Q&A: Free Will; Works vs. Faith; New Age
We are one with Christ in the same way iron is red hot. The iron remains the iron (us) and the heat remains the heat. But the iron, in union with the heat, glows red, and where does one leave off & the other begin? So it is with us. Like sunlight in a plant, causing photosynthesis. Like light diffusing through water. All these are pictures of us in Christ.
Someone responded to that statement with this question:
Q: Fred, I still get hung up on the idea of volition occasionally- is it simply a matter of perception and faith?
A: Actually, it is a simple answer. We complicate it by turning into difficult theological treatises (I'm guilty!). When we realize Gal 2:20 personally for ourselves, as we are meant to by the Spirit, that it is no longer I, but Christ living, and that there is also now "I" who is still living (doesn't make logical sense, but only revealed in Spirit), then "who" is doing "whose" will? Where is there a separation between "I" as separate, and Christ in me joined to me as one? (1 Cor 6:17). We cannot make that separation. So then we join in Jesus' own word, "I can of mine own self do nothing," and "the Father that dwells in me, He does the works."
He is in us, and therefore that is our own confession and Truth as well as His, since it is no longer "me" living as just independently alone, but in a permanent union reality, He and I, as John 17 states, as "one." So what He says I say.
Therefore, regarding God's will, then "My meat is to do the will of Him who sent me, and finish His work." (John 4:34) How can I claim that? Because I don't have to "pull it off." I trust God to fulfill His own Word in me!
In moments of temptation, like Jesus in Gethsemane, we are pulled back into a temporary false separation, as if I had a separate will and desire of my own, but that is not the truth, it is not what I live from, and through the temptation the Spirit pulls me back into what is THE truth, which is, "Not my will, but thine."
His will is the only will I know. I seek no other will. People might accuse me of being prideful or presumptuous for making so bold a statement, "Who are you to say that?" But we don't say it in ourselves, but in the faith of God, who dwells in us, and who, as He did in Paul, "works mightily" in us. I used to think Paul was boasting in himself when he said that, but now I know he knew to the depths his own utter weakness and nothingness, and that is the place from where we are able to say, "I can of mine own self do NOTHING ... the Father does the works." Is it boasting or faith? It IS boasting, but not in myself alone, but in the Lord. So then, is it perception or faith? Yes, it is both, along with, "not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord."
Q: If only I could stand firmer in the Lord. I have felt guilty lately because I have not spent the time with the Lord I should have. I believe if I did I would be more pleasing to the Lord and would be able to do more in His Kingdom. Could you tell me how I could do this?
A: You say "if only you could stand in the Lord." Do you realize that is not your job? He keeps you, not the other way around, and He is keeping you, every day and every moment, whether you know it, recognize it or feel it or not. ("He that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps." "Faithful is He Who calls you, who will also DO IT!")
It does not depend on your "having time" with Him or your making sure you don't let other things clutter your mind. That's the way of self-effort, and since the way of self-effort always depends on what you do, and you never do enough, then that way, which is by the law, always fails.
You "feel" spiritual and "with" the Lord when you have done those things, i.e. read your Bible, spent time in prayer, etc., and then you don't "feel" spiritual when you do not do those things. But God is more certain and faithful to let His life in you, you who He bought with the precious price of the Blood of His Son, to let it depend solely on your actions and attitudes.
"Self-responsibility" is one of those things that "died" when we lost ALL in Him, and what rises in resurrection in us is the "new being," in which He is the Doer doing the doing, yet it is we. There IS a difference, which you can only know through suffering of the complete loss of all things, including your very self and self-ability to hang on, to keep yourself, to say the right things, to do the right things, to think the right things. Yes, we are exhorted in scripture to do all those things, but we cannot fulfill any of them unless He does it in us. Without Him, we can do nothing.
The New Testament is not dependent on the human side of things for its fulfillment. It is totally fulfilled in us, in the blood and body of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament was solely dependent on the human side, "All that the Lord has shown us we will do," said the children of Israel, and they continually failed miserably. Like ourselves, who dedicate and rededicate, resolve to do better, be better, pray more, be more, give more, study more, and when we're honest we realize we fail, too. That is why God said there would be a new covenant, in which, "I will dwell in them and walk in them and be their God," would be the reality. (2 Cor 6:16). "I will put my law in their inward parts; and write it in their hearts," said Jeremiah. (31:33) Ezekiel said of our day, that He would "put His Spirit within us, and CAUSE US to walk in His ways." (36:27)
The law, which is what we are under when we think it depends on what we do, say, think, etc., fails, and always fails, because of "the weakness of the flesh," (Rom 8:3). It is perpetually supposed to do so, and will perpetually do so, that we might finally see the futility this false (and idolatrous) idea or consciousness that God's life in us depends in any sense on ourselves -- except for our reception of it! We MUST receive, but then when we HAVE received, then we transfer into the faith of God, which is believing that HE has done it, is doing it, and will continue to do it. What you take takes you. When you eat a sandwich, its nourishment (or lack thereof) becomes you -- it has its way in you once you have received it. You have no more power over it until it runs its course. Now you have taken the Lord of the Universe inside you, and HE makes promises which do not depend on you to fulfill, but on Him. Depend on the One Who Promised, not the one who receives the promise (you)!
Here is a simple analogy to help us see this. A parent might say to his child, "If you do your schoolwork, I will take you to the park later." Then if the child does not get his schoolwork completed, he might beg and whine, but he will understand that he did not do his part, and therefore did not get to go play in the park.
But there were times my father told me, "On Saturday morning we are going to get up early and go fishing." Those were the most exciting times for me, when my father would do something like that with me. He didn't make it conditional either. Going fishing didn't depend on homework or getting certain jobs done. He made a promise. And I looked to him to fulfill it, not to myself.
The Old Covenant and the New Covenant are like that. The Old Covenant is weak and fails because we cannot do our part. The promises are conditional, and we do not fulfill the conditions. God is merciful, and under that system accepted continual and daily-repeated substitutionary sacrifice as atonement, pointing at Christ to come.
Under the New Testament, which is Christ Who came and died ONCE to sin and to raise ONCE to righteousness, He (God in Christ) is the fulfiller of it, not only in the heavens at the right hand of God where He ever lives to make intercession for us, but also in the innermost depths of our being. The fulfillment of the New Testament, which is the raising of humanity to friendship and union with God, so that we are sons who are images of THE SON, does not depend on our doing our homework or our chores, but on He Who Promised, Who is also faithful to fulfill His Promises.
That is the testimony and lesson of Abraham. Isaac, the Son of Promise, came not by human effort, but by the gift of God. Isaac in us, which is growing up into Him as the head, so that we are no more "children, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men ... but that we come "Unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." We do not do that by our efforts. It is Isaac, a gift. It is totally something the Lord does, not we by our efforts, as if we could build a great tower by our efforts and by it reach unto God. That produces only confusion and the strife of tongues!
I do nothing of myself, yet I am consumed with God, and I don't give a thought to whether I spend time with Him, read my Bible, have a prayer time, etc., and I've been like this for nearly 30 years. I walk around in Him and as Him. He is my Living Truth, my every moment Wisdom, the ever present Guide, who leads me in the path of righteousness. As the Psalmist said, (2 Sam 22:33-37) "God is my strength and power: And he maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds' feet: and setteth me upon my high places. He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip."
People read that but don't believe it applies to them. It applies to YOU! Believe it! GOD IS YOUR STRENGTH! HE MAKES YOUR WAY PERFECT! If it depends on what you do, it will never be. But because it does not depend on you, but solely on Him to fulfill HIS OWN WORD, it IS TRUE IN THIS CURRENT MOMENT. This is your life the Psalmist is speaking of! DEPEND ON HIM TO FULFILL HIS WORD -- TO BRING FORTH THE BIRTH OF ISAAC, LAUGHTER, IN YOU! (Luke 11:13; Mark 4:26-28)
Another Psalm says, "I will both lay me down, in peace, and sleep, for thou O Lord, only makest me to dwell in safety." Ps 4:8 You can live in His rest -- lay down and sleep -- because HE ONLY MAKES YOU DWELL IN SAFETY! Believe HIM! (O thou of little faith!)
Surely we do not insult the Lord by saying He does not fulfill His own word. This is the "rest" of God that it speaks of in Hebrews 4. My own testimony proves this. I am the least of men. Yet HE is mighty in me, because HE IS, and I simply dare to say it! I don't make Him mighty by my faith, but only acknowledge the Truth that He is in me.
Now my mind gets distracted just like anyone else's. But that is as it should be. We have to have the distractions and pulls of the world, which act as a springboard for our faith to be expressed in the face of opposites.
What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, BELIEVE THAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED THEM! (Mark 11:24) HAVE received, not one day will! HAVE already! At the moment of the prayer, you have gotten your answer. It may be a while before it shows up in the flesh, but that is not our business. Our business is to thanksgiving because HE HAS DONE IT!
That's the key to this faith life, -- to accept God's promise in us as True now, not in some never-seen-imaginary future. Abram obeyed the Lord and changed his name to Abraham -- "father of many nations" -- when he did not yet have a true heir, and he and his wife Sarah were past the age of childbearing. That is faith -- to say it is so BEFORE the eyes see and the ears hear.
Q: I read something of yours on the internet, and you spoke a lot about oneness. This reminds me of other teachings which talk about oneness and say we are gods, and makes me uncomfortable. Can you clarify this for me?
A: You'll find the Cross in the center of everything. No cross, no life. That's the trouble with some of these other things going around. Not that some of it is not conceptually true, because many of the concepts are. But there is no Cross. There is no true death to self and resurrection unto God. To some, the self IS God, when of course we knowthe human self is not God. It is a fallen created entity, initially made to be the image of God, but by having been deceived, we lost that first image, and are now only a shadow of what we were originally intended to be. God has brought restoration to us, but the deception is still there, still deceiving the whole world that we are independent, self-relying selves, which is a denial that we are fallen, that we have all bitten off the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. As the tempter promised us, we believe ourselves "wise as God." In the deception of finding one's own falsely independent self as divine in itself, one is unwittingly worshipping the deceiver, THE devil, who masquerades as ourselves in independence in a very hidden and subtle way. But only God IS God. We must realize thoroughly we are NOT God, before we are ever safe to know Him in us as one with us. This must come about through a revelation of the Spirit.
And only Jesus Christ through the Cross, can perform what none of us in ourselves can ever perform -- reconcile us to God, by kicking the devil out of the center of our lives, and filling us with His Spirit. Because He is God the Word, tabernacled in human flesh, like us in every respect, yet filled with the life "that came down from heaven," which none of us are, until we are born again. Then we also participate in the "life which came down from heaven," but not before.
Let's not get confused. There is a very liberating truth in seeing through to God in all things, but as I said in the beginning, it can only be through the Cross. Otherwise it is self-effort, a man or devil inspired philosophy, very very subtly CLOSE to the truth, but without the Life of the truth,it therefore becomes a lie.
It is couched in beautiful words, beautiful concepts, talking about love, peace, joy, etc., all the same things we say. Well meaning, well intentioned people espouse it. But without the Cross in the center, it is a dangerous andpoisonous lie.