|- Ray Prinzing -
"The Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." [1 Peter 3:18].
There is a depth to the inworking of the holy Spirit in the lives of God's called out-ones which staggers the imagination, and almost beggars description. As God once spoke to Jeremiah, "See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, TO ROOT OUT, and TO PULL DOWN, and TO DESTROY, and TO THROW DOWN, TO BUILD, and TO PLANT." [Jeremiah 1:10]. So also, the holy Spirit roots out all the pre-conceived ideas of the carnal mind, pulls down the dogmas and traditions of man, and throws out the doctrinal errors of Christendom, that HE MIGHT BUILD IN US, line upon line, the truth which shall bring us into His more abundant life. It is not an easy process, but it is a blessed one as we come to see the hand of God in all of these operations and processings.
The carnal mind always conceives a doctrine which spares the flesh and dulls the mind with a false security. Such is the whole tangled thread of "substitutionism" with its inherent delusion of escapism. How we rejoice therefore in the inflow of divine illumination which dispels the darkness, eradicates the carnal creeds and concepts, and brings us back into the upward path of truth and life. It is not an escapism which is needed, but that personal participation which will work in us the fulfillment of His purpose, and the experiential knowledge of His plan for each of us. Then shall we be found to His praise and honour and glory. Amen !
Much of Christendom has taught that man fell, and because of that fall the wrath of God and a curse were placed upon him. Furthermore, there was a penalty which must be paid for that plunge into selfhood and sin, resulting in a broken law, and this penalty is eternal death, which is then explained to be an endless life in some severe degree of torment. While they spoke of it as "eternal death" they told us that it was actually a form of eternal life in a place of eternal torment, and that God would provide each sinner with a body which would live on and on so that there could be a continual application of this said torment. Then the teaching goes on to explain that God would save man, but justice must be fully satisfied, there could be no pardon, no penalty fully remitted, it must be paid by someone before God would be pacified and the demands of justice would thus be met.
Now, if man was to pay his own penalty, it would be absolutely his utter undoing, since it must be endless torment, and no man would be able to go beyond this eternal state and come out of this "living hell." So next we are told that the SON OF GOD offered Himself as man's substitute. (This word "substitute" is so out of harmony with the Scripture that it leaves me cold, but we shall have to plow through it in order to present the case as clear as possible.) So they say that the Son offered Himself, and that God pours out all of His wrath on this innocent Son, and then we are able to go scot-free because of what this Son has done for us.
However, the whole substitutional doctrine is further complicated as they go on to tell us that Christ did not pay the penalty of the broken law, for He did not die eternally, and though He was to pay "our bill" He did not have to suffer eternal torment, for His death was to last but three days and three nights. So now we have both a substitute to pay the penalty, and then a substituted penalty also. When He "paid it all" for us, He had to pay a different price than what we would have to pay. The payment which would have been demanded from us was an eternal death, but from the Son of God it would only have to be for three days. All of this was then explained away in a maze of confusion by stating that the reason there would be a substitution of penalties was because that He was divine, and it was the quality which made up for the lack of quantity. But this only muddied it up some more, for then they said it was not His divine nature that died, but His human nature, except it was His divinity that made His human death a full satisfaction to the law.
So now, according to this mixed-up theory, we have substituted the Son of God for all the sinful creation, substituted the penalty to be paid, and substituted His flesh for His divinity, only we needed His divinity to make His flesh sacrifice to be acceptable. Then, when all of this was said and done, this whole wonderful scheme which was hatched in the theology of the carnal mind, can only partially work, and in a great measure it is going to fail--the Devil shall reap most of mankind, while the Son of God escapes through the backdoor and raptures back to heaven a handful who choose to believe in Him. But all the rest of the world, for which He died, because they themselves are presently dead in their trespasses and sins and have no life whereby they can reach out and grasp hold of His salvation, therefore He cannot save them against their will, and will lose them all in spite of this whole complicated scheme of substitutionism.
Next, we are told, God is angry with mankind because of man's awful rebellion and sin, but the SON is all love, and therefore the Son stands and pleads with the Father to have mercy upon His creation. Thus they have compounded the confusion with their slander against the character and nature of our loving heavenly Father.
How gladly do we turn away from these distorted figments of the carnal mind, to return to the blessed truth of the Scripture, and believe the truth for truth's sake, as the Spirit begins to illumine and quicken it to our hearts.
God was not angry, He is not angry with His creation even though men sometimes will impute that emotion to Him, and liken Him to, and restrict Him to the confines of the creature which He created. "GOD IS NOT A MAN... neither the son of man..." [Numbers 23:19]. And we should not limit His actions to the carnal nature of rebellious humanity. What a joy to discover that God's nature is one of LOVE and MERCY and great COMPASSION. It is true, there are scriptures which say that "the Lord was angry with me because..." but always this is the thought and viewpoint of man, beholding God's actions in judgment and correction, and they impute to God the emotions which they find in mankind, for what man is there who does not become emotionally involved as he reacts to the rebellion of those about him? It requires a comparing of God's actions with the WHOLE WORD OF GOD which also reveals His tremendous nature of love, and the motivations of His work, to then understand that God's ways are not our ways, neither are His thoughts our thoughts, but as the heavens are HIGHER than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways, and it is HIS LOVE WHICH MOTIVATES ALL OF HIS ACTION.
It was not God against His creation, while the Son was pleading for mankind, but we actually read, "to wit, that GOD WAS IN CHRIST RECONCILING THE WORLD UNTO HIMSELF." [2 Corinthians 5:18]. It was God Himself who planned and purposed the salvation of His whole creation. Jesus was the manifestation which carried it out, but remember, it was GOD MANIFEST IN THE FLESH, in the personage, of the man Christ Jesus. Jesus was the visible expression of the invisible God, but it was God Himself who was in Christ accomplishing this reconciliation. The man Christ Jesus plainly declared, "I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me." [John 5:30]. And again, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." [John 5:19]. IT WAS THE FATHER'S DOINGS WHICH THE SON WAS MANIFESTING, it was a revelation of the Father's love for His creation.
Man tries to impute carnal emotions and actions to God, that man might have an excuse for these actions in his own behaviour. But when we find that all of God's works in us are motivated by His love, then we can only manifest what He is doing in us, and our actions towards others must also be motivated by love. To be conformed to His image, becoming a partaker of His divine nature, then is to manifest the same towards all men. AS THE SON manifested the nature of His Father, so also shall the "sons" become an expression of this nature of love.
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also." [John 14:6-7]. The entire Father-heart of God is revealed in the Son, and if you want to know what the Father is like, take a good look at THE SON, for whatever you see in the Son is actually a revelation of the Father.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." [John 1:1]. I'm sure that it is readily understood that this "Word" is Christ. He is the Logos, which includes not only that SPOKEN WORD, but also the whole intent and purpose which undergird that which is expressed. Jesus Christ was the visible manifestation of the Divine will in purpose, thought, and action. IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD, we can accept that, His abiding deity, then it says, "The Word was WITH God." This word "with" is the Greek word "pros" meaning TOWARD. Any word which you utter, while they go out from you, are actually toward you, for your words are a revelation of what you think and feel. You are as a sealed book until you speak, and while you might be presently describing the beauty of the rose before you, actually your words are a revelation of you, for no one knew what your attitude and thought was until you spoke. Were you to begin describing that rose in degrading terms, as a thing of nought and ugly, it would readily become a revelation of your own state and feeling. People would soon turn from gazing at the rose to look at you and wonder just what was wrong with you, or what caused you to have such an opinion. Thus your words are TOWARDS YOU, revealing your inner thought.
When the expression of God was manifested in the earth, "and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us..." [John 1:14], this was a revelation of God to His creation. It was not an expression in contra-distinction to the Father, it was not Jesus doing something on His own, apart from the Father, but THIS WAS, AND IS THE FATHER IN GLORIOUS EXPRESSION.
Isaiah 45 :21 declares that He is "a just God and a Saviour." He is a SAVIOUR because He is JUST. Our I salvation is not just an appeasement of justice, but rather IT IS THE RESULTS OF JUSTICE. God is totally just, therefore He also is our Saviour, bringing forth salvation for all of His creation. His justice requires Him to BE our Saviour, and not just an executor of vengeance, etc.
"He that is our God is the GOD OF SALVATION: and unto the Lord belong the issues from death." [Psalm 68:20]. The great distinguishing characteristic from all that are called Gods, or worshiped as such, is that HE IS A GOD OF SALVATION. No other gods can produce salvation. Though the heathen nations around about Israel worshiped many gods of wood and stone, these gods could do nothing to save, although their worshipers zealously and diligently served them. We read how that the prophets of Baal cut themselves with knives, screamed and shouted, and carried on in great style, but without any answer. Baal could not act nor make a motion. But our God is the God of salvation! Surely "they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save." [Isaiah 45:20]. Neither is there much wisdom or knowledge in such a theology wherein God is dependent upon the will of man, and limited to the weakness of the flesh to execute His salvation. Thank God for a revelation of HIS POWER TO SAVE ALL MEN, and to bring them into the knowledge of the truth.
If your God is able to SAVE TO THE UTTERMOST, worship Him, but if He can only save a handful, while the Devil gets the rest, what kind of a salvation is that?
Methinks we are "a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them. O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had shut them up? For their rock (god of the heathen) is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges." [Deut. 32:28-31]. Surely our nation, and all that is called Christendom, need a revelation of our God who is the GOD OF SALVATION.
Moses stood before Pharaoh to speak for the release of the children of Israel, and by a miracle demonstrated the power of his God, having Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh called in His wise men and the sorcerers, and the magicians of Egypt also cast down their rods and they became serpents, "BUT AARON'S ROD SWALLOWED UP THEIR RODS." [Exodus 7:12]. Moses' God was the GOD of gods, the KING of kings, and the LORD of lords, and He was revealed as a JUST GOD and the GOD OF SALVATION.
Our God loves us, and He hath purposed to save us, and "to this end Christ both died and rose, and revived, that He might be LORD both of the dead and living." [Romans 14:9]. This was the purpose in view, and this was His plan, to be manifested as LORD over all realms, both of the dead and of the living. He therefore is "the Firstborn from the dead; that in all He might have the pre-eminence." [Colossians 1:18].
Now it is written, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." [Matthew 22:32]. While it is readily apparent that these followers were gathered unto their fathers, in the invisible realm, and were sustained by HIS LIFE, and were living unto Him, this was spoken before Calvary. But after Calvary He was Lord both of the dead and the living--and all the dead, dead in trespasses and sin, the dead of all ages, now come under HIS LORDSHIP. Christ entered into the strong man's fortress and took away from him all the armour wherein he trusted, "that though death He might destroy (make of none effect) him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." [Hebrews 2:14-15]. Jesus Christ alone now possesses the keys of death and hell. "Having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it." [Colossians 2:15].
What are the strongest weapons the enemy has been able to use? Fear and death! Now the Scriptures declare that "fear hath torment." And this word "torment" is a Greek word that literally means "restraint." If I am afraid of the dark, when it becomes night-time I must stay in the house where the light is, for the darkness has hemmed me in, and so the fear of the dark places a restraint upon me, limiting my going to that area wherever the light reaches. How the enemy has used FEAR. And because men saw that it worked so good to bind people, and because the "devil" gains such fame and notice among most Christians, then these religious leaders use the same tactics and bind the people to their group and program through fear, and the threat of curses and judgments. They tell people God will whip them, and get angry at them, and hurt them if they do not obey the standard of that religious system. Thus with fear, and a perverted creed, they restrain the people and make them slaves to their system. Fear of torment, fear of judgment-- what a terrible thing to hold over people, and how they distort the true image and character of our God. How different is the true "fear of the Lord" which bring a release, and is the beginning of wisdom.
So the enemy uses fear-and the greatest of all fears is the fear of pain and death, because men never knew how they would get out of it. But now Christ has taken away from the enemy-strongman his weapons, and whereas fear was once used in a negative way, with its slavish restraints, now HE turns it into a positive way, so that "THE FEAR OF THE LORD TENDETH TO LIFE." [Proverbs 19:23]. Then the enemy used death, so the Lord takes this tool and uses death to bring us into life. Thus, whereas the first death, and all its process separated us from the light and life of God, now God uses this death process to bring an end to the carnal realm, that we might come alive to His more abundant life and victory.
All the keys of death and hell are in HIS hand. He is Lord of all! Unto our God belong the issues (out-goings) from death. Praise God, He shall use this process unto complete victory, and thus "in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order." [1 Cor. 15:22-23]. HE IS THE GOD OF SALVATION! It cannot be repeated too often, for we need this truth to become a part of our very being, that we might have hope and confidence until we see the consummation of His purpose for His creation.
Praise God, now HE is also the God of the dead--even those who are dead in trespasses and sins. And it matters not if it has even carried through to the complete corruption of the physical body, for He shall bring forth every man into His life, drawing to Himself, and conforming to His image. " And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL MEN unto Me." [John 12:32]. Therefore now it is GOD which worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. HE places in us the desire, and then HE gives the power for its fulfillment. Every good gift and every perfect gift cometh down from above. Therefore we say with the Song of Solomon 1 :4, "DRAW ME, we will run after Thee." He must do the drawing, and as He does it is so much easier to run after Him. "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him." [John 6:44].
We say, "Come to Jesus," but first let it be that the Father draws them, then shall they come, and gladly so, for He will place within them the desire to come. Furthermore, while Jesus is The WAY, it is THE FATHER who draws them to the Son-God in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. Not the Son trying to appease the wrath of His Father, lest the Father destroy all of His own creation, but it is the Creator Himself who is drawing all men back unto Himself, through the agency of His own Son whom He sent for that very purpose.
How often we quote the verse, and teach it to our children, "GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON..." [John 3:16]. Yet little has it taken root in our consciousness until we realize its truth. LOVE is the very motivation, and GOD IS THE MOVER. The Son is not in opposition to, nor in contrast to the Father, but He is actually a true revelation of the Father's heart of love for all creation. It was GOD who so loved the world that HE gave, and it is the will of God thoroughly expressed through the Son, while the Son balances the judgment and mercy which is needed to bring forth salvation for all men. He uses what seems to us to be manifestations of wrath simply as a means of disciplining us, and drawing us into the path of righteousness that we might receive more of His goodness. He does not whip us for whipping's sake, but for the purpose of bringing us to salvation. And the chastenings are actually a manifestation of His LOVE.
"My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for WHOM THE LORD LOVETH HE CHASTENETH, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." [Hebrews 12:5-6].
All the judgments of God are remedial and corrective in nature, to bring us to God, and the Son will administer these judgments according to the need, that He might also freely give us of His salvation. So much is The Son the expression of the Father, He said, "I and My Father ARE ONE." Thus the manifestation of one is the manifestation of the other, even as Christ was declared to be "the brightness of glory, and the express image of His person." [Hebrews 1:3].
So the Son's love is the Father's love, and the Father's love is expressed through the Son's love. And shall not the same be said of us when we BECOME ONE IN HIM? For "he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." [1 Cor. 6:17]. So when He shall pour out of His Spirit upon all flesh, are not we to be apart of that which is poured out ? If it is the Father's love, it will be our love. If it is the Father's will, it will be our will. Not two wills in contra-distinction to each other, my will and God's will, but when "my will" becomes "THY WILL," and "Thy will" becomes "my will," there is but one will to be exercised. Thus, whether you say it is the Son doing the works, or the Father doing the works, they were BOTH IN ONE fulfilling the work of redemption.
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him." [1 John 4:9].
So freely given-- now this LOVE and LIFE are to become ours. We do not need a doctrine of escapism, nor of substitution, but we need to rightly understand what our own participation in this glorious out-working of redemption really is. In the following chapters we shall ponder this some more. It is HIS LIFE for our living, because HE planned it so.
NOT IN OUR STEAD, BUT FOR US.
0, strange theology of man
That would devise redemption's plan
In ways that yet would spare the flesh;
Confusing dogmas to enmesh.
They first must have a substitute
To face the circumstance acute,
For in their creed they have a God,
In mortal conflict with this clod.
A God of wrath, with judgments sore,
Who standeth waiting-now to pour
His fury on each wayward soul,
Each one who fails to reach the goal.
And so they say eternal death
Awaits the end of natural breath,
Except that Christ came in our stead,
And in our place, hell was His bed.
Another substitute must be,
For Christ did not eternally
Remain in death, but in three days
He paid the price, mysterious ways.
And then they say, when all is done,
How small the vict'ry for the Son,
For He will salvage but a few,
The Devil all the rest is due.
Thank God, this theory isn't so,
Out to the scrap heap it must go,
While truth the Spirit doth impart
Shall work within each stony heart.
The Christ did come, praise God, 'tis true,
And now He maketh all things new,
He tasted death for every man,
Fulfilling God's redemption plan.
He blazed a path to realms above,
And freely gave us of His love,
Not in our stead, but for us He
Did conquer death, bring liberty.
And now we, too, can die to self,
With all its shame and worldly pelf,
For He goes with us all the way,
And gives the strength to take the prey.
We had no strength, but He is strong
To choose for us the right from wrong,
And thus BY HIM we'll overcome,
His life our all-in perfect sum.
To just escape is not to win,
Now would we shrink from discipline,
With Christ to suffer, then to reign,
Is sure to be the highest gain
Writings in This Series: