God's Promises to the Hidden Man
Dear Friends in Jesus,
Greetings and love. In the last letter we covered a lot of material. Today I want to go back and spend time on one particular point from that letter:
This was a particularly "heavy" and condensed topic—reconciling our relationship to Jesus alone and our relationship to Him through creation. Today I want to give an "exploded" view of everything I said in that section, piece by piece, as best I can. Hopefully in the process we will be able to unlock other mysteries that touch us all very deeply—the mystery of unanswered prayer, and the mystery of failure at seeing our faith work to change the here-and-now.
- Have you ever seen your prayers go unanswered though you know things were right between you and God?
- Have you ever been "burned" by the promises of God that you believed but that didn't work when you needed them most?
- Have you ever experienced failure in stepping out in faith even though you know beyond all doubt you heard from God?
- Have you ever felt "lied to" by God and betrayed because of such things?
- Have you given up hope of ever being able to see God do the things He has said He would do for you here and now?
If any of these things sound like you have felt (or feel), then this letter is for you. And as we discuss all this, we will reconcile our call to pure identity and our call to faith for the here-and-now.
I. Dispelling Dualism: Finding the Place Where Earth and Heaven Meet
Ancient philosophy has always had a problem reconciling the earth-world to the spirit-world. This "dualism" has come down to us today through our different schools of theology in the Church. One school is the "holiness" school. Holiness theology majors on developing our relationship to the Lord alone. It dwells on the purely "spiritual." It has little or no interest in practical earthly applications of faith or in bringing changes to pass in the earth—except spiritual changes in people.
The other school is the "faith" school. Faith theology majors on making changes in earthly situations and circumstances through miracles. It dwells on the "earthly" manifestations of faith. It has relatively little interest in the spiritual character-changing applications of faith—i.e., seeing people become more like Jesus in their character and distinctive identity.
People in these two schools tend to take on another dualism in personality that is descended from ancient philosophy. One is called "stoicism," the other "hedonism." In stoicism, the earthly is seen as "evil" while the spiritual is "good." Stoics see it as virtuous to deny themselves all sense of earthly pleasure and enjoyment in favor of the purely spiritual. (This is also the philosophy of "asceticism" and "buddhism.”) By contrast, hedonism values earthly sensual gratification and pleasure. It scoffs at the idea of self-denial in the interest of spiritual things.
Given these descriptions of stoicism and hedonism, it should be easy to see that Christians who major on holiness tend to be stoical in their outlook. They are down on earthly pleasure. Meanwhile. Christians who major on faith-for-the-earthly tend to be hedonist in their outlook. They emphasize the present pleasure to be found through God's fulfilment of faith here and now.
II. Purified Identity and the Promises of God
It was against the backdrop of this dualism conflict that I wrote the section on Purified Identity and the Promises of God. The call to purified identity is a "holiness" message. It requires the stoical self-denial of who we are in this life apart from Christ. That is clear from the nature of the message.
But in the section on the promises of God, I wanted to show that the call to pure identity is a balanced message. It is not just a holiness message, but also requires faith for the here-and-now. It is a "faith" message, promising fulfillment in this life also. The purpose of this letter is to elaborate on that balance.
Jesus prayed for the kingdom of God to come to earth. In fact, He was praying for the dispelling of all dualism in our outlook on life. He wants to destroy the dichotomy where we find ourselves forced to choose between "holiness" and "faith." He wants to eliminate the choice between having to be either a "stoical, self-denying" people or a "hedonistic, self-gratifying" people.
Jesus' prayer is for harmony, resolution, and reconciliation between these apparent opposites. There is to be resolution between being heavenly-minded and earthly-minded.
If we are functioning as "kingdom" people then we ought to be seeing this resolution come into increasing focus in our lives and in our approach to reality. True, we find ourselves in cyclical seasons where God seems to deal with us more according to holiness or to faith at a given time. Yet we ought to be moving toward resolution of this as Jesus prayed.
Personally, I am not satisfied with the dichotomy between the holiness message and the faith message. Furthermore, I do not believe these messages are mutually exclusive but are actually indispensable to each other. It is now my intention to bring this resolution into focus for you. Purified identity is not just holiness, but requires faith in the "now" for present fulfilment if we are to enter into it. Purified identity requires relationship to Jesus alone through restored relationship to creation.
In our study, we will give special attention to the issue of failure relative to our attempts to see faith manifest itself. It is failure that divides us into being either "holiness" or "faith" people. People whose faith succeeds develop into the "faith" school. They join with those who also succeed and develop a theology around their apparent external success in God. These lock failure out of their thinking and vocabulary, ignoring it when it occurs.
Oppositely, people whose faith tends to "fail" develop into the holiness school. They become more persuaded of God's desire to change inward character only. These lock out the possibility of present success, developing a theology that blanks out of consideration the idea that God wishes to manifest Himself through practical, present manifestations of successful faith.
We will unlock the mystery of failure to show how that both faith and holiness are indispensable to each other in God's ultimate purpose of purified identity.
III. Return to Eden
This is where we start. We start with the way it was, because the way it was is the way it is supposed to become. In the beginning, there was no dualism—no dichotomy between heaven and earth, no separation between the nature of God and the nature of man. Man bore the image of God, and all creation reflected God's nature.
By this, everything pointed back to God for its ultimate sense of meaning and purpose. Nothing competed with God for attention. Everything served by its perfection to draw attention back to God. Nothing drew attention to itself.
In creating man amidst creation, God gave man a two-fold avenue of relationship with Himself. One was direct fellowship and interpersonal communion. The other was through creation. God gave man a certain sense of fulfilment to be obtained through creation. The fulfilment was in turn two-fold: calling and companionship.
God gave man to keep a garden and to love a woman. There was fulfilment, meaning, and purpose in all this. But because all of creation reflected God's nature, all this "creationary fulfilment" for man only brought Him closer to God. Creationary fulfilment reinforced man's relationship with God.
Do you see those two overall levels of relationship and fulfilment? One was direct through God, the other to God through creation. There was fulfilment in God. Then there was fulfilment in God through creation ("creationary fulfilment")—needs, desires, whose fulfilment brought man closer to God.
It's important to see this two-fold aspect of our fulfilment because it is the model that explains why today it is still important to strive for fulfilment directly in God ("holiness"), and indirectly through creation ("faith").
IV. Fall of Man and the Call to Purified Identity
When man sinned, he obtained a nature that caused him to find all sense of meaning and purpose directly through creation. God was no longer in the picture. Man's identity and self-awareness became geared directly to creation. His source of self-esteem and self-worth became rooted directly in the creation—the definition of all idolatry. Calling and companionship in all their myriad forms became man's gods. These became his sources of identities—all the earth-based identities we discussed last letter, inherited and acquired.
Through the death of Jesus, we have obtained the new birth. We have become new people. We have received new identity—an identity that restored us to personal fellowship with God. This new fellowship is like to that which was first at Eden. Our new identity gives us our restored reference point in God through Jesus, taught by the Spirit. God wills our new identity to become purified over and against our remaining identities.
Purified identity begins with the destruction of our old relationship to creation through earth-based identities. We are to die to our old relationship to creation which we have had through our idolatrous old-life force. This destruction and death is a separation. Separation is holiness, and this is the essence of the holiness message.
Purified identity begins by losing our idolatrous first relationship to creation, reasserting and claiming meaning and purpose in Jesus Christ alone. This corresponds to the first level of Edenic relationship with God, i.e., direct relationship.
V. Purified Identity and Creationary Fulfilment
But purified identity doesn't stop with first-level relationship with God. It only begins there. God not only wills to restore our first-level relationship to Him, but also our second-level relationship with Him through creationary fulfilment. He wants us to obtain that place as it was in Eden where man found fulfilment in God through fulfilment of his needs and desires according to creationary calling and companionship. He wants us to enter restored relationship with creation that completes our relationship with Him.
Asserting the authority of our new identity over creation is part of the purifying of our new identity. Therefore, as part of our salvation and part of our new man, God has implanted us at new birth with an entire spiritual "genetic code" of needs and desires to be obtained by faith through creationary fulfilment. He has implanted us with a vision for calling and a vision for companionship. All of this is to be obtained here-and-now according to His promises to us—promises through scripture, through the Body of Christ, and through our own spirits.
What do we see? God is not just calling us to separation from our old relationship to creation. He is not calling us only to direct relationship with Himself. He is also calling us to perfected relationship with Him through new relationship to creation—obtained by faith. (It is this aspect of relationship with God that answers to the message of the faith movement.)
Taken together, both parts of this restored relationship are the total fulfilment of Jesus' prayer to bring heaven to earth. This is what it means to "bring in the kingdom."
VI. God's Promises to the Hidden Man
All this sounds very good. But it raises a perplexing question. How is it possible for God to tell us to lose our old identities through sacrificing our "earthly desires" on one hand, and tell us to believe Him for the fulfilment of our desires on the other? This doesn't make sense.
Doesn't God fear that if He tells us to believe Him for our needs and desires that it will just reinforce our love for this world? Besides, how can we tell whether our desires are from Him or of ourselves? How can Jesus tell us to hate this life and then tell us to pray with gusto for anything we desire? (Lk. 14:26; Mk. 11:23-24.)
These questions are not obstacles to God. They only reveal the fear of conflict we endure between who we once were and who we are called to become. They point the way to the difference between the way God sees us and the way we see ourselves. And so they point the way for God's strategy for saving us and perfecting our identity. Let's watch the marvel of how this unfolds...
Most of us have a fair theological understanding about the difference between our "old man" and our "new man." In practice however we really make no distinction. We see ourselves as a single composite person. We all use the word "I.” We say, "I go to the store." In so saying, we make no distinction between our old man and new man. We don't think to ourselves, "My new man is going to the store, and so is my old man." No. We just say, "I go to the store." We see ourselves as one composite being.
But God does make this distinction! In His perception of us and in His dealings God distinguishes who we are in Him from who we are naturally. He does not look at us as a single entity. His eye divides between our soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12).
From here, God looks past our natural identity to see us only according to who we are in Jesus in the Spirit. And according to how He sees us, so does He speak to us, and so does He act toward us. His perception of us is the basis for all His Word and His action toward us.
Since God sees us only in terms of our new identity, it means He speaks and deals with us in terms of our new man. Therefore, when it comes to His promises, God's promises are to the hidden man, not the natural man.
Not only does God speak and act toward us only in terms of our new man, but He has a plan for developing our new identity. Everything God says to us through promise or command is geared to the development of our new man and its supercession over all our other old identities. God has a vision for seeing our new man rise up from the depths of our being and come to the surface of our personality, displacing our old man altogether.
This plan is accomplished through God's promises for our creationary fulfilment. Every promise of God— whether concerning need, or desire, or goal, or vision, or relationship—is not only issued just to our new man, but is issued to be fulfilled in terms of his purpose for the development of our new man, the manifesting of Jesus through us. Creationary promises are the force that brings forth our new man.
We do not see this from where we are. Because we can't distinguish between our new and old self, we can't see how God's promises concerning this life can do anything but reinforce our old ties to this life. So we feel caught between having to choose between Him alone, and becoming involved with His promises.
Moreover, we are likely only to get hurt if we really believe seriously. Yet from God's view, it is exactly because we can't distinguish between our two selves that He issues the promises. From God's view, it is the promises themselves that will work the separation for us— and the hurts we experience for our faith are part of the process. We now turn to see how this works.
VII. Purified Identity through Believing the Promises: Unlocking the Mystery of Failure, Unfulfilled Promise, and Unanswered Prayer
The needs and desires we experience as natural humans mirror corresponding needs and desires planted into the "genetic code" of our new man which God has intended to fulfil. It is to those corresponding needs and desires God speaks when He issues His promises. He speaks to our new man, and only to our new man.
But when we hear God speak, we can't discern between His speaking to our new man and old man. We hear God as a single composite identity. When God speaks, we hear Him through two sets of ears at the same time which we cannot distinguish for ourselves. We hear Him with our new man, but our natural-man ears overhear every word—and we can't tell the difference.
When our new man hears God and believes, a seed of faith is planted. But our old man also hears God, and believes, and an entire vision of human desire and expectation is established! And it is all mixed together.
To us humans who see ourselves as one composite identity, our inner faith and our natural expectations for the fulfilment of the promise are indistinguishable. We believe with our heart. But we also believe with our natural mind, emotions, and willpower. Our mind weds its natural expectations to the word. Our emotion weds its natural desire to the word. And our will weds its natural intentions to the word. This is how we respond to God's promise—as one composite being.... "I believe," we say.
Then what happens? After we believe God out of our mixed being, we act in faith with our whole being, new man and old man together. But because God was not speaking to our natural man when He issued His promise, our natural man's faith goes unfulfilled. Instead, our natural expectations are dashed to pieces. Our desires are hurt and violated. Our intentions fail to materialize.
We encounter failure! With this failure comes inner pain and grief, and also outward embarrassment as we must face the misunderstanding and mocking of others who knew what we were believing God for. This failure is none other than the "suicide" of our old man in response to the promise of God to our new man.
VIII. Facing Crisis with God: Justifying God's Faithfulness in the Face of Failure
Unable to distinguish between our identities, and unable to realize that the promise was not to our natural man, we then look at God and say, "Why did You fail me?"
This is where our greatest hurt lies. The damaging of our natural expectations, desires, and intentions is bad enough. But the deepest hurt comes with the conclusion we have no choice but to reach: "God is a liar. God does not fulfil His promises. I trusted Him and He let ME down. I put my whole being on the line for Him and He failed ME before the whole world."
This is the most critical place we will ever reach in our Christian walk. It is the place that will make us or break us—and unless we can overcome when we reach this place, we will come to the end of our Christian walk. We will turn back. This letter is written so you will be able to overcome at this place in your life!
I am writing to preserve your trust in God when you reach this place of failure. I am writing to restore your trust in God if you once came to such a place and never recovered from it.
The truth is. God did not fail us, i.e., our new man. He did fail our old man. But He had no obligation to our old man because He did not speak to our old man.
We have no place therefore to accuse God out of our natural man. Our natural man chose to believe a promise not given to him. This is not God's fault, neither is He responsible for it. Always, always—when God gives us promises, our natural man "comes along for the ride of faith" on his own—at his own risk.
God is not responsible for the destruction of our natural man's expectations in response to His promise to the inner man. It is not God therefore who fails us. Rather, it is we who fail ourselves by unavoidably responding to God's promise with that portion of our old identity to which God did not speak.
We believe with more of "us" than is warranted. It is like a person who is invited to dinner who on his own invites his best friend along too, but then gets hurt because his best friend is not welcome when they arrive. God speaks only to our inner man. This is the "us" He has not failed when our natural "us" gets shafted.
When we reach this crisis point, the question becomes: Will we hold on to the promise with our inner man after our natural man gets mauled, or will we abort the promise altogether? Will we allow this critical separation of identities to occur within us until our new man is ready to receive the fulfilment, or will we side with our defeated old man and preserve our composite identity image?
Will we cave in to the power of rationalizing our failure with explanations and excuses based on outward evidences? (No matter how much faith we claim to have, most of us usually use some type of outward evidence as our final determiner for whether we heard God or not, and whether His promises are still capable of fulfilment. This includes "faith teachers.")
IX. Bringing the New Man through to Fulfilment
Though God is not responsible for the destruction of our natural man over His promises to the new man, it accomplishes the purpose of the promises! As the old man dies layer by layer through His ill-fated responses to the promises, it allows the new man to rise up to the surface of our personality—displacing our old identities altogether.
This is how God uses creationary promises to purify identity. As each layer of old personality is shed through failed expectation, the new man comes closer step by step to the place where he can receive his creationary fulfilment.
Don't let this talk of "surfacing" new personality throw you. We see this mirrored in nature. For instance, there is a certain snake that seasonally "outgrows" its own skin. A new skin is being developed underneath the visible skin. The new skin "surfaces" and the old skin is shed off. Yet it is the same snake.
This is also true of bugs, and even your own body. Here is a transformation so slow that you can't see it—yet the truth is that every several years, your body cells are entirely replaced—new ones for old ones. The old die, the new surface. Old cells, new cells—yet the same body.
This same truth applies to the revelation of our new identity through our personality in earthly life. God is bringing us through a gradual metamorphosis where He is bringing our new identity to the surface of our personality at the expense of our old identities, layer by layer, until our new man has totally subsumed our earthly existence, "swallowing up" our total personhood. (Eventually, this process culminates in our putting on of immortality.)
It is God's creationary promises to our new man that serve as steps for bringing the new man to greater levels of surfacing through us. As the old man dies over his failed expectations, the new man is led up and out of the pit of our being. The promises call him forth to greater manifestation through us where he can reach out and receive the earthly fulfilment. The time lapse between promise and fulfilment is synchronized to the time it takes our new man to surface through our personality so that it is our new man that receives the fulfilment, not the old man.
There is a time and season to everything. This includes the operation of the promises (Word) of God in us. Promises have to be harvested. There is timing to this. That timing is geared to the purification of our new identity.
This is why the word of God is likened to a seed in nature. Seeds are planted, mingle with the earth, are watered, and ripen to harvest. So are the promises. They are planted. They mingle with our earth, the earth of our personality. They are watered by the gifts and outpourings of the Holy Spirit. Then, when the word accomplishes maturation of the new man over the death of the old man, the promises are harvested in life by the new man.
X. "After He Had Patiently Endured, He Obtained the Promise"
We see the mystery of purified identity through creationary promise in the lives of the Old Testament saints. Here we see the perfect harmony between holiness and faith. God gave Abraham promise of a son. This is a creationary promise. It goes beyond personal relationship with God. Yet the process of patient endurance Abraham suffered over the promise purified his identity. It added to his relationship with God.
Notice, please. God's promise of a son paralleled Abraham's natural desire for a son. The new parallels the old. But God was not afraid of reinforcing Abraham's natural-man desire. Instead, He used the promise to sanctify Abraham. Through the promise, God made Abraham a Father of Many Nations. This is the new identity. God started a new race with Abraham. God didn't reinforce Abraham's old Babylonian roots and family ties.
Now look. At the ripe time, the promise was fulfilled. Once Abraham's old identity was purged through the mess with Hagar and other trials, so purged that he himself was "as good as dead" (Heb. 11:12), then the promise came. Abraham's new identity was able and ready to receive the promise. In this the kingdom of God was brought to earth—through pure identity and creationary fulfilment—through holiness and faith.
Catch that balance one more time! God did not just call Abraham to holy relationship with Himself. Neither did He give a promise to reinforce Abraham's old lusts. He called Abraham to holy relationship through the promise.
This reality is repeated over and over in the lives of Bible saints. See Moses and Joseph. Both received promises that paralleled natural ambitions. Their new identity believed, and so did their old identity. They acted. Their old identity failed—Joseph to prison, Moses to the desert. Then their new identity ripened. Joseph went from shepherd to Egyptian. Moses went from Egyptian to shepherd! Then they received the promise. Both became rulers as promised—and both knew God.
Here is the balance between holiness and faith. Here is the completion of pure identity through creationary promise. This is the bringing of God's kingdom to earth. Jesus' prayer is fulfilled.
XI. Examining the Inadequacies of Holiness Teaching and Faith Teaching
Holiness teaching focuses on pure relationship with God. It rightly emphasizes pure identity through loss of old identity, hating our life in this world for Christ's sake. It brings us to first-level relationship with God, i.e., loving God alone.
But holiness teaching stops there. It denies creationary fulfilment. It does so because it can't see our relationship to creation outside our tainted idolatrous relationship to be avoided. And it can't see how creationary promise can bring us closer to God. In so doing, holiness teaching actually stunts spiritual growth and pure identity. Why? Because we cannot develop complete love for God unless we answer His call to us over His promises concerning creation.
Faith teaching focuses on restored relationship to creation. It rightly emphasizes the manifesting of God's power over creation through the miraculous—changing situations, bringing prosperity, curing disease.
But! Faith teaching almost entirely overlooks purified identity! It overlooks the problem of our present identities and our idolatrous attachment to creation that must first be dealt with. Faith teaching overlooks first-level relationship with God. It does not teach one to love God simply for who He is apart from what He can do for us.
As a result, most faith teaching serves to reinforce our idolatrous old-identities and relationship to creation! Faith teaching doesn't depend on the knowledge of God, but on knowledge of spiritual laws, concepts, and principles to make faith "work." Moreover, it abuses the sovereign anointings of the Holy Spirit to back its concepts of success through the manifestations it is able to bring to pass.
If we want to find the root for the incompleteness of both these messages—why holiness teaching is afraid to touch creationary promises, and why faith teaching is afraid to touch purified identity through suffering—it is because neither message knows how to cope with the truest faith that accepts failure on the way to success.
XII. The Inevitability and Necessity of Failure in Believing God
When it comes to believing God, nobody likes failure. Nobody wants it. We all want a fail-safe way to believe God for the present manifestation of His glory and promises without getting hurt.
All of us are born at conversion with the secret in-bred desire to see God manifest His glory in this life. But on the way we encounter failure. "Holiness" people seek to avoid and prevent failure one way; "faith" people have a different way.
Holiness people have the easiest way. They simply deny that God ever intends to fulfil our faith in practical ways with any certainty. They quench their desire to believe for the miraculous.
Holiness people use failure as "proof” that God just doesn't act today like He once did. Therefore there is no need to believe God for specific things here-and-now. It is enough just to know God and worship Him, praying spiritual prayers for people. Anything specifically prayed for is left in vague enough language to leave God an "out" should He not come through ("...If it be Thy will, Lord...") This is safe. It protects us from having to experience failure.
Faith people use a harder way to avoid failure. They seek to circumvent failure through complex theologies, finding some principle, explanation, or "spiritual law" that will cover every possible situation. When they encounter failure, they always back off to find some explanation that will prevent it from ever happening again.
In the thinking of faith people, many things are forgivable touching living by faith, but failure is not forgivable. It leaves a permanent stigma on the one who fails. He is a marked man for life—or at least until he can demonstrate "success" at it later. Then his first failure becomes forgivable.
The pressure against failure concerning exercising faith is so great in the faith movement that the school of faith is a school of bondage. A "right" and "wrong" way to believe for anything has been devised, explained, codified.
All this speaks to one thing: Nobody wants to fail. We want “risk-free" faith, and we'll do anything to get it, and we won't do anything unless we are assured of it. The problem is that "risk-free" faith is a contradiction. There is no faith where there is no risk of failure. The truth is that failure is the number one hallmark of true faith.
Faith and failure are inseparable. If we are to believe God's promises at all, then failure is inevitable. Why?
You've already learned the answer in this letter. It is because God's promises to the new man are superimposed on the desires of the old man. When God speaks to us, we cannot distinguish our old and new personalities. We can only respond as one composite identity. Thus, to act in faith is to automatically invite the failure that inevitably comes when the old man responds to the new man's promise.
So we must get it straight. To believe God is to invite certain failure. Failure, not success, is the first rule of faith.
But failure is not only inevitable, it is absolutely necessary. We must fail. It is vital and indispensable that we fail. Why?
It's because God's word to the new man cannot be fulfilled until it "sheds" the old man. That shedding is accomplished by failure. It is the failure of the old man over God's promise that effects the separation enabling the new man to rise forth where he can receive the promise. If there is no failure, there is no separation of identity. If there is no separation of identity, there can be no fulfilment of promise to the new man.
So we see that failure is the indispensable key to fulfilment through separation of identities. The more bold the failure of the old man, the more sure the fulfilment to the mew man. If then we are to succeed at seeing God's word come to pass in this life, we must be willing to endure the painful process of identity change that begins with overcoming failure resulting from our initial mixed faith as an impure identity.
XIII. Dualism Reconciled
Now we see at last how the school of "holiness" and the school of "faith" are intertwined. They are not mutually exclusive but mutually inclusive. God's promises to us are for the here-and-now. This is faith. But they are obtained only by enduring the process of identity separation that begins with the failure of the natural man. This is holiness. True faith cannot be fulfilled outside the process of holiness. And true holiness cannot be developed except by our coming to God over His creationary promises.
"Holiness" that evades this challenge in the name of "loving God only" is not holiness, but self-protectionism. And "faith" that evades the process of purified identity to obtain the promises is not faith, but a metaphysical legal system bordering on witchcraft whose god is success. Aberrations in both holiness teaching and faith teaching are due to the unwillingness to accept failure as the first step in rightly relating to God through His creation by faith.
XIV. A Personal Challenge
I hope that I have now been able to clearly show by this letter that purified identity goes beyond losing our old identities and senses of purpose. It goes beyond finding our sole identity in Christ through communion with God. Purified identity expands to find identity in Christ through restored relationship to creation. It does so by laying hold of the promises, coming to God over them with zeal, accepting the old man's failure and death over them until the time appointed where the new man can receive them.
This is the reconciliation between earth and heaven, stoicism and hedonism, holiness and faith which philosophers and theologians have wrestled with. This is the fulfilling of Jesus' prayer to bring heaven to earth. It is true kingdom teaching. It is the restoration of complete fellowship between God, man, and creation as it was in Eden.
If I have been able to make this clear to you, then you should be able to see yourself somewhere in the picture and find direction for where you ought to be going next. Let's start at the bottom:
Some of you have been born again, but you haven't come to recognize your true identity in Christ. Therefore you've hardly begun to lose your old sense of identity. Some of you are still shackled to inherited and acquired identities—family and job ties that keep you from Christ.
Others of you have begun losing old identities and pressing into pure identity in Christ alone through personal communion with God. You've seen the evil side of human desire in you. But you've stopped short in your holiness. Because of fear of failure and/or your overwhelming awareness of the evil side of natural life, you've not come to see God's further call to you through creationary promises.
You've not come to see your supernatural call from Him—a call that says "yes" to your desires, not just "no." You've not answered this call to perfected identity through tangling with creation. You're too content in your "holiness" and you're drying up on the inside. You're not as holy as you may think you are.
Still others of you have come to see your supernatural calling by faith. You've latched onto the vision for your life. You see it in the spirit. But the truth is you haven't come to lose your old identities first, and you too are afraid of failure. You also don't have a very good knowledge of God through personal communion. You don't spend time just getting to know Him for who He is. Therefore your vision for yourself carries a heavy taint of idolatry. Through your lack of separation from old identity, you're using your glorious vision to reinforce your old identities and nature. You need deliverance from this. You're not reigning as much as you may think you are.
Finally, others of you have been pressing "full steam ahead" into purified identity, laying zealous hold of God's promises. You have both denied your old identities yet affirmed God's vision for your life through the fulfillment of your deepest desires. But the weight of repeated failure is getting to you! You've lost more than you ever dreamed you'd have to lose in hope of finding God's reward in life.
More than once you've been tempted to throw in the towel. Your sufferings have drained life of all its joy and meaning for you. Your original vision with its desires seems irrelevant now. You wonder why you bothered to sacrifice so much to see so little in return. You are the people I have written this letter for most.
I'm writing to encourage you in that single hope of the purity of your identity. You've lost everything, yes—but you still have your identity in Jesus—and it's purer than ever now. Hold onto that if there's nothing else of your vision left to hold onto. Your final meaning is found in Jesus even if you've been stripped of all else in waiting on Him.
His presence gives you meaning and purpose when creation has lost its meaning for you. Let failure work to your glory in this.
Meanwhile—Don't turn back in denial of your first vision! No matter how much you've lost, don't go back and doubt your vision! No matter how distant or irrelevant it may seem to you now, don't yield to the demands of the evidence!
Let as much be taken from you as must be taken, but don't you be the one that quits! Yield up everything, but deny nothing! Let God build on your past where you no longer can. But don't deny your past. Don't back-pedal. Don't question. Don't make excuses to explain to the doubts of others. Don't try to "start over" for yourself.
Evidences prove nothing—and if “evidences" are the only basis for accusing your faith over the past, don't listen. Just stay with God. And wait. You still have Jesus. You still have your identity in Him. Now just rest under the altar where you've been slain. Just rest... rest... Take no thought for all the years...
These are my challenges to all of you today wherever you find yourself. God has a plan to bring you to Himself through restored calling and companionship. My job is to help you find that plan, walk in it, and endure its attendant failures to the end without turning back ("the same shall be saved," i.e., fulfilled Mt. 24:13).
Challenging you by these letters is part of my own calling and restored companionship. That's why we have the peculiar relationship we do. You are part of my restored relationship out of the ashes of my lost ones. You are the beginnings of my restoration—-and the evidence that God is succeeding at reigning through me.
XV. TEST: Purified Identity and the Promises of God
One of my functions in the body is that of teaching. I wish I could gather everybody who reads these letters into one room and give you a test on what I've said. Unfortunately, I have no avenue for this yet. Today, let me do something else.
I'll give you a test on this page! Following are questions for you to answer based on this letter. See how well you understand what I've said by answering these questions:
1. What is "dualism"? Compare the controversy between "holiness" and "faith" teaching with the controversy between "stoicism" and "hedonism.”
2. What are the two levels of relationship with God seen in Eden?
3. What is the two-fold fulfilment of the second level in question #2?
(Sect. III., Para. 2)
4. How did the fall of man affect man's nature and his ability to enjoy God through creation? What happened to man's identity?
5. Through Jesus we receive new identity. To what level of relationship with God (Ques.#2) does this new identity first correspond?
(Sect. IV., Par. 2.)
6. What is the first step to purifying new identity? To which school of teaching ("holiness" or "faith") does this correspond?
(Sect. IV., Par. 2.)
7. What is the second step to purified identity?
[Hint: It is the theme of this letter!]
The following 9 questions deal with God's strategy for accomplishing the second step of purified identity:
8. What did God implant in us as part of our new identity at new birth (Sect. V., Par. 2) and to what do these correspond? (Sect. VII., Par. 1.)
9. When God speaks to us, is it to all of us or part of us? If only to part of us, which part?
10. What is the difference between the way God speaks to us and the way we hear God?
11. Use your answer to question #10 to explain God's apparent failure to answer our prayers and fulfil our faith.
(Sections VIII and XII, Par. 5-6.)
12. How does failure function to actually make fulfilment of God's promises possible?
(Sections IX and XII., Par. 6.)
13. Give two illustrations from nature that show how our personality is "surfaced" through purification.
(Sect. IX., Par. 2.)
14. Describe the process of pure identity through God's promises in the lives of two Old Testament saints.
15. Explain how "holiness" teaching and "faith" teaching each perpetuate dualism by seeking to avoid failure.
(Sect. XII., Par. 2-3.)
16. Is failure inevitable? Is it necessary? Use your answers to questions #11 and #12 to explain why.
17. Use your understanding of the second step to pure identity (Ques.#7) to reconcile the dualism between holiness teaching and faith teaching.
18. Use your answer to question #17 to explain the fulfilment of Jesus’ prayer "thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven."
19. Use your answer to question #17 to answer the questions in Section VI., Part 1.
20. Where do you find yourself on the scale of obtaining purified identity through the promises of God?
There! That is my test. I seriously challenge everyone reading this letter to take it!... You do not read letters like this through in a few minutes. You have to study them, meditate on them, and digest them carefully till you see where you fit.
This test is to help you know what you should understand by the time you have finished studying! God bless each of you in a special way who takes these letters seriously enough to study them until you become more like Christ for having done so. That's what they are for.
written from Pleasant Valley
Prince Edward Island, Canada
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page updated May 1, 2018