What It Means To Be A Christian # 8
(f) A New Set of Capacities
Further, we have a new set of capacities. This is a wonderful thing about the new creation life, this "born anew' life, this true Christian life. We get a new set of mental capacities, something different from, and additional to, and altogether transcending natural mental capacity. It is a new understanding of things, and it is one of the wonders of the Christian life. You may find a person who has had no great advantages academically, educationally, or in any other realm, a very ordinary person: and yet, when they come into a real experience of the Christian life, it is remarkable how they acquire an entirely new understanding and intelligence. They have an insight into the things that a man of the highest education and the biggest brain is - by these means alone - entirely incapable of grasping or understanding.
This is something that the Christian knows to be so true. Very often we may think that a certain person, because of such academic achievements and qualifications, is bound to be able to understand, we are bound to have good interchange and fellowship with them: yet, when we begin to speak about the things of the Lord, we meet a blank - they do not know what we are talking about. But here is this simple man or woman who knows. They have a new mental faculty, a new set of capacities and powers for understanding the things of the Spirit of God, for knowing what no natural man can know - not by the way of study, but by the way of communion with God.
And these wonderful new capacities grow and develop as the Christian goes on. We find that we have new powers of transaction and inaction - of 'doing.' The Christian has the power of doing things that other people cannot do: a power of endurance, a power of overcoming, and a power of working. Many of my readers will understand me when I say that sometimes - indeed very often - it seems that the Lord takes pains to undercut our natural ability for doing, in order to lead us into a life where we can do without abilities, without any natural explanation at all. If you look at much that has been done through true Christians, in this world's history, you will not be able to account for it at all on natural grounds. They were weak things, frail things, things at a discount in this world. But just see what God has done through the "weak things" and the "thing that are not!"
(g) A New Hope
A new hope - that is characteristic of the true Christian. An altogether new prospect has leapt into view; we shall see more of that later. But here it must be stated that the Christian, if a true Christian, is not one characterized by despair, by hopelessness, by a sense of final frustration and disappointment. A Christian is one, deep down in whose very being there is rooted the consciousness that there is something wonderful ahead, something beyond. The final argument for the afterward is not in any system of teaching about Heaven or its alternative. It is found in the heart, in the life - it is found in a mighty dynamic. What is it that has kept Christians going in the face of unspeakable difficulties and sufferings and opposition? What is it? Others capitulate, give up, let go, fall into despair. The Christian just goes on. And it is not because the Christian is of any better natural caliber than others, with more tenacity and doggedness. Not at all. So often they are the weak ones, as counted by men; but there is this going on. They are gripped by an inward conviction that this is not the end, this is not all, there is something beyond. There is this "hope," which has come from the "God of hope."
The Secret of the "All Things New"
Now what is the explanation of it all - a new life, a new consciousness, new relationships, all things new? We are not exaggerating the Christian life. What does it amount to? What is the inclusive secret of it? You see, it is not just that the Christian receives some abstract things. You may call it life, you may call it understanding, you may call it hope, you may call it power, but these are not merely abstract things. The true, born-anew Christian has received, not abstractions, but a PERSON. The inclusive explanation of it all is the gift of the Holy Spirit. God gives His Spirit to them that obey Him (Acts 5:32).
Now, the Holy Spirit is God, no less than God, and the Holy Spirit has all the intelligence and knowledge of God, all the eternal prospect of God; the elements of eternity, timelessness. All that is true of God is true of the Holy Spirit. If, then, God gives the Holy Spirit to become resident inside a person, and that person learns from the beginning, like a babe, day by day, year by year, to walk in fellowship with the indwelling Holy Spirit, that person is bound to grow in all these characteristics that we have mentioned.
In the first place, they are bound to know Divine life - God's own life within. This is a most wonderful thing, when you think of it. We have not just an "IT," but Himself, God in Christ by the Holy Spirit, as our very life. I love the way the Bible puts that about God: "He is... the length of thy days" (Deut. 30:20). Think about that. It means that if God really is our portion, resident within, then our duration, our spell, is not dictated by natural things. He is the length of our days. We shall die when He says that the time has come, and not before. You see, all things are in His hand, and until that time comes the threats may be many, but His life persists, and we rise again and rise again and rise again. We thought the end had come, but we rise again and rise again and go on - because He is our life. The Holy Spirit is called "the Spirit of life" (Rom. 8:2). To have such a Person resident within is a very wonderful thing.
(continued with # 9)