Scripturally Based Answers For life's Questions
Answer-THE DEEPER CHRISTIAN LIFE
I have often wondered what was wrong with some of the preaching of the so-called liberal, contemporary preachers. Not that I want to be either conservative or liberal or pit them against each other. The two sides have always, and will always, exist in Christianity. They both seem to have a hold on an aspect of Christianity but often use that to slander the other side.
One day, as I was in a church listening to the preacher, I was seeking to figure out why the message was not reaching the spiritual condition of the people; I sensed that there was actually no spiritual connection between the preacher and the people. Yes, there was some emotion, some excitement, but no spiritual connection. I realized he was basing his teaching on the illustration of the truth rather than on the truth of the Scriptures itself. For example, he was speaking about God’s love, but he started by talking about how much he loved his daughter and then told the people that God loved them like that. God was not the very source or the all-in-all. He used his life to understand God instead of using God to understand his life.
Starting with an illustration of a truth and then trying to bring Scripture or doctrine into it establishes the illustration as the root and foundation of the message. You cannot dive deep if you build a four-foot deep pool. If you use humanity to establish the depth of Christianity, there will not be depth. For example, I could have God’s love for people, as shown in Scripture, as the foundation for the message and then illustrate that by how that is implemented in my love for my daughter. We love because He first loved us, as I John identifies, not the other way around: we have these love relationships and thereby we know that God loves us. So, a message that was supposed to be used to illustrate the truth was used in the place of the truth, and the truth simply became an extension of the illustration. I noticed the same thing in the songs they sang, like “I won’t forsake the Lord, for He is faithful.” The message of the song was essentially this: “I won’t forsake,” which made the singer the faithful and dependable one. The Lord was also declared to be faithful, but the message was that the singer was going to be faithful. There was more praise attributed to the singer than to God. That is the issue. God is made subject to our Christianity. It is so shallow and never reaches the inner man, nor does it deal with our sin issues.
There is also the experiential focus with the avoidance of doctrine. II Click-John 1:9,10 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.” I understand that amongst the conservatives doctrine is often only built around the practical aspect of their church, or it is used as a replacement for experience and the person of God, instead of being used to teach about God and His work. But to avoid doctrine is to avoid God Himself. This type of teaching is a Christianity that does not reach the inner man, for it is shallow. The conservative Christians have a tendency to only address the service or the outward aspect of faith, which is likewise shallow. The good news is there are real and deeply rooted Christians mixed in on either side, but they draw their nourishment directly from the Lord and have a deep, personal walk with Him. They are not “just” liberal or conservative Christians; they are Christians that have a direct line from God but are intermixed into these different groups. They are not drawing their faith from earthly Christianity, no matter which side. In other words, they rely on God instead of general Christianity for their own personal Christianity. True Christianity does not come from Christianity itself but from God through personal faith. What I am seeking to say is this, there are two sides to Christianity and they are both shallow, but there is a deeper Christian life. Is the four-foot pool your only source, or do you draw from a well Click-Isaiah 12?
We must not seek to bury our Christian lives in the depths of our everyday lives, but rather bury our everyday lives in the depths of Christianity, and for that we cannot preach illustrations. We need to preach doctrine.
The majority of Christians have or hold to a Christianity that does not exceed the boundaries of their own natural grasp. If they cannot relate to it, they reject it. Now, the deeper Christian life is not beyond comprehension, but is beyond the natural comprehension. It is not a life lived in a bubble without having any clue of what is going on or what one must do. In fact, it is the opposite; those in it have a much greater grasp of life and how it functions than other Christians.
Let’s consider some of the aspects of it.
There are many verses in the Bible that speak of an understanding that is deeper than human or natural understanding.
Click-Colossians 1:9 speaks of a spiritual understanding.
The carnal person has no ability to relate to spiritual things, but to spiritual people the spiritual things are more real and reasonable than the tangible things.
Why are so many Christians rejecting God’s will? The simple answer is they cannot relate to it. Even though they claim Christianity, they are only dwelling on the surface of it. Sensing God’s will clearly and specifically is not part of their thinking, and generally they reject it for that reason. God is just unreasonable to them and will therefore get no consideration.
The word “prove” means to examine, try, discern or allow. Those who have been transformed will come to grasp God’s will. They will not only know it but understand it. I am not speaking about understanding it all perfectly, for only Jesus was able to do that. However, they can test it and try it to see what exactly it is, but it requires an in-depth transformation done by God, which in turn requires a deep commitment and trust from the recipient.
Why would a believer purposely argue with God about His will? Because it is foolishness to him. He has no grasp of it in his own mind.
There are different aspects to knowledge. A person can be full of information but empty on intimate and experiential knowledge. Knowledge that only enters the intellect and logic is far from complete. The only way God transforms a person is by starting from a person’s innermost being and working outward. Truth on the surface is also active, but only in the sense that it is seeking to penetrate and get into the heart. God’s voice and words are shaped to seek deep roots in people. God called that good ground and a soil that will allow the seed to root properly and produce well Click-Matthew 13.
Jesus spoke of the Father, declaring that He knew Him, and the word He used is a word that declares informational knowledge. In other words, He had all the facts on the Father. The Jews rejected Jesus because they did not have the facts or information on Him; they did not know that He is indeed God. Jesus, however, had all of that information. He knew everything about the Father, the Spirit, and Himself. But when He spoke of knowing His sheep and them knowing Him, it was not informational knowledge but experiential and intimate knowledge. In other words, there are people that have some good facts about God, Jesus, and the Godhead, but they do not hear His voice—they do not have a heart-to-heart relationship with Him. When Natalia and I got married, we had a wonderful relationship with each other, but there were many things I did not know about her. I did know her voice. Our relationship has become even deeper with time, but the informational knowledge has grown without comparison. What am I saying? I am saying a deep life needs both. Some people have mostly facts about the Lord, some others have mostly a feely-type of relationship with Him, but there are people who have both. That can be like Jesus and the Father—they had the facts, but they had a relationship that withstood all opposition.
It is a knowledge that incorporates our entire being.
Without God there would be no wisdom, but that does not mean all wisdom is equal. God gave Solomon great wisdom, but Solomon still did many foolish things. It was Solomon’s foolishness in dealing with other nations and women that cost him the kingdom.
And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king's seed in Edom.”—
What am I saying? To be fruitful, we must not just seek wisdom for operating our businesses and lives, but we must seek wisdom that will shape our character, wisdom that is pure, peaceable, gentle, persuasive, merciful, good, etc. To have character but no know-how to build, rule or run is shallow, and to have the wisdom to build, rule and run but have no character is dangerous. Behind all success lies wisdom, and with all success comes danger. Many people who have been successful in society have been destroyed in their personal lives, and many people have an admirable character but fail in society. We need depth across the board.
I must state that no one is perfectly balanced in these matters—it is a struggle for all. It is only that we must seek depth, not support for our shallowness.
There is a battle in the church concerning the meaning of tongues, and there are Christians on all sides of the battle. I believe Click-Acts 2:11 is important in the matter. The Holy Spirit had been poured out, the apostles were preaching, and it says the people heard the wonderful works of God. The Holy Spirit communicated in a manner that the apostles were not aware of. In Click-Genesis 11 the whole human race was of one language and speech. They got together and sought to build a tower and city to reach heaven. It says they wanted to make a name for themselves. God came down and split the language into many different languages and caused confusion among the people. There has been babel in the world ever since. When we look at the physical and audible world, we can see some of the effects, but we must look at the religious world, for its effects are much clearer and much more active.
The question—what are the religions of the world seeking to accomplish—is important to identify. They are seeking to eliminate confusion, especially confusion about God, but in the very attempt they are also desperately seeking to cover their own sin and deceptive ways. Are they making any progress? In understanding God, no, but in causing confusion amongst people, yes. In other words, the process is the same as it was in Genesis 11. Then comes Click-Acts 2. God comes down, every person hears the wonderful words of God and understands His works. People hear each other to an extent and enjoy talking with each other for the most part. They also listen to religious leaders, but most have little idea on what they are actually saying. The Holy Spirit came as a Communicator to clear up this mess we are in, but there is no surface understanding about that. Many churches are working hard at removing the Holy Spirit of God. Why? They have no depth. Have you ever had to function or work under someone and you could not understand his speech or relate to his ways? Nothing but frustration. It is like Christians are frustrated with God, specifically the Holy Spirit, and are rising up to fire Him. They want to go back to Genesis 11.
We need depth.
Here are a few thoughts on the deeper Christian life.