FIRST STEPS IN regeneration
913 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, Mo.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 7, 1912
The subject for our consideration this morning is the “First Steps in Regeneration.”
The first step in every movement of the mind, and body also, is belief or faith in that thing. If we didn’t believe in the possibility of walking, we couldn’t walk. Everything has its conception in the mind. We believe that there is a spiritual man—that that spiritual man is the higher man, the type man, the real man—but we must put that into active operation in the mind before we will demonstrate it.
So, let us this morning take for our prayer, our meditation in the silence, “I believe in the coming forth in me of the mind and body of the Spirit.” That will be our silent prayer.
We are considering, this morning, the very beginning of that process in mind and body termed “regeneration.” In considering that matter, we should first admit at least that there is the necessity of a regeneration. If man is demonstrating the problem of life perfectly in his present consciousness, which is mind and body, he doesn’t need regeneration, but if he is falling short in that respect, he certainly needs awakening and reformation. This is the first step, and the final putting on of the body which they call the Christ.
I think it is admitted by all who have looked into the subject that man is not living up to his highest—that the human race can do very much better in demonstrating health and perfection of body. This is the conclusion of all philosophers who have investigated the inner action of mind and body. Even the doctors tell us that our organisms are self-perpetuating, that there should be really no disintegration of functions of any kind because the machinery is here to renew every part. But there is deterioration. The body functions do break down, they grow old, and finally disintegrate. Then there must be something wrong.
As thinking people, we should inquire into the matter, and find out why we fall short and what the necessary steps are to redemption, to change, to regenerate. We know that generation is in large degree responsible for this present condition because in generation everything has its origin. All life forces are started in generation, and that generation must have a pure beginning in order to have the pure and righteous bringing forth. Then here we find ourselves in what might be called a degenerate state. Is this true of the real man, the man born in the image and likeness of God? You say at once, “Why, no!” What, then, is necessary that we regenerate? The greatest of all Teachers said, “You must be born again; you must be born from above; you must be born of the Spirit.” There must be a change—a change of consciousness and a change of structure in the consciousness, and that means the body.
Now, the church has discerned this, and regeneration is part of the Christian doctrine, but it pertains almost exclusively to the mind, the soul; a change going on in consciousness, but not pertaining especially to the outer man, to the body. And I don’t think that the church has taught a full and clear understanding of the textbook, the New Testament, which indicates the movements of mind necessary to this great change. New truths, or new perceptions of old truths, are sometimes necessary; and the spiritual reading of this New Testament shows us that the very steps leading to this change of mind, or redemption of mind and body, are clearly set forth if we would read between the lines.
So the first thing necessary is, as I said, to know that we need regenerating, and the next is that we perceive the possibility, that we believe in the spiritual man and that we can bring him forth.
This deals especially with what might be termed the spiritually minded people, people who believe in God, people who have been followers of spiritual things up to their highest understanding, who have been true to the teachings, as far as they knew.
Now this is given in the symbols of Zacharias and Elizabeth. They were followers of the Jewish teaching. He officiated as a priest daily in the temple, but he hadn’t brought forth the real spiritual mind and body. While officiating, the angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him that he should have a son. But he doubted, because he said, “My wife and I are well stricken in years,” and he was made dumb as a result of his doubt.
Remember, these are the first steps in regeneration, and here is the very first—that we must believe in the possibility of this thing. You must believe in the spiritual man, and that that spiritual man can bring forth. People live generation after generation, worshipping God, believing in God, believing in realms spiritual, but they divorce it from their immediate active life. They don’t bring forth the spiritual man in mind and body in its essential parts. They don’t bring forth the body of Christ. In other words, they don’t get the Christ child in consciousness.
This lesson is to show that there must be a looking forth of the mind in faith, if you will, or that you must first believe, which is the prophecy. And this is the step that we, everyone, must take. The reason that we have to go into this quiet, silent state of mind in order to get this is because of our universal unbelief. This being stricken dumb by Zacharias is in one translation, “he was made silent.” We find that in the first steps in regeneration, it is necessary that we get into our minds the reality of spiritual things. Our eyes and ears and these outer senses have so long looked upon forms that we cannot, at first, realize that there is a formless realm all about us. In other words, that thoughts are just as real as these material things—even more real. In order to appreciate this, we have to introvert or learn to look with our minds upon thoughts as real, and to do that we must silence the outer senses. We, during the first steps in this process, are made dumb, that we may become alive in the inner planes of consciousness.
Now this was the case with Zacharias—that was the cause of his being made dumb. This is told, as you see, in symbols, and it is absolutely necessary in the present state of consciousness. If we had gone along in the spiritual evolution, the natural order of regeneration, this would not be necessary. We would have, with open eye, beheld the spiritual as real, and one of the necessary steps, and we would have accepted it without doubt. Because of a false education, because of a wandering off into the wilderness of sense, we have to go through a sort of artificial education. We have to sit in the silence—put away the outer—and for sometimes long periods be absolutely oblivious to outer things.
You can see, through giving attention to spiritual things, we begin the regeneration of the mind. The mind takes a new peace. We call that Truth. We see things in our minds that no one else sees. We see, then, mentally. I don’t mean by that we become psychics or clairvoyants, but we see with the mind certain propositions. You can abstractly perceive a truth, but you must concretely form it in your mind as a real thing before it will become a tangible working reality.
We all have a prophecy of this. We all desire to be spiritual, to see in ourselves this need of a further and fuller expression of the ideal. And how shall we bring it about? By taking the prophecy as real –by knowing that we can form, through our minds, a new man. And what is the first step in that formation? It is an ego. Every man has an I AM, or identity, which makes the character of that man for the time being. Everyone of us is constantly changing the center, and this makes what we call the seven stages, as given by Shakespeare, of the man, from the puking infant along the various steps to old age and decrepitude. These various steps are only necessary to those who believe in the old way, but isn’t there a new way? Can’t I form a new ego on a higher plane of consciousness? Certainly, and that is what the Spirit in me is really pushing me forward to do. That is what I should be doing. And the reason that we have our various ills, the trials and tribulations, is because we don’t go forward in the evolutionary bringing forth of the man. The real man is sidetracked by a thousand different issues of the mind.
Now, then, let us study the truth and bring forth the spiritual man. And that spiritual man is first a prophecy of a man. As I say, you must see the possibility, and that possibility is great, and symbolically is John the Baptist. You are first baptized with the Spirit. That is the first baptism, and then there comes into your consciousness a new impetus toward spiritual things. You see the truth, and you say, “Is it possible for me to attain that?” Certainly it is, and you should be aware, right there, of any doubt of the situation. If you doubt, you will have to have these daily periods of silence and stillness—you will have to work out of that doubting mind—and the only way to break down that doubting mind is to get into the mind of the Spirit. As I say, you have to get into that mind of the Spirit with the silence.
John the Baptist was a man—if you have read the Scripture, you will read—of great natural ability. He was a man of fire and power, but not great spiritual vision. Well, also in the bringing forth of the Christ mind and body, the first steps are found to be a new courage, a new force and power, in what might be called the physical. Symbolically, John the Baptist is represented as one who lived on wild food, locusts and honey, and had a leather girdle, and I suppose dressed in the skins of wild beasts. He came out of the wilderness a man of no culture—but just a natural man. That is one of the necessary steps—that we shall become natural and eliminate the artificial. Do away with things that are not strictly true in the natural mind. We are loaded up with artificial ideas of various kinds.
I might go into detail and tell you how you are bound by the world’s standards of life—that these standards are not true at all. The only real standard of life is a natural standard that comes from within. So, you must become natural. At the same time, you must have force, you must have courage. We find that you can’t have a perfect spiritual body until you rebuild this physical body and make it perfect; but that the physical body itself, in its present state of action, must also be done away with. There must be a celestial body. So, we go right on healing people. We say, “It is necessary that you have health of body in its present state of consciousness that you may have a proper stage and foundation for the new body, but first you must realize that there is such a body in Spirit, and believe all these things that to the natural man seem far away.”
People say to us, “Oh, you can’t do this – what you are talking about. I see you people are getting old and have trials and tribulations and little sicknesses just like the world. I don’t see why you stand up and tell about the wonderful possibilities of what you are going to do and you don’t do it.” Now, what are you going to do when these statements are brought before you? Why, you must go right on believing in the spiritual man. It doesn’t make any difference about this appearing man. I must have faith in this spiritual bringing forth; I must have faith that there is, in me, a new man forming; that that new man has a new way of demonstrating life; that that new man is a better man than I am in my present demonstrations. At the same time, don’t separate yourself. Don’t do anything that will leave out of your life proposition those real, eternal things, those things that are the ideal. Make every ideal a reality. Just insist upon seeing invisible things as a reality. Just insist upon seeing invisible things as real things, and before you know it you will have new experiences.
You will find that there is a quickening of the man, and all at once, some day, there will be to you open vision. The necessity of silent closing of the eye and shutting away of our sense consciousness will merge into a new mind and new body that will become so tangible to you that with open eye you will see the truth. This was the case of Zacharias. In the beginning he was dumb, he had to go into the silence, but he came to that place where that was not necessary. His ears and his mouth were opened and he spoke the truth.
This is exactly where we, every one of us, get—not all at once, but here and there you find people who have believed in the coming forth of this higher man, this man which Jesus Christ demonstrated. They have really believed in that, they have clung to it until their bodies, through the action of the mind, are being regenerated, and they can look into the outer realms and see the salvation of the Lord, the salvation of God manifest in all things, and especially in myself, through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Charles H. Wolf