The Crisis Experience
It is one thing to know truth by being taught it, by seeing it in the Bible, or by mental grasp of it. That is a right start and we do not despise it; but the reason we stress the second crisis, call it by what name we like, is that being inner people, life is lived spontaneously and naturally only by a fixed inner consciousness. We are in outer life what we inwardly know we are. In our former life, before we were Christ’s, we had a consciousness, though maybe a vague one, just of being ourselves, and so we lived on our self-level. Then after we had knowingly become children of God by the witness of the Spirit, we had a new fixed inner consciousness: we were now forgiven, loved, accepted, inheritors of eternal life, we were in living relationship with Jesus and the Father; and without any special effort this had its radical effects on our daily attitudes and actions.
But this was still a gap-consciousness. Here we were, and here was Christ with us or even known as in us.
But that is something different from a full and final union-consciousness that we are He in our human forms: not we living, but He living our lives, as Paul said; and Jesus even said that we are the light of the world, not having the light, but being the light. How could this be on any other basis than an inner unity, for He is the light, we the negative non-light? Yet here He is saying we are the light! Now this is the third level of consciousness, inwardly imparted as a fixed certainty, whether accompanied by outer signs or not, and given many names to label it, a consciousness of inner permanent unity as fact, never again seeking Him as if apart from us, the experienced unity-relationship of branch and Vine, body and Head. And when there is the inner consciousness, then we are just this. All we ever have to do is recognize it and act on the glorious fact; and because it is our fixed consciousness, it has spontaneous outcome in our daily lives.
For this reason we stress this crisis experience, because, both in Bible and post-Bible records, most of us do not settle into a given consciousness and new power in life until by some specific means, and usually a dated moment, we know that this is so. We see the same in what we call our "conversion experience." The Bible never says you must be able to point to a given date; but you must be able to say it is a given fact! Paul had a dramatic Damascus road conversion. When we do not know inner truth we may think such an outer experience is necessary.
I thought so in early years. "If Jesus would appear to me like that, then I could believe Him," I would say. But of course it was not the shining of an outward light which blinded Paul, those with him saw no light and lost no sight; it was the inner illumination in his spirit which was his conversion. And I talk with those who cannot give a date or dramatic account of meeting with Jesus, and they get disturbed and begin to question about themselves when they hear the stories of these sudden conversions. Such disturbance is good; for we must know either by a reaffirmation of a former saving faith or by a new act of believing. All that matters is my ability to say with Paul, "I know whom I have believed" and with the blind man, "whereas I was blind, now I see." The fact is essential, the date a detail.
As with the new birth, so with the union relationship, there is a meeting with God by the Spirit, for most of us in a crisis experience, which permanently affects our inner consciousness; and we move out into a spontaneous life of liberty, authority and fruitfulness. How this takes place we want to examine more thoroughly, as well as its outcomes; but first we shall look a bit more closely at some of the men of the Bible to whom this happened. We can only glance at those great moments, sometimes with a little that preceded it and sometimes with a little of the aftermath, where we wish we could give more detail.
A Different Dimension
It was only after some years of walking with God in a faith life, that Abraham had that meeting with God over the birth of a son in the impossible, which finally fixed him in faith on a permanent basis; and Abraham was at ease, not only in the "miraculous" birth of Isaac, but years later in his faith for a physical resurrection when told by God to kill his son. Abraham walked those years in a different dimension.
Jacob at Jabbok was named a prince with God, which was the meaning of his new name Israel. From that night on he knew he was God’s royal son with God’s resources at his free disposal. He was no longer a fearful and persistent suppliant for God’s favours. He was now the established patriarch. When young Joseph appeared like a foolish young megalomaniac with his boastful dreams, his father could see through and "observed the saying"; and when introduced to Pharaoh, the world’s greatest potentate, though a homeless immigrant dependent on Pharaoh’s beneficence, "Jacob blessed Pharaoh", and "without contradiction the less is blessed of the better."
Moses we all know at that burning bush. But see the difference. Before, a beggared exile, stripped of all those human resources of the royal household which had caused Stephen to record that he had been "mighty in word and deed," a fugitive for forty years from the Pharaoh he was supposed to have forced to release the Israelites: now, suddenly, surely a crisis moment, he inwardly saw something (for no mere outer eyes would have seen this desert bush which burned and yet was not consumed). He ‘saw’ that God is no distant watcher over human affairs, but is Himself the doer by His human agents. God was that fire whose fuel was the common desert bush, and Moses was such a bush! And that meant God in such realized union with His human agent, that He directly told Moses he was both a god to Aaron and a god to Pharaoh, and could act as such; and there followed the plagues that broke the power of Pharaoh, and the opening of the Red Sea, the water from the rock, the daily manna, the face to face communings with God on the fiery mount which was death for the people to touch (who still knew only a God at a distance); and Moses was called God’s friend, and his face shone with a light which made it necessary for him to wear a veil. This was the man at the bush.
The Move to God-Sufficiency
Look at two more, Joshua had a near shave (as we all do!). He had some warning lessons on the dangers of his special form of self-sufficiency as an able general. It was not his military skill, but Moses’ raised hands of faith which defeated the Amalekites. As he descended the mount with Moses and they heard the revellings of apostate Israel round the golden calf, Joshua’s proud military mind interpreted them as the noise of battle where his prowess would be needed, whereas Moses knew them for what they were, the lewd songs of the idolaters. While the people remained in the camp under judgement, Moses, who knew well enough the failure they had been, mingled daily with them, but Joshua hid himself away in the tabernacle, "holier than thou": and when Moses summoned the elders to meet with him, the Spirit fell on them, but also on two elders who had not obeyed the summons but remained in the camp, Joshua was indignant for Moses’ authority, and thus by implication for himself, and called on Moses to rebuke them. Moses’ simple, selfless answer was, "Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit on them!"
But then the moment of truth came to Joshua, the cornering we all have, to bring us to our final awakening. Joshua was among the twelve spies who returned from their visit to the promised land with a report on its natural abundance and bringing the grapes of Eschol; but who also brought their terrified and unbelieving account of the giants who made them feel like grasshoppers, and the cities exaggeratedly said to be "walled up to heaven," in the usual way belief in evil always exaggerates. Only Caleb of that twelve rejected their report and alone spoke that great word of faith, let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it, and as for the giants, they are bread for us.’ But Joshua, for the last disastrous time controlled by his human military judgement, had sided with the eleven.
That night was his "second crisis." Next morning, when the people were so frenzied with fear that they talked of stoning Moses and Aaron and electing a leader to take them back to Egypt, it was not only Caleb, but now Joshua with him who aligned themselves with Moses. Joshua that night had "died and risen with Christ," as we would say. He entered into that same union relationship with God as Moses at the burning bush, for a few years later when God was taking Moses to Himself, He said to Moses, "Take thee Joshua, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay thine hand upon him." And Joshua could, in greatest calmness speak those words of authority which opened the Jordan, brought down the walls of Jericho, stopped the sun for a day, and settled Israel into the promised land.
Authority With God
It took Elisha eight years, after his total initial commitment to God by giving up his prosperous farm to follow Elijah, to discover that commitment is not the same as having authority with God. Evidently Elijah had a secret hidden from Elisha; for he could talk about standing in the presence of God and telling Ahab there would be no dew or rain until he himself, not God, said so: and he could call down fire at a given moment after a day of taunting the priests of Baal. What kind of man was this? And now the Training School students were maliciously warning Elisha that his leader was about to leave them as he said he would, and Elisha was his successor. So what?
Elisha was cornered. He had to get through; and do any of us get through till we have to? And he did, for again he "saw" as only the prepared do see. "If you see me when I am taken from you," Elijah said to him, "That will be the moment when you see what I have seen all these years." So Elisha stuck by Elijah and would not leave him, and saw him taken up in a whirlwind; but as he did so, he saw way beyond a man being raptured, he saw the One with whom Elijah had been at home those years, "the Lord of hosts," the One with the endless resources. So Elisha found the secret and was at ease in it. He could raise a sunken axe-head and make it swim, he could cross a river, raise a dead young man, purify poisoned food. The plainest evidence was when Elisha had been giving away the secret plans of Israel’s enemy Benhadad king of Syria, and the king sent his army by night to surround the small city of Dothan where Elisha was. In the morning, his servant was terrified. There was no way of escape. "Alas, master, what shall we do?"
"Don’t look outwardly at man," Elisha said in effect. "Lord, open the young man’s eyes that he may see," and he saw "the mountains filled with horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha"–the Lord of hosts with whom Elisha was now at home.
To these we only have to add the two mountaintop experiences of the New Testament: Jesus before and after His baptism and the coming of the dove, and the disciples before and after Pentecost. We all know the difference.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 25 No 2
- The Way To Abide
- The Crisis Experience
- Bible Study: With Bended Knee and a Broken Heart
- My Spiritual Waterloo
- The Prodigal
- True Repentence: Testimonies of Young Lives Transformed
- Quick Down, Quick Up
- Conviction, Confession, Cleansing
- False Condemnation
- Unexpected Visitors
- The Joy of Hosting a Zerubbabel Get-Together
- It Remains Tough
- Godly Sorrow Leads to Repentance
- Words to Live By