The basic unspoken concern of most Christian believers is whether they are in proper fellowship with the Lord at any given moment.
By fellowship, we don’t mean “two fellows in a ship”, as Bob George often said. And by that, he was trying to help believers understand the truth about their relationship to Christ versus the common misunderstanding about “fellowship” with God that we get from incorrect teachings within the church.
The question that needs to be asked of all Christians is, “How do we know, at any given point, that we are OK with God?”
We are not talking about “salvation” here. That is presumed to be a settled issue for anyone who calls himself a Christian.
We are talking about having “peace with God” on a moment-by-moment basis.
So, what is the answer?
Prepared to Receive
Frankly, depending on whom you trust for your spiritual guidance, you can hear some dramatically different answers to that question. Most are wrong. And many will lead you down some terrible paths of deception and bondage.
I remember many years ago speaking with a brother in Christ that I worked with at a printing company. He was a member of a holiness church in another community. He was a very nice guy and I enjoyed his fellowship.
At that time, I had just begun to understand my liberty in Christ. And was excited to share some of the books I had read by people like Bob George that had been of great help to me in coming out of a lot of legalistic thinking about the Christian life.
As I explained to my friend what I had begun to understand, he explained that his holiness church emphasized the outward demonstration of morality and purity. Which, in his thinking, directly contradicted what I was sharing with him.
Over the years, I’ve watched as other believers have reacted in similar fashion to teachings about Christian liberty and grace within the Christian life.
There is often a cautionary hesitation by brothers and sisters in Christ that have a hard time accepting what they think is teaching that gives “license” to sin; or is contrary to holiness and purity in the Christian’s practical life.
Or is taking the sacrifice of Christ for granted as “cheap grace”.
And others have even brushed aside Christian-liberty teaching as boring or trivial. As if they are not in any need of such ideas. Because they, presumably, have the Christian life under control and are content with their own performance.
So, I’ve come to realize that many believers may not be in a position to understand or accept the grace and liberty the Lord offers us. Many are just not ready to receive some truths. They haven’t come, through hard experience, to a place where they are hungry for certain truths.
Reaching the Place of Need
The key to the Christian life is seeing our need.
Until we come to the place of recognizing our own weaknesses and failures, we will not be prepared to see the Lord, Himself, as the fulfillment of our need.
And by “fulfillment”, I don’t mean that we just see the Lord as the provider of our deliverance or blessings. I mean that we see the Lord as being the fulfillment. As the Lord being the actual source of our blessing — the source, the provider, and the blessing itself.
In Him Shall All Fullness Dwell
God said to Abram, “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)
Those are remarkable words. Because they indicate that the Lord is, Himself, our reward. Not just the provider of rewards as things. But the Person of God actually being our reward.
This simple truth is the key to our joy in this eternal life we have already begun to live in Christ.
To see that it is the Lord whom we must seek. Not all the stuff that He does for us. Not all the things He provides for us. Not all the deliverances He arranges for us.
We must see Jesus Christ as all that our souls need. “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9)
When the Old Testament speaks of God setting a man in a “large place” (Psalm 118:5), I think this is a way of expressing the fullness of God. Because God takes us out of a spot of being trapped and without options or hope and brings us into a wide place where we can breathe.
And He shows us how all things are opened up for us. How we are now set free from the bondage we previously were held under.
Whatever form that bondage took.
When the Lord delivers us, He shows us that He is more than just an idea or a distant God making demands upon us. He brings us to a place where He reveals that He is able, in Himself, to meet every infinite longing and need of our souls and spirits.
And that He is beyond any and all wonderful things that our minds and spirits could ever imagine.