The Joy of Faith
By Fred Pruitt
(Reworked from a previous article titled: “The Simplicity of Faith.”)
Why is it we can only approach God through faith? What really IS faith?
The reason is obvious, once we see it. It has completely to do with the whole law/grace/faith issue, of course, but really even more has to do with our basic makeup, i.e., what and who we are.
It is really quite simple. God is the Eternal Giver. All God does is give. Like light. All light does is shine. All the plants do is receive. They do not attempt to create their own light, soil, or water. All plants do is receive what is there, and what is there – light, air, earth, water, are all “received” into the seed, so that we can see that what is without the plant, air, soil, light and water, must go into the plant to cause the seed to germinate, sprouting first roots, and then stems, leaves, flowers and finally seeds to grow into fruition. A seed just lies there, having no life of its own, though it contains the full potential of life, once the needed ingredients are added.
The whole universe works by this receiving-what-is-given principle. Our earth’s relation to the sun is of course a great example. Were it not for the sunlight, there would be nothing on the earth, except dead rock, etc. The sun is the source of life for the entire physical earth. Nothing generates its own light, but everything receives sunlight in some form to give it life – even if it is sunlight received through plant or animal “flesh” that we eat. The act of “eating” is our receiving it, or the activity of faith.
Some people, having become afraid of “works,” almost go so far as to say that even to say that “faith” is required, makes it a “work,” still something we have to “do” in order to get this God-life working in us. That comes from a wrong idea of what faith is and what it does. That is like saying that we shouldn’t have to eat to assuage our physical hunger. Who would think that?
But that is the down-to-earth simplicity of faith. All faith is, is receiving what has been given or made available. In the case of food, we receive it by the simple act of eating. Who of us would get a plate of food when we are hungry, but would not eat it because we are offended that in order for us to experience the benefit of that food, we have to put it onto our mouths, chew it up, and swallow it down into our stomachs?
And this is really what this faith issue is about. Faith is not some mental exercise where we try to mentally “believe.” It is simply making a choice to receive or agree to something. It is an integral part of everything in life. It is how we live every day, but somehow we have become confused about what it is, so that often we think it is some special supernatural “thing” we have that is to be used only for spiritual issues.
But our faith capacity is really a great simplicity, that any of us anytime can and do operate on a daily basis. Faith is simply our natural ability to receive something. It is taking that one major capacity by which our whole lives are lived, receiving by choice or commitment, and everything from that point is determined by or flows out of that reception or choice.
I always use marriage as an example. When we say our vows in a wedding ceremony, all we are is making and expressing faith, by our “I do.” That is a word of faith. Once both parties have spoken their “I do’s,” i.e., their “word of faith,” they are considered married, joined together as one.
What has changed? Nothing really on the outside. Except that now these two people who were “courting” have now said we have decided to make our courtship permanent, simply by the word spoken as a vow before a congregation or minister, or other official. Assuming the marriage will last, each party’s whole existence changes, and what they took (each other in partnership), takes them over, and they become not two people courting, but one person in marriage. And everything in life changes from that point and is never the same again.
Now, applying this understanding to the things of God, we first see that “flesh” cannot approach God. Why? Does He not like flesh? Of course we are speaking of the false consciousness of flesh as a standalone, independent entity, god to itself, rather than physical flesh. We cannot “see” God in our physical flesh, simply because God is Spirit and temporal flesh cannot comprehend or even “detect” Eternal Spirit. That aspect is addressed by Paul in 2 Cor 5:5-8. I won’t go over it here but check out the passage.
But the other aspect, approaching God from a false self-sufficiency, is what Paul meant when he said we cannot approach God that way.
Ok then, why can we not approach God that way?
We know the answer. Flesh consciousness is simply trying to become what we are not, i.e., our own source. Like the moon imagining that its light on the earth is generated by itself, instead of reflecting the light of the sun.
Norman Grubb often used the positive/negative example. God is the Positive, we the negative. In right “relationship,” He gives freely and we receive freely. All we do is simply turn on the faucet by agreeing, by our word (which solidifies our faith), to receive freely what He is freely giving.
There is no other way. What “the law,” “self-effort” or “flesh consciousness” attempts to do, is to reject our “negative” (“we got nothing”) status, which is an emptiness needing to be filled, and replacing it with a false idea of ourselves as the Positive, a false fullness in ourselves, which blocks anything wishing to fill us up, i.e., God. In other words, what is created to work perfectly as a receiving negative (us) to the giving Positive (God), is turned around in our consciousness so that we are self-deceived into being a false positive, already “filled” with self so that nothing can enter, even as Lucifer has eternally sealed himself turned from God in rebellion.
Bringing it home, we realize that in that condition of being full in ourselves “of” ourselves, (still in the temporal, thank God), we cannot really receive anything from the Lord, because we have become a “false something,” when we are “nothing.” (Gal 6:3) *See note below. God mercifully lets us walk that dangerous walk so that we might know to the uttermost the futility of trying to be something in ourselves.
*Note: Regarding our being “nothing,” compared to His “something,” the issue something vs. nothing, could really be termed “sufficiency” vs. “insufficiency.” It is not a negative qualitative judgment on mankind when Paul says we are nothing, but rather a major opening in our understanding regarding “how” we live in the Spirit!
And that really is the simplicity of “why faith.” It could be no other way. The only other way would be for us “created sons” to become the Uncreated Deity, by grasping God as a possession for ourselves, which we know is not possible.
God only lives in freedom, and never in the possessiveness of the flesh. That’s why it can only be that we receive what is given, i.e., the object of our faith, which then takes us over, whatever it is.
In faith I “agreed” to go on this trip I am on at the moment. Now I am on the trip, and taken over by it until the trip is over. What I have taken has taken me.
Now apply that to our life in the Lord. I say, “Lord Jesus, I receive you.” We take Him, and one day, maybe that very day, we realize He has taken us.
And that is how we “work” anything in the Spirit of God, by realizing we are the have-nots, and agreeing with God that He is the All in all, and through this transaction whereby we have received Him by our committed choice, just like a marriage vow, we find He has taken right loving possession of us as His vessel in the world, treasure in an earthen vessel. We realize we have become His Holy Temple, out of which shines the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus. We become a branch grafted into the True Vine, where we abide and through Christ in us, we bear the fruit of Christ, which is “bringing many sons unto glory.” (Heb 2:10).
Because when we “take” Him, we take Who He is, and “what” He is. And He is an other-lover, one who lays down His life that others might live. And now we find that we ourselves have this same Life pulsating through our humanity, and that it is not a life lived for my own gain, but rather, it is a life of “spending and being spent,” (2 Cor 12:15), that others might have Life in themselves through the Son.
This won’t go over in certain circles, but one of my favorite things NPG ever said about who we are and our purpose in life is this: “The reward for a life of faith at the end is empty pockets and worn-out bodies.” This will be a hard saying for some, like Jesus saying unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you. Because to eat His flesh and drink His blood, in the real spiritual sense, is indicative of the fact that we have entered the same life He walked, the “cross” life, where we live not unto ourselves, but unto God, and ourselves servants of others through Jesus Christ.
Jesus was not looking for personal gain, and though we may start this Christian life wanting “something” for ourselves, i.e., salvation, peace, love, a “ministry,” etc., as we progress along and realize more and more that we are truly Christ living and expressing Himself in our form, what He is takes us over and consumes us. We realize we are “baptized” with the same baptism He spoke of to James and John. He was not speaking there of the baptism into the Spirit. He was speaking of the baptism of the Cross.
When we see this, the “joy that was set before Him,” now becomes the “joy” set before us. Jesus did not endure the Cross so that He could go back to heaven and have the “joy” of fellowship with God. Jesus endured the Cross in order to “bring many sons unto glory.”
He didn’t come back to Heaven empty-handed, but like Jacob coming back from his sojourn with Laban. Jacob left his father’s house and went to a far country, the country of his people. He left alone, having nothing but a staff. When he returned, he brought a great company with him. The Father says to Him, “Who are these my Son?” and the Son replies, “These are my children born in me, and I have brought them from a far country to present them to you, that they may be in You even as they are in Me.”
This is who we are, my friends. We sow in tears, and sometimes the ground seems to receive no seed. But the harvest comes, and it is even now, and the laborers are now gleaning the fields. Like the song (taken from Psalms) says, “and we shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.”
Yes we shall, and even now it is happening!