TREASURES OF TRUTH, VOLUME 3
THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST AND OUR UNION WITH HIM
BY: GEORGE R. HAWTIN
HOW REVELATION UNFOLDS THE MYSTERIES
THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST AND OUR IDENTIFICATION WITH
THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST AND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH
THE CHRIST BODY … SUPREME MYSTERY OF THE AGES
HOW REVELATION UNFOLDS THE MYSTERIES
In the hearts of millions of people in this hour there is an inward knowledge that the world is now seeing the final impressive moments of the great drama that has occupied earth’s vast theatre for the past six thousand years. It is my earnest longing and continual prayer to God that all who read the lines which follow may feel their spirits arrested and awakened by the wisdom and power of that great omniscient Person of whom our Lord Jesus fervently spoke, saying, “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you.” John 16: 13, 14 If God’s people could but see the limitless store of wisdom and knowledge offered to us here, they would quickly abandon the vanities of earth and religion, cleanse their temple, and become the continual abiding place of this heavenly person-age.
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep until that hour of which it is written, “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Then God said, “Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good.” Gen. 1: 2-4 The same mysterious pattern followed by our God in creation is followed in the regeneration of every man. In the unregenerated and unconverted state our lives, our hearts, our spirits, our souls, and our minds are all without form and void, and darkness, gross darkness, outer darkness that can be felt, shrouds our beings as a thick cloud until the day comes in the grace and wisdom of God that the Holy Spirit moves like a breath from heaven upon us, dispelling the covering clouds of darkness and causing the Sun (Son) of righteousness to shine into the vain, void wilderness of our hopeless hearts.
What man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of man that is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Well did Jesus know all our human limitations. Well did He know that our understanding could not possibly ascend beyond the things of man. He did not leave us thus comfortless and confined, but promised in words that cannot fail, “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.” And yet again, “When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me.” John 15:26
It is the Spirit that quickeneth (maketh alive); the flesh (with all its learning and natural understanding) profiteth nothing. John 6: 63 As a brilliant light dispels the darkness of a dank and gloomy cave, so the light of the Holy Spirit, shining in the sullen darkness of the human heart, obliterates the gloom of death and breaks the chains of darkness that saints may joyfully proclaim, “The city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” Rev. 21: 23 “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 4:6 Be merciful unto us, 0 God, and bless us, and cause Thy face to shine upon us, “that Thy way may be known upon the earth, Thy saving health among all the nations. Let the people praise Thee, 0 God; let all the people praise Thee. 0 let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for Thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Let the people praise Thee, 0 God; let all the people praise Thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.” Psa. 67
I solemnly tell every person who reads these lines that where the things of God are concerned human knowledge is insufficient. The institutions of learning devised by the cleverness and art of men can never point a man to life. They are capable only of partaking of the tree of human knowledge, which is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Scientists and educators vainly imagine that, given sufficient knowledge, every evil can be abolished from the earth, but their darkened minds will not let them see that the more man partakes of human knowledge the deeper he sinks into the sea of corruption and violence. He does not know that the death-dealing pollution of the land, the sea, and the air, with all its attendant train of sickness and disease, stems from the noxious fertility of his own corrupt and polluted mind, which with gluttonous and voracious appetite has feasted long upon the tree of human wisdom and carnal understanding. The more men eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil the more the jaws of death take hold upon us until at last, if man were allowed to continue, no flesh would be saved. But for the sake of the elect the days of man’s ravenous appetite for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil shall be shortened.
“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto Him, Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:1-3 I know what Jesus meant when He made the significant and all important statement, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”, and many people now reading these lines know from personal experience the mystery of the truth He spoke. But you who now understand the mystery of the new birth will readily concede that you did not understand it until its truth became experience in your heart. Furthermore, you will have found that even now it is quite beyond your power to explain this blessed experience to unregenerate men. You may tell them of the necessity of being born again. You may patiently explain the wonderful work accomplished by the Holy Spirit in your life when you believed on Christ, but for each man the understanding of the new birth must await the hour when he himself is touched by that kingdom of God from above.
Have you ever listened to a man preach or heard him teach on a subject that was beyond his personal experience? It is pitiful to listen while unregenerate men try to explain the new birth, but in their blindness they try, and even the unregenerate listener can discern that the speaker does not have the experience he is trying to explain, or should I say, explain away. Not long after I had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I heard a minister preach on the subject. He had not gone very far in his explanation before I and many others knew that he had never received the experience at all. He was trying desperately to make the word of God confirm his experience rather than seeking an experience that conformed to the word of God.
It is completely impossible to see the kingdom until its new life has touched you from above. It is Jesus Christ and He alone who opens the eyes of men who are blind from birth. It is God’s only begotten Son who gives the life of the ages to men dead in trespasses and sins. The new birth defies all explanation in the natural realm. Every son of Adam, born as he is in trespasses and sins, is hermetically sealed in the realm and kingdom of death until he is touched by the life of the resurrected Son of God. In Him is life, and the life is the light of men. Just think of that beautiful truth! “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4. Everything everywhere outside of Him belongs to the realm of death and, because it belongs to the realm of death, it likewise belongs to the realm of darkness. It was into this realm of outer darkness and death that Adam went when he partook of that strange tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God, his Father, had already told him which trees were good and which were evil, but man is never satisfied to believe God. He must always reach out his inquisitive hand to prove for himself whether or not God is speaking the truth. Hence, when he partook of that which God had said was evil, then he died, as God had spoken, and we all died in him. Thus death passed upon all men, for all have sinned. Has mankind not fully proved throughout the centuries that he is in truth the son of Adam? Which of all God’s commandments have we not broken, justifying ourselves in having done so even as Adam seemed to do.
“The dead know not anything.” Eccles. 9: 5. Furthermore, the dead see not anything, nor do they hear or feel anything. How then can a natural man who is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1) hope to see or understand the things that belong to the wonderful realm of life, since death has closed his eyes to them? It is Christ and Christ alone who raises the dead. It matters not to Him nor to His resurrection power whether those dead be corpses buried in the earth or whether they be men walking on top of the ground, dead while they live. “Let the dead bury their dead,” said Jesus, because He understood the mystery I seek now to explain. Well did the Son of God know that outside of Him both the man who was being buried and the men who cast the earth into his grave belonged to the realm of death and were alike dead.
In Him is life! In Him is life, and, when He comes into our hearts, then His life becomes the life of men. John: 4, 5. It is when that life from above, which is Jesus Christ, touches us in the deadness and death of our walking tomb that we are born from above. We are born again. We receive again the life that was in Adam before he partook of the tree of death. “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink,” said Jesus. And again, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14 Amid the unbelief of a sinful world, the doubt and fear, the bigotry and hate of the religious multitudes of His day, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, rose to His feet at the great feast of tabernacles and cried with a loud voice that all the world might hear, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. This spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7: 37-39
Ah, sweet mystery of the ages, that a man dead in sins, his soul covered with darkness as a thick cloud, should be lighted with the light which Jesus Christ is and be touched with His life, which knows no death! Who can but marvel that we should be thus born from above, born anew with the life of the Son of God? Surely the scripture is doubly true when it boldly affirms, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory.” To men now dead in trespasses and sins He calls, “I am the bread of life… This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread, which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6: 48, 50, 51
For many months my spirit has longed with a God-given desire to help men see that there is only one life in the universe, and that one life is Jesus Christ. In Him is life, and outside of Him even that which men call life is death. Many millions of God’s people have stumbled over the scripture we have quoted above. “If any man eat this bread, he shall live forever.” John 6:51. The Jews stumbled over it and argued and fought about it. “Abraham,” they said, “is dead and the prophets are dead, and Thou sayest, If a man keep My sayings, he shall never see death.” The mistake the Jews were making sprang from their faulty understanding of what life is. They thought, as Christians also do, that this living and breathing that we now enjoy is life. They, as men today, were content to believe that all men not in their graves had life and only those beneath the ground were dead. But this is not the truth, and Jesus more than all others knew it was not so. He knew, as Paul also forcefully stated, that “she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth,“ and taught the same when He said, “Let the dead bury their dead.” Everything outside of Christ is death. May God make this truth real to your hearts! Not only is the spirit dead in trespasses and sins, but the body, too, is “the body of this death”. Rom. 7: 24 Furthermore, I must testify, as the scripture also bears record, that even unto those whose spirits have been reborn, never to die again, the apostle Paul distinctly said, “The body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive (life) because of righteousness.” Rom. 8:10 When Jesus taught that those who partook of Him would never die (John 6: 50), He was not saying that they would never go into the grave; otherwise He would not later have said, “I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:54 But He was saying that, once a man receives the life of Christ, that life will never depart from him. The grave does not and cannot separate a man from the life that Jesus gives. His life is the only life there is anywhere.
The only life you have and the only life you ever will have is the life that Jesus gave you when you believed on Him. “I give unto them eternal life (the life of the ages), and they shall never perish.” John 10:28 May God, the giver of all light and understanding, open our minds to see that the life which Jesus is and the life which Jesus gives has nothing in common with that frail, flickering candle of which James spoke, saying, “What is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Jas. 4:14 “All flesh,” said Peter, “is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away.” 1 Pet. 1:24 Surely this misty shadow that men call life is not one and the same thing with that life which Jesus spoke of as enduring forever! No! It is not this vanishing flower, this withering grass, this flickering candle that Jesus said would live forever.” The life that never ends, the life of the ages, is the life that He gives to you and me when we believe. When we believe on Him, He gives us Himself. He comes within to be our life. “He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” The tomb to me holds no terror at all. Christians who lie buried in the grave are no more in death than they were when they walked on the earth, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth.
To every saint of God there must come a time when the truth that Christ is all in all dawns as the morning on the meadows of His soul. He is the truth. He is the light. He is the way. He is the life. He is the resurrection. He is wisdom. He is understanding. He is goodness. He is righteousness. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the A and the Z. He is the beginning and the end. It is He who liveth and was dead and, behold, is alive forevermore. All truth must come to the heart of mankind by revelation from above. To incorporate these truths into your theories and doctrines will not do. Christ and all He is and does must come as a light shining in the darkness, a living revelation and reality from on high. “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6: 63
“Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” Jesus once enquired of His disciples; and their reply showed clearly how varied and useless are the deductions of the natural mind. “Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias: and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” “But whom say ye that I am?” He asked. To this Peter replied with great conviction, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matt. 16:13-16 What a world of difference there is between the theories and conclusions of men and the heavenly revelation of the Holy Spirit as it shines into our hearts, bringing the knowledge of the glory of God from the very face of Jesus Christ! And Jesus, hearing Peter’s words, joyfully exulted, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 16:17 At this moment Jesus gave forth a revelation of His own. It was a revelation from God concerning the ministry of this lowly man. Turning to Peter, He said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matt. 16:18 Thus you will see that even a God-given ministry cannot be recognized except by revelation from on high. Thousands of men today are claiming to be great ministries, exalting self with many high-sounding names as they point to their spectacular programs, but it just may be that Christ does not know them in spite of all their great works. It is unto all such as these that He will say, “I never knew you,” (Matt. 7:23), but Peter He knew by the Holy Spirit.
We stated above that there must come a time when the truth is revealed to us from heaven that Christ is all and in all; and for that heaven sent understanding we beseech Thee, 0, Lord! Open our eyes as the eyes of Gehazi were opened when Elisha prayed. (2 Kings 6:17) Enlighten our understanding as you did when Jesus opened their understanding that they might understand the scripture. (Luke 24:45) Remember again the prayer of Paul, who prayed, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” Eph. 1:18 Open our eyes and send the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus Christ that we, with those who stood in the holy mount, may see no man but Jesus only. (Matt. 17:8) Take us, 0 Lord, beyond the realm of the natural mind. Deliver us from man’s way of looking at things. Remember again Thy promise, “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth”, that He may abide in our hearts of whom it is written, “He will receive of Mine and shall show it unto you.” John 16:14
It would be very simple to fill this book with instance after instance from Holy Scripture, which loudly and beautifully proclaim the glory of eternal things as the Holy Spirit opens and reveals them to our hearts. Search where you will in the Old Testament or the New and you will find ever increasing evidence of the transforming power of spiritual revelation. “No man can see God and live,” the Word declares; but may I ask this solemn question: Have you ever known of a man who, upon seeing God, dropped dead? As it is faithfully true that no man can see God and live, it is also equally certain that no man can see God and die. And, because this statement is true, we must search in greater depth for a right understanding of this wonderful fact. The truth is that, the moment God in any form is revealed to man, right there and then that man is completely changed. Old things pass away and die; all things become living and new. The old life and the old loves, together with old theories and all human understanding, shrivel up and pass away, but from the deadness and outer darkness of their tomb shines forth a life in the image of Him who revealed Himself. Old things have passed away; behold, all things are new! Is not this Paul’s experience when he said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Gal. 2:20
No man hath seen God at any time. How is it then that Moses saw God, Job saw God, and Isaiah saw God? Again we must conclude that the real truth of the statement lies beneath the surface. No man hath seen God at any time nor is it possible for a natural man with natural eyes to see God at any time. Our physical eyes are restricted to the natural realm. But, when the blessed Christ, who opened the eyes of the man blind from birth, passes our way, then our eyes, being touched from above, behold that which is invisible, our ears are made to hear that which is inaudible, and the tongue of the dumb is loosed to give glory to God in the speech of men and angels.
Job was a good man. By the testimony of the Lord he was a perfect man and upright, one who feared God and kept clear of all evil. But let it be known that the goodness he possessed was on the level of men; the perfection he had was the perfection of the natural man; the awe, the respect, the reverence he had for God was that of a good-living, God-fearing man, righteous in excess of any about him. But, when the day came that God revealed Himself, spoke to him out of the whirlwind, then all his righteousness fell apart as rotten and filthy rags. His long cherished goodness languished in the dust and ashes of nothingness. Every argument he had presented before God and men to support and bolster his self-righteous claim made him the more ashamed and ready to drink the cup of humiliation to the dregs; and, when at last he found the courage to open his mouth, the words he uttered sprang from the heart of a new man. The old Job with his personal righteousness had passed away. The old high-minded Job had died, and from the ashes of his dead self a new man came forth in resurrection in the image and likeness of the Lord who had revealed Himself. “I know that Thou canst do everything,” he wept in his adoration, “and that no thought can be withholden from Thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech Thee, and I will speak: I will demand (ask) of Thee, and declare Thou unto me. I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2-6
No man can see God and live. No man can remain as he used to be. The revelation of the Almighty in whatsoever form it may be given will kill the beast of your old self to make way for the new man in the image of Jesus Christ. “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.” Prov. 9: 1, 2 The killing of the beast of self is the one thing above all else always accomplished by the revelation of God to our hearts. “For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” Rom. 7:18 It is wrong, very, very wrong and very unscriptural, for any man to pray to God for ability to do better, and, because this oft repeated prayer is wrong, foundationally and fundamentally wrong, it can never be answered by the God of righteousness. Oh how often in the past I have prayed that I might be a better man; And oh how often it seemed that instead of being better I was worse! How often I have promised myself that I would do better in the future only to find that there was no ability in me to do better or to be better! God open our minds that we may clearly see that goodness cannot spring from corruption nor can righteousness rise from unrighteousness. Can a bitter fountain send forth sweet waters, or a corrupt tree bear good fruit? Righteousness that grows on the tree of unrighteousness is that self-righteousness of which the Lord has said, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Can we satisfy God with filthy rags? Can that which is crooked be made straight? Can that which is old be made new, or that which is wanting be numbered? God is not interested in our being better or doing better or in our improving ourselves. All these things are the righteousness of the beast of self. God hates it all and will not accept it. There is but one righteousness. Christ is our righteousness and God has faith in Him.
That God has faith in the righteousness of His Son Paul plainly stated when he wrote to the Romans, saying, “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference; for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” Rom. 3:21-26 When Paul says here, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood,” he means that God Himself had faith in the blood of His Son as sufficient to propitiate man (not God) and reconcile man to God. Propitiate means to appease or dispose to kindness one who is offended. Nowhere in scripture do we ever find that God is offended or that God needs to be reconciled to man. It is man who is offended, man who is estranged, and man who must be reconciled.
Our failure to see the purpose of the fall leads us into all manner of error and misunderstanding. There is a divine purpose in the fall of man and unimaginable blessings for future ages will devolve from it. God our Father has never once blamed man for the fall, but takes the responsibility for it Himself when He says, “The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope!” There is no blame attached to the fall. It is not a matter of blame either to God or man. It is a matter of understanding the infinite purpose of God. With what profound words of inspiration the poet wrote:
I sorrow if I shock you, for I seek
To comfort and inspire. I see around
A silent company of doubting souls;
But I may challenge any one of them
To quote the meanest blessing of his life,
And prove that evil did not make the gift,
Or bear it from the Giver’s hand
Because man above all God’s creatures has suffered in this divine process of making man in God’s image, the perfection of Christ is offered as a perfect satisfaction to him (man), a satisfaction in which the Father has perfect confidence to propitiate him and reconcile him to God. Thus it is that Jesus Christ is God’s propitiation toward man. This is the grace of God and He, the Father, has faith in the blood of His Son to accomplish the good and perfect act of reconciling man to Himself, giving men the righteousness of God as they receive His only begotten Son.
Again I say that all such vital truth as this lies as dead and dormant as the natural mind itself until that moment sublime in which the glory light of revelation shines into our hearts and we understand and comprehend in the revealing light of the Lord. We cannot overcome the flesh because we are flesh, and the flesh cannot overcome or conquer itself. Stop trying to be better or do better or to become more like Jesus. It simply cannot be done. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and always will be. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit and always will be. Marvel not that Jesus said, “Ye must be born again.”
Year after year the millions of earth celebrate Christmas, but Christ to the vast majority of men is nothing more than an historic babe. The day of His birth is naught but a convenient occasion for drunken revelry and much feasting of the flesh. And why, you ask, is this the case? Simply because the natural man can never see beyond the veil of the flesh. His eyes can never look into the world of the Spirit. But, when the Holy Spirit, who moved upon the waters in Gen. 1, reveals to our hearts that Christ is God’s Son, by whom and for whom all things were created and made, then our eyes are opened as the eyes of Jacob were opened on that famous night when from his pillow of stone a ladder reached from the lowly earth to the vaulted heavens while angels ascended and descended on that stairway to the skies. And when fearful, trembling Jacob awakened from his dreaming, the words of revelation started from his stammering lips, “Surely God was in this place, and I knew it not.” Gen. 28:16
“How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me who am a woman of Samaria?” demanded the careworn woman who drew her water from Jacob’s well. “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water,” replied the Lord. Back and forth the conversation went of Jacob and the fathers, of wells and waters until the Wisdom of God said to the woman, “Go, call thy husband, and come hither.” “I have no husband,” protested the woman, to which the Savior in grace replied, “Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband. In that saidst thou truly.” I have always loved Christ for this statement of kindness, gentleness and truth, but it came as such a shock to the spirit of the woman that she immediately knew that this kindly man with whom she spoke was something much more than a tactful gentleman, but one in whom was the knowledge of God. It was with unconcealed astonishment that she ventured the words, “Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet.” Understanding was beginning to dawn upon her darkened mind. The light of the Son of righteousness was dispelling the thick clouds of the outer darkness in which she long had dwelt. “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain,” she confidently affirmed, “but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” “Woman, believe Me,” He answered, “the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” “I know that Messias cometh, which is called the Christ,” ventured the woman, “and when He is come, He will tell us all things.” “I that speak unto thee am He,” was Christ’s revealing reply. And she, who moments before had said in the darkness of her heart,
“How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me who am a woman of Samaria,“ now ran off with the message on her trembling lips, “Come see a man who told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” Revelation from God opens the mind to the realm of the Spirit that weary men on the pillows of stone may receive the message of God from an open heaven, and the eyes of women benighted by sin may behold in the dusty traveler the Savior of all mankind.
For centuries now men have studied the doctrine of the resurrection. Theologians (if there be such a thing) have filled pages and books with the arguments pro and con to prove that Christ did or did not arise from the dead. Many of their arguments are sensible and undeniable, but it is one thing to prove that nineteen hundred years ago a man called Jesus rose from the dead, and it is another thing entirely when the truth that He is alive forevermore comes flooding into the darkness of the soul from the glory world on high. Thomas had heard the promise of the resurrection from the lips of Jesus Himself, but he like all the others wondered what the rising from the dead could mean. Mark 9:10. Peter saw with his own eyes that the body of Jesus was missing from the tomb, yet he departed, wondering in himself. Luke 24:12. Sweet and gentle Mary, who perhaps had heard more about the resurrection than any other, seeing a man who she thought was the gardener, mournfully sobbed out this plaintive request, “Sir, if thou hast borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away.” With one word and one only the Lord addressed her, “Mary“ But that one word dispelled all darkness and misunderstanding from her troubled soul, and she knew, even as angels knew, that He was alive. I am sure, had all the silver tongued orators of earth been present to describe the wonders of that moment, their speeches would have been as sounding brass and tinkling cymbal compared to her one triumphant word of revelation, “Rabboni’.” (John 20:16)
0 Rabboni! Rabboni! Thou Son of the living God! Thou art the resurrection and the life. Thou wast alive; Thou wast dead; and, behold, Thou art alive forevermore and in Thy nail-pierced hand dost hold in triumph the keys of hell and death. 0 death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory? 0 gates of hell, thou shalt not prevail, for the Redeemer of Israel and the Saviour of the world holds in His triumphant hand thy key. “Lift up your heads, 0 ye gates: and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, 0 ye gates, even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.” Psa. 24:7-10
And Thomas, too, poor doubting man, who was not with them when Jesus came, could not drive his doubts away nor calm his awful fears though his dearest friends told him with great assurance that Jesus was not only alive, but had appeared to them all. “Except I see in His hands the print of the nails and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe” he despondently moaned. And Jesus eight days later, standing in the midst though the doors were locked and the windows barred, said to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into My side; and be not faithless, but believing.” But Thomas, the light of revelation streaming from heaven into his doubting heart, no longer needing any of these things, cried out with the eloquence of heaven,
“My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) That awe-filled statement, my Lord and my God, is more, far more, than an acceptance of the fact of the resurrection. This, I am sure, was the first time in his life that he had known by the Spirit that Jesus was both Lord and God. For three years he had seen indisputable evidence that Jesus was the Son of God. This bold man would no doubt have willingly given his life for Jesus and the truth He preached, but, 0 friend, it is one thing to be convinced of a truth with the intellect. It is another thing to have it revealed by the Spirit of God. “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen,” said Paul, “immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.” Gal. 1:15, 16
Dear man of God; dear woman of God; dear friend and brother of mine! Is your Jesus, even though He be Jesus of Nazareth, only an historic Jesus who, men and even devils admit, was the Son of God? Or has your raptured soul in the glory light of revelation cried out with Mary, “Rabboni!” Or with Thomas, whom men call doubting, breathed the eternal words of revelation, “My Lord and my God!” There is such a world of difference between the letter and the Spirit! There is such a contrast between the cold, dead acceptance of a fact and the warm pulsating vitality of the living reality which comes when the Holy Spirit takes the things of God and shows them unto us!
Two men looked through prison bars;
One saw mud; the other saw stars
It is ever thus, and what we see and know and clearly understand will depend upon our relationship with that wonderful Holy Spirit sent forth by Jesus Christ to guide us into all truth. I think the poem by John Whittier, which we will quote here, though needing careful reading and concentration, shows very clearly the difference between those who rejoice in the letter with its outward show and those who dwell in the reality of the Spirit and the light of heaven.
THE MYSTIC CHRISTMAS
“All hail!” the bells of Christmas rang;
“All hail!” the monks at Christmas sang;
The merry monks who kept with cheer
The gladdest day of all their year.
But still apart unmoved thereat
A pious elder brother sat
Silent in his accustomed place,
With God’s sweet peace upon his face.
“Why sitt’st thou thus?” his brethren cried.
“It is the blessed Christmas-tide;
The Christmas lights are all aglow;
The sacred lilies bud and blow.
“Above our heads the joy-bells ring,
Without the happy children sing,
And all God’s creatures hail the morn,
On which the holy Christ was born.
“Rejoice with us; no more rebuke
Our gladness with thy quiet look.”
The gray monk answered: “Keep, I pray,
Even as ye list the Lord’s birthday.
“Let heathen Yule fires flicker red
Where thronged refectory feasts are spread;
With mystery-play and mask and mime
And wait-song speed the holy time.
“The blindest faith may haply save;
The Lord accepts the things we have,
And reverence howsoe’er it strays
May find at last the shining ways.
“They needs must grope who cannot see;
The blade before the ear must be;
As ye are feeling, I have felt,
And where ye dwell I too have dwelt.
“But now, beyond the things of sense,
Beyond occasions and events,
I know, through God’s exceeding grace,
Release from form and time and place.
“I listen, from no mortal tongue,
To hear the song the angels sung;
And wait within myself to know
The Christmas lilies bud and blow.
“The outward symbols disappear
From him whose inward sight is clear;
And small must be the choice of days
To him who fills them all with praise!
“Keep while you need it, brothers mine,
With honest zeal your Christmas sign;
But judge not him who every morn
Feels in his heart the Christ, new-born.”
I am afraid l am becoming a little impatient with the multiplicity of words and sentences. There must come a time when men enter in. I grow a little weary of hearing people talk about the sonship message. Sonship is much more than a message. It is a relationship. It is the relationship of a son to his Father. It is the spirit of adoption that in adoring contemplation causes the spirit to recite again and again, “Thou are my Father and I am Thy son. Thou knewest me and lovedst me before the foundation of the ages. What wilt Thou have me to do, 0 heavenly Father, for I do only those things that please Thee” As the months pass swiftly by, my spirit has been made urgently aware of an extreme need among the people of God. The greatest need Christians have is to hear the truth unfolded by the Spirit, and, having heard it by the Spirit, to embrace it with understanding and to enter in to it in experience. Many centuries ago Jesus taught us that the key of knowledge was to enter in. This He taught when He said, “Woe unto you, lawyers, for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” Luke 11:52 Would you not say then that the key of knowledge is to enter inl God’s people stand still and progress not at all century after century, because they hear and re-hear the truth but fail to enter in to partake of the feast that is spread before them. Publicans and harlots come and enter in to the kingdom of God by faith while those who have the promises waste their time dissecting and deciphering instead of believing and receiving.
The way to sonship is not doing, but dying. It is not a spirit of pride that speculates covetously of the personal glories to be attained as a manifested Son of God, but a broken and a contrite heart that the Lord will not despise. If perchance you wonder at the statement I have made above, I must tell you with great sadness of spirit that I have observed a multitude both of men and women whose only interest in sonship was their hope of personal exaltation. Sonship, to them, is something to be attained because they imagine it will produce in their lives all manner of spectacular things. They will then heal all the sick. They will see signs and wonders. They will be admired and honored of all men and nothing will be beyond their power. They are not unlike the seventy who returned from their ministry among the lost ten tribes of the house of Israel. Back they came from far and distant places, rejoicing greatly that even the demons were subject to them through Christ’s name. And Jesus said, “Rejoice not that the demons are subject to you, but that your names are written in heaven.” This is truth hidden from wise and prudent men, but revealed to us who are babes by our Lord. See also Luke 10:17-20 We should, I think, care not a straw for doing or for any sort of accomplishment. Our care and concern should be for being and that being a Son of God. The moment the light dawns upon your spirit that God our Father is working all things according to the counsel of His will, then your soul will respond with the words of that first begotten Son, “I do only the things that please the Father.” What other work is of any possible value, seeing that He is the architect and builder of an eternal temple from which He will govern the universe throughout unending ages?
If you will cease from your frantic rushing here and there, working, as you think, for the Lord, if you will cease for a few weeks from your church activity, from your do-gooding, your almsgiving, and from a thousand other things that have caught Christians up in this end time whirlwind of religious excitement and pseudo devotion, and if in the place of all this you will seek the face of Christ with fasting and prayer, if you desire of Him that He will give you a broken spirit and a heart that is obedient to His hidden will, then understanding will begin to possess you and bring light from heaven to your heart. Furthermore you will see why it was that Jesus warned men like you and me, saying, “Many will come to Me in that day, saying, ‘Lord! Lord! Have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works’! Then I will profess unto them, I never knew you. Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” Matt. 7:22, 23
Christians are always saying, “But how could Christ say to people who have cast out devils and healed sick and done great works, “I never knew you?” Well, the answer is very simple. God, the author and finisher of our faith, does not thank men for doing that which He did not instruct them to do. It is rebellion for one to attempt to build into His temple that which is not on the divine blue print. Iniquity, wherever the word is found in scripture, means not sin, but rebellion. Search and you will see that this is so. Preachers and evangelists of the twentieth century are foremost in this iniquity. Preachers and miracle workers above all others fit the description Jesus faithfully gave in the scripture we have quoted. Those who diligently seek the face of Christ will soon find themselves drifting away from the carnality of modern religious activity. By their fruits you shall know them, and, if you will dismount from their band-wagon long enough to take a prayerful look, you will soon conclude that, if all the people were being healed who they say are being healed, there would be few sick left in the nation; but the truth is that there is more sickness and disease than ever in history. Something is wrong somewhere. If the multitudes were being saved in such numbers as they claim, whole cities would be rejoicing in the love of Christ; but, instead, evil men and seducers are waxing worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. The thing that men now term revival is not the work of the Holy Spirit, but the work of their own hands. There are many who will say, “In Thy name we have cast out demons, and in Thy name done many wonderful works.” Blind and foolish is the man who, being so obviously warned by Christ, yet falls prey to the cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive.
We are living in the end of the age. This is the age of Laodicea. These are the final hours of that lukewarm age. Have you not heard the message of the hour? It is a message that singles out the individual, a message peculiar only to this age and different from that of any other age. The message is to “any man”, a message that abandons the multitude to their religious play, to their church creeds and their church Christs, a message that says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him and he with Me.” Rev. 3:20-23 The church of the last day is the church of the individual. It is the individual believer with a personal relationship to Christ. For the man who will forsake all else and sup with Christ this is an age of glory, an hour of preparation such as we have never known. This is a time when the Spirit of God is speaking to you as an individual. He seeks to sup and dine and feast with you apart from all the confusion about us. It is a glorious day when we see the promise that is ours in this hour. As I have prepared the pages of this little book, I have frequently felt the melting presence of the Holy Spirit urging God’s people to enter in to the glories that lie just beyond the veil of their own flesh.
Enoch was the seventh from Adam. As you and I are citizens of the kingdom of God, we, too, are therefore the seventh from Adam and should, I believe, have many things in common with that man Enoch, of whom so little is spoken in the Bible, but of whom a world of truth and revelation is unfolded in this one sentence: “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” Gen. 22:24 The long lost Book of Jasher, twice mentioned in the pages of Holy Scripture (2 Sam. 1:18 and Josh. 10:13), bears valuable historical record of some of the marvelous events in the life of Enoch. I undertake here to quote the story as it is recorded in this book, fervently hoping that those who read will reverently behold the awesome estate for which God is preparing those who may truly be called the seventh from Adam. The following record I quote from the Book of Jasher.
“And Enoch lived sixty-five years and he begat Methuselah; and Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah, and he served the Lord, and despised the evil ways of men. And the soul of Enoch was wrapped up in the instruction of the Lord, in knowledge and in understanding; and he wisely retired from the sons of men, and secreted himself from them for many days. And it was at the expiration of many years, whilst he was serving the Lord, and praying before Him in his house, that an angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and he said, Here am I. And he said, Rise, go forth from thy house and from the place where thou dost hide thyself, and appear to the sons of men in order that thou mayest teach them the way in which they should go, and the work that they must accomplish to enter in the ways of God.
“And Enoch rose up according to the word of the Lord, and went forth from his house, from his place and from the chamber in which he was concealed; and he went to the sons of men and taught them the ways of the Lord, and at that time assembled the sons of men and acquainted them with the instruction of the Lord. And he ordered it to be proclaimed in all the places where the sons of men dwelt, saying. Where is the man who wishes to know the ways of the Lord and good works? Let him come to Enoch. And all the sons of men then assembled to him, for all who desired this thing went to Enoch and Enoch reigned over the sons of men according to the word of the Lord, and they came and bowed to him and they heard his word. And the Spirit of God was upon Enoch, and he taught all his men the Wisdom of God and His ways, and the sons of men served the Lord all the days of Enoch, and they came to hear his wisdom.
“And all the kings of the sons of men, both first and last, together with their princes and judges, came to Enoch when they heard of his wisdom, and they bowed down to him, and they also required of Enoch to reign over them, to which he consented. And they assembled in all one hundred and thirty kings and princes, and they made Enoch king over them, and they were all under his power and command. And Enoch taught them wisdom, knowledge, and the ways of the Lord; and he made peace amongst them, and peace was throughout the earth during the life of Enoch. And Enoch reigned over the sons of men two hundred and forty-three years, and he did justice and righteousness with all his people, and he led them in the ways of the Lord.
“And these are the generations of Enoch: Methuselah, Elisha, and Elimelech, three sons; and their sisters were Meica and Nahmah; and Methuselah lived eighty-seven years and he begat Lamech. And it was in the fifty-sixth year of the life of Lamech when Adam died; nine hundred and thirty years old was he at his death, and his two sons, with Enoch and Methuselah his son, buried him with great pomp as at the burial of kings, in the cave which God had told him. And in that place all the sons of men made a great mourning and weeping on account of Adam; it has therefore become a custom among the sons of men to this day. And Adam died because he ate of the tree of knowledge; he and his children after him, as the Lord God had spoken. And it was in the year of Adam’s death which was the two hundred and forty-third year of the reign of Enoch, in that time Enoch resolved to separate himself from the sons of men and to secrete himself as at first in order to serve the Lord.
“And Enoch did so, but did not entirely secrete himself from them, but kept away from the sons of men three days and then went to them for one day. And during the three days that he was in his chamber, he prayed to, and praised the Lord his God, and the day on which he went and appeared to his subjects he taught them the ways of the Lord, and all they asked him about the Lord he told them. And he did in this manner for many years, and he afterward concealed himself for six days, and appeared to his people one day in seven; and after that once in a month, and then once a year, until all the kings and princes and sons of men sought for him, and desired again to see the face of Enoch, and to hear his word; but they could not, as all the sons of men were greatly afraid of Enoch, and they feared to approach him on account of the Godlike awe that was seated upon his countenance; therefore no man could look at him, fearing he might be punished and die.
“And all the kings and princes resolved to assemble the sons of men, and to come to Enoch, thinking that they might all speak to him at the time when he should come forth amongst them, and they did so. And the day came when Enoch went forth and they all assembled and came to him, and Enoch spoke to them the words of the Lord and he taught them wisdom and knowledge, and they bowed down before him and they said, May the king live, may the king live! And in some time after, when the kings and princes and sons of men were speaking to Enoch, and Enoch was teaching them the ways of God behold, an angel of the Lord then called unto Enoch from heaven, and wished to bring him up to heaven to make him reign there over the sons of God, as he had reigned over the sons of men on earth.
“When at that time Enoch heard this, he went and assembled all the inhabitants of the earth, and taught them wisdom and knowledge and gave them divine instructions, and he said to them, I have been required to ascend into heaven; I therefore do not know the day of my going. And now therefore I will teach you wisdom and knowledge and will give you instruction before I leave you, how to act upon earth whereby you may live; and he did so. And he taught them wisdom and knowledge, and gave them instruction, and he reproved them, and he placed before them statutes and judgments to do upon earth, and he made peace among them, and he taught them everlasting life, and dwelt with them some time teaching them these things. And at that time the sons of men were with Enoch, and Enoch was speaking to them, and they lifted up their eyes and the likeness of a great horse descending from heaven, and the horse paced the air. And they told Enoch what they had seen, and Enoch said to them. On my account does this horse descend upon the earth; the time is come when I must go from you and I shall no more be seen by you. And the horse descended at that time and stood before Enoch, and all the sons of men that were with Enoch saw him. And Enoch then again ordered a voice to be proclaimed, saying, Where is the man who delighteth to know the ways of the Lord his God, let him come this day to Enoch before he is taken from us. And all the sons of men assembled and came to Enoch that day; and all the kings of the earth with their princes and counselors remained with him that day; and Enoch then taught the sons of men wisdom and knowledge, and gave them divine instruction; and he bade them serve the Lord and walk in His ways all the days of their lives, and he continued to make peace among them.
“And it was after this that he rose up and rode upon the horse; and he went forth and all the sons of men went after him, about eight hundred thousand men; and they went with him one day’s journey. And the second day he said to them, Return home to your tents, why will ye go? Perhaps you may die. And some of them went from him, and those that remained went with him six day’s journey; and Enoch said to them every day, Return to your tents, lest ye die; but they were not willing to return, and they went with him. And on the sixth day some of the men remained and clung to him, and they said to him, We will go with thee to the place where thou goest: as the Lord liveth, only death shall separate us. And they urged him so much to go with him that he ceased speaking to them; and they went after him and would not return.
“And when the kings returned, they caused a census to be taken in order to know the number of the remaining men that went with Enoch; and it was upon the seventh day that Enoch ascended into heaven in a whirlwind, with horses and chariots of fire. And on the eighth day all the kings that had been with Enoch sent to bring back the number of men that were with Enoch, in that place from which he ascended to heaven. And all those kings went to the place and they found the earth there filled with snow, and upon the snow were large stones of snow, and one said to the other. Come, let us break through this snow and see; perhaps the men that remained with Enoch are dead, and are now under the stones of snow. And they searched but could not find him, for he had ascended into heaven.”26
THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST AND OUR IDENTIFICATION WITH HIM
The sacred mysteries of God are revealed by the Holy Spirit only to devout and humble souls who seek His face in truth. Our exalted heavenly Father, full of grace and truth, will not consent to walk with the proud and the scornful; neither will He be found in the presence of careless, irreverent, impious or hypocritical men. If in your heart you have a passion to know God and become acquainted with His glorious purpose, you must first above all else learn reverence and godly fear. Remove the shoes from off your feet when you tread upon His holy ground. Walk softly and with deep respect when you desire to come into the presence of Him before whom holy angels cover their faces. I recently read a tract in which the writer lightly and irreverently referred to God the Father as “the big wig” and made reference to the Holy Spirit as “that other guy.” Oh, my brother or sister never allow such terms of impiety, lightness, and sacrilege to soil your lips or your heart. The God who is your Father is the creator of the universe and all things therein. Angelic beings, glorious in power, strength and holiness, cover their faces and their feet with their wings as they bow in His presence, crying their sacred message to one another and to all mankind, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.” The prophet Isaiah, that holy man from whose lips had poured forth mighty utterance of prophetic truth, upon beholding the glory of the Lord, cried, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Isa. 6:5
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Psa. Ill:10. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Prov. 1:7. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil. Prov. 8: 3. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. Prov. 14:27. The fear of the Lord is strong confidence. Prov. 14:26. The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom. Prov. 15:33. By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil. Prov. 16:6. The fear of the Lord tendeth to life; and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil. Prov. 19:23.
If then the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the beginning of knowledge, and the beginning of strength; if it is a fountain of life and the way by which we depart from the realm of death; if such reverence and respect for God brings strong confidence, the instruction of wisdom and understanding, and by it saints abide satisfied and free from fear of evil, then the fear of God, the elements of which are reverence and deep respect, must become first and foremost in all our understanding of Him. All God’s people must surely have noticed that holy men, even in the presence of angels, fall down in fear, but in the presence of God even angels, glorious in wisdom and power, cover their faces before His matchless glory and holiness. There is a tragic abundance of lightness among professing Christians, which should never be. Therefore much of Babylon‘s mis-named worship is abomination to the Lord. I believe firmly in the Pentecostal experience. It is as old as the church age. Yet the lightness and frivolity that has developed among these people through the changing years is indeed incredible.
The fear of the Lord brings wisdom and knowledge and the increase of these attributes multiplies the fear of the Lord. Every true revelation will mightily increase respect for our all-glorious heavenly Father. Even to consider His attributes fills the saints with reverence and godly fear. To learn that God is omnipotent, omniscient, immutable, eternal, compassionate, full of loving kindness and tender mercies causes men to bow in awe before Him. Such characteristics do not abide naturally in us and they do not exist apart from Him. Wonderful as these divine perfections are, they are only the beginning of wisdom, but when our spiritual eyes behold and our spiritual minds begin to grasp things which in other ages were not revealed to men, but which are now being unfolded to those who walk in humility before Him, then our love and respect for our exalted heavenly Father grows exceedingly. Then even the slightest lightness or thought of disrespect toward Him appalls our souls, causing us to cringe in spirit. Let our ransomed beings be like unto those mighty cherubim, glorious in strength and power, who cry one to another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.” Let wicked men who know Him not wag their idle tongues to curse and blaspheme that holy name which is above every name, but let no word of lightness or disrespect soil our lips or bring dishonor to Him before whom all creation will one day bow to confess on bended knee that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
The nature of blasphemy is not generally understood among the children of God. The common conception of blasphemy seems to be that it is merely using profane language in which the name of God or of Christ is involved. This is indeed a form of blasphemy, but by no means its fullest extent. Blasphemy comprises “any attempt to lessen reverence for the name of Jehovah.” (Funk and Wagnall) It consists of any irreverent act or any irreverent word. The woman who recently threw the Bible on the floor and stamped on it is guilty of blasphemy. The craze that is sweeping Italy for wearing “Jesus jeans” is blasphemy and gross irreverence. The following paragraph is a quotation from the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, Dec. 3, 1974: “Jesus jeans started things with its advertisements containing Biblical quotations such as, ‘If you love me, follow me,’ next to almost nude starlets.” This is blasphemy and is a dire warning to us all that sooner than we think the wrath of God in final judgment will fall upon all who involve themselves in such things. Well did the apostle Jude describe them in the eighth verse of his epistle. “Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities… Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are… raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” Jude 8-13.
Many religious groups of the present hour show great disrespect and irreverence in the names they have adopted for themselves. Such names as The God Squad, Jesus Freaks, and others of like mien are an affront to God and in my opinion are names of blasphemy. However well-meaning a person may be, it is blasphemy to write scripture texts on the walls of latrines amid all the filthy poetry and prose that appears there. “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” Titus 1:15
The world is getting worse while the thoughts and imaginations of men’s hearts are only evil continually. Even while we wonder if there is any further depth of iniquity to which men can go, some greater evil crops up to spread its noxious seed all over the world. The pit from which such evils come is bottomless. It is called in scripture the bottomless pit. Therefore there can be no end to the vile smoke of corruption that ascends from it. John saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the Beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. (Rev. 16:13) I shall not make any attempt to interpret the meaning of this verse, because I do not know its full meaning, but even a blind man can see that uncleanness in all its aspects is being poured out upon the world. Man is not content to defile his own flesh and destroy his own soul, but he adds sin to sin and evil to evil by delighting to blaspheme that worthy name which is above every name and before which all knees will one day bow of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth.
I write these things, holy brethren, because God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. I Thess. 4:7. Anna Jameson wrote, “Blessed is the memory of those who have kept themselves unspotted from the world – yea, more blessed and more dear the memory of those who have kept themselves unspotted in the world.” Reverence is a sign of strength; irreverence is the surest sign of weakness. No man will rise high who jeers at sacred things. The fine loyalties of life must be reverenced or they will be foresworn in the day of trial. I write these things, holy brethren, because of the subject of this message. No man may hope to be a partaker of the mystery of Christ unless and until he has cast the shoes from off his feet to tread the way of holiness that leads wayfaring men to their place in Christ. “An highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” Isa. 35:8
Holy! Holy! Holy! All the saints adore Thee!
Casting down their golden crowns beside the glassy sea.
Cherubim and seraphim, falling down before Thee,
Which wert and art and evermore shalt be.
Holy! Holy! Holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see.
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love and purity.
Learn to look away from man, whose breath is in his nostrils. Who is Paul and who is Apollos but ministers by whom we have believed? Hold no man’s person in admiration. Look beyond men to Christ, from the glory of whose presence the eternal light glistens, sending its rays to gladden every humble heart. Yea, look to Him whose light is brighter than a thousand suns. When you behold Him transfigured before you, even such eminent men as Moses and Elijah will depart and your wondering eyes will see no man but Jesus only. Matt. 17:1-8. When He walks with you, your heart will burn within you as He talks to you by the way and opens to your spirit the mysteries kept secret and hidden since the world began.
Only faintly now do our eyes behold the splendor of the realm we are approaching, but if we approach softly with reverence and godly fear, not disrespectfully and thoughtlessly as nosey children prying into some sacred thing, then the Lord of glory will meet us and will be a Father unto us and we shall be sons of God unto whom the Father will reveal the secrets we need to know. Thus shall we come into that same image and be sharers with Christ of the glory laid up in store for us before the world began.
The mystery of Christ! What could be more solemn or sacred than that? Wonderful is the revelation of Jesus Christ, the son of God, to the hearts of sinful men, but to the saint of God there is a revelation of Christ that is greater far than this — an understanding so tremendous in its aspects that those who grasp it will be thought by some to be presumptuous blasphemers. Unworthy is man to open the book and break the seven seals thereof, and my own soul weeps much because my lips are unworthy to proclaim the high and exalted things that are clearly written for us to see and believe. I do not say they are written for all men to see, but they are there for the elect to see and, once having seen them, we may partake of them by the faith that is given them of God.
The Christ theme, my beloved friends, did not begin with the manger of Bethlehem nor yet with the annunciation of the angel Gabriel, who came to announce the birth of God’s Christ. Long centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem, the prophets foretold the coming of Him who was to be the Redeemer of Israel and the Savior of the world. “Behold My servant whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for His law.” Isa. 42:1-4. With many such prophecies did the Spirit speak of the coming of the Just One, who was to redeem His people from their sin and make so great an atonement before God that all the world would be reconciled unto Him.
It is not our place here to search out or unfold the many ways the Old Testament spoke of the coming of God’s Christ, but an earnest searcher may find Him in practically every chapter of the Old Testament if we look for Him in type, prefigure, allegory or prophesy. So sure is this truth that many generations of Israel earnestly looked for the coming of the Messiah. When Herod questioned them as to where the Christ-child should be born, they replied without the slightest hesitation that He should be born in Bethlehem of Judea, and were quick to note the prophecy of Micah, “And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule My people Israel.” Matt. 2:6. We stated that the Christ theme did not begin at Bethlehem. The Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of the Just One can be numbered in the hundreds and I would say, without attempting a count, that the types and allegories foreshadowing the coming of Christ far outnumbered the prophecies. Many and varied as were the prophecies that foretold the coming of the Just One, it is true that all prophecies which concerned His coming as the despised and rejected Savior were fulfilled to the letter when He came the first time. Other Old Testament prophecies concerning the glory of His coming kingdom must await that wonderful day when He shall come to be glorified in His saints and admired in all them that believe. 2 Thess. 1:10.
Having settled in our minds that the Christ theme did not begin at Bethlehem, I propose to show that it did not end there either. The completeness of God’s glorious Christ must of necessity be the central theme of the whole Bible and the hope of all creation, for it is in Him that all fullness must eventually dwell. By God’s Christ peace has been made through the blood which was shed upon the cross, as Paul clearly stated: “Having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight.” Col. 1:20-22
As the writings of the New Testament progress, we see a theme unfold before our wondering eyes, which in the strictest sense can only be a New Testament truth. That blessed theme, which angels desire to look into, is the truth concerning a mystical body, which God is now forming. The sacred scriptures bear witness that this mystical body is the body of Christ. The true church is the ecclesia. The ecclesia consists of the called out ones. These holy saints are those whom Christ has called out of sin, out of the world, out of the world’s church systems, and completely out of Babylon. They stand before God in the end of the age as a mystical company that has not only been called out of the world, but called unto Christ. The true church (not the false one) is the mystical body of Christ. Scripture after scripture unfolds, adds to and builds up that sacred truth. Thus Paul distinctly writes, “By (in) one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” We do not make our entrance into this glorious realm by signing a membership card or by a handshake at the end of an evangelistic meeting. We come through the “washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” If we do not come in by this door, we do not come in at all. Many tens of thousands of so-called conversions are nothing more than human reformations. There has been no repentance before God and no faith toward Jesus Christ and there has been no entrance of the Holy Spirit to implant the Christ seed within. I greatly fear that a large portion of the revivals today are revivals only in name. The main theme is not repentance toward God and faith toward Christ, but how much more money is needed to carry on the ministry of the exalted preacher in the midst.
CHRIST IN THE BELIEVER
When a man repents and turns to God, the Spirit of Christ comes into that man. Christ in you is the hope of glory. With all the holy awe, the reverence and fear that I feel in my soul, I aver that, when anyone comes to Christ in repentance, the Christ seed is as truly planted within his spirit as the Christ seed was implanted within the womb of the blessed virgin in the long ago. If Christ be in you, then, though the body is still dead because of original sin, the spirit has become alive because of righteousness, that is, the righteousness of Christ. And the day will come, when the work is complete, that the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead will also make alive your mortal body, even as it is written: “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Cor. 15:53-54
How wonderful it is that these tremendous and almost incredible statements concerning Christ and His body were made by men like Paul and are not doctrines that originated with me! I am convinced that it took grace on the part of Paul to unfold the unspeakable things which man is not worthy to utter. Things, which cannot be grasped by the natural mind, must be revealed by the Holy Spirit. Therefore Paul, unfolding them plainly, states, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Rom. 12:3. He said that, my friends, because he knew the profound statements that were to follow and he knew that, unless there was a spirit of humility and reverence, the hearers would never understand.
Paul then continued: “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Rom. 12:4, 5 There is no passage in the New Testament more powerful than this as it concerns God’s Christ, for in this passage it is shown beyond doubt that just as the human body is a body of many members so also God’s Christ is a body of many members. But the enormous significance of these words is magnified when we grasp the truth that Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of God, born in the manger, crucified, risen and ascended to heaven, is Himself the head of the Christ body. Col. 1:18.
All natural things have spiritual counterparts and spiritual meanings. Everything God does follows a distinct pattern and every natural pattern has a corresponding spiritual one. Thus we plainly observe that every man consists of two things in particular – a head and a body. If one had only a head, he would be incomplete and could not endure. If he had only a body and no head, he would be incomplete and useless. Therefore to make a complete man there must be both the head and the body and the two must be joined inseparably together into one glorious being. Now when a child is born, the head is born first. Then follows the body with all its many members — the shoulders, the arms, the torso, the legs, and finally the feet. The feet are born last and also the quickest and easiest, but there is neither fullness nor completeness until the head and the body stand complete and entire as one.
Take the shoes from off your feet, 0 saint of God, for the ground on which we stand is holy. Put away all lightness and foolishness that with heads bowed down and hearts uplifted in worship God’s Holy Spirit may reveal how the head, which came forth from the womb almost two thousand years ago, and the body, which has been in preparation ever since the day of Pentecost, is indeed but one Christ. Without that blessed body which through the ages He has been preparing in secret in the lowest parts of the earth (Psa. 139:15), God’s Christ would be incomplete. This was clearly shown by Paul when he said, “(God) hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head overall things to the church, which is His body, the fullness (completeness) of Him that filleth all in all:” Eph. 1:22, 23
The translation of this passage by Weymouth is even more enlightening. It reads as follows: “God has put all things under His feet, and has appointed Him universal and supreme Head of the church, which is His body, the completeness of Him who everywhere fills the universe with Himself.” Thus Paul definitely shows that the body of Christ is the completeness of God’s Christ. For this reason I said above that the Christ theme did not end at Bethlehem. There the revelation of the head was given, but the body of that same Christ has been developing throughout the entire church age that God’s glorious Christ may stand complete at the end of this age, not as Christ and the Bride as so many suppose, but as Christ the head and Christ the body, the male, the man, Jesus the head, with all His many brethren, the body. Jesus was the first born of many brethren (Rom. 8:29), or as Weymouth puts it, “the first born of a vast family of sons,” the sons of God, the joint heirs with Christ. It is Christ the head and Christ the body that forms the completeness of Christ, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Such was the heavenly spectacle that John beheld when he was on lonely Patmos and the heavens were opened to him.
We miss so much vital truth by our careless scanning of the Bible. It may be beneficial at times to read the scripture as a narrative, but there are times when we must search out its hidden meaning by the help of that blessed Holy Spirit who has been sent by the Father to guide us into all truth. No book ever written even remotely compares to the Bible. Its burning message of truth reaches and arrests men on whatsoever level they dwell. As our understanding rises, so rises its message of truth. The things concerning the outer court are understood by those who dwell therein. The wonderful communion of the holy place is enjoyed by those who dwell within its holy place and they desire no more to walk without. But the supernal glories of the holy of holies belongs to him who in garments of glory and beauty treads its holy sanctuary. The “unspeakable things” that belong to the third heaven cannot be uttered or expressed to those who dwell in a lower realm. For this reason Paul said, “I knew a man in Christ (please note, in Christ) above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man . . . how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” 2 Cor. 12:2-4
You have possibly noticed that, when Peter, James and John were with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, they, too, saw unspeakable things, which were unlawful to be uttered. That is evidently the reason Jesus warned them never to mention the experience until He was risen from the dead. No man can receive the message of the transfiguration until he is first risen with Christ in regeneration, and even then his understanding is very limited. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. When the Holy Spirit was sent into the world to fill the hearts and lives of all who believe, the heavenly promise was given, “He will guide you into all truth.” John 16:13. And again, “He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” John 16:14
To the natural man the Bible is a foolish book, the reason being that the book is spiritual while he is carnal. The carnal man cannot understand the things of the Spirit. Much less can he receive them. We must carry this point a step farther, however, for the same principle that applies to the carnal man applies also to the carnal Christian who has been willing to accept as final truth the ideas taught him from the beginning, but who has been unwilling to ask the Lord to reveal the unsearchable riches of Christ. Let us pay heed to the word unsearchable. It should be clear that, if these riches are unsearchable, then there remains no possibility of our discovering them by study, by schools of learning, by preaching or any other way. Our only hope of discovering them is to come before God as an empty, undone vessel, a literal know-nothing, seeking that the Holy Spirit would receive of Christ and show them unto us. John 16:14. He who comes to God in such a manner as this will sooner or later find heaven opening to him, perhaps only a tiny break in the clouds at first, but as light is received and walked in, the murky clouds race off in crowds, the sun shines ever more brightly from his sea of glory and the path of the just becomes as the shining light that shineth more and more until the day is full.
Ah, my brother and my sister, if you would know God and see the glory He has prepared for those that love Him, you must void yourself of earthly learning. You will find yourself unlearning a thousand things you once were sure you knew. Knowledge puffeth up, but love buildeth up, for “we know nothing yet as we ought to know, but if any man love God, the same is known of Him”
With these thoughts filling our hearts perhaps we can approach with unshod feet the heavenly wonders John saw that day on lonely Patmos, where he had been exiled for preaching things which carnal men can never understand. He begins his narrative by saying, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” Rev. 1:10. I may be wrong, but I do not think John was referring to Saturday or Sunday when he spoke of the Lord’s day. Though the vision probably occurred on one of those days, it matters little, but John was in the Spirit, and in spirit he was carried beyond the day of grace to the day of the Lord. There he saw God’s plan unfolding as no saint had ever seen before. In spirit he stood at the end of this age of grace to see with wondering eyes the mystery of Christ in completeness. His inspired vision beheld the fulfillment of the words, “Behold I and the children which God hath given Me.” Heb. 2:13. For two thousand years of grace the purpose of God had gone irresistibly forward. The temple “not made with hands” had been rising to form an habitation for God in the Spirit. Through the crucible of suffering and the scourging which every son receiveth God had prepared Himself a vast family of sons that the scripture might be fulfilled which is written, “That He might be the first born among many brethren.” Rom. 8:29. That is to say, that Jesus, the first born and oldest Son of God, might be the head of that vast family of younger sons who were to be revealed in the extremity of the age as the body of God’s Son. Christ the head and Christ the body form one glorious Christ, “for as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” Cor. 12:12. “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Rom. 12:4, 5 Hallelujah, my brethren! Is he not teaching us that God’s Christ does not consist of one member, but manyl The Spirit is revealing that the fullness and completeness of Christ can only be seen when the head and the body are together, for it is written, “In one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” 1 Cor. 12:13. We stated before that the Christ theme did not begin in Bethlehem, No! No! The revelation of the coming Christ was given in the Old Testament scriptures, the head of the body appeared at Bethlehem, but the fullness of Christ – I mean the head with the body – does not appear until the end of this age, and surely a blind man can see that the end of this age is upon us. At this very moment the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain, waiting for the adoption – that is, the sonship – and this will be complete at the time of the resurrection, which will make the redemption of the body complete.
When John on the great day of revelation heard the awe inspiring words, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last,” he turned to see who was speaking and, being turned, he saw seven golden candlesticks, and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto the Son of man. Rev. 1:13. How inadequate and unworthy I feel to even attempt to explain such a scene as this, much less to expound the awesome words, “I am the first and the last.” John did not say he saw the Son of man, the Jesus with whom he was so familiar and upon whose bosom he had leaned, but he said. “I saw one like unto the Son of man.” You have surely read these words: “We know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” John 3:2. The voice of the glorious Alpha and Omega was to John the sound of many waters. Waters in scripture signify people and tongues and nations. Rev. 17:15. The sound as of many waters indicates beyond doubt that the one like unto the Son of man was not one, but many. It was one in the sense that the body was one. It was many in the sense that the body has many members, for as the body is one but has many members, so also is Christ. 1 Cor. 12:12. John was seeing both the Alpha, who appeared as the head two thousand years ago, and the Omega, the body that appears at the end of the age. The Alpha and the Omega are one even as the many letters of the alphabet form one alphabet or as the many members of the body form one body. The appearance of that body, now joined to the head, is one like unto the Son of man.
Words are helpless, hopeless and inadequate when necessity demands that we explain the things of the Spirit. In spirit we see the invisible, hear the inaudible, and understand the incomprehensible. What man knoweth the things of God save the Spirit of God that is in him? How therefore can we hope to explain with human words what we see in the Spirit? But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
My brethren, I see the fullness of Christ, not as He appeared at Bethlehem, nor even as He appeared at the resurrection, but the fullness of Christ as He appears at the end of the age when the body is resurrected and Christ the head and Christ the body stand together, filling all things, the head as white as wool, the eyes a flame of fire, the body clothed with a garment down to the foot, a golden girdle about the breast, and the feet – the glorious feet which we the saints of the twentieth century are – the last to be born, appearing as brass that is burned and purified in a furnace of fire. Never before had any man seen the things John saw as he was in the Spirit that day. It was the fullness of God’s Christ which he beheld, the wonder which centuries before holy angels had desired to look into. It was the completeness of Him who everywhere fills the universe with Himself, the head and the body together, the fullness of God’s wonderful Christ.
My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit doth rejoice in God, my Savior, and my voice is lifted up on high to sing with David, the prophet of the Lord, “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him? For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet.”
Psa. 8:3-6. And Paul the apostle, taking up the theme centuries later when the Christ vision was more nearly complete, continued: “It is not to angels that God has assigned the sovereignty of that coming world of which we speak. But, as we know, a psalmist has exclaimed, How poor a creature is man, and yet Thou dost remember him, and a son of man, and yet Thou dost come to him! Thou hast made him for a little while lower than the angels; with glory and honor Thou hast crowned him, and set him over the works of Thy hands. Thou hast put everything in subjection under his feet. For this subjecting of the universe to man implies the leaving of nothing not subject to him. But we do not as yet see the universe subject to him. But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels – even Jesus – because of His suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by God’s grace He might taste death for every man. For it is fitting that He for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory: should perfect by suffering the Prince Leader of their salvation. For both He who sanctifies and those whom He is sanctifying have all one Father; and for this reason He is not ashamed to speak of them as His brothers; as when He says: ‘I will proclaim Thy name to my brothers; In the midst of the congregation I will hymn Thy praises’ (Psa. 22:22); and again, ‘I will be one whose trust reposes in God’ (Psa. 18: 2; Isa. 12:2); and again, ‘Here am I, and here are the children (sons) God has given Me’ (Isa. 8:18);” Heb. 2: 5-13. Weymouth.
I exhort all who hear these truths to earnestly look to God for wisdom, light, and understanding. What I have spoken is beyond the scope of the natural mind. How can human mind comprehend the truth that “Christ is in you?” To the natural mind such truth may even sound childish and silly, yet the Holy Spirit will reveal its depths to those who ask Him, diligently searching out the truth and awaiting His instruction. But we shall go much farther than this by saying that, great as is the truth of “Christ in you” and glorious beyond the scope of all but the spiritual mind, the truth that you are “in Christ” is fathomless in its depths and lofty beyond the highest eminence. If “Christ in man” is the hope of glory, as the scripture says it is (Col. 1:27), then man in Christ must certainly be the glory. In Christ! In Christ! Think of the glory of the expression! “God was in Christ” the word declares. And now – mystery of mysteries – He is saying that His people are also in Christ. Then we are told, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself,” and now “if any man be in Christ he is a new creation.” 2 Cor. 5:17. Certainly he must be a new creation, for he has entered the realm where God dwells. No longer is he of the earth earthy, but one spirit with the Lord from heaven. Herein is the prayer of Jesus fulfilled, “I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one.” John 17:23. This oneness is no unity of doctrine or belief as the church system would have us think, but individual members baptized into one body and that body the body of Christ.
In the beginning of the present age God manifested His first Son, the oldest and most illustrious son and head of His glorious Christ. But in the extremity of the age, when the dead in Christ shall rise, He will manifest the fullness of His Christ, the illustrious head and the glorious body together. This is the temple of the Lord, the habitation of God through the Spirit. It is no wonder that John, when he beheld this wonderful sight, fell down as a dead man. Even the thought of its glory slays us. The old creation dies within. The Adamic nature is reckoned as dead and the carnal mind is recognized as an enemy of God. The spirit takes wings to join in the voice that is as the sound of many waters. To the listening ears of the beloved John the voice of the one like unto the Son of man was as the voice of many, and had his eyes been able to penetrate the more excellent glory that surrounded the heavenly scene, I am sure he would have observed that this was not one Son of man, but a vast multitude of sons. The body is one, but has many members, and all the members of that body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. Elect of God, can you not see it? Not Adam as he was at the first, but Adam as he is at last. Not the Son of man as He was at first, but the Son of man as He is at last. For thus saith the Lord, “I am the first and the last; I am the beginning and the end; I am the Alpha and the Omega.” This is God’s glorious Christ. This is the bridegroom for whom the bride will be prepared in the millennial age. This is He who must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet and who, when all things are subdued under Him, will Himself deliver up the kingdom to God, the Father, that God may be all and in all.
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive but every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterwards they that are Christ’s at His coming. Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet.” 1 Cor. 15:22-25.
Christ filleth all in all. Eph. 1:23. He filleth the universe with Himself. (Weymouth). If our eyes could now be opened to see the glory of the fullness of God’s Christ, I believe we would see a form like unto the Son of man, reaching from earth to heaven, and should we come near to look more closely, we would see that every cell in that enormous body is an individual in-Christed saint – many members of one body and one Christ, for as the body is one and has many members, so also is Christ. It is with trepidation and awe that I use the word in-Christed, but use it I must, for we have become members of God’s Christ, of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.
A WORD TO THE WISE
Paul the apostle taught us to suffer the word of exhortation. Heb. 13: 22. None of us, it seems, ever attains the place where we no longer need to be exhorted. We are all creatures of habit, so much so that we are inclined to tread and retread our familiar paths, journeying from year to year and decade-to-decade in the ever deepening ruts of our tradition, wearing them ever deeper as the years go by. But the path of the just is not a rut; neither is it a well-paved highway over which millions pass day by day on their journey heavenward. The path of the just is not a road at all, but a path that leads out into territory where few feet have ever trod. The path of the just is a path over which most Christians refuse to walk. They much prefer the well-traveled roads of traditional religion. They feel secure where the crowd is and they enjoy the friendship and excitement that goes on all about them. Century after century Christians have walked in traditional paths, never venturing to go beyond the fringes of their realm or to cross the boundaries that have been set for them by others. They love to feel that there is a fence around them and they feel sure that, if they abide within its perimeter, they will be safe and all will be well.
While this type of traditionalism may seem well and good to the majority of believers, I think even the most cautious individual will agree that the scripture plainly speaks of realms which “eye hath not seen and ear hath not heard, neither have entered the heart of man.” Over and over God’s word sets forth mysteries that must be explored. The kingdom of God is a foremost mystery. The more its mystery is brought into the light of prayer and the word of God, the more glorious it appears, but one of our first discoveries will be that the kingdom of God is an unfolding mystery, – and we must affirm here and now that all mysteries are mysteries that unfold gradually, carefully and wonderfully as the days and years go by. So it is with the mystery of Christ, the mystery of Christ in you, the mystery of the resurrection, the mystery of the body of Christ, the mystery of the bride. At first sight they are like hard little seeds, lying hard and dry before the planting, perhaps the seed of a flower, a vegetable, a fruit tree, a mighty oak, or a noxious weed. We hold the tiny seed of a flower in our hand. It may be the seed of a rose, a pansy, or any one of a thousand exotic flowers, but we do not know what manner of plant will come forth from this tiny brown thing that lies so dry and dead before our eyes. We cannot see its magnificent beauty nor can we touch its fragile petals or smell the fragrance of its perfume, but they are there. All their glorious splendor will unfold as the days or years pass by.
The hard little seed must first be planted in the ground. It must undergo a form of death and resurrection. It must be softened by the moisture, warmed by the sun, and nourished by the husbandman until it appears a thing of beauty and fragrance upon the earth. Surely one unlearned would be inclined to say that this flower of such great beauty could not have sprung from a thing so insignificant as a seed. But spring from a seed it did, and if you will look closely, you will now see that it, too, has borne seed, ready to reproduce itself in another plant in another day. How hard it is to understand that the lifeless little brown acorn contains in itself all the glory of the towering oak tree! Yet this is a thing of truth and fact. Not one element of that mighty tree which towers toward the sky was missing in the little seed that fell into the ground and died.
Not only is this true in the realm of trees and plants; it is also true that the microscopic seed of man contains in itself all the elements of the man that shall be, even to the coloring of the eyes and the shade of the skin. These things are all great mysteries and no scientific mind on earth can understand them. Some will make a feeble attempt to explain them, but understand them they cannot.
If the mystery of natural things can be so great, how much greater must be the mystery of spiritual things! Jesus once said to Nicodemus, “If I have told you of earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?” The mystery of Christ, the mystery of the kingdom, the mystery of Christ in you and you in Christ, and the mystery of godliness — these are all heavenly things. No man can understand them by the vain prying of the natural mind, because the natural mind is an earthly thing. The scripture teaches us that all spiritual knowledge must come by revelation, “for the things of God knoweth no man, but God hath revealed them to us by His Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”
Now, dear saints of God, this brings us to an important thought. I must confess that I have often been distressed by the lack of understanding among the people of God. Somehow so many seem to “miss the point.” At times I have sought God with fasting and prayer for help to make the message as plain as possible, but have found that, while a few people grasp the truth by the Spirit, the majority read the message, lay it aside, and think they know it. In fact they have failed to grasp its truth or to have entered into its precincts. For this reason I exhort you not to throw these messages away, but after you have read them, lay them aside and reread them later on. If you reread them six months or year from now, you will be amazed to see how the truth has grown in your heart. You will see and understand many things you did not notice at your first reading. These little Page booklets are circulated for no other reason than to bring God’s people into a more vital union with Himself and His eternal purpose. Every one is filled with truth and truth that can be grasped and entered into if we wait on God and look for inspiration.
May I exhort all to reread and reconsider the message entitled The Meaning of the Cross, March, 1968. This message describes vividly how, before the world began, God the Father took all mankind and placed them in Christ Jesus, His Son and, having done this. He crucified Him. The message goes on to show from this foundation the experience of the believer the moment he sees by faith what God has done, and the moment he sees that he is crucified with Christ, because God placed him in Christ and then crucified Him, then he reckons himself dead to sin and alive unto God.
I make a special point of this because it has been a distress to me to find people still indulging in the old fruitless war of trying to overcome the carnal nature, trying to get the victory over the old man, trying to suppress carnality. My brethren, the moment you see by faith that our old man is crucified with Him, your battles are over. “Knowing this,” Paul wrote, “that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Rom. 6:6. I long to see God’s people living in this victorious realm, for why need you struggle to crucify that which has already hung on the cross of Christ? I exhort you to reread this special number. If you do not have it in your possession, we can supply it free of charge.
I trust from month to month to be able to give a few words of exhortation concerning the writings. Even the subject of this present number, which points out our identification with Christ, is so easy to miss and fail to grasp. God’s people must learn to live and act in vital union with Christ, because God has made us members of Him. Let us not live as the world lives or even as ordinary Christians live, but let us grow up into Christ, who is the head and “from whom the whole body, fitly framed together, groweth up to an holy temple in the Lord.” We are not to live in chambering and wantonness, or in envy, or in strife, or in pride and foolishness. We are not to promote the Babylon system or rejoice in its works, but let us consider Him and follow Him. Let us lay aside every weight and the sins that so easily beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Let us endure the cross and despise the shame that we, too, may sit with Him in His glory. Let us deliberately “lay aside every weight” while we diligently “lay hold on life”, our eternal joy and crown.
THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST AND OUR RELATIONSHIP TO HIM
“What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man that is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” 1 Cor. 2:11. It would be impossible for the creatures of the animal world to comprehend the things of the human world because these two realms are separated the one from the other by an impassable gulf over which neither creation can pass. Even so the things of God can no man know because the realm of God is as high above the human realm as heaven is high above the earth. Though we are so stranded and limited in our understanding of Him, and a great gulf lies between us, that gulf is only impassable to those who desire to live in the realm of the flesh and of the carnal mind. The gulf is not impassable to those who seek to live in the realm of the Spirit, for “we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God:’ 1 Cor. 2:12
Again it is written, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” 1 Cor. 2:9, 10 Our faith must never stand on the wisdom of men. If we allow ourselves to stand upon such an unsure foundation as that, then we have no faith at all, or what we have is groundless and fruitless. The wisdom, which we speak, is not the wisdom of men. Faith cannot be built upon that. The wisdom, which we speak is the wisdom of God, a wisdom which none of the princes of this world ever knew. It is God’s intention to destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Therefore, He asks, “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” 1 Cor. 1:19, 20.
When we endeavor to receive the revelation of infinite truth, we are often brought into conflict with that element of human wisdom, which asserts itself within us. It is then above all other times that unbelief raises its ugly head to shout aloud that these things cannot be. The wisdom of this world questions in unbelief, “How can man be one with man? How can saints be joined together in one body? How can they be knit together and bonded together in one?” “It is impossible,” the flesh declares in unbelief. “Such a thing is contrary to reason and contrary to nature and opposed to all wisdom.” Since, then, they cannot believe that man can be joined together in perfect unity, how much less can their minds believe that God Himself can become one with man and men become members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones, of His Spirit, and of His mind! How can man, born in sin and shapen in iniquity, be made to drink of the Spirit of God and live by Him? “The Bible sounds foolish,” unbelievers have told me, and so it does to some, but has not the Lord Himself declared this very fact to be so when He says, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they axe foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.” Then again it is stated for all of us to hear that “the wisdom of man is foolishness with God.” David, pondering the wisdom of God, wrote, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” No, indeed! We cannot attain, for man himself is incapable of finding the way. Better far that we quickly abandon our human efforts lest we sink into the mire of unbelief.
It is when we reach the place where we willingly abandon all our human struggles, human efforts, and human dependencies, casting ourselves upon Jesus Christ who is the truth, the light, and the way, that we hear the Master saying, “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak of Himself, but He shall receive of Mine, and show them unto you.” That is the method by which the Father of lights reveals the hidden things of God to the human heart. That is how the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen by spiritual men, and secrets kept hidden from ages and generations are revealed unto us by the Holy Ghost.
No man who ever lived has fully grasped the completeness and the greatness of the work of reconciliation which God wrought in Christ when He made peace between man and God and brought us nigh by the blood that was shed on the cross. By the shedding of that blood He has reconciled all things unto Himself, whether they be things in heaven, or things in earth, and you who were sometimes alienated and enemies in your minds, yet now has He reconciled and brought you nigh unto God. See Col. 1:20-22.
Faith is manifest in utter confidence in that which God has accomplished. Faith is not the product of the human heart, for it is written: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Eph. 2:8. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. When the spirit hears what God says, then faith grasps the lifeline that is anchored in Him who is within the veil, and we are lifted up into His realm. Only by revelation can we know Him and grasp the things He has to say. When the light of the Holy Spirit shines in, the mists that long have hung like a cloud over our minds, obscuring the glory of the celestial hills, are cleared away. Then the things, which were once unseen become clearly visible and the mysteries, which in time past baffled the mind, are unfolded and made plain. That which once was seen through a glass darkly is now seen face to face, and that which once was known only in part is now known as we are known.
Many times during my life I have had the joy of driving through the magnificent Canadian Rockies. The sight of their rugged, immovable grandeur has filled my soul with reverence, awe and wonder until I have marveled at the omnipotence and wisdom of God and wondered what power could have placed them there. On one of these occasions I was accompanied by a brother who had never driven through the mountains before and to my great disappointment almost the whole drive was shrouded in rain and mist. Mile after mile we journeyed and nothing could be seen except the black surface of the road upon which we drove, but the brother by my side drove merrily along, completely oblivious to the magnificence of the shrouded glory all about him, never dreaming that the mists were hiding some of the grandest scenery in all the world. As we drove along, he noticed I had grown quite quiet and, turning to me with a puzzled look, he said, “You don’t enjoy this, do you?” “Well, no,” I replied, “I don’t, because those mists are hiding such beautiful scenery from us.” Mankind in his unbelief goes along through life just like that, happy and content to hear the humming wheels on the hard surface of the road, never knowing at all that the mists of the natural mind are obscuring glories such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man. Once the Spirit of God has parted the veil and the spiritual eye has beheld that which lies within, there can be no turning back. Neither can our eyes ever be content with the vain visions of earth, nor our ears satisfied with the discordant note of its songs.
“Eye hath not seen it, my gentle boy.
Ear hath not heard its deep songs of joy.
Dreams cannot picture a world so fair;
Sorrow and death may not enter there.
Time hath not breathed on its fadeless bloom;
Far beyond the cloud and beyond the tomb,
It is there, my child, it is there.
Beautiful are these sacred words my mother sang to me when I was too small to fully grasp the beauty of their meaning, but since the Holy Spirit has come, I have found that even in this present world it is possible to stand on some spiritual Pisgah as Moses did and view the glory of the promised land from Gilead unto the palm trees of Zoar, or stand on some mount of transfiguration with Christ, as the disciples did, to behold in miniature the glory of the Son of man coming in His kingdom.
“There is a wisdom that may only be uttered among the mature – a wisdom, however, not deriving from the present age nor from the powers who are in control of this age, though their days are numbered. We speak God’s wisdom in a mystery – that hidden wisdom which, before the world began, God purposed for our glory; a wisdom which not one of the powers who control the present age have learned, for if they had learned it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Cor. 2:6-8 (Weymouth). “As therefore you have received Christ, even Jesus our Lord, live and act in vital union with him; having the roots of your being firmly planted in Him, and continually building yourselves up in Him, and always being increasingly confirmed in the faith as you were taught it, and abounding in it with thanksgiving.” Col. 2:6, 7. Weymouth
My great concern as I unfold these truths is that readers and believers will fail to grasp them by the living faith of God. I am concerned and afraid that many who read will lay the book down or throw it away and forget to walk in the light that has been shed upon their path even as a man looks at his face in a mirror and walks away, forgetting what manner of man he is. The truth concerning the Christ body and our identity with Him is not one to be read with a sigh and then laid aside while we watch a football game, a sex scene, or a murder on the boob tube, but if we want to make heavenly treasures our eternal prize, we must cast our earthly garments from us and run with patience the race that is set before us. We must lay aside every weight and every besetting sin. We must put off all filthy communication, together with anger, wrath, envy, and every form of irreverence and blasphemy, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him set us an example in that He endured the cross, despised the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of the majesty on high. We have no time to play church or play religion and we have no time to lose. Great tribulation has already settled down upon the earth, and I shall be surprised indeed if this decade passes away before the kingdom of God will come. The recession we are in will probably develop into a depression. The depression will bring a war, which will end with the battle of Armageddon, and that battle will end with the coming of Christ with His saints to put down all rule and authority. “But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even forever and ever.” Dan. 7:18. “Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that saints possessed the kingdom. . . . And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.” Dan. 7:22, 27
I exhort, therefore, that prayers, intercessions, fastings, readings be made in our devotion toward God and that in all fastings and prayers the mind of Christ should be earnestly coveted and sought. We have no need to be ignorant concerning the things that are coming upon the earth, but we remain in ignorance if we continue as so many do – seeking God in our spare time while devoting our time and energy to the golden god of this age, which golden god men earnestly seek because gold alone of all gods will purchase things that can be consumed upon our flesh.
The more I read the book of Colossians, the more enthralled I become with its message. It is so far reaching in that it clearly shows that “God hath reconciled all things unto Himself.” The inspired writer then goes on to show how we can be delivered here and now from the flesh and every evil work, pointing out in so many remarkable ways our total identification with the Lord Jesus Christ. It tells us how to set our affections on things above and not on things of the earth and how we can identify ourselves with Christ in death, in resurrection and ascension. If Christians would lay aside their seeking of earthly gain, would lay aside their gossip and foolishness, would throw their televisions to the moles and the bats, turn their eyes away from the vile scenes of earth and begin looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith, they would not know themselves in a year’s time. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved and, being saved by His grace, will be pointed to a cross – his own – which he must take up to follow Christ, joining in heart and spirit that great generation of crucified men who follow the footsteps of their Lord.
I walked one day along a country road,
And there a stranger journeyed, too,
Bent low beneath the burden of His load.
It was a cross, a cross, I knew.
I cried, “Lord Jesus,” and He spoke my name;
I saw His hands all bruised and torn.
I stooped to kiss away the marks of shame,
The shame for me that He had borne.
“Take up thy cross and follow me,”
I heard the blessed Saviour call.
How can I make a lesser sacrifice,
When Jesus gave His all?
My cross I’ll carry till the crown appears;
The way I journey soon will end,
And God Himself shall wipe away all tears
And friend hold fellowship with friend.
Paul in Colossians explained that peace has been made through the blood of His cross that men who were enemies and aliens have been reconciled to God and to each other that all may be presented faultless before His majesty with exceeding joy. In this book we are told that men who once were enemies have been knit together (Col. 2: 2), or as Weymouth says, welded together – welded together into one body and one Christ. The knowledge of it makes my ransomed soul sing for joy:
Crown Him with many crowns,
The Lord upon His throne!
Hark how the heavenly anthem drowns
All music but its own.
Arise, my soul, and sing
Of Him who died for thee;
And crown Him as thy matchless King
For all eternity.
We stated above that every one who has come into Christ is commanded to live and act in vital union with Him. Col. 2:6, 7. I remind you that we are speaking specifically to those people who above all others become vitally interested and fully absorbed in every aspect of this glorious mystery. To demonstrate our relationship to the Christ body the apostle seems to exhaust every means at his disposal that the fact of our holy union with Christ might be made clear. Thus, after telling us to walk in vital communion with Him, he then exhorts us to become rooted and built up in Him (Col. 2:7), and in yet another verse to be grounded and settled (1:23). David in one of his psalms sang that he was like a tree planted by the rivers of water, whose root would not wither, and therefore he would never be moved. It seems to me to be a very wonderful thing to be on a journey where we stand by faith, walk by faith, and run with patience while at the same time we are being rooted and grounded and not moved away from the hope of our calling. Only God Himself could devise such a blessed mystery as that! Wouldn’t you agree?
Now this state of being rooted and grounded in Christ and not moved away is a most wonderful thing. On beautiful Vancouver Island in Cathedral Grove there stands a mighty fir tree. It is much more than a thousand years old. It was a flourishing young tree when Alfred the Great reigned on the English throne in A.D. 871. It was still standing there when the Battle of Hastings was fought in 1066. Its roots were becoming more grounded and settled when the Magna Carta was signed in 1215. In 1492 when Columbus was on his way to America, it was stretching its mighty arms to heaven, and if it could have heard the news in 1815, it would have heard of the Battle of Waterloo. It was rooted there while the armies of the North and the South were locked in battle in 1860-65, and today its mighty arms, nourished and built up because it is rooted and grounded, are lifted up to heaven while the rustle of its boughs murmur a ceaseless praise to God on high.
Love sought its shade at eventide
To breathe its earliest vows,
And age was pleased at height of noon
To rest beneath its boughs.
The dormouse loved its dangling twigs;
The birds sweet music bore.
It stood a glory in itself,
A blessing evermore.
Thus shall they be who as members of Christ’s body are rooted and grounded in Him. From Him we draw our life as roots draw their food and sustenance from the earth, and it is by the life of Him that we are built up and grow to be a holy temple in the Lord, an habitation for God through the Spirit. The necessity, the benefit and the blessing of thus being rooted and grounded in the Christ is beyond estimation or any word of expression. There must come a time in your life, dear saint of God, when you stand rooted and grounded in Him even though every other tree in the forest has fallen and been uprooted by the withering storms that beat furiously about you. You must have noticed at times how some of the mightiest trees are actually standing upon great immovable rocks. Here before our eyes a lesson is given whereby we see the saint rooted and grounded firmly to the Rock of Ages, and, being rooted and grounded in Him, we are forever settled, never to be carried away by the winds of doctrine, storms of fate, or whirlwinds of testing. My saintly friend, if you depend on man, you receive only what man can give. If you wait for man to feed you, you forget that he also must be fed. When you ask others to pray for you, you forget that they, too, have need of prayer, but the man who is grounded and settled and built up in Christ will find the life of God flowing in his own spirit, his soul, and his body, which in truth belong to God.
We are at the hour in history when we will no longer be able to depend upon ourselves, much less on others, for our strength and sustenance. The hour has come when tribulation is sweeping away every refuge of lies. Its turbulent floods are eroding the sandy foundations from beneath our feet. The old dependencies of meetings, forms and ceremonies are at their end. If you have trusted in men for your strength, they will be taken away from you. If you have depended on others for your spiritual bread, they will be removed far from you; and all this will be that through the fires and floods of tribulation the badly soiled garments of the Laodicean age will be cleansed and made white in the blood of the Lamb.
The tribulations, which are now gripping the entire earth, are the birth pangs of the kingdom of God. God is calling upon the in-Christed saints to become more firmly rooted and grounded in Him so that amid the coming floods they will not be moved away from the hope of His calling. Long ago David, the man who through the dreadful tempests of life had learned to trust only in God to sustain him, wrote these wonderful words: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be moved, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” Psa. 46:1, 2 Wonderful were the words he spoke and wonderful was the deliverance God gave him, but God has reserved for you and me to see that day when the earth will be removed and the mountains carried into the midst of the sea. These are the things that are now coming in fury upon the world, and when it is over, every man who has become rooted and grounded in Christ will be standing unmoved – not moved away from the hope of his calling.
Strong and firm through the passing years
I see a rock that stands out on the shore,
A rock of ages, cleft for you and me,
A rock that will endure forevermore.
The raging, tumbling seas of time may roll
Till earth’s proud empires crumble and decay,
And Thou alone shalt triumph, Prince of Peace,
When all the storms of life have rolled away.
It would be of utmost profit for any of us to diligently study the oft repeated scriptural term “in Christ” and “in Him”. The mists and darkness of the age have obscured the meaning of those beautiful phrases from all but a few, but those words – in Christ and in Him – my saintly friend, have reference to a very special class of people, and that special people are the in Christ people. They are the people who are members in particular of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. We will take a little space here to refresh our minds concerning some of these beautiful statements where the term “in Christ” is involved and then we will see that those who bear the designation “in Christ” are by no means the ordinary rank and file of believers.
One of the most outstanding texts in which the expression “in Christ” is used is 2 Cor. 5:17. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” The church system has become accustomed to noticing a particular text of scripture without regard to what is taught either before the text or after it. By this careless method men can make the Bible say anything they wish it to say. Many a preacher in our day stands up before a congregation to read a text of scripture, or perhaps half a text, or even one word, then closes his Bible, puts an elastic band around it, and begins to preach his sermon. The truth of the matter is that all he is really doing is using a particular text as a diving board or a launching pad from which to launch his sermon. Preaching from a text is in my opinion the poorest and most juvenile type of preaching that can be imagined.
With this thought in mind we might notice some of the words that precede this text, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” Through the whole of the previous four chapters Paul has been building up to a point of experience which he here calls the in Christ experience. In chapter one he begins telling about the trials of the Christian way, showing how through them we are always caused to triumph in Christ. In chapter three he proceeds to talk about the law that ministered death to those who heard it and the coming of the Spirit who changed the unregenerate heart which the law could only condemn. He tells how the face of Moses shone when he received the law, which could only minister death, and from this fact he shows how much more glorious the ministration of the Spirit of life must be. He ends the chapter with these profound words of truth: “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is (or, where the Spirit is Lord) there is liberty. But we all, with open (unveiled) face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Then, speaking of the trials of the way in chapter four, trials which are ordained by God to bring about the fullness of the in Christ position, he goes on to say, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” Verse 7. From there he speaks of the living faith in these saints, who now know that, if the earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. That house not made with hands, my friends, is really “My Father’s house,” the mystical body of Christ, which is the habitation of God through the Spirit.
It seems to me that the book of 2 Corinthians is a highly spiritual book, pointing us to our goal in Christ. In chapter five many things are told us about walking by faith rather than by sight, even showing how it is possible for one to be absent from the body and at home with the Lord. It is with all this promise of higher and more exalted experience that he comes to this in Christ verse, saying, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (creation).” I sincerely believe that the term “in Christ” must be applied on different levels of meaning. There is a small sense in which a new believer may be spoken of as in Christ, but he will have years of trial before he will come into the realm of which Paul is speaking here. To me, to be in Christ means much more than to be a mere believer, wonderful as that may be. That Jesus Christ should come into the heart of a repentant and believing sinner is a thing too wonderful to explain. It is something that has to be believed and experienced, but to explain such a heavenly wonder is beyond the ability of teacher, sage, apostle or prophet. An aura of mystery surrounds our being begotten of God, and because it is divine, it is totally beyond human expression. Wonderful as is this regenerating power of the Spirit of Christ within, we must ever remember that this blessed experience is only the hope of glory. When Jesus Christ comes into our hearts, this is not the end of the matter or the fullness of the in Christ experience. It is really only the beginning, as it is written, “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.” John 1:12. Our justification before God, our knowledge of sins forgiven, is little more than a blessed hope of glory to come. When I speak of the glory to come, I do not speak of heaven or even of the kingdom, but the real glory that is to come is our place in the temple, which is His body. The sons of God are the body of Christ, the sonship company, which is the body of Christ.
Christ the head and Christ the body together compose the fullness of Christ. Therefore “Christ in you”, the repentant sinner’s experience, is the hope of a greater glory which will be ours if we are refined by much chastening and scourging which every mature son must receive that we may be included in the Christ body. That, to me, is the true meaning of the phrase “in Christ”. Christ in us is the hope of glory, but we in Christ is the glory, that the excellency of the power may be of Christ and not of us.
I do not wish to appear to be “splitting hairs” nor do I wish to invent doctrines, but to me it is increasingly significant that our Lord began His ministry as Jesus of Nazareth, then He is known to many as Jesus Christ or Jesus, the Christ, but Paul often favors the title, Christ Jesus. “Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins,” but to see Him as the Christ is to see Him as God’s anointed, the One tested and prepared to take the government of the kingdom and to reign. There appears to be a progression here, does there not, from Jesus to Jesus Christ to Christ Jesus? And I think the same progression is ordained to take place in the life of every believer from “Christ in you”, the hope of glory, to that perfect state of “you in Christ”, which is the glory.
My thought is that we should never use the term “in Christ” with lightness as though it were some simple means of salutation, but we should understand rather that to be in Christ is the ultimate goal of every Christian. It is the true glory for which we hoped. To be included in Christ, to be a true member of His body, the Christ body, is without doubt the great mystery, the hope and the prize of this present age. The body of Christ is the temple of the Lord. 1 Cor. 6:19. It is the habitation of God through the Spirit. Eph. 2:20-23. It is the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. It is the Father’s house of many mansions. Every member of the body of Christ is an individual abiding place for God. Each individual member is a mansion in “My Father’s house.” The body of Christ is a spiritual house, not made with hands. It is a spiritual, heavenly creation, eternal in the heavens.
I greatly fear that my explanation of the Christ body is very weak and perhaps tends more to mar the glory and beauty of that heavenly mansion than to succeed in describing and displaying it. Nevertheless, the spiritual man will grasp the significance of our position in Christ and will discern that to be a member of that holy temple is the prize of the age of grace. Notice Paul’s great desire and longing to be in Christ as he wrote these words to the Philippians:’ ‘What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ and be found in Him (that is, in Christ), not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Phil. 3:7-9. Then, after having expressed his burning desire to be associated with Christ in death and resurrection, he concludes the thought with these significant words: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Verse 14
To be in Christ Jesus is the high calling of God. If the Lord has any higher calling than this for the believer, then He has not as yet revealed it. It seems reasonable to believe that if a man of Paul’s age and Christian experience was still laying aside every earthly weight and pressing toward the mark, which he speaks of as in Christ Jesus, then it must indeed be a very high mark and a very high calling. Because of the gravity of the calling he exhorts us all with these significant words: “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded:” Verse 15. The term perfect here means mature. As many as be mature be thus minded. By thus minded he means that we should have the same mind as he had and the same fervent desire to reach the goal in Christ, that we should count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, the Lord, and count every earthly thing as dung that we may win Christ and be found in Him… that is, in Christ.
We are very near the end of the age. The multitudes who will be saved and cleansed during the great tribulation, which even now casts its shadow all about us, will not be included in the in Christ company. The in Christ company are those who have in their foreheads the Father’s name, but the multitude who will be saved during the great tribulation now developing on the earth will be those who stand before the throne with palms in their hands, a multitude which no man can number of every kindred and tribe and nation who have come out of great tribulation and made their garments white in the blood of the Lamb. Rev. 7:9-15.
I exhort the saints therefore to lay aside every weight and the sin, which so easily besets them. Begin to reckon the things of this present realm as vile refuse, for this world’s fading glory is nothing more than that. Do not set your heart on any prize but this – to be found in Him (in Christ). This attitude of heart demands prayer and fasting. It demands the laying aside of every weight that we, being stripped of all impediments, may run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despised the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the majesty on high, henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.
No passage of scripture in the New Testament is more capable of revealing our position in Christ than the wonderful prayer of Jesus in the seventeenth chapter of John. Notice how in the very heart of His intercession Jesus said, “Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee …” John 17:21. It is one thing for the Father to be in Him; it is a thing of greater glory still for Jesus to be in the Father. It is the hope of glory that Christ should be in me, but it is the glory itself that I should be in Him. Jesus considered that for Himself to be in God the Father was the glory, the greatest of all glories. This He makes plain in verses 22, 23 by saying, “And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them, that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; . . . Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am.” Verse 24. And where was that? Why it was in the Father, of course. “That they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world.”
To further develop this theme let us notice a few more places where this term is used and see the significance of what is said. First, “there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus … For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Rom. 8:1, 2 The book of Romans is a progressive book. In chapter one the Gentile world is condemned. In chapter two the Israelitish world is condemned. In chapter three, justification by faith is introduced, and in chapter four, grace is shown to be entirely without human effort. In chapter five the believer is justified by faith in Christ and in chapter six he is shown his personal identity with Christ in death and resurrection. In chapter seven the justified man makes the distressing discovery that he is possessed of a carnal nature – a nature so contrary to God that it besets and hinders his every effort to walk with God; and though I hesitate to say so, I must confess that the vast majority of Christians, even those who were baptized with the Spirit, stop in the seventh chapter of Romans and never get any farther than that realm where they are continually at war with their carnal nature. To their amazement and chagrin they find that when they would do good, evil is present with them. These are the people who are always trying to overcome their carnality, but never succeed because “trying to overcome” is not God’s way of victory over the flesh. So Paul leaves the seventh chapter of Romans with these words: “0 wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” With the beginning of chapter eight the revelation of the new life in Christ Jesus is given to the apostle. Therefore he says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus… for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
We are forced to the conclusion, then, that those blessed believers who through faith and identification with Christ in death and resurrection have reached the realm where their lives are continually ordered by the Spirit and have died to self as Christ died to self have reached the in Christ realm, and God Himself recognizes them as in Christ Jesus. Christ was in Paul long before Paul came to the blessedness of the Rom. 8:1 experience. It is certainly true that as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. In Christ Jesus is the realm of no condemnation. In Christ Jesus is the prize of the high calling.
Now secondly, to be in Christ signifies that we have reached a place where carnal divisions are at an end. In Christ there are no sects and no denominations, no Jew, no Gentile, no bond, no free. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Gal. 3:26-29. People who cling to sectarianism miss so much. “I am of Paul, I am of Appolos, I am of Cephas, I am of Christ,” is the very spirit of sectarianism. To be in bondage to that spirit is to be kept in spiritual infancy. Paul distinctly said, “… 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?” 1 Cor. 3:3, 4 For a Christian to remain in denominations and sects where there is division and strife continually is to condemn himself to spiritual infancy and to render himself quite incapable of partaking of anything stronger than milk. Paul knew this when he said, “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.” 1 Cor. 3:1
Due to the lateness of the hour there is no time to lose. It is time to come out of spiritual Babylon. It is time to come out from among them and be separate and touch not the unclean thing that God may be a Father unto us and we may be His sons and daughters. Therefore we must conclude that all who are in Christ live in a spiritual realm without and beyond the sects and divisions of our time.
Thirdly, it is the in Christ company who are partakers of the first part of the resurrection. “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” 1 Thess. 4: 15, 16. It will not be long now before this greatest event of all ages takes place — the resurrection of the mystical body of Christ. The dead in Christ shall rise first. The resurrection will certainly include all mankind eventually, “for the hour will come when all who are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of (aionian) life; and they that have done evil unto (aionian) damnation (destruction).” John 5:28, 29. No event of the past will equal the first resurrection. It was of this resurrection Paul spoke, saying, “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written. Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Cor. 15: 51-53
The time of the first resurrection is at the sounding of the last trumpet. The sounding of the last trumpet is recorded in Rev. 11:15. The sounding of the last trumpet indicates the end of the great tribulation, for at the sounding of this trumpet great voices were heard in heaven saying, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.” Personally, I do not believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. There is every evidence to believe that the tribulation has already begun. There will be a resurrection and the saints, when He comes, will rise from their graves and be caught up to meet Him in the air. They will go out to meet Him and usher Him in in all His glory, that when He comes all the saints may come with Him. The last trumpet is at the end of the tribulation and at its sounding the dead in Christ arise.
In Christ the fullness of God’s nature dwells embodied, and in Him we are made complete. Col. 2:9. Weymouth. Circumcision signifies the cutting away of the flesh, and in Him we are circumcised. Col. 2:11. Weymouth. In Him we are crucified. In Him we are buried. In Him we are raised from the dead to become a member of Him in resurrection.
“And to you – dead as you once were in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your natural state – He has nevertheless given you life with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions. The bond, with its requirements, which was in force against us and hostile to us, He cancelled and cleared it out of the way, nailing it to His cross. And the hostile princes and rulers He stripped off from Himself, and boldly displayed them as His conquests, when by the cross He triumphed over them. Therefore suffer no one to sit in judgment on you as to eating or drinking or with regard to a festival, a new moon, or a Sabbath. These were a shadow of things that were to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Col. 2:13-17 Weymouth
The mystery of Christ is the greatest mystery of all the ages, but we are soon to see it unfold. It must surely have been at the sounding of the seventh trumpet that John heard a voice “as a trumpet” talking and the heavenly voices saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” When John turned to see who it was that spoke, he saw one like the Son of man, whose voice was as the sound of many waters. Many waters signify many people, many sons. He fell as a dead man from the glory of what he saw, for this was the fullness of the man Christ Jesus. It was the Christ as He will appear at the end of this age, Christ the head and Christ the body forming one Christ, the Christ of God. Then shall we hear the Savior say, “Here am I and the sons which Thou hast given Me.” Amen.
THE CHRIST BODY . . . SUPREME MYSTERY OF THE AGES
The original purpose of Almighty God, so clearly set forth in the words of Gen. 1: 26, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness,” was an intention as immutable and unwavering as the God who spoke it. The truth that God is immutable and with Him there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17), is not merely a doctrine of scripture but a truth that should be so thoroughly embraced by every child of God that the reality of it grips his spiritual being, enlightening the eyes and giving understanding to the heart. The very fact that God is immutable (unchanging) in all His ways and purposes is just as important as the knowledge that He is almighty, or that He is all wise, or that He is omnipresent. What hope or trust would be lent the believer in times when sorrow and tribulation like sea billows rolled over him, besetting his way with doubt and fear, if he could not look up into the face of a God of love and say from the depths of his troubled being, “Thou art the God of light; with Thee there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Thou changes! not; Thy compassions they fail not. As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be?” The ways of mankind may be as changeable as the moon, but the purposes of God are as constant as the stars. Centuries after the Almighty had made His immutable promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses stood trembling before the burning bush with head bowed in awe. He heard the voice of the Lord proclaiming, “Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” What new revelation could Moses now expect from the lips of the Almighty? We will never guess what this old man of fourscore years must have wondered in that dreadful but wonderful moment, but if he were expecting something new, he was to be disappointed, because the word that flowed from the lips divine was the now familiar utterance, “I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” Exod. 3:5, 6
Those words must have been awesome, perhaps even troublesome, because we poor human beings are so changeable in all our ways that we are inclined to forget that He who is immutable never changes. Long years of waiting often make us forget that the Lord never deviates from His original intentions. Man may be tempted to think that God has forgotten His ancient promises, that they are all hopelessly washed up and of no future value, but this is never so. Through decades, through centuries and millenniums of time, the voice of God comes ringing like a trumpet in the soul of the believer, “I am the Lord; I change not.” All things are working together for good to them that love God, to them who are the ”the called”, according to His purpose. Moses was a man of like frailties as ourselves, and, apart from the smoking flax of his faith, this bruised reed of a man must have had as good reason as any other man to imagine with sorrow that God had forgotten His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Here they were centuries later a great nation of many people, all descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but far removed from the land God had promised them, and, instead of being the heirs of the promised blessing, they were naught but groveling slaves to a cruel nation that oppressed and hated them, day after day performing menial tasks with hard and bitter labor for a people who were enemies of God and strangers to His covenants. Gone were the promises of greatness and glory, and the hope that in their seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed seemed to mock them as idle tales, meet for the rib-bald songs of the drunken and the taunts of unbelieving taskmasters.
What now would be the message of this dreadful voice in the wilderness, the voice of God, who spoke from the burning bush? What new purpose would be His intention now? Methinks this old man in shepherd’s garb did not expect to hear Him say, “I am the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob,” but, if he thought the immutable God could forget His promise, he was now awakened to his error. God suffers long and is kind, but He never forgets, and His saints will always find that the dreary wilderness of lingering days and nights that lie between the giving of a promise and the fulfillment thereof are part of the process of fulfilling the promise in the inscrutable way He had planned. Oh, how often I have heard men say “God is through with Israel. They failed, and so God cast them off and started something new.” Yet I hear the voice of Paul come ringing o’er the hills of time, crying, “Hath God cast away His people? God forbid… God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew.” Rom. 11:1, 2 Then later in the passage he says, “If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?” Rom. 11:15. Again in similar words we ask today, “Has God changed His original intention? Have His words divine fallen to the ground to be trampled under the feet of unbelief? Did the immutable One, the almighty Maker of the universe, propose that which He had no power to fulfill when in infinite wisdom His word proclaimed, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness, and let them have dominion?” Nay, nay, a million times nay! As no jot or tittle shall fail of the law till all is fulfilled, so shall no jot or tittle fail from the promise of Him who is immutable until all is fulfilled.
Open our eyes, 0 Lord unchanging, that Thy saints may behold as Thou dost behold. Let them stand with Thee in faith atop the lofty mountain of Thine exalted vision that they may ponder the limitless years of Thy unfolding purpose. Let their eyes behold the corn of wheat that fell into the ground to die. Let them understand that, as day comes forth out of darkness, so life springs forth from the realms of death, first the blade, then the ear, and afterward the full corn in the ear. Open the eyes of our understanding to see clearly that, before the full corn in the ear appears, there must be a seed to fall into the ground and die, for, if it die not, there can be no blade, there can be no ear, nor can the full corn of all mankind be in the ear.
Oh, that saints today would stand with God, who is our light, that through His eyes they might see the ever maturing progress of His unalterable fiat, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness!” Then would they behold the glorious end God had in view and stand no more to weep as mourners do at the grave of a creation whose first appointed step on the path to the image of God was to fall into the ground and die. Too long, too long have men walked in darkness, knowing not that the apparent calamities of Eden were in fact and truth well devised steps proceeding from the mind that is infinite that man through the valley of the shadow of death might come to the moment of resurrection when death is swallowed up in life, corruption puts on incorruption, and mortality betakes of immortality, – well devised steps, I say, for thus saith the Lord God omniscient and immutable, “The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Rom. 8:20, 21. Therefore with Paul all who have understanding “reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed, for the earnest expectation of the creature (creation) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”
Look up from thy weeping then and see no more the fast closed tomb of all the sons of the first Adam, a creation that God intended should fall into the ground and die. Yonder, near to Calvary‘s hill, there is an open tomb from which the last man Adam has risen in victory, having forever abolished death, bringing to light both light and immortality. 2 Tim. 1:10. He is risen to become the first fruits of all who slept. To err is human, and I may be wrong, but deep within me I believe the place where the first man Adam died and was buried is the self same place from which the last man Adam arose from the dead to become the first fruits of them that slept.
Four thousand years had passed away ere God in triumph that Deity alone can know proclaimed in a voice of thunder, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Four thousand years with its suffering and death had come and gone, but now at last the first man is presented complete in God’s image and after His likeness. The first man of millions more to follow, as numerous as the stars above, was presented perfect and entire in God’s image when the voice of the Father proclaimed the word, “In Him I am well pleased.” It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell, and, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven.”
And what shall we say of the dominion God had promised to men in His own image? Had not His lips declared, “Let us give them dominion?” Hear the words of this blessed first Son of God as He in triumph proclaims, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth,” and with these words He declared that all who would believe on Him should be saved. Men are always talking about what they were saved “from.“ I am inclined to think that Jesus Christ our Lord and God our heavenly Father are more concerned about what we are saved “to.“ Hear then the words of inspiration that fell from the lips of Paul, that man who was pressing forward to obtain the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, and what could that be but sonship?
“In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own. The world of creation cannot as yet see reality, not because it chooses to be blind, but because in God’s purpose it has been so limited – yet it has been given hope. And the hope is that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God! It is plain to anyone with eyes to see that at the present time all created life groans in a sort of universal travail. And it is plain, too, that we who have a foretaste of the Spirit are in a state of painful tension, while we wait for that redemption of our bodies which will mean that at last we have realized our full sonship in Him. We were saved by this hope, but in our moments of impatience let us remember that hope always means waiting for something we haven’t yet got. But if we hope for something we cannot see, then we must settle down to wait for it in patience.” Rom. 8:18-25. Phillips Translation
“In the face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that did not hesitate to spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all – can we not trust such a God to give us, with Him, everything else that we need? Who would dare to accuse us, whom God has chosen? The judge Himself has declared us free from sin. Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us! Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, pain or persecution? Can lack of clothes and food, danger to life and limb, the threat of force of arms? Indeed some of us know the truth of that ancient text: For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. No, in all things we win an overwhelming victory through Him who has proved His love for us. I have become absolutely convinced that neither death nor life, neither messenger of heaven nor monarch of earth, neither what happens today or what may happen tomorrow, neither a power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything else in God’s whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord!” Rom. 8:31-39. Phillips Translation
THE MYSTERY OF GOD — CHRIST
We love to speak of Jesus Christ the Lord, but, oh, there is so much to be said, and who among us has power to unfold the glorious mystery of Christ? As the great plan of God – “Let us make man in our image” – unfolds, it must unfold in God’s own order, first the blade, then the ear, and afterward the full corn in the ear. Oh, that God would reveal to every seeking heart this greatest mystery of all mysteries, the mystery of Christ! In the long, long process of bringing all creation into the image of God it is God’s intention first of all to bring to the fullness of perfection that anointed one, for the anointed one is the Christ. Heavenly Father, Thou knowest that I speak with reverence almost infinite when I consider that Thy Christ, through whom all the universe will be reconciled, consists of many more than He who was at first proclaimed Thine only begotten Son. Thou hast proclaimed Him to be both Lord and Christ, the supreme and lordly head of the body, but unto us who are now coming into “that same image” and likeness Thou hast said, “Ye are the body of Christ. Ye are members of the Christ, yea, members in particular.” 1 Cor. 12:27. Yea, Thou hast said, “Ye are the fullness, ‘the completeness of Him who everywhere fills the universe with Himself.'” Eph. 1: 23. Weymouth
Let us then with a reverence born of the Spirit of God begin to explore these celestial fields, the eyes of our understanding being so enlightened that we may begin to see the extent of the glorious fullness of God’s Christ. God’s Christ is the greatest mystery of all the ages, and no man can see its sacred glory until God in mercy reveals it unto him. All education and learning will fail us. Sermons of men will sell us short. Only by the Holy Ghost can the eyes of our understanding behold the mystery and only by that same Spirit of God can we become a part of it.
Christ is the visible representation of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation, for in Him was created the universe oft things in heaven and on earth, things seen and unseen, thrones, dominions, princedoms, powers – all were created and exist through Him. He is before all things, and in and through Him the universe is one harmonious whole. Moreover, He is the Head of His body, the church. He is the beginning, firstborn from among the dead, in order that He Himself may in all things occupy the foremost place, for it was the Father’s gracious will that the whole of the divine perfections should dwell in Him. And God purposed through Him to reconcile the universe to Himself, making peace through His blood, which was shed upon the cross, to reconcile to Himself through Him, I say, things on earth and things in heaven. As the wonderful pattern begins to unfold before the eyes of our understanding, we see with a light that only His Spirit can give that God’s Christ, when seen in His glorious completeness, consists of both the head and the body together. That first glorious Son, who four thousand years after Adam was owned by the Father as “My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” is the head, but that vast family of sons, who through the centuries have been coming into “that same image”, these are the body of that same Christ. God has proclaimed them to be members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones and has made them all to drink into one Spirit. Paul has distinctly taught us through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit that by (in) one Spirit are we all baptized into one body (the Christ body), for the body is not one member, but many (1 Cor. 12:13, 14), whether we be Jew or Gentile, whether we be bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit; for, as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
There are tremendous depths here, my brethren, for this is the mystery above all mysteries. Our God in these last days is speaking to His elect sons, revealing to them that they are members of His Christ, yea, that they are enchristed. This is the mystery that exceeds all the mysteries of the ages. So great is this mystery that men will accuse me of blasphemy because I proclaim it. Yet it was of this very truth that Paul wrote when He said, “I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and generations, but is now made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles (nations); which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:25-27
I pray that you may pause here to request the mercies of heaven that God would give you the spirit of wisdom and understanding in the knowledge of Him that you may see what glory such a calling entails. For far too long we have lightly used the expression “in Christ.” We have formed the childish habit of signing our letters “Yours in Christ,” never realizing what in Christ really means. My beloved, to be in Christ means much more than simply being a Christian. In Christ, as used in the Holy Scripture, refers to our being vitally joined to that first born Son, whom God hath made both Lord and Christ. As our bodies are joined to our heads, so the enchristed are one with the Christ, because they with Jesus ARE GOD’S CHRIST. The term in Christ is used many times in God’s word, but the term Christ in you is used many times also. Let us think of the depth of the meaning it conveys and no more pass it by as nothing more than a pretty expression. What does it mean to you when the scripture says, “God was in Christ?” Why, the fact that God dwelt in Him was what made Him God’s Christ! What then are we to conclude since God has said Christ is in you? Is it not this indwelling that makes you a member of God’s Christ, making you one with the anointed? He is the firstborn of many brethren and those many brethren constitute the fullness of Christ. Jesus, the oldest brother, is the head; the many brethren are the body, and they (the head and the body) together form God’s Christ. Indeed it is a great mystery. No wonder Paul said it was the greatest of all mysteries! Nor is it any marvel that the all-wise God hid it from ages and generations of men that He might make it known in the last days. Now the mystery is being made manifest to His saints, for to them alone God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you. The mystery Christ in you is the hope of glory. It is an unspeakable glory for those who are called and chosen and faithful, and upon its certainty rests the hope of the entire creation of things in heaven and things on earth.
Once more we must review the scripture to make sure that we comprehend, at least in part, the import of its truth. It is clear from Paul’s words to the Colossians that he feels the tremendous depth of his own teaching. Therefore, with the clearest possible emphasis he declares that the mystery, Christ in you, has been completely hidden from all ages and generations of the past and was only in his day beginning to be made manifest to the saints. Col. 1:26. This mystery, Christ in you, is the beginning of the mystery, you in Christ. So profound is this mystery that, though it be understood by the Spirit within, words fail to speak its truth to the mind. The truth that has been hidden for ages and dispensations is this: God is still in this age forming and preparing His Christ. We cannot overemphasize the importance of this truth, “because He hath appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained…” Acts 17:31 Dare we wonder, then that He with infinite care through ages of time prepares His Christ in secret and in fullness for the boundless work of the ages to come?
It is with the utmost reverence and with great humility of mind, looking to Jesus Christ with adoring adulation, that I endeavor to make known to God’s elect that God‘s glorious Christ is not one, but many. The fullness of Christ does not consist of Jesus of Nazareth and Him alone, but of Jesus together with a multitude of elect sons, who by His grace are coming into that same image. 2 Cor. 3: IS. We have read the scripture, which plainly states that “as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” 1 Cor. 12:12. The apostle here is plainly showing that the individual members of God’s Christ, though many, form but one Christ. This many membered Christ is “that man” whom God hath chosen and by whom He will govern the world in righteousness. Acts 17:31
It is not uncommon to find that the Lord speaks of a multitude as one. For example, in Hosea 11:1 He says, “When Israel was a child (singular), I loved him (singular), and called My son (Israel) out of Egypt.” I am aware that this last reference to My son is also prophetic and has a definite reference to Jesus Christ, but it also definitely refers to Israel as a nation, whom God here calls My son, as the verse following plainly shows. In exactly the same way that we speak of a nation as one or of the church as one, so also is God’s Christ, many membered, yet one Christ and one body. God would not make mention of the body of Christ if the many membered body did not constitute the fullness of His Christ. The human body, which we now possess, is the greatest possible type and picture of that spiritual organism which is the body of Clirist. In this the scripture is very plain, saying with the greatest possible clarity, “As the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.”
That the physical body has many members while it is but one body we may clearly see from the following scientific statement. “Man’s body has nine hundred muscles, one thousand miles of blood vessels, three hundred fifty main arteries, one million five hundred thousand sweat glands. The lungs are composed of seven million, seven hundred thousand cells. At seventy years of age the heart has lifted by its throbs five hundred thousand tons of blood. The nervous system has three trillion nerve cells. The blood has thirty million white corpuscles and one hundred million red ones. Each minute in every man’s body some one hundred fifty million radio-active carbon atoms go pop, releasing a total energy of twenty-one million electron volts. The heart beats seventy times per minute, four thousand times per day, thirty-seven million times per year, and two billion times in sixty-five years. It is estimated that, could man build a computer that could do the work of the human brain, a space as large as Rockefeller center would be needed. It would take three lifetimes to wire it, three-quarters of the electrical power of New York City to drive it, and the Hudson River to cool it. Man’s brain is most impressive and extremely complex. It contains many more nerve lines than all the telephone lines in the world put together. The electrical signals from two hundred thousand living thermometer cells, a half million pressure sensing cells, three or four million pain sensing cells, plus the signals from the eyes, nose and ears, as well as the areas sensitive to taste and touch, are all routed to the brain. An amazing example of miniaturization, the brain sorts, stores, and acts upon these myriad impulses. Who built this fantastic computer? The answer is God:
From the foregoing trivial example, which touches only the minutest function of the many membered, many organed human body and displays in some tiny detail the harmonious workings of the whole, perhaps our hearts can be enlightened to catch a glimpse of the wonders of that Christ, whom God through the ages has been bringing to completion. First to be born was Jesus of Nazareth the Head, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of wisdom and knowledge of God, and we. God’s blessed sons, born in the extremity of the age and coming into that same image, are the many members, the body of Christ. These, the Head and the body together, are God’s Christ.
The things I am saying are hard to write and difficult to utter, because church tradition has dulled our ears that we cannot hear. It has blinded our eyes to truth so that we cannot see with our eyes, nor hear with our ears, nor understand with our hearts, but should one live a thousand years twice told, he could never comprehend these mysteries with the mind, for great is the mystery of godliness.
There is but one body, and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, even as there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all, who is above all, through all, and in us all. For this reason Jesus, when He ascended up on high, led captivity captive and gave gifts to men. He gave apostles and prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers for the building up and edifying of the Christ body until we all come to the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure and stature of the fullness of Christ. Please read Eph. 4:4-13.
The fullness of Christ! What does it mean? What can it mean but that which we are saying – that God through these ages is forming and bringing His Christ to fullness? The Head He completed two thousand years ago when Christ Jesus was raised from the dead and exalted to His throne, but the body, which is the completeness of Him who filleth all in all, has been coming forth member by member through these ages of time to be declared at last, as Jesus was at first, “My beloved sons, in whom I am well pleased.”
God’s people are greatly hindered from seeing this truth in any fullness because they continually confuse the harlot church system with the true and mystical church, which is Christ’s body. One need only to mention the word church and all eyes immediately turn toward the system with all its abominable enormities, its denominations, its sects, its false ministries, its pseudo-gifts and its multitudinous divisions, but, if you will turn your eyes away from this, you will discover one like the Son of man, rising from the present disorder, standing tall and glorious in the image of Christ. This is the mystical and elect church in which there has never been a division or a schism. This is the building of God, the true church, the true body, the house not made with hands. This is the habitation in which God dwells, even as your spirit dwells in you. “You are a building which has been reared on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the cornerstone being Christ Jesus Himself, in union with whom the whole fabric, truly bonded together, is rising so as to form a holy sanctuary in the Lord; in whom you also are being built up together to become a fixed abode for God through the Spirit.” Eph. 2:20-22 Weymouth “God has put all things under His feet, and has appointed Him universal and supreme Head of the church, which is His body, the completeness of Him who everywhere fills the universe with Himself.” Eph. 1:23 Weymouth
You will have noticed that the scripture quoted above is definitely saying that the body of Christ is the completeness of Him, who fills the universe with Himself. Surely these are ponderous words of truth, clearly showing that it is the Father’s intention to fill the universe with His mighty body, which He is now forming, and not only fill it, but rule it as well. When Paul was speaking of these sacred things, he said, “For this reason we also, from the day we first received these tidings, have never ceased to pray for you and to entreat that you may be filled with a clear knowledge of His will, accompanied by thorough wisdom and discernment in spiritual things; so that your lives may be worthy of the Lord and perfectly pleasing to Him, while you bear fruit in every good work, and increase in the knowledge of God. Since His power is so glorious, may you be strengthened with strength of every kind, and be prepared for cheerfully enduring all things with fortitude and patience; and may you give thanks to the Father who has made us fit to receive our share of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Col. 1: 9-12 Weymouth
JESUS THE CHRIST
Christ means the anointed, and I think it will help us to grasp the depths of this mystery when we understand that Christ is not a name, but a title. The word Lord is nof a name; it also is a title. We are continually concerned with many titles. We speak of His Worship the Mayor, His Lordship the Judge, Mr. President, Her Majesty the Queen, the Emperor of Japan, General Patton, Field-Marshal Montgomery. These prefixes are not names. They are titles and very expressive ones at that. They signify the extent of the office held by the person referred to. Christ is the anointed one. The Greek word Christos means anointed. The Hebrew word was Messiah, the expected King and Deliverer of the Jews. The title the Christ is used eighteen times in the New Testament. These passages are most significant because of the use of the definite article the Christ, demonstrating clearly that Christ is, indeed, a title, which signifies a special office and ministry in God’s great plan. Perhaps the most familiar passage is found in Matt. 16:13-20, in which Jesus asked His disciples, “Whom do men say that / the Son of man am, And they said, Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” “Thou art the Christ,” said Peter, and Jesus quickly affirmed that such a revelation of truth could not possibly come by the way of flesh and blood, but only by the inspiration of God. “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto you, but My Father which is in heaven.”
There were many people associated with Jesus during all His life on earth who saw naught in Him but the son of Joseph and Mary. Even some of His disciples did not recognize Him as the Christ. Certainly Thomas did not appear to have this knowledge until that night of revelation when Jesus revealed Himself to him, and Thomas, standing aghast at the revelation, cried out in amazement, “My Lord and my God!” “Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ” Matt. 16:20. Jesus is His name; Christ is His title. The natural man cannot receive any spiritual thing unless that truth is revealed to him by God’s Spirit; otherwise it will be trampled underfoot as worthless as readily as swine trample precious gems beneath their feet.
When Jesus was questioned before the high priest, He was asked, “Art Thou the Christ, the Son of the blessed?” Mark 14:61. Jesus replied, “I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Verse 62 It will be perfectly clear that, had the question been, “Art Thou Jesus,” and He had replied in the affirmative, there would have been no uproar or dissent at all. But the question was not “Art Thou Jesus,” but, “Art Thou ^Christ,” and the moment Jesus answered in the affirmative He was accused of blasphemy, because the title Christ declares that He is the anointed, the Messiah, the Deliverer of Israel and the Savior of the whole world. The high priest was not ignorant of the fact that long ago David prophesied, saying, “The Lord said unto my Lord, sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies thy footstool,” and no doubt he immediately connected the prophecy of David with the words of Jesus, “Ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” This statement, though perfectly true in the case of this despised man, would have been blasphemy had it been uttered by anyone else, and the high priest, chained by the darkness of his own carnal mind, could see nothing beyond the outer veil. He saw Jesus only as a man, not as the Christ as Peter had seen or as “my Lord and my God” as Thomas had done. He, poor blind soul, was doomed to see only as a natural man. It was for this very reason that Jesus in love had prayed for him, together with the others, saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Since, then, the Christ is a title, signifying His exalted office, we may conclude that the importance of that office is greatly magnified when the appellation Jesus Christ, wherein the name Jesus is placed before the office, is reversed to read Christ Jesus, wherein the title is placed before the name. This occurs at least forty times in the New Testament. Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Lord, who Himself on so many occasions preferred the title, Son of man, was the first man to come into the image and likeness of God. He is the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s earliest declaration, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.” Gen. 1:26. Furthermore, He who now sits on the right hand of power is the first to fulfill God’s decree, “Let us give them dominion.” “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth,” Jesus said. Matt. 28:18. He is the beginning, the first born from among the dead, or, from among the dead ones. Ponder the significance of that statement. “He is the beginning.” Col. 1:18. Does not a beginning definitely tell us that there is much more yet to come? Do not the words the first born signify that all the dead are to be raised to life through Him to be brought into that same imaged “He brightly reflects God’s glory and is the exact representation of His being, and upholds the universe by His all-powerful word. After securing man’s purification from sin, He took His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as far superior to the angels as the name He possesses by inheritance is more excellent than theirs.” Heb. 1:3, 4 Weymouth
If God’s people could comprehend some of the fathomless depths of the first chapter of the book of Hebrews, they would find themselves well on the road to understanding the magnificent glories, which God is preparing for those who love Him. We would see that this Jesus, whom God hath made both Lord and Christ, was indeed the beginning and only the beginning of the fulfillment of the fiat of Gen. 1:26, “Let us make man in our image.” Jesus is both the first born from the dead and He is the first born of all who sleep. He is the first born of many brothers who are to share His glory and His image. These even now in their imperfect and insignificant condition He speaks of as the body of Christ and members in particular. 1 Cor. 21: 27. These are the Christ body. He is the head of the body and in all things He shall have the preeminence, yet these are the body of which He is the Head. God through John declared, “As He is, so are we in this world.” 1 John 4:17. “All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. You did not receive the spirit of slavery again, inspiring terror; but you did receive the spirit of adopted sons – in which spirit we cry ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our own spirits that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs too – heirs of God and coheirs with Christ; if indeed we share Christ’s sufferings in order to share also His glory. Why, the sufferings of the present I deem not worth considering compared with the glory soon to be disclosed to us. All creation is yearning, longing to see the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creation was made subject to futility, not of its own choice, but by the will of Him who so subjected it; yet with the hope that at last the creation itself would be set free from the thraldom of decay to enjoy the liberty that comes with the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation is moaning in the pangs of childbirth until this hour.
And more than that, we ourselves, though we possess the Spirit as a foretaste of bliss, yet we ourselves inwardly moan as we wait for full sonship in the redemption of our bodies.” Rom. 8:14-23, Weymouth “Now we know that for those who love God He makes all things work together for good, for those who are called according to the divine purpose. Those whom He has foreknown He has also predestined to share the likeness of His Son, that He might be the Eldest in a vast family of brothers; and those whom He has predestined He has also called; and those whom He has called He has also acquitted; and those whom He has acquitted He has also glorified.” Rom. 8:28-30 Weymouth
These inspired statements become crystal clear once we have apprehended God’s true purpose. Nothing can separate us from the love of God and no power in heaven or in earth can let or hinder the eternal will of Him whose intention was in the beginning not only to make man, but to make him in the image of God. The steps are very clear – foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and final glorification, members of His body, the Christ body, members of His flesh and of His bones. These chosen people have drunk deeply of His Spirit, for it is in one Spirit that all the members are united with the body. They are baptized into His body. They are members in particular of God’s Christ, God’s anointed, God’s Messiah, by whom God filleth all in all, or, as Weymouth puts it, “God hath appointed Him universal and supreme head of the church, which is His body, the completeness of Him who everywhere fills the universe with Himself.” Eph. 1:23.
We mentioned above how good it would be if God’s elect people could comprehend the depths of the first chapter of Hebrews, for if they could but see to what honor and glory God has promoted His first perfected Son, then they would see to some extent what honor He is preparing to bestow on those other sons who through the centuries have been coming into that same image of Christ. Those other sons are members of His body, yea, members of that body of which He is the Head. The Holy Spirit wishes us to see in the statements of Hebrews, chapter one, that, by displaying the greatness of the first Son, Christ Jesus, He is actually revealing the magnificent glory God has in store for us. If this had not been the case, there would have been no point in Paul’s commencing chapter two with the warning, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?…” The great salvation he speaks of here is the hope of sonship spoken of in chapter one. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation” is not a text for sinners, but a sobering question directed to men and women who have heard the call to sonship and have seen their predestined end in Christ and who are now being called to a faithfulness far removed from neglect, as it is written: “. . . and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” Rev. 17:14
Paul further attests to the greatness of our calling to sonship and consequently our call as members of the Christ body when in the words of David he asks, “What is man that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?” Heb. 2:6 “Thou hast made him for a little while lower than the angels; with glory and honor Thou hast crowned him! and hast set him over the works of Thy hands. Thou hast put everything in subjection under his feet. For this subjecting of the universe to man implies the leaving of nothing not subject to him. But we do not as yet see the universe subject to him (man). But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels – even Jesus – because of His suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by God’s grace He might taste death for every man.” Heb. 2:6-9 Weymouth
Why did Paul say we do not as yet see the universe subject to him (man), but we do see Jesus? Simply because Jesus Christ is the forerunner, the pioneer, the apostle, the first Son, the beginning, and the first born from the dead. He is the first Son to be exalted through the terrible sufferings of the realm of death and, seeing Him, we know that the promise to all others is certain, for it was not of Adam alone of whom God spoke, saying, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness, and let us give them dominion,” but the promise was to all the sons of men, of whom the first Son, Jesus Christ, is now exalted and has taken His seat at the right hand of power. We see Jesus and by seeing Him we know the glory God has in store for those who follow Him just as the first flower of spring is the herald of millions to follow.
To write such things as these often fills my heart with dread. Everywhere and at all times there are foolish persons who seem to be void of any sense of reverence. They do not realize how terrible are the words, “The place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” They have not learned that, should any one of us come into the presence of God, we like John would fall down at His feet as dead men. Everywhere I find men and women who seem to brag about the “sonship message.” They do not talk in humble tones nor stand in awe and the fear of the Lord, but in a spirit of boasting and pride they toy with the truth of sonship as children toy with things of play. My heart always sinks to the lowest depths when I hear glib talk of “sonship groups.” People who talk like that have never yet seen how high a calling sonship is. Some of these little groups even go so far as to speak of themselves as manifested sons. They do not know of what they speak nor whereof they affirm. Other presumptuous people have gone so far as to offer courses purporting to teach how to become a manifested Son of God. Let us turn our eyes and our hearts away from all such presumptuous ignorance and pride and with the spirit of humility start looking unto Jesus who alone is the author and finisher of our faith.
Let no one believe that the filthy or unclean have any part in any of these things. People who are laden with sex sins, who are unholy and defiled, who are partakers with the world and who fit in with the untoward spirit of the times – all such must come to repentance before they need speak of the things which God has reserved for them that love Him. These are the last days. Perilous times encompass the world and fall heavy upon us all. Men are lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful and unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. From all such we must turn away and have no part with them.
There are thousands today who are playing church, who even profess to be speaking in tongues and to have certain gifts of the Spirit, who profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable and disobedient and unto every good work reprobate. The thing above all else that is so sadly lacking in these perilous times is godly sorrow that worketh repentance unto salvation not to be repented of. The sorrow of the world only works death. Those who are being cleansed by Christ and made ready for that glorious sonship in Him must separate themselves from the world and all its tinseled glamour as did the first Son, of whom it is written that He was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners and made higher than the heavens. Heb. 7:26. Philistines have no place in the house of God; neither has Mammon, the god of wealth, any place in the hearts of God’s people. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Be afflicted and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy into heaviness. Then you will draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.
It should never be forgotten that we, though called, are yet exhorted to give diligence to make our calling and election sure. 2 Pet. 1:10. Let no man rest on his oars, thinking that he can merrily float with the current of the world right into the glory of reigning with Christ. We have a promise to reign with Him, but the promise is, “If we suffer with Him, we will reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will deny us,” that is to say, if we deny Him and refuse to suffer with Him, there will be no place for us to reign. He will deny that to us.
Paul, writing to the Romans, gave five progressive steps, which lead to glorification. “Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate; ...whom He did predestinate, them He also called; whom He called, them He also justified, and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” Rom. 8:29, 30. These are the five steps – foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. It seems to me that any man can fail at any one of these points. Otherwise why would the Lord have said, “Many are called, but few are chosen?” And why would it be written in Rev. 17:14, “They that are with Him are called and chosen and faithful?”
There is only one sure way to gain an abundant entrance into the kingdom of God. Peter tells us of it in his second epistle, Chapter 1:3-11. “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” With these few words we are exhorted to walk in harmony with Christ Jesus our Lord and to turn aside from the spirit of this evil age in which money has become the god of this world. Money is the god which men worship and adore and which they trust to supply all their needs. Let us who seek first the kingdom of God go on to perfection in Him. Let us strip for this spiritual race and run it with much patience, for it is through faith, patience and endurance that the prize is at last attained.
The appellation, the Christ, is used eighteen times in the New Testament. The definite article the distinguishes Him as God’s anointed and separates Him from all that is false and from those deceivers who will come saying, “I am Christ,” by whom many will be deceived. Jesus, who loved the title Son of man, was the first man to come in the image of God. He whom men crucified was He whom God raised from the dead and proclaimed to be both Lord and Christ. Acts 2:36. “He brightly reflects God’s glory and is the express image of His person, and, when He had purged us of our sin, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. He is the visible representation of the invisible God.” Col. 1:15. Weymouth The whole of divine perfections dwell in Him. Col. 1: 20. And He is the head of the true and mystical church, which is in truth the Christ body, for the body is not one member, but many. The body is also one with the Head. Neither Head nor body can exist or function the one without the other. While the mind has its home in the head, the heart has its home in the body. The Head and the body together constitute the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13), even the completeness of Him who in the end will fill the universe with Himself. And we are complete in Him, from whom the whole body by joints and bands is knit together to become the habitation of God through the Spirit. The true body of Christ has been rising through millenniums of time without a schism and without a division. It has been rising upon the sure foundation of the apostles and prophets and, when it is completed at the now imminent first resurrection, that true body will be the temple of the Lord, a fixed abode for God through the Spirit.
When the word of God speaks of Christ Jesus as being the head stone of the corner (Psa. 118:22, 1 Pet. 2: 7), it is not speaking of a stone in the lower corner of the foundation. It is speaking of the capstone or the head stone as the capstone would appear at the pinnacle of a pyramid. The capstone is of necessity the last stone to be placed in the building and, when that is done, the building is complete. So also it will be that, when the body of living stones, even the body of Christ, is complete, then Jesus Christ the Head will take His place as the head stone and this complete body of the Christ will form the everlasting habitation of God through the Spirit. This will be “My Father’s house” of many mansions, each mansion a believer, each believer a living stone, each living stone a member of the Christ body. This is the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Cor. 5: 1. This is the holy temple of the Lord (Eph. 2:21), the completeness of Him who will fill the universe with Himself and govern the universe in the timelessness that is to be.
It was God’s will and purpose that through His Christ He would reconcile the world to Himself. It is certain that God did reconcile the world to Himself when Jesus, the Christ, died, for Paul wrote with great assurance, “And having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven.” Col. 1:20. We must point out, however, that, though the reconciliation is complete, fully paid for and forever settled, yet the carrying out of its universal message awaits the complete ness and the fullness of the Christ body. This, if I err not, is certain, because Paul by the Spirit has definitely said that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, but it is unto us (the members of the Christ body) that He has committed the word of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19), and we, knowing the completeness of His work, pray men in Christ’s stead, “Be ye reconciled to God.” Verse 20. Multitudes of God’s saints would be greatly enlightened could their hearts embrace God’s plan for the ages. God’s dear people are thrown into dreadful turmoil and they attempt to accomplish all manner of presumptuous things because they do not know God’s plan for the ages. The harlot church has filled their minds with the crude notion that all who are saved must be saved in this age or be lost forever. So often we hear men say, “The day of grace is almost ended.” This error is quoted as though it were a scripture text, yet nothing contains less truth than this idle statement. The truth is that God’s grace has only appeared to men (Titus 3:11), but it is not until the ages to come, the kingdom age and the dispensation of the fullness of times, that God will begin to manifest the fullness of His grace. This is why Paul prayed earnestly that the eyes of our understanding might be enlightened – so that we might see that “in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Eph. 2:7 And for this reason he was also able to say that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ. Eph. 1:10.
It should be very evident to all who read that before the Lord can complete the work of reconciliation, He must first bring to completeness His glorious Christ, both the Head and the body as one together. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this truth, because God Himself has spoken, saying that the body is the fullness of Him (or the completeness of Him) who is to fill all in all. See Eph. 1:22, 23. Therefore God must bring about this fullness, this completeness of His Christ, both the Head and the body in one Christ, before the work of reconciliation accomplished by Christ Jesus can be carried out to its universal fulfillment. Much is the labor of God the Father in bringing His sons to perfection, even to the image of Jesus Christ. Thus it will be seen that the first work to be accomplished in the reconciling of the universe must be to fully reconcile those elect persons who were foreknown, predestinated, called, justified, and glorified in Him. Before the broader work of reconciliation begins, the implements of His work must be fully prepared and, since it is by God’s Christ that the world will be reconciled, then it is the Christ who must be first brought to perfection and fullness.
To these things the word of the Lord bears faithful witness, showing clearly that the first ones to be reconciled were the members of the body of Christ, for saith Paul, “All things are of God, who hath (first) reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and (secondly) hath given unto us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Cor. 5:18. It is clear therefore that, after we, the members of the body of Christ, have been reconciled and made complete in Him, a completeness that comes with the redemption of our bodies at the first resurrection (Rom. 8: 23), then the work of the reconciliation of all the rest of creation will begin in earnest, “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you BY US: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” 2 Cor. 5:19, 20
This is the fellowship of the mystery (Eph. 3:9, 10), which from the beginning hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church (the true church, which is His body) the manifold wisdom of God. Weymouth, translating this passage, appears to add much to its force clearly showing that by the church, which is the true body of Christ, the Lord will show to principalities and powers and rulers in the heavenlies the endless aspects of His own wisdom. “To me who am less than the least of all the saints has this work been graciously entrusted – to proclaim to the Gentiles the gospel of the exhaustless wealth of Christ, and to show all men in a clear light what my stewardship is. It is the stewardship of the truth which from all the ages lay concealed in the mind of God, the Creator of all things – concealed in order that the church might now be used to display to the powers and authorities in the heavenly realms the innumerable aspects of God’s wisdom. Such was the eternal purpose, which He had formed in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have this bold and confident access through our faith in Him.” Eph. 3:8-12. Weymouth In the book of Hebrews, chapter ten and verse five, we have this remarkable statement: “Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldst not, but a body hast Thou prepared me.” Then, after saying, “In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure,” he shows that this one who is coming in a body, first the earthly body of Jesus of Nazareth and then the glorious fullness of the body of Christ, is coming, not to offer sacrifice and offering, but to “do Thy will, 0 God“ (Verse 9), by the which will we are sanctified in the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. The moment this one has come and is revealed who offers no meaningless sacrifice, but who does God’s will, then all former things are done away, for, “He taketh away the first that He may establish the second.” Verse 9 Then Christ Jesus becomes the high priest of good things to come by a greater and more per feet tabernacle not made with hands. Heb. 9: 11. The greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands is the body of Christ, which is the fullness and the completion of Him who fills the universe with Himself.
Jesus, the Son of God, is the Head of the Christ body. Col. 2:18. In birth the head is born first, so the appearance of Jesus, the Head, at the beginning of the age was perfect assurance that the body of Christ, which is His fullness, would during this age come forth from the womb to stand complete in Him on Mt. Zion to govern the world in righteousness through ages to come. Triumphant are the words of Him who is the first born of many brethren (Rom. 8:29) as He stands in the end of the age, saying, “Here am I and the children (sons) which Thou hast given Me,” each blessed son having come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Many saints in ages past have beheld scenes of extreme glory in the realm of the Spirit. So glorious were the visions of Daniel that he fell as one dead in the heavenly presence and remained as one sick certain days. Paul described the scenes of the third heaven as unspeakable things, which it was not lawful for a man to utter. But to John was revealed the magnificent glory of seeing the fullness of Christ as He will stand in completeness on the Lord’s day. John saw not the lonely man of Galilee, but “one like the Son of man,” whose voice was as the sound of many waters. Waters signify peoples, and in this case the type is abundantly accurate, signifying that the body of Christ is not one member, but many; yet it is but one body – a spiritual organism through which flows the harmony of God. To endeavor to enlarge on this supernal mystery of the ages, which John was privileged to behold, would only detract from its glory. Therefore we shall quote the words from Holy Writ and leave its lesson to be revealed to all who read and understand.
John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, that is, he was transported in the Spirit beyond the age of grace right over to the end of the age. In spirit he heard a mighty voice as the sound of a trumpet speaking and saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia; ...And I turned to see the voice which spake with me. And, being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword; and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth and was head; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Rev. 2:10-18
Frail and paltry, yes, even demeaning, are the efforts of men to describe a glory which eye hath not seen or ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, but which can only be revealed by His Spirit, who searcheth out even the deep things of God. Nevertheless, this is the mystery, which has been hidden from ages and generations, now to be revealed to God’s saints: The mystery, Christ in you, the hope of glory and the hope of all creation.
TREASURES OF TRUTH, Volume 3, The Mystery of Christ and Our Union With Him [George R. Hawtin] ~ BOOK 1