16 Oct 2000

Banking on Abiding

Submitted by theshovel
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And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.1 John 2:28

Do you remember the famous Coppertone ad with the little dog hanging on the bathing suit of the little girl exposing her tanline (actually, way past her tanline)? Well, I think we got a little dog of our own trying to do the same thing to our confidence in the reality of abiding. For we read a verse like this and everything about the miraculous work of Christ by which HE brought us into union (like a branch in the vine) with the living God BY HIMSELF seems to take a back seat to OUR fluctuating attempts to keep it going! It is thinking like this that has caused us to fall into the habit of trying to balance the miraculous work of Christ.

Aren't you aware that this is the same kind of fear that most of us grew up with as children? Every time we wondered if mommy or daddy might disown us based on our naughtiness we were supposing that our relationship was built upon our ability to keep it going instead of the fact that we had been BORN into this family (yeah, even mommies and daddies forget that sometimes, don't they?). It's easy to forget the permanent reality while you are caught up in a temporary situation that SEEMS more real. As children, we knew the most direct way to destroy confidence in a brother or a sister was to question their origin, while the more subtle approach of focusing on performance caused a slow (but continual) erosion of confidence because it played off the faulty premise that our performance is the substance of our relationship.

John was BANKING upon the reality of abiding in his letter to these believers for they were being deceived by some supposedly more spiritual people in their gatherings. These deceivers came across as being such spiritual giants that it became a stigma of spiritual inferiority to be honest about the harsh realities and failings of one's everyday life (confession of sin).

Doesn't that sound like the atmosphere in many fellowships today where to admit your REAL failings would only make it obvious just how unspiritual you really are? But John made it clear that those who CLAIM spotless performance are the ones who are deceived while those who have the COMPELLING to be honest about their failures are the ones who are forgiven. This has nothing to do with confession being the CAUSE of forgiveness - no, no, no! - instead, this NEED to be honest is something that comes from the heart of those who ARE forgiven!! Just read the account in John 9 and pay attention to the honesty of the man who was formerly blind and contrast that to the hypocrisy of those who sought to discredit both that man and Jesus while trying to come across as being righteous.

Here's what I mean by saying that John was banking upon the reality of abiding. One who abides in Christ describes one who has the life of God within him while his own life is in God. If this was merely hypothetical then nothing would actually be changed in those who are called believers. BUT if this is, in fact, a REAL joining of God and a person then it will have a profound effect upon such a person, would it not? Now, many have discarded such proofs simply because they have been deceived as to the NATURE of those proofs. And this is no different than it was when the Pharisees determined that JESUS could not be of God based upon their PERCEPTION of how well He rated by the law of God.

It remains so today as those who are of the law are judging those who are of the Spirit and STILL finding them totally lacking. And not only this, but many who are of the Spirit have been deceived into thinking that those who judge by the written word of God (read that: the LAW) have some kind of DIVINE insight into spirituality and, in turn, try to incorporate that truth into their understanding of God. The result? Total confusion!

While those who received John's letter had been snookered into examining themselves and one another based upon observable adherance to specific commands, rituals, or protocols espoused by the spiritual elite, John gave them something totally different by which to judge. For he disregarded every proof of man and instead based everything upon the reality created by Jesus Christ. You see, he was so sure that what Christ had done inside them was so miraculous that he told them to let the declaration of that miracle (i.e. the gospel) be the only proof that their being in Him was real! His claim was that if it STUCK then they could know that it was true. I call it the Velcro-Effect. I could argue that adhesives are sticky and eventually rule out the possibility that Velcro had any holding power, but if I simply put one piece on the other then my doubts are nullified when they grab one another and remain together!

Do you want proof that you abide in Him? Forget trying to base your connection with God upon an examination of logic or upon external appearances or even upon your motives, for such a judgment will always fail. Let the evidence fall upon what HE has done. As Paul wrote:

that he is able to guard that which I have entrusted to HIM until that day...1 Timothy 1:12

The simple fact is that you are presented with thousands of reasons PER DAY why you should NOT be confident of being in Christ based upon your apparent lack of living up to standards and promises and covenants. Insanity has been defined (by some) as doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. So why do we keep looking to that kind insanity in search of proof? God Himself is the only proof that will ever satisfy those who have been born of His Spirit ... for He is the fear destroyer!

"And that goes for your little dog, too!" :)

Until next time .....
scoopfully yours,
the shovel (aka Jim)

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These comments were all transferred over from the original website

Posted: October 17, 2000 by Neil

Shov, you're doin' a great job. Keep it up! Ever since I came to the realization of who I am in Christ and that He is my EVERYTHING I have been filled with joy and wonder at this miracle of GOD IN US!

It took nearly forty years for me to come to this understanding and I'm seeing more and more why that is. This redefinition of faith is a serious matter and is actually "another gospel" as Paul puts it. This turned-around, incomplete gospel (stopping at forgiveness without a clue as to the real purpose of the resurrection) has led many people down a primrose path to nothingness and often destruction. I've gotten into some lively discussions with two pastors on it. Neither has moved from their position, I might add.

I'm seeing where that comes from since I occasionally run back into it in my reading and it gets thrown at me. I joy at Paul and the other writers telling me about freedom and the life we enjoy in Christ, but get annoyed at those places where they seem to go "off topic" and appear to be promoting an outward adherance to "laws" or even "the law". I'm annoyed because I know that this is due to my own lack of understanding as to what they are really saying, but the Church and it's henchmen place a lot of stock in those passages and I can't answer them with what I know to be the truth without it looking like a contradiction in my own declaration--which it sometimes seems to me as well.

You are more than familiar with what verses I'm referring to, so I won't list them all, but how do I justify what I know as being under the supervision of the Holy Spirit and not the law with what seems to be commandments to do that very thing? Sometimes Paul makes it clear that he is speaking for himself and not for the Lord, but when he does so, he can sure sound legalistic at times.

I've heard it suggested that Paul himself was not fully aware of the entire "truth" of the gospel or had not completely given himself over to it for being the reason for this seeming contradiction. I can't accept that, but I haven't received any teaching from the Holy Spirit that I feel gives me the understanding of this. And since I haven't had the chance yet to get into a discussion with people like yourself to address this specific problem, I'd appreciate your input. Or if you already have something that you've written or put out on this, I'd sure like to read it. Incidentally, I got into what you've been sending us by e-mail back when you were doing the "Judgement seat of Christ" series. I loved it, but never saw the very first installment. Do you archive any of that? If so, I'd sure like to read it. Sorry this is so long. If you don't have the time or inclination to respond personally, I understand. I know I'll be able to get this resolved eventually. Thanks and God bless.

Yours in Christ,

Posted: October 17, 2000 by The Shovel

~~~~~|||||) Hello my dear friend Neil,

I want you to know that I consider it an HONOR to be able to receive your email (the length is not at all too long for me) and to respond to it. Sometimes, I may not be in the place to immediately respond for a few days, but I enjoy getting back to each who write to me. :)

Also, while I am thinking about it, if you would be interested in joining a discussion group that I'm a part of, please let me know and I will give you the instructions on how to go about getting hooked up to it. It is a great group that is centered around the reality of being made alive in Christ and I have seen so much encouragement through it that it has been a blessing. Sometimes I will get too much mail through it but I don't have to respond to any particular one nor do I have to read every one, but I usually do read them all, and will respond to whatever compels me.

Yes, I do have archives of the Shoveletter on the site. Just go to the main page and choose the heading, Shoveletter. You can access it by DATE or by TOPIC (you'll see the index selector on the bottom left corner). If you click the Shoveletter link from the main page of the site you will be taken to the TOPIC menu anyway, and that is where you will be able to easily see "Judgment Seat" as one of the topics.

Yes, I know what you mean about the many passages that seem to promote a legalistic adherence to laws. But I have come to realize that we are looking at the whole thing from the perspective of our modern culture and not at all from a culture that would have been reeling from just about everything that Paul was suggesting to them. I have come to often ask myself, "WHY did Paul write this in here and WHAT might they have been thinking for him to write what he did?" I think "WHY?" has been my most important question over the past 25 years. hahaha!!

Here is a response I gave to a woman who asked me about what her place might be regarding sharing the life of Christ with a MAN, since she knew that Paul seemed to have put so many restrictions on it:

What Paul said in 1 Timothy 2 about women was found in a letter NOT written to any GROUP of people, but to an INDIVIDUAL man ... and this man understood Paul better than anybody else. What I'm saying is that we have heard those verses quoted as if written to the general population by those who haven't a clue as to what Paul taught. This doesn't change the fact that Paul wrote these verses, but that our understanding of them has been based upon the perspective of those who teach contrary to Paul in every way.

Paul's comments about women in 1 Cor 14 were not written as general principles made to shut women up, but instead written to this specific group that was caught up in a confusion that was the direct result of following those who APPEARED to be spiritual. The issue of "women talking in church" was one among MANY problems that Paul presented as "proof" as to how far their adherence to the wisdom of the world instead of to Christ had affected their perspectives and therefore, their gatherings.

In 1 Timothy, the issue had to do with the "deception factor" in reversing the natural order of authority in the creation. If you'll ignore all the religious connotations and just listen to the overwhelming evidence found in the world around us you'll see the problem screaming out. It sounds like this popular saying: "If momma ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy!" Counselors and psychologists make the attempt to understand and have written about the problems that emanate from the natural differences in men and women, and they have come up with numerous formulas to try to counteract what they have discovered (and many of their "tips" have a temporary cure). But the religious mind of man has found a "solution" in the writings of Paul: we need to "put our women in subjection". This has nothing to do with Paul's statements ... nor his overall mind on the matter. All you have to do is to read his letters and also read the account of some of his travels in Acts and you'll never see such an attitude coming from him in his encounters with women. Remember, he told an awful lot of men to shut up, too!

Paul's point to Timothy about women teaching was in direct connection to their attempt at "exercising authority over a man". It is the exact same tendency we have seen in all cultures, REGARDLESS OF APPEARANCE, of how women end up having the final say. Heck, why else are there so many jokes about it?

When Paul tied in the creation of Adam and Eve we still don't seem to get it. But Eve was the "spiritual" woman, the "real" woman ... if there ever was one ... and SHE had been deceived and "fell into transgression" because of it. Adam broke the one and only command God gave KNOWING what he was doing. Guess who got attributed with sin entering the world?

Years ago, I heard the suggestion that Adam was standing right there next to Eve during the whole temptation with the serpent. It should have been obvious because of how the whole thing played out. Eve wasn't stupid, she was the most intelligent woman to ever live ... but she had been deceived ... and Adam just stood there silently watching the whole thing play out. The problem wasn't that Eve spoke, but that Adam didn't step in and say, "Don't listen to him because he is tricking you!"

History has proved over and over that NOBODY wins in the struggle between men and women. Men don't know who or what they are for the same reason that women don't know who or what they are for the same reason that HUMANS don't know who or what they are. We have forgotten that who or what we are is only found in our connection to God.

When a woman speaks for a man she is trying to find HER identity as a woman apart from her origins. Isn't this the same reason all of us can't find our identities apart from God? In Christ we are IN God ... it is who we are. When a man lets a woman speak for him he is trying to find HIS identity as a man in what came FROM man. Isn't this the same reason all of us can't find our identities in this world because we are trying to find it in what we have done? This has nothing to do with men and women talking or sharing ideas or helping one another or being a support for one another or even teaching one another ... because all men who have been raised by a mother have been taught by a woman during that time in which their basic perception of the world was formed. And guess who set that up?

"But women shall be preserved (delivered, saved) through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint (1 Tim 2:15)" [Paul wasn't telling all women to get married ... otherwise he would not have suggested elsewhere that singleness was preferable, as far as he was concerned].

"Delivered", or "saved", from WHAT? Deception. If women are trying to dominate men then they will get tricked by the very ones they are trying to dominate. And this is what continues to take place every day all across the world. Men will watch women get deceived and are afraid to say anything about it because they don't think it is their "place" because they don't know that the ability to sniff it out is something inherent by the design of God ... and they end up falling into the same deception even though they didn't trust it. And then they take out the consequences of their actions and abuse the very women who are in their care. Illogical, but that's how it works.

The best that the religious mind can come up with is to say that "a woman's place" is found in teaching "Sunday School" or "Children's Church", but that's pretty lame, isn't it? A woman's safety is found in pouring out her life into those in her care: her children. Do you know why men fail in teaching others? Because they think that teaching is found in the imparting of information. Do you know where they get that from? From women who were taught by men to believe that the imparting of information to people is the same as pouring your life out into them. It is a vicious cycle. Women who don't have children still have witnessed the amazing change in other women who find peace and contentment in raising children. My daughter has a nine month old boy ... she has found a life to pour her own into ... and she is overjoyed by it. It's miraculous.

Sue, when you know who you are in Christ then you know how to communicate: to women AND to men. If you see a man in bondage (and you don't have to look very far, huh?) and you desire to share the freedom of Christ with him, it is something of God. If you are looking to take him "under your wing" as a momma would then I would caution you against it. But I don't think that has anything to do with your desire to see others find the freedom you understand, does it? I would think that you would love to see a man who is in bondage to the law to understand his own freedom in Christ so that he would find his true place.

Be prepared for the reaction that some men might have against your sharing of life and just make sure that your words aren't suggesting that you are trying to speak FOR him but that you are speaking TO him of the life that is HIS life ... which is Christ.

My wife, Sherri, just suggested reminding you of one of Paul's statements that she finds immense freedom in regard to this whole discussion. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) Pretty strange for a man to write who had such problems with women, don't you think? :)


Here is something I wrote in a Shoveletter a while back with a quick comment on a verse that is used to suggest that Paul agreed with slavery ... or at least didn't think it was wrong ... and therefore showed how messed up his viewpoints were.

"Let each man remain in that condition in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freeman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ's slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves OF MEN. Brethren, let each man remain with God in that condition in which he was called" (1Cor7:20-24)

Some have suggested that Paul approved of slavery ... or that he belittled women ... or that he had a poor view of marriage, etc. But he never said anything of the sort. Why would we think that? Simple ... we have become so caught up in the bondage of MEN that we miss the obvious freedom and reality of Christ he wrote about. Don't you see that almost all of the stuff we consider "the will of God" is in the same category as with the slave who spent his life trying to get free? Paul dismissed most of the stuff we struggle with by saying, "Hey, if it's a real option, then go for it ... otherwise, stay in your present situation."

What was Paul's real message in all of that? It has to do with how you see yourself in whatever situation you are in. The slave was FREE IN CHRIST; the free man was ENSLAVED TO GOD. We are in HIM ... in His Will ... either way. Pursuing freedom from your "slave" issue will result in your living AS IF you are NOT free in Christ and your choices and viewpoints will all be found in SLAVERY TO MEN ... AND THEIR SYSTEMS. Yuck!

Well, let me know what you think. Please write back!!!

Jim ("Shov") (|||||~~~~~

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Random Shovelquote: What kind of gospel... (view all shovelquotes)

Let me get very blunt. What kind of gospel leaves you in the unknown regarding the very premise of the actual good news of Christ, which is full confidence in one’s relationship to God through Christ? What kind of gospel causes you to think it’s all about what you do or don’t do, when the good news declares that it’s not about you at all but all about Christ and what he has done and is now doing? source