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3. A Living Reality

When we look at the heart of God, His intention and purpose, all other things in the Bible fall into place. We must find the one verse that shows us the heart and purpose of God. What is He doing? What does He want out of this thing?

3. A Living Reality

© Daniel Yordy 2009

What is the goal of the believer in Jesus Christ?  What is the central focus of the New Testament?  Let’s begin with a familiar poem. 
The Six Blind Men of Hindustan
There were six men of Hindustan, to learning much inclined, Who went to see an elephant, though all of them were blind, That each by observation might satisfy his mind.

The first approached the elephant, and happening to fall Against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl, "This mystery of an elephant is very like a wall."

The second, feeling of the tusk, cried, "Ho, what have we here, So very round and smooth and sharp? To me 'tis mighty clear, This wonder of an elephant is very like a spear."

The third approached the elephant, and happening to take The squirming trunk within his hands, thus boldly up and spake, "I see," quoth he, "the elephant is very like a snake."
The fourth reached out an eager hand, and felt above the knee, "What this most wondrous beast is like is very plain" said he, "'Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree."

The fifth who chanced to touch the ear said, "E'en the blindest man Can tell what this resembles most; deny the fact who can; This marvel of an elephant is very like a fan."

The sixth no sooner had begun about the beast to grope, Than seizing on the swinging tail that fell within his scope; "I see," said he, "the elephant is very like a rope."

So six blind men of Hindustan disputed loud and long, Each in his own opinion exceeding stiff and strong; Though each was partly in the right, they all were in the wrong!

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have entered into a Covenant or binding contract with God called the New Covenant. 

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,” for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. Hebrews 8:10-13

Has God written Himself upon our hearts? 

You are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read by all men, clearly we are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

Because we believe in Jesus, we have hearts filled with the writing and nature of God.  In Ephesians 3 Paul says that we look at our hearts and see Christ, not by what we see with our natural eyes, but by faith.  
In the New Covenant we walk by faith and not by sight.  That is, we do not go by what we see with our own eyes, but we believe that what God says about us is true.  I do not look at my own heart, at its weaknesses and failings, and decide for myself what is true, reinforcing my eyesight by words from the Old Covenant.  No, I look at what God says about my heart and believe it to be true.  My heart is brand new; it is a letter written by God. 

 When Jesus said, “It is finished,” every point of the Old Covenant in that moment was fulfilled and thus made obsolete by God. Out of His resurrection comes the New Covenant in which we live. The purpose of the Old is to help us  understand the New Covenant, not to rule over it.

The New Covenant is every word of the New Testament made alive in us. In Revelation 22 John tells not to add to or take away from the words of His vision.

The Spirit of God is speaking of the entire New Testament. This is the legal and living document by which we stand in relationship with God.  Don’t add to it and don’t take away from it.  Don’t pull in Old Covenant verses that speak against the New Covenant.  Don’t listen to things people say that add to the New Covenant.  At the same time, don’t take away any word God speaks in the New Testament. The New Covenant is a living word, not the words on the page. But the words on the page are a physical record of all the heavenly life of Christ.

Now, remember our poem – the six blind men. Think of the New Testament as this elephant. The New Testament is a big book, filled with many things. This is not surprising. God is a big God! The New Testament is large and complicated.

The gospel itself is simple – believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Trust in Him; call upon Him.  By the work of the cross and by His blood He cleanses us. The Holy Spirit comes upon us because of the blood and becomes Christ in us.

Sometimes we find contradictions in the New Testament, truths that seem to be on opposite sides of a spectrum. The biggest such contradiction is jeopardy versus assurance.  

The New Covenant is filled with assurance verses.  Accepted in the beloved.  —  If God is for us who can be against us? — He will complete the good work He has started. At the same time, the New Covenant is filled with jeopardy verses.  The most frequent command in the New Testament is Watch out, take heed, beware. The strongest jeopardy verse is, We shall be partakers of Christ, if –.  “If” is conditional.

Side by side in the New Testament are found assurance verses and jeopardy verses.  We are just like those six blind men. As believers we go from one truth to the next.  Each time we think we finally understand what God is all about.

Jesus said in John 16, The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth. God intends for us to believe and understand all that He speaks in the New Covenant, not just a few things here and there. 

The elephant is not the sum of its parts, tacked together. The elephant is a living creature, wonderful, intelligent, with personality. An elephant has a trunk, legs, a side, but he is not those; he is a living creature that breathes and thinks and moves. This is the way we understand the New Covenant. We take the whole thing. We do not add to it from the Old Covenant or human reason or Christian tradition. No, we take the entire New Covenant, though not with our reasoning minds. The words Jesus speaks are “Spirit and they are life.”

God has written that same New Covenant on our hearts. Paul says not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Paul says, But we all with unveiled face . . . are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory. . . This is a New Covenant that goes from glory to glory.  We live in all of it.

Christianity seems to be a tale of which verses to cut out of the New Testament and which to promote. Every one of us does this. We emphasize the verses we like and ignore the verses we don’t like.

Can a Christian lose his salvation or is he assured of salvation?

Because we run from trunk to leg to tail we can entertain such a question.  When we see the New Covenant as a living and complete entity, we see both jeopardy and assurance. The New Testament doesn’t ask us that question at that level. Blind people who run from trunk to leg to tail ask that question. The New Covenant is a living document, a living relationship.

Jesus will win; that is indisputable. He is our life; we have no other life. 

All believers and groups through all Christianity take only parts of the New Testament.  We pick out verses we like and use those verses to rule the whole New Testament, both in our understanding and in what we teach. Some Christians even use verses to do battle against other verses.  But verses in the New Testament are not given to do war with other verses of the New Testament.  Why would God do that?  All verses are given us to believe.

God says, If you sin willfully . . .  That is a word from God for me to believe.  I receive it, I believe it, and that word reveals Christ in my heart.

When God says in another place, You are more than a conqueror, or Nothing can separate you from the love of God, I receive it, and I believe it. I expect that God is that Word fulfilled in my life.

  I believe both words! Why? Because God said both. I don’t need to defeat one word by using the other.  God spoke both, I hear and receive both, I believe both, and I trust in God to fulfill His word in my life. The gospel, the New Covenant, is the whole thing.

Now, we cannot take in the entire New Testament all at the same level. That is not God’s intention. There IS New Testament truth that stands above and helps us to understand and interpret the entire Bible.  But we must be careful which verses we pick. Every group in the history of Christianity, every believer, has certain verses they have picked out, and they use those verses to RULE their understanding of the entire Bible.

Any verse that doesn’t fit is ignored or explained away.  Every verse that doesn’t line up with the primary understanding is cut out. To illustrate I could take an inexpensive Bible and a pair of scissors and start cutting. This verse, that page.  That seems drastic, yet we all do it.  

God has spoken every single word. But we all interpret the Bible through a handful of verses. It must be. The verses we pick to define and regulate the rest of the Bible will determine the course of our lives, both in this world and the next — more than we think.

What do we do with the verses that do not fit our definitions or that we do not like? Do we skip them? Do we explain them away or knowingly read them wrong? If we are honest, we’ll realize we do that a lot more often than we think. We need to stop in our tracks.  If God speaks it in the New Testament, we don’t need to cut it out or explain why it doesn’t mean what it says.

As we seek God to understand what He teaches, upon occasion, verses leap out at us. A verse we have read over and over suddenly is made alive in a revelation of the Holy Spirit, and we see truth we’ve never seen before. Here is what I’ve noticed: when I see a new revelation of truth in that way, all of a sudden I now believe that verse to be true. A revelation of the Holy Spirit becomes simply believing that what God says, He means. Oh, it says to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ! It means that, and I can believe it, and the Holy Spirit makes it alive in me. We now believe what God says!  

We cannot believe anything in the New Testament without the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is given to us to believe what God says.  Without the Holy Spirit we can memorize, describe, write theology, but we cannot believe what God says. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we see the verse and realize it means what it says. As we believe it, it becomes life to us, and we walk in it’s strength.

All we did was believe what it says.

Many people use John 3:16 as a dominant verse. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him shall not perish but shall have everlasting life. That is the entire gospel to them.  

But here is a sad thing. The defining understanding that too many Christians use to define the New Testament and to rule the whole Bible is not found in the New Testament; it is not a Bible teaching. This is the overwhelming success of the planting of tares that has filled the church for 1900 years. The greatest deception is this:  The goal of the believer is to go to heaven when we die.  Notice, I made it look like Scripture, but it is not. This idea states that Jesus died so that we could, upon death, escape hell and go to heaven.  Even though the New Testament does not teach this, nevertheless it rules in the minds and hearts of God’s people as the definition of the gospel.

How is it the most dangerous idea in Christianity? Simple! It rules the way too many Christians interpret the New Testament and effectively causes them to completely miss God’s purpose. That idea separates people from the true purpose of God and the true goal of the believer, the true path home. It keeps us from entering into all the fullness of Christ now.

When Christians read verses that teach us concerning the goal of the believer, these verses make no sense to them because they don’t fit into the strict little box that says “Jesus died to give me a ticket so that when I leave this life and go to the next, I have the pass that lets me go into heaven and not into hell.  Plus there are a few things about living life here while I wait.

Yes, there is a realm called heaven, and when Christians die they exist only in the heavenly realm. But heaven is passing away; it is temporary. Those who are in heaven are incomplete, waiting for God to finish their salvation. “Going to” heaven is not the goal of the believer. The thinking of the New Testament church was that heaven is coming here.  In fact, Paul says in Romans 10, Don’t say who will “go to” heaven to find Christ. The word is near you now in your heart and in your mouth, the word that we preach. Yet Christians say it anyway!

Then, whenever the New Testament does talk about the goal of the believer, we immediately put that into heaven. It is “heaven” that has the power to make it happen. That verse will happen only after we go to heaven; we don’t need to believe for it here. Heaven is more powerful than what God says to us here.  Any verse too big for us here and now, we just stick it up there in heaven. 

That’s why this defining “verse” is so sad; it keeps so many dear believers from considering the true purpose of God. The primary role of the serpent is to make what God says ineffective in the minds of believers. By giving a false goal to them, a non-Biblical goal, he has sidetracked believers, taking their focus away from fulfilling the purpose and intention of God.  

Rather than going outside the New Testament, let’s go to the heart of the New Testament, the heart of God, to find our defining verse. 

Here’s the difference. The six blind men of Hindustan each interpreted the elephant by judging only that little portion they had touched. The elephant was thinking “What silly men!  I am a living creature.  Sir, you have my trunk, my tail, my leg. Those are parts of me. You are failing to look at me, a living creature.”

So it is with the gospel. We cannot understand God from our perspective by picking only those verses that are compatible to life in this world.

The New Covenant is a revelation of the heart and purpose of Almighty God.  God has made no mistakes. God created this world and placed man upon it after first allowing Satan to take up residence. God knew full well He was placing man into a snake pit. Evil filled the Garden of Eden. Was not Satan there? God knew He was placing this fragile creation into a den of iniquity.  God was after something other than the destruction of man. The New Testament clearly teaches us what God wants. God did not send Jesus to fix a mistake and to pull out of this mess a handful of poor souls whom He could retrieve from a disaster. 

God had a purpose from the beginning; not one thing has ever happened that does not bend to His purpose. God purposed the salvation of Jesus before He created man; God is after something. The Bible is clear about God’s purpose. From the heart of God we understand everything God says. Everything.

If we want to know what the trunk is for, we study the living creature called the elephant. We discover the purpose of the trunk; it is not a snake.

When we look at the heart of God, His intention and purpose, all other things in the Bible fall into place.  We must find the one verse that shows us the heart and purpose of God. What is He doing? What does He want out of this thing?

It’s not about saving us, but about God obtaining His purpose. It is not about God fixing a mistake, but about God accomplishing His intention. Everything that has taken place on this earth fits into God’s intention and purpose. Even the existence of evil must bend itself to the purpose of God.

What does God want? What verse tells us?  — Romans 8:29. — This is the defining verse of the Bible. We need this verse to fill our mind and heart.  

Romans is the central book of the gospel. Romans gives us the foundation of the gospel, Romans 1-12.  Inside these 12 chapters, Romans 8 is the capstone, the climax. Inside Romans 8, the defining verse for the whole Bible is verse 29.  

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified, and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Romans 8:28-30

God’s purpose is to have many sons just like Jesus, conformed to His image.

From the beginning God determined that I would be just like Jesus.

God wants many sons just like Jesus; that is His purpose and goal. It doesn’t matter if we are on earth or in heaven or on Mars or in the place of the dead or above all the heavens. God’s goal is that we be just like Jesus, conformed to the image of His Son. Salvation is who we are, not where we are.   

When Romans 8:29 fills our understanding, we no longer need to cut or define. If Romans 8:29 rules, we simply believe what God says.  

Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. I believe it! Watch out, take heed, beware. I believe it! If God is for me who can be against me. I believe it.  I don’t explain away or cut or ignore; I simply believe what God says. 

Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. I believe it for right now.  I don’t have to get rid of it, put it off to heaven; I believe it.  Let God fulfill it in my life right now.

Behold I am Your servant.  Let it be to me according to Your word.

And all thought that this has to wait till heaven vanishes, because I have removed that false definition from my mind. 

Journey’s End, our true home, is to live IN the Father; it is His life in all of me revealed through me wherever I may be. It is the purpose and intention of God.