Abiding in At-ONE-ment IN His Presence
Abiding in At-One-ment In His Presence
(Except the Lord build the “house”, they build it in VAIN”)
By Jeanne Guyon – Adapted by Jeffrey Ostler
We come now to the ultimate purpose of all saintly walk and spiritual experience: Divine Union – At-One-ment. This cannot be brought about by listening to others or reading about others who have feasted with Him, nor even merely by our own spiritual experiences, or even an occasional “gazing into Heaven”. Meditation will not bring divine union; neither will showing our love, nor our worship, nor our greatest devotion, nor our ultimate sacrifices. Nor does it matter how much intellectual truth the Lord gives us.
Eventually it will take an act of God to make complete At-One-ment a reality.
In Exodus 33, Moses says, "No man shall see God (in the flesh) and live." (Exodus 33:20) If your prayer still contains your own fleshly self life, that prayer cannot “see” or “know” God. Your life will not know the experience of true union with His life. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, MY ways”.
All that is of your own doing, all that comes from your own life--even your most “Mighty” prayer--must first be annihilated before communion with Christ can come about. Com-union means “With” “Union” or complete Oneness.
All the prayers that proceed from your mind are merely preparations for bringing you to a surrendered union state. “Which of you by taking “thought” can add one cubit to his stature (physical or Spiritual)”? Any and all active contemplation on your part is also just preparation for bringing you to a state of His Rest in the fullness of Glory. They are preparations. They are not the end, They are a way to the end. The End is Union with Christ. The end is union with God! That Union is complete Oneness and total fulfillment in His Love.
The purpose of this writing is not to show you prayer, or spiritual experience, but to bring you to the final state of BEING IN God; complete union with God.
You will recall that John tells us in Revelation 8:1 that there was silence in heaven. This is a symbolization of the center of the inmost part of man, the Holy of Holies. Man is the tabernacle of God, even Temples. God dwelleth NOT in temples made with hands. In that place all must be hushed to silence when the Fullness, the Glory of God appears.
The efforts of the “Self” must be stilled. But even more! The very existence of the Natural Man “Self” must be destroyed. Now that is something the Natural man will never do, but we must have done for us.
There is something in this universe which is the very opposite of God; it is the “Self”. The activity of the “Self” is the source of all the un-righteousness as well as all the self-ish carnal and devilish deeds of man. On the other hand, the loss of the self in the soul qualifies us of sanctification by the Spirit, back into original purity and holy state we have previously lived in previous to this life! In fact, the soul’s purity is sanctified in exact proportion to allowing loss of “Self”, on the altar of God!
As long as you employ your self ego nature in any way, some faults will also continue to exist in you. But after you depart from your natural man self, no faults can exist, and all is purity and innocence.
It was the entrance of the self, which came into the soul as a result of a fall from the pure state of being IN God’s Presence and Love, which has established an imagined “illusionary”difference between the soul and God. How can two things so opposite as the natural man self and God ever be united? How can the purity of God and the impurity of man be made one? How can the simplicity (or singleness) of God and the multiplicity (endless fickleness) of man ever melt into one element? Alma 5:28 Except ye be (completely) stripped of Pride (self, ego, natural man desires) ye are NOT prepared to “meet God” (and BE One with God). And it certainly can never be by attempting to change the Natural man into a divine state. King Benjamin and Paul did not say: “Just fix the natural man and make him righteous.” They said “PUT OFF”
The natural man completely or to lay the natural man on the altar of God to have all that natural man dross burned out and annihilated - “Crucify” the natural man – the man of sin/Self. That does not mean physically, but mentally and emotionally and spiritually – the natural man in all of us must die and go away. Certainly much more is required than just the efforts that you can make. It will take the Pure Love of God which cleanses, purifies, sanctifies and delivers us from the awful grasp of that monster who has consigned us to a life of misery in a literal hell – our natural man ego self – the one true ENEMY TO GOD.
That takes the Christ to do that for us, it is not something the natural man will ever do. The natural man will do anything to survive, including destroying everyone around him if need be.
What, then, is necessary for union to be achieved? A move on the part of Almighty God Himself. This alone can accomplish union.
For two things to become One, the two must have similar natures. For instance, the impurity of dirt cannot be united with the purity of gold. Fire has to be introduced to destroy the dross and leave the gold pure. This is why God sends a fire to the earth (it is called His “Wisdom”- or His Holy Spirit Shekinah) to destroy all that is impure in you. Nothing can resist the power of that fire. It consumes everything. IT is an immersion (baptism) IN the FIRE OF GOD. This is how true sons and daughters of God are made “Perfect”, cleansed every whit, holy without spot, and reconciled back into Oneness with God, entirely by The Grace of Christ. See Moroni 10:32-33
His Holy Spirit Light burns away all the impurities in a man for one purpose: to leave him fit for Divine Union.
There is impurity in you. More than you could ever conceive. And it is fatal to union with God. But your Lord burns to be one with you, so He will consume the dross. (Do not be surprised when this actually happens.) What is the name of this impurity? “Self”. “Self” is the source of all defilement, and it prevents any alliance with Purity! The rays of the sun may shine upon mire, but those and rays will never be united with the mire. But there is more than the “self” that prevents union.
This thing called “works of “The Law” is, in itself, opposed to union. Why? Because God is an infinite stillness. Your soul, if it is to be united with the Lord, must partake of His stillness. “Be STILL, and KNOW that I AM – God.” Activity, Busy-ness, Self action, desires to achieve, doing it yourself, prevents harmony with God and One-ness with “the Vine”.
It is for this reason we can never arrive at divine union except by putting the human will and busy-ness to rest. You can never become One with God, in experience, until you become as restful and pure as when you were first created. “Except ye become AS a little Child, ye cannot “SEE”, nor “enter” Heaven, His Rest, the Fulness of the Glory of God. God chooses to make your soul pure. He purifies it by His “Spirit” just as a refiner purifies metal in the furnace. Fire is the only thing which can purify gold. You must allow yourself to be sanctified BY and IN His Holy Spirit, the ALL-Consumming FIRE of God.
Actually, the fire that consumes us—utterly---is His “work” and His “Glory”. This fire gradually consumes all that is earthly; it takes out all foreign Ego Self dross, and separates these things from the gold.
The fire seems to know that the earthly mixture cannot be changed into gold. The natural man cannot change his devilish Self into Godly. The Natural man is the Un-godliness in each of us. It can only be burned out and annihilated by the Master Refiner. The fire must melt and dissolve this dross by force so that it can rid the gold of every alien particle, Over and over again, the gold must be cast into the furnace until it has lost every trace of pollution. Oh, how many times the gold is plunged back into the fire--far, far more times than seem necessary. Yet you can be sure the Forger sees impurities no one else can see. The gold must return to the fire again and again until positive proof has been established that it can be no further purified. Please know that, as you go through the refining FIRE, that He will not destroy the real gold that you are, but only to remove that which is creating your hellish, miserable state of self-created bondage and death. “Wherefore, all men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto his “Self”. (2 NE 2: 27) Self will always be miserable and devilish.
There comes a time, at last, when the goldsmith can find no more mixture that adulterates the gold. When the fire has perfected purity -- or should I say simplicity -- the fire no longer touches it. If the gold remained in the furnace for an eon, Its spotlessness would not be improved upon nor its substance diminished. The sons and daughters of God are “tried” (refined) in the Fire of God’s Pure Love, not because He sees them as dirty or unworthy, but because He loves them perfectly and “SEES” their perfectness and purity still hidden deep within. To the Pure, all things are Pure. Put off the Dross by focusing on Christ!
Now the gold is fit for the most exquisite workmanship. In the future, if the gold should get dirty and seem to lose its beauty, it is nothing more than an accidental impurity which touches only the surface.
This dirt is of no hindrance to the use of the gold vessel. This foreign particle which attaches itself to the surface is a far cry from having corruption deep within the hidden nature of the gold. Rare would be the man who would reject a pure, golden vessel because it had some external dirt on it, preferring some cheap metal only because its surface had been polished.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not excusing sin in the life of a person who has enjoyed union with God. Such an idea never occurred to me. I am referring here only to natural defects; defects which God deliberately leaves even in His greatest saints, to keep them from pride and to keep them from seeking the praise of men; who judge only the outward appearance. Ether 12:27-28,37 God gives us weakness so that we might be humble and if we turn to Him, He will make us “Strong”
God allows defects to remain in the dearest of His saints so He can preserve that saint from corruption and “hide him in the secret of His “Presence". (Psalm 31:20 ) (In Hebrew, this Presence is called “ShekinAH”.) And the Secret of “His Presence” is completely hidden from all Natural men.
Let us continue looking at the contrast between pure gold and impure gold.
Have you ever considered that a goldsmith would never mingle pure go]d and impure gold together? There is dross in the cheap gold; therefore, he will not allow it to be mixed with his costly, purified gold.
What will the Goldsmith do, then? After all, he ultimately chooses the two to be mingled together! What he must do is subject the impure gold to the fire. He will do this again and again until the dross-laden gold becomes as pure as the fine gold. Then, and only then, will the two be united, blended into one.
This very thought was in Paul’s declaration:
“The fire will try every man's work (doings), of what sort it is. “ 1 Corinthians 3:13)
Then Paul added: “If any man's work be burnt (purged of the Self efforts) he shall suffer loss (of Self),
But he himself (The Eternal Spirit part of us) shall be saved yet so as by fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:15)
Paul indicates that there are works so impure and so mixed that even though the Lord in His mercy accepts the man, that man must pass through the fire to be purged from “Self”, the Ego, the Natural Man.
The same sense is found in Romans 3:20. Here God is said to examine and re-prove our Self righteousness - which really is “sin”.
Paul in Romans declares that by the deeds of the law no man shall be justified; justification is by the Righteousness of God, and justification is laid hold of by faith in Jesus Christ. Ultimately all our deeds of “The Law” are to show us through frustration and failure to measure up to our own imagined perfection, that ONLY He can change us, and sanctify us of all self effort and just come to a place of total “Surrender”, yielding completely, but voluntarily and willingly, our hearts unto God.
So you see, God's glory and God's “wisdom” must come like a pitiless and devouring fire. That fire destroys all that is earthly and of “the Self”. The fire destroys the sensual, the carnal, the Devil-ish, and all self-activity. All this purging is necessary before the soul can be united to God.
You can be sure that you will never be motivated enough to allow this purging process to happen to you! The Natural Man; by his nature, is very reluctant to have submit to such a transformation. All of us are greatly enamored with “Self” and very fearful of its destruction. You can be sure you would never consent if it were not that God takes it upon Himself to act upon you. It is He who comes with the “Creative power” of His Burning Love.
God must take responsibility for bringing man into union with Himself. But is this possible? Will God act upon man without man's consent? Is this a break with divine principles, an imposition of God upon the free will of man? After all, the idea of man's free will" is that man can resist God's work in his life.
Well, let us return to that hour of your true conversion to Christ, if that has happened for you. At that time you made an unreserved surrender of your being to Christ. Not only that, you surrendered yourself to all that He wills for you. It was at that very time that you gave your total consent to whatever He might wish to require of you.
Oh, it is true that when your Lord actually began burning, destroying, and purifying, you did not recognize that it was the hand of the Lord in your life. You certainly did not recognize the operation as something good. You had the very opposite impression!
Instead, you saw all that beautiful great huge house of self you had constructed of your life being consumed and turning black in the “fire” rather than becoming bright and glorious as you had expected. You stood looking at the circumstances around you that were producing all that tragedy in your life. You thought that all that you had worked so hard to construct and possess in your life was being lost.
If, at that moment, the Lord had come and asked you for your active consent, at best you would hardly have been able to give it. It is more likely that you would not have been able to give consent at all.
There is something you can do at times like those, however. You can remain firm in a passive surrender enduring as patiently as you can all that God has introduced into your life.
What am I saying? It may be true that you cannot give to the Lord your active consent in such a dark and difficult hour, but neither are you able to put an obstruction in His way. You cannot say yes. You cannot say no. What can you do?
Pressed between these two points, you find you are capable of doing nothing. In such a situation you have given the Lord your passive consent! God is not usurping when He then assumes full power and total guidance! Can you grasp this unfolding process? He is suggesting that your so carefully self constructed house be torn down so that He can build you into a beautiful mansion where is found true Peace and serenity.
“Except a (kernel) of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” John 12:24
This saying by Jesus applies entirely to the state of the soul. If we will not allow the death of the natural man in us, we will abide entirely separate and alone without God - until we allow the Spirit of God to bring forth the “Seed” of God within us, and it becomes a tree of Eternal Love springing up unto everlasting life. The Love of God is the Fruit that comes forth once the ego is willingly laid down. Except that we cannot lay it down our selves, but must voluntarily and wholeheartedly allow that Holy One who laid down His body willingly and showed us the difference between living in a fleshly dark tabernacle and living in the glorious Light filled temple of His Eternal celestial being - the garment of Light or Spirit. Paul said; Put ye on the Armor (Garment) OF God (that does not mean the armor of our self, but rather he said: Yea, put ye ON Jesus Christ. Romans 13. Christ, the Holy One, IS the Armor OF God.
You begin at conversion with self-activity. But gradually, although progressively, you move toward passivity. Along the way between those two points your soul is gradually purified of all those movements of the soul that are so distinguishable and full of so much variety.
In this process that lies between self-activity and passivity you begin to recognize those elements which separate you from God. (And the things I have takes mentioned in this chapter are those elements which are between you and your Divine Center.) Then, by giving your passive consent to the purging fire of Christ, He takes you, degree by degree into a more and more passive state.
Your capacity for becoming surrendered is gradually increased. Your capacity to be silent before God and under the crushing of the cross (to say neither an active "yes" nor an active "no" to His dealings) is enlarged in a secret, hidden manner. You begin to realize that your house must be swept away, or your soul to be laid down in the grave of immersion (symbolized only in baptism but realized when this mighty change of God takes place in your life) so that you may be delivered from the Self Created hell that you had built in vanity, and gifted a whole new Abundant and Joyful life to live IN the Kingdom of Heaven.
You are now passing through the first stage of being drawn into the depths of God. He is conforming you to His purity. But there are two stages in God's drawing you. The second stage is uniformity with God.
We have seen that there is a progress in the first stage of being conformed to God. There is also a progress in the second stage.
Self-effort gradually decreases. Eventually, it ceases altogether. When self-effort ceases, your will is passive before God. You have come to uniformity. This is beyond a passive state. Or at least it is the ultimate end of the passive state. It is at this point you begin to yield yourself up to the impulses of the divine Spirit until you are totally absorbed with and IN Him. You are in total concert with His will in all things--at all times. This is union. Divine union. The self is ended. The human will is totally surrendered and responds to every movement of God's will. I need not warn you, this is a process that may take a while.
To RE-Pent and keep Re-penting each day is the key – Re-Pent means to Turn back to focus on God, rather than that typical all-consuming focus on Self that we has become our habit. Focus on Self is our wine and we are drunken and blind to the constant love-filled drawing of the Spirit back into Oneness and into Glory and Rest and Joy and Love of God. The Love of God is the Bread of Eternal Life and the Living Waters wherewith we are completely fulfilled - and we hunger and thirst no more. But we will never find that Bread and those Living Waters and the release from our hunger pains until we choose to let the Natural man ego be laid down in the grave, crucified, and annihilated by the only One who can do it because of His infinite love for us. We must cease from all trying to obtain and get and achieve God’s Love to possess for our Self Centered Selves. We must allow the Self in us to be crucified, and allow that Pure Love to possess us and make us a new creation.
Was activity and effort and “works” involved in order to arrive at such depths in Christ? Yes. Activity is the gate. However, we should not tarry at the gate. In fact, your aim, your tendency, must always be toward one point: ultimate perfect union (IN Christ).
Please know that all the “helps" and “crutches" must be laid aside along the way or the ultimate goal cannot be attained. Yes, the self nature is not only laid aside but so are all the “helps" and oracles and crutches you have relied on in the past. Those elemental crutches are to aid you in your beginning and in the process. But all things must ultimately be laid aside as we reach the final depths in Christ.
These helps were very necessary at the entrance to with this road, but later they are actually detrimental. Even so, some Christians will still stubbornly cling to these crutches.
This is what made Paul declare:
“Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth to those which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:8)
Here is a traveler. He has launched out on a long journey. He comes to the first inn, and there he remains forever. His reason? He has been told that many travelers have come this way and have stayed at this very inn; even the master of the house once dwelt here.
Surely our traveler has taken leave of his senses to remain at the first inn for no more reason than this.
Oh eternal soul! All that is wished for you is that you press toward the end. Take the shortest road, the easiest road. It has now been mapped out for you, The road and the map is Christ. Only remember this: Do not stop at the first stage.
Follow the counsel of Paul: Allow yourself to be led by the Spirit of God. (Romans 8: 14) That Spirit will unerringly conduct you to the end purpose for which your soul was created. That end purpose is the fullness of enjoyment of God. Stop for a moment and just see the reasonableness of the path before you.
First, we all have to admit that God is the Supreme Good. Surely, then, the ultimate blessedness is union with Him. And every saint has glory in Him, does he not? Yet the glory in each of us is so different. Why? The glory differs according to the degree of that Christian's union with God.
As we have seen, the soul cannot attain this union by effort or by mere activity or by its own power. This is because God alone communicates Himself to the soul of man. And He communicates Himself in proportion to the soul's capacity to remain passive. A great, noble, and extensive passive capacity aids the Lord in pouring Himself into the soul.
Next, you can only be united to God in simplicity and passivity. Simple, in that God is all and passive in that the human will is in accord with divine will in all things. This union is beauty itself. Therefore, it follows that the way which leads into passivity--and from there on to Christ--could not possibly be anything but good.
This way is the one most free from danger, and it is the best way.
But is there danger in knowing union with God? Some say, Yes, and discourage even the idea of it. But would your Lord have made this experience, this perfect walk, this necessary way, if it had been dangerous? No! Such a state is available to all, and the way there can be traveled by all.
All of the Lord's children have been called to the enjoyment of God--an enjoyment that can be known both in this life as well as in the life to come. Our state in that day will be one of eternal happiness in union with God. Our call in this life is the same.
“This is Life Eternal, that you might KNOW (Union with) the only True God and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent!” John 3:17
A few thoughts are in order. I have been speaking to you of an enjoyment of God, not of the gifts of God. Gifts do not constitute the ultimate beatitude. Gifts CANNOT satisfy your soul or your spirit. Your spirit is so noble and so great that the most exalted gifts God has to give cannot bring happiness to the spirit….not unless the Giver also gives Himself.
Dear reader, the whole desire of the Divine Being can be described in one sentence: God wishes to give Himself utterly to every creature that comes unto His Name. And He will do this, giving Himself to each of us according to our individual capacity.
But alas! Man is a remarkable creature! How reluctant he is to allow himself to be drawn into God! How fearful, how remarkably fearful he is to prepare for divine union.
One last word:
Someone is almost certain to tell you that it is not right that you put yourself into a state of union with God. I totally agree. But I add this word: No one can put himself into union with God. It would not be possible, no matter how great the effort. The soul's union with God is something God alone does. There is therefore no purpose in speaking out against those who seem to be trying to unite themselves with God; such a union (God with self) is not even possible.
You may also find someone saying to you, "Some people will hear of this and claim to have attained this state when actually they have not." Oh, dear reader, such a state cannot be imitated any more than a hungry man, on the verge of starving to death, could convince you he was full.
A wish, a word, a sigh, a sign, something will inevitably escape him and thereby betray the fact that he is far from being satisfied.
Since one cannot attain union with God by his own labor, we do not pretend to introduce anyone to it. All one can do is point out the Way that eventually leads there. Christ is the Truth, The Way, and the LIFE!
(Do not settle somewhere on the road or become attached to the external practices that first got you started. All these superficial practices of worship must be left behind the moment the signal is given to you.)
One who is experienced in helping others knows he can't take another Believer in Christ into this relationship with Him. All he can do is point to the Waters of Life and lend his aid to the seeker. This much, of course, he can do and must do. It would be cruel to show a spring to a thirsty man and then bind him in such a way that he could not reach the stream. Some speak of divine union but never allow the seeker freedom from his shackles. This does happen, and the poor saint eventually dies of thirst.
Then let us agree on this: There is divine union, and there is a Way to it. The way has a beginning, a progress, and a point of arrival Furthermore, the closer you come to consummation, the more you put aside the things that helped you get started.
Of course, there is also a middle; for you cannot go from a beginning to an end without there being an intermediate space. But if the end is good and holy and necessary , and if the entrance is also good, you can be sure the journey between those two points is also good! Oh the blindness of the greater part of mankind which prides itself on science and wisdom! How true it is, Oh my God, that You have hidden these wondrous things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them unto babes!
Oh, the unspeakable happiness of belonging to Jesus Christ! Belonging to Jesus Christ is the true balm which sweetens all those pains and sorrows which are so inseparable from this earthly life.
Respond to His touch. Yes, your inward parts, your soul and your spirit, need nourishment just as your body does. Unless your soul is nourished with something that strengthens it, the spiritual state of your soul will simply wither and decay.
As to your body, do not engage in inflicting mortification on it yourself. But there is a kind of mortification which I do recommend to you very earnestly. Mortify whatever there is that remains of your corrupt affections and desires; mortify your own will; mortify your taste, your disposition, the things you are naturally inclined to; mortify your habits.
For instance, learn to suffer with patience. God will send frequent and prossibly great suffering into your life. This is His doing; He has chosen it; accept it. Why would you continue to fight God’s work in you?
Learn to suffer all that happens to you--even confusion--but learn to do so out of only one motive: love for God. Accept everything, whether it be ill treatment, neglect, or whatever else may come your way. To sum up what I am saying: You can mortify your being by bearing at all times, in a serene way, everything that thwarts your natural self life. Put to death the disagreeable feelings which rise up inside of you when unpleasant things enter your life. In so doing, place yourself in union with the sufferings of Christ.
Bitter remedies, true. But by taking them you will honor the real meaning of putting “self” on the cross.
You die utterly to everything that is showy and attracting about you. But this death does not take place outwardly. Mortification and death of self take place inward.
Learn, then, the lesson of becoming a little one, of becoming nothing. A man who fasts--Ieaving off all those things his appetite improperly craves--does a good thing. But the Christian who is fasting from his own desires and his own will, and who feeds upon God's will alone, does far better. This is what Paul calls
the circumcision of the heart.
Release such expressions as these to your Lord:
"Oh my God, let me be wholly Yours. "
"Let me love You purely for Yourself, for You are infinite love”.
“Oh my God, be my all! Let everything else be as nothing to me”.
Offer up these and other such words; offer them up from your heart. It is in this way you will gradually form the important habit of unceasing silent prayer. Take the Lord's Supper as often as you can. Jesus Christ, who is that ordinance (bestowal), is the Bread of Life. He nourishes and enlivens our souls. May He set up His kingdom in your heart and reign and rule in you.