How to Maintain the Spirit Filled Life

How To Maintain The Spirit Filled Life

Chapter Eight

How To Maintain The Spirit Filled Life
Learning To Live The Spirit-Filled Life 89 "Like a Mighty Army Moves The Church Of God!" 95
The Importance And Meaning Of Obedience 90 "Are You Hungry? Pull Up Your Chair And Eat!" 96
Restoring a Broken Relationship With God 91 Why The Local Church? 97
Involvement In The 'Means Of Grace' 92 Discussion Questions: 98
Maintaining Sensitivity To The Spirit's Guidance 93 Discussion Questions: (Continued) 99
'Reaching Out' In Witnessing And 'Reaching Up' In Worship 94    

Philippians 3:12-16

Learning To Live The Spirit-Filled Life

In the Bible reading for today, Paul acknowledges that he has not yet attained his goal, and that as long as life lasts, he must "press toward the mark for the prize" (verse 14). Paul acknowledges in verse 12 that he has not yet reached his goal which is resurrection perfection (i.e., glorification). However, Paul does acknowledge that, he has attained a certain type of perfection as shown in verse 15 ("Let us therefore, as many as be perfect"). The perfection which Paul had attained was the perfection of love and motive and disposition. But the main thrust of this passage is seen by the fact that the essence of spiritual health is growth. There is no state of grace that preserves a Christian for heaven unconditionally. As J. Paul Taylor says, "The experience of heart purity is maintained as long as the Holy Spirit, the personal agent in the work of cleansing, remains. The unregenerate man is not a mechanical man, and neither regeneration nor entire sanctification makes a robot of the new man in Christ Jesus. Human cooperation with the Spirit's operation was necessary to justification and cleansing, and when the heart is fully cleansed, the human cooperation is not terminated … God can, and will, keep us as we keep ourselves in His hands". (Holiness The Finished Foundation, p. 140-141)

It is common knowledge that in a marriage there must be surrender once- and-for-all, and yet day-by-day. Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ" and yet Paul also said, "I die daily". Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life". (John 4:14) Jesus said that if a man comes to him he will never thirst, and yet he implies that moment by moment a Christian's thirst will be satisfied by the water that is continually springing up within him. It is like a rich man who adopts a poor, starving boy from off the street and says to him, "After you come to my house you will never be hungry again". The rich man obviously does not mean that the boy will never get hungry. What he means is that the boy will never be destitute again. The boy will periodically get hungry, but he will be regularly satisfied with food. When Jesus tells us that we will never hunger or thirst when we come to Him, He means that we will never be destitute or in a perpetual state of hunger. We will hunger and our hunger will always be satisfied, and in that sense we will never hunger or thirst. We come to Christ once and for all for fulfillment and yet we experience daily fulfillment.

Have you made a once-for-all surrender to Christ in order to be initially filled with the Holy Spirit? If so, are you learning daily to surrender your life to Christ, in all the details of life, in order to experience a daily filling of the Spirit?

"Father, after making a once-for-all, 'blanket' surrender to you, I wish to maintain a vital relationship to you by receiving from you a continuing cleansing and a fresh outpouring of your love."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The central and final 'Yes' to the Lord at the time of the Spirit's initial filling of my life, contains a multitude of little 'Yesses' which I intend to affirm daily, in order that the Spirit may maintain control of my life forever!

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Matthew 5:17-20, 1 John 2:3-6, Jeremiah 31:31-34

The Importance And Meaning Of Obedience

The important question to ask is this: "How can I maintain a close and meaningful walk with God?" The Spirit-filled life is maintained by obedience and daily surrender to Christ. Daily surrender is the stuff of which obedience is made. Obedience is the stabilizer of the Christian life. Lack of obedience causes shipwreck in the Christian life. The shores of time are strewn with 'King Sauls' who failed to realize that nothing can substitute for obedience–not even sacrifice. Wrote John, "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1 John 2:3-4) There are those who strangely believe in Christ, that somehow it is not so important how they themselves live. They feel that Christ's righteousness will somehow cover their unrighteousness, and that what is changed is not their behavior necessarily but merely their relationship with God. Let us again remind such antinomian advocates who have a weak view of the atonement, that John wrote, "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither know him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil." (1 John 3:6-8 a)

On the other hand, obedience to God is not a slavish, legalistic obedience that is performed out of a mere sense of duty. The Pharisees bent over backwards to keep the Law, but the law they kept was not the Law of God. It was the man-made rules, regulations, and traditions which they strained so hard to keep. They neglected the weightier matters of God's Law and became preoccupied with their own petty ideas and opinions. Jesus said they strained at nats and swallowed camels. They focused so much attention upon externals that they forgot that the essence of godliness is internal purity and righteousness. The children of the Pharisees are still with us. Such are hard and critical of others but easy on themselves. The essence of their religion is a tediously worked out system of 'Dos and Don'ts'. Their obedience is to their own notions and conviction, not to flexible and adaptable principles.

To the Christian that is truly set free from sin and who is living by the dictates of the Spirit, his obedience to God is joyous and delightful. The commandments of God are not grievous to him, but they are his meat and drink. He says with the Psalmist, "I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word". (Psalms 119:16) In God's Law he meditates day and night. His obedience is an obedience from the heart, which issues forth in works of love, mercy and forgiveness. God's laws are written on his heart, and his actions are regulated by the spirit of the law instead of the letter of the law. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

"Father, teach me what true obedience really means. I delight to do thy will, O my God! It is not grievous to my soul. Thy laws are nourishment to my spirit, enlightenment to my mind, and strength to my will!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Jesus did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill the law through the enabling Holy Spirit who motivates me to act and to react in love!

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1 John 1:7-2:2

Restoring a Broken Relationshop With God

We noted in the last devotional that there is a 'line' that separates the expressions of innocent human nature and the expressions of carnal human nature. We must be careful not to cross that 'line'. The Spirit-filled person, while given greater strength to resist temptation, is still vulnerable. We must never become over-confident. Jesus said, "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation". There is no sin, in being tempted. It is yielding to temptation that constitutes sin.

Suppose a Spirit-filled Christian, caught off guard, does yield to temptation and sins. "Suppose we cross the line and do the thing the Holy Spirit rebuked. What then is our condition and what can we do about it? First of all, let us recognize our condition as sinful. It must not be covered up by reference to the wonder of our original crisis experience of surrender and cleansing or sanctification. Too many have thus accumulated a lot of unforgiven sin by assuming that since they had such a glorious experience back there, and carnality was eradicated, that surely nothing now can be wrong. Whatever eradication means–or crucifixion, or putting to death the old man–it is not a chunk of something material that is done away. Rather, it is a wrong relationship between us and God that is destroyed. But just because it is a relationship, an immaterial rather than a material something, it can as quickly be reinstated as destroyed. The cure, then, is fresh repentance and forgiveness and cleansing as we put the relationship right again. And happy is the one who has learned to make this adjustment instantly and quickly." (The Spirit of Holiness, p. 40; Cattell)

John's words are most instructive: "My little children, I am telling you this so that you will stay away from sin. But if you sin, there is someone to plead for you before the Father. His name is Jesus Christ, the one who is all that is good and who pleases God completely. He is the one who took God's wrath against our sins upon himself, and brought us into fellowship with God; and he is the forgiveness for our sins, and not only ours but all the world's." (1 John 2:1-2, Living Bible)

According to 1 John 1:9, Christ's atonement is sufficient for both your sin (sinful nature) and your sins (sinful practices). As long as you habitually pattern your life after the life of God (i.e., 'walk in the light'), you may be assured that God will continually cleanse you from all unrighteousness and keep you in close fellowship with Christ (1 John 1:7). Jesus is both our advocate and our atoning sacrifice. The believer may have his broken relationship with the Father restored quickly and completely! The blood of Jesus cleanses from all unrigh-teousness! When sin comes into your life, plead the blood of Christ immediately!

"Father, help me to guard against sin. Help me to 'watch and pray' constantly. You know, O God, where I am especially weak and vulnerable. You know also the subtleties of the devil. Give me the good sense to honestly and quickly confess when I sin, and to surrender my life anew to the 'cleansing stream' of the blood of Jesus!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: He who made me clean within–at the time of my sanctification–will keep me daily cleansed from the pollution and defilement of sin–until the day of my ultimate glorification!

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Psalms 119:129-136

Involvement In The 'Means Of Grace'

We have noted that Obedience is vitally important in order to maintain a victorious Christian life. Equally important is the believer's involvement in the 'means of grace'. Wrote Paul to Timothy, "I now remind you to stir into flame the gift of God which is within you". (2 Timothy 1:6, NEB) How do we stir up the flame of faith and love within us? We do it by attending unto the 'Means of Grace'. "The term simply means the media or channels through which God ministers grace to His children. These channels are indicated in the Scriptures, and the Christian Church has given careful instructions on how they are to be used." (Donald Bastian) A certain degree of discipline is needed if one is to involve himself in the 'means of grace'. It has been truly said that "no one ever reached any eminence, and on one having reached it ever maintained it, without discipline." (William Barclay) To maintain a meaningful Christian walk, discipline is needed. Structure and regularity in life are important.

Prayer is one of the effective means of grace to the Christian. Paul wrote, "Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus". (Philippians 4:6-7, RSV) Prayer is a means of growth. Prayer is both an attitude and an act. Prayer is a sudden and urgent utterance of the soul, and it is an agonizing and lengthy state of the soul. It is important for the Christian to pray every day. Why? "Because the Spirit-filled person can lose his relationship even as one can lose a human friendship–by avoiding his friend. Friendship with God is lost by ignoring Him. The subtle problem is just this: Friendship is lost a day at a time, and because it is lost no faster than that, we can slowly but surely be blinded to our loss of God. Therefore, prayer must be daily … Is it really necessary that the Christian commune with God everyday? Why not just occasionally? The answer is that without prayer there simply is no progress towards becoming like Christ. The more we pray–if it is truly prayer–the more we become like Jesus." (Alive To God Through Prayer, p. 23,26)

The Bible is also a 'means of grace'. There is a "story of a young man who was packing his trunk for his first long journey far from home. As a friend stood by, the young man packed one article after the other–his suits, shoes, clothes, books and finally his tennis racquet and balls. There remained a space about six inches by four inches. The rest of the trunk was full. 'What are you going to pack there?' asked the friend. 'I have reserved this corner to pack a guidebook, a lamp, a looking glass, a volume of poems, a microscope, a telescope, several fine biographies, a package of love letters, a book of songs, some histories, a hammer and a sword. I'm going to put in that little space the Bible my Mother gave me'." (Shoe-Leather Faith, no. 99; Rose 11)

"Father, I desire to maintain a loving relationship with you through prayer. Involving myself in regular prayer and study of your Word, I believe I will receive guidance in times of decision, reproof in times of mistakes, comfort in times of sorrow, strength in times of weakness, and courage in times of fear! Thank you so much!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will meditate upon the Laws of God–the Bible–and I will muse on the Love of God–Prayer–all the days of my life!

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Acts 8:26-40, Acts 9:10-19

Maintaining Sensitivity To The Spirit's Guidance

One who delightfully adheres to the spirit of the Law, does not force his personal convictions upon others. "Physically, some are allergic to certain things, good in themselves, to which others are not allergic. Presumably flowers are good for beauty and fragrance, but some persons have an allergy that makes it impossible for them to keep flowers in the house if they want to keep their health. If it hurts one's weak conscience to eat meat that was once offered in sacrifice to idols and then is sold in the open market that has no connection with the worship of idols (see Romans 14), Paul would say, 'Let him abstain', but he has no commission to try, judge, and sentence those who can eat it without even thinking of idolatry, much less practicing it." (Holiness, The Finished Foundation, p. 148) In forming personal convictions, here are four questions worth asking yourself (when in doubt about the rightness or wrongness of a questionable activity): (1) Is my own mind clear and settled? (2) Can I really do this unto the Lord? (3) How do I feel about his matter in the light of my coming appearance at the judgment seat of Christ? (4) Will this be an offense to others?" (See Donald Bastian's book, 'Belonging Adventures In Church Membership', p. 143-147)

In maintaining a God-controlled life, it is important to obey God's call in regards to life's mission. Some receive a very clear call as to what they are to do in life; others do not receive such a dramatic and definite call. In testifying of his call, Paul said to King Agrippa, "I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision." (Acts 26:19) Many a man has made shipwreck of his life because he failed to obey God's call into full-time Christian service.

Daily obedience to the "small, still voice" is also imperative. Jesus commanded His followers to take up their cross daily. Ananias immediately obeyed (in spite of personal fear and reticence) and went to the one-time persecutor Saul (Acts 9:10-19). Philip went into the desert of Gaza even when he could not understand why he must go' (Acts 8:26-40). As a result of his obedience, the Ethiopian was converted and a witness entered Africa.

Maintaining the Spirit-filled life means guarding against sin. "There is an area between that which is clearly and wholly for the glory of God and that which is clearly and wholly for the glory of the isolated self–a sort of twilight zone. As one enters it, the Spirit begins to whisper words of caution. These grow more intense is we approach the line. Crossing, there is a feeling of condemnation and guilt which intensifies the further we go. It is not simple, partly because of our dullness of hearing and perception, and partly because of the complex nature of the situation–the intertwining of the legitimate with the sinful in that shaded area … It is impossible to reduce the matter to simple rules or to define exactly the line in all cases. We are shut up to the voice of the Spirit as our only guide." (The Spirit of Holiness, p. 39-40, Everett Lewis)

"Help me, Lord, to listen carefully, understand clearly, and obey quickly. When I am in doubt regarding your will, enable me to wait patiently for further instructions. Help me to follow closely in your footsteps. Then I shall always be a blessing to you and a benefit to others!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will train my 'spiritual ears' to listen for the "small, still voice" of the Holy Spirit–and learn to obey gladly and quickly!

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Hebrews 10:19-25

'Reaching Out' In Witnessing And 'Reaching Up' In Worship

Sharing with others is another means of great spiritual growth. Expressing deepens impression. You may be greatly impressed with Christ, but the more your impression is expressed openly and verbally, the stronger will your love be for Christ, and the more mature you will become. It is said, "Salvation may come quietly, but we cannot remain quiet about it". There will be within the true Christian a desire to share his faith with others, and in sharing his faith, seeking to influence others for Christ. Wrote Matthew Henry, "I would think it a greater happiness to gain one soul to Christ, than mountains of silver and gold to myself. If God suffers me to labor in vain, though I should get hundreds a year by my labor, it would be the constant grief and trouble of my soul; and if I do not gain souls, I shall enjoy all my other gains with very little satisfaction".

"A man accosted Charles Alexander, the great singer and personal worker and said, 'I believe in leading men to accept Jesus Christ, but I don't like your method very well'. 'Neither do I like my method very well', replied Alexander. 'How do you do it?' Confused, the man stammered, 'Well. . . I do not know that I do it at all'. 'Then', said the singer, 'I like the way I do it better than the way you don't do it'." (Shoe-Leather Faith, no. 121, Rosell)

We sometimes pray for compassion for souls, but it seems that compassion mainly comes through active involvement with people. Prayer is important as a means of Christian growth, but it is insufficient without outward expression of one's faith. "A Chinaman brought a number of his friends to the mission. When asked how he succeeded in getting so many to come, he replied, 'I got on my knees and talkee, talkee, talkee. Then I got up and walkee, walkee, walkee'. Pray, and then go to work. Prayer without work is vain. Praying wi thout working, like working without praying, is dead, being alone. Let us all 'talkee and walkee'." (Ibid, no. 540)

Public worship is another great 'means of grace'. We are to 'reach out' in witnessing and to 'reach up' in worship. We are living in a day in which many professing Christians are minimizing the importance of public worship services. Some say that they worship God every day and therefore don't need a special day of worship. In their reaction against so-called 'Sunday Christians', they dismiss the importance of Church services altogether. Some feel that the Church services are too sermon-oriented and thus too impersonal, and therefore such persons are much more satisfied with Home Bible studies as substitutes for attendance at public services. Others feel that, since Sunday is the only day they do not work, that they should use Sunday for family recreation and camping. Such usually say that they can worship God in nature just as well as at Church. Do you have any excuses for not regularly attending God's house? Consider carefully Luke 4:16 and Hebrews 10:25.

"Father, enable me to live a balanced Christian life. Help me to 'reach within' myself to meditate on your Word. Help me to 'reach outside' myself to serve others and to witness. Help me to 'reach upward' to worship and to praise you."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will dwell in the 'House of the Lord' all the days of my life, in order that I might behold the beauty of the Lord!

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Psalms 23:6, Psalms 26:8, Psalms 27:4, Psalms 84:10, Psalms 122:1

"Like a Mighty Army Moves The Church Of God!"

Some of the 'means of grace' are prayer, the Bible, witnessing, and public worship. Consider further the importance of the latter. Notes Richard DeHaan, "The person who neglects regular attendance in the house of God may be revealing that he has never really been saved. It is also possible that this failure is a symptom of a low spiritual condition, and surely continued absence from services will deepen his backslidden state. We know that some people live in areas where there are no Bible-preaching Churches, and that others cannot attend due to circumstances beyond their control. God will give special grace, and the Holy Spirit will minister to their hearts. The chastening hand of God, however, may manifest itself to those who willfully neglect worship with God's people. It is certain that they will reap a harvest of spiritual loss. Moreover, meeting with other Christians in worship is not only beneficial to oneself, but also to others. You will notice that Hebrews 10: 25 says . but exhorting (encouraging) one another'. Your presence will be an encouragement to others. Your absence may disappoint some weak Christian, and help put him on the road to a spiritually cold condition. Then, too, a half-empty Church does not make for a good service. It does not present much appeal to the stranger who comes in. As a Christian, you have a solemn responsibility to the Lord in this matter of Church attendance."

"A minister asked a returned GI to speak in his pulpit. He said, 'Like a mighty army moves the Church of God. The trouble is that NOW millions know exactly how an army moves. Suppose the army accepted the lame excuses that many of you think good enough for not attending the Church. Imagine this: Revielle at 7 a.m.–squads on parade ground. Sergeant barks out. 'Count fours'. 'One, two, three', four is missing. 'Where's Private Smith'? 'Mr. Smith was too sleepy to get up. He said to tell you he would be with you in spirit' . 'That's fine', says the sergeant. 'Where's Brown?' 'He's playing golf. You know how important recreation is'. 'Sure, sure', says the sergeant cheerfully. 'Hope he has a good game. Where's Robinson?' 'He is sorry, but he is entertaining guests today. Besides he was at drill last week', 'Tell him he is welcome any time he finds it convenient to drop in for drill'. If any GI pulled that stuff he would get twenty days in the brig. Yet, you hear stuff like that every week in Church. 'Like a mighty army!' Why, if this Church moved like a mighty army, a lot of you folks would be court martialled within an hour." (Shoe-Leather Faith, no. 7; Rosell)

"Let us not neglect our Church duties and meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the Day of His coming back is drawing near." (Hebrews 10:25, Living Bible)

"Father, if your sinless Son, while on earth, attended the Jewish synagogue weekly as it was His 'custom' to do, then how much more do I, a sinful and needy creature, need regularly and faithfully to attend my local Church! Forgive me for my negligence. Help me to develop a 'holy habit' of committed Church attendance!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Just as a business can only be built by faithfulness and hard work, so a Church can only be built by faithfulness in Church attendance and hard work in outreach and visitation. I will be committed to my local Church!

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Acts 2:42-47

"Are Your Hungry? Pull Up Your Chair And Eat!"

I like the following which my wife, Venita Christian, wrote: "The analogy of the Church which I enjoy the most is that of a family. When we become a child of God we become a member of God's family. We are blessed with many privileges. One of those is that of growing up in the loving, caring atmosphere of the Family.

As a child the most special time in our day, after a big day of working in the field, was meal time. Our meals were served at regular times, the food was delicious, and the fellowship was great! We were all expected to pull up our chair to the table to be together at meal time. As a Christian, the special time with my brothers and sisters in Christ is at 'meal time'. It is at this time that I am strengthened by the Bread of Life and encouraged by the joy of the fellowship in order that I will be a better worker in the Harvest field. In our local Family of God the meal is served regularly, several times during the week. Around the Family Table is a chair bearing the name of each of our family members. A meal is served at Sunday Morning Worship, Sunday School, Sunday Evening Celebration, Christian Growth Group, etc. When we fail to 'pull up our chair' when the meal is served, we most likely will become weak spiritually and will eventually become ill. Not only do we suffer, but so also do our family members. No one can fill our chair but us. When we are not present at the 'meal', we are missed because we are loved. I think I understand more clearly now, having experienced the sorrow of some family members' chairs not being filled regularly, why my father insisted that we all be present at meal time. Our presence was a sign of health and our presence made the family complete. We needed each other after a long and hard day of work. The laughter and the joy over the meal was so satisfying and drew us even closer together. Brothers and sisters in Christ. we need the nourishment served at 'meal time' and we need each other. When we are not present at 'meal time' we become weak, our chair is vacant and other family members are concerned because they love us.

As one who wants to be present at each meal served to our Church Family, I have noticed that one of the first signs of spiritual illness, is the lack of 'pulling up' to the table when the meals are served. Often we feel tired and weak after a day of working in the heat, battling the obstacles of life. The enemy of our souls, the author of spiritual illness, delights in seeing our presence at the table. Sometimes I would tell my mother 'I'm too tired to eat'. She would respond with 'Come and join us, you'll feel better'. And I did! When you feel weak and tired, I urge you as a family member, to 'pull up your chair' to the table. You'll feel better."

"Father, I am often spiritually hungry and in need of soul-nourishment. I thank you for the 'table' full of spiritual food–the local Church. Whenever the 'meal' is being served, let my God-incited hunger drive me to the table where I shall relish the Word of life with other family members!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: It is a sign of spiritual health for me to eat spiritual food with other family members at the table (the local Church services); it is a sign of spiritual sickness to 'lay in bed' and expect others to come and 'spoon feed' me (in the isolation of my own solitude away from other 'family members').

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Revelation 19:6-10

Why The Local Church?

Venita Christian concludes her article by saying, "Family members, some day we will be invited to the table where the meal of meals will be served. The Bible tells us 'Blessed are those who are invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb' (Revelation 19:9). What a thrill to pull up our chair to the grandest meal of all with Christ and the Family of God! Somehow I believe our response to the regular meals with our Family here on earth will influence whether or not we will be blessed to receive that grand invitation to the Meal of meals. My prayer daily for all my brothers and sisters in Christ and for myself is that we will have a good hearty appetite for the Bread of Life and that we will want to pull up our chairs to the table when the meal is served! See you at 'meal time'!"

Are you committed to regular attendance in your local Church? A vital relationship with God cannot long be maintained without regular attendance at the public worship services. I have noticed, after working with scores and scores of young believers during the last twenty years, that those young believers who become committed to regular Church attendance are the same ones who generally grow into spiritual maturity. The opposite is also generally true: Those young believers (or, for that matter, older believers) who 'drop out' of regular Church attendance also 'drop out' of a vital relationship with God. Such persons become luke-warm Christians and sometimes backslide completely. Church attendance alone is not sufficient to maintain a vital daily relationship with God, but it is almost impossible to enjoy a vital relationship with God without commitment to consistent Church attendance. I have never yet met a mature Christian who does not habitually attend public Church services.

Notes C. S. Lewis: "Enemy-occupied territory–that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful King has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to Church you are really listening into the secret wireless from our friends; that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snobbery." (The Best of C. S. Lewis, p. 429,432,435)

There are at least ten good reasons for believing in and being a part of the local Church: (1) The Bible commands it, (2) Jesus and the early Church practiced weekly attendance at Church, (3) the local Church is the center of worship, (4) it is the center of fellowship, (5) it is the center of Biblical instruction, (6) it is the center of prayer and evangelism, (7) it is the center for strategy formulating, (8) it is the center of influence for societal change, (9) it is the center for organized giving, (to) it is the center for spiritual nurture.

"Father, how can I be healed and how can I help others in the development of a vital faith, especially in light of the soon coming of Jesus? In many ways, not the least of which is faithful attendance at Church! Without the protection which the local Church affords, I am vulnerable to the terrible attacks of Satan. Thank you for this effective 'means of grace'!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: As birds flock together, fish swim together, cattle graze together, bees swarm together, so Christians are meant to worship together.

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Discussion Questions:

How To Maintain The Spirit-Filled Life

  1. From a study of Philippians 3:12-16, one can conclude that Paul spoke of two kinds of 'perfection'. What kind of 'perfection' did Paul profess to have attained, and what kind of 'perfection' did Paul acknowledge that he had not yet attained?

  2. How is the experience of 'heart purity' maintained, according to the quotation by J. Paul Taylor?

  3. What is the relationship between once-for-all surrender to Jesus Christ and daily surrender to Jesus Christ? (Note John 4:14.) Is there any state of grace that preserves a Christian for heaven unconditionally?

  4. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Daily surrender is the stuff of which obedience is made. Obedience is the stabilizer of the Christian life". (Give Scriptural support for this statement, if you agree with it.)

  5. What is the difference between gIVIng decisive obedience to the will of God and legalistic bondage to the laws of God?

  6. In forming personal convictions, what are four questions that are helpful for one to ask himself (as derived from a study of Romans 14)?

  7. List some examples from the Book of Acts that demonstrate decisive obedience to God's definite call in people's lives.

  8. Suppose a Spirit-filled believer 'crosses the line' (that separates expressions of innocent human nature and expressions of carnal human nature) and does the very thing the Holy Spirit rebuked. What then is his condition and what can he do about it? (Note 1 John 1:9 and 1 John 2:1-2.)

  9. What does the term "Means of Grace" mean?

  10. Why is it important for the Spirit-filled believer to pray every day?

  11. Why is the Bible such a vital 'means of grace'?

  12. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Salvation may come quietly, but we cannot remain quiet about it."

  13. To what extent do you, as a sincere believer, identify with the following statement by Matthew Henry: "I would think ita greater happiness to gain one soul to Christ, than mountains of silver and gold to myself. If God suffers me to labor in vain, though I should get hundreds a year by my labor, it would be the constant grief and trouble of my soul; and if I do not gain souls, I shall enjoy all my other gains with very little satisfaction". Do you feel that Matthew Henry put too much emphasis on witnessing and soul- winning to the exclusion of some other equally important areas of Christian experience and service? Why or why not?

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    Discussion Questions:

    How To Maintain The Spirit-Filled Life (Continued)

  14. Do you have a definite method (or methods) of witnessing to unbelievers? If so, share your strategy and plans.

  15. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "We sometimes pray for compassion for souls, but it seems that compassion mainly comes through active involvement with people. Prayer is important as a means of Christian growth, but it is insufficient without outward expression of one's faith."

  16. What would you say to those 'believers' who argue that they worship God every day and therefore don't need a special day of worship?

  17. What are some of the 'flimsy excuses' which you have heard, for people not regularly attending worship services?

  18. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement made by Richard DeHaan: "The person who neglects regular attendance in the house of God may be revealing that he has never really been saved. It is also possible that this failure is a symptom of a low spiritual condition, and surely continued absence from services will deepen his backslidden state".

  19. If the local Church "moves like a mighty army", what actions are basic expectations from the lives of the members in the Church?

  20. Do you believe that the analogy of the local Church as a family (with each member of the 'family' expected to 'pull up his chair' to the table to eat) is an analogy that accurately reflects the Biblical picture of the local Church? Why or why not?

  21. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "A vital relationship with God cannot long be maintained without regular attendance at the public worship services".

  22. List at least ten good reasons for believing in and being a part of the local Church.

  23. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Without the protection which the local Church affords, I am vulnerable to the terrible attacks of Satan".

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