03: Abiding in the Higher Christian Life
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If You Abide in Me… says Jesus
One of my spiritual mentors is a man named Andrew Murray. I was discipled for the most part by his books and devotions that I was blessed to encounter early in my Christian life. His writings are devotional in nature and have ministered to my soul for years and have always challenged me to want more of Jesus in my daily walk with Him. Some of his books that are regarded as classics are “With Christ in the School of Prayer”, “The True Vine”, and especially, “Abide in Christ”.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Andrew Murray (1828-1917), he was a Dutch Reformed pastor, missionary, and writer from Scotland, and spent his years ministering in South Africa. Andrew Murray was a man of faith and had an intimacy with the Holy Spirit that, in my opinion, was surpassed by none. Yet he, like so many of us, felt a dissatisfaction with his spiritual life and longed for something deeper and more intimate with the Lord. And it was this quest for what he called the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” or the Higher Christian Life that allowed God to use him as He did.
Murray recognized that obedience to the Lord is nearly impossible, no matter how hard you try. Sheer determination or strength of will are never enough. And the only way to live a life of holiness is to surrender your life to Him and allow Him to complete the work of sanctification in us. Sounds simple, I know. But the testimonies of these giants of the faith tell us it is much harder than it seems.
And I can also attest to the difficulty of total surrender to the Lord. Can you?
Is Abiding in the Higher Christian Life Possible?
At a Keswick Convention, Murray was asked to share a testimony of his experience with the Higher Christian Life. And in that talk, he shared about what his life was like now, after what he called his “baptism by the Holy Spirit” and his subsequent daily yielding to Him. I find Murray’s testimony most encouraging. I’ll let him tell you in his own words:
“I can help you more, perhaps, by speaking, not of any marked experience, but by telling very simply what I think God has given me now, in contrast to the first ten years of my Christian life. In the first place, I have learned to place myself before God every day, as a vessel to be filled with His Holy Spirit. He has filled me with the blessed assurance that He, as the everlasting God, has guaranteed His work in me. If there is one lesson that I am learning day by day, it is this: that it is God who worketh all in all. Oh, that I could help any brother or sister to realize this!”
Did you catch that? Murray speaks of God being the one to empower him to do the work God ordained him to do. I know I have struggled in the flesh, striving in my own strength, to do things for God. But the secret of surrender is to allow Him to do the work through us. Therefore He, and no one else, gets the glory.
And this is exactly what Jesus is trying to teach us in John 15 when He compares us to a branch that is only useful as it abides in the vine and bears, not produces, fruit for the glory of the Father. Geez. Sometimes learning is hard for a stubborn creation.
I hope you will be encouraged by the testimony of Andrew Murray and how he discovered the joy of abiding in the Higher Christian Life.