Part Two: No excuses.
The average person doesn’t see himself as making an excuse but merely keeping with reality, and the reality is that we are beings who are fallen from grace. We chose our own will for our lives at the time of the fall. Man has a sin nature that makes us predisposed to choose our will over God’s. And for the purposes of this paper, right when used as a moral choice will mean Gods’ will and wrong will mean the opposite. There are facts that must be faced. While we’re called to perfection – always choosing right, there is none among mankind that is righteous. Romans 3:10 says, “as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;” and Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” John is no exception to this, in 1st John 1:8, 10 John writes, “8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us… 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
However, John Eldridge writes in his book Epic, “On the day Adam and Eve fell from grace, they ran off and hid in the bushes. And God came looking for them. He called to Adam, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). Thus began the long and painful story of God’s pursuit of mankind. Though we betrayed him and fell into the hands of the Evil One, God did not abandon us.” (Eldredge 2004, 61) God didn’t abandon us to the sin nature that we attained as a result of our sins. “Like a woman bound to an affair from which she cannot get free, like a man so corrupted he no longer knows his own name, the human race is captive in the worst way possible – we are captives of the heart.” (Eldredge 2004, 64)
We are truly agathokakological. It’s a word this author first discovered in Steven James’ book, Sailing Between the Stars and means, consisting of both good and evil, James elaborates on the significance of the term. “Agathokakological. We’re from below and from above, bestial and celestial, children of the earth and offspring of the stars. We are an odd race capable of both martyrdom and murder, poetry and rape, worship and abortion. And Christianity explains why: we are both the Spirit breathed Children of God and the expelled rebels of the kingdom.” (James 2006, 11) This is the balance that must be achieved, if we drift to either one extreme we will miss who we were created to be, as an example, if we abandon our celestial nature, we become nothing more than animals ruled by our instincts.
God, through himself putting on skin and suffering unto death, died on our behalf to set us free from Sin and we only have to accept his completed work on the cross and we will be set free. John writes in 1st John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When we confess to God, He cleanses us and makes us new in him. All throughout Romans 6, Paul writes about our freedom from death, and what our response to it as Christians should be. Romans 6:11 says, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
 The generic term he/him/himself will be used in lieu of he/she him/her himself/herself.
Francis Schaeffer writes concerning Romans 6:11, “When? Right now! This is the basic consideration of the Christian life. First, Christ died in history. Second, Christ rose in history. Third, we died with Christ in history when we accepted him as our savior. Further we will be raised in history, when he comes again. Fifth, we are to live by faith now as thought we were now dead, already have died. And sixth, we are to live now by faith as though we have now already been raised from the dead.” (Schaeffer 1971, 37) When we accepted Christ’s completed work on the cross we died with him on that day roughly 2000 years ago. Schaeffer argues not only that but also that we must live as though God has already returned.
The importance of Schaeffer’s remarks is best summed up in Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins, ignoring the controversy; we must accept truth when we hear it regardless of the source. In speaking about Heaven Rob writes, “Jesus consistently affirmed heaven as a real place, space, and dimension of God’s creation, where God’s will and only God’s will is done. Heaven is that realm where things are as God intends them to be.” (Bell, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived 2011, 42) But Rob doesn’t stop there, he continues and goes back to a Revalational view of Heaven, he writes, “What Jesus taught, what the prophets taught, what all of Jewish tradition pointed to, and what Jesus lived in anticipation of, was the day when earth and heaven would be one. The day when God’s will would be done on earth as it is now done in heaven. The day when earth and heaven will be the same place.” (Bell, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived 2011, 42,43)
In essence, Bell says that in the New Jerusalem there will be a reality of God’s will being done, not just by him, but by us. Assuming Bell is correct, this is the end destination of the story of our salvation, and when Schaeffer writes we must live as if Christ has returned, he’s writing we must live as though God has set up His kingdom here on earth and His will alone is pursued. God’s will is clear in scripture, and it’s also clear that Jesus’s completed work on the cross has conquered death.
Paul was very clear about Christians not being subject to temptation. 1st Corinthians 10:13 states, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Paul is clear that God will provide a way out, but God will not force us to take it. It’s our choice. But will we choose it? John Eldredge brings up an important point, often overlooked in Christian circles, “The dilemma of the Story is this: we don’t know if we want to be rescued. We are so enamored with our small stories and our false gods, we are so bound up in our addictions and our self-centeredness and take-it-for-granted unbelief that we don’t even know how to cry out for help. And the Evil One has no intention of letting his captives walk away scot-free. He seduces us, deceives us, assaults us – whatever it takes to keep us in darkness.” (Eldredge 2004, 62, 63)
It is quite daunting to look at ones’ life and compare how they are living to the scriptural mandate. Man so often falls short of Gods’ standard and the Evil One uses the tools of guilt and shame to keep an individual from turning to God for help with His commands. It must be made clear that a 1st John Lifestyle is not to gain favor with God, or to heap on guilt and condemnation. Corey Russell, a pastor at the International House of Prayer, wrote in his book Pursuit of the Holy, “The majority of believers live with guilt, shame and condemnation because of the past, and even present, seasons of sin. And it is destroying us. Are we only beautiful to God when we have it all together? If that were true, none of us would ever be beautiful to Him.” (Russell 2006, 49) Russell goes on to say that we all have areas that we need help with, but that God’s acceptance of us isn’t based on our own ability to choose that which is right. Russell is completely correct. God isn’t calling us towards perfection he’s calling us to allow him to help us through the things we struggle with as we align ourselves to his will.
When I first read the quote from Corey Russell, I nearly cried. I had to condense three paragraphs of awesomeness into the smidgen of a quote you see.
What do you think about Eldredge’s claim that we don’t want to be rescued sometimes? Have you seen it in your own life?
And lastly, Rob Bells definition of Heaven, while it may not be exhaustive, i do believe there is some real truth!