In my last blog, I suggested that, first, intimacy and our sense of God’s immanence must not eclipse transcendence. Second, it must not forget holiness. Third, it must not degenerate into lightness.
Fourth, the subjective cannot displace the objective. Overwhelmed with the fruit of grace, we cannot forget the work of grace. Our new life is tied to His death. Our liberation from judgment is not because God has chosen arbitrarily to overlook and casually forgive sin, but because Christ took our sin and judgment. Our acceptance in heaven is tied to his rejection and crucifixion. The cross was not merely about God’s love, but about the truth of sin – ‘Sins wages really are death! And God is no respecter of persons. Sin found on His Son gained no exemption from penalty.’ To detach the subjective and emotional experience we have from the objective redemptive work of the cross is a grave mistake. “Christ lives in me … and delivered Himself up for me” (Phil. 2:20). The life of Christ in us is rooted in the death of Christ for us. Our subjective experiences must have their roots in the objective record. Moments with God are powerful, but their profound nature is not merely existential, but they are found in the explanation in the Scripture itself – which provides the basis, the source, and the dynamic profile of their power.
Fifth, the perennial emphasis on love, on the subjective, on relationship feelings and impressions, can drift to detachment from the Scripture as the final interpreter, and jurist for such experiences. The Scripture is full of examples of men who approached God on their own terms or failed to comply with his requisites or thought themselves exempt – Cain, Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 16:12), the sons of Eli, Uzzah, the Baal worshippers. It can be fatal to approach God on one’s own terms.
Sixth, intimacy with God, ‘oneness’ or unity with Him, happens in the context of a monopleuric covenant. God dictates the terms. This is not a partnership between equals, though God treats us as intimates – that is a bequest of his gracious nature, and one over which we must dare not become presumptuous. Ancient mystics and modern day charismatics, though in different ways, often blur the line between the Creator and the creature. We are one with God, by the blood of Christ, upon the forgiveness of sin, joined to his holy nature, sanctified and launched into a process of transformation that we might be ‘like Him.’ That union, spiritual and moral, is focused on thoughts and behaviors; it is not metaphysical. Though we are destined to “become like God” and are now agents of his Word and work, we are not destined, in this life or that to come, to “become God.” Thus, prophetic words, quickened by the Spirit and uttered by us are potent, but they are not omnipotent. We must not lose sight with the idea that He is God and we are not!
Seventh, familiarity with God due to an aberrant emphasis upon intimacy can lead us to a ‘cheap grace.’ The moment we see privileges as rights, we are in trouble. The loss of humility, and the presumption that God ‘owes’ us something, the failure to always honor the price paid for us that restored the relationship – these are critical components to our own spiritual health and vitality.
Whenever the people of God stray and become hard-hearted, the remedy of God is a gracious restoration of reverence.
“So will I choose their delusions, And bring their fears on them; Because, when I called, no one answered, When I spoke they did not hear; But they did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.” Isaiah 66:3-5
Excerpt from The Praying Church Handbook, Volume I. Order your copy today!