The Internal Combustion Engine of a Believer's life
Updated: Jul 27
If you like technology and are intrigued by the internal design and engineering of things, devices and objects in our modern life, then the automobile which has powered our mobile lives for over a hundred years might perhaps rank in the top few remarkable designs.
Note: do not be discouraged if you are not into engineering or automobiles as this post is not about automobile engineering.
As the car evolved with technology and advances were made from the carburetor design to the multi-point fuel injection system that is still in use today or at least until Electric Vehicles take over the. planet, the car has been an important addition to modern life. The internal combustion engine (there are enough videos online to understand this type of an engine) is still the most prevalent design of cars until new designs take over the industry.
But there is a lot we can learn from the design and functioning that occurs within an internal combustion engine.
All you need to understand in a nutshell is that for your car to move it needs a form of power and this power is generated from a series of interconnected processes that are aligned to give motion to your wheels. ThIs video can help you visualize the working of an internal combustion engine.
An internal combustion engine runs on a design that is referred to uses a four-stroke process which takes the fuel and air mixture and delivers it to the wheels. The four-strokes are:
Intake - Compression - Power - Exhaust
For those who enjoy engineering, you might probably take a little deeper interest in this analogy but for those who find these terms hard to understand or visualize, do not worry because you will soon see how these four processes relate to a believer's life.
Intake is the first stroke where the air & fuel mixture is drawn inside the cylinder
Compression is the second stroke where the piston compresses that mixture
Power is the third stroke when the spark plug forces the piston to go down
Exhaust is the final stroke when the piston pushes out the burnt gas
There are four such similar 'strokes' - which occur in an internal combustion engine- that should occur in the internal combustion engine of a believer - our mind.
Where it all starts
The moment we begin to walk on our feet in early childhood, we start setting patterns that we follow for the rest of our lives. It can include simple actions as brushing our teeth, showering, eating or the other acts that involve our involuntary self that have become part of our life due to its repetitive nature that we don't have to train our minds everyday. In the same way the moment you start your car, the four-stroke engine is in action; most cars average about 500 strokes in each minute. Our goal as a believer should be to let the four stroke engine continue performing without our interference after we have trained it well.
But just as the car engine needs fuel to be mixed with air for the four strokes to be completed, we also need our fuel which is 'faith' in order to carry out the four strokes in our believing engine.
Just like the faith we have in air -that helps us breathe and survive yet we don’t see it. Just like the faith we have in the train driver or pilot of a plane or staff at an Air Traffic Control tower - people we do not necessarily see yet we place our ‘trust’ in them, in the same way we have to place our complete faith in the Eternal word of truth from God that comes to us in our minds through the reading of the Word (in the Bible or when He directs our thoughts in the spirit).
Only faith (fuel) will enable the four strokes in our believing life to achieve full success in our earthly & spiritual lives.
Hebrews 11:1 [KJV]
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
LISTEN - FIRST STROKE OF THE BELIEVER'S ENGINE
Listening - when we listen, we are directing our attention to focussing our inner ears - our conscience is one way to describe this - to absorb what is being said so we can reflect on that and try to have an understanding. Most believers do not ever cross the threshold of hearing and therefore are not able to go through all the four steps of being a believer.
Listening to the word of God in faith is the first step towards letting the Holy Spirit work in your mind and facilitate what it has to do.
All you have to do is train your ears, the inner ear or the third ear so to speak inside your conscience to listen with an open mind and in the spirit.
Proverbs 19:20 [KJV]
Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.
Like the first stroke in the car engine opens the intake valve (ear/inner ear), to let the air/mixture come in, you need to open your ear/inner ear to listen to the word (Bible), and His voice that guides you in order to complete the first stroke.
[Side note: Hearing is an act which we do not necessarily have full control of because the ears are always open to reception. Our ears are the aural antennae of our body that was designed to keep us alert besides its many other important functions in our life. But there are so many believers who also exercise the act of hearing as mildly absorbing the word of God when they come across scriptures offline or online or when they surf through sermons online. An act of hearing is almost as dipping your toes in a pond of water and that’s about it. The hearing that is being addressed here is the kind that takes place inside your mind where your conscience is, your memories and emotions. It is the act of entering the pond of water completely and soaking it all up]
RECEIVE -SECOND STROKE OF THE BELIEVER'S ENGINE
Receiving - when we have listened intently in faith and developed an understanding of the word in whatever context we are reading that scripture or meditating on what He tell us, we are then emboldened and directed towards receiving it in our spirit - through faith - where it renews our human nature and invigorates our mind and we are then filled with a confidence that comes only when we listen and receive.
If you receive what you are hearing without faith, then it is an incomplete function you are carrying out.
We have been reminded by Christ and the apostles including Paul that Faith is the central tenet on which the believer has to live life.
Proverbs 4:10 [KJV]
Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
The moment you receive, you are now taking the word in faith deep inside your engine like the second stroke that compresses (pushes) the air/fuel mixture upwards.
OBEY - THIRD STROKE OF THE BELIEVER'S ENGINE
Obeying - this is where our humility is in check in our minds. There are believers who listen & receive but do not obey to proceed with what He tells us in our spirit. This gives an opportunity of defeat in our lives and many times we have neglected this most important area in a believer’s life. The entire life of Christ was an example of obedience to what God the Father wanted Him to do.
If we are exercising the profession of our faith (Hebrews 10:23) and listening to the word of the truth and receiving it in our spirit, our obedience will be much more efficient to carry out because we have already crossed two important stages.
The receiving part is in itself a powerful act of believing.
Hebrews 5:9 [KJV]
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
If you have already successfully completed two strokes of listening and receiving, your third stroke should follow consecutively but this is the hardest part because the power of believing in only realized through obedience. Without faith (fuel) the first stroke will be empty, in the same way, without obedience, the power stroke will be powerless and your believing life will not move an inch.
ACT - FOURTH STROKE OF THE BELIEVER'S ENGINE
Acting - the moment we have directed our spirits in obedience to receive His word for us in our lives with all humility, we are intrinsically directed to act upon it in faith. This happens in such a dynamic flow that we ourselves wonder what is going on.
The power of God comes through when we are acting in faith on what we have received through our directed listening.
This last function is the most important one in closing the loop that we have to live our life with. If we listen, receive, obey in faith and still not act, then our efforts are a waste. There can be immense power generated in the third stroke but when the exhaust valve (moment of action) is not open, the burnt gas (the charged word that is waiting to realize) will not have an outflow.
This ‘act(s)’ can be so many different things we do in our life, right from some decisions we take that alters our life, the thoughts we put to a side, our old habits that we choose not to go back to and all our decided actions that we implement with our believing engine.
Developing a stronger relationship with the Lord by thinking, living and doing (acting) everything in faith after we have listened, received and obeyed is what will take us through our earthly days and right into Eternity.
Galatian 5:25 [KJV]
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Therefore, the four active functions that a believer needs to master in a lifetime will keep us - the believing body of Christ steadily growing and walking in faith.
The four functions that should become part of our life as habits are:
Listening - Receiving - Obeying - Acting
Intake - Compression - Power - Exhaust
Yet we find it hard to implement and make a conscious habit of four spiritual functions that are so important in living a healthy spiritual life. The reason many of us start out determined in these four functions is that we possibly are new believers or recently born again but after we don’t see the intended results, we are weakened in our resolve and we go back to our old ways of dealing with situations without letting the four strokes continue their functions and thus not utilizing our believing engine. Growing unnecessarily anxious, living with extreme worries, doubting continuously, fretting, moaning, getting restless and the other forms of doubt that manifest in our human spirit that weakens our resolve will start to take over our thoughts.
Therefore, let us learn to live our lives in our earthly bodies by yielding control to the Holy Spirit so that we can carry out these four spiritual functions (strokes) through faith and live a spiritually meaningful life.