The Spirit of the Word 2
“The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”– Jesus
“The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.”– Paul
|“Letters of Truth” (1)|
by Ray and Doris Prinzing
No. 223 – April, 1996
MANIFOLD GRACE for manifold trials
Peter writes that “for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through MANIFOLD temptations (trials).” (1 Peter 1:6). And then he also writes of our being “good stewards of the MANIFOLD grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10).
Two things– MANIFOLD TRIALS set over against, or requiring MANIFOLD GRACE.
Manifold– the Greek word used here is “poikilos ” and means: numerous and, varied, divers; many-fold. It bespeaks of that which is of every hue and color, size, quantity, with the emphasis being on diversity more than just on numbers. Thus Wuest translates the two points as: “many different kinds of testings,” and “the variegated grace of God.”
Though only translated twice as “manifold” it is used eight times in the Scripture as “divers.” It is a marvellous thing to contemplate– that no matter how diverse the temptations and trials that may befall us, no matter how variegated and multiplied, yet GRACE faces every test with superabounding sufficiency, and ultimately secures the victory. As goes the chorus:
“His grace is sufficient for all my need,
His grace is sufficient for all my need,
No matter how great, no matter how small,
His grace is sufficient for them all.”
While the context of the verse (1 Peter 4:10), is dealing with our service, yet we would lend our emphasis to the GRACE FACTOR more than our being His stewards of that grace. The wonderful truth is that His GRACE IS MANIFOLD! Phillips reads: “Serve one another with the particular gifts God has given each of you, as faithful dispensers of the magnificently varied grace of God.” The very diversity of ministries, and the operation of God’s gifts through each of us, reveals again how varied are the graces of our God. HIS GRACE can flow through each of us, adapted to our need, corresponding to the work of God in us– and yet becoming the exact confirmation which helps another as we share these workings of grace within. Yet so varied and glorious is HIS GRACE that it takes the WHOLE BODY to express even in a small measure some of its wonders. And then “In the ages to come He will shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:7).
While you may consider yourself to be a vessel so different from others, an individual with little to offer anyone else, for your life is commonplace and your experiences seem not to be noteworthy– yet when God has finished His work of grace in your life, be assured that as you become A DISPLAY VESSEL OF HIS GRACE, there are others that will identify with, and need that portion of grace which you alone can share. You may muddle through the activities of your day– routine and mundane– and you may desire much more of God to satisfy your thirsty heart, and never have a dream, vision, or brilliant flash of revelation, so you plod along praying, trusting, and just believing that God will finish in you what He has begun. But beloved friend, let me assure you, GOD HAS A SPECIAL GRACE THAT MATCHES YOUR NEEDS, grace that is uniquely fitted to your life– so that you shall be found to His glory and praise. AND, in His own time and way, cause you to bless others who can relate to, and need the confirmation of your processing.
The Scriptures also tell us that God purposes to reveal through His church (called out ones), “the manifold wisdom of God.” (Eph. 3:10). Here we have the word “poikilos” prefixed with “polu” meaning “great, many, much,” thus it increases the meaning of “manifold” to “VERY MANIFOLD.” Marked with a great variety of colors, glorious in every way beyond all description, and as far beyond our finite comprehension as the heavens are above the earth. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:9). Truly the wisdom of God is beyond our words– HE is altogether wonderful! Yet when it comes to our believing and receiving, how often we limit God to just a certain method of working, and then proceed to try and fit everybody else into our little mold, and our strait-jacket doctrine. It is simply amazing how narrow and judgmental we can become. So it comes as a sweet refreshing to have the holy Spirit focus our attention on the MANIFOLD grace of God. For however varied our situations might be, He has a corresponding grace that fits the occasion perfectly.
“Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with DIVERS diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them.” (Matt. 4 : 23-24). The diseases were manifold, of every description and kind. Physically, mentally, spiritually, in every realm they were desperately in need of His grace. But it mattered not how diverse the illness, nor how long the condition had existed– THE MANIFOLD GRACE OF GOD was/is equal to the challenge. Grace walked among them, personified in our Lord!
Mark 1:34 speaks of the same thing– “He healed many that were sick of DIVERS diseases, and cast out many devils…”
Likewise Luke gives his account, “When the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with DIVERS diseases brought them unto Him; and He laid His hands en every one of them, and healed them.” (Luke 4:40). Matthew, Mark, and Luke all had to speak of these “DIVERS diseases.” It would be almost overwhelming to see the multitudes press in with their sick– every kink of sickness and disease that could be mentioned, and yet THE MASTER healed them. No wonder each of these three men had to specially record the fact. It was not a question of how severe the disease might be nor even how many afflictions were in one person. Some had manifold problems– but GRACE was more than equal to the challenge. Manifold grace brought manifold healing, rebounding to the glory of God. Here was SALVATION– “spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him; God also bearing witness, both with signs and wonders, and with DIVERS MIRACLES, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will.” (Hebrews 2:3-4).
How marvelous– not only were there manifold diseases, but there were manifold miracles. The miracles were as variegated as the disease– and let it be emphasized again and again– whatever the need, great or small, natural or spiritual, grace is able to wrap around the situation and bring forth a victory that superabounds to the glory of God. Yet again and again it can be said of mankind, as it was of Israel of old, “Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.” (Psalm 78:41).
What is your dis-ease? Our English word literally means: lack of ease, discomfort, thus, a condition in which bodily comfort is impaired; sickness or an affliction, etc. Yet, whether it be physical illness, mental fatigue, a restless spirit, or yet that malady of mankind, boredom, whatever it is, so that you have a LACK OF EASE— Grace is greater! Thus the Psalmist was able to declare, “Who healeth all thy diseases.” (Psalm 103:3).
In his translation, Ferrar Fenton gives a beautiful rendering: “And all my depravities cured.” Disease, or dis-ease has reached into every avenue of our being, body, soul, spirit. The depravity of man is exceedingly great, for “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Nevertheless, because of His MANIFOLD GRACE all thy diseases can be cured. Certainly this goes far beyond the pain and the distress of the physical body. Disease is often rooted in the soul, or in the spirit. Some root of bitterness, jealousy, envy, unforgiveness– the list could be expanded manifold– for these depravities of soul and spirit cause more DIVERS DISEASES than all the germs and viruses of our times. The manifold grace of God can deliver us from all “dis-ease of the heart,” and bring us into a realm of peace and rest in Him, for He is our Salvation!
Then Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:6 of those who are “led away with DIVERS lusts.” Again in Titus 3:3, he writes, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving DIVERS LUSTS AND PLEASURES, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” But, praise God, he writes on that “the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man hath appeared,” so that we are “justified by His grace.” (verses 4, and 7).
Divers lusts and pleasures– the word “lusts” is the Greek work “epithumia” and literally means: AN OVER-DESIRE. To set the heart upon, long for, (be it rightfully, or otherwise.) But the usual thought is an intense longing for the forbidden, and so it takes on a very negative aspect. While the word “pleasure” used in this verse is “hedone,” bespeaking sensual living. It is the word from which we get our English “hedonism” which emphasizes that the sole good in life is gratification of pleasure seeking instincts and dispositions– lustful pleasure is its lifestyle.
DIVERS LUSTS— lust for power, lust for possessions, lust for finances, a lust for recognition/fame, or lust for physical things– food, drink, sex. It is an OVER-DESIRE that rages like a burning inferno within, driving one to “go for it” regardless, yea, oblivious of the cost of home, or family, relationships, personal health, etc. Self-centered, lustfully craving for more and more. Yet, diverse as these desires/lusts/pleasures might be, named or unnamed, GOD HAS A GRACE THAT IS ABLE TO TAKE THAT PROPENSITY and conquer it, and turn all negatives into positives.
“Who forgiveth all thine iniquities.” (Psalm 103:3). We are so prone to magnify the sin, the corruption, the guilt of mankind. That the cup of iniquity is full and overflowing, we know, but the more important fact is not the amount of sin, but the FORGIVENESS which our God gives, and the FACT that “where sin abounds, grace doth MUCH MORE abound.” (Romans 5:20).
GRACE doth much more abound. The absolute certainty of total eradication of all evil is irrefutable. All sin shall be dealt with, all evil purged from the universe. Thus, while there is no escape from the wrath of God, neither is there any escape from His grace– for at Calvary He demonstrated how completely He gave Himself for us, IN GRACE that shall embrace all creation. But then Paul introduces a new dimension, A MUCH MORE realm. Whatever the offence, His righteousness was MUCH MORE. And as Paul works his way through the chapter, you come to this 20th verse, that while sin may abound, “grace doth MUCH MORE ABOUND.” Greek word is “huperperisseuo” and means: to be over and above a certain number or measure,” thus “to superabound.” Where sin increased, grace SUPER ABOUNDED, and then some on top of that! It was not just measure for measure– but the MANIFOLD GRACE OF GOD came in from all sides, and in a beautiful operation conquered all.
One could easily get distressed by all the DEPRAVITIES of malice, envy, being hateful, etc. all of these negatives that destroy the soul, and cause everyone around you to be miserable also. But, set over against all these things, we have THE MANIFOLD GRACE OF GOD. Thus Paul was also able to write that we are “justified by His grace.” GRACE can meet the challenge of every negative trait and character flaw in man. Justification is far more than what is usually taught– it bespeaks of our receiving HIS SINLESS LIFE.
Justification is a declaration of NOT GUILTY, of being right, of never having sinned. It is neither forgiveness nor pardon. While grace can do both– forgive, and pardon, yet it also can do MUCH MORE. Forgiveness, of necessity, is a recognition of guilt, but justification is being declared righteous. And it certainly does not mean, as is so often taught “just-as-if-I’ve-never-sinned.” For the clear implication is that we have, but it will be as if we have not. The word JUSTIFIED does not allow that. It means NEVER BEEN GUILTY TO BEGIN WITH. True, we can be FORGIVEN/PARDONED for our sins — that, too, is an in working of grace, losing us from the old, while we are being prepared for the new. “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Eph. 1:7). Grace makes it possible that “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17). But there is ONLY ONE LIFE that can truly, fully be declared as RIGHTEOUS, and that is God’s life, as revealed through Jesus Christ. Thus GRACE IMPARTS HIS LIFE TO US, a sin-free life, which becomes ours IN HIM, and then it can be said that we have a LIFE WITHIN that has never been guilty. “Who knew no sin; that we might be made (become) the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21).
“For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” (Rom. 5:15).
Interesting to observe that while all Christendom will acknowledge that by one man (Adam), and his offence, death passed upon all men, yet they cannot accept the glorious fact that MUCH MORE the grace of God shall abound to all men. Thus they imply that the sin of Adam was greater than the TRIUMPH OF CHRIST at Calvary. Methinks they know very little of the manifold grace of God. For the free gift of His righteousness is not the same as the sin/ offence. One act of disobedience brought us into condemnation. But by the time the free gift of God came on the scene there wasn’t just one offence, to take care of, but now it must cover manifold offenses and a multitude of sins. Therefore how much greater is this manifold grace, able to go beyond all sin and gain the victory, until all shall have received His life.
No wonder Peter writes that we need to be “good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” We have been very poor stewards of even the message of His grace. But now, may He help us to freely share whatever grace has worked in us, that we might bless others with that which has blessed us.
Oh, that we could say with Paul, “I do not frustrate the grace of God.” (Gal. 2:21). Frustrate– Greek is “atheteo” meaning: to put aside, to belittle, to think down, despise. Everywhere grace is belittled, while men think down its accomplishment, and magnify the ability of evil. It is time to declare the unsearchable riches of His MANIFOLD grace– that it is more than equal to every need and requirement.
“Be not carried away with DIVERS AND STRANGE DOCTRINES. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.” (Heb. 13:9). Now we have another negative realm to be set over against His manifold grace, and that is the manifold strange doctrines. That the wild winds of very strange doctrine are blowing, none will deny– there is a carnal, perverted, error of doctrine for every proclivity in man– so that they can justify every sinful lust and desire, as they make excuses to satisfy their flesh. But we need not be afraid of these teachings when our heart is established with grace. The manifold grace of God will hold us strong in His truth.
Phillips translation puts it in the language of our day. “Do not be swept off your feet by various peculiar teachings. Spiritual stability depends on the grace of God, and not on rules of diet– which after all have not spiritually benefited those who have made a specialty of that kind of thing.” Amen! And let it be repeated, SPIRITUAL STABILITY DEPENDS ON THE MANIFOLD GRACE OF GOD, not on self-imposed works. Certainly a proper diet will keep you healthier, but it won’t make you spiritual. God’s grace can guide you in your eating habits, without you making it the paramount issue of the day. But the divers peculiar teachings of the day delve into far more insidious things, as they seek to seduce the mind and spirit of man, and bring them into their control. There are doctrines of angels, there are doctrines of devils– anything that will distract you from holding to the centrality of Christ. There are strange doctrines that would lead you away from the in working of His cross, with death to self. There are those who build up a self-image to which they bow in worship. They think they are more spiritual as they tread on the sacred teachings of the Word, and use them for self-enhancement. But the manifold grace of God will answer all of these doctrines– purging and purifying, until He alone is exalted.
And now we come to the last time that the word DIVERS (manifold) is used in the Scripture (apart from the 2 times in Peter’s Epistles that are given as ‘manifold’ which we used for our text). James writes: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into DIVERS TEMPTATIONS.” (James 1:2). Praise God, there is manifold grace for manifold temptations!
The word “temptations” comes from the Greek “peirasmos” which refers both to trials and testings, including solicitations to do evil, in short, to all that goes to furnish a test of character. The trials may come directly from God, or may be the result of our own wrong doing. The solicitations to do evil come from the world, the evil nature, or on rare occasions, from satan. But God ever retains control– thus, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain.” (Ps. 75:10). IF HE DOES NOT PURPOSE TO USE IT, and WORK IT INTO GOOD, He restrains it.
Psalm 95:8 refers to when Israel was “in the day of temptation in the wilderness.” And in Deuteronomy 8:2, they were told that “The Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no.” So, it reads on, God “humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger…” What a temptation! Yet Grace is manifold, and equal to such a need, and so He “fed thee with manna…” Grace provides! And to what purpose? “That He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord.” Not only were they fed, but they were clothed! What a new working of grace, as “Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.” When they rebelled against Him, He chastened them! Truly the wilderness was a place of TESTING— and a revelation of God’s grace! “For no temptation– no trial regarded as enticing to sin (no matter how it comes or where it leads) – has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man – that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear. BUT GOD IS FAITHFUL (to His Word and to His compassionate nature), and He (can be trusted) not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will always also provide the way out – the means of escape to a landing place – that you may be capable and strong and powerful patiently to bear up under it.” (1 Cor. 10:13, Amplified). Shout it loud and clear, here is MANIFOLD GRACE readied to face every trial and testing that might come your way. God is good:
So, Peter did not write amiss, when He said, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice…” (1 Peter 4:12-13). These are God-appointed processings to develop us, and bring forth a mature stature. Yet to think that we can also REJOICE because of our tests and trials, is one more testimony of the marvelous undergirding of the manifold grace of God. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation (testing): for when He is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.” (James 1:12). Endureth– “hupomeno” and means: REMAIN UNDER! No escapism here– no running away, no squirming out of it– but by the grace of God we remain focused on Him while He completes His in working. When he is tried– that we must be tried, and found approved, there is no doubt. The figure is used of gold that is assayed for its purity. Thank God, because of His INDWELLING RIGHTEOUSNESS, the quality shall be just as He purposed. It is because of THE MANIFOLD GRACE OF GOD, that it can be said, “The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold.” (Lam. 4:2).
How manifold the grace of God extended unto men,
It goes beyond the words we write, transcending tongue and pen.
There’s saving grace– He doth forgive– to save us from our sin,
And then impart His righteousness, a new life to begin.
There’s keeping grace that He doth give to undergird thy day,
That when there’s pressure crowding in, He is thy strength and stay.
There’s traveling grace that’s measured out according to thy way,
Thy going out, and coming in, are all within His sway.
There’s healing grace for every ill, diseases manifold,
And when we’re caught in sickness sore, by grace He doth uphold.
There’s grace when families go astray, to seek for worldly gain,
And when, in time, it comes to nought, His grace can match the pain.
So many things are manifold, the lusts and pleasures, too,
But grace will share with us His cross, and holiness pursue.
The strangest doctrine winds do blow, and some go with the sail,
But those established by His grace, shall over such prevail.
Though divers trials come thy way, to test to inmost core,
Praise God for this the truth we hear, His grace aboundeth more. Amen!
(1) Prinzing, Ray and Doris “Letters of Truth” Boise, Idaho 83705, P.O. Box 5822
The Spirit of the Word
“The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”– Jesus
“The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.”– Paul
|“Letters of Truth” (1)|
by Ray and Doris Prinzing
No. 228 – June, 1996
Losing our self-life, and finding HIS LIFE
Matthew 10:39, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.”
The Greek word used here for “life” is “psuche.” The corresponding Hebrew word is “nephesh,” and means: a breathing one. It bespeaks of the soulish realm, the self-life, embracing the mind and personality, the feelings and desires, affections and aversions, which you, as a breathing one, identify as being you. The emphasis of the world these days is upon “finding one’s self, and nurturing that “self” until it blooms with distinction, to make a name for one’s self, a reputation, and a favorable identity.
In the natural one needs to move with confidence, feeling good about their self, with a sense of self-worth. A very low sense of self-esteem, self- respect, etc. produces certain attitudes and actions which are detrimental. Negativism destroys! Our youth must be taught that their own bodies are too precious to be destroyed and ruined by smoking, drinking, sex, junk foods, etc. as the list goes on and on. It is because they place so little value upon themselves, that they waste their substance. They need to know that “GOD DOES NOT MAKE JUNK.” As Jesus once said, “You are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:31). Think about it! God has a treasure in these earthen vessels, and we need to glorify God in our body, in our mind, and in our spirit.
Having set forth these vital FACTS/TRUTHS, which pertain to our living in this world, we would also point out a real need for a balance, even in the natural, lest pride arise, a super-ego is developed, and we become pompous, arrogant, egotistic. And so Paul admonished, “Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3).
And it is also vital that we remember there is a vast difference in natural things and spiritual things. Well did God speak through the prophet, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith 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).
There are those who give much emphasis upon self-realization with a “do-it-yourself” improvement course. You must convince yourself that you have the power, the greatness, etc. They will use many of the Scriptures which speak of “Christ in you,” and how “In Him we live, and move and have our being,” etc. as they twist the Word of God to their own SELF-USE.
We find that this MAN-EXALTING teaching is quite at variance with the deep in workings of His cross, until we come to the place where we realize that, “I can of mine own self do nothing.” (John 5:30). And it is only “By the grace of God I am what I am.” (1 Cor. 15:10). For it is “NOT I, but Christ liveth in me.” (Gal. 2:20).
It is not a SELF-EXERCISE, but the in working of the Holy Spirit. We need to let HIS MIND be in us. HE will think positively, but not with a carnal SELF-assertiveness. For this we have found– the deep in workings of the Cross do not take away our self-respect, sense of self-value that belongs to the natural realm. It is dealing with an entirely different realm. The cross is used to cancel out any self-effort to become spiritual. All of the natural gifts and graces with which we are endowed in the earthy, which are proper for their sphere, do not qualify us for spiritual glories. It is true that the spiritual will help you to be a better natural person, but the natural can never help you to be a better spiritual person. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing,” regarding spiritual things. (John 6:63).
And so Jesus clearly taught, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be.” (John 12:24-26).
To pursue a course of trying to find our TRUE SPIRITUAL LIFE in natural things is an exercise in futility. To try and find this LIFE in soulish improvement is also heading down a dead-end street. To subject ourselves to a system of religious works proves to accomplish just the opposite of what we set about to obtain. “I know that these regulations look wise with their self-inspired efforts at worship, their policy of self-humbling, and their studied neglect of the body. But in actual practice they do honor, not to God, but to man’s own pride.” (Col. 2:23, Phillips).
To seek to save our life is only to lose it. But, to offer it up to our Lord, to yield ourselves to Him continually– to daily take up our cross to follow Him, and you will find that HIS LIFE super abounds. And you have not passed from life into death, but just the opposite, you have gone from the realm of death (the carnal mind) into the LIFE OF CHRIST which abides. And it is not just a one time experience, but an ON-GOING REALIZATION, with the greater victories yet before us.
Some folk are tempted to try and repeat yesterday’s sacrifice and blessing , to find their life in a re-living of what has already been, not realizing that this becomes a barrier to going on, for it stunts spiritual growth and progression. This is not God’s plan. The former things must pass away, they are not sufficient for today. “Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now shall it spring forth; shall ye not know it?” (Isa. 43:18-19).
Remember not– the Hebrew word is “zakar” to imprint, make a memorial. It is more than just a recalling to mind, but has the thought of re-living, to participate in. We are not called to recite and re-live the past over and over. The more you recite the past the more you build it into a structure against the future– it becomes an obstruction. Milking the memory dry of those things which once blessed us in the past, is surely an exercise in futility, it does not birth the new. Too much of this re-living and we miss the light and life that He has for us today. To seek to find our life in that which has already passed, is to LOSE IT. Re-living a bye-gone order is not LIFE. Living in the realm of memories is but a shadow of existence, it does not produce satisfaction and a vibrant life sufficient for the now.
God is a Fountain of life– pools just stay where they are, and often even become stagnant, but a fountain flows and flows. We need a fresh drink from the Living Fountain! A SPRINGING FORTH of His life to lead us onward.
We have prayed too long about “doing” the will of God, not realizing that service is secondary– the result of living out His life. It is not what we DO, but what we ARE— we become a manifestation of His will. When we are willing to die to self, and yes, all religious programs, then HIS LIFE will flow in. In losing our life, we find HIS! The inner transformation takes place when self-life ends, and His life is released through us. Even the mind is renewed– thoughts and imaginations bow to the supremacy of HIS MIND— and truly, He says “My thoughts are not your thoughts…”
Willing to walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. To be led by the guidance and rule of the Spirit. Thus, it is only when we come to know that HE LIVES IN US, that we can say, “In Him we live, and move, and have our being.,” For in reality, HE lives and moves and has HIS being in us!
He is calling a people unto/into Himself, to be ONE IN HIM. Often this will take us away from the field of activity, to wait before Him. People often misunderstand this, and say, “Why aren’t you out in ministry?” How little do men realize that service, out of human effort, outside the will of God, accomplishes nothing. Of what use is “our” ministry unless it is HIS appointment? Of what use is it to go unless He sends?
How legalistic we become! Professing to have been delivered from the Law, we immediately legalize the New Testament, “If you will do this… if you will do that… if you will give this…” and soon we are in bondage which always comes when we nullify His sacrifice, and try to add to it with our own works. “Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not…”
It is time to quiet our hearts before Him, that HE might speak within us of those truths which are so essential for these days. To BE STILL— ah, that is a challenge! Regardless of how tumultuous the waves were on the sea of Galilee, He could rise up, and say “Peace, be still,” and they would quiet down again. His creative power ruled over all the forces of His creation. When He gave the command, the creation obeyed. They had no ears to hear, they had no minds to receive Him, but those waves were subject to His Word/power. Likewise God could exact an obedience from our hearts– but He is not coercive, He desires far more from His people, for He would have us to BE WILLING. “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17). He would commune with us. He says to us, “be still and KNOW that I am God.” To the waves, He said, “Be still…” but to His people He says, “Be still AND KNOW,” for He would not only quiet our stormy hearts, but He would whisper His secrets into us, that we might know– KNOW THAT HE IS GOD, in sovereign control of all our circumstances. Often we give lip service to this truth, but we do not really KNOW IT deep within. And why do we not know it? Because we have not been STILL long enough before Him for Him to communicate to us of these verities of His over-flowing life.
How desperately we need to know, as the hymn beautifully states, that–
“THE CROSS is not greater than His grace,
The storms cannot hide His blessed face;
I am satisfied to know that with Jesus here below,
I can conquer every foe . “
It is only when we recognize that “all things work together into good for them that love God…” that these events in our life take on their proper perspective. HE is fulfilling HIS PLAN in and for us— and He must needs lead us through these valleys, guide us homeward by the way of His Cross.
We are not to focus our attention on the storm, but on HIM who is “the . Author and the Finisher of our faith.” The more we see Him IN all these things, the more we will lose our fear, and embrace His peace.
“Fear hath torment,” (1 John 4:18). What fears have worked their torment in the children of God. Did what happened happen because I failed? Was it because I did not pray right? Because I did not do right? etc. as if the responsibility for the all these events was upon our own shoulder. Have we never read, “And the government shall be upon HIS shoulder…”? (Isa. 9:6). Truly, He hath said, “ALL power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.” (Matt. 28:18). “There is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things: and we in Him…” (1 Cor. 8:6). Can we, do we really believe this?
Fear– what if I prayed and nothing happened? The prayer is on our part, the answer is on His part. We are not forced to answer our own prayers. We commit the whole unto the Lord, and trust Him to work out whatever is best for us. Unbelief misses the mark! “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23). We must believe that HE is working out that which is GOOD— good for us, and which will redound to His praise.
Often people will quote Job 3:25, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” This is not a guaranteed happening. FEAR DOES NOT CREATE! How many thousand times have we feared and worried about things, and they never did happen. People are altogether too superstitious, tormented with groundless fears, because they do not KNOW that GOD ALONE IS IN CONTROL. Seems like we need to repeat it often, “The steps of a man are ordered by the Lord; and He delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand.” (Ps. 37:23-24).
He does not demand of us a series of sacrifices that become some spiritual penance whereby we work our way into the Kingdom. It is the broken and con- trite heart that He will not despise. We cannot develop a LIFE like His, no matter how we try, for only Christ can live the Christ-life through us. Surely He would cleanse us of all the unnecessary thoughts and words which are sacrilegious in His holy Place.
The good in self is to be laid upon the altar just as much as the evil– HE IS COMPLETE, and we cannot add to His completeness. And He will be IN US ALL THAT HE IS– so that “Through union with Him, you, too, are filled with it.” (Col. 2:9-10 Williams).
There is so much of our “religion” that we need to let go of– all of this soulish, selfish system which repudiates the Presence of the indwelling Christ. Religion fails, but our Lord ever remains the Victor! All human systems might be stripped naked and reveal their appalling helplessness, but CHRIST STILL REIGNS. It is “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Zech. 4:6). Often it is a struggle to YIELD UP our “former life of doing,” especially if we were, for a moment, successful in seeing a few miracles because the grace of God went beyond our feeble efforts, to answer the need of an open heart. But the more He opens our eyes to see the futility of a religious soulish life, the more we are convinced of the absolute helplessness of man, unless he is anointed by the Spirit of God, and it is “no more I, but Christ liveth in me.”
Knowing of our human tendencies to exalt self, and enthrone the flesh, Paul laid it out plainly, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;… that no flesh should glory in His Presence.” (1 Cor. 1:27, 29). Even though our creed and doctrine may be true, it cannot convey the manifestation of His power. Therefore, it is “not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.” (2 Cor. 3:6). How we desire to move out of that abstract realm in which men take pride in their understanding of the printed Word, and enter into that realm where the SPIRIT OF THE WORD quickens us, and we behold His glory– the glory of our Living Lord!
This glory is not found in our self-life, no matter how much we embellish it with images of spirituality. There is such futility in trying to lift man’s understanding into higher dimensions of life. You explain it over and over again, draw the charts, list the seven points, etc. but this does not produce a QUICKENED HEART— for only the Spirit can infuse us with His life. It is when we DIE to the realm of types and shadows, images of the real, that He can impart resurrection life that causes us to KNOW AS HE KNOWS, and bring us into greater expressions of His life.
Ah, yes, “He that loseth his life shall find it. But he that seeketh to save his life, shall lose it.” Herein is an outworking principle that is found all the way through the Scriptures. It is the remarkable mystery of the divine interplay of good and evil, and how HE sows the seeds of gain in loss itself. What you thought you had lost, you find you have gained, but what you thought you had retained, kept to yourself, you will have lost. To lose and yet to gain– only in the realm of divine economy can this be so.
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out.” (Rom. 11:33).
Often do we read with amazement, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil.” (Isa. 45:7). Interplaying the negative with the positive, to work out a purpose so glorious that “Since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him. Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember Thee in Thy ways.” (Isa. 64:4-5).
With remarkable candor He states, “I kill, and I make alive: I wound, and I heal…” (Deut. 32:39). And again, “He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.” (Hosea 6:1). Thus, HE CAUSES US TO SUFFER LOSS, that He might ultimately bless us with His ETERNAL GAIN.
Hannah experienced the depth of sorrow, she was barren, and “Her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb.” (1 Sam. 1:6). Talk about losing her life, unfulfilled desires, being torn, wounded, etc. it was a bitter time. BUT GOD— when she poured it all out before Him, He turned her sorrow into joy, and with rejoicing she declared– “The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: He bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory…” (1 Sam. 2:6-8). Yes, Hannah may have thought she had lost her life– shamed by her adversary, her pride was demolished, her sense of value to her husband was diminished, but turning to the Lord, to cast herself upon Him, she found her life in a way she could never have imagined. Out of her barrenness God produced a new life– life that would glorify God– for Samuel would be given to minister to the Lord.
Experiencing the deep in workings of this principle of “losing and finding,” Paul writes, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.”‘ (2 Cor. 4:10-22).
Herein is a spiritual in working of grace– note it, A SPIRITUAL IN WORKING, for this is a “heart attitude ” not just a physical exhibition. Jesus made, this very clear when He taught His disciples, “But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret…” (Matt. 6:17-18). Men see the outward– “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7). Take care on how you APPEAR BEFORE MEN— to have a smile upon your face, while you are “dying within.” The laying down of our life is UNTO GOD, not unto men, so do not subject men to the agony. Only God knows how deeply the cross is penetrating into your self-life, to bring an end to that wherein the flesh would boast. The death is inward, it does not have to “appear before men” unless you want them to see it and sympathize with you on how heavy your cross must be, but such a portrayal will only nourish the “suffering self” and prolong the process. But the more we “lay down our life,” then the more HE can unite us with HIS LIFE, and it is IN HIM that we would be found. “Found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, being made conformable unto His death.” (Phil. 3:9-10).
“He that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.” FIND IT— interesting Greek word, “heurisko” meaning: to find, to come upon, find a thing sought, to discover. FINDING OUR LIFE IN HIM— “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3). We do nothing to cause that life to BE– it is HIS LIFE that He shares with us. The creature contributes nothing, we but RECEIVE what He so freely gives. And it has been well stated that, “Man never discovers God’s strength until he first finds his own weakness.” It is in the losing of our life, that we find His life. As we share with Him His death, we shall also share His resurrection. HE causes us to rise above natural things, above the soulish impulses– yes, above the appeal to our carnal reasoning, to where we become one with the moving of His Spirit.
I know it is one thing to write/speak of these things, and quite another to experientially live them out. It is easy to read the Word, and yet not read it. Though we might nod our heads in approval, it fails to become a daily in working/outliving. But more and more He is revealing to us how “nothing” we are, and how much HE IS EVERYTHING. And once again, in our spirit, we hear Jesus saying, “For with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27). Usually we read it to mean, “all things are possible TO God.” And while this is true, it is not what Jesus said here. He is not talking about the power of God apart from man, but of the power of God working IN and THROUGH man– man working WITH Him. We readily confess that “Only God could do it.” And in a sense that is true, but when we become ONE WITH HIM— then we are made partakers of that LIFE and POWER. And what does it take to become one with Him? LOSING OUR LIFE, that we might be enriched with HIS life.
There is a “togetherness” which needs to become a living reality in us. As Paul said, “If so be that we suffer WITH Him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Rom. 8:17). The Greek prefix “sum, or, sun,” is attached to many words, making them a TOGETHER WITH– we suffer WITH Him, and we’ll also reign WITH Him. We are “Planted together in the likeness of His death, (and) we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.” (Rom. 6:5).
Unless God does it, we cannot do it, and there is no use in trying. We can shout and carry on, forgetting that the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:26-28) did that very thing but it brought no power, and there was no manifestation of fire. But when we come into UNION WITH GOD, there is a WITH-NESS wherein all things are possible. “The Lord working WITH them, and confirming the Word with signs following.” (Mark 15:20). Praise God, in the losing of our life, we then become partakers of HIS LIFE– all to His glory and praise!
(1) Prinzing, Ray and Doris “Letters of Truth” Boise, Idaho 83705, P.O. Box 5822
The Spirit of the Word
“The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”– Jesus
“The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.”– Paul
|“Letters of Truth” (1)|
by Ray and Doris Prinzing
No. 248 – April, 1997
THE PROCESS OF ENLARGEMENT
“You have freed me when I was hemmed in and ENLARGED me when I was in distress.” (Psalm 4:1, Amplified).
Young’s Literal, “In adversity Thou gavest ENLARGEMENT to me.
Smith-Goodspeed, “Thou who didst give me ROOM when I was distressed. J. N. D. Translation, “In pressure Thou hast ENLARGED me.”
How awesome are the ways and workings of our God, and often so contrary to what the carnal mind would expect– “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord.” (Isa. 55:8). We ask for the fullness of His life within, and He sends us more of the inworking of His cross– death to self– until we almost despair that there will ever be any manifestation of His life. Yet Paul expressed the principle very well, when he stated his own desire and experience– “I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (Phil. 3:8) First comes the suffering the loss of all things– that is, the stripping away of all that self once trusted in, gloried in, until finally it is regarded as mere filth, and willingly discarded, so that I might WIN CHRIST. “ALL LOSS” precedes the “ALL GAIN,” for nothing of the old will be brought into the new. The stripping is essential preparation for what is coming.
Then Paul went a little further in his disclosure– for having desired to KNOW Christ “in the power of His resurrection,” he realized it would be necessary first to know Him “in the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” (Phil. 3:10). Again, the DEATH WORKING precedes the RESURRECTION LIFE.
But he takes it one step further when he says, verse 11, “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Note the word “attain,” from the Greek “katantao” meaning: to arrive; but it is made more intensive with the preposition “kata”‘ that means: DOWN. Thus in effect he is saying, “That I may come down low enough that I might come up in the resurrection out from among the dead.” How often have we heard it said, in regards to spiritual things, that THE WAY UP IS DOWN. This is what Paul is saying– that there is a COMING DOWN LOW ENOUGH, in conformity to His death, sharing His poverty, “that through His poverty ye might be rich.”(1 Cor.8:9). The negative that God uses in the bringing forth of HIS POSITIVES is often far more than the natural mind can comprehend– how can GOD be in all of this? But He IS! And He is working all things together into our good.
“You freed me when I was hemmed in…” How precious is the knowing that “Thy walls are continually before Me.” (Isa. 49:16). Impatient creatures that we are, we soon tire of our walls, our restrictions; and carnal ideas come creeping into our mind– we are sure that God has long forgotten that He placed us in this situation. (IF we believe HE even put us there in the first place). We are ready to start our search for a special “deliverance ministry” that can help us escape our prison, forgetting that HE WILL FREE US once He has accomplished His purpose through our being hemmed in with all these various things used for our walls/barriers. Just remember…
Trials hard do not a prison make, nor testings yet the vessel break, The anvil helps to shape the whole– the fire purifies the soul. A prison is a dismal state wherein the soul bemoans its fate, And binds itself in bitter gloom, a wounded ego to entomb. Our circumstance, God allowed, with wind and heat and dark storm cloud, Are all arranged within His time, they come to pass, then peace sublime. The darkened walls of valleys deep are not a prison for to keep Thee in their grip, but just a part of that which now perfects the heart. Blue skies and sun, to man, are sweet, but weather fair will not complete The vessel He doth foreordain to stand a king, in His domain. He holds the key for every life, and ‘mid the atmosphere so rife Tenderly molds the inner man, to meet the fullness of His plan.
“You have freed me when I was hemmed in.” Sometimes He removes the walls and we are overwhelmed by the expanses which surround us, but other times He FREES US WITHIN— this is the greater freedom, where we can inwardly “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.” (Gal. 5:1). But whether He changes the circumstance, or changes US in the circumstance, the working is designed for one purpose, that we might become more like Him– conformed to His image, and one in His divine nature.
“And enlarged me when I was in distress.” The Hebrew word for “distress” is “tsar” and has been translated several ways, though they all are related to the same thought– close, narrow, strait, adversity, affliction, sorrow, tribulation– from a root, to cramp; thus it speaks of a tight place. Ah, how often have we felt things closing in on us, curtailing our freedom of movement, be it sickness, financial difficulties, involvements that are not of our making, but which have engulfed us, times of distress, etc. Yet the Psalmist indicates that it is these very things which God uses to enlarge us. I wanted to expand, and He put me in a strait place. I wanted room to grow, and He cramped my style from every direction– and all I could do was cry out “Not my will, but Thine be done,” and know that somehow the prayer He placed within would be fulfilled, regardless of present appearances.
Tucked among the names of a genealogy list in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, is a very brief record of Jabez, and how that he “Called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that Thou wouldest bless me indeed, and ENLARGE MY COAST, and that Thine hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.” We are not told of any of the processes which he went through, though his name alone gives us a strong clue for Jabez means: to grieve, sorrowful. And Moffatt bluntly translates this– “Called him Jabez (HURT), crying, It hurt me to bear him.” Branded with the name HURT, or, the sorrowful one, would place a negative stigma/shame hard to bear. But God placed within his heart a desire to break out of this negativity, and to ENLARGE HIS COAST, stretch his borders, and we are told GOD GRANTED him his request.
“Lord, expand my vision, my horizon! No longer would I be a self-centered person, but I would be an expression of Your love nature, ready to bless others.” God hears this cry of the heart, and He will grant our request, but the means and methods He uses are often just the opposite of what we might think– and then we really need to keep focused on Christ, and not on the outward appearance of our circumstances.
How often David found himself in a tight place, and had to confess, “As for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.” (Ps. 73:2). And then he would cry out unto God again. “Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. When I say, My foot slippeth; Thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.” (Ps. 94:17-18). The pressures were almost overwhelming, squeezed into a tight place there was scarcely a spot for his foot, it was about to slip– and in desperation he cried out unto the Lord. He would have to find his stability and security in the Lord. It worked– he was able to bear witness to the mercies of God. “Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip.” (2 Sam. 22:37).
Truly, our God is “Able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 24).
That the application is INTERNAL, not external, is verified when we read, Psalm 119:32, “I will run the way of Thy commandments, when Thou shalt enlarge my heart.” The room is to be WITHIN. It is written, “Thy commandment is exceeding broad (enlarged)” (Ps. 119:96) and we need our heart enlarged so as to embrace these expanses of God. No more trying to balance our foot in a tight place, once our heart is enlarged and we are able to RUN in His way. Running takes room– a progressive outreach, and it is only as our heart is enlarged that we are able to stretch out and lay hold of that for which we have been apprehended. HIS EXPANSES ARE REVEALED IN THE ENLARGEMENT OF OUR OWN HEART. If your vision/revelation is so small that you are cramped in a corner, there will be no running forward.
Solomon sought God for wisdom and understanding, and so “God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, AND LARGENESS OF HEART.” (1 Kings 4:29). It is out of the abundance of the heart that the blessings are to flow. Yet Paul had to challenge the Corinthians, “0 ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, OUR HEART IS ENLARGED. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.” (2 Cor. 6:11-12). There was plenty of room in Paul’s heart, he was ever ready to “spend and be spent,” (2 Cor. 12:15), but they could not receive his largeness of heart, because they were bound up in themselves. They needed an enlargement, but not outwardly. They didn’t need any more room for flesh to do its thing. They needed to be LOOSED INTERNALLY, to be able to receive the love flowing out of Paul’s heart, and in turn have love overflow from their own heart. When we are straitened in ourselves, we find it difficult to either receive or give– it is a miserable condition. Centered in self is a horrible state, for we are restricted, confined, and shriveled up in carnality. This has nothing to do with GOD-CAUSED restrictions, tight places, etc. They are designed with a positive goal in view– enlarging us in Him. But when it is self that has withered our soul, that needs a definite application of the cross, into death, that His resurrection life might come forth.
When our GOD puts us in a strait place, it is not to leave us cramped and disfigured, but actually He uses our distresses to increase our capacity– and it is amazing what growth takes place in such divine handiwork. It is amazing how many people have found that when confined to their bed, laid flat on their back and unable to move, yet God uses that time to so enlarge them inwardly that out of their spirit flows praise and worship, a spring of living water. “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.” Amazing!
Young’s Literal translation: “In adversity Thou gavest enlargement to me.”
Perhaps one of the most vital, essential things to know in our adversity, is that GOD is the FIRST CAUSE of all that comes our way to process us – right?
Our God controls the interplay of evil with the good, and He
Doth hold the balance in His hand, all forces bow to His command,
To yet fulfill His plan for thee.
He surrounds us with adversity, and the contrary winds do blow,
We reel beneath the storms and find He hemmed us in, and made us blind,
And how we wonder why ’tis so.
But He doth discipline and train, and works His purpose with great skill.
Till we acknowledge He alone is God who sits upon the throne,
And we surrender to His will.
We learn to praise and give Him thanks, Controller of our nights and days.
Nor seek we yet to thus escape the cup we drink, the bitter grape,
But worship Him for all His ways.
He doth deliver in His time, and cause our hearts to overflow
With joy and gladness, perfect peace, DIVINE ENLARGEMENT, full release,
Till all the earth His truth shall know.
Acknowledging the HAND OF GOD in all that comes our way makes it easier to deal with some of the thoughts and feelings that arise– namely, the desire to “escape” out of all our difficult moments. Escapism and overcoming are certainly at the two opposite ends of the spectrum– in fact, escapism is an enemy to overcoming. It is in facing up to our times of adversity, with a holding steady in our trust in the Lord, that works for our enlargement.
We spiritually grow and develop a maturity in Him when we realize that “Our light, momentary afflictions (this slight distress of the passing hour} is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory – beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease! Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting}, but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.” (2 Cor. 4:17-18, Amplified).
Obviously it becomes a real exercise and discipline to hold our inner vision on the spiritual realm, especially when our flesh cries out in such protest against the situation. And it must also be acknowledged that these adversities can only WORK FOR US while they are allowed to continue– until God has accomplished what He purposed by them. Any escape from them would immediately terminate their working in our behalf. Not that they are upon us indefinitely, but as the Psalmist said, “My times are in Thy hand,” and so we remain committed to HIS HANDIWORK, knowing that adversity will not continue one moment longer than is needed for the task at hand. God does not take a delight in tormenting us with distress, rather, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassion fail not. They are new every morning: great is His faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:22-23).
How precious is the truth that “In all their affliction He was afflicted.” (Isa. 63:9). The Hebrew word for “affliction” used here literally means: “straitness.” How marvelous– when He shuts us up in a tight place, He then enters right into that cramped corner with us– not to make it even more distressful, but to work an enlargement– we cannot expand ourselves, but THE CHRIST WITHIN CAN READILY EXPAND US until there is so much more room. Room to shout and praise Him, room to fall at His feet in worship.
One very vivid illustration for “straightness,” literally and figuratively, is found in Jonah. “I cried by reason of mine affliction (Heb. straitness) unto the Lord, and He heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.” (Jonah 2:2). It is obvious that Jonah was in a very tight place spiritually. When God would send him to Nineveh, there was no room in his heart for them, and he took off in the other direction. So it was time for an ENLARGEMENT PROCESS, until there was room for the people of Nineveh. To work this expansion in Jonah, God first places him in a very strait place, cramped into tight quarters beyond belief, in the belly of a whale. Put the squeeze on tight enough, and Jonah began to pray– by reason of “mine affliction/straitness.” He readily confessed it was because of the tight situation he got into that he was ready to PRAY, AND EXPAND his horizon– first to God-ward, and then toward Nineveh as well. Distressful as it was, it worked a tremendous enlargement in him, and then God gave him room literally as well, and the fish deposited him out on dry land. One can only imagine how he stretched every leg and arm, etc. grateful to be able to freely move about once more. And without belaboring the point, no one experience does a total work within us, we are changed by degrees, so further into the record of Jonah God had to deal with him some more. But suffice it for now to note how the straitness worked for an enlargement.
The Living Bible Paraphrased gives us a beautiful wording for James 1:2. “Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”
TO GROW requires that we do not try to squirm out of our distresses, there is no escapism if we are to grow, but we yield to God’s in working, and find that HE in us overcomes and brings the victory. There are often those hard hearted souls who will come along and tell you that your difficulties are because of some sin you committed, some error you made– so it is all your fault. They do not understand the working of God, and there is no way you can explain it to them. But you can “TELL IT TO JESUS,” and lay it all out before Him– not because He doesn’t already know about it, you cannot tell Him anything new about the situation, HE WAS THE ONE WHO PLANNED IT– just as He had the fish waiting to swallow Jonah. But there is a “casting all your cares upon Him,” (1 Peter 5:7), and as you roll your burden on the Lord, you will find an inner enlargement beginning to take place, until you can even praise Him for those who spoke negatively about your testing time.
Yes, as one translation gives, “In pressure Thou hast enlarged me.”
There is a poem by Louise S. Pridgeon that expresses this so beautifully:
“Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length,
Pressed so intensely it seems, beyond strength;
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul.
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll.
Pressure by foes, and a pressure from friends,
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.
Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living a life in the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.” PRAISE GOD!
Jesus clearly told His disciples, “In the world you shall have tribulation (Greek word here is PRESSURE): but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). As long as we are in this present world arrangement there will be pressures, straitness, distresses to try us. Just about the time you think conditions have leveled off and might go smoothly for a while, pressure comes in from another area, and you are struggling to climb over it. But in the midst of it all, He says, “Be of good cheer.” Why? Because HE has overcome the world, and now abides in us to help us to partake of the same victory. “Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.” That sums it up so beautifully. He presses us out of our “self” and into “HIM-SELF,” until we cry out, as did Jonah, “Salvation is of the Lord.” Amen!
What LARGENESS is to be found in Him! He promised that the day would come when there would be the “bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in LARGE pastures.” (Isaiah 30:23).
This immediately brings us back to Paul’s statement, mentioned earlier. His desire was– “That I may WIN Christ.” Win– from the Greek word “kerdaino” and means: TO GAIN. Then we find that our English word “gain” comes from the German word “weida” meaning: pasturage; literally, a pasture without fences. When God brings us into the fulness of our union with Christ, it is into a realm without fences– unlimited pasture. Until we are “found in Him,” it is obvious that He must place a RESTRAINT upon us, to hold us from utter destruction. Only when we are ONE IN HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS will we be able to handle such tremendous freedom. But the more we come to that total surrender, “I delight to do Thy will, 0 my God,” then He can remove all the fences, for we would live only as expressions of His will, to His glory and praise. Thus, paradoxical as it may seem, the more we are GLUED TO HIM, to cleave to Him, the greater our freedom in Him– to partake of the fulness of His life.
God asked Job the question, “Hast thou perceived the breadth (LARGENESS) of the earth?” (Job 38:18). Certainly many could well be challenged with this again today, because they are so cramped in their vision, so limited to the activities of their particular religious institution. Yet Jesus said, “For God so loved the world.” (John 3:15), and He surely meant THE WHOLE WORLD, for the Psalmist declared, “The earth is the Lord’s, AND THE FULNESS THERE- OF; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1). It is unique to find that the more we are CUT OFF from man’s religious institution, being separated unto Him, extremely limited in our outreach with others of like precious faith, isolated and alone with God, yet all the more we find that our vision is expanded, to believe, yes, KNOW that “As truly as I live, ALL THE EARTH shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” (Numbers 14:21). And again, “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:14). It takes LARGENESS OF HEART to be able to believe that ALL THE EARTH shall be filled with His glory– and “ALL shall know Me, from the least to the greatest.” (Heb.2:11) It takes us beyond praying for “us four, and no more,” when He enlarges our vision to encompass the breadth of the earth. Praise His holy name!
“Sing, 0 barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. ENLARGE THE PLACE OF THY TENT, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the nations…” (Isa. 54:1-3).
Those now married to the religious realms, with all their programs, boasting of their number and their works, will find themselves silenced when God begins to show the INCREASE He has purposed for those “in straitness with Him.” It is working for a multiplication which exceeds all that we can ask or think. So used to the tight place, the pressure, etc. that we are awed by the vision of ENLARGEMENT He now sets before us. To God be the glory!
(1)Prinzing, Ray and Doris “Letters of Truth” Boise, Idaho 83705, P.O. Box 5822
The Spirit of the Word
“The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”– Jesus
“The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.”– Paul
|“Letters of Truth” (1)|
by Ray and Doris Prinzing
No. 268 – February, 1998
WE HAVE POSSESSED IT BUT A LITTLE WHILE
“Doubtless Thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: Thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer; Thy name is from everlasting. O Lord, why hast Thou made us to err from Thy ways, and hardened our heart from Thy fear? Return for Thy servants’ sake, the tribes of Thine inheritance. The people of Thy holiness have possessed it but a little while…” (Isaiah 63:16-18).
The prayer is a cry for restoration, a return into the favor and blessing of the Lord. Israel, though called and chosen by God to be His people, His witness in the earth, and were led out of Egypt into a “promised land” to become a model nation whose God was Jehovah, yet they did not experience its joy and blessing very long, because– “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” (Isa. 53:6). Erring from God’s way, to pursue their own self-will, it became necessary for God to do some heavy disciplining. They were to be “people of Thy holiness,” but they ended up for a time as “the servants of sin.” (Rom. 6:17).
Yet for all this servitude to corruption, we note that God is still to be acknowledged as their FATHER. We find this truth also in the story Jesus gave of the prodigal son. Having gone his own way, wasting his substance with riotous living, until he was destitute, he finally came to himself, and said, “I will arise and go to my father, and I will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.” (Luke 15:18-19). It was a subduing experience, and he knew that in himself he was not worthy to be called “a son,” and so he readily suggested that he find a place among the servants. But this was not the Father’s attitude toward him– for what grace is seen as the Father immediately receives him back unto Himself again– to acknowledge him as His son. Praise God.
Considering the extent to which Israel had gone into rebellion against God, and the way of holiness, the prophet had to admit that their forefathers no doubt would not even acknowledge them– that Abraham, a man of faith, who diligently followed the Lord, would find no identification with them, he would be “ignorant of us.” In fact Israel, (Jacob changed and renamed), having wrestled with God and brought into a new realm, “Israel acknowledged us not.” Sometimes when a family member does something very foolish or disgraceful, other members of the family will say, “I don’t know him, never saw him before, etc.” And with a sly bit of humor let it be known that they do not identify with what happened. But this is more than a bit of humor here– this is serious business when God says, in another place, “for ye are not My people, and I will not be your God.” (Hosea 1:9). But then ultimately GRACE comes through, and in the next verse (10), God says, “It shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the Living God.” Hallelujah!
But while others of “the brethren” will not acknowledge a relationship, the prophet says directly, “Doubtless Thou art our Father.” Lord, You have to acknowledge us even if others don’t! “You, 0 Lord, are (still) our Father; our Redeemer from everlasting is Your name.” (Isa. 63:16, Amp.). Herein is a claim/petition that abides. Recalling the past Mercies, they now base on them a prayer for Deliverance from their present ruined condition. What is Your name, Lord? Is it not, “REDEEMER FROM EVERLASTING?” Or, let us just rephrase it into our language structure, “THE EVERLASTING REDEEMER.” Let us plead for mercy from Him who abides through all ages as REDEEMER. That is His name, His character– it is what He does– HE REDEEMS. So, think back, Lord, how You worked in Abraham, how You worked in Jacob, indeed, how You redeemed Israel out of Egypt. Down through the ages You are known as THE REDEEMER! “Who redeemeth. our life from destruction; who crowneth us with loving-kindness and tender mercies.” (Ps. 103:4). And we can sing the hymn:
“I will sing of my Redeemer, And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered, From the curse to set me free.
I will tell the wondrous story, How, my lost estate to save,
In His boundless love and mercy He the ransom freely gave.
I will praise my dear Redeemer; His triumphant power I’ll tell,
How the victory He giveth Over sin, and death, and hell.
I will sing of my Redeemer, And His heavenly love to me,
He from death to life hath brought me, Son of God, with Him to be.
Sing, oh, sing of my Redeemer. With His blood He purchased me,
On the cross He sealed my pardon, Paid the debt and made me free.”
Herein is truth most precious– that our God has many names, each of which speaks of another part of His nature, His character, His relationship with. mankind. Whatever our need, whatever our anguished state of being, there is a Name to which we can appeal, asking for His mercy and help, and based upon HIS NAME, believe for Him TO BECOME THAT THING FOR US. Jehovah-Rapha, “I am the Lord that healeth thee.” (Ex. 15:16). Jehovah-Jireh, “the Lord will provide.” (Gen. 22:14). Jehovah-Shalom, “the Lord is my Peace.” (Judges 6:24). The list is extensive– the compound names of Jehovah– as He becomes to us whatever the occasion requires. “His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6). You have a need, HE has a Name which covers it– and you can appeal to Him. for MERCY based upon His own name, character, and righteous state of being. Our need cries out for the reality in His name!
Isaiah realized that the people desperately needed redemption/restoration, and so he appeals both to the FATHER relationship, and the name Everlasting Redeemer. And truly, as Paul states, “He abideth faithful: He can not deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13). Faithful to His name “Everlasting Redeemer,” He shall bring victory to His people. Faithful to His name “Jesus, He shall save us from our sins.” (Matt. 1:21). Faithful to His name El Shaddai, He shall become our sufficiency, and redeem us out of the bondage of vanity– emptiness– and corruption. What is His name? What is your need? He has a name which declares that He will be the Answer for you. “0 Lord, now manifold are Thy works! in wisdom hast Thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches.” ( Ps . 104:24). How little do we comprehend the glorious outreach of His working, and that HE CAN BE FOR US all that the situation requires. His “names ” declare it, His love fulfills it, for He is God!
Redemption and restoration certainly go hand in hand, and so the prayer continues– “Return Thou, for the sake of Thy servants, the tribes Thou Thyself hast inherited.” (Isa. 63:17, Rotherham). Now the prophet brings in another essential point– not only is God our Father, and our Redeemer, but it is HIS OWN INHERITANCE that so desperately needs His attention and grace, for it is a fact, Israel was/is God’s inheritance. “The Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, TO BE UNTO HIM A PEOPLE OF INHERITANCE, as ye are this day.” (Deut. 4:20). And Paul clearly taught that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Rom. 11:29). God has not changed His mind about His purposes, but He certainly needs to do a lot of changing in man, before these things can truly be fulfilled in the dimension that He has ordained.
God’s blessing will be given to all mankind, and the prophet words it this way, “Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands and Israel Mine inheritance.” (Isa. 19:25). My people, the work of My hands, and MINE INHERITANCE. He has a purpose for them all, and a place for each in His plan of the ages.
Brought into the land of Canaan, Israel settled down to live, and soon they began to turn away from God’s sovereign leading, and desired to have a king so as to be like all the other nations around them– yet there remained a difference. When Samuel took a vial of oil and poured it upon Saul’s head, and kissed him, he said, “Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain OVER HIS INHERITANCE.” (1 Sam. 10:1). All of Israel’s earthly kings could never rightly call the people their own subjects, for in true actuality the nation was GOD’S INHERITANCE, and belonged solely to Him.
What lessons the “ministry” still needs to learn today, those who would try to claim the people as “MY church, “MY flock,” etc. Peter reminds us also that they are “GOD’S HERITAGE.” (1 Peter 5:3). God has a vital interest in the people because they are HIS inheritance, they do not belong to any man.
Oh, what purgings and purifyings are yet needed before we shall be a people found to His praise. How timely therefore is the prayer of Moses, which he prayed during that hour when Israel was rebelling against the way of God. “I prayed therefore unto the Lord, and said, 0 Lord God, destroy not THY PEOPLE AND THINE INHERITANCE, which Thou hast redeemed through Thy greatness, which Thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand. — YET THEY ARE THY PEOPLE AND THINE INHERITANCE.” (Deut. 9:26, 29).
Paul understood this truth, and also knew that it had to be lifted to a higher realm to find its fulfillment, and so he prayed that “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of HIS INHERITANCE IN THE SAINTS.” (Eph. 1:18). Isaiah spoke of them as being “The people of Thy holiness.” While Paul refers to them as “saints,” or, literally, holy ones, set apart ones. Not until we are made “partakers of His holiness,” (Heb. 12:10), can we really be called “The people of Thy holiness.” Thank God, He shall yet be glorified in His people when HIS INHERITANCE has been fully conformed to His image, to manifest His nature. No more shall we be a reproach, a by-word, having a profession without a possession, but we shall be a clear witness of our God, and then rightly called “the Israel of God.” (Gal.6:16). Bless His holy name!
Having “made us to err from Thy ways,” (Isa. 63:17), or, as the Bible scholar (Gataker) says, “Giving us up to a spirit of error and obstinacy,” we were turned to destruction, bruising, depression, etc. But even in this turning to our own self-willed way, there is implanted deep in the spirit of man, the command, “Return, ye children of men.” (Ps. 90:3). And so the Psalmist responds, “Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent Thee concerning Thy servants, O satisfy us early with Thy mercy.” (Ps. 90:13-14).
Lord, we have been blessed by Your visitation, and felt a touch of Your presence, we were in fellowship with you for “but a little while.” Then there was something within the Adamic nature of many that caused them to wander off and go astray, growing indifferent to the spiritual realities to which we have been called. Now You have awakened in some this command to return, and so the agonizing prayer arises– “Return, O Lord, how long?” “RETURN for Thy servants’ sake, the tribes of Thine inheritance.” It is a work of divine redemption/restoration. It is not only a RETURNING OF US TO THEE, but it is also a RETURNING OF THEE TO US. Once we had Your sanctuary (a sense of Your Presence) in our midst– a place where we could meet with Thee, worship Thee, offer up to Thee the sacrifices of thanksgiving, yet we “possessed Your sanctuary but a little while; our adversaries have trodden it down.” (Isa. 63:18, Amp.). Rotherham gives, “For a short time only did Thy holy people hold possession.” Time after time God visits man with a “revival” and there is a precious season of refreshing– and then it seems to ebb away and we cry out “we possessed it but a little while.” We were not capable of retaining the sanctuary in our midst, because people kept wandering away from God’s holiness.
“Our adversaries have trodden it down.” How heart-rending it is when the enemy comes along and defiles the “holy place.” There are sovereign moves of the holy Spirit, lives are touched, precious gifts of the Spirit are manifested, it is a time of worship, falling before the Lord to seek His face– and for a time “the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” And then the flesh crowds in– demands attention, and begins to establish a “carnal order,” to regiment the “visitation of God.” Entertainment takes over, the music resembles the world’s hype and beat, and rather than being directed to the Lord as worship, it is directed towards the people as a “talented religious performance.”
What we see outwardly in many religious gatherings, we also see happening in the heart of men. The adversaries of pride and prejudice, self-kingdom-building, lusting for prestige and recognition, moments of envy, jealousy, competition, etc. all stake out their territory within man– and the glory of God departs for a while, and they find their life trampled underfoot with these adversaries of the soul. Yes, they had enjoyed a real touch of God for “a little while,” but then it was veiled over, and He withdrew the sense of His presence, and the light of their candle flickered by reason of the contrary winds that blew over them. These cycles of rain and drought, blessing and emptiness, God-consciousness and world-conscious, have ebbed and flowed in repeated patterns. We would despair of any LASTING VICTORY were it not for the knowing that our God is a GOD OF REDEMPTION, and the ultimate victory is secure in Him.
How “in part” has been our possession of our inheritance in Him. I well remember an occasion when a plague of some sort had invaded my strawberry patch, bugs of some kind, that left a foamy residue behind, gradually it moved right down the row. A preacher was visiting us and suggested that we go out and pray over the strawberries, so we did, and the problem halted right at that very spot, as if one drew a line, it went no further. A wee touch of possessing our inheritance in God. Yet we “possessed it but a little while,” because other infestations have come through the years– and the curse has not yet been lifted from the earth. We prayed, claimed the victory, and watched the devourer destroy, and then praised the Lord that we were able to buy some product which would help temporarily. Sure, one can self-righteously say, “You should have had more faith,” as if it was on our part to generate faith. But when you wade past all the condemnation and guilt-trip carnality, we come to the point where we see GOD IS USING ALL THESE THINGS TO PROCESS US. HE allows our adversaries to trample, and, HE also will be our Redeemer/Restorer according to His purpose and plan.
We have had our skirmishes with our adversaries– and by God’s grace we have tried to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3). We have sought to “Fight the good fight of faith, to lay hold on eternal life whereunto we are also called…” (1 Tim. 6:12). And “having done all, to stand.” (Eph. 6:13). And thus we have rejoiced in times of victory, times when He has “given you rest from all your enemies round about.” (Deut. 12:10). But it often seems that we have “possessed it but a little while,” and suddenly we are plunged into a new battle, with a greater challenge to our faith and trust.
You firmly believe that God can and does heal– and when laid low with some illness you pray, He touches you, and you bear witness to the healing power of God. Yet in the course of time you experience more of the trouble common to man, and wonder why we have “possessed it but a little.” Others tell of a lifetime of divine health, and you bow your head in shame as if it is all “your fault” that your body is troubled with these things. But there comes a day when you surrender your body to the Lord, embrace the cross however He allows it to touch your life, and simply keep your eyes upon “the Author and Finisher of our faith.” (Heb. 12:2).
THE INHERITANCE IS SURE, the ultimate victory is promised– one could write books on the positiveness of our redemption. God can speak into your heart, as He did to Joshua, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given you.” (Joshua 1:3). And you seek to serve the Lord with all your heart, again and again setting your foot down upon a portion of your inheritance. But for all Joshua’s victories, God spoke to him again “There remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.” (Joshua 13:1). And so it is for us– only as He enables us can we possess any of the blessings which He has reserved for them that love Him.
Some have been privileged to “have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world (age) to come.” (Heb 6:5). But in all honesty, everyone who has been so blessed will have to acknowledge “we have possessed it but a little.” Glimpses into that which lies before keeps us challenged to press on, and we say with Paul, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12).
For some, the Lord entrusts them with a family, and they seek to nurture their children in the things of the Lord– “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15). All goes quite well, they all stay out of trouble, and grow up to be models of propriety. They all, at one time or another, dedicated their life to the Lord. Then a few short years slip by, and you see the inroads of materialism– spiritual things sort of sit on a shelf, to be attended to at a later date, and you say, “Lord, we have but possessed it for a little while.” And you have to just hold them before the throne of His grace, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in them will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6). Our “parenting” becomes swallowed up into that much greater parenting of our heavenly Father. We appeal to His handiwork, for we read, “We are HIS WORKMANSHIP, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10). He is the Restorer/Redeemer, and we learn to commit all of our loved ones to His control and working. There is no profit in dwelling long on how the adversaries have trodden down the sanctuary, suffice it to say that GOD IS IN CONTROL of the interplay of good and evil– and the whole of creation is His. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1). Bless His holy name! We need to be reminded of this often for Christendom has programmed us so negatively.
How precious is the promise, “But he that putteth his trust in Me shall possess the land, and shall inherit My holy mountain.” (Isaiah 57:13). Yes, there has been a long time of discipline and correction, as man “went on forwardly in the way of his heart,” doing his own thing, and so God hid Himself, and set His energy-force at work to purge and purify, but read on, “I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him.” (Isa. 57:17-18). The Everlasting Redeemer has the final word– and it is “RESTORATION,” for truly, His mercy endureth for ever.
“But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.” (Obadiah 17). Now it all comes together. We have wept our tears before Him, repented, surrendered, passed through all the purifying processes– now there is DELIVERANCE, the work of the Redeemer/Restorer. No more will we bemoan our fate before Him, saying, “The people of Thy holiness have possessed it but a little while,” for we shall fully possess our possessions.
“AND THERE SHALL BE HOLINESS.” It is far more than a simple statement of fact, for it bespeaks the ultimate qualification essential for our possessing our inheritance in Him, and HE possessing His inheritance in us. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, TO REVIVE the spirit of the humble, and to REVIVE the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isa. 57:15).
“AS He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy… Be ye holy, for I AM holy.” (1 Pet. 1:15-16). HE IS THE STANDARD! His holiness is the criterion.
For sure, any understanding of holiness must begin with the definition of it as GOD’S UNIQUENESS, for He is HOLY. “The Lord hath sworn by His holiness.” (Amos 4:2). It is not so much an attribute of His, but denotes the TOTALITY OF HIS CHARACTER. It is a positive QUALITY. Even more, it is a positive force, and thus it secures. God is a consuming fire, removing all that is unholy, thus securing a positive permanency in righteousness. He would receive us unto Himself, and yet “without holiness no man shall see the Lord,” (Heb. 12:14), because as long as there is any self-willed rebellion in us, desiring to go our own way, were He to take us to Himself, He would consume us. It is when He brings us into incorruption that He has secured us unto Himself. What mercy and compassion are manifested toward us in that He measures out to us the “in part” as we are able to bear it– line upon line, precept upon precept, and as we are changed we can receive ever more of Him. Our state of purity in Christ is fully guaranteed by the CONSUMING FIRE OF HIS HOLINESS. No wonder the Psalmist declared, “Holiness becometh Thine house, O Lord, for ever.” (Psalm 93:5).
The eternal quality of possessing our possessions, and never losing them again, is guaranteed by holiness. How overwhelmingly marvelous! It is eternally new, abounding in the freshness of His life. It is where there is freedom from change and decay, freedom from all corruption. Having been so long subjected to this realm of vanity, it is difficult to comprehend a total deliverance from this realm, nevertheless, “The creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:21).
What promises of victory await us– and while right now “we see not yet all things put under him (man), but WE SEE JESUS…” (Heb, 2:8-9). So secure is our ultimate victory in Him that we will totally forget the sad refrain “we have possessed it but a little while,” for there shall be a NEW SONG IN OUR MOUTH, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and HE shall reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15). IN HIM we see the victory– a total possessing of our inheritance– FOR EVER!
(1)Prinzing, Ray and Doris “Letters of Truth” Boise, Idaho 83705, P.O. Box 5822
“The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”– Jesus
“The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.”– Paul
|“Letters of Truth” (1)|
by Ray and Doris Prinzing
No. 277 – July 1998
A GENERATION– FORGOTTEN, AND REMEMBERED
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to Me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6).
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.”‘ (Joel 2:28).
Two very contrasting thoughts– one of rejection, and the other of great mercy. The first is a working under the old/first covenant, and the latter is an expression of the new/second covenant. Because there are those who still adhere to the old law and covenant, they shall be judged as under the law. God, who marks out the times and seasons, can just as easily execute the first covenant, as He can the second covenant. We are in a time period of the overlapping of two ages. Over and over again we hear speakers give allegiance to the first covenant, with all its works and services. Quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14, “IF– My people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and turn from their wicked ways; THEN will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” This “IF” and “THEN” working is a primary characteristic of the old covenant, as it was based upon man’s action, and God’s response– “IF, and THEN.”
There is a very negative working of the “if, and then,” found in our text verse. The IF involved the people of God rejecting knowledge, and by reason of sowing rejection, they reaped a harvest of the same. Rejected from being a priest unto the Lord, and also finding THEIR CHILDREN REJECTED. Sin and unbelief had worked a powerful rejection on God’s part as He gave to them the fruit of their own doing. A hard way to learn the lesson– “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backsliding shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that My fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.” (Jer. 2:19).
But glimpses of grace are found all the way through the writings of the prophets, with a foretelling of the grace that shall come to creation. No wonder we read that they “Searched what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify…” (l Peter 1:13). Sometimes they spoke with the rigidness and austerity of the law, and other times they revealed brief insights into the grace and mercy of the Lord. Sometimes it was ”if, and then,” and other times it was “BECAUSE of grace, therefore.”
We shudder at the suffering and hopelessness that is being experienced by our youth of today. Reaping not only the fruit of their own actions, but also of their parents as well. Called the X generation, or the lost generation, many have lost all sense of morality, the value of life, and the hope of any viable future, and in their frustration they strike out with whatever weapon they find at hand. Yet both Jeremiah (31:29), and Ezekiel offer new hope for this generation, saying, “What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.” (Ezek. 18:2-3). While it remains a personal responsibility that every man shall bear his own burden, yet “AS I LIVE–” based upon the integrity and holiness of My LIFE, the righteousness that undergirds My throne, I have a plan for the salvation of all mankind, old and young alike.
It is tragic that the action of the parents should be so reflected in the lives of their children. Because the adults have thrown all caution to the wind, to do whatever is right in their own eyes, there is no right standard left for the young people to follow. But, as heart-breaking as all of this is, we find in the Word tremendous hope, as God Himself steps in to gather them to Himself, and to sovereignly work in the lives of our youth. That correction is desperately needed, we know– the evidence is all around us– yet there is purpose in all of His judgments, and while “no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness…” (Heb. I2:11). Yes, God has a purpose to be fulfilled in the lives of our youth. It is true, “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid My face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.” (Isa. 54:7-8).
After a time of purging, correction, etc. God’s abundant mercy is revealed, and we read on, same chapter, “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold… ALL THY CHILDREN shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (verses 11, 13). After all the sorrow and grief, the barrenness of the soul, etc. realizing the shame of their forsaking the Lord, to go their own way– and now discerning the dark consequence this has had upon their children, with weeping before the Lord shall they turn to Him again, and find that GOD ALREADY HAS A PLAN FOR THE CHILDREN— He has purposed to teach them Himself, and bring them into His everlasting peace.
Praise God, The forgotten/rejected generation shall become THE REMEMBERED GENERATION. Job cried out, “That Thou wouldst appoint me a set time, and remember me.” (Job 14:13). While the Psalmist declares, “But Thou, 0 Lord, shall endure for ever; and THY REMEMBRANCE unto all generations.” (Psalm 102:12). The thought is two-fold: not only is there a memorial unto God– that HE is remembered from age to age, but HE REMEMBERS US, to finish in us the work which He has begun. It is with this confidence that Job states, “If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer Thee: Thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands.” (Job 14:14-15). Whatever his appointed time, he knew he would be remembered. He would not be left in an “unfinished state.” Even death could not deny him that fulfillment, because sooner or later, “Thou wilt call, and I will answer thee.” For, as Job realized, difficult as it might be to wait it out, the time factor was not the real issue– the FACT is that GOD has a desire to the work of His hand, and that He will finish in every generation that which He has begun. The redemption/restoration of every man is secure in the FAITHFUL CREATOR’S OWN DESIRE to finish the work of His hand. It is His desire towards the seemingly forgotten generation, that will make it a remembered generation.
Indeed, God promises that “When he seeth his children, the work of Mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify My name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel.” (Isa. 29:23). And we have already read that God has a desire to the work of His hands. He has this generation in mind, just as much as all previous generations that have been touched by the Spirit of God.
What a glorious commitment of God toward His creation. “ALL THY CHILDREN shall be taught of the Lord,” – “CHILDREN, THE WORK OF MINE HANDS.” When God Himself reveals His handiwork in this “lost generation,” it will cause mankind to SANCTIFY His name, and magnify the Lord. It is not some carnal program of man designed to capture the attention of our youth, to appeal to their soulish senses; nor are they the result of some special program to “reach the youth” and convert them to a creed and doctrine. These children are “THE WORK OF MINE HANDS.” It is GOD HIMSELF pouring out of His Spirit upon our sons and our daughters.
Is it any wonder it says “AND GREAT SHALL BE THE PEACE OF THY CHILDREN.”
Peace– the Hebrew word is “shalom,” which also means: completeness. There is no total peace as long as there is the restlessness of desire driving one onward. But when every need is fully met, and the work of His hands is complete– then GREAT IS THE PEACE. While presently we focus the attention on our children, this truth is applicable to ALL generations. It is God’s handiwork within that brings us into His kingdom of “righteousness, joy, and PEACE in the holy Spirit.” (Rom. 14:17).
“There is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border.” (Jer. 31:17). THERE IS, Hebrew, yesh, to exist. THERE EXISTS HOPE IN THINE END. This glorious expectation, this HOPE for the future, already EXISTS— it is not a wished-for fantasy, it exists even now– God has a “salvation READY TO BE REVEALED in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:5). God had already prepared THE HOPE before He subjected mankind to this present bondage of vanity. He had fully prepared the CURE before there was a disease of sin which would destroy. He knew that “ALL WE like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” (Isa. 53:5), and HE arranged for a regathering of all creation, at the appointed time. “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him.” (Eph. 1:10). “When Shiloh (the Seed, Christ) come, unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Gen. 49:10). Yes, THIS HOPE HAS EXISTED for a long time– yet how little has it been pro- claimed in the drought-land of Christendom.
Children “come again to their own border.” Border– Heb. “gebul,” meaning: an enclosed place. It bespeaks of a place of security, of a dwelling place that is singularly yours, marked out as an inheritance– of being at home. “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places… I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2). What an outreach of love– that while the children are off wandering in a strange land, fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and mind, God has ALREADY prepared for their return– and has a BORDER, has a dwelling place waiting. Jesus made this clear in the parable of the son that went off to a far country and squandered all of his substance. Yet as he returned to his father’s house, the father was waiting for him with a ready welcome, and a fatted calf to be prepared for a celebration.
Many a parent has looked down the lane, longing to see their wayward child returning, but there was no guarantee that the child would ever come. BUT GOD IS THE GUARANTEE for His creation’s return, and He states, “I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace, and not for evil, to give you HOPE in your final outcome. Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you.” (Jer. 29:11-12).
When the Lord’s time arrives for the children’s restoration, His power and grace can readily remove all obstacles, remedy all defects, correct all the deviations from uprightness– He can give “sight to the blind,” and “feet to the lame,” “support to the heavy laden,” “rest to the weary soul,” and He can draw the stubborn and rebellious, melting their hearts, and turning them completely around. While, “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him,” (John 6:44), yet the question is never one of ability, but of timing– For, “IN/WITH/BY Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order.” (1 Cor. 15:22-23).
“Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in Mine anger, and in My fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be My people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them.” (Jer. 32:37-39).
The promise remains secure, God says, “I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I WILL SAVE THY CHILDREN… And all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer. ” (Isa. 49:25-26).
SAVE– yasha, to give safety or ease. There is an inner transforming work, wrought by God alone, that shall so change young people that it shall leave men speechless, as they behold the handiwork of God. “Behold, therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters: behold, they shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their doings: and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it. And they shall comfort you, when ye see their ways and their doings: and ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 14:22-23).
DIVINE HANDIWORK so transforming the children, that when God brings them forth, everyone shall be comforted– understanding that GOD HAD A CAUSE, A PURPOSE. And while it is difficult for men and women to suffer the certain destruction of their Jerusalem– to see all their religious systems brought to nought, their comfort zone of creed and doctrine turned to ashes as the HOLY FIRE OF TRUTH torches their tradition, and they see all the evil that comes upon their city– yet, we say, when they see the TRANSFORMED WAYS AND DOINGS IN THE LIVES OF THEIR CHILDREN, they will begin to magnify the Lord, and know that He truly works all things together into good, and for His praise. The collapse of man’s system will come– but the establishing of the new kingdom shall follow, and all shall see God’s cause/purpose burst forth in victory– and then shall they bow low to worship Him.
0 the wonder of God’s “nevertheless afterwards” when He brings forth His victory– “Their children shall see it, and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the Lord.” (Zech. 10:7).
So many revival fires have blazed for a short time, because of the vision and message of some individual. Folks rally around to drink of the sweet wine flowing from his/her cup. Because of the central figure, be it man or woman, a little kingdom is built, works are established on the vision, with people constantly returning to fill their cup again. Yes, we thank God for every expression of His love and grace, and for every “move” that becomes a means of helping those in distress. But for all of this “in part happening,” we long to see that MOVE OF REALITY, apart from man’s interference, which will embrace our children and draw them to Himself.
Because of the nature of past times of God’s inworkings, men continually think in terms of another man or woman being raised up with the message– but more and more we are seeing that this must be a work of the Spirit that will not be shackled and limited by any man. And while it is true, God is preparing vessels through whom He shall work, yet the attention will always be focused upon the Spirit, and not on some person. It is DIVINE HANDIWORK as He “turns the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers…” (Malachi 4:6).
We have already referred to the prodigal son wandering off to a far country and wasting his substance with riotous living– but we would point out that GOD TURNED HIS HEART TOWARD HIS FATHER, and he was ready to return home. He will allow us to come to the end of ourselves, but He ever waits to receive us, for HIS HEART IS EVER TURNED TOWARD US. “God so loved the world” that He “commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8). THE Father’s heart is turned toward His creation, setting the example for all other “fathers” to be turned toward their children– so that, when it is time for God to motivate them homeward they will find a ready welcome. No condemnation waiting, no harsh words of rebuke– but with unconditional love the FORGOTTEN GENERATION will be received with open arms, forgiveness is an established fact, and their sins will be remembered no more.
Praise God, “in wrath (He will) remember mercy.” (Hab. 3:2). Judgments will unfold, the sovereign hand of correction, for there must be an ending of this degenerate course of man. But it is the sovereign working of our sovereign God to be able to use the death-throes of one order, to become the birth pangs of a new order. Thank God, He not only remembers the lost generation, but He also remembers HIS MERCY. And when these unite, both the children and His mercy– we will see a generation transformed by the power of God. There will be no “generation gap” when the holy Spirit fills that gap, turning the hearts of the children to their fathers; yes, turning creation back into harmony/fellowship with our Creator. Bless His name!
The “spirit of this age” is a rebellious spirit, inciting to selfishness, casting aside all restraint and respect for law and order, and it energizes all who yield to its influence. But there will be an OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT that will conquer this spirit of the age. “I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…” (Joel 2:28). This is essential if there is going to be a turning of “the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17).
The disobedient– Greek is “apeithes” meaning: not persuaded. They will not obey because they are not persuaded it is the best way, and good for them. “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” (Rom. 10:14). There is little reality in most of Christendom these days, nothing to convince or persuade the children– to cause them to believe. “And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Heb. 3: 18-19 ) .
Ah, what an example! A whole nation, brought out of Egypt by the mighty hand of God, guided through the wilderness, and yet were unable to enter into the promised land because they were UNPERSUADED that God could give the land to them. Their spies brought back reports of giants, and they were quicker to believe the report of the spies, than the Word of the Lord. It was a self-analysis that was linked to fear and distrust, and therefore worked DISOBEDIENCE. They were ready to call it “quits” before they ever tried to possess the land, because they were not persuaded that by the help of their God it could be done. They needed something to turn them to the “WISDOM of the just.” This word “wisdom” is the Greek “phronesis” and means: THOUGHT- FULLNESS. Once it is translated as “prudence,” (Eph. 1:8), as we read, “Wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and PRUDENCE.” What reveals His thoughtfulness toward us? By His revealing His will and purpose, by His causing us to know the path of life. When GOD TEACHES us, and our children– being made unto us “WISDOM, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,” when we are TAUGHT THE TRUTH, I say, we will bow low to worship Him for all His ways and in workings. “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13). SO— when He pours out of His Spirit upon all flesh, they will BE persuaded and turn to the Lord.
I dare say, a tradition which constantly violates the conscience, and causes the children to turn away in disgust at the bickering and senseless, pious religiosity, works no persuasion. The parents rejected knowledge, the children rejected the traditions of the elders, and God rejected the whole lot of them– knowing that HE would have to discipline them severely before they would abandon their foolishness, and turn to the Lord with all their heart. BUT TURN, THEY SHALL, BECAUSE HE WILL WORK IN THEM A TURNING, even as we read, “Turn Thou us unto Thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned, renew our days as of old.” (Lam. 5:21). Truly, God will not utterly reject any generation, but He certainly will judge and purify before He can receive them unto Himself.
Any intelligent son or daughter, who views the dogmas of the religious world, and understands what they claim to be the final outcome for man, has grounds for rebellion against the creed. It is a gross caricature of His love, a horrid distortion of His power, wisdom, righteousness, and justice. But let the fathers seek God on bended knee, and receive divine revelation of their God, until they tremble in awesome worship before Him, and truth will flow out of their hearts to embrace their children, and children shall rejoice at the hope set before them. Yes, GOD shall turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. HE IS THE CONVERTER, the TURNER, the SAVIOR, and HE will save our children.
What changes are being wrought these days. No more does God “visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.” (Ex. 34:7). That is not to say that children today don’t suffer because of the foolishness of the parent– but not in the sense that they are held responsible for past sins of their parents. Some today try to apologize for their ancestors’ actions, that is utter nonsense. It is between the perpetrator and the victim not between the children of both factions. There is so much that GOD MUST STRAIGHTEN OUT— but, bless His name, the end is secure. When He pours out of His Spirit upon all flesh, all of these negatives will dissipate, and the life of Christ shall be made manifest. He will keep the covenant of His mercy to a thousand generations.
They call them the X generation, lost and befuddled by sin,
Rejected, cast off, and forgotten– their hope seems so tattered and thin.
But God gives a wonderful promise, a light that shall never grow dim,
When all seems so utterly hopeless, our children are all taught of Him.
Taught of His love and His mercy, taught of new life by His grace,
This promise is never restricted to limits of any one race.
The triumph of Calvary reaches to fully embrace ev’ry man,
And that which once seemed so forgotten– remembered and gathered again.
Tremendous the hope for thy children as God pours His Spirit on them,
Transformed, they become new creation, and gone are things that condemn.
Turning their hearts t’ward each other, fathers and children, I say,
Great is the peace of thy children, and bright is the Father’s new day.
How great is the outworking of His redemption plan, Praise His name!
(1)Prinzing, Ray and Doris “Letters of Truth” Boise, Idaho 83705, P.O. Box 5822
“The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”– Jesus
“The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.”– Paul
|“Letters of Truth” (1)|
by Ray and Doris Prinzing
No. 285 – October, 1998
LOOKING AT THE UNSEEN
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; which are seen, but at the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which while we look not at the things not seen: for the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).
Significant to note that there are two different perspectives– that which is seen, and that which is unseen. The vast majority of people view only the temporal– things which are seen in their “natural now.” But God also has a people who have had their eyes anointed to see beyond the visible realm of the temporal– and they behold victories that yet await them in the ages to come. Indeed, they are numbered among those of whom it is also written– “Not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them.” (Heb. 11:13). Eyesight that pierces into the realm of the unseen bespeaks of eyes anointed to see, for it is the holy Spirit that enables one to LOOK INTO THE UNSEEN, to behold that which is invisible to the natural realm.
Henry David Thoreau is credited with the statement: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” We give this quote, not as an endorsement of Thoreau, but it does serve to give illustration that there are different realms and dimensions that people respond to. Whatever truth and help this is for our natural living, so be it, but we also see that there are those who MARCH TO THE DRUMMER BEAT OF FAITH— the drummer beat of looking at the unseen, and they are beholding Him who is invisible, and finding in Him an age-abiding realm of reality. They, “Believe God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.” (Romans 4:17).
“Urged on by faith Abraham when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go.” (Heb. 11:8, Amplified). He heard the call, and he responded, no doubt to the amazement of all those around him. The call was not to his mind, but to the deep of his spirit– reaching out for the reality of God.
Likewise, Moses, “Motivated by faith left Egypt behind him, being unawed and undismayed by the wrath of the king; for he never flinched but held staunchly to his purpose and endured steadfastly as one who gazed on Him Who is invisible.” (Heb. 11:27, Amp.).
Williams translates the latter part of this verse– “for he persevered as though he were actually seeing Him who is unseen.” Those who live only by the natural senses of touch, taste, smell, hear, sight, require that things be manifested outwardly and literally in earthly substance. They have no comprehension of this higher realm– for they cannot see that which is of the invisible. It is utterly foreign to them that the unseen realm can become more real than the material things around them. Because of blindness to the spiritual realm, they know little of the comfort and inner strength which causes the believer to OVERCOME— going from victory to victory.
Paul wrote, “We see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”(1 Cor.13:12).
Williams adds a special footnote to this verse, concerning the phrase of “face to face,” saying, “That is, see the very realities, God Himself, truth itself, etc.” As mystical as it sounds, there is a realm before us that becomes more precious, more real than this present earthly system– so real that the REVELATION to our spirit is a tangible reality. And so it should be, for it is the true, the permanent, the realm that endures.
Creation was subject to VANITY– emptiness, void. Though it is true that much of natural creation is beautifully arranged, awesome and spectacular, it still takes only a moment of storm and chaos and the beauty is gone. “The grass withereth and fadeth away, and the place thereof knoweth it no more.” “Here today, and gone tomorrow,” is more then a trite phrase, it’s the prophetic destiny of all this present kosmos.
How precious therefore when the Spirit of God begins to quicken us within, and He lifts us out of the carnal-mindedness of setting our affection on the things of this world, and places our affection on the things of the Spirit– things which are truly age-abiding, and are a reality to our soul.
This “looking at the unseen” is not the carnal working of “visualization” which is an exercise of the soul/mind realm, where you picture in your mind the victory desired, and focusing in on this goal, the body rallies all its resources to help bring it to fruition. Certainly a positive attitude does help the body in its recovery betimes, and positive thoughts are far better than negative ones, even if they are of the soulish realm, self-will, etc. But visualizing natural things IS NOT looking at the unseen– those things which are eternal, of an enduring quality, of an abiding substance.
This gross materialism is transitory– it only lasts for a season. The phrase “for a small moment,” is used in the Word to denote the shortness of duration, the shortness of time that these earthly things last. It is in contrast to this that we have the “unseen” which is AGE-DURING; “aionian” in the Greek, and often translated as eternal, everlasting, forever. While the translation is incorrect it still helps to offer a contrast with the passing away of the temporal.
Perhaps we ought to offer a brief word concerning “aionian,” or literally , that which is age-abiding. Religious interpretations have wrought confusion as they interpret to establish their own doctrines. People speak of “the endless ages of eternity.” The very phrase is a contradiction of itself. Ages (however long they might be) speak of time, while eternity is without the succession of time. Furthermore, if an age was endless, then the plural form of the word would be an impossibility, for you cannot have many end-less ages without making the previous ages to end. But the precious fact is that our God is GOD OF ALL THE AGES, and He can use each one to fulfill more of His glorious purpose. Our eternity is secure in Christ. And we can also say that all of our “ages to come” are secure in Him. HE is able to impart life that lasts as long as time lasts, and then deliver us up to the Father, that God might be all in all– “That is, be everything to everyone, supreme, the indwelling and controlling factor of life,” as we read in 1 Cor. 15:28, Amplified. When God is ‘”everything to everyone,” it is self-evident that when His life has completely filled every creature, then all mankind will truly know what is the reality of eternal life.
How often men confuse the meaning of that which is relative with that which is absolute. They cause the existing circumstances to take on an appearance of finality and permanence. Final permanence is reached only when God is ALL IN ALL. There is no time-succession in God, He dwells in the eternal center of “I AM,” therefore His attributes abide through all time, and are truly permanent. Thank God, He has also purposed “That in the dispensation of the fullness of time He will gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are in earth.” (Eph. 1:10). When His plan of the ages is complete, He will have gathered all into Himself again. But until then we have this vital necessity of LOOKING AT THE UNSEEN— i.e. looking at the spiritual dimension of things so that we become one with the vision of reality. Nor is it just in the SEEING, for it must be worked into us, so that we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory. Balaam serves as a vivid example of seeing, but not partaking.
In his prophetic parable, Balaam states, “The man whose eyes are open hath said: he hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the Most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: I shall see Him, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel…” (Numbers 24:15-17). He saw a vision, but his eyes were open– obviously he was looking into a realm unseen by natural sight. He saw The Star and the Scepter, yet he said, “but not now, but not nigh.” He knew the power and dominion belonged to God– the Messiah would arise, but time-wise he knew that it was afar off. In spite of “himself”‘ and his own humanity, he saw into the realm of the unseen, and prophesied of those things. Having this vision did not validate his own carnality, it was in spite of his earthliness. Yet, had he held to the vision, he could have been changed, and would have come to a different ending, and been a good example of one who heard from God, and saw into the spirit realm, rather than being known as “Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” (2 Peter 2:15).
To see is one thing, to be transformed by our vision is quite a different matter. Many a preacher has declared a word of truth by the anointing of the Spirit, and then later been tripped up by their own flesh because that truth had not worked in them to change them. So, not being obedient to the heavenly vision, they face more purging, until they do become one with the vision. God has ways and means to bring about the corrections needed.
In speaking of the two aspects of man, Paul writes, “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” (2 Cor. 4:16). An outward man, and an inward man. The outward man is conscious of all exterior things– natural things, temporal things, while the inward man is renewed day by day. Renewed– literally, to make new again, to be changed into a new kind of life, opposed to the former corrupt state. The outward man is corruptible, the inner life is of the Spirit, of the Christ-life. The same word is used in Col. 3:10, “And have put on the new man, which is RENEWED in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.” “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” (Gen. 1:26), is the stated goal and purpose of God’s plan of the ages. HE would reproduce after His own kind! Now we have the earthy man, and the spiritual man. But “as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1 Cor.15:49). It soon becomes evident that we are living in two different realms, not fully delivered from the earthy, not fully swallowed up into the heavenly.
Furthermore, Paul writes that there is a WORKING in the earthy realm that results in positive blessings in the heavenly realm. The process is hard on the earthy– it is in a perishing mode. And yet through it all, God does cause it to yield positive results in the heavenly mode. It bears witness to the wisdom and power of God, that HE can take these earthy trials and use them for heavenly results. Yet we see this illustrated all around us. One aspect is beautifully spoken of in the hymns…
“Will not the deepening darkness brighten the glimmering star…”
“Only faintly now I see Him, with the dark’ning veil between,
But a blessed day is coming, when His glory shall be seen.”
We see the light afar off– and the promise shines into our heart, it is but a glimmer, not yet fully quickened within. Then the shroud of darkness is allowed to surround us all the more, yet, rather than diminishing the light, strangely enough, as we continue to look at the realm of the unseen, yielding to the in-working of the promise/light, it takes on a brighter hue, and we see the light all the more clearly because of the very darkness that is around us. THAT is the handiwork of God!
Paul speaks of “our light affliction…” Affliction– “thlipsis,” meaning: PRESSURE; from “thiibo,” meaning: TO PRESS HARD UPON, a compressed way, i.e. narrow, straitened; and it has been translated as tribulation. All in all it bespeaks of things bearing down upon us, pressing us between a rock and a hard place, as the saying goes. There is no need to dwell on all the pressures that we face these days, which, viewed from an earthy standpoint would be utterly negative. But Paul lifts this up into a higher, spiritual dimension, stating that these “light afflictions” are working for us “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Obviously one cannot see any “hues of glory” if they view this only with the outward man. How can any good come out of this, we ask? We certainly don’t appear to be spiritual over-comers, filled with grace. Rather, we sense our nothingness, emptiness, and very unspiritual as we drag through one day after another. Sure, we can quote scriptures by rote, force ourselves to sing a song or two, but deep inside there is a sense, a knowing, that WITHOUT HIM, WE CAN DO NOTHING.
And then by degrees, wonder of wonders, the holy Spirit turns our vision to behold Him who is invisible, and looking at the unseen, we find there is a renewed strength for our day, and a fresh hope for tomorrow. All of the form and ritual prove to be more like “sounding brass and tinkling cymbal.” To concentrate on the things that are seen, means that we have turned our vision away from the unseen, and forsaken the realm that is age-abiding. Yet how people love to worship with the temporal– outward performances.
In the Old Testament record we find that Israel’s walk was filled with outward symbolism– ceremonies, rituals, animal sacrifices. Even when God would manifest Himself to them, it was in a way that could be seen, there was a Pillar of Cloud by day, and a Pillar of Fire by night, to signify that He was there to lead them on. Yet it was the MEANING behind all the symbolism that gave it reality.
When they were plagued with the “fiery serpents,” to discipline them, as they turned to the Lord, God accommodated them with another outward image, and had them make a brazen serpent and set it on a pole, and then those who looked upon it recovered from their snake bites. While this was indeed an answer to their immediate problem– and was an outward thing to see, yet it also held a greater truth behind the visible, as Jesus declared, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal (age-abiding) life.” (John 3:14-15).
But because Israel could not see the TRUTH behind the form, there came a day when Hezekiah had to “brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it.” (2 Kings 18:4). The symbol/image had become an end in itself, and had to be destroyed. But though that sign was removed, it did not take away from the REALITY. In due time Christ did come, was hung upon the cross, and gave His life for the redemption of all mankind.
History so often repeats itself, and we find that even in these days, when God blesses a certain chorus, people will sing it over and over again, in service after service, trying to draw from the outward that which God had anointed for the inward man. The glory of God floods their being under a certain secluded tree, and the next thing you know they have built a shrine there. The illustrations could go on and on, and are as varied as the very multitude that worship the sign and symbol. They care more for the ritual and ceremony, than they do for the One veiled in its meaning.
People often find it difficult to pass from the soulish realm into the Spirit realm. Often what they think is the “moving of the Spirit” is actually God accommodating Himself to their soulish level for a time– but He would lead them higher. It is not easy for man to relinquish any kind of discernment by their natural senses, to behold Him who is invisible. Precious and rare are those moments when we see into the realm of the unseen, and find that God has touched our spirit with His presence. There was one of those moments shared with us by a friend, who, on this occasion was working in a National Park, and during some time off had hiked/climbed up into the mountain, and looking down upon the valley– with its mass of people seeking to appease the flesh– and God gave her a song:
“O God is good, His presence fills the air I breathe,
His beauty covers all I see, for God is good.
Yes, God is good, He fills my heart with singing,
And every where it’s ringing– that God is good.”
What a rare moment it was– not beholding the iniquity, but having His beauty cover all that she saw. It was LOOKING BEYOND the earthy, to momentarily gaze into the unseen, and it refreshed her inner being. It is in beholding the Christ that we are changed into His image and likeness.
The world makes much to-do over self-realization, but such is simply an exaltation of self, making self god, and the end result of such endeavors can only be more self. Since the principle also remains that you will BECOME WHAT YOU SEE, how we need anointed eyesight to look at the unseen, that we might become AS HE IS.
“Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” (John 9:39). Herein is a marvelous truth– that His JUDGMENTS are designed to work for our good, that the blind might see. He makes the necessary corrections– opening our eyes to see beyond this natural realm. How welcomed are His judgments if they enable us to see into the Spirit realm, that we might be partakers of His substance. Is this not another way of saying that these “light afflictions” are working FOR US, designed and purposed for our good?
But then He adds “and that they which see might be made blind.” Herein is the other hand of judgment– that all of those who think they can see, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the religious elders, etc. that pride themselves on their knowledge of creed and doctrine, must first be made blind– that is, come to the understanding that they cannot see beyond the natural, the carnal realm. The Pharisees immediately picked up on that, and asked, “Are we blind also?” And He answered them, “Ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” Since they thought themselves to be wise, and boasted in their earthy sight, they will remain blind to the realm beyond until His judgment has fully worked in them. As Jesus said, “Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” (Matt. 11:25).
Invisible realities— eyes opened now to see
The glory of the Father, once veiled from you and me.
To see with heaven-born clarity, to know as we are known,
What wonder waits the chosen seed, yet soon it shall be shown.
But first our eyes must be made blind to self with all its pride,
The vision of the carnal mind must truly be denied.
The veil of flesh must be removed, the earthy cannot stay,
The things the world now revels in shall surely pass away.
The images corruptible cast down, that He might be
Exalted in the holy place– reveal life’s mystery.
Yea, looking into the unseen, what glories we shall find,
Stability to undergird, and blessed peace of mind.
We shall become what He reveals, He is the Truth, the Way,
The Life enduring for all time, He is our perfect day.
I dare say, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:9-10).
There is an on-going unfolding revelation given to those who look into the unseen. While multitudes are taken up with the temporary shadows, there are those who look beyond the darkness, beyond the light affliction, to see the Light that shineth ever more. Some look beyond the chains that bind, to see Christ’s liberty. It was at midnight that Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises, until even the prisoners heard them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, and every man’s bands were loosed. Paul and Silas were not looking at the bondage of the prison– they were looking into the unseen, to behold the liberty of the Spirit, and it became their reality. It would have been easy to focus in on the stripes laid on their backs, and could have counted their bruises from the beatings endured. They could have taken note of how dark it was at midnight. But they were not looking at the things seen, but into the realm of the unseen, and thus were made partakers of its victory.
Thank God, the inward man is renewed day by day. The trials, the afflictions, the pressures of life can so fill our consciousness that we cannot see beyond the temporal. But all the negatives, distressing as they might be, are WORKING FOR US while we are looking at the unseen. Simultaneously, WHILE the testing is in progress, it is WORKING FOR US positive things.
Loss is temporary– and when we look beyond the loss, and behold in Christ that all is gain, we cannot mourn the passing of the temporal for the joy that is set before us in the age-abiding. Let us march to the drummer beat of LOOKING AT THE UNSEEN, for there are victories that await us beyond all that we can ask or think. Yes, “I will look unto the Lord: I will wait for the Good of my salvation: my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7). Praise God.!
(1)Prinzing, Ray and Doris “Letters of Truth” Boise, Idaho 83705, P.O. Box 5822
“The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”– Jesus
“The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.”– Paul
|“Letters of Truth” (1)|
by Ray and Doris Prinzing
No. 299 – November, 1999
“THAT YE MAY KNOW”
(Knowing God in an intimate way)
“And this is life age-abiding, that they might KNOW THEE the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” (John 17:3).
The chorus sings– “To know Him, to know Him, is the prayer of my heart, Spirit, reveal Him to me…”
And– “Only to know Him, only to know Him, is the prayer within my heart, Not just in measure, but in His fullness, this, O Lord, is the cry of my heart.”
We could write much, and often, on our desire to KNOW HIM, and yet for all the multiplied words– in song, scripture, and speech– how very little we know Him. Some things are shared out of experience– the pain endured and the hope that grows within. We partake of His grace, and find that He does lead on– “Some through the waters, some through the floods, some through the fire, but all through the blood. Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song, in the night season, and all the day long.” Yes, out of our various times of challenging experiences we share from where we are at.
Then some times we share out of revelation, as God sovereignly opens the eyes of our understanding “to know what is the hope of His calling…” (Eph. 1:18), and we thrill to the new insight, and pray more earnestly, “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” (Ps. 119:18). We would reach out and lay hold of that for which we have been apprehended by our Lord. Thank God for moments of revelation!
But then there are times when experiences fall short, and revelation seems to be limited, and we simply share out of deep inner desire. “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.” (Ps. 27:4). For, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.” (Ps. 73:25). Yes, the flame of desire burns within, we would know Him in His character and nature, we would know Him in the outworking of His plan of the ages, we would know Him as our dwelling place, partaking of His fullness of life.
The first time the word “know” (Hebrew is yada), is used in the Scripture is when the serpent said to Eve, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5). The allure was knowledge, not just any kind of knowledge, but what GOD KNOWS, intimate, inner secret mysteries.
Adam and Eve bought into it, and partook of the forbidden fruit. “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” (v. 7).
Same word “know” used of God, and then of Adam and Eve– but how little did they expect the knowing to be so personal, so intimate in self. They would know “as gods,” going beyond the limitations of their humanity, but that is not the way it turned out– the spotlight turned back on them, to see– to know– to become intimately aware of their own nakedness.
Then next we read that “Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived and bear Cain.” (Gen. 4:1). Now the meaning of the word is even more defined, KNOWING as in the intimacy of a marriage relationship.
As “gods” they possessed intimate knowledge, but it was related to their own state of being, and they knew little more of The God, of His holiness, of His divine character, etc. for having gone their own self-willed-way, it drew a veil between them and communion with God, while they did see themselves more intimately, and were ashamed of their own naked state.
God still has total intimate knowledge of man– we read that “All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:1). While far too much of the time man “knows not that he is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (Rev. 3:17). Thank God, we can come to know Him, and be clothed with His righteousness, and no longer be ashamed.
The world in general is forced to give the same confession as Pharaoh made so long ago, when Moses and Aaron came before him with a message, “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let My people go.” And Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord . . . ” ( Ex. 5:2).
Even Israel, after so long a time in bondage to Egypt, would have to make the same confession, “I know not the Lord.” But both Israel and Egypt were on the threshold of revelation. God, through Moses, said to Israel, “I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burden of the Egyptians.” (Ex. 6 :7).
Furthermore, God said, “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth Mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” (Ex. 7:5).
Indeed, “That thou mayest know that there is none like unto the Lord, our God.” (Ex. 8:10). All of those who confess, “I know not the Lord,” let them see and know that God is God. “That thou mayest know that there is none like Me in all the earth.” (Ex. 9:14). “That thou mayest know how that the earth is the Lord’s.” (v. 29). But little did they know how this knowledge would come to them– through the severity of the plagues that God was about to bring upon them. God’s mighty power would be demonstrated in the most convincing ways- and they would know that HE IS GOD, yet for all that, how little would they really intimately know Him.
Samuel’s mother had prayed for a child, and the Lord gave her a son, which in time she returned to the Lord, “And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli (the priest). And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.” (1 Sam. 3:1). The Scriptures do not define what this “ministering to the Lord” entailed– whatever ritual and form was required– but it does read on, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the Word of the Lord revealed unto him.” (v. 7). He did all the religious works which were required of him, but he did not KNOW the Lord. He could go through the routines of religious service, but he did not know the Lord. He was dedicated to the ceremony, and without a doubt very faithful to his charge, but intimately he did not yet know the Lord. So the Lord initiated a visitation, and Samuel began to know the Lord in a much more intimate reality– a knowing that deepened year by year.
Paul came to Ephesus, “and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the holy Spirit since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any holy Spirit.” (Acts 19:1-2). They knew of the baptism of John, unto repentance, and they were called “disciples,” disciplined ones within the scope of their knowledge, but there was a realm of the holy Spirit that was utterly foreign to them– they had never heard of it. Fortunately they were open-hearted, and when Paul preached Christ to them, they believed, received, and came into a new dimension of experiencing God, and began to know in Whom they had believed.
Yet far too many fulfill the Scripture, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim. 3 : 5, 7) .
In his discourse to Job, Elihu said, “Remember that thou magnify His work , which men behold. Every man may see it; man may behold it afar off. Behold, God is great, and we know Him not. neither can the number of His years be searched out.” (Job 36:24-26). One songwriter penned, “In the stars His handiwork I see…” and we can view the wonders of nature, the awesomeness of power in a storm, the beauty of a rainbow after the storm, the sunshine and flowers, etc. and behold things “afar off,” things which every man may see, and yet “we know Him not.”
Moses was one of those rare persons that had a more intimate knowing of God, for “The Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.” And yet even Moses pressed for a deeper knowing, and said to the Lord, Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in My sight. Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found grace in Thy sight, shew me now Thy way, that I may know Thee, that I may find grace in Thy sight…” (Exodus 33:11-13).
Moses knew that God knew him– knew him by name– knew him by character and nature. But now he wanted to know God, even as he was known by God. “Shew me Thy way.” The Psalmist records, “He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel.” (Ps. 103:7). The people could stand afar off and see the demonstration of His power as the mountain quaked, thunder rolled, lightnings flashed, etc. They could see GOD DOING, and were always in need of God doing something new for them. ‘But Moses desired to see more than HIS ACTS, even of His miracles, for he desired to KNOW the ways of God. For years we have been challenged by the difference between what Israel saw, and what Moses saw– and the desire has burned within to KNOW HIS WAYS. But in these more recent years we are stirred to go even farther, beyond just seeing His acts, and even knowing of His ways, to now come to where we KNOW HIS PERSON— to see Him “as he is.”
Yes, we thank God for His miracles! Yes, we praise God for revelation of His Word, His ways, His in workings, but how we yearn for Him, to know Him in the power of His resurrection, and become ONE— in union with our Lord. “We don’t know what we shall become in the future. We only know that, IF REALITY WERE TO BREAK THROUGH, we should reflect His likeness, for we should see Him as He really is!” (1 John 3:2, Phillips). Then, and not till then, will 1 John 4:17 be truly fulfilled, “Because as He is, so are we in this world.” Some would like to claim it now, but their state of being does not verify their claim. When we are CHANGED, when we intimately know Him AS HE IS, conformed to His image, one in His nature, we will not have to claim to be anything– we’ll BE, and our state of being will be the irrefutable witness of what we have become.
Perhaps our present condition is well expressed in the words of Paul, “Now I know in part…” (1 Cor. 13:10). Or, as Wuest translates it, “Now I know only in a fragmentary fashion.” We know so little of what we ought to know of our God, but there is a determination placed within by the sovereign inworking of His grace, that compels us to follow on to know Him in a greater way– that all the “in part” be swallowed up into the whole.
Religious Babylon will not tolerate any degree of reality at all, and if there be a work of grace within, and one begins to even know in part, soon they are cast out as a heretic. If Babylon cannot capitalize on the man’s experience, use it as a “drawing card” to build up their kingdom, if it is not merchandisable, I say, it is ignored, or even rejected.
But God knows who we are, where we are, and what He has purposed for us. He said to Moses, “I know thy name…” and that is a good beginning, to know that GOD KNOWS US, but the Psalmist went on to state, “They that know Thy name will put their trust in Thee: for Thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek Thee.” (Ps. 9:10). To know His name in an on-going revelation. “God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by My name Jehovah was I not known to them.” (Ex. 5:2-3).
One can only walk in the sphere of revelation given– and as we have often stated, revelation comes at the will of the Revelator. When God wants us to know something, He has the ways and means of gaining our attention, and imparting that knowing. The Almighty, the all-sufficient One, the great Invisible Benevolent Benefactor. Then comes the name JEHOVAH (Yahweh), to give an added dimension to His name, and there follows in the Scriptures a progressive unfolding of His name, what He would become to us, and what we shall ultimately become in Him– each expression giving additional insight into the greatness of our God. Thus, little by little, we come to know Him, as His name is revealed, and we enter new dimensions of His reality.
Yet how often we get into a circumstance that God uses to reveal Himself, and we have to say, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.” (Gen. 28:16). It is only after having some prayer answered, deliverance wrought, that our eyes are finally opened to see. Joshua said to Israel, “Come hither, and hear the words of the Lord your God– Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites…” (Joshua 3:9-10). It took the on- going conquering of the enemy for them to realize that THE LIVING GOD was with them. How blessed to see that HE is ever with us– our victory.
We read, “There arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. – And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm . ” (Mark 4 : 37, 39 ).
What power, what authority were in His words, “PEACE, BE STILL!” All the foaming, raging waves were made quiet. They had no ears to hear. They had no minds which could bow in obedience to His Word. They were but the inanimate creatures of His creation, and He had authority over them.
Concerning this, Charles S. Price made an interesting observation. “To the waves He said, “Be still;” but to His children He says, “BE STILL, AND KNOW…” The waves are subject to His command, but what do they KNOW? He uses all these storms, within and without, to teach us– that He might reveal Himself to us in a new and deeper way, so that we know He is God.”
Our God has the ways and means to cause us to KNOW that He is God. “John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is He of Whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for He was before me. And I knew Him not: but that He should be manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him. And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon Whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the holy Spirit. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-34).
Twice John says, “I knew Him not.” But John also had received a word from God, a sign whereby he would know Him. He saw, he bare record, and he was able to say with all confidence, “This is the Son of God.” Not until we personally receive our revelation (inner spirit quickening), can we speak with full assurance of who He really is. Every revelation received must then be put to the test– for “The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” (Psalm 12:6). That which is OF GOD will stand the test, and require no defense on our part, no justification if the vision tarry, no apologizing for God if all men seem to reject the message– what He reveals and processes within us will mean a solid foundation upon which to stand. You cannot live on a borrowed revelation. But what He imparts within will stand the storm, and you will KNOW.
“Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates.” (2 Cor. 13:5). How little do we know our own selves, let alone know Him! CHRIST DWELLS WITHIN. Sometimes we think we are so spiritual and advanced in the way, and suddenly God causes us to see what, without Him, we really are, and we feel so small. Sometimes we think we are way behind in the calling, and then God gives us a glimpse of what HE IS BECOMING WITHIN, and we are amazed at His bountiful mercy and grace to us. Surely God cannot show us what is in us except it be in proportion as to how He first reveals Himself to us, and we come to truly KNOW HIM.
How little did Peter know his own heart, when he said to the Lord, “Though all men should be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice.” But Peter would not even accept this word, and answered again, “Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee.” (Matt. 26:33-35). And it took the bitter experience of an actual denial for his inner state to be exposed– and wept over.
Surely we cannot bear the revelation of our own weaknesses, except we also are fortified by a revelation of our Lord– of HIS SOVEREIGNTY, and of His grace so freely given to us. We weep at the very thought of the processing people have to pass through, but we also rejoice that “every valley shall be filled,– and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; AND ALL FLESH SHALL SEE THE SALVATION OF GOD.” (Luke 3:5-6). There is tremendous hope to be realized after the in working of His judgments ministered by His grace– with the whole of creation redeemed.
There are some promises– prophetic declarations– that need to often be read to remind us of the final triumph, and one of those passages is in Jeremiah 31:33-34. “I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith the Lord.” Truly, God purposes that ultimately every man shall “KNOW ME.” Praise His name!
“They shall all KNOW Me…” Intimately know Him– not just standing afar off to behold His handiwork, but to be embraced by Him in a genuine KNOW.
How dare we declare so bold a word? Because it is written, “God shall be all in all– that is, be everything to everyone, supreme, the indwelling and controlling factor of life.” (1 Cor. 15:28, Amplified). Herein is an intimacy that defies expression. Our heart responds with an awesome AMEN, though how little do we comprehend its breadth and scope. Nor is this a truth which only recently becomes some man’s favorite doctrine. Solomon prayed it long, long ago. “That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and there is none else.” (1 Kings 8:60). This is more than just a coerced acknowledgement that God is God, but it is a responding in worship, knowing in an intimate way that He is LORD OF ALL WITHIN.
Thank God for progression! Even though perhaps at this time we don’t know as we ought to know, yet, “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord,” (Hosea 6:3), for His Spirit dwelling within will guide us into all truth. There is a FOLLOWING ON— not trying to establish ourselves, for it is not accomplished by some “do-it-yourself” effort, but there is a daily, continuous yielding to Him, that He might have His way in us. And then, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6).
How precious is the promise which Jesus gave to His disciples, when He said unto them, “What I do thou knowest not now; BUT THOU SHALT KNOW HEREAFTER.” (John 13:7). Often in the midst of a happening we strain to figure out all that He is doing, perhaps even with the thought of yielding more to Him, if we understood the process. But as we cease our struggles, commit our way to Him, and just rest in the Lord, in due time we begin to see what He is doing, and there comes a “HEREAFTER” when we know and rejoice in Him.
“And ye shall know the truth in an experiential way, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32). What deliverance– grace wrought, Spirit given, love controlled, Christ centered, and absolute. It is a coming to KNOW HIM “in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” It is not a measuring ourselves by ourselves, nor comparing our visions and dreams, nor even a seeking to understand all mysteries– it is a coming to KNOW HIM in the intimacy of His love, and then seeking to glorify Him, as we share in the glorious ministry of reconciliation– loving as He loves. “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God. (John 17:3). To know Him in an experiential, intimate way. Bless His name!
To Know Him– To know Him– this longing ever grows,
To know His will and way and power, to know Him in each trying hour.
To know that He is Lord of all, the trials great, the testings small.
To know Him– To know Him– this knowledge we would seek,
Although it takes the cross and pain to yield an understanding’s gain,
The fellowship of sufferings rare, the pressures we are asked to bear.
To know Him– To know Him– the Fountain of our life,
To know Him in a deeper way, in good and evil’s interplay.
To know that every circumstance Divinely ordered– never chance.
To know Him– To know Him– a knowing that shall be