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 shared many revelations of spiritual truth with me, and I want to share them with you. In today’’s broadcast we examine the conflict between intellectual beliefs and spiritual experience.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Conflict between Intellectual Beliefs and Spiritual Experience
"There is a way which seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof are the way of death."
Proverbs, Chapter 14, Verse 12
““Jesus saith unto him: ‘‘I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye should have known me, ye should have known my Father, and have seen him.’’"
John, Chapter 14, Verses 6-7
Brothers and sisters, in religious circles today, our religious faith has been expanded to embrace material phenomenon. The pursuit of faith based on materialism and selfishness has completely overshadowed the pursuit of spiritual reality. How is it that despite our material experiences, we go right on expecting faith to change them? When there is failure to experience the expected result, we’’re told that solution is to exercise more and more faith. And when there is a chance occurrence between our material faith forecast and a material manifestation, we latch onto this chance occurrence as proof that our faith is working, that our intellectual concepts are correct. Yes, our faith is always working but not in material manifestations. Our faith works on the inside, in the spiritual arena, where we interact with the heavenly Father.
Consider this: "The confusion about the experience of the certainty of God arises out of the dissimilar interpretations and relations of that experience by separate individuals and by different races of men. The experiencing of God may be wholly valid, but the discourse about God, being intellectual and philosophical, is divergent and oftentimes confusingly fallacious. A good and noble man may be consummately in love with his wife but utterly unable to pass a satisfactory written examination on the psychology of marital love. Another man, having little or no love for his spouse, might pass such an examination most acceptably. The imperfection of the lover's insight into the true nature of the beloved does not in the least invalidate either the reality or sincerity of his love."
But how are we to narrow and hopefully eliminate the conflict between our intellectual beliefs and the actual faith experience in our souls with the heavenly Father? How are we to remove the material contamination from our spiritual experience with the heavenly Father? There is only one way to do this and that is by the wholehearted desire to seek to know and do the Father’’s will. It remains forever true that whosoever seeks to know the divine will shall know that will. And though it may take some time to realize it intellectually, this in no way invalidates the spiritual knowing of the divine will, the experience of the Father’’s love in our souls.
Consider this analogy: A child is not consciously aware of how parental influences shape him as he develops. It is only later after the child begins his adult career that he begins to realize how much he has been shaped by his parents. Sometimes it is a sobering experience when the child realizes that he is just like his parents. If the parenting has been good, he realizes that he is one happy soul. We live first and realize only later.
Having the heavenly Father living within our souls, constantly interacting with us as we interact with him, we become profoundly changed as we continue to engage with him. Only conscious resistance can derail this process. Sharing the inner life with the heavenly Father is the doing of the Father’’s will. And though it may take some time for us to realize the effects of doing the Father’’s will, this in no way minimizes or cancels those effects. The effects are indelible as long as we abide by the Father’’s will. The transformation from a selfish materialistic character to an unselfish spiritual character occurs under the influence of constantly interacting with the heavenly Father in our souls.
The conflict between intellectual beliefs of the mind and the spiritual experiences of the soul occurs because of our unwillingness of the intellect to accept the faith assurances of the soul. We want proof and have therefore seized upon this mechanism to do so. Some of us have abandoned the simple faith-act of seeking to know the Father’’s will as we move through the experiences of life. We have easily replaced a spiritual ideal with an intellectual doctrine. Having done this, we seek to actualize this doctrine but cannot do it. Many are the days and nights where we send up intense prayers to heaven with anguish and tears beseeching the heavenly Father to answer our prayers that are based on our intellectual beliefs rather than our spiritual experiences. Error cannot be experienced but truth can.
Before the Son of God came in the flesh, we may have had some justification for behaving this way. Now that Jesus has come in the flesh and actually revealed the Father’’s will to us, we are strained to find justification for attaching our spiritual faith to materialistic goals. For the record, we state it again: Jesus said, concerning the intellectual recognition of the Father’’s will, ““if you love one another as I love you, then all men will know that you are my disciples.”” If we are desirous of having a true and wholehearted relationship with the heavenly Father, then, in fact, we should be loving one another as Jesus loves us.
If we are not sincere in this desire for a relationship with heavenly Father, then we are not being transformed into the image of his Son, Jesus. We are in effect offering resistance, refusing to allow the Father to reign in our hearts. The sure effect of sharing the inner life with the Father spirit is to be gradually transformed into the image of Jesus. Thus by their fruits, their loving interaction with you, shall you know them, not by what they necessarily say. Remember, "A good and noble man may be consummately in love with his wife but utterly unable to pass a satisfactory written examination on the psychology of marital love. Another man, having little or no love for his spouse, might pass such an examination most acceptably. The imperfection of the lover's insight into the true nature of the beloved does not in the least invalidate either the reality or sincerity of his love."
If we allow the intellectual concept of seeking to do and knowing the Father’’s will as standing for the spiritual transactions taking place in our souls, and embracing the meanings that appear in our mind as a result of those spiritual transactions, we will narrow and eventually eliminate the conflict between intellectual beliefs and spiritual experiences. In the place of intellectual belief with be the simple faith assertion of seeking to do and knowing the Father’’s will. If we do this, we will soon eliminate the intellectual error associated with the spiritual relationship that our souls enjoy with the heavenly Father. No more we will have to be soothsayers minutely searching our intellectual concepts of trying to find the reason for the disconnect, trying to find the reason for our unanswered prayers. We will realize that all of our prayers our answered, since our prayers will concern requests as to how we can more perfectly love one another as Jesus loves us.
Finally, we will intellectually realize that "When there exists this living connection between divinity and humanity, if humanity should thoughtlessly and ignorantly pray for selfish ease and vainglorious accomplishments, there could be only one divine answer: more and increased bearing of the fruits of the spirit on the stems of the living branches. When the branch of the vine is alive, there can be only one answer to all its petitions: increased grape bearing. In fact, the branch exists only for, and can do nothing except, fruit bearing, yielding grapes. So does the true believer exist only for the purpose of bearing the fruits of the spirit: to love man as he himself has been loved by God--that we should love one another, even as Jesus has loved us."
This concludes today's message on understanding the conflict between intellectual beliefs and 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.