The Dynamics of Our Faith

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As we enter 2024, a new year is before us.  Creation demands a focus on time, days, months, years; what was, what is, what is to come; church on Sunday, Bible study on Wednesday, etc.   The spiritual is uncreated, it is now and forever.  God’s personal name indicates His eternal nature.    And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’  And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.’ ”  Ex, 3:14 Praise be to God we have entered into eternity becoming spiritually born of God—the I Am.  Thus, though we live in this world, as we move about, plan, work, play, congregate for worship, and hundreds of other activities, we simultaneously share eternity with God in Christ Jesus.  This requires an entirely different mindset or way of thinking,

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”  Rm. 12.2

When it comes to our spiritual walk, that word transformed is huge.  As an earthbound caterpillar is transformed into a flying butterfly, exhibiting a totally new countenance, so too the souls of the children of God “are being transformed,” as it is written, “”But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  2 Cor. 3.18   This speaks not of a future transformation of the body in the resurrection, but in the present transfiguration of whom and what we are in Christ.  It is the redemption of our souls.  It represents a continuum of change, it is dynamic, it is living a spiritual life.  We must begin thinking in this new spiritual dimension in which we presently live alongside the worldly dimension.  It is also written,

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  Col. 3.1-3 

It is of utmost importance we make note that we were raised up (spiritually), it is past tense, and that we are presently resting (or seated) with Christ in the heavenlies.  As you are seated in your favorite chair reading this  message, you are simultaneously, this minute, connected with God in Heaven in Christ.  With your eyes you are reading lines of script, while in the Spirit you are in the presence of God in heaven.`   We may interact with other people physically as we work, travel, or play, but never forgetting for a moment our ever-present union with God and His divine workings in our lives. 

All of the above is but a prelude to the understanding that our true Christian walk is dynamic, as one living and experiencing a transformation in union with Christ; and it is not a static religion that involves days and times, rituals and services, titles and duties, all of which may actually be experienced in the natural without spiritual input. This would constitute falling short of God’s high calling.

The Dynamic Christian Life

Jeremiah the prophet reveals the mind of God on this matter; note the divine distinction between the living water from a fountain or spring and the stagnant waters of a cistern,

“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”  Jer. 2.13

Here, the distinction made is not between the world and the Kingdom of God, but between what is known as religion and that of life, spiritual life. 

The Cistern and Religion.   A cistern is a storage tank for holding water.  It is usually in the ground and is filled by rainwater.  The water lies stagnant, often becoming infested with germs and pollutants.  It is undrinkable but is ok for other uses.   In addition, the Lord describes this cistern as having cracks so that it cannot hold water for a long time but it leaks out into the ground.  Religion, a system of belief and worship of God, or gods, is a closed system, like the cistern.  It is as a box containing mandates for modes of behavior, worship services, rituals and holidays, and some sort of sacrifices.  The Old Testament of the Jewish faith is such a religion.  There is no life in it, only obedience to “the Law.”  Over time, religion becomes stagnant and infested with outside worldly influences and human compromises.  It becomes routine and repetitive.  Individuals fulfill their daily or weekly obligations and return to their daily, secular life. 

The Christian faith can, and has been, degraded to a religion, each denomination setting forth its own doctrines of belief, moral laws for obedience, rituals and holy days of observance.  It quickly becomes routine and mundane—like the cistern, its water has become stagnant and often polluted.  A mixture of worldly values and practices sets in.  Its services depend on emotions and feeling good about yourself, and that somehow you have satisfied your spiritual obligations.  Ministries have become offices with titles, a distinction is made between clergy and congregation, and it is not without abundant works of a secular nature: of food and clothing drives, special banquets, contributing to the destitute, and missions focused on building churches and homes.  The Gospel, though held up like a banner, becomes secondary in focus as the spiritual is overshadowed by the secular.  Religion can never substitute for spiritual life, at best it can only mimic things of the spirit.   Good works and modified behavior substitutes for Spiritual inwrought transformation.  It matters more what you do than what you are.

The Fountain of Living Water.   Aquatic life cannot survive in stagnant water; with no movement and aeration still water becomes a prime breeding ground for bacteria and fungi; and it often becomes home for dangerous diseases and pathogens.   A spring, or a natural fountain of water, is full of nutrients and oxygenated waters necessary to bring forth and sustain life.   Spiritual life requires the dynamics of moving water.   

“Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive;”  Jn. 7.37-39

To be living, the Christian faith must be dynamic.  The New Testament is full of encouraging words like:  draw near, reaching forward, laboring, striving, pressing upward, running towards, unceasingly, being watchful, examining, taking heed, being vigilant, and so on.  I am sure you can add a few more action words descriptive of the believer’s life.  One’s day might be full of secular activities, while not neglecting the weightier matters of inward spiritual activities.

I just received an unsolicited email of an article “How to stay energized all year.”  The article stresses things you must do, or changes you must make, in order to maintain a higher level of physical workouts during the coming year.  It consists of a typical 5 or 7 point “to do” list.   Spiritually however, there are no “Five Steps to spirituality” or “10 things to do to become more spiritual.”  What we do have are innumerable scriptures that point to spiritual maturity.  Following are a few scriptures denoting the dynamics of Christianity, or…

 Exhortations to becoming a spiritually energized Christian:

  • “…pray without ceasing.”  1 Thes. 5.17

Believers cannot always be upon their knees in prayer, or lifting up their hands and vocally calling upon God.  People who do that isolate themselves in hilltop monasteries.  To do so one would not be able to fulfill other parts of worship as well or the duties of secular life; after all, it is as Paul encouraged, For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”  2 Thes. 3.10   We must fulfill our secular responsibilities.   In addition, the flesh simply cannot sustain long hours of prayer.  When Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, He asked His disciples to stay in prayer with Him. However, it is written,  “Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Mt. 26.40-41    One hour, mind you, Peter, the aggressive one, could not stay in prayer with Jesus.

The mind and thoughts of the spiritual man may be held continuously “prone to prayer.”  To be prone to do anything means you are liable, sensitive, and susceptible to do it.  When and where is of the moving of the Spirit.  Prayer may be in the closet, in the family, in the assembly, or in the waiting room of a doctor’s office.  We are to be in such a frame of mind as to be ready to pray publicly if so moved or requested to do so;  or when alone when inclined to do so.  Remember, Jesus’s words to Peter, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation..”

  • “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.”  2 Cor. 13.5-6

Many reasons may underlie this encouragement.  Some are inclined to critically question the faith of others or of their sincerity to the faith.  However, judgment begins with yourself, examining your own spiritual walk.  Perhaps most important is the fear of deception, either personally or in the local church.  Many years ago my wife began a Bible search to test many of the doctrines of the Catholic faith.  Indeed she discovered much deception held for many years.  Since then spiritual discernment has served to detect and question false teachers and prophets.  Paul wrote this warning to those of the Corinthian church for fear that many of them had been deceived.  He found the people ignorant of many irregularities, disorder, and unsound teachings in the church.  It was important for them, and for everyone today, in every church, to closely examine themselves to ascertain whether they have drifted from the truth as revealed in scripture.

The word prove means to test, as one would assay the purity of a metal.  Most importantly, the truth that the Spirit of Christ is really present in you—to be in Christ or having Christ in you means that our lives reflect the union, the oneness between Christ and His people.  So important are the interests at stake that all believers should often examine themselves the reality of their faith whether it just be a religious practice or the actual infusion of spiritual life.

The following three scriptures are closely connected in thought:

  • “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”  Jer. 29.13
  • “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  Mt. 7.7
  • “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”  Jn. 17.3

There is little that expresses the dynamics of spiritual life more than this desperate attempt of finding and knowing God above and beyond the scope of religion.  The three words used in Mt. 7.7 imply a distinct increasing degree of Intensity: asking, seeking, then knocking.  There is the asking in the spoken words of prayer.  So often prayer distills down to asking for blessings and deliverance from adversities and seldom considering the desires of God’s heart for us. How oft I have repeated the prayer of Paul for those at Ephesus, but making it a personal prayer, (note the change in personal pronouns from the plural to the singular to make this a personal prayer.)

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant me according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith; that I,  being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that I may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that I ask or think, according to the power that works in me to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  Eph. 3: 14-21

Just contemplating the meanings of “being filled with all the fullness of God,” and “according to the power that works in me,” transforms one’s way of thinking and how every aspect of our lives would be impacted.  This, beloved, is the dynamic aspect of our faith in Christ.

The seeking is in the efforts and labors arising out of the desire to know Him as the only true God and Jesus Christ.  Please bear with me as I explain very important translations for the word “know.”  The English word “know” represents two Greek words which are not identical in meaning.  Eido means to know by observation, to see with the physical eyes, or by extension, to mentally see akin to, “I see what you mean.” The Greek word, ginosko, means to know especially through personal experience—first hand acquaintance.   I know (eido) many people, but I only really know (ginosko) a few by personal experience, being intimately related to them. 

God was made known (eido) to the Israelites in the Old Testament through the Law, the Psalms and the prophets.  Initially, He was seen as a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.  They observed His power, as in parting the Red Sea and the miraculous giving of manna in the Wilderness.  Today, religions also reveal the nature and character of God.  In Sunday school I was taught the omnis of God:  God is sometimes described as omnipotent, meaning all-powerful; omniscient, meaning all-knowing; and omnipresent, meaning present everywhere at all times but, I did not know (ginosko) Him in any personal measure—there was always a distance between God and myself; He was in heaven and I was on earth.  I was taught obedience to the higher power because He was the judge of mankind and there was a reward for obedience and punishment for disobedience.

But in our quoted verse above, John 17.3, Jesus defines eternal life by knowing (gnosko) the Father and Himself.  In 1972 I left religion, abandoned all forms of it, that I might know Him and His life imparted.  Since then there has been, and must be, a continuous pursuit of God, both Father and Son; to experience their reality. Can you not sense the passion in the soul of Paul as He writes, “…that I may know (ginosko) Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Phil. 3.10   In saying, “That I might know (ginosko) Him,” he meantnot just by acquaintance with facts, not by an intellectual conviction of those facts, but by spiritually appropriating Him, by faith, as a power that works within me.  In this, and this alone, are we righteous before God and our lives are changed forever.  As it is written,  “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.   For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Rm. 8.1-2

There is an inseparable connection between our righteousness which is acceptable to God and the knowledge (gnosko) of Christ, or more exactly, the progressive gaining of that knowledge of Christ.  It is no longer a call to obedience to laws, rituals, and religious ordinances; but the degree to which we know Him is the degree to which we are made like unto Him. (See Rm. 8.29-30)  This pursuit of Christ, not knowledge (eido) of Him but the influence of His spiritual reality is the never ending dynamics of our faith.

 The knocking is explained by various interpretations.  In the context of this message I will only equate knocking with expressing the desire to press into the Kingdom of God.  It is one matter to obtain salvation by grace in Christ.  It is quite another matter to press inward and upward in the Kingdom of God.  A close friend recently stated, “Salvation may be free and by grace, but the Kingdom will cost you everything.”  We knock for that from which we feel ourselves shut out, unable to press into His higher calling.  To everyone familiar with such experiences, the words of Jesus concerning a higher entrance for those who desire to press on into God’s highest, “Knock and it shall be opened unto you,” has a unique force to it, not easy for us to appreciate.

The very fact that you are challenged to “knock” indicates that you have arrived at a door, a closed door.  And, as it is written, “And it shall be opened” means that the door need not be remained closed, for there is a power on the other side, God, that may open it for you providing welcoming passage.  Concerning this continued walk into the Kingdom of God, Jesus said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”  Lk. 13.24  The reasons for an individual to not be able to open this shut door are many and varied.  Some describe this time as a “wilderness” walk, tired of their endless journey through the desert and wanting to enter the fullness of the promised land. But for whatever the reason, it is most serious and can only be dealt with by continued knocking at the door.  One has written of a personal experience of these shut doors while traveling in remote regions.  He relates that these narrow gates, “Are opened only to those who knock; and when the sun goes down and the night comes on, they are shut and locked.  It is then too late.”  Knock repeatedly not losing hope.  Many years ago my knocking was answered by a simple phone call from an old friend. 

When it is written “strive to enter in,” it literally means to struggle as a wrestler strains and struggles, for failure will bring forfeiture of the victor’s reward.  On the other side of this locked door is a God full of compassion and good-will towards us, there is mercy and there is love.  He will surely open to one incessantly knocking at the door crying out, “please open for me this way of life in the Kingdom. I will abandon all for entry.”

The better Greek translation of these three keys to the Kingdom is, ‘Keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking.  A truism states that those who are through with change are through; meaning those who are satisfied with the status quo,  those who are comfortable with their religious life, those who feel being saved and going to heaven is enough, will without question, find they have missed out on blessing in this life and in the age to come.  The Christian life is to be lived, experienced and not just talked about with nice sounding platitudes.

Undoubtedly, as you search the scriptures, you will find many more exhortations to always and continuously press on into the Kingdom and to know the fullness of this new life in Christ Jesus.

Picture of Daniel DeVitis

Daniel DeVitis

Daniel P. DeVitis (Dan) has served in ministry for over 50 years. Since 1972 he has overseen a home church, Immanuel Fellowship, Shippensburg, PA, where he currently resides with his wife Petra. He was a professor of Geography and Earth Science at Shippensburg University until his retirement in 2003. He now serves as an elder in Unto Full Stature Ministries where he continues to author newsletters, write articles, and speak at leadership conferences and churches at and abroad.
Picture of Daniel DeVitis

Daniel DeVitis

Daniel P. DeVitis (Dan) has served in ministry for over 50 years. Since 1972 he has overseen a home church, Immanuel Fellowship, Shippensburg, PA, where he currently resides with his wife Petra. He was a professor of Geography and Earth Science at Shippensburg University until his retirement in 2003. He now serves as an elder in Unto Full Stature Ministries where he continues to author newsletters, write articles, and speak at leadership conferences and churches at and abroad.

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