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par-a-dox: An essentially self-contradictory assertion based on a valid deduction from acceptable premises.

In plain, vanilla language a paradox is something which is contradictory to what you’d normally expect. I find biblical paradoxes particularly interesting, especially as they related to the truths of our identity in Christ. Our Father sometimes masks the deeper meaning of the words in His Letter From Home (the Bible) in order to motivate us to seek the Holy Spirit as to their meaning. Wouldn’t you know that oftentimes the true meaning is paradoxical to what human logic would dictate?

For example, Deut. 31:6 says, Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid… for the Lord, your God… will not fail you…. A casual reading appears to mean that God is exhorting us to grit our teeth and fight like crazy against the ominous threat. Be strong! But under the New Covenant, when the Holy Spirit enlightens our mind, we see that He is not exhorting us to be strong at all. He is saying that we are to appropriate Christ as our Source of personal strength. The paradox is that He’s actually exhorting us to be weak. The hidden meaning is that we are never to trust in our strength. A Christian who has yet to renounce his own strength will resist this truth because he still trusts himself. He believes he should trust God to do only what he can’t accomplish for himself, like the assurance of heaven when he dies.

Sometime the disciples had trouble with Jesus’ teaching methods: "Why do you speak to them in parables?" (Matt. 13:10-16). (In other words: Lord, You sure could save a lot of time if you’d cut out the confusing stories and just tell it like it is.) And look at His explanation: To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. It simply wasn’t God’s time for those folks to be enlightened. For one thing, Jesus was addressing people whose spirits couldn’t be regenerated; the cross was still to come. They couldn’t be crucified as who they were and then created anew in Him (Gal. 2:20). Everything must be in God’s timing. After Pentecost, "Whosoever will may come" to be equipped for understanding in Christ. Such enlightenment is a continual process over our lifetime.

Meanwhile, those who are without Christ retain their original "darkened mind" and can never understand spiritual truth. Jesus, explaining to His disciples, said, I speak to them (those with darkened minds) in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand…for the heart of this people has become dull. How’s that for a paradox? They see, but they can’t see; they hear, but they can’t hear. He used a paradox to explain His paradoxical methods to His disciples. (I like to believe that many Jews of whom he spoke got their problem fixed by getting born again following Pentecost.)

In our day, Paul says to all of us who have our "darkened minds removed": By revelation there was made known to me the mystery…. When you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:3-4). Gang, the gospel is a mystery; it is hidden from all whom God knows will not receive it, even if the Spirit should open their eyes to understand it. The mystery can only be understood when the mind is enlightened through being born again. Please don’t read this as an arrogant or proud statement; no man merits such understanding, but receives it as God’s gracious gift through Christ. It’s available to whoever will humble himself before Christ and ask Him to change him from the inside out. (If you haven’t done so, I pray this will be the day you will make the decision to give up on yourself. It will revolutionize your life.)

Here are some other biblical paradoxes (with my occasional elaborations) that will revolutionize your life:

  • When I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)
  • God’s power shows up best in weak people (not in strong people). (2 Cor. 12:9)
  • The man who depends upon the Lord is the stronger man. (Phil. 4:13)
  • The independent man is perilously weak. (Hab. 1:11)
  • Most would say that Jesus was strong and independent; but if you define weakness as dependency upon another, Jesus was the weakest man who ever lived–He never acted independently. (Jn. 14:10)
  • It is only by resting while you work that your work is spiritually profitable. (Rom. 15:18)
  • The man who loves his life loses it. (Jn. 12:25) Those who claim they are "free spirits" are actually spiritual stillbirths. (Eph. 2:1)
  • The lost, while they are alive, never live. (Col. 2:13)
  • Christians, though having differing birthdays, are all the same age–eternal. (Jn. 3:16)
  • The wise and intelligent can’t understand the gospel, but babes can. (Matt. 11:25)
  • While intellectuals believe they and their colleagues are wise, most are fools. (Rom. 1:22)
  • We do not work for God; He works through us. (Rom. 15:18)
  • Although many Christians seek to "help" God, He accepts help from no man. (Ps. 50:12)

And finally, here are four paradoxes in which are hidden the very motherlode of God’s secret to an abundant, victorious life:

  • We must die to live (Jn. 12:24)
  • He that loses his life shall preserve it alive (Lk. 17:33)
  • [True] Life is experienced [only] by dying in Christ (Gal. 2:20)
  • You have died and your life is [now] hidden with Christ (Col. 3:3)

Paradoxes such as those last four were a total mystery to me until 1968. I was taking the comprehensive exams in my doctoral program at Oklahoma State University, which consisted of sixteen hours of writing in two days, and I had just finished the first four hours. I was failing! No, that’s an understatement; I was bombing it. "Lord, this is hopeless. All is lost. How can I face my wife and kids? My friends? Everyone knows I resigned a good job to get my doctorate, and now the whole world will be talking about what a klutz I am."

Have you ever seen your life-dream go swirling down the drain? I was so devastated that I couldn’t even articulate a prayer. I wandered home for lunch. Didn’t talk. Didn’t eat. Wandered back out the door. Wandered around the campus. Wandered back into the classroom. Numb best describes it. Just numb. Years of hard work, money, dreams…gone in a half-day nightmare. I somehow made it through the next four-hour session, through a restless night and into day two–four more hours of writing, better this time. Lunch. This time I ate.

The home stretch…the final four. Then ultimately, three down and one hour to go. I’d been dreading the decision which I now faced. I knew absolutely zero about either of the two questions which were my options for the final hour of writing. I was to choose one and toss one. It was a coin flip. Okay, Lord, here we go. I choose this one, but I’m clueless.

My practice was to take five minutes to make an outline before writing. I didn’t have a jot, let alone a tittle. Then I began to write. Thoughts slowly started to trickle, which triggered still others. Documentation was recalled and duly noted. I always sought to leave about ten minutes at the end of the hour to review for errors. Time’s up. Time to read it.

It was beautiful. Did you get that? It was beautiful! And I didn’t know beans about the topic at the top of the hour! Had I been able to ace the test via my own talent, I would’ve missed experiencing God, gang. God had demonstrated His strength in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). Talk about a paradox. That last hour’s experience was the burning bush He used to show me that He had the tiller since hour five! God passed those comps for me, through me.

But, I just didn’t get it. I thought God had only moved in when I had exhausted my own resources, so I went back to trusting in myself. He had to allow me to have two more (count ’em) crushing defeats before I woke up and smelled the coffee. "Ahhh… I get it! Christ living through me is supposed to be life for me!" God had turned my failures into a gold strike which (by His continuing grace) I’m still mining.

Are you experiencing the "life [that] is hidden with Christ in God?" If so, you comprehend those last four paradoxes. On the other hand, maybe the truth of how to benefit from appropriating your crucifixion in Christ (Rom. 6:6) is still a mystery, a paradox that you struggle with. God says that your life is hidden in Christ (Col. 3:3). In spiritual matters, "hidden" things come only by revelation from the Holy Spirit, not by human intelligence (1 Cor. 2:11-14). Paradoxes contain hidden things. Only honest seekers, not curious, have paradoxes revealed to them. Seekers must humble themselves and ask the Holy Spirit to show them how to experience this crucially important aspect of life.

Check out our online store for resources God has given to LGI for unmasking paradoxes. Or call us for additional information on how to begin this new walk with Christ. LGI exists to help clarify the truth that "your life is hidden with Christ in God." You don’t have to wait, like I did, till your nose is broken three times to begin to understand the beautiful truth of your identity in Christ. Every member of our staff would count it a privilege and a calling from God to serve you. We’re praying for you even now…

About the Author

Bill founded Lifetime Guarantee Ministries to encourage people to experience the reality of Christ as life. His transparent, humorous, down-to-earth style and sense of humor made him one of the most effective teachers of his time. He communicated with great clarity the full extent of what God accomplished in Christ and what that means for the Christian identity. Although Bill passed away in June 2011, his messages are timeless and will continue to impact generations to come.