Saturday, January 24, 2015

Proper Christian Mysticism


It is possible (maybe even likely) that as a Christian reading this article, you fall into one of two camps regarding Christian Mysticism:

Camp 1. You think it’s perfectly acceptable to seek God for “a word”, or “a revelation”, apart from the truth that He has revealed to us in the Bible, the Word of God.

You think that “new truth” can be derived about God, or regarding God’s will for your life, by means of meditation, or even “lightning bolt” revelation apart from the Word of God.

You think nothing of carelessly saying, “God told me this or that” (though you might instinctively hedge your bet by asking, “What do YOU think?”, because in your heart you know He didn’t really “speak” to you.)

You point to folks in the second mystical camp below and say, “They’re just nothing but doctrine! Don’t you know God speaks to us?!”

Or…

Camp 2. You despise the very idea of being a Christian Mystic. You think Christian Mysticism is dangerous, and you take the Sergeant Joe Friday (“Dragnet”) view of truth and the Bible: “Just the facts, ma’am.”

You think that the revealed truth of Scripture is strictly an intellectual pursuit, and the more knowledge of that Scripture, the better — automatically.

You point to folks in the first mystical camp who look like fools in their mystical excesses, and say, “Forget mysticism, gimme Theology!”

I Believe Both Camps Above Are Wrong

Before specifying “why”, let me say these things:

1. Many folks would not consider themselves in either camp, but frankly are admittedly confused by the issue.

2. Theology is great. Since Theology is basically the truth of God and His ways, we NEED theology, and lots of it. In fact, we can’t know God without Theology, also known as Doctrine. If you hear a Christian demeaning Doctrine, they know not what they do.

3. Theology is not enough. First, because it has to be CORRECT theology, that is, biblical. Second, because correct theology has a purpose beyond even itself. “Just the facts, ma’am” is inadequate when it comes to Scripture.

Let me show what I mean directly from the Bible itself with three verses from 1 John.

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“…that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” – 1 John 1:3

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” – 1 John 1:6

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7
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Fellowship with Christ is Proper Christian Mysticism

Fellowship (from the Greek “koinonia”) with Christ is something which is alive and active, just like the Word of God itself. The Greek word is also translated “communion”, which gives some more flavor to this unseen spiritual reality.

As Christians, we can go well beyond knowing ABOUT Jesus Christ, to actually “communing” with Him.

But there are some principles for communing with Him, which we can derive from those passages in 1 John.

1. We need to walk in the light, not in darkness. That means we need the truth of the Scriptures! Without that truth, we simply cannot have real fellowship or communion with Him. This is where “Camp 1″ is in serious error. Serious.

Peaceful, mindless “feelings” can be had by practitioners of demonic Eastern religions, or by drugs, or even by spinning around in a circle until dizzy. Obviously that is not communing with Christ.

Fellowship with Christ includes fellowship with the very Apostles themselves (1 John 1:3). How is that possible? Through their ghosts, or disembodied spirits? Of course not. It is through their WRITINGS, inspired by God. Through the WORD of God.

2. Communion implies “communication”, and so it makes perfect sense that as we LISTEN to God through His Word, that we also SPEAK to Him in prayer.

In that sense, fellowship with Christ may be capsulized as “the Word of God and prayer”. When we say, the Word of God, we imply other things: reading, studying, memorizing, meditating on, and hearing teaching on the Word of God.

Of course, once we’ve “hidden” the Word in our hearts and minds, we have the beautiful BONUS blessing of being able to commune with Christ at will, even when we don’t have our Bibles in front of us.

But make no mistake, it’s not fellowship or communion if we merely “empty our minds”, or think our own thoughts and call it communion. Every thought must be taken “captive to Christ”. In other words, be HIS thoughts, through HIS Word. Then we may interact in prayer — a great privilege, by the way — as we “boldly come before His throne”, cleansed by the blood of Christ.

3. One more thing. Seek Jesus Christ in the Scriptures. It is about Him. All roads lead to Him. Gaze on Him as you take in the Word of God.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18

This is proper Christian Mysticism.

Camp 1, get back to the Word, please. Don’t look for “revelation” outside of it. That will only keep you in confusion. The completed Bible God has given us is “sufficient” for every thing for which we need a word from God.

Camp 2, don’t fear communing with the Lord, as though it were some Eastern weirdness. He is in you. We are “one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:17). Our union with Christ is a mystical thing. It goes beyond doctrine, though it never violates it.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” – 1 Corinthians 13:14


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