Today’s program is based on the famous statements made [regarding] Jesus’ disciples as written in John 17:14-18. Jim can you read that?
Most certainly. And as you all are listening, keep in mind that what Jesus was saying to his father in this passage was a repeating of the same basic things he had spoken earlier to his disciples in what has been called the Upper Room. He told his father…
I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. John 17:14-18
Jim I don’t know about you, but I have often wondered much about what Jesus was really saying to His disciples in saying what he did say right there. I mean it didn’t do much for me in the way of “proof” for having faith in Him. You mean we are just kind of left down here with nothing protecting us but, some elusive thing we can’t see with our eyes or hear with our ears?
While I can’t say some of Jesus’ words in or around the passage I just read didn’t cause some inner turmoil in earlier years, oddly for me, this whole passage has spoken volumes regarding the life I share with Christ. Proof of faith? Maybe. Of course, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it for many years, but I can testify that it produced an inner peace that kept me going … even during those periods of time I viewed myself as having little more than the written word — aka, the Bible — to protect and sustain me. Why did it comfort me while those around me seemed to derive mostly doubts and fears? I’m not sure. But I do relate nonetheless, for there were more than enough Biblical passages that I kept at arm’s length for that very reason.
How many of us get that strong sense of vulnerability and helplessness when we start thinking about the prospect of being left here with the ability to be deceived, hurt and harmed? You mean I can go for YEARS being deceived and God wont snap me out of it? Were is the protection? Were is the provision? Were is the reality we say.
I can tell you that as one who found his confidence in Christ, I have often wondered the exact same thing. And God has revealed so much of his amazing grace in the midst of ministering life and freedom to those who have been stuck in religious deception. I don’t say this from some kind of high-and-mighty attitude of one who can’t relate, but from a perception of having experienced my own very real struggles in the midst by which his grace was revealed more and more as I was ministering to others. Now, I think we might too easily rule out experiences that don’t stretch out for those take months or years, as if maybe they don’t count. Well, on this account let me appeal to the wisdom expressed in a famous line from a Star Trek movie. The scene involves Captain Picard and the android Data:
Data confesses to the captain: And for a time… I was tempted by her offer.
Picard asks: How long a time?
Data replies: 0.68 seconds, sir. For an android… that is nearly an eternity.
What I’m saying is that just because someone like me might seem to somehow hover above the struggles and problems experienced by the rest of those in Christ, I can tell you that packed within a much smaller space in time, I have experienced the same things other believers have. How else could anyone imagine that I have been able to relate to those who struggle? Believe me, Adam, I understand what it is to feel stuck in the same way you’re describing.
This line of thinking ALWAYS leads us into a works based existence in that we begin to engage in working to keep our sanity, keep our faith, keep our senses away from depression and guilt.
So true, for there is no middle ground between life and death. Fleshly reasoning produces more of the same. As surely as a tomato plant produce tomatoes, the fleshly mind of death produces corruption. Regarding the creation of heaven and earth, it has been written that all things created would produce after its kind. This is the very reality that Jesus referred to when he told Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:6
But what if the REAL questions or problems have more to do with the belief [or confidence] we have in condemnation [aka: “confidence in the flesh”], fear and guilt than any fear of being left here to our devices down here? You know, the place were we can be deceived and harmed?
Adam, this is so worth repeating because, like you, I suspect that many believers have been blaming God for their problems based upon his having left them in this world rather than having removed them physically. If God hadn’t done this, or If God had done this instead … of course, it is a lot easier to blame God, isn’t it? So let me see if I can put what you just said into my own words:
What if our questions or problems don’t come from the fear of having been abandoned to this place where we’re left to our own devices, but rather that we experience this confusion because we fall back upon our former confidence in the flesh?
Adam, that cuts through a whole lot of red tape, doesn’t it?
Isn’t THAT what keeps us from moving on from putting God on trial over this “obvious” predicament For it seems to reveal to us what we are ACTUALLY doing which is judging by what we see outwardly. I mean after all God does not see things as man does.
Adam, this jumps right to the heart of the very reason I chose the shovel as a handle to represent my writings of life and freedom. We have continued to value the reasonings of this world because our modern Christian perception has built itself upon the same stinking thinking. Just because we find a lot of support for our fleshly reasoning from that which proclaims itself as godly, doesn’t change the simple truth that any so-called Christian teaching can be twisted so as to reflect the reasoning of the dead mind rather than the life it seems to proclaim. Why else did Jesus or John or Peter or Paul make such a stink over what seem such minor things? I mean, a simple preposition distinction such as in or of can seem nit-picky to the fleshly religious mind, but it lies at the heart of the reality that while we may have been left in the world, we are not of it.
But it certainly does APPEAR that we are easily deceived this fosters in us a real [honest] anger toward God. How could he let this happen? We need to ask ourselves though if this is what God planned on passing along to us. I mean is THIS fear and anger toward God what God gave us in His Son? Or did He give us something that truly can not be seen by men’s eyes? Could that take time for you to see it?
The same apostle, John, who recorded the words of Jesus also wrote in his letter:
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 1 John 3:2
The truth regarding our true nature has not yet appeared, but when it does, we will know that even now we are the children of God, those in whom righteousness dwells. John wrote this because the people were being deceived by what had not yet appeared as such to them. And the intimidation from religious deceivers had fostered fear and doubt in those who had been given the very mind of Christ, those who had been anointed by the spirit of God with all wisdom and knowledge. But as you suggest, the very experiences that took more time than they would have wanted it to were the very things that caused them to recognize the spirit of truth from the spirit of error.
Don’t a ton of our PROBLEMS with the questions themselves have to do with the legal mind holding on to our bodies in the midst of our seeking out life? What I mean is, what if we are holding on to that SAME legal mindset that would have us condemned for even considering these things in the first place??
That’s all part of what makes grace seem so dangerous! That’s the reason why fleshly-minded preachers and teachers will always poke fun and/or accuse and warn against those who won’t pass on their fleshly reasoning as they proclaim Christ.
What would that mind be stirring up in us? Anger perhaps? Guilt possibly? Do you see the connection?
Doesn’t this mind give itself away? I mean have we asked ourselves just what mind would be stirring us to an existence or stance of accusation toward God?
It does indeed give itself away ……..
Let’s also consider the previous declaration Jesus spoke to his disciples regarding this very reality:
You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.’ John 15:16-25