Monday, July 7, 2014

Getting to the Sufficiency of the Cross

Sometimes, it doesn't make sense to stay engaged with people in your life that are entrenched in their attitudes and belief systems.  

Take for example a bunch of folks I used to know - fellow Sunday School members - that I thought were my friends.  One of them started a rumor, another one said something else. And the next thing I knew, I was sitting alone in surgery waiting room as my wife was under going cancer surgery for renal carcinoma.  
  • None of them came to sit with me.
  • None of them called.
  • None of them brought us food.
  • None of them sent a card.
  • None of them did so much as sending an email.
And these were people welcomed into my home - for years.  I fed them, I taught them, I laughed and cried with them and I helped them in any way that I could - both financially and in deeds.  But when it came down to brass tacks, they showed their true colors and stabbed me and my family in the back.

And then you run across the random atheist who levels expletives at you for being a skeptic regarding their global warming theories.  I haven't bought into the science of the global warming theories being passed around these days.  Oh, it exists, I'm sure of that.  I'm just not as convinced as to why as some other people are.  But that's what being a skeptic is all about: ignoring someone's reasoned opinion and looking elsewhere: it's called honest investigation.  The problem is that with some people, you're not allowed to be a skeptic in a manner that casts a shadow of doubt upon their position.

But there's something here that's my issue to solve, not theirs - even though if they seem to believe that harassment will affect change. In the end, it only serves to make them feel better about themselves.

Being the Overcomer

But have you ever seriously considered these words in Revelation?
and they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. (Rev. 12:11)
For some of my Baptist friends, that's not a great thing to have floating around in the Bible.  I value the Good Book as much (or more) than anyone else, but that verse just throws a wrench in their gears.  Why?  Because of how we overcome the evil one.  Any good Baptist will teach you that in order to be spiritual, you must thouroghly learn the Bible so that you can appropriately apply it when ever the circumstance presents itself.  In their world, spirituality is defined as Bible knowledge plus proper application.  And if you can appropriately apply the Bible to most life circumstances, then you must by definition be Spiritual and also be able to overcome the evil one.

But there's a problem - Abraham was a spiritual man just as King David was, and they didn't have our Bible to memorize and apply.  Furthermore, any Buddhist can do the same: memorize our Bible and appropriately apply it.  Does that mean they're Biblically spiritual too?

Therefore, consider this: Jesus didn't just throw scripture in the face of Satan during His temptation, rather He provided testimony as to who He was.

And there's a huge difference between the two.  One uses scripture as a tool, the other uses it as a reflection of who they are in God's eyes.  Maybe both implementations are correct, maybe they both feed off of each other, but there is a big difference using scripture as a tool and providing personal testimony of who you are in Christ.

Consider also that we know what's not in the Bible: the word of my testimony.  It doesn't have a place for all of the work that God has done in my life - and according to Revelation 12:11, the testimony of who I am in God, who I am in Jesus and what He has done in my life is absolutely key to overcoming Satan.  So then there is the question: why?

Lets go to Ephesians:
in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Eph. 6:16)
Well, that's interesting.  It does seem to coalesce perfectly with the Revelation passage because our faith rests upon what God has done - not what we conjure or muster up.  And by way of mention, consider that the sword of the Lord isn't used in the quenching of the fiery darts - that sounds almost heretical, doesn't it?  But keep reading, because the sword and the helmet do show up.

But do not forget the other half: "they overcame him because of the blood of the lamb."  Which means that the cross of Christ is sufficient for your needs - as this person seems to have figured out.

So lets boil this down.  The Bible tells us about God and His intentions and interactions with man.  God then proceeds to demonstrate Himself to us, thereby building our faith - He being the author and perfecter of our faith.  On the other hand, we have the finished work of Jesus Christ, by whom, God will supply all our "needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."  (Phil. 4:19)  

Consider that for a moment: has it never occurred to you that 'in Christ Jesus' means all of Christ Jesus?  You can't separate and parse the life and purpose of Jesus, as many people like to do.  You can't say the cross covers this, the whipping post covers that, His life and miracles cover this other bit ... no ... it's all called "God's riches in glory in Christ Jesus."  Your emotional health, your physical health, your spiritual health: it's all provided for and by the work of Jesus Christ.

And as we receive His riches in glory, in Christ Jesus, we experience and interact with God.  Through those experiences our faith is strengthened and consequently, our testimony grows.  And thus we have the foundation of overcoming the evil leveled against us: because of the blood of the lamb, and word of our testimony which is based in His word to us and His on going work of salvation and sanctification in us.

So in the end, when we find ourselves offended by what someone does or says - as I most certainly was - we can always go back to scripture and be reminded that we have not yet been completely perfected in love and we have not yet completely learned the sufficiency of the cross.  But as scripture teaches us, we should
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.  But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.  Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:2-12)


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