The Euphoria of Christ
It is impossible to pursue Christ without being overtaken by the benefit of His holy pleasure. My prayer is that you find the loving joy of Christ as your supreme pleasure in these words, beyond any earthly substitute. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.” Author and speaker John Piper notes that the very way we bring Glory to God is by enjoying Him!
Honoring God in Pleasure
“To the extent we try to abandon the pursuit of our own pleasure, we fail to honor God and love people,” says Piper. “Or, to put it positively: the pursuit of pleasure is a necessary part of all worship and virtue. That is, the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”
To separate pleasure from God is impossible. Follow happiness to its end and you will find God. The world endorses every route that leads to happiness. A lot of billboards promise happiness, but their end is death. He is the fountainhead of bliss. In 2 Corinthians 12, we read of the apostle Paul being the subject of an “inexpressible ecstasy.” This is beyond human explanation. The gospel comes as a heartfelt revelation.
Many Christians have been conditioned to believe that the personal satisfaction they derive from God can become idolatrous. Even in the thought work of Lewis, he determined that the personal satisfaction of love was not evil, as long as it did not become an idol. But Piper takes Lewis’ work to the next level, and more to the heart of scripture. He says that our personal satisfaction in God is the very essence of true worship!
Worship is Satisfaction
“The longing to be happy is a universal human experience, and it is good, not sinful. We should never try to deny or resist our longing to be happy, as though it were a bad impulse,” writes Piper. “Instead, we should seek to intensify this longing and nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest and most enduring satisfaction. The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God.”
I hope to build on this theological framework of divine pleasure, laid by Lewis and Piper. And to it, we will add deep draughts of supernatural experience that will pull us from the pages of dusty books and into the tasting room of Heavenly delights. To this, we will add a strong dose of the mystics and the bizarre miraculous exploits that accompany a life lost in translation.
The Bliss of Eden
“Eden” literally means pleasure. You were made for it. What separates the Christian from every man-made religion on earth is our acceptance that God came to us, to give us what we could not earn for ourselves: access to bliss forevermore. He plugged us back into the pleasure of Himself. This is good news. This work is not a book of formulas, to help you climb an unseen ladder of experience. In Acts 10, we read that the apostle Peter “fell” into an ecstasy. No climbing involved. Just falling back and resting in the finished works of the gospel. Let go into His arms until you find yourself obsessed on things divine.
An Introduction to Ecstasy
Ecstasy, in a general sense of the word, is a euphoric pleasure in God. A culmination of His infinite joy that affects us spirit, soul and body. Be inspired as you read this book to drink deep from Heaven’s wine room, as we lay claim to the daily practice of His presence.
Our aim in this life is simple. We hope to engage a lifestyle of bliss. A holy intoxication on the love of Jesus that can be the daily bread of all believers.
On a scholarly note, we treat “ecstasy” in the traditional sense of the word. Not only as a form of delight, but also as a state of mystical prayer. Theologically, ecstasies are also known as trances or raptures. Since biblical times, trances have been marked by visions and spiritual encounters, as well as frenzied physical manifestations and miracles. In explaining ecstatic prayer, I will endeavor to blur the lines between everyday lifestyle and divine encounter. Not just as a form of prayer, but as a comprehensive way of living. Dwelling in unbroken pleasure. Let your days become a fragrant song where Heaven and Earth continually collide.
If the satisfaction you derive from God is mediocre, or at best lacking, Let me make the case for a realm of happiness that is altogether transformative and otherworldly.
A History of Ecstatics
A large portion of my books are dedicated to a study of mystical theology. I often pull from many of the church fathers to discuss the primary stages of interior or contemplative prayer. Ecstasy has long been considered the highest state of inner prayer. One should also note the wide range of supernatural phenomena that have accompanied true life ecstatics: from physically floating right off the ground to glowing and walking through walls. The path of holy pleasure is unquestionably a path of marvels.
From Pentecost onward, the Book of Acts records trances in the lives of Peter, Paul and the first apostles. From the early church to the Christian mystics of the Middle Ages – and the famous revivalists of the 18th century to present – God’s movements on the earth have always been marked by these supernatural states. When we endeavor to study the lives of the mystics, we must journey from Old Testament ecstatics like Samuel and Elijah, to those of the future who will usher in a massive wave of harvest Glory on the streets in these last days. God has always wanted a people who live in the Heavens, even as they walk on the earth. And the world is hungry for the demonstration of a gospel of power and true pleasure. More than a state of mind, we must see how God’s happiness is the very essence of true love. Ploring these depths, we are encouraged to drink from the river of His pleasure! (Ps. 36:8)
A New Language
Understandably, for the modern reader not versed on the subject of contemplative prayer, the very topic of trances and Christian mysticism may sound strange, unorthodox or scary. The fact that you have picked up this volume means you are either brave or hungry! From the onset, know that our focus is simply about the practice of God’s presence, where the grace gifts of the Holy Spirit pour freely to us through the cross of Jesus Christ. His finished work is the source of our bliss.
Consider this simple explanation of trances from the great revivalist John G. Lake:
“Now what is a trance? A trance is the Spirit taking predominance over the mind and body, and for the time being the control of the individual is by the Spirit; but our ignorance of the operations of God is such that even ministers of religion have been known to say it is the devil.”
In my first book, The New Mystics, I sought to recover some lost terminology that originated within the church (mystic, for instance, was always a Christian term pertaining to “religious mysteries”). Likewise, trances and ecstasies are merely states of being overcome by God’s Spirit. Trances should be Christianity 101. It is high time we recover the language and practice of contemplative prayer. There is little pre-packaged charismatic jargon here. God is reawakening His church to the spiritual reality of His Kingdom. He is restoring supernatural, mystical Christianity in this hour.
Get ready for the messiest revival the world has ever seen! While ecstatic experience is biblically orthodox, it is far from tame or ordinary in its practical application. Ecstatics have always produced the most bizarre physical manifestations: falling over, fainting, shaking, trembling, uncontrollable laughter, running, shouting and convulsing. Not to mention the signs, wonders and miraculous phenomena. Such strange outward behavior has marked the lives of many great saints and prophets. And these wild ecstatic contortions have been present in every great revival – at the birth of every mainstream denominational movement in church history. The inward working of God’s goodness tends to produce an uncontrollable wildfire when He takes the helm of clinical, religious sobriety – when He turns our water into wine.
Overall, this ecstatic life is about joy. About divine pleasure. It is time we demonstrate to the world that true ecstasy is not a street drug but a Person. But beyond that, we must continually point to the source and plumb line for our ecstatic bliss – the reason and enablement for living in the continual pleasures of God. That reason is the fact that we have mystically died with Christ at conversion, and are now partakers of a new creation lifestyle. A regenerated people whose norm is the supernatural, and whose daily atmosphere can and should be holy euphoria.
The pleasures of God you experience in the closet are about to spill out to the streets in wild abandonment as the Holy Spirit ushers in the great end-time harvest. The message of this happy gospel is about to trance out a generation – a company of people who will walk with God like never before.
*This article contains excerpts from John Crowder’s latest book: The Ecstasy of Loving God. Order a copy by clicking HERE