3. The Second Place of Knowing God
We know that everything that God is resides in Jesus and that Jesus lives in our hearts. Thus we know when we were born again, when we asked Jesus into our hearts, we received everything God has for us already. But then we come back to the first questions in this letter: “Do I know God very well? Do I know Him personally and real? Do I understand His heart?” Yes, we have received everything God has for us because all of it is in Jesus and Jesus lives in our hearts. But do we KNOW everything we have received?
3. The Second Place of Knowing God
© Daniel Yordy - 2012
Jesus said, “Eternal life IS to know the Father and to know Jesus Christ whom God has sent.” (John 17:3)
A question we should ask ourselves is, “Do I know God very well? Do I know Him personally and real? Do I understand His heart?”
All of us know instinctively that knowing a lot of things “about” God can never replace an intimate and personal relationship with God Himself.
You know, it is amazing how many times and ways God shows us in the Bible that He has provided three places of knowing Him, each place of knowing Him more personal and real than ever before.
It's easy to understand why God would do this; He is so tender and kind. God is a big God and sometimes a bit scary to us. Sometimes we're afraid that He will “make” us do something or be something beyond what we are willing. This fear is never true; God never pushes Himself on anyone, but He shows Himself to us only as we invite Him. God is the perfect gentleman.
The first place of knowing God is most precious to us. That happens as the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins and our need for a Savior. We feel Him warming our hearts and in a moment of choice, whether in a service or listening to a friend or even reading a book, we ask Jesus to come into our hearts and to be our Savior.
And He does.
Jesus comes into our hearts and, for the first time in our lives, we know Him. So many of us say how clean we felt in that moment, all the great weights of sin and fear lifted off of us. Suddenly we knew that Jesus is real, that He is alive, and that He lives in our hearts.
How did we know such a thing?
People who don't know God at all throw “studies” at us claiming its all just a “region of the brain” that got excited, nothing more.
But we know better; we cannot explain it, but we know that Jesus is real in our hearts.
The truth is, our spirit was born again. For the first time in our lives, we knew the realms of spirit. And we knew that we were clean, and that Jesus is real in our hearts. This was a spirit-knowing and thus cannot be argued at people who do not know the Holy Spirit.
We know that Jesus is the Word God speaks, the Seed planted in the ground. We know that we have a treasure beyond belief inside our earthen vessel. We know these things are true because we have received the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, “When the Holy Spirit has come, He will not speak of Himself, but He will take of what is Mine and show it to you.” (John 16:13-14)
We know Jesus is real in our hearts because the Holy Spirit whom we have received opens our spiritual understanding to know what is really true. We know that Jesus is our sacrifice for sins, that He has made us right with God, and that His blood cleanses us from all sin and unrighteousness. It is the Holy Spirit who causes us to know all these things for real. We just know.
John, in his epistles, talks a lot about “knowing” God. It's easy to see that He didn't mean knowing a lot of things “about,” God, but something personal, something inside of us, something that comes to us by the Holy Spirit. John said that Jesus has come into us and given us a “mind,” an understanding to “know” God. (1 John 5:20) And he also said that it is the Holy Spirit who causes us to know that Jesus lives in our hearts. (1 John 3:24)
Peter said that God has given us already everything that belongs to life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) We know that everything that God is resides in Jesus and that Jesus lives in our hearts. Thus we know when we were born again, when we asked Jesus into our hearts, we received everything God has for us already.
But then we come back to the first questions in this letter: “Do I know God very well? Do I know Him personally and real? Do I understand His heart?”
Yes, we have received everything God has for us because all of it is in Jesus and Jesus lives in our hearts. But do we KNOW everything we have received?
Only a very foolish man would claim, “Yes, I know everything God is; I can spell it all out for you. I can tell you just exactly who God is, what He does, and everything there is to know about Him.”
God gives us the picture in the Bible and in our lives of a child growing up. A child first learns to crawl, then to walk, then to run. It's easy to see that a parent cannot put an infant who has not learned to walk onto a bicycle and send him sailing down the street. And God uses this metaphor to show us that we grow in our knowledge of God.
We look at that infant, and we can see the grown man or woman who is to come in all of their knowledge and abilities. Everything that infant will someday be is inside them when they are little. My own daughter, when she was an infant, already had the genes inside her that would translate into a beautiful pianist. When she was three, she was closer to knowing how to play the piano than when she was one. Closer, yes, but still, she had no idea when she was three the piano skills that she would know instinctively running through her fingers at age eighteen.
But those piano skills were inside that 3-year-old girl, she just did not know them.
John, in his first epistle, also describes the three places of knowing God in this way. First, we are a babe in Christ, rejoicing in His love for us; then we are young men, defeating our enemies; finally, we are fathers who truly know God.
As a teenager, my daughter knows the piano as a highly gifted student. I would love to see her know the piano skills inside of her as a professional adult pianist. That will come as the Lord leads her down His path for her. But first, she started as a trembling novice, unsure of her “knowledge” of piano, not sure whether she could figure out this complex instrument or not, or if those notes on the page would ever translate naturally to her fingers. Then she progressed to a highly gifted student, then, as the Lord leads, to a master professional pianist.
Have you noticed how many times God says “Do not be afraid,” in the New Testament. Over and over, Jesus told His disciples, “Do not be afraid.” Whenever God took someone in the Bible up to show them wonderful heavenly things, including John in the book of Revelation, He always had to tell them first, “Do not be afraid.”
Why? Well, we know that God can be scary, especially when we don' t know Him very well.
What if you were a piano teacher and you started with a student who had already learned to play at a certain level – okay, but not really very good. And what if you attempted to show that student how to play the piano better than he or she already knew? And what if that student argued right back at you, “I already know how to play the piano; this is how I like to do it, this is my way, and it's good enough for me.” If that student persisted and refused to learn more and deeper ways of playing the piano, you would be forced to quit teaching, knowing that this student will never ever know what great piano playing really is.
What is the real reason why this student refuses to try something new, to discover what higher skills his piano “genes” can produce? He or she is afraid, afraid of losing “what I think I am,” afraid of letting go of what they “already know” in order to know more deeply.
But a skillful teacher will guide the student out of that rigid place of present “self” and ability into a deeper knowledge of all that they can do with those piano keys.
The Holy Spirit is the most skillful teacher in the universe.
But no teacher would ever place a professional and difficult score in front of a first-year student and then push that student out onto a stage before a mature audience and say, “Play – and if you can't, you're a loser.” The Holy Spirit would never think to do such a thing either. Thus we know that knowing this Jesus who lives in our hearts, knowing Him as He really is, is a step-by-step process, just like learning to know the piano.
God shows us, over and over, all through the Bible, that knowing God is a three-place process. The question is never, “Is there more of God I do not have?” No! The question is always: “Is their more of God that I have received that I do not yet know, not fully?” And the answer to that question is always and forever, “Yes.”
Even Paul, after years of ministry, was always expecting to know God more fully, to know the Jesus who lived in his heart more deeply, to know the power of the Holy Spirit more completely, than he ever had before. “That I might know Him, in the power of His resurrection, in the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death. If by any means, I might . . . seize hold of that for which I have been apprehended.” (Philippians 3)
Paul ALWAYS wanted to know Christ more fully. And so do we.
And so, I am writing this letter to those who know that the Lord Jesus Christ lives in their hearts, and who know such a wonderful thing because they have received the Holy Spirit from God. And out from that wonderful and blessed place of knowing God, I want to point you to the Second Place of Knowing God.
But here is our problem. God only invites us to know Him more fully, He never demands. And thus He does not “push” us into the Second Place of Knowing God, He only invites. Something inside of us must stir, must desire, must say, “I want to know You, Oh God, more fully than I know You now.”
We know we are true Christians because the Spirit inside of us is always longing, “I want to know You, Oh my God, more fully than I know You now.”
But remember, God is a BIG God, and to us, quite scary. That's why, the first thing He always says to us is: “Do not be afraid.”
The best picture in the Bible of the Three Places of Knowing God is the tabernacle of Moses in the wilderness; Solomon's temple also follows the same design. In fact, God uses the symbol of Moses' tabernacle a number of times in the New Testament as a metaphor of us Christians, and our walk into all the knowing of God.
At the start of this letter, I talked about the moment when we entered into the courtyard of knowing God for the first time, the moment when we received the Holy Spirit and knew that Jesus lives in our hearts and that we are clean and made right with God. We passed through a “gate” when we entered into this first place of knowing God. That gate was “Yes, Lord,” in whatever way we spoke the meaning of those words.
I was seven when I passed through that gate. I remember it very clearly. I was sitting on the back steps of my home. A recent VBS teaching on a black heart covered by a red heart and becoming a white heart pressed upon my mind. I prayed, very distinctly, “Jesus, please come into my heart.” My heart was “strangely warmed” and I knew that I belonged to Christ.
Why did Jesus come into my heart? Because I asked Him to.
Right inside that first place of knowing God, we see immediately, right in front of us, the altar of sacrifice. Thus we learn immediately of Jesus' sacrifice and what it means to us and all the ways in which that sacrifice makes us right with God. We know, now, that we are clean and that we are at peace with God. Our sins are forgiven.
Then, we learn the word. That is what the second piece of furniture inside this first place of knowing God is about – the brass wash basin – the washing of the water of the word. We learn God's word, and it cleanses us from our false understandings of this world. We learn that word as judgment, that sin has been judged and washed away from us. We learn how to apply that word to our lives.
And all of this first knowing of God is wonderful and beyond glorious. We know God in the first WAY that He wants us to know Him.
But the day comes when we want to know Him more deeply than we have known, even in that wonderful first place of knowing God.
Think about this court in which we find ourselves. It is large and open to the air. There are many people milling around, and many animals. People are dragging sheep and cattle through the first gate, the cows are lowing, the goats are bleating, dust is swirling up into the air. Priests are scattered all around, helping people hold their cows. All over the place, cows' throats are being slit by the people bringing the animals in, blood is splattering into basins. It is a loud and messy place we find ourselves in. Wow!
Then, through all the hubbub and noise and dust and smells, we notice a small tent just back of the center of the large compound we are in. It's not much of a tent, covered with old animal skins, larger than the altar of burnt offering, yes, but not much larger. We ask a nearby priest, “What's that tent for?” He replies, “Oh that? That's just for priests.”
But our time in the washing of the water of the word does not leave us and we remember, “You are all kings and priests.” “I am a priest,” we say to ourselves. And we look again at the door into the tent. Could we go in and see what is kept inside that tent? Why would God place a tent in the center of all this great work? Does He have some wonderful things for us to know inside that tent? Is there a deeper knowing of God that is not visible to all these many people milling around inside this great court of knowing the sacrifice of Jesus?
Then we read something Jesus said.
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:9-13
There really is only one way for us to know the things God Himself has placed inside that tent, and that is to ask, to seek, to knock. We must go up to the door and ask God to open it to us, in the same way we asked Him to enter this wonderful first place of knowing God.
Why? Why does God insist that we ask?
There are a number of reasons, the most important being that asking is the nature of God, it is the work of faith. God never forces Himself on anyone; we must ask to know Him more deeply than we know Him now. Asking is the faith that pleases God.
God asks us if we would like to drink; we ask Him to open the door so we can enter in to drink. Asking is God's nature; He is very respectful of each one of us. And He is pleased when we respect Him enough to ask of Him.
Now, here is the problem. It seems that so many are afraid to ask God to know Him more deeply. That is 100% normal. There is not a man or woman of faith in the Bible, who, seeing more of God, were not frightened out of their wits.
Jesus understands our fearfulness, that's why He says what He does.
You see, we look around at many who claim to know what God has put inside that tent. We see some good things, but we see many other things that are not good or right at all. We see pushy people. We see things that our spirit tells us are just devilish. We see grandstanding and displays for profit. We see every bit of nonsense humans are capable of pretending - all proclaiming that all this comes out of this tent, this Second Place of Knowing God.
And so we are afraid. We are afraid that if we ask God to know Him more fully than we know Him now, that we'll get a demon, we'll get “deceived,” that we'll lose “control” and be saying and doing things that are just wrong and stupid.
It's perfectly normal to be afraid of a scary God; that's why the second most frequent command to us in the New Testament is: “Do not be afraid.” And that's exactly why Jesus said what He said.
“If you ask God for the Holy Spirit in fullness, God will not give you a devil. - Do not be afraid.”
So, what did God hide inside this dusty tent in the middle of a crowded and bloody court?
What is there inside this Second Place of Knowing God that is so special?
Now, I am writing this letter to those who know the meaning of the sacrifice of Jesus in their lives, to those who have spent time in the word, knowing what God says, letting the words of the Bible wash over them, yes, but who are also glancing over at that dusty tent, wondering, longing to know the wonderful things God has hidden inside that tent, longing to know this Jesus who lives in our hearts more fully than we have ever known Him.
There are three things inside that door that are not in the outer court, the first place of knowing God. And there are three things in that outer court that are completely absent from the Holy Place on the other side of that door, this first part of that tent, the Second Place of Knowing God.
Inside that tent are Bread – seven loaves of Bread, and Light, seven lamps of fire burning from olive oil, and incense burning upon another altar, an altar standing just before the Veil there on the far side of this wondrous Second Place of Knowing God.
But inside that tent there are no animals being dragged for slaughter, only Bread. Inside that tent there is no light from the natural sun, only the flickering light of burning Oil Lamps. And inside that tent there is no noise or dust, only the aroma of Incense ascending before God.
What does all this mean?
Jesus would like to take you gently by the hand and show you. “Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” - “If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink.”
But first, let's pick up another important metaphor God uses all through the Bible to show to us the Three Places of Knowing God – the feasts of Israel. We know well the Feast of Passover. In fact, Jesus died on the cross at the very time of the Day of Passover in Israel's year. He died as the Lamb of Passover being offered that year, but not for that year, for all time. Passover is our escape from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God's dear Son. Passover is everything that the sacrifice of Jesus means to us in our lives. A million years from now, we will still be learning wonderful things about what that sacrifice means, things we had never known in a million years of knowing Him new every morning. We will never come to an end of discovering the wonder, the glory, the depth that is to be found in that Sacrifice.
And all that we will discover forever is inside us right now, inside of Jesus living in our hearts, we just don't know what all is there.
Fifty days after Passover is the Feast of Pentecost. At the very moment on the Day of Pentecost, when the High Priest waved the first handful of grain from the field before God, the Holy Spirit came upon the brethren in the upper room in an experience of power.
Now, the disciples had already received the Holy Spirit in John 20:22. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
The disciples did not “receive” the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost; they were immersed into the Holy Spirit. Jesus immersed them into the Holy Spirit. What does that mean?
Let me take you back to your first experience with God, when you knew for real that Jesus was alive in your heart. How did you know? Here is what I said: “People who don't know God at all throw “studies” at us claiming its all just a “region of the brain” that got excited, nothing more. But we know better; we cannot explain it, but we know that Jesus is real in our hearts.”
When did we know that Jesus was real and alive in our hearts? Did we know before we entered the gate into knowing God or after we asked Jesus into our hearts?
Asking always comes first.
Only those who ask Jesus to immerse them into the Holy Spirit, who, asking in faith, enter through that door into the Second Place of Knowing God will “know” what it all means, what the Bread means, what the Light means, what the Incense means.
But it is Jesus who immerses us into the Holy Spirit, and Jesus is always tender and kind; He always says to us, “Don't be afraid. You believe in God, believe also in Me.”
Why is it that a piano teacher, after each year a budding piano maestro learns better the reality of piano skills, requires that student to play a recital in front of family and friends? Each year, year after year of learning the reality of piano more deeply? Think about that for a bit. But no matter how well the last recital went, there is another year of training. Next year's recital music will always be more complex than last year's. Always.
So let me share with you just a bit what immersion into the Holy Spirit is all about, what this first room inside this little tent, this Second Place of Knowing God really means.
First, let's look at one of the most important things the gospel teaches us.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:1-2
We believe that we will be just like Jesus because God says we will be. That makes no sense to us; we cannot understand what that means or how any such thing could possibly be. But we believe it is true because God says so and we know that God speaks the truth.
But the other thing John says in this verse is one of the MOST important things we MUST learn about ourselves. We do NOT know who we are and we do NOT know what we are. In fact, John makes it clear that learning to know this Jesus who lives in our hearts is simultaneous with getting to know ourselves, what and who we really are. Another way of saying John's words is this: “We shall know our true selves as we know Him as He really is.” Jesus said it this way, “If you give up your present false “self” for My sake (to know Me), then you will find your true self.”
The point, of course, is not “knowing ourselves,” but rather, knowing Him. When we know Him as He is, we follow Him in peace and joy.
So, how, then, do we learn to know Him as He is and to see Him as He is?
The Bible tells us so clearly – 1 Corinthians 2:6-16. (Feel free to read the whole passage in your own Bible.)
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age . . . But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory . . . as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned . . . For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Immersion into the Holy Spirit is nothing more than God's next step for you to know Him more deeply. The Holy Spirit is a teacher, and He would teach us all the mysteries of Christ, all the things that are hidden to those who think and see only by the natural light of the present mind.
It is Jesus who immerses us into the Holy Spirit. Do we trust Him?
Now, Paul says very clearly that there are spiritual truths, the “deep things of God,” that are known only by the mind of the Spirit. He says that they are hidden, in just the same way that the wonderful things of God are hidden inside that plain-looking tent in the middle of that dusty court. Many of the people swirling around in that court, all enjoying the sacrifice of Jesus, hardly even notice the tent; no one can see what is inside of it. Paul says the same thing in this passage.
So, what happens the moment someone steps through that door into the Second Place of Knowing God, into immersion into the Holy Spirit?
Two things, both at the same time, both so precious and holy and true.
First is the bread, seven loaves of bread. The Bible becomes a brand new book. Suddenly the words on the page mean so much more than one has ever seen or known before. Suddenly, the ability to see and to know what God really means through those words comes alive inside of us.
Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are Spirit and they are Life.”
Suddenly we know what He meant, and the Bible becomes a living word, alive in our hearts, and we spend many, many joyous hours feasting on the wonderful goodness of knowing Jesus in ways we did not even know existed before we were immersed in the Holy Spirit.
Then, there is a second side of this experience, and that is the light that comes upon us by the fire of the burning oil, some call it “the anointing.” Jesus said, “And you shall receive power to be witnesses of Me.”
But Paul spoke of the light of the seven lamps in this way: “My preaching was not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
You see, in that wonderful first place of knowing God, the outer court, we know all about “doing” witnessing “for” Christ, but we hardly even know that Jesus meant “BE” a witness of Him. And Paul makes it clear that being a witness of Christ must include the demonstration of the Spirit and power.
Now, both of these things are what makes us fearful. Will this new way of seeing and understanding the Bible cause us to follow wrong ideas into deception? Will this new way of being a witness of Christ through the demonstration of the Spirit and power cause us to do all sorts of wild and “demonic” things?
That brings us right back to Jesus' words:
“If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
The real issue is trust. Do we trust Jesus enough to let Him take our hand and lead us into places that we cannot see at all right now?
Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me.”
That's really the issue – Trust! Do we trust Jesus, that He is always good?
Paul makes it clear that we can know God more fully only by this immersion into the Holy Spirit. The pattern is also clear; the things inside the tent cannot be seen or known by those who are outside the tent, no matter how wonderful their enjoyment of Jesus' salvation is.
“But will I have to speak in tongues?”
God never ever “makes us” do anything. He only invites.
I have lived inside the salvation of Jesus for 48 years. I receive everyone who belongs to Jesus and rejoice alongside all those who magnify every part of the sacrifice of Jesus. If anyone is weeping for joy before the altar of sacrifice, seeing Jesus their Savior for the first time, I am right there, giving thanks with all joy, right next to them. I am not separate in any way from all those who belong to Jesus, period.
But I have also lived inside that little tent, the Second Place of Knowing God, immersion into the Holy Spirit, for 36 years. I am ashamed to say that for a while I saw myself separated from my precious brethren who have not entered into that tent to discover the “deep things of God,” as Paul says. I was so wrong. The same love of Jesus that fills your heart also fills mine.
Here is how I say it now. I know Him, oh so very much more than I knew Him 36 or 35 or 34 years ago. But I will know Him so very much more 35 years from now than I do right now. To know Him is the everlasting joy of my heart. He is always new every morning; there will never be a time, in all the ages to come, when I will not be discovering new and wonderful things inside my Beloved, the Lord Jesus Christ, that I had never known before.
Eternal life is to know God and to know Jesus Christ whom He has sent. The glory of that knowing, new every morning, will never end. What excitement! What unending adventure!
God gives us a story in the Old Testament that helps us understand how He sees the Holy Spirit and the gifts that the Holy Spirit brings to us. This story is found in the book of Esther, chapter 2. But I will share it here in story form.
Hundreds of women were anxiously, excitedly frightened. For an entire year, they had been separated from all men except one, a eunuch named Hegai. They had prepared themselves for this time. For months they had bathed in tubs filled with perfumes. They had learned etiquette and décor and how to give pleasure. They knew their stuff. They were ready. One by one, each of them spent their one night with the king. It was do or die. Not literally die, but it might as well be.
Out of all those hundreds of women, each of whom enjoyed one night with the king, only one would be chosen. Only one! The others would spend the rest of their lives in the king’s harem, with only the lingering memory of the touch of a man, the fading image of love and being loved. They would never see a real man again.
So day-by-day, the one chosen for that night prepared herself. Her whole life hung on this one night. She must be ready! She must be liked! She must be chosen! She knew how to do it, how to make herself shine. Day-by-day, each one chose her favorite dress, made of her favorite material. She had her hair made up in the way she knew was most stunning. She chose the scents she liked best, the jewelry that made her skin glow and reflected the soft light of her eyes. She was beautiful.
And morning-by-morning, woman after woman left the king’s bedroom, unwanted and unchosen!
Until it was Esther’s turn. Of all the hundreds of women in that harem, Esther was the only one whose tender heart turned with thoughts of affection towards that awful and fearsome man she had never met. What did he like? What turned him on? What made his heart sing? Esther did not know.
And so Esther turned to the one who did know, the king’s servant, Hegai. “Hegai,” she said, “you know what he likes. Make me beautiful in his eyes.” That night, the king found his love.
I have no idea what Jesus likes in His bride. But I know the One who does. The Holy Spirit adorns me with the jewels, the clothing, the perfume that Jesus loves. I never despise His gifts; I never think, “I don’t need that.” I want Jesus’ heart to go all over me when He sees me. I want HIM to think I am beautiful.
Everything the Holy Spirit (represented in the story by Hegai) brings to us, is for the sole purpose of making us beautiful to Jesus, part of which is so that we might know Him as He knows us.
I have experienced in my life over the last 36 years, in one way or another, all the gifts and anointings that the Holy Spirit brings to us to enable us to know God and to know Jesus Christ whom God sends. Of all the gifts the Holy Spirit brings to make us beautiful to Jesus, which one do I think is the most important?
That's easy. Speaking in tongues.
Why? Because speaking in tongues, Paul says, is praying in the Holy Spirit. He also said that the Holy Spirit prays through us with groanings that cannot even be uttered. Praying in tongues is not for show or flashy demonstrations in church services. Paul says that it is for us to be built up in the Spirit – to get to know more deeply and more closely this God who is Spirit.
That makes perfect sense, of course. Jesus said that God is Spirit and that we must worship Him in Spirit and in truth. One of the things we know so very little about ourselves is that we are also spirit beings as well as being physical beings. If we know God with our natural mind only, how can we know a Spirit God? But as we pray in the Spirit, we begin to know the reach and the depths of the power of God inside of us.
John says that God has given us a “mind” to know God (1 John 5). But no one knows how to design a space craft without studying engineering for years, and no one knows how to play the piano masterfully without practicing and practicing for years. In fact, professional piano players, the ones who are paid to play because audiences enjoy their music so much, practice hours every single day. Their “work” is to practice; the next performance is their next “recital.”
Knowing God is no different.
Praying in tongues over many years is possibly the most important gift the Holy Spirit has given me to know God in the way my heart has always longed to know Him.
Could I be honest with you?
I have never really understood people who don't trust God. I have never really understood anyone who doesn't want everything God has for His people.
But God never forces anything on anyone. He is a perfect gentleman. You can enter with all joy into the Second Place of Knowing God without ever “speaking in tongues.” God gives us only what we ask of Him. But Paul wrote to those dear Christians whom he so deeply loved. He said to them, “I really wish every one of you spoke in tongues like I do.” I believe that was the Lord Jesus speaking through Paul, speaking, even, to me. Maybe we can hear Him say it this way: “I like it when you pray to Me in tongues. It makes you so beautiful to Me. Isn’t that enough for you? It is the simple-hearted who receive My gifts, not the self-sufficient.”
So let's just not worry about “speaking in tongues.” Whatever the Holy Spirit gives us, we know that it is Jesus and that it is beautiful.
We trust Jesus with all our hearts and with our very lives.
So how do we enter this Second Place of Knowing God?
The door into that tent is Jesus; He is the One who baptizes us, immerses us, into the Holy Spirit.
“Lord Jesus, I desire with all my heart to know You more deeply than I know You now. I trust You with all my heart that You will give me the fullness of the Holy Spirit and not something evil or harmful to me. I ask You, Lord Jesus, to immerse me into Your Holy Spirit and to make me know that I am immersed into the Holy Spirit by the Bible becoming a brand new book to me as I see You in a brand new light.”
Now – asking, by itself, is not complete. Jesus added a requirement to asking. Here's what He said in Mark 11:24. “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” In order for our asking to be complete, we must believe in our hearts that we receive all that we have asked. Asking must come first, it does no good to “believe we have received” when we have not asked.
Let's believe here:
“Lord Jesus, I have asked You to immerse me into Your Holy Spirit in fullness with all the beautiful things You have for me in the Holy Place. Lord Jesus, I believe that You have done what I asked. I thank You that I am immersed into Your Holy Spirit, and I expect with all expectation the glorious things of the Holy Place arising inside me all the time.”
You may not realize it, but something is happening inside you as you go through this asking and this believing that you receive just what you asked for. You see, God wants all of you in the same way that He wants you to know all of Him. But God is a bit scary. If we give ourselves entirely to God that He might do whatever He wants to do with us and in us, even making us speak in tongues, or whatever it is He wants to do, can we trust Him? That is the entire issue.
But trust is a two-way street. Can we trust God? Can God trust us? Yes, God wants a full surrender of all that we are to Him. That's why, before we entered the court of knowing Jesus as Savior, there was a gate. We could not see what was inside that court until we navigated through the gate. Here is the truth – that gate was a surrender of yourself to God's salvation, as much as you knew how, by an act of your human will and by the speaking of your voice.
In the same way, as we look at that tent of knowing God in all the fullness of the Holy Spirit, all we can see is a door. We cannot see what is inside that Holy Place until we navigate through that door. Here is the truth – that door is a surrender of ourselves to God, as much as we know how, by an act of our human will and by the speaking of our voice.
Let me share my own experience; your experience with God will be different from mine, but the underlying patterns will be the same.
When I was 19, I gave my heart back to God as an adult. I began to ask Jesus to immerse me into the Holy Spirit. I did just what I put in front of you here, I asked, first, and then I believed that I received what I had asked for. Then I expected God.
But nothing happened for a few days while I continued believing that I had received what I asked Jesus to do for me. Then one morning, on the way to work, I heard the Lord speak to my heart. He said, “Will you surrender your whole life to Me?” That was a bit much for me. Wow! I had never considered such a thing before, to abandon myself entirely to some other person, let alone to God. I didn't think that was for me; but I couldn't get it out of my mind. I wrestled with the thought all day. Then, on my way home from work, I could no longer avoid what God was asking of me. “Yes, Lord, I surrender all of me to You.” I had no idea, of course, what that meant, but God was satisfied.
When I arrived home, I ran up to my room, filled with something, I had no idea what, but I just had to get down on my knees beside my bed. I dropped to my knees, but had hardly touched my bed when speaking in tongues poured all through me. I didn't think about it happening, it just did. Oh, the joy, the purity, the cleanness, the joy.
In the exact same way that I knew that Jesus was my Savior, that He had cleansed me of my sins after I asked Him into my heart, in that same way, but on a much deeper level, I knew that the power of the Holy Spirit ran all through me.
What did I like best about that experience?
That's easy. The whole Bible, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 became a brand new book to me, a living word, a Spirit word. I spent many long God-filled years, to this day, eating of that Bread and drinking of that Spirit.
Jesus said, “Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Learn of Me, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” He said, “If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink.” He said, “If anyone wants to eat, if anyone wants to drink, let him eat and drink of Me freely.”