I am sure you all well remember the story of the contest on Mount Carmel. In a way it is quite an elaborate story but there is one point which bears particular emphasis in view of our considerations this evening. In order to make clear as to which way was the genuine way, whether that of the prophets of Baal or of the prophet of the Lord, it was agreed that no fire should be put under the sacrifice. It was anticipated that the true God would answer with fire. You know the story. Regardless of what attempts were made by the prophets of Baal to generate something which would allow the sacrifice to catch fire, nothing happened. But the prophet of the Lord was answered by fire—fire fell from heaven.
This may be thought of, by some, as coming down from upstairs, but we would see it as something coming forth—you could call it spontaneous combustion. There was no such spontaneous combustion insofar as the prophets of Baal were concerned. They entered into the project with great enthusiasm but it all slowed down and petered out at the end. Under the hand of the prophet of the Lord something rather specific was done and there was an unfoldment of the design in the right way, so that the spontaneous combustion occurred. I am sure you can see an application here in human experience—perhaps even our own. In considering some people, we may on occasion say, “We need to build a fire under that person.” In other words he is not going to move or do anything without some external stimulus of some kind, something which will engender a reaction. This relates to the matter of being neither cold nor hot—no reaction. The lukewarm are those who are not stimulated into any particular action on the basis of reaction.
We can look at this from the standpoint of our own experience with respect to the working of the Law. A stimulus of some kind has been applied in the world, and there have been those who favorably reacted toward it, you amongst them. Others reacted unfavorably. The vast majority were not stimulated at all; they just sat there like lumps of dough. In describing what takes place we have used the formula: radiation, response. Response in this sense could be described as favorable reaction. Radiation, favorable reaction, attraction because of that favorable reaction—and that is about as far as it has gone with all too many. In this case there is some sort of a locking into a condition of eternal favorable reaction. But of course we discover that it is not quite eternal. The favorable reaction, while a necessary step perhaps toward the experience of the fire, never of itself allows the fire to be known.
Fire has sometimes been equated with enthusiasm. There are those who have been quite enthusiastic in their favorable reaction to this ministry, but by the same token there have been many more who have been most enthusiastic in their favorable reaction to all kinds of things in the world. The mere fact of favorable reaction does not yet achieve anything. It may set something in motion, as it did in the contest on Mount Carmel under the hand of the prophet of the Lord. There was a favorable reaction: the people came near unto Elijah. They reacted favorably to what he was proposing. We have a ministry in form because there has been favorable reaction on the part of a number of people to what was being offered, but this is not the end and aim of the undertaking. We are not here on earth merely to engender a favorable reaction on the part of mankind. In the field of favorable reaction we and some others might be classified as the first fruits, but I am sure in examining the situation you would be inclined to say that it does not really appear as though there is going to be all that much favorable reaction, and that the favorable reaction that is forthcoming or that is liable to be forthcoming could hardly be expected to achieve what is needful. You are right, because it is not merely a matter of favorable reaction. There is radiation, the response or favorable reaction, and there is attraction. But that leads to something else; it leads to union, so that there may be what was spoken of as unified radiation.
The state of union is a different state to that of favorable reaction. Favorable reaction is not carried over into the experience of union. Here is an entirely different experience. If one gets accustomed to favorable reaction there is a tendency to want to stay that way: “Let us favorably react forever.” But forever turns out to be not all that long. Favorable reaction, response as it has been known, leads to another experience which is not the same at all—an entirely new experience. We have called that entirely new experience the restoration. If all that happens is that human beings on earth decide finally to favorably react, that does not of itself produce restoration. We have the same human nature situation as before, only the enthusiastic reaction has been channeled into one stream. But all it is is the same thing as was the case before in the human nature state, because people are very accustomed to favorably reacting to this and that. Of course they also unfavorably react to this and that, but it is the reaction itself that is the trouble after a certain point is reached. In other words there is the expectation of continuing to be galvanized into reaction.
Obviously human beings have gotten themselves into this human nature condition, and seemingly to come out of it there is the need for some sort of prod. The required prod to move people in the right direction has been described as radiation, spiritual radiation; and we are going to see who will respond to that, who will be moved by it, who will begin to jump because of it. And so as this movement emerges there is the experience of attraction—attraction toward the radiation. Radiation is being applied, there is favorable reaction to it and consequent attraction, and one is moving along. Is one going to spend the rest of eternity simply moving along on this basis? Well as human beings we find out that we don't have eternity available to us, and evidently on this basis of movement time runs out. Time runs out because the attraction did not lead to the point of union insofar as the individual experience was concerned. They settled for attraction. That was all that was anticipated. In fact many people become comfortable in the attraction; they enjoy being attracted in this way.
Now we have services Sunday by Sunday. Here is something attractive to some people: “Fine, go on giving services Sunday by Sunday. We will continue to enjoy them. We will come again next Sunday. We will keep moving along in this process of attraction.” But if that is all that happens, obviously we never get anywhere. So it is not just a matter of favorable reaction, although this is necessary if anyone is to start toward the true experience. But the true experience is not the favorable reaction experience. That is a way station. It is just something which opens the door to the real experience, which was described by using the word union—attraction brings a person to the point of union.
This is a creative process, but you will note that man was designed to represent the Creator on earth in order to permit the Creator to act directly with respect to His creation on earth. Man was not to be identified with the creation but with the Creator. Being identified with the creation, then it seems as though favorable reaction and attraction are what is necessary: “Ah, now the changes are coming.” In other words we are in the creative process, but that is not where we belong. We belong in oneness with the Creator, in order that there may be the creative action of the Creator with respect to the creation for which man is specifically responsible. So, obviously, if we settle down into a comfortable state of attraction by reason of favorable reaction we nullify the possibility of restoration. Restoration is not known in that state; it simply leads toward restoration. In order to experience the true state described by the word union the attractive state must be relinquished—favorable reaction must pass away. What a terrible thing to say! Haven't you been encouraged to respond? Well we don't leap into the unknown except from the known, and in that movement toward the experience that is required obviously there is the passage from here to there; there is what has been referred to as a transition period. The transition period is what is known while the attraction is going on, but let us not become so enamored of the attraction that we never move beyond it.
So here we begin to see the essential experience, which is beyond attraction and beyond favorable reaction, beyond that sort of response. How should we approach the necessity? We have talked a good deal about restoration and we looked hopefully toward it, while staying in the condition that makes it impossible, a condition which certainly is a required condition to experience restoration, to experience the fact of union, but which must be dissolved in order to experience that fact. It is interesting, isn't it, how when we begin to move a little we discover that we did not know as much as we thought we knew. Perhaps some of you had reached a point where you felt everything had been set—now it was pinned down pretty well; you understood the principles. Did you? They have been introduced perhaps, but you never understand them until those principles are in fact you. As long as we are standing wherever we happen to be and looking at the principles, the principles are apart from us. We never understand them on that basis. We only understand them when we don't see them anymore because that is what we are, and we don't see ourselves. Then we find ourselves experiencing union with those principles, union with the truth. We don't know about the truth anymore—we just are an expression of the truth, that's all.
That is a very different state from this interim period of attraction which has been known, where we imagine that we know all sorts of things about the truth, about the principles of reality. But now we suddenly are faced with the necessity of relinquishing something in which we have had so much faith, so much assurance—the principle of response, a favorable reaction. As long as you are favorably reacting to something, you are being stimulated by that something and you are consequently separate from it. If you are separate from it you have not experienced union. Are you going to stay that way?
We can see this in other terms as related to the association between male and female, and there have been some concepts developed on this score, haven't there? After all, the male is supposed to be positive and the female is supposed to be negative. The negative is going to favorably react to the positive, and if a male becomes aware of some favorable female reaction to his maleness then he begins to feel pretty manly about it: “Here is favorable reaction coming to me. Isn't this wonderful?” What is he going to do with it? Is he going to try to crystallize that favorable reaction into a permanent experience? This endeavor is certainly undertaken by many males—I would not call them men. It maintains a state of division, and pretty soon it begins to disintegrate. It does not work. You cannot maintain this favorable reaction forever. At least it can only be done in a very restricted way, because that is not the intent; that is not the way it works. Oneness is a different state altogether. When male and female are one the female is not favorably reacting to the male, any more than the male is favorably reacting to the female. There is no more separation. As long as this ding-dong reaction is going on, sometimes not so favorable of course, there is not a state of oneness. There cannot be a state of oneness as long as reaction is present, whether favorable or unfavorable.
With respect to the spirit of God, it is thought to be perfectly all right to have a favorable reaction to it. Of course this spirit is revealed in some way; it is not entirely invisible and unknown. There are words spoken, perhaps something written, or there is the evidence in action, or whatever—and let us have a favorable reaction to that. We recognize that this is necessary if there is to be attraction, but the attraction is intended to produce the union, not to be something in and of itself. So there is this attraction, but what is the experience of union? Do we dare let go of the attraction? Oh dear, here is the unknown! Perhaps there would not be anything there; safer to hang on to the known, isn't it—or what we think we know of the principles of reality.
So we may begin to see that we possibly might not know as much as we thought we knew; and it should be obvious to all of us that something vastly different must be born into experience if what we are here to do is to be done. I don't think any of us here present this evening would say, “Well I am in position now to do what has to be done.” Are you? Go ahead. Go right ahead. I would like to see it done. I sure would. There is a transformation to occur.
Going back to the story of the contest on Mount Carmel, you may recall that under the hand of the prophet of the Lord the altar was built, and the sacrifice was laid upon it, and water was poured over it, and all the things were done that were necessary. And there it all was: the altar, the sacrifice, the wood, the trench round about, the water everywhere—that was the condition. We can have an idea of what it looked like—pretty soggy. But then something happened. Fire fell from heaven and consumed all this, so that what was left was not the soggy sacrifice and altar but something else. There was a transformation of some kind, so that after the fire fell there was an entirely different situation from what it was before. We need to see this in relation to our own experience.
I have emphasized the fact of the real necessity for drastic change, but I think drastic change has always been seen in terms of what is going to happen by reason of this attraction that is going on—but here we are talking about an entirely different state. The attraction was necessary to bring us to the state, but you cannot experience the state and hang on to the attraction, hang on to the idea of favorable reaction as being the supreme element. It is not—it is just an interim requirement. My concern principally this evening is to reemphasize this matter of drastic change, but bringing it a little more to point regarding what we imagine we already know, so that we may not be quite so sure that what we know, or what we think we know, is really the way it is.
I was touching upon this matter of male-female association and how no doubt the male would be delighted if the female would always provide this wonderful favorable reaction. Why? Well because it makes him feel good. It makes him feel meaningful in some way. It makes him feel important. And there have been male Emissaries who have imagined that some sort of state of this nature was what was required: “Let everybody respond to me favorably, be attracted to me.” The question is, if something of the sort happens, do you know what to do with that attraction? Do you know what to do with what comes to you? Are you going to crystallize it in this imaginary state of attraction?—“All my life I want to have this wonderful feeling of attracting all this beautiful favorable reaction.” That would be rather a self-centered state of affairs. That is certainly not what is required. Anyone who is in the position of really serving knows that there will be attraction, rightly, but he knows why that attraction is there, and it is not for his personal benefit. It is merely to permit this person to come to the point where they may experience the reality of the union state. Union with what? Union with a server? No! Union with God—oneness with the Creator, coming out of the state of merely being in the creative process, into the experience of oneness with the Creator.
Certainly nothing that is experienced in this attractive phase of the creative process is intended to last. Insofar as what is experienced in the central core of this ministry is concerned, the days of favorable reaction are over! How they are going to be allowed to dissolve is our immediate concern. We are not suggesting that all controls should be thrown off. What has been experienced has opened a door in us, so that we are capable of experiencing what rightly may be describable as the restoration. If you are restored you are not being attracted anymore to the restoration, are you? There would be no reason for such attraction. You are there, and it is this thereness that is the required experience.
We realize that insofar as the vast majority of the population on earth are concerned there is the need for stimulation and favorable attraction, but who is going to provide the essential spiritual stimulation so that that may occur? If we merely associate ourselves with what needs to occur in the whole body of mankind then we are certainly not in position to provide what would make that attraction possible. In other words there must be the experience of restoration on the part of those who are on their way to that already if there is to be available the stimulation required to engender the favorable reaction. We know that is not alone what is engendered. There is unfavorable reaction engendered too, and that is all right; and in between there is this mass of dough, but the dough is finding it increasingly difficult to stay that way. Maybe the yeast is at work.
How much stimulation do we still require? If the only reason that I give services is to make available material which will prod people into favorable reaction then at some point my time is being wasted, because that is not the real reason from my standpoint. You are going to be responsible for providing what is necessary to prod human beings into favorable reaction, if possible, in that great big world out there. But if you are to do that you must have found a stable state within yourself where the fire has fallen from heaven, and there is spontaneous combustion, and you do not need me to keep prodding you into favorable reaction. As long as I have to continue to do that we reach a point where there is an absolute standstill.
The fire falling from heaven I have described as spontaneous combustion; in other words it requires no fire to be put under anyone. The fire is there already, and when there are those in whom this fire is a reality, so that in fact it would make no difference if I stopped giving services this evening—you would still keep moving on the basis of that fire—then we begin to have something. Now it may reach a point where I have to test it out somewhere along the way to find out, and it will be very revealing, I am sure, as to who has experienced the fire falling from heaven and who has not. One can fool oneself on this score. I think it should be more or less obvious that I personally have not required anyone to stimulate me into providing what is necessary, over quite a considerable period of time—but what about you? How has it been with you? What would be your state if what you have known heretofore, provided to make possible attraction, was finished—nothing more? Would you be sure that you had the experience of spontaneous combustion and that it would really not make all that much difference?
In the experience of human beings in the world, when they are born into the world they are given a sort of push, aren't they? Life gives them a push into the world, and something begins to move. They grow physically, they grow in consciousness; and that push is apparently sufficient to make things seem to grow, go ahead—go ahead for how many years? Not very long actually: twenty years, we'll say, possibly thirty. But then, after that, all begins to run down, because the individual human experience has been based upon this matter of being stimulated and there has never been the experience of the fire falling from heaven, never been the experience of spontaneous combustion. It always seems that there is the necessity for putting a fire under people. This is done in all kinds of different ways, isn't it? The doctors are the high priests in this area, supplying synthetic fire of all kinds: a dose of this, an injection of that, and you will be able to stagger around a little longer—trying to put fire under people. But the real fire, the genuine fire, cannot be put under. It is either accepted into expression in one's own living or one does not know it.
It is true that there are certain necessities which we learn about during the period of favorable reaction so that we may begin to get things together, the altar built sufficiently on the right basis and the sacrifice put upon it and the water all over it, etc., so that the spontaneous combustion can occur. But at some point it must occur; otherwise what is the point? So here we are together taking a look at these things, an initial look—there is more to be seen, I assure you—an initial look, so that we may begin to allow a reorientation in our outlook; and we are not assuming that we are going to continue the same as it always has been since the fathers fell asleep. Something must happen, and it is going to prove itself out one way or another insofar as each of us is concerned.
We have had the opportunity, at least, for tremendous preparation, barrels and barrels of water, but the fire must be allowed to fall from heaven, that we may be in position to do what we are here to do in oneness with the Creator, not merely responding favorably to what we have sensed the Creator to be but entering into union, so that it is not the Creator on the one hand and us on the other. If that is the situation we are part of the creation then, and we suffer the consequences. There is nothing wrong with the consequences in the creation but merely something wrong with our being there. So come out of it, and leave this experience that we have known, of mere favorable reaction, behind. It is not what is ultimately required. It could be said to be an essential element in movement toward what is ultimately required, but if you hold on to that too long you can never experience what is ultimately required. It becomes an absolute barrier.
Here we are then, on the verge of something. Is it unexpected? I hope not—but at least something quite different. Because we choose to handle our own individual responsibilities in our individual worlds on the basis of this fire, we may know now what it is that is required, and we on this basis can easily relinquish what is not required anymore. So a door is opening in this way for you and for many. Seeing that we are here present on earth to go through it, I intend to go through it, and I trust there will be some who will be with me. Let us share this responsibility in oneness with the Creator.