Since I write some hard things, I cannot do so without also considering myself and putting that out there.
How have I been as Sardis?
According to my understanding of the Church of Sardis, we are dealing with misconceptions and negligence of the Holy Spirit, which leads to a church that claims to be alive in Christ but is in-fact dead.
I was raised in the Christian faith in some form, so I always believed in Jesus. However, I did not hear much about the Holy Spirit that I can recall. I did hear about churches that spoke in tongues and the like but thought those were crazy people.
When I started studying the bible with help from a free online bible study series, I learned more about the Holy Spirit. I heard a testimony of a brother in Christ who received the Holy Spirit in a powerful way, and prior to, this person also did not believe such things happened today. The things I learned about the Holy Spirit today rang true for me, so I started asking to receive the Holy Spirit.
My prayer was answered about a year and a half later. I did speak in another language. Mostly I sang in this language, and I knew that it was a song about the churches—both a song of rebuke and one of reassurance and comfort. This was over five years ago, in January 2016. I do think my ministry is to the churches, but this unravels as the Lord wills and I am just along for the ride. I feel blind to my purpose largely, and as I’ve written before, I do not covet offices. I covet Christ and I think this is a good mindset for us all.
In the last few years, my understanding has continued to grow as I learn what Jesus is all about and how He wants us to live. I also have grown in my understanding of the Holy Spirit and the ways in which we tend to err on the side of legalism on one hand and an abuse of liberty on the other: both of which neglect the Spirit. We also tend to neglect the Spirit of the scriptures, which leads to a lot of misunderstanding and more division among us.
I have also changed my perspective on what it means to receive the Holy Spirit. I used to think that everyone must have an experience similar to mine or else they did not really have the Spirit. I do not think that way anymore.
In general terms, this is what I believe about a Christian receiving the Holy Spirit:
If we put our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit is speaking to us. We cannot know that Jesus is the Son of God who was slain and resurrected for our sins without the Holy Spirit. I believe that as we seek Jesus and get to know His ways, we will naturally want to live a life that is more pleasing to Him. In so doing, we will seek the Lord. He sends the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts. If we are bringing forth fruit, then this is the Spirit’s doing.
As for powerful displays, I know these things can happen because they happened to myself and others who I trust. I think this can vary depending on the gifts we are receiving, and I think we might be filled with the Spirit in differing measures at differing points throughout our lives. For example, if we had to give a testimony in a difficult situation, the Spirit might spring up in us an understanding that we did not have before.
In any case, I do know that the Holy Spirt is very active today and there is much we can gain from Him. I also know that Jesus rewards those who diligently seek Him.
The most important gift we want from the Spirit is an indwelling knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ that writes the laws of His Kingdom and His righteousness “on the fleshly tables of the heart.” This is the “engrafted word that saves our souls.”
We can seek other gifts like understanding of scripture, wisdom so that we can apply the ways of Jesus to our lives more effectively, and strength to stand firm in righteousness so that we can maintain ourselves despite living in a corrupt world.
As for gifts that serve the brethren, Paul said that we should covet the greater gifts. I do not believe these have ended. People cite a scripture that says, “when that which is perfect is come, the former things pass away.” This is a paraphrase from 1 Corinthians 3. Some say that “that which is perfect” is the King James Bible, and since we have this, there is no need for gifts of the Spirit. Though I love the King James, this Bible is not “that which is perfect” and we do in-fact need spiritual gifts. Neglecting them has led to a lot of dead churches.
As for me, when I sought Jesus, I wanted more power to live according to His will. I also hated how confused I was and how much confusion there seemed to be in the church. I asked Him to show me what His will is for us in this time and to teach me the truth. I said that if He did, I would tell others even if we don’t like it. This was a foolish request, honestly. I did not know what I was asking for, but my heart was for the Lord so He has worked much in me overtime.
I am obligated to do as I said I would do. I’m also learning that writing is not sufficient. Things are going to get harder. People do not like the truth. How foolish I was, but it’s not like I can go back now. So, I do want to say that we should not be foolish, but remember what Jesus said about “counting the cost” before we ask for things, lest we begin to build and do not have what it takes to follow through.
So, I do not push people into seeking things that might be too much for them, but I do push seeking the Spirit and coveting a closer walk with Jesus so that He can use you according to His will. Some tasks are more challenging, but none of us are better than the other. All things are as He wills it according to the grace we receive of Him. It is all Him anyway. Anything we do in His Name of a truth is only made possible because He does it in us.
Sometime after received the Holy Spirit, the Spirit spoke to me saying that I would “speak graciously to those who are confused and without peace.” I’m just now learning what that is about, I think. And this ties into edifying the church so that we can better stand with Jesus as blameless, chaste virgins who will resist the ways of the Adversary, even unto death if need be.
The Holy Spirit is critical in this. Though we war with sin and with the flesh, we should strive to walk in the Spirt of God. “As many as walk after the Spirit of God are the sons of God.”
I’m still learning what it means to walk in the Spirit, and I believe this is an on-going journey for all of us. I also know that we all need grace because we will all fall short. However, our attitude towards these things matters. Especially as they are revealed to us, so let us consider.
Do I speak about myself too much? Maybe. If you knew what an average nobody I was, you would be comforted. Please seek Jesus for yourself. He can do remarkable things with any of us, and it’s often those who the world overlooks that He will use to stir things up. Some things must be stirred up.
There have been some difficult things said lately when considering the churches of Revelation, so I think it’s good to remind readers of the purpose behind these articles: to consider what we can learn from these churches so that we can grow our relationship with Jesus and with our brethren, and in so doing, better stand against the ways of the Adversary.
This is not to condemn but this is to encourage repentance as we consider ourselves on an individual level. I also want to remind readers that we are considering the lessons given through these letters to the churches in terms of heart issues.
Although we might think of specific groups of Christians as we read these letters, these are not best interpreted according to churches of time, place, or denomination. Rather, these are best interpreted according to the spirit of what is being said. Each church represents an issue that we find among Christianity at large, and we can be of more than one of these churches in spirit. If we are of the rebuked churches, then we need to repent.
I know some Christians do not believe that we should ever need to repent. However, Jesus says to five of the seven churches, “repent or else I will remove your candlestick out of its place.” Let us consider as sons rebuked by our Father and not as “sons of disobedience” that are headed for destruction. However, because we love Jesus and respect what He might be communicating to us in this time, let us consider faithfully.