Greetings and good morning, 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. This morning we seek to understand the challenge of spiritual experience.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Challenge of Spiritual Experience
"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." Phillipians, Chapter 4, Verse 13
Brothers and sisters, in today’’s broadcast, explore the challenge of spiritual experience. Jesus hath commanded us to love God with all our heart, and with all our souls, and with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as our self. There are physical experiences, emotional experiences, intellectual experiences and spiritual experiences, but just what is spiritual experience, and what is its challenge. Spiritual experience is the degree and duration of interaction of our souls with the Father. The amount of this experience is determined by the time that we spend, and parallels our growth in the experience. The challenge of this experience is to develop a character like the Father as demonstrated by His Son, Jesus.
We are interested in gaining additional insight into our personal spiritual experience, particularly our relationship with the heavenly Father. We know that we are experiential creatures, that is to say we acquire knowledge, wisdom, spirituality and everything else through experience. We begin this process of spiritual experiences with the Father as soon as we acquire a soul, and thus begin to respond to the challenge of becoming perfect even as the heavenly Father is perfect.
The experience with the heavenly Father consists in the Father-child relationship. With all parent-child relationships, there is guidance, and over care of the heavenly Father for his children, and the ever increasing movement towards the Father’’s ideals. "A part of every father lives in the child. The father enjoys priority and superiority of understanding in all matters connected with the child-parent relationship. The parent is able to view the immaturity of the child in the light of the more advanced parental maturity, the riper experience of the older partner. With the earthly child and the heavenly Father, the divine parent possesses infinity and divinity of sympathy and capacity for loving understanding."
Like the human child, the spiritual child is deficient in experience and therefore wisdom. But as the child continues to experience, it also grows. And this growth allows it to gain the wisdom and knowledge of the Father child relationship. This is an ongoing relationship, and it becomes increasingly difficult. That is as the child grows into this relationship, it is required to assume more and more spiritual responsibility. This spiritual responsibility is concealed within the moral and spiritual experiences of the progressing spiritual child.
As we continue our relationship with the spirit Father, we soon become aware of the challenge of completion he proposes for us: "Be you perfect even as your heavenly Father is perfect." This challenge appears in the mind and soul of the spiritual child as a ceaseless striving to master the internal and external environments. It strives to master the relationship with its heavenly Father, to become complete spiritually.
Now this challenge is difficult. The external environment requires constant grappling and the inner environment requires constant struggle. "While you have an eye single to the attainment of eternal realities, you must also make provision for the necessities of temporal living. While the spirit is our goal, the flesh is a fact. Occasionally the necessities of living may fall into our hands by accident, but in general, we must intelligently work for them. The two major problems of life are: making a temporal living and the achievement of eternal survival. And even the problem of making a living requires religion for its ideal solution. These are both highly personal problems."
The human self is aware of its animal nature but soon becomes aware of its divine nature. These two natures operating in the human mind create conflict as the human will must decide which nature it will comply and ultimately with which nature it will be supremely loyal. The human nature is designed for survival. It is basically selfish in its frame of reference, whereas the diving nature is eternal and unselfish and seeks to transform the animal nature into the divine nature. So the task for the spiritual child is to simultaneously provide for human survival as well as eternal survival. This is a challenge that is often fraught with much uncertainty. And this uncertainty increases as the difficulty of the challenge increases. The spiritual challenge is accompanied by the challenge of material existence. That is, the self must exert the divine nature in the face of the material challenge. And even though the self must render to Caesar the things of Caesar, and render to God the things of God, there still remains the challenge of harmonizing the two.
And this task is accomplished by the insights revealed through prayer and worship. Continuous communion with the Father gradually makes us like Him; to the degree that the self becomes like the Father, to that degree is the self endowed with the Father’’s point of view--that is, the self begins to view the problems of experience the way that the Father views them and will increasingly solve them in the Father’’s way. The technique to acquiring the Father’’s point of view, acquiring His character, is to wholeheartedly embrace the doing of His will. This decision provides us with wisdom, faith, hope, trust, and all other things needful to meet the spiritual challenge of experience.
As we go through the riptides of material existence, always choosing the Father’’s will in every decision, we soon reach the apex of that experience where we are qualified to represent the Father in all experiences. The power to do this is based upon the desire to do the Father’’s will as well as the Spirit of Truth that guides and directs the soul through each experience. And this guidance works this way. In every crisis the Spirit of Truth will speak, will reveal the value of the situation, the truth of the situation, and will declare that this is the way, the meaning of the value, the meaning of the truth of the situation. The self then makes a decision that is consistent with the truth value and the truth meaning. This was eloquently demonstrated by the divine Son, Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Confronted by his imminent death on the cross, he sought to see if there was any acceptable way out. Three times he sought to find away out, but could not find any acceptable way out. In his connection of trying to find a way out that was acceptable, his final attitude was not to do his will but the Father’’s will. And each time he sought the Father’’s will and could not find any acceptable way of avoiding a looming cruel death, his human nature gained more and more of a hold on his divine nature until the final petition merged his human nature with his divine nature, and they became one.
Since Jesus had come to reveal the Father to mankind, and this mission had led him to the cross since it was rejected by the Jewish leaders, there was no way out of this dilemma except to continue on with his revelation of the Father, which meant his material death. And so embracing the value, and responding to the meaning of that value, Jesus made the decision to continue on with his experience of revealing the Father. " . . . the spirit had triumphed over the flesh; faith had asserted itself over all human tendencies to fear or entertain doubt. The supreme test of the full realization of the human nature had been met and acceptably passed. Once more the Son of Man was prepared to face his enemies with equanimity and in the full assurance of his invincibility as a mortal man unreservedly dedicated to the doing of his Father's will."
And so must we meet the challenge of spiritual experience, even the supreme challenge of spiritual experience. We do this by continually seeking the Father’’s will until the spirit masters our human nature, and we emerge devoid of fear or doubt, unreservedly dedicated to doing the Father’’s will. And in doing so not only will we master the challenge of experience, but will emerge one with the Father in spirit as Jesus did.
This concludes today's message on understanding the challenge of 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.