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Building up believers and the New Testament church

The Gospel of Jesus Christ: From With to In

We Can Know

The beginning time when we experience the rivers starting to flow in the power of God is wonderful. The specifics of that occurrence may vary from person to person depending on many things, but if we are to stay true to scripture, we need to be able to describe it as a river that starts to flow from within, characterized by power that we recognize does not come from us but from God. Jesus said this is what will happen if we drink what He gives, and I would add that we must keep on drinking. In our present discussion we are concentrating primarily on the beginning of this relationship in the Spirit. However any experience, no matter how authentic, does not serve as the "final stamp of approval" upon our lives.

We must never forget that Jesus baptizes us with the Spirit into a relationship with God, and that the relationship continues only as we walk in faith, feeding on the living word of God. It must begin sometime, but just because it begins does not mean it automatically continues. We see that clearly in the case of the Galatians. We are called to walk in this relationship by faith every day we are here on this earth. To point to the presence of the gifts of the Spirit as confirmation of spirituality is a great error (see Rom. 11:29). The Corinthians were not described by Paul as spiritual but rather carnal, even though they "fell short in no gift." God was among them, but their obedience to God was very sluggish. Paul rebuked them very strongly in many areas. Nevertheless, the gifts of the Spirit are part of God's provision to minister to our needs. They are for our profit and we need every one of them. Paul encouraged the believers to earnestly desire "spirituals" (or spiritual gifts), and then went on to show that to have value, they must be in the context of love, the very nature of God. Thus he commanded them to pursue love and desire spiritual gifts (I Cor. 14:1)--and we know that the source of love is the Holy Spirit (God) dwelling in our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

Brothers and sisters, I think if we will just stay in a simple place before God and not complicate things with our natural thinking, we will realize that the goal is God, not gifts or fruit of the Spirit. The gifts and fruit come when God is there. Our focus is Jesus, and Jesus gives the Holy Spirit. As God comes and reveals Himself, we simply express what God is working in our hearts. This leaves us in a place of rest, not trying to "do something" but simply abiding in Jesus. Abiding in Jesus is the source of victory. When we get uptight and try to "do something" or "be somebody" or "prove something," we are pulled out of this rest and it hinders faith before God. We are called to enter into His rest.

So what if we have not experienced all of these things? Don't we want to? Don't we want to worship God with all of our hearts, in spirit and truth? Don't we want to experience the fullness of God with our brothers and sisters? We need everything God has provided for us, and we cannot "pick and choose" what we think is important. Every part of God's plan and provision for us is important. A hunger and desire for God and the things of God must motivate us to go further. I believe the truth declared in scripture is that every provision of God is available to all, but we must come to Jesus. He will not force us, but He will meet the hungry heart. He will bless us with manifestations of His presence.

Brothers and sisters, we can know that God dwells within. We can know that we are a new creation in Christ Jesus. God has provided everything we need. Let us come diligently before Him and let Him reveal Himself, for He has so much more for us, no matter where we find ourselves today. There is power in His presence. Listen to the words of Paul: "And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God" (I Cor. 2:1-5). Let this be our heart cry also, and let us not settle for anything less. God will not disappoint us. Glory to His name!