Skip to content
Jul 25 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

July 25, 2021



And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart Luke 18:1
– And he told them a parable –

Intro: Wednesday night, this was the first verse we read in our Lexio Divina meeting

Immediately I knew I would be reading it today, because of what had been on my mind
– Jesus gave people what they needed
• he gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf
◦ health to the lame and to the lepers
◦ he gave hope and forgiveness to the sinners
• and to everyone, Jesus gave parables
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything (Mk. 4:33-34)
– Jesus used parables to introduce people to kingdom of God
• in John’s gospel, Jesus used “hard sayings” (Jn. 6:60)
• why did Jesus use these obscure ways to deliver his message?
◦ because he spoke of things outside their everyday world
◦ a reality that none of them had ever experienced
They had to learn a new way to think

There is something I would like you to know about me
– if we were to trace my spiritual journey it would be scribbled all over the map
• I’ve logged many hours in the Bible and commentaries, theology, and a dash of philosophy and physics
◦ I am deeply interested in psychology and neuroscience – especially theories of human consciousness
◦ besides all the rational stuff, I have at times revisited the charismatic experience
• all my exploration has been driven by one passion
◦ a desire to have a real and continuous awareness of God’s presence
◦ I have wanted to learn: Is awareness of God always a gift of grace
or is there an innate capacity in the human brain that can open to God’s nearness
and that can be developed?
– I have often thought about a footnote in the Old Testament
Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he said, “Come, let us go to the seer,” for today’s “prophet” was formerly called a seer (1 Sam. 9:9)
• if you want to know about a seer – stories of Elijah and Elisha
◦ just knew things – saw more than human eyes could see
◦ was that given to them or was there a combination of potential and purposeful development
• during that same time we learn about a prophetic community
the sons of the prophets – were they devoted to learning and developing spiritual sight?
◦ Arthur Deikman captures the question I have been asking 30 or forty years:
Deikman, “. . . is there any evidence supporting the idea that human beings can develop in themselves a new form of perception, one that is latent but requires special conditions for its development?” “Are we possessed at birth of neuronal circuits with a developmental potential for the kind of direct, intuitive knowing that mystics say is possible? . . . Can that potential be revived by specific exercises that would make special demands on the organism?”

A recent trend among a few theologians and Christian writers

They have adopted a materialist view of the human person
– we are a biological organism, that’s all – no spirit
• what can be said of them is same Deikman, regarding some psychologists
Deikman, “Western psychotherapy, in basing itself almost exclusively on the world view of scientific materialism, has impoverished its model of human consciousness and lost the meaning and significance of human life.”
• the biblical worldview is supernatural
◦ it reveals a larger view of the universe and larger view of the human person
Deikman, “. . . it is possible that the conclusions of scientific materialism are wrong. From time to time we sense a larger reality than the one science provides, a subtle perception pointing to a better, meaningful existence.”
– our normal methods of science, research, and education,
• cannot give us access to this larger dimension
◦ it is not like learning math or history
◦ Paul argued that God
determined allotted periods and the boundaries of [mankind’s] dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for
“In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:26-28)
• we need to develop a different kind of perception
◦ we need new eyes to see and new ears to hear

Chuck Kraft is a very rational theologian and anthropologist

I once heard him give a lecture on listening to God’s Spirit
– he emphasized that this requires a shift from our normal patterns of thinking
• I asked him how we could make the shift from the rational to nonrational
• he gave two answers:
◦ “a credible guide” can assist you in the process
◦ and, “analogy can be useful”
• Jesus used parables, riddles, metaphors, paradoxes, hard sayings
Kenneth Leech claims that an “essential feature” of mystical teaching is “the process of ‘illumination by metaphor’, that is, a way of knowing based upon an intuitive grasp of situations, an openness to the myths and symbols of experience. The spiritual guide speaks the language of myth and metaphor.”
– on the first day of 1988, I wrote on the first page of my daily journal,
“Heavenly Father, when I asked You for a credible guide . . . You spoke to me through Psalm 32:8,
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
• God’s Spirit is the teacher and guide who brings us along (Jn 14:26)
◦ but God has also appointed teachers in church (1 Cor. 12:28)
◦ Jesus has given us “shepherd-teachers” (Ep. 4:11)
• what I have in mind for us over the next few weeks is “A Primer In Things Unseen”
◦ a beginner’s course – Paul provides us with a foundation for the development we desire
◦ we can learn the basics – or at least have a reliable starting point

What can we hope to gain from a shepherd-teacher?

To awaken us to everything we have missed
– if we never see beyond the material world and our lives in it,
• we will be brainwashed by it and obsessed with it
I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Mt. 6:25)
• this “more” is the larger dimension that we have missed
◦ life is more than what sustains it
◦ the body is more than a biological organism

We may find that our teacher rejects us – this is not unusual
– the disciple is told, “This is not for you,” “You won’t be able to do it,” “You’re not qualified,” “You’re not strong (determined, sincere) enough”
– at first the student may argue or try harder, but will eventually fail
• sometime later the student returns to the teacher and says, “You were right, I cannot follow this path”
• and teacher says, “Now you are ready. I will take you on as my disciple”
“. . . choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” ¶ Then the people answered, “ . . . we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.” But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for he s a holy God. . . . And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the LORD.” (Jos. 24:14-21)
◦ we have to realize that nothing in our past education prepared us for this new education
– a shepherd-teacher enables us to see what helps and hinders our progress
• we will be forced to look at our motives
Deikman, “Most people bring to meditation an acquisitive, self-centered orientation that is the cultural norm. According to the mystical literature, such an attitude determines the outcome of meditation. For this reason, the instructions that accompany the classical descriptions of meditation deal first with the necessity for ‘purifying the heart’–developing a selfless orientation–before aspiring to special powers.”
◦ notice, this is where Jesus begins his lessons in the Sermon On the Mount,
Blessed are pure in heart, for they shall see God (Mt. 5:8)
• our guide will question our basic assumptions
◦ just as Jesus challenged the religious assumptions of his hearers
You have heard that it was said . . . But I say to you (Mt. 5:21-22)
– our guide helps us see the limitations of the rational mind and overcome them
– our guide is someone who is where we want to be
• at least two steps ahead of us
– our guide can hear our questions, objections, and concerns
• and respond with the wisdom of that larger realm of understanding
• they answers may not be satisfying rationally, but they will be right
– our guide will help us discover our spirit–our aware self–and how to instantly return to that self
• we will be awakened to God, in whom we live and move and have our being
• we will discover how our spirit is a bridge, between the four-dimensional world and the spiritual dimension
– our guide will help us discern our most effective ways to pray
– our guide will challenge, console, and lead us to our own discoveries

Conclusion: We will follow Paul through 1 Corinthians

This will not be a “Bible study”
– we will be looking for specific insights into the life of the Spirit
– many Evangelicals are discouraged, disappointed, frustrated today
• they are longing for that larger dimension in God
• they are looking for a faith that, as Jim would say, produces lovers
◦ lovers of God, lovers of others, lovers of all that God has made
– this is where we can go when all the resources of what Evangelicalism offers have been exhausted,
and we are still hungry, thirsty, and desire more

I want you to imagine Jesus with Nicodemus
That poor Pharisee must have been so frustrated,
misunderstanding Jesus because he took literally what the Lord told him
But Jesus was patient, wanting Nicodemus to learn to see

God will provide us what we need
to find our way to a more certain experience of his presence,
that persists through every sort of situation
We will have to stick with the process,
until we get our breakthrough,
our miracle

Leave a comment