Looking Back to See Ahead
There are signposts along the way. Some signs are for information. A few determine how fast you can travel to complete your journey. Others mark detours or necessary course adjustments. Happily, some signs point to wonderful things that you can’t yet see; future paths filled with grace and glory.
We need to know about needless dead-ends and fruitless diversions. Don’t delay or depart from your course. To do this, look back at your history with God, then peer ahead by the eyes of the Spirit.
Recalling your history with God is a powerful thing to do. When were you saved? Have you encountered God? Has the Lord answered a desperate cry? Review your personal journey. We do this by rehearsing our testimony; remembering the Lord’s faithfulness. Whenever I’m down, doubting or fearful, I remember how he saved me, filled me with his Spirit, answered my prayers, and showed his goodness to me along the way. Some of these events or encounters were quite dramatic.
Our walk with God has elements of hope concerning things we’ve not yet seen. Faith in God steadily grows as we know him more and see his love manifested. Keep yourself in the love of God. Hold on to God’s word to you. To do this, we mustn’t forget what he said or what his word has promised us.
Forgetting our past is a set up for worry. The tragedy is this: momentary disappointment can cloud our vision of what God has done. We forget; we neglect; we lose focus and drift. This closes off expectancy for what God can and will do next. I’ve seen this occur due to short-timer’s mentality, which produces burnout and fatigue near the end. Instead, there ought to be ever-increasing faith and ever-growing glory. Feed your faith. Starve your doubt. Gather with overcomers to receive fresh fire.
Hold on to your confession of God’s word. Boldly speak your personal testimony of past victories. If we don’t know how to suffer with perseverance; if we don’t know how to overcome trials by using our faith; if we fail to discipline the flesh or put down fears, we’ll wilt into a puddle of discouragement.
Let’s remind ourselves of what God has already done. For this exercise, read Hebrews 6:4-5 (NASB).
The statements in these verses are true for me. Are they true for you? We are believers in Jesus. Since the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, things changed for God’s people. God no longer dwells in temples made with hands, but in his people. This is the truth of “God with us”. If we are full-gospel and not reductionist Christians, then we have received five experiential blessings. These are in our personal history already. They are past tense in our history with God but still present with us, helping us now.
1) We have been enlightened.
2) We have tasted the heavenly gift.
3) We are partakers of the Holy Spirit.
4) We have tasted the good word of God.
5) We have tasted the powers of the age to come.
Did you notice how the word “tasted” is used often? David wrote, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Jesus said, “If you are thirsty, come to Me and drink.” Let’s look at these things that we as believers have tasted or received from God. Reviewing his goodness to us— how he has blessed us—will reinforce our ability to stand strong in the present and be more expectant of a good outcome in the future. Here is my commentary on each of these five blessings we can enjoy.
1) Been enlightened refers to the light of Jesus Christ who came into the world to illuminate all men. It especially refers to the light of God that came into our life to illuminate us when we first repented and believed. We are no longer in the dark! The light of God disclosed our sins but also immediately revealed the cure: deliverance and forgiveness already fully paid for by the atonement of our Savior. His light illuminates our conscience, shines glory into our spirit, brightens our intellect, and fills our soul with peace. We can see the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2) Received the heavenly gift refers to The Gift, the Son of God (John 3:16), who was given to us by our loving Heavenly Father. People sometimes use the phrase “the gift of salvation,” which is true, but I prefer saying the Gift of a Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. There is no other salvation available in anyone else. Salvation is more than a plan, it is a person… Jesus! No plan of salvation can replace the Person who saves us. To have Jesus in your life is to possess the gift of eternal life.
3) Partakers of the Holy Spirit refers to the gift that Jesus freely bestows on those who believe in Him. We are “partakers.” Like all the gifts of God, the gift of the Holy Spirit comes by grace through faith. It satisfies the hungry heart. This is an experiential gift, not just a doctrinal confession. It is called baptism of the Spirit, filled with the Spirit, or receiving the gift of the Spirit. This gift is frequently seen being bestowed in the Book of Acts. It is necessary for the vitality of the church. Without this dynamic gift, there is little to see or hear in the body of Christ, except manmade programs. His presence brings visible demonstrations of the Spirit that can be seen or heard: miracles, tongues, believers prophesying, exuberant praises, songs of the Spirit, words of knowledge, various healings, much mutual love, serving one another, words of faith, exhortations, discerning of angels or evil spirits, divine revelation, practical teachings, people coming into salvation, etc. We partake of the Holy Spirit who is with us. When the Lord first filled me with the Holy Spirit to overflowing, I worshipped in an unknown language. Joy filled my heart. Immediately, the Bible came alive to me. The Author of the book interpreted it for me. I fed off the Scriptures in a way that permanently set the course of my life.
4) Tasted the good word of God means we draw life and sustenance from the sacred Scriptures, the Holy Bible. It bears witness to Jesus as the Christ. It explains our future kingdom as believers. The older I become the more I respect and appreciate the scholarly work of dedicated Bible translators throughout the ages. I grew up with the King James version. But many other reliable modern versions are now available. I memorized from the King James, but I study in the New American Standard Bible. I like its precision. I also appreciate the readability of the New International Version. In its paragraph format, the context of a verse in the NIV is easily seen. We are privileged to have access to the printed word of God. The word of God is the greatest historical treasure possessed by humanity. It is accurate both historically and geographically and is reliable. The Jews were blessed with the Old Testament, written in Hebrew. The early church saved and copied the gospels and letters of the apostles, written in Greek. You can trust your Bible. It has withstood diligent scrutiny by scoffers. It will give you God’s wisdom and it comes alive to speak to you. Knowing the Bible will anchor your faith in “true” truth and “real” reality.
5) Tasted the powers of the age to come refers to those experiences of the Holy Spirit’s gifts and manifestations that are supernatural. By God’s power, the future is brought into the present. God performs miracles according to his will. These spiritual gifts are divine, from another dimension; not of this world. The Holy Spirit wants to share his gifts with every believer, and through them, with the whole church. He is the source of heavenly help in desperate situations. His gifts operate by faith as we learn how to cooperate with him and let God’s mercy and power flow through us in a tangible way. The Scriptures list many gifts in three chapters of the New Testament: 1 Corinthians 12, 13, 14. These are pneumatikos (Greek for “spiritual”). They are also charismatic (Greek for “grace-gifts”). So, they are of the Holy Spirit, and they are received and operated by grace. However, the gifts don’t operate in isolation. The only gift that operates in my individual life when I am alone is the gift of praying in the Spirit (ie.- in unknown tongues or the language of angels). The gifts of the Spirit usually operate in the context of the multi-membered body of Christ assembled (Romans 12:5), unless they are functioning in an evangelist or a prophet outside the church. Finally, here is something important we must know. All the gifts operate by means of the faith of the person who possesses them (Romans 12:6). These are powers of the future age that we as believers will know more intimately and regularly after we are resurrected and serving God here on the earth, after Jesus returns and we are glorified. We only taste them now. Even prophecy is partial now. But what a taste it can be! There are times when I’ve had a grace gift operate through me with such raw power that it felt like 220 volts of electricity flowing through my hands, healing a crippled person in a matter of seconds. Other times, the discernment or revelation (divine information) was so clear and open to me that for a moment it was like I was peering into an invisible realm, like a veil was pulled back, disclosing hidden things in a vivid explicit way.
The reason I felt I should rehearse these five historical things for those of us who have already been blessed with the fullness of Christ. To use labels, which I dislike, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Third Wave or Spirit-filled followers of Jesus now living the Normal Christian Life. That is, "being continually filled" with the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 5:18).
We need to appreciate what we have already received. We need to hold steady in our walk with the Lord due to the shaking, sifting, and sorting occurring. We need to be equipped to recognize and utilize the opportunities headed our way.
Being anchored in what God has said or done historically and personally makes you stronger in your faith. If you have the wrong expectation of what lies ahead, you may lose your faith and thus forfeit your reward. Be prepared to hold on to what is real.
Reactivate the gifts of God that have operated within you. Find the right context of community among fellow believers so your faith is stirred and not stifled. Align with ministry teams that carry heaven’s mandate. Don’t lose hope because of the epidemic of lifelessness and the religious routine afflicting most churches. Don’t be distracted by silly politics, the news, or disasters. God is headed somewhere in this present age and we don’t want to miss enjoying it.
Here's what I believe…. Jesus Christ is coming IN his church before he returns FOR his church. ‘Christ Incorporated’ includes you. The Father is jealous for his Son to receive from the nations all that He paid for on the cross. Greater glory and the riches of heaven are now arriving on earth. The greatest harvest of souls ever brought to Christ is awaiting the church. Get ready… you haven’t seen anything yet!
Ron Wood - by God’s grace, a spiritual architect, seer, and scribe for Jesus
Touched by Grace newsletter, January 10, 2018,
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