Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Christian, Jesus Is Not Far Away!

He is not far

This article will be about the presence of God in our lives and His communication with us. Regarding His presence, Acts 17:27-28 tells us:
Acts 17:27-28
"so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, THOUGH HE IS NOT FAR FROM EACH ONE OF US; "FOR IN HIM WE LIVE AND MOVE AND HAVE OUR BEING"
Sometimes, we think that God is ..... up there, and between Him and us there is a tremendous gap. Nonetheless, this is not what really happens. As His Word makes clear: THE LORD IS NEAR TO EACH ONE OF US and in Him we live and move and have our being. In other words, wherever you are right now, the Lord fills the place. He is very close to you! He is by you, NOW.

1. I Corinthians 2

Concerning the topic of God's presence and His communication with us, in I Corinthians 2 we read:
I Corinthians 2:9-12
"But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His spirit. For the spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God."
It is impossible to know something from God without having His spirit. Without His spirit, we would be in complete ignorance of Him. However, PRAISE THE LORD THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN. In order not to be in ignorance, God gave us His spirit, so that we may know the things He has granted to us. As the Lord said in another place:
John 15:26, 16:13-15
"But when the comforter comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the spirit of truth which proceeds from the Father, he will testify of Me........ When he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak; and he will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for he will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that he will take of Mine and declare it to you."
The comforter, the spirit of truth, is here today. IT IS IN EACH ONE OF US THAT BELIEVES THAT JESUS IS LORD AND GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD (Romans 10:9-10). It was given to tell us the things to come - to glorify the Lord and lead us into all the truth. This is not a supposition, something that....may perhaps happen. It is something that HAPPENS! It is the reality of each born again believer that walks in fellowship with God. Turning again to I Corinthians we read:
I Corinthians 2:16
"For who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ."
and again in Isaiah:
Isaiah 54:13
"All your children shall be taught by the LORD"
and Philippians 2 continues:
"for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."
We have the mind of Christ! We are taught by the Lord. It is God who works in us to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Concluding the above: the Lord has given us His spirit to communicate with us. This spirit is here TODAY. It is in every born again believer, and has been given so that we may know what God has prepared for us. We are no longer in ignorance. We now have the comforter, the promise of the Father that has come to guide us to all truth and tell us things to come.

2. The still small voice

Leaving for a moment the New Testament, we will go to I Kings 19. There we find Elijah, a prophet of God, who being persecuted by Jezebel, walked for many days to finally arrive at Horeb. There the Lord met him and verses 9-13 tells us:
I Kings 19:9-13
"And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" So he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life." Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave."
We sometimes think that God can be found only in the impressive occurrences of life, in "earthquakes and fire". We ignore perhaps that He is also in the routine things of everyday life. Of course there will be unique situations in life. Yet, the Lord is not in them only. For the believer that walks in fellowship with God, his mind is the mind of Christ. As we read in I Corinthians 2:16
I Corinthians 2:16
"For who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ."
We have the mind of Christ! This mind does not work only sometimes, nor its function is necessary linked with "earthquakes and fire". Christ is not somewhere where He cannot be found. He is in us. By being in unity with Him, His mind becomes our mind and His thoughts our thoughts. As we saw in Philippians:
Philippians 2:13
"for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."
God works in us to will and to do for His good pleasure. We do not need to struggle to hear from Him. Yet, we do need to be in fellowship with Him. We do need to allow Christ to "dwell in our hearts through faith;" so that we may know "what is the width and length and depth and height and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that we may be filled with all the fullness of God."

3. "That Christ may dwell in our hearts"

As we saw in the above, God has given us His spirit and we have the mind of Christ. However, the fact that we have the mind of Christ does not mean that we also put it in use. In the same way, the fact that we have holy spirit does not mean that we also walk in the spirit. This becomes evident by the many references-admonitions of the Word of God to walk by the spirit, the new nature and not by the flesh. Really, in Ephesians 3:14 - an epistle whose first verse makes clear that refers to believers ("to the saints who are in Ephesus and faithful in Christ Jesus") - we read:
Ephesians 3:14
"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His spirit in the inner man, THAT CHRIST MAY DWELL IN YOUR HEARTS THROUGH FAITH; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."
Despite the fact that Paul speaks to "saints and faithful to Christ Jesus", he still prays that CHRIST MAY DWELL IN THEIR HEARTS. This in turn means that the fact that one is a believer does not automatically imply that Christ dwells in his heart, exactly as the fact that one has holy spirit does not automatically make him spiritual (see for example I Corinthians 3:3-4). As the Word says in Romans 8:
Romans 8:5
"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit."
Where one sets his mind on, depends on how he lives. We cannot live according to the flesh and at the same time have our minds set on the things of the spirit. Continuing in Romans 8:
Romans 8:6-8
For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
Those who live according to the flesh, have the mind of the flesh and what the flesh minds is enmity against God. Life and peace have only those who have the spirit, AND ALSO HAVE THE MIND OF THE SPIRIT. And as Romans again says:
Romans 8:9-10
"But you are not in the flesh but in the spirit, if indeed the spirit of God DWELLS in you. Now if anyone does not have the spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness."
We are not in the flesh if the spirit of God DWELLS in us1. It is the inhabitance of Jesus Christ in our hearts that that brings life, peace and all the other that compose the fruit of the spirit (see Galatians 5). Turning again to Romans 8:
Romans 8:12-14
"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. FOR AS MANY AS ARE LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, THESE ARE SONS OF GOD."
With the above, our aim is not to doubt our standing in Jesus Christ. What we do want however, is to make clear that life, peace and communication with the Lord is not the result of the existence of the mechanical parts (spirit) only or even of the accurate knowledge about them. It is also required the inhabitance of Christ in our hearts, the mind of the spirit. The Lord is not only interested to see us receive the spirit but also WALK BY THE SPIRIT. The communication with the Lord should not be thought as the communication of two separate parts. I believe it does not only have significance "how many words" one has heard from the Lord but also the unity one has with Him. As the unity with Christ is realized, out heart will have Christ; our mind will be the mind of Christ and our thoughts will be His thoughts. In such a case, we no longer speak for a simple communication - that can anyway exist even between two parts with no relationship with each other - but for something much deeper, something that includes communication: WE SPEAK FOR FELLOWSHIP. It is within such a framework that I believe one should see the communication with God and it is within this framework that this is realized naturally and without any struggle.

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