Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   Are You Still Lost In Some Way?
   by Rayola Kelley

         We have been considering redemption for the past couple of months. In my initial years of being a Christian, I sensed redemption was important, but I never really understood the implications of it. I knew it somehow was significant concerning my salvation, but like many subjects, it remained vague.

       As I studied the Bible and begin to build a foundation on the different aspects of God’s work on my behalf, redemption would come to the forefront to often catch my attention. Precept upon precept, line upon line in regard to this subject began to unveil a wondrous picture from the Scriptures (Isaiah 28:10). I was sometimes awed and overwhelmed by the glimpses I was allowed to see through my different studies.

        What I discovered is that we Christians have a rich legacy. You may think to yourself, “Well, I have always known that, where have you been?” I have known about many things too, but until there is revelation to one’s spirit, it does not mean that we really have come to an understanding about a matter. Until we have some type of basis in which to regard something, there is no way that we can truly know it.

       As I studied the theme of redemption, one of its aspects that became obvious was this: As believers, we were redeemed from tyrannical slavery and delivered so that we can be restored to something that has been lost to us. When you consider what was lost to us, and how it affects us, we must travel back in time to a place known as the “Garden of Eden.”

       God had created a special garden or paradise just for man. His purpose for establishing a paradise was so He could fellowship with the first man. Our Creator rightfully wanted to enjoy His perfect creation, and He wanted man to enjoy and prize the fellowship he would have with his Creator in such a place. As Scripture states, the Lord had considered all that He had done as being good, beneficial or pleasurable.

       Perhaps we can take a moment to consider the type of environment that Adam lived in. The first man walked with God in this garden. God was not just part of the creation; rather, He was the reason for it. He was not merely tacked on to Adam’s activities; rather, He was to be the center focus of it. God was not there strictly for Adam’s pleasures or whims; rather, He was to define and remind Adam who served as the real source and significance to his well-being.

       When Adam rebelled, he became lost. Since redemption was God’s way of salvation where we are concerned, it is vital we understand in what ways Adam became lost. As Christians, we start our Christian life from the premise that we were lost, but it is only as we come to terms with the life that we have in Christ can we even begin to understand in what ways we were lost. Sadly, there are some in the Christian realm where aspects of the Christian life continue to remain lost to them. These individuals often wonder why they fail to see victory or results.

       Various things became lost to Adam. Even though Adam had no idea as to the extent that his rebellious actions would cause man to become lost, he knew up front in his fallen state that he could not walk with God due to his shame. Obviously, the first thing that became lost was man’s fellowship with God. It had been broken. Adam was no longer on the same page as God. Instead of meeting with his Creator in the cool of the evening, he would have to hide from him behind some type of covering, in the shadows of uncertainty, and under the darkness of sin and death. Clearly, God had become lost to Adam, and even though God knew where Adam was, Adam had also become lost to Him. There was no more fellowship or familiarity between them.

       The problem with being lost spiritually is that people may know there is a spiritual vacuum, but they do not know exactly what they are looking for. Have you ever gone on a search for something that you were not sure what it looked like? Those around you have even described it to you in order to assist you, but in most cases, you will not find it even if you looked straight at it because you are unfamiliar with it.

       This is the way God has become lost to the human race. Even though people have a sense that they are looking for God to address their spiritual vacuum, they do not recognize Him because He has become lost to them. They are blinded, unable to see Him. Unless the scales are taken from their affected eyes, they will never see who He is no matter how hard they grope through their darkness. Case in point, the woman at the well was looking for the Messiah (John 4:19-25). When He stood before her, she did not recognize Him. He first proved He was a true prophet of God before He introduced Himself to her as being the one she was looking for.

       Consider the people of Israel. They knew what to look for in order to recognize their Messiah. However, when their Messiah stood in their midst and revealed and confirmed His identity by fitting all the Scriptural criteria, how many truly recognized Him? In the end, His few remaining followers scattered when He was crucified by the cleverly orchestrated and urgent prompting of the spiritual leaders of the nation of Israel.

       It is for this reason the good Shepherd had to find us (Luke 15:3-7). He knows where we are in our spiritual plight, but since we are no longer familiar to Him, He had to find us in the midst of the unfamiliar terrain of sin and death. In order to become familiar with us, He allowed Himself to be fashioned as a man as a means to redeem us. It is at the point of redemption that He could once again find us. He would be able to buy back His lost sheep from the hireling shepherds and the tyrannical taskmasters, as well as pull them out of the clutches of destructive predators.

       The second thing that became lost to Adam was the essence of life. Adam had a rich, complete life in the garden. In his fallen condition, he ended up with a form of life that would be plagued by the very workings of death. This existence might initially point to great hope and expectation, but in the end, at best, it would be marked by a silent tombstone that would eventually fall into ruin. All that would be attached to man’s present life would remind him that the matters of his life in this world would always be marked by the finality of that which would ultimately prove to be temporary, full of vanity, and empty of all promise and hope.

       The harsh reality of being lost to the essence of real life is that people do not know where to look to find life. There are so many who are searching to find life that makes sense and is satisfying. In their attempts to find such a life they often pursue fanciful notions about how something is going to make them happy in their present existence. They look to worldly relationships, which often causes them to taste the bitterness of being hurt, angry or disappointed. They look to material things, only to end up being more dissatisfied with its vanity. They sometimes pursue noble causes, only to eventually become weary with the never-ending needs and plight of humanity.

       The truth is real life cannot be found in what we can see, but in whom we cannot see. It will not be found in a particular lifestyle that can be acquired, but in a relationship with the living God. This life is not discovered in things of the world, but in a person named Jesus Christ. It is not found in the great causes of man, but in the great work of redemption that was accomplished on the cross by the Son of God. Once again, we are reminded that God finds us. The Father who begins to draw us to the Son, the Son whose voice breaks through our dull senses with the invitation to come to Him to partake of the Living Water, and the Holy Spirit convicts us of our plight and need as He leads us to our Lord and Savior.

       The third thing that became lost to Adam was paradise. Instead of living in a perfect environment, man would from that point on toil, sweat, mourn, and taste the bitterness of an environment that would now prove chaotic and uncertain. This out-of-control environment would never be tamed or disciplined. In such an environment, man would forever sense that “Paradise” had become lost to him, and all of his attempts to find or recreate it would also prove to be illusive.

       When paradise became lost to man, he had to somehow find or recreate a place of peace or refuge from the tumultuous environment around him. How many great adventurers tried to discover the fountain of life, the hidden treasures of a new world or possible freedom from a tyrannical government in a new land? How many people have spoken of the city on the hill that would serve as a true light and refuge for those who were and are foreigners in heart, refugees in soul and downtrodden in status?

       There is a city that awaits the broken hearted, the wandering soul, and the restless pilgrim. This city is not of the present world (Hebrews 11:10). However, there is a map that contains the directions, and record, that is capable of leading each of us to this incredible place. It is known as the inspired Word of God. However, there are a couple of issues that keep individuals from being able to benefit from this map. The first one being that man hates asking for directions. Many people have no idea how to read the map, and most will not ask for the proper instructions to do so. Since they will not humble themselves under the leading of God’s Spirit, many lack the necessary compass that would enable them to benefit from this spiritual map (John 16:13; 1 John 2:27).

       The fourth thing that was lost was purpose. Adam knew who he was in the garden, and what his purpose was in the scheme of things. Nothing was dysfunctional, uncertain or foolish. Everything had its place, reason and use. When Adam sinned, he changed the order of things. He removed himself out from under the auspice of God. From that point, he became lost to his real function and potential. Man became like a cork, lost in the sea of humanity, bouncing from one wave to another.

       People often prove to be fickle, unstable and untrustworthy in all they do. At times, they appear to find some stable ground, only to be set adrift with a new tide. They struggle with their identity, wrestle with how they are defined by others, and unsure of where they are going to land.

       This is the harsh plight of humanity. Many do not realize that the redemption secured by Christ allows them to be found. They do not recognize this great work of God is also about restoring what has been lost. It was not enough for our Creator to buy each of us back from the clutches of slavery and death; He also needed to restore us back to man’s original status that was lost in the first garden.

       Next month I will be looking at what such restoration entails for you and me. Meanwhile, meditate on what was lost to each of us because of the actions of our first parents. Consider if any aspect of God, His life or His purpose continues to remain lost to you.