You and I and all human beings have a deep longing for something more than we can find within ourselves. God made us that way.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Eccl. 3:11 NIV).
It is indeed a beautiful and wondrous world into which God has placed us. Many seek the answer to that deep longing within themselves in that world, or within that part of the world that is themselves, for the ultimate meaning of it all. They reject the concept that there is anything beyond or outside of the physical or material realm which we can see. Nevertheless, though they search and search for that which would satisfy the inner yearning within their heart for the meaning and purpose of it all, it is hidden from them (Eccl. 8:17). They cannot fathom what God has done in creating the universe and themselves because he is the answer to that quest, and they have eliminated that answer from their universe.
How utterly tragic that so many people absolutely refuse even to consider the possibility that there might be a God who is behind all that we can see and can’t see (Rom. 1:20, Heb. 11:3). For those who take this approach to life are condemned never to resolve that conflict within their breast. They are doomed to go through life only tasting its joy (Mt. 5:45, Acts 14:16-17) but never able to find (2 Tim. 3:7) that deeper satisfaction and meaning that comes from actually dining on the good food which God provides to sustain real life, his Son, Jesus Christ (Jn. 5:48-58).
This mysterious yearning in the human heart and soul for that which cannot be seen is satisfied only through a living relationship with the unseen One who placed this universal longing for something deeper within man. Those who reject him and his goodness will never have true joy and peace (Ennui: The Curse of God).
“There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked” (Is. 57:21 NIV).
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Prov. 13:12 NIV).
“A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil” (Prov. 13:19 NIV).
This last verse quoted above hints at the reason for the dissatisfaction carried by all those who turn away from God as the beginning and end of all things (Rev. 22:13). It is not just a fruitless, intellectual search for meaning, in philosophy or religions of the world, that stymies these searchers; it is a moral problem that prevents them from coming to see the truth about reality and God. They detest turning from evil in order to attain that which is good. Because what they seek is really God and his goodness, and that goodness is not approachable as long as one clings to evil (Ps. 138:6, Gal. 4:30, Mt. 25:41).
Such seekers want the goodness of peace within themselves without paying the necessary price to achieve it (though they may claim they have peace and happiness; but that is only the lesser, human level of such things.) They want what is good without being good themselves. This is impossible. For only a good being can do good (Ps. 119:68, Jer. 13:23). And since God says that only he is good (Mk. 10:18), then the source of both goodness and the peace which all human beings seek can be found in God alone. If we would have peace, we must look to him who alone is good to make our evil nature able to receive good within it.
“Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! how can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Mt. 12:33-34 NIV).
No, the answer is not to seek goodness while still remaining evil, but to become what is sought. It is the only way to gain that peace within that all human beings seek and need.
“Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Ps. 34:14 NIV).
Nevertheless, many choose to reject this one way of God (Jn. 14:6) to provide peace for us, and they seek another way to gain the deeper experience of existence that they hope exists (Eccl. 7:29).
There are two ways human beings use to seek the answer to their own existence and to satisfy the deep longing for meaning and satisfaction within their soul: God’s way and the way of evil, or the devil’s way. Whichever way a person chooses, the fact that so many do choose the way of evil and Satan does show, at least, that there is something deeper to our existence that man instinctively senses and desires to experience. It is how one goes about seeking that experience that is the crucial question.
Jesus warned the church in Thyatira about the false and dangerous way for human beings to seek this deeper level of life. There was a woman in that church who taught that the way to this deeper aspect of life was to be found in experiencing evil, not good. So Jesus warned them:
“Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets. . . .” (Rev. 2:24 NIV).
The church in Thyatira is evidence of the universal need within human beings to find something to satisfy the craving for the deeper things of their existence. While some turn to God and his truth and goodness, others seek the answer in Satan’s so-called deep secrets. Either way, the fact that both avenues are sought is evidence that the deeper levels pull at man. Eve followed one way in the Garden of Eden. Many have since followed her example. But how contradictory and foolish to think that following the pathway of evil will lead one to find the good. There is a better way (1 Cor. 12:31).
Jesus came to show us the better way of God. That better way, indeed the most excellent way and the only way, is he himself (Jn. 14:6). Jesus taught his disciples much about God and life, but even he did not show them all the depths of God, for the simple reason that despite all his great teaching to them, they were still not yet ready to receive these greater depths.
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear” (Jn. 16:12 NIV).
In order to know in more fullness and more depth the Father who had sent his Son for this very purpose, the disciples needed something more than to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Knowing Jesus in this way is just the first step toward knowing the depths of God. He is the gateway to that fuller life which they sought in God. He himself said so:
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture” (Jn. 10:9 NIV).
The pasture is where the sheep go to be fed and grow into maturity. If we would know the depths of God, we, as his sheep, must enter through the gate who is Jesus Christ so that we can go in and out and find this pasture that enables us to know the depths of God through his Son.
“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (Jn. 7:37-39 NIV).
Notice that this passage says that Jesus said this on the “last and greatest day of the Feast.” As was mentioned previously, even unbelievers and the wicked can taste the goodness of God in life (Mt. 5:45). But they will only taste, and what they taste is “but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power? (Job 26:14 NIV). Only those who come to Jesus experience the feast, the depths, of knowing God, because only through him can this be done.
Nevertheless, even many of those who believe in Jesus do not experience the joy of knowing the depths of God. Why is this? It is because they wrongly think that once they believe in Jesus, there is no need for further growth. I once had someone ask me if I had read the entire Bible. I replied that I had read it through many times. That was what he did not understand about Christians. Once the Book was read, why read it again–and again? Obviously, this person had no understanding either about the Bible’s true nature nor the reason for reading it over and over, daily, in fact. He did not understand that the Word of God is very life to the believer in that Word, that it brings life to the one who believes its words.
“They are not just idle words for you–they are your life” (Dt. 32:47 NIV).
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12 NIV).
There are many in the church, however, for whom the living Word of God is not allowed to work its life-giving power upon them, for they they do not go in and out of its pages and find pasture, but are content simply to stay in the pen, the church and their own, limited relationship with Jesus, and be fed by others, such as teachers and preachers. They leave no room for the Spirit of that book to work upon their own spirit. They think that since they have Jesus, they have all they need. This is true concerning salvation, but not about sanctification, that is, living out that salvation here upon this earth in the lives of the saints (Ph. 2:12).
For from the very beginning of the gospel message, it was never about Jesus alone but it spoke also about a second member of the trinity, the Holy Spirit. All four gospels, when beginning their description of Jesus’ ministry here upon earth, mention this. All four think it so important that they take pains to mention the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 3:11, Mk. 1:8, Lk. 3:16, Jn. 1:33).
Now go back to the two passages mentioned previously concerning the deeper things of God:
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear” (Jn. 16:12 NIV).
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (Jn. 7:38).
Both of these passages immediately move on from focusing upon what Jesus does for us to what the Holy Spirit does for us. Here are the completions of the two verses, both of which immediately speak of the Holy Spirit:
“By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (Jn. 7:39 NIV).
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (Jn. 16:13-14 NIV).
Only those who come to Jesus have the opportunity to know the actual feast, experience the depths of God. But this does not come automatically. They must actually feast upon God, take what he offers to them of himself into their own being, to the depths of themselves, just as food is taken into the deepest parts of the human body. Not everyone does this. The wicked who reject God only taste of his goodness that is available to all who live in this world richly provided with good things (Mt. 5:45). Even many who believe do not avail themselves of the deeper riches hiding in their God. When they could be feasting, they simply eat enough to get by each day. This happens because although they know Jesus, they do not know the Holy Spirit so well. Jesus is the gate to God (Jn. 10:9), the Holy Spirit is the gate to the depths of God (2 Cor. 2:10).
Now, before anyone criticizes what has been said above, thinking that this somehow takes away from the glory due Jesus by emphasizing instead the Holy Spirit, note that Jesus himself says that the Holy Spirit is given to glorify the Son.
“He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (Jn. 16:14 NIV).
When Jesus told his disciples that he was about to leave them and go back to the Father in heaven, they were distressed. But Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (Jn. 16:7 NIV).
Thus Jesus is not only the gate to God but to the depths of God. For he is the one who sends the Holy Spirit to us, and he, the Spirit, is the one who leads us to the depths of God (1 Cor. 2:10). As others have pointed out, it is a cyclic process. Jesus directs us to the Holy Spirit, so that we can grow closer to the Father. And the Holy Spirit points us back to Jesus, so that we can grow closer to Jesus. And Jesus prays for us, that we will become one with the Father, even as he is one with him.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (Jn. 17:20-21 NIV).
The Holy Spirit seeks to glorify Jesus. But Jesus seeks to have the Father glorified. That is the purpose for Jesus being glorified, so that the Father will be glorified.
“After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you'” (Jn. 17:1 NIV).
The Father is the ultimate end point for all things (Eph. 4:6). Even Jesus, the Son of God, in his earthly, human form, called him his God (Jn. 20:17). Yet Scripture says of Christ that he is “God over all, forever praised” (Rom. 9:5 NIV). And so, once again, it is impossible to separate the Father from the Son in this manner, for they are one (Jn. 10:30), and to glorify one is to glorify the other (1 Jn. 2:23, Jn. 17:5, Jn. 17:10, Jn. 17:22). Each seeks to glorify the other as well. And so the process goes on in all who surrender totally to the Holy Spirit, just as they have to Jesus Christ, the Son.
Now, none of us can experience completely the total depths of God in this life. Paul knew this, for he said:
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12-14 NIV).
Paul ends this expression of his own quest for the depths of God with this vital injunction:
“All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you” (Phil. 3:12-15 NIV).
There is always more to God than we now know. But that does not excuse us to be content with what we presently know. Instead, we should be so in love with God that we want to know all we possibly can, to be driven by the power of his Spirit within us to seek constantly to grow and grow in our knowledge and relationship with him (Ps. 42:1-2). It is no accident that Scripture compares our relationship with God to marriage, where two people continually grow in their relationship to each other and love for one another (Eph. 5:31-32).
How about you? Is your relationship with God all you think it should be or could be? Do you also not sense a deep desire in your heart to have a deeper relationship with him? You should. God made you for that. But making this deep yearning for the deep things of God a reality in one’s life cannot be achieved by anything we do, no matter how much we yearn for it or strive after it. That is the flesh, and the flesh has no power to give this great blessing to us. It comes only from the Spirit of God.
“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (Jn. 6:63 NIV).
The baptism of (or with) the Holy Spirit is the gateway to entering into the deeper things of God (1 Cor. 2:9-13). This baptism has been a great blessing in my own life and I wish for others who have not yet taken hold of this great blessing of God to do so. To that end, I have summarized some key points to receiving this baptism of the Holy Spirit as follows:
1. You must believe in Jesus Christ, that is, be born again in him. (For Jesus is the one who gives the baptism of the Holy Spirit: (Mt. 3:11, Lk. 3:16)).
2. You must believe in this baptism of the Holy Spirit. (You cannot receive that which you do not believe exists (James 1:5-8)).
3. Get rid of all known sin in your life (unforgiveness especially; 2 Tim. 2:20-21)).
4. Ask God for the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 7:8)
5. Believe that you have received it, whether you feel anything or not. (Some experience great emotions; others simply quietly receive it. We are all different and unique. 1 Jn. 5:14-15)).
6. Thank the Lord for giving the baptism of the Holy Spirit to you.
7. Use the power and gifts made alive in you by this baptism to honor God, serve others, and build yourself up in your most holy faith. “But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 1:20 NIV).
Another, fuller, guide is given here:
Baptism of the Holy Spirit
In no way is what has been written here a full exposition regarding either the baptism of the Holy Spirit or the issue of growing into the deeper things of God. It is meant to encourage all who read it to grow in the Lord and seek his infinite depths. Call upon our Lord to reveal himself more deeply to you, so that you may glorify him more fully in your life.
“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things which you have not known” (Jer. 33:3 RSV).
May all who seek the deeper things of God rejoice as God rewards that great quest.