Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on Sept. 27 2009.
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us" (II Cor. 3:7).
When I first heard this title, I groaned to the Lord, "Oh, no. That sounds like something to do with physics and I wouldn't know a "physics" if I met one on the street." Remembering that God gives me these writings, I perked up a bit thinking maybe He would make the subject more understandable for me. I typed "higher vibrations" into the on-line Encyclopedia Wikipedia, and sure enough, up popped such esoteric, difficult topics as Quantum Mechanics and String Theory. What croc infested swamp had I fallen into? After percolating a while, it came to me that when the Spirit pulls the veil from our eyes, so we can see clearly what God has for us, that process can be described as a "higher vibration."
Since God dwells in heaven, in Spirit, and our flesh dwells on earth, we need a higher vibration to communicate with Him. I woke up at 1:00 A.M. the following morning with the thought that I needed to get up and reread the account of Elisha's servant who needed some divine assistance to see the hand of God in their lives, which at the moment seemed to him to be spiraling out of control (II Kings 6).
The story is this. The king of Aram was at war with Israel. He plotted and schemed ways to take advantage of what he perceived as Israel's weaknesses. It wasn't a full scale war, but more like border skirmishes which he intended to carry out. However, each time he planned a raid, the Israelites seemed to know in advance that he was coming, enabling them to foil every one of his attempts! The flummoxed king believed he had a "mole" in his midst, a traitor, a spy. When he was raging at his men and demanding to know which of them was on the side of the king of Israel, one of them explained, "None of us, my lord the king," said one of his officers, "but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom" (II Kings 6:12).
The king immediately demanded that their surveillance team find out where Elisha was located. When it was reported that he was in Dothan, the king "sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city" (Vs. 13). The story resembles an exciting TV show scene where the good guy is penned down by the villains who are out to kill him. The next morning, Elisha's servant got up early. When he went outside, he saw that "an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city" (Vs. 14). Understandably upset, he cried out to Elisha, "Oh my lord, what shall we do?"
The prophet's answer has reverberated down through the centuries in the hearts of the followers of God: "Don't be afraid,' the prophet answered, 'Those who are with us are more than those who are with them" (Vs. 15). He prayed that the Lord would open his servant's eyes so he could see. When God answered that prayer, the scales fell off the servant's eyes; he encountered the "higher vibration," enabling him to see "the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (Vs. 17). Next, the prophet asked God to strike the Arameans with blindness, which He did. That allowed Elisha to trick them into following him into Samaria, where the king of Israel was waiting to capture them. It's a good story showing the faithfulness of God and illustrating that things are not always the way they seem to us if we are depending only upon our natural eyes.
There's also considerable grace shown by God through Elisha, not always the case with this fire breathing prophet. The king of Israel was so astounded that the tables had turned in his favor that he asked the prophet if he should kill his enemies. The man of God said, "Do not kill them....Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master" (Vs. 21-23). This act of grace in place of retribution, which they expected and no doubt deserved, resulted in peace with Aram, which quit raiding Israel's territory.
Paul picked up this theme centuries later, asking "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us ALL, how will he not also along with him, graciously give us all things?" (Rom. 8:31-33). And John the Beloved, assured us, "You, dear children are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (I John 4:4). God brought it to us and He will walk us through it.
Believers have always relied upon and been saved by the truth that God, who is ever with us, is greater far than the weapons formed against us, be it Nero's insane torment of Christians in the Coliseum, or Hitler's holocaust, or suicide bombers from the lunatic fringe of Islam. When He opens our eyes to see that we are not alone in this ordeal, that there are "chariots of fire" all around us, we have entered a "higher vibration." It is the faith of Christ which transports us there, not something we can drum up on our own.
During a recent Saturday morning phone visit with Harry and Jeri Fox, Harry was expanding the subject of grace, as he often does. He mentioned that Romans, Chapter Seven, is considered by some, to be an account of Paul's struggle with sin BEFORE he became a Christian. They believe that his conversion to Christ was the answer to his anguished cry, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 7:24-25). After his conversion, the proponents of this idea believe, he could rejoice, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom 8:1-2). Like most Fundamentalist doctrines, this one sounds plausible, but fails in the "petri dish" of life. As Harry pointed out, this idea conflicts with Paul's other teachings.
It seems to me that Romans Seven, is the clearest explanation we have in the New Testament of the folly of human effort to be good, to keep the law. Paul masterfully defines the situation we encounter when we try to live by law. Not only can we not do it, but the law, Paul declares, is the very instrument used to defeat us: "For apart from law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death" (Vs. 8-11). He concludes, "So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Did that which is good, then become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful" (Vs. 12-13).
What in the world is he talking about here? My experience with trying and failing, trying and failing to keep law in various formats is that such frantic trying seems righteous at the time, but it never works long term. Christians talk a good game about being like Jesus, doing what Jesus did, following Paul's admonitions, and on top of that, trying to please whatever religious rules their particular church has laid on them. My observation about this in my life is that talk is cheap. Righteous rhetoric may fool your friends, your mother, or your pastor, but you cannot fool God, who lifts the veil and shows you, like He did Paul, "For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do, this I keep on doing" (Vs. 18-19). Of course, he does say that it is the "sin living in me that does it" (Vs. 20), but still that doesn't help very much in the grand scheme of trying to live the Christian life portrayed everywhere in the New Testament.
It just won't wash to say that Paul's experience in Romans Seven was representative of his life before he accepted Christ. How do I know? By looking at my own life, of course, and the lives of Christians around me. Before God called him off the playing field and put him in the "dugout" for the time being, Lenny spent the first seven years we were in Missouri attending an adult men's Sunday School class at a local Baptist Church. One of their prevailing themes was their sinfulness: "We're just sinners saved by grace." Of course, that describes all of us, except their emphasis seemed to me, to be on "sinners" rather than "grace." These men claimed to be "born again," Bible believing, church attending, faithful Christians, and yet by their confessions, it was obvious that they were stuck in Romans Seven, never having experienced Romans 8:1-2. In other words, they had not entered God's "higher vibration" which reveals to us that we are NO LONGER controlled by our "sinful nature, but by the Spirit" (Rom. 8:9).
This passage exudes the power of God for our lives today: "But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your MORTAL bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you" (Rom. 8:10-11). No wonder Paul advised, "Reckon yourselves dead to sin but alive to god through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:11, KJV). Dead men and women do NOT sin! Freedom is knowing that Christ in us lives the Christian life through us. HE is the conveyer of all of God's good gifts to us.
Sin consciousness is a cancer of the soul. It is a denial of what Christ actually accomplished on the cross for all men: "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD!" (I John 2:2). IF that is true and our sins were paid for, past, present, and future, then to wring our hands over them and continuously feel guilty about them, is a slap in the face of our Savior. We might as well say to God, "You are NOT powerful enough to keep me from falling. I'm too wretched to be redeemed."
Christians who have obeyed a "form of doctrine," believing THEY have "made a decision for Christ," often have the most trouble with sin, because God has not YET shown them that their salvation or level of spirituality really has nothing at all to do with with their efforts. It is a gift of God's grace, and it is HIS responsibility to remove the veil from our eyes that we may see Him as He is. When Christ Baptizes us in His Spirit (Lk. 3:16), we are released to be who we are in Him. "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which GOD PREPARED IN ADVANCE for us to do" (Eph. 2:10).
Father, we thank You that we are seated in heavenly places with Christ, that in Him, we are becoming the righteousness of God. Open our eyes to see You as you are, Abba, that we may be like You. Make us instruments of peace in this world. In the name of Christ we ask it. Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail Address)
The Glory Road
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This site was created on 08/18/09
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister
and last updated on 09/27/09.