Welcome to LAB: A Blog Series
originally published at road2wholeness.com on 8/31/17
Thanks for visiting The Road2Wholeness Blog and for taking the read today! Therefore today, I bring to you L.A.B., “Live. Accept. Become.” Why Live, then Accept, then Become. Why not, Accept, then Become, and then Live? Here’s what I got.
You may also be asking… accept what? Become what? Live what? And surely all these questions will be answered as I move along. Let’s begin with a very familiar story Jesus told in Luke 15:11-31, about a man who had two sons. One acquired his inheritance and left home, while the other stayed at home with the father and lived in accordance with the way his father had outlined. Eventually the younger son returns, and his father celebrates him greatly and restores to him his place in the family.
There are many things within this story that is meant to out-picture the realities of life, but in particular Jesus offered it in response to questions about the people he was said to be keeping company with. His first response to the questions, was “…there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” And herein tells the reason why the father chose to celebrate his son’s return so richly. But that is not the exactly what I came to share today.
Why do you think this is so? Why is the sinner celebrated more greatly than the righteous? It is not because of their “poor old soul”, which is the tone that many of the righteous tend to take about those living outside of God’s covenant. They are more greatly celebrated because God understands what it takes to get back on the right path. It’s His awareness of the pull and the powers that fights against you getting back to Him, why sinners are greatly celebrated when they have returned home.
If you read the story, you will find that the father never asked the son where he’d been or what all he’d done. The father is aware of the plight. The Father knows what exists outside of His covenant, and so His first inclination is to celebrate! How about that! Yes, allow me to interrupt the programming! His first inclination is NOT to ask for repentance. This is important because the order by which restoration is handled will be the ultimate test of restoration.
This story is in line with the way Jesus administered restoration. When you read “The Gospels”, time and time again Jesus offered restoration, mostly by way of healings, but it is the pattern we look for. Jesus never asked anyone to repent, but He answered mainly to those who recognized Him as Lord. It was a subtle detail, but it was and still is what Jesus responds to. He responds to recognition of who He is. This is in line with John 3:16, which says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever should believe in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”
This is also very important because what it shows is how highly God places our acceptance of Jesus as His son, and the mediator of The New Covenant. The second outstanding part of that scripture for me is the word “whoever”. Think about that. Whoever should believe in Jesus will not perish. That’s powerful! When I think of it that way, I’m often reminded of Abraham who was called righteous for believing the promises of God. Perhaps, this is why God’s promises are so far out; because He does not take the label of righteous lightly. This is another reason why I believe Jesus was born to a virgin and had to be resurrected. God not only wants to test our faith, but to stretch it. And according to our faith, grace is given.
John 3:16 is therefore the picture of grace I understand and uphold, and I believe as scripture says “His grace is sufficient”. And what exactly does that mean? It means… no man or woman can cheapen grace. It’s impossible! The price Jesus paid for the souls He plans to restore is sufficient, and could not be paid by none other. Therefore all the falls, stumbles, circles man will endure are all accounted for. This is why Jesus told the story of “counting the cost”. God knew the cost, He counted the cost, and He gave His Son to pay the cost.
Now where does this leave the issue of repentance? Well, scripture says, “Vengeance is mine”, this is true for those who trample on us, and it is also true concerning us, yet, God sees those who have been counted as righteous with gentleness; with mercy. Therefore we are invited into a classroom almost where God walks with us and talks with us and guides us as He restores us. This is not a topical process that any man can sum up with eyes. This is an everlasting, indwelling process that we undergo. Grace and Mercy are the managers of this process, and faithfulness is the outcome.
In Luke 19:12-24, Jesus tells a story of a master who went off to be made King and gave ten servants money to put to work until his return. Upon the master’s return some had, but there was one who said to the master, “Sir here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.” The master replied, “I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant!” Meanwhile those who multiplied what they were given were call good and faithful servants.
This is an interesting story that speaks to a few different truths, which was often the case when Jesus spoke. Most people interpret this story to be about money, but it is really about the servant who is afraid to test what he had been given. He describes the master (who went off to be King… aka Jesus) as a hard man who takes out what he did not put in. The servant is describing the process by which Jesus judges and purifies his servants. The servant is so overwhelmed with fear of the law, that He doesn’t test what he has. When the master (King) returns, He calls him wicked for his lack of faith. So here we see the contrast that Jesus is making, and thus the entire evolution of the bible, coming from the story of Abraham right through to this parable Jesus spoke, that faith is counted as righteousness, and it would be better to fail in faith than to fail at law. This is why the master tells the servant you will be judged by your own words; because he chose the law over grace.
This story also parallels the story of the prodigal (wasteful) son that we looked at earlier in regards to testing. I would bet that the reason the servants who multiplied what they were given were call good and faithful was not because they increased money (for the kingdom of God is not measured by money), but because they increased faith and had obtained a testimony. This is important, because our testimony along with the blood of Christ overcomes the curses of the law. It also parallels the first story in that, the son who stayed at home with his father and follow all the laws was said to be bitter and upset because he was not celebrated. Once again, God is looking for a people who can testify, and thus overcome the law (the old covenant).
Lastly, I call again on the first story to make the point of become. Now, if you read the story of the prodigal son from Luke 16:11-31, you will find that the young son, who went out with his inheritance, returned home to his father’s house and was restored to his rightful place. I find it interesting that nothing the young son took with him depleted his father’s house. I also found it interesting that the father never mentioned the so called inheritance he squandered. Could it be that the Father’s grace was sufficient to pay the expenditures of testing that would eventually lead to a good and faithful servant who could not only testify to what was in the world, but who no longer had the desire to partake of what was in the world. I believe that if we could speak to the prodigal son, he would tell us that, he did not become until he returned, and that he could not accept until he had lived.
So, I look at the laboratory that is life, and I give great thanks to The Almighty Father; for His grace poured out through Christ is in fact sufficient.
Remember to go within that you may never go without. The God within you awaits you. Until our paths collide again, I wish you... Peace, Love, Life, and Complete Wholeness.
NaTisha R. Williams