THE GRANDADDY of all OUR FEARS
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
SEPTEMBER 13, 2014
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me” (Job 3:25, NIV).
After my shocking encounter with the snake under my desk last week, I repeatedly asked the Lord to show me what He wanted me to know about it. He had said not to go to the church I had intended to visit, but I knew there was more. For six days, I asked, and got nothing. On the 7th day, I did not ask, but heard, “fear has to do with punishment” (I John 4:18). The rest of the verse is, “He who fears is not perfected in love.” I’ve used that verse as the basis of my prayer when fear has overtaken me, saying something like, “Lord, I know that perfect love casts out fear, but my fear shows You have not perfected me in love. I ask you to love me out of this.” He has always come through for me. Hearing His words to me about punishment were almost as shocking as the snake had been, for I knew instantly that He was talking about that ancient goblin, fear of hell.
How could that be? I’ve written 9,562,381 words about how God is ultimately going to save everyone, since The Glory Road came into being. In fact, the first piece ever published by Gary Sigler (he was the first webmeister for our writings), was called “Primrose Path to Gehenna.” I didn’t want to write it because I knew how radical the concept was and still is in some quarters, but the Spirit pressed me until I knew I would get no peace until I sat down and wrote it.
Seventeen pages later, I thought I was through with the subject, but He had other ideas. He had me make copies and send them to all my hell fire and damnation believing relatives and also to Gary Sigler. When he published it on-line, I felt sure that someone would figure out a way to stone me via e-mail, but only one person vehemently objected. He told me, as I recall, that the fires of hell would be heated 7 times hotter for me because I was teaching heresy.
Subsequently, he wrote to apologize sincerely because God had put a brother in his path, whose teaching had convinced my upset reader to acknowledge that what I wrote was true. He asked my forgiveness. God is not going to send anyone to an eternal flame. The Bible says so.
This exchange is a classic example of the difference between Life in the Spirit (Christ within us) and religion (salvation by works). The church, with all the best intentions (trying to save me from hell), had brainwashed me with their manipulation of scripture to prove that anyone who sins will go there when they die. Like I’ve written before, you can leave the church which teaches that, but you’re not out of the woods yet. For decades, God has been patiently showing me by His Spirit, the scriptural authority for the Good News which is everywhere in the Bible when He opens our eyes to see it.
I truly thought that He had loved away all my personal fears about hell, but buried down deep, beneath years of positive thinking, and scriptural affirmations of God’s love for me, was lurking a residue of that dreadful neurosis which afflicts so many of us: insecurity, inadequacy, and doubts about our self worth. This is what produces the “works” mentality, by the way, the need to prove that God is going to save us. That was one disastrous fallout from Calvinism as well.
Fr. Richard Rohr has been writing about the difference between what our mind has constructed by hearing or reading words, and the reality that the Spirit gives to those same words. Speaking of saints and mystics, he wrote:
“Words are mere guideposts now, and you recognize that most people have made them into hitching posts…Abstract concepts and verbal dogma contains the air of mathematical or divine perfection, but mystics do not love concepts. They love the concrete and the particular. They have had at least one significant encounter with the Divine, which is all it takes, and which they themselves cannot understand or describe as a clear concept. ‘There is only Christ: he is everything, and he is in everything’ (Col. 3:11).” End quote.
Because I lived with a mystic for 33 years, I can resonate to Rohr’s description of one. Lenny saw God in everyone and in every situation. He personified Paul’s statement to the Corinthian brothers: “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (I Cor. 4:4-5).
A friend wrote today with this suggestion, which I have paraphrased: “It would be wonderful if God’s Salvation of all could be summarized in just a couple of paragraphs so that simple people could see the picture. Too many long quotes with explanations, etc., make it difficult for folks who aren’t deep students to grasp the main point of the article which more people need to know about.” I know I’m guilty of “too many words” at times, so I’ve asked the Lord to show me how to make this Gospel Good News accessible for all who seek.
There are countless scriptures which attest to the reconciliation of all, but the bedrock for me is very simple. (1) “God is love” (I John 4:8,16). (2) “For God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). (3) “God is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9). (4) And my all time favorite is “For God has consigned (penned up) ALL men to disobedience so that He may have mercy upon ALL” (Rom. 11:32).
Most of Christendom operates out of a dual mind set (think two faced), in which they see “us” as those who believe like they do, and “them” as those who do not. Of course, they see themselves as the righteous ones and those who don’t believe like they do as the sinners. Jesus confronted the Pharisees constantly about their “superiority complex.” Like some Christians today, they could not see themselves as disobedient because they were sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (today, the criteria would be belonging to the right church). These self proclaimed righteous folks felt secure, until, that is, Jesus told them the truth about themselves. They nailed him to a tree for His honesty.
Add to that the truth spoken by Paul in Rom. 11:32 that God is the one responsible for our disobedience, and you have another “hanging offense.” The Jews tried many times to kill Paul because he burst their self-righteousness bubble.
God is in the process of shining His light into the souls of all people. Think how wonderful it would be if we weren’t battling one other, but rather, acknowledged the presence of God in each one of us? It sounds like a fantasy, but I hang on to Isaiah’s prophecy: “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all FLESH shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isa. 40:5). The prophet is speaking of a location right here on earth. Many of us long for this day. Ministries have flourished and floundered around the concept of God’s manifested sons. Perhaps the next move of the Spirit will be invisible to the naked eye, because it will be different: no tent revivals, no fervor to reach the lost, no guru to lead the faithful to come be like him (or her). Perhaps it will be the work of the Spirit in the inner man, digging out the dross, and filling the hole in our soul with Himself and the Mind of Christ. Now, that would be exciting, and eventually, all flesh really would see it together. Go, God, Go.
Oh, and about the snake under my desk which started me on this journey of discovery out of yet another pit of fear, God sent a friend over Thursday to try to find out how it got in. He looked all around inside, opened the sink doors to check the pipes, went to the basement to see if he could find a hole big enough for a four foot blacksnake to come through.
Everyday, the kitties and I had used the flashlight to look for holes, unsuccessfully, but my friend located an opening in the wall of the office where I found the snake, and filled it up with that expanding foam. This is an answer to my plea, “Please don’t send me another snake, Lord, just tell me what you want me to know.” Father, YOU are the best Abba in the Universe. We give you praise and worship, honor and glory now and forever. Make us instruments of Your peace and messengers of Your love, mercy and kindness, for The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Amen.