Experiencing The Christian Life
by Rayola Kelley
- W. Tozer made reference to how Christians’ formal creed may be sound, but the breakdown is in their working creed. In other words, they may have a sound understanding of what they believe, but it never becomes practical because they fail to experience and live the Christian life. Creeds that are not put into practice will have no realistic value to them. They may sound right, wonderful, and glorious, but if they never impact our lives through practice and obedience, they become dead letter. In essence, they will never revolutionize our inner man, transform our mind, change who we are, or influence us in who we need to become. They will simply become stagnant in the useless pool of complacency and religious mediocrity, causing leanness to our spirits.
When I think of, or encounter, this state in a Christian, I am reminded of the detour I took in my initial years as a believer. I got caught up with obtaining knowledge about Jesus, but failed to come to know Him. I ended up with a nice concept of Jesus, but it was elevated by conceit. I may have sounded somewhat intelligent about Him, but it was judgmental and lacked heart and dimension. My understanding may have been sound and religious, but it was not alive. I am sure that it became clear to many that I knew of Jesus, but I did not have a personal revelation of Him. Subsequently, I found myself bluffing my way through my Christian life. Outwardly, I wore a religious robe, but lacked the power to walk the walk. There were blaring inconsistencies in my life that I tried to remedy with outward piousness and religious activities. The truth is that when I was being transparent with myself, I sensed that there was something missing. Later, I learned I had an intellectual understanding of the Written Word, the Bible, but I lacked the real heart revelation of the Living Word, Jesus.
The Bible talks about knowledge that simply puffs a person up in his or her personal understanding of a matter, but he or she will ultimately fail to possess the proper knowledge concerning it (1 Corinthians 8:1-2). However, the Apostle Peter tells us that godly knowledge must be disciplined by virtue and temperance (2 Peter 1:5-6). There must be spiritual character present in order to come to a fruitful knowledge of Jesus Christ. It must also be tempered by other godly virtues if it is going to have the right impact on the person we are to be. The Apostle Peter best described the condition that lacks such characteristics in its knowledge of the Lord by calling it barren and unfruitful. (See 2 Peter 1:5-8.)
The crux of the matter is that our pursuit when it comes to spiritual truths must always lead us back to the Truth, Jesus Christ. We must come out with more of an awareness of who He is, rather than an awareness of what we think we know or what we think we have learned about Him. Knowledge without the right Spirit is lifeless, knowledge that is never tested will lack authority and credibility, and knowledge that is not walked out will be void of wisdom, ultimately proving to be foolish and useless.
This deduction of knowledge in its different forms brings me to the matter of spiritual survival. We will not survive the great wave of delusion sweeping across the landscape of the world if we are barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. He must not simply be a concept, He must be our reality. Our understanding of Him must not solely consist of intellectual knowledge; rather, we must have a heart revelation of Him. He must not be a doctrine; rather, He must become the Living Word. He must not be reduced to a theory, cleverly placed in the midst of our endless theology, religious formulas, and ritualistic practices; rather, He must become our all in all as we pursue His perspective, way, and will in all matters. In essence, we must strive to experience the fullness of Christ to possess the means to survive the end-day darkness enfolding the souls of men.
What most people fail to realize is that the grave darkness consuming the world around us is a test to God’s people. The test is simple enough. The darkness will reveal if we love the truth or not (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). The reality is we all like to have life on our terms, but life will never bow down to our way of thinking. We must not only connect to the light of God, but we must walk in it to experience the fullness of His wisdom, protection, and guidance.
The question is how do we connect to the light of God’s reality? I realize that I have written on this subject many times, but you cannot talk about experiencing the life of Christ in the midst of great darkness without dealing with this Christian virtue. It is called faith.
The erroneous concept about faith is that some try to use it to change their personal reality. The truth is that we choose the way of faith to face reality for what it is so we can stand in the confidence of who our God is. The test of faith shows us where our confidence rests. Is it in what God can do, in our idea of God, or is it in the unchangeable character of God? There are those whose confidence is in what God can do. However, when God fails to perform the way they think He should, they become angry and skeptical. If people’s confidence is in their idea of God, it simply means that they have faith in an image of God. When the image is shattered by reality, they become despairing and disillusioned with the whole religious scene. They often fall into utter unbelief.
We are to have faith toward the true God of heaven (Hebrews 6:1-2). Genuine faith gives us that solid steadfastness to stand when all seems hopeless, to withstand when the battle threatens to consume us, and continue to stand when all seems lost. It is what connects us to the hope and promises of heaven. Granted, we may not see such hope and promises realized today or tomorrow, but we can stand in confidence that we will see their fruition in the near future.
It is for this reason that we are to walk by faith in who God is and not according to our understanding of a matter (2 Corinthians 5:7). Faith has to do with walking according to the unseen reality of God. It is based on what is known and confirmed by the Word of God and walks according to the expectation that everything God has said will come to completion.
This brings me to what I call the “Amen Factor.” The word “amen” is a good way to describe the active confidence that is associated with what it means to “believe”. Believe entails an intellectual understanding, an actual expression of obedience by a devoted, consecrated soul, and an abiding confidence that resonates in the corridors of the spirit. It is settled by assurance, activated due to persuasion, and steadfast because of that which is trustworthy and faithful.
There are three points to the “amen factor”, and three aspects of what it means to believe. As you consider the points of standing sure according to the declarations of “amen” and being steadfast because of the aspects of what it means to believe, you realize there is a graduation that brings dimension to our Christian walk.
“Amen” deals with the element of truth. It declares that something is ordained as truth; therefore, it will embrace it as so, for there is an assurance that it will be confirmed and established as being such in the end. It is clear that “amen” puts a period at the end of a sentence, declaration, or thought, ending all debate or speculation about something. It is the muscles in faith towards God that will actually walk according to what has been established as being trustworthy and right. “Amen” in a sense connects the reality of something to the very way, will, and plan of God in a matter and chooses to believe it as so.
Let us now consider the progression of the “amen factor” with the graduation of what I refer to as the “belief factor”. This combination will become the motivation, strength, and inspiration behind the walk of faith. The Bible talks about believing upon Christ. Such belief is able to declare “amen” about all that has been said. For this reason, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). This intellectual acceptance certainly puts all of our confidence upon what we understand about Christ. For some Christians it remains simply an intellectual understanding about the things of God. However, believing must always graduate to active faith. It is not meant to remain in the arena of knowledge. It must become living revelation of that which is unseen, alive, and eternal.
Revelation points to knowledge that comes to the end of itself, as it succumbs to the cloud of confusion and ceases to have confidence in its present understanding. However, out of this abyss of uncertainty, a small beam of light of understanding begins to emerge like a phoenix rising from the ashes to take on the glorious form of heavenly wisdom. At this point, the veil over the spiritual eyes begins to part to reveal the heavenly view of a matter. It is as heavenly wisdom takes form that the revelation reveals the glorious depth of the essence of all wisdom, Jesus, leading to defining His righteous ways, as the revelation points to the work of sanctification and promises the fullness of redemption.
This brings us to the second part of this progression. Believing upon Jesus must graduate to believing Him. We can always believe upon what Jesus has said or done, but if we do not believe Him, we can begin to pick and choose what we believe. What Jesus says is backed up by who He is. This brings us to the second point of the “amen factor”
“Amen” can declare that something is true, but if it does not progress to the reality that it is absolute because it is right and nothing will change it, it will not be so. In other words, “Amen, so be it.” Faith is based on the absolutes of God. He never changes and what He does do is in line with His character. Therefore, everything He says and does is true, right, and holy. In light of God, everything is “amen” because we can trust it to come to fruition in due time. We can know that if something originates with God, we can declare with confidence, “So be it for it is right.”
When we come to the idea that something must be because it is right according to the Lord, we can walk in confidence towards the fruition of it. Such a walk entails obedience to what we know is true. This type of active faith is counted as righteousness to us. It is the “so be it” in believing that will cause much advancement in our faith walk. We will want to be in the current of that which flows with the ways of God. Due to active faith, we do not want to simply be spectators of what is to be, we will want to part of the movement of God in the matter of His kingdom to experience His presence and witness His glory in what will be.
This brings us to the third aspect of the “amen factor” and the “belief factor”. In the initial aspect of believing, it embraces a limited knowledge of Jesus and His work, but in the progression of believing, it walks out the truth of what it understands. In other words, it walks out the creed it now embraces because it is so, producing spiritual growth. The “amen factor” is “Amen, so be it, for it is so.” The “belief factor” is I believe it because I believe Him; therefore, I believe in all that He has said and done. There is no addition or subtraction when it comes to what the Bible declares about Jesus. It is “amen”, for it is so. What has been declared in heaven will be carried forth on earth. In other words, it is a done deal. Even though we might not have seen the fruition of something, if God has declared it, it is as good as done. As a result, I choose to believe it and walk according to its light as I walk in its revelation.
Admittedly, through the years I have struggled in my Christian life because my faith was limited by my unbelief and disobedience towards a matter. Granted, I may have believed intellectually the truths of God, but my failure to walk them out revealed that I really did not believe after all. I may have possessed the knowledge, but I lacked the vision to see it through. To lack vision in the spiritual arena means I may have hope about a matter, but I do not have any expectation that it will come true. The absence of expectation points to the lack of sobriety and endurance to see something through. In essence, a person really does not fear displeasing the Lord nor does he or she love Him enough to deny self life on his or her terms, and apply the cross to all that would displease Him.
Obviously, many people may know what is true, but if they lack the foresight (wisdom) to walk it out, they will end up losing their vision to the state of unbelief. Clearly, genuine faith is active and it is forever declaring a matter to be “amen.”
Today we are watching prophecies surrounding the end days coming true. To survive, we must declare “amen” to such matters regardless of how overwhelming these events appear to be. However, to endure to the end to ensure salvation we must walk out what we know to be true according to the character, ways, and will of our Lord (Matthew 24:13). Genuine faith not only brings us to those places where we will experience the promised life of heaven, but it will prepare and advance us towards our final destination to experience the fullness of our eternal inheritance in the unending presence and unfolding glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.