In the 48 years since I was first ambushed by Jesus, in a little chapel in the Allegheny Mountains of Western Pennsylvania, and in literally thousands of hours of prayers, meditation, silence and solitude over those years, I am now utterly convinced that on Judgment Day the Lord Jesus is going to ask each of us one question and only one question,
“Did you believe that I loved you? That I desired you? That I waited for you day after day? That I longed to hear the sound of your voice?”
The real believers there will answer, “Yes, Jesus, I believed in your love and I tried to shape my life as a response to it.”
But many of us who are so faithful in our ministry, in our practice, in our churchgoing, are gonna have to reply, “Well frankly, no, sir. I mean I never really believed it. I mean I heard a lot of wonderful sermons and teachings about it. In fact, I gave quite a few myself. But I always thought that was just a way of speaking, a kindly lie, some Christian’s pious pat on the back to cheer me on.”
And there’s the difference between the real believers and the nominal Christians that are found in our churches across the land.
No one can measure like a believer the depth and the intensity of God’s love, but at the same time no one can measure like a believer the effectiveness of our gloom, pessimism, low self-esteem, self-hatred and despair that block God’s way to us.
Do you see why it is so important to lay hold of this basic truth of our faith? Because you’re only going to be as big as your own concept of God.
I was pondering over the first four verses in 1 John (1 John 1:1-4).
Jesus is what eternal life looks like (v. 2) as it is being lived. To bring others to the experience of Jesus is to complete the joy of faith (v. 4) and to taste eternal life now.
This kind of life is not jut a matter of duration, but a matter of quality and content. Life that goes on forever — is allowed to go on — has certain qualities like righteousness, compassion, justice and love. Lives of selfishness, malice, cruelty and hatred — that kind of life is not eternal but temporal, temporary. Moreover, it leads to eternal death.
Walking in the Spirit is not a new set of religious activities and experiences. It is learning to be led by the internal presence of the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit. It is learning to walk in the rhythm of a ‘will’ that differs with your own, and deferring to Him as His will is discerned. It becomes a transition of leadership from the soul to the Spirit; having the life of the Lord Jesus reproduced in me and through me rather than walking according to the thoughts and inclinations of the flesh. The new life of the Spirit grows and becomes evident progressively within us; until the likeness of Christ is fully formed within.
Walking in the Spirit is to be constantly conducting ourselves in the sphere of the Spirit (as though you were continually in His imminent presence). That is, determine every thought, word, and deed by the leading of the Spirit through the Word, and think every thought, speak every word, and do every deed, in an attitude of entire dependence upon the Holy Spirit’s empowering energy.
” But I say, through the instrumentality of the Spirit habitually order your manner of life, and you will in no wise execute the passionate desire of the evil nature, for the evil nature constantly has a strong desire to suppress the Spirit, and the Spirit constantly has a strong desire to suppress the evil nature. And these are entrenched in an attitude of mutual opposition to one another so that you may not do the things you desire to do” (expanded version of New Testament- Kenneth Wuest).
Screwtape, a chief tempter, imparts wisdom to his apprentice devil, Wormwood:
…[T]he prayers offered in a state of dryness are those which please Him best … Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.