The Training Table: Minding the Crucially Crucial “You—you” GAP!
Welcome to the Training Table where you can depend on some spiritually-nourishing chow, carefully prepared, to help you run the Godly and good race! For what good is a good race, unless it’s a Godly race (2 Timothy 4:7; 1 Corinthians 9:24)?
Ever since The Fall in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3—when Eve then Adam used their free will to disobey God and passed along the strain of enmity between God and the human race ever since then) humankind has shared a common and most dreadful plight: An identity crisis.
When God chose a way… the only way, truth, and life… to resolve this existential reality and persistent angst, He essentially said, “There is absolutely nothing humanity can do to fix a crisis so deep and thorough as its identity; broken cannot produce unbrokenness; darkness cannot produce light; deadness cannot produce life; the solution can only come from outside of humanity; I, We will make it possible for each human being to be born again.”
So the one and only true God of all things seen and unseen made the only way possible to occur and redeem humanity’s identity crisis by the birth, death, and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ—”The Way, the Truth, and the Life”. Jesus Himself said, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). And Jesus Christ, then, is either a liar, a lunatic, or the very GodMan and Lord who He said He was. There is no other way.
At what level of detail have you parsed-out the real identity of Jesus Christ? Why do you believe what you believe… about Him… and your identity?
It is only due to the strain and stain of Original Sin (Genesis 3) that our first and broken response to this True Truth is, “What the hell! I can’t believe God could be so exclusive, close-minded, unjust, narrow, and cruel as that. Only one way, truth, and life?! Isn’t it God’s responsibility to cut me some slack.”
Rather, and perhaps, just a pinprick of reality, self-awareness, and humility should cause us to say, “Praise God from the bottom to the top of my heart that He has made a way, truth, and life… at all.”
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see. (John Newton)
God’s grace is merciful and utterly undeserving… But not a way and an offer that will last forever. If any human being will not take Him up on the only way of His Son Jesus Christ, God will be respectful and deferential enough to allow any human being to choose hell rather than heaven. To say no rather than yes. “The doors of hell are locked from the inside.” (C.S. Lewis)
God can forgive ANY sin if we repent and are saved; but God cannot forgive ANY sin if we do not. (Mark 3:22-30; Matthew 12:31-32)
As the nearby inset image portrays, “Who am I?” No matter what array of material stuff, cosmetics, and damnable good works humanity piles on top of being LOST, the reality of a bottomless, unfilled, God-shaped hole in our heart is undeniable and casts a shadow of shame, condemnation, being orphaned, a life of anxieties of yesterday, fears of today, and worries of tomorrow over everything we are first, and then do thereafter. We need a Redeemer to initiate the change by supernaturally turning our heart of stone into a heart of flesh—then, in Christ, we will be God’s people and He will be our God. (Ezekiel 11:17-22)
God Did It… Have We?
It has been wisely said in a variety of ways that the Christian journey of faith can be summed by recognizing and closing the GAP between the OBJECTIVE True Truth and Love of God in Christ… and our SUBJECTIVE internalization, experience, and faithful living out what of what was done and is already truly true of a Christian. And not true of any human being who has not been re-born… Or re-Identified.
If any human being has come to a realization—by the Spirit first regenerating the heart and making him or her capable of doing so—God is God, he or she is not, repentance for Sin [Adam’s] and sinning [habitually] is required, beseeching Jesus Christ to Save him or her from hell in time and for eternity, and centering his or her life on Christ as disciple of his or her Lord… That human being has taken the first and absolutely necessary step in resolving and reversing his or her IDENTITY CRISIS. It’s true: God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever would believe in Him will not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
The GAP between what’s Objectively True of us and our subjective, personal life is one that is similar yet different in every born-again, new creation in Christ. But the goal of faith is the same: “Minding the GAP”, closing it, becoming more and more like Christ—it’s called the journey of justification, discipleship, sanctification, purification, perseverance, and conformation—so that our Christlikeness enables us to “co-redeem” the world… Bringing heaven to earth… Until heaven comes back to this earth when Christ returns to make all things new.
Martin Luther described a born-again Christians [there is no other kind, John 3:7] as “Little Christs”—because of what God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit DID. Has it been done in YOU? In the people closest to you? Have you and/or yours resolved The Identity Crisis of the fallen Image Bearer of God?
There is no more important question and answer any human being can ask or resolve “Today…” (Psalm 95:7-8)!
Say It Again…
God’s completed, yet not fully consummated, work in Christ is finished (John 19:30)—but has it started, and is it progressing, IN YOU?
Especially in the New Testament parts of the Bible, the words “In Christ…” [or synonyms] appear many times because the Spirit of God—by means of the Bible writers—is reminding, encouraging, admonishing, exhorting, warning, preaching, and teaching to the church… about exactly WHO they objectively are! The First Century Church was establishing “a root system” that could not and would not fail. Again and again, as we know by how the Bible tells us, God’s own people were continually relapsing and relying on who they WERE and not who they ARE… In Christ.
This is HUGE, my friends. In fact, it pretty much sums up the entirety of God’s Plan of Redemption: God objectively made a plan to rescue and redeem the universe so that you and I could subjectively have it come to pass… One fallen yet redeemed heart, spirit, and life at a time: That’s how God counts the fulfillment of His plan in Christ: Have you and yours been rescued and redeemed?
“God chose faith as the way to justification because faith accords with grace and grace is the free and sovereign work of God that makes the promise certain. “For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants.” (Romans 4:16) God means to justify us by faith because it gives us strong assurance. God’s free and sovereign grace is what guarantees the promise of salvation and makes it sure. And faith is the one condition of the heart that accords with grace in justification. Faith says yes to grace and is glad that God will save us that way and rests in that wonderful work of grace.” (John Piper, emphasis added)
In closing, please allow me to offer one monumentally important, wide, deep and unspeakably full-filling passage from the Bible that my men’s Bible fellowship is presently in the midst of studying.
1 Peter is a book of the Bible written to First Century Christians who were undergoing an array of suffering “from the inside-out” [their own faith transition from God’s chosen in the Old Testament to their “New Testament identity in Christ”], and “from the outside-in” [persecution by Rome and “the old Jewish guard”].
Net-net? The recipients of this letter were hurting big time… And there’s no better way to begin the process of remembering and redeeming than recapitulation: “Remind me again, what’s the Good News of the Gospel?” What exactly is objectively true of me that I can subjectively, personally, intimately stand on, embrace, absorb, and live out once again? Remembering and renewing are two activities that show up in the Bible many times—and should do so in our lives beginning early every morning (Mark 1:35).
Please note how I have created a “You you” GAP between what the Spirit of God, by means of the apostle Peter, is pleading to the early church… to YOU… ME… to see, remember, and live out in word and deed: What is objectively True in You [big “Y”] as a new creation is Christ is and should be subjectively lived out in you [little “y”] each and every day, Beloved of God.
This is the fact of faith, discipleship, and being more and more like Jesus to used of God: Minding and closing the GAP between who “You” are as Christ in “you”, and who you are in Christ.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are the elect exiles [Christ followers] of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to “You you”.
Born Again to a Living Hope
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for “You you”, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this “You you” rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, “You you” have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Though “You you” have not seen him, “You you” love him. Though “You you” do not now see him, “You you” believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of “Your your” faith, the salvation of “Your your” souls. (1 Peter 1:1-9 ESV)
Saved… to Serve!
Now, even though there will be varying levels of excitement, gratitude, joy, worship, a passion for The Body of Christ and the lost, thankfulness, and a desire to be used for God’s main purpose: To glorify Him and bless others…
This opening passage from 1 Peter above should rock your world from the inside out.
Please read it again… and again as needed… in order to search your heart about any/all GAPS between the “You” of what God has objectively done in Christ for the universe and The Body of Christ Universal as well as for the “you” of your own, personal, intimate, heart-of-heart story. Please take this sort of meditative and prayerful time not just “Today…” (Psalm 96:7-8), but regularly and within a trusted community of faith.
[If the passage feels more like dead or just words on a page, please, deeply consider the nature of your faith. Perhaps you or someone you love or know has yet to embrace the faith. Words of this kind in the Bible deeply resonate, “Spirit-to-Spirit”, when a born-again believer lets such words dwell in the heart. Holy affections, the thrill of God’s beauty, grace, and truth, vibrates deep-down inside. (Matthew 10:20; Romans 8:14-16; 2 Corinthians 1:22)]
Pray and meditate and recite and remember and help others do the same: In Christ you have actually, really, truly been supernaturally born again to a living hope so that you can be Christ to any and all “human doings”—who want more than anything to be re-identified human beings… FIRST. Identity precedes all else and God has made a way, truth, and life for us to be re-identified, justified, and sanctified to serve, as we Mind the GAP!
If you are in Christ and have crossed the line between being unrepentant and repentant, idolatrous and loving God, your own lord and Christ as Lord, unsaved and saved, dead and born again, presumptuous and thankful, etc, etc, etc… God has transformed history… In you. Believe it.
If not… Believe it as well.
Finding Your Identity, RC Sproul
The Purpose and Perseverance of Faith, John Piper
Bearing the Image: Identity, the Work of Christ, and the Church, Thabiti Anyabwile
Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ, John MacArthur