I am convicted that my faith is imperative to my existence. There comes a time when you stop living on what you have been taught and you start living on what you know.
When I was a child, I thought like a child. I went to Sunday School and kids church and, of course, where all the kids are geared up across the nation to go right now – Vacation Bible School! I loved that stuff. I sang in all the choir’s, won my share of pageants, and learned the rules and regulations of the church right alongside the B-I-B-L-E. I grew up to be a youth officer, a young adult officer and finally a regional young adult president and then served in as a national delegate to the highest governing body of my denomination. I was a proper C.M.E. princess. My sisters and I all were.
We also went to Catholic school where we had bible class and were tested on minute details of the holy scripture. Although our school is defunct, we have reunions that encompass our primary, secondary and high school classes. I’m the pleased as punch secretary for the PJ23 Reunion Board! If that is not enough religious grounding, my extended family are either Apostolic or Baptist.
I absolutely know which Sundays are white and when the liturgical calendar calls for the changing of the pulpit linen to red. I know nobody, and I do mean, nobody is going to be walking around the sanctuary during prayer or the sermon. I know when all the conferences are for my denomination, two or three others, so they don’t correspond and Jehovah’s Witness – because some of my family worship that way too. I know what time Sabbath service starts at the Seventh Day Adventist Church and when Ramadan begins. I mean, I really know my religion.
My Dad, the late Rev. Theodore R. Sanders, and my church, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, always taught that when you have a personal experience with God – the experience that John Wesley, the Father of Methodism, wrote about when he said
“Absolutely, all of the Godhead is present and operative in the Holy Spirit; functionally or redemptively the Holy Spirit is the earthly vicar of the heavenly Father and Son. The indwelling Spirit applies the work of Christ to the soul of man and initiates and administers the Christian life.” (Thomas Rees, The Holy Spirit in Thought and Experience (London: Duckworth & Co., 1915), pp. l91ff. Cf. Lycurgus Starkey, The Work of the Holy Spirit: A Study in Wesleyan Theology (New York: Abingdon Press, 1962), pp. 30-31.)
“Revelation is complete, yet we cannot be saved unless Christ be revealed in our hearts, neither unless God cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of His Holy Spirit.” (Letters, IV, 369; Cf The Journal of the Rev. John Wesley, A.M., 8 Vols. (London: The Epworth Press, 1938), VI, 117.)
is when religious tradition becomes type and shadow; your real relationship with God the Father, God the son, and God the Holy spirit has just become personal.
This is the point when you are no longer just going to church- you have now become the church. The spirit that is within you has become quickened with the Holy Spirit and a change (have you ever heard Tremaine Hawkins song “Wonderful Change”?) comes over you. To put it another way – It just got real in here.
You start to seek God in a new way. One author of a text on John Wesley says ‘it is here where we see Wesley change from a student to a theologian’. You come to the conclusion that all that concerns the truth of God must line up with the Word of God and you must have that same divine revelation in your Spirit to seal it. How can you be sure that it does? God’s word will not conflict with itself. God’s word says in Corinthians Chapter 13: “Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.”
He himself is love, and He will not contradict Himself. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 -
- First was the word, and the word was with Him, and the word was Him-
- First was love, and the word was with love, and the word was love -
God’s word cannot contradict itself nor can it be hate.
What is Happening?
Initially, children grow up under the doctrine of the parents. That happened to you and me, no matter who raised us – but at some point after we turn 12 we have to determine our own faith – or lack thereof. We all have walked in religiosity – it’s kind of like apprenticeship. Someday, though, every apprentice gets bumped up to the mastery position. That experience is between us and God – and every individual must take full responsibility for what they experience in relationship to salvation. Nobody can answer my salvation question but me, and my answer is based on my full personal knowledge of God.
What Can I Do Today?
Read a little bit about from the Wesleyan Theological Journal about justification by faith or about John Wesley’s Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Think about your own relationship with God and write down how it came to be what it is today. Putting that in writing is an important step.
Father, I need my own relationship with you. I need Christ revealed in my heart that it might be cleansed by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and I might be saved. Then I need the Holy Spirit to dwell with me always, but not for the satisfaction of others – for the redemption of my self. Amen
— Blck Divrcd Virtuous (@BDandV) July 13, 2012