Thursday Night, September 5, 1991
Excerpts from an unplanned, extemporaneous outburst from a brother, at a gathering of the saints… Extract patiently! : )
“Meekness and majesty, manhood and deity,
In perfect harmony, the Man who is God.
Lord of eternity dwells in humanity,
Kneels in humility and washes feet.
Oh, what a mystery—meekness and majesty!
Bow down and worship, for this is Your God.
Father’s pure radiance, perfect in innocence,
Yet learns obedience to death on a cross.
Suffering to give us life, conquering through sacrifice,
And as they crucify, prays ‘Father forgive.’”
Jesus is the One who kneels in humility and washes our feet. I’ve been very convicted, challenged, excited and renewed by something lately. This has to be firmly rooted in us: what we really must represent to one another, and to the world is the Person and the way of life of Jesus.
Unfortunately, this can so easily be turned into some sort of gimmick. For a few years, the phrase “church life” and “house church model” has been stirring and circulating. You can talk about things like a lot of people living near each other, and a lot of relationships that are “daily in public and from house to house,” and there’s some satisfaction about that way of life. But really, all I have to say about that is, “BIG DEAL!” unless it kneels in humility and washes feet! The vast majority of what we’ve seen around the world is far from Jesus’ thought for the depth of daily, penetrating relationships with Him and with one another. House or no house—vulnerability, self-sacrifice, confessing sins one to another, bearing one another’s burdens, admonishing one another daily—with no programs or assignments or gimmicks—THAT’S the Life that Jesus rose from the dead in order to birth! Anything less is far less than “church” as Jesus builds it!
You see, the test of Real “Church Life” is not in how often people see each other. The authenticity is in the cost involved in laying down lives for each other. Do you see and care for and love the unlovable? And, in Jesus, are you willing to say some “hard” sayings to one another also, rather than just back-patting and conflict avoidance? Jesus did and still does say sometimes, even to the “good” person who is standing strong in their own self-will, “Get out of my sight, satan!” Are you really willing to live the way Jesus lived and lives? Will you care for those who, for some reason, have a history that has robbed them of their vitality and their spiritual life and their hope and future? Are you willing to really care, or are you going to get buried in your own little clique? Getting buried in a clique could be considered “church life” by some faddish standard, but it isn’t Christ Life. To be together often in any setting is meaningless unless there is something real about our own personal willingness to lay down our lives for others. It doesn’t matter how “spiritual” the purpose or topic of conversation may be. Who cares what we know! Who cares how much we talk about spiritual things! Who cares how much I might be able to see things and know things! So what if I have faith to move mountains and revelation that would make angels cower! None of that matters if I’m not willing to kneel in humility and wash feet when no one else is watching! That’s the real issue, and that’s a personal thing.
The Kingdom is neither here nor there, it’s within me. It’s a personal thing, and there is a BIG difference between giving yourself for others when no one else is watching, and just theorizing, globalizing or verbalizing about it. A website hero or a christian chat room heroine, or an e-mail expert, or a wise one-hour counseling session big shot, or a boardroom or pulpit “talking head”…those are easy to come by. But, am I able to speak words of kindness and hope into a situation that is rocked with complexity and fear, at 2 a.m. on a “workday”? Will I risk the favor of others, in an attempt to “wrestle to present them complete in Christ”? Will we be willing to endure the pain of fatigue or rejection or slander in order to be “in the pains of childbirth until Christ is fully formed” in those in His church? Will I, at my own personal expense live my life for other people in the secret places? The Father who sees what’s done in secret rewards in secret (in our own hearts, as well as openly in His Kingdom).
I just want to encourage you to reconsider your life from the standpoint of kneeling in humility and washing feet. Please don’t look at things based on what you know or how often you are with other people, as wonderful as those things are. It really comes down to the things that aren’t quite so glorious and don’t get a lot of praise or look to be all that monumental. It comes down to what we do at 2:00 in the morning when the phone rings and someone has a flat tire. That’s not nearly as neat as standing around “Solomon’s picnic table” and just talking about awesome things that are happening.
I was recently challenged to renew my life before Jesus in a really simple way, and I’d like to pass that on. We have used the description in the past about a person who is truly a believer of Jesus, but they are still like Pinocchio—still wooden. They are not a real boy or a real girl yet. They are doing the right things, saying the right things, going to the right places and hanging around the right people, and everything seems to be in order from an external standpoint, but there is something that’s just not real there. It’s still wooden. Their life is not filled with vitality and energy and creativity and flexibility and revelation. It all seems to be borrowed and somewhat mechanical.
“I want to do the right thing, I want to do the right thing. I fail. What else can I learn that will help set me free? I know! I will learn a few more new things and I’ll apply those and then I will feel a little more free.” It’s like oiling a squeaky limb, but it’s still not real.
Well, the process of being transformed from a wooden boy or girl to a real boy or girl is very much related to the secret places. Your destiny is Zoe Life—real, substantial, supernatural Life. And your opportunities to receive that are in those secret moments of decision when no one else is watching. There are times when you come to a fork in the road and you have to decide if you are going to walk by integrity, or if you will walk by compromise, or duplicity and deception. You have to decide if you are going to go the extra mile when no one would know about it, or if you are going to take some shortcut, knowing in your heart you stopped short of where God wanted you to go.
Are you going to pretend to have a spiritual walk? Are you going to pretend to have a life of prayer and a life of praise by the way you carry yourself in public? But in secret, it’s not really there at all? Perhaps you talk about spiritual things and generate discussion about spiritual matters, but that true, deep Life is just not really there. Maybe your “spirituality” is self-centered and self-immersed rather than reaching to heaven in sincerity with hope and faith and strength. It’s easy to just basically sit down on a couch and psychoanalyze yourself and call that prayer. But are you really reaching out to the eternal Godhead and fellowshipping friend to friend with Him? Or is it just religion—“quiet time”?
Our responses to the intersections in our path have a lot to do with whether God will be able to honor us and fill us and immerse us and surround us! Will He count us faithful and clothe us from on High? Or instead, will we just try to grind it out and mechanically try to keep up with things? A lot of the transition from being a wooden boy or girl to being able to breathe the very air and wind of Heaven as you go through your day has to do with the choices you make when no one is watching. It is not without a cost and not without some fatigue and frustration at times. This Real Life is clearly Divine.
These crossroads, whether they are seen or unseen, are so important. God is trying to show us whether or not we try to use self-life to master bad habits and a loose tongue and various vices and sensual indulgences. Do we use self-life to try to master it, or do we live in another Realm altogether? Do we breathe God’s air and Heaven’s air, or do we use our self-life—our determination, our knowledge, our relationships, our accountability, or some external sorts of things—to try to accomplish our goal? God’s intention is to teach us how to live in Him and through Him and with Him. He wants to teach us how to live in a Realm that can’t be seen with our eyes. “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” “My Kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus said. The Kingdom in which He’s calling us to live is in an unseen Realm. We are called to live there, right now, in a Realm that is not controlled by the factors that control this planet! Walking on water is the potential for someone who is living in fellowship with God and breathing Heaven’s air rather than earth’s air.
I’m trying to give you pictures that you can use to ask God to make these things real in your life. You mustn’t be satisfied with being a wooden boy or girl. That is not your inheritance! And the way you get from point A to point B has to do with those crossroads. Those decisions to live in His life rather than your own strength, your own willpower, your own sense of humor, your own “whatever.” Those decisions are so crucial. Living by your self-life will generate a false sort of security, or a false sort of spiritual high. It’s rubbish. It doesn’t bear fruit and it won’t satisfy. It will be fleeting. Don’t be satisfied with being wooden! Ask God—cry out to God—to endue you, to clothe you with something that is clearly from Him, to breathe His air and to live that kind of Life with Him NOW!
You are not subject to the principles of this world and false humility and religion and willpower, or a “movement for God.” We are not interested in a movement for God. We are not interested in generating a biblical theology or a biblical ecclesiology about the way the Church is supposed to be. We are interested in living the same kind of life that Jesus led, a life of…
“Meekness and majesty, manhood and deity,
In perfect harmony, the Man who is God.
Lord of eternity dwells in humanity,
Kneels in humility and washes feet.
Oh, what a mystery—meekness and majesty!
Bow down and worship, for this is Your God.
Father’s pure radiance, perfect in innocence,
Yet learns obedience to death on a cross.
Suffering to give us life, conquering through sacrifice.”
This isn’t just Jesus. This is your inheritance and my inheritance! And the way to get that inheritance is “suffering to give others life, conquering through sacrifice,” returning good for evil, overcoming evil with good and serving Him in meekness and humility and kindness. Answering gently those who oppose you, and as they crucify, praying, “Father, forgive.” “Wisdom unsearchable, God the invisible, love indestructible, in frailty appears. Lord of infinity, stooping so tenderly, lifting others to the heights of His throne.”
Father, I pray that you would allow these seeds, the thoughts that are important to you, the things that are a part of the nature of your Son and His very visible, very free and very tangible walk with You to be planted in us. In the midst of a crooked and depraved generation, with frustrations and all the opposition that the world system and satan would offer—financial problems, and all those sorts of things that certainly could have encumbered Him. Jesus learned how to walk in those things. He learned to rise above them out of relationship with You—even to walk on water, to conquer sin, to overcome death and blindness and illness. He walked with You and saw what You saw. He stretched out His hand as an extension of Your hand because of His relationship with you. Father, please teach us to live that way. We want to be marked as people that walk in Your anointing and by Your life, not as people that have a certain ecclesiology or theology. God, don’t separate us apart from others on the basis of anything other than that we are filled with power on high, we are walking with humility and frailty, and yet with authority and love and kindness and an overcoming Spirit. We want to be those kind of people. Not theologically, not philosophically, but with a wash basin and a towel and self-sacrifice at 2:00 in the morning. Teach us how to say, “Get out of my sight, satan,” and how to say, “Your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more.” Please teach us how to live that way.
Let Him Have It!
One of the best things about growing in the Grace and the Knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and growing from one degree of Glory to another degree of Glory is that the way to get there is so much easier than we ever imagined. It isn’t some hocus-pocus thing that you have to just hang on to the edge of your seat until some day it happens to you. It’s an inheritance. Every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus is an inheritance for you. It’s not something you have to run off and get somewhere through some magic secret formula you have to achieve. It’s grace. It’s God’s gift to you. The components of it are very, very simple.
Recently, I was laying my life before God and talking to Him about it. I had had a pretty busy day, and I was overwhelmed by a lot of different things, and all of a sudden I found myself a little bit nervous, a little edgy and tense. I could see that I could be impatient pretty easily. Had I had an opportunity to express impatience, I knew it was in there somewhere and it probably would have come out. I knew it was time to retire and to get away and get alone with Jesus. I didn’t do that very well yesterday and I snapped on one occasion in response to something I felt was unfair. Today, I really knew it was essential that I get alone with Jesus for awhile, not to hide from anything, but really to pursue His heart.
In the process of talking to Him about some things, I realized that so often the way God teaches us things is subtle—a still small voice or a whisper in the garden with Him. I started asking Him about different things. I asked, “Well, what’s Your perspective on this area of my life? How do You view it?” And, “What’s Your perspective on this other area of my life and how do You view that?” I was talking with Him about some of those things and it was humorous. I’ll give you the specific involved, because it strikes me as funny—I saw the root of a problem in there somewhere. I said, “What’s Your perspective on playing golf?” I found myself answering Him quickly, “Oh, I know what Your perspective is on that!” And I thought, “Wait a minute!” I yielded other areas to Him, “What’s Your perspective on this?” And I really wanted to know His perspective on it in an honest way and I was willing to accept whatever it was. But I caught just the slightest, slightest inclination of my heart to put words into His mouth. It was interesting to me that satan was trying to find a root in me in that area and I had to let go of it.
“Oh, let the Son of God enfold you, with His Spirit and His Love. let Him fill your heart and satisfy your soul. Oh, let Him have the things that hold you, and His Spirit, like a dove, will descend upon your life and make you whole.”
If you will let Him have the things that hold you, then His Spirit like a dove will descend upon your life—AND MAKE YOU WHOLE! He will clothe you with power from on high. It’s just the simplest little things. It’s not some magic formula way off there someplace.
If you are a child of His, if you have truly made covenant with Him, if you have been bought by the blood of the Lamb and have been sealed in that covenant, then the way to have the Spirit descend upon you like a dove is first and foremost to behold Him and to walk by faith, and not by sight. If you have entered into a true covenant, not dating Jesus, but having clearly married Jesus forever, this other area of walking in power from on high, doing greater works than He did (which is part of the inheritance), having joy unspeakable and full of glory, and tasting the powers of the coming age is totally related to beholding Him, to continually beholding Him. To see HIM, not a movement for Him or a bunch of things that you are supposed to do or not do in order to achieve something. That is a works mentality, and God will never honor that. But God WILL honor gifts that are offered out of love as you behold Him and respond to Him out of gratitude and thanksgiving. If your sacrifice isn’t coming out of a relationship with Him and because you are beholding Him, then God will not honor and bless it and it will only frustrate you.
Then, beyond beholding Him, let go of the things that hold you; and His Spirit like a dove will descend upon your life and make you whole. I had to deal with that. I had to look Jesus in the eye and say, “Okay. It’s settled. I don’t have to put words in Your mouth. Whatever You think of it is fine with me. I don’t have to push that question quickly away and say, ‘I don’t care what You think about it,’ or ‘Well, I already know what You think about this. It’s a good thing. Think of all the good that has come of it.’” I don’t have to convince Him of anything. I just need to lay it down and be willing every minute of every day to totally submit that to Him. And if I won’t do that, then His dove will not descend upon my life and make me whole. I won’t be able to let go of the tears of sadness and years of pain. It will consume me, and embitter me and it will control me. I won’t have Peace that transcends understanding, which can only come from the hand of God, as long as I am trying to make my own way and cling to things that I think will make me whole.
“Oh, I just need to get away from it all. I just need a little break, and then I’ll be okay. I just need this thing to give me security or to make me feel strong, to make me feel like I’m worth something. I’ll do this thing or accomplish this task and then I’ll add God to the side.” He will not honor that. He will not bless that. You will be consumed by your own vanities and your own selfishness and your own pursuits. Let go of it. Let go of your past, your talents, your pleasures and the things that you want to make yourself whole. Stop it! Let go of it. Let Jesus give it back to you. Let Him be the Source of Life for you. Trust Him to be your security, your strength, your rest, your value, and your worth. If you will trust Him with those things and stop filling yourself, His Spirit like a dove will descend upon your life and make you a real boy or girl. He will make you whole. He will make you free indeed.
This is not so complicated that it takes a magic doctrine and a magic formula and then you have to try to somehow make God do something. You don’t have to climb on your hands and knees over broken glass and go through some secret ritual and learn this magic handshake and then God will fill you. It’s not like that. It’s so simple. Behold Him, and let go of the things that hold you in your heart.
Life in the Vine
Why do we do what we do, and how do we do what we do? We can go through a lot of costly things. We can give our body to be burned and give all of our money to the poor, but there has to be that abiding in Him in the process, otherwise it can just be religion. And if it’s just religion, it’s unsustainable—and you won’t be able to do it. Sooner or later you will “pop your cork.” All of a sudden this valiant, hard-working great man or woman of God that does all these awesome deeds will lose their mind if their life isn’t in communion with Jesus. If it isn’t abiding in the Vine, it will blow out and you will wonder what in the world ever became of this person. This great man or woman of God that has done all these great feats of faith and mighty exploits—all of a sudden they are worse than infidels, and you wonder, “Why?!”
There was a man that was a “preacher” (an unBiblical concept, but that’s another story) for twenty years that many people would have said was a great, awesome man of God. Yet, when secretly falling apart on the inside, he checked himself into a stress center to be evaluated. The professional diagnosis? He was right at the brink of total annihilation and they prescribed shock treatments! That was the world’s assessment of his life! And I guarantee, if you trace back his life, you would find that he was not abiding in the Vine. He could not have been abiding in Jesus, as evidenced by the bad fruit.
Jesus said, “This is My food, to do the Father’s will and to finish His work.” When we are really in touch with the Vine, it is food to us! Father’s work is meat, and it’s Life to us. We grow stronger and stronger at every place of self-sacrifice, not more and more put out! If I’m abiding in the Vine, I won’t keep a record of how many sacrificial things I’ve done for other people, and then eventually burn out. “It’s too much!” If it’s religion, I am going to search for justices and injustices. “Well, I’ve done all these things and no one has done anything for me. I reach out to others and they don’t reach out to me. I’m the one who always initiates this, that and the other, and now, here I am in this spot and no one seems to notice and no one cares.” If it’s religion, you will keep records and blame other people. “Well, you did this, and that’s my justification for doing that.” You begin to think that way when your life is centered in religion, rather than Jesus.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! If you offer your life to Jesus on a continual basis and you abide in the Vine, then you won’t keep a record and there is no such thing as justice or injustice. You will be abiding. Your self-sacrifice, regardless of how costly, will be in communion with Him and a gift offered to Him. It will be food and Life to you. But if it’s religion, if it’s just a zealous attempt to do the right thing, then you will eventually crash and burn. If you’re not really abiding in Him, you’ll eventually be filled with pride if things are going well, or you will end up disgusted, fatigued, angry and bitter.
ALL You Have—Not How Much!
The roots need to go deep. There needs to be something real about the costliness of your offering—rather than giving something cheap and shallow and superficial. Like the widow with her two mites that Jesus bragged on, it wasn’t how much she gave; it was the fact that what she gave was all that she had! It’s the same with us. It doesn’t matter how much we give, it’s the percentage of what we give that matters most to Jesus. We don’t compare ourselves to each other and what someone else may give. We compare our gifts to what we are capable of giving. And if we give all that we have, God will exalt that. It is a costly thing, but the desire to offer it has to be out of communion with Him.
There are other reasons you might do something costly. You might sacrifice to be seen of men, or to feel good about yourself, or because all the teachings that you’ve heard say it needs to be costly. That’s all superficial. But beware! That kind of thinking can accumulate in us. It will build up behind the dam of our carnality, and the dam will eventually burst. Your costly choice can be from a communion with Jesus, from abiding in the Vine. If it’s a real gift offered to Him, then it has to do with a real relationship with Him. If we are beholding Him in what we give, then the costliness will continue to build strength in us and renew us day-by-day, rather than drain us and sap us and cause us to compare ourselves to others.
So beyond costly, our offering also has to be with Jesus and because of Jesus rather than just an external thing done because it’s supposed to be the right thing. We mustn’t simply do things because it’s “the right thing.” I know I will lose my mind if I do things because it’s the right thing. We do things because we want to commune with Jesus, as a Person. It doesn’t really matter if I don’t sense His closeness and immediate presence. I can still say, “Jesus! I know You hear me. It sounds like an echo chamber to me at times, but I know You hear me and I know You love me. I want You to know that this is a gift to You for the saints of God and for the Lamb.” Why should I do this sacrificial act? For the saints of God and for the Lamb! It has to be that sort of motivation rather than just doing what’s right and hoping some day it will pay off.
I AM the Resurrection
Why is it that those eleven men who saw Jesus raise people from the dead, saw Jesus walk on water, saw lame men walk and blind men see, saw demons cast out…why is it that they couldn’t believe that Jesus Himself was raised from the dead? They, themselves, were able to cast out demons and to heal the sick and to raise the dead, at certain times when Jesus had authorized them and commissioned them for that purpose. So what was the obstacle that kept them from being able to believe that Jesus Himself was raised from the dead? Why would they stubbornly disbelieve, not only that He could be raised from the dead, but that people had actually seen Him and talked to Him? Why wasn’t that enough for them? What was the obstacle? Of course they believed that dead people could be raised. They saw that happen. But why did they have such a hard time believing that Jesus, Himself, was raised from the dead?
The difference is between believing “for things” and actually believing in the Life that was the Light of men. On the one hand is the wooden, Pinocchio world of doing or believing in “things.” “I want to have my bills paid, so I believe God for my bills being paid.” “I think that no one ought to be sick, so I believe God for my sickness being healed.” Those types of things are external, and the disciples did believe in them. They saw all kinds of things happen as a common occurrence, really, as they walked three years with Jesus. It was common to see a coin come out of the mouth of a fish, or a deaf man hear, or children raised from the dead. But there is no way you can experience Jesus’ true Life—-to be real and full and free—if you are looking at events and situations, and being filled up with “things” in some self-centered way. Jesus rebuked them when He walked on the water because they hadn’t learned anything from the loaves and the fishes. They couldn’t quite catch it. It was always a series of events to them. They were still living in a carnal, superficial, secular world with godly events added on to the side, and they weren’t really living in the same Life that Jesus was living in.
“Jesus did many other miraculous signs that His followers saw. Those miracles are not written in this book, but these things are written so that you can believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, then by believing you can have Zoe life, you can have life through His name” (John 20:30-31).
True life is to believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God. Believe more than just that He does good things—which He certainly does—but instead believe that He is the very expression of the Father’s heart, and that He is the Word that became flesh. When you’ve seen Him, you’ve seen the Father. To live in that kind of life is unshakable. That life doesn’t fear. It doesn’t resort to cynicism and skepticism and despair and discouragement and self-analysis and frustration. It’s not the sort of carnal life that is always reaching out to a God that is somewhere out there and trying to get Him to do something for you.
The disciples couldn’t believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, because they didn’t see the Man who IS the Resurrection and the Life! They saw a man who gives resurrection. They saw a man who gives bread, not a Man who IS the Bread of Life. It was a superficial thing. When Jesus was raised from the dead, they were incapable of seeing that He really could have not only done that, but BEEN that—been resurrected. He was actually LIFE—and they missed it!
The apostle John learned how to live in the same place Jesus lived, seated with Christ in Heavenly realms. Here is a man who experienced the kind of life that Jesus experienced rather than just watching the things that Jesus did.
“We tell you now about something that has existed and lived since before the world began. This we heard, we saw with our own eyes, we watched, we touched with our hands. We write to you about the Word, Christ that gives life. That life was shown to us, we saw it, we can give proof about it. Now we tell you about that life. It is life that continues forever. This is the life that was with God the Father. God showed this life to us. Now we tell you the things that we have seen and heard. Why? Because we want you to have fellowship together with us in that life. The fellowship we share together is with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. We write these things to you that you, too, can be full of joy with us” (1 John 1:1-4).
John is obviously living on the other side. He’s living where it is not just God doing a bunch of things, answering prayers, teaching us morality, but he is sharing in the Life that was with the Father before the world was. He is sharing in a fellowship of supernatural, divine Life. I don’t really know how else to say it, but Jesus could rebuke them for not having been fully convinced of His resurrection life. He could rebuke them because they hadn’t really experienced it. They were still following it, they were still obeying it, they were still believing in the external things, but they weren’t really living inside of the kind of Life that Jesus was living in. That’s really what He is calling us to.
I want to ask you to consider what our brother David wrote to us, and what our brother, the apostle John, wrote to us and ask you to really look hard at those kinds of things. It escapes words. There is something in the life and experience of these brothers that you have to experience before you die. If you don’t, it won’t be because He didn’t offer that inheritance to you. It’s available to all.
“Father, we ask You that You would show us Your Son who is the Life and who is Your Christ, Your Anointed One. We don’t want to be the kind of people that stubbornly refuse to believe, that when things happen to us we are discouraged and depressed and we just ask You to solve our problem. We want to be the kind of people that know You are The Life, that live in You and move and have our being in You. We are not discouraged, we are not set back and depressed and we don’t throw away the confidence that You have planted in us. We ask You, Father, that You would plant a hope deep within us, that we would be unshakable and unmovable and unswerving as we hold onto the things that You’ve said and the promises that You’ve extended to us, and the character that is in Your Son, Jesus. We believe in His character. We believe in Your character and Your Father-heart, and so we are confident of the things that are still to come in the midst of any persecution or accusation, in the midst of failures and setbacks in our own lives. We cling to You, not as the answer of our prayers, but as the Person who is our Hope and our Stay and our Anchor and our High Tower. We really believe You as being the Yes and the Amen to Your promises. Father, please, impart Your hope and Your word and Your Spirit to Your people.”
The Real Boy
There is no such thing as a Christian that doesn’t have the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14; Gal. 3). If you believe in the name of Jesus, if you have given your life to Him and have truly been born from above, then you have the Holy Spirit. The point is that there is a distinction to be made between the indwelling Holy Spirit and the fullness of the Holy Spirit, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and clothing with power from on high. There is a distinction made, and that’s the distinction between the wooden boy and the real boy—one has been clothed with power from on high, one has been touched. I really prefer that terminology because the words “baptism in the Holy Spirit,” and “fullness of the Spirit” have been argued over so much. So, let’s just call it “clothing from on high.”
The point is that we need God desperately to touch our lives and to fill our lives and to set us free. It isn’t a hocus-pocus thing, where we are back to the place where we started, trying again and again to get from point A to point B. It comes from beholding Jesus, communing with Jesus, abiding in the Vine and by making those choices to let go of the things that have the affection of your heart. In the case of those men in Acts 2 who had a visitation of the Holy Spirit, they still had to deal with those things, because two chapters later they were fearful under the opposition of the Jews. They had another crossroad in their lives and they decided to stand in faith and say, “God, stretch out Your hand, fill Your followers with boldness. Give us words, give us utterance. Show us who You want us to be and how You want us to be and touch our lives. Shake the fabric of our lives.”
I don’t want to get into a theological discussion, but suffice it to say that we desperately need a touch from Heaven to pull off anything more than just striving. It’s important that you commune with God and beseech Him to bless you with that unmerited favor, and with grace. That isn’t just a one-time thing where all of a sudden you don’t have any problems or challenges or bad days anymore. But you do desperately need God’s personal touch from Heaven in your life in order to be the kind of person that can see and experience and understand and walk in power and authority in the unseen world.
The law is a schoolmaster that drives us to Christ. Somehow in our failing, we are driven to cry out for more. In Acts 1, they cried out in one accord in the upper room, craving whatever God would do in their lives to equip them for the future. There is a craving of God’s presence that only comes through failure, through coming to grips with the reality of our poverty, and that’s what He was helping them to do in Acts 1. He wanted them to come to grips with the reality of their poverty. He was saying to them, “No. The way you are living, the way you are seeing things is unacceptable. Don’t think that because you have seen miracles and you have done some miracles and you’ve heard good teaching that you have arrived. That’s not enough. Don’t you dare be satisfied. You are walking a shallow existence and you better come to grips with that. Otherwise you’ll never crave more.”
If we are satisfied with being wooden, we shall remain wooden. I want to stir up a craving for God’s presence and the ability to see Him as the Light, the One who is from the beginning, and to hold Him up as Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God. If we will hold Him up that way, if we will behold Him, if we will commune with Him, if we will do what we do for Him and with Him and through Him and in Him, if we will live that way, then He will accomplish His purposes through us.