πας ο μισων τον αδελφον αυτου ανθρωποκτονος εστιν και οιδατε οτι πας ανθρωποκτονος ουκ εχει ζωην αιωνιον εν εαυτω μενουσαν εν – τουτω εγνωκαμεν την αγαπην οτι εκεινος υπερ υμων την ψυχην αυτου εθηκεν και ημεις οφειλομεν υπερ των αδελφων τας ψυχας θειναι 1 John 3:15-16
Now we come to the heart of the matter. Obedience does not mean something that seems equal to willingness. Obedience means compliance. What therefore is obedience? If we have a mind to know what obedience means, then we could look no further than to Christ Himself. Christ was obedient unto death.
“And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”
Shortly after my conversion, I was reading this passage of Scripture, and a strange thing happened. For a few moments, it was as though I were a witness to Christ in this agony of prayer. Having just read this passage, I realised that the disciples were asleep from sorrow and yet by the Spirit it was possible to see what they had not seen with their eyes. I was so shocked that I began to feel a real sense of grief. How such things are possible I cannot say, other than the Father wanted me to know something essential. The sorrow that had pressed the disciples to sleep became for me waking grief. Even though I was physically in my room, and nearly more than nineteen centuries ahead of this event, for a moment I was present in a vision, and it was almost more than I could bear to see. I very nearly began to cry, and then the Father removed the vision, and I was transformed back into my own life.
Some days earlier I had been similarly transformed in the Spirit and found myself having visions of men and women healed out of their beds. Of hospitals finding no power to resist what was happening, and realising that there is no argument when a man or woman is raised from their bed in which they were to die, and found to be well and whole. Who can argue with that – no matter what the law speaks about preserving others dignity and beliefs in their sick beds? I also had visions of crowds of people hearing about the Lord in terms which were equal to addressing their many problems and weaknesses. I was a mere babe in Christ and a foolish young man of no worth. Yet by the Father’s will, I saw into things in visions that pressed me into adoration and utter worship of God. One instant in such a mind and vision I suddenly realised that I was not seeing many unbelievers being saved, but many believers. Then I became momentarily confused, and like the young man I was, I rushed to the Father and asked Him what these things mean, and more especially why I saw these things. He told me, and so I found peace.
Another time whilst in the Spirit, and being utterly grateful to God for Christ, and seeing that I had been given everything that pertained unto eternal life, I boasted that there was nothing I would not do for God, as God had done everything for me. Suddenly I was in a vision, and the Lord was asking me if I would go ‘this far‘ for Him. What I saw was myself being led down to the steps of a gallows to be hung by the neck. In an instant, my whole man, soul and body shrank back, and it seemed as if I were about to endure death. Forgetting that I was in fact laid on my bed, I was compelled to address a certain outcome if I were obedient to my boast that I would do anything for God. For some moments I could not find a response outside my mind and body of fear, and then I found my spirit rising to the only answer that was possible. I said, “Lord if you are with me, I will do it.” Then I found myself as I was throughout, on my bed. In this way by reading the Scripture and having visions the Lord taught me what obedience means. Not my own, but the obedience of Christ.
It would be all too easy to imagine that such visions and the teaching that comes from them make us spiritual men and women. If we do that – then what I know, because I know all the detail of my own life these past thirty-four years since these visions were received – visions cannot of themselves achieve anything. If they could, then I am not lying when I say that I would be a perfect man. However, I am not a perfect man, and moreover, I have stumbled in many ways. Unless we grasp that it is our walk of obedience that is the proof – no matter how much we have received – then we have judged ourselves in no way, and have taken our stand on things that cannot be held to our credit. And even is saying this, such a realisation brings us to who we are – and not who God would have us to become.
Our hearts may be right, but if our walk is faulty then are we not faulty? If we are sincere in our faith then visions that cause us to know God and Christ, only serve to press us into seeing that it is the flesh that hinders us. In that pressing we are inclined to condemn ourselves, and others being demonic in their thinking will crush us, and we will suffer needlessly. So we then rush to the other hand of our faith and we proclaim the blood, and we see the gift of God, and we enter into worship, and suddenly we overcome the flesh, and for one hour we see what it means to be sons of the living God. We become excited and we encourage one another, and by the end of it we have missed the Cross unto death. Thus being again pressed into the flesh by refusing the cross we go back to our living faith, we once again judge ourselves and once again we are weighed down, and others once again crush us. When we see the shedding of Christ’s blood for sin, we find hope, yet if we will not accept that Christ also died for sin, we miss our deliverance.
“For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”