If we really trust God, we shall bear the burden both of our own needs and of the work of God, unaided. We must not secretly hope for support from some human source. Our faith is not to be in God plus man, but in God alone. If brethren show their love, praise and thank God, but if they do not, let us still thank Him. For God's servant to have one eye on God and one eye on other men is a shameful thing, unworthy of any Christian. To profess to trust God, yet to turn to the brethren for supplies is to bring disgrace on His name.
Today in the Church as Christ's body, may we trust the Head of the body! Our living by faith must be transparently real, and never ever deteriorate into living by charity. Yes, in all material things we dare to be utterly independent of men, because we dare to be totally dependent on God. We have cast away all other hope, because our confidence is anchored in Him alone. Why not let God be God to us and allow Him to do it His way, then we will find out day by day in every way, "That which we have need of will be given to us without fail!"
The word "Plerousthe" is the Greek word meaning "be being filled". This is the expression used in relation to the Holy Spirit here in this verse. "Allow yourselves to be continually made full." This describes not a crisis as at Pentecost, but a condition we are to enjoy all of the time every minute of everyday. It is not a matter of spiritual gifts and manifestations outwardly, but of the personal presence and activity of the the Lord Jesus inwardly, living out His life in us in the person of His Holy Spirit. He is the "good oil" that guarantees the lamp shall burn on undimmed long after the midnight hour if need be!
It is not just a private and individual thing; it is something we share with all other born again Christians everywhere. Paul speaks of making melody together in our hearts (spirit). Some of us may well find it easier to sing solos than to keep in time and harmony in a choir, or even in a duet! Yet the fullness of the Spirit is given to us with this very objective, that we shall all sing together a new song, before the throne of God, in harmony.
Today in the Church as the body of Christ, there is an absence of this type of praise. We see eons of "emotional worship" everywhere without any genuine reality from the heart, yet the type of worship that God requires is from our heart, not from our head or from our emotional feelings. Many today confuse feelings as being the spirit of man but this is not so, the emotional feelings are located in the soul of man not in his spirit. The new heart of the born again believer is located in the spirit and it is from here that all true worship must take place. Mary stated in Luke 1:46, "My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour" - proving that the emotions are a faculty of the soul to magnify the spirit, not to act apart from it as if to be the source of our praise. God requires us to worship Him in spirit and in truth, that is, we need to be real and truthful from our heart!
We see here two very distinct lives. The first is the created life, the second is the uncreated life. One is created by God, the other is born of God. Our lives were originally created by God when God breathed the breath of life into the first Adam's nostrils. The interaction of this breath from God going into the body that was formed out of the dust of the earth was to produce the first living soul. Adam was created in the image of God but was by no means the same as God in likeness because he was as yet incomplete. Adam was innocent of sin but he was naked. He yet lacked God's uncreated life to make him complete which was typified by the tree of life that stood in the centre of that garden. It was left up to Adam's free will and desire to choose to be dependent on God or to be dependent on himself. To be dependent on self would mean to be independent from God. I think we all know the disastrous decision he made, both for himself and for us, in choosing the tree of knowledge instead of the tree of life, in his endeavour to be complete and to be as God is. Adam chose knowledge in place of life. Adam decided to develop his soul to the neglect of his spirit. Adam chose death in place of life.
Today in the Church as the body of Christ, we still have a choice to make when we are born again. We can choose life or we can choose death. We can stay with the created soul life, which is totally independent of God and therefore lust and thirst after knowledge. But in so choosing we are totally dependent on self apart from God. Or we can move on up Mount Zion to the uncreated spiritual life that is born of God, which is totally dependent on God and totally independent of the self. One is mental, emotional, saturated with sin and failure; the other is spiritual, intuitional, filled with righteousness and success leading to an abundant life full of joy, peace, satisfaction and contentment. That which is born of God is not born under sin and as a result has no 'condemnation of conscience' for sin! Only the Lord Jesus can provide us with this sort of life and that by living out His holy and complete life in us, through us and in place of us.
Late one summer I (Watchman Nee) stayed at a hill resort in the home of a mechanic and his wife, both of whom it was my joy to lead to a simple faith in the Saviour. When the time came for me to return to Shanghai, I left with them a Bible.
During the winter the man was in the habit of taking alcohol with his meals, most times to excess. Soon, with the return of the cold weather, the wine reappeared on the table, and as had now become his custom, he bowed his head to give thanks for the meal. But today no words would come! After one or two vain attempts he turned to his wife. "What is wrong?" he asked. "Why cannot we pray today?" The wife took the Bible but turned the pages in vain, seeking light on the subject. They could find no explanation, and I was far away. "Just drink your wine," she said, but no. He knew he must give thanks - and could not. "Take it away," he exclaimed. "I can't". Only then, when she took the wine away, were they able to pray together and give thanks!
When eventually that man was able to visit Shanghai, he told me the story, using an expression familiar in Chinese. "Brother Nee," he said, "Resident Boss wouldn't let me have that drink!" "Very good," I replied. "Then you must always listen to Resident Boss!"
Today in the body of Jesus Christ as the real Church, how many of us have Christ as our "Resident Boss" within? I fear the number is so very small. Many have Christ as their Saviour, but few there are that have Christ as their Lord. Is Jesus your Resident Boss within, or are you?
United in the child of God are two contrasting characters. Above ground as it were, is the simple unsophisticated life of trust and faith represented by the lily which is of God's planting.This is what others see. But buried deep down out of sight, giving unsuspected strength to this frail plant are the massive roots of the cedar. Here surely is the paradox of a Christian's life in which the cross is known. Outwardly he is as frail as the lily blooming on the earth, but secretly there is a hundred times more potential strength in the roots that are below the ground.
This then is the test: how much of my life is seen? When men look on the surface, have they seen the whole of me or is there something more? Have I, in the unseen part of me, a secret history with God or just self? Is Christ my secret strength hidden from normal view or am I? Others normally take account only of the lily that is seen and blossoming, but God is concerned with the source. God's plan and purpose is that we shall be cedar-like with massive power and strength from Christ within. The resurrected life of Christ is to be our massive strength and power, not our self life. It's not by our might and our power but by His Spirit! Not only is He the dew of heaven who waters and supplies the plant, but He is also to be the strength, vitality and root foundation of the plant itself, the very life source hidden within!
When the Galilean boy brought his bread to Jesus, what did Jesus do with it? He broke it. God will always break what is offered to Him, but then He blesses it and uses it to meet man's need. Is not this true of your experience and mine? You give yourself to the Lord, and all at once everything invariably goes so wrong that you are tempted to find fault with His ways and pull out! To persist in such an attitude is to be broken, yes indeed, but to what purpose? You have gone too far for the world to use you, but you have not gone quite far enough for God to use you. This is the tragedy of many Christians. Do we want him to use us? Then day by day, let us go on giving to Him, praising Him and not finding fault with his methods or His ways, but instead accepting His handling and dealing with us with great praise and expectation.
Today in the Church as the body of Christ, many there are that grumble or moan deep in their hearts. These should realise and know that it is God who is the one that is metering out to them all that comes to them in their life environment. It is God who has ordered their circumstances! The things that are 'not good' have been ordered and allowed by God to draw us into a closer dependency on Him. Other things are ordered by God to break us of our 'love of self' and our stubborn independence. No one really likes to be going through dealings from the hands of the Living God, but this is necessary as it is God's only way for us to grow in Christ and to be transformed into His likeness. Much dross or rubbish may yet need to be purged from our lives. May we rejoice in the God of our salvation and praise Him, knowing that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
There is a wonderful plan and purpose of God for us in that Jesus Christ was born on Christmas day. One small step for God, one gigantic leap for mankind! This is the day that God Himself appeared on the earth dressed as a man. Jesus was not born to just grow up and die for our sins and to prove that He was God. Jesus was born onto the earth to be tried, tested and proved as a man! Do you fully understand this? He came to do for us all that which we had no hope of doing for ourselves. Under the old testament law we were all judged dead in trespasses and sins!
Picture that miraculous event once again today that took place in Bethlehem 2000 years ago! See not just the Saviour here, but see also the new life that the Holy Spirit of God was forming in the soul of this God-Man Jesus Christ, who is the Last Adam. (Lord Jesus is the Last Adam because He fulfilled every righteous requirement of God perfectly. There is no need for another Adam!) This life is to be for us our new spiritual life! All of mankind has the availability of a new life in Jesus because He died for the whole world to release His life to the whole world, not just for the select few! Now that includes both you and me together with the whole of humanity! Therefore, it was necessary also for Jesus to die, not just to pay the price of all our sins and deliver us, but also to release onto the earth this new life that was formed in His own fleshly body. We were formed in the resurrection body of this same Jesus that today stands on earth as the body of Christ.
Oh! How I wish we could all see this more clearly! This baby Jesus grew up into the full stature of a man and developed a life within Himself that He shed at the cross for us, to be our new life the instant we are born again. (Romans 8:9 "If any man does not have the Spirit of Christ then he is none of His.")
Today, if you are born again with this life of Christ in you, then you love this man from Galilee who was born in that manger at Bethlehem on Christmas day! We are not debating the calendar issue here; we are just saying that the day Jesus was born (whenever it was) is our Christmas day, celebrated on December 25th. This is the day that we choose to celebrate with such joy and thanksgiving! But please, not just for His birth, but for all that He is to us as the life of the body and for all that He has accomplished for us through His Birth, Death, Resurrection and Glorification.
We Love You Lord Jesus. Happy Birthday!
Along with the gold in both Eden and Paradise, we find precious stones (Genesis 2:12; Revelation 21:19). Precious stones are jewels; and jewels are not produced in one day. Precious Christians are not formed overnight! Time is a vital factor both in their transformation and completion. Precious stones are wrought by a long process in the fires of the earth and their beauty is displayed by skilful cutting and polishing. In spiritual terms this implies values that are inwardly wrought by God's patience in you and me. Such values are indeed very costly. Those who are unwilling to pay the price of self will never come by them. Grace is free but only a high price buys precious stones. Many a time we shall want to cry out, "This is costing me too much!" Yet the lessons we learn as we pass through dealings and sufferings with Him - "through fire and water" - these are the really treasured and worthwhile things. Let me tell you something: if you really mean business with God regarding your own life, then to go all the way with God at the cross will cost you everything there is of independent self!
Today in the Church as the body of Jesus Christ on earth, we need to know as born again Christians that in the light of God some things perish by themselves. God's revealed truth (His light in us) consumes much. There is no need to wait for the fire. It is in what has withstood the test of tempest, fire and time and yet remains, that the true worth of any Christian is manifested. The new 'resurrected life' of Jesus Christ within us withstands all such tests and for all time! He lives His life out in us continually (in the person of His Holy Spirit) doing all that we cannot possibly do for ourselves. He alone is the Author and the Finisher of our Christian lives!
Be encouraged to know that God is at work in us cutting away all that there is of 'the old self' - IE, that which restricts Him - and He is fine polishing us in all that frustrates Him by allowing us to rub (be in contact with) shoulders with others, especially other difficult abrasive Christians! (They tell me that when you place precious gems together in a rotating barrel over an extended period of time, they rub together against one another, so that all their sharp points and rough edges are eventually worn away by abrasion!)
We call this the "sandpaper" ministry! Let that which can be consumed be consumed (self in us) and let that which remains be expressed from us (Jesus in us). This is that which constitutes a precious stone of great price in God's eyes. Do not avoid the opportunity to be linked closely with other other Christians of like spirit when such opportunity comes your way. It is the intensity and exposure of ourselves to the life of Christ in others that allows God to remove the dross and cause us to be polished and transparent! Do not fear this type of exposure.
These words describe the beginning of everything in the 'New Life' experience of God's children. Dew-fall is altogether vital to the life and growth of trees and flowers. It is the very nourishment that sustains their life. And to us also, the Lord Himself promises to be as the dew to all His people, whether they recognise it or not! Everything in our Christian life as Christians comes to us from the life of the Lord Jesus as our source. He is made by God to be unto us our wisdom, our reality of truth, our righteousness, our holiness - yes, our everything! There is no human need that we shall not find met as we receive Him fresh daily into our lives as our all; but note also, that neither indeed will anything else be given to us as a separate gift apart from Him.
"I will be as the dew," He affirms; and in the next half of the verse Hosea shows how our life, with this as it's foundation, takes on a mysterious dual character. In it the delicate blossom of the lily is wonderfully linked with the powerful roots of the cedar tree. Frail beauty and massive strength united in a single plant. Such miracles are wrought by heaven's dew-fall alone.
Today in the Church as the earthly body of Christ, it is the Life of the Lord Jesus that is our miracle working dew! He is our new Life!
There are times when we put forth tremendous effort in our prayers without getting any answer from God, yet how seldom do we seek God to discover as to why. For how can we expect God to answer prayers that are out of harmony with His mind? In all our praying we must first find the key. It was this that David sought to do at the time of prolonged famine as this chapter describes.
David did not simply cry out to God, "This famine has lasted three years. Have mercy on us now and grant us a rich harvest this year." No, he sought the face of the Lord. In other words, David questioned whether God had something to say about it all. To his direct question God gave him a direct reply, and with it the key to all answered prayer. Saul, it appears, by slaying some of the Gibeonites, had violated God's understanding with Israel to spare them. True, he had done so out of zeal for God, but he had sinned. God will not permit the breaking of a solemn vow. So there was something to be set right. "And after that," we read in verse 14, "God was entreated for the land." David had found the key.
So also is it today in the Church as Christ's body and in our own personal Christian lives. Many there are that zealously pray but few inquire of God as to why their situation is the way it is. In other words, "What is the root cause of this problem?" If we approach God from this point of view, then we have found the key. No doubt the direction of much of our prayer will change course accordingly, as God shows us the real cause of many problems and situations. We also would do well if we would just seek God's face before we pray according to our feelings and our thoughts.
First of all, we are talking here about Spiritual life and spiritual death, not physical life or physical death! The law of sin and spiritual death is applied to all that is of the old nature, therefore it is a law principle for the old creation. Whenever we walk after the old nature then sin and Spiritual death will surely follow. Whenever we walk after the old nature we put ourselves under the principle of Law. But that which sets us free from this law is yet another law which is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. God's new covenant of 'Grace' has provided us with this new law of the Spirit. The law of the Spirit is Christ! It is Christ in our place! It is Christ in place of self! This law is greater and stronger than the former law and transcends it completely! This new law principle is available to all who abide in Jesus by simple faith, yet we have to choose to learn to live by it. Don't worry, God is at work in your life to bring all this about anyway!
What is it to walk after this law of the Spirit of life that transcends the law of sin and death? Consider the birds. If you could ask them whether or not they were afraid of the law of gravity, how would they reply? They would say, "We've never heard of Newton; we know nothing about this law of gravity. We fly because it is our natural law of life to fly." Not only is there in them a life with the power of flight, but that life has a law which enables these living creatures to quite spontaneously overcome the law of gravity. Yet the law of gravity remains. If you get up early one morning when the cold is intense and there is a dead sparrow on the ground, you are reminded at once of the persistence of that law. But while the birds live they overcome it and the life that is within them is what spontaneously dominates their consciousness.
Today in the Church as Christ's body, we need to acknowledge the life of Christ in us as the law of the spirit of life! By now it should be so very real to us that we allow His life to dominate our consciousness! Do that and you will find that you too will spontaneously start to overcome the old by living in the new. Yes, the law of the spirit of life that is Christ Jesus has freed us from the law of sin, self and spiritual death!
Lot had been quick to settle down in the land he should not have; before long he was to lose all his possessions in it. By contrast, as this chapter reminds us, Abram was the Hebrew, the "passer-over," the pilgrim. It is they who are content to remain in transit in the land of promise who have real power against its enemies. Abram had been right to leave the matter of possessions with God, but he would have been quite wrong at the same time to have dismissed Lot from his love and concern. In this he was a true overcomer. Before going out to pursue the kings, he had won the victory in his own spirit. How easy to have nursed a grievance against his self-seeking kinsman! At the very least his attitude to the calamity might justly have been, "You deserve it, I told you so!"
Today also in the Church, as Christ's body on earth, a grievance is no basis for victory. In all such circumstances we too must first win the battle in our own hearts. The bottom line is, "Is this man my brother?" Then no matter how he may have wronged me or injured me, for the Lord's sake, I must love him, pray for him and mobilize all my forces to his aid at any time he has need. "Lord Jesus, forgive on our behalf all who have hurt us and caused us to grieve. Deliver us from an unforgiving spirit by forgiving them to the extent that we neither recall nor remember those hurts and grievances in our heart anymore!"
Many of us do not differentiate clearly between the promises of God, the accomplished facts of God (His mighty works) and the Covenant of God. Promises are given to encourage faith but often we cannot rise up to believe God's promises. At times we can hardly even lay hold of divine facts because current appearances seem even to make a lie of them too. But when this is so we still have His Covenant. That Covenant means more than the promises, even more than all the mighty works!A covenant is a commitment made by one party to another. It is not something that we have made with God, so as to suggest therefore that we can mess it up. It is something that God has made with us and has committed Himself to it and we can never mess it up!
Today in the Church as Christ's body, the New Testament Blood Covenant of God is a handle given to us by God, upon which faith can lay hold. Morally we have no claim on God, but He has been pleased to bind Himself to this Blood Covenant, and having thus pledged Himself to act for us, He is - and I say it reverently - bound to do so. Herein is the preciousness of the Covenant. It is this that gives strength to faith when all else has failed and faith is at its weakest.
We need to 'know' before we can grow as Christians. Many have taken this word 'present' here to imply consecration, without looking carefully into its content. Of course that is what it does mean, but not in the sense in which we are inclined initially to understand. It is not the consecration of our old self with its instincts and resources, its natural wisdom, strength and other gifts to the Lord God for Him to bless and to use. This should be clear at once from the little clause mentioned here, "..as alive from the dead". It defines for us the point at which all true consecration begins. It is the new, born again spirit that is to be consecrated, not the old self!
Today in the real Church as Christ's body, let us be sure about that which is to be consecrated! It is not that which belongs to the old creation, but only that which has passed through death into resurrection and is now the new creation. The "presenting" spoken of here is the outcome of my knowing that my old self has been crucified and then my reckoning of myself alive unto God in Christ. Knowing, reckoning and then presenting ourselves to Him is the divine order of growth. Our 'members' stated here are all of our faculties that express our life outwardly to the world, such as our mind, emotion and will on the inside and then our mouth, hands, feet etc on the outside. In other words all that we are now!
If God's throne seems to rock, can our hand steady it? Some appear to think so. One such was Jacob. God had clearly stated that he should rule, and in all he did he aimed only to forward God's plans. He saw God's election and he embraced it. But then one day he learned that his father had sent Esau hunting with a view to giving him the blessing instead. If that was allowed to happen, then where was God's promise?
Something must be done! The clever, capable Jacob was also a crafty schemer, so he set out to do for God what it looked as though God could not do for Himself. To achieve it he lied to his father and cheated Esau. But what he seemed to gain from his cheating had to be abandoned, and he was forced to flee. Yes, he was God's choice, God wanted him, but as yet he knew neither God nor himself. What in fact he received was a severe dose of divine discipline. Clever people need and get a lot of that!
Today in the Church as the body of Christ, we need to know how to be still before we walk, and how to sit before we run. The cleverness of our minds counts for nothing with God. God is not into the mind business but He is into the business of our heart. God is into heart knowing, not head knowledge. Clever intellectuals, like us, are at a great disadvantage when we first enter the Kingdom of God! God does not need our brains - He needs our will! God must therefore so deal with us as to cause us to be still, to humble ourselves before Him, and to be willing to deny all the cleverness of our mind. God must become so exalted in us that we may know Him in experience and know ourselves also.
What does it really mean to sit? When we walk or stand, we bear on our legs all the heaviness and weight of our body, whereas when we sit down our entire weight rests upon the chair which we sit on. We grow weary when we walk or stand, but we feel rested and refreshed when we have sat down for a while. In walking or standing, we expend a great deal of energy but when we are seated we relax at once, because our weight no longer falls upon our muscles and our sinews, but upon something else outside of ourselves.
So too then in spiritual things, to sit down is simply to rest our whole weight upon another - to transfer the load of ourselves, our future, our everything - upon the Lord Jesus. We let Him bear the responsibility for every burdening thing and thereby we cease to carry it ourselves! Mat.11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest for your souls"
God has made us all to be seated in Christ Jesus and if we are seated in Him correctly, then He is the one that is doing all of the work of our living. He takes care for all of the bearing of our heaviness, all of the cause of our weariness, all of the fear, worry and anxiety! We can truly cast all of our burdens and ourselves upon someone that can do that much for us. Jesus has the power, given to Him by God, to care for each one of us to that extent! 1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you"
Today in the real Church as the body of Christ, are we really permitting this to happen in our Christian life experience? Are we allowing the Lord Jesus to care for us, or are we still trying to do His job for Him by caring for ourselves? If we are cast upon Him, then all the power of worry and anxiety has ceased, and we are dynamically relaxed in all that we do! We have in fact sat down in Him.
Mention here of the ark alone makes it appear as though the writer were ignoring the whole army of people who marched in faith round those walls of Jericho. But of course it was the ark that really mattered. This stronghold of Jericho was not demolished by the march of the Israelites alone. As we know only too well, we may walk round our own 'Jerichos' a thousand times and still find nothing happens! Israel's strength lay in the fact that they had the ark of testimony amongst them. They carried about with them the evidence of God's faithfulness! That ark represented God's presence! God's presence was in that ark! That evidence of God's faithfulness was God Himself! It was not on the basis of their efforts that they faced their foes but on their known evidence of what God would do!
Today in the Church as the body of Christ, God's "ark of testimony" is still with us in the person of his risen Son, Jesus Christ. We carry around within us the presence of almighty God! Make the Lord Jesus the central focus in your life, go forth proclaiming Him instead of yourself! Dare to declare His victory instead of your efforts! Dare to declare His resurrection power in the face of your every obstruction! Do that and God will bring down those walls, no matter what they are! He lives within us to be proven by us! He is our ark.
How can I receive the power of the Holy Spirit of God? Must I labour and prove myself worthy? Must I plead with God on bended knees for it? Must I afflict my soul by fasting and self-denial to merit it? Never! That is not the teaching of the new testament Scripture! Think again. How did we receive the forgiveness of our sins? Paul tells us it was according to the riches of His grace and that His grace was "Freely bestowed on us in the Beloved, which is Christ." We did nothing to deserve it other than to continue to sin from out of our evil nature and to qualify ourselves as sinners! God's word testifies to the fact that without the death of a sacrifice and the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of God for sin. We did not die for ourselves by shedding our blood to atone for our sins; Jesus did!
We have received the forgiveness of our sins from the shedding of the precious blood of Jesus alone and our atonement is on the basis of what He has achieved for us plus nothing else! What then is Scripture's basis for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? It is on exactly the same basis! It is based on the exaltation and glorification of the Lord Jesus plus nothing else! Because the Lord Jesus died on the Cross all my sins are forgiven. Because the Lord Jesus rose again from the dead for me, I am born again! Because the Lord Jesus has been glorified for me, I am baptised with His Holy Spirit and endued with power from on high. Because of all that He achieved back then, I have now. All is from Jesus! All is through Jesus! All is because of Jesus! May our thanks be to God alone for His most marvellous and wonderful Gift! That gift is none other than the Christ of God himself! That gift of grace is Jesus!
March 13 2016
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" ....Hebrews 4:12
None of us like to have our "self" revealed to us. We don't like to be exposed for what we really are! It is not a very nice process to have the "old nature" revealed full on in all of its sin and horror. There are things we would prefer that were not revealed. However, if we are to be what God intends us to be, then it is necessary to have our "self" revealed in order that the "flesh" might be willingly consigned death, that we might become the type of person that God intends us to be.
Our reaction to God's revelation of "self" will greatly influence our growth rate in Christ and will most certainly govern our placement in the Kingdom of God. We can deny what is revealed and in that process deny God. This way leads only to death and destruction. Or we can confess our "self" and ask Jesus to change us by crucifixion and exchange. No matter how painful this might be to start with, the end result is Glorious for God and more than worth it for us! We finish up in Christ Himself and His life becomes our life!
Today in the body of Christ as the real Church, the question we need to ask ourselves is this: "Do we really want what God wants for us, or do we just want what we want and to continue to go our own way?" One thing we cannot do is to live a lie. God will not allow it. If we lie then the truth is not in us and God will have no more to do with us on this point. Hence the Apostle Paul says, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind" ...Roms 12:2 Allow God to do in you 'His good will.' Let God arise in you and cause you to be the wonderful and fantastic new-creation in Jesus that He desires you to be. In fact God already has made you to be just that in your heart by the resurrection of Christ.
"The greater part of this great message is from our Evangelist brother Stanley Mitchell (Kalkid). I praise the Lord Jesus for this brother's message and for this valiant man in Christ"
It is a great thing when I discover I am no longer my own but Christ's and that I have the love of God in my heart, causing me to be sensitive unto others. If the money in my pocket belongs to me, I have full authority over it. But if it belongs to another who has committed it to me in trust, then I cannot buy what I please with it, and I dare not lose it.
Today in the Church as Christ's body, how many of us dare not use our time or money or talents as we would because we realise they are the Lord's, not ours? How many of us have such a strong sensitivity that we belong to Another that we dare not squander a dollar of our money or an hour of our time, or any of our mental or physical powers? Are we are alive unto God in Christ now? Or are we still alive unto our self in the world? Real Christian living begins with knowing this. God's will or mine is the one we really serve! This is not a purpose of the law but one of grace, it is the Christ life in us that does the work, according to our willingness!
"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?" had been Paul's despairing cry. Then in a moment of revelation, it changed to this shout of praise. The first words of the delivered man are most precious, "I thank God..." Tell me this: if someone gives you something do you thank the person who gave it or someone else? Why did Paul say, "Thank God"? Because God was the person who had done everything. Had it been Paul who did it he would have said, "I thank myself." But he saw that the self of Paul was a "wretched man" and that only God alone had met his need by delivering him from his wretched state; therefore he thanked God.
Today in the Church, it is the same. God wants to do all for us because He must have all the glory. God has done everything on the Cross in the person of Jesus Christ for our forgiveness, deliverance and justification. Forgiveness? Yes! Jesus sacrificed His natural life to pay the price of our sins by the shedding of His precious blood. Deliverance? Yes! Jesus included us in His death on the cross to the extent that we are separated from all bondage to Satan, Sin, Self and the World system. Justification? Yes! Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to the throne of all authority and power, taking us with Him (spiritually). We have a new justified status in Christ before God; we are seated with Christ in the Heavenly places! Christ has now become our Justification!
The cross is the greatest leveller in the universe! It brings everyone of us down to zero. It offers the whole of mankind a new beginning. The difference between a Christian who is growing in spirit, and one who is not, is in the faithfulness and obedience of the cross, never anything he possesses in himself by nature. One has been to the cross of Christ and surrendered his self life and his will, the other has not.
There are many things too strong and too imposing for God to use, instead, He not only chooses the weak things and the despised, He goes further. The apostle seems almost at a loss to know how to define the things that are so weak and despicable in the eyes of the world that God elects to use. The best he can do is to sum them up as the "things which are not."
Do you fall into that category? Do not despair! Far from being at a disadvantage as compared with others, you may in fact have the edge over them! At least you are already at zero, and you do not have not a long way still to go to reach God's starting point! Simply trust Him and obey Him. Come to the cross of Christ and surrender your life and your self will.
The thing that prevented the people of the old testament from seeing and knowing God personally and intuitively was this barrier called the veil. The standard church line of "study the bible to find Jesus" does not fit in here. The study of the bible for intellectual gain is fruitless. Theology does not save neither does it give life, instead it just puffs up with spiritual pride. The bible or its content does not have the power to save nor does it have the ability to change someone's life. Many have read the book, even memorised it in part, yet are still left empty handed with no content of the new life. Life changing effects only come through Jesus at the cross and only that when the veil is removed from our eyes.
The bible is not a tool to communicate life to all who don't know Jesus Christ intuitively. To those who do know Him it is not an end in itself to be worshipped, but alternately it is a map to where the treasure is to be found. Jesus is that treasure as the author and perfector of our faith, who is in fact our new Christian life! Seek Him and ask him to reveal himself to you and the things that are of God. Only those that are 'of Christ' are eligible to have this veil removed; and only those who are in Christ that diligently seek Him to give revelation will experience the removal of that veil.
To know about Jesus is one thing, but to actually 'know' Him personally is something far more precious. Many there are that claim to believe in God but as yet they don't know Him. The removal of the veil is that which makes the difference between knowing Him intuitively from just knowing about Him intellectually!
The visions of Revelation chapters 4 to 11 are all related to the throne of God (Rev 4:2); those of chapters 12 to 22 to the temple of God (Rev 11:19). At the outside of the former we see a rainbow around about the throne; inside the latter we see the arc of the covenant in the temple. God's throne is established for the government of the universe. The full rainbow completely encircling it is His testimony to the universe, that in all His administrative dealings, He that sits there will forever remain true and faithful to His covenant with mankind.
God's temple is established as a habitation for Himself. The presence in it of the ark of His covenant, long since lost to unfaithful Israel as the centre of her national life, is God's testimony to Himself. It guarantees that nevertheless, true to His own nature of righteousness, what He has promised and pledged concerning His covenant people, He will most certainly perform! God cannot deny Himself!
So also in the Church today! In Christ, His faithfulness is assured - and we are in Christ as the body of Christ! We can therefore be assured of one thing despite all our failures and fears: "God will perfect that which concerns us!" Oh! what an exceeding joy and peace of heart it is to know this!
There is a wonderful plan and purpose of God for us in that Jesus Christ was born on Christmas day. One small step for God, one gigantic leap for mankind! This is the day that God Himself appeared on the earth dressed as a man. Jesus was not born to just grow up and die for our sins and to prove that He was God. Jesus was born onto the earth to be tried, tested and proved as a man! Do you fully understand this? He came to do for us all that which we had no hope of doing for ourselves. Under the old testament law we were all judged dead in trespasses and sins!
Picture that miraculous event once again today that took place in Bethlehem 2000 years ago! See not just the Saviour here but see also the new life that the Holy Spirit of God was forming in the soul of this God-Man Jesus Christ who is the Last Adam. (Lord Jesus is the Last Adam because He fulfilled every righteous requirement of God perfectly. There is no need for another Adam!) This life is to be for us as our new spiritual life! All of mankind has the availability of a new life in Jesus because He died for the whole world to release His life to the whole world, not just for the select few! Now that includes both you and me together with the whole of humanity! Therefore, it was necessary also for Jesus to die, not just to pay the price of all our sins and deliver us, but also to release onto the earth this new life that was formed in His own fleshly body. We were formed in the resurrection body of this same Jesus that today stands on earth as the body of Christ.
Oh! ... how I wish we could all see this more clearly! This baby Jesus grew up into the full stature of a man and developed a life within Himself that He shed at the cross for us, to be our new life the instant we are born again. (Romans 8:9 "If any man does not have the spirit of Christ then he is none of His.")
Today, if you are born again with this life of Christ in you, then you love this man from Galilee who was born in that manger at Bethlehem on Christmas day! We are not debating the Calender issue here; we are just saying that the day Jesus was born (whenever it was) is our Christmas day, celebrated on December 25th. This is the day that we choose to celebrate with such joy and thanksgiving! ...but please, not just for His birth, but for all that He is to us as the life of the body and for all that He has accomplished for us through His birth, death, resurrection and Glorification.
We Love You Lord Jesus. Happy Birthday!
There are those who cry, "How long?" who find it hard to exercise patience any more. But it is significant that right at the start of this book which deals with judgement, John should describe himself as, "Your brother and partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus Christ." This book of Revelation brings us to the point where God at long last sets aside patience and executes judgement. Patience is only called for while judgement is yet future. Once it has begun there is no more need of patience. But that moment has not come yet, and like John, we still live in the time when patience is needed. It is so easy to want to take up the sword against oppression and evil, but even the martyred saints are told to wait for the completion of their numbers.
Today in the Church as Christ's body, God will never justify impatience. God himself is longsuffering which means that He is tremendously patient. Has He not been so with us? It is interesting to note that in Roms.5:3 it says that, 'Tribulation produces patience and patience produces experience'. Many today lack patience which can readily be translated, 'Perseverance' or 'Endurance'. Through much tribulation we enter the 'Kingdom of God' (Acts.14:22) Patience and Faith walk hand in hand, where either is found to be missing, then the other won't be there either. Where there is no patience then there is also no genuine faith!
So many times we come across a total absence of patience in those who claim to be "Christian" and turn out to be Christian in name only. These are the 'nominal Christians', those who have nominated themselves to be like Christ, yet they have no patience with the real born again Believers at all! God has made Christ to be our patience, our endurance and our perseverance.
The temptation always to try to do something in our Christian life so as to be a "something" is ingrained in all of us because it is ingrained in human nature. How often is it only at the point of utter despair with ourselves that we remember the Lord and we relinquish to Him the task that He is so ready and so able to perform! The sooner we do so the better, for while we still monopolise this 'trying', we leave little or no room for the mighty work of God's Holy Spirit.
Today, the organised denominational church is full of false teachers who preach 'trying' in the place of 'trusting'. Just about everything that the Lord Jesus reveals to us individually and personally is nullified by them with an "Oh yes, but .." And after the 'but' is inserted, the subtle insinuation that we must try harder to achieve. Human will power is then very subtly portrayed as being the 'ministry of faith' or 'faith ministries'. Recent years have produced many spectacular TV ministries and right here I have seen so many of these false preachers and teachers. They do little more than make themselves a big name and grow rich; yet it is amazing to see multitudes of Christians follow them and employ their ways, instead of trusting and depending on Jesus with simple faith. Jesus said, "I am the Way"!
Trusting Jesus in place of self trying to ascend to some pinnacle of powerful faith, opens the door for Christ to do all that you need in you and in place of you. Remember! Jesus lives in us in the person of His Holy Spirit and apart from Him doing it all, you will achieve precisely nothing. All that you think you may have received will amount to exactly that.
If you ask a number of believers who have entered into a 'Born again' experience in Christ, how did they come by that experience, some will say in this way and some will say in that way. Each stresses his own particular mode of entering into the Christian life and produces Scripture to support his personal experience. But unhappily, many Christians are using their special experiences and special Scriptures, to justify themselves and fight other Christians! The fact of the matter is this: while Christians may enter into this new, fantastic life by different ways, provided Christ is their centre and the source cause, we need not regard their experiences or doctrines as mutually exclusive, but rather as complementary.
For one thing is certain: any truthful experience of value in the sight of God that we claim, must have been reached by way of a new discovery of the meaning of the personal work of the Lord Jesus at the cross on our behalf. Other than by the work of the cross, there is no alternate legitimate way of becoming a Christian. This is a safe test and a crucial one for all so-called personal experiences of God. Faith always looks back to the cross of Christ and knows what the Lord Jesus has achieved for us there! We do not achieve anything, but we most certainly do obtain everything that is of Jesus by acceptance. A free gift is never ever achievable by us or by our efforts; if it was then it would not be free! Faith knows God! Faith knows whom we have believed.
Fight to get the victory and you have lost the battle at the very outset! Your discomfiture as a Christian starts the moment you begin to reckon that 'you' must win. Suppose Satan sets out to assault you in your home or in your business. Difficulties mount up, misunderstandings arise, a situation you can neither deal with nor escape from threatens to overwhelm you. You pray, you fast, you struggle and resist for days, but nothing happens. Why? Because you are trying to fight your way into victory and in doing so, you are relinquishing the very ground and position of authority that is already yours!
In the person of Jesus Christ, as our representative man, God has already conquered for you. Victory is ours because it is His and we belong to Him, we are now a part of Him and He is a part of us! He has given us His victory to have, to use and to maintain. Satan is already the defeated enemy of Christ and therefore also for all who abide in Him by simple faith! It needs but a breath from God to finish him off altogether and yet here you are trying to raise a tornado! What then is the secret? It is this: simply look up to the Lord Jesus and praise Him. "Your victory, Lord Jesus is all inclusive. I praise you and I thank you that it covers me in this situation also!" Then be at rest in a magnificent triumphant victory that is already secured for you by God Himself.
When the Lord returns and we see him face to face as He is, I trust that we shall all pour out our treasures and ourselves at his feet. But what about today - what are we doing with Him today? Are we pouring out ourselves today and anointing Him?
Several days after Mary broke that alabaster box and poured the ointment on Jesus' head, there were some women who went early in the morning to anoint his body. Did they do it? Did they succeed in their purpose on that first day of that week? No! they were too late. They had missed Him and He was gone! There was only one soul who in fact succeeded in anointing the body of the Lord and it was Mary. She had anointed Him before-hand while He was still here, pouring out upon Him all that she had and all that she was. All the others were too late, for He had risen!
In the Church today as the body of the Lord Jesus Christ, the pressing question then, is, "What am I doing to the Lord today?" Notice I do not say 'for' the Lord but 'to' the Lord. There is nothing that we can do 'for' Him other than to thank Him and praise Him for evermore. But as 'to Him,' are we anointing the Lord Jesus by offering all of ourselves to Him? Are we pouring ourselves out upon Him and so anointing Him in this way? And by this action, receiving from Him in return all that He has for us this day? Again I ask you, what are you doing with the Lord Jesus today? What are you doing to Him!
In this day of deception and falsehood in the Church, it is possible that much so-called spiritual-revival is on a wrong basis. Spiritual gifts are displayed without measure, but unless there is a ministration of Christ, it is like having many utensils but with nothing in them to use them for. Yet it is worse, for without Christ, so called spiritual gifts are not only empty, they may also be deceptive. There is a huge difference between a tinsel Christmas tree covered with ornamental gifts and a real live fruit tree displaying fruit! One is false, the other real. One is dead, the other alive! The display of gifts does not verify the tree as the genuine article but Life does!
Spiritual gifts can be simulated in a way that a ministry of Christ can never be. Without Christ, spiritual gifts may not only be deceptive but they may also be counterfeit. Satan is well able to counterfeit all spiritual gifts in the realm of the psychic in man's soul. Many refer to this area as the supernatural but it is not so. It is the spiritual realm where God performs His miracles. The supernatural is, in the truest meaning of the word, the extended soul realm or psychic. It is from the psychic power of the soul that all hypnotism and magic takes place. One gift that Satan can never duplicate is the ministry of the 'Christ-life' to the new, born again spirit!
What should matter to the Lord's people should not be our gifts, but our personal 'knowing' of Christ, so that we convey Him by that knowing. In a hospital two nurses may use exactly the same looking spoons, but what they administer in those spoons is the important thing, not the spoon itself. One may just be a palliative, the other a curing medication. It is what we are that really counts, not what we display. What we are is what we convey to others.
Seeing the price of our redemption, how can we do other than to give ourselves totally to the Lord Jesus? "By the mercies of God I beseech you," pleads Paul in Romans 12. Throughout the preceding eleven chapters he has recounted them, God's divine mercies, all the way. God's love led Christ to die for us in the first place, so as to give us His life, that we might walk in newness of life. Secondly, that same love of God draws us back to Jesus again and again due to the multiple mercies of God which are fresh to us every morning! Faced by love that is so utterly selfless, it becomes very difficult for us to continue to live in self. In fact it is harder for us to withhold than to offer ourselves to Him.
To be a Christian for years without total dedication to God is a wholly astounding thing, for were we not bought with the measureless price of Christ's death? The precious soul life of God Himself was poured out for us, in the blood that Jesus shed on the cross! Jesus Christ is God in the person of His Holy Spirit now, but at that time when Jesus was on the earth, this man Jesus was God in the flesh! It was God who died for us and rose from the dead as a man in the person of Jesus Christ! Our willing choice therefore is surely to glorify God in all that we are, not just in our hearts, but also in mind, emotion and will. Why? "Which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:19). This is His sovereign right, not some sort of favour that we are doing for Him! I am not my own anymore, I have been bought by God at tremendous price to Him, henceforth I am His property.
Shall I now take this great love of God with all the freedom I have received to glorify my self by doing my own thing? Dare I play games with God out of what is His and out of what He has done for me? If I do, and I say this very solemnly to some, then I will shortly be entangled once again with the yoke of bondage that I was previously delivered from. The end result is that I will once again enter into bondage with Satan and reap oppression from the devil's hand. Bondage to self, as is bondage to sin or the world, is bondage to Satan! Satan always pays off to all that are in bondage to him. I believe that many good Christians are sick today for this very same reason.
Today in the real Church, which is the very body of God on earth in the flesh, may we agree right here and now that we are God's property and that we are no longer our own. May we come fully into harmony with God's plan and purpose for our lives. "Lord Jesus! ...all that I have and all that I am is yours, both now and forever" Amen?
God makes it quite clear in His word that for every human need He has but only one answer and that answer is His Son. In all of His dealings with us, He works by taking us out of the way and substituting (putting) Christ in our place. Jesus, the Son of God, died in my place, as my substitute on the cross, to pay the price of my sins and secure my forgiveness from God. Jesus the Son of God rose from the dead as my substitute, in my place, to live His life out in me and secure my deliverance from sin, Satan, self, the old nature and the flesh! So we can speak of two substitutions here in the cross of Christ. A Substitute who secures our forgiveness on the cross by His death and a Substitute within who secures our deliverance by His resurrection and His life!
Today in the Church as the body of Christ, it will help us greatly, and save us from much confusion, if we keep constantly before us this one true fact: "God will answer all of our questions in one way only, namely, by revealing more of His Son to us and revealing more of His Son in us!"
In God's appointed course for you, it may be that today was to have been the greatest day of your life, yet you would let it slip by as if it were just another day. The man whose today is like his yesterday lacks a sense of God's timing. No born again Christian should be content with their present obtainment; for to be satisfied with what you are is to be complacent and a loser of God-sent opportunities.
Let us suppose that on September 13 the Lord puts it into my heart to go and seek out a certain person who is later destined to become a mighty instrument in His hands for the salvation of souls in five years time. To obey may be the greatest single act of service in my life. But suppose on this day I am distracted by other things and do not go because I put it off. I have let slip an opportunity and perhaps lost thereby a powerful instrument for the Kingdom of God. Trouble is such occasions do not wait for us, they pass us by so very quickly, never to return.
Today in the Church as the body of Christ, Satan is manipulating God's people to miss God's will through distractions and complacency. Never before has there been so much to distract God's people from doing what God really wants to be done! Procrastination leading to complacency runs rampant throughout the body of Christ today in every country on earth. God is moving on all the time but we don't; we tend to want to stay where we are and with what we have got or have not got! We stagnate because of the distraction of these 'other things' that have become a barrier towards God's on-going plan and purpose for our lives.
So next time when God moves, let us move with Him instantly. No God sent opportunity must be allowed to elude us if we desire the best of what God has for us and for our lives this day. Trust Him fully by depending on His means and His supply. God's time is always in the present. God's timing is always now! He is forever the almighty "I am", not the "I was" or the "I will be"!
It has pleased God to say many things in His written word to us, which leave room for many misunderstandings, and also not to explain them! Often in the Bible there seems to be conflicting statements, or just statements that seem to violate the known facts of life. And it has pleased Him to leave them there just the way they are without further clarification. There are many Scriptures we cannot clearly explain. If we had been writing the Bible we would have put things far more plainly, so that everyone would have clearly before them all the doctrines, theology and things of God in such a foolproof systematic way so as to make it really easy for their intellectual minds to feed on. But the question is, would they have the life? Would they have the Lord Jesus as their Life?
Today in the real Church as the body of Christ, we find the mighty eternal truths of God are half obscured in the Scriptures, so that the natural man may not lay hold of them by his mind! God has actually deliberately hidden them from all the wise intellectuals, so that He can reveal them to the babes and the foolish! The reason is because they can only be spiritually discerned. His Word is not a learning exercise or a study book! His word is His plan to lead us to a Person and to obtain eternal life! His word is both truth and grace to us! His word is life to us! His word is intended to meet us in the course of our day to day walk in the Spirit and to speak to us right there! It is designed to give us spiritual knowledge that is experiential in itself because it is related to spiritual life. If we are trying through systematic intellectual theology to know God, then we are absolutely on the wrong track and we will fail. God cannot be known through the natural intellectual mental process! God is not in the natural (or indeed the supernatural) to start with, He is in the spiritual. God is Spirit. Therefore all the knowing of God has to be by the spirit, not by the mind.
What a privilege we have to be able stand in praise before the Lord Jesus Christ! It seems to me that today we always want to be moving on, we just can't stand still. So many things claim our attention that we are perpetually moving and on the go. Many things are controlling us rather than us being in control of them! We cannot hardly stop from them for even one moment. But he who is spiritual knows how to stop and to stand still. He can stand before God in worship while God makes known to him His will. He can pause and await orders for as long as what it takes to receive them if necessary before proceeding any further. He who can be still knows God as God!
Today in the Church as Christ's body, may I ask you dear fellow-worker, is not all your work carried out to some sort of schedule and timetable? And has it all not to be done in great haste? Can you be persuaded to call a halt to it and stand just a little while before Him and praise Him? You will benefit tremendously and learn a great deal if you do.
Christ is the Head of the Church as His body and, "We who are many, are one body in Christ and severally members one of another." All Christian relationships therefore are of one member to another, never one of the leader of an assembly to its members. When an apostle is preaching a great sermon and all the believers are nodding assent, adding their frequent and fervent 'Amens,' how deeply spiritual the congregation appears to be! But it is when they meet by themselves that their true spiritual state comes to light. The 'pulpit-and-pew' principle, so vital for proclaiming the glad tidings to sinners, nevertheless tends to foster a passivity in Christian life. It is by the round table principle of mutuality, by believers exhorting one another, that the real Church thrives and grows. Here there is Life in action!
Today in the body of Christ as the real Church; in our own particular church group as a segment and an expression of that, we need to ask ourselves the deep question, "Has our fellowship the true stamp of the one another principle upon it?" Are we able to minister life to one another or do we still rely on the Pastor or the leader for that? If not, then we need to know how to exhort one another; we need to ask God to break our self centred self-life and all that is holding back the release of His Spirit!
Watchman Nee: "I was once holding meetings in a college in South China. There I found an old school fellow of mine was now a professor of psychology, so before the meetings began I went to call on him, and spoke to him of Christ. After listening a while politely, he said smiling, "It's no good preaching to me, I don't believe there is a God! I 'm a total atheist"
Next day to my amazement, at the end of my first meeting, who should stand up and testify that he was saved but this same professor! Afterwards I went up to him. "How did it happen?" I asked. "After you had gone," He said, "I picked up the Bible you left me and my eye caught the words in John chapter 1: 'The day after,' 'The next day', The day after.' This writer, I thought to myself, knows what he's talking about. He saw it all. It is like a diary. Then I thought, What if after all there is a God? I should be a fool not to believe in Him. You had told me that I could pray even to the God whose very existence I doubted, so I knelt and prayed. I don't know what I expected, but as I prayed I knew there was a God. How I knew I cannot explain; I just knew! Then the words of the eyewitness, John, came back to me. Since there is a God, I thought, then this man Jesus could only be his Son; this writer's eyewitness account leaves me with no other logical option or explanation and I was saved!"
Today in the body of Christ as the real Church, it is the same! When we are open and truthful to God, then God will meet the fullness of all our need out of His resources in Jesus Christ, and we have the abundant life in His name!
Gold speaks to us here of something that is totally of God and of glass that is transparently pure. May we adapt the latter simile, and suggest that future purity is well illustrated by pure glass, but that our present purity is best described by clear water? For water can readily become clouded with defilement, but no impurity can enter the texture of glass. Our purity today is still liable to change, our purity then will never alter. The "divine nature" imparted to us now is that of pure gold; there is no question about that. But alas, we contribute to it a sorry mixture of dross, to the extent that God's chief work in us is always one of dealing with us by subtraction and removing that dross!
Today in the Church as Christ's body, by the inward working of the Cross of Christ in our lives, God is seeking to eliminate that dross mixture, bringing to the judgment of His death all that which is in us and that is still of ourselves. The only thing we have within our power is to produce dross, only dross and more dross! And that must go, all of it, before we find our place amongst the pure gold of God's eternal city in the Kingdom of God. The final removal takes place when we leave this life for the next. For now, regarding our lives on earth, may it be: 'No longer I but Christ' (Galatians 2:20), for He and He alone is my Gold. He alone is my purity! We need to become as transparent as glass that others see Jesus in us!
Part two of a three day series: "It is no longer I but Christ"
The cross of Christ is not only the greatest terminator in the universe, it is also the greatest translator. It translates us from out of 'self' into Christ. It transforms all of us from 'out of' the first Adam into Christ as the Last Adam. As we said last week, it is God that identifies us in His Son at the very instant we accept His death as being our death. It is God Himself that has conformed us into the image of his Son, on the cross before He died. It is God Himself that has made Christ's death to be 'our' death, to the extent that by being conformed into the image of His death, we appear in the image of His life through His resurrection. In other words, through the work of the cross, God has planted us into Christ and implanted the Life of Christ into us. This is what it is to have the real born again experience! We now have the Life of Christ in us which He lives out in us in the person of His Holy Spirit.
Resurrection Life is a life that comes out of a death. There has to be a death before there can be resurrection. Only that which has died can be resurrected! Through the work of the cross, Jesus is now made alive in us personally and individually and in place of what was there before. He is to be our whole life from now on. At last I am no longer alone inside, I have a Friend, a Comforter, a Counsellor. The void or vacuum within is now filled with God! All we have to do to have it become real in our experience is to really know it by revelation from His Holy Spirit and to thank Him and to praise Him right now. Jesus is alive and real in us now! But never according to our thought or our feeling; yet solely according to the truth of what God has already actually done for each one of us in Christ at the cross!
The cross of Christ stands in eternity as the greatest terminator of all time! At the cross, God has dealt with us perfectly and completely.The cross terminates all that I am as 'self' and translates me into all that that God has made Christ to be, for me. To be crucified with Christ is to know in your heart that God has included you and me in the death of His Son at the cross. When we first accept the fact that Christ did not die just for the payment of our sins, but that He has also died for us as the sinner of those sins, God, at that point, included us in the death of His Son. From that moment on God identifies us in Christ and justifies us according to all that Christ is on our behalf!
From that moment on our names are written in Heaven in the Lamb's book of Life. It is God who has put us into Christ, not ourselves! It is God that has written our names in the Lamb's book! When Jesus died we were include in Him on the cross before He died. How else could He die our death for us, other than by including us in Himself before He died? (God's written word assures us that Jesus gathered up all things unto Himself before He died.) By reckoning on this fact to be true, we secure the salvation of our souls. This is the second salvation experience that every true Christian who is determined to grow in Christ must have. Oh! how the enemies of the cross of Christ hate this message! It involves the act of our will.
Today the cross stands at the entrance to the Kingdom of God; no one gets in there through any other way. Today the Tree of Life, that was in the garden of Eden, stands in the shape of the cross. Calvary still precedes Pentecost. No death means no Life, no matter where you claim to have travelled to for it or obtained it from! The Holy Spirit is only available to those who are in Christ through a new birth experience and kneel at His cross!
I would not, even if I could, exchange places with the disciples, even on the Mount of Transfiguration! The Christ with whom they lived was the Christ in the flesh, a Christ limited by time and space. Was He in Galilee? Then he could only be found in Galilee; He could not be found in Jerusalem or elsewhere. Was He in Jerusalem? if so, then men sought Him in vain in Galilee or elsewhere. But today it is vastly and magnificently different! Christ is limited neither by time nor space for He lives in the power of an endless, resurrected life! He is everywhere and God has been pleased to reveal Him in my heart and in my life. He was with them only sometimes but today He is with us all the time! They only knew Him then after His body in the flesh, saw Him, touched Him and lived with Him in but in close contact only. But today we know Him in the Spirit and He will never leave us nor let us down!
Today in the Church as His body, many there are that try to focus on the Jesus of the flesh and to follow the earthly Christ, but they err, the Lord Jesus is not to be found in the flesh today, He is risen and He is in the Spirit! His flesh has now become us as His body! So that after the flesh we, "Now know we Him so no more," and yet we know Him in truth, for we know Him as it pleases God as to the way He should be known by us today. Has He not given me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Himself, so that I may know Him today just the way He is right now? This risen Lord Jesus Christ now dwells in my new, born-again spirit.
Consider carefully what this says. "The flesh" in us is not opposed to us but to the Holy Spirit of God! It is He, not we, who meets and deals with its ways and its lusts. And with what result? "That you may not do the things that you would." I think we have often failed to grasp the importance and significance of that last clause.
Today in the Church as the body of Christ, we still encounter this problem. What "would we do" naturally? We would automatically disregard the will of God and move off on some course of action of our own, dictated to us by our own will according to our own thought and our own feelings. Therefore, the effect of our refusal to come 'out from' the cover of Christ and act 'out of' ourselves, is that the Holy Spirit in us, is free to act for us on our behalf and to do His work in place of us! Free that is, to spontaneously meet and deal with the flesh in us, so that in fact we shall not desire to do what we naturally and normally would do. Instead of going off on a plan and course of our own to do our own thing, we shall find instead that our real joy is in His perfect plan and purpose alone, which is of course His will.
"Knowing," as expressed here, is something much more than either thought or feeling. To really know something is to have the existence of that thing in your life. To know is to have faith. To know is to have reality. To know is to see as God sees, i.e. from His viewpoint. Faith is confidence in God not self. Allow me to give you an example of faith. Many of us have learnt to drive a car and perhaps been driving for many years. We now 'know' how to drive but it was not always so. At the start we were nervous, somewhat apprehensive, because we did not as yet "know" how to drive. But later on, confidence was gained as we learnt, until we reached the point where we did not need to learn anymore, we knew how to do it by heart!
Faith is located in the heart, not in our mind or in our emotional feelings. Strictly speaking, the mind is not designed to 'know' anything, neither of course are the emotions. All such 'knowing' is a product of the heart not the head. Our mind is designed for us by God to reason with, to understand with, to discern with and to think with. Our mind is of the soul but Faith is of the spirit (the heart). Faith is always 'heart-knowing' never 'head-knowledge'. The mind presumes but the Spirit knows! The mind is at best a calculated guess but Faith is always correct. The mind is based on what man knows. The spirit is based on what God knows! Faith is 'of the spirit', not 'of the soul'. When we know for sure in this way, that we are 'dead' in Christ; then shall we 'know' also that we are resurrected and alive in Him! Our faith as Christians, is the responsive spontaneous life of Christ in us. Jesus is the reason for our 'knowing' and our knowing God! .....God never reasons, He knows!!
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart" ...Deut 6:5. The Decalogue opens with God's claim to exclusive worship. This expression of God's will is not only His command, it is also His desire. But if the ten commandments show us what gives God joy, the temptations in the wilderness reveal what will bring joy to Satan. In both cases it is worship. So with worship we have one thing that both God and Satan desires. By it we can satisfy either heaven or hell. Therefore worship is priceless!
Today in the Church as the body of Christ, Satan's whole idea is to rob God of worship by ensnaring Christians into some kind of idolatry distraction. Idolatry is that which claims another besides God, to be worthy of worship. Satan, as the god of this world and its system, has set up many idols that are designed to ensnare the unsuspecting and ignorant of God's people. Who would ever suspect any of the following to be masterminded by Satan? The Arts, Commerce, Education, Sport Entertainment, Music, Politics, Literature, Philosophy, Science, Culture, Law, or Religion. The Lord Jesus made this statement of fact: "The whole world is under the control of the evil one." (1 John 5:19 NIV) It is our privilege as God's people to counteract this by holding our worship exclusively for God Himself.
Rest follows work. In the fullest sense, rest is only possible when the work is completed to a point of satisfaction. It is no trifling matter that God rested after those six days of creation. How, we may ask, could He - this God of purpose, this God of abundant life - come to such a rest? Genesis 1:31 gives us the reason: "God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good." He had accomplished something which in which His heart rejoiced and caused Him to have such a rest. The good pleasure of his will had been realised; its goal had been attained. In the same way, He saw His Son's life, death and resurrection for Man. In resting He proclaimed His approval.
Today in the body of Christ as the Church of God, God invites us as Christians to share with Him this same type of rest in Christ. That great work has been accomplished and His new creation is secured. God has seen that everything that He has made in Christ as a new Creation is also very good! Why? - because the new creation has Christ as its foundation, its source and its very life! His good pleasure has been realised once again and no fuller realisation is necessary, needed, or possible. We enter into God's rest when, ceasing from our own striving and work, we find all our redemption, satisfaction and completion in Christ. We are made complete in Jesus in every way and in everything! Let us rest and rejoice with God Himself! It is indeed a finished work and God is satisfied and well pleased!
Recall the incident of the Pharisee and the publican at prayer in the temple. The Pharisee understood all about tithes and offerings, yet from him there was no cry from his heart to God; it was all in his mind so to speak. It was the publican who cried from his heart, "Lord have mercy upon me!" Something went out and touched God from that man, which met with an immediate response. The Lord Jesus singles him out as the one whom God reckoned righteous. For what is it to be reckoned righteous? It is to touch God in honesty and truth from your heart.
Today in the real Church as the body of Christ, the great weakness of our teaching of the gospel is that we try to make people understand mentally or intellectually the plan of salvation and all too often we see little or no result. Wherein have we failed? I am sure it is in this, that our hearers neither see Him nor touch Him. We have presented them with a method of salvation, which they may well understand but we have neglected to present them with the person of Jesus Himself! We point them only to their sins or to God's salvation, whereas their real need is to see and touch the risen and Glorified Saviour Jesus Christ Himself; to see Him and meet Him as He is today and to make contact with Him alone, one on one. He alone is the one who saves, delivers and makes us whole! No doctrine or theory has ever or will ever save anybody!
Nothing so satisfies God as our confession of Christ! Jesus often said, "I am." He loves to hear us say "Thou art." We do it far too little. When everything goes wrong and all is confusion, don't pray, Confess! Confess out of your heart what you know to be true about Him! Declare it out aloud from your mouth, "Jesus you are Lord!". Today, when the world is in turmoil, stand and proclaim that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. He loves to hear us say what we know.
And for Satan too. Satan trembles when he hears the saints make positive declarations of fact from what they know. The name of Jesus is above every other name, both on earth, in heaven and over the things that are beneath the earth. Declare it! Say it to the enemy! Shout it at the devil! What we say in these circumstances is the word of our personal testimony.
Today in the Church as the very body of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is the word of our testimony that will often prove most effective, when praying to God fails to bring results. We are told to speak directly and boldly to the mountain and say, "Be thou removed!" The emphasis is on the word speak. When we speak out our confession of Him, things move because He moves them!
The word rendered here as a type of "servant" really signifies a bondservant which is a slave. The distinction is important for us, for this word is used several times in the second half of Romans 6, where Paul writes of our usefulness to God. What is the difference between a servant and a slave? A servant may serve another, but the ownership of the servant does not pass to his employer. A servant retains his own ownership. If he likes his employer he can serve him, but if he does not, he can give in his notice, quit and seek another master. Not so is it with the slave. He is not merely another man's servant; he is his possession! The master owns the slave. How did I become the slave of the Lord Jesus? On His part he bought me at the price of laying down his life and shedding His precious blood; and on my part I presented myself freely and completely to him as alive from the dead. Let us not overlook that second statement.
Today in the Church as Christ's body, by the rights of redemption I am God's property, but if I would choose to be of use to Him, them I must willingly give myself to Him totally. He will never ever force me or compel me. The un-crucified 'self' of the nominal Christian is much like that of the servant. He vacillates between serving two masters - Christ and Self. Not so with the slave, he knows that he has been bought by the Lord Jesus at a high price, he is sold out and his one aim is to express his master's will in all things - he can do no other. There is no room for self-will in those who so choose! The bottom line is that we are anointed by His Holy Spirit to express His Life!
How tempted we Christians are to seek spiritual experiences just for their own sake! This is all wrong. The Bible offers us no such truth as an individual thing apart from Christ. What God has done in His grace is to include us all in Christ. Then, in God dealing with Christ, God has dealt with us the Christians; that means in dealing with the head, He has dealt also with the body. In dealing with the Head of the body, He has dealt with all the members of the body. Therefore we are quite wrong to think we can possess anything of spiritual life in ourselves, individually apart from Christ.
Today in the Church as that body of Christ, it is exactly the same. God does not intend that we should acquire from Him something exclusively personal and individual. He is unwilling to effect anything like that in either you or me! There is so much counterfeit of spiritual gifts around today that, although spectacular and awesome, it is nevertheless false! All true Christian experience is first of all true in Christ alone, due to the personal achievement of God's only begotten Son whilst He was in the flesh on earth. What we then call 'our experience' is only 'our entering into that' which He has already previously achieved! We obtain, we do not achieve! It is the Vine that always determines the character of the branches and the kind of fruit they bear. The branches do not determine the character of the vine and the fruit does not determine the character of the branches or its quality - sour grapes can look just as good as sweet ones! Jesus is the real vine, we are His branches.
This, the first Hallelujah in the book of Revelation, is provoked by the downfall of a city which is again and again described as "great". Why does heaven rejoice so much at the overthrow of Babylon? Because Babylon embodies the spirit of empty show and pretence. Israel's first recorded sin after entering Canaan was the taking of a Bablyonish garment. Achan coveted Babylon's grand style because he wanted to look good. And the first sin recorded in the early Church was similar; an attempt on the part of Ananias and his wife Sapphira to win man's esteem by appearing more self-sacrificing than they really were. They too wanted to look good.
Today in the Church as the body of Christ, how readily we put on an act to impress others and establish for ourselves a place of repute and acclaim with them! This is the principle of Babylon the whore, and it is an abominable thing in the sight of God. Presumption and pretence walk hand in hand. Wherever one is then the other will be found to be there also! Anything that we put on that does not match our actual condition is the garment of the whore. How often we dress in the garment of Babylon to gain acceptance from fellow Christians or to avoid rejection. How often we dress up in the protective clothing of self-righteousness to avoid exposure to the Truth! Whenever we make ourselves to look like something we are not then we are in the principle of Babylon! We have become false. We have made ourselves a make-believer! We are an actor, a pretender and the truth is not with us!
In spite of the examples of Solomon and several other kings, we need not assume that a man's last days should be days of spiritual decline and decay. Think of Jacob after his return to Canaan. He who had always been so restless settled down quietly in the land. There, in the sphere of his own family, he underwent many sorrows and disappointments, yet in them all, he displayed a patience and a concern for others quite foreign to the selfish character of his earlier years. Or see him again in Egypt, as father of its mighty ruler Joseph. Whereas the Jacob of former days would eagerly have grasped at this new opportunity for self-advancement, yet the mellow old man that he now was, seemed quietly content to remain in the background. The mature prophetic blessings of such a man afford a fitting climax to the book of Genesis.
Today in the real Church as the body of Christ, we have two main types of behaviour. One is the self-righteous, who are false make-believers; these be those who have perhaps been to Bible College and learnt all about the Bible with their minds and have a good head or mental knowledge of its content, making them proud to be a Christian. These constitute the vast majority of the many so called 'believers'. Truth is to them what they believe about themselves, not about God. The other type is the real believer, those who have put all their trust, confidence and dependence in Jesus Christ and this from their hearts not their heads. They have abandoned all faith in self. These are those who have a heart knowledge of God as a real experience. These are they who actually know God! ...and they know Him intuitively, meaning from the spirit, which does not have to reason to know. They are the few and in a minority but they never cease to give thanks and to praise the Lord Jesus for being the very centre and source of their lives.
Those are the righteous who have put on Christ as their robe of righteousness. They are not just clean and bright but they shine and more and more each day with an increasing intensity. They welcome each day afresh with Jesus as the Lord and freshness of their life. They are willing for Christ to live out His life in them and in place of all that was there before! Our last days on earth should be abundantly brighter than our former days. So let us shine like that shining light by permitting Jesus, in the person of His Holy Spirit, to live out His life in us and to cause us to be all that God wants us to be; and this strangely enough is exactly what we really want to be anyway!!
It is in the death of Jesus Christ that Satan's power of authority and dominion over us has met its match once and for all and has been broken. The death of Jesus Christ out dies all other deaths. Death in Adam does not finish a man but death in Christ does. His death is a mighty victorious death! Through Christ's death we have been totally delivered from the power of Satan; all we are left with now is his presence minus his power! In Christ, all who deserve to die have died, with the result that he who had the power of death no longer has any dominion or authority over them. We are dead and reduced to ashes in Christ and ashes are something of which you can never ever make a fire from again! Christ's work at the cross was not only totally redemptive but also totally destructive! The death of Jesus Christ, as our representative on that cross, destroyed Satan's power over us forever!
A house that has been destroyed by fire, has been burnt down to ashes and cannot be burnt a second time, for if the first fire has done its work fully then there is nothing left to be burnt! For us redeemed sinners who have already died in Christ, our old life itself is finished, it has passed away, it is dead through His death. There is nothing left there anymore to be destroyed.
So then, the Lord Jesus gets our ashes and we have now become possessors of His eternal incorruptible life; the two are inseparable. What a great and glorious deal! You can't get better than that! Satan cannot do anything more to us now that we are crucified in Christ. That which has been put to death is dead! For the believing Christian, this means that we are free now to have Christ live out His life in us today, in place of all that was there before.
What is thirst? It is a state of need, a state of being unsatisfied. But whoever drinks the water offered by the Lord Jesus shall never thirst again. Every born again believer may know not only contentment but also total satisfaction in their life! Being satisfied is much, much more than just being content. If one knows only contentment then he has yet to know more. What God has given us in the life of Christ, that resides within every believer, is a total satisfaction that causes us to be satisfied both now and forever! We don't need any more satisfaction when we have Jesus resident within. Christ in us is God's very best!
Not only is there total satisfaction for us but also a flowing of 'living-water' out from within us, that will flow to others and satisfy their thirst also! This is truly amazing! This living-water in us actually causes other people to find satisfaction also and quench their thirst. (For we minister life not doctrine!)
Today in the Church as Christ's body, we need to inquire of ourselves, do people have their thirst quenched when they have made contact with us or not? Do we extend to them some living water of life or do we leave them in the desert where we found them, having added just a sermon or some doctrine? Has the living Christ in our hearts made an impact on their life and shown them the answer to their need ?
We must avoid over-spiritualising what we read in the Word of God. John's new heaven and new earth for example are as truly real as the risen Lord is Himself! To spiritualise away the things of God as mere doctrine is the desperate expedient need of people who do not themselves know that reality. Further, they do not really know God at all. Many of us gather a large amount of spiritual knowledge, I fear, only to build for ourselves with it a totally false world!
Today in the Church as the body of Christ, we confuse truth and doctrine as being one, but the two are not one because they are not the same. From the heavenly or spiritual perspective, God is truth. Doctrine is what is said on earth about that truth. The Greek meaning of the word 'truth' is 'reality.' The doctrine of truth comes after that fact and not before it. The Jesus who said, "Ye shall know the truth" Himself embodies all that is the truth. Christ is Himself actually 'The Spirit of truth'!
Truth is much, much more than just a word, it is the living spirit of God Himself! The mark of our own spiritual maturity will always be that the things of God become real to us on earth because the Lord Jesus is real within us! We who are born again of the Spirit of God know the truth internally and it is from there that we have our freedom. Jesus Christ is our own personal inbuilt reality within each one of us and He alone is our truth! To know truth is to know Christ. To know Christ is to know truth and to be made free!
Christianity is built not on precepts alone but on concrete examples. One of God's methods of instruction is through history. It tells us how men knew and did His will, so that by observing their lives we may not only discover that will for ourselves, but learn something also of how we too may do it. His hand on their lives produced His desire in them, and He bids us take note, so that we may better understand what He designs to do in us.
Today in the Church as Christ's body, is it necessary for a child to be told explicitly how to do everything? Must each item be specifically permitted or forbidden? Is there not much he can discover simply by watching and observing his parents or his elders in the Church? We learn more quickly by what we see than by what we hear, and the impression upon us is deeper, because of course precepts are abstract, whereas examples tangibly demonstrate their outworking. In principle, the ways of God are the same today as in the Bible days. He has given us so much history in the old and new testaments, in order that through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures, we too may lay hold of that something here and have great hope! That something is none other than Jesus who is our life and the Lord and Savour of it!
From the day I was first saved, my sincere ambition was to be a true Christian. Of course I had my own conception of what a Christian should be, and tried my upmost to be that kind of Christian. A true Christian, I reasoned, should smile from morning to night! If ever he shed a tear, he had ceased to be victorious. He must also be unfailingly courageous. The slightest sign of fear would mean he had failed seriously to trust his Lord; therefore he would have, in my opinion, fallen far short of my standard.
But the Christian life, I soon learned, is very different from that! It is a paradox of power in weakness, joy amid pain and faith triumphing in the presence of doubt and unbelief. When the Christian is strongest in the Lord, he is often most conscious of inability; when he is most courageous he may be profoundly aware of fear within and when he is most joyful, a sense of distress readily breaks out upon him again. It is only the exceeding greatness of the life of Christ in the believer that lifts him up on high.
Today in the Church as the body of Christ, we are encompassed about with all sorts of fears and concerns, yet the Lord Jesus comes through for us on our behalf and delivers us from every one of them! He is our reason for us not despairing!
God knows who I am; He knows that from head to foot I am full of sin. He also knows that in the matter of pleasing Him I am weakness incarnate in that I can do nothing whatsoever to please Him. The problem is that I do not know it! I admit that all men are sinners and that therefore I am a sinner too, but I imagine I am not such a helpless sinner as some. While I may agree that I am weak, I do not fully believe it, so God has to use something very strong to convince me of that fact!
This is precisely why God gave us the law of Commandments, for the more we try to meet it's demands, the more our failure becomes obvious and manifested. The Law was given also that we might individually understand ourselves. It was through the law that Paul came to really understand himself from the commandment of the law which begins with, "Thou shalt not covet." Whatever might be his experience with the rest of the law, it was the tenth commandment which literally translated, is "Thou shalt not desire," that found him out. It brought him face to face with a holy righteous God. Yes, the law is provided by God to show us exactly what sin is! ....and to prove to us that we are all sinners! ....especially we Christians! And no, the law was not sent for us to obey it but to understand ourselves more clearly and what our real problem is.
Only was it with Jesus, that God was well pleased; He obeyed the law of commandments for us as our representative then and still does today! This is a great revelation; do you see this? Hence it is that the law leads us to Christ just as the schoolmaster leads the student to commitment. Once the student is fully committed to his task then the schoolmaster could be said to have done his job. Jesus Christ is the end of the laws of God for all those who have accepted Him as their representative life! The Lord Jesus obeys God completely! He is born of God and that which is born of God does not sin! Are we not born again out of the death of this same Jesus Christ on the cross? And are we not made alive again in the spirit by His resurrection?
For years after I had been saved, I had been taught to "reckon." But the more I reckoned I was dead to sin, the more alive to sin I clearly was! I simply could not believe myself dead, and I saw no way of producing this death. Whenever I sought help from others I was told to read Romans 6:11, and the more I read Romans 6:11 and tried to reckon, the further away death was. I could not get it at all. In my trouble, I said to the Lord Jesus, "Lord, if I cannot be brought to see this which is so fundamental, then I will not preach any more. I must be thoroughly clear here." For months I sought and prayed, at times with fasting, but nothing happened. Then one morning! And it is a morning I shall never forget, as I sat with the Word open and said again, "Lord Jesus, open my eyes!" Then in a flash I saw my oneness with Christ. I saw that I was in Him, identified with Him, and that when He died I had also died. My old man really was crucified with Him because it was in Him! Oh, it was so real to me! I was carried away with such joy that I longed to go through the streets shouting the news of my great discovery.
Today in the Church as the earthly body of Christ, we also need to be clear about one thing here, and that is that revelation from the Lord Jesus to us always precedes our faith. It is when He draws alongside us and opens our eyes to the fact that something already there but hidden is revealed. When we see it from this way, and this way only, then we know it because it is our heart that knows. Christ has revealed it in our spirits' intuition. Many times the majestic things that Jesus has achieved for us at the cross, are like prized treasured objects hidden in a dark room that belongs to us. Should somebody shine a torch then we will see and know what is ours instead of stumbling over it!
We must have faith to see all God's people brought into their inheritance. That is God's purpose and it will be carried out! But as a means to realising that purpose, God needs those who are willing to step right into a place of death if need be and to stand there steadfast until all are safely over. Because that little band of priests did so, holding firm to the ark in the place where death threatened them, a whole nation passed dry-shod clean through Jordan. Not one soul remained behind!
Of course it was not the priests but the ark of God that opened the way into the land of promise. Never forget that. But note this too; it was they that took it there and held it there. By their act of faith in standing with the Lord amidst death, others passed into abundant life.
Today in the Church of God as the body of Christ, we have to ask ourselves, "Am I ready for this?" Am I ready to be an OVERCOMER? Those who have chosen for self to abide in death, so that life may be expressed to others, are those whom the Lord Jesus has made to be Overcomers, so that just as the Levites did for Israel then, we might also do for the rest of the body of Christ today. We are here as Overcomers to minister the Life of Christ (in the person of His Holy Spirit) to the whole Church, so that all may come into abundant life!
It seems clear that Spiritual vision by itself is not enough to transform a life. Consider Jacob's ladder. Because of his crooked behaviour, Jacob had lost his home and all his possessions. Yet in spite of this, God favoured Him at Bethel with a vision so marvellous that he was moved to exclaim, "How dreadful is this place!" The promises that accompanied it were full and unconditional. Yet contrast with them the words of his response to God: "If if if then I will .. .." Even with God he wanted to bargain and do a business deal! He was the same unchanged Jacob. How much we Christians are like this!
Soon, however, he was to become involved with Laban, who was just as corrupt as himself! By this and other means, God took Jacob through years of the most fruitful discipline. The spoilt son of the house became a harshly treated labourer. But God's way is always right, and it was a new and transformed Jacob that found his way back to Bethel in the end.
Today in the Church as the body of Christ, we Christians inwardly complain at just about everything we don't like that comes our way! Has God been speaking to you about a certain matter? Are you sick? Do you suffer from some disease, maybe for many, many years? Good! ....then He is dealing with you regarding this same matter and your environment is being arranged by God this day, so that His Holy Spirit may enlarge your heart, causing you to depend upon Him absolutely. He gives you tribulation, so that the life of Christ in you may become your patience and your life. Many times we confess with our mouth that we depend upon Him absolutely in everything, but this is very often little more than mouth wash! God knows exactly what we still are in our heart.
Are you being chastened and scourged? Good then God loves you! The end result is less of you and more of Jesus active in your life. He gives us beauty for ashes! He gives us Himself in place of all that we are!
Just as in all of God's speaking to his people in those far-off day's of the old testament, He spoke to them from between the cherubim of glory. So also was all His leading for them onward through the wilderness by means of that same glory. In the cloud by day and the fire by night the glory of God appeared and they moved forward in alignment and cooperation with it. For us too today, all revelation of God's will issues out of His glory. See the glory of God in relation to any matter and we have discovered God's leading in regard to it. You ask me, "Is this or that His will? I reply by asking you in turn, "Is the glory of God resting there?" Discern that and you need wait for nothing further. God's glory is in fact God's own personal character. God's glory itself expresses God's will. Guidance is thus simply a matter of correspondence to that. Where God's glory rests we need not ask the way.
Today in the Church as Christ's body, we need to separate ourselves in our hearts from all of that which lacks the glory of God in it. Today God's glory is expressed on earth in the person of the risen and resurrected Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ! Find Him and you have found the glory of God! You then have God's way, God's Truth and God's life!
When the Lord returns and we see him face to face, I trust that we shall all pour out our treasures and ourselves at his feet. But what about today? What are we doing with Him today? Several days after Mary broke that alabaster box and poured the ointment on Jesus' head, there were some other women who went early in the morning to anoint his body. Did they do it? Did they succeed in their purpose on that first day of that week? No, they were too late, they had missed Him and He was gone! There was only one soul who in fact succeeded in anointing the body of the Lord Jesus and it was Mary who had anointed Him before-hand when she had the chance. All the others missed Him because they were too late; He had risen!
In the Church today as Christ's anointed body on this earth, the pressing question then is: "What am I doing to the Lord Jesus today?" Please notice that I do not say 'for the Lord' but 'to the Lord'. Again I ask you, "what are you doing to the Lord Jesus today"?
God has saved us not for ourselves but for Himself, not for our benefit but for His. "I press on," says Paul, "If so be that I may apprehend that for which also I was apprehended of by God in Christ Jesus." We were not apprehended just for eternal salvation only, but for a quite different and definite purpose. In the present 'now', we are to be God's fellow workers, cooperating with Him in the expression of His will. What is His full extensive work today? It is to sum up all things in Christ; to leave no odds and ends of any kind in the universe out of harmony with His exalted Son, who is the full expression of His will.
How can I cooperate with God? How can I even touch such a great work as this? To be honest I haven't a clue, I don't know; but together with Paul, "I want above all things to apprehend that for which I have been apprehended of by God". I do not wish to frustrate the grace of God and finish my days on earth having missed God's perfect plan and purpose for my life! Do not receive Christ in vain, be alive and active with Him in your personal secret relationship that you have with Jesus!