OUR STORY – Chapter A8

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A. THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST

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FAITH CHALLENGED

The Lord Jesus said to Peter: “Satan fervently wanted to sift you as wheat is sifted, but I prayed for you that your faith may not cease.” (Luke 22:31,32) I think we understand very little of the tremendous battle that is going on in the heavenly realms for the souls of men. I experienced some of this in a practical way when suddenly, without any real reason, I began to doubt my salvation. Instead of living from my spirit and hearing what the Holy Spirit was saying to me within my heart, I took to reasoning with my mind. I said to myself: “Faith is something that cannot be seen or touched. It is not a material thing, so how do you know, how can you be certain that the faith you have, is real faith. Is it not just something in your mind, something you make yourself believe? You may be deceiving yourself thinking that you are really believing that the Lord Jesus Christ died for you on the cross but are you quite certain about this? You may die and after death discover that you never really believed, that your faith was not real. What proof do you have that your faith is real?”

This went on in my mind for weeks on end and I cannot describe what intense spiritual suffering it caused me. I had no joy at all. I could not really do my daily work properly. I was wrestling in my mind trying to solve my problem by human reasoning. At last I realised that I had to go back to God’s Word and read what it says about salvation. To now go through all the Scriptures which I read and on which I meditated, would take up too much time, but in the end I realised that faith was not something of the mind but something that was worked by the Holy Spirit via His own inspired Word. So the Lord assisted me to return to just trusting God once more as a little child would. A little child does not think about his relationships with his father or mother, he just accepts that they love him and he just casts himself into their arms.

I think it was Spurgeon that once asked this question: “If you were walking in the garden and a little cat chased by a ferocious dog ran towards you and jumped up into your arms, what would you do? Would you throw it to the dog or would you protect it merely because of the fact that it had put its trust in you?” Certainly nobody would be so heartless as to surrender that little cat to the dog that wants to harm it. Since it has put its trust in you, you will protect it, possibly even with your life or even if you are in danger, because you would feel this is your moral responsibility. The same principle applies to the faith we put in God. He accepts us the moment we put our faith in Him and though that faith may be very shaky as it possibly was with the little kitten, yet He will honour that little faith. He will cuddle you in his arms and strengthen and develop that mustard seed of faith that he sees in your heart. I am always amazed when reading the Word of God to see what tremendous value He puts on faith. When Jesus was walking on earth, how many times did He not praise those that trusted Him for healing or for some other purpose. How much more will He not accept whosoever entrusts his life to Him for eternal salvation. That is how my troubled mind came to rest and I entered more deeply into the rest that is brought about by childlike faith in the risen Christ.

BREAKING THE STRONGHOLD OF LUST

On entering the land of Canaan, the city of Jericho was taken by the Israelites without much of a fight. However, as they proceeded to take the rest of Canaan, the people of Israel met with very strong opposition. They now had to learn to handle the sword, bow and arrow, slings and whatever other weapons they had, to conquer one city after the other. This was also very much my experience as I met up with firmly established strongholds in my life that dated back to the days when I did not know the Lord and when I just succumbed to every sort of temptation. (Before Israel came into Canaan the land was occupied by heathen people that had to build cities of which many had very strong walls. Furthermore these inhabitants were powerful people and some were giants. So they formed a formidable opposition for the children of Israel.)

One of the sins to which I had succumbed was in the area of sex. By the wonderful grace of God that protected me even before I got to know Him, I had not succumbed to the actual deed before marriage. I did not sleep around before marriage as many other young people did. However what I did not do in the flesh, I did in my mind and in my emotions. I often went to bookshops and paged through periodicals on photography and there I saw all these photographs of nude women and allowed my senses just to lust after them. Of course in my mind too, these lustful thoughts were often going round and round and were stimulated by the jokes and stories we as men told to one another. Now after conversion, I was picking the bitter fruit of my sin for it was deeply embedded in my life. It had become strongholds just like the cities in Canaan. I came under tremendous conviction of sin but found that I had just about no resistance to these thoughts. At that time the ladies wore mini-skirts and sexy dresses. This was the fashion at that time. It made life even more unbearable for me because wherever you walked in the streets, there was this temptation. Oh, how I pleaded with God for forgiveness and to be set free from this lust. But to no avail.

Then one day, a most wonderful thing happened to me, I had an experience that I will never ever forget. I was in my study kneeling at a chair as I normally did when praying. Then, as I was praying it was as if the Holy Spirit just suddenly flooded my whole inner being. To describe it in words is just about impossible. All I can say is that I was immensely conscious of God’s presence and especially of His love. It was like a massive stream of living water saturating me to the point where I felt I could take no more, and in that moment I just knew that there was deliverance from any kind of sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. How long I was there before God, I cannot recall but I do know that for a couple of days I had this uninterrupted sense of God’s overwhelming presence and of His love. It was a time during which there was a tremendous humility within my spirit and an overflowing love for everybody around me. It really was God taking over within me.

Then, gradually, this emotional and spiritual awareness of God faded away but there were things that remained. I had now, in a practical way, experienced the power of the Holy Spirit which was a revelation to me because we had had just about no teaching about the Holy Spirit in our church. I had read much about Him in books written by RA Torrey, but I needed this practical experience to, as it were, launch me into a life of trusting God the Holy Spirit to do within me that which I myself was unable to accomplish. Up to that point my experience was as that of Paul recorded in Romans chapter 7 where he says: “The good I want to do I do not but the bad that I don’t want to do is what I do. Oh, wretched man, who shall deliver me from this body of death?” I was in the grip of a relentless power called sin or also referred to as the old man and I was unable to escape from its clutches by my own willpower. Now I had tasted something of the power of God and of His determination to deliver those who belong to Him. As I started trusting Him, relying on His Spirit to do this for me, gradually these strongholds were beginning to crumble in my life. Later on I will give examples or mention other strongholds which the Lord also highlighted and over which He gave me victory.

FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

Once again also, I discovered that God so often gives us more than what we ask for and in this instance he actually filled me with His Holy Spirit like the one hundred and twenty people in the upper room waiting on God on the day of Pentecost who were filled with the Holy Spirit for the purpose of going out and bearing testimony to the death and rising of Christ from the grave. Before His ascension to heaven he had said to his disciples: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and up to the ends of the earth” (Acts1:8). At an earlier occasion, on the mountain, He also commanded them saying: “Go into all the world making disciples of all people baptising them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and behold I am with you until the end of time” (Matt 28:19,20).

This then was the main purpose of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost: it was to empower God’s people to make disciples. This was what God also did for me that day in my study as I was kneeling at that chair: He baptised me in His Holy Spirit to enable me to go forth and make disciples for His kingdom. Before that day I also had that urge and I spoke about Jesus to just about everyone that I came across. When I saw people it was as if I saw the words: “Heaven or hell?” on their foreheads. I just had this tremendous urge to see all people coming to Christ. Now after this experience, this urge to go out and make disciples was, can I say, perhaps tenfold or a hundredfold stronger and I have never, till this very day, lost it. Later on I will tell more about my and Martie’s going out to make disciples.

Something else that God gave me on the day when He baptised me in His Spirit, was that He bestowed on me at least one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts, as I later on realised, are very, very important in the making of disciples and that is why they accompany baptism in the Holy Spirit. The gift which God gave me on that day was speaking in tongues. Whenever I got down to pray as from that day onwards, I just sensed strange unknown words coming into my spirit and into my mind and there was a sort of urge for me to utter these words.

I was somehow bewildered by this. In my culture it was sometime said that if you go too deeply into the things of God you can get into a state of utter confusion and lose your mind. Nowadays, of course, I know that this is nonsense, for a person seeking God in depth, will never be deceived by the devil or lose his mind. He will actually discover his mind in a new way. However, at that stage I had not had any teaching on this topic, so it scared me and I rejected it. I closed my mind to these words and actually closed my spirit towards God in this area. Many years would pass before, after having had the proper teaching on this matter, I once more opened my heart and allowed the Spirit of God to flow through me in this way.

So this is how the Lord Himself was teaching us during those days, leading us on step by step. How often did He have to wait for days or weeks on end for us to be willing and to have confidence to take a next step along the way of spiritual growth and in the making of disciples? Oh, His grace and His patience in dealing with His sons and daughters.

REAL JOY IS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!

INDEX

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