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Bittersweet Refinements: Chapter XXVII

Posted by Jerry E Beuterbaugh Labels: ,

Chapter XXVII
Stages of Development
Concerning him we have much to say, and {it is} hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes {only} of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.  But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.  Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.  And this we will do, if God permits.

No, this is not meant for everyone [Matthew 13:10-12].  For it all depends upon what our Heavenly Father wants to accomplish in and through someone [Philippians 2:13] that determines when (and to what extent) He will allow and enable them to enter into the knowledge and understanding of His absolute truth [1 Corinthians 2:6-16].

It is, however, meant for a lot more than many want it to be.  For far too many are well content with thinking that they already possess everything they need in Christ Jesus [1 Corinthians 1:4-9] without having any idea just what that really means [1 Corinthians 3:1-3]—nor having any desire to learn [Luke 9:23-26].

No, this has nothing at all to do with us earning our keep.  For it is written: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. [Ephesians 2:8-10 NAS]

On the other hand, it does have everything to do with the kind of relationship that our Heavenly Father wants to have with His children by faith [John 15:15].  For to think that there is nothing more to it after accepting Christ Jesus as being your own personal Lord and Savior is like a wife thinking that there is nothing more to her marriage after the wedding vows have been exchanged.

Alas, have we not been given written confirmation of this?  Yes, we most certainly have been.  For it is written: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” [John 15:1-8 NIV]

Needless to say, none of that should be taken as a threat.  For it is meant for the benefit of all concerned [Jeremiah 29:11].

It does, however, involve some things that are naturally unsettling [John 15:18-25], and not the least of these has to do with coming to terms with the reality of our situations in this world.  For it is written: I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.  He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.  He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones.  He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship.  He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead.  He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains.  Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer.  He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked.  Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding, he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help.  He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows.  He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver.  I became the laughingstock of all my people; they mock me in song all day long.  He has filled me with bitter herbs and sated me with gall.  He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust.  I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is.  So I say, "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.”  I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."  The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.  It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.  Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him.  Let him bury his face in the dust—there may yet be hope.  Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace.  For men are not cast off by the Lord forever.  Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.  For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.  To crush underfoot all prisoners in the land, to deny a man his rights before the Most High, to deprive a man of justice—would not the Lord see such things?  Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?  Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? [Lamentations 3:1-38 NIV]

Yes, the rest of the passage goes on about being justly punished for sins [Lamentations 3:39-66], and this is exactly what is going on in far too many cases [Colossians 3:25].  For there are times when we do bring more hardships down upon ourselves than would be absolutely necessary to accomplish our Heavenly Father’s purposes [James 1:2-4].

Nonetheless, that does not discount the absolute truth of the matter truly being that there would not be any hardships of any kind to our lives in this world if it was not for it being in accordance to our Heavenly Father’s will.  For it is also written: I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me.  I am the LORD, and there is none else.  I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. [Isaiah 45:5-7 KJV]

No, there is no way of getting around it.  For what did all of those children (with most of them being of His own chosen people [Genesis 17:1-21]) who died in Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust do to deserve their plight?

Yes, many would argue that it was just a result of being born into a fallen world.  Some would even go as far as to insist that it was because of being Jewish, but what choice did they have—either way [Job 5:7]?

No, there is nothing to be gained by ignoring what has been made so very obvious [Luke 12:1-3].  In fact, there is actually much to be lost—and not just in regards to integrity, neither [Matthew 25:14-30].  For the more it is made clear that our Heavenly Father truly is responsible for ALL that happens, the more satisfaction He can receive.  For it takes a very special kind of love to want to still be with someone who appears to have done you great harm [Job 1:21-22].

Yes, it naturally sounds rather crass (to put it mildly). Nonetheless, when all that our Heavenly Father has endured [Genesis 6:6-7], even going as far as to experience the spiritual death of a full and equal part of Himself [Matthew 27:46], is added to the mix, a much weightier issue must be considered.  For why would He subject Himself (not to mention us) to all that He has unless it was worth it [Romans 8:15-39]?

No, I cannot naturally blame anyone for being reluctant to accept these things [James 1:5-8].  For ignorance is bliss when it comes to such [Ecclesiastes 1:18], but the time has come for a great, great many to grow up [1 Corinthians 13:11].


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