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The Answer For Perplexity
By David A. DePra
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (2 Cor. 4:7-10)
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raises the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; (2 Cor. 1:8-10)
In the Greek New Testament, there is a word that is usually translated, "perplexed," or, "perplexity." It literally means, "at a loss for a way." This word is describing a condition where we are IN a situation, but cannot see any way OUT. We have no frame of reference, no answers, and no explanation, for what is happening. But the situation cannot be ignored. It is upon us; we are in it. We have to deal with it. But the point is, we don’t know how to deal with it. Maybe we CANNOT deal with it – we have no ability or resources. That is perplexity.
Perplexity can certainly be the result of what happens in the outward. But really, since it is an INWARD condition, it is always the result of how we respond to either the outward OR inward. Perhaps you are in a situation you cannot handle and you have sought God over and over about it – but have received only silence. Or maybe the problem you are dealing with is an inward one. But it hasn’t matter how much you have sought the Lord, the problem remains. You are absolutely at your wits end. Not only have you NO answers, but you may not even know the right question.
You don’t have to be born again to be perplexed. But here we are talking about those who are born again. Do you think it is impossible for someone who is IN the will of God to be perplexed? Is it possible to pray and ask and seek God – only to receive perplexity? The Bible reveals that it is quite possible for even the most mature saint. It happened to Paul the apostle. He said, "We are perplexed." And yet he added, "but not in despair."
You will note how Paul speaks of this condition of perplexity – he makes it, not the result of being OUT of God’s will, but the result of being IN God’s will. Indeed, he speaks of perplexity as NORMAL and EXPECTED in our walk with Christ. According to Paul, perplexity is the result of coming into contact with something or someone for whom you have no frame of reference. You are at a complete loss as to THE WAY. But as Paul says, this is all structured by God so that we can learn Christ is our ONLY WAY.
Now, you and I have memorized the verse in the NT where Jesus says, "I am the Way." We know that verse and are likely convinced it is the Truth. But Paul is showing the essential need that we must we MADE TRUE by the Truth. In other words, do you believe that Jesus is the Way? Do you believe that He is your ONLY WAY? Well, now you must be MADE TRUE through experience – you must have this Truth brought into your experience in a way that will set you free to LIVE in it. But the means by which we discover the Jesus is the Way is by having all, "other ways," cut off. This requires that we face perplexity – it requires that we be at a loss for any other way. Only then can we see and experience that Jesus is THE Way.
Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." It is so easy to take those words out of context and forget that they were a response to a request. His disciples asked, "Show us the way." So Jesus said, "I am the Way." That is not a riddle. Jesus is not being cute. He is telling us that if we want to know the way that God would have us take – if we want to know the leading of God – He is telling us that we have to KNOW HIM.
This cuts across much Christian teaching today, especially teaching about the, "leadings of God." I believe God can, and sometimes does, lead His people through various means. He does not wait twenty years until we grow to know Christ before He directs us. But ultimately the way by which we know the will of God, the way of God – and even the WAY by which we get there – is a Person, Jesus Christ.
What I’m saying is this: Despite the fact that God COULD just, "tell us," what to do, or where to go – and despite the fact that He might at times do so – the will of God is more than just us knowing information or direction. The will of God for us to know Christ – the will of God is a relationship in Christ. And then, as the by product of knowing Christ, as we walk with Him, we will end up where we are supposed to end up in the circumstances of life. In short, Jesus is not only the Truth, but is the Way into the Truth. We have to enter into HIM in order to enter into God’s Way, God’s Truth, and God’s Life.
Remember that Jesus did NOT say, "I will tell you the Way, I will tell you the Truth, and I will give you a THING called life." No. He said, "I AM…." Again, this is not just, "Bible talk." It is the Truth. Jesus said what He meant – HE IS the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Thus, we won’t get far trying to discover or pursue the Way, the Truth, or Life, outside of fellowship in HIM. They are solely IN HIM.
Jesus is the Way, yes to God for salvation, but Jesus is also the Way – the means – by which we KNOW God. He is the Way – walking in Him is the means – by which we discover God’s practical WILL. Fellowship and relationship in Christ is the Way of God and the will of God, period.
Do we want to know the Truth? We have to know Jesus Christ – He is the only WAY to know the Truth. Do we want to obey God? Then we must come into relationship with Christ – in Him alone is the power of God to do anything. All that God has is contained in His Son. Nothing God has is outside of Him. Jesus really is THE WAY – and the Truth, and the Life. There are no others.
This is actually the very foundation of Christianity – Christ IN US, the hope of glory. Christ, who IS our life. Christ, the power of God. Christ, in whom are ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Yet how many of us hear this preached nowadays? No. Instead, we are given a thousand other religious ways by which we must walk with God. We are given this or that TO DO. We are given rules or laws or principles to follow – oh, yes, out of the Bible. We are told, "how to do church." We are given a checklist as to how to know God is leading you. But all of it is fruitless if it is not from out of Christ. THAT is what the Bible teaches!
Christianity is not a religion God has given us to, "practice." Rather, Christianity is CHRIST IN YOU, and the Christian life is a continual unfolding of Christ to us and in us. Christ dwells within us – and He alone is the way to walk with God in Spirit and in Truth.
When Jesus said, "I am the Vine and you are the branches," He wasn’t kidding. That one illustration shows that all that we ARE must come from out of Christ. We must abide IN HIM, for He IS our life. Contrast that over and against DOING THINGS to try to get Christ to abide in US – or to affirm and support us. No. He is the Vine. We are not. He is the Way. God has no intention of coming down and affirming and promoting the way that you have carved out for yourself. He never will.
Well, living in Christ as THE WAY is not something that is going to come natural for us. It is, in fact, something for which we will have little frame of reference. Yet this is exactly why God allows us to come into the state of perplexity. We noted that perplexity means that we are at a loss as to the way. This is a blessing of God, for He is cutting us off from all other avenues so that we will, by experience, come into the reality of Jesus Christ as the only Way.
The Basis of Christ
Christian people must live in this world on SOME basis – or, we can say, we have to walk in some WAY. You and I cannot simply retire and say that we will live upon no basis. Nope. In fact, we already are living on some basis. We have no choice.
Most people may not use the terminology, but they are living on the basis of what they think is the truth. It may not be spiritual truth, but it is some truth. They act and react based on what they perceive is reality. Yet without Christ, it is all, at best, jaded by human bias. Indeed, without reverence for God, there isn’t even the beginning of wisdom.
So upon what basis should a Christian live? We might say that, "the just shall live from out of faith." That would be Biblical. We should live by faith. But faith must also have a basis. Faith must have an object. And that object is Christ. Thus, the real foundation of our living must be the TRUTH. John said, "If we walk in the Light as He is in the Light, we have fellowship…." That sums up the basis. Our basis for living must be CHRIST HIMSELF – which is to say, it must be the Truth of God in Jesus Christ.
Now, you will note how closely the apostle John, especially in I John 1, associates walking in the Light with fellowship with God. You cannot have one without the other. Thus, just as Truth must be our basis for living, so it is right to say that fellowship with God must be our basis.
What all of this adds up to is that a Christian person cannot live in this world in God’s will unless he is walking in the light; walking in the Truth. A Christian is in God’s will only if he is in fellowship with God through Christ. This is supposed to be a growing, experiential fellowship. There is simply no other Christianity described in the Bible.
Not Just Laws
Christian people like laws and rules. If we could just get the right LIST of principles to follow, obedience to which would insure a happy life, we would easily buy into them. Just hand me a list of rules that I can title, "the will of God," and I will be satisfied. Or, a list that are called, "ten steps that guarantee God’s blessings." Indeed, it is a fact that there are thousands and thousands of Christians who know of no other concept of Christianity. Those lists are OUT THERE. Many Christians have their statement of faith, their list of laws, and their principles to follow – all based on the Bible – and to them, THAT is Christianity. Suggest anything else and you will sound to them like someone who denies the Bible.
Well, "the will of God," is not confined to a list of principles. "The will of God," does not consist of things I DO – that is not the core of God’s will. No. The WILL OF GOD is the fullness of Christ. This is what the Bible does teach.
Paul said, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification." (1 Thes. 4:3) Sanctification, or a condition of holiness, is a RELATIONSHIP. It is the result of BELONGING TO GOD. Now, DOING will emerge from that to be sure. But DOING will never make you holy – doing never automatically means you to belong to God. There are lots of Christians who belong to lots of things – Christians can be terribly devoted to their list of rules or laws, or group, or to their favorite teacher. But how many of us are devoted to Christ? In fact, how many of us really understand what that means?
What we need to understand is the terrible possibility that through my supposed law-keeping I could become self-righteous – and that self-righteousness is one of the most UNHOLY positions of all. It is a lie. I have fallen from grace. But it LOOKS holy, doesn’t it?
If I do belong to God by faith I will do good works. It is always, "by grace, through faith UNTO good works." Mess up that order and you have, "another gospel."
The will of God is what I like to call, "the one true relationship," that He intends for us to have with Him through Christ Jesus. Note that: The relationship itself IS the will of God – everything else comes that relationship – all that is in the Christian life is supposed to come from Christ.
The True Relationship
If I am living on the basis of a growing knowledge of Jesus Christ, that is, walking in the Light and Truth of God, then I am in the will of God; I am in the true relationship. As I mentioned, we usually think that, "the will of God," are the details of life – our lot in life, so to speak. No. The will of God is fellowship or relationship with Him that is in Truth; in Christ. The details will gradually emerge from that.
We need to get that order straight: The will of God is fellowship with Him in Christ -- a growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. The details – our lot in life, etc., -- will follow, or be adjusted, according to Christ, as we grow in Him.
We might call this fellowship with God in the Truth, "the one true relationship." It is the relationship with God that is in the Light; that is in the Truth. This one true relationship with God is not only God’s will, but it is a relationship that will progressively MAKE ME TRUE UNTO GOD.
We talk about knowing the Truth as if it is a theology lesson. But despite the need for doctrine that is based solely in the Bible, it is all intended by God to lead us into a growing knowledge of the Person, Jesus Christ. And as I grow to know the Truth Himself, Jesus Christ, the effect upon me is that I will be MADE TRUE. This is exactly what Jesus meant when He said, "The Truth shall set you free."
How so? How is being MADE TRUE equal to being SET FREE? Being made true unto God sets me free because when I am made true unto God I am set free to walk with Him IN THE TRUTH – I am set free to fellowship with Him in Christ. This will result in a greater experience of God and a greater capacity to partake of everything that Jesus Christ and done, and everything that Jesus Christ IS.
When we start the Christian journey – when we are born from above – we are NOT true unto the Lord. We are given new life, but are, in large part, still a lying version of what God originally intended. Thus, our relationship with God, while put on the right basis through the new birth in Christ, isn’t really yet the true relationship. We continue to believe lies about God and live on the basis, not of Truth, but of error. We walk in a measure of darkness and try to get God to walk with us. He cannot. So God must change US by bringing us into the Truth. As He does, the Truth sets us free – by changing US and making it possible for us to fellowship with Christ.
It ought to be obviously that to walk with the Truth Himself – to have fellowship with Jesus Christ – we must be MADE TRUE. This means that we must UNLEARN ERROR. We must be changed by the Truth, so that we can fellowship with the Truth Himself, and if we do fellowship with Him, then we are with Him in the ONE TRUE RELATIONSHIP. It is then that it can be said that we are walking in the Light, as He is in the Light, and have fellowship with God.
Now, once we realize that this is the goal of God – that the will of God begins and is built upon a growing fellowship with Him in the Truth of Jesus Christ – does this not make it clear as to just how essential it is to KNOW HIM; to know the TRUTH? Does it not illustrate how Jesus is THE WAY?
Jesus Christ is the only basis God has for us for our living. Indeed, the Truth is the only basis upon which fellowship with God Himself can function and operate. It is not optional and it is not up for discussion. We can walk with, live in, and fellowship with God in this world on one basis alone: The Truth in His Son. It is upon this that all of our faith must rest.
The Answer for Perplexity
When a Christian person is perplexed the answer is not found in information. It is found in revelation – and that of a PERSON, Jesus Christ. Actually, this ought to explain some things. Why, for example, does God seem so hesitant to TELL YOU want you think you need to know? God would give you information in a second. But often He is silent. It is because you don’t need to know IT – in other words, knowing IT, that is, knowing information isn’t the answer. You need to know CHRIST; you need a revelation of HIM. Only that will suffice – it is, in fact, the entire reason you are in the situation you find yourself. God has orchestrated this so that you will learn Christ in a new way.
So instead of always asking God to tell you things, or asking God to tell you what to do, or asking God to give you information, ask Him for a revelation of Jesus. It won’t happen in ten minutes. But the revelation of Christ, in an inward way, is God’s will. God will not only reveal to you Christ, but in doing so, He will bring you more deeply into the one true relationship. He will MAKE YOU TRUE.
Any INFORMATION that God would give us can only be properly apprehended and walked in if it is given in the atmosphere of REVELATION. Otherwise, we are going to use our natural minds to interpret it and it will do us little good. Sort of like when folks ask God for signs and wonders. Signs and wonders never change us or impart to us the true knowledge of God. Indeed, signs, wonders, supposed leadings, and even what seem to be miracles – we’d better be careful. Really careful. Jesus said an evil and adulterous generation SEEKS after signs and wonders. That is because those things can become our focus, and if they do, we can become guilty of spiritual adultery. They can lead our hearts away from Christ. THEY are not the Way. HE is the Way.
Walking in the knowledge of Jesus Christ – walking in fellowship with Christ – this is Christianity. It is the true relationship. It is walking in the Light as He is in the Light. This goes beyond knowing THINGS, or what to do. It goes beyond, "leadings." God wants Christ to the THE WAY. He wants Christ to be OUR LIFE.
Paul said he was perplexed, but NOT in despair. In other words, despite being at a total loss as to the way, Paul knew that God was not at a loss. Christ was the Way – even if Paul didn’t have information.
We will often encounter perplexity. But our faith can be in the One who is never perplexed. This is faith. And it is the core of what it means to have Christ as our life, and Christ as The Way.
Paul also said he was, "pressed beyond measure, above strength." In other words, Paul could find no resource or answer for the trial IN HIMSELF. Yet this pressing simply pressed Him to Christ. When we are weak, He is able to be strong in and through us.
Now note: We often speak of the WAY as a course we need to take. We think of it maybe as information, or perhaps we have seen that this requires revelation. But the way is even beyond those. Jesus is the Way in that Jesus is the MEANS. In other words, if you are pressed out of measure, without resource in yourself, Jesus is the way and means. God is drawing you to where He wants you to draw upon Christ.
These are not merely clever statements to hang up on a wall. They are statements of Truth – and God wants to express them in a living way in and through us. He wants to make us true, and bring us into the one true relationship.
Jesus is the answer to all perplexity because THE TRUTH – which is who HE IS – is the answer to every blank space, and to every need. This is not about finding answers. It is about finding the Person who IS the answer – and then living from Him.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, (John 16:20-23)
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