“They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.” (Jer 31:9 KJV)
Photo by Susanne Schuberth (Fürth/Rednitz)
Christians without Christ’s Spirit are spiritually dead since they cannot grow. That is an outrageous thing to assert, one might say, but it has been my very observation that people who believe in something that can be seen, touched, and talked about like the Bible, dogmatics, and doctrines prefer to keep talking and thinking about God than to really approach Him as their counsellor, their best friend, or even as the LORD of their life. In fact, you will scarcely see these believers to ever have a real soul-stirring experience with God. However, if you ask them, they can tell you almost everything about Him. But alas, God rarely speaks through these Christians since they are not indwelt by His Spirit. That is why I called them dead in the beginning. If you meet these persons more often over time, you will find out that their relationship with God (in case they claim to have one) has never changed. They do not experience a loving God nor do they struggle regarding their faith – ever. They have no doubts (or at least they do not admit it), yet they can take a stand as to most questions regarding divine matters and it is, admittedly, pretty boring to listen to them. This reminds me somehow of the people’s reaction to the Sermon on the Mount as they realized that Jesus was so different from those Pharisees and scribes who had no spiritual life inside themselves and therefore no divine authority, either (cf. Mt 7:28). By the way, Martin Luther translated the verse I just mentioned not like most translators did with “the crowds were amazed/astonished” at Jesus’ teaching. Instead he said that they were “shocked/frightened.” That makes it even more clear that real divine authority causes reactions in those who are confronted with it. Whether positive or negative, a reaction to God’s speaking can always be observed and we can be sure that nobody runs danger to ever fall asleep when he is all of a sudden directly addressed by God.