The Value of Historical Life
Soul Exchange, Landmark Memory and Kingdom Witness
Our theme comparing living history with eternal moment continues to develop. We started out by illumining the difference between “historical” life in the flesh and eternal life. We were able to learn that the real essence of fleshly life is of no more than “a tale that is told,” because that is all that exists of it once it has been experienced. It is but a memory.
All mortal experience is historical, even that which has not yet occurred. For even the future converts to memory the moment it passes through our living senses. Future and past kiss each other in the historical present.
So it is flesh life is but living story through which we all pass in streaming momentary reel, which heaven views as “books that are opened” (Rev. 20:12). Our reel lives here below are the instructive documentary films watched by angels in heaven’s theaters: “Now showing: the Life of John Doe…” (Think “Scrooge” and the “ghosts” watching his Christmases—past, present and future.)
From here, we next identified a processal relationship between historical and eternal life, in which the first life acts as a form of “investment currency” for conversion into eternal life (i.e., into our knowing of God through Christ). Unlike historical life, eternal life does not pass through and away as a story, but is an unending immediate Spirit-living in which we may become now and remain forever even after we shed this historical body.
We used the term “eternal moment” to describe the conversion point from historical to eternal life. This conversion also introduced us to the concept of “exchange.” All historical life is given us as free “capital” to “trade up” for eternal life, moment for moment. We called this the “reel-to-real” exchange, and saw the growth of eternal life realized by this investive exchange to be the meaning of “spiritual fruit.”
We also saw that to invest reel life requires parting with it, that this is the meaning of “soul death” and that this parting inescapably yields suffering. In all, the convertible trading up of reel life for real Life through profitable suffering fulfills the meaning of cross-bearing discipleship at the heart of all apostolic teaching.
Rightly Valuing Historical Life
In this lesson, we want to now appreciate the true value of historical life. Successful reel-to-real life exchange hinges on accurately perceiving historical life’s value. If we overvalue this life, then we will lose out on eternal life because we won’t make the initial trade for it, or we won’t keep trading up to our full investment potential into it.
- The Problem of Overvaluing
Sensory soul life, which defines historical life, is a very powerful force in the human bloodstream, despite its utter fleetingness. Until eternal life is first encountered, soul life is the only reference point for reality anyone has. Therefore to man it is the only reality there is, and thus to overvalue it is the default human problem.
This overvaluing remains the majority problem for young and adolescent Christians as well. Most believers—particularly those in relatively creature-comfortable cultures—never come to a decisive point of historical life devaluation. Soul life remains their dominant reference point for reality. Thus they make only weak sporadic exchanges of it to gain any eternal life fruit—never fully surrendering to the way of the cross, to identity severance or to a bold, glad convictional willingness to suffer to make the investive exchange.
In this, most “believers” never really become actualized disciples. Rather, we are seduced into reinvesting our eternal life back into our historical life, believing that eternal life’s purpose here and now is to perpetually “preserve the capital” of (i.e., to “save”) historical life! This is and will be seen to be the great tragedy of the church age—believers tirelessly reinvesting eternal life energy back into saving their fleeting cultures and histories, which the exchange requires we must lose (Mt. 16:25-26). Only by way of supernatural crisis intervention does God’s Spirit move to successfully arrest believers from this deception and steer us to the true path of eternal life valuation and investment exchange.
- The Problem of Undervaluing
At the same time however, as disciples who become sold on the supreme value of eternal life, we are not to undervalue historical life. Where overvaluing this life is the pitfall of the young and adolescent, undervaluing it is the trap of maturer disciples persuaded of eternal life’s superior worth.
Undervaluing historical life after conversion occurs as an alternate deception wherein earnest disciples are seduced by religious or revelationist “holiness” spirits to embark on a logical but misguided quest to eradicate sensory life altogether in some degree from their remaining mortal experience. This takes the form of various earthly denials from ascetic bodily practices (“have nothing, desire nothing, ask God for nothing earthly”) to super-saint revelationisms that deny any present subjection to time or mortality (“I’m already a ‘manifest son of God’ if I think I am because I have an ‘eternal mind.’”)
Undervaluation, though the minority problem in the church, is a very real one, tending to occur in more spiritually isolationist, wilderness prophetic settings.
It is against these opposing valuational errors that we want to write out something here for marking historical life’s true value. We will not exhaust this topic, but will cover some key points.
Apostolic Requirement of Historical Life
That historical life, despite its ephemerality, has value should be obvious both from scripture and divine logic. From logic, God does nothing without purposeful value. This includes His birthing us as mortals and leaving us subject to this life even after we have received eternal life. If historical life had no value toward eternal life, no one would ever first be born, nor would we continue as mortals once we had received eternal life. We would just automatically translate out once born again.
But the scriptures speak to us straightway about this themselves. Paul says, “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual” (I Cor. 15:46). He gives us an entire discourse on the need of living out mortal life as prelude to manifesting the glorified eternal reality.
Jesus simplifies this discourse in one statement, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:5). To be “born of water” is a Hebrew idiom meaning to be “born of flesh.” Jesus is saying we cannot enter the eternal kingdom of the Spirit without first being born into historical life. Thus He assigns a certain value to this life. (Such valuation is witnessed in reverse by the satanic efforts to destroy historical life whether before or after it is born—by abortion, infanticide, murder or suicide.)
At the same time however, Jesus makes clear that our fleshly life has no intrinsic self-standing value. Elsewhere He declares, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (This idea of historical life’s intrinsic unprofitability is first opined by Solomon in the phrase “all is vanity.”)
Historical Life’s Auxiliary Value
How interesting then. First Jesus tells us we can’t enter eternal life without first obtaining historical life, which means it has some kind of value. Yet He also says that this life is unprofitable within itself. This life has a value then, but not a self-sustaining one where its own preservation is the objective.
All together, Christ is saying that historical life has a necessary but auxiliary value toward servicing eternal life—the real objective. It has a supportive role in birthing and growing eternal life, but that is all. Its value is in its need to be spent toward that end.
This brings us back to Moses’ prayer: “Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” This need of rightly applying historical life toward eternal development is the wisdom of which the man speaks and which we seek in this article series.
Outside the New Testament’s illustration relating the necessary but unprofitable husk (chaff) to the inner grain, perhaps the best modern example of this life’s limited but vital supportive value is that of a booster rocket required to project a space capsule into orbit.
The intrinsic value of a space mission is lodged in the capsule, its pilots and its cargo. The booster rocket meanwhile is indispensable to achieving that mission, but its only value is in being spent toward that end. It’s designed only to provide the costly thrust necessary to take the capsule beyond earth’s gravity. The capsule can’t reach orbit without the booster’s thrust. But the booster has no self-sustaining end. No one launches a multi-million dollar booster alone just to admire its eventual disintegration in the atmosphere. This provides us an excellent handle on the limited but mission critical support value historical life has toward eternal life.
Inside this larger idea that historical life has auxiliary "boosting" value supporting our eternal life pursuit, we can drill down to appreciate three such helping values. The first and primary helping value is the one previously explained. It is this life’s worth as a medium of “investive exchange” through suffering for trading up into eternal life. If no other worth were considered, this would be enough to justify our continued subjection to this life. Without historical soul life as a gift to exchange, we can’t obtain or grow into eternal life.
Page created September 16, 2019