by Wade E Taylor
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things says He that has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know your works, that you have a name that you live, and are dead.” Revelation 3:1
There were those in the church at Sardis who appeared to be spiritually alive, but the Lord saw them as being dead. This can be applied to those in the Body of Christ who are saved, but satisfied with all that the Lord accomplished on the cross in their behalf (their judicial relationship to the Lord), but they have not been willing to come under the power of the cross to change their lives (their experiential relationship to the Lord).
“Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel you to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” Revelation 3:17-18
Judicially, through that which Jesus accomplished on the cross, we are seen by the Lord as being perfect and mature, as though we had never sinned. But, experientially, we are seen as being a baby who needs to grow and develop – “Be clothed… that the shame of your nakedness do not appear.”
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere (pure) milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. If so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as to a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious.” I Peter 2:2-4
The written, eternal Word is intended to become a personal reality within us, and so change us that we reflect the life and nature of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our having the “right” beliefs, and attending the “right” Church is good, but it is not enough.
The Lord does not look at our judicial position. Rather, He looks at what has been accomplished within us (If so be you have tasted) – our being changed into His image and likeness.
“But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses to Me….” Acts 1:8
The Lord has given us the ability (you shall receive power) for this to be accomplished. This “power” is received through our experiencing the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit.” This experience of being immersed in the Holy Spirit is not given so we can “do” witnessing, as is commonly taught. Rather, it is the ability to become spiritually mature, as we ourselves are to “be” this witness.
Jesus responds to those who are seeking to go beyond judicial, positional truth, and enter into an active experiential personal relationship with Him (our being a living stone). Thus, He views those who remain satisfied with merely the externals (their judicial position), as being dead.
“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant.” Psalm 25:14
This “fear” relates to our having a respect for the Lord and for His presence. Included in this is our having reverence in the assembly when we meet. Rather than talking, we should be waiting on the Lord, in anticipation of His becoming experientially present with us.
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
This requires of us a personal discipline, so our actions will indicate that we respect the Lord and greatly value His presence. Therefore, when we enter a meeting, it is very important that we maintain an upward poise of our spirits in expectancy (our being spiritually sensitive), and that we respond to the slightest indication of His presence.
As we practice this “respect” in anticipation, the Lord will “show us His covenant.” In the manifested presence of the Lord, we will receive fresh unfolding revelation, as the written word becomes a personal reality in our spiritual life experience.
All too often, we use the time prior to the beginning of a gathering for fellowship with each other. Our doing this does not indicate to the Lord that we value, or respect His presence. Rather, we should prepare ourselves to believe for, and enter into the manifest presence of the Lord.
It is our respect for the presence of the Lord, especially when we feel no presence, or, when we are feeling the least spiritual, that really counts, rather than what we do during times of intense blessing. When the Lord so moves in a gathering that we feel the glow of His presence, it is easy for us to respond and promise Him all kinds of things. However, most of these commitments are soon forgotten.
To be effective in any area of testimony or ministry, we must have a vital personal relationship with the Lord, in which we value and are responsive to His presence and to His dealings. Some tend to dwell on the problems within the lives of others, while neglecting their own relationship with the Lord. They then wonder why their words of correction to others are not effective, little realizing that their own problems speak louder than their words.
For correction to be acceptable, it must come from the heart of one who exhibits personal concern and understanding, because they themselves have gained a victory in a similar area. Only then are we able to show mercy and love.
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” II Corinthians 1:3-4
As we rightly respond to situations that the Lord places in our path (often for the benefit of another), then we will have both the compassion and understanding to help others (by the comfort wherewith we ourselves have been comforted by the Lord).
This means that we have entered into an active, present, experiential relationship with our Lord, in which He is able to prepare us for each situation that we will face.
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things says He that is holy, He that is true, He that has the key of David, He that opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens; I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” Revelation 3:7-8
“I have set before you an open door.” This speaks of divine favor (an open heaven over us), in which we experience the manifest presence of Jesus resting upon us, and His blessing and provision concerning all that pertains to us.
Now, we are spiritually alive.
May each of us be found among these who have become the expression of the life and ministry of Jesus in our day and time.