COMING INTO THE 

LIGHT

THE PROCESS

 

It seemed that I had no sooner asked the question, when an impression popped into my head.   Evangelical Christians who believe in the Holy Spirit as an active principle in the life of the genuine believer would call this impression that seemed to just be implanted in my mind a “word of knowledge.”   When I posed the question, immediately the biblical story of Jacob and the angel came to mind.   As I opened my mind, the unfolding of the story appeared to me very clearly.   “That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak” (Gen 32:22-24 NIV).  

The name Jacob means supplanter, or one who replaces a thing with something else.   Jabbok means to empty -- and since it is the ford of the Jabbok, I reasoned that it would mean to empty through cleansing.   The sign of the fish then popped into my mind.   It was shown to me that the fish, which is one of the earliest of Christian symbols, represented the total immersion of the flesh in the cleansing of the Spirit -- and I understood that it was this total cleansing which the Bible says is absolutely necessary in order for the Light to fully manifest in the life of the disciple.

In the biblical account I saw that Jacob was cleansed by ridding himself of all his worldly possessions -- which in mind, equates to his beliefs and carnal way of thinking.   When Jesus said “…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matt 19:24 NAS), he was speaking more of ones beliefs that were acquired through worldly thinking and manmade religious doctrine, than of money as we perceive his words today.   I understood that from a biblical perspective, it is our carnal mindset and our way of thinking -- a manner of thinking that we acquire from the culture in which we live -- that inhibits us from receiving what Paul called the “meat” of the Word.   What I saw in the biblical account of Jacob was that he put all his worldly possessions on the other side of the river, and then crossed over the body of water which means “to empty”.   From my Christian mindset, I saw this as a type of baptism and cleansing that released Jacob from the things of this world, and a change of mind that enabled Jacob to be purified by God's Spirit.   I also realized that it did not matter whether the story of Jacob has an historical or other significance, what mattered was that a force within me was using this biblical account to guide me into a manner of thinking that was very important in my quest for Truth.

In the biblical story of Jacob it states that he was alone.   Thus, I questioned: If he was alone, where did the man he wrestled with come from?   The word here translated man, which in Hebrew means mortal, represents not only Jacob's human nature, but also his conceptions about himself and God.   Once it is recognized that Jacob was indeed alone, and it was within himself that he wrestled, the sacred truth that unfolds is that Jacob sought to rise above and beyond his physical nature and form in his quest to know God, his Source of being.   In the baptismal cleansing, he overcame his carnal nature and its attachments to the world, and immersed himself in his spiritual nature that was and is the true source of his being.  

The message was clear to me: I realized that I had to somehow go beyond the world of opinion, church doctrine, controversy, superficial facts, and find out the truth for myself.   I wanted very much to believe, but what should I believe in?   I recognized that from a biblical perspective, I would be self-condemned if I were to just accept whatever doctrine sounded good to me, and I would in effect be unfaithful to God.   If the scriptures are correct, and I had it within my power to literally enter within the Spiritual Temple of God which the Apostle teaches is within all of mankind, then I could not even consider myself a Christian if I did not begin the journey into The Way!   At that point in my life I learned the true meaning of faith -- i.e., it is when one begins to live in strict accordance with the scriptures because they believe the Word of God, even though they possess no first hand knowledge with regard to the results.  

Throughout the Bible there is a paramount warning that what appears to the mind of carnal man to be right, is not -- and man's own misplaced faith and belief becomes his folly that will cause his own demise.   For the most part this warning is ignored because it is not understood.   A truth that I will continually explore throughout my writings is the fact that it does not make sense to the mind of man that God would publish a book -- the Bible -- and permit the Word of God to be encrypted with a hidden doctrine that is beyond the comprehension of the average person.   Yet, the flaw in man's reasoning is found in his inability to recognize the true requirements of the scriptures -- which requirement is for mankind to become complete.   In this respect, the very purpose of physical life itself is exactly the same as the pattern in which the Bible is imbued with -- i.e., for man to mature and grow to a state of spiritual perfection.

In my quest to comprehend the spiritual meaning of the Bible, I was well aware that scriptural interpretations that sounded right to me, and made perfect sense to me, was vehemently rejected by others.   In the beginning this lack of agreement was both perplexing and disconcerting.   My contact with many different Christian sects caused me to recognize the fact that different groups could read the same scriptures, and arrive at sometimes completely opposite conclusions.  

Even dedicated Bible readers were not exempt from the confusion that seemed to spring forth from the pages of the Holy Word.   Jehovah's Witness studied the scriptures daily, and they were looked upon as heretics by Evangelical Christians.   The Evangelical Assemblies of God spoke in tongues and claim to move in the spirit, while many Evangelical Baptists questioned what spirit was moving them -- and even suggested that they were demon-possessed.   What is today called mainstream churches -- mainstream because they are more in tune with our modern culture -- look upon both the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Evangelical Christians as extremists in their interpretations of the bible.   Even among Bible scholars there was no agreement -- just a never-ending mountain of conflicting opinion and theory.  

In the beginning of my own search to understand the meaning of the scriptures I found this total lack of agreement on almost any biblical point to be disturbing.  I could easily sympathize with the prevailing viewpoint that God would not ordain a Holy Writing that was beyond the average person's ability to comprehend.   Yet, it was difficult for me to ignore the fact that the Bible itself warns the reader that only a very select few will ever perceive the true meaning of the written word.   Thus, I had encountered another paradox that I did not at the time possess the answer to understand -- and it was my quest to find the resolution to this paradox that eventually gave birth to a higher perception of life itself.

From my perspective, I was left with only one option.   Borrowing a well known scientific principle, I first recognized that two things could not occupy the same space at the same time: i.e., I could not know truth if what I believed was error.   The Bible clearly taught that if what I believed was founded upon any falsehood what-so-ever, that the whole of what I believed would be in error (Matt 7:24-29).   I understood the Apostle's definition of how a believer is supposed to fulfill the requirements of the Christ in the words that they should be “...blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil 2:15 RSV).  

In recognition of these biblical messages which the Apostle said was absolutely essential in the life of the disciple, I therefore posed the all important question from a scriptural perspective: How could I even begin to fulfill these requirements, if the very foundation of what I believed was not what was taught by the Son of God?   In coming to terms with this problem, I therefore came to understand that if fidelity to the Lord was contingent upon adherence to the Lord's Truth, then blind belief in the doctrines of men was in every way unfaithfulness to the Lord.   Two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time: I cannot know Truth if I believe error -- therefore, I cannot be faithful to the Lord and cling to the precepts of men.

As I pondered my conclusions, I recognized the enormity of the task that confronted me.   Like the biblical account of Jacob, I had to cleanse myself from the things of this world; wrestle and overcome what was carnal; and open the door of what the Bible proclaims is my innate spiritual nature -- a nature that I knew nothing about -- in order to inherit the promise of the scriptures, and see the Face of God more clearly.   Initially it seemed that I was confronted by the impossible.   In reading the scriptures it seemed that I was required to somehow divest myself of everything I had been taught -- rid myself of all unconfirmed beliefs -- overcome my physical sense and reasoning, and ask the Lord to teach and direct me into his Truth and Light.   Moreover, I had to somehow supercharge mere faith and belief in God, and drive it to new heights of higher manifestation -- i.e., I had to demonstrate perfect faith and belief -- I had to become possessed by the concept that God has not abandoned mankind -- but rather, in their adherence to the carnal doctrines of men, mankind has abandoned God -- and I had to prove the validity of the Gospel of Christ, which is founded upon the concept that it is within the ability of man to learn all truth directly from the hand of the Lord.   In my quest for truth I came to realize why the Apostle placed such great importance on faith -- which from his elevated perception of man's plight in this world, can only be defined as the power to overcome and prevail during that time when one is unsure of the results.

As I thought on these things my mind envisioned the great obstacle that confronts every disciple who seeks to know God.   I knew absolutely nothing first hand: Everything I knew, or thought I knew, had either been taught to me, or was based upon what someone had taught to me.   Like most people, I had adopted a certain set of beliefs because they felt right to me -- and yet the Bible itself warns man that he cannot rely upon carnal feelings to guide him.   In recognition of these things, I asked the question: How was I going to rid myself of what I felt and believed, if everything in my head was secondhand unsubstantiated assumptions and conjecture?  

As I contemplated what on the surface appeared to be insurmountable obstacles, I came to understand that the very word faith is in fact multidimensional, and can be seen from more than one perspective.   There is static faith when one holds firm to their present position, and awaits for an event to happen.   From a scriptural perspective, I realized that the words of Jesus did not affirm a static faith.   Everything that he taught embodied the very concept of a very active and moving faith. 

In recognition of these two types of faith -- static and active -- I understood why Paul was condemned as a heretic by the Messianic Jewish followers of Christ -- which flaw in his presentation was in fact the root cause observed by many biblical scholars who were of the opinion that different people authored the epistles that we today attribute to Paul.   In the Epistle to the Romans it is written: “What does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” (Rom 4:3-5 NIV).  

What Paul is writing here is that a man who professes faith in God, and does no works to manifest and demonstrate that faith in his life, is credited as righteousness by a God who justifies the wicked.   The problem is that Paul often contradicts himself, as seen in the statement: “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom 8:13 KJV).   To mortify the deeds of the body takes work -- a great amount of work -- and this work cannot be accomplished through a static faith.   This great conflict in doctrine and religious concept is found throughout the Epistles accredited to Paul, and is the basis of the position of many biblical scholars regarding Paul: “Some indeed assume that Paul ceased really to progress beyond the point represented by Romans, and that certain of his later writings, if they be his at all, show a certain enfeeblement of grasp upon principle” (Encyclopedia Britannica; 1998 electronic edition).  

In our quest to perceive the essence of the Word of God, modern Christians must recognize that among the authors of the various books of the New Testament, only Paul even suggests the doctrine that static faith can be seen as righteousness.   Moreover, it must also be recognized that this doctrine which has been drawn directly from these epistles attributed to Paul with respect to the concept that man is saved through static faith, is directly condemned by James, the brother of Jesus, and first leader of the New Covenant Church, as demonstrated in the words: “Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God's friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone” (James 2:21-24 NIV).

In direct opposition to the doctrine of static faith that was preached by Paul, James confirms that Abraham was not considered righteous until after he manifested his faith by following the dictates of God by offering his son Isaac on the alter.   What James said was that if Abraham did not follow through and accomplish what God required of him, thereby manifesting his faith and belief in his willingness to do God's Will, he never would have been deemed righteous.   What James points out is that faith and works must be merged together in the life of the disciple in order to overcome the trials of this world. 

From this perspective, I saw the story of the biblical Jacob as the answer to my dilemma.   Faith and works had to become merged -- as if they were married -- and like a marriage, my faith had to become manifest in what I physically did in my life.   The message that I saw in the scriptures was that I could only prevail in my quest for truth by embracing a faith that enabled me to go beyond my human nature -- beyond human perceptions of life and reality -- and surrender myself only to the Word of God and nothing else.   Under close examination, though, I must admit that these conclusions were frightening.  

When Paul wrote the words: “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom 8:13 KJV), the author of these words did not envision the static faith which is the core of modern Christian doctrine today.   In coming to this conclusion, I recognized that the message I saw in the scriptures was one of first principles -- which first principles embraced the absolute necessity of cleansing the mind of erroneous beliefs in the words: “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (Matt 23:26 NIV).   The easy answer to the cleaning of the inside of the cup would be baptism -- but what baptism?   All the many sects which embraced a never-ending array of conflicting opinions and doctrines of belief which overwhelmed Christendom today, are all heralded by baptized believers.   I, myself had been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and yet I could see very clearly in the message of the scriptures that I was still in need of cleansing.

As I pondered these things it seemed as if the fulfillment of the requirements of the New Testament scriptures was insurmountable.   How does one even begin to overcome their carnal nature?   One cannot just cease to be the person they are.   In desiring to fulfill the requirements of the scriptures, St. Jerome took the Apostle’s words to task where he commanded: “I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Cor 9:27 NIV) -- wherein, he moved out to the desert and beat himself with a whip every time he had an impure thought.

Even though St. Jerome went to the desert with good intentions, he did not succeed in his quest.   Perhaps even more extreme measures are demonstrated in Jesus’ command to pluck out an eye, or cut off a limb if one sees or does evil.   And even if a believer actually could inflict these punishments on themselves, would this have any effect on the cause of the problem?   In examination of these passages of scripture, I did not believe the answer was found in living an existence of physical hardship in order to overcome one’s carnal nature?   Yet, I also recognized that these words were spoken in solemn accord with the requirements of the New Covenant theology that Jesus taught -- and therefore, cannot be just ignored in the manner that Christians do in our present day.     

It has been said in many ways that just because you have silenced a man, that does not mean that you have conquered or changed him.   I therefore reasoned that if I attempted to sever myself from my carnal nature -- either through mental censorship, or the infliction of physical hardships -- my true condition would not be changed because I would still be entombed in this body of flesh and desire.   And as I searched for meaning in these passages of scriptures that seemed to promote the abuse of the body, it dawned on me that what I was observing was very much another pattern which portrayed both division overcome, as well as singleness of mind.   This truth is demonstrated in the words of Jesus when he said: “The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light” (Luke 11:34-36 KJV).   

What is Jesus conveying to us in these words?   In view of the fact that we have two eyes -- and these two eyes are representative of the dualism found throughout all of Creation -- and that only when we merge these two natures into the third force are we able to look out into the world with a singleness of vision, are we even able to begin to get a sense of what Jesus is attempting to convey to his followers.   Once again great light can be shed upon the essence of what is being taught by understanding the application of the words found in two important recent Christian archeological discoveries known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri and the Gospel of Thomas -- which words are also found in the Nazirene Gospel -- and in like manner are affirmed by St. Clement, the disciple of Peter, as an authentic teachings of Jesus in his The Second Epistle of Clement where he writes: “Let us expect, therefore, hour by hour, the kingdom of God in love and righteousness, since we know not the day of the appearing of God. For the Lord Himself, being asked by one when His kingdom would come, replied, 'When two shall be one, that which is without as that which is within, and the male with the female, neither male nor female’”.   

The idea of singleness of eye can only be achieved when the "two shall be one" -- when our vision and presence of  "that which is without (us is in total harmony) as that which is within" -- when the division of polarity within us is overcome and it can then be said that "the male with the female, neither male nor female".  This great truth that must be embraced by all who call themselves Christian is confirmed when we understand that the word which is above translated "evil", has a root meaning "which indicates a degeneracy from original virtue", as indicative of our divided nature which results from our journey as the prodigal sons into the "far country" -- as well as a "plural" element.   What these important teachings convey is the reality of an inner Armageddon, and the spiritual birth of the disciple in the Kingdom within.   And on a different level, this concept of overcoming division was merely an extension of the very first words of Adam with respect to the need to again become One in singleness.

If man was saved by faith apart from works, as is believed in our churches today, then our doctrines of belief are in fact attempting to negate one of the most severe and profound warnings of Jesus contained in the Bible, as seen in the words: “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48 KJV).

It is because of these major differences between the gospels and the Epistles of Paul that Martin Luther rejected the witness of Matthew, Mark and Luke.  The idea that it would be better to cut of a hand or foot, or pluck out an eye in order to be saved, simply did not resonate with what Paul appeared to preach.   I also reasoned that if the Apostle envisioned the static faith that we embrace today, then why would he convey to us the need to beat the body to make it a slave?   If man was saved by static faith, then why would Jesus say it is better to pluck out an eye, or cut off a limb, rather than permit these members to do evil, and destine one to hell (Mat 5:29-30).  The commentary Barnes’ Notes captures the mindset of Jesus for these passages of scripture where it writes: “The right hand is selected for the same reason as the right eye, because it is one of the most important members of the human body. The idea is, that the dearest earthly objects are to be sacrificed rather than that we should commit sin; that the most rigid self-denial should be practiced, and that the most absolute self-government should be maintained at any sacrifice, rather than that we should suffer the mind to be polluted by unholy thoughts and impure desires.”

Is man saved by static faith, or the mere profession of belief?   I believe the answer to this question is found in the very words of Jesus when he said: "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt 15:8-9 NKJ).   
In my own quest to embrace the ever present spiritual message of the scriptures, I recognized the fact that I had no other choice than to fall back on biblical first principles in search of an answer to these looming questions.   When those who were with Jesus were amazed at his words, and asked him regarding the hardships that confronted the disciple: “Who then can be saved?”  I realized that my success depended solely on the words of the Lord: “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:25-26 KJV).   Regardless, then, of the obstacles, or how difficult the problem, I realized that the key to success was to have total and complete faith in God -- and complete faith is not static.   In order to succeed I needed to go beyond the baptism of man -- and seek the baptism of the Lord to cleanse me, and free me from the limitations of my own mind.   I needed the promise and power of God to make me better than I was, and raise me above the very human nature that imprisoned me in this body of flesh. 

 

 

 

Allan Cronshaw

Contact: allan_cronshaw@nazirene.org

 

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