being led by the Holy Spirit, entering his rest, experience, faith, God's love, grace, Jesus Christ, Liberty, Michael Clark, new life, peace, resurrection power, spiritual blessings, spiritual power, surrender, T.A. Sparks, the cross, walking by the spirit
Do we want more spiritual power, authority and persuasiveness in our lives? If so, then we ought to let go of trying to produce these with self-effort of any kind. Michael Clark lately said to me, “It is amazing what God can do as soon as we get out of the picture.” Being crucified with Christ, conformed to His death, and risen to a completely new life with Him, means we have resolved to get out of the picture every day so that HE can live HIS LIFE through us.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Col 3:1-2 ESV)
Of course, we cannot raise ourselves to such a new life, it is all God’s doing. Out of grace we have been saved. The faith we need to enter into this heavenly life of rest, again, is the faith of the Son of Man given us through the Holy Spirit so that no one can boast. As long as we find desires in our hearts to have something for ourselves or to be acknowledged by others (even only in our work for the Lord), we will not be able to set our minds on the things that are above as verse two suggests. There must have already happened a ‘personal death’ to all our fleshly longings as Colossians, chapter 3, verse 3 declares.
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col 3:3 ESV)
Even though we might know that we already died with Jesus Christ in His Cross about 2,000 years ago, we also need Jesus’ faith in order to experience this death AND His resurrection power afterwards as well. Finding ourselves in such a blessed spiritual state, we might look back then and wonder why we needed so long to let go of all our concerns that were blocking the ways of God in our lives. Letting go to God by surrendering our life to Him provides an extent of inner liberty which might seem rather new to us.
“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Cor 3:17 KJV)
I recall that T. Austin-Sparks in one of his writings had added “where the Spirit is Lord” in parentheses after “where the Spirit of the Lord is”. One might raise the question here, if we call Him Lord, will we also let Him be Lord over our whole lives, too? 🙄 But apart from this new liberty in Christ, there is another heavenly blessing we might enjoy on a more permanent basis, too. When God has enabled us to focus on a heavenly life with Him, we will experience His peace deeper than before. This deep peace can even be called “peace like a river” (cf. Is 66:12), an amazing and overwhelming peace that is growing gradually the more we have surrendered to Him. That reminds me of what the apostle Paul had said,
“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Rom 8:6 ESV)
If we want to tread on this heavenly path, then we will be confronted with several decisions every day as to renounce things we would rather want and things of which we think we might rather need them. Yet step by step, after having followed His leading, there will be spiritual development and changes in our hearts. Although it is very hard for our flesh to let go to God right at the outset, the more we submit to Him, the easier it gets, in particular when we realize how wonderful His inscrutable ways with us turn out to be.
God does not only want to bless us, in fact, He has already blessed us… in Christ…. with every SPIRITUAL blessing. Since the blessings are not earthly but spiritual, we ought to live with Christ in the heavenly places then (see Eph 1:3). Walking in the Spirit with God is like a shift of focus, from flesh to spirit, from earth to heaven, and from ourselves to Himself. Receiving more and more of His love and acceptance, our spiritual eyes are increasingly drawn to God in Christ. As we see that God loves us so much, we rather want to be with Him than with anyone else unless others love Him just the same. When we are where Christ is, there is always life to enjoy, even abundantly (cf. Jn 10:10). Over time our being will be transformed more and more into His likeness without ourselves even recognizing what has been happening.
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor 3:18 KJV)
Below I offer you another excerpt from TAS’ writings where he presented detailed explanations on the likeness of the Lord that should be seen, to some extent at least, in every Christian believer.
“[…] God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”. The first, the constant, and the final intention of God is to make man LIKE HIMSELF. And the test of everything is just there — how much we are like the Lord. It matters quite in a secondary way (and, apart from this, it matters not at all) how much teaching we give or have, or how much we do, if, governing and surrounding it all, there is not the one essential condition, that we are like the Lord and that our hearts are set more upon that than upon anything else; not upon the work, not upon the teaching, not upon the success of our efforts in Christian activity, but simply upon being like the Lord.
“In the end that is going to be the determining factor as to how far we have apprehended Christ, how far we have understood Christianity, how far we have gone on in the spiritual life. All that matters is that people should be seeing in our lives, in a growing way, WHAT THE LORD IS LIKE, that there should be coming into view — maybe all too slowly, maybe in all too small a measure — something of the likeness of the Lord in us.”
“I believe our witness, our testimony, our ministry, would be much more powerful, persuasive — irresistible — if we were more like the Son of man. That is what I am getting at. If you and I want to speak with influence, with power, to speak so that something happens, it must and can only be in so far as there is Christlikeness behind the speaking, if what is said is true in the life. This matter of speaking with power is very practical. It is by the Holy Spirit in a crucified and risen man. “I became dead,… I am alive…” A crucified and risen man is the vehicle of this speaking to such effect and with such power. On the day of Pentecost, they were truly crucified and risen men; in a very real way they had been crucified with Christ and were risen together with Him; and a voice that is going to carry weight has got to be the voice of a crucified and risen man or woman.
“If it can be detected, when we speak to others, that there is self-glory influencing us; that, as we speak, we are influenced by any motive, any interest, any consideration other than the glory of God, the pleasure of the Lord; if it is not true, and manifestly true, in our speaking, in our preaching, in our teaching, in our talking to others, that we have been crucified to the flesh, that ours is a risen life with the Lord: if that is not true, there will be no power in our testimony, no power in our words. Power in speaking arises only from this spiritual experience of being crucified with Christ and raised together with Him.”
All pictures by Susanne Schuberth 2022