My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials[James 1:2]
1. Accepting a cross externally will not help. It will produce no fruit in a believer's life. It is a form of asceticism which is religious but not Christian. Many Christians do not understand what James is saying, taking cross-bearing to mean externally only.
We first need to understand the difference between external and internal, between soul and spirit. This is not something easily grasped.
Hebrews 4: 12 For the word of God is living and powerful,
and sharper than any two edged sword,
piercing to the division of soul and spirit,
and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner
of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The context of this verse is in entering His rest (verse 10).
The external way is one of the soul. The soul consists of the mind, the will and the emotions. It includes outward prayer, outward works including church attendance, praise and works done in faith, meditation, study of the Word of God, acquiring knowledge of God, reading Christian books, memorization of Scripture and much toil. It also includes the mixture - part toil, part grace. Most of that done in the church today is not only external but a mixture of works assisted by grace. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.[Hebrews 4:10]
Satan also puts up a smokescreen here to confuse many and to hinder them from entering in. He shows the counterfeit - New Age meditation, visualization, zombie meditation. Many throw the baby out with the bath water here and suffer shipwreck to their faith by never learning this important truth of abiding in Him and the true inward path of a Christian. Meditation and visualization fall under the external way; not the inward way. Visualization is dangerous. It is also with images. The inward way is without images.
The inward way is of the spirit. It is not of the soul. Since the will is part of the soul, this means that we cannot enter this way by sheer willpower. It is something that God does in His time. We need to respect Him here. We are entering holy ground. We need to enter in slowly; respectfully and with reverence. Loving attentiveness to Jesus. Keeping your eyes on Jesus. Collecting your innermost being and turning within, and centring yourself on Him. Staying before Him. A faith without images. Jeanne Guyon in her book 'Experiencing the depths of Jesus Christ' helps believers find this inward way by taking baby steps. She deals with the believer's quiet time and then extends it to all of life. She begins with leading the believer to experience the tangible Presence of God in our time spent with Jesus and then introduces the way of the cross. Eventually you will come to a place where this is real, part of your experience and central to your walk with God. You will begin to understand the words that Kathryn Kuhlman spoke:
"I looked up to see Kathryn burying her head in her hands as she began to sob. She sobbed and sobbed so loudly that everything came to a standstill. The music stopped. The ushers froze in their positions.
"Everyone had their eyes on her. And for the life of me I had no idea why she was sobbing. I’d never seen a minister do that before. What was she crying about? It was told later that she had never done anything like that before, and members of her staff remember it to this day.
"It continued for what seemed like two minutes. Then she thrust back her head. There she was, just a few feet in front of me. Her eyes were aflame. She was alive.
"In that instant she took on a boldness I had never seen in any person. She pointed her finger straight out with enormous power and emotion — even pain. If the devil himself had been there, she would have flicked him aside with just a tap.
"It was a moment of incredible dimension. Still sobbing, she looked out at the audience and said with such agony, ‘Please.’ She seemed to stretch out the word, ‘Plee-ease, don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.’
"She was begging. If you can imagine a mother pleading with a killer not to shoot her baby, it was like that. She begged and pleaded.
"‘Please,’ she sobbed, ‘don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.’
"Even now I can see her eyes. It was as if they were looking straight at me.
"And when she said it, you could have dropped a pin and heard it. I was afraid to breathe. I didn’t move a muscle. I was holding on to the pew in front of me wondering what would happen next.
"Then she said, ‘Don’t you understand? He’s all I’ve got!’
"I thought, ‘What’s she talking about?’
"Then she continued her impassioned plea saying, ‘Please! Don’t wound Him. He’s all I’ve got. Don’t wound the One I love!’"(Good Morning, Holy Spirit, Benny Hinn, pp. 8-9.)
"In my church, the pastor talked about the Holy Spirit. But not like this. His references had to do with the gifts or tongues or prophecy — not "He’s my closest, most personal, most intimate, most beloved friend." Kathryn Kuhlman was telling me about a person that was more real than you or I." (Ibid, p. 9.)*
We need to learn to receive the cross inwardly. Again this is something not easily grasped. It is like a bird turning into the wind and feeling the full force of the wind in its face. We need to receive all circumstances as directly from His hand. And they are. He is sovereign. Satan can only do what he is permitted to do. Today's teachers would say rather resist Satan. But we need to be careful not to resist Satan in our own strength or in the flesh. When we receive all things as from the hand of God and relate this to our spirits, we will not react in the flesh. We will sometimes respond in the power of God. Mostly we will be silent; our Lord gave us the example to follow. All things need to be received by our spirit inwardly. This is only understood once we have been on this inward path for a while and have begun to know the Presence of God experientially.
2. We must NOT draw back to the world
Once we have tasted of the Presence of Jesus, and have experienced His love for some time, one of the first problems that we will encounter is dryness. It is when His Presence seems to have left. The heavens seem like brass and you are left confused. You do not know what God is doing.
This problem needs to be overcome early as it will surface often in a believer's walk with Jesus.
I heard a well-known gospel singer saying on television that he had been struggling with this very thing. When he ministered the Presence of Jesus was very bold; but when he went home the Presence of God was no longer there. He became deeply depressed and this could have led to suicide.
We need to stay before Him. If we turn away from practicing loving Him or if we turn to worldly pursuits, we will not move on in the things of God. During these times of darkness, if we stay before Him, in the secret place, many good things will come forth. We must remain on the operating table and let the Surgeon operate!
This turning to worldly pursuits can be the watching of television. During periods of dryness, we may be tempted to watch more television - whether secular or Christian! It can be the pursuit of pleasures or sports too! This drawing back can also be simply losing ourselves in work or even ministry! Let us be found unspotted from this world - a bride without spot or blemish.
Tranquility and Wandering Thoughts
Tranquility should be used to end this problem of wandering thoughts and temptations. Remember not to be agitated with this. Have you not given your life totally over to God? Receive all things from His hand, even wandering thoughts! This will restore a serenity to your soul. Eventually, through His grace, a calmness will come over your soul.
Fruits from persevering during dryness:
1. Perseverance (James 1). The world will lose its strength over you. This occurs little by little. Your old life will also lose its strength. As you stay before Him, not turning to the world, the world 's strength will weaken little by little. We become ber spiritually.
2. Wisdom and spiritual insight comes during times of dryness. You will begin to understand the ways of God more clearly. You will also begin to understand faith more clearly and realize how different this living faith is from that
which is being taught today.
3. Stability comes to you. Double-mindedness (James 1) will be conquered. No longer will you be a yo-yo Christian. You begin to have greater confidence in the sovereignty of God.
4. We become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. In a manner, this is similar to fasting where our dependence on external things dies. The inward witness of the Spirit becomes clearer. We become more conscious of grieving the Holy Spirit. Consider what Kathryn Kuhlman said above. We will become more conscious of worldly praise and worship. All that which is of the flesh will grieve us deeply. Others with an external walk will wonder why we are so sensitive. This sensitivity is needed for the end-time move of God in which worship is very important.
5. The three-fold silence will be dealt with here. Here the Lord operates! Wandering thoughts, desires that trouble our peace are dealt a deadening blow in this place. We do not know what He is doing. However, much takes place and the fruits are only seen later.
This is primarily an inner solitude. There is an outward solitude where you speak little. Inner solitude is more being unattached from everything, including spiritual things and ministries. No idols. Forgetting all things, leaving all desires, plans and ambitions at the foot of the cross and coming before Him. Surrendered. Poor in spirit. Leaving the past and the future in His hands. This is a place of inward rest.
Enjoyment and inner peace are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. No man lays hold of these two elements unless he finds them in the depths pf his spirit, and unless he resigns all things that come into his life as being the hand of God[Molinos].
6. A willingness to suffer will begin to develop. You will begin to embrace the cross.
7. An fresh anointingwill come; a deep abiding love will eventually come forth. You will begin to find that even in times of darkness, the inward living flame of His Presence gently burns. You will begin to realize that these times of dryness and darkness bring us closer to Him and deeper in His love and Presence. You will say with Apostle Paul that nothing can separate us from the love of God. You will begin to glory in the cross and to ' count it all joy' when you fall into various trials.
This is also foundational to our Christian walk. If we do not overcome in the area of dryness, we will be weak as believers. We will stunt our growth. Believers who do not learn this important lesson will be in danger of shipwreck, especially in these end-times where tremendous shaking, trials and tribulation awaits us.
* Note that I disagree with Benny Hinn's emphasis in his book, Good Morning, Holy Spirit. He implies that the we should focus more on praying and conversing with the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity. He implies that this was the secret behind Kathryn Kuhlman. It was not. The true secret behind her ministry is revealed in the series of articles here. Remember the Holy Spirit always points us to Jesus. We should be drawn deeper into Jesus.
We are dealing with the ABC's of the Christian faith (also the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end of the Christian faith!). The cross, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus is central here. The cross speaks
of trials, tribulation and temptations. We die to our desires, thoughts, plans and pleasures. When we repent, a change takes place in our lives. However, the deeper change occurs during times of trials and tribulation. It is during these seasons that we are truly changed into His image and will come forth as gold refined in a furnace if we remain faithful and receive the cross inwardly. Some however, take the cross externally. This leads to asceticism and mere religion.
Receiving all things from His hand brings the cross into the present moment and daily in our lives. We don't
bear the cross only here and there; when trials and hardships come into our lives, but continually moment by moment and day by day. That is why this teaching is so important.
We need to experience His resurrection life in our daily walk as well. This speaks of the manifest Presence of God. We begin to experience this once we have been truly born again. Sometimes we lose this due to the teachings of Laodicea and the succumbing to the temptations of this world. Jeanne Guyon in her book 'Experiencing the depths of Jesus Christ' helps believers find this inward way by taking baby steps. She deals with the believer's quiet time and then extends it to all of life. She begins with leading the believer to experience the tangible Presence of God in our time spent with Jesus and then introduces the way of the cross. Eventually you will come to a place where this is real, part of your experience and central to your walk with God.
Essentially, the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord is not only the beginning of our Christian walk, but the was, is and is to come (the past, present and future) of our walk with Jesus. It is not merely a doctrine; but is experienced continually as we abide in Him. It is central in our lives and should be central in ministry as well.
We need to be balanced; not stunted and lopsided as Christians. Some focus only on His Presence exclusively and take the cross to be something in the past; as something that ended when we were born again! This is lopsided. Some focus only on the cross and know not the manifest Presence of Jesus. This results in a lopsided gospel; the cross being misunderstood, the cross being received externally as a form of religion or asceticism. We need all three to be equally central and ever present in our daily lives - the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus.
Of importance, is that much of the faith taught today especially in Word-Faith and Charismatic circles, is an external faith; it is very different to the inward faith, a living faith that I am pointing the way to here.
Praise and worship would also change completely if we knew the inward way. Most of the praise and worship is external in churches today. Sometimes a mixture. A far deeper sensitivity to the Presence of God would be present. Instead of being surprised by Kathryn Kuhlman's words above, we would regard them as normal.
What does His BURIAL mean? Perfect surrender to the will of the Father. Perfect submission. Lost in God. Coming before Him, with perfect resignation. Our self is dead and buried. No longer loving to do and to speak. Our self loves to be busy doing religious things and loves to speak much! No attachments. No personal interests. A deeper place in Him. Completely lost in His Presence. Deeper recollection. True inward solitude. Completely alone with God in the midst of surrounding tumult. Experiencing the drawing of spiritual sustenance from Jesus. Experiencing the drinking of living water. Experiencing the eatingof the Bread of Life. There is a b impartation from Him to us in this deep place in Him. Something like liquid Spirit flows into our beings. The manifest Presence of God. It is glorious. With this there comes a pleasure that seems heavenly. When we receive this b impartation from Him, we begin to realize that we can also impart this to others too. This is what Kathryn Kuhlman experienced. This can be clearly seen in the video, Kathryn Kuhlman Special - A Tribute to Kathryn Kuhlman, available for free download from TBN.
The inward man grows ber than the outward man. A clear spring of pure love arises. A deep serenity envelopes the believer. A peace that passes understanding. No inward conflicts. No warring desires. The soul - mind, will and emotion - is at rest. Psalm 23 is truly experienced in this place.
But let patience have its PERFECT work, that you may be PERFECT and complete, lacking nothing.[James 1:4]
What does it mean to be perfectly resigned? It means that the believer resolves to abide with God alone, esteeming with equal contempt those things called gifts and those things called light and darkness. The believer only lives in God and for Him[Molinos].
James speaks about the self. The self loves to do, to speak(chapter 3), wrathand judge (chapter 2). [Living inward faith changes the heart and produces fruit without the self-life of much doing]
There is a great difference which lies between this thing of doing and this thing of suffering and dying. Doing is delightful. It belongs to beginners in Christ. Suffering belongs to those seeking. Dying - dying to the self - belongs to those who are being completed in Christ[Molinos].
In the above article, we have been looking at James 1: 1-12 as our foundational text. Trials are mentioned in verse 2-8. Riches or the lack of riches are dealt with in verse 9-10 and temptations in verse 12.
In seasons of desolation or in seasons of temptation, I would urge you to always learn to withdraw into the innermost chamber of your spirit. There, do nothing but behold God. It is the depth of your spirit that is the place of true happiness. It is there that the Lord will show you wondrous things[Molinos].