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Looking at God #2Malcolm Webber
Our last Letter looked at the first, and most important, element of transformational thinking: looking at God. Biblically, knowing the Lord Jesus is the gift from God of an inward experience of fellowship with Him, by His Spirit and through His Word, which results in the transformation of every aspect of life.
Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)
Knowing God is not merely an intellectual agreement about a “legal position” in Christ, but it is to be a conscious, inward experience of fellowship with Him:
…He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. (John 14:21)
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched… We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1-3)
Sadly, a traditional idea in some churches is that the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts is something that we only ever take “by faith.” We simply believe that we have His indwelling presence, whether or not we’re ever actually conscious of it. As a result, Christianity becomes somewhat of an intellectual and theoretical exercise. We mentally agree with what God has said and it stops there; our lives then consist of gritting our teeth and trying to do, in our own strength, what we know God wants us to do. Of course, theory will only satisfy us for so long. In the end, it becomes frustrating; our theory tells us about all the wonderful things that we should be experiencing, but we are not experiencing. Consequently, the more theory we have, the more frustrated we become.
To have a transformed and victorious life, we need His presence. This inward experience of God is mentioned frequently in the New Testament:
And we all, with unveiled face [in our hearts, v. 15], beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18, ESV)
In our hearts, we look at God, we receive His love, we love Him, we know Him; and this union with Christ is the foundation and wellspring of everything in our lives and ministries.
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Gal. 4:6)
The Holy Spirit is not simply an unfelt and theoretical presence that we accept by faith. In our hearts, He cries out “Abba, Father.” The Spirit loves the Father and the Son, just as He has done for all eternity. The eternal fellowship of the Godhead is happening in our hearts!
Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. (1 John 3:24)
John says we know God lives in us by the presence of His Spirit in our hearts. This does not refer to mere mental agreement, but to an inward spiritual perception, a conscious awareness of His presence.
We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. (1 John 4:13)
Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart… (1 John 5:10)
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26)
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. (John 16:13-15)
… God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Rom. 5:5)
… those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Rom. 8:14)
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Rom. 8:16)
These, and other New Testament passages, are clear and dramatic. The Holy Spirit will “testify,” “teach,” “remind,” “guide,” “speak,” “tell,” “make it known,” lead.” Moreover, this is not only an occasional thing; we can know His presence continuously, in the midst of suffering as well as blessing:
…If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)
The Holy Spirit is with us. He is in us, crying out “Abba Father,” revealing the love of the Father, and the glory of the Son.
This is the living nucleus of transformational thinking: the inward experience of fellowship with God, by His Spirit. Every other aspect of our thinking, and our lives, must revolve around this – around Him.