Anointed To Teach God's Word

Classic Christian teaching from the holy Bible

Many Christians Still Taking the Broad Road


“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” (2 John 1:7)

Deception has always been an effective weapon and is deadliest when used in the field of religion.

Our Lord warned against this when He said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” These words have been turned into a proverb known around the world, and still we continue to be taken in by the wolves.

There was a time, even in the twentieth century, when a Christian knew, or at least could know, where he stood. The words of Christ were taken seriously. A man either was or was not a believer in New Testament doctrine. clear, sharp categories existed. Black stood in sharp contrast to white; light was separated from darkness; it was possible to distinguish right from wrong, truth from error, a true believer from an unbeliever. Christians knew that they must forsake the world, and there was for the most part remarkable agreement about what was meant by the world. It was that simple.

The whole religious picture has changed. Without denying a single doctrine of the faith, multitudes of Christians have nevertheless forsaken the faith. Anyone who makes a claim to having “accepted Christ” is admitted at once into the goodly fellowship of the prophets and the glorious company of the apostles regardless of the worldliness of his life or the vagueness of his doctrinal beliefs. We can only insist that the way of the Cross is still a narrow way!

~A. W. Tozer~

 

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The Marks of a Carnal Christian # 2


The trouble is not with the will, for it was very sincere in the decisions made and fully purposed to carry them out.

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18).

But there is a divided control over the carnal Christian’s life and that always spells defeat. He may have deliverance, if he will, but it must be a deliverance out of Romans 7 into Romans 8. Is such a deliverance yours?

It is a Life of Protected Infancy

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto yo as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2).

The carnal Christian never grows up. He remains a mere “babe in Christ.” The Corinthian Christians should have been full-grown, strong, meat-eating grown-ups: instead, they were immature weak, milk-drinking infants. They did not measure up either in stature or strength to what they should have.

Nothing on earth could be more perfect to loving parents than a baby in babyhood, but of! the indescribable heartache endured by the parents if that precious child remains a baby in body or in mind. Nothing on earth sets the joy bells of heaven ringing as the birth of one into the family of God, but oh! what pain it must cause the heavenly Father to see that spiritual babe remain in a state of protracted infancy.

Which are you, my friend, a spiritual babe or an adult? To answer this question you may have to answer another. What are the marks of a baby? A baby s helplessly dependent upon others. A baby absorbs attention and expects to be the center of his little world. A baby lives in the realm of his feelings. If all goes well, he is pleased and smiling, but he is exceedingly touchy and, if his desire is crossed at any point, he quickly lets it be known in lusty remonstrance. The carnal Christian bears these selfsame marks.

Hebrews 5:12-14 shows us that the carnal Christian is still dependent upon others. He ought to be far enough advanced to be teaching others: instead, he is still having to be taught, and has not even come to the place where he can take meat instead of milk. He is incapacitated to either receive or impart the deep things of God.

Why were the Corinthian Christians such babes? Paul tells us clearly in the first two chapters of 1 Corinthians. They were following human leaders, esteeming the wisdom of men more highly than the wisdom of God. They are substituting fodder for food and attempting to satisfy hunger on husks.

The average Christian does not go firs-hand to the Bible for food, trusting the Holy Spirit to give him the strong meat of the Word. He is looking only to human teachers for his spiritual nourishment and gulps down whatever they give him. He is a spiritual parasite living on pre-digested food, consequently he is underfed and anemic. In this weakened state he is open to all forms of spiritual disease. He is an easy prey for temper, pride, impurity, selfishness and because of his close relationship to other members of the body of Christ, the result is often just such an epidemic of sin as existed in the Corinthian church. Which are you, still a helpless babe or a mature Christian able to be used by God to help others?

It is a Life of Barren Fruitlessness

“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away, and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2).

The influence of the carnal Christian is always negative. Because of the inconsistency of his life he is unable to win others to Christ or set a true example to other Christians. He is, therefore, a fruitless branch in the Vine.

It is a Life of Adulterous Infidelity

“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).

This language is very drastic. God plainly states that any Christian who is a friend of the world is His enemy, nay even an “adulterer” or “adulteress.” To realize the force of this statement one must know what is meant by “the world.” What the Church is to Christ, the world is to satan. It is his eyes, ears, hands, feet combined to fashion his most cunning weapon for capturing and holding the souls of men. it is satan’s lair for the unsaved and his lure to the saved to keep them from God. “The world” is human life and society with God left out.

What, then, should be the Christian’s relationship to the world? The answer is found in the Christian’s relationship to Christ. Christ and the Christian are one. They are joined together in such an absolute identification of life that the Holy Spirit says the love relationship they bear to one another is analogous to that of marriage.

Is it any wonder, then, that God says that friendship with the world on the part of a Christian is tantamount to spiritual adultery? Hobnobbing with the world in its pleasures, entering into partnership with it in its pursuits, fashioning on’s life by its principles, working to carry out its program, all make one an accomplice of the vil one against one’s own Beloved. Such adulterous unfaithfulness in love marks one as a carnal Christian.

But perhaps you ask, “What constitutes worldliness?”

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

The acid test of worldliness is given here. Worldliness is “all that is not of the Father.” Whatever would not be as fitting to Christ’s life in the heavenlies as to the Christian life on earth is worldly.

Worldliness is also “the lust of the flesh”, “the lust of the eyes” and “the pride of life.” Worldliness may be manifested in one’s conversation, in one’s style of hairdress, in one’s clothes, in one’s friendships, in one’s pleasures,, appetites and in one’s activities. Anything which feeds or pampers the flesh, the animal part of man, is “the lust of the flesh.” Anything that caters merely to the fashions of the world, that stimulates desire for possessions, that keeps the eyes fixed on the seen rather than the unseen is “lust of the eyes.” Anything that exalts self, that fosters pride and pomp and that clips the wings of the soul so that it grovels in the dust of the earth instead of soaring heavenward is “the pride of life.”

Do you love the world and the things of the world? Then you are a carnal Christian.

It is a Life of Dishonoring Hypocrisy

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). “Are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Corinthians 3:3).

The carnal Christian says one thing and does another; his walk does not correspond with his witness. He walks as those who make no profession of being Christian, so he has no power to win them to Christ.

Has God shown you your photograph today? Are you a carnal Christian? Do you wish to continue to be one? There is abundant hope for the Christian who, wearied with the conflict, humiliated with the defeat, chargined by the immaturity, distressed by the fruitlessness, convicted of the infidelity, and pained by the hypocrisy, turns to God and cries out for deliverance from the wretched captivity of carnality into the glorious liberty of true spirituality.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 3 – “Marks of a Spiritual Christian”)

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The Marks of a Carnal Christian


The Marks of a Carnal Christian

There are two kinds of Christians clearly named and described in Scripture. It is of the utmost importance that every Christian should know which kind he is and then determine which kind he wishes to be. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 speaks of Christians as either carnal or spiritual.

“And I brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal,

even as unto babes in Christ.”

“I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.”

“For ye are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”

“For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?”

Which kind of Christian are you? Have you ever had your picture taken in a group? Were you eager to see it? And you quickly found the picture of one person. If the picture of that one person was good, then the whole picture was good, but, if not, then the picture was poor, and you did not care to own one. Well, we are going to have a photograph taken of the carnal Christian, and I wonder if you will see yourself in it. It will be an absolutely accurate one because it is to be taken by the Divine photographer who knows each of us through and through.

The Marks of the Carnal Christian

It is a Life of Unceasing Conflict. “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man; But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:22-23). “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:17).

Two diverse laws warring against one another in the same personality; two forces absolutely contrary to each other, contesting for its control – this is indeed the language of conflict.

Two natures, the divine and the fleshly, are engaged in deadly warfare within the Christian. Sometimes the spiritual nature is in the ascendancy, and the believer enjoys a momentary joy, peace, and rest. But more often the fleshly nature is in control, and there is little enjoyment of spiritual blessings.l

May I illustrate this conflict which is so common? A friend told me this story of her six year old nephew James, who had the bad habit of running away from home. One day his mother told him she would have to punish him if he ran away again. The temptation to do so soon came and he yielded to it. Upon returning home his mother said, “James, didn’t you remember that I said if you ran away again I would punish you?” “Yes,” said James, “I remembered.” “Then why did you do it?” asked his mother. James replied, “It was this way, mother. As I stood there in the road thinking about it, Jesus pulled on one leg and the devil pulled on the other, and the devil pulled the harder!” The Lord Jesus pulling on one leg and satan pulling on the other is the constant experience of the Christian, but habitually yielding to the devil and giving him the control of the life is the wretched condition of the carnal Christian. Is yours a life of such unceasing wearying conflict?

It is a Life of Repeated Defeat

“For that which I do I know not: for not what I would, that do I practice: but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:15).

“Romans 7 is some one’s spiritual biography. It was no doubt Paul’s. But could it not have been yours and mine as well? It is the revelation of a true desire and an honest attempt to live a holy life, but it is surcharged with the atmosphere of deadly defeat; a defeat so overpowering as to burst forth in that despairing cry for deliverance..

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).

Who of us has not uttered it? We have made countless resolutions at the dawn of a new day or of a New Year regarding the things we would or would not do. But our hearts have been repeatedly heavy with the humiliating sense of failure. The things we steadfastly determined to do were left undone, and those we solemnly resolved not to do were repeatedly done. Sins both of commission and omission, like evil spirits, haunt our bedchamber and rob us even of sleep. We have been full of pride, selfishness and worry this year as we were last year. We have neglected to study the Bible and to pray, and we have had no more concern for souls today than we had yesterday.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 2)

Ruth Paxson is another Classic Christian author who was a missionary in China for many years. She then, in her older years, began writing her in-depth Christian articles and also holding conferences around the world. We will post more of her work after we finish this article on carnal and spiritual Christians.)

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The Slavery that Frees


“In [Christ] we have redemption” (Ephesians 1:7).

Slavery to sin is bondage; slavery to God is freedom.

Freedom is a precious thing. People throughout history have prayed, fought, and even died for it. Our Declaration of Independence upholds it as one of our inalienable rights.

But the truth is, no matter what one’s political situation might be, everyone is a slave – either to sin or to God. Jesus said that “everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34). Paul added that all of creation is in slavery to corruption (Romans 8:21). However, believers have “been freed from sin and enslaved to God” (Romans 6:22).

The Roman Empire had as many as twenty million slaves; slave trade was a major industry. For a slave to gain his or her freedom, a redemption price had to be paid. The Greek word for such a transaction is “lutroo”, which Paul uses in Ephesians 1:7 to speak of our “redemption” from sin’s bondage.

Slavery to sin is bondage; slavery to God is freedom. That sounds paradoxical, but God is the Sovereign King, and true freedom means having the ability to bend you will to His and thereby become all He created you to be. Even though you will fail at times, your greatest desire and highest pursuit as a believer is to be like Christ (1 John 2:5-6). Those enslaved to sin cannot do that, nor do they want to.

Today you will have many opportunities to demonstrate your submission to Christ. Let your attitudes and actions speak clearly of your love for the Master.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord that He is a faithful and just Master who always does what is best for His servants. A self-seeking slave is a contradiction in terms. Ask the Lord to guard you from thoughts and actions that are contrary to His will.

For Further Study: According to 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 what key characteristic is required of a servant of Christ? Read Matthew 24:42-51. How does Jesus describe a wise servant? Read Philippians 2:5-11. How did Jesus demonstrate the heart of a servant? What implications does His example have for your life?

~John MacArthur~

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The Rest and the Courage of Faith # 3


Faith in God the Secret of Courage

Come back to the word in Joshua. Of that first generation, only two men got out of that soul realm – Joshua and Caleb. They triumphed in and over that realm. They triumphed in that realm first, and then the Lord brought them out, but the fact that it was the rest of faith which was the secret of their triumph while they were in it is brought so beautifully, magnificently, to light in this fourteenth chapter of Joshua. I think this is fine. Caleb, one of the two, comes to Joshua. He is an old man now, but still living by faith in the position which he took up with the Lord years before. He took up that position when he went as one of the spies and when the great majority, the overwhelming majority, brought their evil report. They looked at God through their circumstances; these two men looked at their circumstances through God; it made all the difference. Caleb took up that position of looking at everything through God, and he is still living in that position; and now, as an old man, he comes to Joshua, and, while all the other people are being given their inheritance in nice, easy, prosperous positions “where every prospect pleases,” Caleb says, Give me this mountain where the giants are, and cities great and walled up; this hilly country; give me this mountain!

Oh, dear friends, there is a lot to be said about that, but I am going to be content with this now as following up this challenge to my heart and to yours. What are you looking for? – an easy inheritance, a nice, workable cabbage-patch, something that is going to respond to your ouch immediately and give you satisfaction? Are you looking for the flourishing  land? The faith which brought Joshua and Caleb into rest of heart before they came into the rest of the land was this kind of faith – Give me a tough proposition! Here is a situation full of difficulties, full of threatenings, full of adversities; why, it is almost an appalling prospect, yet nevertheless give me a chance there! You see the challenge. Do difficulties appall you or do they at once present a great opportunity for the Lord? “It may be that the Lord … as the Lord spake.” How are we facing the big difficulties? – and there are difficulties! There are problems! and these mountains seem to pile up upon one another as we go on. Sometimes it seems an impossible outlook and prospect, a hopeless situation. Perhaps for our own lives individually for some reason within ourselves or outside of ourselves, or for the work to which we are called, the ministry, the testimony that is laid upon us, it seems so utterly hopeless, the mountain is impossible. Well, what about it? Is it – Give me this mountain! Nothing but a real faith in God can take things on like that, and say – All right, it is difficult, there is no doubt about it, it is an appalling prospect naturally, a hopeless outlook, nevertheless let us take it on in the Name of the Lord; it may be that the Lord … The Lord – looking at the mountain through the Lord, and not at the Lord through the mountain.

I think that is the kind of faith that we need, that brings into rest. A mountain – yes, it is a mountain right enough, a physical mountain, a circumstantial mountain, a mountain of outlook in the work. Naturally we would do the right thing, the  wise, common sense thing if we said, No, we are not going to touch that! But faith says, I am not going to try and skirt that mountain, I am not going to turn my back on it and run away; give me this mountain! I want that faith, you want it. It is not just our natural courage, our bulldog nature, our pugnacity that will do it. We know quite well that we have nothing; if left to ourselves, we had better quit. But the Lord is challenging us, and Caleb does come up as a rebuke to us. At the end of a long life when we might think that now is the time for him to be given a very nice little garden and a lodge somewhere where the work was easy and he could take his rest – no, he says, Give me this mountain wherein are the giants, the walled cities; give me this mountain! His choice was a difficulty, because it was an opportunity for the Lord.

Probably we shall very soon be brought up against what we have been saying in very practical ways, but let us have dealings with the Lord on this. We are going to have to face what will be naturally appalling difficulties, within and without, taking the very heart out of us, but oh, for this quiet, restful assurance and confidence in our God which says, Give me this mountain as an opportunity for proving the Lord!

And Caleb got it – and it was Hebron, and that is another story; a very long story is Hebron. I leave you to look that up, for Hebron has a wonderful place in the purpose s of God. David was first crowned in Jerusalem. Hebron means “fellowship.” There is a great inheritance bound up with Hebron. Hebron is secured to men and to women of this kind of faith which says, I am not wanting to escape from my difficulty and get out of my hard way; let me take it in the Lord’s strength and give the Lord an opportunity to show that he can do what is naturally impossible. The Lord give us that faith!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(the end)

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Identifying With Christ


Ephesians 1:3

Christianity isn’t simply a belief system – it’s a whole new identity.

Many people mistakenly believe that one’s religious preference is irrelevant because all religions eventually lead to the same spiritual destination.

Such thinking is sheer folly, however, because Scripture declares that no one comes to God apart from Jesus (John 14:6). He is the only source of salvation (Acts 4:12) and the only One powerful enough to redeem us and hold us secure forever (John 10:28).

Every Christian shares a common supernatural union with Christ. Paul said, “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17). We are in Him, and He is in us. His life flows through us by His Spirit, who indwells us (Romans 8:9).

As a non-Christian, you were in bondage to evil (Romans 3:10-12), enslaved to the will of satan (1 John 5:19), under divine wrath (Romans 1:18), spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1: 17-18), and without hope (Eph. 2:12). But at the moment of your salvation a dramatic change took place. You became a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), alive in Him (Eph. 2:8), enslaved to God (Romans 6:22), and a recipient of divine grace (Eph. 2:8). When you came to Christ, you were “delivered … from the domain of darkness, and transferred … to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). You now possess His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21) and share in His eternal inheritance (Romans 8:16-17).

All those blessings – and many more – are yours because you are in Christ. What a staggering reality! In a sense, what He is, you are.  What He has, you have. Where He is, you are.

When the Father sees you, He sees you in Christ and blesses you accordingly. When others see you, do they see Christ in you? “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His marvelous grace in taking you from spiritual death to spiritual life in Christ. Ask Him for wisdom and discernment to live this day for His good pleasure.

For Further Study: Read the book of Ephesians, noting every occurrence of the phrase “in Christ.” What has God accomplished in Christ? What blessings are yours in Christ?

~John MacArthur~

 

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Prayerful Thoughts of God Are Never a Burden


“… the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16)

It is hardly possible to overstress the importance of unceasing inward prayer on the part of the one who would live the God-conscious life. Prayer at stated times is good and right; we will never outgrow our need of it while we remain on earth. But this kind of prayer must e supported and perfected by the habit o constant, unspoken prayer!

But someone may question whether in a world like this it is possible to think of God constantly. Would it not be too great a burden to try to keep God constantly in the focus of our minds while carrying on our normal activities in this noisy and highly complex civilization?

Malaval had the answer to this: “The wings of the dove do not weigh it down,” he said; “they carry and support it. And so that thought of God is never a burden;  it is a gentle breeze which bears us up, a hand which  supports us and raises  us, a light which guides us, and a spirit which vivifies us though we do not feel its working.”

We all know how the presence of someone we deeply love lifts our spirits and suffuses us with a radiant sense of peace and well-being. So the one who loves God supremely is lifted into extreme delight by His conscious Presence!

“Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.”

~A. W. Tozer~

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Wait on the Lord


“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14)

Do you know the story of Joshua and how the wall of Jericho fell down after the Israelites marched around it once a day for six days, then seven times on the seventh day? Why not just walk around Jericho one time? I think it was because God was testing their faith.

God was teaching them that waiting time is not wasted time. Isaiah 28:16 says, “he that believeth shall not make haste.” God is never in a hurry, like we are. We get upset when we miss a section in a revolving door!

God is never late. He knows what He is doing. Do you know what our problem is? We’ve been around Jericho six times and we’re ready to quit. Say with the psalmist: “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him” (Psalm 62:5).

Are you waiting? Take comfort in knowing God knows your heart’s desire. Take courage in knowing God’s best is your purity. Though it may be hard to wait, God will honor your obedience.

~Adrian Rogers~

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“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness. Faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22)

Purity doesn’t seem to e in vogue these days, but let me tell you what a father told his daughter one day.

She wrote him while away at college: “Dear Dad, my classmates make promiscuity sound so natural and so inevitable. There are times when I wonder what I am waiting for.”

Her father wrote her back: “You are waiting to be free from the nagging voice of conscience and from the gray shadow of guilt, free to give all of yourself, not a panicky fraction. Some deep instinct in you knows what tremendous influence your first complete union will be. And that same instinct keeps telling you not to wast it.”

Oh, how I wish more families were open enough to discuss this issue and to encourage young people to remain pure.

Are you a parent of a teenager? Then, schedule a time this week to discuss this issue with them. Why not start by sharing today’s devotion?

~Adrian Rogers~

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A Personal Message From God


“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called wonderful, counselor, mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6)

The Cross of Jesus Christ is a sacred symbol to Christians, as it represents everything in which we believe. To truly understand the message of this symbol, we must increase in knowledge about the purpose of the Cross, which leads to a question. What personal message from God can be found in the event of Christ’s death on the Cross?

1. The Cross reveals God’s unconditional love for you. Though it was the collective sin of the human race that deserved punishment, God chose to lay this great debt upon one Man – His own sinless Son. He did this as an act of love for you.

2. The Cross exemplifies God’s awesome power. Jesus’ death and resurrection symbolize His ultimate triumph over eternal condemnation. His blood established a new covenant and a chance for all people to spend eternity in the presence of God.

As you meditate upon the event of the Cross, consider God’s love , righteousness, faithfulness, and power. In one time-altering moment on the Cross, His greatest blessing was poured out to a world thirsty for the saving grace of the one, true God.

Father, thank You that the Cross links humanity from Genesis to Revelation and that in doing so it exemplifies your righteousness and faithfulness. Amen

~Charles Stanley~

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The Meaning of Union with Christ


“If, then, ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things which are above, WHERE CHRIST IS, seated on the right hand of God.” – Col. 3:1.

“WE BEHOLD HIM (Jesus) crowned with glory and honour.” – Heb. 2:9.

“LOOKING OFF UNTO JESUS, the author and perfecter of our faith, who hath sat down AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE THRONE OF GOD.” – Heb. 12:2.

The Meaning of Christ’s Presence on Earth

The presence of Christ here on earth had two purposes. One was that there might be a perfect presentation of God to man. The other was that He might take up man according to God’s thoughts. There were very few, if any, who saw Him in the first aspect. “The world knew Him not.” Even those who were most closely and continuously in touch with Him, looking on Him, hearing Him, watching Him, did not really see Him. Toward the end He had to say to one of them, “Have I been so long time with you and yet hast thou not known me? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” But in that true sense they had not seen Him. He was here to personally represent the mind, heart, and will of God, but it needs the Holy Spirit to open the eyes to Christ in these respects. Nevertheless, God has had a perfect representation of Himself here on the earth, and thenceforth all knowledge of Him is inseparably bound up with the person of Jesus Christ. In a sense, of old time, the Jews went directly to Jehovah, the first Person in the Godhead. They did not look upon the sacrifices, priesthood, etc., as more than things. That is, they did not personify these, and regard them in the light of a mediating Person. But from the time that Christ came into this world, entered upon His ministry, and accomplished His work in the Cross, God could never be known apart from Him, and in the most direct sense His words are true, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” No Jew from that time would or will ever know God apart from Christ. When the name “Jehovah” went out of the Jewish Temple – as it did – it entered in the form of “Jesus” (Jehovah-Saviour) into the Christian Church. This first aspect of Christ’s presence here is, however, not the object of our present consideration. We are here concerned with the other side in particular, although they cannot be separated. Christ was here to take up man as to God’s thoughts about man. In Christ God had a man wholly according to His thought. (In what we are saying about Christ as man, we are not touching His deity, or overlooking the fact that Christ was God. That we believe absolutely, and about it we have no reservations. We are here dealing with His humanity.)

One of the main purposes why Christ spent some years here was that as man He should be tried, tested, proved by every kind of fiery ordeal as to His faithfulness, obedience, and devotion to God. The meal offering of Leviticus 2 is Christ’s humanity, as is well known. That meal offering was prepared for presentation by fire in three ways. The oven, the pan open at the top, or the flat pan. The oven speaks of the fiery ordeal in secret where no life could see. The second method suggests those trials which only those who are sympathetic enough to look into can see. The flat pan is the form and nature of suffering and trial which is patent and open to all. In all of these ways the Lord Jesus was “made perfect through sufferings” and “tempted in all points like as we, yet without sin.” He was tried by every realm. He met hell directly through its head – Satan himself tempted Him – and exhausted its resource to break His faithfulness and loyalty to His Father. During forty days in the wilderness He was thus directly assailed. It was but “for a season” that the Devil left Him then, and doubtless He had many another secret – oven-like – conflict with the “Prince of this World” over the matter of faith and obedience.

The world assailed Him. The world system, religious and pagan, circumstances, relatives, friends (?) and the commercial, social and professional realms all tried Him out. Even within the narrow circle of His own earthly home, not excluding the beloved and devoted mother, was His relationship to His heavenly Father put to the test.

Then, at length, in one terrible moment, heaven was the source of the supreme test. The Father had to forsake Him, and this broke His heart. Nevertheless, He triumphed, and almost immediately after the terrible cry of forsakenness He cried “FATHER, into Thy hands I commit my spirit.” Thus He was tested and triumphant in every realm – heaven, earth, and hell; and in every form of trial. Thus He, as the “Captain” – file-leader – of our salvation was “made perfect, through sufferings.”

This brings us to the point where we are able to answer the question as to why the Lord Jesus is as “Son of Man” in heaven: for it was “the Son of Man” whom Stephen saw standing on the right hand of God. It was “Jesus of Nazareth” who spoke and appeared to Saul of Tarsus. It is “Jesus” whom the Apostle says “we see crowned with glory and honour” and to Whom we are to “look off.” It is “One like unto the Son of Man” who is repeatedly seen in the Book of Revelation. The truth, then, is that at God’s right hand in the Person of His Son there is a MAN wholly according to His thoughts concerning man. God has got in His presence in the place of honour and power (right hand) a MAN who wholly satisfies Him and answers to all His eternal mind as to man. There is a humanity in God’s presence with which He can be in the most perfect fellowship. Now, this is the whole foundation of Christianity, provided it is borne in mind what this includes and involves as to the meaning of His Cross.

Everything in God’s interest is bound up with Christ at God’s right hand. This we shall see from several points of view or by taking its various inclusions. The first main truth in this apprehension of Christ is that Christ in heaven is

The Pattern to which God is Working

in all them that believe.

We are not here saying much about the positional meaning of Christ in glory, but are chiefly concerned with the conditionalaspect. It is blessedly and wonderfully true that He is there as us, and that when we are “in Christ Jesus” all that is true of Him there is placed to the good of those who believe, and they are “accepted in the Beloved One.” All that that means is a comprehensive revelation of the grace of God and should never cease to be the believer’s theme of praise and ground of confidence.

But it is true that what obtains in Christ there for us is the Father’s concern to make good in us. The all-inclusive statement concerning this matter, and which leads right on to the end is Romans 8:29: “Whom He foreknew, He also foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

God’s object, then, is to have a family fully brought to the image of the Son who is at His right hand. That object sets the bounds to the interest of God. All His interest is bound up with that, and He has no interest outside of that. Christ is “the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last” the beginning and the ending.

How will God operate unto that end? Here, again, we are on what is – although elementary, yet – most vital. He will do it inwardly and from within. The only but sure hope of glory is “Christ in you.”

What is the New Birth?

This postulates the absolute necessity of the new birth. What is the new birth, simply? It is receiving Christ as the Life into the heart by faith. Not life as a thing, in the abstract, but life in inseparable relation to the Person. This is emphatically so on the ground that the Holy Spirit is a Person: He is the “Spirit of Christ,” and He is the “Spirit of Life,” and there is no relationship to Christ apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9).

So, then, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and “Eternal Life” are one as to the basis and resultant relationship to Him. Christ is the Object and Central Reality. The Holy Spirit is the Divine Agent. Eternal Life is the basis of relationship to God.

Whatever terms we may use, whether “New Birth,” being “Born anew,” “Born from above,” “Regeneration,” or “Born of God,” the meaning is one, and it is that we receive in Christ by the Holy Spirit the life of that One Who is at God’s right hand. Nothing is possible of conformity to His image until that life has been put within us. As in a newly born infant the life contains all the elements, possibilities and potentialities of the fully grown man to be, so in new birth all that Christ is as “made perfect” is in the life of His Spirit then imparted.

By nature that life is not in anyone, it is the “gift of God” in new birth, regeneration by the Holy Spirit. It is upon that new life within that all God’s interests are centred. The growth, increase, and development of that life with all its features is the one purpose of the Holy Spirit in the believer. Paul wrote to certain believers – “my little children for whom I travail in birth until Christ be fully formed in you.” Christ fully formed within; that is the nature of spiritual growth.

The new birth is the beginning and provides the Holy Spirit with His basis. That is the first step in answering the question as to the nature of union with Christ. It is oneness with Him in His risen and enthroned life. That is life which is already in Him consummated in full triumph.

The second thing in this union on the side of state is sanctification.

What is Sanctification?

This great doctrine can be quite adequately brought within the compass of two simple statements for our purpose here.

Sanctification is firstly an act and that an act of making the object wholly the Lord’s. In Old Testament times when a thing or a person was sanctified (consecrated, devoted, sanctified; all same word) it or he was first taken apart and separated from all other interests and made wholly the Lord’s. From that time all the proprietary rights were His, and it was recognised that He had the entire claim upon it and government of it. It was consecrated or sanctified by blood or that which had the same symbolic significance. This is the simple fundamental meaning of sanctification.

“Ye are not your own, ye were bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20).
“Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold but with precious blood” (1 Peter 1:18).

It is – in an act – presenting spirit, soul, and body to the Lord that in every part and in all the details of life He shall have first and final consideration: be consulted on all matters of mind, heart, and will; the personal life with the entire self principle and natural constitution handed up by the Cross to be absolutely subject to the will of God. Christ at the right hand of God represents man as in an act abandoned to the will of God; tried as to that abandonment in every way; and victorious as to that initial act. That act has to be entered into by the believer, and maintained in the energy of the Holy Spirit to the end.

There is abiding virtue and power in His act “once for all” for us in our receiving of His Spirit.

Then, secondly, sanctification is a progressive thing. It is the process by which all that is true of the moral excellencies of His glorified humanity is wrought in the believer. The things of Christ, taken by the Holy Spirit and revealed to His own are not just the splendours and riches and possessions which He has entered into for Himself. Neither are they just things gained as a reward. They are those perfections through sufferings which are to be made over to believers, and into which believers are to be brought that they may also share the glory which rests upon perfected humanity as its native state as invested by an all satisfied and delighted God.

As “we behold Him we are changed from one degree of glory to another, as by the Lord the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

This beholding is by the Spirit’s revealing inwardly, and what is revealed is the truth of Christ as “made unto us sanctification,” that is, sanctification for us and in us.

I see, by the Spirit that sanctification is not my struggling and striving to be better. It is the fruit of Christ’s conflict and victory appropriated by faith. It is not my moral improvement by effort or care, but the appreciation and apprehension of Christ’s moral perfections as secured for me. Christ in glory is the pattern in the eye of the Holy Spirit, and He would work in me conformity to that pattern, asking of me yieldedness, surrender, faith, obedience; unto all of which He is willing to be my strength as I take an attitude of a positive character in line with His purpose, as over against a mere passivity of mind.

Why we are Chastened

Thus sanctification is the meaning of “Christ at the right hand of God” and of our union with Him in the Spirit. What is true of the New Birth as the basis, and of Sanctification as the all-inclusive process, explains the dealings of God with us in training. We must be careful that we do not fall into the snare of thinking of God as ever standing over us with a stick, ready to pounce upon our faults and immediately punish us. “Chastening,” as in Hebrews 12 is not just punishment, it is “child-training.” True it represents suffering in the main. But then there are those of us who, now we are of matured judgment, justify parents up to the hilt for the chastening which, when it was given, was regarded as cruel and unloving. We wonder what we should be but for it, and those of us who are parents have long since changed our thoughts about many of the unpleasant experiences of childhood. We may smart under any little bit of injustice which clings so tenaciously to memory, but we are not now in the hands of an unjust or unrighteous Father.

God is after an “afterward.” What is it? “The peaceable fruits of righteousness.” That is, a state where there is no discord or strain in relationships. This is nothing other than Christ’s present state with the Father being made good in us also. So all the difficult aspects of our training are to the same end – conformity to His image.

The Motive of Ministry

There is one other aspect of this matter to which we will point before we close. It is in relation to ministry and fellowship. What should be the predominant motive and aim of ministry, whether to us or through us? It most certainly should be with God’s one end in view, and everything should be sacrificed for, or brought into line with that. God’s one end is likeness to His Son. In ministry everything must be subjected to the test as to how far it is calculated to reach that end. With God Himself the value of anything and everything is determined by this. Methods, materials, manner, personal presence, and everything are to come under this test. Only the Holy Spirit can bring to Christ and conform to Christ. Hence ministry is of value according as it is in the Holy Spirit. Not only does this apply to our ministry, but it must influence us in the matter of what we accept and where we go.

Are we being built up in Christ? Does what we receive really tend to inwardly increase Him? Is it Christ being ministered to us in the Holy Spirit? If not, then no matter how interesting, brilliant, informing, or attractive, we are wasting our time, the eternal thing is not being done, and God’s end is being missed. This principle must also apply to the fellowship of believers. It is so easy to fall into the trap of talking on all sorts of commonplaces, matters of interest, and often into a spiritually dissipating jocularity and frivolity, and then when the time is gone to realise that the heart cries out in hunger for that which alone is its Bread – even Christ. Fellowship should be unto mutual upbuilding and definitely to impart Christ to one another.

Hebron was where they made David King and feasted for days in happy fellowship. Fellowship should always be the festivity of the crowned – exalted – glorified Lord, and more of Himself in our heart should be the outcome.

Thus we see that everything in the life of the believer from the beginning is related directly and in a practical way with Christ in glory, and the nature of union with Christ is that of the Holy Spirit’s activities unto our conformity to His image, individually and corporately.

 

~T. Austin-Sparks~

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