obedience through the things he suffered.” Freedom gives us the opportunity to come to a real consciousness through an interaction of opposites, to learn “no” and “yes” by experience. We are “bruised” in the process (Gen 3:15), but come out pure gold in the end. (Eph 3:20).
Otherwise, without the bumps and falls and scratches, we really do not come to true consciousness. God could “make” us so, just download the whole program into us at once, but then we would be automatons and not true sons who do the will of the Father from the heart and understanding. He can make rocks obey him, but rocks cannot be sons.
We all make such a big deal about who is right or who is wrong and what is right to believe or what is wrong to believe when the real truth about that subject is that it is not even in the ballpark of inner illumination. People stand right by the Gate to Freedom and argue about how to get inside, the wrong ways, the right ways, etc. The sad part about it is that the Gate stands open, and as Jesus said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” Many are already going in and out that Door, but the ones standing outside the Gate arguing about it do not see them. They are only interested in proving themselves right.
If we step through the Door to the other side, argument ceases. There is no argument about the truth in heaven. All questions and dissonant voices cease. That very same heaven lives within us and according to Paul, that is where we live from, out of heaven. “For our conversation* is in heaven.” (Phil 3:20). *(”Conversation” in King James English means “manner of life or conduct” in one meaning, or is used to indicate one’s citizenship and right of free speech [as in an ancient Greek city-state] in another meaning.)
It isn’t correct head knowledge or even right doctrine in the end that saves or causes us to walk in the right way, but a heart of love as the only background, foundation, and basis for the everything. That’s why I share what many consider “theology,” i.e., my “reasoned 1-2-3 structure of truth,” and then forget it, toss it out, when I am out among people. I do not do that because I am “ashamed” of Jesus and for my own sake hide the fact that I am a Christian. There’s not even a whiff of that around here. I “throw out” my theology when it comes to being with others because as long as I’m “in” my “theological head,” then all I am doing when with other people is sizing them up, trying to determine where they are in my theological brain, and therefore, I always remain one-step removed from the Truth plainly manifest before me, i.e., THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES! If I live in and “according to my theology,” (which means I have to “think about it”) then my reactions and reasonings among those folks will not be about them, but about me determining where and who they are according to my theological placements. When I “throw it out,” it frees me from thinking things like, “Oh man, here I am, with unbelievers who are all Satan, what can I do?”
It’s not such a hard problem, really. All we are ever called to do is love. Not evaluate!
Just forget it! (Don’t toss out your theology just yet.) “Satan” is not between me and the other person! Even if he is there, we don’t look at him. We see through him and through all the circumstances surrounding the situation in the light of the glory of God. We don’t give him the time of day. He is not the main problem, even though it is “his” blindness that keeps a person deceived. Even if that person is a willing conscious servant of evil or Satan. By “forget it” I am just meaning that we throw away the labels and relate to and love people on a one-to-one basis. Christ comes as FRIEND, not an enemy. In fact, before we “knew Him,” we WERE the enemy! But He did not treat us that way, did He? Each of us were all those things described in Ephesians 2:3 – “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.”
That was who we were when Jesus came to us. We might not like facing up to that “negative” truth, but if we are to know the fullness of the Positive, understanding where we were brought from is indispensable. And He died for us, “when we were yet enemies.” That’s why I have such a hard time with some of my fellow believers who show such hatred and enmity toward certain groups of individuals. Why are they acting like the children of wrath in their obvious lack of love of any kind, much less Divine? Paul said “we’re known and read of all men,” and that includes all. The so-called “sinners” can smell self-righteousness; that’s why they flee. There is no life in self-righteousness, only condemnation for others (and never myself!). Self-righteous Pharisees always feel they have the market cornered on finding and rooting out evil, but they really only find what is in their own hearts. We all do.
Let people go. The truth will rise to the top. Just like the parable of the two sons, the first said he would do his father’s will but in the end did not go into the field, whereas the second son initially said he would not do the work his father wanted done, but ended up doing it. The truth always comes out. This is the patience of the saints. (Matt 21:28-32).
The thing about setting people free and loosening the borders, is that the truth will always come out. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” * (Who we are inwardly is who we are outwardly, and we are here speaking of spirit-source [Spirit of Truth or spirit of error], our true foundation without pretense, the essence of being, but not “thinking” in the rational sense.) That is a fixed truth. God is the author of all that. He’s got the perfect system, with freedom at the very heart of it.
*See article: The Contextual Meaning of ‘As a man thinketh’
End Part One
Coming soon –
Part Two – A Different Look into Saul and David