Sunday, May 07, 2006

Experiencing God - Part IV

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit” (1Cor 2:9,10). The things of God cannot be seen with natural eyes, heard through natural ears or perceived through natural emotions because God is a Spirit and spiritual things can only be perceived by that which is spiritual.

In the same way as a man born physically deaf cannot understand the glory of music and a person born blind cannot begin to partake of the visual beauty of God’s creation, so spiritual things cannot be perceived through the natural senses and emotions. The only way you can receive and be affected by a glorious piece of music is by hearing it. You cannot hear music with your tongue or nose and you cannot “experience” God with natural senses. Thus “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1Cor 2:14). The natural man is the man who operates in the realm of the carnal, fleshly or soulish and in that realm, he will not encounter God. Thus the first requirement to meet with God is that man needs to move beyond the natural to the spiritual. This does not only require that he be born-again, but that he be willing to meet God on His terms.

The man who is governed by fleshly and carnal desires will not be able to meet with God as his carnality will blind him to spiritual matters. Thus the church of Laodicea was pronounced “blind” because of their worldliness (Rev 3:17); the brother filled with hatred is in darkness (1John 2:11) and the person who is not diligently pursuing Christlikeness is shortsighted and blind (2Pet 1:5-9). There have been many very wise, sensitive and perceptive people on this earth who never met God simply because they could not or would not go beyond their human faculties.

As much as God cannot be “seen” by the natural man so He can also not be revealed by natural means. You can put on the most magnificent audio and visual display, throw in some smells, vibrate the building so you can feel the motion and then dish out some snacks to taste and thus assault every one of the five natural senses but none of this can, or will, give you an “experience” of God. This is true simply because God is a Spirit and spirit cannot be heard, seen, smelt, touched or tasted. The millions of dollars that churches spend on appealing to the natural senses can not and never will give people an experience of God. People have experiences all right, but it is not God! In the context of the first two chapters of Corinthians, Paul also includes excellent oratory, human wisdom and miracles as some of the things that are not able to cross-over from that which is natural to that which is spiritual.

On the other hand there are many that are propagating many mystical ways of accessing God. These include chants, meditation, mantras, labyrinths etc. Most of these methods have existed in the church for a long time but are also very much part of Eastern religions. These are simply different ways of stirring the soul within man and also do not go beyond the natural, except in those cases where demons hijack the process.

How then do I get to meet with God?. First we have to understand that we cannot meet Him through natural means. Then we need to realize that we cannot work ourselves into a spiritual state or earn the right to meet with Him. We have access into His presence through a new and living way. That’s right – no more sacrifices, chants, endless singing, ear-splitting decibels or trying to earn the right. We have access through three things: His shed Blood, His broken Body and His high priestly ministry (Heb 10:19-21). It has all been done for us. Don’t let people deceive you by promises that they will allow you to experience God, usher you into His presence, bring the glory of God down etc etc. We have access. It has all been done by Jesus. If we are born again, we have every right to enter directly into the holiest of all. It is complete and anything added to this will simply drag you back into the Old Testament Laws and rituals. Why then do so many promote those things? Because it makes you dependant on them to “experience God” and that is how they make their money. We need none of those things. Jesus did it all at Calvary. The way is open. Anything else is smoke and mirrors and will lead you to experience something that is not God.

So is there nothing we need to do? Yes, there is one thing. “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:6). That’s very easy, but also very difficult. Faith requires that I simply accept that I am able to draw near to His presence because of the complete work of the Cross. If we really believe that, then we will not need the manipulations of men or to work ourselves up to “feel” God. We will simply accept His promises that He will never leave nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). Those who truly believe, do not need a sign, feelings or some display to prove that He is with us. We will believe His Word in spite of the absence of physical evidence of His presence, and walk with Him. As Paul said: “in him we live, and move, and have our being“ (Acts 17:28). Those who need the experiences are not approaching God by faith and He rejects those who do not come by faith. He also rejects, as thieves and robbers, any who come by some other way, except through the door – Jesus.

"Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." (Heb 10:19-23)

Anton Bosch
[Reprinted with permission]