A building is no more secure than the foundation upon which it is built.
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones…” (1Cor 3:11,12).
Among Bible-believing Christians, there should be no debate about the spiritual foundation of our faith and belief: That foundation is faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone. The problems and disagreements in the Church, however, often arise concerning how we build upon that solid foundation.
By what process should we be building the new life in Christ? Is the new life built on a physical foundation, a series of do’s and don’ts, a certain way of dressing and behaving? Is the new life built upon a foundation of intellectual understandings or, in other words, is knowledge the key? Or is the new life built upon a spiritual foundation directed by the Holy Spirit? These questions are what lead to so much confusion and even division in the Church. It is the “how’s” that can be so confusing.
The truth is that we all would probably agree that the work of Christ in us is spiritual; yet, in truth, we tend to lean on the physical realm and the intellectual or knowledge realm to accomplish a spiritual goal.
We are encouraged by Scripture to build with gold, silver and precious stones (1Cor 3:12-14). What do these elements represent? How do we construct a life that cannot be shaken? How do we construct a life, in Christ, that is filled with joy, peace and victorious living, regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves?
SEEING THROUGH THE EYES OF FAITH
Deuteronomy 29:29 states, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
This scripture verse indicates that there are some things that God has enabled us to understand, and other things that are too high or lofty for us to understand. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isa 55:8,9).
When we encounter things that are too high for us to understand, we must accept them by faith. Faith enables us to see the invisible, to accept those thoughts and ideas of God that are too high for us to understand with our natural minds (Prov 3:5-8).
For example, the mystery of the Trinity is one of those truths that require thought that is higher than ours. This concept cannot be well understood in human terms because we have no point of reference to describe “three in one”.
It is clear from Scripture that God is One. Yet we are required to comprehend that God is also three. People use different terms to describe the essence of the three: three dimensions, personalities, out-workings. By this, we try to describe the truth that God exhibits Himself in three ways: as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. All three are co-equal; all three are One!
When we try to describe Him as three in one, however, we always fall short. We try examples such as: “God is like the plant with three leaves – three leaves yet one plant”; or, “God is like a man – a man can be a father, son and brother at the same time, three in one.” But these illustrations fall short of being able to completely explain this essential doctrine of the “three in one” God. Then what are we to do?
First, we must remind ourselves that God’s ways and God’s thoughts are much higher than, or superior to, our own thoughts. How can we as human beings understand how He spoke the Universe into existence? It is impossible to us, and so we are called to accept this difficult concept by faith. We are told that today we understand in part, but one day we will understand fully: “For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away” (1Cor 13:9,10).
Some describe the doctrine of the Trinity as:
- God the Father as the One who wills it (The Source);
- God the Son as the One who speaks it (The Word);
- God the Holy Spirit as the One who accomplishes it (The Power).
Truly, it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can build a life as an “overcomer in Christ” (1John 4:4; 5:4). Our Christian life is not solely a physical or intellectual journey; it is primarily a spiritual journey led by the Holy Spirit!
UNDERSTANDING THE HOLY SPIRIT’S WAYS
Much has been written and taught on the subject of the Holy Spirit and His work over the last 100 years. Topics addressed concerning the Holy Spirit’s work – in salvation, in sanctification, in transformation, in worship, in ministry, and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit – have unfortunately been made, at times, more cloudy rather than clear.
It is one thing to describe or be taught about the work of the Holy Spirit. It is quite another matter to understand the “how” of walking by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Added to that is the necessary cooperation with the Holy Spirit that is also required on our part.
We cannot “study” the work of the Holy Spirit as an outsider looking in. As a matter of fact, the Scriptures tell us that it is impossible to discern or understand the things of the Spirit unless we are spiritual. “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1Cor 2:14).
One cannot discern or see the things inside a living human cell without “special eyes” (a microscope). We cannot see the detail in distant stars and celestial bodies without “special eyes” (a telescope). In the same way, we cannot see the things of the Spirit with our natural eyes; we need “special eyes” – spiritual eyes to “see” (understand) the spiritual realm.
Most people are no closer to understanding how to be filled or led by the Holy Spirit, or how to operate in His power and authority, than they were when this once-hidden reality was revealed 2,000 years ago. The things of the Spirit were never intended to be hidden from the children of God. If they do seem obscure, it is because we are looking with the “wrong” set of eyes.
The things of the Spirit are spiritually appraised. We are not going to get understanding of the Spirit and His ways by leaning on our own ability to comprehend. We will become familiar with spiritual things as we learn to walk with the Holy Spirit of God.
THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER
In the Book of Genesis, Adam did not become a living being until God breathed life or spirit into Adam. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Gen 2:7). This leads us to the first consideration: We are spiritual, not natural. This truth may require a major change in perspective or view; but once it is embraced, everything that is spiritual becomes more clear. As previously stated, “we are not human beings who are having a temporary spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings who are having a temporary human experience.”
When Jesus Christ was crucified, died, was buried and rose again, He ushered in a New Covenant, of which He was the Mediator. Jesus taught that this New Covenant was based on better promises than the old covenant it replaced. “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises” (Heb 8:6)
Jesus also fulfilled the requirement that released the “promise of the Father” – the Holy Spirit living or dwelling in the believer: “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’” (Acts 1:4,5).
One needs to understand, by faith, the awesome and powerful nature of this truth. The Holy Spirit is no longer just “with” or “on” a person, but now can dwell within the born-again believer! This is a truth that may not be fully understood in our minds. However, it must be fully embraced by faith if we are to truly walk by the Spirit!
JESUS CHRIST IS THE FOUNDATION
There is no question that Jesus Christ is to be the foundation of our faith and practice: “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1Cor 3:11).
Jesus is our Chief Cornerstone: “This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone” (Acts 4:11).
The question for us becomes: How does one grow or build upon that foundation which is Christ? We agree that the Bible, the Holy Spirit and faith are all essential – but our human tendency is to emphasize one over the others.
In the Church today, there tends to be an overemphasis on one doctrine or truth over another. This is simply normal human behavior. As human beings, we tend to overemphasize one area over another. It is difficult for most people to maintain a balance among several competing interests or areas.
For example, most people struggle with balancing their family life with their work life and their church life. Very often we have to take time to re-evaluate and re-set priorities. It is likely that we do not do this as often as we should. But as pastors and leaders, this is especially important, because it is far too easy to become overly busy in the activities of ministry. We often become imbalanced, giving far too little time to crucial areas vital to a healthy relationship with God and our family.
Establishing and maintaining priorities is very much like being the captain of a large ship. The captain’s primary responsibility is to make sure that the ship stays on course. This is done by constantly checking where the ship has been, where the ship is now and where the ship is going. The captain uses the ship’s navigation equipment, and by making small daily course corrections, he maintains the ship’s course to its proper destination.
In the same way, a successful Christian life requires constant daily monitoring of the Word, of the leading of the Spirit and of faith, to maintain the course toward the destination of maturity in Jesus Christ.
GOD HAS GIVEN US:
- The gift of His Son who has settled the question of eternity for us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
- His help to become more than conquerors in this life: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom 8:37).
- All that we need for life and godliness: “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:2,3).
- His Word through the Scriptures: “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45).
- Access to His Holy Spirit: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16,17).
- A measure of faith: “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Rom 12:3).
God has given us all of these precious powers, authority and abilities because He knew that we would need them. How can we then refuse any one of them as we build the Christian life?
In the Church today, there are many different opinions as to what is important for spiritual growth. Some say, “All we need is the Bible!” Others say, “All we need is the Spirit!” Still others say, “All we need is more faith!”
All of these statements are true; but they must be taken together and integrated into a lifestyle that incorporates all three. The Bible, the Holy Spirit and faith were all designed to work together.
In order to have completeness, we need a beginning, a middle and an end. The balance of the three – the Bible, the Spirit and faith – produces completeness. The relationship between the Word (Bible), the Holy Spirit and faith, when out of balance, produces frustration, discouragement, ineffectiveness and division.
It has been said that if you focus only on the Word you will “dry up.” If you focus only on the Spirit you will “blow up”. And if you focus only on faith you will “give up”. But when you embrace all three of these important areas – the Bible, the Spirit and faith – you will “grow up.”
Being a Christian is about becoming mature in our relationship with God, and in our relationships with one another. This kind of maturity requires us to understand that we need three things:
- The Bible: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2Tim 2:15).
- The leading of the Holy Spirit: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Rom 8:14).
- To learn to walk by faith: “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2Cor 5:7).
These three provisions of God are not to be taken separately. All have equal importance in our spiritual walk with Him. The Bible is a spiritual book; the Holy Spirit is, obviously, spiritual; and finally, faith operates in the spiritual realm.
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17,18).
In the New Testament alone, the word “spirit” is used 349 times; the word “faith” is used 243 times; and the term “word” is used 218 times. It is clear that these three elements are important to God and therefore should be important to us.
To understand and operate in only one or two of these doctrines is to be operating at one-third to two-thirds of our God-given power and authority! It would be like driving a car with six cylinders and only two or four of the cylinders are operating. Can you imagine how difficult and frustrating it would be to drive, especially going uphill?
That is how it is when we do not have all three – the Bible, the Holy Spirit and faith – operating in our lives. Having the balance between the Bible, the Holy Spirit and faith is critical when we face challenges or difficulties in life. There is nothing like the trials and tribulations of life to show us that we are inadequate to handle these events in our own strength and wisdom alone.
TAKE ALL THAT HE HAS PROVIDED!
The word “tripod” means a device, a stand or a piece of furniture with three legs. It provides a stable base or foundation for whatever is placed upon it. Two examples would be a three-legged stool or a stand for a camera.
The tripod legs must be of equal strength and equal length in order to provide stability. Try to imagine a two-legged stool, or even a three-legged stool where one leg is much shorter than the others. Under those conditions, the tripod is ineffective and at times even dangerous.
Imagine now that our “spiritual tripod” has three solid legs of equal length; one leg is the Bible, the second leg is the Holy Spirit, and the third leg is faith. Now that is a foundation that will support an individual with confidence and assurance!
God provided His Word, His Holy Spirit and a measure of faith so that we would walk this life in victory and success. Remember Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
God always equips and provides for His purposes and His assignments. Take all that He has provided you – the Bible, the Holy Spirit and a measure of faith. Stand securely on the “spiritual tripod” of the Bible, the Holy Spirit and Faith!
THE BIBLE IS A SPIRITUAL BOOK
There is no question about the importance of the Scriptures – the Word of God, the Bible. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16,17).
Without God’s Word, there is no Gospel or “Good News”: “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned’” (Mark 16:15,16).
Without the Gospel, there is no ability for faith to be built: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). Therefore it becomes impossible to please God: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:6).
It is clear that the Word of God is of infinite value. But what is of equal value is to understand the role of the Holy Spirit plays in our ability to comprehending and live out the Scriptures by activating our faith. We need all three – the Bible, the Spirit and faith – to be maturing and growing together; and all three are to be integrated, or operating together as one.
ILLUMINATION BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
There is a natural tendency to depend upon or lean on our own understanding. We are creatures of experience. Almost everything we learn is by experience. From the time we are born, we are experiencing our environment through our five senses – touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing.
We draw conclusions about how life works based upon our experiences and how we interpret those experiences. That is why there are so many different points of view or opinions.
For example: All members of the same family are exposed to similar experiences; yet each family member is so different and unique in his/her personality or view of life. While each person may experience similar events, each one interprets those similar events differently and draws conclusions that can be totally different.
Now here is the important point: If everyone were to lean on their own natural understanding of the Bible, we would have as many opinions about the Bible as there are people! Therefore, God in His wisdom has given us the Spirit of Truth so that we would recognize the truth: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15:26).
In theology, there is the term, illumination. This term is used to describe spiritual enlightenment. When applied to the study of the Bible, it is a work of the Holy Spirit that produces understanding of the Word of God. The point here is that the Bible is spiritual because the illumination of the Holy Spirit is necessary in order to understand its truths.
Before I came to know Christ, I would read the Bible. As a matter of fact, when I was in college the Bible was part of a required course. When I read the Bible at that time, it made no sense to me. It seemed to be foolishness to my natural mind. You see, the Holy Spirit was not illuminating the Word because I was trying to understand with my natural mind only (1Cor 2:14). I was not spiritually born-again (John 3:5,6).
But when Christ came into my life as Lord and Savior, my “spiritual eyes” were opened (Acts 26:18; Eph 1:18); what was foolishness before became truth and life (1Cor 1:18-25)! The difference in understanding was due to the work of the Holy Spirit in my life (John 16:13,14).
SEVEN TRUTHS ABOUT THE BIBLE
The following are seven important principles regarding the Bible, the Word of God:
- The Bible is the inspired word of God. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2Tim 3:16). This statement means that all of the Scriptures are true, as given in the original text. From Genesis to Revelation, it is all truth. We do not pick and choose what is true or not true; we embrace it all. This means that we accept by faith even those things that may not make sense to us.
- The Bible contains the message; God is the Source of the message. This means that the message is not more important than the One who sent the message. Jesus, while speaking to the religious leaders of the day, makes a remarkable statement: “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39,40). We are supposed to fall in love with the Author of the Bible, not with the Bible itself. There are some who hold the Bible in such high esteem that they miss the desire of Father God for them to have a personal and intimate relationship with Him.
- The Bible is holy and sacred. “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him” (Prov 30:5). We honor the Bible by doing what the Bible instructs us to do. Jesus made it very clear that it is not just the hearer of the Word, but the one who is a hearer and a doer of the Word who honors God and builds a solid foundation in Christ (1Cor 3:11; Jas 1:22-25).
- The words of life are found in the Bible. Jesus makes the following statement: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24). The Apostle Paul also proclaims: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Rom 1:16,17).
- The Bible is the complete revelation of God to man. This means that all doctrine and statements of belief must come from one source, the Bible. There are no revelations from God that have not already been given in the Bible. “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph 1:17).
- The Bible reveals who we truly are, what we can expect from God and what God expects from us. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105; Ps 19:7-11).
- The Bible is not primarily an intellectual book; the Bible is a spiritual book that must be spiritually discerned. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2Tim 2:15). “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1Cor 2:14).
FAITH IS A SPIRITUAL ISSUE
There are two words that have very similar meanings in most languages: faith and confidence. Because of their similarity, they are often used interchangeably. For our purpose of seeing that faith is a work of the Holy Spirit, it is important to make a critical distinction between these two words.
In the original New Testament Greek, the word for “faith” is pistis; the word for “confidence” is parrhesia. They are two entirely different words with different roots; therefore they have different meanings.
While faith and confidence may produce a similar emotion or feeling, faith is spiritual and confidence is of the soul. Faith is what moves God (Heb 11:6); confidence is what moves man. True faith will produce true confidence.
The scriptural type of faith is not an emotion or feeling, but a spiritual decision. Confidence, on the other hand, has connected to it a series of emotions – such as boldness, courage and assurance. Now it is wonderful when the emotion of confidence lines up with faith; yet confidence is not faith because it is possible to have “false confidence”.
Faith is believing what God has said, and acting on that belief. In other words, faith results in action or obedience, or doing the will of God.
BASED ON GOD’S PROMISES
The essential Scripture verse, when it comes to faith, is of course Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The first part of this scripture tells us that faith is the substance (or reality) of what is hoped for. The question we must ask ourselves is, “What is it that we can hope for?” Can I hope for anything I want? Can I hope for a new house, a new car, a million dollars?
Biblical hope is not based upon personal desire or whim. Biblical hope is based on the promises of God. That is because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). The more you hear (or study) the Word of God, the more you will be aware of God’s promises; the more aware you become of God’s promises, the greater your hope in God will be; and finally, the greater your hope in God, the greater your basis of faith will be!
Anything that God has promised in His Word forms the basis of our hope. Therefore, what God has promised acts like a spark that ignites our faith to believe God for great things.
It has been estimated that there are more than 7,000 promises in the Bible. These promises represent the basis of our faith. This is one of the reasons that it is important to know the Word of God.
The second part of Hebrews 11:1 states that faith is “the evidence of things not seen.” The things not seen are spiritual; therefore faith is the evidence of the spiritual realm. We could explain it another way by saying that faith is the evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in you. Confidence is natural; but faith is when the Holy Spirit joins with the Word of God and you are stirred into obedience towards God.
EXERCISING OUR FAITH
The Bible tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:6).
What we can glean from this scripture is this: Faith is impossible unless the will of God is known! In order to be an effective Christian leader, it is essential that each of us know the will of God for our life. We need to know and understand God’s purpose, callings or assignments for our lives. When we know the will of God, we can put our faith into action!
How do we know the will of God? We have His Word and His Spirit (2Tim 3:16,17; John 14:16,17). We can pray and ask for God’s wisdom (Prov 2:1-7; Jas 1:5). God has made every provision to make His will known to us so that we can walk by faith and not by sight.
Now, God has given each one of us a measure of faith: “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Rom 12:3). Because faith is spiritual, it is a gift of God. We are, of course, responsible for that gift – to grow it to maturity through use. “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb 5:14). Nothing builds faith more quickly than faith that has been exercised and fulfilled.
Because we are spiritual and learning to walk by faith and not by sight, we will be able to discern that which is true from that which is false. As pastors and leaders, we need to be led by the Spirit of God; we need to embrace the teachings of the Bible; and, by faith, we need to be obedient to what God has called us to. We live in a day and age when the wisdom of man is placed above the wisdom of God. Our spiritual calling demands that we not compromise our critical assignment: to bring the truth of God to bear upon the desperate needs of a confused and often deceived humanity.
THE TRIUNE NATURE OF MAN: SPIRIT, SOUL AND BODY
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow [or body], and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12),
THE NUMBER THREE
Numbers, combinations of numbers and multiple numbers have always held a fascination for Bible scholars and students of the Bible. Numbers such as 3, 7, 12, 40 and 666 are found throughout the Bible and have special symbolic significance. Many books have been written about the importance and symbolism of numbers in the Bible.
For example, the number seven has great significance in the Bible. It is used well over 600 times in a variety of ways and symbols. Seven is associated with the idea of completeness and the highest level of force or power; hence, 777 is often referred to as the number of God.
Similarly, the number 666, falling short of 777, is symbolic of imperfection; therefore, 666 is assigned to be the number of man and of the Beast: “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666” (Rev 13:18).
The number three also has obvious and great significance in the Bible. Three is symbolic of a beginning, middle and end; therefore it is regarded as representing a complete or ordered whole. Some practical examples are: morning, noon and night as a complete day; childhood, youth and old age as a complete life; heaven, earth and sea as a complete environment.
The number three is used more than 400 times in Scripture. For example, the number three is used to describe:
- The number of people (“And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth” – Gen 6:10).
- The number of places (“three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west” – Rev 21:13).
- The number of things (“So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes’” – Gen 18:6).
- A period of time (“And Joseph said to him, ‘This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days’” – Gen 40:12).
The number three has special significance for Christians because God is triune or “three in one”: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; yet all three are one God. This is the doctrine of the Trinity.
Other uses of the number three include the following: Jesus rose from the dead in three days. God is described as the one “who is, who was and who is to come” (Rev 1:4). All of these examples show the symbolic importance of the number three as representing completeness in the Bible.
BASIS OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNICATION
We understand that man is made in the image of God: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’” (Gen 1:26).
Therefore we should not be surprised to see that man is also triune or “three in one”. Man is spirit, soul and body in one person: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thess 5:23; see also Hebrews 4:12).
This last fact, that we are spirit, soul and body, is so important to our understanding of how we grow and mature as Christians. Paul the apostle, in the conclusion of his letter to the church at Thessalonica, prays a blessing upon the whole spirit, soul and body of each believer (1Thess 5:23). Paul recognized that man is triune or made up of three parts. He did not refer to soul and body only, but to spirit, soul and body. Also notice that he placed the spirit first, then the soul, and finally the body. In other words, he was emphasizing that we are spirit first.
As God is three in one or triune – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – so are we triune – spirit, soul and body. Perhaps this is part of what God meant when He said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” (Gen 1:26).
We are three-dimensional, not two-dimensional. The significance of seeing yourself as spirit, soul and body as opposed to seeing yourself only as body and soul is profound. It will change how you see yourself and your world – and, most importantly, how you see your relationship with God.
We need to recognize and accept the truth that we are spiritual beings. We need to recognize that as the Scriptures say, “God is Spirit, and those that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Then we will begin to see the possibility of communication with God in a new and vital way: spiritual communication!
Why is it that so many are resistant to the truth that we are spiritual? There are many reasons; probably the most common is the spread of so-called modern philosophies and teachings that promote a humanistic modern world view.
THE MODERN WORLD VIEW
Many people have opinions based on nothing more than feelings. These feelings are often a result of peer-group pressures, societal pressures, family pressures and even media pressures. We are influenced by the things we are taught, the things we read, the entertainment we participate in and even the friends we associate with.
This has been taking place since the day we were born and has helped shape what many call our “worldview”. Our worldview is the filter through which we see life; and in large part, it forms the opinions we have about virtually everything in life.
For example, as individuals we have opinions about issues such as: capital punishment, abortion, homosexuality, pornography, politics, the role of government, truth, sin, God, church – to name just a few.
The important question concerning your worldview is: How did you arrive at your opinion and why? Are the opinions you have formed based on whim, circumstances or reactions? Or are they carefully considered thought and illumination based upon a foundation of core beliefs?
THE SPIRITUAL LIFE: WHAT WE WERE CREATED FOR
Worldly thinking assumes that the more modern or sophisticated we become, the less important the spiritual aspect of our lives becomes. This wrong kind of thinking has impacted every culture. To many modern thinkers, the concept of spiritual communication with God is childish and fanciful. This kind of thinking impacts our worldview or the overall perspective from which we see and interpret the world. It especially influences how we see God and our relationship with Him.
Today, many are presenting as truth their personal opinions, secular humanism and other forms of the “traditions of men”. Paul the apostle cautions us against taking a non-biblical worldview: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col 2:8). The common secular worldview wants to deny, diminish or ignore the importance of the spiritual. But throughout the Word of God is a very different message to us.
Remember the saying, “we are not human beings who are having a temporary spiritual experience, but spiritual beings who are having a temporary human experience”? The spiritual realm is not something that we experience in life only at certain times and seasons. The spiritual life relates to who we are; the spiritual life is what we were created for.
We were known by God even before we were born, and when we die it is our spirit-man that dwells with God forever. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jer 1:5). “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10).