With Open Face Beholding … Part One
By Fred Pruitt
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Someone once asked me, “By whose power did Adam and Eve decide to listen to Satan in the garden? I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone phrase it that way before — “by whose power.”
So that’s an easy answer, since there is no power except the power which is God Himself. Satan is a misuse of the One Power, using in a sense the substance/being/existence of God Himself to create for himself in singularity, or dense concentration of self, or what I might call a vortex of sucking self, like a black hole — a dark fire that has almost infinite heat because of the intensity of its turmoil in drawing everything it can into itself. It is inwardly smoldering but cannot ever fully flame up because it can only pull into itself and cannot let anything out, so it emits no light nor warmth. It only exists to feed itself by the consumption of everything that comes within its reach, using it all to feed and build up itself by the death and destruction of all.
God is also Consuming Fire, but only consuming in the sense that everything which He attracts into Himself for consumption is re-emitted as Light, Heat, and Life (Luke 20:18). This is because God has eternally determined to be Love, exhibited eternally by the Son in the form of a Lamb Slain forever in the center of the Eternal Godhead and Throne. Satan seeks to bring only death and is anti-life, whereas God’s principle includes death, first of all in a sense in Himself when in His out-going to express Himself in the Son, He eternally dies to or says “NO” to that sucking self-for-self which seeks to live by feeding on the death of others so that it is supreme and without competition.
Then by that death (Cross) or “Eternal NO” to self-seeking, He rises as the Son, whose eternal characteristic is to give His Life as a ransom and means of Life to others. Satan’s principle is death only; God in Trinity’s Principle is death AND resurrection, both death to self-seeking (by the Cross), and resurrection in the Deity eternally out of “NO” to “YES,” by which Giving-Life is out-splayed with infinite energy and infinite power to inseminate the Universe with Life unto Life. The motion of the resurrection out of death (from the lowest depths to the highest heights) is what fuels the dynamo that empowers everything that is. It is like an atomic explosion without destruction, but instead an infinitely energetic perpetual effluence of light and life in every direction. Our Eternal Easter Morning.
What makes the difference between the dark fire that draws in and destroys, the satanic principle, and the Light, Heat and Life that comes from the Divine Principle?
A Miracle occurs.
The Darkness will let nothing out of its grasp. But something miraculous occurs in the darkness, outside the power of the darkness, in the invisible. At this point where we are in conflict between the reaching out and the drawing in, the Light MIRACULOUSLY shows up. The tension builds and builds but in the darkness there cannot be found the spark to make it flame up, to release it without restraint, because the pull inward cannot let anything escape. We are clutched by the hand of death whose grip is unbreakable.
John the Beloved announced the Miracle, “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:5),
And Paul adds his word to it: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness …” (2 Cor 4:6).
We find Him, He finds us, in the darkness. When He walked into my life, I was not looking for Him – or I didn’t think I was, anyway. I had walked in the other direction from Him, I had thought. Yet here He is again, popping up in front of me. Where was I? By that time I knew I was in darkness. I had been given many hints. He sent several living embodiments of himself and put them on my path for me to run into. Where was I? I was in darkness. That’s where I began to see His Light.
In my home town of Rome, GA, down by the confluence of our three rivers, there was a section of old stores and warehouse buildings, called “the cotton block.” In the cotton growing days of the 19th century, the rivers in Rome were used for commerce and moving goods. The cotton block was where they held auctions and loaded the cotton bales onto the river boats. Rome is called Rome because it has 3 rivers, the Etowah and Oostanaula (Cherokee), coming out of the north Georgia hills, meet in Rome and form the Coosa River, which flows south through eastern Alabama and merges with the Alabama River near Wetumpka eventually draining into Mobile Bay. So all those years ago one could go by boat all the way to the Gulf from Rome.
During the fall back in the early 70s, it became the site for craft fairs and farmer’s markets and such. In the fall of 1972 we were at one of those fairs on the Cotton Block. That’s where I saw the Light. A little bit of it, anyway. How did I see the light?
A big tall barrel of a man, whose pale skin seemed to ooze light, and with a genuine smile of friendliness to boot, came walking directly toward me. I think I knew who he was and we may have even met before, but this was the moment I saw the Light.
“Hi, Fred,” he said, “I’m a friend of your mother. I’m Bob Beeland.” (The Rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rome.)
At that point, I was aware that my mother and father had “become Christians,”* and a new and dynamic way, and I knew Bob was a big part of that. Faith at work, mother etc *The first time my mother told me she had “become a Christian,” I remarked, “I thought you always had been.” She told me a little of her story and I knew she was being earnest, but I wasn’t ready to hear that Jesus stuff just yet.
Still, I did notice there was a decided “change” in my mother. She was somehow different from who she had been all my life before that. In other places I’ve talked about this time in my life and wondering about Jesus, etc., that I rarely met a “Christian” who seemed to me “spiritual,” according to whatever definition I was going by in those days. But it’s true. Lots witnessed to me over the years. Only a small few have stood out, and it is because of the same thing that day I saw Bob Beeland on the Cotton Block. They shone somehow, and in a way I could see it. The Light shone and the Love went along in the stream flowing out from them. When Bob Beeland walked up to me that day, it was as if Christ was there, saying, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Bob became a major part our lives not long after that, and remained our dear friend until the Lord called him home. He was an unrepentant anglophile, with the lazy southern aristocratic drawl that he learned where he grew up, which he called “LA.” Lower Alabama. Precious man.)
What does this miracle do? It takes that tension that cannot allow anything to escape but only to continually close in on itself, and resolves it in the Miracle of “Let there be Light,” which shines even in the heart of darkness. The Light has come to announce the Love. The Love takes the tension and the unfulfilled desire and the back and forth of the push-pull motion of life, and brings it out into the Light, where being bathed in love, what was before pride of self deluged within by covetousness and envy and always at the moment of exploding into rage (wrath), and turns it in His Kingdom, in the Light and bathed in love, into a living consciousness of beholding Christ in the Light. The former groans of despair, sorrow and even rage the Miracle turns into praise, faith and humility. That which formerly sought to ascend over others in the Miracle of Light and Love now walks in the tender affection and love of God, no longer cursing and judging others, but instead praying for every person, everywhere and especially for those around us, seeing everyone as God sees everyone.
Now this is the absolute central heart of the Eternal, the “Lamb slain before the foundations of the earth,” and the Miracle is the rescuing miracle of love and grace that comes on the scene in a Miraculous eternal resolution of this tension between “for-me” and “for-you,” into manifested eternal “self-for-others.”
In the “for me” self the dark fire rages, never quenched, never put out, because even if this “me” could have everything there ever was, is, or could be, still it could not be satisfied. This is where Lucifer and all his legions are trapped, because the “Miracle” which comes to cool the fire into gentleness, light, color, sound and consciousness, (the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven), Lucifer denied! HE would be lord of the fire, and bring all things into himself. He rejected the One Will by which the Universe is composed, the will of other-love, and sought an “own” will, a contrary will, declaring in Isaiah 14, “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Jesus said, “Not my will but thine be done, Father.”
Lucifer said, “I will ascend … I will exalt my throne above the stars of God …I will … I will … I will be like the Most High.” That is the “for-me” life, which is the inheritance of those who eternally deny the Son.
In the “for you” self, we have moved out of the raging wrath, because it has been cooled with the Water of Life. The Steam out of that Water cooling the raging wrath is the Spirit, and by Him we enter the Resurrection, the new birth, translating from inner darkness and wrath, into the Kingdom of the Son, where now Christ is All, in all, and as He is we now live in the world.
And this is the real issue! THAT transformation from eternal wrath to eternal love IS salvation! It is not simply a divine proclamation, pronouncing that since John Smith has gone forward in a church service, he is now saved. It is not signing up to become a member of the church. Salvation IS this inner transformation, whereby the former unknown (to me) god who was running my show, Satan, has been kicked out of the inner center of my life, and into that space formerly occupied by the enemy of our souls, the True King comes, and a whole new life begins.
This transformation IS salvation, from Satan to Christ, darkness to light, death to life.
Now see, what I have described above is both cosmic and universal, and as it is universal it finds particularity is each of us. God is not sitting up in heaven with a book either approving or disapproving of us, but rather God is in us and is either dark or light, wrath or love, and where our heart is, there is our treasure also.
This process in the Deity is experienced in us, every day, in smaller ways than our initial transition, but it is still the heart of everything, because those born in Jesus Christ live this out day by day, (whether knowingly or not), “to save much people alive.” (Gen 50:20). It is part of the redemptive/reconciling process. Death and resurrection. Tension and release.
So desire is the beginner of all that. But you see the resolution as we have outlined it in God and in the same way it is the same inner resolution of Christ All, in all.
The “New Jerusalem” is greater than the Garden of Paradise, though it is included within its walls I am certain.
Where does their freedom come from that allows them to choose or follow the wrong path, or to disobey?
END PART ONE