Over two decades ago, my mother-in-law came to know and trust the living Jesus in the Bible for the first time. She started sharing with me what she was learning. I had no need for Jesus. I was fine (so I thought), I had good morals, and lived a good life (hah).
Yet, I respected her and I was polite and pretended I was interested. I was not interested, at all.
I remember a particular phone conversation in which she recounted what she had recently learned about Saul of Tarsus on the way to Damascus to prosecute Christians. He was blinded by the “Light” for three days. His life changed. He was reborn.
All of a sudden, I thought “Why don’t I know these things? This is really interesting. I need to know about this.” I started Bible study. My life changed. I was reborn.
Many years later when I first read the verse Romans 11:11 “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles”, I immediately knew that’s what had happened to me.
In God’s new covenant, He extends the possibility of relationship with God to all the peoples of the earth, and this would motivate the Jewish people to a good kind of jealousy to bring them to faith.
In my situation back then, I found myself “jealous” of the relationship my mother-in-law had with God, and of her knowledge of the Scriptures, which led to my wanting to know God like that for myself!
This jealousy is not a mean-spirited feeling of unhappiness or anger or envy. It is about being protective regarding our own advantages, attachments, or relationships. It is about satisfying a need we suddenly recognize, creating a desire for what is lacking in us. In effect it is more like, “You have something that I want. You have something very good which I don’t have!”
And the Holy Spirit awakened me, not through someone’s words about their belief or testimony, but through the Word of God in the Bible.
Please keep reading below for today’s Study compiled from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest.
The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him… —1 Corinthians 2:14
The gospel of God creates the sense of need for the gospel. Is the gospel hidden to those who are servants already? No, Paul said, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe…” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
The majority of people think of themselves as being completely moral, and have no sense of need for the gospel. It is God who creates this sense of need in a human being, but that person remains totally unaware of his need until God makes Himself evident. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7). But God cannot give until a man asks. It is not that He wants to withhold something from us, but that is the plan He has established for the way of redemption.
Through our asking, God puts His process in motion, creating something in us that was nonexistent until we asked. The inner reality of redemption is that it creates all the time. And as redemption creates the life of God in us, it also creates the things which belong to that life. The only thing that can possibly satisfy the need is what created the need. This is the meaning of redemption— it creates and it satisfies.
Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32).
When we preach our own experiences, people may be interested, but it awakens no real sense of need. But once Jesus Christ is “lifted up,” the Spirit of God creates an awareness of the need for Him. The creative power of the redemption of God works in the souls of men only through the preaching of the gospel. It is never the sharing of personal experiences that saves people, but the truth of redemption. “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
If in preaching the gospel you substitute your knowledge of the way of salvation for confidence in the power of the gospel, you hinder people from getting to reality. Take care to see while you proclaim your knowledge of the way of salvation, that you yourself are rooted and grounded by faith in God… as you give your explanation make sure that you are relying on the Holy Spirit. Rely on the certainty of God’s redemptive power, and He will create His own life in people.
When I am born again, the Spirit of God takes me beyond myself and my experiences, and identifies me with Jesus Christ. If I am left only with my personal experiences, I am left with something not produced by redemption. But experiences produced by redemption prove themselves by leading me beyond myself, to the point of no longer paying any attention to experiences as the basis of reality. Instead, I see that only the reality itself produced the experiences. My experiences are not worth anything unless they keep me at the Source of truth— Jesus Christ.
Experience is a doorway, not a final goal. Beware of building your faith on experience, or your life will not ring true… Remember that you can never give another person what you have found, but you can cause them to have a desire for it.
Never support an experience which does not have God as its Source and faith in God as its result. If you do, your experience is anti-Christian, no matter what visions or insights you may have had.
Is Jesus Christ Lord of your experiences, or do you place your experiences above Him? Is any experience dearer to you than your Lord? You must allow Him to be Lord over you, and pay no attention to any experience over which He is not Lord.