The Power of Choice in Our Spiritual Growth
Wade E Taylor
(Edited, all additions as per usual are in blue)
"Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" Matt 16:24.
In this passage of Scripture, our Lord is offering to "if any man" an opportunity to make a choice. It is not essential to our salvation for us to do this, but if we respond to this conditional call, we will be lead into a place of intimate identification with the life and ministry of our Lord. Many do not realize, or take seriously the value of this offer.
Our salvation is a free gift. (The meaning of Free here is not that we have
no responsibility, or that Jesus is running some kind of come as you are party,
where Christ with open arms will bring you into the kingdom just as you are
with all your sin and corruption. This same Apostle declared Work out your own
salvation with fear and trembling. The free here Paul is citing in the book of
Acts where Simon Magnus offered to by This Salvation and these Powers of the
Holy Spirit – For which he was roundly rebuked.) We cannot earn or
merit it in any way. "For by grace (Greek Charis – The word Charis means Gift, “Grace” is a made up English word, “Unmerited
Favor” is an interpretation. Charis-Ma is translated
“Spiritual Gifts” repeatedly in 1 Corinthians 12.) are ye saved
through faith; (Faithfulness
– That is obedience to the words and commandments of Jesus Christ)
and that not of yourselves: It is the gift (Greek Doron A Gift, A Present.)
of God: Not of works (Ergon One’s work, One’s job [We
have a cultish reading of works as saying, not of Good Works thus exempting
ourselves from the words and commandments of Jesus Christ. [A better rendering
would be: “Not of our own manufacture” referring to the gift, the Doron, the Charis we have
received [Which really is a personal revelation by the Holy Spirit – No man can
come unto ME except the Father Draw him – This is the Doron
and the Charis.) lest any man should
boast" Eph 2:8-9. However, once we have received this gift of eternal
life, (He lies
the greatest fundamental error of Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Pentecostals,
and Charismatics – The notion that with a few mumbled words that they are now
in full possession of salvation – This false understanding is the cornerstone
of Eternal Security, and all four groups swagger in their corrupt perverse
walks as if the are in full possession of their own salvation. Why is this so universally
Taught? The answer to that is because it is written so
in every Protestant commentary based on the writings of Luther and Calvin who
are actually quoting Saint Augustine – The bible no where teaches that
Salvation is a marked point of time. When one “First Believes” when one “First
Comes Unto Jesus Christ” when one “First Surrenders Their Life to Jesus” that
is “At A Point of Time” – but this is NOT salvation. Salvation is always spoken
of as “
There are spiritual laws that determine the rate of our spiritual growth. In Isaiah 1:19, the Scripture reads, "IF ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land." The "IF" tells us that there are "conditions" that must be met, before we will be enabled to partake of the spiritual nourishment that is promised here. (Which Paul says is the earnest or a foretaste of the good of the land that we are to be made partakes of upon our receiving our full redemption.)
To be "willing and obedient" is to be united with the Lord in both thought and action. This means a willing submission of our will to be merged with His will. Then as we relinquish our will, His grace is imparted to us, to implement the outworking of His purpose through us.
This "good of the land" that we are to partake of as a result of our "willing obedience" can be understood as our receiving from the Lord a special spiritual understanding and strength, which will help us in following Him. Along with this, we will grow and expand spiritually. (This Spirituality entails our being fruitful, Our abiding in the vine, Our being fruitful unto all good works, and our giving of this Spiritual fruitfulness and bounty back also to the Master of the Vineyard. – Lest we be reproved, and plucked up by the roots and cast into the fire.)
The Lord is much more interested in our coming into a "quality" relationship with Him, than we are. Yet He is a perfect gentlemen, and will not force either Himself, or His desire for us; upon us. (This is not true at all – as God first demands of us that we will obey His words and commandments, God chooses or orders about the circumstances in our life, The Lord rebukes, corrects chastises and scourges those that are disobedient, and many times will force one into circumstances that these would never choose. And God does this also for those who even seek to hide from God as Adam and Eve, or Jonah. None the less we are not robots that are each predestined each to heaven or hell as Luther and Calvin taught. The Lord earnestly desires for us to willingly come unto Him, to taste and see that He is good, to then utterly surrender ourselves as a bride should do, surrendering our will our wants, and our desires, and taking up Our Beloved’s will and wants and desires as our own so that when one meets us that they will not see us but see Our Husband Jesus Christ in hour lives, but in the end we have been given free will so that like Balaam despite the goodness of the Lord, His gifts, His operations, His personal visitations and manifest presence, and even His sternest of dealings and warnings to convert and change us within, we can end up destroyed in the end, along with all of our works being burned up -- and all this is in scripture over and over again despite what men may teach on this subject.) Thus, He begins each of these promises with a conditional "if". We must make the choice.
The Lord has placed within us, not only a capacity for obedience, but also the capacity to rebel. We can stand and shake our fist against Him, if we choose to do so. Thus as we obey Him, we are not doing so as a puppet. Rather, we obey out of a willing desire and love for Him. We have this power of choice.
We may say at one time or another, "I do not FEEL like worshiping the Lord, I do not even want to." But during these times, as we bend our will and give to Him our sacrifice of praise, our worship is especially received and appreciated by the Lord. Many times it is after an act of obedience such as this, that the Lord will pour out His grace, and an overflow of blessing will emerge.
This can be applied to any facet of our lives, where obedience is required by the Lord. Yet, if we look only toward the reward, we miss something. (If we only seek reward we become a hireling, and we will thus eliminate ourselves from ever receiving of our true riches, our true inheritance, as Christ Himself sternly warns of in numerous passages.) We must press on, knowing what the Word says. For it is in the sufferings of the refiner's fire that the pure gold, His Divine nature, is brought forth in our lives.
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross...". If we truly desire to follow Him, then we must actively resist our own flesh, deny our own desires, and take up our own cross, (The taking up our own cross is our willingly partaking of suffering both towards our cleansing of our sin and corruption that yet remains after we first believe, and of our suffering for righteousness sake, partaking in both cases of the fellowship of His Sufferings [As He also learned obedience from the time He was a child by the things He suffered] -- spiritually mentally and physically) in obedience to this calling to follow Him.
"For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary (cross +), the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would" Gal 5:17.
What is this cross, and how can we take it up? There is a warfare, or struggle between our natural desires and His spiritual desire for us. Thus, there are two contrary wills at war with each other: "I will" and "Thy will." When the "Thy will" (His purpose for us) is contrary to and crosses out the "I will" (our own wants), our cross is formed.
As I die to my own will, and then submit to and come into alignment with His will for me, I am taking up my cross and thereby becoming one with Him. I then become an upright, fruit-bearing branch on the tree of life as an expression, or witness of His life and purpose.
We must overcome our feelings of indifference, spiritual laziness, self will and rebellion, and then apply these to the cross that we may prosper in the outworking of His will for us in our daily lives, and thereby grow into spiritual maturity and fruitfulness.
The Apostle Paul cried from the depths of his being, "That I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ". Notice that he said, "That I might apprehend." He understood that there was a choice to be made.
There is a responsibility on our part to apply the cross to
our fears and reactions, that we might better follow
The most important "time" for us in all of eternity, is right now. We are making choices and decisions today, that will effect our eternal reward. We are not waiting for eternal life, we have that now as part of our redemption. But, WHAT (not where) we will be in eternity, will be the result of the accumulated choices and decisions that we are making now.
This "new creation life" that we have within us, is as a little "seed" that is being formulated and developing into completeness. Then, when it is eventually released into the "soil" of eternity, it will unfold into the full manifestation of its makeup.
Any seed that is planted, grows to express its particular nature. We do not add anything to it, but expose it to the right elements, and then it grows to the fullness of what it is. The extent to which we develop spiritually, or mature here on earth will become our "measured state" (either 30, 60 or 100 fold), for all eternity.
Our present life primarily involves the formulation of this seed (our spiritual growth), through the outworking of our willing obedience to Him in taking up our cross daily. Then, when we find ourselves in the "atmosphere of eternity", the life that had been developed within this seed will be released to come into its full expression in His eternal presence.
The promise of the Lord is "to him that overcometh." As we overcome through our willing obedience to the Lord, He will bring this "good land" into our lives and provide the atmosphere to fertilize and water the soil of our obedience. This will bring forth a harvest of the qualities of the divine nature that the Lord desires to produce within this "seed" that we are becoming.
"The willing and the obedient shall eat the good of the land". Allow this process to find its full outworking in your life. Then, as you stand before Him in eternity, He will look upon you, and give to you a new name according to what He sees.
And you will be pleased.