Some pride themselves in being realists and practical people. As people who are too real and in control to think of any higher form of being human as valid. I knew a fellow who described those emotionally in touch with themselves and others as ‘touchy-fealies.’ I wondered how much he had been loved, touched and felt as child because he seemed so robotic and in need of emotional healing. We all have equal value in Father’s eyes. All are equally loved. But some live in a lesser state of being because they choose to, or have been lied to. This is why Jesus came to set all captives free. Where His Spirit is there is liberty and life.
'He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free' Luke 4.18 NIV.
We become less than we are when we deny our humanity by accepting a kind of normal that kills a part of our being. The more we do this the more we walk around with dead bits as part of our life. Think of a person with areas of dead flesh on their body. Maybe think of a zombie. Think of Paul's question 'Who shall deliver us from this body of death?' The answer is Christ as our life.
The book Great Controversy indicates a false state of living and being. Its full title, The Great Controversy between Christ and Satan is the clue to the core assumption of the book and of Adventism. That we live in the knowledge of good and evil with a little assistance from Jesus. To live from the law is to live from Adam. But we are meant to live from the person of Jesus in the Spirit so that He Himself is our life. Jesus is not the means of instilling the law. There is no form of life and righteousness between God and ourselves. Jesus, the righteousness of God is in us and with us. He personally is our righteous life.
To live in anything less than the person of Jesus is to crucify Him anew, belittle His sacrifice and shrink ourselves to shadows of who we really are - sons and daughters of God. The sad thing about the Adventist is that he honestly believes he is a follower of God’s truth. Sadly what she follows is a cunningly devised fable.
There is a higher reality than the law, a far more vital state of being called 'life in the Spirit.' This is human life made more human because Christ is incarnate in us - the transfiguring of our being in an exchange in the Spirit which see's Jesus manifest as Jack and Mary. This is far more than a good deed effected or a wrong rejected. It is Christ come in the flesh. Your flesh. Ours is the reality of a personal Jesus who is our life and who lives in us by His Spirit. None who live from rules, ideas, prohibitions and injunctions can be as alive as those who live from the Spirit.
'He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life' 2 Cor 3.6 NIV.
Quite a few years ago we, with a small group of friends ‘came into the Spirit.’ This is to say we began to move from a life in the letter to a life in the Spirit of Christ. It came about due to our encounter with a charismatic church. There was Spirit and life present in that church that I had not encountered before. This was the presence of Jesus who is life itself. He is the Spirit of Life. The fact is that all that is genuinely alive is spirit. Jesus, as the Holy Spirit, is quite different to the muffled Jesus of the letter. One is He Himself. The other is about Him. Avoid the religion of ‘aboutism’ because it’s not alive.
Don’t think you have found life because you have departed Adventism and ensconced yourself in a church where the Spirit is absent and a form of godliness without power is the norm. Many churches who are not charismatic or Pentecost experience the presence and power of Holy Spirit today.
Many years before I had come across a friend who had been with a group of people when the Holy Spirit came. ‘God was really there!’ He reported excitedly. I listened but did not really understand what he meant. Several years later I experienced this for myself. One with an experience of God is never in the same place as one with beliefs about Him.
The presence of the Holy Spirit is not emotionalism or the product it. However He will fill us with the joy of the Lord that may be expressed with tears or dancing. There is an under-girding well-being in the Spirit of Christ that cannot be experienced in the letter. There is the new creation, life-emitting state of being Spirit-filled that surpasses any attempt to don a Holy Spirit hat while lumbering about in law dependent boots. The latter remain clogged with appendages of death that impeded their progress like a handicapped horse in the Melbourne Cup. It's not some spirit and some law. It's all spirit because the Spirit of Christ is the One in whom you live, move and have your being.
'Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation' Gal 6.15 NIV.
The presence of Jesus dissolves inhibitions and annuls religious misgivings. This can be a shock and an affront to those socialized into a religion of the head and middle class assumptions posing as godliness. How much, do your think our Christian life is actually our attachment to middle class expectations?
Then there are those whose encounter with the Holy Spirit impels them to seek more. The presence of God is addictive and meant to be so. His presence is life itself, life in person. For these people religion will never be enough and churches where this kind of presence is absent come to be avoided as the empty boxes they are. Never be a church planter who simply replaces Presence-empty boxes with a score of smaller god-empty boxes? People are looking for the water of life.
Why go to places where there is a notion of God when you can go to where His manifest presence is palpable and where people are being healed and hearing words from the Lord? There is a difference between knowing Jesus and being baptized with the Holy Spirit. The apostles ‘full of the Holy Ghost’ spoke words of life and continued the miracles of Jesus because Jesus was in them, empowering them with His might. Don’t leave your Jerusalem’s until you are baptized with power from on high. Filled with Jesus’ Spirit we will not bore people or multiply forms of godliness without power. We will raise dead people to life. Even the dead who don’t know they are dead!
We were looking today at some photos of people we once knew well. They took offence at our excitement and desire to share this new life of the Holy Spirit. Why would you not want others to have what you had found? Why would you not want your friends to experience the life of God in and among you? We weren’t oppressive. Yet more than one felt they were being judged. Aren’t we good enough as we are? Is there something limiting about ‘our way?’ The short answer to the last two questions is yes. Only the Spirit is without limit. Only Christ in you fills us with infinite possibility. We can make ‘a life’ out of church or we can possess the kind of infinite life of which I am speaking. Why? It is the inheritance of all Believers.
Maybe the Spirit-filled do sometimes judge. Yet those content with the letter of death judge as well. They project their offence onto the bearers of new life. What could have been an opportunity to enter new levels of life in Christ is lost in self-righteousness, judgment and accommodation to the ways of death.
‘And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him’ Matt 13.57 NIV.
A life formed in religion dulls our spirit. A law-based mind-set stunts our being. Only Christ makes us humble, flexible grafting into us new shoots of the tree of life with infinite potential. Wooden. What does that make you think of when applied to human beings? To me it means jerky movements, a dying tree, brittle twigs, Pinocchio with his stilted moves, living a lie that made him less than he was.
Some of our ‘offended friends’ departed God altogether, dropped off the vine so to speak. A religion about religion can disguise the fact that we were never joined to Christ in the first place and so when Jesus came among us we rejected in Him in favour of what we knew. The trouble is 'what we knew' was a form of godliness without power.
Others maintained their form of godliness without power and continued diligently attempting to make a life out of church. Others merge into a generalized notion of god plus their own works and version of the good life. They amalgamate into the general population of impotent people who were really born to be sons of the free woman. There is only one name, one Spirit and one Life that is alive and expels death. The life of God is specific. It is Jesus. The human face of the Father is Jesus and the executive officer of Jesus is the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes Jesus lives in you. Personally. He becomes you and you witness to His reality in the world by doing all that Jesus did. God loves people who reject His 'coming in the flesh' and has much more for them. But they remain encased in forms of religion that are appallingly pedestrian.