I’m reminded again about how important it is that our theology – the way we learn to think about God, would eventually bring us into the enjoyment of the presence of God, which is His goal.
People who are strong on grace doctrine often shy away from truth related to subjective experience, because it can easily lead to mysticism and another form of legalism.
However, the New Testament teaches us to expect – not just “Heaven when we die” as the result of the grace of God, but to be immediately brought into the presence of God to enjoy Him, and to know His Spirit within as a source of peace and satisfiaction.
The book of John, for example, is clearly full of revelations of a subjective Christ, who desires to be within us a “fountain springing up” and “rivers flowing out” as well as our very food and drink. Paul also teaches us to expect to have some subjective experiences of Christ.
For example in Philippians 4 He tells us that we should not allow ourselves to be anxious, but with thanksgiving making all of our needs known to God, we should allow His peace to mount guard around our heart and thoughts. He says we should let our forbearance be known to all men because the Lord is Near.
In saying this He is not teaching that we should learn to develop a virtue called forbearance, but we should become so aware of the presence of Christ, and so intimate with Him, relying on Him and trusting Him for everything, that we don’t need anything from men, and thus cannot be disappointed by them.
How many of my own relationships have been characterized by disappointment because of anxieties that I haven’t given to the Lord, and because I haven’t been enjoying His peace? And what is the source of these anxieties?
My anxieties come from an incomplete theology that doesn’t bring me into the presence of God in faith. Our theology is incomplete without making us really aware that:
- He is present,
- He is everything I need
- I have access to Him now
- He is for me,
- He cares about everything related to me,
- He is working in all things for my Good.
It’s one thing to realize justification brings me to peace with God so that when I stand before Him at the judgement seat, I will be acquitted of all sin. But justification should be more immediate than that – the blood of jesus Christ brings us into the Holiest of All – brings us right into the presence of God, who accepts us right now.
In the same way that He will demonstrate in the ages to come His lovingkindness toward me, His heart is to show Himself kind toward me right now. Regardless of what I am in the flesh, I am welcome to come, and drink and be satisfied with Him!
We should constantly introspect and be paralyzed by judging our spiritual condition, or God’s acceptance of us based on anything other than the blood of Christ. We should also not disregard the presence of God and the blessing of the promised Spirit that we have received.
The Spirit is a seal guaranteeing our redemption, and He is also a pledge- a foretaste of the good things to come (Eph 1:14). He really can settle our hearts in peace and satisfiaction, and bring to us the comforts of God in any environment.
Only this kind of subjective experience of Christ by the Spirit could produce a person like Paul, who could tell the saints that he “longed for them in the bowels (inward parts, inward affections) of Jesus Christ.” This is the feelings of Jesus experienced by Paul.
Paul taught us to expect not just heaven, but that the life of Christ would be manifest in our mortal flesh. This comes not by mystical pursuit, praying more, fasting more, seeking some kind of “apostolic experience”, but by faith in the blood that justifies us, not just to “go to Heaven” but to bring us into the presence of God, and give God a righteous way to come dwell in us, sinful as we are, forgiving all of our sins and then moving in so that Christ can make His home in our Hearts and so that He can root us and ground us in His love!