This past week, I had the privilege of attending the RockyMountain Bible Mission’s Shepherd’s Conference. The main speaker was Joel Van Hoogen, founder of Church PartnershipEvangelism. He spoke on removing the rubble from the wells of our salvation, a sermon series based on Genesis 26:12-18. The following is the first in what is hopefully a series of blog posts exploring some of the ideas Joel presented.
The story in Genesis 26 involves Isaac. God had blessed him and he had become rich and powerful. As a result, the neighboring Philistines feared him and demanded that he leave their territory. Isaac left and returned back to a land his father Abraham had once resided in. Abraham had dug wells in that land, but those wells had been filled in by the Philistines. When Isaac came to those wells, he needed water for his family and flocks, so he removed the rubble from those wells, using them again like his father Abraham had.
Our speaker drew a parallel between the wells of Abraham and the Christian life. Isaac needed the water in those wells. Today, those wells could stand for the life of Christ in us. We need the refreshing flow of the life of Christ in us. But just as Abraham’s enemies filled those wells with rubble, so it is in our lives. The enemy wants to fill our lives with rubble as well, attempting to slow or stop completely the flow of life-giving water from them.
The word picture resonated with me. Whether it be myself, or the people I minister with and to, all too often we are satisfied with the trickles of grace rather than reaching deep into the river of Christ’s life in us. We miss out on the vitality it brings to our life. Perhaps we had it when we first experienced conversion. Perhaps we remember it from the time we recommitted our life to Christ. But now, on a day to day basis, that kind of vitality, that kind of joy, that kind of refreshment from Christ does not seem to be there. As a result, many Christians are living beneath their calling. They live in a place that is below the riches available to them in Jesus.
The question Joel asked us is this – do we have a desperate need for this kind of life? Do each of us desperately crave this kind of daily refreshment?
If so, we need to call ourselves and our fellow believers to this kind of vital life in Christ. We need to understand that this is normal and necessary to living a victorious Christian life. We also should not hesitate to preach holiness, a holiness that is not a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” that only brings guilt, but a deep desire to live for Christ that wells out of the fact that we are a new creation in Christ. We should not be afraid of spiritual dissatisfaction, either in ourselves or others in our church family. I admit that I have not always known how to care for that person who is spiritual dissatisfied. But now, having experienced some of that same dissatisfaction in my life, I recognize that can be profound evidence of Christ calling us to a deeper life in him. After all, a healthy child of God is going to want more of God. And finally, we cannot give the impression that the expressions of the Christian life – prayer, church, devotions – take the place of the experience of the Christian life, which is abundant life in Jesus Christ. Those expressions are good things, but they can, if we are not careful, actually lead us to trust them as means of grace rather than the life of Christ in us.
Are we desperate for more of Jesus? Are we desperate to see the refreshing life of Christ well up in everything we do?
I want to thank Joel Van Hoogen for his thoughtful, prayerful, Spirit-led messages. Stay tuned for more thoughts on removing the rubble from the wells of our salvation.