We who are the disciples of Jesus Christ often need to be reminded that God is allowing us to live on two planes at the same time. He lets us live in this religious plane, where there are preachers and song leaders and choirs, teachers and evangelists—and that is religion. It is actually "religion in overalls""the external part of religion, and it has its own place in God's work and plan. But beyond that and superior to all of the externals in our religious experience is the spiritual essence of it all! It is that spiritual essence that I want to see enthroned in our communion and fellowship in the Church of Jesus Christ! We need the caution that much theology, much Bible teaching, and many Bible conferences begin and end in themselves. They circle fully around themselves, but when everyone goes home, no one is any better than he was before. We sorely need this caution about holding truth that begins and ends in itself. The danger is that we teach and live so that truth is given no opportunity of moral expression!
The Bible tells us that eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of men, the things that God has laid up for those who love Him! That is why the apostle goes on to remind us that God has revealed these mysteries to us by the Holy Spirit. Oh, if we would only stop trying to make the Holy Spirit our servant and begin to live in His life as the fish lives in the sea, we would enter into the riches of glory about which we know nothing now. Too many of us want the Holy Spirit in order to have some gift—healing or tongues or preaching or prophecy. Yes, these have their place in that total pattern of the New Testament, but let us ever pray that we may be filled with the Spirit for a secondary purpose! Remember, God wants to fill you with His Spirit as an end in your moral life. God's purpose is that we should know Him first of all, and be lost in Him; and that we should enter into the fullness of the Spirit that the eternal Son, Jesus Christ, may be glorified in us!
I have studied the New Testament enough to know that our Lord Jesus Christ never made the sharp distinctions between "secular" and "sacred" that we do! I think it is wrong to place our physical necessities on one side and put praying, singing, giving, Bible reading, and testifying on the other. When we are living for the Lord and living to please and honor Him, eating our breakfast can be just as spiritual as having our family prayers. There is no reason for a committed Christian to apologize, "Lord, I am awfully sorry but you know I have to eat now. I will be with you again just as soon as I am through." Well, we have a better way than that in our living for God, and we see as we consider His feeding of the 5,000 the meaning of His Lordship. Jesus Christ is Lord—Lord of our bread and Lord of our eating and Lord of our sleeping, and Lord of our working! Brethren, our Lord is with us, sanctifying everything we do, provided it is honest and good.
What a gracious thing for us that Jesus Christ never thinks about what we have been. He always thinks about what we are going to be! The Savior who is our Lord cares absolutely nothing about your moral case history. He forgives it and starts from there as though you had been born one minute before. The woman of Samaria met our Lord at the well, and we ask, "Why was Jesus willing to reveal so much more about Himself in this setting than He did in other encounters during His ministry?" You and I would never have chosen this woman with such a shadow lying across her life, but Jesus is the Christ of God, and He could sense the potential within her innermost being. He gave her the secret of His Messiahship and the secret of the nature of God. Her frankness and her humility appealed to the Savior as they talked of man's need and the true worship of God by the Spirit of God. In Jesus' day, His critics said in scorn: "This man receives sinners!" They were right, and He lived and died and rose again to prove it. The blessed part is this: He is still receiving sinners!
In our Christian fellowship, we must recognize that the blessed Holy Spirit of God desires to take men and women and control them, and use them as instruments through which He can express Himself in the body of Christ. Someone may try to give me credit for something they think I have done for God, but actually, God is doing it through His Holy Spirit—and using me as an instrument. There is no real sense in which we are able to do spiritual work of any kind without the Holy Spirit. We do know that the Apostle Paul said, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his" (Romans 8:9b). But he also exhorted those early believers not to ignore the Spirit's gifts and to "covet earnestly the best gifts." It is still important for us to fulfill the Spirit-given functions and capabilities, which are the spiritual birthright of every regenerated believer. We should not be looking around for some other way. God has given us in His Holy Spirit every gift and power and help that we need to serve Him!