The Earnest Expectation of the Creature – Part 2
By Fred Pruitt
“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” (Rom 8:19)
The Absolute Necessity of Faith
I’m not usually an alarmist, even though there appear to be many possible causes for alarm in today’s world. But no matter, it is our practice to see through everything to God and His purposes behind everything, upholding every thing, including and especially His sons!
There is, however, a subtle challenge of our faith going on right now in our midst. It is an attempt to undermine the very fabric of the Good News and eventually to make it of no effect, by denigrating the one and only “way” that God has prescribed from the beginning, and that is the way of faith. This is not to compete with or supplant the Lord Jesus Christ as “the Way,” God forbid!
It might be better said that faith is something of the “how” of it. That is, “how God’s truths become real to us so that they become “our” truths. And I have to add, it is not just “God’s truths” that “faith” enlivens. It is the basic way we live. All humanity. The simplest things in the world start in faith, such as choosing which chair to sit in when I enter a room.
I walk into a room, let’s say a room I haven’t been in before. There are several chairs available to me. However it goes on in each of us, a little almost unnoticed mental process occurs, whereby I choose the one chair out of the several. That mental “choice” then becomes a simple word of faith. I have certain reasons for choosing the chair, and certain expectations as a result of my choice, including one I probably haven’t considered, that the chair will not collapse the moment I sit. So despite the possible negatives, I make my choice which is a choice into the unknown, but I believe it will, so I go and sit down. Once I sit, that’s the final activity of faith, in that the object I chose, the chair, holds me up in truth. What we take, takes us. That’s the way all of life works. “What do you have that you have not received?” asked Paul. (1 Cor 4:7,8).
Therefore we can see, just using common sense if nothing else (and about a million scripture passages), that taking “faith” away from the “human-side”of the Good News, leaves a great big humongous hole in the Good News. It is said that nature abhors a vacuum, so in the great big giant hole where faith is supposed to be, man has replaced it with theology, which is here even now to save the day. If only it could.
One reason for that I am seeing, is that certain theologies, especially some of our new 21st century versions, simply offer absolutes that people feel so desperately they need. How wonderful it is, then, to find a wonderful theology that answers all questions, solve all riddles, reveals all mysteries, and offers absolute absolution to all, hearers and non-hearers alike. Since faith does not offer that sort of certitude without struggles, lots of folks are opting for, “Who needs faith when we can have absolutes?”
These next two statements tell the tale I am telling. They are paraphrases of statements a friend asked me about, which had come from some others. Both of these statements were originally made to be emphasizing God as the Doer of all through grace, and de-emphasizing man along with his role in his own salvation.
- “We were born again not by some prayer we said or even our own belief but by His Resurrection.”
- “Christ told Nicodemus that he needed to be born again. He was stating a truth but he was not issuing a command that Nicodemus somehow needed to fulfill. How could he? Christ never even told him to believe. This born again statement means to be fathered from above which no one has any control over.”
These statements might seem quite benign at first glance. But the more I considered them, the more I saw what it is getting at, at least to me.
There seems to be a move afoot among some folks which is gaining lots of ground, that completely leaves out our humanity altogether in the sense that “we” have any part to play in being “born again.”
It is true, that God the Father (and Son and Spirit joined in with Him) works “all things out of the counsel of His own will.” (Eph 1:11). It is quite proper and correct to come to a place, spiritually but not necessarily theologically, where we know God does all and we, in comparison to God, do nothing of ourselves. He is the instigator of His own Life within us which is everything good and righteous and holy. And in the sense that He is in us and lives as us, we know the Spirit in us Who is sufficient for all things, and Who accomplishes all things.
That is a given. I wholeheartedly agree that God is the Doer of all in us.
But I cannot accept leaving “man” out of the equation altogether. I might could, if the Scriptures did, but they do not. It is because of MAN that we are here! It is because of MAN that Christ came, to bring Man back into fellowship, into an even greater Paradise/Heaven than the one we lost in the beginning. It is to bring forth the Sons in THE SON!
“Salvation” is not something God declares from His Throne in Heaven, some sort of Spiritual/Legal procedure, that guarantees by decree our place in Heaven. It isn’t something done “to” us, nor is it something done for us, without our participation. Salvation is the Life of Heaven, Holy Spirit Life, in the midst of our earthly life and beyond it. It is a living fellowship with God, regardless of our understanding. It is a reality within us, not a card we carry that’s our “ticket to heaven.”
IF we are saved, Heaven is within us. Why? Because we were teleported there? No, it is because The Father, Son and Holy Spirit live in us and THEY ARE HEAVEN.
This is what Jesus was talking about with the woman at the well. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23,24).
Jesus is not talking about church services here. He is talking about our daily living, our “way” of life, which is not based on precepts, but on the Life of the Spirit we find in the Son within. This is what it means to be born again. It isn’t some sort of initiation or some arbitrary requirement God imposes on us. It is, instead, bringing us through the Cross to be OF the SAME SPIRIT as God. Old enemy spirit out, who was the darkness in us, and now new Holy Spirit within us, in oneness with us, so that we are moved into God’s kingdom, having been translated out of the kingdom in which we had been held all our lives, the kingdom of Satan, darkness or wrath. (Col 1:13; Acts 26:18).
Therefore our fellowship with God comes alive, because now we are on His wavelength, tuned to His channel. Before we were at enmity with God. It was purely on the man side, for God from the very beginning has had an outstretched arm to receive any one of His wayward sons instantly back into the fold. He never closes. He seeks us out until we see finally see Him!
The two statements above both deny man’s activity in our coming to salvation and place it all squarely on God, with man almost non-existent as the beneficiaries of grace.
If there is a theme in scripture, faith is one of them. It is central and primary to our understanding and life in Christ. This is man’s part – it’s not much of a part, really, hardly nothing at all. But nevertheless the way of faith is the way God interacts with us and we with Him. This is KEY! If we throw out faith, we might as well go home. If we throw out “Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life, freely,” we’re throwing out the God-given way He enacts these things in us.
“How do we work the works of God?” the people asked Jesus in John 6. His reply: “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
Note, He did NOT say, “You should do nothing, because you have nothing to do with your own salvation.”
A hundred times a day probably, can’t prove it but I bet it’s a lot, Jesus said, “Believe,” to those who came to Him. One time He asked, “When I come, will I find faith on the earth?” Will He? (Luke 18:8)
If we went to a large banquet, or even a dinner party at a friend’s house, would we be guilty of taking credit for the planning and preparation of the meal if we sit down to eat and enjoy it, as we have been invited to do? No, we would praise the hosts and cooks for preparing such a fine meal. That’s as much of a “work” faith is. It is simply receiving, taking, acknowledging a gift that has been given.
He told Nicodemus that without faith in the Son, we remain under the “wrath of God,” (which we have explained many times is really only felt in man and in spiritual beings of darkness). In that conversation, Jesus brought up the story of the brass serpent and the children of Israel in the wilderness. (Numbers 21:4-9). In the story, serpents appeared and began biting the people. At the Lord’s instructions, Moses made a brass serpent and raised it up on a pole, so that everyone could see it. Anyone who had been bitten by the snake and looked at the brass serpent raised up on the pole, was healed. Those who did not gaze at the brass serpent, were not healed. In that story from the Old Testament, “looking at the serpent on the pole” is the same as believing in the Son. Believing in the Son heals US of the snakebite that had poisoned us!
The whole New Testament, on almost every page in every gospel and every epistle exhorts, states, admonishes, encourages, and in some cases, requires “faith.” Jesus certainly did tell Nicodemus to believe, when He answered his question of how he could be born again. Read John 3 again. Jesus says it, as well as John the Baptist below that. Hebrews has the most to say about faith, culminating in that glorious 11th chapter. Is the Hebrews writer wrong in 11:6?
To me, if we leave out faith, we’ve gutted the faith and there is nothing to it except theology, and we don’t have faith in theology, even though I believe many think that believing their theology is the same as having faith toward God, and it is not. And as a “sent one,” I take seriously my commission from God when He first called me in early 1973, using 2 Timothy 4:1-5. This just dropped out of heaven one day and sent chills up and down my spine, and it’s been with me ever since, as something I have an holy unction (a Divine Must) to do.
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry”
After that, a couple of months later after having been invited to join a church in California (we were in Georgia), after prayer of should we or should we not go, the Spirit spoke to me and gave me a Word that sent us off to California, but has been the hallmark of my whole life’s journey. It was Heb 11:8 — “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”
Whatever one’s theology is, if faith toward God is not central as a human response to God’s grace, then I believe it is a false gospel or at the very least a very incomplete gospel. I’m sorry, but that view completely guts the meat of the New Testament, replacing it with a theology. But we don’t live by theology. Our life is walking in the Spirit, which isn’t known by theology but by the inner teaching of the Spirit. We don’t ask what does our theology say and work to line everything up to our theology. I’ve done that in the past and many are doing it now. Theologies fail and are always incomplete. Only God is steadfast and immovable, and His judgments are true and righteous altogether. And “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” That seems to be these days a very non “Christian pc” thing to say. But I still say it.
We’re still on earth. Faith is needed here in this realm. Paul said, “We believe, therefore we speak.”
We can’t be budged from here. We’ve lived and shared this for over 40 years. I believe Heb 11:6, Mark 11:24, John 6:28, 29; John 3:16; John 1:12; and a couple hundred more.
End Part Two (more to come)