Wielding God’s strength

 

I was asked about an email from Vincent Cheung, which became these articles (1)“The Edge of Glory has special significance…,” and (2) Creator-Creature Distinction. I did not intend to write this but since they insisted I did. And since I did I thought I might as well post an edited version here, if it might help others. The main gist is about the article, Edge of Glory, religious otakus and the creation-creator distinction.

Not entirely sure what you want me to say by asking my opinion on the email, other than I agree with Vincent. I say that because regarding the importance of “The Edge of Glory,”[1] it was clear to me at first glance of its significance. Every night when I take a shower, I have my list of promise verses spoken to me via my phone. However, there are two other documents that I have read to me at this time to encourage my faith; these are “Faith Override,” and the “Edge of Glory.”

This essay of Vincent’s is good for two reasons. One is that it is theologically correct. The idea of baptism into the Jordon for the Spirit’s power is not original to Vincent. I heard the founders of the Church of God, while they were still alive, make similar arguments (they were in their 90’s and this was during the 1990s I heard them). They emphasized Acts 2, making the argument from Peter’s Sermon that maturity is not merely receiving forgiveness, but going on to receive the promise of God’s Spirit and all the power, healing and partaking that comes from this. Acts 2:38, “Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” NLT.

However, Vincent says it better and with more precision. He says this in the context of a Redemptive Historical story-line, which makes it easy to read and relatable to the whole Scripture. Some reformed readings are ok at this approach but only when speaking of their pet doctrines of invisible spiritual things, such as forgiveness of sins.

Secondly, Vincent is teaching about a huge amount of theology that is packed into a relative short essay. I have read some Reformed books on Covenant Theology and the story of redemption that were over 400 pages. After reading them I threw one to the floor and shouted, “Why was this not said in 10 pages, I just wasted weeks of my life on this!” At least with John Owen’s book, “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ,” the main argument is only in the first 50 pages (about) and then its done; and so, you only need to put up with his bad awkward writing for a few pages. Vincent is good at being concise on this theological topic all the while, including the full gospel in its explanation, rather than the Reformed, who narrowly focus on their few pet doctrines.

 

As to the Vincent Otaku, I remember writing something similar to him and he responded with an email that eventually became an article.

Every Doctrine in Every Sentence Please

These are some of the worst type of people to deal with. They think so highly of themselves. Yet, if I am lucky enough to get a word in, and ask that they be true to the Bible being their first principle, and deduce to me X or Y doctrine, I never get a straight answer. If I am really lucky I will get some proof text, but in a bad way, because not all proof texting is wrong. But if I press, asking they do systematic theology and deduce X or Y without contradiction (so that Jesus the healer is still Jesus the healer), then they look at me as if I just ask them to run through the streets naked. Unfortunately, most rely on the WCF, which apart from having blasphemes in it, the document is written as a proof text. This is not wrong in itself, but if asked to back up your proof text and you cannot, then what was meant as a good thing, is now a bad thing. They think that they can do systematic doctrine and deductions, but when pressed they are nothing. Like Vincent says, if your assertion makes Jesus Christ into collateral damage, doing the things you condemn, then not only is your proof text a contradiction, but you are in grave ethical danger. They are almost always ethical counterparts when one makes logical mistakes. Your systematic theology must not contradict other passages.

 

As to the creature-creator distinction, this is another group of people that are very annoying to deal with, because they are soooo humble, that they cannot possibly be wrong!! Vincent is using a nifty contrast by saying, “They say, “Don’t forget the creator-creature distinction! You are just a man. You are not God!” But I don’t need to be God. Since HE is God, then as Jesus said, when I have faith in him I can command even a mountain to move from here to there, and he said, “Nothing will be impossible for you.” They say, “Remember that you are finite! You are just a man. You cannot understand!” But I don’t need to be infinite. Since HE is God, then as Jesus said, when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide me into all truth.”[1a]

His emphasis is “Since HE is God.” This is like other passages such as, 1 John 4:17 “as HE is, so are we.” Or when Paul in a pure categorical statement says that we “Have the mind of CHRIST.” This is also like Ephesians 6:10, “Finally, become strong in the Lord and in the might of HIS strength”, where we are told to fight with God’s strength and power.

This is not a suggestion. It is a command. The command is to be strong like God. To wield His strength as your own. It is a command not to use your might, but the power of God’s might. Is something to much for your strength? Yet, is it too much for God’s strength? The command is to use God’s power and cast your weakness aside. Paul purposefully makes this sound like what God said to Joshua. The walls of Jericho were not too strong for God; and therefore, it is not so for Joshua who wielded God’s power as his own. Obey your Master. “Not my will, but God’s will,” right?  Do you cast aside your weakness? Do you wield God’s mighty power? If not, then what power are you wielding? Then, whose disciple, are you?

How is the Bible your axiom if you fundamentally look at life centered on man? An overemphasis on the forgiveness of sin and your finiteness is indeed being man-centered, but it is more than that. It shows a mind that does not really believe they are forgiven and does not really believe they have the “mind of Christ,” and does not really believe they are to wield the power of God’s might. Hypocrites!

Humility as I often say, begins on the epistemology level. If our starting point of knowledge says we are to consider God’s Authority, Mind and Power our own, when looking at our life and mission, then it is the most modest and humble action in the world, to march into God’s throne room and grab Yahweh’s lightning bolt, as if you have free access to it, with the Host of heaven watching, and then cast it upon every sickness and mission field.

If God’s word says, “He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness,”[2] then for humility to begin, the mind must first cast aside its past experiences and feelings of not being healed. Then they must believe that God’s word is true; and so, God will heal those who ask in faith. They must cast aside human starting points and human speculation. They must start with God’s word, otherwise, humility never even began. Humility starts with believing God’s word, and then the corresponding actions that follow from this faith.  Humility is not only about assenting to harsh doctrines, such as our sinfulness, but also about assenting to God’s abundant and excessive blessings. These are given to those who are grafted into the blessing of Abraham. As Vincent explains in “Faith Override,” if the crumbs of the covenant of Abraham meant healing, then how much more do we have now, as we are already hidden with Christ(Colossians 3:1-3) at the right hand of Yahweh? If a woman was healed simply due to Abraham’s blessing, and Jesus even said it was necessary, then how much more is Abraham’s blessing available, since the Holy Spirit has been poured out?

Who is worthy to ascend the Hill of the Lord,” this is what the Psalmist asked. The answer is “He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” The ultimate meaning of this Psalm is about Jesus being, the “Lord of Glory,” who ascended God’s hill after His triumph over sin, death and Satan. How can finite and sinful man ascend God’s holy hill? God’s chosen ones ascend this holy hill, because the Father has identified them with His Son. This is both a public declaration and ontological. God’s Spirit lives in them. They are indeed a new creation, a new reality. They are hidden with Jesus; yet, Jesus is sitting at God’s right hand! “Therefore, if you have been raised together with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God,” (Colossians 3:13 LEB). If on this earth you are sick, then set your mind on Christ, who already in His bloodshed, “bore our sicknesses and carried our diseases,” (Isaiah 53:4-5, Matt. 8:17). If someone considers it robbery, or too good to be true, to sit with Christ at Yahweh’s right hand, then they are a non-Christian; they disbelieve God’s word to feel extra humble. And this is all the reward they will get.  It is because we no longer have a conscience of our sin, for “where there is forgiveness of sin, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin,” (Heb.10:18) that we are sons of God, who are already sitting at His table of blessing through Christ. We are so much identified with Christ, that we not only ascend the holy hill of God, but we also ascended the holy temple of God, and even ascended the holy right hand of God through Christ! This was the will of God. This was His doing and His kindness.

And did this discussion not start with, the “Edge of Glory”? Like the Jews who rejected the Promise Land for themselves, because it was too good to believe God’s word, too holy for their humility, and too strong for their finiteness, their children today do the same. The Promise Land can only be acquired by being baptized in both the Red Sea and the Jordan. One must believe that God baptized them in Jesus’ death, so that forgiveness is purely God’s work. Yet, one must also believe they are raised (baptized in the Jordan) with Christ in HIS supernatural life. Like Joshua, God will place Thor’s hammer in your hand, and command you to wield His power to take the Land. “Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. [Red Sea] Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit [Jordan]. Like the Jews of old, their children of reprobation will cross the first, but then despise the second. They are like Naaman the Leper who saw the Jordan river as a common and dirty thing.

He wants to apply the Joshua scenario to Christians. In order to do that, he refers to Psalm 95, where the Holy Spirit says, “Today…do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” The Psalm alludes to several incidents, but they culminate in the Paran uprising, because the writer says he has in mind those whom God swore would never enter into his rest (Hebrews 3:18), which happened when the people believed the bad report from their leaders (Numbers 14:28-30). Then, he indicates that this period when he exhorts us to “encourage one another daily” is the period called “Today” (Hebrews 3:13). Therefore, the Paran incident applies to Christians, and to Christians in this life. Here it is not used to call people to believe in Jesus, or to refer to heaven, but it is talking about a life of promise that Christians enter into in this life, after conversion and before heaven. (V.C. Edge of Glory.)

Think about it. When did God curse them by saying, “You will not enter My rest”?  Although God harshly disciplined the Jews after making a golden caff, and sexual immorality, and after complaining, it was not until they reached the Jordan that God rejected so many souls. God had delivered them, without any of their involvement—apart from a staff being pointed here or there. But now God said He would put His sword and shield into their hands, and this time after crossing the Jordan, they would gain the land by wielding God’s power. They would do the fighting, while clothed with God’s might. It is at this point, they rejected the baptism into the Jordan (or baptism into God’s power) as not enough for them to defeat their enemies. Wielding God’s power is to be anointed with the Holy Spirit, “for not by power but by the Spirit says the Lord, (ZECHARIAH 4:6).” This Jordan is where John the Baptist came and testified that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. When John asked for proof of Jesus, Jesus responded by telling of the things done in the power of the Spirit, “healing, healing, healing, healing, resurrection, and truth proclaimed, (Matt 11:5).”  Thus, the Paran Jews trampled upon the power of the Holy Spirit as a little thing. It is here God said to them, “You are dead to Me! You will not enter My rest. Your corpses will litter the wilderness until the very last one is dead.” They were like Esau. Not one of these 100s of thousands of souls found repentance. Not a single one. Like the Jews who belittled the Holy Spirit with Jesus Christ, the Paran Jews by rejecting the Power of God’s Spirit appears to have committed a blaspheme that they could not recover from.

What about Joshua standing at the, “Edge of Glory,”? If Joshua commanded the sun to stop, while thinking about his finiteness and separateness from God, would it have stopped? Could modern reform people graveling in their finiteness have done it? Would the walls of Jericho have fallen? Or did the sun stop precisely because of the opposite? Because he considered God so much on his side, and so for him and so near, that Joshua did not consider it robbery to wield God’s strength as his own? Are we not identified with Jesus, who does not consider it robbery to be equal with God? Yet why else therefore, are we commanded (not merely suggested) to wield God’s strength and wield His thoughts as our own and not consider it robbery? Is this not what Satan and a third of the angels coveted, and the other 2 third are sent as ministers to help us, and protect us as we gain this awesome inheritance? The whole universe can only dream about having this authority and kindness of God bestowed upon them, and yet those to whom it is proclaimed reject it as a common thing. Like Jacob Marley from the Christmas Carol, they are too stupid to understand the unmeasurable chain of dishonor they have linked together for their judgment.

 

 

—Endnotes—

[1] Vincent Cheung. The Edge of Glory. Also found in Sermonettes Vol 9.

[1a] Vincent Cheung. The Creator-Creature Distinction. 2019

[2] Psalm 103. James 5:15