Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Power of the Spirit

Some time ago, my husband borrowed the book, The Power of the Spirit (by William Law, edited by Dave Hunt) from our good friend Terry. Brandon raved that it was one of the best books he had ever read, that it had opened his eyes to the truth of the Holy Spirit so many people miss or forget. I intended to read it, but you know how it is.... life gets in the way!

With my hubby out of town, I decided now would be a perfect time to devour it.  With no one to talk to as the household winds down, I can definitely find time to snuggle into my covers with a good book.

If this was my copy, I would have underlined every single word in the first chapter (and likely the second too, but I haven't read it yet.)

Allow me to share some of the (many) points that stuck out to me.  If I were you, I would consider buying my own copy, right now.

"The Spirit of the triune God, breathed into Adam at his creation, was that alone which made him a holy creature in the image and likeness of God. A new birth of this Spirit of God in man is as necessary to make fallen man alive again unto God as it was to make Adam at first in the image and likeness of God.  And a constant flow of this divine life by the Spirit is as necessary to man's continuance in his redeemed state as light and moisture are to the continued life of a plant. A religion that is not wholly built upon this supernatural ground, but which stands to any degree upon human powers, reasonings, and conclusions, has not so much as the shadow of truth in it. Such religion leaves man with mere empty forms and images that can no more restore divine life in his soul than an idol of clay or wood could create another Adam. True Christianity is nothing but the continual dependence upon God through Christ for all life, light, and virtue; and the false religion of Satan is to seek that goodness from any other source."

I should return to a note from the foreword of this book so you can capture a glimpse of who William Law, the man who wrote those words above, truly was.

I have found there were two William Laws: the one who wrote that classic The Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, but who at that stage did not know more than a Christ to be imitated rather than the the Christ imparted; and for that reason John Wesley always had a negative opinion of Law, because Wesley only knew him as the author of that legalistic book in Wesley';s unenlightened and Holy Club days.  But then Law tells many times in his other writings how he later met with the works of Jacob Boehme, the cobbler of Gorlitz, Germany. Through Boehme the midday sun of God's revelation in Christ shone into Law; and while Boehme, as an illiterate shoemaker, could not put his inner insights into coherent German (and his translators into English have the same difficulty), William Law could and did reproduce the essence of Boehme in Law's matchless Spirit of Love and Spirit of Prayer.  [Norman P. Grubb]

I can see why The Power of the Spirit was so passionately written.  When one turns from a legalist sort of life to the power of the Holy Spirit, there is a drastic change within the heart, mind, and soul. As a former legalist, I always struggled with this "freedom in Christ" the bible spoke of. I didn't feel free. If I was free from sin, why did I feel like I was still bound by something else?

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. - Galatians 5:1

I wonder if Law felt the same before he came in contact with Boehme.

I love the point Law makes here:

All goodness comes from God just as surely as all life comes from God. The highest angel has no more of his own that he can offer unto God than the poorest creature upon earth. Were an angel to imagine that the smallest degree of wisdom, goodness, or excellence came from or belonged to himself, his place in heaven would be lost as surely as Lucifer lost his. But songs of praise to their heavenly Father are the angels' ravishing delight, because they never cease to acknowledge God as the source of all good in themselves and in the whole creation. This is the one religion of heaven, and nothing else is the truth of religion upon earth.

This part stings a bit:

Read whatever chapter of Scripture you will, and be ever so delighted with it- yet it will leave you as poor, as empty and unchanged as it found you unless it has turned you wholly and solely to the Spirit of God, and brought you into full union with and dependence upon Him. For delight in matters of Scripture can be nothing but the carnal emotion of a fallen Adam-nature unless this delight finds its source in the inspiration of God as He quickens His own life and nature within the heart.

Wow. Yes. Been there. And I bet William Law had too. For twenty years of my life, the bible was little more than inspirational words and good instruction mingled with fear and horror over what would happen if I couldn't "get it right".  And even still, there are times when I read the bible apart from the Holy Spirit, and while I can take joy in certain verses, I can now tell the difference when it is the Spirit quickening my soul or when it's just my carnal mind taking delight in "a good book".

Law seems to return to the basic, but important truth, that God is the creator of all things.  Each of his points in the first chapter return to this truth- He is the maker.

It is as great rebellion against God to think that your will may ever rightly differ from His as it would be to boast in His universe that you have not received the power of willing from Him.  You are therefore to consider yourself as a being that has no other business in the world but to be that which God requires you to be; to have no desires, to seek no self-ends, but to fill that place and act that part which the divine pleasure has ordained. To think that you are your own, or at your own disposal, is as absurd as to think that you created yourself. It is as plain and necessary a first principle to believe that you are thus God's, and are to act and suffer all in a thankful resignation to His pleasure, as to believe that in Him you "live and move and have your being."

I can just hear the scoffing and see the cringing by those who believe that Christians are a bunch of people who need someone to "control them".  I'm sure there are even a few Christians cringing at these comments.  But they are truth. Law expands on this, and I'd love to share the whole chapter here (but I'm pretty sure that's illegal...)

Here is a great free resource (so I'm told). I've skimmed it. It is based on Law's book, The Power of the Spirit.  Click here to go to the PDF.

With love,

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