God… was pleased to reveal His Son in me. (Galatians 1:15,16 NIV)
Spiritual discernment, perception, understanding and intelligence are all too rare. The causes are many. The engrossment with the work and its multifarious concerns; the rush and hurry of life; the restless spirit of the age; these, with an exhaustive provision of external religious facilities, all tend to render the inner place of Divine speaking inoperative or impossible of functioning. Perhaps we have forgotten that the Bible is not only a revelation, but also contains a revelation, and that that deeper spiritual content is only possible of recognition and realization by such as have had their eyes and ears opened; in other words – who have been awakened. Some of the Lord's most faithful servants are still only occupied with the letter of the Word, the contents of books, topics, themes, subjects, outlines, analyses, etc., and in the deepest sense are not in "revelation." (This is not meant as a criticism). The difference too often is that of a ministry to the mind or head, and not one to the heart or spirit. The former will sooner or later tire and weary both the minister and those ministered to. The latter is a ministry of Life to both, and is inexhaustible in freshness.
Whether it comes at the beginning or later, it is the greatest day in our history of which we can say: "It pleased God to reveal His Son in me." "I received it, not from men but by revelation." That is the beginning of an inwardness of things which may have many crisic issues. One of these is the one of which we are particularly thinking now, namely, the awakening to see what is the thought and desire of God at given and specific times. Such a revelation – through the Scriptures – is nothing less than revolutionary, though usually costly.
By T. Austin-Sparks from: The Candlestick All of Gold
My husband and I attended the funeral of an old friend last week. I must admit it’s one thing when you must bury your elders but when you start losing contemporaries it’s a sobering moment so I’ve been processing this. Gave me pause, I admit, but the real impact came from the spiritual experience I had that day that I’ve only just now been willing to speak about. Today’s devotional from T. Austin-Sparks gave me the courage to share.
We had a quiet/reflective 1-1/2 hour drive to a decaying bucolic Georgia town, established in the 1800’s. Like any other small town USA, population 6000, there’s one funeral home; the venue for last rites for many decades.
The ceremony opened with a minister’s gentle sermon that began with the recollection of speaking with the deceased about his faith many years ago. Irv was raised a Methodist but was converted to Baptist, due to his wife’s urging, shortly after settling there, 45 years ago. They both attended the only Baptist Church and served the small congregation in many capacities for decades.
Interesting the things you learn at a funeral about someone you thought you knew.
The sermon that followed the introduction was so clean, so pure, so completely on point, I sat next to my husband soaking it in as though I was parched ground grateful for rain.
The topic was centered on faith, what it is and how to get it. The minister’s steady, non-judgmental voice offered up words of hope and quoted Scripture, not like a hammer to pound in a point, but like water offered to a thirsty soul.
I don’t make a thing out of it, as though it was a cause or such, but I don’t attend a church, as a rule. I’ve been in a self-imposed wilderness for so long I simply can’t endure the man-made agendas in hopes of receiving a morsel of truth. So, sitting there listening to the pure verity of what it is like to be in love with Christ, to be committed to His will, to accept His grace, in the simplest terms of what faith truly is, was somewhat overwhelming for me, even as it was a confirmation that it is possible to have a personal relationship with Christ sans an organization and regardless the opinions of others.
This has hugged me like a soft throw for nearly a week now. I guess I needed the reminder as well as the comfort.
In all the years we called Irv our friend, I don’t recall one single conversation with him about his religion or denomination of Christian belief. He lived his religion, openly and honestly. He had no ill will toward anyone, not a judgmental bone in his body. And he certainly never condemned anyone else for choosing to reject religiousity.
I am quite sure he is in heaven with Jesus, not because he was religious, not because he followed a set rules of doctrine, as established and defined by another human(s), but because, as the minister shared with us, he believed that Christ is the Son of God who came to take our place, to save us from ourselves.
It is clear for me that the sum of our friend Irv’s good life and works were the natural result of his simple, genuine faith.