Nothing Happens By Accident
Or, Especially, Nothing Happens By Accident When We Practice The Presence Of Jesus
by Tom Stewart
"In the beginning God" (Genesis 1:1).
From the very first words of Scripture, God leaves no doubt that He is The One "With Whom We Have To Do" (Hebrews 4:13). Whatsoever happened in the Beginning, existed and exists by His permission. "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3). Who but God "telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names" (Psalm 147:4)? If He is the Master of the greatest totality, why should He not account for the smallest detail? "But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:7). For this reason, the Child of God rests in the Almighty, for "no man is able to pluck them out of [the] Father's hand" (John 10:29). God's Providence directs all the "paths of righteousness" (Psalm 23:3) for His Saints, but the world's self-reliance calls for more of an accidental theory for the occurrence of daily events, which presumes ultimately that all events take place without anyone's foresight, design, or expectation, i.e., "There is no God" (Psalm 53:1). For the world, chance merely happens to make them winners or victims of windfall or mishap. "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool" (Proverbs 28:26). Of course, when things go favorably, such Accidentalists would most probably point to their success, as coming from their own hand, e.g., perspiration, industriousness, tenacity of will, ingenuity, creativity, persistence, etc.-- coupled with a little luck. "My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth" (Deuteronomy 8:17). Negatively, the Accidentalist would probably fault their difficulties to inopportune circumstances or limited personal resources, i.e., bad luck. "Time and chance happeneth to them all" (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
How different for the Godly, who understand that nothing happens by accident! "God hath from the Beginning chosen you to Salvation through Sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the Truth" (2Thessalonians 2:13). As a Christian, I must be possessed with the understanding that everything about me-- my present circumstances, past, opportunities, limitations, comprehension, etc.-- is part of the Providence of "God Only Wise" (Romans 16:27), that "performeth all things for me" (Psalm 57:2). Why should we not trust Him for all things, if we claim to have trusted Him in the first place to save us? "12 That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In Whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your Salvation: in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise" (Ephesians 1:12-13). We dangerously disassociate ourselves from Christ, when we seek any cause other than the Great First Cause Himself, for the Truth, understanding, and wherefore of our present circumstances. "Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near" (Isaiah 55:6). Remember, the Almighty is capable of using even man's wrath to accomplish His purpose, i.e., "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain" (Psalm 76:10). Specifically, it is our constant trust in Him that pleases Him, because "without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Hebrews 11:6); and, it sustains us, as well, for "we walk by Faith" (2Corinthians 5:7). We have the privilege of fellowshipping with the Infinite One, i.e., "truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1John 1:3), because we have been adopted in the Beloved into the family of God, i.e., "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His Will" (Ephesians 1:5). It only remains to be seen what we will do with this Marvelous Grace! "Receive not the Grace of God in vain" (2Corinthians 6:1). We shall see in the following sections from the Word of God, the Will of God, the Person of God, and particularly from the Necessities of God, how each affects the understanding that not only does nothing happen by accident, but especially nothing happens by accident when we Practice the Presence of Jesus.
The Word of God: Is the Means of Understanding Our Predesign by Omniscience
The Word of God gives us a mental framework to establish that our lives are far from accidental, but are predesigned by Omniscience. "Whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified" (Romans 8:30). Scripture must be the very foundation of our thoughts, that is, we must seek to frame all our actions with the question, "What saith the Scripture?" (Romans 4:3). Instead of a dry or pedantic attempt to follow only a catechism of pre-fashioned ideas of what others say God has said, we must allow the Holy Spirit to direct our mind through His Word with the realization that our thoughts are actually His thoughts, when (and only when) we have submitted ourselves to Him "to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). Scripture is the Voice of the Spirit of Christ, for it was the Holy Spirit that inspired the writers to record the completed Canon of Scripture. "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2Peter 1:21). Instead of being overpowered by our lack of knowledge of the contents of God's Word, we need to use our ignorance as a launching point for God to give us what we lack. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (James 1:5). Read the Scriptures themselves, not just what someone else said about the Scriptures. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1Thessalonians 5:21). Give the Holy Spirit a voice and vocabulary to address your mind in a reasonable, rational, logical way by filling your hearing and thinking with the Scriptures. "This Book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success" (Joshua 1:8). Edification from others who minister to us through writings, sermons, fellowship, etc. have their place, but with the understanding that they are only secondary to the Word of God-- valuable only to the degree that they support the Word of God. "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in Truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe" (1Thessalonians 2:13). In the world, it is easy to hear the words of man, but the Incomparable Word of God must be sought after as when men search for treasure. "The Law of Thy Mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver" (Psalm 119:72).
Read the Word (39 books of the Old Testament, 27 books of the New Testament, containing 1,189 chapters):
Fret not about the antiquity of the Shakespearian prose of the translation of the Authorized Version (King James Version, 1611), for it will take the guidance of the Holy Spirit for anyone to understand any translation of the Scriptures. "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy Law" (Psalm 119:18). If reading is difficult, listen to pre-recorded Scripture. "Thy Words were found, and I did eat them" (Jeremiah 15:16).
Just as reading the Scriptures gives us fluency and understanding of the overall record, which God has seen fit to preserve for humanity, meditation upon a portion of Scripture allows us to focus upon a Truth, which the Spirit is attempting to develop in our consciousness. "O how I love Thy Law! It is my meditation all the day" (Psalm 119:97). Our attention span is somewhat limited, for we seem incapable of processing but a small amount of information successfully; therefore, it is wisdom that we attempt to meditate and cogitate upon succinct and discrete portions of Scripture, generally when we are alone and disengaged from interaction with others. "Mine eyes prevent [Hebrew, qadam, anticipate] the night watches, that I might meditate in Thy Word" (Psalm 119:148). Perhaps the only reason for awakening at night, in a bout with sleeplessness, is the Holy Spirit's attempt to isolate you at a very quiet time to allow you to think through a portion of Scripture. "5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips: 6 When I remember Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches" (Psalm 63:5-6). If we do not solve the great mysteries of Scripture in our nocturnal watches, the LORD knows what good might be done for His Kingdom as we pray ourselves back to sleep with our midnight intercessions. "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the Word of the LORD may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you" (2Thessalonians 3:1). When we more systematically dwell upon the Word of God, as when we study a topic or a book of the Bible, we engage in Bible Study to more fully arm ourselves with His Word, increasing our usefulness to God in whatever He designates us to accomplish for Him, as well as better appreciate Him. "But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the Earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD" (Jeremiah 9:24). Bible Study may be parsing a verse of Scripture by investigating the cross-references contained in many Bibles; or, even more efficiently, we may use the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (promoted by R. A. Torrey) in computerized form, e.g., incorporated in the Online Bible, to survey large amounts of Scripture-- "not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1Corinthians 2:13). Our responsibility with the Word starts with our willingness to put into practice whatever the Holy Spirit reveals to us is the meaning of the commands, warnings, promises, and precepts of His Word. "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine" (John 7:17). Patience in approaching His Word is requisite; therefore, we had better make it our life's pursuit-- not a flash in the pan-- to patiently develop a better understanding of God's Word. "Till we all come in the Unity of the Faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). And, if we find ourselves referencing the same verses of Scripture repeatedly, we will find it efficient to memorize both the text (for our benefit) and the reference (so others can find It and be benefitted, as well). "Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee" (Psalm 119:11). The Holy Spirit will enable us to profit from His Word-- trust Him. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26). The Scripture that we practice and to which we conform-- we are most likely to remember. "But Strong Meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14).
The Will of God: Knowing His Will Concerning Us Was Settled Before the Foundation of the World
The Will of God has ordained a "Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34). His Will reveals to us, who are armed with the "Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17), that we must analyze our circumstances to find the leading of the Holy Spirit in every case. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14). The dawning of that Scriptural Understanding in our mind is sufficient to give us Moral Responsibility, which gives us Spiritual Growth when we conform to that Revealed Will of God, i.e., "He that hath My Commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21), or Spiritual Death, when we disobey that Revealed Truth, i.e., "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father" (John 15:24). Understanding the Will of God from His Word requires the leading of the Spirit, since it requires us to interpret His Will for our circumstances, i.e., "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25); or, comprehending His Will may be thought of as the leading of His Providence. "I being in the way, the LORD led me" (Genesis 24:27). True, God's Word reveals to us that God desires for us our present sanctification, i.e., "this is the will of God, even your sanctification" (1Thessalonians 4:3), but our sanctification was chosen and intended by Him from the Very Beginning. "We are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, Brethren beloved of the LORD, because God hath from the Beginning chosen you to Salvation through Sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the Truth" (2Thessalonians 2:13). Because God's Will is anchored to His Omniscience, we can be assured that every requirement necessitated by His Word has already been infallibly certified to be in the best interests of His Kingdom, and therefore, in our best interest. "They that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing" (Psalm 34:10). Not all things about being a Christian are sunshine "for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45), but even a cursory examination of the New Testament reveals that God wills that "all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28). This has been the ceaseless pattern of God's conduct toward His people from the Beginning, emanating from the fact that "God is Love" (1John 4:16), which He was "yesterday, and to day, and for ever" (Hebrews 13:8).
Omniscience describes God only. "9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the End from the Beginning, and from Ancient Times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure" (Isaiah 46:9-10). God is not an automaton, incapable of Free Moral Choice, unable to will anything but a necessitated action; and for that reason, when God's Natural Attribute of Omniscience enables Him to foresee your repentance and trusting Christ, His choice of you "before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4)-- occurring before your repentance-- highlights His Moral Attribute of Love. "We love Him, because He first loved us" (1John 4:19). In our Predestination to Heaven by the Almighty, "Who worketh all things after the counsel of His Own Will" (Ephesians 1:11), He consulted only His Own Foreknowledge, when He "predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself" (Ephesians 1:5). But, Praise God, He foreknew us before He predestinated us! "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). God's choice of us is "according to the Election of Grace" (Romans 11:5); therefore, Saving Grace is Sovereign Grace. "4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His Great Love wherewith He loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by Grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in Heavenly Places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His Grace in His Kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by Grace are ye saved through Faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the Gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:4-9).
Those who argue against the Will of God sow to the wind, and "they shall reap the whirlwind" (Hosea 8:7). They really only persuade those, who were themselves unwilling to do the Will of God. For this reason, the "servant of the LORD must not strive [Greek, machomai, war of words, quarrel, wrangle, dispute]; but be gentle unto all men" (2Timothy 2:24). As much as we would like to persuade the obstinate, e.g., "3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved" (Romans 9:3; 10:1), we must-- like the Apostle Paul-- listen to the Spirit to know when the gentle persuasion of a thoughtful answer to a sinner's question will become only an argument without the other party listening. "23 And when they [the Jews] had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the Kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the Law of Moses, and out of the Prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. 25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet unto our fathers, 26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the Salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it" (Acts 28:23-28).
Whoever truly asks the question, "LORD, what wilt Thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6), is a True Christian, and will never be denied the revelation of the Will of God. "9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Luke 11:9-10). The place to begin in searching for the Perfect Will of God for you is a fully submitted will to do whatever the LORD may prospectively reveal to you. "If any man will do His will, he shall know" (John 7:17). Only a Self-Deceived Professing Christian does not possess a fully submitted will. "He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the Truth is not in him" (1John 2:4). As you can see, manwardly, your most important possession is a "conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24:16). Godwardly, the Infallible, God-Breathed Scriptures are the Primal Foundation for any reasonable understanding of the Will of God for you. "The entrance of Thy Words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple" (Psalm 119:130). Prayerfully approach the Word of God, i.e., "Teach me to do Thy Will; for Thou art my God: Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness" (Psalm 143:10). Examine the Scriptures with a Concordance, especially a Computerized Concordance, e.g., incorporated in such programs as the Online Bible, that can help you isolate Scriptural phrases that the Spirit of God has brought to your remembrance. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26). Memorized portions of Scripture, especially from the earliest days of our childhood, are powerful in testifying to the Perfect Will of God. "And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto Salvation through Faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2Timothy 3:15). Knowing that God guides through our circumstances-- if nothing happens by accident, then my possession of this opportunity makes me believe that I should exercise it, unless shown differently-- enables us to comprehend God's Providence in determining His Perfect Will, when everyone else is looking for a little luck. "Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go" (Isaiah 48:17). When God grants the certainty of the knowledge of His Will, then we will have His Peace, as well. "6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by Prayer and Supplication with Thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the Peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
The Person of God: He is the Alpha and Omega in Whom We Breathe
The Person of the Living God has chosen to dwell in man. "God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (2Corinthians 6:16). Unaccidental, purposeful contact motivated by Love has always defined God's manifestations to man, i.e., "He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel" (Psalm 103:7). One cannot read the Scriptures without noticing God's great interest and involvement with man, unless the reader carelessly, thoughtlessly, or antagonistically approaches the Sacred Pages. "10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? 11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the Health of My Countenance, and my God" (Psalm 42:10-11). Creation's epoch is identified with the Father, "Who created all things by Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 3:9). Salvation's focus is the Passion at Calvary of the Son of God, Who "made peace through the Blood of His Cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself" (Colossians 1:20). And, the Spirit of God is most closely associated with His New Covenant outpouring at Pentecost. "31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 33 But this shall be the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put My Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. 27 And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My Statutes, and ye shall keep My Judgments, and do them" (Jeremiah 31:31, 33; Ezekiel 36:27). Scripture contains a progressive revelation of the Person of God-- the Father gives the Son, Who sends His Spirit, Who testifies of the Son, Who magnifies the Father. "Nevertheless I tell you the Truth; It is expedient [Greek, sumphero, helpful, profitable, i.e., in your best interest] for you that I [Christ] go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter [the Holy Spirit] will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you" (John 16:7). Our approach to the Father is through the Son by the Spirit. "For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father" (Ephesians 2:18). From the Alpha of Creation to the Omega of the Consummation, the Scriptures declare the "wonderful works which [the LORD] hast done" (Psalm 40:5)-- and specifically, "to the children of men" (Psalm 107:8).
A Trinitarian concept of God, i.e., One God in Three Persons, the Divine Trinity in Unity, existed in embryonic form in the Hebrew Scriptures, e.g., "Come ye near unto Me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the Beginning; from the time that it was, there am I [Christ the Son of God]: and now the Lord GOD [the Father], and His Spirit [the Holy Spirit], hath sent Me" (Isaiah 48:16). The True Christian correctly understands Jehovah as Sole and Supreme among the world's pantheon of so-called gods-- even as did the Ancient Jew. "4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 17 For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward" (Deuteronomy 6:4; 10:17). Before the Christian Era, the idea that God is a Father had already been received by the Jews. "6 And He said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build My house and My courts: for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be His father. 10 Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be Thou, LORD God of Israel our Father, for ever and ever" (1Chronicles 28:6; 29:10). It is interesting that those who believe the Genesis Account of Creation rightly do not see themselves as polytheists, i.e., "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2); and yet, both Elohim (Hebrew, God) and His Spirit are mentioned in the first two verses of Genesis. Of course, both the Ancient Jew and the Modern Christian correctly understand that Elohim and His Spirit are one; but, the realization that the Messiah (Hebrew, Mashiyach, Anointed One; Greek, Christos, Christ, Anointed One) would be God manifest in human flesh brought in complications that embarrassed all but the spiritually supple mind of the True Believer. "41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose Son is He? They say unto Him, The son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in Spirit call Him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool? 45 If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son? 46 And no man was able to answer Him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions" (Matthew 22:41-46).
Ralph Erskine (1685-1752), an evangelical Scottish pastor, wrote of the exquisite relationship in the Trinity:
When the Spirit reveals to us Christ in His Word, we are learning of the Father, for the intention of God is our reliance upon the Spirit to testify of Christ, Who always magnifies the Father, i.e., "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise" (John 5:19). The emphasis upon being taught by the Spirit through the Word must result in the exultation of Christ, for only then will the Father be magnified:
So, the centrality of Christ to the Gospel message of Present Salvation and Ongoing Sanctification is the appointed means of our relationship to God. "He [the Spirit] shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall shew it unto you" (John 16:14).
Petition, Fellowship, Communion, Worship, Praise, and Thanksgiving strengthen the reality that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are more than an influence, but that they are the Real Presence of Individual Personality-- One God in Three Persons, with Whom and in Whom we have innermost contact, e.g., "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19). Because Christ taught us the Pattern of Prayer, Petition is normally addressed to the Father, e.g., "Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name" (Matthew 6:9). But, recall that we appropriately addressed the Son for Salvation, e.g., "Jesus, come into my heart and save me"; and, we effortlessly petition the Holy Spirit for a Greater Understanding of Christ, e.g., "Spirit of God, grant me a fresh revelation of Jesus." "But when the Comforter is come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me" (John 15:26). Our lack is His Supply. Our dependence creates an ongoing relationship in which Jesus encourages us to sign our petitions with His Name. "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My Name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24). Fellowship is a commonality with, a friendly association, or, in fact, the companionship of the Person of God. "God is Faithful, by Whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our LORD" (1Corinthians 1:9). Unequal Friends-- but Friends-- especially where we are receiving understanding from the Word of God, when He draws alongside us to give helpful explanations, i.e., "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all Truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come" (John 16:13). Our Communion with God, i.e., the "Grace of the LORD Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all" (2Corinthians 13:14), like fellowship, is sharing, but we are directing our thoughts in a conversational way to the LORD, i.e., "10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the LORD in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, LORD. 11 And the LORD said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 13 Then Ananias answered, LORD, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to Thy Saints at Jerusalem: 15 But the LORD said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My Name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel" (Acts 9:10-11, 13, 15). In Worship, we willingly, lovingly acknowledge who God is, e.g., "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth" (John 4:24). Praise is extolling, magnifying, and honoring God for what He has done, e.g., "Thou art worthy, O LORD, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11). Thanksgiving is expressing gratitude to God for what He has done for us. "9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the Book, and to open the Seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy Blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the Earth" (Revelation 5:9-10).
As you can see, we have come quite a distance from the path of the Accidentalist, for instead of worshipping at the image of some Accidental God, we have unfolded before us and in us the most intimate relationship with Christ, the God That Is-- "Before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58). It is evident that we can build a life solely upon the relationships that we find revealed to us that Christ is. One verse alone-- John 14:6-- may illustrate the Truth of what can be duplicated throughout Scripture, i.e., "Search the Scriptures; for in Them ye think ye have Eternal Life: and They are They which testify of Me" (John 5:39). Jesus Christ is:
The difficulties of coming to the Father are overcome through Christ the Way. The problems of knowing when we have come to the Father are met with Christ the Truth. The results of having found the Father are lived in us through Christ the Life. "Jesus saith unto him, I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6). [For a more thorough discussion of this most important idea of Christian Sanctification, see Charles G. Finney's "The Relations of Christ to the Believer" ---New Window.]
The Necessities of God: The Precision of the Seemingly Unrelated Facets of Our Life Coming Together Are Anything But Accidental
The Necessities of God are that "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). And, since we know that "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17), then it is a necessity for us to have Faith in God. "But without Faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Further, if, as a good man, "we walk by Faith, not by sight" (2Corinthians 5:7), then the "steps of a good man are ordered [without accident] by the LORD" (Psalm 37:23) in the Word of God. "Order my steps in Thy Word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me" (Psalm 119:133). Practically speaking, "we have the mind of Christ" (1Corinthians 2:16), when we walk by the "Word of Christ" (Colossians 3:16); and, we are merely Practicing the Presence of Jesus as Possessor, i.e., "He hath purchased [us] with His Own blood" (Acts 20:28), Indweller, i.e., "Abide in Me, and I in you" (John 15:4), and King of Our Life, i.e., "He is LORD of All" (Acts 10:36), when we look to Him for everything concerning our circumstances.
How to Practice the Presence of Jesus
Ask the LORD Jesus the following questions concerning your circumstances:
First, What wilt Thou have me do? God's answer, in plain speech: The necessity that is uppermost in your mind is what needs to be done. "I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me" (1Corinthians 9:16). That is the leading of the Holy Spirit. "And thine ears shall hear a Word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21). Remember the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, the proud persecutor of the early Christians? It was not man but God that initiated the sequence of events that secured the conversion of the future Apostle Paul, i.e., "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from Heaven" (Acts 9:3). God's timing was perfect. Saul was ripe for the picking. There was little else that Saul could do, so "he fell to the Earth, and heard a Voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" (Acts 9:4). He knew that the followers of Jesus of Nazareth claimed their Messiah to be the Divine One, so everything in Saul's troubled heart must have come crushing down, when Jehovah responded audibly to Saul's question, "Who art Thou, Lord? And the LORD said, I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" (Acts 9:5). At that time Saul's worst fears were confirmed-- Jesus is Jehovah! He truly is the Son of God, the Son of David, the Messiah! A converted Saul immediately began to Practice the Presence of Jesus with the query, "LORD, what wilt Thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6). A humbled, contrite Saul asked, and the LORD graciously answered, "Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do" (Acts 9:6). The same Gracious Jesus that answered Saul expects to do the same for you, as well. "And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20).
Second, How does this affect my understanding of Thee? If we were the world, we would not bother with any such investigation; but, we, as the Children of God, enjoy the company of God, as a loving family enjoys each other's companionship. "Grow in Grace, and in the knowledge of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2Peter 3:18). Even more, our God is an Unlimited Reservoir for discovery that Eternity can never exhaust. "12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1Corinthians 2:12-13). This writer recalls past days of youth when the foolish talk of companions would repine: I wouldn't want to go to Heaven yet because I've got so much living left to do. Wouldn't Heaven be kind of boring? What would you talk about forever? "A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself" (Proverbs 18:2). If such thoughts should ever creep into your head, petition the LORD immediately for a fresh filling of His Spirit! "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). We have not been left here accidentally but with the predesign that we grow in our heart-knowledge of God. "As newborn babes, desire the Sincere Milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby" (1Peter 2:2). "That ye might walk worthy of the LORD unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10). Just as our necessity suggests the teaching occasion, our yearning to know more about Jesus, will give us fresh revelation of our LORD, even as the Holy Spirit provided the Ethiopian eunuch a human instructor in the middle of the desert to expound Isaiah's revelation of the Suffering Messiah. "26 And the angel of the LORD spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32 The place of the Scripture which he read was this [Isaiah 53], He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before His shearer, so opened He not His mouth: 33 In His humiliation His judgment was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? for His life is taken from the Earth. 34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus" (Acts 8:26-35).
Third, What Scripture sheds light on my circumstances? Since 1999, world population surpassed 6 billion people. With people so many and life so cheap in many parts of the world, why should God be so concerned about me and my circumstances? "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole Earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him" (2Chronicles 16:9). If the world were exponentially more crowded, still the Father "gave His Only Begotten Son" (John 3:16) for all the world. And greater still, the Father and the Son have an even More Special Love for you and me, if we are numbered among those who obey Christ. "He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21). That relationship between our obedience and further manifestations of the LORD Jesus to us, is also the key to a greater heart-understanding of God's Word. "Through Thy Precepts I get understanding" (Psalm 119:104). John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism, wished himself to be "homo unius libri," a man of one book-- the Bible-- just as we need to be, if we would find Scriptural Light for our circumstances. "The Judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb" (Psalm 19:9, 10). The very fact that you are even investigating the Word of God indicates your willingness to be taught of God. "Lead me in Thy Truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day" (Psalm 25:5). Do not neglect some unconfessed sin that would prevent you from being taught of God. "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded" (James 4:8). If we truly learn the Scriptures, then we will be taught about the Person of God, i.e., "Search the Scriptures... They are They which testify of Me" (John 5:39).
Fourth, What promises may I claim to help me overcome my situation? God has wisely designed life that our problems would be the occasion for our Ongoing Sanctification in which our necessities would draw us closer to the LORD Jesus-- our Overcomer-- when we choose moment by moment to trust Him again and more to overcome our problems. "These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), an English Baptist preacher of London's Metropolitan Tabernacle, wrote for us a devotional, "Faith's Checkbook" ---New Window in which he put forth a promise for each day of the month, to be cashed like a check. "Whereby are given unto us Exceeding Great and Precious Promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine Nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2Peter 1:4). Promises are not just a special part of the Word of God, but the Scripture appropriates for All of Itself, the title, "The Word of Promise" (Romans 9:9). Whenever we receive the Word of God with the premise that something will happen if we fulfill the Divine Condition, then we are treating the Word of God as the Word of Promise. "God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19). It is in our best interest to accumulate as many promises as we can to fortify our claim upon God to fulfill His Word to us; but, in truth, we need but one promise. "We will rejoice in Thy Salvation, and in the Name of our God we will set up our banners: the LORD fulfil all thy petitions" (Psalm 20:5). Samuel Clarke (1684-1759), an English academic and theologian, gave to the Church a small handbook of promises, now called "Precious Bible Promises" ---New Window, in which God's promises are catalogued and classified-- waiting for some thoughtful, needy Saint to employ. "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" (Luke 12:48). The overabundance of promises from Scripture makes it easy for us to choose one, but we must not give up or we will never see the promise fulfilled. "36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the Will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37 For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul" (Hebrews 10:36-39).
Fifth, How can this help the rest of the Body of Christ? In keeping with the Law of Love, we are to seek the good of our neighbour as ourself, but "especially unto them who are of the Household of Faith" (Galatians 6:10). "3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (Philippians 2:3-4). Perhaps our intended action may be used by God to reach someone for Christ; but, even if that someone is not reached, it justifies God in the Judgment Day that He did all that could have been done to prevent that someone's Final Damnation. "For there is no respect [Greek, prosopolepsia, partiality] of persons with God" (Romans 2:11). We understand that the Presence of Jesus is with the humblest Saint, who seeks not "his own, but every man another's wealth" (1Corinthians 10:24). Since the rest of the Body of Christ needs as much of a revelation of Christ as we do, can this intended action help? "If I then, your LORD and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14). Our attempted ministry to the Body of Christ is always received by the LORD as a ministry to Him. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me" (Matthew 25:40). Even if the Body of Christ is unable to receive our ministry to them because their preconceived notions of the Truth are imprecise and they misunderstand our message, then have patience that God will find a way to work it out for their good. "All things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28). And, if the Professed Body of Christ is adamantly unwilling to receive our ministry to them, again, be patient, for God will break the rock. "So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My Mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11). As we attempt to minister for Christ, we will become like Christ, for in so doing, we will "follow His Steps" (1Peter 2:21). Beg of the LORD for His Mercy that we would "not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6:9). In the end, whatever we accomplish for Christ in this life will be a product of the character and life of Christ developed in us through our own Ongoing Sanctification. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the Vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me" (John 15:4).
Sixth, How can this hasten Your Soon Return? God has always known when He would Return the Second Time to judge this planet. "Known unto God are all His works from the Beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18). Our confidence in Him Who Holds Tomorrow breeds in us Peace, i.e., "Thou wilt keep him in Perfect Peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3), but that causes us all the more to render to Him the obedience in praying for the fulfillment of Bible Prophecy. "I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it. Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them" (Ezekiel 36:36, 37). If indeed this is the Will of God that we contemplate performing, then we will certainly be advancing His Return and His Kingdom. "And He said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, as in Heaven, so in Earth" (Luke 11:2). It has been the experience of the Church, as discovered from the Prophetic Scriptures, that certain actions are pointedly conducive to promoting the Return of the LORD Jesus Christ. "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, LORD Jesus" (Revelation 22:20). For example, the 19th Century Church understood Christ's words, "And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the End come" (Matthew 24:14), to compel them to evangelize the world in their generation (by the end of the 1800s), for if all the world had the Gospel preached to them-- "then shall the End come"-- the LORD Jesus would return. [See our article on a key promoter of this concept-- A. T. Pierson-- "Meet Mr. Philadelphia" ---New Window.] Another example that has only recently become forcefully apparent to this writer is the Salvation, in particular, of the Jews hastens the Coming of the LORD. An excerpt from the Preface of another of our articles, "His Resurrection Is The Highest Proof That Jesus Is The Messiah" ---New Window:
We may not always find such a connection, but we should try, for how do we know that the action we are contemplating may not be the last thing necessary to complete Christ's program before He Raptures His Church and begins the Tribulation Week preceding His Return? "37 For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by Faith: but if any man draw back, My Soul shall have no pleasure in him" (Hebrews 10:37-38).
Seventh, Will this stand for Eternity? If we lack wisdom, we are to "ask of God" (James 1:5) and Christ will reveal Himself to us as our Wisdom. "But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God" (1Corinthians 1:24). In truth, those things which are done with a right heart, unselfish, and without sin, regardless of how mundane, they are the "gold, silver, precious stones" (1Corinthians 3:12), for which we will be rewarded, and will stand for Eternity. At the Bema Seat Judgment for the Believer, the question of sin will not be discussed, instead rewards will be based upon the "gold, silver, precious stones" (1Corinthians 3:12) that result from Christ-centered, unselfish actions, while "wood, hay, stubble" (1Corinthians 3:12) will be burned up, since those actions are worthless because they were sinful. They will not be mentioned against us, because we have already repented of them; but, just as a "mortgage burning" signifies that a debt has been paid off, no debt is owed and cannot be mentioned against the former debtor. Just so, the "wood, hay, stubble" are ceremonially annihilated by fire. "13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward" (1Corinthians 3:12-14). [See our article, "The Judgment Seat of Christ" ---New Window, for a better understanding of this event that concerns all True Christians.] We only ask this question about our intended action's relationship to Eternity to insure that our focus is always on Christ. "Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of Our Faith" (Hebrews 12:2). How could the Presence of Jesus ever be with those "who mind earthly things" (Philippians 3:19), who do not look "unto the King Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the Only Wise God" (1Timothy 1:17)?
What the world calls accident, the Christian calls design. "Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the Heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the Earth by Myself" (Isaiah 44:24). And, what even may surprise the Christian as accidental, he subsequently understands it to be God's design, as when Isaac realized God's design, when he had mistakenly given Esau's blessing to Jacob, i.e., "And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed" (Genesis 27:33). God's people know that things do not just fortuitously happen; and, our success and prosperity in this world results from our confidence in God that He will do just as He said. "The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for He is not a man, that He should repent" (1Samuel 15:29). As Christians, we are not merely living in negation of the world's premise that life happens accidentally, but we must be Living Epistles "known and read of all men" (2Corinthians 3:2) that this Same Jesus is the One in Whom "we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). And, we cannot honestly give this testimony, unless we Practice the Presence of Jesus. "18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more; but ye see Me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you" (John 14:18-20).
Father, "Teach me to do Thy Will; for Thou art my God: Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness" (Psalm 143:10). "Guide me" (Psalm 31:3), O Thou Great Jehovah. Cause me "to will and to do of [Thy] good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13) and Practice the Presence of Jesus. Make me "to see Thy Power and Thy Glory" (Psalm 63:2) to see Jesus in all my circumstances. "Father, glorify Thy Name" (John 12:28). "Make Thy Face to shine upon Thy servant; and teach me Thy Statutes" (Psalm 119:135). "Make me to understand the way of Thy Precepts: so shall I talk of Thy Wondrous Works" (Psalm 119:27). "Make me to go in the path of Thy Commandments; for therein do I delight" (Psalm 119:35). "Uphold me with Thy Free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors Thy Ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee" (Psalm 51:12, 13). "Preserve me, O God: for in Thee do I put my trust" (Psalm 16:1). "Keep back Thy servant also from Presumptuous Sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the Great Transgression" (Psalm 19:13). "Sanctify [Thy Church] through Thy Truth" (John 17:17). LORD, "restore to [us] the years that the locust hath eaten" (Joel 2:25). "Let Thy priests, O LORD God, be clothed with Salvation, and let Thy Saints rejoice in goodness" (2Chronicles 6:41). Enable me to "shew forth Thy praise to all generations" (Psalm 79:13). Cause Thy people to "be made perfect in one" (John 17:23). "Perfect that which concerneth me" (Psalm 138:8). Accomplish all Thy Will concerning Thy servant, and may "Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done in Earth, as it is in Heaven" (Matthew 6:10). "Make no tarrying, O my God" (Psalm 40:17) that Thy Son would soon appear. "Even so, come, LORD Jesus" (Revelation 22:20).
Amen, and Amen.
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