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 spiritual meaning of experience.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Spiritual Meaning of Experience
"Howbeit when he the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak." John, Chapter 16, Verse 13
1. Brothers and sisters, how can we know that spiritual meanings are valid and not just the wish fulfillment of our intense desires? Since meanings are subjective, what yardstick can we use to verify their validity? And since spiritual meanings when embraced cause us to react differently to our objective environment, how can we be sure we are not acting presumptively? What is the nature of spiritual experience, and what is the nature of the meanings that we extract from these experiences? How do we define experience, and how do we define meaning? Is the spiritual experience which is internal in some way correlated with the external experience? What role does faith play in our spiritual experience, and, since error is always a possibility, what is the safeguard against drawing erroneous conclusions from our spiritual experience, and subsequently the meanings? What is human experience?
We are experiencing beings, but how do we define that which is an ongoing part of us as we live this short but intriguing life? We gain experience interacting with the things that we are confronted with in this life. And this experience causes us to increase in status. For example, if we are just starting a new job, initially we have no experience with it, and many of its components are unfamiliar to us. We proceed hesitatingly, unsure of our steps. But as we move through time, interacting with the components of this job, our familiarity increases to the point where we master it. We have gained experience.
When we are confronted with the components of the job, with the passing of time, we recognize them and understand them. When we combine these two components of the job, we get meaning. And it is the comprehension of the meaning that allows us to function successfully in the job. Spiritual experience then must be the active interplay between our questioning selves and the spiritual reality of the heavenly Father that is unfolding within us.
Now we are ready to tackle the questions that were raised, but before we do, we must remember that the entire spiritual experience is made real by faith. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus, the Son of God, incarnated in the flesh, assuming human form and demonstrated and declared that we were the sons and daughters of the heavenly Father. He subsequently left his Spirit of Truth to guide and direct us into the values and meanings of this great truth. Thus, the spiritual experiences that we have and the meanings we derive from them must and only must have to do with the values and meanings of this relationship. The Son of God demonstrated in human form the entire relationship from birth to mortal death in perfection.
If we understand that God is our Father, and we are his sons and daughters, and that we are traversing the same path of divine sonship that Jesus demonstrated, then as we have these experiences with the heavenly Father, we must also progressively recognize and understand the values and thus the meanings of these experiences with the heavenly Father. By faith accepting that God is our Father, and that we are his sons and daughters, we begin this process of transformation from the animal nature, which we are born with to the divine nature, which is our destiny. By examining the life of Jesus, we have both the nature of the values of the heavenly Father, and the values of divine sonship since Jesus was the Son of God and the Son of man. As we review the life of Jesus in our minds and souls, via the Spirit of Truth, we recognize the values of the Father and the values of the son.
These values can be summed up in the great command to love God with all our hearts, and souls, our minds and might, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The values and meanings of spiritual experience are the values and meanings of perfecting this relationship between the heavenly Father and ourselves. And as we perfect these values and meanings, we traverse all the values and meanings that are involved in this relationship, and they are reflected outward in our character response to our moral and spiritual environment. In short, when we perfect these values and meanings of our relationship with the heavenly Father, we reflect the character of Jesus.
Being material creatures, we must reflect these values outward in our interaction with our brothers and sisters as we go about the moral and spiritual aspects of our material experiences. These values and meanings are discovered or revealed as we have these experiences, and their revelations are tied with the experiences. A new phase or new round of spiritual experience starts with the end of a material experience that conceals moral and spiritual values. When these values are recognized and understood, they become meaningful.
When we act on them, they become a part of our spiritual characters, and we move closer to perfecting our moral and spiritual characters as demonstrated by Jesus. And as we move through these experiences, we learn to love more and more of our brothers and sisters. We also harvest the divine meanings from those spiritual experiences. And when we do finally achieve this standard, we will show forth the evidence of true spiritual development. We will love each other as Jesus loves us.
We need never fear being presumptuous in obtaining spiritual values, for the very fact that these values have become meaningful is the evidence that we have earned them. We can not grasp something unless it is meaningful, and we certainly can’t incorporate a value into our characters that we have not grasped. And we must always remember that by the time a meaning has appeared in our minds we have already experienced its value. There is a time delay between the acquirement of a value and the appearance of the meaning of that value in our minds.
When we acquire a new meaning of what it means to love our brothers and sisters as Jesus loves us, there can be no error in the understanding of the meaning, for that meaning is derived from the progressive interaction of ourselves with it--spiritual experience. What we have experienced we know. Spiritual meanings are valid and they can be trusted when they apply to our relationship with the heavenly Father. The Father is living love, and as we grow in this living love, the meanings of this living love must change because the meanings are a reflection of the growth. Always does the Spirit of Truth guide and instruct us in the ways of divine sonship. And this is the way of love, patience, mercy, and forgiveness. It is the quality of our decisions as well as the decisions themselves that reflect the validity of our spiritual meanings. "By their fruit shall you know them."
This concludes today's message on understanding the meaning of the 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.