Tuesday, September 5, 2006

John Fletcher: Spiritual Manifestations

It is tragically easy to forget the life of John Fletcher (September 12, 1729 — August 14, 1785) . To live in the shadow of John Wesley would be no easy task, yet this faithful pastor at Madeley rightly takes his place in the ranks of the Methodists, so called.

Today's blog begins John Fletcher Week. We will examine some of his views on the ways Christ manifests his presence to believers. In chapter one, "The Reality of Manifestations", Fletcher writes from his book, Christ Manifested:
I am of the firm opinion that the Lord Jesus Christ seeks to manifest Himself to all born-again believers, in this life. Realising, however, that an opening sentence of this kind may come as a complete surprise to the reader, I ask only that you will give me time to explain myself. For, although this belief may be thought, by some, to be based upon mere enthusiasm, I am convinced that-for purposes which are worthy of His wisdom-our Saviour desires to reveal Himself to all of His sincere followers, in a divinely spiritual way, sooner or later.
How such a thing can be possible is the theme Awakening Theology will take up in the following days. For now, however, let's focus on one thing: Christians receive revelations from Christ that sinners do not. Consider his opinion:
The reverse of the natural man is the spiritual man, so called because God has revealed spiritual things to him by his Spirit, who is now in him a principle of spiritual and eternal life. 'The spiritual man' wrote the Apostle, 'judgeth (that is discerneth) all things, yet he himself is discerned of no man.' The high estate he is in can no more be discerned by the natural man, than the condition of the natural man can be discerned by a brute.

St. Paul not only described the spiritual man, but wrote particularly of his internal, moral senses; he believed that mature believers, by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. He prayed that the love of the Philippians 'may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all sense or feeling.'
Why is it that critics of Christianity look at believers with skepticism and, then, after their conversion, they suddenly understand? It's because of the revelatory work of the Spirit within their spirits. This divine communication is the joy of the Christian and the bewilderment of the sinner. This week we will examine the superior position the spiritual man in Christ has over the natural man outside Christ.

All because of the Spirit of Christ.