Forever Pilgrims

PioneersTherefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works… And this we will do if God permits.
(Heb 6:1-3 RSVA) [emphasis added]

How often we have seen ourselves clinging to something as though we have arrived in our Christian walk? As I look around Christendom this seems to be the norm more than the exception. We find ourselves in a nice comfortable meeting, church building or denomination where there are no threats and where there is no one to challenge us or stretch us or even push us out of the nest and we settle in and vegetate. Funny how God does not allow these things to continue in our lives if we are fully committed unto His Son and abide IN Him.

Many of us think we have got God, His kingdom and what it means to do “church” all in a neat theological bag. But even Paul was not so foolish. He wrote,

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if indeed I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phi 3:12-14 KJ2000)

Let us go on… I follow after, if I might apprehend… the very reason that Christ apprehended me for! To not go on is to be caught-up and entangled in dead works at best! You see, God is Spirit and they who would worship Him must do so in Spirit and in Truth (verity). When we cease to follow on after the Lord in our lives is when we start living a lie.

“Forgetting those things which are behind…” Wow! How many of us have done that? How many are doing what we are doing because of past events in our lives, past comforts or past woundings? We have become cogs in a wheel that goes endlessly around in circles. My daughter, Dinah, when she was in a church youth group was asked by the leader with the other kids, what they thought of Sunday services. The good church kids all had a nice, warm, churchy things to say about church services, but not Dinah. They finally got around to asking her and she said, “I think going the Sunday service is like going to the circus… if you seen one you have seen them all.” I call this trap, “the tyranny of the comfortable.” We humans are quite adaptable and love our comfort.

No, if we are intent on following Jesus we will find ourselves “outside the camp, bearing His reproach” and eventually find that here on this earth we have no continuing city…. BUT do we throw in the towel and settle down and become wilderness dwellers for the sake of being “in the wilderness”? No, that can be a trap as well. Even that can become too comfortable. If we are called to follow Jesus we will follow Him wherever He goes (Rev. 14:4).

I would like to share this bit of revelation from T. A. Sparks on this theme…

To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. (Revelation 2:17)

God always keeps the revelation of Himself in Christ bound up with practical situations. You and I can never get revelation other than in connection with some necessity. We cannot get it simply as a matter of information. That is information, that is not revelation. We cannot get it by studying. When the Lord gave the manna in the wilderness (a type of Christ as the Bread from heaven), He stipulated very strongly that not one fragment more than the day’s need was to be gathered, and that if they went beyond the measure of immediate need, disease and death would break out and overtake them. The principle, the law, of the manna, is that God keeps revelation of Himself in Christ bound up with practical situations of necessity, and we are not going to have revelation as mere teaching, doctrine, interpretation, theory, or anything as a thing, which means that God is going to put you and me into situations where only the revelation of Christ can help us and save us….

Now then, that is why the Lord would keep us in situations which are acute, real. The Lord is against our getting out on theoretical lines with truth, out on technical lines. Oh, let us shun technique as a thing in itself and recognize this, that, although the New Testament has in it a technique, we cannot merely extract the technique and apply it. We have to come into New Testament situations to get a revelation of Christ to meet that situation. So that the Holy Spirit’s way with us is to bring us into living, actual conditions and situations, and needs, in which only some fresh knowledge of the Lord Jesus can be our deliverance, our salvation, our life, and then to give us, not a revelation of truth, but a revelation of the Person, new knowledge of the Person, that we come to see Christ in some way that just meets our need. We are not drawing upon an “it,” but upon a “Him.” [emphasis added] (By T. Austin-Sparks from: The School of Christ – Chapter 3)

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7 comments on “Forever Pilgrims

  1. Carina says:

    WOW, Michael! Of all the words used to describes us disciples, one of my favorites is “pilgrim”. This is just how I feel about this world, including a lot of what is associated with “church”. Everything about this world system is so phony, so empty, so devoid of real significance. More and more, my soul cries out that this is not where I belong. I’m feeling more and more detached of so many things I used to love. And it’s not like I cry out to God to rapture me because I’m suffering so much… Truth is, even when I feel sort of ok or even great about my life, I have a deep longing in my soul for something this world can’t offer.

    The passage regarding revelation is SO true. The deepest teachings I’ve received from the Holy Spirit have come at times of great need for some personal direction. One of them, which I got a few months ago when I was leaving my former church, was regarding Lot’s huge mistake when the angels escorted him out of Sodom. God’s will was for him to follow Him to the mount. He settled for the valley, not far from the city he’d left. A picture of churchianity, isn’t it? We’ve left the world (in theory) but the city where we SETTLE (when we shouldn’t be settling in the first place!) is Zoar. So because we don’t follow God all the way, because we settle for the minimum effort and faith to get to heaven, our lives fall far short from what they could be if we trusted God and obeyed Him!

    Many times I’ve sat through a sermon listening to a preacher, and having no desire to eat the food set in front of me. Just asking God, Is this the real thing? Or just a tiny speck of what Your Power could REALLY do? Is this Your Word or just an intellectual explanation of the surface of what’s in Scripture.

    And I’ve learned through years of expectations and ultimate disappointments, that the food my soul needs is not of this world. It cannot be achieved through a superficial reading of The Bible. The letter is good, but ultimately like water you need to drink again because it satisfies but for a moment… The Word, the Living Word of being fed Manna, Jesus, Holy Spirit food, is Living Water, Real Food, Life itself. Once you’ve tasted Him and His Revelation, you’ll find most sermons preached in pulpits boring! You’ll find most theology an ultimate waste of our time and intellect, a pitiful self-deception. Once you’ve known the Shepherd, most undershepherds bearing the title of pastor will so dwarf in comparison, you’ll find it hard to submit even to the best ones.

    Since I last wrote to you, things got worse in our current church environment. (We had a confrontation with our pastor on Thursday, partly because we’re “forsaking the assembly” by attending less often). We still haven’t received our marching orders from the Master, but we’re feeling like foreigners who come to another country and can understand the language, but no longer feel inclined to speak it. So, ok, perhaps the Lord wants us to leave this Zoar and follow Him to the mount… I appreciate your prayers for God to make His will clear to us.

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    • Carina,

      When Jesus warned us that His coming will be “as it was in the days of Lot,” most of us think about the sins of Sodom, yet He never enumerated them as such, but rather He spoke of eating and drinking and having a good time. Lot chose the “safe” and comfortable way, even after being saved out of Sodom, not the way of the pilgrim and sojourner in a strange land. Here is the passage you referred to…

      And when the morning arose, then the angels rushed Lot, saying, Arise, take your wife, and your two daughters, who are here; lest you be consumed in the iniquity of the city. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him outside the city. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth outside, that he said, Escape for your life; look not behind you, neither stay in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed. And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord: Behold now, your servant has found grace in your sight, and you have magnified your mercy, which you have showed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil overtake me, and I die: Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape there, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. (Gen 19:15-20 KJ2000)

      Jesus warned us saying, “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot… Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”

      Thanks for such a great response that is filled with so many things that I have gone through and experienced in my own life, coming to the same conclusions. God teaches us through crisis experiences, not by warm and fuzzy church services and Christian ice cream socials. Jesus was constantly stretching the disciples both by His challenging words to them and His actions. He knew how to rock the boat in their lives and He still is rocking our boats and stretching us as we follow Him. I am glad you are hearing His call and following His voice. It is better to be found offending men who build their own cities in His name, than to miss His call to come up to Mt. Zion, the city of the great King.

      Michael

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  2. oikoskrk says:

    Great blog! I hate the tyranny of the comfortable. I don’t want to settle down. I want the wind of the Spirit to continually move me around into deeper relationship with Jesus and the Body of Christ.

    Love,

    Christopher

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  3. Al Nelson says:

    Spirit inspired. Thanks for sharing these words of Christ’s wisdom. I was thinking along these lines just the other day in the little fellowship I am involved with in terms of not being perfect, but being perfected. I also, as you responded to Carina, believe in much the same way about how Lot and his family were led out of Sodom. I often refer to how his wife was turned to a pillar of salt for looking back on Sodom. I can imagine she looked back forlornly in some way that her faith in the Lord was not there and she became shipwrecked. Unable to move forward because of her love for this world. And that is the analogy that I have placed in my life and teach to my family as well as others.
    I also see this as an example of walking in the Spirit. Many blessing in Christ Jesus our Lord!

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    • Thanks for your comments, Al. The story of Lot’s wife brings to mind what Paul wrote when he warned, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phi 3:13-14 KJ2000). It is one thing to be the salt of the earth that preserves and brings out the flavor of what it is added to verses being a block of salt that is fixed and just stands there alone, unmoved and unmovable. May we keep pressing on until we apprehend that for which we have been apprehended.
      Michael

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