Deeper Life in the Spirit
The message of the Deeper Life in the Spirit
soars on wings to heights far too lofty to be seen by many
modern-day Christians whose consecration is shallow and whose
vision seldom reaches into the highest heavens. Jesus' call to total
commitment and His emphasis upon the crucified life will
seem far too demanding and mystical, if not in fact impossible,
for the followers of popular religion, to whom the term
"discipleship" has lost all real meaning. Indeed, the
cultivation of the inner life, devotion to such disciplines as
sincere prayer and fasting, the serious study and practical
application of the teachings of Christ to everyday life, are
things too tedious and impractical to be given serious
consideration by contemporary, institutional Christianity with
its devotion to externalism and emphasis upon religious activism.
A Church which long ago left its first love and in whose heart
the fire of the Holy Spirit has gone out will not feel at ease in
the company of those saints who advocate the need of a new
baptism of power from on high, and a return to the apostolic
message, faith, and practice.
A message of holiness and crucifixion of the self-life is still as unwelcome at present as when first advocated by Christ and the apostles, who insisted this to be the ultimate goal of the Christian experience. But for an increasing number of those saints who are being brought into higher realms of experience and truth by the Spirit now at the consummation of the age, the present-day outpouring of the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of Joel's prophecy, and the renewed emphasis upon the Spirit-filled life, come as refreshing rain in the midst of a dry wilderness.
— Hobart E. Freeman. 1970
The Nature of the Deeper Life
What exactly is meant by the Deeper Life in the
God in this present hour is pouring out His Spirit upon all flesh, fulfilling
the prophecy of Joel 2:28-29, thousands of believers are discovering that there
is a deeper experience with God after salvation, namely, the baptism in the
Holy Spirit. Yet, astonishingly few Christians, including most who have
received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, have the remotest idea what is meant
by the deeper life in the Spirit. While countless thousands in all
denominations have experienced the reality of the promise in Acts 2:38-39, it
comes as a surprise to most of them to learn, after they have received this
experience, that they still have not attained God's highest purpose for them.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is, in reality, the "means" to a greater spiritual experience—the fullness of God Himself (Ephesians 3:19). The deeper life in the Spirit is the Spirit-led life (Romans 8; Galatians 5:16-25); it is the crucified life (Galatians 2:20); it is a life of total faith in and dependence upon God (Matthew 6:33); and it is the Spirit-filled believer's growth "unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).
How is this deeper life in the Spirit to be attained? The subject will be more fully discussed in the following chapters where it will be shown that the message of the deeper life is basically the message of the cross. The way into the deeper life in the Spirit is the way of the cross. It means to take up the cross and follow Jesus. In a word, it is the death of the self-life. God, in this hour, is calling a people to walk on a higher spiritual level than they have ever experienced before, and He is offering them nothing less than the fullness of Himself! The deeper life is walking in the Spirit in total commitment as disciples. The future goal is the fullness of God.
More and more disciples who have entered into the glorious experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit are now being brought by the Spirit into a place of the crucifixion and death of "self." This is the essential condition to receiving the fullness of God, because to whatever extent one is filled with "self," he cannot be filled with the presence of God. The deeper life in the Spirit is not some mere doctrine to be studied with the intellect, discussed, and then forgotten; but it is a real experience with Christ, as the Holy Spirit brings us into conformity to the death of Christ, so that His resurrection life and power may be manifested fully in us. This is the message of the hour. God is at this very moment preparing a body of believers which He intends to bring into the fullness of Himself. They will experience the fullness of Christ's resurrection life and power and be used to fulfill His glorious purposes in the restoration of all things now at the consummation of the age (Acts 3:21). For those who are unfamiliar with this great truth we suggest a reading at this point of some of the more significant passages dealing with the deeper life: Matthew 5:1-7:29; 20:25-28; Mark 11:22-24; Luke 9:57-62; 14:25-35; Romans 8; 12:1-2; Galatians 2:20; 5:16-25; 6:14; Ephesians 3:1-19; 4:7-16; Philippians 2:5-8; 3:10; Colossians 3; I Peter 2:19-23; 4:1-16; Revelation 2:1-3:22.
The Need for the Deeper Life
The present age is characterized by two evils affecting both
the secular and religious spheres of life. One concerns moral discernment; the
other involves moral authority. The spiritual and moral character of the
present age shows how far conditions have deteriorated. At this point, the only
solution, as well as the greatest need of Christianity, is the restoration of
the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in the church. This is not to be
construed as some sort of mystical empowering of the present religious
institution, whereby its current programs, organization, and methods are made
more effective. The need is for a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit by
individual Christians in an experience identical to that received by the
disciples at Pentecost.
To compensate for its lack of power and effectiveness against the present-day flood of wickedness and unbelief, the church has turned to such substitutes as increased religious activity, new methods, dynamic programs, and the merger of denominations in order to multiply its membership and increase its outreach. However sincere the effort may be on the part of some, all such attempts are destined to fail, just as they have in the past. Man cannot restore life to the body by means of artificial respiration when the spirit has departed, for "the body without the spirit is dead" (James 2:26). Only an effusion of power from on high within the lives of Christians themselves can deliver the contemporary Laodicean church from the moral and spiritual chaos affecting the whole of mankind in this hour.
1. Moral And
spiritual characteristics of our age.
The imperative need of the restoration of the sovereign operation and ministry of the Holy Spirit once more in the church will be seen, we believe, from the following discussion of the two moral and spiritual characteristics of the age in which we live.
is an age without moral and spiritual discernment.
Although the present age has been described by some observers as an age of scientific progress, human achievement, and tremendous advancements into new frontiers of technology, it may, from a moral standpoint at least, be more accurately described as an age of moral and spiritual crisis. This is reflected in such things as the phenomenal increase in crime, war, and drug addiction, the almost universal preoccupation with sex, the general disregard for authority, the great social upheavals and racial strife, and the almost abysmal lack of moral understanding and concern on every hand. We find ourselves living in an age analogous to the dark ages of the Judges when "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). The great apostasy of our day and the perilous times in which we live were foretold by the Apostle Paul as characterizing the last days:
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.
– II Timothy 3:1-5
Truly it is an age when men and
women, in many respects, seem to have lost the capacity for moral discernment,
calling darkness light and evil good, as was true of Israel in Isaiah's time
when he declared, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that
put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and
sweet for bitter" (Isaiah 5:20).
As in the period of the Judges, young and old alike consider themselves adequate authorities in spiritual and moral matters, judging what is right and wrong, scorning all attempts at instruction or restraint as outmoded "authoritarianism." The carefree moral philosophy of today is conformity and compromise. It is a time when, even among professing Christians, being "accepted" by the group seems to be more important than being accepted by God. The distinction between the sacred and the secular is rapidly becoming more difficult to discern; there is a loss of a sense of reverence toward God and sacred things; the concept of holiness in the life and character of the Christian is for the most part a thing of the past; and a lack of respect for parents and authority by the younger generation is reflected in a lack of respect for and fear of God. Within Christendom itself the church and family as the center of interest has been largely replaced with secular interests, and the once quiet Christian home is now monopolized by TV and rock music. Two global conflicts in this century, together with the constant turmoil, world-wide unrest, confusion, and uncertainty about the future have taken their toll, resulting in moral decay, increased drunkenness, divorce, juvenile delinquency, crime, and a loss of spiritual concern. Modern scientific and technological achievements, in spite of their beneficial results, have only added to the problem. They have placed at our disposal hundreds of improvements to save time and make life easier, but have provided thereby more time for development of the secular life, leisure, pleasure, and sin.
is an age without moral and spiritual authority.
The prevailing moral philosophy of this age can be characterized by three words: everything is relative. Morals are relative to time, place, and circumstance. Conduct is largely determined by the principle "when in Rome do as the Romans do," and "right" is now defined as whatever is popular and acceptable by the majority, The erroneous notion that "the end justifies the means" frequently prevails both inside and outside the confines of Christendom. "Truth" and "right" are whatever work and produce results; failure is wrong and cannot be tolerated. Conscience is explained as merely the childhood memory of the "do" and "don't" of one's parents; so-called sins are written off as "mistakes" or "errors in judgment" in our evolution to a higher morality; and pleasure and happiness are seen as good ends in themselves, to be pursued for their own sakes.
What is responsible for such moral and spiritual confusion? For the majority at least, there is no longer an objective moral authority to guide their lives and conduct, to teach them truth, to indicate the difference between right and wrong, or to establish a standard. In this age of materialism and skepticism, men have lost faith in the integrity of the Holy Scriptures, and there remains, therefore, no reliable, unchanging standard of right by which to measure conduct and character. Moral conduct is largely determined by the principle of expediency. Without an infallible, objective moral standard (the Word of God), the principle of expediency reigns. If it works, if it relieves pain or displeasure, and if it promotes one's welfare and happiness, then it is right, Too often the contemporary church, denying the inerrancy of Scripture and influenced by the principle of expediency, asks but one question in conducting its affairs, in securing its funds, or in promoting its programs and institutions: "Will it work?" As a result, the church, more and more, has come to resemble the secular community in which it exists, reflecting its customs, attitudes, and moral values, rather than being seen as the moral and spiritual influence upon the community. Moreover, it has become increasingly indifferent to the moral declension, decay, and spiritual shallowness within its own confines, and as a consequence, can no longer speak with moral and spiritual authority to the community at large.
What is the solution, in an age without spiritual discernment and authority, for those who possess a measure of spiritual awareness and concern, and who desire to walk in the ways of truth and faithfulness? God Himself has provided the answer to the dilemma, thereby enabling the sincere Christian to rediscover the distinctiveness of his calling to be the "salt of the earth" and "light of the world." The move of the Spirit of God throughout the world today, as God pours out His Spirit in fulfillment of Joel's prophecy, is Heaven's answer to man's spiritual need now at the end of the age.
of the present-day outpouring.
The significance of the present-day charismatic revival and outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon believers in all denominations throughout the world may be summarized as follows:
It is God's answer to
Jesus' prayer in John 17, "that they all may be one." This is not an
organizational oneness promoted by ecclesiastical leaders, but a oneness of
love and purpose in the Spirit. Through the experience of the baptism in the
Holy Spirit, God is gathering the divided, scattered members of His body,
separated by doctrine, traditions, misunderstanding, fear, and distrust, and
uniting them once more in a bond of love. What the religious leaders are
attempting to do by organizational mergers, God is doing by His Holy Spirit.
When the church lost the reality of the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, it lost its one true unifying force, and the body of Christ, as an inevitable consequence, became divided. But those who receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit can testify that an immediate effect in their lives is the restoration of a spirit of love and true oneness with all saints everywhere.
The present outpouring of the Holy Spirit is also God's answer for the Laodicean state of the contemporary church, a church which has the form of godliness, but denies the power thereof. Where the Holy Spirit has been invited to return, a charismatic revival is taking place: the gifts of the Spirit are being restored (1 Corinthians 12), the signs are following the preaching of the Word once again (Mark 16:17-18), and the supernatural character of the gospel is once more being demonstrated.
The great moving of the Spirit of God over the world in this hour is also God's reply to the great demonic flood sweeping throughout the world in preparation for the reign of Antichrist. We are witnessing a fantastic increase in Satanic wickedness and influence in the form of crime, sexual perversions, suicide, wars, fear, anxiety, divorce, physical and mental illnesses, drug and alcohol addiction, racial strife, hate, deceit, skepticism, and moral decay, as well as the spread of spiritualism and a phenomenal increase in occultism of all forms.
As the Apostle Paul has shown, the believer's warfare is not against flesh and blood, nor is he contending merely with contemporary secular and materialistic philosophies, but against the spirit of this world (Ephesians 6:10-12). This is the precise reason men and their methods of reform have failed and will fail to promote world peace, check the increase in crime and moral decay, or stem the tide of social unrest. The need of the hour is for Christians to experience once more a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit, and to rediscover His blessed ministry in their lives. Only He can bring the believer into a place of total consecration and the deeper life, so that he will be able to overcome the spirit of this age, to withstand in the evil day, and having done a& to stand. Never before in history has the church needed a baptism of power from on high more than at present, in an age without moral discernment or spiritual authority.
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