When I was completing my degree, I wrote this paper. I was reading it again the other day, and I thought it might be a blessing to some of you ladies. Feel free to use it in your teachings.
A SEARCH TO KNOW GOD’S FULLNESS
How is it that some Christians seem to be able to live above their circumstances and are able to fare well as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, even though they are living in an evil adulterous generation?
How was the apostle Paul able to experience peace and joy in the midst of turmoil and trials? Today, more often than not, when a Christian experiences turmoil or trials, he is ready to change the direction of his life and give up sound Bible principles. He becomes so fretful and so full of anxiety that he loses sight of eternity. Why does a man hunger to know God more fully, yet he allows himself to become distracted by the conditions and people around him that he forgets to recognize God’s working in his life?
This paper will explore some great Christians who have hungered to know God more fully and their successes. It will also examine some reasons why Christians today have difficulties coming to know the Lord in His full revelation.
God is a person. In His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires, and suffers as any other person. God’s Word says in Revelation 4:11, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” God did not make us robots just to move around on this earth with no direction or purpose. He wants us to bring glory to Him and have close fellowship with Him as a Father.
There is a great difference between “knowing” God and “knowing about” God. Knowing Him is an experience that flows from a personal, intimate relationship; it’s having first-hand information. To know about God, on the other hand, is quite another thing. We may get facts from books, sermons, and the Bible, and all of this data may be completely accurate and true. This kind of information is not to be discredited. In fact, the Bible says, “…He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). But this knowledge, which is purely intellectual, must become a possession of the heart as well as the head.
Many expressions such as, “I’ve truly found God…I have accepted the Lord…He’s my Lord and Savior,” prove that people have little information about Christ and God, but they have all had an experience with Him. The first thing about knowing God is to know Him through His son Jesus Christ.
Why is it important for man to get to know Christ better? Because salvation is a living relationship, and we can’t grow as Christians without having personal fellowship with Him. Every book we read, every meeting we attend, every spiritual contact we make must in some way add to our knowledge of knowing about Jesus Christ. The better we get to know Him…the more we learn to know Him in His fullness. God created man to bring glory to Himself. In Isaiah 43:7 it says, “Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”
The better we know God, the more we will love Him. When we begin to understand the glory of Christ’s person and the wonder of His work, we will want to worship and adore Him. As we begin to love and to obey Christ more, the more He will become the preeminent one in our lives. Tozer wrote in his book In Pursuit of God:
Twentieth-century men seldom seek God because far too many have come to accept turbulence of soul as the norm and have ceased to seek God with their whole hearts. In the preface of In Pursuit of God it is said of Tozer:
“A.W. Tozer educated himself by years of diligent study and a constant prayerful seeking of the mind of God. With Tozer, seeking truth and seeking God were one and the same thing. For example, when he felt he needed an understanding of great English works of Shakespeare, he read them through on His knees, asking God to help him under-stand their meaning. This procedure was typical of his method of self-education. With no teacher but the Holy Spirit and good books, A.W. Tozer became a theologian, a scholar, and a master craftsman of the English language.”
It is clear in David’s writings of the Psalms that he experienced this deep hunger to know God’s fullness because in Psalms 42:1 he writes, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?”
I believe that God has put a hungering and a deep longing in our souls to sense His presence. Through the years, many Christians have used different terms to express those longings. Some called it the “abiding life”, some called it the “exchanged life”, some called it the “Spirit-filled life”, yet others called it the “highest life”. Andrew Murray was one of those hungering souls who desired to know God’s fullness. In his own words he expresses his hunger and his enlightenment.
“Some of you have heard how I have pressed upon you the two stages in the Christian life, and the step from the one to the other. The first ten years of my spiritual life were manifestly spent on the lower stage. I was a happy minister, I may say, as zealous and as earnest and as happy in my work as anyone, as far as love of the work was concerned, Yet, all the time there was a burning in my heart a dissatisfaction and restlessness inexpressible. What the reason? I had never learnt with all my theology that obedience was possible. My justification was as clear as noonday. I knew the hour in which I received from God the joy of pardon. I remember in my little room at Bloemfontein how I used to sit and think. What is the matter? Here I am, know that God has justified me in the blood of Christ, but I have no power for service. My thoughts, my words, my actions, my unfaithfulness–everything troubled me. Though all around thought me one of the most earnest of men, my life was one of deep dissatisfaction. I struggled and prayed the best I could. Murray continued: “One day I was talking with a missionary. I do not think that he knew much of the power of sanctification himself–he would have admitted it. When we were talking and he saw my earnestness he said, ‘Brother, remember that when God puts a desire into your heart, He will fulfill it.’ That helped me; I thought of it a hundred times. I want to say the same to you, who are plunging about and struggling in the quagmire of helplessness and doubt. The desire that Good puts into your heart, He will fulfill it. “Well, God helped me, and for seven or eight years I went on, always enquiring and seeking, and always getting. Then came, about 1870, the great Holiness Movement. The letters that appeared in The Revival touched my heart; and I was in close fellowship with what took place at Oxford and Brighton, and it all helped me. My mind became much exercised about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I gave myself to God as perfectly as I could to receive the baptism of the Spirit. Yet there was a failure; It was somehow as if I could not get what I wanted. Through all these stumblings God led me, without any very special experience that I can point to; but known it better. I can help you more, perhaps, by speaking, not of any marked experience, but by telling very simply what I think God has given me now, in contrast to the first ten years of my Christian life. In the first place, I have learnt to place myself before God every day, as a vessel to be filled with His Holy Spirit. He has filled me with the blessed assurance that He, as the everlasting God, has guaranteed His work in me. If there is one lesson that I am learning day by day, it is the; that is God who worked all in all. Oh, that I could help any brother or sister to realize this!… “You ask me, “Murray said, “are you satisfied? Have you got all you want? God forbid. With the deepest feeling of my soul I can say that I am satisfied with Jesus now; but there is also a consciousness of how much fuller the revelation can be of the exceeding abundance of His grace. Let us never hesitate to say, this is only the beginning. When we are brought into the holiest of all, we are only beginning to take our right position with the Father.”
The deep dealing of God with His children varies in detail, but the general pattern seems much alike for individual cases. Into each life, there arises an awareness of failure, a falling short of all that one should be in the Lord; then surrender of heart, which is indeed death to self. There follows an appropriation by faith of His resurrection life through abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. As a result, there is realized an overflow of life likened by the Lord Jesus to “rivers of water.” (John 7:37-39)
The way to heart satisfaction and rest for the spirit for Hudson Taylor, he learned through a fellow missionary, John McCarthy. In a letter to Mr. Taylor he wrote:
“To let my loving Savior work in me His will, my sanctification is what I would live for by His grace. Abiding, not striving not struggling; looking off unto Him; trusting Him for present power; trusting Him to subdue all inward corruption; resting in the love of an almighty Savior, in the conscious joy of a complete salvation, a salvation, a salvation ‘from all sin’ (this is His Word; willing that His will should truly be supreme; this is not new, and yet ’tis new to me. I feel as though the first dawning of a glorious day had risen upon me. I hail it with trembling, yet with trust. I seem to have got to the edge only, but of a sea which is boundless; to have sipped only, but of that which fully satisfies. Christ literally all seems to me now the power, the only power for service; the only ground for unchanging joy. May He lead us into the realization of His unfathomable fullness.”
The Lord used this letter literally to lead Mr. Taylor “into the realization of His unfathomable fullness.” It was read in the little mission station at Chin-kiang on Saturday., September 4, 1869. The missionary was always reticent about telling details of his transforming experience; but he did say, “As I read, I saw it all. I looked to Jesus; and when I saw, oh how the joy flowed!”
His fellow missionaries said of him, “Mr. Taylor went out, a new man in a new world, to tell what the Lord had done for his soul.”
Hudson Taylor writing to his sister in England said:
” As to work, mine was never so plentiful, so responsible, or so difficult; but the weight and strain are all gone. The last month or more has been perhaps, the happiest of my life; and I long to tell you a little of what the Lord has done for my soul. I do not know how far I may be able to make myself intelligible about it, for there is nothing new or strange or wonderful–and yet, all is new! In a word, ‘Whereas once I was blind, now I see…’ “When my agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before.
McCarthy, who had been much exercised with the same sense of failure, but saw the light before I did, wrote (I quote from memory):’But how to get faith strengthen? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.’ As a read I saw it all! ‘If we believe not, He abideth faithful.’ I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I saw, oh how joy flowed!) that He had said, ‘I will never leave you.’ ‘Ah, there is rest!’ I thought. ‘I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I’ll strive no more. For has He promised to abide with me–never to leave, never to fail me?’ And dearie, He never will! ” But this was not all He showed me, nor one half. As I thought of the Vine and the branches, what light the blessed Spirit poured into my soul! How great seemed my mistake in having wished to get the sap, the fullness out of Him. I saw not only that Jesus would never leave me, but that I was a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. The vine now I see, it not the root merely, but all –root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit; and Jesus is not only that; He is more than we have ever dreamed, wished for, or needed. Oh, the joy of seeing this truth! I do pray that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ.”
In Torrey’s book The Holy Spirit he writes:
“So, it is clear that every regenerate man has the Holy Spirit. But in many a believer the Holy Spirit dwells away back in some hidden sanctuary of his person, away back of conscious experience. So just as it is one thing to have guest in your house living in some remote corner of the house where you scarcely know that he is there, and quite another thing to have the guest taking entire possession of the house, just so it is one thing to have the Holy spirit dwelling way back of consciousness in some hidden sanctuary of our being, and quite another thing to have the Holy Spirit taking entire possession of the house. In other words, it is one thing to have the Holy Spirit merely dwelling in us but we not conscious of His dwelling, and quite another thing to be filled or baptized, with the Holy Spirit. So we may put it with perfect accuracy in this way; Every regenerate person has the Holy Spirit, but not every regenerate person has what the Bible calls “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” or “baptism with the Holy Spirit,” or “the Promise of the Father.”
Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness. This scripture gives us a vivid example of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Charles Stanley experienced a long search for the Spirit-filled life. In his book The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life he states:
“The Spirit-filled life begins once we are absolutely and thoroughly convinced that we can do nothing apart from the indwelling strength of the Holy Spirit. Notice I didn’t say it begins when we say we are convinced. It begins when we are convinced. And of us are harder to convince another. The Spirit-filled life begins with an overwhelming realization that we are absolutely helpless and hopeless apart from the empowerment of the Holy spirit. Until that one simple truth grips us at the core of our being, we will never experience the full-blown power of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because we will always be out there doing things for god in our strength. And when we fail, we will promise to do better next time. Without meaning to, many Christians live independently of the Holy Spirit every day. They never give Him a second thought. He is nothing more than a theological category. They have their assignment. You, love your neighbor, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, and so on. They go about their business committed to doing the best they can do. Then you have to come to the point of total surrender. We were given a fresh look at surrender during the Gulf War. Do you remember the faces of the Iraqi soldiers who surrendered in the first few days of fighting? They didn’t come out of their foxholes and trenches in the spirit of rededication. They didn’t march out promising the Americans what they were and were not going to do. They simple surrendered. Their raised hands signified their willingness to do whatever they were instructed to do. There has to come a time in your life when you accept the fact that it is impossible for you to control anything in your life apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Until we give up, we aren’t in a position to be helped. We will work against Him rather than with Him.”
Raymond Edman in They Found the Secret describes Oswald Chambers search for this higher life and spiritual fullness.
Oswald Chambers aspired to the alpine peaks of spiritual victory. He discovered that climbing in the Spirit is accomplished by kneeling, and not by running; by surrender, and not be determination. Despair of self leads to utter desperation; but beyond these mists lies the sunshine of God’s presence. Many a soul will turn back to accustomed marshlands of defeat rather than brave the fogs of frustration; but the mountain peaks rise high above the rain and gloom.
This pattern in the crisis of the deeper life, followed by its wide outreach, is almost identical with the experience of countless others of God’s children. First, there is the hunger of the heart, often followed by a sense of desperation that leads to utter surrender of self. Thereafter The Almighty is pleased to reveal Himself to the desperate seeker who, like Jacob at Jabbok, will not let Him go until there is blessing. To Oswald Chambers there came the day of utter yielding and absolute abandonment to God on every point. As a lad he had come to the Savior and had enjoyed the presence of the Lord Jesus. Years passed, however, before he came to the plateau of spiritual fullness from which he could continue climbing in the sunshine to God’s highest for his life.
“I was in Dunoon College as a tutor in philosophy,” he recalled, ‘when Dr F.B. Meyer came and spoke about the Holy Spirit. I determined to have all that was going and went to my room and asked God simply definitely for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, whatever that meant. From that day on for four years, nothing but the overruling grace of God and kindness of friends kept me out of an asylum. God used me during those years for the conversion of souls, but I had no conscious communion with Him. The Bible was the dullest, most uninteresting book in existence, and the sense of depravity, the vileness of the bad-motiveness of my nature, was terrific. I see now that God was taking me by the light of the Holy Spirit and His Word through every ramification of my being. “The last three months of those years things reached a climax. I was getting desperate. I knew no one who had what I wanted; in fact, I did not know what I did want. But I knew that if what I had was all the Christianity there was, the thing was a fraud. Then Luke 11:13 got hold of me–‘If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?’ ” But how could I, bad motivated as I was, possibly ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit? Then it was borne in upon that I had to claim the gift from God on the authority of Jesus Christ and testify to having done so. But the thought came if you claim the gift of the Holy Spirit on the word of Jesus Christ and testify to it, God will make it known to those who know you best how bad you are in heart. And I was not willing to be fool for Christ’s sake. But those of you who know the experience, know very well how God bring someone to the point of utter despair, and I got to the place where I did not care whether everyone knew how bad I was; I cared for nothing on earth, saving to get out of my present condition.”
Although there is a deep hunger in many Christians lives, there seems to be many reasons for failure. The first reason Christians are not able to fulfil these hungerings is that they enjoy the pleasures of this life too much. In Neil Anderson’s book The Bondage Breaker he asks:
“What would you accept in trade for the fruit of the Spirit in your life? What material possession, what amount of money, what position or title would you exchange for the love, joy, peace, and patience that you enjoy in Christ?” ‘Nothing,’ we all probably agree. But how does your day to day practice answer those questions? Where is the majority of your time, energy, and money being invested: in temporal or eternal endeavor?”
Jesus discussed this very conflict with two of His closest friends, Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). During Jesus’ visit, Martha was caught up in material things, focusing on meal preparation and service, while Mary centered her attention on Jesus and His words. Martha’s tendency was to love things and use people, but Jesus indicated that Mary had chosen “the good part” (verse 42) by loving people and using things. Victory over self comes as we learn to love people and use things, and not get those two activities mixed up.
Possibly the greatest sign of spiritual maturity is the ability to postpone rewards. Hebrew 11:24-26 say: “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasure of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” It is far better to know that we are the children of God than to gain anything that the world calls valuable. Even if following Christ results in hardships in this life, He will make it right in eternity.
Satan is another reason for a Christian’s failure to know Christ and His fullness; Christians believe Satan’s lies. Neil Anderson states:
Satan’s ultimate lie is that you are capable of being the god of your own life, and his ultimate bondage is getting you to live as though his lie is truth. Satan is out to usurp God’s place in your life. And whenever you live independent of God focusing on yourself instead of on the cross, preferring material and temporal values to spiritual and eternal values, he has succeeded. The world’s solution to this conflict of identify is to inflate the ego while denying God the opportunity to take His rightful place as Lord. Satan couldn’t be more pleased–that was his plan from the beginning.
Satan has launched an all-out battle for the minds of Christians. The age-old question comes to us, “Who will control our minds?” Tim LaHaye in his book The Battle for the Mind says:
Ever since God spoke to Adam and Eve, explaining to them how to think to live successful and happy lives, there has been a consistent battle over who will control the thought processes of man’s mind–man or God. Sooner or later, every human being makes that decision and the result of his philosophy of life. Until this generation, parents were the most influential force in helping a child formulate his philosophy. That is no longer true. Modern technology has found ingenious ways to assault the mind of man and child with incredibly beautiful sound, colors, and visual imagery. Millions of parents have already lost their children’s minds to rocks stars, atheistic-humanistic educators, sensual entertainers, and a host of other anti-God, amoral, anti-man influences. Since you are what you think, your thought processes today are largely the result of the input that has come to your mind via your eyes and ear. If you are not careful, you will lose the battle for control of your mind and the minds of your children.
In Romans 7:23 the verse reads, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” Through this verse it is visible that a war raging in the mind. Neil Anderson in his book The Bondage Breaker states that all spiritual bondage is in the mind.
Romans 7:23 and 8:5-7 show that the center of all spiritual bondage is in the mind. That’s where the battle must be fought and won if you are to experience the freedom in Christ which is your inheritance. Paul wrote: “For thought we walk in the flesh, we don not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Some fortresses (strongholds” in the King James Version) of bad habits and sinful thought patterns were established when you learned to live your life independently of God. your non-Christian environment taught you to think about and respond to life in a non-Christian way, and those patterns and responses were ingrained in your mind stronghold. But when you became a Christian, nobody pressed the “CLEAR” button in your mind. Your old fleshly habits and patterns weren’t erased; they are still a part of your flesh which must be dealt with on a daily basis. Thankfully, however, you are not just a product of your past; you are a new creature in Christian (2 Corinthians 5:17), and now you are primarily the product of the work of Christ on the cross. Old strongholds can be destroyed. Just because you are a Christian, don’t think Satan is no longer interested in manipulating you to his purposes through your mind. Satan’s perpetual aim is to infiltrate your thought with his thoughts and to promote his lie in the face of God’s truth. He knows that if he can control your thoughts, he can control your behavior.
Satan wants to fill a Christian’s mind with negative thoughts. He wants him to think only on negative thoughts about circumstances and other people. If a Christian has been hurt, Satan wants that person to mull over his hurts and continually think on those things. He knows that if he can get a Christian’s mind full of self-pity and negative thoughts, that Christian will not be able to live in the fullness of God’s power.
Nancy Missler in her audio set Way of Agape, gives us a daily formula for turning our self-life over to God.
• Recognize negative thoughts and emotions as they come.
• Confess them as sin and repent of them.
• Give over to God all that He has shown you concerning hurts or injustices.
• Get into the Word and reprogram the truth back in the place where Satan has placed lies.
• Now walk by faith that God has cleansed you and has restored you. Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Every day we must:
• Present our bodies-Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
• Deny ourselves-Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
• Be willing to do what God asks us to do-Philippians 3:8-15 and Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
• Continually take our negative thoughts captive-II Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Elizabeth Brown in her book The Joy Choice gives a comparison of wrong thoughts verses right thoughts.
Wrong thoughts make you self-centered; right thoughts make you other centered. Choosing actions and thought that build character is not always easy, for unhealthy thought come in through logical doors. Holes in our character are caused as we justify what we want to do when we know it is not what we should do. We are never tempted to do wrong by things that seem unreasonable. The first instinct against wrong is rejection, but if is nursed in the mind long enough, the mind begins to find ways to rationalize that it is acceptable. Christ said that it is not only adultery that is evil, but lustful thoughts as well, because he knew that mind games can influence character and allow an evil seed to grow into a wrong action King David is a solid example of the way thoughts begin to warp character. No one in the Hebrew nation had a stronger sense of right and wrong that David did as a young man. People respected his ability to stand up for right in the midst of danger, threats, injustice, and persecution. As a young man David was firmly planted in God’s will. David never meant to close God out. He certainly did not recognize he was moving away from God’s direction. David did not move away from God in one big jump. He edged slowly. In 2 Samuel 6:16,20-23 Michal condemns him. He rejects her at that point. His loneliness begins to build thoughts. As the thoughts begin to grow, the rationalization builds, and the morals come down. His eyes become centered on self. If happened so slowly that he did not even recognize that his values had changed until the prophet Nathan came to him after his affair with Bathsheba and rebuked him. “Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in His eyes?” (2 Samuel 12:9). After we find our thought have led us into negative thought or wrong actions, we can change at any time. Thoughts may alter our character or change its nature, but we never lose the ability to re-center on what’s right and shine again.
Although sometimes it seems impossible to have this fullness, history and personal testimonies give examples of men who hungered for this fullness and experienced wonderful transformations in their Christian lives. Is this some miracle that God gives only to a select few or can this be obtained by men today? It is said of Andrew Murray, after experiencing this fuller revelation of the Almighty, that he was a changed man. Amy Carmichael in her book Though the Mountains Shakes speaks of her experience with Andrew Murray:
“Andrew Murray knew for himself the Spirit-filled life and his life encouraged others to know this way of preaching and power for themselves. In 1895 when Andrew Murray of South Africa was in England taking part in various conventions, and because of physical breakdown in Japan I had returned home. At one time we were both guests in the same house. I knew his books were very good; not that I had read one of them, but a neat row of them dressed in sober grey, lived in my mother’s room, and she and everybody said how good they were. I wondered if he was as good as his books. I found that he was even better. There was not only goodness; there was a delicious dry humor, dauntless courage, and the gentleness and simplicity of a dear child. And he was very loving. He never seemed to be tired of loving.”
Miss Carmichael records in her book about Murray when he went through trials or something painful would happen to him in his life…this is what he would do:
“He was quiet for a while with his Lord; then he wrote these words for himself: “First, He brought me here, it is by His will I am in this strait place; in that fact I will rest. Next, He will make the trail a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in the grace He means to bestow. Last, in His good time He can bring me out again–how and when He knows. Let me say I am here,
(1) By God’s appointment,
(2) In His keeping,
(3) Under His training,
(4) For His time.”
From Andrew Murray’s The Secret of Adoration comes this exhortation:
“Take time. give God time to reveal Himself to you. Give yourself time to be silent and quiet before Him, waiting to receive, through the Spirit, the assurance of His presence with you, His power working in you. Take time to read His Word as in His presence, that from it you may know what He asked of you and what He promised you. Let the Word create around you, create within you a holy atmosphere, a heavenly light, in which you will be refreshed and strengthened for the work of daily life.” Such indeed is the abiding life that draws its sustenance and strength from the Vine. By the refreshing and reviving flow of the Holy Spirit through that life there is prayer that prevails, preaching that is powerful, love that is contagious, joy that overflow, and peace that passes understanding. It is the adoration that is stillness to know God one one’s self. It is the obedience that does the Savior’s bidding in the light of the Word. It is the fruitfulness that rises spontaneously from abiding in the Vine.
It is said of Hudson Taylor after he experienced this possession of the “exchanged life”, he was not the same man. In his own words he expressed this transformation:
” The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being sweeter than another, is the rest which full
identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest positions He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient. It little matters to my servant whether I send him to buy a few cash worth of things, or the most expensive articles. In either case he looks to me for the money and brings me his purchases. So, if God places me in great perplexity, he gives me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength? No fear that His resources will be unequal to the emergency! And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me. All this spring from the believer’s oneness with Christ. and since Christ has thus dwelt in my heart by faith, how happy I have been! I wish I could tell you, instead of writing about it.”
Charles Stanley relates time in his life when he earnestly sought the filling of the Holy Spirit. He was asked to teach in a seminary, and he felt so unqualified he relates:
It was four o’clock Friday afternoon and my first class was to begin the following Monday. I had done everything I knew to do. I had read, memorized, fasted, prayed, begged, bargained, pleaded, and bordered on threatening a few times. Nothing had changed. Nothing had changed. From my vantage point, stretched out on the floor in our den, I was just as far away from understanding the Spirit-filled life as I had ever been. But I was only moment away. I had been praying for almost an hour. I was reading and meditating on two verses in I John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. I was at the end of my emotional rope. I glanced at my watch and then buried my face in my hand. “Lord,” I prayed, “You will hear me. I know it’s not Your will for me to be frustrated and overwhelmed with this feeling of inadequacy. I believe it’s Your will for me to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. I have done everything I know to do. And nothing has worked. I know You don’t want me to go in there unprepared on Monday. And I know You don’t want me to quit. So, I’m just going to trust You because I don’t know anything else to do.” Immediately, I was overwhelmed with an amazing sense of confidence and assurance. It was a feeling. But it was in such stark contrast with what I had been feeling for the past three months that I knew something had happened. My heart was gone. It had vanished completely. I didn’t see stars or hear a voice. I didn’t speak in tongues. In fact, that was the point. I didn’t do anything–except trust Him. Then it hit me. I had been consumed with a desire to do something, to somehow win the Holy Spirit. I had been trying to convince God with my sincerity. Furthermore, I had been seeking some kind of physical manifestation to confirm that He had done, or was doing, something. I wanted to see something. As I sat there thinking all this through, two verses ran through my mind. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), and “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:29). The Spirit-filled life is a life of faith. I had missed the obvious. I had been looking all over for something that was right in front of me. I didn’t need to beg. God wanted it for me more than I want it for myself. All I needed to do was believe and move out in faith. I woke up early Monday morning. I couldn’t wait for that first class to begin. As the men filed in, the devil whispered in my ear, “Charles, what do you think you can teach these men? You are the youngest one in the room!” I whispered back, “Maybe so, but I’m filled with the Spirit of truth, and He can handle anything these men throw at Him”
Oswald Chambers learned that implicit obedience which is found in Luke 11:13 “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Is all that is needed to live the “highest life?”
He learned that by faith a Christian receives the fullness of God’s Spirit… just like by faith he received Christ as his Savior. Many who knew Chambers spoke of his disposition after this revelation:
As one of the prophets of old, Chambers was a man of God, but not unapproachable nor other-worldly. He was personable and practical, and yet a dreamer, a thinker with a long-range view. One pastor wrote of him: “In friendly intercourse he was one of the most genial and attractive of men. The children in the home loved him and his boyish ways…Yet he was a might unflinching messenger of God. He never obtruded his view upon others, but when men sought further knowledge, they soon found they were in the presence of a master mind.” He was a man of prayer, interceding, imploring, and believing. He had rare insight into the meaning of the Scripture, and from this came pointed and practical preaching. Derogatory speaking on the part of others did not deflect his spirit from following the Savior, who likewise knew what it means to be “despised and rejected of men.” He was literally “a bond slave of Jesus Christ”; and yet none knew more glorious liberty as a child of God…The absorbing passion of his life was utter abandonment to the Lord Jesus and to His will. That abandonment gave him an inner calm and quiet that was constant and consistent. Outwardly he was tireless in teaching, writing, witnessing, praying. He was led to service for the Savior in American and in Japan where God used his Spirit-filled messages to transform many lives.