Confusion from 16.9.16
Open up a conversation about abortion, global warming, refugees or same-sex marriage amongst congregational members and watch what happens to “the unity of the Spirit” (Eph 4:3). Whereas the LORD promises “I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places” contemporary Christianity seems to be experiencing, “Truly, you are a God who hides himself…” (Isa 45:3, 15). Because so few want to seek out the deep reaches of God’s precious wisdom hidden in “gloom and deep darkness” confusion reigns amongst Christians (Job 28:3). How many are being taught that “the fear of the Lord” is the remedy for misunderstanding (Job 28:28)? Superficially someone might seek to pacify this discussion with the quote, “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33). But the same Lord “confused the language of all the earth” in his “holy war” repeatedly “threw into confusion” the enemies of Israel (Gen 11:9; Ex 23:27; Deut 7:23; 1 Sam 7:10; 14:20 cf. Acts 23:6ff.). “No worries.” someone might say, we are not God’s enemies. But whenever Israel turned to idols he handed his own people over to confusion (Deut 28:20, 28; Mic 7:4). Why should he not do the same to the Church (1 Cor 10:11)? This subject is far more profound than we imagine, to receive revelation to dispel our confusions we need to disentangle the primary temptation in Eden.
The “2 F/fathers” Problem
Since “all things” come together from the Father spiritual confusion is ultimately a misunderstanding about true Fatherhood (1 Cor 8:6). Jesus pronounced Satan as “the father of lies…from the beginning”, a murderous father of all who believe him (John 8:44). In the beginning Eve’s great sin was though she knew the serpent was “a wild animal the LORD God had made” she allowed the voice of a creature to challenge the status of the Creator (Gen 3:1; Rom 1:23). The satanic charge, ““You will not surely die.””, asserts that the Creator-Father is really a liar, and places an enormous weight on Eve’s conscience to decide which F/father figure is good and which is evil (Luke 3:38). In affirming the devil’s word about reality Eve and Adam they gave the devil the authority of a father that belonged only to the LORD (John 8:44). Yet in his own creation the true Father is ultimately inescapable (Acts 17:28). So the consequences of living as if there could ever be 2 rival F/fathers” is disastrous. If the one who made you is untrustworthy in his word about good and evil then your own identity in his image, and everything else about creation, can be doubted. Moral and spiritual confusion is the lot of fallen humanity, and after centuries of declining Christian influence it is ripening in our day. Multiple voices inside and outside the Church contend with the cry, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isa 30:21). In such a confusing world a superficial Christianity is increasingly taking the easy option of following the voice of culture. The only one who can save us from this snare is Jesus (Prov 29:25).
Christ is the one Word of God we must hearken to in this world because he is only one who has never listened to any voice besides that of his Father (Matt 4:1-11). In hearing his Father the Son cannot be confused or conflicted. Yet all this seems to break down in his suffering and death. In Gethsemane the prayer, ““Abba, Father””, reveals the most intense self-awareness of Christ that he himself is the full expression of God’s Voice (Mark 14:36). Yet the crucified cry, “My God…why have you forsaken me?”” indicates Jesus no longer knows himself as the Way to the Father (Mark 15:34; John 14:12). If the will of the true Father and the evil false “father” were in manifest conflict the cross would have been no real moral or spiritual struggle for Christ. But in the uniqueness of his atoning sacrifice in the place of confused sinners Jesus’ brutal death is the one place where the will of his Father and the will of Satan agree. In the blackness of the cross the will of a loving Father who never takes pleasure in confusing us must be concealed under the will of evil powers and persons (Mark 15:33; Luke 22:53). Strange to our understanding only a Son confused because he is obeying the Voice of his Father can heal the confusion of the world. Simply because the true God is not a God of confusion but order resurrection life breaks out for the reordering of the world . Resurrection is the revelation that the treasures of wisdom laid up in darkness have always been holy sonship perfected in godly fear (Isa 33:6; 45:3; Job 28:28; 2 Cor 7:1; Heb 5:8-9). In a world where everything else can be doubted the revelation of the love of God in the death and resurrection of Jesus makes his Father utterly believable. Wanting to hear only his Voice is the remedy for all confusion. If this is gospel truth why is there still so much confusion in the Church? Several examples from the New Testament illuminate this question.
A Confused Church
When Peter seeks to forbid Jesus from suffering in Jerusalem he is definitely confused by the powers of evil (Matt 16:21-23). Even post-resurrection godly believers can experience this state. Luke the companion of Paul, the prophet Agabus and the Christians at Caesarea unite as one voice appealing to Paul to NOT to go up to Jerusalem to suffer for Christ (Acts 21:10-12). Somehow their consciences they were still carrying the confusion that suffering is a sign of a loss of glory and a judgement (Luke 24:26). Paul’s reason for resisting the voice of his friends is clear; “the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may…testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:23-24). Paul knows that since his own life is “hid with Christ in God….in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” he himself is God’s treasured possession (Col 2:3; 3:1-4). Such a man cannot be distracted from his fear of the Lord by voices other than the Spirit. For him there is no “2 F/fathers” problem (Gal 4:4-6). Christ is his sole identity and obedience to suffering with Jesus is the sign of a conscience freed from guilt and at peace with God (Rom 5:1; Col 1:24). No confusion here.
Those not released from the “2 F/fathers” problem carry around two conflicting identities. They live as if they had identity as two sorts of sons, both rebels and new creatures in Christ (Rom 6:6; Col 2:20). To remedy such confusion we must disciple people to walk in suffering for the love of the Father. Whoever believes that the Father is pleased by our suffering for Christ’s sake will not be confused by the struggles and temptations of this life (Heb 12:1-2). But the link between experiencing God’s pleasure and suffering is exactly what contemporary Church has denied; this is why Christianity is progressively conforming to an increasingly ungodly popular culture. There is only one way forward. The Australian Church, like Jesus and Paul, needs to go to up to our Jerusalem and death. God’s promise remains for us; “those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention…and a book of remembrance was written before him “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, on the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.” (Mal 3:16-18). May this be our testimony to the glory of God in Christ.