Many Are Called; Few Respond

We cannot know what Adam and Eve knew when they ate the Forbidden Fruit. We do get the feeling they were led astray, which is what we would expect. Satan came to them as a powerful archangel and they respected his guidance. There is a sense in which Adam knew better than to eat the Fruit of Knowledge; it was a pretty straightforward command from God. Still, the curse in Genesis 3 makes clear that culpability is shared.

What’s most important is where it all leaves us at the end of the narrative: We are fallen creatures, alienated from God and His Creation. We are in desperate need of guidance how to live now that we are outside of Eden. We still have that instinctive knowledge in the heart, but we need grace to reawaken the subjection of the mind to the heart. The means to getting our attention on that problem is the admittedly limited revelation via the Law Covenants.

Hebrews 1:1-3 tells us that the succession of Law Covenants and the narratives of how things worked out were never meant to be the final answer. They should have been sufficient; the image of how God portrayed Himself was as the head of household and we as straying children. It could have, and should have, worked out just fine, but in reality it did so only during brief stretches of history. So Hebrews tells us that God sent His own Son to provide the final revelation of what we must know to live as fallen creatures.

Granted, a lot more came with that, but we dare not lose sight of that fundamental understanding that Jesus was the personification of God’s will for fallen mankind. Jesus remains today the Flaming Sword at the gate of Eden. While His teaching indicates that, for example, the Covenant of Moses was imperfect, it was nonetheless a substantially accurate revelation of God’s divine moral will. So we have the Gospel accounts of things Jesus said to indicate what Moses might have said better. Who can forget His shocking correction of the business of divorce? But the focus remained on how to live, not how to climb into Heaven.

This is something virtually every American Christian ignores. I’m not sure anyone can explain it clearly enough, how American minds are so obsessed with going to Heaven, even as those same minds reject the ancient understanding of what “Heaven” means. You have this awful situation where American Christians have built up a vast lore of misunderstanding about the nature of the Spirit Realm. They insist on working hard to obtain something that does not exist. This is part of a much bigger lie manifested in Decision Theology.

Nothing in Scripture talks about a decision to “be born again.” Americans miss the whole point of Jesus’ comments to Nicodemas in John 3. All of the emphasis, from Genesis to Revelation, is on seizing the instinct burned into every human soul to walk in obedience to our Creator in this world. Part of the problem is misunderstanding what the phrase — “what must I do to be saved” — meant to the folks who are recorded asking that question in the Bible. The American reading of English translations comes with a pre-loaded lie about that. It’s not a question about going to Heaven; it’s about how to reclaim the divine heritage of Eden in this life below. That’s what it meant to them; we have ample resources to prove that, but no one wants to pay attention to the scholarship and literature of those times.

To the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) mind, the question of going to Heaven or Hell took care of itself if you bothered to answer the more important question of obeying the divine revelation regarding this life here below. I’ve been castigated for saying that; no American believer wants to hear that. Yet the vast array of honest scholarship examining the ANE intellectual approach to things is clear: Those ancient people never pretended to have an intellectual grasp of eternal things. They had parables and common images they used to indicate certain ideas about it, but they never pretended it could be reduced to clear descriptive terms. They were reverent about such things, never daring to presume fallen people could claim to declare the truth of such things.

Yet, here we have American Christians simplistically insisting all you have to do is just “believe in Jesus” and it’s all good. Despite all the verbiage associated with that kind of false gospel, they treat it like a magic pill you can swallow. And they insist this was something altogether new in God’s plan, so folks who died before that must have gone into some kind of Purgatory or something, but they didn’t get to go to Heaven because there wasn’t a Jesus in their day to believe in. I’ll say it again: In the average American Christian theology, people didn’t go to Heaven before Jesus came along. In the American Christian mind, Jesus represents a total break in the continuity of thousands of years of human history. They cannot see how Jesus was the final answer in a long line of consistent revelation.

In Radix Fidem, we must strive to establish that religion is not about “going to Heaven” in that sense, as if it were some better quality of Valhalla — the common American theological assumption. We strive to return to the ANE thoughts about such things, that we cannot possibly know, and need to be very careful how we even speak of such things. More to the point, it’s not for us to worry about. Paul’s Letter to the Romans says it about as bluntly as possible: God holds the initiative in His hands. You can’t choose Heaven, and Hell is the default. But don’t worry about it, because God is the definition of justice when it comes to such things. He doesn’t owe you any explanation that your intellect can grasp. Instead, worry about how you are going to obey His divine will in the here and now.

So we emphasize Biblical Law and reclaiming the divine heritage of shalom while living in this fallen world. We rhapsodize about how it brings us in heart-led communion with reality itself. We see Jesus as the One who put it all within easy reach; we just have to search our souls until we can reconnect the conscious awareness to the heart-mind. Suddenly we discover some part of us always knew we belonged in Heaven, and we quit worrying about it. Now we have the balance of our human existence to reclaim all the promises of God arising from His divine will, as revealed in His Son, and which we summarize under the term Biblical Law. We are told those promises are a down-payment on Eternity.

It’s a deeply heart-breaking reality to know how the vast hoard of American Christians have been led away from that. With few exceptions, they are living in darkness, enslaved to a massive lie. If it were a matter of sacrificing something of myself to restore them to their divine heritage, I’d jump at the chance. But such heroism is not a part of the picture. They each must turn to their own heart-led path individually. It has to be a conscious choice, the one true decision they can and must make. So I’m praying daily: Lord, how can I get the word out? What can I do or say to get their attention? The vast majority of them are hardened against this mighty gift of God, so it’s a very sorrowful mission to seek out those rare few individuals God has touched and who are ready for something different.

The Kingdom of Heaven starts here and now.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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18 Responses to Many Are Called; Few Respond

  1. Thank you for that post. As someone who is moved to live in the here and now, enormously grateful for the gifts of this place, I find it near impossible to find fellowship with most Christians for precisely what you say above. It’s not that I would hang on to life at any cost, either, when it’s my time I’ll go willingly and take whatever comes as my due. I just can’t accept that we’re supposed to be looking towards Heaven at the cost of noticing – and accepting and USING to the best of our abilities – what He’s giving us here. It’s seems the height of ingratitude.

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  2. Ed Hurst says:

    God bless you, Christine. I’ve approached the subject before, but this time I had a much stronger inspiration on how to write it. It is, indeed, the height of ingratitude for what He gives us here, and it grates on my nerves to face that as the underlying false assumption when discussing it with current believers.

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  3. 19maude56 says:

    Well said, my Brother! We keep praying and trust the leading of the Holy Spirit that the veil will be removed from their eyes!!!

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  4. Ed Hurst says:

    Thank you, Sister.

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  5. Mr. T. says:

    I have a pretty fuzzy view of these things (as seems proper).

    If I remember correctly there’s at least sheol (old testament view/knowledge), hell/gehenna, outer darkness, new spiritual bodies/new earth, and many rooms/mansions that have been prepared.

    Dunno who goes where or based on which criteria. I would naturally have a tendency to think of the sorting criteria as some sort of if-then-list (believing, behavior, etc.), but it doesn’t seem very useful.

    So, who knows how it all works.

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  6. Ed Hurst says:

    Exactly, Mr. T. We don’t know and can’t know in our fallen state. But instead of an if-then-list, it’s a matter of relationship and welcome of the Householder. That’s as much as we are told.

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  7. forrealone says:

    I used to be very saddened when one of my family members spent so much time grieving for her children. She HAD to help them be “saved”. She was tormented at the thought of them burning forever in hell. She just could not get past it. Religions that use that fear factor to win souls, to me, are very evil indeed. Thank God for His truth and for opening my heart and my eyes to it!

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  8. Ed Hurst says:

    This fear tactic, and my distaste for it, was one of the things that gnawed at me the whole time I served in conventional ministry.

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  9. Mr. T. says:

    The problem — and in my opinion slight terror — with theology and various interpretations of hell (endless torture etc.) is truly that really nobody knows: the reality could be practically anything. It actually is quite terrifying when you sit down and really think about it.

    Your theology could be wrong and now you’re going to hell or spend an eternity outer darkness. Who knows the rules or criteria for certain? Many traditional Church teachings seem scary as hell — and they could even be correct — or not, there’s really no way to check.

    Uncertainty can be stressful.

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  10. Ed Hurst says:

    The ANE mind handled this uncertainty quite differently. For them, there was no such thing as objective standards; it would never occur to them to imagine such a thing. Thus, the “criteria” for going to Heaven or Hell would never enter their minds. Instead, they would view the issue like everything else: You gotta know the right people and curry their favor. You can see where this is going: Seek God’s favor. Worry about pleasing Him in your service, and let Him spring the surprise on you as to your reward. It wasn’t a cheap kind of favoritism, though; it was totally honest and forthright. God would make it clear that He favored you; He would find some way to communicate to you personally, and never trick you about it. Thus, the image you construct is quite alien to the Bible.

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  11. Whatever the case, sitting alone in one’s room ruminating on something that cannot be solved serves no purpose in this life and surely wouldn’t gain one any brownie points for the next. He doesn’t require that we torture ourselves. He requires that we love one another – something we can’t do very well when we’re so wrapped up in “what if’s”.

    Now, the other guy, wouldn’t he’d just be delighted to see us all twisted up that way..

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  12. 19maude56 says:

    We must trust and believe that all was accomplished for our sake at Calvary. Jesus completed the work His Father sent Him to earth to accomplish, namely to destroy all of the works of the devil. If we have put our trust in Jesus as our Savior, our Redeemer, we’ve been set free from the law of sin and death. There’s no more need to fear. The love of the Father abides in us. Perfect love casts out fear. The love of the Father shown towards us through the sacrifice of His Son has set us free. What the law could not do for us was accomplished in Jesus’ sacrifice for all mankind. Romans 8th chapter makes it crystal clear. Trust and believe, don’t allow yourself to become a slave to fear again or anything from the kingdom of darkness that you’ve been delivered from!!!

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  13. Jay DiNitto says:

    “You gotta know the right people and curry their favor.”

    Notice how this is the case with normal human behavior everywhere, and how this tendency doesn’t play well in very large systems of organization, like nations.

    Why, it’s almost as though God were trying to tell us something about who He is and the way things are, isn’t it?

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  14. Mr. T. says:

    My description is definitely more like a modern problem and applying current thinking to theological issues (believe and be saved -> believe exactly how, what, listen to whom etc.). There are many theological points you could speculate on. “Criteria” could be a modern Western way of looking at doing God’s will.

    And for example an issue if you believe but your family members don’t (then you worry where they’re going with many Church teachings).

    Of course even in modern times many sects believe they really are the only ones who are actually saved and the all the rest Christians are/could very well be going to hell… Fear is a powerful weapon and converts/sources of money need to be made.

    Many believe they have the only one and true scriptural interpretation.

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  15. 19maude56 says:

    Trust only in God. Proverbs 3:5-7. Seek Him and His righteousness and allow the Holy Spirit to direct your mind and heart in the ways of God. My prayer for you today Mr. T., comes straight from the word of God in Philippians 4:6-8. I pray that the Holy Spirit will overshadow you in every area of your thought life. I pray that you will encounter the Holy Presence of God like you’ve never experience before and know the difference from lies, deceptions, and any cunning schemes from the kingdom of darkness. I pray that worry and fear will no longer be a thought pattern of your mind. I pray that you’ll allow the word of God to transform your mind so you’ll experience the peace of God that exceeds anything you can understand. His peace, the gift from Him that will guard your heart and mind as you live your life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you’ll no longer think as you used to , but with the mind of Christ. I pray that you’ll begin to see the old patterns of thoughts pass away and all things become new as you walk in the Spirit and not according to the old ways of life. I pray that you’ll begin to experience the newness of life walking with God and give Him all the praise, glory and honor that He deserves…..Him and only Him can and will do all this for you and even greater things. I believe and share because I, myself was once in your shoes. Blessings and peace to you!!!

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  16. Mr. T. says:

    Thanks for the prayer! I do recognize that my overintellectualizing is a bad habit. Categorizing and boxing things logically may happen when it should not.

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  17. Ed Hurst says:

    I’ve been there, Mr. T. The primary reason for trying to understand the ANE approach versus the Western is because the former is typically better on such things.

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  18. Pingback: Individualism and Commitments | Do What's Right

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