with Jeremy Westcott
Not in the Bible
This may seem really obvious, but it is a fact that not everything is actually specifically mentioned in the Bible. For example, Jesus said we should do greater works than He did, without being specific about what they might be. We have experiences in daily life which are not mentioned in the Bible – there are no computers or glasses or cars or mobile phones – but it is OK for us to use them. In just the same way, we may have some experiences of heaven which are not in the Bible.
The scriptures can be a plumbline for us though. A plumbline is a string with a lead weight (or plumb-bob) hanging from it, which builders use to check that vertical surfaces are true. So does our experience line up with God’s principles, His character and His nature? That is a safeguard for us, so that we do not go off into flights of fancy which have no basis in God. The enemy will do all he can to cause us to go astray, but we do not have to be frightened of that if we keep true to a clear revelation of who God is. Jesus Himself is that perfect revelation of His Father.
Using our imagination
The scriptures can become our starting point for future experience. When we meditate on a passage, we can picture what it talks about and use our imagination. We ought not to be scared to use our imagination: God has given it to us so that we can see things, picture them, and visualise them. Now some Christians are wary of concepts like ‘visualisation’ because they have been adopted by New Age and occult people. Even meditation is viewed with suspicion in some circles. But these things are not wrong in themselves. It is simply that we have to approach them afresh and learn how to use them in a godly way.
If we read Revelation chapters 4 and 5, they tell us about God’s throne, thunder and lightning, the seven spirits of God, four living creatures, angels, 24 elders and so on. Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10 speak of a similar scene. There are pictures in these passages which we can visualise, and this then becomes something we can engage with. It can open a door to encounter and experience.
As well as a doorway, the scriptures can be an anchor for further heavenly experiences. I have had many encounters with God in the heavenly realms, following which I went back to the Bible to find a foundation and an anchor for those experiences. That meant I could return to those experiences again, while ensuring that I was standing on a good biblical foundation.
So sometimes our experience comes directly out of meditating on Bible passages. At other times, our experience comes in a different way, but we can still go back to the scripture and make sure that what we have experienced is in line with what it reveals of God. In either case, if it is firmly rooted in scripture we can use that as a prompt when we want to pick up our experience again another time and go further with it.
For example, I had encounters where God took me and opened up scrolls relating to my life, and showed me what was written there. I was not expecting that. I did not know if it was biblical. But then I read in Revelation that there was a scroll written on the front and the back which Jesus would open, and that anchored those experiences solidly for me. As a result I am able to go back there and make sure my life lines up with what is written on my scroll.
Left brain, right brain
To meditate you have to learn to use the right side of the brain, the creative/intuitive area. I used to be a very left-brained person, a scientist, who naturally tended towards the cognitive, logical, and mathematical. But speaking in tongues or meditating, because they come from a flow of the spirit, use the right side of the brain. So we need to learn to activate that part of the brain in order to see, and visualise, and experience spiritual realities, and especially the heavenly realms.
That flow of the spirit is revelation from the inside which comes as spontaneous thoughts and pictures and feelings. If we are not used to tuning in to them, they can slip past and we can miss them. It works like this. The air around us is full of radio and television signals of which we are not normally aware. But if we were to have a radio, turned on and tuned in, we would be able to hear whatever was playing on that particular station. If we had a TV set tuned in we would be able to see what was on that channel. And it is just the same with tuning in to God.
God is sending out signals all the time. They flow through our spirit and are projected into the right side of our brain, so that we can hear His voice, see visions and pictures, and receive revelation from Him. We tune in to that through meditation.
Our imagination is the screen on which God projects things. But it can also receive images from our soul, from our subconscious, and we need to know the difference. Our imagination can play back experiences we have had in life. There may be a song, or a smell or a taste which can transport us instantly back to an experience we had many years previously. We can imagine it, recall it even feel the same feelings we had at the time (whether positive or negative).
We do not want to be led from our soul, and especially not from our past negative experience, but we want to be led by the Spirit of God. We need to learn to let those spirit projections rule over the soulish ones, so that we are tuned in to a flow of revelation which enables us to follow God and do what He has called us to do. We have to learn how to open ourselves up to these things, just as most of us actually learned to shut them out.
Every child, up to the age of about three or four, is creative and intuitive. Children of that age can see the angelic much more readily than adults, and have the ability to function in that intuitive way.
By the age of 7, only 10% of children retain that spiritual and creative ability. Our western educational system is very effective at training us to use the left side of our brain. It does not value the right side at all. Because the spiritual is not reinforced and encouraged, but rather dismissed and ignored (or at best, humoured) by our elders and teachers, we learn to focus almost exclusively on the natural realm instead.
But now, empowered by the Spirit of God, we have an opportunity to re-learn how to engage our spirit; how to retune and see things from God’s perspective.
But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil (Heb 5:14, my emphasis).
It only comes by practice.
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