“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body”
1 Corinthians 12:13
By One Spirit
“And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you”
1 Corinthians 12:21
Anyone with a vital, living relationship with the Head (Christ Himself) cannot say: “I have no need of thee”! Only those who live independently, disassociated from the Law of Life, can say “I have no need of thee”. If the eye is not intrinsically attached to the Head, it has no sense of its relationship to the rest of the Body of Christ. There is an inherent blindness that will isolate and insulate that one from the wonder of His Life.
A disconnected member has no divine enablement to “feel” the heartbeat of the body. “I have no need of thee” is a revelation of one’s true spiritual condition. The deeper our union with Him, the deeper will be a corresponding desire for a relationship with all others who share this common heartbeat. The power of His Life breaks asunder the carnal bonds of denominations, closed and isolated fellowships, and disconnected cliques.
Pride, unforgiveness, envy, jealousy, and the desire for preeminence, will sever the bonds with Him who is the life, the heart, and the author of peace.
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”
The only means through which we can be ONE Body is by living in the ONE Spirit. To be outside the Life of the ONE Spirit is to be alienated from the ONE Body. Doctrines, teachings, and religious dogmas have nothing to do with this ONENESS. Those who live in Christ do not compromise truth for oneness because the Spirit of Truth pulsates within. They know the truth, the truth (Christ Himself) lives within, and He alone produces unity in hearts that can never declare “I have no need of thee”.
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death”
1 John 3:14
The authenticity of our relationship with Him who is THE LIFE is revealed in our love and concern for our brothers and sisters. It is the carnal, the disconnected who are oblivious to this truth.
“By the figure of the vine and the branches, Christ illustrated not only the relation that should exist between him and his followers but also the union between every believer and his fellow believer. The branches of the vine are related to each other, but they are not alike. Each has its own individuality, which cannot be merged into that of another, but all have a special connection with each other. The root that supplies nourishment to one branch supplies nourishment to every other branch. Each must depend alike on the vine for sustenance; all must be joined to the parent stalk. The life and growth and fruitfulness of each depend alike on the parent vine. In obedience to the laws of nature, their common hold of the true vine make them one; in their diversity there is unity.”
“Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?”
God’s Word is not only an expression of Him – but it is also anextension of Himself. He is His Word and His Word is Himself (John 1:1). In both the Old and New Testament we read that our God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24, Hebrews 12:29). Those who bear His Living Word within will know the truth of this in the corresponding measure of their walk. His Word is the very expression of His Nature, His Thoughts, and His Ways. Words without fire are words without unction. Men cannot touch His Presence and remain unaffected, apathetic, and unconcerned about His inheritance in the earth. His presence is fire and glory. His zeal for His House (Psalm 119:139, John 2:17) in the earth is a consuming fire within the hearts of those who have His Word.
This fire consumes and purifies those who bear it to speak with an intensity to all who would hear. This fire cannot be quenched, compromised, or contaminated by the tepidity of religious men who desire something less than God Himself. It is antagonistic to the stagnant, and to those who are complacent in their approach to God. To those who desire to walk and live within the presence of a Holy God, it is the necessity of life. It is the work of God to bring His people to such expressions.
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire“
“But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones”
Strong meat belongs to YOU and the way you receive that strong meat is by having your senses exercised to discern between the teachings of men and the teachings of the Spirit. We must walk in the Spirit of truth in order to discern the difference between what men teach and what the Spirit teaches.
Truth is the greatest blessing, but it comes with great accountability. Any truth that is not walked in, any truth that doesn’t exert its power in my heart, I am accountable for that. It’s critical the things we hear, but it is more critical what we DO with what we hear! The more God communicates His truth to you the more He requires you to walk in it.
“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required”
These are small group bible studies given with the great hope that a new generation will arise with the Fire of God burning within their hearts and that they may shine with the very light and life of Christ Himself.
Jesus felt no compulsion to answer this rhetorical and ostentatious question of Pilate. Nor does He respond to those today whose ideas of truth lie only in statements and confessions. Without a living relationship with Christ, truth is merely an opinion, a belief, or a concept born of predispositions or persuasions. There is nothing concrete or absolute in its origin. Some believe one thing; some believe another thing. If truth is simply esoteric in nature and exists only in intellectual assumptions, then the philosophical question “What is Truth?” bears testimony to a lost humanity declaring its own existence as futile and vain. The span of time “lived” between birth and death is inconsequential. Death is merely the end of a consciousness that evaporates into oblivion. Feelings, relationships, and the myriad of human experiences have no real value or meaning.
The comforts of religion are that it assuages the torment of this thought by providing an antidote of belief; somehow the belief itself will mitigate my wrongness and assure me of a noble end. Rather than seeing the need for repentance and change, my rightness is based on an affirmation. Religion dissipates the gnawing and persistent desire to answer this question in earnest. The belief alleviates the need for a definitive answer. It makes me think that if I believe right, I will personally be right regardless of the life I live. The deception is that I can profess to have truth without the need to become true.
This is the ethos of much of the Christian landscape today. There is an insidious concept that I can be disobedient to the teachings of Christ without any ramifications to my eternal standing with God. I can claim to be in the right relationship with Him and yet disregard my accountability to Him. I believe a truth without it becoming true in my own experience. Consider forgiveness… (for example)
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father, who is in heaven, may also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions.”
To claim Him as my Lord and deny my brother or sister forgiveness is hypocrisy. How many of us hold on to unforgiveness and yet pray to Him without any thought to the ramifications of our standing before God?
Jesus is our only truth; His Life within me, changing me, convicting me, and transforming my behaviour. Profession without the corresponding life to validate it is deception.
“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous”
1 John 3:7
Let no man deceive us. Let us not deceive ourselves. Mere belief does not change an unrighteous life. Jesus came into our hearts to free us FROM our sin; not to allow us to remain IN our sin.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid!”
Paul asks this incredulous question. It is an absurdity to him that it would even enter the minds of those who have truly experienced the power of Christ within.
“If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him”
1 John 2:29
God’s people to a large extent know little of God’s righteousness. This scripture only has power in those who understand “He is Righteous”. To those who know of this truth, sin is an offense to God. It is something that produces a holy war within our own being, something with which we cannot compromise. Its presence is a revelation that a portion of our life is still not fully His. Those who walk in the truth of Christ are convicted, in contrast to those who base their standing with God on a confession.
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”
Quoting scriptures, believing in the correct theology, and subscribing to sound doctrine will not free you or me from the power of sin and disobedience. The truth of which Jesus speaks is a power and a dynamic extension of His Life working within the recesses of our being. Jesus presents Himself as the truth; not knowing about Him, but He Himself. Our hope is not based on what we believe. Our hope is in Him living and ruling within, changing the very fabric of our being. Paul presents this truth unequivocally to us.
“Christ IN you the hope of glory”
“…in our day Christ as the truth has… been abolished: we take Christ’s teaching – but abolish Christ. We want truth the easy way. This is to abolish truth, for Christ, the teacher is more important than the teaching… Truth is not a sum of statements, not a definition, not a system of concepts, but a life. Truth is not a property of thought that guarantees validity to thinking. No, truth in its most essential character is the reduplication of truth within yourself… Your life expresses the truth in the striving… The Gospel says that this is eternal life, to know the only true God and the One Whom He sent, the Truth (Jn. 17:3).”
– Soren Kierkegaard
“In Him was life; and the life was the light of men
“The Word of God is called a light unto our feet, not to our tongues, merely to speak about–but to our feet, to walk by. Getting knowledge is your work; opening your hearts to understand is the work of the Holy Spirit. But you must ask Him for wisdom and believe He will give it to you. God has promised wisdom to those who “ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:6). Strive for wisdom, not so that men will respect and admire you, but so that they will celebrate God’s greatness. The end of every human effort should be to magnify His Name. Go to God with David’s prayer on your lips: “Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works” (Psalm 119:27). William Gurnall
“Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet…”
For continuous illumination, His people are to walk in the way of His precepts for the lamp at our feet will only illuminate that in which we walk.
“The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death”
The words of the wise bring God’s people to choices. They clearly present the way of life contrasted with the path which leads to spiritual decay. Life itself is a series of choices and each choice has consequences. Jesus speaks of the narrow way which leads us to life. This narrow way is fraught with decisions that determine the depth of our apprehension of His Life and vitality.
“For narrow is the gate, and constricted is the way that leads away into life, and few are the ones finding it“
The presentation of truth as a fountain of life enables the hearer to turn from the “snares of death”. The Gospel is presented to equip God’s people to walk in truth, not just to hear the truth. The wise bring men and women to a place of reality with words that lead to righteousness. The words of fools make light of sin.
“The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving”
Oh, the penetrating questions of Jesus. “Do you believe now?” Our Lord is ever bringing us to the truth. There is something about the heart of man that evades the “present” tense of God; it is far easier to put truth off to a future age or dispensation. There can be a soothing and narcotic effect in occupying ourselves with future concepts and ideas. It is an escape, a diversion from present reality. Jesus is the “I AM” and it is the purpose of truth to make us true in the present. The reality is we only have enough breath for the moment and our present condition is our condition. It is here and now that Jesus brings us to the fundamental truth of our state.
“Do you believe now?”. Do you love Him now, His Body (His people)? Are His purposes your purposes for now? Years ago, I sat with a dying friend who had spoken often of his “destiny”; that one of these days God was going to speak a living word and he would be quickened to step into it. But it never happened. If truth is always kept in the future, we run out of the precious commodity of time.
Past, Future, and Present Truth
Martha and Mary were loved deeply by our Lord. Lazarus was dying and they sent for Jesus in desperation and trust. Upon hearing their urgent request Jesus tarried two more days. He knew all that was transpiring and plainly told the disciples that Lazarus was “now” dead. When Jesus arrived, He was met with the faith of the past.
“Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died”
A very powerful statement. Jesus in His pre-resurrection state, as a man incarnate, was restricted to the “present truth” of His physical existence. Yet even in this situation, He tarried in the wisdom of God. He is ever-pressing us to “believe now” and to conduct ourselves accordingly.
As the narrative unfolds Jesus meets these statements with the living truth: “Your brother will rise again”. Immediately comes the heartfelt response, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day”. In this interaction with two souls that Jesus loved greatly, we see that He is pressing them into the “now”, into the situation at hand. He has a deep desire to bring us in all things to the present truth, the reality of the now. May we who have ears to hear recognize the pressing of His Spirit to free us from our past and our unsubstantiated future concepts. It is an intense and difficult thing to allow Him to penetrate our religious notions with the present reality. But it is necessary and vital to bring us to the acknowledgment of our true condition. Those who hold to future things, while denying the present reality of themselves, circumvent the development needed to become all that He has purposed.
Paul declared in Philippians that he had not yet fully apprehended the call of God. He did not rest in some future thing but cried out with great urgency of spirit, “I press toward the mark”. There was no room for concepts and beliefs to deter him from the apprehension of Christ. His life was abandoned to Christ. He did not isolate himself from the ministry of God to the Body of Christ; he did not segregate himself from interaction with others. He was in fact a vessel poured out because of the love of Christ in his heart. It is the synthetic who hide from others, who deceive themselves to be ones set apart (as the Scribes and the Pharisees* of old). His Love propels His Own to identify with the lost, the hurting, and the bound. It is in the touching of others that we discover the truth of ourselves. The truth of our nakedness is revealed in our touching the nakedness of others. It is in our discovery of our needs on their behalf that we find His provision! How good and how right are His ways with us!
Religion as a mere belief relieves people from having to face the current fitness and verity of themselves. The true in heart desire to know and to face the truth of the moment. Multiple times the disciples asked Jesus why their prayers did not meet the situation at hand. Deep within they desired truth, the truth, of their powerlessness. They did not mask their condition with a future hope. Jesus responded to them with the thing they needed to hear: “because of your unbelief”. These moments are necessary for our growth and development in Him. If we brush past these moments, we are none the better and we continue our way without facing the facts. The true in heart receive the truth as it is and the door opens for greater faith, a living faith that releases His wonder in the situation. The discovery of our poverty is the door into His riches!
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
The disciple of Christ must discover in present situations their present condition. Therein lies the challenge and the adventure into the discovery of Him within our own experience. The seeker of truth does not seek to comfort themselves in past or future things for the Christ they pursue IS COME to lead them, and more importantly, bring them to the Truth in all character and wisdom. Jesus in His wisdom presented to Martha and Mary the crowning revelation of the mystery of Himself.
“I AM the resurrection…”
He is not the “I Was” or the “I Will Be”; He is always the I AM.
“And when He was come into the house, His disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could not we cast him out?”
A few years ago, in my private time with Him, the words came to me, “To grow in truth one must be true with oneself”. Our journey into truth must begin and remain open to receive its piercings and exposure of our condition.
“Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?”
To which the answer of God is:
“He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart”
When the truth is reduced to a confession, its wonder fades, its sword no longer pierces the heart. The result is faith without works, teachings instead of substance, and a limited vision of His power and glory.
“ Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth UNTO unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently”
1 Peter 1:22
The true in heart measure their obedience and walk with God by the fervency of love for His people (not only the ones in their immediate circle). This love reveals itself in deeds produced by a faith made alive through love (Galatians 5:6).
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”
1 John 3:18
Can we hear Him calling us to the depths of Himself? Can we hear Him drawing us out of the ethereal, the forms of truth, and the comfort of mere confessions, into the vast wonder of His substance? Truth is the womb of repentance. Repentance brings us out of the shadows of obscurity into the penetrating gaze of Him alone before whom we must all give an account. Let not another day pass without a true turning unto Him who can cause us to become true witnesses of His Testimony within!
In the seeing of Him, we are afforded a seeing of ourselves (Isaiah 6:1-5). This great work of His Spirit will unveil all that Grace means. It causes us to glory afresh in His redemption of “our mortal bodies” by that SAME Spirit that raised Christ from the Dead. His resurrection will become more than a scriptural fact; it will be the living truth of Him at work within us. Love can only flourish between those who have seen themselves in the light of Him through the lamp of obedience. It is only through obedience that our “souls are purified UNTO the pure and fervent love of our brothers”. Love is the signature of God in a life. Love is being the face of Jesus to one another, where all our actions are governed by a pure desire to see His people WALK in the present truth of Christ.
“I have no greater joy than this, to hear about my children walking in truth. Beloved, you do a faithful work in whatever you accomplish for those who are brothers and strangers…”
3 John 1:4-5
God is not interested in truth coming from our lips only. The words which proceed from our lips are to be verified by our walk and our deeds.
“So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty”
* Note: Pharisees (Original meaning) “separated ones”; “called out ones”.
“And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.”
Convention and tradition are the nemeses of every generation. Without the impetus of the fresh inspiration of God, men would cling to the forms and methods of previous generations. We see Elizabeth’s strong reaction to the assumption of their friends:
“Not so; but he shall be called John.”
To which they replied:
“And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.”
The “coming ONE” brings change to everything that would bear witness to His Name. Even the forerunner must of necessity break with tradition. Christ alone is the new order and by the power of His life men undergo revolutionary transformations. No man can touch Him and remain the same. Tradition and stagnation are the very tombstones of a generation out of touch with the scope and atmosphere of His life.
Those who bear His nature within are aware of the lethargy of our current condition. The status quo is the means by which the “business” of Christian interaction is carried out today; the sheer lack of the wonder and majesty of His being should compel us to a heartfelt seeking of Him.
The verdict on our generation could be summed up in one simple, succinct statement.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
The Church today is not in need of new methods or programs. She is not in need of more technology or stratagems. Her ONE NEED is to be IN Christ. It is in Him that the dynamic of His life is known. It is in Him that the selfish ambitions of men are crucified. Pride, unforgiveness, jealously, envy, and the “works of the flesh” are consumed in the fire of God!
This is the declaration of one who carries within her own womb the touch and call of God to higher things. “Not So” is the cry from one who knows and feels deep within heaven’s fresh and invigorating breath. “Not So” has graced the lips of all those who sought nothing on earth and have become pilgrims of the same faith which inspired their father Abraham. For he sought out a city whose builder and maker is God. He was a sojourner even in the land of promise because his heart had been captured by heavenly realities; he could not and would not settle for the buildings and cities of men. Long he tarried in the plains of Mamre(Vision) not having the slightest inclination to join his nephew in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. His vision was clear and his heart resolute in the pursuit of this “one thing”.
How little our generation perceives that revelation follows sacrifice. Abraham, in the offering up of his own son of promise, “sees” the true offering of God and declares “Jehovah Jireh”! “God will provide”! Such a name had never been known in the earth nor had there been such an obedient heart. The two are inseparable.
“Not So” is the declaration of all who bear within their hearts the effervescence of the living Christ. While men stillwork and sweat to raise up edifices and organizations in the name of God, the verdict of God stands.
“Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord?”
The man who uttered such things was stoned to death by the malice and hatred of the religious people of that day. Living truth is ever an antagonism to the religious. Past and future truth may be acknowledged; present truth is what is ignored and disregarded. They who bear His Word must also bear His reproach.
The Cry of the Spirit of God has ever been…
“Today if you will hear his voice,
don’t harden your hearts”