by Wade E Taylor
Many of us have formed an opinion of how a particular person, whom we have never seen, looks. Then when we met them, they looked totally different than we had thought. This is due to a “perceived” knowledge from which we formed an opinion without “experientially” knowing them.
Our spiritual journey began when we accepted Jesus as our Savior. We had information about Jesus being our Savior, but we did not personally know Him. But, there was more in our being redeemed than we realized. Through “regeneration,” we became a new creation, and there was placed within us the desire to personally know the One who had redeemed us.
Because of this, we can, with the Apostle Paul, say:
“I long to know Christ and the power which is in His resurrection, and to share in His sufferings and die even as He died; in the hope that I may attain to the resurrection from among the dead. I do not say that I have already won the race or have already reached perfection. But I am pressing on, striving to lay hold of the prize for which also Christ has laid hold of me.” Philippians 3:10-12 Weymouth
It is possible for us to be distracted from attaining this goal by seeking to understand who the antichrist might be, or what will happen to those who never heard the Gospel. We are not called to understand these things. Rather, we are called to come to personally know Jesus.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
We must rest in the fact that the Lord, in His time and way, will reveal the things that we should know and understand. If we understood God, He would be no bigger than our understanding. This indeed would be a very small God.
As we devotionally spend time with the Lord, in worship and waiting upon Him, we will receive spiritual nurturing and understanding that will establish us upon a rock-solid doctrinal foundation, but will also take us into the deeper things of the Spirit.
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.” Hebrews 6:1 ESV
There is a “deep” within the heart of God, an eternal desire, which will stir us to seek to better know Him.
“Deep unto deep is calling. At the noise of Your water-spouts, all of Your breakers and Your billows passed over me.” Psalm 42:7 YLT
Even though we may not be aware that a “deep” desire to personally know Jesus is within us, it is there. When we are being stirred by the Lord, there is the ever present danger that we will seek some other means to satisfy it. We may become so taken up with searching for information about the Lord that we will miss His gentle knock upon the door of our spirit, as the Lord seeks to make Himself personally known to us. Thus, we stop short of “experiential” knowledge.
“When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, will You at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6
These disciples were seeking the external, rather than a change within themselves. Many today are doing the same, seeking information or an adjustment concerning their personal needs or their relationship with others, rather than facing their real need, which is within.
The Apostle Paul saw beyond the desires and limitations of his natural life, and reached for the higher – that which is eternal. Although he had counted all things but loss, the time came when he could say, “I have suffered the loss of all things.”
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Philippians 3:7-8
He was able to accept this loss because all that he had desired was now being lifted from the natural realm into the spiritual, in which he could find the satisfaction that he so intensely sought.
John W Follette, who never married, had a unique relationship with the Lord. While in his home one time, I noticed that he had placed three settings on the table, when only he and I were present. When I asked him why, he said, “I always set a place for the Lord, then I invite Him to sit at the table with me, while I partake of my meal.”
He was able in a practical, yet profound way, to fellowship with the Lord even during the necessary functions of life. He found and entered into that for which he had been created.
“When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, will You at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And He said to them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in His own power. But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:6-8
The disciples had asked Jesus about the Kingdom being restored to Israel. He answered, “It is not for you to know the times and seasons, but….” This word “but” is a major point of transition. The Lord directed their attention to a present work that would inwardly change them, in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom.
As Jesus came up out of the waters of baptism, the heavens opened and His Father said, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Immediately, “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the Devil.” After this, the Word tells us that “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:1-2, 14).
Notice that He had gone into the wilderness in the “fullness” of the Spirit, but returned in the “power” of the Spirit. Jesus said, “You shall be witnesses.” He did not say, “You will receive power to do witnessing.”
Rather, this “power” is the result of a right response to our being tested and proven. To be tested and come through victoriously will produce this empowering, which is broad in its scope, and creates within us the ability to go deeper into personally knowing the Lord, and into the deeper realms of spirituality.
Thus, the King James rightly translates Acts 1:8. “You shall receive power after….”
As we obey the Lord, the result of our obedience will produce within us “grace” in the form of “enabling strength,” which will make it yet easier for us to obey. If we disobey, it becomes easier for us to again disobey, as we become “hardened,” and progressively it becomes more difficult to hear His voice or His convicting presence.
Our obeying the Lord and receiving His blessing does not mean that we will never again have a problem. After experiencing a time of remarkable blessings and provisions, things may get worse. The Lord will test us to see if we are capable of rightly handling what we have received, and if He might trust us with more.
We were told that we are to “be” a witness. In the original, this word “witness” can be translated “martyr.” As we die to our self-life, the life of Jesus will be seen through our lives, and others will receive comfort, strength, and healing.
And also, we will have entered into the “depths” of a personal relationship with Jesus, as we have rightly heard and responded to the “deep” eternal desire that is within Him.
This is the result of what we have become, not what we are doing.