Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Learn of Me


Matt.11: 28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Phil.3: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death

Step out of yourself and look around. We who are so immersed in this world and all its demanding cares, can we not pause for just a moment and see with the eyes of the Spirit? Unless we can allow ourselves some unguarded moments where the Spirit of God penetrates our well buffered hearts we then are doomed to walk in the very dim light of church doctrine, cultural persuasions, and the evangelical norm. And in reality that is only a few steps from spiritual death. From that state we have no ears to hear; we have no hearts to feel; we have eyes to see; we have no wings to fly. To say that is tragic is an understatement of unspeakable proportions.

The Spirit beckons those that are Christ’s to come out from among them and be sanctified. For too long we have defined sanctified as avoiding certain places and certain habits and certain people, but although some of that should be a natural out flowing of a committed believer, we must see it in a much deeper sense.

Being sanctified indicates being set apart for a divine purpose. It includes a cleansing of the mind, heart and body. Like someone preparing to meet a foreign head of state, so should the believer prepare himself to meet the King of Kings. In fact, like a bride prepares to meet her Bridegroom. If we are content to champion certain causes and to dialogue with others about what causes us frustration, then so be it. You can have that if you should so choose, but if you desire Christ and the unfathomable treasures of His Person and presence then you must go deeper, much deeper.

If you are content with the temporal and the mundane, even within the church, then you need not pursue anything. You are already there. And you will have the company of most of the church. The fellowship will be massive since the road you walk upon is well travelled. The things about which you speak will make good sense, and the emotions you feel will be justified. The things which present inconveniences and which you feel are unfair can be sliced and diced over and over again, and in that you will find your contentment. And the church is filled with experts in that kind of circular fellowship.

But if you desire Christ and if your thirst must be quenched with only Him, then you will have to change course. And that change will require more than a slight alteration. To seek and find Christ in all His resplendent glory you will have to die to all of it. It may cost you friendships, it may cost you some hobbies, and it will surely cost you time. But in the end you will experience a sacred gift of grace which can never be purchased, can never be fully communicated, and can never be compared with anything in this present world.

I speak as a fool for most, but I speak as a messenger for the very few.

But let us discuss this and see if perhaps the Spirit will infuse us with the spiritual energy and direction we so desperately need. To be redeemed through the shed blood of Christ is the highest form of grace for any sinner. And that is purely by grace and purely through faith alone. There are no human works that can help in any way, and in fact the works of man if included render the work of grace as hollow and ineffective. But after a sinner has been born again by the power of God’s Spirit, and after he has been grafted in to God’s eternal family, his path now must be to know God more deeply. Yes, evangelism will follow naturally, but that must be as a result of knowing Him and not a result of legalism and a feeling of accomplishment.

“That I may know Him…” says the Apostle Paul. The church has propagated a falsehood that suggests that when you make a profession of faith, that then you know Jesus. But although your sins may now be under the blood, and you may be born again, your knowledge of Christ has just begun. And if you have tasted of His sacred goodness, then you desire to know Him in all His fullness. This is no hobby; this is not spiritual recreation; this must be the driving force of your life. To know Christ is to know life itself. It is most impossible to share with words the experience a believer can have when he is ushered into the very presence of Christ while still being imprisoned in this body.

I realize in this self centered ecclesiastical world in which we live that things like this seem so ethereal and so intangible and even so unrealistic. We run breathlessly in a utilitarian environment that seeks to do and to have rather than to know. The phrase “Come and dine” now means dinner in the fellowship hall rather than dining with the Master. Time seems too precious to be wasted upon some spiritual practice which has no earthly goals and presents no earthly rewards. Oh but to bask in His presence. To be changed by His glorious Word pressed down upon us with love and gracious power can only be experienced when we meet Him in the sanctuary of prayer. It is one thing to turn over new leaves and change because you think it may benefit you, but to be changed through the transforming power of Christ soars above anything here on earth.

Do you think this is way too mystical? Do you feel uncomfortable because you believe this is too intangible, or do you feel uncomfortable because the Spirit is tugging at your heart and calling you to come closer? Is your flesh beginning to protect the ground it now rules? Are there things which you may need to surrender and with that prospect you are counting the cost?

Matt.13: 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

So what can you bring to compare with the knowledge and fellowship with Him? Is it religion you desire or is it Christ? Can you really convince yourself that you need not respond to a challenge like this? Can any among us really suggest that we are not in need of more of Him and less of us? Perhaps the greatest statement of discipleship ever uttered was this from the lips of the Baptist,

“He must increase, but I must decrease”.

Oh my…oh my. How have we usurped His power and presence and replaced it with our own dreams and machinations? Instead of being shaken by the knowledge of the Holy One, we have constructed an earthly system which pretends to represent Him, but which in fact serves our own interests. And as the culture consumes us, and as sin is rampant within the church, and as we worry about the economy and argue about politics, and as we lose our children to the evil one, can we still disingenuously contend we have the power of Christ among us?

Let us begin a new and fresh and sacrificial journey that seeks His face. Lay aside the weights that hinder the race, and let us fall before Him and beseech the Spirit to do in us what we can never do in ourselves. Can we once again walk with a divine motivation to please Him in all things? Can we lay aside hatred and carnal objectives and careless speech? Can we be resurrected once again to newness of life that not only pleases Him that bought us, but that creates a spiritual fragrance that can reach those who dwell in darkness? The game has long since been over. Eternity has long since begun.

Count the cost. Assess your desires. Take inventory of your devotion. Open your hearts and let the Spirit gently but clearly identify all that is not of Him. And then carefully and with repentance remove that which hinders you and displeases Him. The Spirit will not only help you, He will empower you. And as you feel the weight being lifted from your spirit, quickly fly to Him. This is not some spiritual fairy tale or even a metaphorical stretch. This is a revelation of the life in the Spirit in which so few now live, much less pursue.

Do not be puffed up, but with genuine contrition and humbleness of spirit, worship the Risen Christ. This is not just some good advice; this is life and life everlasting. Walk in eternity and you will impact the temporal. But most of all you will be growing in grace and in the knowledge of Him. And to know Him is to know life itself. I sincerely believe that most of the nationalism, politics, and many other carnal expression that come from professing believers can be traced back to a nominal and shallow devotional life. How can we become self centered and hateful when we walk with Christ in the Spirit? How can we blind to our need of grace when we walk with Christ in the Spirit? How can we condemn others with no conscience when we walk with Christ in the Spirit? How can we murmur and complain when we walk with Christ in the Spirit? How can we speak carelessly when we walk with Christ in the Spirit?

But walking with Christ in the Spirit requires much more than just a loose acknowledgment of a doctrinal statement.
In fact it requires your death.


Anonymous said...

No words...this sermon has found a bullseye in this reader.

sots13 said...

I am left encouraged with your words. Learning to seek Him, to know Him, 'for real' has been a great challenge for me but with greater reward. Thank you!