EXPANDING OUR SPIRITUAL VISION
March 11, 2012
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.”
– John 16:12
These are the words of Jesus to his apostles. He had been with them for over three years and personally taught them many things. But there was still more that he was unable to tell them because of their own limitations – they were not able to bear them. Yet, Jesus recognized that this was a temporary situation. Something could be done to expand their ability to comprehend. He went on to say:
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.”
– John 16:13-14
Yes, we have been given the spirit of truth. And when we are able to tap into that source, we will be guided into all truth. This article is about how to tap into that source – the spirit of truth – and expand our spiritual vision.
Before we go any further, we want you to rest assured that nothing we intend to say is in anyway, even remotely, related to “spiritism.” That disclaimer is unfortunately necessary because some of us have a tendency to associate anything having to do with the spirit with something bad or evil or demonic, notwithstanding that the Father himself is a spirit, as is the glorified Jesus.
We have nothing to fear from the spirit of truth. As Jesus said, the spirit of truth “will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears.” So we know from the outset that the spirit of truth does not give any indication of his own presence. He is concerned only with your understanding the truth that he hears from the Christ. So his presence is only manifest by your increased understanding of spiritual things. In other words, you will know that you have accessed the spirit of truth when your understanding of truth expands. Having cleared that up and moved fear out of the way, let’s get into the meat of the discussion.
Spiritual vision as used in this article refers to the perspective from which we view life. It is the context from which we perceive and understand truth, life, even the universe. And the content of our vision – what we are able to see – is limited to its context, or itscapacity. For example, if you have an 8-ounce glass (the capacity), it will only hold 8 ounces of water (the content), and no more. If you want more water, you will have to get a larger glass. No matter how long you hold your 8-ounce glass under running water, it will never be able to hold more than 8 ounces. It cannot exceed its capacity.
Now applying that analogy to spiritual vision, we learn that no matter how much spiritual information we receive, we can only take in as much as our capacity allows. No matter how much additional information is given, your ability to understand the information is limited to your capacity, and no more.
Jesus understood this limitation and so found a way to communicate fundamental spiritual ideas to the masses, namely, through illustrations.
“With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.”
– Mark 4:33
“Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.”
– Matthew 13:34
Those who heard his illustrations could gain superficial knowledge; but as they grew in spirituality, they would gain even greater understanding from those same illustrations. You may have experienced this. When you first read certain illustrations, they had one meaning. But as you grew in your spiritual capacity and revisited those same illustrations, you gained new insight. That is the spirit of truth at work.
In our analogy of the 8-ounce glass, we showed that in order to be able to hold more water, you would need to have a larger glass. Likewise, in order to be able to hold more spiritual knowledge and understanding, you will have to enlarge your capacity to understand. How do you do that?
Jesus gave us the first step when he spoke to the crowds in the Sermon on the Mount. In the first “beatitude,” he said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
– Matthew 5:3
In order to expand your vision, you first need to understand that there is a lack – poor in spirit, having a spiritual need. People do not pursue what they believe they already have. There must be a need. For example, only a hungry man is excited about a buffet; a full man could take it or leave it. Only a thirsty man is excited about water; a man who has already quenched his thirst has no need of it. So for us, we must understand that we do not know everything. We have to be conscious of the fact that there is more to learn.
That consciousness of our spiritual need creates a vacuum within us – a hole that needs to be filled. And the greater the consciousness, the bigger the hole. The bigger the hole, the more capacity there is for new knowledge and understanding.
We can also look to Jesus’ words later in the sermon:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
– Matthew 7:7-8
Here, Jesus explains what a person who is conscious of his spiritual need does. They pray – they ask, they knock, they seek. You must have questions in order to receive answers. But why does Jesus say we must ask, seek, and knock? Is there some hesitancy on Jesus’ or the Fathers’ part to answer us? No, not at all!
The answers to all prayers for knowledge and understanding are immediately given. The Father does not withhold knowledge. But we must have the capacity to receive the knowledge we seek. We can illustrate this by considering radio waves. Radio frequencies are always around us. But only those with a radio tuned to the right station can receive the messages. And prayer is the way we tune ourselves to the guidance of the spirit of truth. The more we pray, the greater our capacity to receive.
Prayer has the unparalleled effect of increasing our capacity for receptivity by digging out larger and deeper channels wherein the spirit of truth may flow into our hearts. And when we have created a space big enough to hold the truth we seek, we can then receive it.
So, the way to expand our spiritual capacity is simple: recognize our spiritual need, and consistently pray for truth and for a deeper understanding of the truth we already know.
This simple methodology is unfortunately a challenge to people who maintain a kind of spiritual or religious superiority. Once we develop the mind that we know it all, that we have all the answers, that we hold all the truth, or that our understanding is infallible, we, in effect, shut out the spirit of truth because there is no room for new knowledge to reside. We are full. Such people are left to mull over old facts and try to dress them in new clothes; or take new facts and try to fit them into old ideologies. In effect, they are pouring new wine into old wineskins. Of course, the consequences are disastrous! (Matthew 9:16-17) We do well to remember:
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
– Isaiah 55:8-9
There are things about the Father and His ways that we are simply unable to understand, try as though we might. That is why he sent his son – to reveal the Father to us in a way that we can understand.
“[F]or, ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:16
Yes, we have the life example of Jesus, and we have the helper, the spirit of truth, who will guide us into all truth. (John 16:13) This is the channel Jehovah provides to enhance our understanding. We must remain open to this channel.
The Christ wishes to share with us greater truths by means of the spirit of truth “in order that you may be thoroughly able to grasp mentally with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth” (Ephesians 3:18), but he is restrained by our capacity to receive. We, likewise wish to speak about what we have received by the spirit of truth, but we as to some things, are constrained by the bounds of propriety and your free will.
Therefore, we encourage you to expand your own spiritual vision and your own capacity to know and understand through prayer and spirit-consciousness. When you do, you will not be limited by what we can say, or what any other person can teach. You will be able to access direct understanding from Christ through the anointing of the spirit of truth, as John explained:
“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.”
– 1 John 2:27
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