What Is the Theology of Jesus?
What is the Theology That is Often Missed About Christ's Sacrifice?
What Would Critics Discover if They Spent Some Time With Trueface?
Chapter Three: Two Gods
1. This is reminiscent of seeing and believing Romans 8:31, for example, for the first time and thinking, “Life will never be the same again!”
2. Genesis 3:10. Adam and Eve, now aware of their nakedness because of their shame, hid from God, because they were afraid. This is not the healthy “fear of the Lord” spoken of in Proverbs and elsewhere. This is being afraid of God.
3. Luke 18:9-14.
4. John 15:4.
5. John 17:21.
6. 2 Corinthians 5:17.
7. Romans 12:1-2. Paul specifically references this truth in that he uses the word “transformed.” It is a form of the Greek verb from which we get “metamorphosis,” which is nothing other than the process of maturing into what we were designed to be. The DNA of the caterpillar is precisely that of the butterfly which will emerge from its chrysalis. It has simply “metamorphosed” into that which it was designed to be.
8. Ephesians 4:24; 2 Peter 1:3.
9. As part of our new creation, it is imperative that we believe we have a new heart (Romans 6:17). If I am still believing that my heart is deceitfully wicked, there is no way I will ever trust that I am who God says I am. And I will live unable to trust my new heart not to try to take advantage of God.
10. Romans 5:19, “For as by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Like the reality of our being sinners in fact in Adam’s disobedience, we are made righteous in fact in Christ’s obedience. Some, believing that their righteousness is only a right standing before God, would never take the position that they are only a sinner in their standing before God. To be consistent, I am both a sinner in fact and before God, and I am righteous in fact and before God. See 2 Corinthians 5.21; Ephesians 4:24; Philippians 3:9; Romans 6:18; plus the dozens of references to the fact that we are “saints,” holy ones. Those who would make our righteousness merely forensic miss the impact of all of these verses.
11. In John chapters 13 through 17 Jesus teaches a new theology to His disciples regarding who they are, their relationship with God, and their future destiny. He gives them a new commandment to love. The old commandments demonstrated the unrighteousness of man. The new commandment to love demonstrates a righteousness in the believer because of Calvary. Jesus teaches that he and the Father will abide in them and they will abide in him and in the Father. Prior to Jesus’ teaching, God dwelt among Israel in a tabernacle and a temple. Because they were not yet righteous, he could not dwell in them. Jesus teaches that the Holy Spirit will be in them, whereas prior to this, the Holy Spirit could only “come upon” man. Because of Calvary and because the disciples will be made new—righteous—the Holy Spirit can dwell in them, not just upon them. He also taught of the reality of the rich man and Lazarus. In that reality, the imputed righteous believers of the Old Covenant were not yet able to go into heaven until Jesus, after his crucifixion, went into paradise to release them, because now, like the New Testament believer, they are fully righteous and can dwell with God.
12. Galatians 5:1, 13-14. Understand who God has created us to be: Paul’s teaching on freedom is not from sin but to something. It is the freedom of those who are free now to go about life in a free manner. When we miss this point, we look for individual sins that we’re free from, but get trapped into a “management” of sin that robs us of the freedom of who we are. How much better to live in the freedom of love than to try to live free from sin!
13. Colossians 2:9-10.
14. Colossians 4:12: “That you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.”
15. Galatians 3:1-3. Paul’s argument here centers not upon the Galatians’ incorrect view of their justification, but of their sanctification. They missed who God really is and went back into a system that could not give them life or hope. By the way, Paul called them foolish.
16. Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” For those who for years have lived in the agony of their shame—because of their choices or the choices made against them—there is probably no verse that offers them greater hope than to believe that, because they are new in Christ, they are no longer identified by their shame. They are, in fact, no longer condemned. If a person is unable to believe that, he or she will remain self-condemned and live out of that self-condemnation in an effort to be accepted or acceptable, or will stop trying and lose all hope. This is one of those places where our opinion of ourselves has to change to God’s opinion of us. If we are unable to believe who we are in Jesus, and to live out of who we are, we will remain convinced that we and all others are unacceptable, condemned.
Mark, is a gifted analyst and a high-capacity problem solver. As a teen, Mark became an Eagle Scout. Later he received an MBA and managed people and projects in the technology sector. Mark trusted Christ when he was a sophomore in college. From that time on, all he wanted to do was please God, to “sell out” for God, to study the Bible, to serve God anywhere in the world. Most of all, Mark wanted to get rid of the sin issues that plagued him.
In time, Mark left the business world to serve in a mission organization. We asked him to describe his life on the path of Pleasing God and his life on the path of Trusting God.
When I came to Christ as an adult, I was desperate to turn my life around. I did anything and everything I was told to do in order to get rid of my sin issues—forgive, repent, memorize, meditate, pray, serve, fellowship, disciple, commit, commit again. But, my issues remained and even compounded. Before I came to Jesus, I felt discounted in relationship after relationship. My own mother disowned me. My deep hurt caused me to believe that no matter how hard I tried, I would still be worthless—and I continued to believe this as a Christian. My own sin and the sin of others against me prevented me from even understanding what it really meant that I had a new identity—but I was sure trying to get one.
In my fervor, I could trust God for cities, countries, nations, for thousands to accept Christ, but I could not trust God with me. I did not see myself as godly; I saw myself as valiantly trying to become godly. I was ready for martyrdom, to live among any tribe, but I could not live with who I was. I was a failure, doing my best to break out of my junk and hiddenness.
Over time, the effects of past sins became worse than the actual sins against me. I had become an angry, bitter man, ashamed of who I was. This mindset adversely pervaded every relationship. Simultaneously, I wanted to please God, so I was daily striving to do 110 percent for him, serving him like crazy, and getting kudos from others for doing so. I was a mess.
Then my wife and I met up with some people who actually valued others with issues—issues like mine. This was a place where people were safe to share their struggles, their painful pasts, and their present issues. This was a community of grace, where the truth of my identity would eventually become fog-free for me. I would actually begin to believe who God says I am. They actually believed I was, by God’s grace, a saint. Me, a saint! They believed I had a new identity, just like theirs. This enabled me once again to get in touch with the same gift of trust God gave me when I came to know Jesus. I would begin to trust God and others with me. During those years I began to experience what I call “Spiritual Teflon.” The untruths, sin issues, and the striving gradually started sliding off of me. The truth started sticking as I learned to trust.
I am a very different man, husband, father, and colleague than I was eight years ago. I am living out of who I am in Christ, not who others have declared me to be in times past. I am loving more and sinning less. I am influencing people’s lives in ways that previously I could not even imagine. I am living an exhilarating life—I am living the Father’s dreams for me, his very well-loved child. Trusting God’s view of me has been the most intense, most difficult, and most comprehensive maturing and releasing process I have ever experienced.
Hard to Believe
Our friend Cary is living this astonishing life. He recently celebrated his fortieth birthday. His wife threw a surprise party for him and invited dozens of his closest friends. Cary came into faith with several dozen addictions, compulsions, dysfunctions, and twisted family dynamics. He’s been a Christian for several decades, and yet he still struggles with the effects of all that junk. Cary is not “fixed.” It’s likely he will struggle with significant issues for the rest of his days on earth. But Cary is healthy and resolving the sin issues in his life. He believes in his identity and, as a result, is doing profound stuff for God’s glory, because he came to trust God’s assessment of him, even in the middle of pain.
Despite Cary’s “failure” to get his whole act together, almost every person at that party stood up and spoke of the countless ways Cary had been used in their lives. There were many tears, long hugs, and heartfelt affirmations of how caring and important a friend he had been to each of them. The sharing must have lasted two hours! Anyone watching would have concluded that Cary is a significant minister to that community. The following week, Cary dropped off some chairs at John’s house and told him, “You know I am meeting with a counselor. I told her about the birthday party last weekend, the affirmation and all the things others said were true about me, in spite of all the junk I know is in me. And she said to me, ‘You are one of the truly lucky ones. Very few have this life you have been given. I envy you.’ She said she envied me!”
John looked long and hard into the face of this man he’d been through so much with and said, “Cary, you prove the penalties of being messed up every day in new and exciting ways. But you have come to believe who you are in Christ. And so you are not sick, but healthy. And there are about a hundred of us who are deeply privilged to know you, because knowing you has made us better people.”
At the start of the book we said that God’s dreams are not ultimately so much about you. Cary could never, in his wildest imagination, see a day when he would be anything but a drain on anyone who got stuck with him. But God’s dream for Cary was not just to give him a safe place, or a place where he could be healed, or even a place where he could be loved and known. God’s ultimate dream for Cary is that he will bring significant beauty into the lives of others. That’s what The Room of Grace ultimately prepares us for. The fragile, the goofed up, the compromised, the inadequate, the failed, the squirrelly, those full of pain and despair, even the arrogant and the controlling—all mature into health when they enter into this room. And these—oh yes these—they get to minister hope and beauty and healing in the kingdom where the humble, even with their warts and boils, become a healing balm.