He said that Membership and Growth was like epochs in the Bible and it is possible for people to be stuck in various stages of growth and never progress further..
In the Beginning there is the Garden of Eden and the childlike bliss of the new born member. Some people seem to get stuck in this mode and always seem to be filled with a sort of naive wonder and awe of God -- but may have problems living the commandments and even recognizing that they have problems in their lifestyles and the comportment of believers.
Following the Garden of Eden was the Law of Moses given. And most people do manage to progress to where they learn the law and commandments with strictness and exactness. In their eagerness to be pleasing and obedient to the Lord they learn the laws and seek to be strictly obedient in every regard to the very last jot and tittle --- and in return, they expect to be rewarded by God who has made a deal, a covenant to do so. They will apply the rigorous standards of the law to both themselves -- and to other people. Some people get stuck at this level and never leave it. They may, possibly, apply the standards more to others than themselves but they always consider the commandments to be critical and vital and perfection in living them to be The Crowning Achievement of a Believer.
However, in the Bible, after the law, the Israelites were not able to live it perfectly and in time both disenchanted and tempted by the world, the Israelites fell into apostasy. As do some people, particularly after living the law so rigorously they find that what they believed the promised blessings to be turned out to be elusive. At least as they saw it. Perhaps they feel abandoned and betrayed by God, the Gospel and the Believers. They may feel lied to because while they kept the commandments as promised, the blessings as promised never arrived. Or they may feel defeated, feeling that they will never be able to keep the commandments to the level and degree of exactness that they believe is required. They focus on their failures. However, it happens, they fall into a period of apostasy. And some never leave this stage -- and they remain in that condition the rest of their lives.
And then there is the New Testament, with Jesus the Son of God, dying for us, to Save us -- if we would just believe Him and be Born Again! He offers us the chance to be redeemed and obtain the Tree of Life lost to us so long ago in the Garden of Eden. He does not teach us that the law and commandments are irrelevant -- on the contrary He teaches us to honor them and obey them. But at the same time He makes it clear -- they do not save us. He does. And after and despite "all that we can do" He will still save us through His nearly mystical dispensation of Grace -- beautiful thing that can now bring us -- wiser and less naive -- back to the Wonder and Awe we once knew in the Garden.
Some people, having gone through the Garden and then through the Law and then through Apostasy, nevertheless come out through to the New Testament and become Born Again -- New Creatures in Christ and learn the mystical and more satisfying quality of Union and Membership in the Kingdom. One of becoming like a child -- a Child of God -- with Faith and Hope for the future. Not contemptuous of those who blissfully remain in the Garden -- for indeed they agree with them -- the plan of God is truly Awe Inspiring and its reward is Bliss! Not critical of those who announce and thunder about the law and commandments -- because indeed, the Law and Commandments are the wonderful Gifts of God to lead us to Holiness under Him and are blessings in and of themselves. Not cynical about those who wander in the dusty desert of apostasy -- because, after all, they were once there and now understand that one must learn humility and to live by Faith and not by Sight.
All of the previous lessons -- are encompassed in one great lesson and wrapped into the knowledge that God loves Us and proves it through His Son.
Edited by CASteinman, 30 June 2012 - 05:41 AM.