Random Blog Clay Feet: March 09, 2009
Feel free to leave your own comments or questions. If you would like to be in contact with me without having it published let me know in your comment and leave your email address and I will not publish that comment.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Without an Intercessor - 1

So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:31-33)

For a number of years now I have been revising my thinking about the role of Jesus as our intercessor. There is a statement that has been the source of deep terror for many people that states that there is coming a time when we must live without an intercessor before the Father. And this is to take place before the Second Coming of Jesus.

This statement has been one of the most solid foundation blocks of those who insist on the doctrine and philosophy of perfectionism. I grew up in this ideology and this perception of religion was a deep source of fear and apprehension for me for many years. It fueled my terror of the last day events which were often dwelt upon by others for that very purpose. It was assumed by many that dwelling on this kind of fearful foreboding of the future would inspire enough terror in the heart to cause people to let go of all the sins in their lives and thus achieve absolute perfection somehow so that they would not be lost when Jesus comes.

This belief system is all too alive and well right now in various forms and its proponents are becoming even more vocal and strident in their broadcasting of this false gospel. The reason that I call this a false gospel is because the very word “gospel” literally means good news. But in all the years that I lived under this illusion of believing that it was my job to perfect myself in order to please God and get into heaven, I could never figure out what part of this ideology was supposed to be good news. Everywhere I turned and everything I heard sounded like warnings and fear and terror, not good news that would make me feel excited or even loving toward God as I was supposed to feel.

Over the past few years it has become very plain to me that nearly every aspect of these kinds of teachings are fraught with subtle but dangerous assumptions and paradigms that lend them ineffective for changing the heart in the way that needs to happen to prepare us to live in the presence of God. I could spend a great deal of time covering each item of this that is mistaken, but the most blatant and damaging part of it all is that it is based fundamentally on fear itself as the primary motivation for serving God. To suggest that somehow love was supposed to emerge from this miasma of confused thinking about God only added to my frustration, but that was also supposed to be somewhere there in the mix as well. That too confused me deeply as I was keenly aware of my inability to really love God while at the same time being increasingly terrified of the consequences of not doing so perfectly – and from the heart no less.

But I still believe that the basic facts buried underneath all these false teachings based on fear are still valid. Just because legalists and extremists and even liberals have hijacked and misappropriated nearly every religious word and phrase does not mean that they are no longer applicable for our lives. It simply means that we need the presence of the Holy Spirit and humility and patience to begin to untangle all the lies and fears that have blinded us for so long and we need to begin to discern the amazing beauty of real truth buried deep under the rubbish of false perceptions of God that fill our imaginations.

I have spent enough years now having my lies unlocked, exposed and slowly replaced with valid truth that I feel I am entering a new phase of life, a very exciting and energizing phase where I can begin to experience the strength of the joy of the Lord. As the truth about God becomes more and more clear to my heart I come into more awe and can feel genuine responses of spontaneous love emerging from my heart and emotions, something that was unimaginable only a few years ago.

There are still many pockets of residual misconceptions that keep emerging in my thinking that I need to address each time they show up. But I do not do this in a spirit of hostility as I have sensed in many people who have left my church and become deeply embittered against everything they formerly believed. I find that spirit to be just as dangerous and lethal to my relationship with God as the legalism from which I am slowly emerging. I have to guard myself from much exposure to either kind of thinking and keep my imagination focused on the real truth about God that He has been revealing to me over the past few years and continues to do daily. But as this increasing light exposes yet more of my pain and confusion embedded from false teachings and assumptions about Him, I am eager to have Him show me the real truth about the original basic facts that remain unaffected by the false assumptions and teachings that so long darkened my understanding about their implications.

I still strongly believe that there are urgent warnings that need to be heeded in preparing us to meet our God. The fanatics on the one hand try to frighten us with dark views of a God waiting and eager to punish all who fail to measure up to certain performance standards. The extremists on the other side of the fence usually push people to think that God is so loving and fickle and full of so-called grace that all we have to do is immerse ourselves in a feel-good religion and say some “magic” words in a sinners prayer and “accept Jesus into our heart” (whatever that happens to mean) and we have nothing more to be concerned about.

But what I am starting to see more clearly in this issue of living with or without an intercessor is not so much fear or cheap grace either one; what I am now seeing is the reality of the fundamental purpose and function of the intercession of Jesus in the first place. And as I perceive the true nature of intercession itself I find it is one of those areas that is very liberating for my heart.

My new and growing awareness about the immense danger of God's passionate love for us precludes me from believing in such dangerous philosophies as proposed by many protestants even as the legalism of my past was equally dangerous. It will be fatal to believe that we can be safe in the day of judgment (full revelation of God's power and passion) while failing to have our hearts in perfect synchronization with the pure and unselfish love of the Father. But this is precisely where both sides of the debate fail miserably. They both fail to comprehend in the slightest both the real truth about love and the real feelings that God has for us. They do not perceive the enormous potential of both life and death in the presence of unspeakable glory and power because of the lies that skew their perceptions of the real attitude and passion of God, and particularly on the part of the Father.

Because of the many misunderstandings and false teachings about God from both sides of the isle, it is nearly impossible to approach the subject of intercession and carry on an intelligent, useful conversation about the subject without first addressing the many false beliefs about God that drive the agendas of those involved. But once the fog begins to clear away to some degree about God's real attitude and disposition towards His children, then real progress can start to be made in understanding the true purpose of Jesus' work of intercession before the Father in relation to us.

I believe that the most important fact to establish before anything else about this issue can even begin to make real sense is Jesus explicit statement, "I and the Father are one." (John 10:30) Jesus made this even more clear when He was sharing the same truth with the disciples just before He died for us.

If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.... He who has seen Me has seen the Father... "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.... (John 14:7, 9-11)

This is one belief that seems to me to be irreconcilable with the assumptions underlying the fear-based teachings about Jesus as our intercessor before God. I was never able to make sense of these two ideas until my picture of the Father was radically transformed and replaced by the real truth about Him only in the past few years. Then it began to dawn on me that my confusion was rooted in my long-held concepts of God the Father as one who really didn't like me and wasn't real keen on my getting into heaven. At the same time, Jesus was supposedly working very hard to convince Him that I could be trusted to behave if He would let me in – that is, if I was able to perfect my character enough with a lot of help from God. That involved stopping all sinning and getting all past sins forgiven as well. I know it was never stated in those terms, but that was the general gist of the beliefs. This perception in one form or another with slight variations lies at the heart of most conservative Christianity today and even permeates most all other religions as well to some degree.

But this scenario becomes impossible when it is established that Jesus actually meant what He said in the above verses. If the attitude and beliefs and thinking of Jesus are exactly the same as the Father's, it simply becomes ludicrous to try to think that Jesus has to somehow change God's mind about us. That point must become very clear and must be accepted as solid truth or the discussion cannot proceed any further with any reasonable expectation of making sense. This is the foundation upon which everything else about this subject must rest if it is to bring us out of darkness.

Very closely parallel to this is the intense fear and agitation surrounding the teaching about an Investigative Judgment that is believed by many to be taking place right now in the courts of heaven. This hotly debated concept is believed to be a prerequisite before Jesus can be allowed to return to this earth and reclaim the saved who are waiting for Him. This judgment is assumed to be for the purpose of determining who is good enough to be saved and who is going to be lost. Again, the underlying assumptions and beliefs that distort every aspect of these doctrines cause confusion and fear in millions of hearts unnecessarily. But at the same time there are core truths that are usually discarded and ignored by those who vehemently oppose such teachings. Both sides are clouded in false assumptions about God that endanger their souls from being properly aligned with the Spirit of God in preparation to encounter the dangerous revelation of God's passionate love.

As I began thinking about this and praying for clearer insight, a number of texts came to my mind. I want to ponder them carefully to discover the real meanings and significance of their relevance to this subject that has tortured me for so long, but is now becoming a source of real hope for me. But since this is getting too long already I am going to leave that for another installment while I listen to what God may have to say to my heart about these things.