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Submitting To God

Jesus’ statement about truth and being set free by it is well-known. (It’s in John 8:32.) What is not so widely seen is its fulfilment in Christians’ lives.

A lot of Christians have some truth and some spiritual freedom. But most do not have enough truth, nor enough spiritual release. They are to a large extent still in bondage to demons.

There are various views or approaches to ‘truth’. Some regard ‘truth’ as the intellectual appreciation of what Jesus said. In other words – Bible knowledge and the human grasp of that knowledge by your intellect.

Others interpret Jesus’ words as a reference to His person, or His ‘being’ or spiritual nature. He is the embodiment of pure spiritual truth as He said:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through Me (Jn 14:6, NIV).

But, in repeating His words, they can tend to spiritualise away the importance of careful obedience to His Word. They say, “If you have Jesus living in you, then you have the truth in you.” They infer that you don’t need to literally live by every precept in the Bible.

There are two dangers here. The first is one of ritualism or legalism – strictly adhering to ‘the law’ laid out in the Bible in commandments and ancillary teaching – but done by human effort that denies the Spirit life within. And, the second danger is that of liberals, who accept the Spirit but deny the more rudimentary out- working of biblical principles in a literal way.

The truth is you need both. You need both the Spirit and a practical obedience to biblical precepts and commands. This brings complete freedom.

The two ‘sectors’ of believers might seem poles apart, but the problem facing both polarities is actually the same. It is to do with submission to the Spirit. One side wants to do it only one way; the other side wants to do it only the other way. You need to do both.

Submission has both internal and external ramifications in your life. It is both listening to God internally, and obeying His literal commands externally. If you only want one option, God’s Spirit will leave you.

This is the overwhelming problem of the Church in our age. Christians only want part of the whole. They want Jesus on their terms, not on His. They are glad to accept Him for what they want, but that’s kids’ stuff. You’ve got to grow up and stop being selfish. You are called to lay down your life and do whatever He says. You are to be a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1; Gal 2:20).

Please don’t just gloss over those references. Look up those texts and think deeply about them. They will be your life, if you submit... or they will bring your death, if you refuse to obey.

Laodicea is verbally rebuked by Jesus for not accepting the rest of Him. They’ve got some of Him – some of what He taught or brought – but they shut the door when He comes again (Rev 3:14-22). They leave Him outside, knocking (Rev 3:20).

They are lukewarm, no longer on fire – willing, eager, receptive – to further truth and its incorporation in their life.

The Christian life is one of continual progress, not merely something you accept at baptism, and then lapse back into complacent mediocrity. You only have a downpayment of the Spirit to begin with. You then have to go on, higher and higher with God, until He takes you to be with Him in His divine dimension.

So you start with initial repentance, baptism in water, and beginner’s faith. Then you must progress to a Spirit baptism, with a demonstration of the Spirit’s presence in your life through spiritual gifts. (If you are not familiar with this, please read An Introduction To The Spiritual Gifts, and Holy Fire!) And from there, you go from one level of faith to another. (Explained in Faith – Raising Our Level of Expectation.) You are not to be static, for each one who is static is actually backsliding, because His Spirit is constantly advancing. So must you. Proverbs outlines the approach we need:

...if you accept My words, and store up My commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, THEN you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (Prov 2:1-5, NIV).

Those words don’t just mean that you find an intellectual knowledge about God. They mean that you come into an experience of KNOWING Him. The ones who really fear God are those who have an awe that comes from appreciating His love, His nature, and wanting that, too. With that desire within you, He comes to live in you. You then become part of the temple of His Spirit (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16) –

....a holy temple in the Lord... a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit (Eph 2:21,22, NIV).

The Church of God is not about physical organisations. It’s a living spiritual organism. The things that matter are spiritual, not physical. And you must seek those things that are at God’s right hand (Col 3:1,2) like the proverb stated – like hunting for buried treasure. Jesus hates lukewarmness!

Turning You Around

The problem is, people don’t. They don’t seek Him with all out desire. They seek their own things, physical things, with that kind of effort and desire. Their minds are on those things, but not on His things, with fire and desire.

But you can’t get the things of God with a drifter’s mentality. You will get spat out of His mouth with that approach! (Rev 3:16.) Only when you realise that without Him you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked (3:17) will you let Him in through your door once again, to give you the rest of what He offers.

So, submitting to God “ain’t no easy road.” Hard- ship must come first, to awaken you to your need and your lacks. Then, when He has broken you through the trials of life, He can pick you up in His loving arms and give you the rest of what you need, because you will be willing then. That’s what the Great Tribulation is all about to the modern Church.

Preachers have tried to reconcile the awful privations of this time with the love of God. Because they couldn’t, they reinterpreted Jesus’ words about His coming to mean a secret rapture, to steal away His Bride. But Jesus didn’t mean that at all. He meant what He said in Revelation 7:9-14 about a massive harvest being brought to conversion in the coming time of trouble, not kept from it, but brought to Him through it.

Jesus has to break your dependence upon the physical, upon the things of this world, upon the things you like in preference to Him, for you to willingly submit to Him. And He will do that. The work He has begun in you, He will complete. He is the Author and Finisher of your faith (Heb 12:2).

People don’t see their incompleteness. None of us do. I remember speaking out a prophetic word in one of our meetings. It was from Philippians 1:6, and I spoke it by the Spirit to a man who was meeting with us at that time. It was to the effect that God would complete in him the work He had begun.

You might say “that was a bit redundant or trite.” But with prophetic words, what is implied is often of far greater significance than what is actually said. The man thought he was entire, complete and had no more need of God. He was lukewarm and closed the door on the rest of what Jesus wanted him to accept.

He didn’t get the message then. I hope he’s getting the message now. We all have a need to move on. Jesus is urging us on to full union with Him. That only comes with a willing heart to accept ALL He offers us from His Word.

There is a call going out to prepare the Bride. Those who want to be counted worthy to be in this number must accept ALL He is offering us. If you read the booklet The Ten Virgins, you will see that Jesus’ ingenious parable contains the inference that we must accept:

  • His full teaching – ‘the law’

  • His Spirit

  • His gifts

  • His prophets

Jesus reveals ‘new’ truth to His prophets in the NT just as He has used prophets as His mouthpieces of revelation in former days.

There are those who, because of human pride and stubbornness, throw out the prophets and reject them as irrelevant. Those rebels will find themselves thrown out and considered irrelevant to the Kingdom of God!

It may not be clear, but it is true, that NT prophets are still the vanguard of the faith. Just read Ephesians 4:11-12 and ask yourself, “Is the Church mature yet? Is it totally united?” If the answer to those questions is “No”, then prophets are still part of Jesus’ scheme to get her ready for His coming.

And a quick reference to what Paul said before that, in Ephesians 3:5, will put the cap on it for you. He said that spiritual truth, the mystery of God:

...has NOW been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets (Eph 3:5, NIV).

He didn’t say it had been revealed in the OT. It is a NOW thing. And ‘now’ is continuing, because we are still part of the NT era. The Bride is not yet ready, and God is still busily preparing her for Jesus.

Who Will Be In The Bride?

Helena made a comment not long ago that made me think a bit more deeply. I had glossed over who will be part of the Bride, even though I had written about it. But I forget things, and it seems the older I get the more I forget. And when you write with an open mind, letting the Spirit drop things in as you go, you tend to be like a scribe. It’s not my writing. It’s His. So I have to read it again to learn what He is saying.

Helena reminded me of what I had forgotten. It’s not all Christians who will be part of the Bride. It’s only those who accept the fulness of what He is revealing through the prophets whom He has appointed with the work of restoring the full teaching in this end time.

Many simply won’t accept it. Many will reject the prophets (as the dream opposite infers), and cling to the traditions of their church, instead of to the true tradition of THE Church! That is why Jesus urges:

I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire... (Rev 3:18, NIV).

He’s not merely offering you silver. But the gold He is offering comes at a high price, and most are simply not willing to pay that price! (See also pp 5-6.)

Malcolm B Heap

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