Building up believers and the New Testament church

Fellowship With God

Continuing in His Life

We are not to be brought into an experience but into the life of God. A prominent characteristic of life is that it continues. The way we are brought in is the same way we continue. "This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain--if indeed it was in vain? Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Gal. 3:2-5). Seeking the experience of receiving the Holy Spirit is different from having an experience that brings us into His life. In the first, we may be looking for something that will empower us to do what we want to do (even for God). We may be only wanting God's blessing on our lives. In the second, we are looking for God himself in order to enter into what He is doing. On the surface, the experiences may seem similar, but under the surface, they are vastly different.

The Galatians had entered into the life of God by faith. Their experience was real. But they made a big mistake. Instead of continuing in that life in the same way they had entered into it, they began to look at the natural things they could do, and to believe that these would count before God. Paul was severe in his condemnation of such thinking and actions. "You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." (Gal. 4:4) We sometimes bypass this statement because most of us have never been under the Jewish law, so we don't see the application for our lives. But what was the real problem here? The underlying principle will speak to us.

The act of circumcision was something that the Jews could do without God's power. It was commanded by God at certain times for His own reasons, but in Christ, all of that has been put away. We are complete in Him, and nothing can be added to this completeness. Paul says that the only thing of value now is "faith working through love" (Gal. 5:6). This is where we are prone to go wrong. We can continue in the life of God only by continuing in faith through love. We need not and ought not add anything more. "The life I now live, I live by faith in (of) the Son of God." There is no experience that brings me into God and then allows me to forget about being responsible or to just sit down and rest. This is a continual walk of faith. The life of God is always active. Faith must be active to bring me into His life, and faith must be active to keep me living there. Faith is not self-effort, but it is an active relationship with God worked out by hearing and obeying.

Next: One With God