by Mike Ratliff
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ”
16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. John 1:14-16 (NKJV)
There is a certain hysteria currently amongst many of our 21st Century Puritans. While I gladly count myself as a Puritan, I also know that our enemy desires to shackle and nullify our witness and divert our focus, by feeding our heightened perceptions as to what is godly and what is false with misleading and derogatory information that cause us to turn on one another. Having experienced this against my own ministry since its inception I can say that it is very frustrating and eye opening.
For example, if you have read a great deal of what I have written then you know that I believe that Christians can partake of the Fullness of Christ in this life right now. At the same time, I have never once given credence to New Age and Mystical forms of “Christianity.” I do not believe that experiential forms of Christianity are authentic. I do not believe that there is a certain level of maturity that Christians can reach where they will live in a life of perfect victory over sin because of their mystical aspirations. These are all what I call extra-Biblical experiential and mystical religious things that are counterfeit forms of Christianity.
Counterfeit Christianity takes many forms. In fact our enemy has come up with as many as it takes to dilute the truth and keep as many people as possible focused away from the real truth. The New Age form of Christianity is quite diverse, but one of the fastest growing components of it is Contemplative Prayer. There are many popular and surprisingly mainstream “Christian Leaders” who have endorsed Contemplative Prayer as being the fast track to acquiring Fullness of Christ. I believe that this is a very dangerous thing and I detect our enemy’s fingerprints all over it. Why? I can find many references to Christians having Fullness In Christ in scripture, but I can find no commands there to put our minds into neutral and become quiet and still in order to hear God, which is the blueprint of Contemplative Prayer.
Some have accused me of endorsing Contemplative Prayer because I have used the Puritan prayer book, The Valley of Vision in some of my posts. There is a vast difference however. While Contemplative Prayer is actually a form of Transcendental Meditation, the Puritans who wrote and prayed those prayers were doing the exact opposite. They were simply walking through their lives actively pursuing God’s will in all they did, said and thought. It is actually the opposite of Contemplative Prayer. C.P. is passive while praying like the Puritans is active. C.P. involves little Biblical Praying while the Puritans prayed prayers taken directly from God’s Word.
Praying the way the Puritans prayed and then walking through life accordingly is the way we should walk through our lives as well; examining our motives, living in such a way as to be a pleasing aroma in the nostrils of God as we become living sacrifices. Contemplative Prayer is demonic in that it opens gates in our hearts that should not be opened. The Puritans prayed and walked through life in a way that they described as “enjoying Christ’s fullness as mine.” The following prayer is from The Valley of Vision and I believe reveals the heart condition of the “Puritan” actively pursuing God.
Thou hast taught me
that Christ has all fullness and so all plenitude of Spirit,
that all fullness I lack in myself is in him,
for his people, not for himself alone,
he having perfect knowledge, grace, righteousness,
to make me see,
to make me righteous,
to give me fullness;
that it is my duty, out of a sense of emptiness,
to go to Christ, possess, enjoy his fullness as mine,
as if I had it in myself, because it is for me in him;
that when I do this I am full of the Spirit,
as a fish that has got from the shore to the sea
and has all fullness of waters to move in,
for when faith fills me, then I am full;
that this is the way to be filled with the Spirit,
like Stephen, first faith, then fullness,
for this way makes me most empty,
and so most fit for the Spirit to fill.
Thou has taught me that
the finding of this treasure of all grace in the field of Christ
begets strength, joy, glory,
and renders all graces alive.
Help me to delight more in what I receive from Christ,
more in that fullness which is in him,
the fountain of all his glory.
Let me not think to receive the Spirit from him as a ‘thing’
apart from finding, drinking, being filled with him.
To this end, O God,
do thou establish me in Christ,
settle me, give me a being there,
assure me with certainty that all this is mine,
for this only will fill my heart with joy and peace.
From The Valley of Vision – a collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions by Arthur Bennet
Soli Deo Gloria!