Transcript – ‘The Truth that Edifies’ Part Two
By Fred Pruitt
(A talk given April 29 2012, at the home of Gary and Dee Dee Winter in Arlington TX.)
Audio Link “The Truth that Edifies”
This below is Part Two of the Transcript. To read Part One first, click here. Part One.
And so, working on that, I also had a list of things I needed to work on – I needed … more love, more patience. They told me not to pray for patience because you would get tribulation. So I didn’t pray for patience but tribulation came anyway! It doesn’t matter. Go ahead and pray for patience. More patience. Kindness. Not yelling at the kids. Not being mad at the wife … You know, you name it, there’s a way to improve it, and so, it was on my list!
I don’t know how you measure those things. The only way you measure them is, looking at yourself in the current moment and think, “I don’t measure up.” And after my initial euphoria in Christ when all I thought about was just Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, as John said or as Dee Dee said, I was the crazy guy in town that had JESUS all over his VW bus, and I was. At some point someone said to me, “You’re a witness for Jesus, so your life has got to look like that. You’ve got to start working on yourself.”
That’s what produced all that “effort,” all my hour of prayer and hour of Bible study, and all those other … oh yeah, and witnessing.
And actually the church I went to, we had to keep an account, of how many people we witnessed to, how many we had talked to, how many had accepted the Lord, how many we followed up on. I had a little book that I kept … you know, you’ve got to be busy for Jesus, right? Well I was!
Until … … until I just … died. Until I just couldn’t do it anymore. Until one day I woke up and realized that all my whole [Christian] life, which had started out with “Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, praise the Lord praise the Lord,” total love of Jesus and absolutely no idea about anything of myself.
And then seven years later down the road all I think about is myself and all I think about and see are “my own” failures, my own inability, my own lacks, because, as soon as that brother said to me, “You’ve got to work on yourself,” this sort of unconscious consciousness I had which was really just about Jesus and just feeling so glad that the scales had dropped from my eyes and I knew that I had been dead and now I was alive.
And once that initial euphoria of that went away, I’m left with this “me,” that I think is not measuring up. And you know what, when you start looking at yourself, when you start going down to the “valley of you,” it’s a bottomless pit. You start going down and looking for the little strings, wanna find some inner healing, wanna find that child that still feels this way. Well listen, you can find as much of that as you want, and it’s ENDLESS! You just keep going.
You know, I kept wondering, now I’m sixty years old. (67 as of this posting) And I came to Christ when I was twenty-one. And I was thinking not long ago, and I’m thinking, why is it, after forty years of being a Christian, I’m still trying to heal up and fix stuff that it only took twenty years to do! Forty years! All that stuff that happened in the first twenty years of my life, and here I am, forty years later, that must not be right, because it didn’t balance mathematically in any way. So, it must not be, that Jesus’ goal in us, is to take us, and fix all the stuff that happened to us when we were young, so that we’d be all spiffed up, we’d be clean and pretty and nice, and perfect, and look like “Joe Christian” ought to look.
We were in Tyler [TX] the other day, and this girl was talking about being at a gathering at a Christian school, and someone was coming to visit, this family, and the principal came out and wanted everybody to pay attention to this family because they were such a “perfect Christian family.” They were clean, they were spiff, they had the right haircuts, they had the right clothes, the kids had the right attitudes, they all had citizenship awards – THE WHOLE FAMILY RAN THE MARATHON! [John B – “And they all finished! Even the young ‘uns.”]. And this was the ultimate American Christian family. And this girl is thinking, “That’s not my family.”
And it’s not my family, either. We’ve got, you know, you look at my family, I don’t know about yours, but, there’s, there’s stuff. There’s problems. There’s things that are awry. I have three kids and five grandkids, do the math. There’s problems. There are still problems. That are hard. Life has been tough. It’s not been a cake walk. You know, you think when you’re young it’s going to be a cake walk but it hasn’t been and it’s not for any of us.
So we don’t get through without some scratches and some cracks, and some edges knocked off, and maybe some scars. If nothing else, they’ll burn a cancer off your face! There’s just all kinds of things in life going on that don’t look like they should happen. In my beginning ways of thinking about Christ, NONE of that stuff should happen. Everything should go without a hitch if you’re REALLY WALKING IN JESUS, if you’re REALLY GOD’S, then everything is going to work out. Your kids will be spiffy and clean, they won’t cuss, they won’t sass you, they won’t take drugs, you know, all of these things, everything’s going to work out, you’ll never owe money, your businesses will all succeed, you’ll never lose a job, I mean, just everything in Christ is going to work out perfectly.
And that’s what the Old Testament kind of says. It says, “If you obey, then you’ll be blessed. And if you don’t obey, you’ll be cursed!”
And so, the whole church kind of takes that up – it’s called “the law.” That’s what the Old Testament is all about. Blessings and curses. Do it and you’ll be blessed. Don’t do it and you’ll be cursed.
The New Covenant is totally not about that but we don’t know that. Most of the Church is still living out of the Old Covenant. Which is, “You do your part, and God does His.” And that never works, because you can’t do your part. And it says in Romans 8 it says, it says, “the law was weak through the flesh.” Because the “flesh,” which is how we try to obey the law of God – we try to obey through our own efforts, what we call self-effort. We think, “Ok, well, here’s the law,” just like the children of Israel, when Moses gave them the Law. Moses came down the second time – after the first time didn’t work out – but the second time he came down from the mountain carrying the tablets, and he presented the children of Israel with the Law, and he sprinkled blood on them, and he said, “This is the Law of the Lord, what are you going to do?” And they said, “All that the Lord has told us, we will do.” And we know how that worked out! And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone up to the altar to rededicate, and said, “All that the Lord has said, I will do! I will try harder, I won’t do that again (with God’s help)! And I did, or I didn’t measure up.
And it was that way for a long time. Until finally … I saw. And what I saw was, that I couldn’t do it. And the New Testament is all about that! What I mentioned earlier, when Jesus said He could do nothing of Himself, but whatsoever He sees the Father do, the Son does likewise, that’s the New Covenant, and that’s what we experience when we realize Who we really are. We’re the vessel that He lives in. We are a branch, on His vine. We are a temple, that contains Him!
But do you see what that is? It involves a union. It involves two, becoming one. Or being one. A container. A vessel. We’re called vessels several times in the New Testament. And a vessel, comes from a word that means something that carries another thing. A vessel is a pitcher that you carry water in. A cup that contains coffee.
And so, the first thing we begin to see, when we begin to understand ourselves according to the New Testament, and according to the original design that we were because this was this was really reflected in the Garden, is that we were never meant to BE the Life, but to CONTAIN the Life!
We are NOT the Life, just like the moon is not its own light. It’s meant to reflect the light, but it is not the light itself. It says that in the beginning of the Gospel of John. He says … of John the Baptist it says, “he was not the Light,” but he was sent to bear witness to the Light, and that’s the same as us. We’re not the Light, but we’re sent to bear witness to the Light, and even more than John the Baptist, the Light actually lives in us and bears witness of itself, in us, even over and above our own thinking and understanding. So we’re a vessel; we’re a container.
But more than that, because that still makes us and God separate. I’m the vessel, and it even says that in 2nd Corinthians Chapter Four, Paul talks about we have this “Treasure” in an “earthen vessel,” a pot, cracked-pot a lot of people say. And it’s true, this pot’s cracked! But it doesn’t leak, like they used to teach me. They said, “Well, you’re a pot, but you leak! That’s why you have to go and get re-filled all the time.”
We do get refilled but it’s always in there and it’s coming up from the inside of me rather than from out there somewhere. Because the river of Living Water doesn’t come from “up there;” it comes from inside here. And so, if I leak, it’s okay, the spring’s still flowing, but see, I have this treasure, this Divine treasure, in an earthen vessel. Then this clay pot, looks like me, real normal … I itch, I scratch when mosquitoes bite me, I don’t like poison ivy, I’m a regular human being. But inside this silly looking earthen vessel, there’s this Divine Treasure. That only the eyes of the Spirit and faith can see.
Also, it says that I’m a temple. And in the New Testament several times it says we’re the temple of the Living God. Well, a “God” lives in a temple!
You know, it’s not about that Temple of Solomon. And I see this happening in the Church right now. The Church by and large right now is trying to recreate the Temple of Solomon. We want this big giant edifice and we want thousands of people in there and we want all of these people ministering and all these ministries and all these things going on. We want to see the “Cloud,” the big “Shekinah Glory.”
Well, that’s Old Testament. That’s an Old Testament “parable” of Who we are right here in this current moment, every single person in this room IS THAT! Jesus said, “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” And it says, what did He do when He went in there and He chased out the moneychangers and all those people, was it about having “bingo games” in church? No, it wasn’t about that at all. It was the fact that the temple of mankind, which is all of us, had been invaded by a usurper, and that usurper had taken over that temple of mankind, all of us, and turned it into a den of thieves!
That’s because we were all out for ourselves. That’s what the world is, we’re all out for ourselves, ol’ number one! And the only way we could not be for ourselves, is for us to have this interior reorientation inside us, where Christ Himself comes to live in us, and He’s the only “selfless” person there is in the universe. We can’t be selfless – by ourselves. We can’t be for others – by ourselves.
It’s a nice ideal, and the world pats each other on the back about everybody being a good philanthropist and they give millions of dollars for this wing of that, and for this and that – “Aren’t we great people because we do these things?”
But inside it’s all about our own elevation in ourselves – unless – the Life that’s in us be the Only Life [of] Other-love in the universe, and that’s the Life of God, the Life of Christ. Anything else is for itself.
Because there’s only two ways to be in the world. There’s either … I learned this from Norman Grubb, the very first time I heard him in 1973. He came to my Episcopal Church in Rome, Georgia. And he said – the only thing I remember from that one time – He said, “There’s two spirits in the world. There’s the spirit of self-for-self, which is ‘I’m for me and to hell with you,” and the spirit of self-for-others, which is I’m for you and to hell with ME!’,” which is Christ, because He’s the Lamb Who was slain. He’s the Person Who lays down His Life for the benefit of others. And you know what, He reproduces that Life in us.
We all know that we SHOULD BE unselfish. That’s the goal of the world. “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love …” I’m of the “All you need is love” generation! I believed it, I STILL believe it! But it has to be the Divine Love of God, and not some “love-thing” that we just kinda work up, or that we produce by artificial means. I can feel very loving taking Ecstasy, but it only lasts as long as the drug lasts and it’s not real, so what good is it?
And the other thing – we’re a temple. The Temple of Man … He’s claimed the Temple. When He died on the Cross, He took the offense out. That’s what it says. It says in 2 Corinthians Chapter 5:21 – this is one of the key verses in the whole scripture – That “He” the Father, made Jesus the Son Who knew no sin, to BECOME sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Christians have every right to say, they ARE the righteousness of God! Not because of anything we have done and not by how much we have progressed, or how much we know or how many activities we do, but solely, and only, by virtue of the fact that Jesus Christ took Sin into Himself that we had become, and died to it, and went down into the heart of the earth and was separated from that SIN-spirit that had us all, and made us all a den of thieves, a den of robbers, and the Holy Spirit came into Him and raised Him up, and it says in Romans chapter six, that the same Spirit of Life from the Father that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, that now raises us from the dead. We are raised up in the same Spirit of Life that Jesus was raised up in, and we begin to be and manifest and experience that Spirit of newness of Life! That’s Who we really are!
And so this Temple, that we are has been cleansed, and made anew!
And then the other major description it has of our humanity in the New Testament is in John chapter fifteen, where He says, “I am Vine and you are the branches.” So, here’s this vine, there’s one Vine. “I AM the true Vine, and My Father is the husbandman, or the farmer. So the farmer has planted this One Vine, and the Vine is mankind. And the Root of that Vine, is Jesus Christ.
And you say but it was Adam. The First Adam. Yes, it was, but guess what? The Second Adam has precedence. And the Second Adam has become the Real Root of what mankind is intended to be by God.
And that Vine, we all are branches and that’s a very organic picture there. You see, with the coffee and the cup, we’re kind of separate. And even with the temple and the god in the temple, we’re kind of separate.
And there was a time in my life, where I would say, “No, I don’t do it, God does it.” “I don’t have love but God does, Christ does.” For a long time it was like that, “It’s not me, it’s Him! It’s not me, it’s Him!”
But this third picture [Vine and branches] takes the union, and makes it be what it really is – it’s a scary word, that Christians sometimes have a problem with – but it’s “oneness,” or “unity.” In other words, the Life that’s in me, I’m “one” with that Life. And I’m walking around and He and I are one. And it says – look at it when you go home if you’re interested in this – look at John chapter 17. This is the last prayer of Jesus, before He goes to the Garden of Gethsemane, and then to the Cross. And in this last prayer He’s praying, for the Apostles that were there at the Last Supper, “and I pray, not just for these that are here, but all of those who would believe through their Word.” Well, that’s us sitting here in this room. Everyone of us in this room are beneficiaries of Jesus’ prayer.
And the prayer was this. He said, “I pray Father, that they would have the same oneness with you that I have with you.” In other words, when Jesus said, “When I walk around I’m doing the Father’s works – it’s the Father doing the works in me!” One time He said and He really scared the Pharisees and Scribes with this one and this is the main reason they crucified Him – He said, “I and My Father are One.” One.
Well, they couldn’t handle that. They said, “You’re a blasphemer, because You’re just a man, but You make Yourself God.”
And we might say, “Well, He was the Son of God, so He could say that.” And yes, that’s true, He was the Son of God so He could say that. And we could just leave it at that, if He hadn’t prayed this prayer. And the prayer was, that we, you and I, would have the same oneness with the Father that He had. So that WE could say, “I and My Father are one.” “When you see Me, you’ve seen the Father.” GASP !@#A$@#A@!!!***& Whew!
It’s BOLD to be able to say that. It really is. And you can see the potential for misuse. The potential for somebody to get the “Big Head.” But, I’ll tell you what, Christ is not about getting folks to bow down to Him and think, “He’s the Guy!” “Oh, you’re the Great Fellow, You’re the One we all want.”
Christ is about giving Himself. And the true Spirit of Christ – you don’t elevate yourself. The true Spirit of Christ looks on others as better than themselves. You see Christ in others. Your life is expendable for the benefit of others. That’s the true Spirit of Christ. That’s the Spirit that now dwells in all of us. It’s no longer I but Christ Who lives, and this Life that I now live in Him, is not a Life for me; it’s not a Life about my own freedom, not a Life about my own blessing, not a Life about my own healing. It’s not about going to church and getting blessed and healed and fixed and prospered and all of the things the modern Church seems to be involved in.
That doesn’t have anything to do with the New Testament. The Life of Christ is about giving OUT the Life of God to others in whatever way that can happen. We’re secondary and the ones that God gives to us are primary, just like when we’re parents. You know, we were having a great time, I mean, my wife and I had about a year, before kids came. We didn’t know what we were missing. But when the kids came we didn’t know what we were giving up. Thirty-five, forty years …. Well the oldest is 39 [He’s 45 now]. We’re just now getting our freedom back a little bit. But – it’s all about them.
Once the kids come … You know when I was 18 and I partied pretty hearty, and I’d call up at 8:30 and I’d say, “Uh uh uh, my mother died, and I can’t come to work.” [Laughter]. And when the kids come, you can’t do that anymore. You’ve gotta have a job. You gotta do this, you gotta do that, you gotta pay the bills. You gotta have a house, you gotta have a car, you have to do ALL THESE THINGS! Life becomes, no longer about your own pleasure, because you’ve got to spend a lot of the time you’d like to have for your own pleasure, just scratchin’ for survival.
And that sounds like – drudgery! And of course, a lot of it was, because I was living in all that out of inadequacy because I didn’t know where my adequacy came from. But once you see, when this Life in Christ comes into gear, and you realize that, like I said at the beginning, “before folks come, I’m hoping nobody shows up.” It happens every time. And I’m whispering saying, “O gosh,” [and then somebody says,] “They’re here.”
You find that you have the adequacy, even when you feel like you don’t. The adequacy comes when it’s needed. Paul really summed it up, it’s in 2nd Corinthians 3: 5 and 6, and I often say this and I’ve probably said this when I’ve come here. It’s my fiddle with one string. We spend a lot of our time in our initial part of our Christian Life learning this.
The first part of it is, Paul says, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves.” Paul puts that in one sentence, but it took me about ten years to learn it. It took me 10 years or so, to learn that I was not sufficient to do the things of God. I’m not the sufficiency.
The second part comes and after you learn you don’t have the sufficiency, “But our sufficiency is of God!” Another gasp! Oh I see! I’m not sufficient, but HE IS! I’m not sufficient, but HE IS! I’m not sufficient, but HE IS!
And then the third part of it is, we come back to just being ourselves. Paul phrases it like this: “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament.” And what he simply means by that, is that now that sufficiency, that I knew I don’t have, that I know resides in Christ, now is in me, and it’s just at my beck and call, because the Life that I now live is HIS Life, and I just don’t give it a whole lot of thought. I mean I have my negative and my positives, just like I tell you, I dread before folks come, I dread it every time. And yet every time, the sufficiency is there. Every time, the rivers of Living Water flow! Every time! Because He’s the One Who does it! And I’ve just learned to sit in the “rest” of that, in the “rest of the Gospel.”
“There remaineth therefore a rest for the people of God,” It says in Hebrews 4, “Because people have ceased from their own works, even as God did.” And so when we learn to cease from our “own works,” then God’s works take over. And He works.
So, it’s not a lazy life. It’s not a life of doing nothing. In fact I’m now doing more than I’ve ever done. And I’m more fulfilled than I’ve ever been. And there’s more activity than there’s ever been. And yet it’s out of rest and relaxation. I can’t explain it. You just have to jump in the water and find out for yourself.
So, that’s it.