..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Making It Through the Fire

Heaven will be where no heretic
will bellow, no schismatic cause
dissension, where all will be of
one heart, where peace will abound."
- St Augustine

When we think of heaven we always seem
to make statements like Augustine's. Wow,
we are really expecting a lot
aren't we?  The human heart longs
for this sublime state in the Kingdom
to come.  And no doubt, Scripture
tells us that the kingdom of
heaven will be ruled happily by
God in peace and righteousness and
that His Kingdom will have no end!

But somehow I was having a hard
time wrapping my head around
how we can all live together
happily and in peace eternally
when now barely one Christian can
seem to live in peace with any other
given Christian, never mind all the
redeemed that ever were and ever will
be. And God, too!

I could feel God watching me think
about this and I kind of heard
inside, "It will all be burned away."
Yikes, "What will all be burned away?"

"Everything that is not of My Spirit."

Wow, I suddenly had the clear impression
of what would make it to the next world
and what wouldn't.

In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul talks about this
whole subject, but notice that he talks
about it in the context of division in
the Body of Christ.

1 And I, brethren, could not speak to
you as to spiritual people but as to
carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I
fed you with milk and not with solid
food; for until now you were not able
to receive it, and even now you are
still not able; 3 for you are still
carnal. For where there are envy,
strife, and divisions among you,
are you not carnal and behaving like
mere men? 4 For when one says,
“I am of Paul,” and another,
“I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you
are God’s field, you are God’s building.
10 According to the grace of God which
was given to me, as a wise master
builder I have laid the foundation,
and another builds on it. But let each
one take heed how he builds on it.

11 For no other foundation can anyone
lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with
gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,

13 each one’s work will become clear; for the
Day will declare it, because it will be revealed
by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work,
of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which
he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss;
but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

In God's kingdom everything is built in accordance
with Christ and for the unity of His Body. When
an enemy is truly defeated it is not just the temporary
loss from a single battle that brings victory but the
undoing of the enemy to work any further mayhem.

His weapons are destroyed, his war stores decimated,
his war items dismantled. Here in First Corinthians,
 Paul says a great fire is coming to each of us
and everything that is not of God will burn up.
We who are Christ's,  will make it through the
fire, in varying states of  loss, but alive to God.

 Dear Ones, prepare to look and
be different. God doesnt throw us away when
moth and bug have eaten us nearly to death.
But in order to get rid of the moth and bug the
fire will burn out everything that pertains to it
so that it does not REINFEST! 

Our Enemy will be destroyed, but so will
all his work within us, and his ability to
do more damage. Sadly, we have become
so identified with the enemy's work within
us that it seems to actually be part of us.
But it is not. It will be separated out.
The true part of you that is born of
God is incorruptible. But the rest is
going to need an EXTRME makeover.

So, most likely, most of us will need some
heavenly restoration from the Master Carpenter
when we come through that Final Fire.
Just like a man in the war may lose
two legs and and arm but still be alive.

I do not mean our physical bodies of
course, nor do I mean that our spiritual
bodies, of double course. But that which
remains will need to grow fully into
what it was really meant to be. You will
grow into what you were really meant
to be. Some of us will be really starting from
little more than scratch. What I do mean is
 that if there is much of us that has  identified with
an old regime, prepare to violently part
ways with it.

In our old lives, and sadly even as Christians,
negative or even sinful attitudes and thought
patterns actually defined who we were. Although
God has made provision for it to be otherwise
I am not sure that many of us have availed
ourselves of that provision. And so we will
suffer, more profoundly, the effects of the fire.

I can hear you saying, "But Paul is really
talking about things we do for God, our
works. The fire wont touch me, it will
just judge my works." Well, the verse doesn't
really say that that the fire wont touch you,
it only says it won't destroy you. Bad works
come from a bad place inside that
also needs to be dealt with.

Speaking of fire,  James said
"the tongue also is a fire, a world of evil
among the body, it corrupts the whole
person and sets the whole course of
his life on fire, and is itself set on fire
by hell" (James 3:6).This is where he
asks if a a tree can produce both
good and bad fruit or a brook both
salt and fresh water.  It gets kind of
hard to separate the source from what
the source produces.  Only God can
do that.

Ah, but let's look at something else just
for a moment, the words of John
the Baptist as he describes the person
and work of  Jesus (Matthew 3):
"And now also the axe is laid unto the root
of the trees: therefore every tree which
bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down,
and cast into the fire.

11I indeed baptize you with water unto
repentance. but he that cometh after me
is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not
worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with
the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

12Whose fan is in his hand, and he will
throughly purge his floor, and gather his
wheat into the garner; but he will burn up
the chaff with unquenchable fire.

John the Baptist promises us that Jesus
will baptize us with the Holy Ghost and
with fire. Now I have heard thousands,
of sermons on this  and largely the fire
part  is either ignored or romanticized.
Its made to sound like you are going
to have a rolicking spiritual experience
(Lord, send the fire!) and then I will
 just go home and feel good and be
the same partially converted person I was.
Not so, my friends.

Jesus knew that this would happen, for right
after this, his disciples say that they are ready
for such a baptism of fire and basically Jesus said,
"Oh, its indeed coming" but insinuates they
have no clue as to what it will be like and
that particular passage only  seems to pertain
to their earthly troubles and death!  (Mark 10: 38-45)
Its very human to think that all the change
will happen mystically out there somewhere
or in the heart of my poor neighbor who
isn't as spiritual as I am. Not so, my friends.
Not so. Much will happen in the twinkling
of an eye. But maybe not what or how you
and I think for its exactly what and how you
and I think that is the problem .

And  sometimes a twinkling of an eye
can last a long times when its extremely
hot! Study to show yourself approved of God.
We have been taught many misconceptions
that effect how we live our daily lives.
In all of us are elements of the schismatic
and the heretic that Augustine knows have
no part in the world to come. We aren't
going to look like we do now. Just get
used to it. But we can start the process
of damage control. So you better buckle your
seatbelts and get down to seeking God
here and now for That Day is surely
coming and no-one escapes intact.

1 comment:

Desert Pilgrim said...

This is really a wonderful article, thanks so much.