But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
When I was a young man (before becoming a Christian), I sought a higher plain of existence. I thought that by meditation, fasting, drinking certain kinds of teas, or breathing exercises (yoga) I could somehow ascend to a greater level of spirituality. Perhaps I could somehow bring down the “Christ consciousness” to my level by lifting my awareness.
When that didn’t work, I went into deeper levels of study and religious theology as if by doing so I could make Jesus become more real through intellectual reasoning. I tried to, as Paul puts it: “bring Christ up from the dead”. But that didn’t work either.
I had been studying and meeting regularly with the pastor of a local church, Jeff Walling, who was also an accomplished Biblical scholar. He finally said to me one morning over breakfast at Coco’s, “Mike, you will never know Jesus if you don’t reach out to Him in faith.” He then quoted Hebrews 11:6: “…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Jeff said to me, “No amount of intellectual reasoning will ever make God real to you. If you want to truly know God — you’re going to have to take a leap of faith and trust Jesus.” He said nothing more. I sat there in uncomfortable silence as I rearranged and flipped through my notes. Then I was honest with myself: Even if Jeff answered every one of my questions, would it ever be good enough to know God? To have a personal relationship with Him? Had I learned to play baseball by reading about it or by playing the game? At some point I was going to have to leave the classroom and either apply these principles or throw them away as useless garbage. Something deep within my soul stirred (John 14:6): “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
I gave my life to Jesus that morning — right there in the booth at Coco’s. Jeff and I sat there like little babies and cried our eyes out. It was beautiful. My life was forever changed. Thank you Jesus! And thanks Jeff for your patience.
Have you been trying to fit Jesus into the world’s teaching — psychology, science, or child rearing? He won’t fit, because He is the author and foremost authority. Not the other way around. By doing so, are you bringing Christ down to earth’s standards? On the other hand, I am always concerned with the number of Christian theologians running around who have so little evidence of Jesus in their life. Sure they can discuss Greek derivatives with ease, but where is the fruit? Do you have an intellectual understanding of God’s Word, yet fail to appreciate its spiritual meaning and force? What needs to change?