Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on Sept. 3, 2006.
"For the Lord to whom they could turn is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, men's souls are set free" (II Cor. 3:17, Phillips).
The night after reading the interview Carlton Pearson gave on Beliefnet.com (See Link at end), as I lay in bed trying to go to sleep, the first lines of the poem "Soaring Free," which follows this writing, began to drum in my brain. I knew from experience that God was giving me a poem, which was very exciting, because He hasn't given me poetry for years now. So, I dragged my sleepy mind out of bed to write it down. It flowed out in about 2 minutes, and I went back to bed praising the Lord for His bounty. Since that time, I have pondered what it means to be free in Christ. Everyone talks about it, no matter how bound by law they are, but what does it really mean where the rubber meets the road?
Legalists are worried that freedom gives license for sin, but the Bible is very clear that license is neither the reason for nor the result of freedom in Christ. Paul makes the case for grace in Romans, Chapter 5: "Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Vs. 20-21). Perhaps as he wrote it, he "saw" by the spirit what his antagonizers would make of it, because he begins the next verse with a warning, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! (God Forbid)! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" (Rom. 6:1-2). Because many Christians still do not understand what happened in the new birth, not to mention the meaning of baptism, which depicts the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (Vs. 3-6), they don't get it that we are free in Christ, not to sin, but to live victoriously in Him.
Paul makes his point regarding our victory over sin brilliantly, in a verse that many would do well to have engraved on their foreheads: "For he who has died is freed from sin" (Rom. 6: 7). As I have often told them at Medicalodge, dead men don't fornicate, lust, murder, steal, or lie, but then, neither do they take casseroles to the sick or give alms to the poor, go to church, or read the Bible. Dead is dead, and the sooner we reckon ourselves dead and realize what victory Christ gave us on the cross, the sooner we give up the sin consciousness which plagues Christians, and begin to enjoy our freedom in Him. Paul is clear that all of our works, no matter how good they are, will pass through the fire, and only that which is done by God's authorization will have eternal merit.
This writing was not intended to be a grand theological treatise, but merely my own conclusions based on scripture and life experiences. As always, God uses more than one member of the body to get His point across. Today, we had an e-mail from a friend who commented on something I wrote recently about the Holy Spirit's leading us into all truth (I John 2:27):
He wrote, "I usually am 'right there' with the subject you write about (which is pretty much grace!), but I am not quite sure what you are talking about concerning First John 2:27. I mean that you said yourself you changed theologically several times [over] the years. Seems we all continually change, especially when one sees the charismatic versions of how, somehow, if we can get our "faith" supercharged, we can have anything we ask for...and reality hits us, that it ain't gonna happen for most in this age, nor did it in past ages, [not] like we expect anyway.
"If the Holy Spirit has given me the correct understanding each time, I never would have had to go through the process of error. So are you saying that the Holy Spirit does what He does so we can live this life of confusion and error?" End Quote
His reference to my theological course corrections is accurate; taking place over the past 36 years. God booted me out of Fundamentalism when He revealed to me that the Holy Spirit is alive and well on planet earth (as opposed to what I was taught, which is that He went back to heaven when the last Apostle died, and our only resource was a leather bound book). The second "C" change came when He showed me that the "name it and claim it" theory, this man referred to above, doesn't work. Period. End of statement. They are still preaching it on TBN I noticed recently when I tuned in, but God dealt that doctrine a death blow for me when a woman whom our whole church was praying, confessing, and believing for healing, died a slow, agonizing death, right in front of our eyes. When I demanded to know why, the Lord told me in a more severe tone than usual, "Ruth is my business." I got it. God alone sits on the throne.
It took several decades beyond that for me to understand that God is the One in control of everything. Until I knew that on a cellular level, I didn't reach the place of even consulting the Holy Spirit about what I believed, but was rather like a little kid chasing helium filled balloons. I ran after the prettiest, most colorful one, and played with it until it burst. Before long, the game began to lose its appeal and I then started to wonder just what God had in mind for me.
That culminated in the loss of our home in California, in preparation for us to move to Missouri, where The Glory Road ministry began. Lenny had pretty much always known that God was sovereign, but I still clung to some stubborn ideas that I needed to help out when I could. The Lord brought all my efforts to dust, and then, when He had my attention, I was ready to listen with all my heart.
It was a long, painful process, full of hope, dread, worry and sweat, but occasionally, He would give me a glimpse of the glory, and that made what I had to endure worth it.
Why didn't He just tell me what He wanted me to know in the first place, is what the man who wrote us is wondering. I dare not speak for God, but the road to enlightenment seems to be over hill and dale, around ditches, which you hope you don't fell into, but usually do, and certainly is more circuitous than straight. I cannot think of anyone for whom it is an easy ride. Maybe this is what Jesus meant when He said, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt. 7:13-14, KJV). Many preachers have insisted that means that those who don't adhere to their denomination's rigid standards, will go to hell, but I think it means the way home is not a "cake walk."
What I've noticed along the way is that God isn't concerned with comfort or doctrinal purity. If He were, He would have wiped out everyone who is still preaching error, and think about it, many have to be preaching error, or else all would be agreed, which is not even close to being the case. He allows all kinds of damnable doctrine and down right silly dogma to continue. Why? Again, I cannot speak for God, but what I can say is what the Apostle Paul said, which is that first of all, it is GOD who "consigned ALL men to disobedience (penned them up in sin), so that He may have mercy upon ALL" (Rom. 11:32). Once that penetrated my being, body, soul, and spirit, I relaxed, knowing that God has it all in hand. He is at the helm, not men and women.
We have several readers who are in prison, less today than before, hopefully because some of them serving their sentences have been released. Men and women behind bars are definitely not free, at least physically. And yet, many people are every bit as chained up as people in prison, in bondage to their beliefs, their fears, their expectations. The most radical example of this would be the suicide bomber who believes if he blows himself up (or herself), taking as many innocents as possible with him, that he will gain paradise, virgins, and honored status among the faithful. There are many less extreme examples of being chained by a belief system, including, but not limited to, women not being allowed to serve as pastor or minister; priests not being permitted to marry; belief in the rapture, eternal punishment and a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ from the throne of David in Jerusalem; divorce, dancing, drinking, movies, cards, and other recreational activities forbidden by those of the legalistic persuasion. You can add to the list based on your church or family's mandates.
As I was pondering what it means to be free in Christ, it came to me that the benefit I enjoy the most is knowing that everything on the menu is paid for with God's credit card. He has placed us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 4:3-6), He has called us to be the righteousness of God in Christ (II Cor. 5:21); He has given us by faith, the same inheritance promised to Abraham as those who came from the patriarch's loins, including the land that flows with milk and honey, which we are becoming. Paul said about that, "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" (Gal. 3:29). Remember that God said to Abraham in a vision, "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great" (Gen. 15:1).
For me, one of the most valuable aspects of this reward is entering into the rest of God without dying. Here in Neosho, the funeral director puts on the little announcements handed out at funerals, "Sister Suzie Smith entered into rest on 8/28/06." Dying is the only way to enter rest most Christians know about. Paradoxically, the Hebrew writer said, "Let us LABOR therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall according to the same example of unbelief" (Heb. 4:11, KJV). Until I understood the process, that statement brought a grin to my face, but now I know that giving up self effort feels like labor, very hard labor, as in childbirth, but it is necessary in order to leave behind the works mentality and depend upon God for everything.
He who called us before the foundation of the world knows what path we must walk, which experiences we need in order to mature. He will justify and glorify us, for He predestined us to be conformed to the image of His son (Rom. 8:29). He will do the work through us and in us: "For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). As Harry Fox is fond of saying, "You can't lose for winning." Now, that's Good News!
Father, we thank You for the gift of freedom in Christ, for rest, and for the process, arduous though it be, which turns Your sons into light bearers for the whole world. In Him, we believe all things, hope all things, endure all things, and enter the promised rest, the land that flows with milk and honey, which we are in Him. Amen. Jan Antonsson
By Jan Antonsson
I soared above the rocks and trees and headed for heaven's glow.
Leaving behind the burden, the yoke which never felt right,
Drawn by the Spirit's essence, I soared into the Light.
I saw the face of Jesus smiling back at me,
and knew at once, when I saw His face, that at last, I am truly free.
He asked me to come and sit with Him, to share my heart's desire,
to tell Him what I really felt, burning within like fire.
I want the world to know Him, to see His lovely face,
to rid themselves of shame and guilt and sin and all disgrace,
to know that He has saved them and plans for them the best,
that He will never stop nor sleep until all have entered rest.
O what glory the day will bring when all the earth will know
the Father's grace, their resting place and within His glory, flow.
When His presence covers the earth as the waters cover the sea,
then all will know as we are known; His love has set us free.
The ninety nine are waiting for the shepherd's clarion call.
He goes upon the mountain dark to gather them one and all.
As one voice we praise Him; we glory in His name
and take the Word to the Universe, to any who may yet remain.
Until all have slipped the bonds which tied their souls to earth,
and all God's sons are home again to the place of their new birth.
"Hallelujah," sing we all in joyous one accord
in praise of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
August 19, 2006 Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
Interview with Carlton Pearson
The Glory Road
We're always happy to hear from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 8/31/06
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/09/08.