Greetings, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. Brothers and sisters, in today’’s broadcast, we offer insights into refining our faith efforts at discerning the heavenly Father.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
Knowing the Father as a Spiritual Experience
"Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, have I been so long with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Phillip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, show us the Father?" John, Chapter 14, Verse 9.
In the process of knowing a person, we traverse several stages. We know that the Father is a spiritual person and can only be known as a spiritual experience. But what does it mean to know the Father as a spiritual experience? Let us consider how we get to know a human being to help us grasp the concept of knowing the Father as a spiritual experience.
There are several steps involved in getting to know a person. The first step is to recognize the person. In this step, either we are introduced to the person by another person, or by proximity. The person may function in different roles. The person may be a father, child, husband, wife, friend, or some other individual. But be that as it may, we recognize the person as a person, very much like ourselves, one with whom we can interact with, can communicate, and can get to know. But the process of getting to know someone does not occur instantly; time is required. And this leads us to the second step involved in knowing a person——interaction.
We interact with another person on several levels: physically, emotionally, intellectually, morally, and spiritually. Taken together, these factors form the basis of our social interaction with the person. And as we interact with the person on these different levels, we come to know how they respond in each of these areas. In the physical arena, we take note whether the person is male or female, tall or short, fat or thin, and so forth. We note the physical attributes of the person.
We take note how they respond emotionally to their experiences. Are they anxious or depressed? How do they respond to the problems of life that require a decision? Do they respond with reason or with their emotions? What is the dominant factor upon which they base their decisions? What is their basic emotional attitude towards life——optimistic or pessimistic? Are they confident or are they fearful? Do they display exacerbated emotional responses to the common problems of life?
Do they view the material aspects of life intellectually? Do they distinguish the factual from the non-factual in their attitude towards life? Do they apply reason to solving the material problems of life? Do they seek knowledge of the world they live in? Do they make appropriate decisions based on facts? Do they maintain an attitude of always seeking new knowledge or are they content to rest upon their laurels?
Do they recognize and accept responsibility? How do they handle it? Are they dependable and faithful? Do they have a standard of right and wrong that they abide by or are they deciding right from wrong based on the situation or how they feel about the situation? Do they take responsibility for their decisions or do they blame someone else? In short, what is their moral status, their character?
Do they recognize the spiritual aspects of life, spiritual values, those non-tangible realities that make life worthwhile; or do they only see the material aspects of life? Do they recognize a higher power, a creator? Do they try to relate themselves to this creator whom they call God? Do they show forth the worship attitude? Do they display a sense of awe and reverence? Do they show forth an attitude of caring for others? Or are they primarily selfish and self-centered? Do they show forth the fruits of faith, trust, and hope? Or are they filled with suspicion and despair?
With the passing of time, as we observe these characteristics of the person, and reflect upon these observations, we arrive at picture of what this person is like. After careful analysis of the observed traits, insuring that as far as possible bias is eliminated from our reflections and suspending judgment of those characteristics that are not validated by experience.
After the analysis, then does the synthesis process takes place? Do we arrive at a complete portrait of the person, or only a fragmented view? In the normal process after analysis, all the isolated factors that are known of the individual such as physical status, emotional status, intellectual status, moral and spiritual status are synthesized into a living portrait of the person. At this point that we can say that we truly know the person. We have observed him over time and thus have gained experience with him. We have watched the pattern of his traits and have seen them validated over and over again. We can say that we know this person as far as our experience goes.
Now we are in a position to grasp the concept of knowing the heavenly Father, who is spiritual. But before we begin this excursion, we must remember that we can only know the Father as he is revealed in his Son, Jesus. The Father revealed himself in the form of a human being some two thousand years ago. He appeared as a human being just like you and I. And he lived a human life just like you and I. He knows what it means to be human. He knows our sorrows, our joys, our disappointments, hopes, struggles, our successes, and our failures. And he knows them from personal experience as a human being. And since Jesus took on the form of a human being, we can know him and thus know the Father. We have the life of Jesus living within us in the form of his Spirit of Truth. This spirit reveals the Father to us.
When we seek to know the heavenly Father as revealed in his Son, Jesus, we go through a similar process of knowing him as we do with knowing another human being. Though the Father has no physical body, he has all the attributes and more that we associate with a person. The Father is a spirit. Therefore the first step is the recognition of this spirit. And we recognize the Father’’s spirit by its attributes. The divine spirit lives in our minds and souls, and we recognize it by its spiritual qualities. It is the loving impulse within us that constantly urges us to love one another as Jesus does. It urges us to unselfishly relate ourselves to one another.
Next we go through the process of interacting with this spirit. And this is where we really come to know Him through Jesus. As we interact with him by communicating with him through our petitions and through worship, we soon discover his moral and spiritual attributes as we allow these attributes to flow through us. As we allow these attributes to flow through us, they become a part of us, and we take on the moral and spiritual character of Jesus. We become transformed into the Image of his Son. And as we become like him, we gain knowledge of him. We come to know him. We find that his spirit is faithful, hopeful, meek, humble, temperate, good, loving, long suffering, peaceful, and joyful. As we struggle with the unpleasant facts of a material existence, he gives hope and encouragement, spiritual and moral stamina, wisdom and guidance. He always says, "Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world, and by trusting and having faith in me, you will also overcome the world." He constantly tells us to hold on, that this too will pass. He is reliable and trustworthy, compassionate, merciful and forgiving. He overshadows all of our experiences with love and mercy. He will not allow us to fail if we trust him.
He is always willing to listen to our petitions. He always hears us and responds with wisdom and understanding. He reveals to us the spiritual truth of a given situation, and the spiritual truth of any given situation is always beautiful and good, though these qualities have to be grasped by faith. And while he may withhold many things from us, they are withheld out of love and wisdom, even mercy. When we are confused and uncertain, he gently guides our footstep into the clarity of the truth.
The emotions may rage from anxiety one instant and to depression the next as the material, moral, and spiritual struggles rage, but he calms our emotions and tells us that everything is going to be alright. A child may become anxious and depressed because of its limited point of view and because he tends to view his life from the chains of an immediate disagreeable experience, but the wise parents know differently and so does Jesus. He is patient with us. He knows that many of our troubles grow out of our imperfection; therefore, he unceasingly urges us to seek the Father’’s will--to be perfect even as the heavenly Father is perfect. He is the best friend that we can ever have; he really knows and understands us fully and knows that we are safe in his arms of grace. By exercising our faith, we can know this too. This spirit is the Spirit of Truth, the spirit of the Son, which reveals the Father to us.
As we reflect upon this spirit in our minds and think about our interactions with it, we reach the conclusion that God is filled with goodness and that we can indeed rely upon him in our moral and spiritual struggles. He invites us to come to him when we are heavy laden and gives rest to our souls. When we are weak, he increases our strength. When we are tired, he renews our minds and spirits. As time continues to pass and our trust in him deepens, we increasingly rely on him. And because this trust is never disappointed, we increasingly seek and recognize his active presence in our experiences. We look and find his spiritual hand of truth in our experiences, ever guiding us into the will of the heavenly Father. Always will we know him because we trust him.
This concludes today's message on understanding what it means to know the Father as a spiritual experience. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry