C hristians have long tried to justify all the evil that has been on the basis of the good that will be. We speak of a world to come that will right all wrongs. But how does the world to come apply to the world in which we live? If this life is only some sort of pre-game activity before the real event, then what a mockery is made of all the human tears shed and the struggles fought. Living faith does not say, "it will be all right." No, faith says, "It is all right."
Eternity entails so much more than "forever and ever." Eternity is not a big quantity of time and space; rather, it is the foundation of time. It is the timeless moment, which is of infinite profundity. Eternity is What Is, and on eternity are built our realities of space and time. Eternity is spirit, and spirit cannot be defined or controlled.
Jesus said, "I am eternal life," so we who have Christ have eternal life now. To speak of eternity is to say that this moment has an eternal depth; it is a moment full of magic and mystery. And to say that we have eternal life is to say that we have thrown ourselves into
that bottomless moment. Each second we explore and discover more of its secrets and glories, though we shall never fathom the moment.
We have faith not in the Disneyworld that will be in the clouds some day, but in the spirit-world that now is and on which stand all other worlds. We have faith not that we shall become perfect saints but that we already are perfect by His Spirit, which is a far greater reality than our sin. We have this faith because of Him who says, "It is done," and whose name is I AM.
There are theologians, philosophers, and social scientists who expend the greater part of their lives in postulating solutions to fundamental existential questions: questions about the existence of space and time, as well as man's existence without and within that space and time. The task which these thinkers have assumed is noble and necessary to man's continual investigation and discovery of himself; however, these questions and hypothetical responses to the questions often become so abstract as
Richard Zenith, our new assistant editor
to lose all relation to the whole business of living. We may write a Summa Theologica and speak in platitudes of the reasons for man's existence, the proofs of God, and the meaning of our world, and such discussion has its place. But after we have read all the books, exhausted our mental capacities, and run against the limits of our language, we are left with life in this moment which must be lived.
All we have is the moment, though we are tempted to believe that we possess a whole host of tangible and intangible objects. We own cars, houses, clothing, and food, but the life-span of material possessions carries no guarantees; we might lose everything in an instant. Our immaterial possessions - memories, impressions, emotions, and thoughts - are in a constant state of flux and make a weak foundation from which to order our lives. I conclude that we have nothing but the moment, not simply because our "possessions" are temporal, but because our "possessions" have no bearing on our lives except in the moment.
Let us suppose that I own a large two-story house in Los Angeles. When I am in Los Angeles, I can derive a great deal of pleasure from my house, because it is there at the same time that I am there. Likewise, when I go to visit my friends in Maine, I am able to appreciate and enjoy their lovely old home, but of course I cannot enjoy my own house in Los Angeles, because I am not there. I might think about my house and say to myself, "My house in L.A. is much superior to this old dump in Maine. Why, this place doesn't even have a swimming pool." Though I believe that my house is a better house, I cannot say that I am enjoying my house in Los Angeles. That house is far removed from my present circumstance, and though I may feel some slight satisfaction by telling myself that my house is preferable to the house of my friends, such reflections only serve to deprive me of fully participating in and enjoying my present situation. When we stay with the present moment in thought and action, we acquire a healthy detachment from our possessions not at hand (my house in Los Angeles). At the same time, there is r sense in which we possess the entire world. Whatever exists in my here and now (my friends' house in Maine) is mine to enjoy to the full, whether or not I possess the title deed.
Again, memories are analogous. I
may think that the steak dinner I ate last week was much tastier than the steak dinner I am eating tonight. If I dislike the person who cooked tonight's steak dinner, I may even take perverse delight in judging the meal inferior to last week's. But I certainly cannot enjoy a steak dinner that has already been digested and eliminated from my system. Memories are distant from the present moment. When we dwell over-long on memories, we succeed in quenching the life that is now. "All men are created equal" is a true statement, not because we all have equivalent physical and mental capabilities, but because after we distill our existence in the fire of trenchant analysis, we all have exactly the same remainder: the moment. When a businessman and a beggar join together for a beer at Joe's Bar, they share (to some degree, at least) a moment with each other, and the businessman's money is irrelevant to that moment.
If we have nothing but the moment, then we had better take a hard look at it and what we are going to do with it. I said that eternity exists in the timeless moment and that such a moment has infinite depth. By these words I am trying to loosen our perception from the grip of the time/space framework engendered by our language and culture.
W e tend to perceive our world with two mental measuring rulers. One ruler gauges time and the other ruler gauges space. Such a mental process is very logical, considering that a clock and a yardstick do the same. Nevertheless, this tendency to count and measure has resulted In a narrow view of our world. We begin unconsciously to qualify our emotions, our Ideas and other areas of our experience which do
not conveniently fit into "time" or "space."
When we say "I love you very much," we have consciously or unconsciously set a limit on our love. We always strive to make more and to make it better. Once we have dealt with the superficial sense-datum of the moment, we assume that that is all there is, and we wait impatiently for the next moment to arrive. We are in a hurry to move on, grow up, get a job, retire, die and go to heaven. We become quickly bored by today, and we hope that tomorrow will be more interesting. But we have not even looked at today! Our mental rulers found nothing to measure, so we decided there was not anything there.
But let us take a second look. Our objective world contains millions of avenues awaiting exploration, and our subjective world offers us an even wider spectrum of unexplored pathways, even though most of us content ourselves with the narrow visual field of things that are immediately apparent. The moment is eternity, because each moment has inexhaustible potential. Our three-dimensional world presents infinite phenomena to look at, and each phenomenon may be looked through to the infinite facets of our subjective experience. So we have an infinity of infinities before us! We have nothing save the moment, but it is an awfully big moment.
The moment is mysterious, fascinating, and wondrous, yet we seldom live in It. We spend most of our day in yesterday or in tomorrow. Blaise Pascal wrote in his Pensees:
We do not rest satisfied with the present. We anticipate the future as too slow In coming, as if In order to hasten its course; or we recall the past, to stop Its too rapid flight. So im
continued on 26
BY NORMAN GRUBB
W hen the writer to the Hebrews wrote about there being a "rest to the people of God", he defined it as being a ceasing from our own works. Not from work, of course: that is an impossibility; but from works proceeding from self-effort. In other words, sharing God's rest does not mean ceasing from work, any more than our ever-active God ceases, but resting in our work. Work which has rest at its centre is work from adequacy; work which has strain at its centre (the kind we are most accustomed to) is work from inadequacy. If you go to a store to buy ten dollars worth of goods with only one dollar in your pocket, you buy from strain: if you go with twenty, you buy from rest! If our activities are dependent on our own resources, we work from strain; if upon His, we work from rest. That is also the "second rest" Jesus spoke of in Matt. 11:28-30. He worked from rest, He was so evidently relaxed. Why? Because in lowliness of heart He thoroughly knew His human nothingness, and therefore could also know His indwelling Father's allness; and being meek of heart, He knew how to abide in His Father in times of stress, rather than rushing off to handle situations His own way. So He now says to us: "You are in my service, so learn the secret of rest in work from Me, learn the meaning of meekness and lowliness of heart. If you do that, you will rest, not only in your spirits from the past burden of your sins and their dominion over you, but also in your souls from the emotional stresses of
daily living ('ye shall find rest unto your souls'); and then you will be able to prove what now seems a paradox as I say it: 'My yoke is easy and my burden is light', when the normal experience is that a yoke is hard to pull and a burden heavy to carry." God gave me that word personally thirty years ago when I had to take responsibility in the missions to which I belong. "Watch", He said to me. "Whenever your yoke is hard to pull, or your burden heavy to carry, you are off beam. Get on beam again!" I have found that an excellent barometer!
Now the Hebrews writer takes this further when he distinctly connects the experience of this rest with ability to discern between soul and spirit (Heb. 4:9-12). My experience is that a great many of God's people are confused and frustrated, and live in a great deal of false condemnation, because they have not learned this distinction.
Modern psychology has invented its own vocabulary for what it considers are the subdivisions of the human personality, such as the subconscious, the id, the super-ego, and so on. But God
gave us His own definition and analysis centuries ago, and that will never be bettered.
Man, the Bible says, is tripartite-spirit, soul and body: and in that order of importance (I Thes. 5:23). In the Hebrews passage, however, it stresses that the difference between soul and spirit is very subtle, and indeed can only be recognized by inner revelation. Only the word of God, it says, applied as the sharp sword of the Spirit to the human consciousness, can pierce "even" to that depth, sever between the two, and give soul and spirit their proper evaluation; only so can we recognize the proper function of each without mistaking the one for the other, and thus enable the human personality to move forward, in gear and remain there. And further to underline the depths to which it is piercing, the writer uses the analogy of "the joints and marrow", likening soul and spirit to the joints which give the bony structure of the body its flexibility in action, and the marrow which is the inner life of the bones.
""The human spirit is sometimes
described as that part of us which can
know GOD. But it is more than that. It is
the essential ego my human "I am" !!
The first essential is a clear recognition of the human spirit as the real self, the ego within us. Soul and body are the clothing or means of expression of the spirit. "God is spirit," said Jesus. God is the primal Self of all selves, the I AM; therefore, self is spirit. God is called in this same letter "the Father of spirits", the human ego made in His image. The human spirit is sometimes described as that part of us which can know God. But it is more than that. It is the essential ego-my human "I am". The Bible tells us that it is our spirits that know ourselves: "What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?" When I say, "I myself", the "I" is the spirit, the ego which can look out from within, as it were, and knows the "myself', the rest of me (soul and body). The dying Saviour on the cross commended His spirit (His true self) into His Father's hands. The saints awaiting the physical resurrection are spoken of as "spirits of just men made perfect", for the true self is spirit.
The self, the human spirit, has three basic faculties-heart, mind and will. The word "heart", a term often used in the Bible, is borrowed by analogy from the fact that the heart is the physical centre of the body. It indicates that love is the centre. God being love, that which He fathered in His own image is compounded of love. Love is the fountain head of the ego. "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." The human spirit is love, self-love through the false union in the Fall; and when joined to Christ by grace, God's selfless love expressed through the human love-faculty.
Mind, the second faculty, is that by which we know things. Not what we think about things, any more than love is what we feel about things, but the means by which we know them. "We have the mind of Christ"; that is why we know Him. "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God." Ideas belong to the soul realm, knowledge belongs to the spirit. Many know about Christ, they have ideas about Him-that is the soul; it is something different to know Him-that is spirit. The human spirit is the knower. When the divine Spirit is united by grace to the human spirit, He shares His knowing with us.
The third faculty of the spirit is the will, where the choices are made under the direction of heart (love) and mind (knowledge). At this point the spirit (the ego) moves into action, expressed through soul and body. The will is the arbiter of our destiny. If the choice is for God (such choosing being the com
"It is through the
infinite variety of
our souls that all
the glories of
Christ will be
puision of grace), then the will of the divine Spirit takes over in our spirits, and God with His good, perfect and acceptable will works in us to will and do of His good pleasure. The will of the Spirit issues in the activities of soul and body, the willing motivates the doing; but it is now God's will through our wills.
Here is the human spirit, the human ego, in its entirety-heart, mind, will: love, knowledge, choice.
Now we reach the important point. In what does the soul differ from the spirit? It is the means by which the invisible spirit expresses itself. God, the invisible Spirit, reveals Himself through the Son, "the express image of His person", "the image of the invisible God", "the brightness of His glory". This relationship of Son to Father can help us to understand the relationship of soul to spirit. Thought, word and deed are another trinity, in which the word clothes the thought and gives expression to it. In this same way the soul is the emotions or affections by which love is expressed, the feelings, warm or cold, pleasant or unpleasant. The spirit is mind, the knower. The soul is the reasoning faculty by which the mind can explain its knowledge: "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you"-there is soul explaining spirit.
Now unless we have a clear differentiation between the properties of these two, we can get into a great deal of trouble, because the soul is the intermediary between ourselves and the world; and it not only channels the spirit to the world, but has the reflex activity of channeling the world back to the spirit. Emotion and reason are wide open, not only to our spirits, but to the world around. Our emotions, therefore, can be very variable. We may like this,
or dislike that. This may appeal to us, that repel us-either things or people. We may feel exalted at one moment or abased at another; dry at one time, fresh at another; fervent or apathetic; bold or fearful; compassionate or indifferent. If, therefore, we confuse soul and spirit, we quickly fall into false condemnation. Why are my feelings so variable? Why do I feel cold, dry, far from God? Something is wrong. Why do I dislike this person, or resent this happening? I am wrong with God somewhere.
I am flagellating myself in vain. Soul is variable, spirit invariable. In my spirit joined to His Spirit, I live with an unchanging and unchangeable Christ, and am myself equally unchanging by faith. I am not my soul feelings. I am spirit. But if we had not sensitive souls, we could not be affected by the crosscurrent of human living; we should not be humans. We are to be affected by them, but not governed by them, just as He was "touched with the feeling of our infirmities".
W e must be discerning. Many of our soul-emotions are illusory. We are allowing ourselves to be influenced by external appearances. We feel spiritually cold, dead, apathetic, hard, dry. We feel we need inner revival. No we don't. All we need is not to be fooled by our souls! The well of living water has not stopped springing up within us, the living bread in our spirits has not gone stale, the fire of the Spirit (with whom we have been baptized at our regeneration) has not burned low. Look within where you and He really are, spirit with Spirit. There is no change. Don't be fooled by the colour of your clothing-your soul feelings. You and He in you have not changed. Indeed we shall have those kinds of feelings, and God intends that we should have, to stabilize us in the walk of faith. They are useful in driving us back to Him in our spirits. As we learn to walk more steadily in Him, we shall find ourselves less and less bothered by that type of soul-feeling. A whole lot of the hunger people say they have, or need of spiritual refreshment, is at bottom because they are mistaking soulreactions for spirit-facts. The Reviver is already and always within! There would be much less talk of revival among Christians, if we had learned to walk in "viva)"-in the fact of the unchanging life which is the real we, Christ in us.
There are many soul-reactions which we are meant to have, so- long as we understand them. Jesus said, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death". He
then said in Gethsemane: "If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt." So Jesus was conscious of a contrary will. Was He wrong? He knew the difference between soul and spirit. With His human soul, He was meant to feel all that was involved in becoming our sin-bearer, and He did. But equally He knew that that was not His real self. His true will was His Father's will within Him, in His spirit. His soul-will was the necessary effect of the satanic pressures on Him for our sakes; but that merely drove Him to the three hours of bloody sweat when His spiritwill, His Father's will in Him, so dominated His soul that He could walk that awful Calvary path as a King. Many a time believers are confused in this respect. They feel they won't be willing for this or that, if demanded of them, or that they are now not willing. Quite so. They are not meant to be. In their souls they are meant to shrink and refuse. That is the natural and right impact of an unpleasant situation on us. But that is not the real we or the real will. The real will is down in our spirits where "it is God that worketh in us to will ... of His good pleasure." We should not even ask people if they are willing. We cannot be. We should say, "You will never be willing. Self cannot give us self. But you can affirm in faith that God in you will will His will, and will take you along with Him."
Recently a lady was talking with me, greatly distressed because she had
the seedplot of
faith, for we can
lost her husband. She loved and served the Lord, but she said she could not accept this blow from His hands, and was rebellious. When the difference between soul and spirit had been explained to her, and that her feelings of distress and unwillingness to accept were just normal, but were not the real self in her; and that she could honestly tell the Lord what she felt, but that, in spite of it, she could affirm against her feelings that the Lord's way is always perfect, it all came clear.
' n our spirits we are undifferentiated. That is where we all vary, and are meant to. That is ' why the salvation of our souls is a necessity, because it is through the infinite variety of our souls that all the glories of Christ will be seen, each of us manifesting some different facet of His unsearchable riches. But variety means
contrast without contradiction. Colours vary, we say clash, but all combine in the amazing spectrum of colour beauty. Music the same. There are disharmonies, but all compose the one great harmony of sound. And so with individuals. One person appeals to us, one doesn't. One we naturally like, one we dislike. Then we feel condemned. Should I not also like that one? Liking is a soul response, loving a spirit response. 1 love one whom I don't like. He does not appeal to me, I say; but God loves him, and God loves him in and through me. In taking that position, I have moved back, without condemnation, from soul to spirit.
Just as through our emotions we express love, so through our reasons we express knowledge; and reasons vary, as emotions do. Through the reasoning faculty of the soul we can explain to others what we know, and others explain to us. I cannot know what you know. That is beyond my reach-in your spirit. What you know is peculiarly your own, part of yourself. You cannot share that. But you can give me explanations of your knowledge, which I can in turn discuss with you, and it may be that I too will come to know for myself. My reasoning faculty, therefore, in my soul, is open to all kinds of questionings. Like my emotions, it is open to the two-way influences-of my spirit from within, of the world and men from without. That is why in my soul I may have uncertainty at the same time as my spirit has certainty. One of the
The following recent letter from the Editor to one of our readers deals with the same "soul or spirit" question as handled by Norman Grubb in the previous article.
My Dear Friend:
The question in your letter which you seemed most interested in having answered is, "What is the difference between soul and spirit?" I feel the best Scriptural answer is found in Hebrews 4:12. That verse speaks of the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow. Joints are the expression of life; marrow is the life of the bone. So soul expresses life, but it is not the life. Spirit is the life.
We have this Treasure in earthen vessels. The Treasure is the Life in us; the earthen vessel is the articulation or expression of the Life. Where KJ and NAS say "joints", another version says "articulations." The articulation in anatomy is the junction between two bones. It is also the mode of uttering speech sounds. Our souls and bodies are the Spirit's mode of uttering God's word to us, and others.
Another parallel to help understand the difference between soul and spirit is that of the law and the Law, of the symbol or shadow and the Substance (which is Christ). Again in Hebrews it says, that the law "has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things" (10:1). Do not confuse the created with the Creator, the law with the Law or the symbol or shadow with the Substance.
My guess is that the reason you really asked the question is that we are frequently confused and hence condemned by our "soul reactions"'. We question what is of soul and what is of spirit, Because we cannot adequately explain the incongruity between the two, we swallow the two-nature explanation taught in most seminaries and churches. From then on we are always suspicious of our souls (and bodies) and try to make them conform with what we conceive of as "spiritual" rather than "soulical".
But once we properly see that soul is the expression of life and spirit is Life, that law is an expression of Grace, and that symbols are an expression of Substance, the eyes of our understanding are finally opened. Think of how negative we have frequently been about the law (the Mosaic Law, other O.T. commandments, as well as all the N.T. commandments). But Romans tells us that the law is good (7:7). When we grow up, we see that the law is Grace in disguise and that it is a shadow of the True Reality. But as we grow up we have little use for the law. We might use it with others, but it means nothing else to us as we are One with the Law. Grace (the Law) has swallowed up the law (not negated it). So soul is swallowed up by Spirit, not negated by it. You will continue to have negative soul actions and
best illustrations of that was the father who brought his afflicted son to Jesus. When Jesus said to him, "if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth", his honest answer was, "Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief"! As he looked at Jesus, and knew the kind of things He had done, down in his spirit he believed, and said so. But as he turned and looked at his son lying foaming on the ground, the reasoning faculty of his soul raised questions, and he was honest enough to acknowledge it. But that did not alter his basic faith. His spirit did battle with his soul and would not submit to its questionings; he fought doubt by affirming faith ("Lord, I believe"), and by asking for help against doubt ("help Thou my unbelief --although he got the wording a bit mixed up!). The proof that faith swallowed up doubt, and that spirit mastered soul, was that he got deliverance.
It is not wrong for the reasoning faculty of the soul to question and doubt, any more than it is wrong for the emotions to have their varied reactions. In fact the soul reactions are the means of stirring the spirit into action. I have already pointed out that doubt and uncertainty are the seedplot of faith for we can never ultimately prove anything. That is what puts passion into faith. Coming to certain conclusions in heart and mind, we deliberately believe what we cannot prove. Faith is heart and mind committal. The only certainty possible to faith is the certainty of
faith! Doubt and questioning, therefore, is a normal condition of the reason, of the soul, and we must avoid the false condemnation of thinking that there is something wrong with us in that condition. Unbelief is a different matter, for unbelief is not of soul, but of spirit. Unbelief means that, in my inner self, I have decided I will not believe a certain thing. I have allowed my souldoubts to capture my spirit and enslave my will.
W hen we understand this balance between the spirit of faith and the uncertainties of reason, and how the reasoning faculty is given us to face squarely all the various possibilities that confront us in life, then we enter with zest into life's dialogues. Is a thing this? Is it that? We are not afraid of the cold winds of scepticism. We are not shaken by questions that seem to disturb our faith. We weigh things up and admit our ignorances and inabilities to produce-our proofs. But we don't live in the reasonings of our souls. We move back to where we really are-in our spirits. There, in the place where eternal decisions are made, we affirm what we know and are-by faith. Where reason has helped to clarify and confirm, we are strengthened and thankful, and are more ready to share those reasons with others. Where reason raises questions, we are always willing to consider and learn and adjust. But we never permit it to cross the bridge
which is forbidden to it, the bridge of revelation from the Other Side (which has become the bridge of faith), the bridge which has nothing to do with rational concepts, but is a Living Person. In that sense, opposing reasons are also our friends, because they only serve to stiffen the sinews of faith. "Whether He be a sinner or no, I know not: but one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."
Our souls, therefore, whether in the emotions or reason, are the agents of our spirits, our real selves. They express Him who is the indwelling Spirit in our spirits: whether in the old life, the spirit of error; or in the new, the Spirit of truth. This means that, when it was the spirit of self-love in the old life, what our souls felt or thought in their selfish reactions was largely allowed to govern our spirits: if we didn't like a thing, we didn't like it, and so forth. But in the new life, when our souls channel in world impressions, our likes and dislikes, our doubts and scepticisms, we no longer permit soul to govern spirit. Gradually spirit masters soul, so that it becomes more and more fixed as a reflector of God's Spirit.
reactions, but they are not bad. They are good, because they are God in action expressing Himself in us.
Here is where the liberty comes in. We stop analyzing everything we think and say and do. We know we are an expression of Life, so we know that Life abounds in us irrespective of any appearances to the contrary. This perspective and consciousness enables us to be ourselves without condemnation. We just spontaneously "be" - we are just naturally ourselves.
Stop being suspicious of yourself. You can trust yourself. In our awareness of Oneness we know that since our spirits are one with His Spirit, our expressions in the soul/body realm are spiritual expressions. We do not have to sort them out as part soulish and part spiritual. The word of God does this for us. But remember, the Word we listen to is the inner Word inscribed on the fleshly tablet of our hearts, not the Bible seen as a rule book. "And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezek. 36:27). Isn't that beautiful? And this prophecy is not for some distant future. It is fulfilled right now in you and me. We can trust ourselves now, because we know our Oneness with God and each other. Terrific!
The only other point I'd like to make in this letter concerns your aspiration about the future use of your property there in Georgia. At one point you say, "I want to see a little chapel built, etc.'' My advice is to go very slowly about any chapel. It is a shadow. It is not bad, any more than the law is bad. But the law must be seen as swallowed up; so must the other shadows.
Let us avoid stressing shadows that others take for substance and reality. Think of how many see church buildings and programs as reality. But you are free. If you have the inner drive to do something, do it. But as a brother, I am free to say that my experience has taught me to tell you to go slow, and avoid shadows that others confuse as Reality.
John 5:39,40 is a good illustration of Jesus seeing the difference between soul and spirit, between shadow and reality, between joint and marrow. Jesus says almost sarcastically, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life." The Bible is not life! It bears witness of Life, but it isn't Life!
You are a unique form of Him, and I look forward to seeing how He will manifest Himself through you in the months ahead. But do not be in any hurry to "do" anything. In due season He will initiate action and then you will accomplish more in a month than you have in years before.
I look forward to meeting you in person.
editor: Bettie Harper wrote these three poems at a recent Christian conference. She says: "Written-through is a better way to describe the process, for the words simply came to me with very little conscious effort to make anything rhyme."
Spirit of God, the goodness of heaven, Give me the power of creative leaven. Let me be yielded, quiet and still, Molded in line with Your highest will. Take from my being all fear and distrust, The feeling "I should," or "I ought," or
Give me instead the deep inner knowing That in union with You I am constantly
And the Self that You are now living as me, I am moment by moment free to be.
This is part of a letter written to a lady who had written George MacDonald asking if he had any of the old faith left. In it he defines his attitude towards "verbal inspiration". This letter is taken from George MacDonald and His Wife by Greville MacDonald (George Allen and Unwin Ltd., London).
Have you really been reading my books, and at this time ask me what I lost of the old faith? Much have I rejected of the new, but I have never rejected anything I could keep, and have never turned to gather again what I had once cast away. With the faith itself to be found in the old Scottish manse I trust I have a true sympathy. With many of the forms fathered around that faith and supposed by the faithful to set forth and explain their faith, I have none. At a very early, age I had begun to cast them from me; 'but all the time my faith in Jesus as the Son of the Father of men
and the Saviour of us all, has been growing. If it were not for the fear of it sounding unkind, I would say that if you had been a disciple of his instead of mine, you would not have mistaken me so much. Do not suppose that I believe in Jesus because it is said so-and-so in a book. I believe in him because he is himself. The vision of him in that book and, I trust, his own living power in me, have enabled me to understand him, to look him in the face, at it were, and accept him as my Master and Saviour, in following whom I shall come to the rest of the Father's peace. The Bible to me is the most precious thing in the world, because it tells me his story; and what good men thought about him who knew him and accepted him. But the common theory of the inspiration of the words, Instead of the breathing of God's truth into the hearts and souls of those who wrote it, and who then did their best with it, is degrading and evil; and they who hold it are in danger of worshipping the
letter instead of living in the Spirit, of being idolators of the Bible instead of disciples of Jesus .... It is Jesus who is the Revelation of God, not the Bible; that is but a means to a mighty eternal end. The book is indeed sent us by God, but it no where claims to be his very word. If it were - and it would be no irreverence to say it - it would have been a good deal better written. Yet even its errors and blunders do not touch the truth, and are the merest trifles - dear as the little spot of earth on the whiteness of the snowdrop. Jesus alone is the Word of God.
With all sorts of doubt I am familiar, and the result of them is, has been, and will be, a widening of my heart and soul and mind to greater glories of the truth - the truth that is in Jesus - and not in Calvin or Luther or St. Paul or St. John, save as they got it from Him, from whom every simple heart may have it, and can alone get it. You cannot have such proof of the existence of God or the truth of the Gospel story as you can have a proposition in Euclid or a chemical experiment. But the man who will order his way by the word of the Master shall partake of his peace, and shall have in himself a growing conviction that in him (the man) are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge...
One thing more I must say: though the Bible contains many an utterance of the will of God, we do not need to go there to find how to begin to do his will. In every heart there is a consciousness of some duty or other required of it; that is the will of God. He who would be saved must get up and do that will - if it be but to sweep a room or make an apology, or pay a debt. It was he who had kept the commandments whom Jesus invited to be his follower in poverty and labour...
From your letter it seems that to be assured of my faith would be a help to you. I cannot say I never doubt, nor until I hold the very heart of good as my very own in Him, can I wish not to doubt. For doubt is the hammer that breaks the windows clouded with human fancies, and lets in the pure light. But I do say that all my hope, all, my joy, all my strength are in the Lord Christ and His Father; that all my theories of life and growth are rooted in him; that his truth is gradually clearing up the mysteries of this world ... To Him I belong heart and soul and body, and he may do with me as he will - nay, nay - I pray him to do with me as he wills; for that is my only wellbeing and freedom.
A NATURAL HIGH
Teens and young adults today are looking for something or someone. They refuse to call the thing or person an escape. Perhaps rightly so!
Reality seems to fall short of satisfaction. Boredom, we're told, is today's number one problem among people of all ages. Young people are no exception. Surely boredom is one of the reasons for the popularity of drugs, because they offer people a reason to be together and promise some type of meaningful experience.
We would be fools to say what is either right or wrong with drugs. Solutions are never discovered by an either/or, neither/nor judgment of worth.
If a problem is to surface anywhere, may we suggest it be found in the stated fact that people are seeking - whether it be in "right" or "wrong" places? If we must seek, let us do so only to quickly become finders. Let us be finders of Him in Whom there is no wrong in any expressions of life.
Once Christ becomes our "Natural high" via discovery and expression, contentment via containment will replace boredom and all false hungers and appetites. When you've got it all, you can stop looking. God is both natural and permanent!
Have you been looking for something or someone? Be found in this Someone Who alone and in Himself will bring to naught all that isn't naturally in you for others. Such feasting will leave neither time nor interest for less rewarding adventures. Trust Him to try it; you'll love it!
There are various ways of communicating. Some people speak of 'body language': the art of conveying thoughts, feelings and emotions via nonverbals. Words are substituted with body gestures that, according to some, "tell it all". Then there's the idea that our "best contributions" are things left both unsaid and undone. The "silent witness" is the person who prefers "living it" to "speaking it". We might call it the "Word Being Flesh" kind of lifestyle.
Regardless of methods, the fact is we're all Someone with Something to both say and share. God is worthwhile! And He has chosen us as His Gospels and Epistles to be heard and read of all men everywhere. We're commissioned to "be His witness" (Acts 1:8) at home, in the community and in the world over, as lamps that let His Light dispel darkness everywhere and in others in effortless fashion.
This communication, though effortless in process, is very costly. Words supported by a life of Love will cost you everything. This is the Love that always puts others and their best interests first.
Tell it all by living Love as your all.
Such words will never return void. God is Lord of the Harvest!
The persistent cry today by both the young and the not-so-young is to enjoy a "no condemnation" lifestyle. Why? To live in a passive and permissive society, free and do our thing and to be ourselves? The answer to this is both yes and no!
What is wrong with being Free? Isn't it for freedom that we are both born and reborn? Could the wrong only be in the eye of the beholder?
Thrillingly God sees through to us as "finished products." His just cause for a "no condemnation" label for our lives is that He is our lives. With this desire of our heart satisfied, we may now extend to all others a "no condemnation" hope for their lives. The "need" of our lives is the same God Who is also "supply."'
The cry is there and meant to be. It is fulfilled only by Christ Who in Himself offers each of us now a "no condemnation" way to go. Once enjoyed, pass it (Him) on!
In most high schools across our land, a course in "Communications" is offered to its students. But like most curriculum, it fails to communicate, even as do we. Many people choose to stay silent feeling they've nothing worthwhile to say. Perhaps you can readily identify with this. It is noteworthy that "we're all being held accountable" for all we say, even idle words.
Union Life Ministries has recently republished three books by Walter C. Lanyon, an author who stresses the inner reality of wholeness, oneness, and rest in all life. Below are some responses to Lanyon's books by our readers. If you would like to purchase these books, simply send in the order blank on the bottom of page 13, or write us a note with the proper amount enclosed.
MY SEARCH IS OVER
August 21, 1977
Just thought I would share with you the great joy and en!argement these books of Lanyon have had upon us. I have taken my p!ace - on!y God the father, none other! I have been born again and as my father within said to me, "It is my good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. You need not earn it, beg for it, or pray for it. You simply receive it and you are there."
So I said, "Father, I simply receive it, enter it and I am there."
I cou!d go on and on but wi!l not. I have given books to others of the fami!y and they are so very thril!ed they a!so wil! be ordering more books and sending them to their fami!y. I am expecting much in the outflow of life because of this truth. I want to thank you all for being the messengers of this truth!
September 3, 1977
Again I will say how thrilled I am with the Lanyon books. I fee! these real!y emphasize ultimate truth. I have read much, fasted, prayed much and have been !ike a starved person - a!ways reaching and eating, going here and there and yet never finding that which stayed with me or endured. The !ight has been turned on within as never before. It is not that I have not experienced inner truth or great reve!ation in the past. He has spoken within many times before.
I wou!d speak a word of admonition to those who read these books. Though the !ight of revelation wi!! flood their inner-most being and they will experience the glory of the Lord, the !ight wi!! dim again and there wil! be a leveling-off period. Our enemies are of our own household (thoughts, ideas, time of completion, etc.). Truth is; you are; don't think! For me there is no other place or truth to go to; this is it! The on!y thing that can move us from this place is our own thoughts.
We must know that there is just one (I AM); there is none other! What we feel, think, see and experience means nothing. The time of any fu!fi!!ment is of no concern when compared to our knowing!
To those who would receive this truth and run with it, I wou!d admonish them (as they find the dry, hard times): "Continue on. Don't stop or think that you haven't found it yet or wait for other truth, for the I AM is truth; there is no other!
S.B. - Eugene, OR
LEARNING FROM LANYON
HOW TO FACE
A CHURCH TURMOIL
God had so many surprises for me! You know, each time I write you I'm almost incoherent - jumping from one thing to another. But each time God seems to move right in that present need! It did not occur to me before that God was a!ready here! We did not move into anything! I read the excerpt from Walter Lanyon's book published in Union Life, "I Come Not to Destroy." I te!l you, that article shed a lot of !ight on my present circumstances.
You see, God Himse!f has shown me before, through a series of revelations, that He is in everything. He caused me to see Him in every situation that I was seeing as evi! and to look through the situations and see them as Christ sees them - perfect! The apparent evi! was God working His perfect wi!!! This secret was so foreign to anything that I had thought before, that though I took it and kept it inside me I still wondered how it could possibly be!
Our church is now in the biggest turmoil you could possibly imagine! I became so aggravated that I refused to go to the "dog-fights" which they labelled as a "Wednesday night business meeting"!
Fortunately, Mr. Lanyon's article confirmed again what I already knew to be true -God is in everyhing! I know now that each person that is a believer in Christ in that church is really only a part of me! Each one of us is a part of the Body of Christ, all comprised of One! Now I can see the apparent evil as only an infected sore - a sore on a part of the body that I will love and cleanse and do everything necessary to make it well. It became clear to me that if it actually happened to my own finger, I certainly wouldn't cut off my finger because it was infected. I would try to heal it! The Great Physician is in charge of all healing and His greatest healing power is love! Gosh! What a truth that finally hit! I realize now that the question is not whether I'm there on Wednesday night or not! The important thing is recognizing God in this whole matter! I can sit back and chuckle at all the apparent confusion! And best of all - I can love in spite of it!
Never before has the leap of faith been so exciting! I'm ready not only for the up-lifts but also for the let-downs, because now I see the let-downs as much a part of God as the up-lifts!
R.H. - Covington, TN
EXPERIENCING THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Since Jesus appeared to me and ushered me into the Kingdom prepared for me, I have lived on a plateau, always coveted, but seemingly never accessible. Right after this occurred, I said, "Lord I know not how to walk in the Kingdom. Teach me, step by step; walk through me; lick the giants through me; etc." Then His answer came as Manna from Heaven through Lanyon's books, The Laughter of God and Without the Smell of Fire! I have ordered The Eyes of the Blind and can't wait for it! The books have been the answer to my prayer. No mortal tongue can describe these books. My human mind is flabbergasted at such past but present Truth! These eternal mysteries have been reserved for us in Oneness with Him. Oh what can I say to let you know I too am glad God allowed you to reprint these books for us? I rejoice for Christ's ministry through you to me, and I hope all who enter this dimension in Spirit shall read them. I read them so fast I cannot tell what I have read but while I'm reading I am carried far away into a beam of Eternal light and a knowing that this is for me! I know not how I should attain any of this but Christ in me is my teacher, and line upon line, precept upon precept, He shall lead me through this Kingdom of Life and Light and make my paths straight, bearing me up lest I dash my foot against a stone.
I had to tell you how I thrill at these books, but here I am and cannot find words in my human vocabulary to do so! I want to be reading them every time I sit down. It's so parodoxical: Launch out into the deep by taking no thought!
I read John Whittle's book, Man Alive, about eight years ago. I loved the two phrases he quoted: "Forget God and live," and "Love God and do as you please." At the time I
thought "Far out, far out!" But I knew it was in my future, and now I am really experiencing it! Just so with these books of Lanyon's. I know it will be a reality, for we shall transcend and forget the "former things" as we rise into our appointed destinies in Christ in God.
H.R. - New Brighton, PA
LIGHT POURING IN FROM LANYON
Thank you for Lanyon's books. They are fantastic! Tom and I have never been so excited in our whole life! Every line either reinforces or reveals total truth to us. Nothing else makes sense any more! Nothing! It's all recognition.
We love how Lanyon talks about shattering the belief in sin, sickness and death - the slow process of human reasoning - come out from among them (human thoughts) and be free - a man's enemies are those of his own household (consciousness) - these are the only enemies we have! - evil must be accepted before it can be made manifest in my universe! We can't say how much these words are meaning to us. It is shaking our whole being. And we love it. It feels like water to the thirsty. We are no longer under the law of human belief! This is the law we are dead to. I now see this is a new light. Christ is born in me now, born in the midst of my fear-filled life. The swaddling clothes of bondage are removed. I shudder to think of what the mass of my contacts would say about these books, but I don't care. Water like this cannot be held back; it has a force all its own.
K.M. - Chester, PA
By Warren Litzman
The average believers seldom ever reach their spiritual goals. This is probably the greatest reason for the condition of the world. Jesus never prayed for the world, but for those whom the Father had given Him, that they may be one as He and the Father were one (John 17:21). If believers reach their spiritual desires and are able to progress upward and beyond, they have properly vindicated a purpose for themselves. You can never be your true, born-again self, without realizing what it means to be in Christ. With your old self crucified, a new self emerges and the new self is Christ. First you must become sick and tired enough of being sick and tired, for the Christ within to emerge. True self realization is Christ-within realization.
ON THE SOUL'S NEED FOR FREEDOM
Man and his programs only place other men in bondage. All around us we see so-called spiritual programs built on rigid man-made rules - even when scripturally derived. Of course, those ignorant of our freedoms in Christ will always feel relieved of their guilt when practicing even a little bit of asceticism. Only Christ and His life frees us from bondage. His life flowing through us gives us a freedom to go to, do and become, on a plane never before imagined. Your Christ-mind cries for this and now it is available.
Since earth life is a minute segment of only a second of eternity, the right perspective is necessary. The Father simply wanted some trained sons when it all began. So, He made the world a school house. He made our situations and circumstances classrooms and He made our troubles and trials of life our teachers (Gal. 4:1-7). The ultimate intention of the Father is to have sons likened unto His only begotten Son, to come and live with Him throughout eternity. To effect this, He gave His Son Jesus to come and live in us (Gal. 2:20). The only reason for a soul to be born is to find this Christ-life. The only
purpose for earth-life is to teach us Christ. If one does not come to this knowledge and make it work in his life, all of his earthly existence is futile. When man comes to this knowledge, he then possesses the greatest gift to be given to the Father - the gift of himself.
ON BREAKING THE CHAINS OF RELIGION
Because every believer spends a lifetime reacting to dilemmas of his own good and bad works, he stays continuously ignorant of his own constitutional stand in Christ. Such a dilemma is religious, but not spiritual, and this is devoid of real joy and peace. While a sinner must, by faith in Christ's sacrifice, break the bonds of Satan, a believer, even one born-again and Spirit filled, must break the bands of religion. One's ignorance can only be broken by sitting under the teaching of the Christ-life. Only total surrender to His Word and Him who is the Word, can bring deliverance to those victimized by religion. Remember, religion is anything that can keep you from the fullness of Christ.
A carnal believer may be in Christ (I Cor. 3:1 ), but it profits him little, because his disease keeps him miserable. Out of sheer ignorance carnal believers try to adjust to their situations by numerous activities, thinking that preoccupation will make them happy. They do not realize that no created thing - even those things created by the Father - can give life. Life, real life, is not created. It is a Person (Col. 3:4). All things created, even good things, are miserable and lead to an ultimate disease. But with Christ, who is not created, sitting on the
The completeness of a believer can be realized only when the believer is engaged in the service of the complete whole Christ, who is our completeness (Col. 2:10). Everything else is part and parcel. This is why people in religious places that even preach the Gospel in part and talk about Jesus and His works eventually become sick and spiritually diseased. A little of Jesus has no life. This is only the historical Christ. The real Jesus (who is life) is total - He is everything. Only when we see completeness from this viewpoint alone does life become complete. Now the believer will feel the joy and happiness provided by our Father. There will be total satisfaction.
Men without faith in the Father and His revealed Word find no good in this world. For them there is no happiness whatsoever. One must follow the principles of the revealed Son with faith and thereby be raised to the level of true knowledge. The faithless will always preach doom, the end of the world, tribulation and judgment. This is because they are ignorant of the Father's plan. They know not that they are sons of God, freed at Calvary and predestined to victory. They must know the plan, that the-world is truly a schoolhouse and the teachers work for the Father (Romans 8, Gal. 4). This faith and knowledge will allow them to enjoy commitment and service as a joy. Only the knowledge of the revealed Christ can promote you to this joy.
SIX UNION LIFE EMPHASES
1. THERE IS ONLY ONE PERSON IN THE UNIVERSE.
I am the Lord, and there is none else (Isaiah 45:6).
Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11 ).
See also Genesis 11; Psalm 90:2; John 4:24, Romans 1:20; 1 Corinthians 15:28; Ephesians 1:23; 1 John 4:8.
2. GOD IS MANIFESTED BY HIS SON AND HIS SONS.
See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1).
Is it not written ...Ye are gods? (John 10:34).
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me (Galatians 2:20). That the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body (2 Corinthians 4:10). As He is, so are we in this world (1 John 4:17).
See also John 14:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:17; Philippians 1:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:10.
3. THERE IS ONLY ONE POWER IN THE UNIVERSE - NOT TWO.
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil (Isaiah 45:7).
If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light (Matthew 6:22).
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and evil go forth? (Lamentations 3:38 NASB). See also Exodus 4:11; Joel 2:25; John 14:30.
4. REPLACING APPEARANCE BY REALITY.
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment (John 7:24).
We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen (2 Corinthians 4:18). For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
See also 2 Kings 6:17; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Hebrews 11:27.
5. SONS IN CREATIVE ACTION BY THE WORD OF FAITH.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto Me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward (Exodus 14:15).
Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be accomplished unto thee (Job 22:28).
The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith (Romans 10:8). See also Numbers 13:30; Joshua 6:16; Mark 11:23-4; Acts 3:6; Romans 4:17.
6. THE INTERCESSOR.
And I sought for a man among them, that should.. .stand in the gap before Me (Ezekiel 22:30). For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you (2 Corinthians 4:11-12). See also Exodus 3:10; Judges 6:14; Isaiah 6:8; Isaiah 53:12; Luke 12:50; John 12:24; Acts 26:16; Philippians 3:8-14; Hebrews 7:25.
Editors: excellent cartoons which ap pear in Union Life are drawn by an accomplished artist - Jim Seward. Jim received his B.A. degree from the Art Institute of Chicago. After working for seven years as Art Director and chief illustrator at Union Gospel Press, he went free-lance in 1962. As well as servicing a number of religious publishing houses, Jim worked on gallery paintings, portraits, landscapes, greeting cards, calendars, and other projects. Dozens of exhibitions throughout many parts of the country have displayed Jim's paintings.
Jim's wife Lyn is also a painter, as is their son Steve. The three of them often display together at art shows. Steve, who is currently studying with his father, took top honors in the nationwide Scholastic show for 1976. The other four children are also talented artistically.
Jim and Lyn presently teach at the Cooper School of Art in Cleveland, where Jim is also the head of the Illustration Department. In addition, Jim is working hard on his current project of paintings which portray the Indians and mountain men of early American history.
The following is an account of what "Christ in you" means in the life of artist Jim Seward.
U nion Life, which is really nothing more than discovering our oneness with Jesus, has brought me into an awareness that there is no division between "secular" and "spiritual." I now see that all life is spiritual.
In 1954 Lyn and I met the Lord in a fundamental, evangelical church and were raised in the so-called "basic truths" of the Scriptures. In 1956 we met Norman Grubb at Bethany Fellowship in Minneapolis. Though we did not fully understand it, we found ourselves caught by his message of
Jim and Lyn Seward
"Christ in you." My outlook for the next seven years was rather mixed, a confusion of law and grace. But the Lord gave me experiences that began to chase me into union life - until at last it became real to me.
During this time I became the lay minister of a new church. I was working as an artist during the day and as a pastor the rest of the time. Even though ministering and seeing the Lord do much in and through me, I still felt a separation between God and me. Several times my frustration led me to times of retreat, in which I swore not to return until God had "met me" in some marvelous way. They ended up as they had begun - in frustration.
Norman often came to our home to visit. I always wanted crutches to lean on, things to do to make me "right," but Norman gave me no comfort. He was pointing me to Christ alone. The ministry became a drag after a while because I was always pushing people to "grow spiritually," and yet God was using that very thing to push me into exhaustion from my own self-effort. I thought a spiritual person should be in some kind of full-time work for the Lord, yet despite all my trying I never experienced real satisfaction in my heart.
Under another man's ministry and preaching I came to the beginnings of my "coming home" in Christ. He lifted up the rug and gave me a peak at my true self. I realized then that I was using God and His work for my own indulgence and self-aggrandizement. I had been substituting the things of God for the things of the world that I had forsaken. Instead of seeing how spiritual I was, I found how truly selfish I was) The exposure was devastating, and I was afraid to ever trust myself again. Two days later, God seemed to fill the void and reveal Himself to me. Now I
was home! I live, yet not l, but Christ. It was a revelation that He had been living within me since I was saved, and He and I were one. That is a simple truth, and one that I had known, but now it became real in my heart. The Lord eventually led me out of pastoring the church, but a new effortless flow of ministry had just begun!
One incident drove home the truth to me that Christ is the real me. People had been irritating me for years by telling me what a marvelous talent God had given me for art, though I knew full well how hard I had worked to develop as an artist. It seemed to me that I should get the credit for whatever I had accomplished! A commission was given me to paint members of an important and wealthy family. If there is one thing I can do, it is paint portraits! But when I got to the last one, nothing went right. The color, the features, the expression - all went from bad to worse. I repainted that head four times, until finally my wife was afraid to say anything more because both the painting and I were going to pieces. It forced me to pray. The Lord told me that in the Old Testament he had given a measure of his spirit to certain men so that they might create artistic works for the Tabernacle and Temple. He also told me that for years in my unsaved condition I had been breathing His air, using His body, and living off His goodness. I remembered in the Scriptures where God dealt with even unregenerated men, preparing them for His work. God was telling me to use all my faculties, my mind, my hand, and my training, but to realize that He would be thinking through my brain-and painting through my hand as I worked. In a sense He was saying, "Trust yourself, because I work through you. Gamble on me, and watch me work)"
I restarted the head. The struggles were over; everything was right. My wife was pleased when she saw the portrait, and the client was delighted. What a rest!
Since those days I have benefited from other similar experiences. I find that all of life is spiritual. My delight is to just relax in all the pressures that come - and I have plenty! I enjoy seeing the Lord work without "my" working and seeing Him answer prayer without my "sweating" at it. I see it all as sort of a game. God engineers all kinds of circumstances in order to see if we will rest and trust in Him as He works out His will. Life is real joy and fun. "Sit thou on My right hand until I make thy foes thy foot stool."
-,lames E. Seward
Jesus was an extremist. Yet we insist on trying to modify and make sense out of His radical statements. What we call balance is frequently a matter of unbelief. In reality it is the third dimension refusing to take the fourth dimension seriously. Jesus did not encourage us to be merely influenced by the fourth dimension, but to become it. "Ye ARE the light of the world", etc. We are to incarnate the fourth dimension.
Can you imagine the butterfly feeling that it must not take its new state and condition of flight too seriously - that after all it was really only a grub, a mere caterpillar, and that it must be balanced about this whole thing? Hardly: it has become this new dimension, the embodiment of flight, and must always act accordingly.
In order to initiate us into this new attitude of life and being, God has a way of inviting us out on a limb with Himself and then turning around and sawing it off! Perhaps we have created a "garden path" of miracles for ourselves, thinking that was God's way and doings. Not so. THE miracle often is to be sustained when there is no miracle in the third dimension for us to rely upon. For instance, "I am come to bring fire on the earth", said Jesus. Then when one of the disciples wanted to bring fire down from heaven (was it not perfectly scriptural?) in order to consume their religious competition, He said, "You don't know what spirit you are of!" Quite baffling.
Then again, He said "I have come to bring a sword," and when a disciple took the sword to use it in His defense He told him to "Put up the sword, for they that take the sword shall perish by the sword." How easy it is to misunderstand Jesus. But that is part of the education. As Oswald Chambers said, we are "baffled to fight better."
Another baffling and unnerving statement of Jesus is "There is none good but one, that is God." After all, we do have the lovely devotional thought expressed by David, "The steps of a GOOD man are ordered by the Lord"! How baffling of Jesus to say such a man is non-existent. All right, we understand there is no innate goodness in man. Then how is a man made "good" - by divine assistance? The implication is that there is nothing in man to be "helped" to be good, nothing for
God to work on. Again, out on a limb of God's providing, the limb of divine incitement to be what we cannot be.
So we have to conclude that the only good man is a God-Man - a man that is a fourth-dimensional being, rightly related to God the good One, indwelt by God, not assisted by Him. The "good man" is a manifestation of the Good; he is only the means of manifestation and never essential goodness in himself. Jesus demonstrates this clearly because He never claimed any goodness other than the goodness that was the Father in Him. So also Paul, delightedly explaining the inexplicable in Galatians 2:20, mixes up the third and fourth dimensions and demonstrates the new type of humanity, the God-Man, the "good-man". Paul also asserts that the man in Christ is "glorified". This obviously is not the human body, to which we usually apply this term. Jesus backs up this allusion to man's present condition in His prayer in John 17 by saying, "I have glorified them ...I in them and Thou in me." Our present glorification is our indisputable union in Christ.
The Union-life man is therefore permanently on a sawed-off limb. He is totally unable to go back to the bondages and limitations of the past "balanced" life. He is always an extremist, because he is sustained like the butterfly by nothing but air, and open to the criticism that he should be more
"down to earth." But he can no more be down to earth than the chicken can again become the egg after it has once broken out of its early beginnings. We are not intended to be the egg; that was only a stage in the unfolding life. The new dimension has taken over.
One is constantly struck with the fact that the "balanced" ones are the popular ones. My close association with Norman Grubb, and through him a knowledge of his controversial fatherin-law, C. T. Studd, has given me a glimpse of extremists moving out on their respective limbs, with only a small number of people able to see and accept the position it brought them to. Such men are totally in the world, but have a fourth-dimensional view of it. Their answers are different, for Spirit is dominant and they expose the revolutionary nature of Christianity. C. T. Studd moves us with his hilariously sacrificial and soldierly devotion to the task of worldwide evangelization - doing it and not talking about it. N. P. Grubb follows with his declaration of the nature of God and His unique incarnate relationship with man. These are radical elements in the whole spectrum of living truth. What is the "limb" God is luring you on to? What "bafflement" is yours by which God is training you to manifest the powers of the world to come?
'Read C. T. Studd, Missionary Pioneer, by Norman P. Grubb
Daniel S. Grubb
Kingdom of God
by Galen Sharp
"This book closes now, that another book may open,"' writes Galen Sharp in the "Epilogue." And that book is yours, reader. When I came to the end of The Present Kingdom of God I found myself wanting to write in a footnote the experience I am beginning to find in union with Jesus. May this be your experience too.
Early in the book, Sharp writes: "Our acquaintance with God is not expected to be a single experience ... but a total life" (p. 33). "This relationship with God is a living, personal union.. . Christianity is not a life-style, but a person" (p. 37). The trouble is that "when our own self does not harmonize with reality, we try the impossible task of changing all the people and things around us, even God...." But Sharp points out, "we don't have to frantically exchange jobs, husbands, wives, neighborhoods; instead we can discover that Jesus has already exchanged lives with us" (p. 45). For the writer of this remarkable book points out that "I (the self I was born in) dies ... (with) Christ" and I now share Christ's identity (p. 47) because "the old creature 'I' that we know as us ... was made void two thousand years ago .... God does not fix up, he recreates" (p. 49).' "Whenever we sin, it is because we have simply turned from relying upon our true position in Christ." As Martin Luther said, " 'The moment I consider Christ and myself as two, I am gone' " (p. 57). So "we do not have to ... crucify ... our old self. We are already dead ... " (p. 60).
In "The Romans 7 Syndrome" Sharp puns: "When we cease being concerned about what we are becoming and concentrate on Him who is coming, then our becoming will be coming" (p. 87). "Christ's life is not a foreign life, but the life we were intended to have" (p. 90).' Sharp illustrates through analogies, and a particularly apt one occurs in his next chapter, "Walking in the Spirit," where he points out that looking down at the "stormy water" as Peter did is like relying on our feelings. But our feelings are no longer the real we. "We can't drown as we are always in Him and He holds us, but (best of all] we really do not have to participate in any sinking" (pp. 92-3).
Acutely, he emphasizes that we tend to blame "externals" for our sins. But "when God questioned Eve in the Garden, her reply was, 'The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat' " (p. 97); therefore, "what we often label 'demons' simply turns out to be the lusts of our flesh." Instead we are to walk in the light which is Christ, "relying on our oneness with him" [p. 98]. Psychiatrists simply try to "untangle the secrets of the old nature," and likewise "demons can only be involved with the old creation and the old false life and
consequently only those who do not regard Christ as their life are vulnerable" (p. 100). Galen drives home his point by quoting the New English Bible version of Colossians 2:20: "Did you not die with Christ and pass beyond the reach of the elemental spirits of the world?" In another analogy Sharp reminds us that the false self is only a "dream person" which as in a dream is always in great peril, but that when we awaken to the fact that "the false self is not our real life, we are still safe at home in heaven in Christ" (p. 103). For heaven is NOW for Sharp and all Union Lifers! Even temptations "instead of being miserable can be a joy" (p. 105) because they are the waves upon which we, like Peter, walk to Christ. Thus James can write: "Count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations" (James 1:2). Likewise in his next chapter, "How Do I Find God's Will for Me?" Sharp writes: "Sufferings can only be used as an opportunity to discover and rest in His person and work" (p. 125). "While abiding in Christ, we find that He also abides in us, and He handles the situations" (p. 128).
In "Do We Want Knowledge - Or the Knowledge of the Truth", Sharp attacks the bondage certain kinds of teaching have got us into which in various ways emphasize that before God can bless us, we must do something for Him (p. 139). But Sharp emphasizes, "we do not give in order to have; we give because we already have" inherited (p. 139).
In a chapter on "Heaven and Hell" Sharp asserts: "Jesus is essentially all that there is to heaven and that those who view Him as the momentary inconvenience will be greatly disappointed .... The point of this is that the kingdom of God already is .... We are in Christ now" (pp. 145, 147). But "we cannot experience this oneness through organizations, political" [or "ecumenical"], but "when we ... look to ... Jesus for our shared life, we see this as already accomplished in the kingdom.... 'For we being many are one bread, and one body' " (p. 155). And this is why Sharp in his last chapter writes of John, "The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved," because once we, as John recognize "that the kind of love Jesus has" transcends our own lack of lovableness" we too " must depend utterly upon God's infinite capacity to love" through us (p. 152). "Thus we have an entirely new way to relate to one another and ...will naturally care for one another, just as one part of our physical body cares spontaneously for another part because they share the same biological identity" (p. 157). "Henceforth we know no man after the flesh: but after the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 5:16).
If you want to experience resurrection now, buy this book of the song of liberty. "Come ye buy and eat," "for we have seen the enemy and he is us!"
As "Free in Spirit" people, we too need a list of priorities, not as a list of do's and don'ts, but as a reflection of who God is and who we are as His 20th century Gospels and Epistles.
Life may be listed as a Number One priority - the very Life of God breathed in and through our nostrils, life that has neither beginning nor ending for He is our Alpha and Omega, life with singleness of purpose, to glorify God as this Life is spent BEing Bread of Life to others. We can be glad we don't have to "come alive." Just enjoy the comfort of BEing His Life, for it is eternal in breadth, width, height and length.
Love then becomes the spontaneous expression of this Life. It is love that gives just to give, always and only with the best interest of all others in heart. We Selflessly give,
GOOD? EVIL? UPTIGHT?
Usually it's a skeleton in our own closet that encourages us to call evil what God calls Good. We are willing to offer a "no condemnation" Gospel, but we lack assurance that God does accept us just as we are. Some say we're too permissive or too passive. Worse than their saying it (for each man is allowed to walk in the light that he has) is our listening to it, for then we walk in an illusionary level of understanding and application.
Did not our ancestors teach us that such an idea was wrong? Does not society condemn (even though it permits) such thinking? How dare we call good what the majority of knowledgable, well-meaning believers call bad? Now do you see why we are uptight? Oh, the pain that accompanies "limited vision".
If it helps, take another good look at what the Bible calls bad (sin): "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and
PEOPLE ARE PRIVATE
Aloneness with God is a far cry from "loneliness." The Quiet Place is an important place to "be still and know thy God."
Much that we learn of God in our periods of aloneness is often too precious to verbalize and make public. Our hearts discover what our tongues may never utter. Expression of His Presence often seems to minimize its worth.
To publicly verbalize one's testimony has long been the prescribed method of honoring God. Yet we learn by listening, not by rendering lip service to God.
with assurance that we're comforted as Comforters. This love has no boundaries nor limitations. As with Life, God is It's single Source.
Light shed abroad in our hearts dispels all darkness, by swallowing it up as the sunrise swallows the night before. God's Light flows; it works even apart from understanding. Pure Light casts no shadows.
A Priority List for Free-Spirit believers has no end because God's expression of Himself in all makes all a Number One Priority. Know assuredly that God is the Sum and Substance of your Life, Love and Light, giving evidence as your Faithfulness by performing the work He has begun even "unto the Day of Jesus Christ" which is now!
doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). This verse can be coupled with Matthew 12:31, 32, where Jesus speaks of the unpardonable sin as attributing to Satan the very works of God - unpardonable in that it's not seen as a weakness wherein God is made strong. Dare to be found "Not Guilty" of calling bad what God of Himself calls good!
Christ is our Good. There can be none other. Knowing this compels us to attribute all of our experiences to Him, including those that "limited vision" believers call sin. For to whom much is given, much is still required. We are to walk in the Light that is ours of God - light that dispels darkness.
In everything give thanks, Beloved! (1 Thess. 5:18). By faith let God be the Good in all that you are and do. In Him there can be no evil!
Still water runs deep, allowing sediments to dissolve as they settle. Ripples fade away into the tranquility of His Life where peace is our pain and freedom our tears.
Look then to enjoy the privacy of your silent moments with and in God. In maturity if He chooses for you to "shout it from the housetops", so be it. But in the smelting and grooming days of realization that "ONE is all there is," let UNION be consummated quietly, in the discovery as well as in the realization. By His Fruit others shall know Him!
WHAT IS A HOUSE OF GOD?
editor: These words were written by Sue Geller "during a Father's Day sermon when the minister was going on and on about taking children to church (the house of God) so that they can meet Him and get to know Him - all as if He were confined to a certain set of walls and never dirtied Himself outside"!
A house of God? It may not have physical beauty, or it may be very pleasing to the eye. It may be big or small. Light shines from it and illumines those who see it. It radiates love, for Love dwells within. It draws people to it, for Love draws in as it gives out. People are not always comfortable with it, for Love sparks love, and those without Love cannot stand the light. A house of God? I know it well. You see, I am one.
prudent are we that we wander in the times which are not ours, and do not think of the only one which belongs to us; and so idle are we that we dream of those times which are no more, and thoughtlessly overlook that which alone exists. For the present is generally painful to us. We conceal it from our sight, because it troubles us; and if it be delightful to us, we regret to see it pass away. We try to sustain it by the future, and think of arranging matters which are not in our power, for a time which we have no certainty of reaching.
Let each one examine his thoughts, and he will find them all occupied with the past and the future. We scarcely ever think of the present; and if we think of it, it is only to take light from it to arrange the future. The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means; the future alone is our end. So we never live, but we hope to live; and, as we are always preparing to be happy, it is inevitable we should never be.'
Why do we try to avoid the present moment? Do we dislike it? Or fear it? First, our obsession to quantify the world has caused us never to be quite satisfied. Even if we have performed well, we know we could perform better.
Even if our circumstances are good, they could be better. So we look to the future. Second, we are basically insecure with ourselves, so we hold onto our memories as something constant (though they are not) and dependable in our existence. Thus we look to the past. We are afraid of throwing ourselves too deeply in the moment, because we are not sure what is there and we do not want to be stuck there if we dislike what we find. Frequently when a conversation between two people becomes very personal and intense, one or both of the individuals involved will pull back. There is a fundamental fear that prevents us from letting go.
O ur failure to live the moment is responsible for many of our aches and sorrows. Numerous traffic deaths result from drivers who are in a hurry. Not satisfied with his present circumstance - driving on the road - a driver breaks the speed limit in order to get to the store or to get home. His mind is on his destination instead of his driving. Crash. Another typical example is that of the student who daydreams while in class rather than concentrating on the professor's lecture at hand. The
consequences are obvious.
We find ourselves actually fighting the moment, doing everything in our power to avoid and deny it. As we make ourselves aware of the totality of the moment, we will begin to realize that to resist the moment is to fight life itself. To really live will require a complete turn-about in our approach. Rather than resist we will flow with the moment. Only when we let go of our fears and of ourselves, will we throw ourselves head-long into the moment. Then we will join ourselves to it and in some sense become the moment.
I used to live in opposition to the moment, and I was very much like a struggling actor trying to hit Broadway and never able to make it. As I have begun to experience living with, in, and as the moment, I have the curious sensation of sitting in the theater and watching myself on stage, saying, "Look! There's Richard Zenith talking with soand-so. Now he's off doing this or that. Oh, he's in a tight spot! I wonder how he'll get out of it." There is an odd way in which we become detached from ourselves, as though our bodies continue along as before, while our spirits are free to excavate more of life's mysteries. Life becomes effortless; it is pure adventure. Instead of developing ourselves into great persons, we watch ourselves develop from the "great persons" we already are.
B ut as we apply this spontaneous approach to daily encounters, we immediately become frustrated and dissatisfied. We find ourselves habitually ringing our own death-knell: we compare. We compare that which is with that which is not. We compare our friends' house in Maine with our house in L.A., tonight's steak dinner with last week's, this rainy day with that sunny day. We must learn to enjoy each moment for what it is, without comparing it with other moments.
Surely comparison is indispensable to our basic function of making free choices. I can only properly choose a thing when I have compared it and judged it superior to the other items of its class. I go into the grocery store and buy a particular brand of string beans because they are cheaper or of better quality than the other brands. This is a positive use of my ability to compare. Comparison is akin to criticism. Both are constructive when employed to suggest areas that could
1Blaise Pascal, Pensees, translated by W. F. Trotter
[New York: P. F. Collier and Son Company, 1910], p. 64.
be improved or to offer reasonable alternatives; both are destructive when they are used to make valuations which have no practical significance or application.
I presently subsist on a meager income. Therefore, to compare my efficiency apartment with a $100,000 home down the road is destructive; I only denigrate my apartment by making such a comparison. On the other hand, to compare the color of the inside walls of my "efficiency" with those of the house down the road is valid and constructive; I have sufficient funds to buy a can of paint and change the color of my walls.
Unfortunately we tend to squander great amounts of our energy in negative, destructive comparing. We are standing in a long line at the post office and we ramble on to ourselves: "Why don't they have more people on duty. I could be buying my groceries, or I could be at home reading a book. That stupid clerk is so slow. Oh this is frustrating!" Yes, it is. We are comparing the present moment with moments that could be but are not. Our misdirected energy raises our blood pressure to an unhealthy level and upsets our psychological balance. If we had lived the moment for what it was, we might have become acquainted with the woman standing in back of us who would have told us about her pet leopard, or we might have devoted some thought to a decision we were considering, or we might have looked at the chart of postal rates and learned something for future reference, or we might have done a thousand other things. That is why I say that the moment is inexhaustible.
We will never experience eternal life as long as we are looking for eternal life. I suspect that when we all die and cross over into the new realm of our being, many people will still be waiting for eternal life to "happen." "Well Lord," they will say, "where is it?" Only when we forget the future will we discover our eternal life: life lived in the eternal moment.
Our penchant to compare actual moments with finished moments has torn down many good marriages and friendships. We gloss over the "old times" we enjoyed with an especial person, and we compare our present moments together and find them falling short of our magical memories. (The memories are "magical" because we have imagined our old times to be much more wonderful than they ever were.) Or perhaps we are accustomed to engage in deep, esoteric con
versation with a certain companion, and when on one occasion our discussion does not move beyond our thoughts on today's weather, we feel that our time together has not been profitable. We feel that "something has been lost." We tend to have certain expectations for a friendship, and when those expectations are not met we design new strategies that will steer the friendship into conformity with our expectations. When our strategies fail, the friendship breaks down. How much easier it is to stop resisting, to let our relationships go their own way without attempting to direct them. Is not the mere presence of a friend enough? We insist on constructing an edifice of words that we imagine to be somewhere suspended between us, and we consider it necessary to add on words continually to this ephemeral construction, lest it vanish. This is strange, because all around us there is life, and it would seem that a pair of friends ought to prefer their mutual presence in the quiet of life to their verbal edifice which only talks about life. If we immerse ourselves in the surge of What Is, then we free our friendships. We do not have to strive to maintain certain emotional or intellectual levels. Life is explosive; it does not consist in "levels."
J ust as the comparison of present moments with past moments hinders the smooth flow of the social dimension of our being, so the comparison of present moments with future moments interferes with the balanced flow of the personal, psychological dimension. I have already mentioned how paralyzed we are by the fear of what might happen tomorrow or next week or next year. Our constant reference to a
hypothetical future prevents us from ever exploiting what is already here.
Though some caution against possible danger preserves our health, a preoccupation with possibilities is certainly unhealthy. Over-eating derives from failing to live the moment! Animals in the wild are never fat. Only man and the animals he cares for are capable of over-eating. Only man is able to dupe himself by his own rational mind. As I sit at the supper table there lies in my psyche a powerful, subtle line of reasoning which says, "Eat all you can now, because you never know what might happen. Tomorrow some grave misfortune may befall you, so that you will not have anything to eat. Therefore, eat more than you need now as a precautionary measure." And if I am the guest at someone's dinner table, then the reasoning is less subtle: "You're obviously not going to be able to eat any of her delicious cheesecake tomorrow, so even though your stomach is already full, why don't you eat another piece of cake 'for tomorrow'?" Diets place temporary restraints on our consumption of food, but we free ourselves from the lust for food when we start feeding on the moment. As we feed on the fullness of the ever-renewing, self-refreshing moment, we no longer desire to eat physical food that our bodies do not need. On the other hand, the food we do eat is all the more tasty and satisfying.
"Living the moment" is not a new therapeutic method for achieving peace and contentment. In fact, "living the moment" is simply a positive restatement of the last commandment given to Moses: Thou shalt not covet. As used in the tenth commandment, "to covet" is to desire that which is not mine and which I cannot lawfully acquire. To live in the now is to take full advantage of what I presently have.
At a recent party I met a man who awarded me the privilege of hearing his discourse on the psychological ramifications (which he believed were negative) of converting to the metric system. The gentleman trapped me in a corner and began his lecture. Frankly, I was bored. Since I did not have the pluck to slither down into the ground and make my escape through his legs, I realized that I was doomed to captivity for at least ten minutes. Rather than dreaming about the ten thousand things I would rather be doing at that moment, I decided to make the most of the situation I was in. In ten minutes I was
continued on 28
"It is through the `boring' moments that we are forced to experience the beauty present in the most mundane details of life."
able to glean a better comprehension of the metric system, I picked up a bit of amateur psychology, and by observation I learned some things about men's hair dye (his was not very effective).
T he moment is always exciting. We convert our boredoms into adventures. It is through the "boring" moments that we are forced to experience the beauty present in the most mundane details of life. We learn, finally, that nothing is boring. When someone asked Toscannini's son to name the highest point in his father's life, he replied, "Every point in it is his highest point. He lives gloriously and fully every moment of his life, whether conducting an orchestra or peeling an orange."
The moment is always exciting, but it is not always pleasant. The moment often hurts, but when we accept and do
not resist the pain, then the hurting is minimized. Instead of attaching fears and stigmas to the pain on the basis of past or imagined moments, we let be what will be. There is a way in which we no longer feel the pain so sharply, because we become the pain.
Several months ago my dentist performed extensive work on my teeth. On one occasion I was feeling rather sharp pain from his drilling. I remembered in a flash all the awful dentist-chair accounts I had ever been told, and I braced myself for the expected torrents of pain. With such anticipation, how could I not feel excruciating pain? Changing my perspective, I decided, "All right, it's going to hurt, but hurting is a part of life that ought also to be experienced."I felt the pain, but I was truthfully glad for it. "Wow! I'm feeling pain. I'm alive!" The pain was vindicated, because I allowed my sensation to take its course without automatically classifying it as negative.
We liberate our experience by not making demands on it. That is, by forgetting the future and so giving up our expectations for it, we free ourselves to relish this moment, and we no longer require the future moments to attain certain levels in order to please us. If I occupy my mind with a certain engagement I have planned for next week, then I will inevitably attach expectations to that engagement. If the actual engagement meets my expectations, then I will say to myself, "So what? That's what I was expecting." On the other hand, if the engagement, though profitable, is not what I expected it would be, then I will surely be disappointed.
L wing the moment signifies real experience over and against the fictitious experiences that result from an obsession with the future and the monotonous two-dimensional experiences that result from a constant mental repetition of the past. It is a choice of living in reality (which is the Eternal Moment) or in unreality. Eternity is wholly beyond and wholly other than time or space, yet in attempting to connect the Eternal Moment to our world through a language that is founded on space-time dimensions, it is impossible to avoid the conceptions of space and time. Our language cannot adequately define the meaning of "living the moment"; we can only speak by analogy and illustration. True understanding will only come by experience.
We may be surrounded by troubles on all sides, but the Eternal Moment is wonderfully oblivious to all that is not here and now. I recall a telephone conversation with a young woman who spent ten or fifteen minutes detailing her psychological problems, her sexual problems, and a whole array of other sordid items. Finally she laughed and said, "The H with it. Let's go to lunch!" That is living the moment.
God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM," and He gave no further account of Himself. Joined to Jesus Christ as one spirit, each one of us may also boldly proclaim, "I am who I am." Our identity no longer rests in what we possess, or what we have done, or what we will do. We identify ourselves with the Eternal Moment, the l AM which language cannot explain and which time cannot measure.
I looked at a copy of your Union Life magazine recently, and if possible I would like to receive this publication regularly. I believe it would be a blessing to me and to those to whom I minister. I am a student at a Bible College with about one year left before I graduate. God, by His Spirit, has been teaching me greater things than what I have been learning at school, although I discover that I know very little compared to what I think I know at times. I thank God through Jesus Christ for this revelation and hope He keeps teaching us all. I look forward to your publication and a reply if you wish.
J.W.M. - Dallas, TX
How refreshing to hear from a Bible school student who will listen to his Inner Being and recognizes that much of that which is taught in our Bible schools and seminaries is far short of the total truth Jesus pointed us to.
Do not settle for what you have been taught. There is more. That is why Paul wrote the Ephesians, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know..." (1:18). To "know" is to be intimately mixed with. That is why the Bible speaks of Adam "knowing" Eve and bearing a child, etc. We are meant to have a consciousness that is true inner knowing. That is the only way we can live spontaneously. We are to live by subjective inner knowing, not by objective, legalistic outer knowing (head knowledge). There is no completeness, wholeness, rest or Oneness apart from such inner awareness.
Perfect love (with whom we are One) casts out all fear. Do not let fear of false doctrine or anything such as that deter you from knowing the truth. Even though some of this sounds like Eastern mysticism, Christian Science, etc., (and it is close in many ways), do not throw it all out because of fear of any kind. True Christianity is mystical and metaphysical. The theologians of today and yesterday (all the way back to the
Pharisees), know law rather than liberty, because they are afraid that liberty might become license by the immature. But we can trust Him who is our Life. He who has begun a good work will complete it.
I stand with you for our full
Thank you for your kind words and the assurance of receiving Union Life. I misunderstood. I thought the magazine was sent out six times a year. I wish it were monthly. It is the only source of enlightenment that I have other than the Bible, of course.
Yes, I attend and am a member of a Church, which has filled my need up till now. But now I find as Anna said in Mister God, This is Anna: Most churches make the people "littler".
I've recently met Laurie Hills, a beautiful person, and attended a few sessions with her group. This was an answer to a prayer that I hadn't even prayed. God just knew my need.
I'm so thankful that God has revealed himself to all of you in Union Life. It makes our days as a little bit of Heaven on Earth. Thank you. Thank you.
E.A. - Oxen Hill, MD
Some years ago while in prayer, the Lord gave me a glorious vision. At first I saw Jesus as He is depicted in Sunday school literature. As I looked upon His full form, He began to grow taller. He grew upward until He filled all space above, He grew downward until He filled all space below, and He grew outward both right and left until He filled all space - until the whole universe was Him.
Seeing only Him, I asked, "Lord, where are the people?"
He answered, "At that day you shall know that I am in the Father, you are in me, and I am in you."
Until recently I saw this all way in the future. But now I am realizing who I am in Him. My true self is I AM. It is dawning on me that there is nothing but God only. When He told me "at that day" I would know this, just as when He said it to His disciples (John 14:20), it was true whether I saw it then or not.
Truly we stand in a new beginning in God. All shall know, as more and more we all herald His appearing in our day.
S.D.F. - Austin, TX
With no determined "purpose" for such a gathering, one goes to it with openness of heart to let God only fulfill all purposes with His Presence. Nothing more or less would suffice anyway.
Though the attendance was a little shy of last year's and particular people were missed, nothing of this caused us to be wanting. For one as for all, overflow of Him was our portion and our meat.
Testimonies of His abundance as the Life of all rang loud and clear. Though each member of His body gave personal and particular testimony to his office, each gave honor to Christ as the single Indweller as well as the sum and substance of his life. Identification with Christ in His sufferings was the prelude to many testimonies: a prelude of knowing Him whereby we make Him known in this great commission of experienced ascension. How else can the "I" become the "Thou?"
Hearts were touched with exposed lives, for surely transparent living is one of the many joys of our inheritance. Our so-called "leader", whose touch of God in many of our lives initially brought us to this and all other reunions of "God Only" content, touched our lives again - not with God but as God. Nothing short of Divine magnetism could have sent us all both there and away with assurance that "all is well in our soul."
Spirit food surpassed physical food as promised, but let nothing other than praise be sung for the much enjoyed banquets of food and those countless, nameless people who made it happen. The warmth and hospitality of our host and hostess, John and Linda Bunting, could not have been conjured up just for these wonderful four days. No, their kindness was a sincere reflection of
ON LOUISVILLE REUNION
Much love, Bill Volkman
HEAVEN ON EARTH
IN THE UNIVERSE
their daily lifestyle, "swallowed up" in God. Thank you, John and Linda, for being this He of you!
Blessing, we were all blessed, as God made comforters of us all - even in this Now of forever!
W.M. - St. Petersburg, FL
From the time that my husband and I first became Christians we assumed we needed to live in Church. Bingo! God really had a pair of workers! We were everything from youth counsellors to janitors. For a time this was fulfilling, but eventually the workoholic life got very tiring. It seemed there was so much more to Christianity and I just wasn't understanding. I was so hungry to know God. I wanted so much - and couldn't find it - simply because I didn't understand that I am part of Him!
Then I began to feel unattached to the Church. I became dissatisfied with everything, including my home life. I just seemed to become another person. Here I was teaching a college-age Sunday school class and yet I didn't love, care or feel anything! What a mess!
God really knows how to move in on a person and show him how silly we make life! God finally showed me that everything I was doing was to impress other people - rather than Him! Can you get the picture of a Christian couple knocking themselves out to please people instead of God?
Where am I now? I'm feeling now like everything is completely new - all spiritual things are new discoveries - Christ is new - I've never known Him before like now.
I guess the biggest difficulty I have had is the fact that I couldn't see a great change in my life. I thought that once I really grabbed hold of the truth (that I am no longer myself) that the whole world would change for me. The dilemma of seeing myself as nothing apart from Christ and yet still "nothing" as far as change is concerned was really frustrating. I wanted to be a spiritual giant.
But now I know that God wants me just the way I am. He is living my life, so He'll make any necessary changes. I had tried to be obedient; God knows how hard I've tried! But it suddenly dawned upon me that I simply can't be obedient - except by acknowledging
who I am. Obedience will come in His time.
R.H. - Covington, KN
Standing back and watching the Lord work has become a pleasure for me. Since He contains all, He works out all!
I don't make the Lord work out things by my thoughts, words or actions. He's been working out my life and the lives of others without my help all this time. I just realize He is there, and I become very comfortable. I just go about my business, and the presence of the Lord and His workings are like my right hand. I know it's there, but I don't think about it.
It really is an exciting life to live, because the next day or even the next minute there is something new. All that has changed is what's inside this living vessel. I look, act, and say the same old things, but with an everlasting calmness inside.
P.J. - Schereville, IN
The "explosion" has come, but it came through an evening of contrast. Last Wednesday evening some of us went to hear a woman speak at our local Episcopal Church. It has been 25 years, one month and 3 days since I'd been born again through her ministry.
I love the Episcopal service, but suddenly I saw our kneeling, prayer, etc., from a different perspective. I found myself laughing in the midst of a hymn about "Thou Beside Me", and in another hymn, "Thy Tents Shall Be Our Home". The Lord and I were joking and laughing together, having a wonderful time!
Then the woman began to speak. I said "Lord, this is where I came in 25 years ago." Nothing about her message had changed, but my spirit was singing and dancing with the utter joy of "knowing" what I had already known for a long time. It just took a contrast to make me aware of where I was, now and forever. My outer self was bored to tears, but inside the singing and dancing went on. I thanked God for the teacher and her continuing ministry to so many thousands, and know that He rewards His Kindergarten teachers just as He rewards His university professors.
O.J. - Charlotte, NC
Thank you so much for Union Life I've recognized thru these magazines that there is so much I don't understand and have not yet comprehended about our oneness with Christ. For some years now the emphasis in our small group has been on the disciplines of the Christian life. There has been much emphasis on the Sheep-Shepherd relationship, submission to our husbands, and now committment to our group. While I know these are Godly principles, not to be taken lightly, I question the guilt, depression, fear and resentment that have had a hold on my life as well as the lives of others as a result of these teachings. Sometimes it almost seems that we look within ourselves too much of the time. We've heard warnings against "rebellion" until it's almost meaningless. Now I want to turn my back on it all, and all that it has done to our family, but I don't know how.
It's as though our religion has demanded much and has given little in return. I feel angry inside, I want to lash out, and yet I don't want to hurt anyone, so I bottle it up and I wonder: "God where am I going? What will happen to our family? Have I turned my back on you by hating these principles that have had our family bound?"
I've wanted to go to someone, but I can no longer put confidence in anyone. I'm sure my rebellion, stubborness and selfishness is obvious in this letter, but I offer no defense for it. What I hope to find out is that God is bigger than little groups like ours. If this is all of it, what hope do we have? I wish I knew what came first in my life: the fear or the rebellion. I could almost desire to return to our Missionary Alliance Church and to be able to see the love-side of God again.
Please help me to understand if you can what went wrong in my life, that I could doubt everything I once believed in.
E.D. - Longview, TX Editor: It was our pleasure to personally answer this letter by assuring the writer that even her negative feelings are part of God's perfect process in her. This letter is a good expression of the "dark night of the soul" which many of us experience before we are settled in the awareness of our unity with Christ.
I have just finished reading some of your articles and oh how timely they
IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD
A DESPERATE PRAYER
A CHURCH WORKAHOLIC
were. Having come out (although, not all together) of a time of definite despair, the articles in the magazine brought life when I really needed it.
The Lord has been laying a foundation for the past several months along these lines and I am now anxious to experience union life in a dimension that I have not known. Really, it seems to be the only way to get thru the pressures that are bearing upon us to bring us to maturity. Praise God for new horizons when we thought the night would never end and that hope for the present vision was no more.
In the light and love of Christ, C.W. - Landenberg, PA
Thanks very much for all the copies of the September 1977 issue of Union Life you sent - all of them are already in the mail to prospective readers.
I want to share a few comments, though I don't mean to be "negative" or "stone-throwing". I just want to express some personal concerns, which may be the concern of others also.
I thoroughly enjoy the Letters to the Editor. In almost each letter I find a gem of truth which is applicable to myself and is a great encouragement. But I am not particularly pleased about the terminology used in so much of Union Life. So much is expressed about the "Someone in John Doe Form," and there are the continual references to Good and Evil, etc.
It's not that I have theological qualms. I believe I know what you are referring to -a mystical union with our Saviour with a high degree of intimacy. In regard to Good and Evil, I know that the Lord works in all things. He is the Lord even of the mess we make of things, to quote Will Campbell from the May, 1972 Christian Herald magazine.
But I guess it's just the use of the same terminology repeated over and over. I'd like to see many more expressions and terms, such as "mystical union" or "friendship with God." I'd like to hear of the unconditional love of God for each person (regardless of good and/or evil circumstances), etc.
My preference is for the term "friendship" to be used more. It's very personal and earthy. When in John it says, "I no longer call you servants, but friends," it's easy for me to relate. Maybe others can too. Also in William Johnson's book, Silent Music, he refers to "mystical friendship."
I'd like to think that the whole Gospel
message is one of intimacy, as we are "chosen" personally by the Lord to be His friends. All of mankind has, is, and will receive the invitation until all are fully aware of their friendship (union) in Christ.
Maybe because I am into contemplation, solitude and silence, as a way of "being", and as a "way of life," that I get a headache when the articles are so wordy and repetitious of the same terms. But perhaps other people need the lengthy and wordy and repeated expressions. Perhaps I am hearing "a different drum-beat." I noticed that in the September 1977 issue the lawyer wrote about finding adequate expression and liking the simple word "life." Mainly I guess I'd like to see more extensive expressions and material quoted.
I personally am not "turned on" by Norman Grubb's or Walter Lanyon's material. Once again, this is not meant to be criticism, as I'm sure they have been a blessing to many. But I'd like to see where Union Life can become so "free and spontaneous" that it won't quote just certain authors and expressions.
I .noticed at the library the other day, when looking at books on Mysticism and Contemplation, so much material available from a number of different viewpoints, expressions and authors of varying periods in history. So the field is wide open as to how we express our union with the Lord.
F.G. - Portland, OR (editor: We agree wholeheartedly with much of what you said. As you and others send us more varied expressions of the One Eternal Truth, we will be happy to make them available to all our readers.)
have learned from God that I must
stop "projecting evil" in my thoughts,
or else evil I will then get! I propose to
dismiss the unhappy thoughts and ex
pect only fun and good from God, not
flat tires and a "low time" after a "high
time" etc.! I used to expect God to
whack me from behind a bush after
every good time! Now I am learning to
expect Him to pour out blessing after
blessing, and I am learning to blot out
evil in my thinking. I read quite a bit,
and lately I have read a number of
things (not all "Christian" literature by
any means) that show we get what we
expect or project, or as we believe.
L.H. - Stoughton, MS
I want to express to you my deep appreciation for the Union Life magazine. I thought I knew the secret of victorious living, but this magazine has opened new vistas of grace and beauty in the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I'm enjoying Union Life to the fullest. I'm so glad that the Union Life message is not one that I know with my head but one that I know in my heart.
Let me also say that the trio of books by Walter Lanyon have been so rich in setting forth our need for recognition of God's presence in our lives. These books have been used as confirmation to truth God has been giving me over the past nine months.
N.M. - Topeka, KS
NEW VISTAS OF GRACE
FOR MORE VARIETY
WE GET WHAT WE PROJECT