Welcome to Leaving LaodiceaThe Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church
The following is a message given by Dr. Walter L. Wilson (1881-1969) at the Canadian Keswick Conference about his experience with the Higher Christian Life. This message was reprinted in the October 1936 issue of “The Evangelical Christian” and also in the tract, “The Secret of Soul Winning.” The name of the article is “Whose Body is Yours?” and provides a wonderful glimpse into the process the Spirit took Dr. Wilson to discover the Higher Christian Life and his prayer of full surrender.
Enjoy and be blessed and encouraged in your own search for the Higher Christian life.
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Because there exists in these days a great desire in the heart for, and a confusion in the mind concerning the Spirit-filled life, or the path of consecration, it may help to clear this matter if I tell you of my own experience with the Lord, the Spirit.
It was my privilege to be raised among a group of believers who were quite orthodox in their teaching, and quite earnest in studying the Word. It was among these that I first trusted the Lord Jesus in December 1896. He saved me and changed my life. Immediately the Word of God became my constant companion. I loved it, studied it, preached it, and gave away tracts in large quantities. No apparent success followed my labors, and much energy produced little fruit. This failure disturbed me greatly, but I assured myself and was assured by others that we were not to look for results but only to be busy at seed sowing.
One key to experiencing the Higher Christian Life is the understanding that we live, not for the applause of man or for our own self-gratification (no matter how noble our pursuits may seem), but to live solely for the pleasure and approval of God. Because quite honestly, everything else is temporal, and only this is eternal. Our single desire should be like that of Jesus, who said, “I always do those things that please Him (Father)” (John 8:29). Jesus lived His life for the pleasure of the Father. And to experience the Higher Christian life, so should we.
Oswald Chambers says it this way in the March 17th offering in My Utmost for His Highest:
It is arduous (difficult, demanding great effort) work to keep the master ambition in front. It means holding one’s self to the high ideal year in and year out, not being ambitious to win souls or to establish churches or to have revivals, but being ambitious only to be “accepted of Him.” It is not a lack of spiritual experience that leads to failure, but a lack of laboring to keep the ideal right.
And this is hard. I know in my own life I often get sidetracked with the “good” things in my relationship with Him, such as being a pastor, leading my family, preaching and teaching the Word of God, ministering to others, praying, studying the Word, witnessing to others, etc. Note, all of these things are good and expected and encouraged of someone who claims to be a believer. But it is these “good” things that can, and will, demand most of our time and strength and be seen by others as desirable and praiseworthy… on this side of eternity. Yet they are not necessarily the “best” things in life that have eternal consequences today and forever. Let me explain.
The key to a deeper Christian life is to understand how we are to emulate Jesus in everything. He is our model, our example, and our guide. If we want to know how to respond in a certain situation, we look to Jesus and see what He did and commit to doing the same. And if we struggle with our flesh, we need to remember that Jesus has left us Himself (“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” – John 14:18) in the person of the Holy Spirit who abides with us forever (John 14:16). Hence, we have Him living in us to empower us to do the will of the Father (John 5:19). Just like Jesus had.
So why do we still struggle?
One of the two Scriptures that reveal the importance of holiness and living the Higher Christain life is found in Psalm 24. Here we see David beginning with a statement about the unsurpassed greatness of the Lord (Psalm 24:1-2) and then, based on His greatness, David poses both a question and an answer. The question is a logical one and goes something like this, “How can we get close to a God who claims ownership of the earth and ‘those who dwell therein’? (Psalm 24:1). How can I get to know a God as powerful and holy as this?” And how can I ever practice holiness to gain the Higher Christian Life?
David asks the question this way:
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? – Psalm 24:3.
And the answer is just as revealing. Only someone who is holy, as He is holy, can come into the presence of God. Read carefully what is written in Scripture.
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully – Psalm 24:4.
This is a picture of practical holiness, the kind of living holiness that reflects the nature of Christ in our day-by-day decisions. It is the holiness Peter spoke of when he said, “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.'” (1 Peter 1:15-16).
But there is more.
In Hebrews 12:14 we read that without holiness, “no one will see the Lord.” And if a deep intimacy with the Lord is a by-product of the Higher Christian Life, then holiness is an essential, if not vital, aspect of our spiritual lives.
One of my spiritual mentors is a man named Andrew Murray. I was discipled for the most part by his books and devotions that I was blessed to encounter early in my Christian life. His writings are devotional in nature and have ministered to my soul for years and have always challenged me to want more of Jesus in my daily walk with Him. Some of his books that are regarded as classics are “With Christ in the School of Prayer”, “The True Vine”, and especially, “Abide in Christ”.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Andrew Murray (1828-1917), he was a Dutch Reformed pastor, missionary, and writer from Scotland, and spent his years ministering in South Africa. Andrew Murray was a man of faith and had an intimacy with the Holy Spirit that, in my opinion, was surpassed by none. Yet he, like so many of us, felt a dissatisfaction with his spiritual life and longed for something deeper and more intimate with the Lord. And it was this quest for what he called the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” or the Higher Christian Life that allowed God to use him as He did.
Murray recognized that obedience to the Lord is nearly impossible, no matter how hard you try. Sheer determination or strength of will are never enough. And the only way to live a life of holiness is to surrender your life to Him and allow Him to complete the work of sanctification in us. Sounds simple, I know. But the testimonies of these giants of the faith tell us it is much harder than it seems.
And I can also attest to the difficulty of total surrender to the Lord. Can you?
When we read the testimonies of those great spiritual heroes of days gone past and hear them describe the time leading up to their baptism in the Holy Spirit and their living the Higher Christian Life, a certain pattern begins to emerge. Granted, all their individual experiences are different, since God chooses to reveal Himself in the way He chooses to each of His children. So we obviously can’t put God in a box and demand He deals with everyone the way He deals with us. There is no cookie-cutter scheme that works for everyone. Yet in examining these individual accounts, we do see a pattern that each person seems to go through. Much like the pattern of salvation found in Romans 8:29-30. Consider the steps God undertakes to reconcile each of us to Himself.
First, there is the sovereign act of God accomplished before we were created and of which we were totally unaware. The Scripture says “For whom He foreknew” (Rom. 8:29a), which means God placed His favor and choice on us before we even knew His name. And long before we ever took our first breath. It was an act of His will and not of our own. And it takes some measure of spiritual maturity to understand this momentous event. We tend to always look forward from the day we “believed in Jesus and asked Him into our hearts.” But this is a look back. It is best explained in Ephesians 1:3-5:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as (what) He chose us in Him (when) before the foundation of the world, (why) that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, (how) having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, (on what basis) according to the good pleasure of His will.
Next, God predetermined the outcome and future of those He previously had chosen and upon those He granted His favor. Scripture says “He also predestined” (Rom. 8:29b) those “whom He foreknew” to something. But what is that exactly? God has predetermined those He chose in Him to be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29c). We are to become like Jesus. And we will become just like Jesus. Once again, this was all determined without our knowledge or consent. It was part of God’s sovereignty in our salvation.
Then, to those “He foreknew” and “predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son”, God begins the process of drawing them unto Himself. This is known as a “calling” or, theologically, an “effectual call.” This is when we become aware of God and what He offers and the horrid sinfulness in our own life. In our testimonies, it goes something like this:
“I knew I was lost and I needed God to forgive my sins and change my life. And I became aware of the fact that is exactly what Jesus said He would do. It was amazing. What I once thought was foolish now made perfect sense. And I knew I needed to give my life to Him.”
Finally, there is justification, “these He also justified” (Rom. 8:30a) This is the point in the pattern of our salvation that we become aware of the fact we are now saved. And we usually mark this down as the first day of our new life, not yet understanding our new life was determined by God in eternity past, “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).
And as a final bonus, “and whom He justified (all those who are saved in Him), these He also glorified” (Rom. 8:30b). Now, that’s quite a pattern God has established for receiving saving faith provided by His Son. Would you not agree?
One of the great longings of those the Lord used mightily in the last church age is the fullness, or baptism, of the Holy Spirit. No, we’re not talking about loopy believers today who claim something their life doesn’t exhibit. We are talking about the heroes of old, those like D.L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, Andrew Murray, Oswald Chambers, Charles Finney, Amy Charmichael, and so many others. Each of these great servants of God testifies to their deep longing and ultimate baptism of the Holy Spirit that they claim was the source and power for all that God did through them and led to what they called the Higher Christian Life.
But what about us? And what about the church? How does our view and participation in church impact the Higher Christian Life? Does it help? Or does it hurt?
Take a moment and think about how we “do” church today. See if any of these ring true to you.
• The “church” is primarily defined as a building, institution, or tax-exempt entity.
• The members of a church meet in a neutral building.
• Almost all ministry and fellowship takes place in the neutral building.
• Almost all relationships are forged by shared activities in the neutral building.
• There is usually a corporate model of top-down leadership within the church.
• The Sunday morning worship service is primarily designed as a time of musical performance (concert), corporate singing, and teaching and is designed to make the congregation feel comfortable.
• The structure of the facility seating models an educational institution and not a family.
• Primarily, the pace of the teaching is on a “C” level.
• Participation is the goal, not measurable growth.
• Much of the focus is not on the individual believer but on the entity of the “church” (lesser serves the greater).
• Paid professionals perform those required tasks often neglected by the fathers in their own families.
• Self-promotion and marketing are usually designed to point people to the church and not to Christ.
• Most preaching is about personal “felt” needs.
• Church usually meets once a week on Sunday for less than two hours.
• Sometimes, a mid-week Bible study or small group meets with an attendance of less than 5% of those who come on Sunday.
• Women are far more likely to attend and participate in church functions than men.
And if you compare this picture of the church today to what we see in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Acts, you may come to the troubling conclusion that the modern, Western, contemporary idea of the church may be the greatest hindrance to experiencing the Higher Christian Life.
But first, let’s address the elephant in the room by answering the most pressing question. What is the Higher Christian Life?
Yesterday was a wonderful day together as we committed ourselves to strive after what the saints of old called the “Higher Christian Life” and Jesus described as the “Abundant Life” found only in Him.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” – John 10:10.
The context of this verse is Jesus revealing Himself as the “good shepherd” who “gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11), in contrast to a “hireling” (John 10:13) or “thieves and robbers” (John 10:8) who care little for the sheep. And the ones He promised “abundant life” are the sheep, you and I by inference, who only enter into salvation through the “door” (John 10:9), defined as Jesus Christ.
I know it sounds confusing, but this is what Jesus is saying in this passage:
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I (the Good Shepherd, Jesus) have come that they (the sheep, you and I) may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (perissós – over and above, superabundant, much, great, beyond measure)” – John 10:10.
But what does this promise really mean?
There is uncertainty all around. And we, as the church, are in the beginning of a life of persecution that was promised by our Lord. Often uncertainty leads to fear, and fear crushes faith. But we are instructed in Psalm 56 to not fear but turn our fear into faith. David says, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You” (Psalm 56:3). And then twice, in the same Psalm, he affirms, “What can flesh do to me” (Psalm 56:4) and “What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11).
Great questions. And the answer is, “Not much, other than kill us.” But if we have a proper view of eternity, even death becomes an anticipation and not something to fear. Think about it.
Life is more than what we see and feel, much more than what we can experience with our senses. There is, on the one hand, the true reality that lasts forever with God, when this temporal, transitory, substitute reality ceases to be. And there is, on the other hand, the pre-game reality we exist in today. Jesus said we are living in this kingdom, this reality, but are actually citizens of His kingdom, of His reality, that has not yet physically manifested itself in this world. And the true, “abundant life” Jesus promised is reserved for those who physically exist in this temporal reality that is passing away, yet live and abide in the reality that lasts forever.
This is called living by faith. And it takes concrete action on our part to do.
When fear is brought into (or subject to) the presence of God, it dissolves right before our eyes, just like it did with David in Psalm 56 and elsewhere. And when for some reason it doesn’t vanish yet remains like a lingering cough after a bad cold, it is not because our fear is so large, or intimidating, or frightening.
It is simply because our God is too small.
Let me share some uncomfortable truths deliberately forgotten today in our land of apathy and opulence. And this truth may be hard to swallow for some, yet it is true nonetheless. In a simple statement: Persecution is an integral part of Christianity. So much so that it is to be expected, even desired. Why? Because persecution, like spiritual fruit, is an outward sign of living and abiding in Christ in obedience. And if so, we must, as a church and as believers living in the West, prepare for persecution.
The Scriptures teach that persecution is an inevitable result of one wanting to live in the image of Jesus. Consider the promise and the conditions of this verse:
Yes, and all (each, every, entire, with the idea of oneness, without exception) who desire (to will, wish, intend, implying active volition and purpose) to live (to spend one’s existence, to pass one’s life) godly (righteously, attributing to God the things which rightfully pertain to God) in (who) Christ Jesus will (promise) suffer persecution (to press, distress, trouble, crush, to prosecute, to pursue with repeated acts of enmity) – 2 Timothy 3:12.
I suggest you read this passage in context. You will clearly see the focus of this chapter is that persecution is to be expected and not feared. Ever. After all, when Jesus was speaking about the relationship between a master and His servants, He was speaking in the context of suffering and persecution. This is a classic if/then statement from our Lord
“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, (then) they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, (then) they will keep yours” – John 15:20.
In fact, when you look at the ministry of Jesus from the perspective of Him preparing His disciples, and the church, for the inevitability of persecution, you can see it on almost every page.
There are three major judgments in the prophetic timeline of God: the Sheep and Goats Judgment, the Bema Seat Judgment, and the Great White Throne Judgment. Some of these judgments take place on earth and some in heaven. But there is only one that you should be worried about. And that is the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.
So what is the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ and why is it such a big deal?
The Bema Seat Judgment of Christ takes place after the Rapture of the church and before the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in heaven. This judgment does not determine salvation. At this time, believers are rewarded for how faithfully they served their Lord. Some will receive rewards (and be invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, etc.), and others will obviously not receive rewards (or suffer loss). It will be a time of great rejoicing for some. And for others, a time of immense sadness, regret, and shame.
Therefore we make (labor) it our aim (to make our ambition, to aspire to), whether present or absent, to be well pleasing (acceptable, that which one wills, recognizes, and approves) to (who) Him. For (why) we must all appear (to show openly) before the judgment seat of Christ, (for what reason) that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad – 2 Corinthians 5:9-10.
Some will receive a reward. But others will “suffer loss” or not receive a reward and the benefits that come with it. Consider the following.
Now if anyone (what) builds on this foundation (Christ) with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s (what) work will become clear (to shine, to make manifest, become evident); for (when) the Day will declare it (to make known), (how) because it (one’s work) will be revealed (to remove a veil or covering to expose to open view) by fire; and the fire will test (approve as worthy or not) each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s (what) work which he has built on it endures (abide, to remain, dwell, live), he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire – 2 Corinthians 3:12-15.
But what are some things Christ will judge at the Bema Seat Judgment?
Something About Us
This is a collection of the many questions I have struggled with and the answers I have found regarding the relationship between authentic faith in Christ and much of what is portrayed today as Biblical Christianity. Especially with the coming darkness looming over all of us, including the church.
Come with me. It should be a wild ride!
To find out more about us and what we believe, just continue reading…
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“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”