Sunday, June 12, 2005

LOVE: God's Spiritual Power

God has a way of awakening people to the reality of His divine existence. Events occur in every life that show us that life has a purpose that goes beyond materialistic survival, or even mere "intellectual" reliance on faith. These events show us that life is spiritually dynamic (energized). This spiritual awakening often manifests itself as an internal restlessness or desire for change,
that if pursued can lead to one's salvation.

We know these things from scripture. In Titus 2:11 and 12, scripture reads "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world"; in Ecclesiastes 12:8, and 12:12 and 13, Solomon writes that all is vanity except for the "whole" duty of man which is to fear God (the beginning of wisdom) and to keep His commandments. Paul states it another way in Romans 12:1 by beseeching the brethren (the church) to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. This service is not only something that is expected by God, but that He will enable us to do, if and when we allow Him. In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter describes this process as follows: "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

Then repentance, the beginning step of salvation (Acts 2:38), can be described partially as the surpassing of secular security (the mastering of nature through science and technology) as the main function of one's existence and the actively seeking of a relationship with God and the workings of His spiritual kingdom. The Lord Jesus explains this in the Gospel of John (3:38) as being born again of the spirit. Scripture further indicates that one's salvation occurs through one's active efforts to learn about God and His Kingdom by the "hearing of the word" (Romans 10:17) & through the "foolishness of preaching" (1 Corinthians 1:21). The results of which can cause a spiritually energized change in one's attitude toward life, such that one repents from the natural, inborn, and wicked ways of man and the world, and turns to God and desires the ways of His spiritual kingdom (Isaiah 55:7, 2 Chronicles 7:14, 2 Corinthians 7:10 and 11). As promised in scripture (Acts 2:4 and 2:38), the culmination or completion of being born-again is the receiving of the baptism of the Holy Ghost (the indwelling of God's spirit inside of a person's carnal body as witnessed by the speaking in other tongues as that spirit gives utterance).

Scripture further tells us that the presence of the Holy Ghost dwelling in one's carnal body provides that person with a source of spiritual power that he or she may continually draw upon. Continually connecting with this source of power can be compared with the daily communing with God (God is a spirit) that Adam and Eve did in The Garden of Eden. The Gospel of John (14:16-20) tells us that the coming of the Holy Spirit (Ghost) is the indwelling of Christ (as God) in our mortal flesh. Scripture also tells us that those who do not continually draw upon the power of the Holy Ghost, or do not regularly commune with God (for God and Christ are one), become afflicted (Psalms 107:17), weak, sickly, and even sleep (fall away from the truth) (1 Corinthians 11:30). It is through this constant connecting with God's spiritual power that we are enabled to be changed, to be ministered to by God, to minister to others, to walk in the spirit, and to fulfill the purpose(s) that God has ordained for us in our lives.

Additionally, God's Word tells us that walking in the spirit or communing with God regularly involves a daily battle between our fleshly, worldly nature and our new spiritual selves. Paul writes in Romans 7:23 about on inward warring between the law of his members (flesh) and the law of his mind (heart or seat of the Holy Ghost). In Ephesians 6:12, Paul tells us that we also are involved in a spiritual battle against spiritual wickedness in high places. Finally, Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:4 that in order to be a good soldier (to overcome), we must strive to be totally consecrated (holy or spiritually empowered) and not entangled with the affairs of this life (the world). We need only do what God requires of us to live in this world, and otherwise release the control of our lives and our wills to God. In so doing, we will voluntarily sacrifice ourselves to God and for others, will become God's servants and the servants of others, and will allow God to do the daily spiritual battling for us.

The Bible teaches us that there are several things we can do to help tap into the power of the Holy Ghost in order to live a spiritually overcoming life. These include self-denial, self-sacrifice, fasting, praying, giving, serving, studying the Word, and loving. I believe the Bible tells us that the primary thing we must do to draw upon the spiritual power of God and to allow His power to flow through us is to love. In the Gospel of Mark (12:30 and 31), scripture tells us that the first commandment is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. It further states that the second commandment is like the first: thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Even further, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 tells us that whatever gifts, faith, or works we might exhibit, that without love we are nothing and that they profiteth us nothing. Spiritual love is the ultimate power that changes things.

I believe, therefore, that scripture not only tells us that spiritual loving is the means to most readily tap into the spiritual power of God, but that scripture also tells us that spiritual loving is the real power of God. In Galatians 5:22 and 23, Paul delineates the fruits of the spirit, of which one is love. In 2 Corinthians 5:7, Paul writes that we walk by faith (and not by sight). However, in Galatians 5:6, he explains that faith worketh by love. This is the love of God which was shown when He sacrificed Himself at Calvary so that we (man) might receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost through the remission of our sins that we (man) might once again commune with Him daily (John 3:16 and other verses). Proverbs 10:12 and 1 Peter 4:8 tells us that love covereth sins. And finally, God's Word tells us of the overcoming power of His love when received by us and given to others through our receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Paul states in Ephesians 3:17-19 that Christ (God) may dwell in your hearts by faith (which we already know worketh by love) that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend that love of Christ that you might be filled with the fullness (power) of God.

The Bible provides us with many examples of the power of God's spiritual love. In Colossians 3:14, Paul states that charity (spiritual love) is the bond of perfectness (only God is perfect). In Romans 3:10 and 13:8, Paul tells us that love and loving one another fulfills the law (as Christ fulfilled the law). John tells us in 1 John 4:18 that perfect (spiritual) love casteth out fear. Paul writes in Romans 12:20 that loving our enemies in deed or action heaps coals of fire on their heads. And Solomon instructs us in Proverbs 15:1 that a soft (loving) answer turneth away wrath.

For these reasons, I believe that it is the continued flowing of God's spiritual love (from God, through us, back to God, and out to others) that provides the power for us to change, walk in the spirit, and continually commune with God, and that we receive this power upon receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 and in Galatians 6:15 that upon receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost we become new creatures. Likewise, in Ephesians 4:22-24 and in Colossians 3:9 and 10, Paul states that upon receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost that we put off the "old man" and the "old nature". Then it must be the power of spiritual love in us received from the baptism of the Holy Ghost that enables us to change and to daily walk in the flow of the Spirit of God. We stop being just partakers of God's love (which we are given even before salvation), and become practicers and providers of God's love. The Spirit of God begins to teach us (1 Corinthians 2:13), and lead us (unction) (1 John 2:20). We become spiritual watchmen for the Kingdom of God (Psalms 127:1) and watch for the manifestation of spiritual things, such as visions and dreams (Acts 2:17 and Joel 2:28) among other spiritual signs and wonders (Hebrews 2:4). We seek the leading of the Spirit of God in our lives (Psalms 37:23, Psalms 40:2, Psalms 16:9). We begin to first seek the Kingdom of God (Luke 12:29-33) and to set our affections upon (spiritual) things above (Colossians 3:1 and 2). We come to that place that we learn to trust God to preserve our coming in and our going out from the times of our conscious communing with God (Psalms 121:8, Deuteronomy 28:6, 2 Corinthians 3:18).

It is through such a constant state of communion with God's spirit that we, as individuals and collectively as the Body of Christ (Church), can attain the high spiritual level of agape love as demonstrated by the Church of Philadelphia. By drawing upon the spiritual love of God individually, we can have the peace and security necessary to give to others without the thought of getting in return (Matthew 7:12, Matthew 10:8, Acts 20:35). By drawing upon the spiritual love of God, the church can collectively attain (and even surpass) the level of brotherly love attributed to the Church at Philadelphia. In Revelations 3:6-9, John states that the Church at Philadelphia had "a little strength" and kept His (God's) Word and denied not His (God's) name. Just try to envision what might have been said of the Church at Philadelphia if they had had "a great strength" (or power through a greater spiritual love for one another), perhaps as described of the first church in Acts 2:40-47 and Acts 4:31-37 (Read these verses).

Finally, it is conceivable that the church, having such a great, unfeigned spiritual love (power) for God, for His Kingdom, for itself (His church), and for the lost, could help create the spiritual atmosphere necessary to usher in the rapture of church and to bring about the return of the Lord Jesus to rule and reign on earth. In 1 Corinthians 15:50-54, Paul writes that it is a changed, incorruptible people that will inherit the Kingdom of God, and that this shall happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, such as when a certain activation energy or level of power is reached. In Romans 8:21-23, Paul tells us that the whole creation groaneth (longs), including those who have the first fruits of the spirit (includes God's spiritual love), for the creature (church) itself to be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. And, in Philippians 3:20 and 21, Paul states that the Lord Jesus Christ shall change our vile body (present church?), that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself. God's plan is not to make us (the church) change, but to enable us to willfully change by indwelling in us "through the baptism of His Holy Spirit and thereby empowering us to change through His spiritual love. Only through enabling such a voluntary change, can God, who does not force Himself upon even His church, state, as in Revelations 21:4 and 5, that the former things are passed away, and behold, I make all things new.