THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CROSS

BY:  JOHN R. GAVAZZONI

MAY, 2001

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Thousand Oaks, CA

PART ONE

We were still licking our wounds, having been, as an old friend would put it, crucified by Christians. So my wife and I found ourselves sitting in a pew of a beautifully ornate Lutheran church near our home. Here we were, two of the Lord’s disciples, and I, especially, one who had always desired to be and fancied myself to be, a follower of the Lord on the cutting edge of seeking His best, one of God’s scouts leading the way in discovering new virgin spiritual territory, calling out to those behind me to hurry and see the wonderful land before us. But now, we just wanted to sit in a pew, among nice people, by all means being careful to keep a low profile lest, once again, a brother might come along and decide that our heads didn’t look right and didn’t conform to the other heads and would decide to lop them off in the Name of Christ. Pretty pathetic picture of a once beloved evangelist, prophet and pastor become a pariah on the local evangelical, charismatic scene. I had often spoken derisively of the institutional church as a “gathering of nice people, singing nice songs and listening to a nice man tell them how to be nicer.” And here I was wanting just that and not much more; just a little fellowship in the Gospel among folks who didn’t take their convictions too seriously, at least who didn’t take them so seriously that they found justification in those convictions to use any means to save you from your error and save the Christian community from infestation by your presence. So we enjoyed the service and signed the visitor’s card, shook the pastor’s hand on the way out and assured him that we did enjoy worshipping with them.

Consistent with the friendly church that they were, the elderly, semi-retired associate pastor and his genuinely sweet wife paid us a visit within the week. It was obvious to me that this dear old soul and his wife of many years came knocking on our door desiring to take the next step toward enfolding us in the warm embrace of this old-line, predominantly Scandinavian congregation of a mix of young, upwardly mobile families and elderly silver-maned couples who were the quintessence of higher middle class decency. I concluded that there must be some measure of love and Christian unity among them since they obviously thought that someone by the name Gavazzoni could find a place in their Scandinavian fold.

A little way into the conversation with this kindly brother and there was no doubt that he was a brother in Christ, I let it be known that I had a ministerial background and picking up on the fact that he was doctrinally astute and formally well trained in theological matters, I found myself asking him what was the prevailing thought regarding the inspiration of the scriptures among more liberal evangelicals such as himself. I was ready to listen to someone other than the ‘fightin’ fundies’ who had just tarred my hide and ridden me out of town on a rail apparently needing to heap humiliation upon humiliation. Having come from a background strong in the persuasion of “verbal plenary inspiration,” believing that every word was God breathed including maybe even what was written on the covers of the book itself (I’m funnin’ here a little. I wasn’t really that bad). He answered me very kindly saying that, in his understanding, the dominant perspective regarding biblical inspiration was that the scriptures were viewed as being normative in the Christian community; that it was not necessary to take an obstinate stand about the nature of inspiration if we could agree that in the Good Book we found a final standard for faith and practice. With that view, it was all right to accept that there were some human errors in the 66 canonical books and that in spite of them God still preserved a normative standard; that whatever errors there may be it did not effect the ability of the Bible to guide us in the important matters involved in following Christ.

I’ve shared all this to bring you into our life at the point where I was confronted with the word “normative” and the concept it expressed. Webster says it means “relating to or establishing norms.” My experience that evening did not have to do so much with altering my view of inspiration as it did with considering the place of what is “normative” among the people of God. Now, many years later, I find myself come full circle, writing for, preaching to and generally involved once again with frontier-seeking Christians who just are not content to be “nice people, singing nice songs and listening to a nice man tell them how to be nicer.” They certainly aren’t sitting in well padded pews in beautiful buildings and absorbed in high liturgy. In fact, you could say that they are down-home, country, plain and downright hokey. These folks have heard a trumpet sound and they are marching to a different drum beat. They are searching the scriptures with a powerful persuasion that the breath of God underneath the letter is breathing on them anew and they are convinced that they are willing to leave behind all the traditions of men in order to know the Word in freshness and vitality. Once again I dare to preach everything welling up from within me, at least somewhat confident that I will not be dragged “outside the camp” again, at least not any time soon. But, among these dear ones, the Lord raises the question in my intimate moments with Him, “What is the normative Word for this hour?” What is the Word which provides a new standard by which we measure what is taught? Though I think if I were quizzed regarding my understanding of biblical inerrancy I would be found holding to a high view of inspiration, still I must say, that the Word of God for each day, as that day, experiences the penetration of a fresh Word from Father’s heart, a Word certainly never inconsistent with the inspired record is nevertheless a Word from God proceeding out of the Day of the Lord, moving forward, never static and always disturbing our doctrinal comfort zone and presenting another level of what is normative.

That which is normative for our day is not a Word that lies on the surface of Holy Writ. There is a new imperative thrust upon us to proceed from and, dare I say, to go beyond the foundation laid by brothers Peter, Paul, John, James and the others who cheer us from within the cloud of witnesses. We must not violate what they passed on to us but we must not be limited by it either. Theirs was a perspective that, without a quantum leap forward in hearing from God, will fail to carry us to consummation. As St. Paul was able to unearth heretofore hidden implications in the seed of the Gospel as preached by Peter, finding breathtaking treasures of the scope of God’s grace so we today must hear the whisper of the Spirit as He tells us to go ahead and dare believe the fullest implications of those implications that exploded in the heart of Paul. By that I mean that Paul experienced a telescoping progression of revelation into the heart of God.

In the best extant expositions of Paul’s gospel we still find ourselves on this side of the cross, heralding that there is the other side of the cross, the resurrection side, yet we, while affirming it, still view it from afar. We do see our Adamic selves crucified with Christ, buried with Him, risen with Him in newness of life, ascended triumphantly with Him and seated with Him in heavenly places but somehow it’s still all over there on the other side. Standing here on the death side of the cross we look across at the other side where resurrection rules but we, by and large, still wait on the death side for something, some further revelation, some greater truth, some more exquisitely refined teaching that will get us to where we say we are but do not really believe it. We still interpret the highest peaks of Pauline and Johanine declaration of the good news from the vantage point of being deceived into taking seriously everything that seemingly contradicts it and we bend it, squeeze it, pummel it with clever exegesis until we make it fit into the box of the actuality of our temporal lives instead of realizing that the actuality of our temporality has really, really been swallowed up in His eternal reality. REALLY!!!

By it’s own testimony, scripture presents the truth of God incompletely, imperfectly, awaiting the coming of “that which is perfect” (I Cor. 13:10). By imperfect I do not mean corrupt or flawed in purpose, I mean incomplete, lacking that which is ultimate and ultimately successful. We stubbornly cling to the notion that we will still find a key there that will give us full entrance into the heart of God and WE ARE WRONG IN THAT HOPE. It can go no further than declare that “….the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14), and that in Him we are “the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:23). So in the light of that final Word of scripture, standing on the highest peak it offers, what do we do brethren, have another bible study? When we climb the highest peak of biblical revelation and there find ourselves resplendent in His glory what do we do, take another course in Greek and Hebrew? When on that peak we hear the Word, “In Him dwelleth the fullness of the Godhead bodily and ye are complete in Him” (Col. 2:9), what shall we do? Shall we bring to God a fresh offering of our yearning that He do a greater work in us because we are so lacking before Him? Slowly but surely, the Spirit of God has laid upon me the prohibition against my coming to him with the passion of my yearning for fulness when He has declared me full and complete in His Son. He said to me, “I don’t need your passion, I have enough for both of us and I have seen the travail of my soul and I am satisfied. Away with the burnt offerings of your piety, it is as nothing when seen in the light of my burning love.”

Do we seek to count all things as rubbish in order to gain Christ (Phil. 3:8), and then reckon our reckoning as gain, hoping with each laborious step to gain some more? We will never find in ourselves enough hunger and thirst after righteousness that will be cause for God to fill us. Paul never meant for us to stop at his testimony and insist that it is normative. It is not. It is divinely suggestive of that normalcy which refuses to add anything to what God has perfectly completed in His Son.

Without a deep digging by the Spirit into what Paul and John wrote, we are still left standing with a lack. We are still taking the finished work of Christ which is eternal and projecting some of it to another day and in effect, saying it’s not yet completely true. Paul DID NOT come out and say that clearly. It was left for this day. When we say in one way or another that it is a finished work and then say, but such and such has yet to occur, we are still, to some degree, coming from this unfinished side of the cross.

I am deeply indebted to Pastor Bill Green for his unique perspective regarding what I have shared and the powerful prophetic spirit with which he has declared that we no longer look for a day yet to come. He has renewed my determination to say it uncompromisingly. All is finished. Ah yes, the finished work of Christ; how we have taught it, preached it, prophesied it, and sung it but much has been lip service. I am here to confirm the still, small quiet voice that many of you have already begun to hear telling you that He needs no contribution from you to finish a work that He has already brought to completion. I will close with that wonderful passage of Eph. 3:10 and 11, “….that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose WHICH HE CARRIED OUT IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD” (NAS Emphasis mine). Amen.

PART TWO

It has always been a priority of the true and mature teacher of the Word of God, that he or she maintain a proper balance, that is, not to emphasize a truth or truths at the expense of other truths. That awareness is seen at it’s best when seeking to find the cohesive bond which unites all spiritual truth into a full presentation of Him, who is Truth, our Lord Jesus. We find ourselves today at a point where the extant prophetic word, with it’s varied expressions, gives indication that we are (1) in a dynamic time of transition and (2) that God is calling us to take a fresh look at what we have called, “the finished work of Christ” (Jn. 4:34; 17:4; Rom. 9:28; Phil. 1:6). If we do not realize that the normative Word is an ever unfolding Word which demands constant adjustment in our thinking and that, at it’s cutting edge, may disturb what has been our status quo understanding of doctrinal balance, we may get stuck at a place where that which is deemed to be a balanced approach has been depriving us of the full truth of all that we have attempted to hold with equilibrium. Such is so when we do look afresh at Father’s saving work completed in the Person and life of our Lord. As the Spirit of truth presses His claim upon our minds whispering gently but insistently that we have stopped short of valuing what God in Christ has accomplished for us, we find ourselves experiencing intolerable intellectual tension, tension that causes us again, and at a deeper level, to realize that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto Him…” (I Cor. 2:14)

The prophetic declaration that ushers in a new day with a new norm is rarely one that speaks in what most would think is an appropriately centered emphasis. It is bold, demanding and seemingly impervious to the wisdom which says, “make room for the other instruments of God’s orchestra of revelation to blend with your trumpet blast.” But at some point after we hear from the piercing brass section, along comes the string, reed and percussion members to give a full-bodied sound to the symphony of redemption. We have heard the blast of the trumpet announcing the next movement in the musical score but we must be brought to a new level of understanding of what has been sounded forth. For those who know a little about music let me illustrate a point. A composer or arranger may at times use a musical device whereby, either with a somewhat dissonant chord or a less than conclusive chord in the music’s flow, he will “tease” the ear of the listener as it naturally craves a note and/or chord of resolution. By momentarily withholding that sound of consummation the composer or arranger makes the fulfilling sound all the more satisfying. So it is with the unfolding of biblical revelation. We must be bold enough to assert that until we reach the place that the New Testament writers pointed toward, we find in their inspired record a certain God-ordained dissonance, a construction of written revelation that leaves the most sincere seeker with a divinely induced frustration that cries out for that final, clear Word. Example: In Eph. 1:17-21, the Apostle Paul declares to us that the God of our Lord Jesus, the Father of Glory raised up Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in heavenly places far above all rule, authority etc. In chapter Two, he goes on to state emphatically that He (the Father) raised us up with Him (Christ), and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus. Please go next to Col. 3:1, where he enjoins us, “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (NAS)

Now I am as capable as the next fellow of coming up with some pretty plausible sounding explanation as to the obvious contradiction here. And in all modesty, many of my explanations have been better than most and increasingly dissatisfying to myself. But when all is said and done we have a divine dissonance in the declaration that on one hand we’ve arrived by God’s grace and yet on the other hand we should keep seeking. The same apostle assures us in Romans, Chapter Six, that our old man has been crucified and buried with Christ and we have risen in newness of life with Him and yet he, himself feels compelled to tell the Philippians that he had not yet arrived or obtained or already become perfect but he was pressing on in order that he may lay hold of that for which also he was laid hold of by Christ Jesus and goes on to say that he pressed on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3,12,14). Remember that the New Testament teaches us that the Lord, in His humanity, was perfected by the things that He suffered (Heb. 5:8), so that our identification with Him in death, burial and resurrection explicitly involves perfection. Our inner man cries out, “Paul, you’re composing in the key of C, for God’s sake end on a tonic chord of C, E and G, don’t leave us hanging.” Am I saying that Paul was not exactly inspired as God intended? Most certainly I am not saying that. Here is the biblical tease, the penultimate which cannot fully satisfy. Father never intended for us finally to accept that as the fully normative Word but to play it out to conclusion.

Brethren, may we be so bold as to herald to you that the day of pressing on, the day of yearning for more, of consecration and reconsecration, of understanding the Day of the Lord to be sometime yet ahead on the calendar and down the road of our experience; that day is closing. The majestic silver trumpet is sounding. “It is finished, it is finished, fully finished, without qualification or modification, all is done.” There is now in the economy of God a new and more stringent command for all men, beginning with the Church, to repent in the light of the gospel, a new and more stringent application of the warning by the writer of Hebrews, “How much severer punishment (corrective discipline) do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:29 NAS, my editing).

PART THREE

Whenever Reality confronts us, at least two contrary influences come to bear upon us in opposition to the encroaching Light. One is obvious, that package of bad stuff, sin, iniquity, transgression, rebellion and death. This is head-on animosity, eyeball to eyeball enmity. I had a friend as a teen-ager who was several years older than the rest of us who gathered around him as a gang of young toughs. Don took delight in being challenged by other territorial males and usually met the challenge by almost sticking his nose in the eye of his adversary and daring him to do something about it. He could be awesomely intimidating even to those who might be stronger and have better fighting skills than he. He left no doubt, put up or shut up! He and I met our match in Jesus of Nazareth who barged into our lives and began a work in our hearts that changed all that. But, different than Don’s approach, is the other contrary influence that is much more subtle but equally intimidating though certain to succumb to the Spirit of Truth. I suppose we could describe it as the stubbornly penultimate; that which is almost, but not quite; that which stands on the threshold but does not really enter in; that which holds us transfixed by its appeal to our proclivity to amass an ever growing hoard of biblical knowledge, even revelation knowledge, but revelation that, by and large, is still only ABOUT Him. It is the spiritual seduction that keeps one seeking for Him who has sought us, found us, reconciled us, crucified and buried what he refuses to accept as us and has raised us up to share His glory above all the heavens. In a word, we seek and search to obtain, study and dissect to understand, reach out to get that which cannot be gotten, that which is only given and has in fact been given without measure. The lie of the enemy is that Christ is the greatest thing among all the things that can be gotten. The truth is that He refuses to be gotten, He will only be given. He is sovereignly resistant to being figured out and made to be a compilation of the sum of our revelations. Now, of course, there is the black and white version of this along with every shade of gray. With some, my description is almost totally true. With others, true in varying degrees.

The Lord gave me a mental picture years ago as I reflected on Jesus’ words recorded in Jn. 5:39-40,. You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life” (NAS). I was suddenly and deeply impressed with how accurately His observation described present day Christianity. Was His rebuke meant only for the Jews or did it have a very extant application to the new Jew, the Christian who, like the Jew of yesteryear has all the advantages of information relating to God but fails to really see it all fulfilled in Him among them? The soul of even the regenerated man is subject to setting up spiritual camp where orthodox descriptions of Christ abound and so relish the story that they have little ongoing intimacy with the living Hero of the story. And in many cases, lacking that true intimacy they can attribute to God the most monstrous conjurings of their imagination and provide proof-texts for such demonic strongholds. The mental picture I received as I read those verses again was a picture of a Jewish rabbi pouring over the Old Testament with all its messianic portrayals and suddenly someone’s shadow falls over his page. Without bothering to even glance up from his intense scrutiny of the text he, with irritation, says “Get out of my light, you’re making it hard for me to read” and incredibly, it is Messiah casting the shadow.

Be aware, dear brother and sister in Christ, of being lured on and on into a maze of the biblical description of Christ and His saving work so that there is always something more to learn ABOUT Him; something more to understand about the anointing, the fivefold ministry, the Body of Christ, the Melchizedek priesthood, we in Christ and Christ in us, the kingdom of God, reconciliation, etc. ad infinitum, ad nauseum. There is a knowledge that is done away in Christ (1 Cor. 13:8) and as long as we cling to that knowledge we do not enter in where there is only the knowledge which is the communion of the Holy Spirit. It has nothing to do with mental accumulation of religious facts. It is the awareness of oneness with I AM, whereby I cease to look at Him as separate from me and One to be grasped after, but live in the joy of His transcendence being my Reality. There I cannot be distracted by the call to come learn more about Him for He and I simply ARE.

Am I being disrespectful of the Bible? No. I recognize that wherever that holy book has been opened in a living way, darkness begins to give way to light, men’s hearts are drawn to thoughts of God; societies begin to change, barbarism gives way to civilization; hospitals are built; orphanages founded and the true dignity and worth of humanness appears. But that which is at one stage the instrument by which we progress becomes at another stage that which holds us back because of an inordinate attachment to it. Had men in the field of aeronautics insisted on working only with the combustion engine/propeller driven airplane, determined to squeeze every last bit of horsepower and speed out of that design and that design alone, they would have severely limited air and space travel and made speeds of 500 or 600 mph the absolute frontier. It took the envisioning of jet and rocket engines to “kick it up a notch” as Harold Lovelace would say.

Otherwise we simply would have gone on frustratingly trying to eke out more speed than that technology would permit. How many more little tidbits of understanding must we unearth from the text? How many more nuances of interpretation must we get all aflutter over? We are in danger of becoming completely absorbed by the hobby of fresh revelation, addicted to the just-one-more insight syndrome. How much longer this less perfect way? Am I simply lacking in patience? You judge dear reader. In my teen years, along with cruising around with the above mentioned “put up or shut up” buddy, I was the first in our immediate locale to take up the sport of body building, probably trying to compensate for my lack of height. What fun it became to challenge first-string varsity football players who were 40 pounds heavier and 5 inches taller to a contest of arm wrestling and watch their dismay as the little guy won handily. I remember a particular obsession about that time with building enormous biceps. For a while many valued that more than overall physical symmetry and went to extremes to possess the very best of this representation of masculinity so much so that some claimed they could develop a small muscle on top of the bicep at the point where the bicep peaked. This was the ultimate triumph in upper arm development. Supposedly it could be accomplished by getting that muscle fully “pumped” and then repeatedly striking it with a ruler or anything with a hard, narrow, flat surface until the muscle on top of the muscle began to appear. Some claimed it worked. I don’t know. Are you getting the picture? Do you see an analogy? When is enough, enough?

Christ sits in the regal splendor of the glory of His/our Father on the other side of the cross. The side which is for us really not the other side but this side where we sit with Him. There He is; correction, here He is, the completed God-Man, having brought us to fullness and completeness in Himself. We have been declared by the Spirit of Christ in Paul to be “…the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22,23). Hey, fellow saint, at this point how about our little Christian ditty, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” Really now? But those well versed in chapter and verse will counter that there has to be more to it than that, and hasten to point out proof texts in support of a more moderate position. Doesn’t the Bible explicitly, even in the New Testament, add things to be done, attitudes to be adjusted, character to be worked on, lofty goals to press toward, things needful for the finished work of Christ to be, well, yeah, finished? Surely God is waiting, in some sense, for us to get with the program.

May I remind all the biblically erudite ones that there is a principle in scripture represented by Jesus’ comment concerning the bill of divorcement permitted by the Mosaic Law. Our Lord pointed out that this was a concession to the hardness of the human heart and was not so in the beginning. The law was the pinnacle of revelation, in codified form, of the character of God and required some concession on God’s part when applied to man in his weakness, but it was not so from the beginning. So it is with the pinnacle of New Testament teaching regarding the absolute, never to be repeated, never to be added to, perfection of the Father’s work in Christ on our behalf. There are concessions made to us, given the intolerable intellectual strain on the natural mind, as it seeks to process the unimaginable riches that are ours in glory by Christ Jesus; as it tries to make sense out of the truth that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.

One day I was visiting with an old, very dear friend and brother in Christ when the conversation got around to a particular emphasis in the teaching of his pastor of late. He had been admonishing the congregation to get in a place where God could bless them. Like a projectile out of the depths of my spirit, without any aforethought, the affirmation burst forth from me that He, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3). How can it be? There are so many problems, so much obvious falling short, so much evidence to the contrary. How can it be? It is because He is and nothing else makes it so.

If such sacred things as prophecy, tongues and knowledge have no coexistence with that which is perfect, how many other “things,” represented by that complex, must we release from our grasp, things that we hold on to as absolute prerequisites for spiritual fulfillment. I will seem to digress here but please stay with me. God made a powerful point in the apologetic of Stephen before his martyrdom. Talk about a man asking for it. Certainly Stephen could have been a little more diplomatic about the Jewish temple than he was. Certainly he could have developed his point with a little more finesse. But with words inspired by the Spirit of God, if ever such words have been spoken by a man, Stephen, as it were, seems to walk right into a trap set for him by his accusers, and with magnificent boldness declares what no godly Jew is predisposed to face, that “…the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands…” (Acts 7:48 NAS). “Blasphemy!!” They cried. “God most certainly does dwell in this house that our father David desired to build for Him and which desire his son Solomon fulfilled. And did not God confirm the holiness of this endeavor by filling the house with the cloud of His glory so that the priests could not even minister for the glory that had descended on that holy place?” This was the place that everything in their understanding said was God’s abode on earth. Stephen’s declaration was one mindless, intemperate, sacrilegious assertion they could not endure. He must be put to death. Absolutely no doubt in their minds that he deserved to die and they had plenty of scripture to prove it. Where am I going with this and what’s my point? We are about to have our sacred, Christian equivalent of this challenged. For us, when all is said and done, where is the central place where we can meet God and know that His presence is there awaiting us, where He will surely speak to us? Where are all the sacred symbols that foreshadow, represent and speak of Him with inspired authorship? Where can we go to find the perfection of teaching found in a present day altar, laver, candlesticks, incense and Ark of the Covenant? (See Ex. 40). Why to our bibles of course. Where else? Let us go to it again and again and again until we decipher all that it has to tell us ABOUT our God.

Beloved, today Stephen would say to us, “God does not dwell in a book,” not even in the Book of books. He lives in a Body, the Body of our humanity which proceeded out from God Himself, the same humanity that the Lord Jesus took upon Himself when He, in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwelt, came and tabernacled among us, Emmanuel, revealing what true Humanness is. Here, the Most High finds perfect form and expression for all that He is. Here, forgive me, but I must speak to the contemporary mind, here God has His recliner and kicks back in full rest to enjoy His family forever.

PART FOUR

We refer to some people as “people persons.” They are people who find their greatest fulfillment in interaction with others. Possessions, challenges, careers, hobbies, intellectual pursuits, ambition, all these and other things take a back seat for this type of individual. They are energized by human contact and relationship. Although there are neurotic forms of this personality type, by and large they are, in psychological terms, healthier and happier than most. Our God is a people God. He is relationship oriented. In fact, He is relational at the core of His being. I dare to say that He is not simply a God disposed to cultivating relationships but He is relationship itself. He is relational because He is relationship. Why do we in the Christian tradition refer to His plurality as trinity rather than family? It is because we are disposed to de-personalize God. Since all things are to be summed up in Christ (Eph 1:10), then all things are not really things; they are dimensions of Him who is the image of God (2Cor 4:4).

Martha, Lazarus’ sister, had this problem (John 11:1-44). She needed a revivification for her brother. She knew Christ could provide IT for her. When confronted by the statement of Christ that her brother “shall rise again” she retreats into her perception of reality by immediately affirming the orthodox belief that Lazarus would rise again in the resurrection on the last day. Her mind thought in terms of THINGS Christ could do for her NOW, or second best, in the FUTURE EVENT known as the resurrection. To this Jesus responds in the magnificence of “I Am” and assures her that resurrection is at hand for He IS the resurrection and the life. He doesn’t simply work resurrection miracles. He doesn’t simply appear on the scene to raise a body from the dead. He IS resurrection. In Him is not only revivification, He IS THE resurrection and THE life, and death has no power over Him or those in relationship with Him. Martha understood the “shall” of Jesus statement that her brother would rise again as indicative of what God would do in the future. Jesus understood the “shall” as expressive of the imperative that lay in the truth that His Father is the living God who gives life to all things. In the proper use of language, indeed, “shall” may refer to something that will occur in the future, but from the perspective of God, on the other side of the cross, where we, having the mind of Christ, share in that perspective, God says, “It shall be because I AM and I AM in relationship with you and my relationship with you dictates and assures your relationship with me so that what I AM is not a matter of something available to you in the future, it’s what IS with US. I AM past, present and future NOW. What you have understood as my past accomplishments and things I will yet do are resident in Me in union with you NOW.”

The Lord has been shaking the saints of late to shake off of them all their precious “bye and bye” sentiments and insisting that we repent and know Him as all in all NOW. But frankly, though we make some brave statements about this truth, this is new ground for us, strange new territory and the natural mind is in a state of complete frustration in trying to really comprehend such a thing. My God, what would we do without our eschatological charts? We are finding ourselves experiencing intellectually intolerable upheavals within, as Christ replaces our mind with His, and declares His judgment that “some day” is no longer an acceptable consideration in our dialogue with the Eternal One.

Invariably, when we hope for what God will do for us some day, we turn inwardly (but not inwardly enough) to determine what changes must come to pass before God can fully work on our behalf and through us to others. We become spiritually ego-centric. God’s work is perceived as dependent on the time necessary to effect the required changes in us. Some would think to pass on the torch of that mentality but it is a torch whose fire is nearly out and when passed on will shortly contain only cold embers. On the other side of the Cross, which is not the other side, but the side where we REALLY live, Jesus has completed us, having made us, in Himself, One New Man, a new creation with no loose ends left to be tied up. This is not a work done to us, it is our share in the work of the Father which Christ IS. We are complete in who He is. You may protest that St. Paul and others definitely indicate a work in progress that is yet to be complete but my response to you is that, by some definition, scripture always speaks in a way that accommodates the cosmology of the day while teasing us with a peek at reality that goes beyond that adolescent cosmology. While affirming an absolutely finished work in Christ, Paul relieves the pressure on our natural mind as we “look through a glass darkly” (1Cor 13:12), or better “in a cloudy mirror.” He writes in a way that literally permits us to avoid, temporarily, the awful Presence of “I AM” within and among us, the “I AM,” who ultimately allows for no sense of need or lack on the part of His sons and daughters. Paul is acknowledging that even his inspired words are incomplete and lacking and that we should hitch our wagon to the implications found in his glorious statements concerning the state of being of the Christ, Head and Body, and repent of the ignorant blasphemy that insists that He is not perfect and that we must give diligence to do our part to make up the lack.

There is a parallel between the natural and the spiritual. A knowledge beyond us, as Einstein testified, is thrusting itself upon us demanding, with a demand that carries it’s own grace of self-fulfillment, that we discard our former childish way of thinking. We saints know something that Einstein didn’t know. We totally agree that this supernal knowledge transcends us yet He, who is the Wisdom of God, indwells us sharing with us His very mind, the mind of Christ. When I was a young man it was acknowledged that barely a half dozen men in the world understood the theories of Albert Einstein. Today, much of scientific pursuit and technology depend upon and proceed from his premises. Now, in the field of quantum physics, discoveries are coming forth that challenge even the conclusions of that remarkable man. Where do we find a spiritual parallel? Here I can only speak in the broadest of terms for I have absolutely no training that would qualify me to go into any detail. But I can say this. We have been led right up to and into the conclusion that (1) time is certainly not what we have thought it to be, (2) that God Himself not only created all things but constitutes their existence and (3) in the discovery of, what is to us, apparent chaos underlying all cosmic order, we are beginning to see a perfect Unity that beckons us to recognize Him and nothing more. If you will, give heed to the dreams and visions of your fellow saints and to the increasing mystical experiences of brothers and sisters in Christ who are seeing into this realm and who, if you are enabled to connect intuitively with them, are expressing in a much purer form what I have tried to say here.

 

OTHER SIDE of the CROSS, THE – Parts 1-4, [John R. Gavazzoni]          1

 

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