Christianity 201

November 11, 2014

Not the Benefits, But Christ Himself

Several years ago I remember hearing someone say, “The gift of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit himself.” Yes, it would be nice to be able to share some of the flashy, supernatural spiritual gifts with people and be able to speak words into their lives with insight you could never come by naturally, or be able to lay hands on people and see dramatic physical healing; but in the end, the gift of the Holy Spirit available to everyone is the Spirit’s presence and direction in our lives.

The Message translation of I Corinthians 13:1-4 reads like this:

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

In other words,

  • I can be the best speaker
  • I can be the deepest theologian
  • I can be the most powerful intercessor
  • I can be the most generous philanthropist
  • I can be the most noble martyr

but my attitude is terrible it doesn’t matter; and if gifts as powerful as the ones above can be trumped simply by being love-less, then by comparison those gifts aren’t worth a whole lot.

Sunday night I read the very short booklet containing the text of a message given by A. B. Simpson, founder of the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination, simply titled Himself. This was also the title of a hymn that Simpson wrote that is somewhat unknown outside C&MA circles:

HIMSELF
  by A. B. Simpson
Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.

Once ’twas painful trying, Now ’tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation, Now the uttermost.
Once ’twas ceaseless holding, Now He holds me fast;
Once ’twas constant drifting, Now my anchor’s cast.

Once ’twas busy planning, Now ’tis trustful prayer;
Once ’twas anxious caring, Now He has the care.
Once ’twas what I wanted, Now what Jesus says;
Once ’twas constant asking, Now ’tis ceaseless praise.

Once it was my working, His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him, Now He uses me.
Once the power I wanted, Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored, Now for Him alone.

Once I hoped in Jesus, Now I know He’s mine;
Once my lamps were dying, Now they brightly shine.
Once for death I waited, Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored, Safe within the veil.

 

The language is now outdated, but you can read the whole text of the message here. (It’s not very long.)

In the hymn above, Simpson summarizes all the things he was seeking after:

  • blessing
  • feeling
  • gifts
  • healing
  • power

and the means he sought to get those things:

  • striving
  • planning
  • working
  • pleading

and what all this left him with:

  • a half salvation
  • anxiety
  • self-centeredness
  • a dying faith

until he saw that the greatest benefit was having Christ Himself:

  • the Lord
  • His word
  • His care
  • perfect trust
  • security
  • peace

Categorically, there is nothing to add to that!

Amplifed Bible – Philippians 3:10 [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]

 

 

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