Responses to Standard No.1
Rosalind and I have been greatly blessed, not only by the large number of responses received to Standard No.1, but more particularly by the tenor of the comments made. In this number, we shall record some of these comments, and suggest a few further thoughts on the subject. We believe it to be a most important concept, and one that is worthy of deep consideration by those who know and love the Lord Jesus.
“Thank you for these helpful thoughts, Arthur”. I suppose this would sum up the response of most, for example, – “I am so happy you wrote this vital message”. “Thanks for that wonderful reminder, brother Arthur”. “I really, really like this article. My spirit leapt within me after reading it. It’s just the positive response in our hearts when we know something to be true and right. It must be! How could it be otherwise?” “Arthur, it’s nice to see your new series. I’ve been blessed by your thoughts. Thank you for putting it together.” “Thanks, Arthur and Rosalind, for your thoughts and study”. “Just a very brief note to thank you for the first in your new series. Prayer outside our perceived sense of time is something that has not really been within my thoughts, though in an intuitive way I guess it’s something I feel comfortable with. Your essay comes as a refreshing opener to me. Thanks.”
“I am sure what you say is right, but we cannot pray for something that has already taken place.” In answering this letter I wholly agreed with the statement, but pointed out that our first article never actually suggested that. We spoke of a more subtle application of one’s prayers.
“It is an interesting idea that when praying in tongues, one could be praying for something that happened thousands of years ago.” Two other correspondents wrote saying that they had also been alerted to the necessity of reviving their prayer life using the gift of tongues. Indeed, this was a new thought to us when writing the first article. We have appreciated what may happen when using this gift, something that had never crossed our minds before.
“I have always had a suspicion that the spiritual world is a lot more complicated than we suspect, so it may be best to accept our limitations in what we can attempt to understand – but that may be too defeatist.” I am sure this is right. The higher dimensional world is above the ability and capacity of the human mind, and no, we must not be defeatist – the Holy Spirit reveals the hidden things of God, according to Paul. The renewed mind of a believer may very well be able to comprehend, if only in part, some of the riches of the “higher life”, a life we possess already, but which is largely hidden from our view by our limitations. Paul expressed the idea when he spoke about the revelations from the Holy Spirit as “an earnest”, a “down-payment”, a “sample” of the riches held in store for us in a yet future day. Paul also spoke about “that which I have committed unto Him against that day” as though to build up a “heavenly bank balance” where “neither moth nor rust may corrupt”. To understand such language requires some time spent in quiet contemplation, and could well be related to our present theme.
I have recently been proof reading a book for a friend in Canada. In one of his chapters he develops the “timeless element” by making an intriguing remark. He spoke of “the eerie possibility of Solomon’s involvement in triggering the sinful fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden”. It is at this point that we must consider the possibility of our actions as well as ourprayers having an effect across the time barrier. My friend’s book discusses the life of King Solomon in depth, and he points out very clearly that Solomon was in many ways a human repeat of the early career and fall of Satan, as revealed in Ezekiel 28, and Isaiah 14.
This thought was most productive to us, and we welcomed it as an additional concept to our present enquiry. To put it in a nut-shell, we need to consider our daily actions on a much wider front than what influences a purely personal reward or punishment. Good actions may have been instrumental in helping those of the past (and future, of course!) through times of temptation and testing, perhaps by providing them with the spiritual strength to hold fast and not give way. On the other hand bad actions may trigger effects that have been picked up by powers of darkness to bring distress, downfall, and suffering to others, exactly as my friend posited in his book.
This is a subject that arrests us in our thinking, and should produce a greater urgency to promote holiness of living. There is plenty in the New Testament to urge us in this direction, but we usually look upon it from a purely personal viewpoint of reward or punishment, but clearly it goes a lot further than that. If our actions influence other people, not just in our immediate environment or amongst those with whom we live, but in a timeless fashion, past and future, then we have a divine incentive to be ever before the Lord to live holy and blameless lives for the sake of others. It is just another way of bearing one another’s burdens and thereby fulfilling the law of Christ.
Did Abraham’s most dreadful time of testing, in offering up his son, and his total obedience to the Lord in this respect, help our Lord when undergoing His cruel punishment on our behalf? Conversely, did our Lord’s suffering on the cross enable Abraham to obey the Lord in his time of keenest testing? It seems likely that there is a reciprocal action here that could easily be overlooked without the Holy Spirit’s revelation of its possibility. I wonder whether this helps us to understand what Paul meant when he spoke about “filling up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ on behalf of His Body, the Church”.
Did our Lord intend to convey this message when He said in the Sermon on the Mount that we are “blessed” when going through manifold persecutions, misunderstandings, and hurtful situations as believers? It is always painful to experience such things, especially when they come from others of the faith. But if we were to understand the wider cosmological effect of such happenings in this life, it might help us to withstand attacks more intelligently, and perhaps with less pain. In the supreme example of our Lord’s passion, He said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. The sheer complexity of the interaction between each of us in this life is beyond our comprehension, but in these few brief remarks we hope we have been able to express something that expands the mind to take in that wider, “beyond the time barrier” influence we all exert on each other. Remember, the Body of Christ is a timeless living organism, not just organisations operating within time and locality.
Once again, we should very much value your comments on this subject.