Crisis & Spiritual Progress

The crisis of the hour is an experience of crucial testing. The word ‘crisis’ comes from Greek word ‘krisis’ which is one of the words used for judgment in the New Testament. Crises reveal, they reveal our faith, our foundation, our character, and our progress in God. And although we may face them collectively, ultimately testing is a personal experience that every child of God must go through individually.

Today the doors of many churches are closed and millions of believers are cutoff from their regular local assembly. Perhaps it’s fitting that in this hour of great difficulty and uncertainty we should learn to lean on God rather than our programs. That we should learn to draw from the life of the inner Son than the well of our pastor’s study. That we should worship, not stirred by the atmosphere and pageantry of our denominational gathering places, but in Spirit and in truth.

As much as our church gatherings can be sources of encouragement they are notorious breeding grounds for spiritual dependence. However, the ultimate measure of any ministry’s success is to no longer be needed as a source of spiritual sustenance. And so the crisis of the hour has revealed the labor of the church.

Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees: “You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are” (Mat. 23:15). The Pharisees corrupted their converts by using their carnal religious practices to amass numbers and make gain. They subordinated their followers to a set of doctrines and ceremonies until they were too conformed to hear anything else. They supplanted the love of the truth replacing it with religious zeal, false identity, and self-interest.

To be a child of hell is a strong indictment. Hell is not only the realm of the unregenerate dead but the present condition of the soul. To be a child of hell is to be subject to anguish, despair, agitations, and perverse desires of the natural, soulish, earth man who only follows outward forms and seeks the gratification of physical and emotional needs. This is where tradition flourishes breeding indifference and confusion regarding the divine truth of God’s word.

Over the course of our lives we’ve all heard many words. Words that have caused us to turn to the Lord, words that have ushered us into the experience of the gifts and baptism of the Holy Spirit, words that have ministered light, hope, correction and encouragement into our lives.

Our faith along with our spiritual development and maturity in God have been the culmination of these words,  which were discerned by our ears, believed on by our hearts, and exercised in the crucible of experience, becoming engrafted as our very own nature by His Spirit.

When His words, which are Spirit and life, find their abode in us, when they renew our minds and become the reality out of which we live, then it can be said that His word is putting on flesh in us. It is then that we are putting on Christ. And if in fact the ministry of our churches have been birthing Christ in us over these years, then there is no better time than the present to live out of the indwelling Christ who is our rest, our peace and our confidence.

Truly, this is the essence of salvation – to move and live and have our being in Him. Our salvation is an ongoing journey into this measure of Christ’s fullness. It is a ever increasing experience that we appropriate by the ministry of the two witnesses – the Word and the Spirit. This is why we are encouraged to receive with meekness the engrafted word and to work out our salvation. For “now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11).

For far too long we have been misguided by a “repeat after me” salvation that religion has peddled. This transactional salvation, which offers Christ as a mere pass to heaven, has been a gross misrepresentation that has kept many of the Lord’s people content in their spiritual standing in lower realms of experience.

The fact of the matter is all of us are even now being saved by believing INTO Christ. This is more than believing “in” Him. John 3:16 states: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in (Greek: eis – into) Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Joh. 3:16).

The verse speaks of believing “into” Him. The Greek word is ‘eis’ which means: “into, unto, to, towards”. On the other hand, the Greek word used for ‘in’ throughout the New Testament is ‘en’ and not ‘eis’. Strong’s further defines ‘eis’ as: “to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place, time, or (figuratively) purpose (result, etc.)”.

The use of the word ‘into’ is not unique to John 3:16. Almost all mentions of verses relating to believing refer to believing “into” the Lord. For instance Jesus said: “He that believeth in (eis – into) me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (Joh. 7:38) or “He that believeth in (eis – into) the Son of God hath the witness in himself” (1 Joh. 5:10). (Also see the original Greek in Mat. 18:6; Joh. 1:12; Joh. 2:23; Joh. 3:15; Joh. 3:36 etc.).

The distinction between ‘in’ and ‘into’ is important. ‘Into’ implies movement and progress. It indicates growth, development, and advancement towards the person of Jesus Christ who is our salvation. This salvation is His life being raised up in us, increasing within unto a perfect man.

In line with this, Paul reminds us that we are to “grow up into (eis) Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15). We are all called of God to press on “till we all come into (eis) the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto (eis) a perfect man, unto (eis) the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

Ezekiel’s vision of the waters flowing out of the threshold of the temple sheds further light on the truth I now share. Ezekiel described the depth of these water in relation to man’s stature – ankle deep, knee deep, waist deep and finally, a river that man could not cross; water so deep that one had to swim.

This is a picture of the degrees of our believing into Him. It  captures our progression into the life of His Spirit. That the waters that flow out of the sanctuary become a river indicates His life is not stationary or stagnant but increases and flows onward to its ultimate destination imparting life. But those who partake of it at lower realms of experience, be it ankle, knee or waist deep, remain fixed failing to move with the river’s current.

Today every child of God who has believed into Christ has entered into this divine river of His life irrespective of the stage of their spiritual development. But at ankle, knee and waist deep, each experiences and partakes of the flow of His life, His ways, His truth in an in-part measure. In all these three depths, man (natural, soulish man) is still predominant. In fact, he remains standing on his own feet. The earth still remains his foundation. The river has little dominion over him. Man remains in control, dependent on his own strength, his own ways and his own understanding.

I believe much of Christendom today dwells in these lower realms of experience. But what is unfortunate is that many refuse to move on from these fragmentary experiences of Pentecost, from the five-fold ministry, from the elementary principles of Christ, and from the present form and administration of the church system.

The spiritual condition of our day has devolved from immaturity to infantilism. Infantilism denotes not only a lack of spiritual development and maturity, but a stubborn desire to remain childlike. And while immaturity is tragic, infantilism is simply twisted.

But every son of God is called to the deep end. The deep is where a few venture. It’s neither a place of comfort nor self-reliance. It demands that we live by faith surrendering all to Him. This is a dimension of life where another (Christ) girds us and carries us where we do not wish. Paul was no stranger to this life and thus states: “I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there” (Acts 20:22).

Life in the depth of the Spirit leads us down the narrow way of the cross in a disposition of sacrifice, humility and surrender. It is there that Christ is birthed. It is there that we grow up into Him becoming the manifest expression of His image and character, embodying Him in all His glory and power that we may be for the healing of the nations. This is the salvation God calls us to. This is the purpose of our believing into Him. And it is all for the glory of the Father!

For this cause are we all called – to  preach Him, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man fully-grown, fully initiated, complete and perfect in Christ Jesus. Herein is the delight of heaven.

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