Obedience to the Faith
For several weeks I have been camping out in Romans specifically with my eyes on the Cross. Recently I saw the Cross in my mind’s eye as well. The Cross was hand carved by the hand of God into a multifaceted work of art that embraced every human being’s personal handprint overlaid with the hand print of God. That is the only way I can come up with a description. As I meditate on the vision, I see the cross overlaid with The Tree of Life. The Tree is like a living entity–the Tree is Jesus who was in the Garden all along. The Tree of Life and the Cross are different, however, one cannot exist without the other. The Tree of Life’s branches span in every direction forever. Because the Tree is alive and growing it changes–it is always transforming. The Cross is stationary–it looks the same forever with all the carvings representing every human life created past, present, and future. The Tree of Life embodies those who are engrafted into it through belief in the One. The Cross is the very means by which every victory is won from the ONE–every sin is exterminated–and at the same time forever illustrating by the wounds in His hands, what Jesus did for us so that we could walk in the Power of His resurrection because we have been crucified with Christ on the Cross.
The Book of Romans begins and ends with another “multifaceted” idea: “Obedience to the faith.” The multifaceted Cross is always in the center of the concept of “Obedience to the faith.” It allows us to refrain from all self-righteousness while submitting to taking up our cross daily in a walk of total dependency on God and His Power to continually transform us into the image of His Son while serving Him by becoming a bondsperson. Each and every act of obedience to the faith is carved into the Cross by the hand of the living God. Guess what–God always has known what His carving in the Cross of your life looks like in His work of art in you, His precious one. After all, God so loved the world did He not?
Romans 1:5 It is through Him that we have received grace and [our] apostleship to promote obedience to the faith and make disciples for His name’s sake among all the Gentiles.
Because of the unmerited favor of God, we have been endowed with the gift of Grace from the realm of heaven to become children of God, transformed and empowered to live in this material realm as an instrument of righteousness . An instrument of righteousness is an active participant of the Kingdom of God’s Power and grace because and only because of the Cross. The righteous shall live by faith on earth in a unique identity and new creation in Jesus Christ. Obedience to the faith begins with believing that Jesus Christ is my all in all–my everything, my beginning and my King forever, my provision, my shield, my living water that fills the empty places of longing and desire, my deliverer from the evil one and every repercussions of darkness in my life-the darkness I have participated in and the darkness that others have covered me with my eyes forever on the Cross. Obedience to the faith is nothing more than believing in a new a living way each and every moment in terms of validaing the Cross while exhibiting every Fruit of the Spirit, for against such there is no law.
The idea that “there is no Law” literally means there is no Law. The Law was absorbed in the Cross with the fulfillment of Jesus Christ and what He accomplished. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). Those who have crucified the flesh on the Cross now walk in the Fruits of the Spirit and the Power of God. For the last two weeks I have been camping out at the cross. I have been camping out because I am getting off of ten years of antidepressants. Withdrawal from antidepressants has brought out the worst in me and yet I can nail each and every issue that comes up to the Cross. I am camping out at the Cross because antidepressants buried a lot of anger from my past deep within my soul. Years of anger that I did not realize was hidden in the darkness towards unspeakable things done against me and the unspeakable bitterness in my soul that resulted from unspeakable darkness is being brought into the light so I can nail it to the Cross. Because I believe in what Jesus did for me on the Cross by becoming sin so I could be free, I know He will take anger from my being by crucifying that part of me with Himself on the Cross. I am crucified to the world because I believe in what Jesus did for me at the Cross: As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died (Galatians 6).
It is not through conversion that the Gentiles will become disciples of the living God–it is through a revelation of the Cross and witnessing the Fruits of the Spirit in the believers’ lives that others will seek salvation for themselves. It is not entirely through the telling of the Good News, it is through a revelation of the Cross and showing and radiating the changes, testimonies, and obedience to the faith that creates an environment around a believer that resembles and feels like Jesus. When we are walking and living out our lives in obedience to the faith, other’s will ask–they don’t need to be told. “The preaching of Jesus Christ according to ‘the revelation of the mystery’ (the reason for the Good News according to the perfect will of God)” does not hold water unless it is introduced by the Cross and followed by signs and wonders from the Kingdom of Heaven. The Fruits of the Spirit will be recognized in signs and wonders because against such there is no law. In other words the Fruits of the Spirit cannot be contested by any creed, religion, or nation. The Fruits of the Spirit are the evidence of the crucified flesh that is not subject to futility or sin because it is aligned with the Power of the Holy Spirit unto Life. “We are crucified unto life.” When anyone on the earth encounters the Cross first and the Fruit of the Spirit in others, they see Jesus.
Now to Him who is able to establish and strengthen you [in the faith] according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery [of the plan of salvation] which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now has been disclosed and through the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all the nations, according to the commandment of the eternal God, leading them to obedience to the faith, 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forevermore! Amen.
All paths from the beginning of time have led to the Cross where God as man died on our behalf so the whole world can Live in the Power of a resurrected life. All paths lead to the Cross because this is the destiny of humankind on the earth–to be crucified to this world and live in a new world called the Kingdom of Heaven right now and forever. In the New Testament, the Cross is the hub of the wheel where the spikes of the Gospel and Epistles flow out propelling the purposes of God in the earth. This is our transportation to the Promised Land and this is what all the scriptures were talking about getting to in one way or another by God through faith. The Promised Land was given to us through the Cross of Jesus Christ who tore the veil of the old order to reveal the Holy of Holies–complete union with God and complete and total reconciliation of our dysfunctional, destructive, and dark lives to the revelation of the plan of salvation which boils down to this: “Every Knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” The Plan of salvation is for everyone and everyone will come to the knowledge of the truth because God spoke and it shall come to pass because of the Cross. Every nation means every nation of humankind on the entire earth. By God through faith is the New and Living Way through the Cross that I am so very grateful for. As my love deepens in my relationship with Jesus, it is my desire to be obedient to the faith. However, if I do not keep my eyes on the Cross I will be blinded once again by my natural sight and futile mind. I will forget and fail once again in my vanity because I will no longer be humbled by the Cross.
The Promised Land that Abraham was given by God because of “his obedience to the faith,” is a type and shadow of the promise to come in Jesus Christ. The Good News is that we have entered the Promised Land of salvation through the Cross of Jesus Christ who is the veil into the Holy of Holies in the very Kingdom of Heaven. We have access to the wisdom and revelation of Jesus Christ now and forever in His glorious Power: The Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Council and Might, the Spirit of Knowledge and the Fear of the Lord. We are no long citizens of this world. The commandment of God through the prophetic scripture in the Old Order was always pointing to the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross is the destination of every single human being on the earth and His Will shall be accomplished. From God by faith is the manifestation of obedience to the faith that springs from revelation after revelation after revelation of the Cross of Jesus Christ. We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). Newness of Life is revelation and the manifestation of His Spirit in whom we were baptized unto the death of our futile minds to live in the Light of His brilliance and glory, the Joy of breathing this amazing life He created from the foundation of the world. God always had the Cross in mind make no mistake. The Cross means we have an escape from all our shortcomings and failures while ushering us into the Promised Land of our inheritance in the Saints.
“Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” There are two destinations in this confession: for those who believe by validating the Cross and submit their will to the will of God thereby obedient to the faith there is the promise of eternal life and the Power of God right now. To those who chose to suppress the truth and rebel at bending the knee, the wrath of God will swallow them up in eternal death. Hell is nothing more than an eternal existence apart from God. The fire of Hell is the anguish in the knowledge that a decision was presented but because of the pride of life and going about it in ones own strength rather than clinging to, adhering to, trusting and believing in a more excellent way in Jesus, failure to be obedient to the faith resulted from a refusal to validate the Cross.
The consequence of “doing it my way” is judgement–you are found guilty! Your sentence is death and the anguish of knowing you could have had a different eternity. An eternity in darkness is an eternity yoked to the evil one who will rub it in your face forever what you failed to chose when you had the chance. But you refused to accept the Way because you wanted your way. Your way is the opposite of obedience to the faith. It is obedience to the self–what did you ever get in all your best thinking, your best plans, your best anything? Paul says he counts all things as dung (shit) but in essence the Cross of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8). This is what the wrath of God is all about–He abhors sin. Sin is also multifaceted and looks like a diamond but it is really a form of sharp glass that cuts us off from the Living God and separates us. God’s wrath is nothing more than Holy anger against those who want to be like God, the god of their own destiny.
Today the times are the darkest they have every been. But even in darkness God is Light. Psalm 139: but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. Make no mistake when we fix our eyes on the Cross we shall never see darkness the same way again. When we fix our eyes on the Cross we know that He won over the power of the evil one once and for all. “In thy light shall we see light.” I want to engraft the Cross into my being so that it can be carved into the work of art by the right hand of the Lord transforming my unique soul into the image of Christ. The fear of the Lord is at the summit in the Cross. The wisdom and revelation of the Mystery of the Gospel is contained in the Cross for all who will come–there is Love at the Cross and there is always conviction of sin. Make no mistake the Cross is a reminder that we are not worthy of what we received because of it.
The Hebrew concept of the Chariot of Heaven מֶרְכָּבָה (merkabah) are like the “wheels” from the hub of the Cross that transports our gratitude, prayers, love and faith to the realms of Heaven where the angels ascend and descend with the plans and purposes that God destined from the foundation of the world. Obedience to the faith means in a nutshell: “From God by faith.” However, my eyes need to remain fixed on the Cross. Faith is bridled from my soul to hope in God. Faith is an invisible substance that substantiates what we hope for. Faith is the “freedom chain” of slavery to the one and only God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit whom we adore so much that we will do all within our capacity to seek His will every moment of the day now and forever AND SUBMIT TO IT TOTALLY COMPLETELY WITH ALL OF OUR LOVING DESIRE FOR MORE OF HIM. Behold a chariot of fire and horses of fire came between them; and Elijah went up in a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof (2 Kings 2:11, 12). I believe we can be taken up to heaven like Elijah because in Jesus Christ we are seated with Him in heavenly realms. We live and move and have our being in Jesus Christ who allows us to operate in a heavenly reality that is so much more real than our natural sight and personal agenda.
Obedience to the faith is believing in Jesus Christ and never for one moment taking our eyes off the Cross–keeping our eyes on the cross takes our eyes away from ourselves and causes us to wish to see what Jesus sees. Keeping our eyes on the cross reminds us that there was a very strong reason why God allowed His only son to die on it–let us never forget it was because He loved the world. Keeping our eyes on the cross keeps our eyes off our ourselves in order to give God all the glory. He is everything we never deserved from the beginning of time. Obedience to the faith is remembering “apart from Him I can do nothing.” Obedience to the faith means that there is one faith, one Lord, one baptism (Ephesians) and we believe this when we come to the knowledge of the truth: the essence of the truth is in the Cross and what happened there and what continues to happen there for all eternity. The wounds in the hands of our savior will always be there as a reminder of the Cross. These marks are the deepest “tattoos” of eternal Life that mark our destiny. Make no mistake. There was a supreme PRICE paid at the Cross. It bought your life for all eternity. Let us glory in nothing at all but the Cross of Jesus Christ.