The Earnest Expectation of the Creature – Part 1
By Fred Pruitt
“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” (Rom 8:19)
(I started this writing a couple of weeks ago under a different title and with a different emphasis from this one. Originally it was an added new part 3 to the recent 2-parter called “Living the Eternal in the Temporal.” I felt like I had left some points out in that one that still needed to be said or said clearer, especially regarding faith. So, I started it again along those lines. As here and there I spent time on it over about 10 days, it took a different turn in direction into a “new vision,” a vision that is much greater in magnitude and significance than the original seemed to be. In that one I wanted to talk about the importance and necessity of faith. This one is about God’s ultimate “goal,” for us, as far as we [I] have been given to understand it, and how faith is an integral part of His plan.)
Starting Out – Where are we going?
In my earliest days of Christ in me, before I even understood Christ in me, I visited different churches in my hometown of Rome, GA, not sure what I was looking for. Janis and I attended the Episcopal Church which at the time was in a mini-revival. A number of parishioners, including my mother and father, had started attending “Faith At Work” weekend retreats, and many of them found Christ in a new way, even some for the first time.
Simultaneously there was another “revival” type thing going on then, “the Charismatic Renewal,” that was waking up many old “Mainline Denominations,” (Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, etc.). That brought in “charismatic worship,” with an emphasis on the “Gifts of the Spirit,” especially “speaking in tongues.”
That was the milieu in which the Lord decided to wake me up. It was the first few months of 1973.
One day as I arrived at the mobile home factory where I worked, I noticed an interesting bumper sticker on someone’s car. The sticker read: “When I was baptized I spoke in other tongues. What did you do?”
That really intrigued me, because I had been reading up on it, and it was an “experience” I sought to have. So I went over to the area where the fellow worked. I can only remember his last name, Braziel. I told him I was intrigued by his bumper sticker. He told me his father, Bishop Braziel, was the pastor of the church. Of course, he immediately extended me an invitation to their Sunday night service.
Sunday came and I arrived at the church on time and went in. This was still pretty much “Jim Crow” south at the time, where blacks and whites did not socialize or attend the same functions together. I had never even been in the neighborhood where the church stood. Howard (his name just came back to me) saw me and invited me in, sat me, and not long after the service began, mine being the lone white face in the building.
It was maybe the liveliest song service I’ve ever been in. We never had one like that in the Episcopal Church! I had never seen a drum, electric guitars and basses, etc., in a church before, let alone played like those folks played! I think they literally shook the building.
After a while the Bishop ascended the dais and took the pulpit. He started “preaching” and the band kept playing in rhythm with the preacher’s utterances. The people in the congregation were Amen-ing, Bless’im Lord-ing, Hallelujah-ing, moving all over the place in pews and out, all in rhythm with the preacher.
Eventually it reached a quieter moment and the Pastor shouted from the pulpit, “Who wants to go down in the name of Jesus?” (Get baptized.) That ticked another one of my boxes, since the Episcopal priest would have, but was prevented by canon law, to “rebaptize” anyone. (Having been baptized as an infant in the Presbyterian Church, I could not be a candidate for baptism in the Episcopal Church. The Episcopalians and many others considered it a legitimate baptism, so to “rebaptize” someone was a big anathema to them, because it would discredit their own doctrine and bring into question the efficacy of the baptism of infants. A biggie taboo from the past.)
But for me it was an opportunity I had been looking for – to be baptized by immersion, and not sprinkling. While they filled the baptismal tank behind the pulpit with ice cold water, they took me in the back and gave me something to wear when I “went down.”
Not long after I emerged in my baptism clothes, and at the Bishop’s instruction stepped into the tank. Bishop Braziel dipped me down and then back up, and it was ice cold and a great moment of thanksgiving and praise!
Then he said as I was going back to get dressed, “Now you gonna get the Holy Ghost!”
I was excited by that and looked forward to it expectantly. Two older ladies brought me back out front and had me kneel at the altar below the pulpit, along with two more candidates who were also getting ready to “get the Holy Ghost.” One of the older ladies said to me, “What we want you to do is to start worshipping the Lord, and then start saying ‘Jesus Jesus Jesus’ really fast, faster and faster, while we pray for you.”
What did I know, so I said, “Ok!”
I didn’t know they were going to literally “shake” me. One lady on each side of me, one grabs my left shoulder and another the right. They start literally shaking me by pulling back and forth on my shoulders, all the while I’m saying, as fast as I can, Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus. Eventually the shaking started to make me “punch drunk,” and I started slurring my words. The words became gobbledy-gook, but alas, no tongues of angels came forth. (Later on, in a very different environment, that gift of the Spirit did come to me, but that’s another story.)
It was kind of a let-down, but I didn’t feel too badly until shaking hands with Bishop Braziel at the church door. He noticed the bulge in my shirt pocket, and the word he could plainly make out through the material, “Kools.” I had a pack of raunchy “Kools” cigarettes in my pocket. The Bishop lit on that and without hesitation said, pointing at my cigarettes, “That’s why you didn’t get the Holy Ghost!”
Well, he sure harshed my mellow then! I had been feeling pretty good, but right then it got gloomy again. Really, was it the Kools?
That night when I got home, I went outside into what was my beautiful outdoor cathedral, to talk to the Lord, in the cleared field in back of our house. We were on top of a small ridge and had a wonderful view of hills and valleys for miles around us, pine and hardwood forests in every direction, and in all of it very little evidence of man.
I just had to know about the “Kools” thing! Did I really miss being “filled with the Spirit” and “speaking in tongues” because of my cigarette habit? I was really distressed by the question, and the greenest of new converts, and more or less, along with Janis and our roommate, Jim, on my own spiritually.
While pondering these things, Abraham from Romans 4 popped into my mind. Interestingly, when that popped in, I wasn’t looking up at the sky, but down, down to the ground below me. One word popped in, in such a way, that I knew it was the total answer! Just one word – faith!
Again, I exclaimed, “That’s it! O what a glorious God! Hallelujah! A God Who delivers and a God Who reveals and brings us along every day!”
At that point I couldn’t have articulated why the one word, “faith,” without anything else to go along with it, like a promise or an explanation or scriptures that say it, etc., could have so struck me, but it did. It seemed to have come from depths beyond me.
I could maybe liken it to Peter’s answer to Jesus’ “Who do you say I am?” question. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” How much did Peter REALLY know about Who Jesus was? That didn’t come out of Peter as the result of years of study and training, as if he had in his own mind an encyclopedia of I doubt Peter had any depth theological knowledge about the Christ. “Christology” hadn’t been invented yet. I imagine Peter knew next to nothing on that level.
No, that answer came out of Peter’s mouth, but it was the Spirit’s Word, as Peter, and beyond the understanding of everyone in that scene except Jesus. Their understandings would come later. For that moment, Jesus sought their hearts, not their intellects. Peter’s exclamation was of the heart nature, without any of the theological understandings that many contemporary Christians almost insist on everyone having in order to prove their “orthodoxy.”
Nevertheless it was obviously approved by the Father, having something of Gen 15:6 in Peter’s confession: “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
Jesus confirmed it to Peter in His response: “Blessed art thou, Simon Barona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt 16:17).
The above two scripture passages, are noting the beginning of the beginning. LIFE starts there, at that confession.
From there the divine walk begins, which is He as us even from the very beginning but we could scarcely know it, because our ears and eyes are in the beginning stages of the “renewal” of our minds.
Before I close out this Part One, I’m going to skip ahead to a glimpse of the end, so that we might be able to receive and share the hope the grace of God has wrought in us in our faith.
This is where we are headed:
The whole creation, everything, including heaven, is waiting for the manifestation of God’s Sons! (Male and female.) In fact, it is waiting for an explosion, when once and for all the creation is delivered from the bondage of corruption, as the travail of a woman giving birth with all the pains and hardships, melting away and all-but forgotten at the first sight of the new born babe! This is what all creation is waiting on in this eon, this great orgasmic outpouring of Life and Light when the Sons are fully revealed!
But what does it say God first does to His creation, as the preparation for the Great Day? Paul says the creation was subject to vanity, self-consciousness, futility – a tree that cannot bear fruit – for the very reason of hope, in order for this great big giant eternal extravaganza in which we will all participate since we are the Sons who are manifest! God is the One Who put it all together, to first deliver Adam and Eve, and then all of us, into vanity, against our will, Paul seems to say. At least we did not get to vote on it! Why? Because though it may take some revelations from the Spirit for us to fully understand it, this was the perfect way for God to bring forth His Eternal Sons into full manifestation. To know joy, we must know sorrow. To know hope, we must know despair. To know love, we must know selfishness. To know life, we must know death.