Have you ever felt trapped in a box of someone else’s making, perhaps a modern fundamentalist-style box, and yet, down deep, you know the Christian life is neither that nor an up-for-grabs version of your own making?

In my early years of ministry, I was sincerely striving to live in the box of what I perceived to be righteousness. I focused on dos and don’ts—good things, but their lists kept growing, making my striving even more difficult. In my zeal for what I thought to be right, I would condescend or castigate those who differed. And of course, I did all this in the name of taking a stand. But what I didn’t realize was that when your focus is on not sinning, you are focused on sin—a deadly deception that leads to defeat.

Strangely, my dad did not live this way, so I was especially without excuse. Then God in His mercy began to show me Jesus. First, I saw Jesus as the source of power and saw in Him an available supernatural enabling beyond the power of the flesh. This was a great awakening. I spoke much on the power of the Spirit at this time, but, alas, it amounted to encouragement to get into the box! Inevitably, this wrong goal prevented accessing the power I was championing.

Then God in His continued mercy began to show me more of Jesus. Jesus, not only as the source of life, but also as the goal. The issue is not fitting into a box or having no box; it’s all about a life—the liberating life of Jesus. Freedom is found in accessing the very life of Jesus.

If you are hungering for this life, then The Liberating Life of Jesus will guide you through biblical precision to finding freedom between the two extremes of law and license.

The first generation that claimed the name “Fundamentalism” did so because they embraced the “fundamentals” of the faith that are critical to genuine Christianity. They understood the germane focus on Jesus, and that a vital relationship with Him demands a belief in what the Bible clearly says about Him, like the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, and the bodily resurrection. By embracing these fundamentals, they of necessity had to separate from those who did not, because not embracing the essentials revealed religious unbelief.

The goal was Jesus which demanded separation from that which hindered reaching the goal. They evidenced the life of Jesus. Sadly, later generations began to switch the focus to a goal of separation, making separation the main thing, instead of Jesus. This was deadening. Separation is vital but is not the main thing. Fueled by an overreaction to the excesses of some in the name of the Holy Spirit, strong leaders promoted their understanding as the voice of God and deprived followers of His genuine voice. The result was the creation and perpetuation of a “box” of “Christian living” of man’s making. Many of the dos and don’ts represented good things, but the focus revealed a wrong goal, a wrong leader. The focus shifted from a relationship with a person to conformity to rituals. But a certain set of rituals (your version of law) cannot lead. Guidelines are not the same as a personal guide. A guide must be a person.

In recent decades, many have thrown off boxes like this. However, in escaping rigidity and ritualism, many have only substituted one empty shell for another and ended up with an up-for-grabs version of the Christian life. For these, a lax approach has replaced a law approach, but the needful focus on a person is still wanting. Both law and lax are approaches of the flesh that can only deaden. Neither approach gives life.

What is needed to prevent either error is a life approach where the goal is Jesus who is himself the Christian life. Jesus is the liberating life who frees from the two extremes of law and license. If this focus on a person inspires hope, The Liberating Life of Jesus will guide you from the wrong goals of either law or license to the life of Jesus.

Copies of The Liberating Life of Jesus can be ordered at Revival Focus.

John Van Gelderen

John Van Gelderen

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