Casting Out the Bondwoman--Part 7
Aug 08, 2009
It all comes down to faith, which is a heart response to the voice of God that produces action ("works").
But faith must be rooted in truth, or it is not true faith at all. Everyone has "faith" in something or someone. If I place my faith in myself and my ability to be justified by my works, my faith is misplaced. If I place my faith in an organized church or in its hierarchy, I have again misplaced my faith, for not even Paul or Peter paid a penny to redeem me from sin. That was not their calling.
So when we speak of "faith," we must ask ourselves on which truth that faith is based. Faith is believing something. If we believe a lie, it may be classified as "faith," but it is not the quality of faith that will benefit us in a biblical way. Paul says in Rom. 1:16, 17,
(16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (17) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written: "But the righteous man shall live by faith."
Going "from faith to faith" does not mean switching churches or denominations. Full salvation goes "from faith to faith." It starts with Passover faith, wherein we believe that Jesus died on the cross as the Sacrifice to redeem the world. This was the purpose of His first coming, and without believing in His Sacrificial Work, there is no justification, regardless of how good or sincere people may be.
Faith in His first work brings us citizenship; faith in His second work brings us sonship--which is the purpose of His second coming. This is Tabernacles faith, and it involves believing truth that goes beyond Passover and justification.
I have attempted to show the big picture of the second work of Christ, because it is just as multi-faceted as was the first work of Christ. The difference is that we have now moved from the conflict over Throne rights to a new conflict over the Birthright. The rewards of faith are also different. The reward for Passover faith is citizenship and justification. The reward for Tabernacles faith is Sonship and Glorification.
But in each case, one cannot believe a lie and expect to be rewarded. One does not need to fully understand all the issues, of course, because it is ultimately a matter of the heart, and God will judge righteously. But whether we understand the issues fully or not, our actions are indicators of the condition of our heart and also manifest outwardly the quality of our faith/belief.
In the struggle for the Birthright, those who oppose Jesus' claim as Messiah ben Joseph are as much disqualified from the Birthright reward (Sonship) as their counterparts in Judea were disqualified for opposing Jesus' right to the Throne.
Likewise, those who follow the footsteps of Ahithophel and Judas, who betray Jesus by siding with (aiding and abetting) those who would usurp His Birthright--even if they are Jesus' disciples and friends--are disqualified from the reward of the Birthright. The issue has changed, but the conflict has continued to our day.
Hence, I find it difficult to see how Christian Zionists can qualify for the Birthright reward, after they have betrayed Jesus Christ in attempting to obtain Sonship. The Birthright cannot be obtained by supporting the usurpers of the Birthright. Their faith may be real, but it is misplaced. All they can do is bring upon themselves the judgment upon Judas--"his office let another man take" (Acts 1:20; Ps. 109:8).
Many Christian Zionists believe some form of the Sonship message and expect to be rewarded in that manner. The question is whether their faith is in a Lie or if it is based upon Truth. Perhaps for some it does not matter, as long as a person has "faith." I myself believe that faith is believing in Truth (or a specific Truth) in order to be valid in the sight of God.
The priests and rabbis in Jesus' day had "faith" in a coming military messiah who would be a man of war, patterned after Joshua and David. Their faith was misplaced, because He came as the Prince of Peace and submitted to those that the Divine Court had placed over Judea when God placed them under the Babylonian succession of empires. Thus, in rejecting His brand of messiahship, the chief priests and many "good" people who followed their lead did not have faith in the Truth. Hence, they did not receive justification in the divine court, though many were zealous in their faith in God.
This is, of course, the big tragedy. Leaders convince their followers of a lie in order that the leaders might maintain positions of power. Absalom recruited ordinary people into his army to overthrow David and usurp his throne. The chief priests recruited ordinary people into their army as well to usurp Jesus' throne. In each case, their armies were blindly supporting leaders because their faith was in leaders, not in the Truth. In other words, they trusted their leaders to uphold the truth and were content to espouse the views of their leaders, rather than to seek Truth for themselves. In Matt. 15:14 Jesus says,
"Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit."
The blind man being led seems innocent. Why should he "fall into a pit" with his blind guide? It does not seem fair. The blind man should not have put his trust in a blind guide, because the consequence is that he receives the reward of his blind guide.
This is the unfortunate story of history. So many are sheep without a (good) shepherd. So many place their faith in the leadership of men, rather than look to God and His Word directly. Men naturally feel guilt and shame for their sinful condition, and so they prefer to remain at a distance from God. They think of God as too lofty and too righteous to consort with sinful men. The natural "solution" is to put a perceived "righteous" man between God and ordinary men. The leader or priest is the buffer between a righteous God and sinful men.
This "solution" creates an indirect relationship between God and men. Religions expect their leaders to have a direct relationship with God, but such a relationship is assumed to be unattainable to the average person. Yet Jesus came to show us by example that God is our Father and wants to establish a direct relationship with each individual. He is not merely interested in the collective, but in the intensely personal. A direct relationship with God means that we no longer place our faith in human leaders or priests.
This does not mean there is no place for leadership in God's Kingdom. God certainly does grant authority, gifts, and callings to various people. Rather, it means that we place our Faith in Jesus Christ alone, while respecting leaders insofar as they have been called of God and gifted in various ways. Faith and respect are two different things.
When faith and respect become confused, people are easily led to fulfill the agendas of fallible men. Ordinary people respect the opinion of leaders so much that they violate the inner voice of God, thinking that it surely cannot be true if it contradicts the "revelation" of the leader.
I myself learned this lesson by hard experience. I paid a hefty price for placing my faith in men that I deeply respected and trusted. I suppressed the voice of God, and it cost me 3 x 414 days of hard labor. When I look back at it, though, I embrace the experience as a divine correction that would teach me by experience what not to do. And now I can speak from the heart, not just from the head, when I write of these things for your benefit.
This is the seventh part of a series titled "Casting Out the Bondwoman." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones