Lost in Christ

If all humanity was absorbed up 'in Christ' when Jesus died and was resurrected, then how does the fact that most will be lost fit into that model? This is a question that many think shoots down this concept.

As I see it so far, simply acknowledging that every human is now 'in Christ' is not sufficient to deal with the problem of disharmony between God's pure, passionate divinity and our rebellion and hostility toward such an environment. Sin creates within our hearts a lethal liability that will self-destruct if exposed to the atmosphere of pure love. Sin is so hostile toward selfless love that even when that kind of love is veiled significantly humans feel so uncomfortable around it that they feel compelled to either run away or to attack it and try to destroy the person exhibiting such love. This is why they ultimately killed Jesus and is the cause of all the persecution throughout the history of this world.

Being 'in Christ' does not in and of itself produce any real change inside of a person. That may sound very strange but in the greater context I believe that assertion can be perceived and validated. Rather, having the 'legal' status every person on this planet switched from being the heir of the first Adam to being in Christ strictly because of what He accomplished only creates the possibility for our salvation. Without this redemption worked out by our Savior it would be impossible for anyone to be reconciled to God and be restored to a condition making it safe for them to live in His presence without being consumed.

But as I said, being 'in Christ' is simply a description of the status of humanity but not the complete qualification needed to thrive in the atmosphere of heaven. This is only the fundamental reality that must be firmly established so that the rest of the process can be built on top of it for all those who choose to base their faith on this foundation. This is why the Bible writers speak of building on the foundation of Jesus Christ. He is the one who now represents us in the heavenly assemblies where once Satan asserted that he was the only possible representative from this world. And this explains why the Bible teaches that only through Christ can anyone be saved.

Being 'saved' has become very perverted as a word itself. Because we tend to view salvation and the bigger picture only from the perspective of getting ourselves out of trouble and into a pleasant heaven so we can feel better, we cannot grasp the real context in which all of these things fit. Our selfishness has so permeated our theology and beliefs about religion that almost all we can think about is how to escape the effects of sin while still allowing our unfitness to live in the fire of God's presence go unrepaired. But unless we move past the initial fact established by Christ's death to take us up into Himself as His children in place of being descendants of the first Adam who got us into this mess, we will still find ourselves infected with the deadly condition that will destroy us when we become exposed to the rare atmosphere of passionate, selfless love.

What Jesus accomplished by His life and death and resurrection was vitally necessary for our salvation – that is a fact almost everyone agrees on. But the reason this is true has been terribly distorted by most of religion's explanations about why He came to this earth. Because we have embraced so many of Satan's subtle lies and insinuations about God and about Jesus we have lost the view of the early Christian believers that unleashed such tremendous power into and through their lives. Our watered down, contaminated concepts about salvation have left us powerless, insipid and and vulnerable. If we do not earnestly pursue a knowledge of the real truth as it is 'in Jesus' we will find ourselves insisting that we have done everything right and wondering why we are on the wrong side of the gates of heaven.

I am still processing just what it means for humans to be 'in Christ' and how Jesus set up this arrangement to start with. I look forward to the excitement I know will accompany my discoveries in this subject. But I also want to know what need to be built on top of this truth in order to leverage it as God intends for us to do in order to be prepared to meet the unveiled glory of God successfully. And I also want to know what goes wrong for those who have been taken up into Christ in what He accomplished on the cross but still end up being lost in the end.

What comes to my attention is the Bible study laid out in the book of Hebrews among other resources. The author of Hebrews particularly speaks of entering into God's rest and how many have failed to enter into that rest. This is the same rest that Jesus spoke of when He invited all to come to Him and He would give them rest in exchange for their heavy burdens. We have attempted to explain this in various ways but I feel we still have not explored it nearly enough to enter into ourselves. We are still falling short of entering into that unique rest that is necessary to prepare us to live safely in God's presence.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest.... (Hebrews 4:1-3 NIV)

Here is the key pivotal point, the difference between those who end up being transformed so that they are safe to save and those who find themselves vulnerable and consumable when they are exposed to God's consuming fire. And what is this faith that is spoken of here? It is not a self-generated intensity of trying hard to not have doubts and trying hard to eliminate sin from our lives. Rather it is a restful trust in the reality that we are already redeemed in Christ and a letting go of our resistance to what Jesus wants to do within us to prepare us to meet God and be safe in His presence.

Jesus is not going to do anything against our will in our hearts. The faulty theologies so popular today leave out key elements of the truth that leaves millions vulnerable to being consumed by God's presence while assuming they are guaranteed a place in heaven. Since our problem and our danger is not a legal problem of breaking arbitrary rules imposed by God but rather a problem of internal infection by the virus of rebellion, we need much more than a legal adjustment in our standing with God. Jesus has already taken care of that by replacing Satan with Himself as our representative and now represents all of humanity. But unless we are willing to submit to His authority and surrender our spirit of rebellion against the kingdom of selfless love, we will actually abort our predetermined position of being in Christ and through our choices of intentional rebellion cause our names to be removed from the Book of Life in heaven.

By taking all of humanity into Himself at the cross, Jesus was empowered to write the name of every human being into the Book of Life which gave everyone full access and permission to live in God's presence. In these last days there is an on-going investigation taking place in heaven to determine which humans have accepted that truth and given God permission from their heart to be their new ancestor and representative in place of Adam. God is not in the business of putting in and removing repeatedly names from the Book of Life. Rather, He has already put every name there on account of Jesus' credentials to represent all of humanity that were accepted and endorsed by the legislature of heaven soon after Jesus returned from His resurrection.

Because this action was approved to be retroactive all the way back to creation, Jesus is spoken of in Revelation as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. All who were caught in the trap of Satan and were enslaved after Adam relinquished his dominion over to Satan were included even before Jesus literally came and confirmed this arrangement. All those living before Jesus died were written into the Book of Life on credit so to speak. But once Jesus completed the requirements to be fully accredited as the sole representative in the councils of heaven for this world and His credentials were accepted by the accreditation authorities in heaven, the gospel – this good news of everyone being 'in Christ' really took on enhanced power and clarity.

The problem with the lost is an interesting one that needs to be further clarified. A person can be in Christ and yet reject that status through choices of rejecting that privilege and refusing to be transformed by the Spirit Jesus sent to prepare us to live in heaven's explosive atmosphere of purity. Like the danger of playing with fire around pure oxygen and other useful illustrations from nature, we are in grave danger if we allow any lingering sin to remain embedded in our hearts. But it is dangerous, not because God will punish us if He discovers we have broken a rule that we have not legally absolved with Him but because sin itself is so reactive to pure love that it will spontaneously ignite and burst into a consuming flame that will destroy any who refuse to have it removed by Jesus.

Again, it is vitally important to get away from thinking about these issues through the legal filters that we have so long used to interpret everything. Our problem with God is not a legal one but rather an issue of terminal sickness. The spirit of rebellion that infected the heart of Lucifer and transformed him into the greatest demon imaginable is the same virus that has infected all of humanity except for Jesus. Unless we fully cooperate with the regimen of healing that Jesus offers to cure our condition we will not be restored sufficiently to be able to survive the intense atmosphere that emanates from the heart of God. Thus, it is not enough to be declared a member of the new order of beings created by the incarnation of the Son of God. We must have the lies inherently embedded in our minds and hearts about God and about ourselves eradicated from inside of us and flushed out with the light and the truths that come through the revelation of God in the life of Jesus our Savior.

Those who end up being lost will suffer terribly from the very lies they are certain are the truth about God. By clinging to lies about God's love for them and instead insisting that He is more like His enemy, that He uses force, coercion and even deception to get His way, they unfit themselves to live in the presence of pure love. God's government is based on the rare atmosphere of pure freedom and pure love. Satan claims that selfless love is a mirage and does not really exist. Christianity also insists that love is not enough and that God resorts to using some of Satan's methods to accomplish His purposes when love fails to get the job done. But in teaching such things about God they are endorsing the insinuations of Satan and setting up millions to be lost because they refuse to allow pure love to rule in their own hearts and lives.

The battle taking shape right now in theology is over whether love is really strong enough to govern without relying on any of Satan's methods or whether there must be a certain amount of mingling of good and evil to accomplish the purposes and desires of God. Most people come down on the side of believing that God cannot win on love alone, or they resort to redefining the words so as to allow them to fit together somewhat the way God says them while actually meaning something very different. Those who are beginning to perceive the real truth about God's character are being strongly resisted by those who want to cling to the status quo they are so familiar with and have relied on for so long.

But the danger here is that insisting that God must resort to force, fear or any other technique invented by Satan is to side with the enemy in his accusations against God and His character. Lucifer originally claimed that there were flaws in the perfect government of heaven, hidden flaws in the character of God that made His government vulnerable to rebellion and insurrection. Then he set about leading just such an insurrection to prove his case and to demonstrate that God's government of love alone was inadequate to deal with such a threat. For a very long time it appeared that Satan had successfully proved his assertions about the weaknesses of God's way of governing. But the war is not over yet and we must choose who we are going to believe for ourselves.

Jesus has maintained a beachhead on this planet through people loyal to Him and His ways in every generation throughout history. Satan has both contested Christ's claims that He still had rights to this planet and also tried to exterminate all humans who chose to be loyal to God. But after Jesus established His own credentials by becoming a human Himself, living on earth among humans and suffering all the temptations that they suffer without ever taking offense or rebelling and then taking on the full effects of all the sins of all humanity and letting that kill Him, God no longer needed to rely on loyal humans to vindicate His authority on this earth. Satan had been fully exposed as a fraud, a lier and completely unreliable. By exposing the lies of Satan through the light of truth in Jesus, God set up His kingdom on this earth to replace the kingdom of darkness and it became established forever because Jesus lives forever.

But that does not mean that the battle is over between good and evil. Even though the credentials of Jesus were accepted and established in heaven's eyes, the mop-up operations had to be finished up in the occupied territories of this world where Satan's authority still had credibility. As long as there are those who believe Satan has legitimacy to his claims against God and His kingdom of perfect love and freedom, God will respect their position and will only use love to clarify the truth.

So, how is it that the lost can be 'in Christ' and still end up being consumed in the presence of God while the saved 'in Christ' thrive in that same fire?

The key decisive factor is what emerged in the above reference. It is the choice of each individual as to what they will believe is true and real about God's relationship to them. God has exposed the truth about how He feels about sinners, but Satan has worked diligently and successfully to greatly obscure and distort that truth since its revelation at the cross. By getting us to believe that Jesus was really appeasing an angry God instead of suffering at the hands of angry sinners, Satan has deepened his grip over the human heart and has complicated God's efforts to reveal His love. But for all those who choose to believe the real truth about God as revealed in the life and teachings of Jesus, He can impart His Holy Spirit to affect a transformation from inside of them that will produce the fruit of the realities that He created in the incarnation.

By placing all of humanity in Himself as the new Adam, Jesus places us in a powerful vantage position that gives every person the option to escape the slavery of Satan if they choose to believe in what He has revealed about reality. But the key ingredient here is what we choose to believe and how we interpret His intent in what He did for us. If we refuse to believe that God's anger is a figment of Satan' imagination but that God is in fact double-minded like we are, then the reality we create in our thinking becomes the reality that defines everything we know and learn. It is this core issue of created reality that is what helps explain how people can be lost while already being redeemed, reconciled and 'in Christ' as far as heaven is concerned.

The New Testament makes it clear that all have been saved, redeemed and reconciled as far as God's heart is concerned. But on the other side there are repeated appeals for us to be reconciled to God, to believe and to enter into the life-changing transformation of the heart that is available to all who will bring faith to these facts. For the crux of all these truths is what we choose to believe about God's heart toward us.

If we continue to allow Satan's deceptions and lies about God to remain in our hearts, they make it impossible for us to embrace the truth about Him that only has the power to transform us from rebellious slaves of Satan into humble, loving, selfless servants and children of the Most High. The core difference between the saved and the lost is not their legal standing before God as most have long assumed, rather it is the picture of God that they hold deep in their hearts. And in turn, the picture of God – and by extension our perception of reality – determines how we interpret everything that happens to us and all the facts we have been given.

The reason that the lost cry out in terror when they catch a glimpse of the passionate love for them on the face of Jesus, the Lamb of God when He returns, it not because Jesus is angry at them but because their determined insistence on believing lies about God have created a filter over their minds that cause them to interpret that passion as being anger. The reality that we determine is evidence-based fact is really a creation of the composite of our beliefs about God and how things fit together. Our reality is never perfectly in line with what is true reality no matter how accurate we may think it is. This is why it is so vitally important to defer to God's assessment of what is true and what is real rather than depending on our own wisdom or perspective. For our perceptions of reality are never reliable, especially when it comes to salvation.

Our only safety when it comes to determining what to believe about eternal realities is to submit and humble ourselves in the presence of God, to seek His wisdom in deference to our own and to immerse ourselves under the guidance of His Spirit in His Word with a willingness to question every assumption we have ever cherished in the light of truth. When we become too confident that we have all the truth and are no longer in need of challenging our beliefs, that is when we are in the greatest danger of being self-deceived. Only those who live in a state of constant dependence on God for wisdom from outside of themselves will be safe in heaven's eyes to live in the atmosphere of angels and other holy beings.

This is almost a state of constant fluidity, but not due to entertaining constant doubts about God's goodness or His Word. There is a huge difference between vacillation due to doubting God's goodness versus moldability that comes from a true humility. But far too many of us have mistaken stubborn resistance to change as a positive character trait rather than what it really is – bigotry and prejudice. When we feel the most confident and bold in religion is very often when we are in the greatest danger of deception. And on the other hand, when we feel the most vulnerable and weak, from heaven's perspective we are in the greatest position of security and safety.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

When we choose to embrace the reality that every human being has been taken up 'in Christ' through the perfect and finished work of Jesus by coming to this earth and taking over Adam's lost position as the true and perfect prince of this world, we can then begin to experience the reality and the benefits provided for all who are willing to believe in Him. By choosing to believe in the realities created by Jesus in His work of redemption for every human being, we open ourselves up to allow His Spirit to re-form us back into the original design for humanity created in His image and His likeness. We will open ourselves up by making ourselves vulnerable in His presence and giving Him permission to come into the dark, shameful, fearful areas of our hearts and bring His healing and restoration to our souls. We will cooperate with His instructions in confidence that He is good and has only our best interests at heart. We will learn more and more that He can be trusted fully and is worthy of all trust and confidence while at the same time learning that our own judgment and perceptions are untrustworthy.

While every human has now been assigned a place 'in Christ' and as such their name has been written into the Book of Life, the choices we make in relation to these facts will determine whether or not God is allowed to leave our names in that Book or whether we will force Him to remove our names while weeping over our determined resistance to believing the love He has poured out for us.

Those who find themselves outside the Holy City at last will come to realize that it was not because of any choice on God's part that they are eternally excluded from the glories of heaven. Rather they will realize with great horror that they had already possessed 'in Christ' the full qualifications for entry into that paradise but because of persistent clinging to lies about God and rejecting a love of the truth, they have destroyed their own capacity to respond to love; they have destroyed the ability of their heart to trust humbly like a little child and thus have so unfit their characters that the selfless love and passion that fills the hearts of every person living their has become nothing but sheer misery and torture to them. The spirit that pervades the hearts of all who are saved that is reflective of the humility, love and compassion of Jesus Himself is so foreign to them because of their persistent resistance to it in this life that they cannot stand to be anywhere around it. They have chosen to have a different father and have themselves chosen rebellion in preference to submission to the kindness meant to lead them to repentance and healing.

There is a transition however, that takes place in the minds of all those who are lost and cause God to have to remove their names from the Book of Life. That transition occurs when a person moves from the position of ignorant sin to a state of intentional rebellion. This takes place when one has been exposed to enough light from God about His goodness and true character to give them ample reason to embrace the good news about Him but they knowingly reject that light. This is very different from the kind of sinful living that each human originally starts out in life with. When one moves from sin rooted in a lack of knowledge about what God is really like to sinning in the face of clear evidence to their heart of the real truth about God's forgiveness, their sin can no longer come under the heading of deception.

Humanity has been protected under a little understood fact of law concerning fraud. Because Adam's sin was committed based on false evidence presented as fact, the 'transaction' he made that transferred dominion from Adam to Satan is under serious challenge. But because that event was induced using fraud God is able to use that fact as legal reason to cancel the debt of all humanity. This is a little understood fact taught in Scripture and is something I am still seeking to unpack more clearly.

However, when a person moves from sinning through ignorance based on false information to openly rejecting the mercy, forgiveness and kindness of God once they have perceived the real truth about Him (versus just factual truth about religion or law), then that person moves into the guilt of high treason rather than sin in ignorance due to deception. Every person who is finally lost will have made this choice of intentional treason against the government of God which so damages their internal moral sensibilities that they cannot be salvaged to live in God's presence. They have moved from potential restoration to open rebellion and permanent treason.

Yet because God is fiercely protective of each person's freedom to choose their own way, even in the face of overwhelming offers of grace, mercy, forgiveness and infinite love for them, He finally does His 'strange act' and 'let's them go' to suffer the natural consequences of their own determined will. It is not God who executes the sinner but rather it is the result of their own choices to resist the irresistible love that ever flows from His heart that produces the torture they will experience. All the condemnation, terror, guilt, shame and humiliation that tortures the lost – both in hell and even today – is not because God imposes it on them but rather is a reaction of the mind itself to the dissonance between truth and lies. The torture that all experience who reject the truth of God's forgiveness and love is not an imposed torture from and offended God; that would make God to be a sinner just like us and unjust Himself. No, the torture what we feel is always a consequence, a natural result of the dissonance that sin produces in the heart and mind that was never designed to function out of harmony with God's principles of love, purity and goodness.

The torture of the sinner, whether in this life or in the last day of Judgment, is primarily the inner torture that is unavoidable when God reveals the full truth of His love in contrast to the tragic effects that selfishness has produced in the human heart. This torture is far greater than we presently can imagine and we tend to diminish the power that this dissonance can have to produce such pain. But when pure love and pure selfishness come close to each other, pain is unavoidable and the suffering produced on both sides is evidence of the truth that the wages of sin is death.

God's part in the demise of sin and sinners is not to directly execute the sinner but is rather an act (sometimes called His strange act) of allowing sinners to finally be exposed to the full glory of His love unprotected by the previous veiling of His grace that has all their lives up to that point prevented them from experiencing the torture that results in the dissonance created by such an encounter. God will not forever wait for sinners to repent, for He knows when they have so destroyed their own capacity to respond to love that there is no more possibility for them to turn away from rebellion to humble obedience in love. When every person has finally passed the point of no return – both in their choice to trust Him or to reject Him – then He will finish up His work in righteousness.

Does this mean that the saved could never again turn away from Him, that they lose their freedom to reject His love and rebel? Not at all, for only in the atmosphere of complete freedom to choose can real love even exist. Rather, God knows that point at which it is safe to trust the hearts of those who have chosen to submit to His drawing attractions and who are settled enough in their choice to have that mindset perfected during the thousand years in heaven in preparation for the final day of judgment and the full revealing of the glory in the face of God. He also knows when the hearts of the rejectors of His mercy and love have so damaged their conscience and hardened their hearts that there is no longer anything He can reveal to them that would reverse the curse they have caused in their own characters.

God has already made available everything possible that can be offered to attract sinners to repentance. But He will never resort to using the methods of His adversary, the methods of deception, coercion, force or intimidation, for to use such methods would not only be counterproductive but would be an admission to Satan's original accusations that God's system of government based on perfect love alone has hidden flaws that endanger the safety of the universe. It will finally be seen that it was Satan's alternative government that is totally at fault for all the problems that have happened, not anything that God has caused due to a supposed dark side of His nature.

It is God's kindness and mercy that draws sinners toward repentance, not some supposed wrath or anger or impatience or desire to punish those who have offended Him. The lies of Satan must be exposed for what they are and the real truth about God's goodness, righteousness and love must become much more transparent and free of the baggage of false insinuations that Satan has used to skew our perceptions. The real good news in the gospel that we have been missing for so long is that God is not, and never has been, offended at us. Satan has led every sinner to believe that God has been offended and that we must either pay off the enormous debt we owe Him or we must somehow get Him to change His mind about us and pardon us. But when we come to realize the glorious truth that He is not holding a grudge against us to start with, that He is not in the business of debt collecting but rather is pursuing a mutual relationship of love and trust with us, we will begin to be drawn by the true gospel that Jesus came to reveal to deceived, confused sinners.

In addition, I am learning that God has given every person eternal life, and this started the very day that Adam sinned and lost his right to the Tree of Life. The very fact that humans are still alive – even the fact that Satan and his angels are still alive is evidence of the mercy and kindness of our God. God has arbitrarily intervened to prevent the natural consequences of sin from fully taking effect in order to reveal the real truth about His own character and government. In the final day of judgment He will allow all to see the full truth of the big picture and only then will He allow the full consequences of everyone's free choices to finally take their full effect.

Many think that it is stretching the truth about grace to believe that all humans are already 'in Christ' and that all have been redeemed and saved. But this is due to a mistaken belief that God relies on fear to intimidate people into repentance. They believe that unless people are made afraid of God's threatening punishments upon them that love will not be enough to convert the sinner. But the Bible does not teach this. In fact the record of the Old Testament illustrates how futile that approach is in effecting real change in the heart. Rather as Paul has pointed out, it is God's kindness that leads confused, rebellious sinners to see the illogic of their ways and to be drawn to reconcile with the God who has never held a grudge against them to start with. The sooner we come to realize that all of the tension is on our side and never in the heart of God, the sooner we will begin to see the true loveliness and beauty of God that has been so long obstructed by misapprehensions and misrepresentations of the great deceiver.

Jesus, the one who is the only perfect reflection of God Himself, is the substitute, the Lamb that intervened from the very beginning of sin on this world, to prevent humans from dying and losing their lease on life. But He is not a substitute in the sense of taking on our punishment but rather in absorbing the natural effect of death that results from disconnecting from the only Source of life. He began absorbing the debt we create through sin from the very first moment the debt began to occur and replaced that death with life by which every human has been sustained. Every human being who has been alive is evidence of the grace of God. And the fact that we are alive is evidence that we have been given eternal life 'in Christ' through the amazing plan of salvation. This life is in God's Son who dispenses it. Then at the cross He fulfilled all the needed requirements to expel Satan as representative of this world and displace him with a Ruler who is perfect and loving and full of compassion – just the opposite of what we experience under the dictatorship of Satan.

But because God respects our freedom to choose our own destiny and our own master, He has allowed every individual, even though they have been redeemed, are in Christ and from God's perspective are fully reconciled because He is not holding their offenses against them – in spite of all of these truths He allows each person to decide if they will embrace eternal life by believing these things and allowing Him to transform them.

We cannot know how much we owe to Christ for the peace and protection which we enjoy. It is the restraining power of God that prevents mankind from passing fully under the control of Satan. The disobedient and unthankful have great reason for gratitude for God's mercy and long-suffering in holding in check the cruel, malignant power of the evil one. But when men pass the limits of divine forbearance, that restraint is removed. God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression; but he leaves the rejectors of his mercy to themselves, to reap that which they have sown. Every ray of light rejected, every warning despised or unheeded, every passion indulged, every transgression of the law of God, is a seed sown, which yields its unfailing harvest. The Spirit of God, persistently resisted, is at last withdrawn from the sinner, and then there is left no power to control the evil passions of the soul, and no protection from the malice and enmity of Satan. {GC88 36}

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