The WHAM of the gospel
This article was a follow-up to another about when Mary was clinging to the earthly Jesus
Hi again Jim. Thanks for your help! I understand except for one thing. I think you've highlighted my problem with your reply. - It's the 'WHAM' bit! How should I 'experience' that WHAM? -If I have this right, I 'think', putting it simply, (that's hard for me!),- It's recognizing the FINISHED work of Christ! - I thought I'd grasped that already but things keep coming along to trouble me. -For instance, I accept the WHAM, but I don't EXPERIENCE it in what might be seen as anything amazing to anyone else. I accept the TRUTH 'through' and despite of suffering from a depressive anxiety disorder. If I claim to believe in the gospel of grace, eventually, aren't people going to look for some kind of 'sign' of a 'wonderful' work of grace being done through me. Don't get me wrong, I do experience a hidden joy, but I worry that by now I should be 'seen' to be 'used' by God in some way. I think it's wonderful that I can just get through the day with God's Grace. But is that good enough? I don't know if I benefit others in any way. (Well my husband, son and rabbit love me!) - I worry about what other Grace believers will think! - You might be wondering what all this has to do with John 20:17. -I just wondered that if I was worried about all this stuff, it might be that I was still clinging (if not feeling bullied in some way) -to some kind of EARTHLY idea of the Gospel of Grace! - I just worry that even within the Gospel of Grace, people eventually expect some kind of 'sign' of something! I actually feel a lot is going on but I have nothing to show for it, and I dont feel that I benefit anyone! What is the Truth here? -Maybe I should trust that God sees Christ when he looks at me. Am I just worrying about what people think! What if I'm hiding behind a Gospel of Grace as an excuse not to be doing something. -I do do things, but only in a little way! Is it enough? Is it possible for Christ to be in me in a way that others cannot 'see'? Can you sum all this up for me in some way? - Thanks! R
The 'WHAM' bit is the simple yet most amazing aspect of the gospel, aka, the good news, which is the very life of God that entered our very beings so that we have become one with Him! Ah ... but how should YOU experience it, and how should others come to expect to see it in you? Consider what the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers regarding the very same thing:
But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by YOU, or by ANY human court; in fact, I do not even examine MYSELF. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. 1 Corinthians 4:3-4
Does something real happen because of God's life within us? You'd better believe it! You know what the problem is with this though? When we decide to examine ourselves or each other for proofs of this life we only end up forcing the miraculous to measure up to some kind of comparative standard based upon observable fleshly relativities! Jesus himself ended up on the bottom of that measuring stick! That's right, he was judged by this world, especially by those who sat in the judgment seat of Moses, as a man forsaken and damned by God and man.
The reality of Christ within us is not revealed by examination, but can only be witnessed. The witness is real, and is always present, but it gets pushed to the side as being unsubstantial when those fleshly glasses of judgment are put on by which we sometimes hope to validate this life. But why should we place any value upon any judgment other than that of the cross of Christ? For it is there that all fleshly judgment is rendered moot and God's judgment of life and freedom is revealed in Christ alone!!
in fact, I do not even examine MYSELF. For I am conscious of NOTHING against myself
Paul knew what it was to examine himself ... just as you and I also know this legal self-examination by which one is compared against another to see how well we rate. But here, after having told the saints at Corinth that he could care less about their examination of him he went on to declare that he didn't even examine HIMSELF ... because he was not conscious of anything against him!!
Okay, okay, was he saying that he didn't have the same kind of struggles we deal with? Not at all, we can also find his very real and relatable testimony in Romans 7. But realize this: his struggles all served to convince him regarding what was TRUE and what was FALSE about himself. In other words, his lack of consciousness of anything against himself was continually revealed to him BECAUSE OF these same kinds of struggles we deal with.
You see, it's one thing to be told there are no ghosts in your closet so that you are able to profess your confidence to others; it's another to find yourself locked in that closet paralyzed by your hidden fear that makes them seem more real than life itself. Because we have been left in a world that views all things according to its own flawed perception of reality we should not be surprised to discover that we will adopt its fears and sense of guilt and condemnation when we base our judgments upon that which can be seen with fleshly eyes or heard with fleshly ears.
For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by THIS acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.
Our acquittal cannot be based upon having no conscience of things against us; for that would only produce a vicious circle of logic, ultimately leaving Christ out of the picture! I think you also understand this pathetic circular reason just as much as I do, but let me explain it so that you know what I am referring to so that something simple doesn't come across as being deep! :)
You see, the reasoning IS simple for it is the judgment of ourselves based upon our own fleeting perceptions or sensations of judgment. In other words, if I don't FEEL forgiven then I suspect that maybe I'm not; if I can stand outside that closet full of ghosts and say, I don't believe in ghosts!, and feel confident that I don't ... then I can feel the absence of their condemnation!
Here is the logic many have adopted in an attempt to relieve the feelings of guilt and condemnation: If I can talk myself into a mental state of ignoring all the scary stuff behind that closet door - you know, the one I now profess as being empty - then I can claim I have no consciousness of sin. The truth of the matter is that it has nothing to do with Christ even though it might contain all manner of Christian terminology. It is merely a logic built upon itself, which is built upon nothing ... and it falls under its own weight.
For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by THIS acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.
If I am examined by the Lord, and the Lord only examines according to the reality of Christ then He only sees what is really true, and that truth is the new creation in Christ.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
No, no, it is not a matter of God seeing Christ instead of me so that my sinfulness is overlooked by His selective viewpoint, it is that God is the only one unhampered by the bogus judgments of appearance that cause me to rock back and forth. God sees the reality, and the reality is that Christ IS my new life. This is the only reality by which Paul could say he was conscious of nothing against him. It is the only reality by which we can claim that same consciousness.
You wrote: I accept the WHAM, but I don't EXPERIENCE it in what might be seen as anything amazing to anyone else.
This is an amazing testimony of the very real life of Christ in you. Check out what Paul told the Galatians regarding this:
But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting IN REGARD TO HIMSELF ALONE, and not in regard to another. Galatians 6:4
The context of the Galatian letter bears out the same simplicity that you suggested in your statement. While you might have religiously learned to assume that such a lack of validation among others is a reason to DOUBT the reality of God's life in you it turns out that it provides the only real testimony to that reality! The truth is that it not only makes no difference that others might judge you outwardly but that such outward judgment becomes used as a standard by which to validate those who judge by it. And while it may produce a sense of validation for a time it will eventually turn us into hamburger ... and we will in turn try to put another into the same grinder in an attempt to regain that former sense of validation!
You wrote: Don't get me wrong, I do experience a hidden joy, but I worry that by now I should be 'seen' to be 'used' by God in some way.
Ugh, "used by God" has to be one of the more detrimental concepts spewed out by the religious mind! Once again, I notice you can't help but recognize the miraculous working of God within you by referring to the "hidden joy", but you also question it based upon how others might judge you! When it becomes compared to something more grand, something more spectacular, something more OBVIOUS (like how others might judge the quality of your divine usefulness) the miraculous inward testimony of God's desire toward you seems to pale to insignificance, doesn't it?
You asked: What if I'm hiding behind a Gospel of Grace as an excuse not to be doing something?
Actually, this is a very good question, except that we often ask it after we're made to feel guilty for even momentarily contemplating that the good news of Christ might be gooder than we previously thought. The gospel is the only truth that proclaims we have no reason to hide because of the flesh's lack of performance! After all, why would someone in Christ use grace as an EXCUSE for not doing something when grace itself has rescued him from the former NEED to make excuses ... unless maybe he had fallen back into a false perception based upon a need to perform?
There is only one meaning behind the concept of hiding behind grace as an excuse for anything and that is when the very reality of what grace is has been perverted into something else, namely LAW. Just consider how contemporary Christianity professes a belief in grace while at the same time hangs all kinds of conditions upon it so that the resultant grace is actually defined by the CONDITIONS that are preached. Who has reason to hide behind the loophole of leniency that most preach as gospel? Those who sense the condemnation of that kind of grace! Consider another thing Paul wrote to the Galatians:
For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Galatians 6:3
This statement comes after a long and vivid description of how law causes contention and destruction amongst those who have been removed from the law's domain so that the ONLY true recourse is to deal with one another according to the freedom found in Christ. Especially those who are trying to justify themselves by what they do. You see, in referring to one who is "caught in a trespass" (Galatians 6:1) Paul described one who had been snared back into the former insanity of living by law. Yeah, for outside of a legal structure there is no such thing as a trespass.
It is the legal mindset that produces the deception that one is something he is not, which is not to be confused with the something-out-of-nothing of the grace of Christ. For one is real; the other is a fabrication. One has taken the emptiness and filled it with life; the other merely puffs up the nothing to make it appear full. One leaves no room for boasting; the other is nothing but boasting.
Well, enough of that. :)
There is nothing in anything you wrote that suggests you are trying to hide behind the grace of Christ, but instead an incredible honesty is shown both in what you've written and in how you wrote it. No, no, I see no attempt to cover up, only to be open!
Past my bedtime now ... gotta go! :)
Dear Jim. This is just to say a BIG Thank you for helping me out with the 'WHAM' bit! I'm deeply moved to think that you care enough to have gone through the trouble of such a detailed reply. You've explained alot!! What was in your reply means more to me than all the gold in the world! Yet by having such a reply, I feel as if I've been given a treasure! - The Good News IS BETTER than I thought it was. Thanks once again for your time and patience! --I'll give you a break now! :) I'll be hanging around the SHOVELNET though, -that's for sure! Love R, God Bless!