BACK to the FUTURE

BY:  JOHN R. GAVAZZONI

OCTOBER 1, 2015

 

I've often reflected on what it is about children that the Lord Jesus had in mind when He said, "except ye become as little children, ye shall in no wise, enter the kingdom of heaven." His was a quite plain and emphatic statement, and as such, ought to be seriously considered by those for whom entrance into the kingdom of heaven is of vital concern, that is, both as an initial experience of entrance through its gates, but also in respect to continuing on into its further vast dimensions. I had never before had it so impressed upon my mind, as it was just hours before sitting down to write this article that very possibly it is that propensity of children to believe a promise, that Jesus was particularly extolling.

 

Especially with someone important in the life of the child, as in the case of a parent, grandparent, or any respected and admired adult, give that child a promise and he or she will simply believe you. To see the child's face beam with confident assurance and expectancy upon receiving a promise is a beautiful thing to behold. That characteristic of childhood is so native to them, that it makes them particularly vulnerable to deep soul-wounds, when what is promised is not delivered.

 

Jesus made a clear, promissory announcement to His disciples before His death, that He would send them the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth/Reality to abide within them. He could so promise, for He was promising what the Father had promised. The promised gift of the Holy Spirit is "The promise of the Father" and Jesus always did what He saw the Father do. This promise very fundamentally informed Paul's understanding of the nature of God's relationship with mankind, especially as he saw it pre-figured in how God related to Abraham. That, for Paul, became the frame of reference, for understanding the very nature of God's righteousness.   

 

So how is it that we have, in such un-childlike manner, complicated the issue of the receiving of the Spirit, and of having the blessed work of the Spirit operative in our lives? The entire pertinent instruction by the Lord, as recorded in chapters 14, 15, and 16 of John's gospel, is emphatically indicative. He told them He would send the Spirit, and told them what the Spirit would do, without any suggestion of there being a condition that must be met by them. From whence has come all the confusing, and flesh-magnifying conditions added to the promise that is found so pervasively in all kinds of devotional exhortations, revivalist and restorationist teaching and preaching, and woven throughout conservative theology.

 

Do you get it? Jesus didn't lay any conditional imperatives upon those disciples. He, to repeat, simply told them He would send the Spirit, and the Spirit would guide them into all Truth/Reality/Genuineness. If I may paraphrase: Jesus simply said, "THIS is what I'm going to do, along with my Father. I'm going to send Another (An Other) of Myself to you, and He'll do everything the Father expects of you, in you, by His power. No ifs, ands or buts." But Oh, the ifs, ands, and buts we've added. Jesus promised that everything He was, as the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and as the perfected true Human, He would send to them as Another of Himself. He was sending His individual completeness to them universalized as an indwelling presence.

 

I could hardly, even if I tried, compile all the stuff I've heard preached and taught about what is necessary on our part in order for the promise of the Father to work in and for us. It's all anti-promise. It's all religious "wood, hay, and stubble." Jesus didn't require anything of those to whom He first gave that blessed promise. Essentially, He told them NOT to do anything, just go back to Jerusalem and WAIT. You might say, "Well, see, they had to obey the command to return to Jerusalem and wait." But if that's what you think, you're all wrong. Jesus' instruction to them was spirit and life. His word to them MOVED them. It was not a condition they met in order to help the promise to be fulfilled.

 

When He said, return to Jerusalem, and wait for the promise of the Father, that was, as is all of God's word, self-fulfilling. He sent His Word into their hearts, and it did not return to Him void. It accomplished that for which He sent it. That is, they went back to Jerusalem and waited. It's most interesting that at the moment when they were all filled with the Spirit, the record tells us quite specifically that they were all "SITTING." Oh, I love that. That's New Testament allegory. Having been made to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, upon being made to finally sit still on earth, they were in alignment with their spiritual reality, so that what was in heaven was poured out on earth.

 

Countless basically legalistic conditions have been laid on believers, which have led to nothing less than simple unbelief. Those early disciples were fresh from being a bunch of failures, but God did what He promised He'd do. He transformed them by His Spirit. Paradoxically, all spiritual advance forward, requires going back to childlikeness. Thus our title: Back to the Future. Have we received the Spirit by the (any) works of (any) law, or by the hearing of faith? That's childlike faith. The faith of Christ which believes that if the Father promises something, He'll deliver. Countless have been the forms of the law Christianized.

 

You can't pray enough; you can't work hard enough; you can't get passionate enough; you can't be obedient enough; you can't get enough of your spiritual ducks in a row, so as to get God to make good enough on His promise. Preachers lay the most subtle anti-promise burden of all on us when they say, "all you need to do is LET God......" So, we make a work out of letting God. God doesn't need your allowing, your letting, your permission about anything, and especially not about His determination to pour out, and keep pouring out His Spirit upon you. It's that very Spirit that brings us into agreement with God. And, by the way, He pours out His Spirit UPON us, FROM WITHIN us.

 

We have the promise. That's more than good enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BACK to the FUTURE [John R. Gavazzoni] 10-01-15          2

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