Jesus violent death is a part of the mystery of God’s plan where his establishment of the eternal plan of predestination was based on a person’s free response to his grace. God has permitted the acts that flowed from the blindness of man for the sole purpose of accomplishing his plan of salvation. It reflects total obedience even in the midst of suffering and pain to do the will of God for the greater good and salvation of mankind.
It is the humble predestination of defeating sin, condemning human nature of self, and beginning to look into the mystery of God’s love by an act of sacrifice nobody would ever understand the need to contain the entire wrath and the consequences of sin by mere defeat of his death out of the Blessed Trinity’s love for mankind.
For man has been so proud that human nature does not know how to stoop down in humility to beg for God’s forgiveness that God has sent his only begotten Son to show us the way how to manifest atonement of our sins done by the act of selfless love.
Jesus has exhibited everything that a person finds contrary to the strength of human nature which is being subjected to extreme suffering, temptation, hunger, thirst even death. Everything that Jesus has done on the face of the earth is done to perform the will of God in order to appease his wrath and to restore our fellowship or that image of a father and son relationship.
This implies that the only way to God’s kingdom and favor is through the cross which seems to please him and make him grant us forgiveness regardless of the severity of the relationship sin has done to us and the hardness of our hearts.
God loves us so much that he taught us how to return the favor of that selfless love. The subjective cleansing of the sinner is a continuing process as the redemption was purchased by Jesus from the ruler of this world applied by the Holy Spirit to those who lay down his freewill to follow the mystery of salvation and to those who accepted the unfathomed cleansing of the soul by the suffering one gets from what God has sent to restore us to his flock. The pain that strikes us serves to soften our hearts, cleanse our body and soul, and open our doors to wisdom nobody can ever comprehend but only those who had undergone the process of complete surrender and seeking God’s face amidst the chaos of the mind brought about by the chaos of this world. Where in this process, at the lowest moment of your life, man will come to meet God, know him, and desire to know him more. This reaches out to the supernatural being of God through spirituality, not basic but deep spirituality.
The unfolding of God’s nature and the development of the relationship is incomparable. He who reveals himself to the one who seeks him gives him the strength and the capability to live in entire poverty and dire simplicity but still is at peace and comfortable with himself. Nothing can ever substitute the peace and happiness that we feel when the Holy Spirit reveals himself and teach you wisdom in consolation. God just wanted to be your God, for you to seek his face, gain a part of his wisdom from the personal teachings of the Holy Spirit, and maintain the desire to live in constant fellowship with him in humility and complete surrender of freewill. Man will and can only truly understand love and true care from the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the greater understanding of the word.
The Holy Spirit’s revelations and teachings enables us how to become pleasing in the eyes of God. The process is personal and is different in every person noted by the change in the person’s heart, facial expression, and the only time that mind and heart comes into agreement molding anew our values and our faith. It is indeed true that the longest journey of man is his travel from his heart to his mind. The realization is evident when we let conscience, wisdom, and goodness shape our hearts and our mind, there is a definite change in views and reflections of maturity in a different kind of spiritual level.
Understanding the process requires an openness of the heart, meditation, and prayer where we keep the sphere of seeking God’s face. Knock the doors of heaven as the blood of Jesus has knocked at the doors of his Father to open the way for us. We as sinners has been spared because Jesus took our places and died in our stead. His death emerges as the central truth in the Christian doctrine of redemption: the atonement, which is the very significance of Jesus death. He was wounded for our transgressions and out of indebtedness we follow his instruction to always remember the passion and offer him in the altar at the holy mass so our prayers and sacrifices will be accepted by the Father in atonement of our sins by making him remember the paschal mystery of the blood of the lamb that has freely merited life for us and by which God has reconciled us to himself and to one another.
The very concept of the substitution of the bread and wine to the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ offered in the Holy Mass through the sacrament of consecration serves us three things: adoration, thanksgiving, and expiation. Jesus was exhibited here as the only mediator and pleasing sacrifice between God and man. The sacrifice is very easy to see indeed but this serves as the cornerstone of our belief. Man’s response to God in faith professes his witnessing to the existence of God whom we cannot see but is revealed in many ways around us and in the events of our lives. Recognition of the mystery of substitution is only captured through the eyes of faith. The desire for God is already written in the hearts of man waiting for the response of faith to accept and trust him to be our God in all entireties as a person and by complete surrender of freewill.
When God allows circumstances to refine us through suffering, it is an opportunity to gain insight to the meaning of life and what and where it has taken us. We believe that everything happens for a reason. In today’s world where modernism has changed a lot of hand me down traditions and practices of the church, pain and suffering is necessary as an invitation to one’s walk of faith.
Conversion is rather recognized as a conversion of the heart rather than a conversion of religion. It is a process of reconciling our person with our creator and our God. It is always done through many forms of human pain and suffering that usually leads us to the doors of repentance, an act of acknowledging one’s sin and admission of one’s transgressions. It is that one moment in our life when we come to know what we lack in ourselves and what we miss in our life that ultimately leads us to seek the face of God and abstain in a lot of worldly matters to be able to see him. We ought to suffer in silence and seek him in silence. Silence is hearing the word of the Holy Spirit, taking his presence and gaining his wisdom leading us to read and know God more through the Holy Scriptures. True to its sense, the word is the bread of life, feeding us, feeding our souls.
As the days passed, the Holy Spirit will accompany us to our travels of a holy life. Keeping us stronger by its power to envelope us with his presence and of his love. As the days passed, we come to meet a lot of people and a lot of reality that serves to nourish our understanding of life devoid of the faculties of intelligence but always seeing the person and the environment the way the Holy Spirit wants us to see them. It is with this development, that we come to fulfill the sole requirement of faith which we derived from our own travails of faith experience changing us, refining us. It is at this time that we hunger more of God’s word, thirst for his presence, cry for our sinfulness that we have a lot of flashbacks in the past. A lot of it are the sins that we have to know to realize and understand are keeping us away from him.
And so we come to confess and cry during the process of reparation to reach out to him wanting to hold and hug him but there is only faith and that feeling of presence that is left in us to confirm his existence. It is something that we know is not there but we are confident it exist and is guiding us for our goodness sake. Wishing he could be present himself in human form so we can talk to him like we talk to other people. But no, with him it is different, we cry a lot, we suffer, and yet we become stronger and experience a different kind of peace while immersing ourselves in his presence during deep prayers and quite time. We can never meet him if we don’t seek him with all our heart and we don’t empty ourselves before his throne (ECCCE 1994).
Our soul is very lonely without him and it is through the challenge of silence that we denounce the world, clean our houses, cast out a lot of worldly attachments and make way for the presence. We can never let the Holy Spirit come into our hearts if we are so full of worldly preoccupation. This is the very rationale of emptiness which means being devoid of worldly attachments and focus our minds, body, hearts to him and him alone. Repentance is more on looking for our faults and how our tongue and our actions have hurt others and feeling gravely sorry for everything that you have done to hurt God and to hurt other people. It is never a means to justify our actions against righteousness. It is always seeing our faults and asking forgiveness for what we have done to restore our relationship with God in every minute of our lives.
Genuine conversion lies in the hearts of man and not in the verbal proclamation of plainly believing and being saved. Conversion is closing the doors of sin, the ultimate dying of self and letting the Holy Spirit guide us to become a part of his divine plan leading us to the unknown but yet fulfilling the ultimate part of making us new in all humility. When we humbly seek the face of God and seek for his fellowship, we ask first for his forgiveness and seek to cleanse our hearts through repentance and confession. It is a matter of professing our faith from the very experiences and witnessing God has so kindly affords us to experience through tears and mostly tears. We die first on our sins and come to live again renewed manifesting the typology of the dynamic movement of the fulfillment of the divine plan where we came to live for God and God alone. And such is the force and power of God that has supported the Church all through the ages. Man then is being given the grace of faith by the workings of the Holy Spirit who moves hearts and converts it for God which makes it justifiably easy for the person to wholeheartedly accept the truth and believe and choose God to be God. Without faith it is not possible to see God and attain his fellowship. As we were never coerced to believe in him we are always invited to believe in him where from our acceptance the Holy Spirit can freely work in us to serve him in spirit and in truth.
Regeneration then is being felt and known by the converted sinner the moment he is always envelope by peace, freedom, joy and hearing to sensing the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not stop working is us, it is then and only when we are so preoccupied with the pace and attachments of this world that we are unable to hear him. This is why we have to discipline ourselves and commune with God in silence to hear his guidance and feel his presence always inside and beside us the way he wants us to feel and know him. We can never choose, for God alone knows the way our hearts run and in him alone can we find the satisfaction and longing our hearts so desires. He is everything, the way to peace, the way to love, the way to fulfillment in life for we are created for him and him alone but given the freewill to accept or deny his invitation.
At times when we are so low and everything else is gone. When we come to know that our world is falling apart and that we are left to master the treachery of this world alone in our failures, we don’t give up and commit suicide. It is a matter of going in circles round your room to analyze why this has happen in your life. Maybe it is but proper for humanity to fail. Sickness and failure in every sense has come to claim your life and it is inevitably making suicide seem to be the only option for all the frustrations and the disappointments felt therein. Come to pause a moment and cry and reach out to heaven, maybe shout to the Lord. You will realize that he always comes to the rescue, because that was his personal invitation to accept his fellowship known as the CUE. When we respond in faith accepting his invitation with our freewill, the process of conversion of the heart will then start to transform us to almost the goodness of his image gaining a part of his wisdom from the workings of the Holy Spirit.
This is the real conversion experience one must welcome in tears and joy. The contrary emotional attributes of the failures, frustrations, pain, and hurt in any form but it is now our reality, we feel what we feel maybe a lot of it we don’t understand and just happen to meet during the refinement process. Our spirituality change and the way we deal with people and the world change. Seeing and understanding the complexities of human nature while praying for them is another gift of the converted repentant sinner. We start to see our environment in the light of blessing and pure gratitude of how God has provided for us and come to see people in the light of our spirituality which makes us understand how we lack patience and humility to begin to love the most difficult attitude for the love and sake of our God. With him everything else is new and amazingly different based on the real measures of faith and love that we come to bow and kneel before his throne as a child, never an adult, always as a child, the way he wants us to be in his presence: a child of God.
Sanctification and perseverance: its context and its meaning
Faith needs nurturing. The word of God does it all: strengthening us, molding us like a potter’s clay, transforming our hearts in the process of conversion, refining our souls like gold perfectly refined in fire in the process of purification, and claiming us back to his arms. Sanctification may be seen as a progressive continuing process in us. The Holy Spirit sanctifies us, guides us and strengthens us on our continuous struggle over sin and being steadfast in our obedience to God. Sanctification focuses on predestined God’s plan where favors predict setting apart a person for a specific divine purpose from those who have not yet received the gospel. The moment we are saved in Jesus we are immediately sanctified and begin the process of conforming to the image of Jesus (Hoekema 1989).
Sanctification is actually an inward spiritual process. God brings holiness and change in our hearts by the works of the Holy Spirit. God has given us both opportunity and responsibility to work out our own sanctification seen as a challenge in the aspect of our Christian walk to be a vessel of honor, sanctified and prepared for every good work in the mystery of God’s plan. Our spiritual union with God through prayers comforts us in our hardships making us overly sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit from where we gather the strength to overcome sin. Faced with God’s fascinating and mysterious presence, man uncovers his own insignificance called by grace to a covenant with his creator in a matter of position and progression on our response of faith and love. For in the history of creation God has created everything for man where man’s role is to serve and love God alone and offer all creation back to him.
Sanctification is every believer’s responsibility to seek righteousness drawn from the changed on his mind’s purpose and intent involving relative quite comparative changed on qualities and disposition. Partaking of God’s grace affects the soul first then progresses to the body as both are capable to manifest total obedience to the will of God. Sanctification represents the idea of position or relationship existing between God and a person consecrated to him based on the concept of the Holy Spirit leadings on moral and spiritual qualities which is the fundamental tool in development of inner values towards holiness. It is the concept of consecration of thought and devotion to the service of God which explains what is set aside from the world for God should also separate himself from the defilement of this world in order to share and obtain God’s purity. It is a never ending process indeed we are being asked to persevere in our watch so we won’t be taken by the adversary who is more than willing to snatch poor souls from the cradle of love.
The converted person’s thread of moralism is solely dependent on his relation with God and of the grace of God. To live a life of virtue, man merits the approval of God by a life of poverty, penance, and good works. Sanctification is a supernatural impartation of a new infused energy of the divine life where the soul is lifted to a new level or higher order of being enabling it to achieve the destiny of divination by knowing, possessing, and enjoying God. This imparts in us the permanent habit of inherent righteousness to carry within ourselves this sanctifying grace to perfection as in the case of the saints who willingly suffers, sacrifices themselves in full consummation of the soul for the glory of God. This procedure is not applicable to a group but is rather individualistic and defines a very personal relationship with God nobody can ever possess or take except for whom it was destined and given.
An overwhelming grace of being subjected to the holy presence of God affecting our senses gratifying us to saintly disposition where by its revelation is being transmitted to this world affecting other people like a disease which also attempts to influence their own conversion of hearts. It is a kind of a contagious inner happiness and holiness radiating to the other person affecting him and his state of being through constant exposure of the rays of holiness invading his senses affecting his stands in this world for the greater good. Of course this is very different from the definition of sex appeal but the idea of radiating is more like it but intensely contagious. Sanctification takes place at the crisis of death and resurrection of the dead which was thoroughly described in our discussion on death to sin and renewal of life in faith and by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
We must realize that in the conversion one undergoes death and afterwards resurrection by response of faith to God’s invitation. The soul’s death and the soul’s resurrection are partly the work of God and partly the work of man as believers cooperate. The instrumentality of man as a rational being requires free cooperation of all his faculties much more on his intelligence. Sanctification is absolutely requesting diligence and perseverance in the employment of the means which at times faith may seem to falter because of the soul’s weariness and the human body’s limitation to absorb pain and hurt from the other inhabitants of this world.
Communion with God in deep prayer is the only thing that gives us consolation by the inexplicable joy felt when granted of his presence by the merits of grace and tears. One may consider the strength of the grace to be able to make the shift from this world to the domains of the supernatural world. And it will take a lot of effort on man’s part to come back to continue to live on this world if one has already experienced being in the supernatural world of God. This entirely different world sometimes frustrates the sanctified soul for he never would want to come back to this world again but rather choose to remain in the domains of the supernatural where God does not allow extensions on feeling the presence of his grace. It happens only in a matter of seconds or even minutes where the soul has no concern of time merely satiating the longings of his soul. We have to come back to this world because each of the sanctified soul has a role to play and their lives are a part of God’s plan of salvation.
The soul then makes the body persevere in a lot of ways or by which God has sent to us to make us able to bear difficulties and hardships in silence, calmly, and without complaints always offering every drop of tear for the mortification and salvation of our own souls and of the souls of others. The amazing grace leaves us lasting impressions on selfless love. Our role as Christians is to support each other for the love of Christ and of the salvation of other men to build up the body of Christ and the church. Considering ourselves as the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are then to commit ourselves to help rebuild the body by the help of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit always teaching us to pray through the heart and not by the mind. When prayers shift from the mind to the heart then and only then we will be able to obtain the tools to endure the means.
A believer may persevere until the end always enduring or lose his salvation in a blink of an eye by getting back to the sins he once denounced. It has been always easy to step backwards than forward on to holiness. The jump could be so fatal to the soul and to the body. Holiness needs deep prayer and daily communion with God. We must allow ourselves to be silent to be able to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We must allow the Holy Spirit to teach us the real meaning of the scriptures and apply it in our respective reality. Man must understand that without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, interpretation may vary and may lead us astray. Prayer, silence, meditation and continuous praise and adoration are very important in maintaining our relationship with God acting as our strength to be able to endure and persevere until the end of our time. The solution to prevent our fall is always annotated from our basic responses of faith. The biblical teachings of the assurance of salvation always rotate on faith and perseverance of the soul.
Predestination and election
Arminianism is a teaching on predestination as a pathway already mapped out for all the foreknown. It stands on the belief that whatever God has decreed with regards to man has been founded on the foresight of their conduct. The idea of God respecting freewill is not eternal but is made in time. Armenians hold that God foreseeing from all eternity predicts that some people will repent and believe in him and so elects them to everlasting life. Election is the act of choosing the person God wants to bestow his saving grace like the election of Christ and of Israel. Foreseeing others to continue to sin God does no further attempts to save but instead leaves them to perish (Hill & Hill 1842). Calvinistic doctrines on election and predestination describe God’s mercy as a mystery offered to a predestined elect group of individuals.
God being the alpha and the omega knows how things will run in the past, present and the future. His foreknowledge of events is indeed amazing enough to call for equality in his attempts to save mankind based from man’s freewill and response of faith. God’s grace can never act if man does not respond to accept his offer of redemption. It is that one thing in the context of man that God respects never imposing his will upon man always respecting the power of choice. He loves to be chosen and loved in the foundations of trust and faith and not by the mere imposition of it.
Jesus has made the official sacrifice for the salvation of every man without exception. But the idea of conversion always meets halfway: God’s offer and man’s acceptance. God chooses us out because we have special roles to play in his divine plan of salvation and whatever is the motive of the choosing is beyond the understanding and philosophical analysis of man otherwise God won’t be God and man will play God. It is this supernatural high degree of intellectuality that separates God from the structure of his creation. What he decides and wills is always for the greater good of mankind and not just for the glory of a certain group or person. For we do not see only those who have benefited greatly in physical strength out of his saving grace like Israel but rather continue our search on the whys and how on the sufferings of the saints and why they were chosen to suffer. Faith, relationship, and salvation play different roles beyond the comprehension of man. God practices equality and has sent the invitation to everyone. It is entirely within our reach, if and only if we believe and accept him in complete surrender of our will that he can freely work in us. Favors therefore lies in our hearts and faith and from those who prayed for us to obtain one.