Is Making A Choice Antithetical to Grace?
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.”
(I’m often met with an objection to many things I say, in the matter of our making “choices.” The general thinking is, among many, that “making a choice” is presumptive and unnecessary because we make no “choices” due to the “sovereignty of God.” Well, I believe in the sovereignty of God. Paul makes it as plain as it can be stated in Ephesians 1:11, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”
(That being so, the scriptures are FULL of human beings making choices from the beginning until now about every facet of life. In fact, one cannot be a human being and survive in the world without making choices. The New Testament on almost every page presents faith, first expressed through a committed word, as central to everything from the “man-side” of things. God’s side is grace. God’s “grace” enables our speaking and choosing. As Paul wrote again, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Eph 2:8).
(Notice that “grace” and “faith” appear in the same sentence as two different sides of one thing. People have even said that if “faith” is required, it’s not grace but a work of the law. Paul completely contradicts that thought with his next line, verse 9 – “Not of works, lest any man should boast.” If one can hear, that should settle the matter. Paul grouped “faith” and “grace” together, and put “law” or “works” together. Grace and faith compliment each other. Grace is Who God is and How God is. As Grace, He has prepared the meal and sets the table. We sit at the table of His gifts and eat the feast, which is how His Grace comes out on my end. Through the faith that is within me that also is His.
WE DO IT, and we have the sense that we do it, as we are meant to. But it is also HE. Therefore, for me, the conclusion about the sovereignty of God is that all this “choosing” that mankind has always done and still does, is the sovereignty of God in action.
(It comes about through the freedom of the Spirit. Did the Son of Man ever reply to a leper —
(Leper: “Will you heal my leprosy?”
(Jesus: “I can’t choose to do that. God makes all the choices because He is sovereign. Sorry.”
(No, Jesus without fail said, “I will.” He chose, as the Son of the Father and as the Example of the Man of the Spirit. For a time He refused to heal the Syrophoenician woman’s child because she was not of Israel, but her faith piqued His involvement. THAT was what He was looking for in her! Speaking, choosing, etc., are all part of our office as Kings and Priests unto God. Kings give decrees and Priests speak the mysteries of God. This is all of us, not just a few. We do not choose in order to enact or cause the things of God, but simply because that is the major method God moves His people and stuff around. People, under the sovereignty of the Living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, living and moving and having their being in Him, choosing this and that all day long, including, as I said above, the Savior Himself. The text below was taken from a previously posted article, with some 2019 additions. Note FP)
And the answer there is again the same. The Bible mentions liberty and freedom often, especially in the New Testament. God is Free and IS Freedom, so therefore freedom, like all things, originates in God and is first of all His principle.
What is Freedom? Freedom is having the option to choose between alternatives. We may have a limited set of alternatives, but freedom is the divine principle of personhood — that which makes a person a person. In the beginning there was the WORD! This is what makes and defines “Person!”
What does John mean when he writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1). What is this “Word” and why do I say it is the divine principle of personhood?
Think of what a word is in this context. A word for this discussion is two things, a distillation and a crystallization. First, a word is a distillation of all the thought and considering that precedes it. Let’s say we want to go on a picnic. We may turn it over in our minds asking ourselves should we go or not go. We may have discussions with others regarding what we might bring, what we would like to do. That’s the distilling process, where our inner idea or concept is distilled to its most pure form, stripping away everything extraneous and distracting in order to get to the pure essence of the desire.
But there comes a particular moment, after all the discussion and consideration is over, where we reach a conclusion that we WILL go on the picnic. Therefore, to cap it all off, all that discussion and consideration finally crystallizes into a “Word.” Just something simple like, “Ok, we’re going.” That is how we live every day and how we move from place to place or activity to activity. The final “Word” then becomes the firing of the starter’s pistol, and our plans commence to rolling into place and accomplishing that which God desires by them.
However, without that final “Word” capping it all off, “Ok we’re gonna do it,” nothing ever begins. It just sits in inner limbo and never resolves. And that is not what God is after in our humanity. As the expressions and mouthpieces of God, we are in the unique position to be “speakers” of the Word. There are “teachers” today who actively campaign against confession and words of faith. It is true that there has been misuse and error in past “word of faith” movements. However, despite the abuses, the basic truths still hold. To believe and act on what those mistaken teachers say, is to basically lessen our “sonship.” As “sons in the SON,” we have come into a wholly new office. Once we discover in some way Who we truly are, we begin to realize we are Co-creators, Co-Lights of the World, co-Salts of the Earth, and it is our FUNCTION to speak the Word! It’s both WHO we are and WHAT we do! Every step along the way is cemented with a Word! Every new level, every new vista, comes about through the Word the Spirit speaks in our mouths.
In our earliest days in Christ, we learn “words of faith” that fuel our initial spiritual growth. That’s just the starting point. We are exercised with this by the Spirit on and on through the years, both for ourselves, but also for all the others in our lives. We have spoken the Word over and over and over for ourselves and for others all through the years. I still have handwritten notes always kept nearby of personal “words of faith” I believed and spoke in the 1980s when I was first learning about my true “self” in my life in Christ. I am still waiting and continue to believe in the fulfillment of them that God promised, though I have yet to see it. If we leave that that kind of stuff out of our lives, we leave out the bulk of our sonship.
A tree cannot choose anything for itself. Because the type of choosing we are speaking of is the choice of what kind of person I’m going to be or would like to be. The one main choice or determination we make is very simple.
(Let just interject something here. None of what I am talking about here comes about by “self-effort.” I say most of it on the assumption that believers understand what Jesus meant when He said, “Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” [John 5:19]).
The first time I met and heard Norman Grubb talk was in the spring of 1973, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, mentioned above in the first part. I was about 3 months in the Lord and He was about 780 months in the Lord (65 years), with another 20 years to boot, so that the night I first met him he was 85. He was very animated and spoke very quickly in “proper English” (as he would jokingly tell us), talking like a machine gun shooting words and concepts penetrating everyone in the chapel as if they were bullets. Like a lot of first timers hearing Norman, I could barely understand his “proper British,” and even less the concepts he was sharing. But one thing did get through, and served me well for the next 7 years before I ran into Norman again.
What went through was this. Norman said there are basically two spirits in the world. There is the kingdom of darkness, the devil’s domain, whose chief characteristic was/is self-for-self. Then there is the kingdom of God, the domain of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The chief characteristic of the kingdom of God is “other-love.” Love for others even to death if necessary. Love does not “seek its own,” but primarily the good of another.
Then Norman put it very succinctly. He said, “The devil’s spirit says, I’m for me and to hell with you, but the Lord’s Spirit says, “I’m for you and to hell with me!”
That to which I say, “Yes,” determines that to which I say “No,” and visa versa. That determination as I explained above regarding the Deity, originated in God the Father in the eternal, so that eternally He has chosen or determined to be nothing but Love — Life which does not seek its own good primarily, a “NO” to self-seeking, but preeminently the good of another (a “YES” to other-love).
Satan made the eternal choice to be for himself, which is also an eternal trap because he became a caricature of True Self, by rejecting union with the Light and death to self-seeking, to live in what is really an unreality, a false fantasy, a self-delusion of himself as just himself, all by himself alone, an island of self, a closed-up fortress, having his own power, his own beauty, his own goodness, out of his own fire. Since like all sentient beings God created, he only exists to be a re-expression in limited or particular form of the Unlimited Universal Deity, but out of the same freedom by which God chose to be love, Lucifer/Satan chose to be only himself and reject Another to be his life, and thereby “fell.”
So that is the same freedom, and the same power, and the same set of alternatives that confronted Adam and Eve and us all in our infancy and lack of consciousness. With this fundamental and important difference. The temptation of Adam and Eve was in the temporal, given them (with God of course knowing the outcome and MEANING IT) for their ultimate redemption and subsequent consciousness of their identity in God.
Now I haven’t mentioned consciousness at this point, but God’s desire to express Himself as the Eternal Son is not limited to the Eternal Trinity which is an infinite circumincession within Themselves of love loving by going out of itself to extend and propagate love. Love in not seeking itself, must instead propagate itself, expand itself, go out of itself. In other words, for love to love, there must be something for love to love and expand into. Therefore the Son must not be just the One Eternal Son, but that the Son might be reproduced and expanded into a family, the whole family being individual unique expressions of that One Son, Who is both the Eternal Object of the Father’s Love, and IS the Eternal Father’s Love.
Now this is what has created the tremendous tension in the universe, which Paul alludes to in Romans 8:18-22, i.e. the whole universe groaning and travailing, awaiting the final manifestation of the Sons of God. And this is all about consciousness — because for the Sons to be finally and fully manifest, they must know themselves as the Son in the sons, after having freely desired by the Spirit, and by the Spirit sought and received the Sonship, which occurs in its fullness when they are raised by the Father/Son/Spirit into the full understanding and comprehension of the heights, depths, and fullness of Christ — in them! Unto a perfect MAN, as Ephesians says, raised into the Head, which is Christ. MAN raised fully into CHRIST!
And that is WHY there was a fall and WHY there was the giving of the Law and WHY Israel, as God’s lamb for the whole world, had to rise and fall, over and over, and WHY there had to be a King Saul followed by a David, and WHY, ultimately, the Son of God had to come to be the Son of Man, and WHY there had to be a Calvary in space and time as there is an Eternal Lamb Slain in the heart of eternity, and WHY there had to be the time of the Gentiles and WHY, even though the promises have been given and fulfilled there HAD to be a time when it continues to look like He has forsaken His People and has delayed His Coming, and WHY even though we are even now recipients of the Promises we still, for this time, wander in sheepskins and goatskins and find in this world no continuing city (Heb 13:14). It is all part of this ultimate tension which will explode into that final manifestation of God as His Fully Formed and Conscious Sons to the glory and unbounded benefit of the entire universal creation!
There is coming a time, and it now is, when God is beginning to peel back the layers, to give understanding, to reveal the mysteries of the kingdom. Jesus said He could not speak plainly the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but must speak them in dark sayings and parables, in order to hide them from the “wise and prudent” and only reveal them unto “babes.” All the stories of the Old Testament have this quality to them.
While some “Christians” are continually arguing with “the world,” trying to convince those whose natural minds cannot see the things of God, that these Bible stories are literal histories or descriptions of the creation scientifically, in their zeal they are straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. Nobody is saved because they believe the world is 6000 years old nor is anyone rejected from God’s kingdom because they do not believe the world is only 6000 years old. DISTRACTION!
Want to win the world to Christ? Then let’s get off this dumb agenda to try to force-feed to the world stuff that doesn’t make a hill of beans regarding their status with eternal life. Get off that! Get back to the Gospel, which in short, is the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ, by which means all humankind has been given the opportunity to “become the children of God, to as many as received Him.” (John 1:12).
To speak the GOOD NEWS for everyone who will simply receive it, that all the world has been reconciled to God through the Cross, and He has sent us to proclaim to the world, “Now you are reconciled to God, for He has done it Himself, and counts no more trespasses against you. Come on in and enjoy the Life the Father has for you and for everyone.” (2 Cor 5: 17-21). We walk in Paul’s simplicity, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:2).
Those who bog down the minds of the yet-to-be-believers with those kinds of distractions cause the ones to which they are sent for the purpose of sharing with them the Word of God, to possibly miss the tremendous riches of Christ, redemption, and the New Birth revealed in the stories. These stories were told and written, not just for information’s sake, knowledge of the sake of knowledge, but for the purpose of raising all of us into a LIVING CONSCIOUSNESS OF CHRIST, because as we see Him we know Him and these stories are all about HIS LIFE IN US.
Choose your battles! If we are to “contend” with non-believers, let it be about the Living Christ who desires that all would know that God has already reconciled them to Himself, and is not counting their trespasses (sins) against them. As Paul expresses it, he implores all to recognize and participate in this living reconciliation! God desires no one’s death! The way is open for all, but it is not automatic! That is why Paul “beseeches.” THAT is what we are sent out to proclaim. Any deviation from that as the center of the purpose of our existence, is at best a bunny trail. It could even be something much more sinister.
That’s what Paul is meaning in the verse at the beginning of this piece. “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.” (2 Cor 3:18). He is speaking of a raising of his consciousness in Christ and the means by which it occurred was in “beholding Christ.” How? We cannot “see” Him with our natural eyes. So how to we “behold” Him? I cannot say there is one particular way, because this is a work of the Spirit and not a work of man. However, one of the major ways we “behold” Christ is in the Scriptures. It happens by the revelation of the Spirit. Christ is preached from Genesis to Revelation, and what glory it is to have been given eyes to see it. Because when we “see” Him in these stories by the Spirit, the very “sight” itself, since it is of the Spirit, raises us in understanding and function a little more. The Master is always saying to us, “Friend, go up higher.” (Luke 14:10).
“Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Cor 5:8).