What You Take Takes You
And now we are back on what it is to be a person. My royalty is my freedom of choice. All is mine as I make it my own. Nothing is mine till I do. The whole world is reconciled to God in Christ. He came ‘that the world through Him might be saved,’ ‘not willing that any should perish, but all come to repentance.’ But it is to ‘as many as receive Him’ that He gives the right to become the sons of God. So we come back to the exercise of our one fundamental faculty, the right use of which is the main purpose of our life on earth. Call it freedom of choice, or call it faith, it is the same thing.
We have already seen that the capacity and necessity of making choices is the basis of our selfhood, and how our choices take us over. So faith starts by conscious choice, conscious involvement, but goes on as spontaneous being in that choice. I sit on a chair by choice. It is a ‘leap of faith,’ just as much in such a mundane detail, as in the great choices of life. A chair is available to me, it is desirable, and it looks reliable. That is as far as sight or human reasoning can take me. I have to commit myself, before I can prove it is a reliable chair for me. But then, having sat, the chair is now holding me, not I it, and I forget about it and just remain sitting. Faith has become spontaneous being, I just am in a faith-relationship with the chair.
So we have been in a spontaneous faith-relationship with the spirit of error all our unredeemed years. Whether consciously or unconsciously we have been living our self-centred lives, under his dominion. But now we come awake. Through one means or another, the inner disturbances of guilt, the realization of the judgement of God, the sense of emptiness and purposelessness, the sins that have a grip on us, the impact of the preached word or background Christian teaching, or maybe some sudden crisis in our lives, has brought us to our senses. We call it conviction of sin. Its effect is disillusionment and disgust with our philosophy of life. The issue of self has done its work. We have had enough of it. Now in our fundamental freedom, we would transfer our choice of faith elsewhere if there is an alternative. We would move from the wrong to the right, if there is a right. And that is the gospel. And that is why the gospel must be preached to those who have never heard it. Who can deliver and save us, when we can’t save ourselves? There is no concrete answer in our human history except the One who came and did it for us.
From Matter to Spirit
But we can’t prove a thing. We have the Scriptures, we have the witness of changed lives, but they are no final proof. They are only pointers. It is only when desperation drives us beyond reason that we will make such a leap as this–into the invisible. But we do. From our inner spirit-centre we make our faith-choice. We will take the risk and take Him at His proffered word–that God did send His Son, that He did die for us, did rise, is alive, and does fulfill the promises He gives.
And now what happens! The law of faith operates–that what we take takes us. And in this case it is a supreme event, because for the first time we have transferred our believing from matter to spirit. We have believed on Him who is invisible; and back comes the inner witness. ‘The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God!’ We know. We can’t say how, we can’t prove it, but inwardly we know. We have taken the first giant step from matter into Spirit-reality. Somehow He is my Saviour. He has loved me and accepted me. I have become a child of God. In the eyes of the world I am a fool. Who is this Jesus and this God? Where are they? What right have you to say they have become real to you? Get back to sane earth living. But we have moved from matter to Spirit, from unreality to reality, and nothing can change us.
The first inner evidences we have are for our personal benefit. We have peace: ‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.’ And as we have just said, we are conscious of being loved and accepted and receiving the gift of eternal life. They are the only first way in which the Spirit of truth could communicate the reality of Jesus and the Father to us. We have lived all our lives in self-interest, and therefore only what would meet our own selfish needs could reach our consciousness. Love always meets people on the level of their need. So God gives us His Son apparently just to meet our selfish needs.
But tucked away in that package of grace was something far more revolutionary. We are continually saying that God’s sole nature is other-love, and the true evidence that any are His sons is that they are expressions of the Father. If He is love and now lives in them, then they are love. And so this tremendous fact becomes real. It isn’t just that we rejoice in finding ourselves loved, but we love. In Bible terms, ‘The love of God–not love for God, but God’s own love–is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us’ (Romans 5:5). We just find ourselves, not by self-effort but by spontaneous inner compulsion, not just loved, but lovers. We can’t help ourselves. We find we are loving Him who first loved us like that and gave Himself for us, and the Father who sent Him. And we are not only saved, but saviours. Having found at last what true life is, we can’t help but pass it on to others. And we are not just healed, but healers, as others share their hurt and we can give them Jesus.
This is why the Bible gives first place to the new birth. Jesus, Paul, John, Peter, all talk plenty about it. It is the moment of the settlement of our eternal destiny. It is the central transference of our capacity of free choice from attachment to the false god of self-centredness to the Living God of the universe, the God of love. Satan had no right to us. He was a thief and a usurper. God has the right to us because we were always His from the beginning, but had become lost sheep. So when He gets us back, it is for keeps. We are fixed through our union with Jesus in His death and resurrection. And again we say, the supreme evidence is that we have spontaneously begun to be, not just loved-sons, but lover-sons. We are the God of love in our human forms–true sons.
Faith in the Fourth Dimension
And the other important fact is that we have begun real living as spirit people, not matter people. Spirit, His Holy Spirit, has become real to us, making the Father and the Son in the realm of the invisible living persons to us. Now we have begun to recognize matter as shadow and spirit as substance. We have begun what is going to be the main progress of our lives, learning how to function as sons of the fourth dimension in the environment of the third dimension: how to settle in to reality not being of time and sense, and not according to ‘normal’ thinking; and how, as we have already seen in the lives of all the men of God in the Bible, this substance is manifested in this shadow realm.
Faith Becomes Fact
There are those who do not accept the need of it and have entered into the fullness of the union with out it; and there are those other brethren who have had their distinctive second crisis in the ‘baptism’ with tongues. But what of the many who, though Christ’s, know their need of this conscious union and the fruits of it, but do not have it in experience, of whom I was one?
The way to realization is not one iota different from the one way. There is only one way–whether for entering, for fullness, for effective living and service–what the Bible calls ‘the law of faith.’ We have said again and again that faith makes the insubstantial substantial, which is what Hebrews 11:1 says: ‘Faith is the giving of substance to things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’ Faith makes something real to me, though it may have been real all the time and real to others. Faith is my individual freedom, my autonomy as a person, to attach myself to what I want, to what is available, and what seems reliable. Therefore behind faith is specific desire. Faith works by love. All my actions are inwardly motivated, that’s why I do them.
In the things of the Spirit we have already had our first proof of what I am saying. By the inner operation of the Spirit you desired salvation. You had been presented with Jesus as available. You counted what is said of Him in the Bible as reliable. So you took the inward plunge. You inwardly spoke the word of faith: ‘I receive You. I believe in You. I believe that here and now You give me what You say You do–forgiveness of sins, eternal life, the right to become a son of God.’ And you spoke that word of faith, either to yourself by yourself, or with others in prayer, or by some specific means. It was a specific word. It was a leap, a committal, because you had no final certainty until you first did it.
And then what happened? This time, because as we have already said, this was your first leap from matter believing to Spirit-believing, you had no external response to your faith, such as you do when you sit in a chair, or go some place. But you did have that which you are now learning is your first touch with the real real! Within you, the Spirit bore witness with your spirit that you are a child of God. You can’t say how because it was not a material evidence. It was simply an inner consciousness, assurance to your real self, your inner self, that Christ is your Saviour, your sins are forgiven, God is your father, heaven is your home. That is the substance that your faith gave you, and the evidence of the unseen now seen by you. And it has remained with you, because it was the beginning of eternal life, an eternal relationship. Certainly it has resulted in outward change of life, old sinful habits gone, new attitudes and conduct; faith without works is dead, but faith has been the evidence.
Second Leap of Faith
Now move that on this further stage–to this second crisis. Once again we start with quickened desire. We have not made our Christian living work, there is a missing spot somewhere; we have neither the power for service, nor for consistent living, nor for the inner reset from strains, nor ability to handle our problems. We have neither love for God, nor love for our neighbour, nor love for the bible and prayer as we should have. What can we do about it?
We are told in simple Bible terms that the answer is Christ, not just as our Saviour and Lord, but our life: He being the real we, Christ in our human form, Christ is we. We may have varied explanations of what this means, or maybe no explanation. We may or may not know of such terms we have already listed such as full salvation, victorious living, the fullness of the Spirit, the baptism in the Spirit, entire sanctification, power for service, the second blessing, or union with God, as I have put it in these pages. Anyhow by one means or another we are prepared to make this second leap of faith–desirable, available, and apparently reliable–and settle it by this second word of faith: we say He is our all in all; He and we are joined in one spirit; He lives in me now, not I; He is the fullness, the power, the rest, the all I need: and that this is a fact now. Amen! We speak again that word of faith in our own terms. And it is now a fact in me, as much as He becoming my Saviour by my word of faith was a fact.
But now we have to watch out. Once fact is a fact, we have to avoid all temptations to look and see if it has happened! Which of course is really doubting the fact! We shall see later that this is a fundamental law in all acts of faith. That does not mean that we shall continually live in ignorance of it being a fact. But it means that the way and time in which the fact becomes a realized fact to us is not in our control. In the outer world the time may vary. We sit on a chair, immediately it makes itself known to us. We feel and see it holding us. Faith has become substance, the act of sitting has produced its own evidence. But some things take longer. We involve ourselves in learning a trade or language. It is equally a word of faith. We should not have started our studies without the faith that the trade or language is available and would be ours. But it may take quite a period before what we have taken takes us. As a missionary I know that. It was one thing to take by faith that I would speak that African language. The proof I believed, of course, was that I set out to learn it. It seemed to escape me for months. But then one day, I can remember the day, I just found myself speaking it. What I had taken had taken me! So with this ‘taking’ of Christ in the fullness of union. With some there is the immediate evidence, whether inner or outer. How? That’s not for us to say. But somehow it has become a settled fact, and no further questions have to be asked. Plenty of questions on how we live in the light of this fact, but no further questions have to be asked. Plenty of questions on how we live in the light of this fact, but no further question on the fact. With others, in my own case, it was a time (for me two years). But it did come: no, He came in this realization of the permanent union. Lots to be learned about it since, but no further crisis of this total kind. The union was settled, the replacement of me with Him at the centre, the union seen to be the unity, with the enduement and authority of the word: ‘I said ye are gods, to whom the word of God came’ (John 10:35).
So we need to get this clear. There is a response to our committal of faith. We are not left without witness, because the meaning of faith is that it gives substance to things hoped for. God does make Himself known to us, for that is His purpose, which leads on to the permanent intimate fellowship with Him, ‘as a man speaks with his friend,’ so that we are at home with Him, understand His ways, and are co-operating sons. This could not be if faith merely meant that we reached out to Him–and blank in return! There is that ‘full assurance of faith’ it speaks of in Hebrews 10:22; but the snare is either questioning whether I have the fullness or trying somehow to get it. It is God Himself by one of His many means, external or internal, who confirms our eternal union. If you cannot say you are sure, nothing has happened which gives you that certainty, very well, then, for the present be without the consciousness, but not without certainty of having spoken that word of faith which always brings substance. Stand on your word, based on His word. ‘He that shall come will come, and will not tarry’; but meanwhile, like Habakkuk, you ‘stand upon you watch, and set you upon your tower’; not so much to watch, as to affirm, praise and recognize the fact by faith.