A person is either saved or lost; there is no middle ground.
Among those who are saved, however, there are two levels:
those who are totally committed to the Lord, and those who
Totally committed believers have unconditionally submitted
themselves to the Lord, and are actively seeking to be transformed
into that which the Lord intends for them. Life is not merely
"flavored" by that which is spiritual, but its very
essence is spiritual.
On the other hand, there are those referred to as nominal
Christians, whose sins are forgiven and who, to some measure,
follow the Lord; but they have never fully given themselves
to the Lord.
Salvation is a free gift. When the thief on the cross repented,
he was told by Jesus that "today" he would be with
Him in Paradise (Luke 23:43). Nothing more was required of
him. However, His disciples were told that if they were to
follow Him, they must deny themselves and take up their cross.
Thus, there is a cost to discipleship.
Initially, we are brought to salvation through a revelation
of God's love toward us, "For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son" John 3:16a. Then
there is a further revelation of God's love which continues
to draw us until we become willing to pay this price. The
result is coming to experientially know the Lord.
"I love them that love Me; and those that seek
Me early shall find Me ... that I may cause
those that love Me to inherit substance; and
I will fill their treasures" Prov 8:17,21.
These "treasures" which are to be gained result
from a love toward the Lord that specifically provokes a response
of His love toward us. This speaks of His approbation resting
upon our lives. This is a reciprocation which brings a further
release of His love that continues to draw us until we are
brought to a place close to His heart. This process is unending
in its possibilities.
Jesus said, "Therefore doth My Father love Me"
John 10:17a. He then explained why He was able to say this,
"Because I lay down my life ... no man taketh it from
Me, but I lay it down of Myself" John 10:17b-18a. Because
His life was fully committed to the will of His Father, the
love of His Father was directed toward Him.
In the Song of Solomon, the Bride is stirred by the love
she receives from the Bridegroom,
"Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth,
for Thy love is better than wine ... Thy Name
is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the
virgins love Thee" SS 1:2-3.
Within her heart has come a desire to personally know the
Lord, beyond the blessings she had been receiving from Him.
"Draw me, we will run after Thee" SS 1:4a.
We have been created with an ability to respond to the Father's
expressed love toward us. Because she felt the drawing power
of His love, the Bride has made a commitment of her life to
Him, "we will run after Thee."
The Lord accepted the submission of her life to Him, and
has taken the initiative.
"The King hath brought me into His chambers" SS
As she is brought into His presence, she testifies, "we
will remember Thy love more than wine, the upright love Thee"
SS 1:4c. Her spiritual vision is becoming clear and she is
sensing something even deeper in the Lord that is worth pursuing.
Some time ago, the Lord used an elderly lady minister (Hattie
Hammond) to impart within me the understanding that a deep
personal relationship with the Lord was indeed possible, if
I would be willing to go after it. As we sat together, it
was as though I sat under an open heaven in which the presence
of God was flowing toward me. This caused me to desire this
very special relationship which she had with the Lord.
This is what had transpired with the Bride. There was within
her an enlargement of spiritual hunger and vision through
the intervention of the Lord, and she said she would remember
this. This increased vision enabled her to make the separations
that would be necessary in order to enter His chambers to
be with Him, rather than being content with the blessings
The first separation involved personally coming to know the
Lord, apart from merely being satisfied with what she learned
about Him through others.
"Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth, where
Thou feedest, where Thou makest Thy flock
to rest at noon, for why should I be as one
that turneth aside by the flocks of Thy
companions?" SS 1:7.
The second separation involved recognizing the voice of the
Lord and learning how to respond to Him.
"The voice of my Beloved! Behold, He cometh
leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon
the hills" SS 2:8.
Her response to His desire for her will further provoke an
even greater desire to be with Him. This requires a sensitivity
on her part, to notice His presence, and to invite Him within.
"My Beloved is like a roe or a young hart.
Behold, He standeth behind our wall, He
looketh forth at the windows, shewing
Himself through the lattice" SS 2:9.
As soon as she responds to His seeking Her fellowship, He
will lead her into the third place of separation.
"My Beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up,
My love, My fair one, and come away" SS 2:10.
Once the Bride responds to this call into the place of total
commitment to Him, she will enter a new level of experience
with the Lord.
"For lo, the winter is past, the rain is
over and gone. The flowers appear on the
earth; the time of the singing of birds
is come, and the voice of the turtle is
heard in our land; The fig tree putteth
forth her green figs, and the vines with
the tender grape give a good smell" SS 2:11-13a.
Now she has entered an active cooperative relationship with
her Lord, which has become productive concerning His purposes.
"Come, my beloved, let us go forth into
the field; let us lodge in the villages.
Let us get up early to the vineyards;
let us see if the vine flourish, whether
the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates
bud forth: there I will give thee My loves" SS 7:11-12.
The initiative for the Bride's life has passed from her to
the Lord Himself. Notice that He says, "Come, My beloved."
She has been seeking, and now He takes the lead and brings
her into the place of fruitfulness.
This level of experience is available to all who are willing
to deny themselves and take up their cross in order to follow
the Lord, but it does not happen overnight. There is a progressive
working of the Lord in our lives to bring us into this fullness
of relationship with Him.
Once this has happened, those who are nominal Christians
will notice and ask,
"Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness,
leaning upon her Beloved?" SS 8:5a.
There is a difference.