Saturday, September 29, 2012

Walking With God - Steve Bray

Jesus specifically stated that God hides the truth from the wise and prudent. (Matt. 11:25) He does this by speaking of spiritual truths using physical descriptions. The spiritual implications then need to be opened to the heart by the Spirit. He reveals the truth to those who come to Him as dependent little children. (Jam. 1:5)

The wise and prudent dislike having anything spiritualized. They prefer to deal with what they can grasp with their own intellect. This is the reason why Paul was unable to speak of the deeper spiritual truths to carnal people.

We also recognize the danger of trying to spiritualize God’s Word in a way that distorts the truth. With these thoughts in mind, we express the following beliefs without wanting to be dogmatic. But as we recognize Jesus as the Second Adam, we have to assume that He walked with God in the same way that the first Adam first walked with God. Jesus spoke of the Father always being with Him; and yet, no one was able to see the Father walking with Him. In effect, the Father walked with Him by walking in Him.

We therefore believe that the Garden of Eden, which is the Paradise of God, should be looked upon as a spiritual type used by God to help earthly-minded people—those who think in temporal terms—to better understand spiritual principles. Before the Fall, God {who is Spirit} walked with Adam in this world as He walked with Jesus. You might say that the heavenly realms touched the earth. In heaven, everyone shares with God in His life because He is omnipresent. When there was no darkness separating the heavenly realms from the earth, the Divine Life that is throughout the heavens touched the earth. The heavens and the earth were one with each other. There was no darkness separating the two. God, who is Eternal Spiritual Life, walked with Adam because Adam walked on earth in the heavenly realms, sharing with God in His spiritual life.

When Jesus brought “light” {the eternal life} into the fallen world, He penetrated the darkness that had separated the heavens from the earth after the Fall. Once He had completely overcome the “spirit of the world” by denying the self-originated form of life to the point of death on a cross, He was in a position to share His overcoming life with everyone who chooses to walk as He did. When man was no longer living “out from” himself, God could once again walk in man.

We now have an opportunity to overcome the darkness. We can walk with God in the same way the first Adam walked with God before the Fall and in the same way the Second Adam walked with God after the Fall. Our spirit can be lifted into the heavenly realms where it is possible to share with God in His eternal “zoe” life. God is then able to “dwell in” us and “walk in” us as we live in this fallen world. This is the way of life that every believer needs to lay hold of by faith.

For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them. (2 Cor. 6:16)

But God…because of His great love…raised us up to together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:4-6)

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. (1 John 5:11)

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called… (1 Tim. 6:12)

Now that the barrier of darkness which had separated man from the eternal life of God has been torn apart, we can overcome the world and enter into the Presence of God. The veil that separated man from God has been rent. We can now live in the heavenly realms and eat from the Tree of Life by sustaining ourselves on God alone. As the Son consistently shared with the Father in His heavenly life while walking in this world, we too are enabled to share with Him in the spiritual blessings found in His eternal life. (Eph. 1:3) It is in this sense that He can establish the firstfruits of the Paradise of God within our eternal soul.

As the living Father sent Me, and I live {in the eternal “zoe” life} because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me {the Tree of Life} will live {in the same eternal life} because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven… He who eats this bread {by sustaining their spiritual life on Christ alone} will live forever. (John 6:57-58)

To him who overcomes {the world and the flesh-life} I will give to eat from the tree of life {so they may sustain themselves on the Son’s eternal “zoe” life}, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. (Rev. 2:7)

The Son has given every believer access to the Glory that He shares with the Father. (John 17:22) We can now become like Him in heavenly love. (1 John 4:17) And yet the people of the world, and many deceived people in the church, have “changed the Glory for what does not profit.” (Jer. 2:11) There are earnest but deceived Christians who are still turning away from the Bread of Life for the temporal food of this world. It is the reason why they are not enjoying Christ’s heavenly Presence within their soul. And until they are consistently sharing with Him in His overcoming life, they can expect to find themselves periodically being beaten up spiritually by the devil.

We need to distinguish between life in the desert-testing period and life in the land of promise. God only supplied His people with periodic wells of refreshment while He was taking them through the wilderness. This is where He works to break the self-sufficient spirit. He can only perfect His power through His children when they have no confidence in the flesh and have begun to live wholly by faith in Him. He therefore takes them through long dry spells to drain their cracked cistern of everything that is self-originated. Of course, He sustains them with the promises in His Word and occasionally takes them to special wells of refreshment to build up their hope and to keep them from completely turning back to a self-directed way of life. He wants to keep them encouraged so they will fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on the eternal life that flows without ceasing.

Unfortunately, the “spirit of the world” and “the spirit of error” keep turning them back to the ways of this world for their relief. As they keep relying on their own sufficiency and the temporal pursuits and pleasures of this world for their spiritual support, God is required to use greater measures of suffering. It is not easy to cause someone to lose all hope in this world and die to their self-sufficient spirit. The flesh-life is not easily weakened and prepared for death. God therefore continues to scourge His children to take the strength out of their flesh-life as He prepares them for the cross and a complete death to the old self-originated form of life. (Heb. 12:6, 10)

Blessed is the man who endures temptation {in the time of testing}; for when he has been approved {when the mind has been renewed and he is fully submitted to God’s way of life}, he will receive the crown of life {the Kingdom-life that is held in the heavenly realms and can now be imparted to the soul} which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (Jam. 1:12 Emphasis added)

He who has My commandments and keeps them {in the time of testing}, it is he who loves Me…and I will love him and manifest Myself to Him. (John 14:21)

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus {to share in His glory}, after you have suffered a while {in dying out to the old flesh-life}, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1 Pet. 5:10 Emphasis added)

God never presses His children beyond what they can bear. He recognizes the need for a careful balance between suffering and encouragement. He does not want anyone to completely turn back to the world. But the special times of refreshing that He supplies should not be mistaken for the life of promise. Christ has come to supply the soul with an endless supply of His Living Water. “As the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” When He comes in “the power of an endless life” (Heb. 7:16), His people “never thirst.” (John 4:14) Those who still experience an up and down spiritual life can know there is a better life – the eternal “zoe” life – where it is possible to consistently enjoy the indwelling Presence of the Lord.

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord {to work out his own affairs}. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness…

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green {because the Living Water never fails}, and will not be anxious in the year of drought {because the river of life continues to flow}, nor will cease from yielding fruit… I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways {whether you are living by the flesh or the Spirit}… (Jer. 17:5-10 Emphasis added)

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought {regardless of the conditions around you}… You will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. (Isa. 58:11)

It is in the wilderness testing period that God determines if we are willing to become like Jesus. In this age of fulfillment {the New Testament}, God has spoken to us through His Son because He is the target of our faith. We are to become like Him in this world. And those who do not cease from their own works and learn to yield to His way of life so that His “light” may be manifested through them, will end up being like the foolish virgins. They will come before the Lord, referring to Him as their Lord, but He will insist that He does not know them. Their problem is that they never permitted Him to manifest His life through the vessel of their body. Therefore, they are not fit to enter into the kingdom of God and be wedded forever with Christ in His eternal life.

Can you begin to see why we must choose today where we plan to live throughout eternity? There are only two choices. Either we will choose to live through Jesus in His light of life, or we will find ourselves eternally separated from His life and in outer darkness where there will be misery forever. With this thought in mind, we close this chapter with some thoughts from G. D. Watson. In speaking of “A Gentle Spirit,” he reminds us of the absolute necessity of yielding to the Spirit who was in Jesus. For “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” (Jam. 3:17)

…Unless we, from the bottom of our hearts, desire a gentle spirit, and then by the grace of God determine that we will have it, it is not likely that we will ever know its inexpressible blessedness.

It is possible for us to desire sanctification [to enter into the life of promise], and even resolve on having it, without involving the proper appreciation of having a soul filled with all the meekness and gentleness of Jesus. It is a law in the spiritual life that we get from God just about what we determine to have. It is amazing how God watches and honors the deep, serious determinations of the will of His creatures. Most men do not know that they determine to go to hell [and this includes many in the church], but such will be proved to be the fact in the Day of Judgment…

Every advance step in grace must be preceded by first apprehending it, and then a prayerful resolve to have it. Real gentleness is not a mere set of parlor manners that we can put off and on; it must be soaked into every fiber of our being, and must be drawn from a divine fountain.

So few are willing to undergo the suffering out of which gentleness comes. We must die before we are turned into gentleness. Crucifixion involves suffering, and it is not a painted death but a real breaking and crushing of self which wrings the heart and conquers the mind. There is a good deal of mere mental and logical sanctification nowadays which is only a religious fiction…such a one goes forth with a gay, flippant, theological prattle about the deep things of God; but the natural heartstrings have not been snapped, and the Adamic flint has not been ground to powder…and the beautiful self-constructed air castles have not been crushed to pieces. And not having the real death-marks of Calvary there cannot be that soft, gentle, floating, victorious, overflowing, triumphant life that flows out like a spring morning from an empty tomb…

To have a real gentle spirit there must not be the least secret feeling of anything bitter, or sour, or severe, or combative, or dictatorial, or a sitting in judgment, or religious braggadocio spirit. If we do not know how to suffer, then we will never know how to be gentle.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Desires For God ~ Steve Bray/G.D Watson

The believer who has been filled with Christ’s Spirit will continue to have a desire for more of the infinite life of God. It is this willingness to count “all things” as loss in order to know more of Him that becomes the one sure sign we are currently filled with His Spirit.

The soul continues to experience a sweet and deep inward rest during this stage of growth. The lines that had once bound the heart to shore have been cut. It is then that we find ourselves consistently moving forward into the fathomless and boundless ocean of God’s heavenly life.

There are people who profess full salvation who do not show this same desire. They seem to be content where they are. Even though every true Christian has the Spirit within them, and the Spirit will cause them to sense the need to become more like Christ, this desire has not taken full possession of their heart. There needs to be a “filling” with the Spirit before there can be continuous desire to count everything as loss to know more of Christ’s resurrection life and power. If this desire was once possessed and has been lost, it implies there has been a giving way to the devil’s temptations to use some of the temporal things of this world to feed the spiritual life.

Do not love the world or the things in the world… For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. (1 John 2:15-16)

Again, this deep desire for God Himself weans the soul from everything on earth more perfectly and more sweetly than anything else can do. It burns out attachments to property, earthly standing and even old friendships. It turns us away from the world and its things without putting any sourness or melancholy into the fountains of the heart.

The most effective means for leading Christians out from the world is by revealing to them the Pearl of Great Price. They need to see what Christ has promised to give. Only then will someone be willing to sell everything from their self-originated form of life in order to buy it.

Christ has come as the Messiah to reveal His heavenly life through His disciples to prove to the world He is the one true Savior. He comes to make us perfect in one “that the world may know” that He was sent by the Father to establish His heavenly kingdom. (John 17:23) Let us therefore press into all the fullness of this life of promise. It is when we are all sharing with Him in His life of divine love and living in a heavenly harmony with each other that the world will know that He is the true Savior. (John 17:22-23)

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col. 3:1-3)

Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. And they shall neither hunger anymore or thirst anymore…for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters… (Rev. 7:15-17)

Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14 NIV)

From the book: Living Through Christ