The most enjoyable thing about ‘coming into the spirit’ as it is called is the realisation that what was true for Jesus and the disciples is true for us. His power is not dead and we need not be confined to the pitiful task of trying to jolly up boring meetings.
Jack Deere spoke of Bible Deism. This is the practice of believing in a distant God who exercises a faint influence from afar; a god who has left us to ourselves to live out doctrines and Bible abstractions; to accomodate ourselves to a notion of god who is far away and pretty much as powerless as ourselves; a god who ‘helps those who help themselves’ and who has left us to make a god out of our good works and the Bible. Deere shows that many have made a pseudo-god out of the Bible and its study. It is as if the Bible has expanded to fill the spaces left by the absence of His Spirit. But doesn’t the Bible say the essence of truth is Christ come in you?
While this lack of an experience with God is the common experience of many, it is a grave misunderstanding about God and what He does in His Son. The core of God’s plan; of what is meant to be new testament living is Christ in us. Christ our life is the trinity incarnated in our being by the Spirit - a life of intimacy and union with God that is so close that the trinity is woven by the Spirit into our being. This is God’s plan for our normal experience.
If the incarnation is real and meant to be the experience of all, it is folly to say that an existence in which we never get to experience what is supernatural in the New Testament is what Jesus had in mind when He announced the beginning of His Kingdom. Yet Christian ideologues have maintained that the expectation of miracles and hearing God’s voice today is making a religion from ‘experience.’ Yet not surprising when it is clear that religion has been made from the absence of God. When God is not an objective reality in our life we must fall back on making a god out of morality and religious conformity. But this is making god out of ourselves.
‘I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist’ 2 John 1.7 NIV. Not only is Christ’s life our life. Our life is His. We are here to multiply His life in every way. This includes being transfigured with the fullness of God and doing as His Kingdom implies - healing the sick, raising the dead and casting out demons - so that people can see that God is real and that there is a real Kingdom of life that is greater than enduring adversity and which provides real hope beyond the grave. You can do better than model endurance. You can multiply what Jesus did.
‘On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20 NIV.
OUR NORMALITY IN HIM
In our trips to India, healing of body and limbs is common. We came to see healing as an ordinary result of an extraordinary life in the Holy Spirit. There is a life in the Spirit unknown to many who live a life of Bible study and church routine.
Then there is a life where one expects our normality to be identical with that of Jesus and the apostles. In this normality it is ordinary to heal people in Jesus’ name and be His representatives. This is a normality in which it is ordinary to move in the supernatural power of Jesus and Holy Spirit; where it is normal to be a representative of our Father as was Jesus.
‘I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father’ John 14.12 NIV.
This normality is ours when Christ is our life and we are baptised with the Holy Spirit. Both are things we can agree with rather than strive for. Yet our agreement should be specific and something we step into. We live to multiply what He began.
Spirit baptism was enjoined by Jesus and is a must if we would reign over circumstances and the Enemy.
SHADOW AND REAL
The difference between a Believer baptised and living in the power of Holy Spirit and one who does not so live is the difference between a shadow and the real. But this is not what Paul was talking about when he made this remark about the the shadow being mere shadows and the reality being Christ. He was talking of those who insisted on living from laws, times, days and rites when they now had the privilege of possessing Him as their life. Such shadows leave us separated from God. We live in the shadows and not in the light.
They are a life of separation lived in the name of God in ignorance of what God has done - joined us to Himself and made the two one. So this life in the Spirit is more than gifts and prophetic utterance. It is union with God. This is ours when Christ is our life. Not ours when law and religion is our life.
‘Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life’ 1 John 5.12 NIV.
CHRIST AS YOU
Christ our life is more than a pious utterance or a doctrinal position. It means the one who created the universe, who holds it together giving it meaning and purpose, is living in our being and imparting Himself to to us. Not only are we joined to the creator and sustainer of all that is. Because He is in us we are aligned with the correct identity, function and purpose of society and nature. Christ in us becomes the world in Christ and the conforming of the world to the Spirit of Life. This is why legalism is so puerile in comparison to the new covenant where Christ our life is new creation hope and transformation.
‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!’ Gal 2.20,21 NIV.
Righteousness cannot be gained through the law because life does not come through the law. Righteousness is a function of life and of love.
In Jesus one is possessed by our Father as a son. This is love. In Jesus we are sons in spirit and in truth. In old covenant mode we are sons in theory. It is our joining to Father as sons in the Spirit of Sonship that is the difference between old and new covenant. In the old we are the alienated children of Eve’s Adam. In the new we are children of Father’s new Adam - the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus and Father are one. You and Father are one. To see Jesus is to see our Father. To see Jesus is also to see you. Jesus is the new Father of the human race. He is Father of the new creation. He declares His life by living that life in you!
‘All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you’ John 16.15 ESV.
FATHER AND GARDEN
Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, which is to say you are the expression of Him. In Jesus we are rooted in the trinity and with heaven. It is our joining to God in the Spirit of Sonship, our being made one with Father that is the hope of the world. This union is the source of the spirit and life that flows through us as it did through Jesus. It is the soil of the Spirit of Sonship out of which flows the spirit without limit, the gifts and the anointing. But more importantly than these it is the Source of the life of God in people.
VINE AND BRANCHES
I want you to see that union with Father is the ground of our being sons. Being sons in spirit and in truth, we are vessels that are able to be Spirit-filled. We can receive and sustain the gifts of the Spirit and we maintain the authority to multiply what Jesus began through prophetic words, signs and healing miracles. Fullness in Christ comes from our rootedness in Father - not from everyone operating in spiritual gifts. This is not what Paul means in Ephesians. If it is Paul is disagreeing with himself. Fullness in Christ is no more a function of supernatural works than it is of any kind of works. Both, unjoined to Father, are dead works. We impart spirit and life as sons of Father, never as sons of the law.
‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you--they are full of the Spirit and life’ John 6.63 NIV.
Jesus gave a man a picture of an old truck with a new coat of paint. He was drawing attention to what had happened in the community. People had received the Spirit but had remained glued to the law and old covenant. In the new covenant we are a new truck with a new engine and tray.
‘But the people's minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ’ 2 Cor 3.14 NIV.
One can be attached to our Christ who is not the Christ of God - not God’s Christ in that He is not who Jesus really is and what He has accomplished. He is a truncated Christ. There can be a ‘charismatic life’ that knows little of the new covenant and which exists as a thing in itself, as though it is the main event. It is the kind of charisma that always fades because it has no root and cannot sustain healing, wholeness and life.
‘Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow’ Mark 4.5 NIV.
The main event is our union with God courtesy of the atonement who is the person of Jesus. Jesus Himself is our at-one-ment. Our union is more than the connection of a carriage to a locomotive. It is a communion that is alive. It is Christ in you and more. It is the trinity taken up residence in your being.
The other side of this coin is you in Christ. Because we are in Jesus we are participating in the life of the trinity. We are there because we belong. Just as we did not chose to be participants in Adam’s death so we did not chose to participate in the Last Adam’s life. But we do and it is the gift of God. This is our life, our possession and our inheritance and not because of anything we have done. Live in what is yours and flourish in your union with God. Here you have a knowing and being that is woven into your spirit and soul. It is because you are sons and daughters of God.
This knowing comes from God’s being and your being in God. In Christ you are in God because He is fully man and fully God.
‘All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’ Matt 11.27 NIV.
This communion is the spirit of sonship and the reason our heart knows Father’s heart. It is the revelation of Jesus. This is a deeper communion than ’words’ and visions. Yet it is the basis of them. It is being part of God as a daughter and a son. It is you sharing what Father knows and who He is because your heart and His heart are one. But more than this it is you sharing Father and He sharing you. This is sonship in spirit and in truth.
THE MAIN THINGS
A charismatic culture is never a replacement or a substitute for new covenant union with God. It is the fruit of the new covenant. Life in the Spirit grows from our new covenant union with God. This is you in our Father and our Father in you.
The life of the Spirit will not grow from a legalistic base. Or anything not God. It cannot be sustained from the law and a culture of morality and performance. Performance and observance will never heal those who need healing from emotional disease. It may well make such disease worse. Why? Because we have not disengaged from the body of death that is the law of sin and death. Spirit and flesh are innately in conflict. The forces generated will inevitably make us more irritated and emotionally diseased or draw us in to passivism.
A culture of charisma operating in separation can be delusional as well as irritating to others. Some versions of ‘seeking the presence’ are an exercise in travailing for what we already have - union with God.
Revelation is attracted to humility and grace. Some practices are irritating not because the gifts are carnal but because people are. It’s difficult to have a conversation with a ‘God told me so’ person as you find yourself seemingly pitted against God. Or against a person who thinks he is. There is a simple-mindedness that has less to do with the innocence of a little child and more to do with ignorance and low lack of humility. The humble listen more than they talk and consequently learn more.
Words of prophecy and ‘God told me so’ statements blurted out as things in themselves, disconnected from new covenant union with God can be flaky, contradictory, un-Biblical and just plain wrong.
REST AND REVELATION
The anointing of the Spirit is one with the spirit of sonship. It is the spirit of sonship. This is the effect of our life in the trinity and heaven in you. It is you having your life, actions and being in Father. We are at rest and at peace. Genuine rest is a state of being - not a day or a place.
In Father we know and perceive things in our union. They seep into our soul from a spirit joined to Father. We need not always be told things specifically although we can be. Revelation seeps into our being because we are part of Jesus, part of Father and part of Holy Spirit. We and Father are one. We have the mind of Christ.
Knowing God and His heart is more a function of the new covenant than it is of the gifts themselves. It is the basis of the gifts. This is why the best words from God come from us when we are at peace and at rest in Father rather than straining to release a word because we have been ‘activated.’ The latter sometimes need to be recognised for what they often are - nonsense.
God agrees with Himself and we should do our best to agree with Him. Knowing one’s Bible is a firm foundation. And the ability to interpret and apply what one has heard is important if one is not to lead oneself astray, confuse the naive and end up being ignored by those humbler and wiser than ourselves.
Wisdom is known for itself as is vanity and folly. This is why Christ must be our life and why we should avoid making a life out of some aspect of His life. When we came into the Spirit and discovered the gifts we were excited and enthusiastic about them. The Lord spoke to one of us and said that He and not the gifts are the main deal as He has indicated in John 15. The gifts are exciting and encouraging and meant to be. But Christ our life is our life in fullness and eternity. As Paul taught,
‘Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness’ Col 2.7 NIV.