The Spiritual Basis of the Christian Life (continued)
A New Faculty
Read again John chapter three. As we have seen we have here a new constitution, a new entity - "That which is born of the Spirit". Here, too, we have the sovereignty of the Spirit: He blows where He will, and there is always a mystery, a glorious mystery, about Him and His work. But notice, further, that it is a matter of capacity. To Nicodemus, the Lord says: "Art thou the teacher of Israel, and understandest not these things? ... We speak that we do know ... If I told you earthly things, and ye believe not ..." 'Why, if you cannot understand the secret of the wind - and that is a natural phenomenon, that is an earthly thing that belongs to your world of reason - if you cannot cope with that, what will it be of reason - if you cannot cope with that, what will it be when I tell you heavenly things?' "We speak that we do know".
Do you see the point? Here is a difference of capacity, a new and a different faculty of knowledge, of apprehension and comprehension and understanding. It is a spiritual faculty, for spiritual things. I know how familiar this is to many: it is not new; but there is an urgent need that we should bring this again to the whole realm of our Christianity. I am sure that it has not yet been grasped by many Christians, even of long standing in the Christian life, that, by their very constitution as children of God, they are supposed to have a faculty which makes them capable of comprehending and understanding spiritual things that no natural mind can understand. The youngest child of God is supposed to have this faculty. It may not be fully developed, but it is a constituent of their very being. Have you grasped that? And the very presence of that faculty is the basis upon which everything in the Christian life is going to be built. The Holy Spirit only builds upon His "own" foundations, upon what He Himself puts down as a basis. And that basis is a spiritual one: that which is of the Spirit is spiritual. All our growth, therefore, is going to be along the line of spiritual understanding, spiritual knowledge: not the accumulation of a vast amount of truth, or of religious, Christian information, but what the Spirit teaches us. It will be through the Word, but only what the Spirit teaches, for He has come for that very purpose.
Now, there must be a link between us and the Holy Spirit, which is in correspondence with Himself; and the link between the Holy Spirit and the born-again child of God is the renewed spirit of the child of God, with this new capacity, so that the child of God, over against the whole world of merely intellectual knowledge, is able to say: "We know" - "we speak that we do know". It may be very little, but you know, you know now. As far as you have gone, it is a knowledge which is yours, which is new and altogether different. You are able to say: "I don't know very much, but what I do know, I know; and the way in which I have come to know it is not because it has been presented to me, but because it has happened in me. Something has been done inside; and, although I cannot put it into words or theories, or compose it into a set of ideas, I know - I know!" "We speak that we do know". There is something about spiritual knowledge which is so strong, so settled, so satisfying, so rest-giving. It is a new capacity. What is the difference? "If I have told you earthly things ..." That is one realm: what about the heavenly things? "Now, Nicodemus, with all your wonderful outfit of birth, upbringing, training, education, you are still in the realm of earthly things, and even there they are beyond you. You have not yet come into the realm of heavenly things." Therefore, "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born from above."
That is a very, very great need in safeguarding the whole Christian situation and in the recovery of spiritual effectiveness in this world: a fresh discernment of the fundamental difference between the natural and the spiritual - yes, even in Christian things.
(continued with # 63)