There is a tendency in most of us to read a bible text or promise and immediately go on to believe it has become part of our experience. We follow the teaching of ‘confession brings possession’, which doesn’t actually work in transforming lives. It mostly works with acquiring material things.
Soon after my conversion I went to a prayer meeting which was preceded by a bible study. Unfortunately I didn’t have my bible with me, so I shared one with an elderly lady next to me. I noticed the letters TP written on the margins of her bible. At the end of the meeting I asked her what those letters stood for. ‘TP’, she replied, ‘stand for tested and proved. I write them in the margins next to the passage of scripture I have tested and proved to be true in my experience.’ We are not transformed by quoting scriptures, but only when the Holy Spirit applies them into our experiences.
There are scriptures like Galatian 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”. It’s one thing to quote and believe this text; it’s another to actually enter into that dying to self experience. Someone said, “when Jesus was crucified He felt the pain of the nails. Identifying with Him on the cross is no less painful”.
A Branch in the Vine
Rees Howells’ life sheds more light on another text: John 15:5, ‘I am the vine; you are the branches’.
There was to be a special meeting one night in the village, and a friend of Rees Howells was to give the address. The two had arranged to walk over to the village together, but when it was time to start, the special speaker sent word that he could not come. On hearing this, Rees was greatly upset, and he realized why. He had not been carrying a burden for the meeting that day as he usually did; he had been depending more on his friend than on the Holy Spirit. He soon found also that the Presence which always accompanied him on the nightly journey to the village was withdrawn, and the Spirit was grieved. He walked about half-way with a heavy heart until he could bear it no longer. “Please forgive me,” he said to the Lord.” I promise that it will never happen again. If You will only come and give victory in this meeting, then I vow like Jephthah that on my return tonight, I will give You whatever You ask.”
There was great blessing in the meeting, and walking home, as he came to the place of his vow, he asked the Lord what He would have of him. The answer was unexpected. “After tonight,” the Lord said, “I want you to be a steward, and not an owner. Will you give up all claim on your money to Me?” Rees did not understand this. Was not his money already the Lord’s? The Lord then showed him his position. He had previously faced the fact that he could not ask God to meet a need if he could supply it himself. So all his money had actually been spent in the Lord’s work. But it was still his money, and he had the joy of giving it, and the right to give or withhold.