Trapeze Faith Part 1

Teaching children about the path to salvation

Years ago, buy cialis ampoule while living in Denver, viagra Colorado, my wife, Myrna, and I took our two young children (Brodie and Shannon) to the circus.   While in the “Big Tent,” there was one act that caught us all by surprise.   It was the man on the high-flying trapeze.   At first his feats seemed ordinary, after all there was a safety net below to protect him from a fall.   We watched for a while, but soon lost interest and began watching another circus act.   In our modest assessment, perhaps we could even achieve similar stunts with a safety net below.   But our rather boastful thoughts quickly changed when a crew of men came and removed the safety net.   The atmosphere surrounding the man’s performance dramatically changed, because a mistake meant his life.  To our surprise, his performance grew even more daring as one incredible feat surpassed the previous.   As the man’s act came to a close, a partner who swung out to catch him in mid air joined him in the finale.   As they locked arms, nothing could separate them.  They both finished on the platform across the way and rightly received a standing ovation from us all.   My kids couldn’t believe what they saw; they talked about it for weeks.

The man on the high-flying trapeze is a biblical picture of both man’s lost condition and God’s plan to rescue him.   The platform on which the trapeze performer stands symbolizes the beginning of life for us all; a life created in the image of God, yet dreadfully compromised by an accompanying sin nature (Genesis 1:27; Romans 3:23).   As beautifully created as each one of us is, our natural and unrestrained disposition is to reject His presence and maintain control of our own lives (Psalm 139:14, 17-18; I Corinthians 15:21-22; Romans 7:18-19; I Corinthians 15:17).

What kind of disposition compulsively drives us away from living with God on His eternal platform?    According to the Bible, upon birth we inherited a sinful disposition to live a God created life on our own platform.   This began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve decided to leave God and live life on their own.  They suffered because of the decision they made, and in addition to their own travail, the sin they committed effected every man, woman, and child born into this world forever.   Adam and Eve’s choice forced upon God’s creation inherited sin, and because of that, life could never again begin from God’s platform.   Each of God’s children would be born on their own platform, separated from God (Romans 5:18-19).

Because we were born on our own platform, our lives progress according to how we are influenced in the formative years and by our choices in the later years.  We can establish a life with strong morals, a few principles, or just enough rules to keep us out of jail.  We can live a passive life without God and His boundaries, and do a lot of drugs, a few drugs, or no drugs.  We can have a lot of sex, a variety of sex, or no sex.  We can seek our security through money, fame, or even religion.    We can commit to self-effort and devise a system of religious works to get to heaven.   In the East, we can follow the work gods of Buddhism, Hinduism, or Islam.   In the West we can follow our own work gods of the Jehovah Witness’s, Mormons, or Religious Scientists.   And if works is not our “cup of tea,” then we can skip it all and become New Age eclectic believers, where the pursuit of knowledge becomes a religion that honors intelligence and insight.    Through presumption, we see ourselves as sub-gods, and what can be better than this?   We hope that when life ends the supreme God will not exclude us from heaven.  In fact, we proclaim that a truly loving God could not exclude His creation from His platform.   Well, perhaps with the exception of Hitler or those like him.

As long as we stay on our platform (and it is comfortable there) we can act and believe how we want.   What is amazing about life on this platform is that even when our dreams fail, and the loving relationships we put so much hope in shatter, and our expectations for a joyful life slip away, we still hold on to the life on this first platform.   The thought of giving up control of our life, even to God who only resides on the platform across the way, is too big a price to pay (Luke 14:28, 33; Matthew 16:24-25).   So eventually we don’t look His way anymore, and risk missing forever the incredible life God created for us (Mark 10:28-30).

It is too bad we turn our attention from God’s platform because we miss out on so much, especially the great thoughts and feelings God has reserved for us.  As the Psalmist writes, “How precious are God’s thoughts toward me, how vast the sum of them, if I should count them they would be more than the sand of the sea.” (Psalm 139:17-18)   Life on God’s platform goes even beyond what God thinks and feels about us, it includes fulfilled dreams, never-ending love between fellow believers, exceeded expectations, and a lasting joy which is free of pain, conflict, and sin (Phil. 3:20-21; Rev. 21:3-4).   Until we take our last breath here on earth though, God never gives up on us; He desires that we all grab a hold of His bar of salvation. (I Tim. 2:1 & 4 II Corinthians 5:15; Titus 2:11; John 3:16).

What is the bar that allows us to swing back to God’s platform?  It is what Jesus (God’s own Son) did on the cross two thousand years ago, when He gave up His life, and paid for all of man’s sins from Genesis to Revelation.   Those in the Old Testament put their faith in God and were saved by belief in a coming Christ, and today we put our faith in Jesus, the Christ who has already come (John 1:1-3, 6-8, 35-36; Romans 5:10,12).   The cross was the reconciling act for all men; it is the single bar that swings us to God’s platform (I Corinthians 15:20-22).   There are no other bars to God’s platform; God did not choose different messiahs to reach varying cultures.    He didn’t need to, nor was He compelled to do so; His Son was adequate to save all men in all cultures and in all ages.  Buddha, Allah and the like are man’s concoction.   Consider what Jesus said in His own testimony,  “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6)   “I and the Father are One.” (John 10:30)  Jesus was eitherthe way or not even a way.   He leaves no alternative (I Corinthians 8:5-6).

Grabbing the bar of salvation sent our way seems right, but leaving the platform we have grown up and lived on for so long is difficult.   Jesus stated that this would be a hard decision for us to make because it would cost us the sin we love most, our own lordship (Luke 14:27-29).  Although God’s platform is everything we could ever hope for, to gain it means we must repent.    This means asking God to forgive us of all our sins, {leaping from our platform}, while at the same time putting our trust in Jesus and making Him the Lord of our lives {grabbing a hold of the salvation bar}.   (Luke 13:3; John 6:28-29; Romans 10:9-10, Acts 13:19; John 8:24).

Once we have made this repentance leap, we will arrive on God’s platform never to return or even be able to return to the platform on which we once lived (John10: 27-28).   At times we may act like our old selves on God’s platform, but God’s Spirit immediately goes to work to clean us up.   Some of us are, at first, very resistant to this process, but never the less the old flesh has to die.  And just because it remains with each of us in varying degrees, does not mean that somehow we have swung back.   This is not possible.   When we arrive on God’s platform, the swing is cut, and we never have to worry about going back; nor will we ever want to.(Romans 6:6, 12-13; Romans 8:12-13).

The last concern while making this leap of faith is the question of what happens if we fall while making our grab, or lose our grip on the way over?   The bar that swings our way is not unmanned; Jesus Christ is on that bar.   All we need to do is put out our hand and jump; He will grab hold of us just as the trapeze artist’s partner did in their finale.   The strength to keep us on that bar until it reaches God’s platform is the strength of Christ.  So, if we feel we are not strong enough to hold on, it does not matter; the holding is upon His strength, not ours. (2 Timothy  2:13).

Teachable Moment

To make this lesson memorable, take your children to a park where there is high bar equipment.   Make sure it is safe and age appropriate.   Show your children how to let go and grab each bar.  Then as each one tries encourage them and be their safety net.   Then climb up on top of the bar yourself, and tell your children that you are going to hold their hand until they finish their leap.   They may argue that you are being overly cautious.   Agree with them, and then ask them to picture this high bar apparatus raised about 20 feet.  Ask them if they would change their decision about using your assistance at that height?   And if this high-bar stretched across the Grand Canyon, what kind of assistance would they require of you then?   When you have finished, read through this article together and have them repeat their efforts on the high-bar, but this time have them explain what each part means.   What does the first bar represent?   What does their leap between the bars mean?   And if you held their hand during their leap, or merely held them up, what does this mean in God’s plan to save all who would seek Him?   As you conclude your time, remember that as precious as your children are, they were born on their own platform just like you, a platform separated from God.    Until they make their own decision to get off their own platform and join God on His, they will grow up in your presence never really knowing Him.  So continue to pray for your children and share your faith with them.   Perhaps at the end of this lesson it will be the moment they will want to give their lives to Christ, if they have not already.   Regardless, be assured that God has ordained you as their parents and will give them the necessary time to make that decision.   As the Scripture teaches, God understands when they can make that decision and desires to see all of His children saved unto His platform  (Isaiah 7: 16, 2 Peter 3:9, John 1:1, 4, 9).

God’s Word

We are the image of God with a sin nature

Genesis 1:27   God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Romans 3:23   For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

We are born beautiful, yet unrestrained in sin

Psalm 139: 14,17-18 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.

I Corinthians 15:21-22   21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

Romans 7:18-19  18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; fort he willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

I Corinthians 15:17    and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.

All are born in sin

Romans 5: 18-19   18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

Is it too big a price to pay

Luke 14:  28,33  28  “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?

Matthew 16:24-25 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  25  “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

God’s platform across the way is all we need.

Mark 10:28-30   28 Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.”   29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake,  30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.

Psalm 139:17-18   17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!  18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.

Phil. 3:20-21  20  For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;  21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

Rev. 21: 3-4    3″…He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

God desires all to return to His platform

I Timothy 2:1 & 4    1 First of all, then, I urge that prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Corinthians 5:15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Titus 2: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.

John 3:16   “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Jesus’ death is the bar home

John 1:1-3,6-8,35-36    1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.  3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being

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. 6 There came a man

sent from God, whose name was John.   7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through Him. 8  John was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. 35 Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”

Romans 5: 10, 12   10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

I Corinthians 15: 20-22   20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

There are no other bars to the platform

John 14:6   Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 10:30  “I and the Father are One.”

I Corinthians 8:5-6  5 For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

It is not an easy leap

Luke 14:  27-29   27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish.”

What does leaping mean

Luke 13:3 “I tell you… unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

John 6:28-29   28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

Romans 10:9-10   9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Acts 3:19  “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

John 8:24  “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

There is eternal safety and continuing transformation on the other platform

John 10: 27-28   27  “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

Romans 6: 6, 12-13   6  knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 12  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,13  and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Romans 8: 12-13   12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.   13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.2 Tim. 2: 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

There is time

2 Peter 3:9   The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Isaiah 7: 16   “For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.

John 1:1, 4, 9   1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.