Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Full Spectrum of Grace

Last Saturday I wrote some thoughts about the color of grace. My conclusion was that grace is gray. Not because that is how God intended it to be, but because we are all recipients of something that is much greater than our sin, failures and the collective perversion of our flesh.

In other words, in a perfect world, the grace of God would be reflected back to a lost, dark and dying world as pure white, because the only thing that would inhabit fully sanctified believers is the Spirit of God.

Here’s the kicker, few among us have remained submitted to that divine process of sanctification. I say submitted because our justification occurs with no effort on our part, but the sanctification process occurs only with the willingness of the one being sanctified. A willingness to operate in the full Spirit and Wisdom of God’s guidance, i.e. what’s best for us as given by Him.

The darker the grace appears in the life of a believer, the less sanctification is occurring. Where and when the grace of God runs out in a scenario like that, seems to be predicated upon ones doctrinal position regarding the reformation. Armenian or Calvinist the choice is yours. Or maybe we should offer a neo-reformation view; Calmenian. Who knows?

Regardless of what we were taught and what we believe, somewhere in the mix of our doctrine, the Living Truth of God and His intentions for redemption here on earth are hidden. Like an enigmatic ocean the things of God are received by humanity only because of the grace of His revelations given to the willing and obedient. So what that really means is; we’ll get it when we fully get Him. And most of us don’t have as much of Him as we really could have.

Pardon me for being blunt, but most of the ministers that I’ve know, once I’ve gotten to know them, were far less saintly than I had imagined. As a matter of fact, two years spent as a presbyter here in the Iowa Ministry Network many years ago, was about as rude of an awakening as it was when I found out Jimmy Swaggart was doing porn and the prostitute thing; very disillusioning.

My point is this: Salvation comes to those who BELIEVE. Beyond that, only the Holy Spirit knows how much a person is trying to follow the principles of the Bible, let alone the precepts. More often than not, the Pentecostal / Holiness church have taken the tack of precept over principle. We’ve used LAW as the bench mark of not only ones personal holiness, but often as a reflection of the collective soul of the church. Anyone remember Carry Nation? Probably not, but she was part of the seed bed of our early beginnings as a holiness movement.

But the amazing thing is; LAW never brought salvation to anyone, but only the revelation that we are law breakers. So why do we have laws? I mean within our fellowship [e.g. the blank 2010 Credential Renewal Questionnaire collecting dust on my desk]. I can’t speak for anyone else but, but I think I’m miles from the full revelation of truth on this matter.

If you don’t want to think of Grace as a thing with the nanometer electromagnetic spectrum of light, that’s fine. Then how about thinking about it as a pendulum?

On the far left is LAW, then moving toward the right is FOLLY, and then moving from right center is WISDOM, finally ending the radius of the pendulum swing all the way to the right at SPIRIT.

Since we know that the Letter of the Law brings death, but the Spirit produces life; somewhere in between these two extremes is where most of us live. Since we are saved by Grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, the ideal is to live in Wisdom and Spirit. But most religious folks tend to live in Law and Folly.

The opposite of law is spirit. The opposite of wisdom is folly. The life goal of every believer should be to live in Wisdom and Spirit. For therein lies the secret of Christian discretion. As the Spirit speaks to the heart of a willing disciple, He will speak the reason WHY behind what is “right or wrong” in any given thing we face in this life. Remember, all things are lawful, but not all things are wise or advisable to engage in. So we can be saved, but operate stupidly in folly, rejecting the wisdom or the why behind what we should or should not do.

The only reason I don’t do certain things in this life is because I don’t want to offend some religious folks. Especially those who hold sway over my present career choice [i.e. my credentials].

On the other hand there are things I would never do, not because it jeopardizes my credentials, but because I’m aware of the limitations on my weaknesses and therefore I don’t want to ruin relationships, the testimony of God, and possibly my very own soul. All of which we run the risk of loosing when we reject the wisdom of doing or not doing something.

Make sense?

Let me put it this way, behind everything that is recorded in the Bible, and behind everything that is genuinely spoken or done in the name of the Lord, by His servants [his people], has dynamic or very powerful meaning. God’s not kidding around, albeit He is a God of joy and laughter, He is no fool.

In 1 Corinthians 14:11 [a favorite passage of mine] Paul states the following: “If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me.” (NIV)

Now granted, most of you reading this should by now understand that only the renewed spirit of a man can fully understand the things of the Spirit, they are spiritually discerned or understood. To the uninitiated or the pre-believer, the teachings of scripture and even the preaching of the cross are simply foolish and very confusing.

So understanding from a spirit standpoint is critical to following the guidance of God in this life. But here’s the curious thing about the passage above [I know the context is orderly worship with minimal messages in tongues]. Paul uses the same word choice for “meaning” as Luke uses for “power” when the Holy Ghost comes upon a person [Spirit baptism]. That’s right, dynamis, is the word we’ve translated as MEANING.

Don’t MISS THIS! If and when we don’t know the Spirit power behind the guidance being given, we will NOT GET IT! We will look like a calf at a new gate. We won’t have a clue. We will be dumbfounded. And if that dumbfounding continues on, we will turn against the guidance. We will view it as LAW and therefore we will move toward folly. And once we move toward folly, the end result is rebellion.

Rebels are not born; they are cultivated in the ignorance of folly. So too with believers who are not give the divine WHY behind what they should or should not do.

Now here’s the real hurdle: Who among us can be trusted to have the WORD OF THE LORD on any given matter [beyond what is written in black and white of the Scriptures]? We’ve rejected the 5 fold office, thereby rejecting the apostolic authority necessary for genuine influence.

Example: I had a nice chat with our Network Superintendent and two nice chats with our Network Youth Director about the use of secular music at our Network youth events. Reason being, we’ve taken great pains to teach our students the WHY behind NOT listening to secular music. As a matter of fact, in the Kinney household we’ve taught our two kids that most secular stuff is to be suspect [T.V., movies, music, pop culture, etc.]. When the use of AC/DC Back in Black is used at a Network Youth convention, and a visiting unbeliever friend of my son said; “Hey I’ve got that album… why did you tell me that I shouldn’t listen to that kind of music if they’re using it at a church thing?” [Paraphrased sic]

Mind you, that brought a great deal of confusion to this young man that we’d been working with for over a year. He never came back and told my son we were all just hypocrites. When I approached my leaders about my concerns, I was tacitly patronized regarding their values, the use of secular music and the need to teach the use of Christian conscience and not legalism to our students.

I wasn’t asking that we resurrect some “born with a bun” legalism, but I simply could not understand the mixing of secular and sacred [if you believe that there is a difference].

My Superintendent told me he listened to secular music [jazz or something I can’t remember], but his inference was that we needed to develop mature students who knew how to navigate the waters of culture and be able to discern what is right and wrong for themselves. I know his intentions are good, but that sounded like relativism to me. He stated that he didn’t have a problem with the use of secular music [neither did our Network Youth Director].

I can understand the use of secular media as an illustration as to what NOT to do or be involved with, but not used as bumper music prior to our worship time.

Anyway, I told my Superintendent that I liked beer so why can’t I drink a few here and there? Or maybe wine with my steak? He reminded me that I could not operate in that liberty, because I signed a paper and agreed not to do such things as part of my credentialing requirements; argument over. The paper is LAW not SPIRIT.

In my thinking, the use of secular [very Satanic at that] music as a hook or entertainment at youth convention is FOLLY and not WISDOM.

Now my writing could go on for pages and pages, but I’ll end with this. Law, folly, wisdom and Spirit are all part of the grace cycle or pendulum. At any given time, we tend to swing left or right, all according to who is CALLING THE SHOTS. That’s not necessarily bad, unless those calling the shots have LOST the MEANING behind the VOICE. Ergo our need that each one purposes in his heart as to what GOD is telling him; according to nothing less than Scripture.

If we miss the powerful message and meaning behind what God is trying to say [wisdom] then we will end up in law and folly. Maybe we should let the Holy Spirit set the boundaries, not a group of men or women. Presuming we are willing to accept the natural boundaries and consequences that God tends to set, even within GRACE.

Well… all my love to the brethren. I love my leaders and would not want their job. On the other had, we’re still not where we need to be as a fellowship, but if He gives us another century, maybe we’ll finally see the “perfecting of the saints”.

I know… let’s bring back Carry Nation. What do you think?

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