TREASURES OF TRUTH, VOLUME 12
SEED FOR THE SOWER AND BREAD FOR THE EATER
BY: GEORGE R. HAWTIN
YE SEE YOUR CALLING
YE SEE YOUR CALLING [Cont’d]
THE TRUE LIGHT
ALL AND IN ALL
LOVEST THOU ME
The title of this book, Seed for the Sower and Bread for the Eater, is borrowed from Isaiah 55:10. In its six chapters I have made no attempt to develop one particular theme, but rather to plant kernels of truth which, united, will become one loaf.
In the great body of Christ the many members, differing markedly from each other, nevertheless form but one body, Rom. 12:4,5, and that one body the fullness of Christ. Thus we, being many greatly differing members and ministries, become one bread (loaf). 1 Cor. 10:17.
No truth is in itself a separate entity, but all truths are integral parts of one glorious whole, emanating from and vanishing into Him who fills the universe with Himself. As in the days of the Caesars all roads led to Rome, so all truth both flows from and leads to our wondrous Lord and Christ and through Him to our gracious heavenly Father.
May these somewhat diverse chapters lead us only to Him, who is the source of all truth.
As this age of grace moves towards it inevitable close and the kingdom of God draws near, the diverging paths of the carnal mind and the spiritual mind become ever more distant the one from the other. As the tides of the old age ebb away and the selling surges of the new age roll in from the ocean of God, the natural mind becomes less and less capable of comprehending any of the things of the Spirit. Centuries ago the apostle Paul wrote: “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. 2:14. Whenever, therefore, natural men with natural minds endeavor to investigate the things of God, we should know at once that all such investigations are doomed to end in error, false conclusions and utter failure.
We live in an hour when the natural man with his human mind vainly imagines he can understand anything and everything. He supposes that a mind capable of trips into the stratosphere and journeys to the planets is capable also of comprehending the things of God. Be assured, however, that just as blind men are completely incapable of seeing the marvels of the natural creation all about them, so the natural man, however learned he may be, is completely incapable of comprehending the depths of the things of God. A deaf man may sit and watch the great symphony, but not one sound of the music thrills his ear. Indeed, the motions of the conductor and the obedience of the players may seem meaningless, boresome, amusing, or even stupid to him. But, should his ears be opened what a change there would be! Oh that men would cease from their striving to understand spiritual things with natural minds!
Of our natural understanding it was written: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear hard, 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. Who is it that knows the things of man save the spirit of man? And who is it that knows the things of God save the Spirit of God?
Our Lord Jesus Christ taught Nicodemus that two distinct rearms exist all about us, one belonging to and confined by the flesh and the other belonging to the boundless realm of the spirit. The realm of the flesh is the earthly realm. It is of the earth earthy. It is the realm of the physical incapable of anything beyond the sphere of the five senses. Those who dwell in the realm of the five senses are never able to partake of anything but death. Their eyes are not filled with seeing. Their ears are never filled with hearing. The sweet perfumes of earth must be smelled and re-smelled. Our taste, like the fire, is never satisfied. Every device in our day and every permissiveness is used to cater to the sense of feeling, yet it is never full, but always empty. Because all these things belong to the realm of the flesh and consequently to the realm of death, they are born only to die. The natural realm is hermetically sealed off from the spiritual and can never by its striving reach the spiritual realm. It must be lifted from above, born from above. Just as it is impossible for a stone by infinite striving to become a plant, or for a plant by taking thought to become flesh and blood, so it is impossible for the natural man by any means of his own to enter the realm of the spirit. How vain are the hours of “taking thought”! How useless is penance or self-righteousness! Vain are all works and righteousnesses because man, born of woman, is hermetically sealed in the realm of the flesh and no striving of any sort can make him a citizen of the heavenly realm.
Jesus, who knew this truth better than any of us, directed the mind of the inquiring Nicodemus to the eternal fact that two distinct realms exist, the one of the flesh and natural, the other of the spirit and the kingdom of God. Nicodemus recognized that Jesus was a great teacher, but his poor natural mind was incapable of rising any higher than to marvel at the miracles he saw performed on every hand. There are multiplied thousands of Christians just like that. They can recognize that some supernatural thing has occurred, but the mysteries of the kingdom are completely hidden to them. To explain to them the deep things of God is a waste of time, because their ears are incapable of hearing spiritual things. They have eyes, indeed, and good eyes at that, but they are not open to the realm of the spirit. They cannot understand the heavenly because they are living in the natural realm far below the realm of God.
It was not enough that Nicodemus could recognize a miracle when he saw it. Our Lord has ambitions for His beloved higher far than that. Therefore Jesus told him the secret that would open his spiritual eyes and his spiritual understanding to see and comprehend the things that belonged to the kingdom of God. “Ye must be born again,” He told him. We must be born from above. Our spirits must receive light and life and understanding from God. Then and only then will we be able to see the kingdom of God. I am afraid many, if not all, of us hold twisted and oblique ideas concerning the new birth. We have lowered it to the realm of an evangelistic process, accomplished at a time when people walk to an altar and confess their sins to God. It is more than that, much more, and at the risk of much misunderstanding I would be inclined to say that we are born again and again to realm after realm in God as we are changed from glory to glory and as we proceed from light to light throughout our Christian lives. Paul, who was caught up into the third heaven, never attempted to tell us about it, because he knew it was beyond our realm.
Some years ago I was traveling in the state of Georgia. Some well-meaning Christians had erected a sign by the highway, which read: “Except a man be born again, he cannot go to heaven.” Well, what they said is almost certainly the universal opinion among Christians, but, really now, it is not what Jesus said, is it? He said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” He did not mention heaven. One of the sorrows of my life has been the pitiful discovery that very few Christians every go beyond the ABC’s of the things of God, and what has been more startling still is the discovery that tens of thousands who have once received the baptism of the Holy Spirit are as blind as they can be to the great eternal purposes of God. To multitudes of Christians the cross is only historic. Their Christ has become a little church Christ, all wrapped up in the swaddling clothes of creeds, ethics, doctrines, and systems. The purpose of God to them consists of trying to save as many as possible from a raging inferno which somehow got out of God’s control and into which all will fall who have not seen things their narrow way. What they need is a birth from above that will unfold to their hearts the limitless lengths, the boundless breadths, the deepest depths, and the heavenly heights of the wisdom, the love, and the knowledge abounding in the purpose of the Lord.
The great audience at Athens listened patiently to Paul’s sermon about the unknown God, Acts 17:22-34, but the moment he mentioned the resurrection, they mocked. The natural mind cannot understand the words of Jesus, “Except ye eat My flesh and drink My blood, ye have no life in you.” The unregenerate preacher flounders through his human interpretation, but only the spirit that is born from above can fathom its depths. The Christians of our day have their heads stuffed with church tradition. Tradition has become a false bible to millions who hold it in such reverence that even scripture itself is made to conform to their tradition. They willingly wrest the Bible into any shape to make it conform to their creeds and substantiate their doctrines. Like the Pharisees of old they make the word of God of none effect by their traditions.
If I say that Sunday Schools are nowhere found in scripture and that such a procedure was unknown in Bible times, I will make enemies for myself at once. Christians by the countless thousands will spring to the defense of this unscriptural tradition. Yet you can search both New Testament and Old Testament and you will never find a hint of one anywhere. Should I say that Bible Schools were never known in New Testament times nor ordained of God in Old Testament times, some will surely say I am mad. But can you point to one man any dispensation who ever entered God’s ministry from such an unscriptural source? True ministries are made when men hear from God as did Gideon, Moses, or a hundred others. They were never made by studying homiletics, or the doctrines of the denomination, or the arts of the precentor. No man can speak with greater authority on this than I, for as Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, so am I learned, and that by experience, in all the ramifications of Babylon. There is scarcely a dungeon in its prison house where I was not incarcerated. If you want to know the depths of Satan, you will find it in the Babylon system. Nothing can be more blinding to the sight, nothing more dulling to the ears, nothing more numbing to the senses than the sectarian systems of Babylon with all her human tradition. This “foolish woman is clamorous. She is simple and knoweth nothing. She sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city to call passengers who go right on their ways. Whoso is simple let him turn in hither; and, as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.” Prov. 9: 13-18
From which seminary did Abraham graduate? Where did Enoch learn the truth, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints?” Who taught Moses that “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth?” Did not the Egyptians, in whose wisdom he was learned, teach him that the earth was flat and stood upon four pillars, and that man came from a grub that wallowed in the delta of the Nile? What college taught Daniel the course of the ages? How did he know that in our day “many would run to and fro and knowledge would increase?” What school of the prophets taught Isaiah to say, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and ye shall call His name Immanuel?” Is it not true that the astonishing thing about the twelve apostles was that they were ignorant and unlearned men? Yet the thing that staggered the minds of the learned and the ignorant alike, forcing them to listen to and take note of them, was that they had been with Jesus. If there is one exception to this rule, it must have been the learned apostle Paul, who was a Pharisee of the strictest sect, brought up at the feet of the educator Gamaliel. As far as the Jew’s religion was concerned, he had it all – circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews, touching the law, a Pharisee, concerning zeal, persecuting the church, and touching the righteousness of the law, blameless. Phil. 3:5,6. But see what he did with all this theology when the revelation of Christ shone into his soul, when God drew back the curtain of the flesh and broke down the barriers of tradition that he might see beyond the teachings of carnal men with carnal minds to be born anew into a higher realm where the invisible things of Him are clearly seen.
It was after this that he wrote, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me… immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.” Gal. 1: 15–16. It was after God’s Son was revealed to him that he said of all his previous learning and all his exactness under the law, “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, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Phil 3:7-11. When Paul received his revelation, he called his former tradition “the Jew’s religion,” Gal. 1:14 and that is just what it was. So also it is true that church tradition is only a religion. It is not Christianity.
Is it not true that Martin Luther, learned in all the ritual and ceremony of Rome, abandoned it all and cast it away as filthy rags when the Holy Spirit shone the heavenly light upon these sacred words: “The just shall live by faith.” Being thus born of the Spirit, he saw beyond the monotonous drone of ritual and ceremony into the glorious freedom of God’s sons. Limitless realms, hitherto invisible, were opened wide to his spiritual eyes.
His spirit that had known naught but the wearisome drudgery and bondage of sectarian tradition, which never in a thousand worlds could offer peace, now beheld with open vision the glories of the kingdom of God, limitless as space and boundless as the trackless universe. Emerson wrote these beautiful words so profoundly true to those who walk in the light and revelation of our blessed Lord: “Our eyes are holden that we cannot see the things that stare us in the face until the hour arrives when the mind is ripened. Then we behold them, and the time when we saw them not is like a dream.” That, my friends, is really what revelation is. It is when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, takes the things of God and shows them unto us.
The harlot systems who eat their own bread and wear their own apparel, yet insist upon being called by Christ’s name to take away their reproach, talk in circles all around truth, but never understand it. They speak of the new birth, but never enter its precincts. They theorize about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but never receive the Spirit. They talk of the blood, but never feel its cleansing power. They preach the kingdom of God, but its king they do not know. They talk of sonship, but the Spirit of God’s Son is not in them. Christ, who formed the universe and by whom all things consist, is reduced by them to a little church Christ, a sort of a doll in a manger, who Himself would fade away and be forgotten if we did not do our best to keep His tradition alive. Christ to them has become historic. How weary I am of that thing!
Every year I grow more weary of Christmas, of Good Fridays and Easters. I know Christ was born in a manger. My soul blesses the message of Calvary and the limitless lengths and depths, breadths and heights of God’s wisdom and love vouchsafed for us there! My soul thrills that He rose again! But, oh, how much people miss when they dwell in history! Wonderful was the birth in the stable at Bethlehem, but more wonderful by far the day when Christ was born into the heart of this sinful man. Marvelous is the story of Calvary, but more marvelous still to know that, when He died, I died with Him. When He lay in the grave, I lay in the grave with Him. When He rose from the dead, I rose from the dead in Him. When He ascended to heaven, I ascended to heaven in Him. When He was seated at God’s right hand, I sat in heavenly places in Him. When He comes again, I will come both in Him and with Him, and when He reigns, I will reign with Him. Marvelous beyond compare is the grace of God that says to you and to me, “Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular.” What, brother Paul? What was that you said? That I am a member of Christ even as my hand is a member of my body, or my eye or ear or nose is a member of my body? Yes, that is what he said. And Jesus above all others knew that we, His heaven-born sons, are the completeness of Him who everywhere fills the universe with Himself. It was Jesus Himself who prayed to His Father, “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they may be one in Us.” John 17:21
For centuries the nominal church has read the sublime words of our Lord, “In My Father’s house are many mansions”, without the spirit of revelation ever making known to their hearts that the many-mansioned house which God is building is indeed the mystical body of Jesus Christ, the fullness and completeness of Christ. “Ye are God’s building,” said Paul. “Ye are God’s husbandry.” “You are therefore no longer mere foreigners or persons excluded from civil rights. On the contrary, you share citizenship with the saints and are members of His family. You are a building which has been reared on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the cornerstone being Jesus Christ 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. 2:19-21 (Weymouth)
Listen to the prayer of the apostle Paul as he prayed that the Spirit of wisdom and revelation would fill the minds of the saints of God. Well he knew the dullness of the human heart and well he understood that without the spirit of revelation no man could even begin to see the limitless glory and wonder of God’s purpose for the saints, the elect of God and members of Christ’s body. This is his prayer: “I always beseech the God of our Lord Jesus Christ – the Father most glorious – to give you a spirit of wisdom and of insight into mysteries through knowledge of Him, the eyes of your heart being enlightened so that you may know what is the hope which His call to you inspires, what the wealth of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what the transcendent greatness of His power in us believers as seen in the working of His infinite might when He displayed it in Christ by raising Him from the dead, and seating Him at His own right hand in the heavenly realms, high above all other government and authority and power and dominion, and every title of sovereignty used either in this age or in the age to come. 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. 1:17-23. (Weymouth) Is that not a staggering, awe-inspiring marvel of spiritual revelation? Not only that we are “complete in Him”, but that we are the “completeness of Him” who everywhere fills the universe with Himself! It is when by the spirit of revelation we grasp these inscrutable wonders that we are changed by His Spirit from glory to glory, and we are born anew to walk the elysian fields of revelation and understanding in the precious knowledge of our wonderful Lord.
“Whom do men say that I am?” Jesus asked His disciples, and the reply He got was typical of the understanding of the natural mind, for it can never rise higher than the realm upon which it now is. Naught but the revealing light of revelation can draw back the curtain and let the wonder of truth shine through. Many were the opinions of natural men with natural minds, but all of them were wrong, because the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned. “Some say you are Elijah,” they replied. “Others that you are John the Baptist. Others again say you are Jeremias, or one of the prophets risen again.” “But whom do you say that I am?” the Lord enquired. And Peter with a confidence born of the glory light of revelation replied, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Then said Jesus, as if to add another blessedness to His beatitudes, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.” Then our Lord open the gates of revelation to Peter concerning himself, saying, “And I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church.” Matt 16:13-18.
There has always been something wrong with the way men have interpreted that verse of scripture. Peter is not and never was the foundation of the church, “for other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 3:11. No man can see that foundation except by revelation from on high; neither can he build upon it nor discern that, which is being built. Because there is no spirit of revelation among Christians, they have in the blindness of their minds looked upon the denominational system and called it the church, and, worse still, they have broken even that wretched thing into a thousand pieces and called them the churches. Test it for yourself, my friend. You will not talk to any professing Christian very long before he will ask, “To what church do you belong?” And, when you give your answer and name your denomination, you identify yourself, not as a member of the mystical body of Christ, the habitation of God through the Spirit, but as a member of “that shameful thing”, Jer. 11:13, the Babylon system of harlot sects, who eat their own bread and wear their own apparel, but call themselves Christian to take away their reproach. My answer to those who would enquire of me as to which church I belong is simply this: “I did not know there was more than one church.” It is said that when St. Lucien was asked by his persecutors, “Of what country art thou?” he replied, “I am a Christian.” “Of what family?” “I am a Christian.” “What is your occupation?” “I am a Christian.” To Lucien Christ was all, whether of citizenship, occupation, or family; and this, my friend, will be true of you when you see the truth as God reveals it.
Christ, then, is a revelation, and without a birth from above no man can see Him as He is. The body of Christ is also a revelation from above without which no man can perceive that we are the completeness of Him who everywhere fills the universe with Himself. The church, the ecclesia of God, is a revelation from above without which the church will be to you nothing more than a conglomeration of man-made organizations, sects, and denominations. But, when God by the Spirit reveals His church to you, your eyes will behold a mystical temple rising from the lowly earth to the vaulted heavens, built of stones, indeed, but every one a living stone fashioned without hands to form a living habitation for God through the Spirit. How unutterably small do these organizations of man appear in the light of such heavenly glory! They are chaff that the wind will drive away. Do not boast tome, much less to God, that your organization is growing faster than all the others, as though God cared for that, for what will it profit to grow to the skies only to be cast down and driven away as chaff in the wind of His anger?
People are always referring to the divisions in the church. You are wrong and misinformed, my friend. There are no divisions in the church and there never have been any; and, lest anyone think their eyes deceived them, I shall repeat it. There are no divisions in the church and there never have been any. “But,” you object, “look at them all about you! There are almost a thousand denominations.” No, my friend, you are looking at the wrong thing. Those denominations are not the church; they are Babylon. Their speech and language is as confused as were the people at Babel. When the angel revealed Babylon to John, he saw on the woman’s forehead these words: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. Rev. 17:5. Babylon, too, is a mystery, a very great mystery. I am inclined to think that one of the greatest mysteries about her is her ability to deceive all nations, Rev. 18:23, and make the millions of earth believe that she who is robed in purple and scarlet, she who is drunken with the blood of saints and the martyrs of Jesus, she who has a whore’s forehead, is in truth the bride of Christ, the chosen of God. This is without doubt a great mystery. It is a mystery that has deceived us all at one time or another, Mystery Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, posing as the spotless bride of Christ.
There is another mystery, a sacred mystery. It is the mystery of the body of Christ, which for centuries slowly but surely has been rising in the Spirit, founded upon the Rock of Ages. God with infinite care and patience has been choosing its members one by one, putting His Spirit within them, assigning their places to them. By spiritual joints and bands and that which every joint supplieth He has been forming them into one body of sons and, when all is complete and He draws back the shrouds, all creation will behold the wonderful sight of the sons of God, the mystical body in the image of Jesus Christ. Even now all creation stands on tiptoe, waiting to behold the wonderful glory of the sons of God, of whom Jesus is the firstborn. Then shall the triumphant shout fill the heavens and echo among the everlasting hills, “Behold, I and the sons which God has given Me!”
Sonship, too, is a revelation. I do not belittle or depreciate the value of spiritual gifts, but it is pitiful to find little groups of people everywhere wasting their time playing with spiritual gifts. They seem to vainly imagine that spiritual gifts qualify them for sonship. To every man who believes on Christ the door is open that he might become a fully matured son of God. The scripture has said, “As many as received Him to them gave He power to become sons of God; even to them that believe on His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12. Sonship does not consist of mighty works or the operation of great gifts. You can have them all and still be nothing. Paul told us this when he said, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing” 1 Cor. 13:1-3. If God has granted you a spiritual gift, you may bless Him for that, but never allow yourself to think for even a moment that great meetings, many conversions, miracles, healings, or supernatural displays of any kind whatsoever are evidence of sonship, because they certainly are not. There is not one iota of evidence in all Holy Scripture that would lead us to believe these are any sign of sonship. Surely the words of Jesus in Matt. 7:22 should lay that thought in the tomb forever. “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.”
There is a spirit that goes with sonship. It is the spirit of His Son. Paul calls it the spirit of adoption (sonship). Words fail to unfold its mystery because it is divine. It is beyond human explanation and can be understood only by those whose hearts throb in unison with Jesus Christ, God’s first-begotten Son. No teaching can disclose the sacred blessedness of that man whose heart can say, “God is my Father and I am His son!”
“Abba Father,” the spirit of sonship cries!
Tis deep calling unto deep.
Far, far beyond the scope of natural man lies
The sons’ great eternal realm.
Naught but the spirit of sonship
Can take the veil away.
Naught but deep calling unto deep
Will bring in God’s new day.
Night and day must the cry go forth
From deep down within,
Cleansing, purifying, changing,
Till I am fashioned just like Him.
Then in all His glorious fullness I shall come.
Deep will call to deep,
“Abba Father, I am Thy son!
FATHER! I am Thy Son!”
Mrs. Frances Quantz.
There is no possible way of measuring the vastness of God’s plan or of understanding all that His infinite purposes embrace, but the honest searcher must soon conclude that no purpose is dearer to the heart of God than sonship. In sonship lies the hope of all creation. This is the hope of the Creator and this is the hope of creation as well. Built into the innermost being of all created things, whether animate or inanimate, there is a secret knowledge that some day, sometime, somewhere, all will be restored when the sons of God, all in the likeness of their elder brother, deliver creation from its thralldom and decay into the glorious freedom of the sons of God.
Does it not reveal what lay in the heart of God that He should say, “Let Us make man in Our image and after Our likeness,” and, having so said, He brought forth a Son of God? Luke 3:38. You may not believe it now, but if like the blind man you will pray, “Lord, that I might receive my sight,” then God will open your understanding and touch your brow with the finger of revelation. Then will the eyes of your understanding be enlightened and you will know that all God purposed in the beginning will be accomplished just as He planned. Your eyes will see that the fall of man was not a tragedy; neither was it a victory for the devil nor a momentary triumph on his part. The fall of man and the closing of the gates of Eden were all part of an eternal purpose, which to this hour only the Father fully understands. Trials would be of no value at all if we understood them at their beginning. It is of faith that it might be by grace. Rom. 4:16. Testing would not be testing if we knew the outcome from the start. There would be no room for trust or faith if we knew the end from the beginning. Happy is the man who can walk the weary path of fiery trial with faith in his heart that, when the trial is over, he will be more in the likeness of God’s Son than at the beginning. Blessed is the man who endures temptation, knowing that it is of the Lord, assured in himself that the trial of his faith worketh patience and patience, having her perfect work, makes him both perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Jas. 1:4.
How miserable is the Christian who gropes along through life devoid of understanding, blaming the devil for every trial, temptation, and affliction. In sickness he blames the devil. In loss he blames the devil. When temptation and trial come, he blames the devil. Wake up, O man! Look beyond the shadows and you will see the Lord. The eyes of your understanding will be opened to see that for sons of God great tribulation is a must, that patience must have her perfect work, that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. How harmful are those sermons by which men are taught that God is always in the sunshine, the affluence, the merry, and the bright! Nonsense, man! God has always perfected men through much affliction. The moment you understand this, you will say with Paul, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Cor. 12:9–10. We do well to sing, “So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,” but we do wrong to flinch the moment it is placed upon our shoulders, blaming the devil for it and trying our best to get rid of it. The fault with multitudes of God’s people is that to them the cross has become historic; it is never experimental. It is to be shunned rather than cherished and embraced, yet by its power still the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.
What does it mean to you, my brother, when you hear God say, “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth”? Is chastening from such a hand of love to be attributed to the devil, or is it rather the kindly hand of the Father bringing a son to perfection? Of Jesus our Lord it is written, “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered: and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” Heb. 5:8–9. “It became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Heb. 2:10. Therefore, “consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” Heb. 12:3–4. “Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children (sons), My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him.” Heb. 12:5. Instead of blaming Satan for your afflictions and trials, your temptations and reverses, look through the storm and you will see the hand of God. Look to Him for wisdom, and of His great understanding He will teach you. When you lay your head on a pillow of stone in the night of your despondency, your dream will disclose God at the top of the ladder and you will awake in the morning with these words on your lips: “Surely God is in this place and I knew it not.”
It will be a glad day for you when your prayers cease to be demands, when you stop telling God what He must do for you, for your children, for your relations, for the heathen, the church, and a thousand other paltry human desires. It will be a great day, I say, when your voice falls silent to these vain requests and instead from the depths of your spirit you whisper, “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth. Lord, open mine eyes that I may behold Thy eternal purpose and my place in Thy plan. Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” Much of the praying done by Christians is utterly useless. Has God become senile that you must remind Him? Is He deaf that He cannot hear? Has He forgotten that which was committed to Him? What makes you think that you and your children and your relations must at all cost be spared from any cross or suffering? Better far it would be to earnestly enquire of His wisdom that you might understand the mysterious way His wonders are performed. Could Jacob have saved his son Joseph from slavery in Egypt, he would certainly have done so, but what harm and eternal loss there would have been. “All these things are against me,” cried the despondent old man, but he knew not that God was in the whole scheme nor that behind all lay the mystery of His eternal purpose.
In the depths of my heart I believe that the long, long night of waiting is almost at an end. God’s family of sons, chosen in Christ before the foundation of the ages, has almost filled up its sum. The feet members of the body of Christ are being shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. The gospel of peace is for the kingdom age. It will be the kingdom gospel. The sons of God will proclaim it. So bright will be the light of their shining that all men shall know God from the least to the greatest. The kingdom will be the age of the bridegroom, the dispensation when Jesus will be the head and the sons His many-membered body. This will not be the body of the bride, but the body of the bridegroom, Christ Jesus with His many brethren. Rom. 8:29. For one thousand years shall they reign with Him in His throne, bringing deliverance and universal peace to all creation.
In those blessed days shall the bride, our lovely Eve, be brought to the glory of her female perfection and it shall come to pass in the end of those days of blessed millennial glory that the heavens will open and from its glory will descend the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the bride of Christ, prepared and adorned for her husband, the many-membered body of Christ. Upon her lovely head shall rest the glory of God, and her light shall be like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone clear as crystal. Here at the end of the kingdom age the marriage of the Lamb takes place, for man has returned to God, male and female, in one “image of God”. Then shall the new temple appear, for the Lord God almighty and the Lamb are the temple thereof. Rev. 21:22. The marriage of the Lamb of God to His bride will signal the beginning of the age of the ages, the dispensation of the fullness of times when God shall gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are in earth, even in Him. Eph. 1:10. There shall be no more male or female, but “man in God’s image” as it was in the beginning. There will be no more Adam and Eve, but they two shall be perfect one, though a multitude that no man can number. Man in God’s image, the child of omnipotence, a pure virgin, after the form of the Eternal, a fountain of meekness and love flowing as living water from the heart of the Eternal, filled with chastity, modesty, purity, and wisdom — man at last and forever in the image of God.
When our Lord Jesus Christ unfolded the truth concerning the bread of life as related in the sixth chapter of John’s gospel, He found the people willing to follow Him to a certain point, but, when He told them that He, the Son of God, was the bread of God that came down from heaven, immediately they were greatly offended. And when He said, “Except ye eat My flesh and drink My blood ye have no life in you,” many of His disciples said, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?” Jesus, seeing their offence and understanding the dullness of the natural mind, left us this truth: “It is the spirit that quickeneth (makes alive); the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Verse 63 But from that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.
Natural men with natural minds can never see nor comprehend the realm that lies just above them. But I am sure that, if any man will bow his heart in humility before God, confessing the limitations of his natural mind and the blindness of his heart, if he will ask the Lord to open his eyes and give him understanding, then, before many days have gone by, a spiritual light will flood his mind with the truth he needed to know. Then he will see what he had not seen and he will know the Spirit has taught him that which man could not teach. Christian people have put far, far too much faith in men, far too much confidence in preachers and teachers. They seem to have forgotten the admonition of John who warned the people against the seducers of every age. “These things,” said he, “have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it (the anointing) hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.” I John 2:26, 27. The anointing is the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father. This is the Spirit of Christ, who filled the waiting souls at Pentecost and has come to abide in the hearts of all who believe. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in this age to lead us into all truth. You have surely noticed that John wrote, “The anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth.” Not only does the anointing teach us truth, but the anointing is truth. Our minds may be confused with all manner of nonsense and misconceptions from men who claim to be teachers, but when the Spirit teaches us, the Spirit is truth. The truth is teaching us the truth.
So important was it that we should receive the Spirit and honor Him as our instructor that Jesus left us this parting message: “I will pray the Father and He shall give you another comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: But ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you … At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you.” John 14:16–17, 20. The method of instruction used by the indwelling Holy Spirit has been clearly laid down by Jesus Christ Himself. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, 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 16:12-14
The Holy Spirit never speaks of Himself, but He always glorified Christ. What He hears of the Father (verse 13) He shows to us. And if we will live in contact and harmony with Him, He will instruct us concerning things to come. Whenever, therefore, we see a man rising up into prominence and receiving the ovations of the people, we may readily know that, regardless of what he has to say, Christ is not being glorified, for in whomsoever the Holy Spirit is Lord, Christ is lifted up and glorified in the hearts of the people so that He alone is seen, and seen as God’s only begotten Son.
“All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore said I, that He (the Spirit) shall take of mine and shall show it unto you.” Verse 15 This is the spirit of revelation. It is the Holy Spirit of God, the blessed Paraclete, the Comforter, the Advocate, who dwells in us. Nothing is unknown to Him, for He is omniscient. To those who seek His wisdom He takes the things of God and shows them unto them. During my life many precious people have asked me questions I could not answer, but there is nothing that He does not know nor anything He cannot teach. He even extends His blessing to the world at large, for when He has come, “He will reprove the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment: of sin because they believe not on Me, of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and of judgment because the prince of this world is judged.” John 16:8-11
In the last days knowledge shall increase. Dan. 12:4. In the past ten years we have seen all the accumulated knowledge since Adam doubled, and in the next five years it will probably double again. But not in the world alone shall knowledge increase, for there is a company of people rising in the likeness of Christ.
They are entering beyond the veil of the flesh into a realm where man with his complicated rockets and computers cannot enter. It is the realm where God dwells in the Spirit, a realm closed to natural minds as surely as the animal world is closed to the mineral world. It is in this realm that His Spirit calls us to dwell. Here we must live and move and have our being.
Long ago in Israel the Syrian armies had surrounded the little town of Dothan. In their hands were orders to capture Elisha the prophet of God who had consistently revealed Syria‘s plans to the king of Israel. When the servant of the prophet saw the city surrounded by chariots and horsemen, he cried to Elisha, saying, “Alas, my master, what shall we do?” And Elisha prayed and said, “Lord, I pray Thee, open his eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” Kings 6
The continual burden of my heart, dear reader, is this: Cease from thy dependence upon the wisdom of man. Say to thy Father in heaven, “Open my eyes, and anoint my understanding that I may behold Thy glory, for by beholding I shall be changed into Thy likeness.”
YE SEE YOUR CALLING
Our spiritual progress is often painfully slow. What Christian has not longed for greater spiritual growth, divine maturity, and vibrant life in Jesus Christ? There is not a healthy Christian anywhere who does not long to be delivered from this present evil world and from the lusts that bar our progress to the fullness of life and the foul disease which still sickens the body, turning strength into weakness, vitality into apathy, and vigor into exhaustion and the rottenness of our bones!
When men and women are sick in body or in mind, there must be some simple underlying cause for their illness, and, if that cause can be discovered and the misadventure corrected, health and life will flow into the body as waters flow when an obstruction is removed. Sit for an hour with your right leg crossed over your left knee and your foot will possibly go to sleep. You need not call the doctor to cure the trouble. All you do is uncross your legs and the restricted blood, freely flowing through the veins, will immediately restore it to life. Tie a tourniquet around your wrist and your hand will go numb; remove it, and life is restored. Leave it there too long, and the hand will die. Remove the cause of sickness and the body is well. Treat the symptoms and the malady remains. Countless thousands are at this minute facing a painful death from lung cancer because they insist on filling their lungs with tobacco smoke. They need neither medicine nor operation; all they need to do is discard the unholy cause of their illness. Long centuries ago the glorious Lord gave His people Israel a set of physical health rules, and with them He also gave a set of spiritual laws, telling them plainly that, if they observed those things, they would endure none of the diseases of the Egyptians. Deut. 7:15. So true and faithful was His word that King David, exulting later in the wonder of God’s faithfulness, said, “He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.” Psa. 105:37. When our minds grasp the significant fact that two million, five hundred thousand men, women and children wandered in that burning wilderness for forty years without a doctor, a hospital, an ambulance, a stretcher, a pharmacy, an aspirin, or even a crutch, then we can better understand how meaningful is obedience and faithfulness to God’s command, and how necessary it is to discover the root of all our trouble and remove it out of the way as a man would dig up and remove from his pathway a stumbling stone that often had hurt his feet and distressed him by many a fall.
It is not our purpose here to deal with physical diseases or divine healing. Neither do I wish to speak of the many evils that continually beset Christian men and women, but if by God’s grace He will open our eyes that we may see the path of life while our spiritual minds grasp His eternal purpose, then all spiritual apathy will vanish away, and our growth in Christ, our progress in wisdom and understanding, will be multiplied exceedingly, and, beholding Him, we shall be changed into His likeness.
There is nothing worse in life than aimlessness, nothing so dreary as purposelessness. Many years ago, during the great depression, a brother wrote me a letter. Speaking of the difficulties that beset him, half in jest but with evident sincerity he made this unforgettable statement: “I saw wood to eat, and I eat to saw wood – each that I might do the other!” Would you not think that a man would soon lose his ambition if he knew his whole life was condemned to such a mundane existence as that? Purposelessness will soon destroy a man and reduce him to something less than a cog in a wheel, as it has been so wisely written: “Where there is no vision the people perish.”
And now I will venture to say that stagnation and death have overtaken millions of Christians because, whether they realize it or not, their very existence as children of God has become purposeless to them. It is certainly true that the preachers continually buoy them up by placing before their flagging minds the hope of a blissful heaven and, failing that, the torment of a blistering hell, but what purpose would there be in these if the heaven they preach is naught but a resting place and the hell they declare is but a place of torment? To me it is no great wonder that Christians themselves become apathetic and the world is full of backsliders and unbelievers. I speak with great respect and godly fear when I say that we must rid ourselves of all these childish dreams that portray the redeemed in heaven with nothing to do forever but laze about in a palace and shout hallelujah while unbelievers in hell have nothing to do but blaspheme and suffer torment eternally. The God I know to be infinite in wisdom, full of compassion, tempered with loving kindness and tender mercy, and above all else abounding in purpose, is only dishonored and slighted by such childish doctrines as these. “He will not always chide; neither will He keep His anger forever.”
Lest there be many who would imagine me to be cynical, we will leave the negative way of looking at things while together we go to explore the ineffable glory of the distant hills. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help,” sang the sweet minstrel of Israel, and it is only when we lift our eyes to those mighty mountain peaks of God’s intention and purpose that our souls are thrilled with their unimaginable prospect, our spirits lay hold of the eternal promises and joyfully we strip off every weight that with patience, endurance, and faithfulness we may run the race that is set before us. Jesus Christ, the oldest and tallest brother in our family, is the author and finisher of that faith which turns our eyes to the “Mt. Everest” of our hope, toward which we run with patience, walk with faith, and, having done all His will, at times we simply stand, our loins girt about with truth, our lights burning, and our eyes beholding the beckoning peaks afar.
My fellow pilgrim, have you ever paused long enough from your activity to become gripped by the force and eternal significance of these four words: We are God’s workmanship? Why don’t you take off the rest of the hour, or perhaps the rest of the day, just to let the Holy Spirit fill your mind with the abounding significance and the everlasting importance of those four words? God’s people read the Bible with less concern than they show when reading Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
They recite its supernal promises as flippantly as they would recite ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’, and so by memory devoid of thought or meditation we rhyme off such profound truth as this: “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” I make the following statement without fear, for I know I speak the truth. Grasp it, then, with all your soul and spirit and with the power of your godly mind, for to see the truth of my statement is to lay hold on eternal purpose and even life itself. God’s most important work in the earth today is you. The important thing is not others, as the preachers are forever crying. The important thing in this age is the calling and perfection of you and me and all the elect who are to form His spiritual body. This is the work of God! We are God’s workmanship, and during this age that master craftsman, the Almighty Lord Himself, full of wisdom and abounding in counsel and might, never lifts His eyes from His precious masterpiece to attend to anything else until that work is complete.
Listen now with infinite care to the plan He divulges to the faithful and believing soul. Give sincere and reverent audience to His words as the Holy Spirit unfolds for our learning just what the master workman is doing and why He is performing the task with such infinite care. Though all the prophets from the beginning of the world have spoken of the ‘restitution of all things’, Acts 3:21, there are special concentrations of the truth of restoration in various places of God’s holy word. Without doubt Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is one of the most outstanding sources of revelation on this so great a truth. In it the apostle diligently applies his great knowledge and spiritual understanding of the mystery of God’s will, Eph 1:9, first by showing us what the divine will is – “that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ”, Eph. 1:10, and, secondly, by teaching us that, in order to carry out that irreversible intention, He has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Eph 2:6–7. It is for this reason and for the accomplishing of this all encompassing restoration that God in His great wisdom is now raising up an elect and chosen people in the very image of Jesus Christ, that in the ages to come they might show the whole universe of God’s creation the “exceeding riches of His grace.” It is because of this universal intention that the almighty Lord is now in this age concentrating His infinite wisdom on the task of preparing chosen sons to carry out His purpose, and that we are called “God’s workmanship.”
With this knowledge in mind it is not difficult to see Paul’s spiritual reasoning as he traces the progress of the elect from the time when they were dead in sins and full of the world’s base cravings to repentance and faith and life in Christ until, seated with Him in glory and perfection, they shall demonstrate to both principalities and powers in the ages to come the exceeding riches of His grace. Thus the apostle declares: “To you also, who were dead through your offences and sins, which were once habitual to you while you walked in the ways of this world and obeyed the prince of the powers of the air, the spirits that are now at work in the hearts of the disobedient – to you God has given life. Among them we, too, once all passed our lives, governed by the inclinations of our lower nature, indulging the cravings of that nature, and were in our original state deserving of anger like all others. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the intense love which He bestowed on us, caused us, dead though we were through our offences, to live with Christ – it is by grace that you have been saved – raised up with Him from the dead, and enthroned us with Him in the heavenly realms as being in Christ Jesus, in order that, by His goodness to us in Christ Jesus, He might display in the ages to come the transcendent riches of His grace. For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith; and that (faith) not of yourselves. It is God’s gift, and not on the ground of merit – so that it may be impossible for any one to boast. For we are God’s own handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works which He has predestined us to practice.” Eph. 2:1-10. Weymouth’s Translation
The moment the Holy Spirit reveals to our hearts the infinite wisdom of God’s eternal purpose and intention, then everything everywhere begins to fall into place and order from the fall of men and angels in the beginning to the restitution of all things in the end. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming. Then cometh the end (of the resurrection) 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. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. … And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him (the Father) that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” 1 Cor. 15:20-26, 28
Such truth as this requires deep spiritual thought and meditation. Do not read it lightly and go away to forget it or you will be like a man beholding his image in a mirror, who goes away and forgets what manner of man he was! Let these truths sink down deep into your heart with much prayer, searching, and meditation, for it is no light thing that the God of all wisdom and understanding should have chosen you before the foundation of the world and sent His Son to redeem you that you might be raised from the mire of sin to sit with Him in His glorious throne, that in the ages to come the universe itself, together with myriads both of angels and of men, might see displayed in you the unsearchable riches of God’s grace. That this is the teaching of Eph. 1:7-11 and 2:5-10 who on earth would dare deny?
Long ages ago the holy prophets, who every one spoke of the times of the restitution of all things and the grace that should come unto us, enquired and searched diligently “what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.” 1 Pet. 1:10-12. “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 Saviour Jesus Christ. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.” 2 Pet. 1:10-12
“Ye see your calling, brethren,” and, seeing it, we count all things but loss for the excellency of that knowledge. Once the vision of His intention dawns before our wondering eyes, all else becomes mere chaff that the wind drives away. Earth’s possessions become a burden, money naught but a very temporary means of exchange, fame a thing to be scorned, praise a thing to pass unnoticed, pleasure a joy found only in doing God’s will, and suffering naught but a means of grace. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.” 2 Cor. 7:1. It is my earnest prayer to the Father of all light that he will open “the eyes of your understanding, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe (toward us believers).” Eph. 1:18-19. It is no light thing, my brethren, that heaven’s high and exalted throne should decree that man was to be made in God’s image and be given dominion over beasts and fish and birds. By a declaration so seemingly small the Lord is proclaiming that man, when perfectly in God’s image, will be given dominion over things in heaven, things in earth, and things under the earth, as Paul so wonderfully taught concerning God’s first exalted and perfect Son: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at (in) the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” Phil. 2:9–10. And, having uttered such incomparable truth, he made fervent plea to us that we, as redeemed men coming into “that same image,” should work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for he said, “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure,” and that we should do all things without murmurings and disputings, that we may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom we shine as lights in the world. See Phil. 2:12-15.
A very wholesome fear possesses my heart, continually urging me to warn God’s children that few – oh so pitifully few – Christians ever show that they are taking God’s calling seriously or ever render anything more devout to Him than mere acquiescence and lip service. “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they might be sanctified through the truth” said Jesus. It is the truth that sanctifies and sets men apart unto God and it is the truth, coming from the heart and hand of the sanctified Christ, that sets men free from the absorbing, encroaching, time-consuming bondages of this deceptive age of make believe and unreality. My brethren, are you indulging in the ruinous error of making much of this present evil world? Are your labors spent in hope of laying up treasure on earth? Have you not heard that here moth and rust corrupt, and thieves – even thieves built into our financial system in the form of taxes and inflation – break through daily to steal? Do you set your heart on things’! Things to see, things to taste and touch, things to feel? Do you know that all things are changing and passing away, as the poet wrote in plaintive words:
Change and decay in all around I see!
O Thou, who changeth not, abide with me.
It is perfectly true that that which changes and never remains the same is unreal rather than real, for today it is one thing and tomorrow it is something else, always fading, always degenerating, always passing away, and never remaining the same. Though we know all these things and nod our amens to what is said, still Christians, like their brethren in the world, are always busy here and there, doing this and that, paying court to all that belongs to the realm of the visible, never stopping to consider that only the things that are not seen are eternal.
Do not embrace the deception that you must be up and doing for God. That is a great deception. It is not found in the word of God, but is foisted upon gullible people by ambitious preachers, seeking to build up a kingdom for themselves. Only this week I was shocked into indignant speechlessness to hear of a preacher in Texas who had exhorted his radio audience, because of the shortness of the time and the urgency of his message, to give all that they possessed (to him, of course), even if it took the baby’s milk. As a result of his covetous deception one brother had given $49,000, leaving himself and his family penniless. How great will be the judgment of such vile deceivers, and I shall not hesitate to say that the ministry of the Babylon system is full of these experts in cunning craftiness and sleight of men, who devour widow’s houses and for a pretense make long prayers for the sick, or the unsaved, or anything else that will bring them an extra dollar. Cursed be their deception, for it is very great. Their sins have reached unto heaven and fearful will be their destruction from the presence of the Lord.
The false alarm has gone out over the world, and it always sounds so right, crying, “Others! Others! Others!” But many are going to say at last, “They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.” Songs of Solomon 1:6. “The pastors have become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.” Jer. 10:21. “Many pastors have destroyed My vineyard, they have trodden My portion under foot, they have made My pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto Me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart.” Jer. 12:10, 11. Our best possible preparation to be a blessing to others is to make sure we have first kept our own vineyard and lived in personal communion with the Holy Spirit, experiencing in ourselves the things we teach. Does not the scripture plainly tell us that the husbandman that laboreth must first be partaker of the fruit? 2 Tim. 2:6, 7
‘Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord who exerciseth loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth: for in these things do I delight, saith the Lord.” Jer. 9:23–24
There is a truth stated by the apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 1:26 that should hold us well nigh spellbound when we grasp its meaning. The statement is very simple and, like so many great truths, it is easily passed by, going completely unnoticed. But you, O people of God, partakers of His high and holy calling and sharers together with Him of the sonship for which creation groans, should give continual meditation and consideration to these inspired words. Paul, having stated that Christ is both the wisdom and power of God, and that the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God stronger than men, said, “Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” It is these words – ” Ye see your calling, brethren” – that we wish to earnestly consider.
I am sure I speak the truth when I say that every man who sees and knows his calling by the Holy Spirit will bend every effort to conform to and prepare himself for that calling for which he was created and which was given him before the world began. He will willingly lend his ear to instruction and bend his heart to keen and earnest devotion that when at last his ministry is entrusted to him he will be both worthy and full of the wisdom and understanding of his heavenly calling. We may be well assured that our heavenly Father, infinite in wisdom and omnipotent in power, will fill the lives of the faithful who share His calling with every kind of instruction to prepare them for the kingdom call, which now we do but dimly see.
“Ye see your calling, brethren,” and all who see it will embrace the cross of correction, of chastisement and suffering. They will with joy lay aside every hindering weight. They will strip for the struggle that they might run with patience and endurance the race that is set before them, not running merely, but running as he who expects to receive the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. “Know ye not that they that run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize”? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly: so fight I, not as one that beateth the air, but I keep my body under, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” 1 Cor. 9:24-27. I am prone to believe that the greatest wisdom a child of God can possess is displayed in his eager submission to the instruction, the correction, and the disciplinary chastening of the Lord, “in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings, by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things.” 2 Cor. 6:4-10. He, who in all these things can see his calling and live assured that each victory, each rebuke, every correction and chastening, every sorrow and joy are things devised by eternal wisdom working together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose, serves Christ, is acceptable with God and approved of men. Rom. 14:18.
“Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty (after the flesh), not many noble (after the flesh) are called.” Since this is undoubtedly true, we need not look to great men of this age and wise men after the corrupt wisdom of this age to be the ones who will share the government of the age to come. It remains, then, for us to see that “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (that is, God has chosen the things which the world calls foolish to confound the wise), and God hath chosen the weak things of the world (that is, the things that the world deems weak) to confound the things that are mighty; and the base things of the world, and the things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and the things which are not to bring to nought the things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Cor. 1:27-29
Since, then, God has rejected the wisdom and power and honor of this world and its system and has chosen instead a people that the wisdom of the world considers foolish, dishonorable, stupid and weak, we should easily see that divine wisdom has chosen us, who for His name are so despised, that no flesh should glory in His presence. It is unto those who glory not in the wisdom and power of the world, but who glory in the wisdom and power of God and stand in Jesus Christ our Lord, that of God are made wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption, according as it is written: He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 1 Cor. 1:30–31.
The only thing we know for certain is Jesus Christ and Him crucified, buried, risen from the dead, ascended to heaven, and seated at the right hand of the Father that henceforth all principality and power, might and dominion, both in this age and in the ages to come are made subject to Him and are under the might of His control. Our wisdom is in seeing Him “as He is,” 1 John 2:2, not merely as He was. We may know nothing else either of manner of life, laws, ordinances, or doctrines, but to see Him as He is, is to see the wisdom and power of God, for the scripture is abundantly clear and the Holy Spirit witnesses with unspeakable clearness that what He is all other sons by God’s infinite grace are now becoming. He is the firstborn from among the dead ones; a vast body of sons will be raised because he was raised. He was crucified; they were crucified in Him. He was buried; they were buried in Him. He was raised; they were raised in Him. He ascended to God’s right hand; they are ascended in Him. He was seated to reign; they are seated in Him. Even in this present age the apostle John waxes so bold that he says, “As He is, so are we in this present world.”
My brother, my sister, you may be so unlearned that you cannot recite the alphabet, so unwise that you could not make one right decision, so weak that all men would oppress you, and so dishonored that none would associate with you, but if your spirit has beheld these things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, then you have attained a wisdom which this world knoweth not. If you have seen yourself crucified in Christ, buried, risen, and ascended in Him, then you are seeing that which angels, who excel in wisdom and strength, have desired to look into; for you have seen yourself in Him, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.
Far above the noise and strife of these six turbulent days of man’s labor, mismanagement, inequity and evil government the coming King sits enthroned, awaiting the fullness of man’s day as David, the anointed but not crowned, patiently awaited the day when God would remove Saul from Israel’s throne and give the kingdom to him. With the coming of that wonderful day will come the completeness of the body of Christ, which is the fullness of Christ, one and all in the image and likeness of that first Son, who through the furnace of affliction was made perfect by the things He suffered. The first man Adam was made a living soul. The last Adam was made a life-giving Spirit. Behold him as among the saints He stands, proclaiming with triumphant voice as the sound of many waters, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last… I am He that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Rev. 1:11, 18. The first man is of the earth earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. Oh, how good it would be, my brethren, if our hearts could grasp the infinite truth that we, too, who came into this world as a “living soul” have now by partaking of Christ’s life become a life-giving spirit, and we who once were of the earth earthy have in Him become “a lord from heaven”. How unsearchable are Thy judgments, O Lord, and Thy ways past finding out; for from Thee everything comes, by Thee everything exists, and in Thee everything ends. Glory be to Thy exalted name forever and forevermore!
“I am the vine; ye are the branches” were the living words that fell as the dew from heaven from the sanctified lips of God’s Christ. As the branch grows out of the vine, so in like manner do we grow out of the vine, which He is. The vine bears the branches. The branches bear the fruit. But, as branches can bear fruit only as they remain integral parts of the vine, so also do we bear fruit only as we abide in Him. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine; ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.” John 15:4–5
My brethren, there must come a time when we as Christians release forever our hold on the world and its foolish deceptive toys. There must come a moment when God the Father and the glory of His high calling in Christ overwhelms our spirit, our soul, and even our body with such celestial desire that with gladness of heart and rejoicing of spirit we joyfully lay aside every weight and every besetting sin to run with patience the race that is set before us, always looking only to Jesus, the Prince captain, the apostle and author of our faith. There must come a time when the Christ mind within us resolves that for the joy that is set before us we will embrace and endure the agonies of any cross. We will despise unashamed any shame that is placed upon us. There must come a time when we gladly forget the things that are behind, and, looking forward with unclouded vision to the glories that lie before us, we press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Let us commune together of things that will greatly help our walk in God, for the Spirit of God teaches me that God’s people will not – yea, cannot – forget the things which are behind until the glory of the things which lie before has laid hold upon them, captivating their hearts, enthralling their vision, and quickening their steps as they urgently press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. He who wears a thin and ragged coat will wrap it close about him and keep it as a precious thing; though in it his body shivers with cold, until a new and better garment is offered to him. Then, despising the old, he will cast it from him to embrace with joy the new. God’s people do not – yea, cannot – release their hold on the fleeting things of this present evil age, persuade them as we will, until their vision has caught a true glimpse of the eternal. “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.”
People, having heard the truth, readily say “A men”, but they have, I fear, accepted the message only with their heads. They have not seen it in their spirits. They read of Babylon and all her abominations and with startled breath, they cry, “How awful” But they continue right on to abide in the system, mingling themselves with the sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore. See Isa. 57:3–4. The call of the Spirit, “Come out of her, My people” has fallen indeed upon their ears, but never has it echoed as the voice of God through the wide corridors of their spirits. Often they read of sonship, but see it only as some grand thing to be attained rather than an immortal life springing from the incorruptible Christ seed to be nurtured and nourished as the precious life of the Son of God, swallowing up death with life and corruption with incorruption.
What do you think, my brother, was in the mind of Paul when he said, “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…” See Phil. 3:7-9. Was he not telling us that to gain those things which men of this world can gain is to suffer spiritual loss? Was he not also teaching that in comparison with the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord everything he had thought good and commendable was in reality comparable only to dung? Foremost among the things he counted as dung were his own religious attainments, his circumcision (in the flesh), his tribal ancestry, his Israelitish descent, his blamelessness as a keeper of the law, and his zeal in persecuting what he thought was false.
What then shall we say of other attainments? Who can doubt that in this day of luxury, ease, and affluence God’s children are priding themselves in attainments more corrupt than these – pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Exod. 16:49. As long as the earth abides, there will be those Christians who, like Esau, are intent on gaining a mess of this world’s pottage, but on the other hand there will be those blessed ones who consign all earthly treasure to the trash heap, if by any means they may attain the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
In our times of meditation we have probably thought deeply of the words of Paul in Romans 8:29–30. “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son… Whom He did predestinate, them He also called and whom he called, them He also justified; and whom he justified, them He also glorified.” There is no more straightforward statement in scripture than the one quoted above. It details each progressive step from God’s foreknowledge in the beginning to our glorification in the end. Glory is not heaven. Glorification is the coming of man into the image of Jesus Christ our Lord, who Himself was the image of the Father. Most of the talk we hear about man’s free will is absurd and utter nonsense. It is the product of the shallow, earthbound thinking of earth’s theologians, who with their natural way of looking at things imagine that the will of the almighty and immutable Lord can be frustrated by the childish whims and fancies of the creature He Himself made. Christians speak of man’s free will in tones of reverent veneration as though it were a thing so sacred that even God Himself would tremble to touch it or interfere with it in any way. There is no greater fallacy among men than this, and I can find no scripture that teaches it. The scripture denies such a doctrine by such direct statements as these: “It is not of him that willeth nor him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy … Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will and whom He will He hardeneth.” Rom. 9:16, 18. Paul, speaking of the fall of creation by the wisdom God had given to him, wrote to say, “The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope.” Rom. 8:20. Even our own predestination is according to the counsel of His own will, that we should be to the praise of His glory who were the first to put our trust in Christ. Eph. 1:11. God’s “intention” is never thwarted, even though He raised up men like Pharaoh to resist His will.
Though the scripture asks the question, “Who can resist His will,” and the answer is obviously, “No one,” there is an abundance of evidence to show that men and women, when called by God, have a responsibility committed to them that will decide their spiritual progress. Can you not hear Paul saying to the Galatian Christians, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you?” And Jude, writing to encourage God’s people to be steadfast in their faith, spoke of the Israelites who wavered and rebelled in the wilderness, saying, “I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.” Jude 5. This same Jude also spoke of ungodly men who had crept in and turned the grace of God into lascivious-ness, adding with great significance that these very deceivers, who were endeavoring to ruin the Christian faith, were “before of old ordained to this condemnation.” Jude 4. When once a soul has turned to God, the Lord gives him the opportunity to make his calling and election sure, and tells him with no uncertainty to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in him to will and to do His good pleasure.
I suppose it would be quite possible to give a thousand principles and directives by which we could instruct Christians in the ways of God and show them how to grow up into maturity, all of which would be wonderful instruction and extremely necessary to spiritual growth. It is easy enough to say, “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.” 2 Pet. 1:5-7. It is very blessed to be able to add the precious promise that goes with this good instruction, “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 Saviour Jesus Christ.” Verse 11 Yet, for some reason that is very hard to explain, perhaps ninety-five out of one hundred Christians are quite apathetic toward all these promises. Some do not even know they are there and few have given them serious thought or meditation. There is a definite reason for their apathy and neglect. The secret will be partially found in the words that follow.
The reason so few people fervently follow the one true God, our Father, but are playing about with “gods many and lords many,” loving money and the things that money can buy, setting their hearts upon possession of things, loving the world and pampering the flesh, which is nothing but the physical body, letting it rule their spiritual lives and give direction to all their activities, then consoling themselves with their church activity and resting assured that, when this life is over, they will all go to heaven and do nothing but shout and play a harp forever — the reason, I say, is simply this: They have been so bunded by the childish instruction and skim milk diet of the church system that their spiritual eyes have never once beheld the great mind and heart of God. Have you ever noticed how some of the prophets and apostles put great emphasis on beholding1! Listen to David, that man after God’s own heart, as he tells of the chiefest desire of his life. “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.” Psa. 27:4
No sooner do we speak of “beholding the Lord” than God’s dear children begin to think of dreams and visions. Personally I can think of nothing more wonderful than to have my spiritual eyes opened that I might see even the shadow of His passing. The glory of the vision Isaiah described in the sixth chapter of his prophecy is beyond human imagination and was undoubtedly the most transforming experience of his life. We do not have time nor ability here to describe the vision that transformed the life of Job when he “saw the Lord” or to tell of Moses who spoke face to face with God and beheld His glory, nor do I know what the vision of the fullness of Christ must have meant to the beloved John as he stood in God’s presence on lonely Patmos, and fell as one dead before the glory of what he saw. Such things are too wonderful for me, though I know the hour is coming when all who have walked by faith will behold at last things more glorious far than these.
Though my eyes have not seen these sacred glories by a vision in the day or in the night, I now attest that the eyes of my understanding have at times been transfixed as they have caught faint glimpses of the wonderful glory of His unfolding purpose that flows like rivers of revelation from His infinite mind. The desire of David’s heart was to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple, which desire he likened to a famished hart, panting for a water brook. Here lies one of heaven’s hidden secrets — to inquire in His temple. In this day of grace you are the temple and Christ, the wisdom of God, dwells in you. With grace He imparts His mind to those who are willing to cast away their own frail wisdom and the ragged garments of their own understanding. “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.” Isa. 40:28–29. God will unfold the magnificent wonders of His ineffable mind to those who diligently inquire. Yea, by the purifying wind of His Holy Spirit He will sweep away as clouds of useless dust those heaps of human tradition, piled layer upon layer by scribes and Pharisees, priests and popes, bishops and canons, yet clinging still as grime to us all, bunding our eyes and numbing our minds to the eternal purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.
Our eyes will behold the Lord, and, beholding Him, we will be transformed when first we see that above all things, before all things, and responsible for all things is God – immortal, invisible, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable and omnipotent, full of all grace, abounding in loving kindness and tender mercy. How wonderfully do the words of Paul glitter with inspiration as he concludes his thrilling instruction in Romans, chapters 9, 10, 11! His glad heart bursting with the knowledge of God’s immutable purpose, he cries, “How inexhaustible God’s resources, wisdom, and knowledge are! How unfathomable His decisions are, and how untraceable His ways! Who has ever known the Lord’s thoughts or advised Him? Or who has advanced anything to Him, for which he will have to be repaid? For from Him everything comes; through Him everything exists; and in Him everything ends] Glory to Him forever! Amen.” Rom. 11:33-36. (Goodspeed)
On the night in which our Lord Jesus was betrayed He spent many hours instructing His disciples in the ways of God. He told them that he was the door to the sheepfold, and also the shepherd that enters the door. He told them of a corn of wheat that would fall into the ground and die and, dying, would bring forth a vast harvest in its likeness. He washed their feet and in washing them declared them to be partakers of Himself. He gave them the cup of life; for the life is in His blood and His was the blood that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel. He had told them of the Father’s house, which we ourselves are becoming, and of the Holy Spirit who would fill the house and abide in it forever to make it one body with Himself. “I am the vine and ye are the branches.” He had told them, “and the branch cannot bear fruit except it abide in the vine.” After instructing them in these and many other things, He lifted up His eyes to heaven in a prayer of benediction upon all He had said, and, being carried away in the Spirit, He spoke to God of other things still far beyond the understanding of their finite minds. “Sanctify them through Thy truth,” He prayed, “that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me … Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:17, 21, 24
“That they may behold My glory,” He prayed. Brother and sister of mine, if we behold Him as the creator and see Him as the author and finisher of all infinite purpose, we are beholding His glory in a way that tradition-ridden men can never know. If we behold Him as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the one from whom everything comes, by whom everything exists, and in whom everything ends, we are beholding truth (and He is truth) which the blind guides of Babylon’s realm have never seen, and, seeing it, we are transformed by a wonderful renewing of our mind. Millions of Christians are willing to accept the truth of Paul’s words, “from Him everything comes,” but they would rather die than believe that “in Him everything ends.” To this I can only say that, if that which had its beginning in God is at last to find its end in hell, then I fear I know not the ways of Him from whom everything comes, by whom everything exists, and in whom everything ends. The simple beholding of truth works a mighty transformation in any man. Beholding Him who is truth, we are changed – not once, not twice, but continually – from glory to glory, for “we all, with open 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.” 2 Cor. 3:18
In the beginning of these pages we set out to declare that God’s great work in the earth for this age is you. God did not intend that all the world should be converted in this age. If that were His purpose, He would accomplish it overnight, for He turns men’s hearts as He turns the water courses and the winds. His purpose in this age is to call out a people for His name, an elect people who know God and see their calling. His purpose in this age is not to heal all the sick, the lame, the maimed and the blind. If that were His purpose, He would send forth His word and heal them. It is not a lack in our faith that keeps the Gentile or the Jew from believing now. The great lack is in our understanding of God’s program. Neither is it a lack of faith that fails to heal the sick. The lack is in our understanding of the program of the Lord. Millions are dying of dread diseases, not because God denies them healing, but because of the way they abuse their bodies. We have only to consider the junk foods people eat to understand why so many are sick. How can mankind pour down gallons of pop and beer and all manner of hard drink, meanwhile filling the temple of his body with poisonous smoke and his stomach with every devitalized food that lies handy and expensive on the shelves of the supermarkets and expect to have good health? If we are looking for a miracle, then I would think the plain fact that such abusers of themselves are still breathing and not in the grave is as great a miracle as one could imagine. Christians as well as unregenerate men will need to bitterly repent of their evil ways before the Lord will do anything for them either in body or soul. “The curse causeless shall not come,” the scripture declares, Prov. 26:2, and many a man would find relief from his illness if he took time to search out the cause. Only yesterday I met an acquaintance on the street. After greeting me cheerfully, she placed her hand over her mouth to suppress her coughing. “I see you have caught a cold,” I said with an air of sympathy. “Perhaps a little,” she said, “but it is mostly smoker’s cough.” Then,” I said, “you should quit smoking.” “Yes,” she replied, “but I have no will power.” The conversation ended there, but it illustrates the truth His Spirit speaks: The curse causeless shall not come. The lady did not need healing; she needed to quit smoking.
Be that as it may, let us behold God’s purpose for this hour. Let our hearts be filled with this message: Our all-wise Father is calling out a people for His name. No one in heaven or in earth can defer His intention; neither can they hasten it, limit or change it. Rejoice, then, with heavenly joy that God has chosen you in this age. Rejoice that your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life for this age. It was not written there for the age of law nor for the age of innocence or conscience, but you were chosen to be perfected in this age of grace. It is because you were predestined that you were called. It is because you were called that you were justified; and it is because you were justified that you are now on the path that leads the faithful to glorification. Your name was not put in the book of life because you were better or greater than someone else, but because God chose you and ordained you that He might commit unto you the word of reconciliation for the age to come when all men, through the ministry of God’s sons, shall be brought to the fullness of the knowledge of God. There was nothing in us that we deserved to be chosen. The God of Jerusalem said to her, “Thy birth and thy nativity is in the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite. And as for thy nativity, in the day thou was born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all nor swaddled at all. None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee…” Ezek. 16:3-5. We were chosen rather for weakness than for strength and for our foolishness rather than our wisdom, for God has chosen the weak things to confound the mighty and the foolish things to confound the wise, and the things which are not to bring to naught the things that are that no flesh should glory in His presence.
Thus ye see your calling, brethren, and how the wisdom of God has chosen the foolish, for they, knowing the baseness of their own foolishness, cast it aside that the mind of Christ might fully dwell in them. We see our weakness, brethren, and, seeing it, we lay aside our paltry strength to partake of Him who said, “It is not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit.” And we, seeing our own blindness, no longer say, “We see.” Sin lies continually at the door of the carnally minded because they are forever saying, “We see,” but forgiveness and vision is for him who only sees by the Spirit of God.
There was a day in the long ago when God’s chosen people Israel stood before Mt. Sinai. The cloud and fire of His divine presence covered the mountain and the voice of God called to Moses to come up into the mount. There in the presence of God the law was given, which Paul in 2 Cor. 3:6-7 speaks of as the ministration of death. “The letter killeth,” he tells us, “but the Spirit giveth life.” When we quote this we should always ask, “What is it that the letter kills?” The answer is very simply this: The letter does not kill the Spirit or the man. The letter, or the law, kills only those things that are supposed to die. It kills man’s sin. It denounces his carnality. It judges the wickedness of his evil heart and thus, being our stern pedagogue, it brings us unto Christ.
Have you ever wondered why it was that the face of Moses shone after he had received this law that kills? Well, there is a wonderful glory in death to self and death to sin and the carnal mind. That glory will soon fade if the Spirit does not come with it to give us the life of God. God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. That is death, indeed, and that is glory! There is a wonderful glory in the cross because there was done that which the law declared should be done. There in Christ the world was crucified. There in Christ I was crucified. There in Christ the Spirit was purchased and shed forth to give God’s life to us and start us on that journey to incorruption, immortality, and aionian life. How can the lips of mortal man proclaim the glory which God has prepared for them who are called according to His purpose? It may not be until that day when we, the sons of God, stand with our elder brother on Zion‘s lofty mountain that we can fully realize the wonderful glory of our calling and how profitable it has been to “make our calling and election sure.” “as the dew of Hermon, Zion, Deut. 4:38, and as the dew that descended on the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commended the blessing, even life forever-more.” Psa. 133:3.
“And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps. And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they, which were not defiled with women (that is, sects and denominations): for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Rev. 14:1-5
YE SEE YOUR CALLING
In the previous chapter we wrote concerning the high and holy calling of God wherewith the Lord has called us to glory and virtue in preparation for our reigning with Christ. We showed by the use of many scriptures that God’s greatest work in the earth during this entire age of grace concerns those elect believers who are being changed into His likeness in preparation for the high calling and ministry in the kingdom of God to come. I started to say that God’s principal work in the earth today is you, and that is the truth. Satan, by using the tradition of the elders, has turned the vision of God’s children away from the truth of their high calling, leading them to embrace endless and meaningless fables that have little or nothing to do with God’s true and merciful purpose. Everywhere and on every hand Christians have become obsessed with the crude notion that God’s purpose for this age is to evangelize the whole world and snatch as many sinners as possible from the flames of an eternal hell. This grotesque absurdity has become part and parcel of the unspiritual thinking of the vast majority of Christians. It is a false notion, a spurious doctrine that makes omnipotence weakness, omniscience ignorance, immutability changefulness, and mercy merciless and cruel. Furthermore it makes purpose purposeless, order disorder, and foreknowledge chaos and confusion.
The plan and order of God for this age was stated by the apostle James with clearness, brevity and eloquence when he, speaking to the apostles and brethren at Jerusalem with the anointing of the Spirit upon him, uttered this remarkable statement: “Simon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles (nations) to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, after this (that is, after He has taken out a people for His name) I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up; that the residue of men might seek after the Lord and all the Gentiles, upon whom My name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world (ages).” Acts 15:14-18
Once God’s plan for this age, outlined above by the inspired lips of the apostle James, has gripped your heart and laid hold of your understanding, then you will clearly see that everything – yes, absolutely everything in this entire age – is working out just exactly as the omniscient God intended that it should. God is taking out a people. He is not calling all people now. He is taking out a people for His name. Jesus is the Christ. To be in Christ means that we have taken His name. To be in Christ is to be a son of God, born of incorruptible seed as Jesus is a Son of God. To be in Christ is to be a member of the body of Christ. To be a member of the body of Christ is to be a king, a priest, a royal generation, an holy people. To be a sharer of His glorious name is to be prepared by God for the kingdom age in which those chosen ones shall show forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. Being thus called to bear His name is to be prepared to reign with Him in the kingdom age, in which age the Lord will begin to gather the residue of mankind and eventually all the Gentiles whosoever and wheresoever they may be. That is the true purpose of the resurrection and judgment of all who died in unbelief. Once you see the clearness of this plan, confusion drops away like a millstone into the depths of the sea and the order of the very creation of God begins to take its place.
Perhaps we should turn from our thoughts of the calling of God long enough to say that there are a few things that must be understood before any man can find order or reason in the Bible. First, we must accept the fact of God’s foreknowledge, that God, omniscient (all-wise) in wisdom and knowledge and almighty in power to carry out every decree, both knew all things and planned all things and all people long, long before ever the ages began. Secondly, in consideration of His foreknowledge, we must accept the truth that whom He did foreknow He did predestinate, and whom He did predestinate, them (and them alone) He also called; and whom He called He justified; and whom He justified, them He glorified (that is, He brought them into the image of Christ). See Rom. 8:28, 30. The church system today, including the more evangelical movements, give only fainthearted lip service to these cardinal truths, but in heart they neither believe nor accept them. According to their doctrine God is calling everybody now, and their acceptance or rejection of His call is made to depend upon the invented lie of man’s free will. This is not truth, and the plan and purpose of God will always be a confusion to all who embrace such falsehood and accept it as truth. We ought rather to believe what James said in the statement we have already quoted, which concerns God’s unalterable program both for this age and the ages to follow.
There is also a definite statement made by the apostle Peter that is immeasurably important if we are to understand God’s great plan for the ages. That statement concerns the restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. Acts 3:21. The reason God’s children make such frantic, though futile, efforts to compass land and sea to get everybody converted in this age is because they cannot see that God is first calling out a people for His name that through them in the kingdom age and in the dispensation of the fullness of times He will gather all things into Christ. Be it known that in this age God’s special purpose and program is to take out a people for His name – that is, a people to bear the name of Christ, the in-Christed – that in ages yet to come (and there are several of them) these elect saints shall rule the world and gather all things in earth and heaven into our wonderful Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. See Eph. 1:10.
Only a few weeks ago a man wrote me a letter in which he bitterly denounced the teaching of the “reconciliation of all things.” He said it was “Satanic” and refused to have this paper sent to him any more. When people call these doctrines Satanic, they unwittingly blaspheme the Holy Spirit, for it was He and none other who inspired Paul to write these words: “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. It was the Holy Spirit who said that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 2 Cor. 5:19. So I say again that until we are able to embrace God’s immutable intention of reconciling all things unto Himself, we will never be able to clearly see God’s plan for this present age nor for other ages yet to come.
To return to our original thought I shall again repeat that God’s great purpose in this present age concerns your high calling in Christ. In this present age you who have believed on His name are the apple of His eye. You are His pride and joy. You are His unfolding of the infinite mystery of the ages. Over you He watches day and night, baptizing you into all manner of trial, tribulation and suffering that the trial of your faith, being more precious than gold that perishes, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Him whom, having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls; which salvation is so precious and its end so great that even angels have enquired into it, and prophets, who by the Holy Ghost prophesied of the grace that should come unto you, have diligently searched what manner of time the Spirit which was in them did signify when He testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed that, not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, which things the angels desire to look into. Wherefore gird up the loins of your minds, be sober and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. See 1 Pet. 1:10-13.
The fact that we are God’s workmanship leaves no room in us for a dilatory, don’t care spirit. The elect of God are always conscious of their heavenly calling. They are the ones above all others who see their calling, and, because they do, they seek no more the things that belong to this earthly realm; they seek instead the things which are above. A Christian who by the Holy Spirit sees His calling is certain to be a person who is filled with a tremendous desire to co-operate with God in all His dealings. The man who yields himself, not to love the flesh, but to love God is one in whom the work of the Holy Spirit goes on apace, but the man who is forever resisting God’s bidding and spurning His correction, twisting and squirming like a bad little boy in a barber chair, will find himself often suffering the chastening rod, and hot indeed will be the fires in his tribulation.
In the hour in which we live thousands of God’s people are coming to a true realization that we are now living in the closing days of this age of grace. There can be no doubt about it. Read any Bible passage concerning the end of the age and you will be convinced that we are now seeing the things spoken of both by the prophets of the Old Testament and by the apostles of the New Testament, but above all by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. A very casual reading of 2 Timothy 3:1-9 should convince even the rankest unbeliever that the words of Paul are accurate, exact, and completely descriptive of the hour in which we live. There is not one prediction spoken in these nine verses concerning the last days that would in any way seem to be latent or lacking in the wild, reckless, violent, permissive age in which we now live.
I need not spend hours trying to convince my reader of the fact that we are now in the end of the age. Even the world of the ungodly knows that the sands in the hourglass of the age are fast running out and our days are numbered indeed. I have thought much on these matters, and in meditation about them there has come into my innermost being a great longing to help all God’s dear children come to a sober and spiritual evaluation of all things which concern their high calling in Christ. It is not my purpose to be harsh or critical but to persuade all men to turn their backs on the world and all its religious systems that they might walk in the way of righteousness. It becomes necessary at times to strongly rebuke the evils of our day, for, if we refuse to rebuke them, God’s people are never awakened nor made aware of the snares that tighten about their necks. People have written to tell me that only a few years ago they thought I was much too harsh and critical concerning the Babylon system, which we call the church, but as time has passed by and they have become better acquainted with her unending evils that reach to heaven, they have come to the conclusion that I was not nearly hard enough. It is only as we walk in the light of His truth that the darkness becomes more abhorrent and the light that streams from the everlasting hills of God becomes ever more blessed, filling our hearts with the sunshine of His love and revelation and our innermost beings with the vitality of the Lord.
As these things have filled my heart and mind, I have wondered betimes how much longer the blessed Lord would give us time to hear these precious truths. We are the children of the light; let us therefore walk in the light as He is in the light that we may have fellowship with one another and that the blood of Jesus Christ might cleanse us from all our sins. God’s dear people in this hour are as sheep without a shepherd. They wander about looking for pasture, for drink, and for rest while the hirelings fleece them but feed them not. We will find truth only in Christ, my friend. Nowhere else can it be found, for He is truth. Time and again I have stated in these pages that there will be no more revivals in this age. The “times of refreshing” we have known in the past will be no more. The next great revival will be at the beginning of the kingdom age when Israel—all twelve tribes of them—will be awakened from their long sleep and their partial darkness. Oh, what a revival will come in that day when they shall say, “What are these wounds in Thine hands?” And He shall say, “These are they with which I was wounded in the house of My friends.” Then shall they mourn as for their first born, (for He is the first born of all creation). Then shall the sons of God reign in glory with Christ in His kingdom, while Israel, the repudiated wife, prepares herself to become the bride. “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” Zech. 12:10. “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in Thine hands? Then He shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends. Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, and against the man that is My fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on My name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is My people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.” Zech. 13:6-9
I do not profess to understand all these things. We all see through a glass darkly and our present understanding is very limited, for we know nothing yet as we ought to know. Nevertheless, do not be deceived by the wishful thinking and vain talk of men who seek to persuade you that this age of grace will end with a mighty world-wide revival. Every preceding age from Eden till now has ended in gross darkness and this age will be no exception. “When the Son of man cometh, will He find faith on the earth?” To this I reply that faith will be found only in the hearts of the very elect, who patiently wait and with longsuffering endure the faithlessness and perverseness of this untoward generation. The noisy, clamorous movements in progress at the present time are the product of man’s clever organization. It is not the Spirit moving upon the face of the deep. When the year is over, there will be greater darkness than ever. There is always enough apparent success in evidence to convince the simple minded, but if you test the spirit of these feigned revivals, you will know that there is no true inner witness that it is the work of God. God is holy beyond the highest heaven and cannot be approached by hard rock music or by those irreverent and blasphemous people who shout, “Hey, God!” The ecumenical movement, the Charismatic movement, the Jesus movement, and Key 73 all come under the same heading. We are now seeing in them, not the coming together of the body of Christ, but the gathering together of the tares to be burned.
As Jesus was ministering to the multitudes, He gave them a parable concerning the wheat and the tares, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.” Matt. 13:24-30. In this year 1973 — known to millions as Key 73 — we are seeing the unusual phenomenon of one hundred and forty denominations with as many different creeds — Catholic and Protestant — gathering together to present “the claims of Christ” to every individual in North America, but, sad to say, very few of these people are aught but strangers to Christ and His grace. This is the work of man and not the moving of the Holy Ghost. It is the gathering of the tares.
At the time of this gathering of the tares another great work is in progress. It is the gathering of the wheat into God’s storehouse. Matt. 13:30. Though tares resemble wheat in appearance, there is a vast difference in their value. Wheat is the very staff of life, but tares sicken the stomach, causing sluggishness and making the headache. They are not fit for food and should be avoided. Oh, that in this hour of separating the grain from the chaff, the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares, and the gold from the dross, God’s people would go unto Him without the camp and forget their idle dreaming of a return to former days and of great revival!
For many years now I have been warning God’s elect that the ending of this age will witness an abominable union of all sects and denominations, Protestant and Catholic, together with a number of the pagan religions thrown in to fill the golden cup of iniquity to the brim. Side by side with this confusion will be some sort of world government so that Mystery Babylon the great will include both a world government and a world church. Thus does this debauched whore sit, filled with the names of blasphemy (more than one hundred and forty of them), arrayed in purple and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication and on her head a name written, Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. Rev. 17. Drunken with the blood of the saints and of the martyrs of Jesus, she boasts within her evil heart, “I sit as a queen and am no widow, and shall never see sorrow.” Rev. 18:7
It gives me great pain to write words of condemnation and I find no joy in disclosing evil, but will you not awaken to see the abominable trend of this hour? Those who have read my writings through the years must surely remember that I have not ceased to warn of the coming union of Rome and her harlot daughters and of the whole world system as well, but to be warned does little to lessen the shock when the spoken truth matures in reality before our eyes. Did you see the front page picture of Golda Meir of Israel shaking hands with the Pope? And the picture of Billy Graham receiving a vestment at the hands of Cardinal Spellman? And now Kathryn Kuhlman, the idol of so many people, is also seen visiting the Pope, shaking his hands and receiving his blessing. In the last years the President of the United States, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Queen of England, together with high officials from the Communist countries as well as India and Japan have all been trekking to Rome to pay their homage to him who “as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” I shall say no more here except to warn that the end is near. The message for us to hear is “Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partaker of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues, for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”
Would God that I had the voice of a trumpet that I could sound from the highest mountain peak the message that we are now in the end of the age! Jesus is coming to set up His long awaited kingdom. The time for the resurrection of the “in Christ” is now at hand. The graves will be opened for all those who have been found in Christ, and they with their Elder Brother will stand on Mount Zion to receive their crowns of glory. The following quotation from 2 Esdras 2:38-48 is clear of this hour. “Arise and stand, behold the number of those that be sealed in the feast of the Lord; which are departed from the shadow of the world, and have received glorious garments of the Lord. Take thy number, O Zion, and shut up those of thine that are clothed in white, which have fulfilled the law of the Lord. The number of thy children, whom thou longest for, is fulfilled: Beseech the power of the Lord that thy people, which have been called from the beginning, may be hallowed. I Esdras saw upon the mount Zion a great people, whom I could not number, and they all praised the Lord with songs. And in the midst of them there was a young man of high stature, taller than all the rest, and upon every one of their heads he set crowns, and was more exalted; which I marveled at greatly. So I asked the angel, and said, Sir, what are these? He answered and said unto me, These be they that have put off the mortal clothing, and put on the immortal, and have confessed the name of God: now are they crowned and received palms. Then said I unto the angel, What young person is it that crowneth them, and giveth them palms in their hands? So he answered and said unto me, It is the Son of God, whom they have confessed in the world. Then began I greatly to commend them that stood so stiffly for the name of the Lord. Then the angel said unto me, Go thy way, and tell my people what manner of things, and how great wonders of the Lord thy God, thou hast seen.” Apocrypha. Compare also Revelation 14:1-5. Saints who see their calling — their high and holy calling in Christ — find neither room nor time to live slip-shod, careless lives. Rather they, seeing their calling, give all diligence to make their calling and election sure by unending devotion in prayer and fasting. Searching the word and digesting it as the enlightening rays of the Holy Spirit fall upon them, they add to their faith with godly diligence every spiritual grace. To faith they add God’s virtue; to virtue, knowledge from on high; to knowledge, temperance — that primary and all essential Christian grace; to patience, godliness; to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love — not the wretched, abhorrent thing the world calls love, but that love which is of God, the fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the bloodwashed heart. Love is of God, little children, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him.
As the wicked Belshazzar, king of Babylon, commanded that the stolen vessels of the Lord should be brought into his ungodly orgy of feasting and drunkenness, so the Babylon of this world system and the Babylon which is the church system has stretched forth an unsanctified hand to filch every sacred truth and sacrament and make them the plaything of their wicked and gross misconduct. No word has been more abused than the word love. It is the theme of every raucous racket that men today call song. That which God abhors as lust the system proclaims as love. What God names adultery and fornication the winebibbers of Belshazzar’s feast call free love. Even the vileness of sodomy and lesbianism is honored with the name love. Ah, wicked and perverse generation, for the idleness of thy words God shall bring thee into judgment and thou shall have thy part in the second death as the word of God has declared, until thou learn that love is of God, and until sin and evil have departed from thee through the bitterness and thoroughness of thy repentance!
Do not be one with those idle talkers who are always saying, “We must show more love.” This is desecrating the love of God by bringing it down to the realm of a mere human trait. Love is not human. Love is of God. Love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Love does not come into the believer’s heart by his trying to imitate Jesus. Love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and comes to fill the Christian’s heart when he walks in the Spirit. “I am the vine; ye are the branches,” said Jesus Christ the Lord. “The branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye (bear fruit), except ye abide in Me… He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” John 15:4-5. The order is simply this: the vine bears the branch, the branch bears the fruit, and the fruit is formed by the life of God flowing up from the very roots of the vine. A man who tries to “show love” can be likened to a man who hangs artificial grapes on the branches just for show. Such presumption makes a pretty show, but both are equally false. It is natural for a grape vine to bear grapes. It cannot bear anything else. It is natural for an apple tree to bear apples. That is the very nature of the tree. It is divine nature for the Holy Spirit to bear His varied fruits. That is the essential life of that Holy One who proceeds forth from the Father. He it was who came into our hearts when we believed. It was He who overshadowed us when the incorruptible seed that liveth and abideth forever was placed within the womb of our spirit, and, as we walk in Him and He in us we have OUT fruit unto holiness. We have our holy fruit, and the end of this, Aionian life.
If we walk in the flesh, following the dictates of the physical body, we will find ourselves delighting in the works of the flesh. The flesh does not produce fruit; it produces works. Thus we are told that “the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Gal. 5:19-21. The world walks in the flesh and in the flesh alone, continually craving full satisfaction for the five senses of the body. Because of this craving for fleshly satisfaction ever increasing corruption is manifest continually.
“But,” says Paul – and but is always a big word when used in holy scripture – “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith (faithfulness), meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Gal. 5:22–23. Against such there is no law, neither in heaven, nor in hell, nor even among the godless nations of the earth. Love is the fulfilling of the law because love is the intrinsic nature of God and the law of God is the expression of that nature. This nine-fold fruit of the Spirit is divided into three sets of three. Love, joy, and peace are the personal heritage of every believer. His spirit sings of the love of God. The love of God is often the theme of his conversation. He feels the love of God, for love is of God, and he that dwells in God dwells also in love. God loves the saint and the saint loves God. In finding joy, he has found that which no worldling has ever known. He who is filled with God’s Spirit experiences joy, not only when all is well, but also when enduring the cross. He is like his Lord, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross and despised its shame. The Spirit-filled saint knows peace such as the world cannot give nor take away. “My peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you,” said Jesus. “Let not your heart be troubled; neither let it be afraid.” That is God’s peace. The world proclaims peace when no peace exists either in their hearts or in the world. The sages tell us that peace is the absence of war, and many other such clever and eloquent things they say, none of which even remotely describe His peace that flows like a river amid the wilderness of this warring world. The calm assurance that let Jesus sleep when the violent storm was swamping the boat, the godly confidence that gave the rest of a dreamless sleep to Peter as he lay between two soldiers, awaiting death on the morrow, is the peace that Jesus gives. Love, joy, and peace – the fruit for our personal blessedness, growing richly on the branches of the true and living vine!
I shall not take time to describe at any length the fruit of longsuffering, goodness, and gentleness, but these three are the fruits of the Holy Spirit being manifest through us toward mankind. Meditate upon these three and you will become aware that all these did our God manifest toward us when we were far away from His fold. It was His longsuffering, goodness, and gentleness that led us to the foot of His cross. In like manner the Holy Spirit, dwelling within, displays through us to all creation that blessed fruit of longsuffering, goodness, and gentleness. The knowledge of God’s eternal purpose is spiritual food for longsuffering, goodness, and gentleness, for we, seeing the plan of God even in the present blindness and unbelief all about us, suffer long with much gentleness and goodness, knowing the glorious end the Lord has in view. The final three – faith (faithfulness), meekness, and temperance – are manifestations of the Spirit through the believer toward his heavenly Father. The faith we have is not in ourselves; neither is it in our fellow man. Faith must always be anchored in God. Hast thou faith! Have it to thyself before God, for “without faith it is impossible to please Him. He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Heb. 11:6. Meekness, too, is a fruit unto God. Those who walk in meekness before God will manifest meekness before men. Meekness knows no rebellion against God, though he who possesses it may, like Moses, call down fire from heaven on the enemies of the Lord or bring the plagues of Egypt upon a rebellious Pharaoh. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him” is the true spirit of meekness. Temperance is a fruit before God. He that striveth for the mastery is temperate before all things. They do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible (crown).
As time passes by and we come nearer and nearer to the end of this, the sixth and final day of man’s labor, an ever increasing number of people are filled with a God-given longing to depart from the forms and ceremonies of religion that they might come to know the Lord and to be like Him. From time immemorial the saints have lifted plaintive voices to sing with irrepressible desire:
There’s a longing in my heart for Jesus!
There’s a longing in my heart to see His face!
I am weary, 0 so weary, of traveling here below!
There’s a longing in my heart for Him.
Many have tried to be like Him by imitating Him, but imitation will never do. Parrots and monkeys take delight in imitation and learn the talk and actions of men, but their imitation never makes them one bit more human. Neither does our imitation of Christ in any way change our hearts or make us more like Him. There are far too many people who feign Christ-likeness, but in the end they deceive themselves more than other people. Nevertheless, there is a way, ordained by God, by which men who were born in sin may attain the image and likeness of the Lord.
Before we attempt a brief discussion of that subject, let us call to remembrance that we are born of incorruptible seed. The Christ seed has been placed within our hearts and we are begotten of God. From that Christ seed within Christ is being formed and we are coming to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Nothing can be more certain than that Christ in us is the hope of glory. I have often stated that the glory of God is the image of Christ. Thus slowly and steadily, as time passes by, the Christ image is forming in us until at last it shall be said by all the in-Christed, “Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ, liveth in me.” Nothing can stop this sonship progress, but there are many things that can impede it and there are, thanks be to God, many ways by which that wonderful progress may be helped toward its fullness.
David, the king of Israel, was much more than a king. He had a God-given gift of music and song, and, like our Lord Jesus Christ, he was also a true prophet. Acts 2:29–30. Many and varied were the difficult experiences of his life and, though it seemed that some of them would crush his very soul, each and every one of them worked steadily for his eternal good just as our tribulations, our pitfalls, our weaknesses, and our fiery trials are also working together for our good. We will all discover at last that our inherent weaknesses made us draw our strength from the living Christ. Every day we live we are learning that the natural man has no power or strength to resist evil. Man himself is inherently evil, born in sin and shapen in iniquity. Because of this inborn weakness he learns through many trials never to trust in himself or to lean upon the failing arm of flesh, but to find his overcoming power in the omnipotent Spirit. Our constant failures and our proneness to yield to the ever present overpowering lusts of the flesh should be incentive enough to cast off the tattered garments of our self-righteousness and self-confidence that we may make the Lord our strength, our righteousness, our shield, and the lifting up of our heads. Every man on the face of the earth has his little day of trusting in his own righteousness and in the paltry strength of his own arm, but, before many months have passed, we discover to our sorrow that we are men and not God, and our horses are flesh and not Spirit. Isa. 31:3. He that helpeth shall fail and he that is helped will fall down. Only Christ, dwelling within, can make us stand. He is our victory. Our help cometh from the Lord.
Few men who have ever lived became more aware of their fatal weaknesses than did David, king of Israel, the man after God’s own heart. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me,” he mourned. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest… . Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part Thou shall make me to know wisdom.” From Psalm 51. David found great strength and transforming power in “beholding the Lord.” “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.” Psa. 27:4. When he prayed that he might be delivered from men of the world and from those who have their portion in this life, he said, “As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness.” Psa. 17:14–15
It is not until we grasp the significance of this worshipful act of beholding as taught to us in the New Testament that we as the maturing sons of God begin to understand its infinite importance. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, unveiled a vast mine of hidden wealth when he uttered this simple but mightily revealing statement: “But we all, with open face (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.” 2 Cor. 3:18. In this sublime passage the apostle is showing us in the clearest possible fashion how true and faithful children of God are changed into the exact image of that first perfected Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. “No man can see God and live,” the scripture proclaims (Exod. 33:20), and I think all who read these lines must assuredly know that the opposite is also true. No man can see God and die. Did you ever read of any man who saw God and died? It is true that some of them, as John and Daniel, fell at His feet as dead, but He picked them up and stood them on their feet again. The truth the Lord would have us see is that, when we behold Him, everything dies that should be dead and all that should live lives with the life of God. No man or woman on the face of the earth who has caught even the faintest glimpse of the glory of the Lord has ever been the same again. There has been awakened in his heart a God-likeness and a new, unfading glory so that the more he beholds that glory the more he is changed.
The disconsolate Job, sitting in pain amid the ashes of his desolation without a ray of hope anywhere near at hand, was beholding the Lord as His great purpose was being unfolded before him. In those moments of his grievous mortification he saw his Lord with an eye that was not physical. His spirit searched far beyond his painful afflictions and the blinding fears of his bereavement. It climbed to mountain peaks far above the unkind and disrespectful derision of his friends, and in the very presence of death itself forth from his troubled spirit there came one of the most significant sentences ever to cross the lips of man. “I know that my redeemer liveth and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.” Job 19:25–26. This saintly man knew something of the infinite value of beholding the Lord, and well he knew that all who would behold Him and not another would be changed into His likeness.
It is only human for us to grow visionary when we hear such things as these. We begin to wonder when we, too, will receive a vision of the Lord that will have the wonder working effect on us that it had on Isaiah, on Daniel, or on Ezekiel or John when they saw the Lord. The truth is, my brethren that we will probably go through life without any such vision as was given to them. Many, indeed, have seen His face and heard His literal voice, but as for me, my Lord has always kept my physical eyes veiled to all such supernal experiences, though I, like so many others, have longed with a great longing to see His face and be changed by that vision from glory to glory. Always remember, saint of God, that whatsoever the Lord chooses to do in all His wise dealings with you is by all means the best and most blessed thing for your development and growth in His likeness.
Wonderful as it would have been to sit with Elisha at the gates of Dothan and listen with delight as the man of God prayed, “Lord, open his eyes,” and to have felt the divine hand remove the mortal scales of darkness, revealing the hills and the mountains full of the hosts of the Lord, I think it is even more wonderful to listen to Paul as he prays for the saints; “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: (now notice this) 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. 1:17
There are other eyes, my brother, my sister, besides those two, which are in our heads. There are spiritual eyes, which Paul here speaks of as the eyes of your understanding. In my opinion it is far more essential that the eyes of our understanding be enlightened that we may see what is the hope of God’s calling, and behold the glory of His inheritance in the saints and the exceeding greatness of His power toward us believers – this, I say, is more important than that our natural eyes should see the mountains filled with the chariots of the Lord.
Do you know what it is that has dragged the church system into this awful maelstrom of confusion? Do you know what it is that has brought the appalling darkness that now covers the earth and this gross darkness that covers the people? Do you know what it is that has made the gospel so insipid that sinners spurn it? It is simply this: The eyes of God’s people and the men who pretend to be ministers of the Lord are fast closed. They do not know the plan of the Lord nor have they heard of the riches of God’s inheritance in the saints. They do not know that God has already reconciled all things to Himself through Jesus Christ His Son; neither do they know that when the body of sons is complete there will be a restitution of all things. They do not know that man is being prepared to restore and rule the whole universe, as the Almighty decreed in the beginning. Having the understanding darkened (Eph. 4:18), they have become alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them because of the blindness of their hearts. God’s people need to be renewed in the spirit of their minds. They need to look to God that the eyes of their understanding should be enlightened that they might behold the beauty of the Lord and the glory and power of His magnificent purpose, which has been working and progressing unerringly since time began.
I am not anxious that men and women might have wonderful visions and dreams on their beds, but I am filled with hope that they might lay aside every weight and the paltry sins that easily beset the soul to run the race with patience and to lay hold on the prize that is set before us. This is beholding the Lord. For the most part God’s dear people are much too busy with the passing trinkets of time to behold the beauty of the Lord. They spend too little time doing the things that make for revelation, spiritual understanding, and sonship. They are so busy running to meetings, listening to sermons, joining in projects, getting involved, serving lunch, watching T.V., and making money. All such things make popular religion very pleasing and satisfying to the flesh, vainly puffing up the natural mind; but, if you want to behold the Lord, hear His voice and receive His understanding, you will have to pray while others sleep, read the truth while others read trash, find fellowship with God while others find fellowship with one another, and be in watchings oft while others watch T.V. If you want to remain a spiritual infant, the best way to do it is to get involved with programs and meetings of the church system, and I will guarantee that forty years from now you will still be the same hustle-bustle Christian that you always were with no new light and no new understanding of God’s purpose and no real sign of spiritual growth.
Behold God in righteousness. Behold Him in redemption. Behold Him in reconciliation. Behold Him in the restitution of all things. Behold the richness and glory of His inheritance in the saints. Behold Him as through the true church He displays to principalities and powers the immutable aspects of His wisdom. Behold Him as in the ages to come He gathers all things in heaven and in earth into Christ. Behold the blood of Christ that speaketh – yea, speaketh better things than the blood of Abel, crying, not from the ground for vengeance as Abel’s blood, but speaking from heaven itself in pardon, cleansing, forgiveness, justification, and glorification. Behold the Spirit, who proceedeth from the Father in heaven, implanting the Christ seed, transforming the believer, empowering the saint, enlightening the eyes, leading the way in righteousness, baptizing into the body of Christ, hastening our growth until we come to the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ, that wonderful first Son, our oldest and tallest brother. Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.
We are possibly all acquainted with the English word metamorphosis, which means a passing from one form or shape to another; transformation with or without change of nature, etc. Now this English word metamorphosis is derived from the Greek word metamorphoo. It is used only four times in the entire New Testament, being translated by three different English words: transfigured, Matt. 17:2; Mark 9:2; transformed, Rom. 12:2; and changed, 2 Cor. 3:18. Perhaps the best known example of a metamorphosis is that of the worm that enters its cocoon and goes into a state of death-like sleep, in which it passes through the various stages of change and transformation, emerging at last transformed into a beautiful butterfly.
Transfiguration is the final glory stage in the Christian’s change and transformation. It is the redemption of the soul and the body, both being transformed into the image of Christ. Jesus is God’s first perfected Son. He is our ensample and forerunner in everything. What He has become, through grace we are becoming. Our blessed Lord clearly showed us that this change, this transformation, and this transfiguration would be complete at the resurrection. It will be our excellent glory throughout the entire kingdom age. For this reason He said to His disciples, “There be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom.” Thus, after six days had been accomplished, He took them up Mt. Zion, which is Mt. Hermon, and was transfigured before them; and His face did shine as the sun and His garments were white as the light, and in that wonderful glory of transfiguration they heard the voice of the Father proclaiming, “This is transfiguration, and this, O beloved, is the glory to which God is leading all His beloved sons!
Do you not see, then, that it is a most remarkable thing that Paul, writing to the Romans (Chapter 12, verse 2), used this same word metamorphoo when he said, “Be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, …”? Do you realize that the apostle is telling us that the renewed mind, which is the mind of Christ living and dwelling in us, is one of the great steps that bring us to transfiguration and change? Transfiguration and transformation are not merely robes that will be cast about the shoulders of every dilatory, worldly church-goer. They are not so much a blessing bestowed as they are a blessing attained. That is why Paul said, “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Phil. 3:11
Now, in conclusion, we see this word metamorphoo used once more as Paul exhorts the saints to behold the Lord. Here the word metamorphoo is translated changed. Paul writes, “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed (transformed, transfigured) into that same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Cor. 3:17–18. I say again as I have said many times before that the glory of God is the image of Christ, and Paul here tells us clearly that our beholding Him causes that blessed metamorphosis to begin, yea, not only to begin, but to continue from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty, and the things which are not to bring to naught the things that are, that no man should glory in His presence. But we shall not glory in our flesh, nor in our attainments, nor in our might, but we shall glory in the Lord, and, beholding His face in righteousness, we shall be changed, transformed, and transfigured into that same image, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. To this you are called, my brethren.
Ye see your calling, brethren, how our Lord Jesus Christ has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light to be sharers together with His celestial likeness, to be transformed into His image, to be partakers of His body, of His Spirit, of His flesh and of His bones; to share with Him His glorious throne and to sit with Him to judge and reconcile the universe in the age of the ages, which is to come.
O Lord God almighty, holy and true, in hope of the prize that Thou hast set before us, we gladly relinquish our hold and loosen our grip on the paltry things of time and sense, that we may strip for the race and, casting aside every weight, lay hold on the prize that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
THE TRUE LIGHT
Man will never be able to advance very far in God until he becomes aware that within himself and all about him there are two definite and distinct realms. There is a natural realm and there is a spirit realm. There is a natural man and there is a spirit man. The first (man) is of the earth earthy; the second is the Lord from heaven. A marvelous world of progressive truth, hidden to most yet in full view of all, speaks forth eternal wisdom in the words of 1 Cor. 15:45–50. “The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” Two definite realms, two distinct kingdoms, dwell within and round about every man and every woman on the face of the earth. There is a natural realm that belongs to the natural man and there is a spirit realm that belongs to the spiritual man. There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body; there is a natural man and there is a spiritual man. See 1 Cor. 14:39–50.
There may be those who will doubt when I say that the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to this earth was not only a real coming and a perfect manifestation of the Son of God, but it was a symbolic coming as well. Not only did Jesus Christ come to the world, but His whole existence here among men was a sign of things to come. This was clearly indicated when the aged Simeon, holding the infant Jesus in his arms, blessed Mary and Joseph, saying, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against.” Luke 2:34. Jesus Christ was a sign son heralding the coming of an entirely new race of man, a new creation born from above, who would no longer walk after the dictates of the natural man as did the first Adam, but after the dictates of the spirit man as did Jesus.
Jesus Christ and Adam are contrasting types. The first Adam is of the earth earthy; the last Adam is the Lord from heaven. The first Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam is a life giving spirit. It is our lot to bear the image of the earthy Adam and then to bear the image of the heavenly Adam. “As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” 1 Cor. 15:48, 49
Alas to us all that church tradition has made us believe that to bear the image of the last Adam, Christ, we must wait until some far off day after we have departed out of this life. But this was not the dismal hope in the spiritual minds of the men who, by the Holy Ghost, wrote the pages of the Bible. They well knew that grace and power would be given that men might walk here and now even as He walked, forsaking the natural realm and becoming foreigners and strangers to it while they lived their lives in the glory light of the spirit realm. Even here our Lord Jesus Christ was a definite sign of things to come. The life that He lived in the flesh was not the life of an earth-bound natural man, daily fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. His life was the manifestation, not of the outward man, but of the inner man – not of the body, but of the spirit. “My Father worketh hitherto and I work,” He said, and “I do always those things that please the Father.” The natural man cannot please God because the natural man has always proved to be an enemy of God. It is only when the natural man is on the cross and the heavenly man reigns supreme that he is capable of bringing forth fruit unto righteousness.
“It is the spirit that quickeneth,” said Jesus. “The flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” “Never man spake like this man,” declared the soldiers who were sent to arrest Him, and their words were truth and soberness. His words were not the words of earth’s wisdom, gathered up from man’s tradition and his human way of looking at things. His words flowed forth from the world of the spirit, the realm where all is clear to its citizens and no ignorance can exist, the sphere where all is light and darkness cannot hide. While the first Adam with all his progeny was completely of the earth, Christ, the last Adam, was the Lord from heaven. Thus these two belong to realms removed by infinity from each other.
In the world that exists all about us good things and evil things are manifested side by side. On a certain street may live a Jezebel, a Haman, or a Judas while in the same block may dwell an Elisha, a Daniel, or a Deborah. Tares flourish in fields of wheat while disease and insanity dwell with health and soberness. All about us one may see godliness and ungodliness, truth and lies, war and peace, justice and injustice, chastity and debauchery. Whence do all these things come? They are naught but an outward manifestation of the things that abide in the hearts of men. If we turn our eyes from that which is without to look upon that which is within, we will see that good and evil abide in our own heart, the evil being the manifestation of the nature of the first Adam which is of the earth, earthy in all his ways, and the good being the manifestation of the spirit which is renewed in the image of Christ, the last Adam, who is the Lord from heaven.
The Christian has not been born of the Spirit very long before he becomes aware that two natures are at work within him, one manifesting the works and the fallen nature of the first Adam and the other manifesting the work and nature of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul himself experienced the desolating power of this twin nature when he said, “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man; but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” Rom. 7:21-23
The inner man is the human spirit, reborn and indwelt by the Spirit of Jesus Christ. The middle man is the soul, the very seat of the carnal mind and the Adamic nature. These natures are always at war with each other, because the reborn spirit seeks only to do the will of God while the carnal mind desires only to satisfy the cravings of the fleshly body, the outer man, in which it lives. The carnal mind, i.e., the fleshly mind, is the slave of the physical body and because of this it seeks to bring pleasure to the body by lavishing upon its five physical senses all the enjoyment it can. It employs every ancient device and invents many new ones besides to delight the nostrils with fragrance, the palate with flavor, the eyes with ravishing scenes, the ears with delightful sounds, exalting the goddess of sex upon the throne of this age for the sake of physical sensation and feeling. The spirit on the other hand belongs to another realm. At the moment of our conversion it was born from above and renewed in the image of God who created it. All its love and ambition is in the heavenly realm and all its delights are the things in which God Himself delights. It rejoices not in iniquity but rejoices in truth. It abounds in hope and faith. It brings forth fruit unto eternal life. It is the nature of an apple tree to bear apples, and it is the nature of the reborn spirit to bear the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and temperance. A spiritual man never tries to show love or joy or gentleness or temperance any more than an apple tree tries to grow apples. The fruit is borne, not by effort, but because of the nature of the tree. An evil tree brings forth evil fruit because it is evil, and a good tree brings forth good fruit because it is good. By their fruits ye shall know them. The man who says, “We must try to show love” is yet without understanding as to the source of love. The love that such a man tries to show is as artificial as would be the act of tying apples on a briar. Love is a fruit that grows on the vine of the spirit and cannot grow anywhere else.
All who read these lines have probably also read the words of Paul: “If you live after the flesh, you will die,” but have you ever wondered why it is that all who live after the flesh must die? You will answer, “It is because the flesh is sin,” but that is not the answer, for the flesh is not sin but simply flesh. The true answer lies in the indisputable fact that there is no life whatever in the flesh; therefore those who live after it and for it must eventually die. It is the spirit that quickeneth (makes alive). The flesh profiteth nothing. Therefore the man or the woman who fritters away his whole life intent upon giving pleasure to the natural man continually, delighting the physical senses of hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and feeling, will find in the end that, not only has he deprived himself of spiritual life, but even his physical life is fading from him as well. The thing that could have been a blessing to him has become an offence instead because he rejoiced in the body, which has no life rather than the Spirit, which makes alive. Thus abides the eternal truth, “If ye live after the flesh you will die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” On the other hand the man who lives after the Spirit, rejoicing always in God’s will and caring not a straw for natural things, soon finds that he is partaking of life, because just as it is true that the flesh profiteth nothing, so also is it true that the Spirit giveth life. The flesh cannot give life because there is no life in it. So contrariwise the Spirit cannot give death, because there is no death in it. Thus they who live after the flesh must surely die, and they who live after the Spirit are quickened unto life eternal.
Sooner or later all who name the name of Christ must discover that their greatest hindrance to spiritual progress lies not in others but in themselves. It is not enemies without that hinder our progress with Christ and stunt our spiritual growth. We must learn that the true enemy lies within the walls of our own being. The old Adam nature is not in harmony with our renewed spirit, which has partaken of the nature of Christ, the last Adam. Their interests lay poles apart and, as heaven is higher than the earth, so are their affections and loves divided. The evil of the Cain nature still hates the righteousness of Abel. The Ishmael of the flesh still hates the Isaac of promise, and Esau, the man of the earth, longs to kill Jacob because of the spiritual birthright. As Christ has no fellowship with Belial nor he that believeth with an infidel, neither can there be rest in our own being as long as such an evil as the natural man is allowed, not only to exist, but to flourish. But thanks be to God who hath said, “If ye through the Spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Rom. 8:13
There is a word of warning that should be interjected here. It is a great pity to discover that, the moment one speaks of putting to death the works of the flesh, people immediately bring themselves into some useless bondage. They begin making rules and regulations to govern the fleshly nature. They won’t do this and refuse to do that. They won’t eat this and won’t drink that. They insist on reading so many chapters of the Bible each day. They covenant to spend so many hours each day in prayer. They must not laugh, but be sober and super-religious. I tell you from God that none of these things are of any value in combating the flesh or putting its works to death. Have you not noticed that Paul said, “If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live?” The only way to crucify the flesh and put to death the deeds of the body is to start living in the glory and wonder of the Spirit, recognizing that centuries ago our old self was crucified with Christ. Once a man partakes of the quickening life of the Spirit, what further desire has he for flesh that worketh only death? Why, the very act of partaking of the Spirit is in itself death to the flesh. Once a man has tasted the fruit of the Spirit, what further place is left in his life for the death dealing fruit of corruption? Thus the tasting of the Spirit is in itself the crucifixion of the flesh. The moment one feels the boundless glory of immortality, will he not abhor mortality? Will not he who is made partaker of incorruption hastily cast away corruption as an unclean and hateful thing? Do you not see, then, that to lay hold on that which is spirit is the all important thing, because he who lays hold of the Spirit, being unmindful of the flesh, flees far away from its corruption and death to lay hold on the transcending glory of the hope that lies before him. It is a great pity that for centuries men have been taught to mortify the flesh by human efforts and by their morbid forms of religion, crying touch not, taste not, handle not, when they should have been taught to lay hold on life, and in laying hold on life, death and corruption would have fled from them and they would have been lifted far above its miry clay.
You have possibly wondered why it is that in spite of all the healing meetings and the anointing with oil to heal the sick only a small minority ever are blessed with physical healing, and sickness and disease increase every day. You wonder where the trouble lies. You condemn your lack of faith or the unbelief of the people or coddle some other such excuse. The trouble does not lie in any of these things. The trouble is that men try to cast off death instead of putting on life. They are like Paul who sought the Lord thrice that the thorn in the flesh would depart from him. It is not the departure of the disease you want. It is the partaking of life. Long ago a woman came to Jesus harassed with a grievous issue of blood that had plagued her for twelve years. She had spent all her money and had suffered many things at the hands of many physicians in a vain effort to get rid of her disease, but after all her efforts she was nothing better but rather grew worse. One glad day, as the restless crowd thronged about our Lord, a faith came into the heart of this little woman telling her that, if she would but touch His garment, she would be whole, and pressing up through the stubborn crowd, she reached out her hand to touch life itself and life, surging into her broken body, destroyed the power of death and she knew that she was whole.
It is of no value for the sick to battle with their sickness. They cannot cure it nor drive it away. Their only hope is to lay hold on life, for the entrance of life breaks the power of death and delivers the prisoner from his chains. Death can no more abide in the presence of life than darkness can abide in the presence of light. For a man to try to crucify the flesh by rules and regulations, laws and ordinances, is as useless as drawing the window blinds to keep the darkness out. It is the Spirit that quickeneth and giveth life. Therefore, concentrate on the Spirit and make no provision for the flesh that you should obey any of its desires.
It is of utmost importance that we begin to see all things as God sees them. The sooner we forsake the natural and flee away to the realm of the Spirit, the better off we are going to be. If we insist upon delighting ourselves in the natural realm, we can never receive nor understand the things of the Spirit of God. It is when we delight ourselves in the Lord that He gives us the desires of our heart. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.” Higher learning and college education do not and cannot bring an understanding of the things of God to our hearts because the two belong to different realms. They are citizens of two different worlds – worlds in which that which is wisdom with God is foolishness with man and that which is wisdom with man is foolishness with God. The scripture uses great plainness of speech when it says, “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God,” and its words are just as plain when it declares, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him.” 1 Cor. 2:14. See also 1 Cor. 18-25. Let no man deceive himself, thinking himself to be some exception to the rule. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Since, then, these things cannot be spoken against, we may assure our hearts that it is God’s good pleasure to reveal the hidden things that belong to His realm to those seeking hearts who realize the blindness of the natural mind and come to Him for wisdom, light, and understanding.
Centuries ago the apostle John wrote the words, “The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” John 2:8. (Weymouth) The darkness of the carnal mind is an appalling darkness. Refine it how you will, it cannot possibly see the things of God. The natural mind may adopt the theories of truth from hearsay. It may imitate all the motions of religion, perform endless religious rites, and abound in forms and ceremonies. It may diligently keep days and new moons and Sabbaths, refrain from eating certain foods, and maintain a regular encyclopedia of do’s and don’ts, of things one must not touch, must not eat, and must not do. It may also keep an equally large list of things one must do. Yet all these things, done in the darkness of the natural mind are naught but the religion of the flesh and are of no help whatsoever in drawing us closer to God. They are as useless in gaining favor with God as the offering of Cain or the repentance of Esau.
The true light begins to shine in the heart when the revelation of God bypasses our human understanding to shine with eternal light, absorbing the clutter of religious ideas gathered up from a lifelong tradition, and to illumine the spirit with the very thought and purpose of God. It reaches beyond the tedious lessons diligently taught by masters and professors in Bible colleges, universities, and schools of higher learning. It reaches beyond the dismal and wearisome affirmations of priest and preacher with all their human wisdom, instruction and tradition, bringing to the human heart the knowledge of the Lord. The light, filled with spiritual truth, shining from the very presence of God, enlightens the human spirit and fills it with light and understanding that none of the princes of this world can know or see.
How often has my spirit rejoiced as I have contemplated the story of revelation so clearly demonstrated in the conversation between Jesus and His disciples as recorded in Matt. 16:13-17 “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I 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.” Do you see how fruitless and painfully blind and without spiritual understanding is the natural reasoning? The natural mind could present many reasons for imagining that this Jesus was none other than John the Baptist. No doubt His crowds of listeners and His baptisms in water led many to think that He was John. Others had equal arguments that He was Elijah, perhaps because of His miracles and the supernatural element that surrounded His very existence. Still others had good arguments to substantiate their claims that this man of sorrows and acquainted with grief was none other than the weeping Jeremiah. But they were all wrong, for there was not an ounce of revelation in any of them, but only human reasoning. No ray of true light had shone from above into their spirits. Well do their vain arguments resemble the hodgepodge of church doctrines fought and warred over by the princes of the various religious denominations of the day! Every one is convinced in his own mind that he has all the arguments to substantiate his case and all the answers to the questions of his opponents, none knowing that the true light comes not by human learning, but by the clear shining light of God revealing the truth to the human spirit. With this in mind let us then read the remaining verses of the passage: “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. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.”
That is what revelation really is. It is when the Holy Spirit takes the things of God and shows them unto us, for Jesus said, “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
It may be difficult for some to understand what I will now say, but it is undeniably true. Though you should hear the words of truth spoken by Elijah, Peter, or an angel of God, you will not understand it nor will it transform your life except the Holy Spirit take the truth and reveal it unto your heart. You may listen to the anointed preaching of the apostle Paul or hear the words of grace such as no man ever spoke from the lips of Jesus Christ Himself, yet you will neither see nor understand unless the Holy Spirit takes the truth and floods your spirit with light and understanding. “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.” 2 Cor. 4:6. The fact that, when Jesus or Paul preached the truth, some believed while others cursed and cast stones proves as nothing else can that the natural mind is completely blind to spiritual truth and must remain that way until the revelation of the Son of man, as the lightning shining from the east even unto the west, floods the darkened mind with the understanding of the Lord.
Few facts of history are more familiar to the Christian than the story of the life and conversion of Saul of Tarsus. He was a man of much learning (Acts 26-24) brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, one of the ablest instructors of the day (Acts 22:3), diligent in the Jews’ religion and learned in it above many who were his equals, concerning the law blameless, full of religious zeal, abounding in argument and ready with proofs, hating Christ and every sermon that concerned Him, persecuting unto the death all who were in His way. Yet one day the light of revelation shone as lightning into the darkness of his spirit, revealing that Jesus was indeed the Christ. Falling down upon the ground in astonishment, he cried, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” What transforming glory was it that changed the hated Jesus of Nazareth to “Lord”? It was the true light shining into his heart, revealing in a split second what all the toilsome years of study had failed to reveal. With what joy did Paul write many years later, saying, “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; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me. …” Gal. 1:15-17. Oh, what a change is made in our lives when the darkness begins to pass away and the true light begins to shine.
It is by no means infrequent that well-meaning people write to me greatly offended because of some truth I have written. Some are so enraged that they tell me things about myself that I never knew before. Others exhort me and beg me to repent of my evil teaching, refusing to listen to anything further that I may say. When God has revealed a transforming secret to your heart, brethren with whom you have had sweet communion for many years will cast you as profane from their midst and refuse to associate with you any more. We should not wonder at this phenomenon, neither should we be resentful or angry, for revelation positively cannot be comprehended by the natural mind. It is just as impossible for the natural mind to comprehend spiritual truth as it is for a blind man to see the flowers in the garden or the birds in the trees. When we see a blind man on the street, we do not condemn him because of his physical disability, but instead we offer him our arm to lead him safely through the intersection. He cannot see for the simple reason that he is blind and none but God can open his eyes. Why then should we feel either impatience or anger at the spiritual blindness of men since their blindness is even more acute and their darkness more intense? Can any but God open their eyes or cause the scales to fall from them as they fell from Saul of Tarsus? Acts 9:18 Dare we, then, blame these blind men for their blindness since God has seen fit to “give them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this day,” and has said, “Let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and bow down their back always (for an age)?” Rom. 11:8 and 10
Does not the scripture say of Israel, “Blindness in part has happened unto Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in?” Rom. 11:25. Is this blindness of their own doing or is it part of the purpose of God? If it is part of God’s eternal purpose, then no amount of preaching, work, or expense will remove the veil from their eyes. But the same God who declared that blindness in part had happened to them also emphatically stated that they will all be saved, saying, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Rom. 11:26. It was God who said, “Let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and bow down their back always (for an age),” and it is God who will heal them of their blindness when the appointed time shall come. For He has said, “Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid, but rather through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles. …” Rom. 11:11. To declare further the mystery of His purpose He asks this surprising question: “Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness?” See verse 12. We shall hasten now to say that the hour of their fullness is very, very near at hand.
Many of God’s people have made the mistake of seeking for revelation, hoping that God would reveal some new and startling thing to them that they might thrill their audiences with their preaching. This is wrong and will bring nothing but deception and false imaginations and human notions to puff them up in pride. The true light that shines is not a light from without but a light from within. It is Jesus Christ Himself as the bright shining of a lamp giving light to all the house. The more we love Him the more He opens His heart to us. The more we listen to His voice the more we will hear Him speaking words such as no man ever spake, instructing our hearts in purposes that have lain hidden from the foundation of the ages.
Once two bewildered and heart-broken believers communed in sadness on the lonely road that leads from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Their steps were heavy with their grief. The more they talked of the events that had transpired the deeper their sorrow grew. The more they puzzled for the answer to their problem the deeper the mystery became—till one drew near from the deepening shadows to walk as a comforting spirit by their side. “What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?” He asked. “And one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto Him, Art Thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And He said unto them, What things? And they said unto Him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and have crucified Him. But we trusted that it had been He, which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulcher; and when they found not His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that He was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulcher, and found it even so as the women had said; but Him they found not.” Luke 24:17-24
What a dilemma these dear people were in! They had built their hopes to the skies and in one dread day all their dreams lay in ashes at their feet. Wrong ideas and many fallen hopes fill our lives because we build castles in the flickering light of the candle of human understanding instead of the revealing rays of the true light which He is. But, when our hopes have fled away and our ambitions lie in ashes at our feet, then we will find that it was Jesus Christ we really wanted after all. It is when the things that charm us crumble in dust that our love returns to Him and He once more stands by our side to speak the words of truth and revelation to our heart. When His revealing voice sounds in our ear, the traditions of men, like outcast devils, flee away to hide in the nether darkness from which they came. It is when we are at the end of our own understanding that Jesus speaks. He does not reveal His purposes to the ambitious priests and preachers of our day. They are usually far too full of their own purposes and their ambitions for the conversion of the world and the building up of their puny kingdoms. Well did the prophet speak of them, saying, “They are all gone astray; they have turned every one to his own way. Their mouth is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit.” But broken hearts with earthly hopes and ambitions gone are ready to listen to the wisdom of Him who caused light to shine out of darkness and the visible realms to be formed from things invisible.
“O fools,” He said, “and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Luke 24:25-27. This must have been the most revealing sermon ever preached and the most wonderful revelation of truth ever given to mankind. Who but Christ Himself could begin with Moses and all the prophets and expound unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself? Is it any wonder that their hearts burned within them as He spoke with them in the way. Need our own hearts be surprised that at the blessing and breaking of the bread their eyes were opened and they knew Him? A greater and more perfect revelation of Jesus Christ will lie at the end of our every enlightenment. For three years they had walked with Jesus of Nazareth, but now He is risen from the dead to stand on the resurrection side of the tomb. Only those who, in the blazing light of revelation, stand with Him there can ever know that He is alive and has become the head of a new creation of deathless men who live for evermore.
“And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, The Lord is risen indeed…” Luke 24:33–34. If we by the Spirit of God can draw near to each other for a few moments, we will talk of things of eternal importance. We will see how important it is that we should have the spirit of revelation in all things.
See now the truth of the statement, “the body without the spirit is dead.” It is undeniably true that there is a body lying in yonder coffin, but because it has no spirit in it and the soul, too, has departed from it, it is therefore dead. It is dead to itself and it is dead to all who stand about it. It is even thus with truth. Truth may be there for all to see, but without the spirit of revelation it is dead to us and we are dead to it. Even the body of Christ was dead until the Spirit raised Him from the dead. And it is overwhelmingly evident that the truths He spoke were often no more than idle tales to those who heard them. Jesus, while walking with His disciples, spoke of His death and resurrection, but they understood not what He said. After His resurrection He showed them His hands and His side, yet they believed not for joy and wondered. Luke 24:41. “And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning Me. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.” Luke 24:44–45
We may know a truth as an historical fact and yet not know it as a spiritual reality. The cross of Jesus Christ is a fact of history, written not only in the Bible but in profane history as well. It can no more be denied than the history of Julius Caesar or the account of his assassination, and to many millions it is of no more purpose or significance. It is the spirit of revelation that makes us know that the cross bore God’s Son upon it and that the blood that flowed from His wounds was better blood than the blood of Abel. It is revelation that assures our hearts that through the shedding of His blood a fountain was opened for all sin and all uncleanness. It is revelation that tells us that “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” By it our joyful hearts declare that through the disobedience of one many were made sinners, but through the obedience of one many are made righteous. Countless millions who believe the resurrection as an historical fact carry a crucifix about their necks because they have never seen by the Spirit that He is not dead, but alive—not on the cross, but at God’s right hand. Oh, what a breathtaking shock it must have been to the disciples when Jesus opened their understanding to the truth of the resurrection! The shameful death of their Master, which was to them an immeasurable tragedy, was now salvation, not only of themselves but of all the world besides. The resurrection, which until this blessed moment was but an idle and impossible tale, was now a living reality. How well did the apostle Paul explain the wonders of our faith when he said, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb. 11:1
With deep sorrow of heart I continually behold the spectacle of men and women emphatically declaring that the entire church system in this the end of the age is the mystery Babylon clearly spoken of throughout the Bible and described in the book of Revelation as the great harlot. But do these people who declare these things come out of her as the scripture bids them do? No, indeed, they seldom do. Instead they continue to throw their lot in with her abominations, refusing to walk in the simplicity of the way of Jesus Christ. And why do they remain within the fold of that harlot system? It is because of one thing and one thing only: They know with their minds that she is mystery Babylon, but the solemn and staggering truth of it has not been revealed to them by the Spirit. They have seen it with the natural mind but not with the spirit. Two millions watched Christ die as “sitting down they watched Him there.” Matt. 27:36. But the knowledge that God’s Son was dying for them all had never dawned upon them, and only the merest few knew the eternal fact.
The hour is at hand when great Mystery Babylon will have come to the fullness of her drunken, swaggering reign. Apostasy is rampant in the land. Protestantism and Catholicism with all their divisions and heresies are even now one in spirit. Apostasy is rampant in those backslidden sects who call themselves orthodox. A dreadful, blinding, delusive spirit fills the land with false prophecy, false teaching, false miracles, and worthless conversions. Well did Isaiah speak of this generation when he said, “… The priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink. They err in vision, and they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.” Isa. 28:7–8. And well did the apostle Peter write their epigraph. “The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” 2 Pet. 2:22
May God grant each one the spirit of revelation and understanding that we may come out of her now to lay hold on the hope that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
ALL AND IN ALL
From earth’s teeming millions of all ages there is a people rising in the image of Christ. They are neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but to them Christ is all and in all. As the elect of God, holy and beloved, they are putting on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, and longsuffering. As God forgave them, so they extend forgiveness to all men, for the love of God in their hearts is the golden chain that links all their virtues. They do not overlook sin nor excuse those who despise God, but by the wisdom God has given them they are certain that all things are working together for the good of those who truly love God and have been called by Him according to His infinite purpose. The knowledge of God’s eternal purpose explains all things to their hearts whether they be things good or things evil. It teaches them that their bitterest and most obstinate enemies as well as their devoted friends have been raised up by God for the purpose of refining them that they might be perfected and God’s name might be known in all the earth.
There is a nation rising in the earth who is seeking only the things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Their loving affections have been transferred from the perishing things of a dying world to the imperishable things of an eternal realm. As Christ died on the cross of Calvary and rose again the third day to a life incorruptible and immortal, so they each day reckon themselves dead indeed unto this age and all the sin in it that when Christ who is their life shall appear, they may also appear glorified with Him. Though they live on the earth, yet they have become dead to worldly contacts. They have nothing to do with dirty mindedness or immorality, uncontrolled passion or evil desire. They do not lust after other people’s possessions or goods, knowing that covetousness is as serious as the sin of idolatry, and because of such sins the wrath of God falls upon the children of disobedience. Let us never forget that we once had our part in evil when we lived in the old life before we were saved, even as Peter exhorted the people, saying, “For the time past of our life may suffice to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings and abominable idolatries,” and “that we should no longer live the rest of our time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”
“Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” Therefore set your affections on things above, and not on things of earth; for ye are dead to the earth and your true life is in Christ. Therefore put off anger, wrath, malice, lying, blasphemy, and filthy communications and put on the new garment of a life from heaven, of mercy, kindness, humility of mind, longsuffering, forbearance, and peace, for all these linked together by the bond of God’s love make you perfect in Him. God’s divine power in Christ has given us all things that pertain to a life of godliness. Through the knowledge of Christ God has called us to a life of glory and virtue, for it is through Him that God has made His greatest and most precious promises available to us, making it possible for us to share God’s nature here and now and also to escape the corruption and degeneration that lust has produced in all the world.
There is a people rising from the dust of the earth to sit together with Christ in heavenly places. Though they live on the earth and dwell among men, they are strangers and foreigners in the earth, for their true citizenship is in heaven. Here they have no continuing city but they seek one to come whose builder and maker is God. Because they are strangers in the earth, they never feel at home in it. Their speech does not agree with the accent of those who are of the earth earthy. Because they are foreigners, they are pilgrims. Therefore they pause not to build mansions here, but daily pitch their moving tent toward that better country,
Our Lord Jesus Christ said. “For I say unto you that this that is written must yet be accomplished in Me… for things concerning Me have an end.” Luke 22:27. That is, all the things written must find their fulfillment in Him. He is before all things and by Him all things consist. All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him all the fullness of God dwells embodied. “Of Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” Every purpose of God the Father finds its full expression in Christ, the Son of God, and also at last in that blessed company of elect, who with Christ and through Him attain the ineffable wonder of sonship as members of the household of God that Christ may be the eldest in a vast family of brothers.
The things concerning Me have an end! No word was ever freighted with greater truth than this, for nothing in God can ever be attained apart from Him. “It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell, because by the blood of His cross He has reconciled all things to Himself, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven.” Should it then be thought strange that God should decree that all things thus reconciled by Him should also find all else in Him who has thus reconciled them? So great is God’s joy in His Son, Jesus Christ, that He has purposed in His heart to prepare a whole body or race of sons in the exact image and likeness of His only begotten Son, who is Himself the express image of God, and the first born of every creature. In that momentous hour of the eternal fiat,” Let Us make man in Our image and after Our likeness,” God Himself was proclaiming His irrevocable purpose to include all of Adam’s race in the image of His Son, for I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is manifest to the world in Jesus Christ our Lord. “For God has made all men prisoners of disobedience that He might have mercy upon them all. How inexhaustible God’s resources, wisdom, and knowledge are! How unfathomable His decisions; how untraceable His ways! Who has ever known the Lord’s thoughts or advised Him, or who has advanced anything to Him for which he will have to be repaid? For from Him everything comes; through Him everything exists; and in Him everything ends! Glory to Him forever! Amen.” Rom. 11:32-36. (Good-speed)
It is by the moving of the Holy Spirit that we are brought into the image of Jesus Christ. As there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, so also there is no other power that can bring us into sonship and the image of Christ except the power of that blessed Holy Spirit who proceedeth forth from the Father and the Son. John 15:26. It was the Holy Spirit who moved upon the face of the waters in the beginning bringing order out of earth’s chaos and light out of darkness four days before the sun was set in the heaven. Gen. 1:14-19 It was the Holy Spirit who overshadowed the virgin Mary to form the blessed Son of God in her womb, and it was the Holy Spirit who came forth from heaven at Pentecost at the behest of Christ to begin the formation of that elect company who should at last bear His image and His likeness and be called the family of God. All that God decrees He decrees by His Son, and all that God performs He performs by His Holy Spirit. He sendeth forth His Spirit and they are created. He reneweth the face of the earth. Psa. 104:30. “The wind (the Spirit) bloweth where it h’steth and thou hearest the sound thereof but canst not tell whence it cometh nor whither it goeth; so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8. “Day and night Thy hand (Spirit) was heavy upon me,” said David. Psa. 32:4. The Holy Spirit is the hand of God, bringing order out of chaos and life out of death. It is He who convicts the ungodly of sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-11); of sin because they believed not on Christ, of righteousness because Christ has gone to the Father, death being unable to hold Him, for no cause of death was in Him, and of judgment because even the prince of this world is judged.
It is a source of heaviness to me that so few people have any knowledge at all concerning that blessed personality, the Holy Spirit. Through ignorance men rob Him of personality and describe Him as an influence or some mystical power that they are to grasp and use. But the Holy Spirit is not an influence or an impersonal thing. The Holy Spirit is a personality as distinct as God the Father or God the Son, and yet with them as truly one God as our spirit and soul and body are one man. Eight times over in John 16:13–14 the personal pronoun He is repeated with reference to the Holy Spirit who was sent by Jesus Christ to form the church. “Howbeit, 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.” No man has seen God at any time, and no man with an ounce of respect or reverence would ever profess to understand God, but, if we see in the blessed Holy Spirit nothing more than a mysterious power that we can get hold of and use, we will derive nothing from Him at all. But, if we reverence Him as a divine Person, full of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of holiness, the Spirit of truth that has actually come to dwell in us forever to transform us into the very image of Christ, then our life will be lived on an entirely different basis, being molded and fashioned by God that worketh in us both to will and to do His good pleasure. Even now, while we live and breathe, the elect of God, the first fruit whom He has chosen, experience within themselves the reality of this truth: “I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I shall be their God, and they shall be My people.” 2 Cor. 6:16
Personally I always refuse to participate in the janglings of self-styled theologians, for they know neither what they say nor whereof they affirm. A theological argument is like a dog fight in a flower bed; the only thing that is settled is the flowers. I do not need a professional theologian to explain to me that I am spirit, soul, and body in one man, for that is beyond man’s ability to explain. Neither do I need a Doctor of Divinity (pardon the expression) to explain to me how God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in one God. It is beyond you and beyond me; so let us believe it and refuse to pry into it.
Every man who is coming into the blessed sonship, which God has ordained has received the Spirit of sonship which Paul calls the Spirit of adoption. By that Spirit we recognize God to be our Father. As smoke rises spontaneously from burning incense, so without external stimulus from hearts filled with the Spirit of sonsbip the cry ascends, Abba Father, (our Father), and we with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into that same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Cor. 3:18. Thus it is the Spirit of the Lord that changes men from one glory to another until at last the ultimate goal is attained, even the glory of the image of Christ.
At this very moment the people of God are in various stages of glory, for there are celestial bodies and bodies terrestrial, and the glory of the terrestrial is one (one glory) and the glory of the celestial is another (another glory). 1 Cor. 15:40. Then there is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another of the stars; and even among the stars one differeth from another in glory. 1 Cor. 15:41. So also are God’s people now passing from one stage of God’s glory to another if they are permitting the Holy Spirit to work within them, for we all with open face, beholding as in a glass (mirror) the glory of the Lord, are changed into that same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Cor. 3:18.
It would be impossible to over-estimate the enormous importance of the work of the Holy Spirit within us, for it is He and He alone who is overshadowing us that Christ might be fully formed in us and we may grow from little children whose sins are forgiven for His name’s sake to young men who are strong, having overcome the wicked one and in whom the word of God forever abides, 1 John 2:12,13, yes, that we may be changed from the glory of the stars to the glory of the moon to the glory of the sun.
The importance of the Holy Spirit’s moving within us is magnified by the awesome fact that we know not what we should pray for as we ought. Rom. 8:26. Oh, how often people pray and pray for this and that! They pray because they were asked to pray. They pray that God will grant them their personal desires and ambitions. They pray for the removal of a trial or some thorn in the flesh. They pray all around the earth for everybody and everything they can think about, but perhaps not one sentence of their multiplied prayers came from the burden and longing of the Holy Ghost within them. Because we know not what we should pray for as we ought, we should recognize without delay how desperately we need the help and inspiration of the Holy Spirit who stands ready to help our infirmity and make intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. “And He that searcheth the hearts (God the Father) knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” See Rom. 8:26, 27
It is a good thing to have set times of communion with God when we can make ourselves available to God. Nevertheless, long experience has taught me that all those who earnestly long to yield themselves to the Holy Spirit must of necessity make themselves available at all times, for the Holy Spirit is like the wind that bloweth where it listeth. We cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. Neither can we tell when it is coming nor when it is going. The Holy Spirit will just as likely call us to intercession in the middle of the night as in the middle of the day, and those people who will obey His loving urge on all occasions will find themselves being changed from one glory to another, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Indeed, we may not know what the burden of the Spirit is as He groans within us, but He that searcheth the hearts understands every longing and interprets every groan and sigh of intercession according to the will of God. “For whom He did foreknow He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” See then how Paul places sonship and spiritual travail together. Rom. 8:26-30
All things that happened to Israel happened to them for examples to us upon whom the end of the ages are come. 1 Cor. 10:11. If we would observe with greater attention, we would also see that every detail of the life of Jesus Christ was an example to us and a direct teaching of things to come. Thousands today are talking about sonship; yet how pitifully few have even a remote idea of how sonship is to be attained. Anxious people point to this renowned healer or that outstanding person as an example of sonship, but fame and notability have nothing whatever to do with sonship. Miracles, signs, wonders, prophecies, tongues or faith are not signs of sonship nor even evidence of God’s good pleasure, for one may have all these things and yet be as sounding brass or tinkling cymbal or, worse still, be unknown to God and cast out. Matt. 7:22–23. Never put your confidence in any of these things. Sonship is not a reward for services rendered. Sonship is a relationship with God the Father.
Two thousand years ago an archangel from heaven came to a lowly virgin woman with a proclamation from God. The wondrous fiat he bore was that the Christ child should be formed within her. She was amazed at the announcement and doubted how such a thing could be because she was an unmarried woman. Therefore she asked the very logical question, “How shall these things be seeing I know not a man?” Luke 1:34. What better question could this troubled woman ask than the question, “How shall these things be?” And is not this the question that we have asked a thousand times twice told? How shall I attain sonship? How shall I come into that glorious manifestation of the sons of God? Yes, indeed, we have asked the question, repeating it many times, but the answer is the same to us as it was to Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon you and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you, and that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35
The angel announced a natural birth to Mary, but he is announcing a spiritual birth to us. All natural things are exactly opposite to spiritual things; therefore, the physical Christ–child that was formed in her was to be separated from her, but the Christ that is formed in us by the Spirit of God abides with us forever until we say in truth, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ, liveth in me.” He will never be separated from us, but abide within us forever. It was this very truth that thrilled the soul of Job as amid his grief he murmured, “I know that my Redeemer liveth and He shall stand at the latter days upon the earth, and, if after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” Job 19:25. Yea, and we will sing with Mary, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior; For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden; For, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His Name. And His mercy is upon them that fear Him from generation to generation. He hath showed strength with His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath holpen His servant Israel in remembrance of His mercy. As He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.” Luke 1:46-55
Oh, that men and women who long after spiritual reality and truth would turn their ears away from the high sounding rubbish preached by the mouthy puppeteers of our land! Oh, that they would cease from following after men to enquire of them and imbibe their vain philosophy! Oh, that they would call a halt to running hither and thither seeking after the spectacular, and in place of all such vanity behold the glory of the Lord as His Spirit moves upon them like a gentle whispering wind that they might be changed into that same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord. What place do silly modern trappings have in our transformation into that same image of Christ? Do melodious quartettes with well, trained voices, robed choirs, and jazzy instrumentals cause men to behold God’s transforming glory that they may be changed by His Spirit into the perfect image of Christ? Do you think that the resplendent glory that shone like a sun from the face of Moses when he returned from the mount was the result of a jitterbugging hand-clapping meeting where pseudo saints strummed their guitars and sang “My, didn’t it rain” or “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho?” No! My God, no! He stood in God’s presence where if so much as a beast had touched the mountain it would have been slain; and so terrible was the sight that even Moses said, “I do exceedingly fear and quake.” I have no hesitation in saying that, should the glory of the Lord appear today, these childish entertainers who earn their living by amusing gullible Christians with their antics would not know which way to look, for they know nothing of God’s glory, but are deceivers of themselves and of the people as well.
The hour has come; yea, the hour is past for us to cease our running after the harlot daughters of great Mystery Babylon. Shall the sons of God today behold the fair beauty of the daughters of men as they did in Noah’s day? Shall we in our day repeat their wicked error? In those terrible days before the flood the sons of God made marriage with the daughters of men and the result of that adulterous union was that there were wicked giants in the earth, men of renown. Gen. 6. With that union wickedness knew no bounds in the earth. This dreadful truth has struck me like a thunderbolt, for I perceive that the same terrible circumstance is happening all around us. Men who are called and chosen of God are every day making their adulterous marriage with the harlots of Babylon. The result of this union is that there are giants in the earth today, men of renown, evangelists and preachers of international fame, who use their abilities to gain converts, and after they have gained them, they send them back to the “church of their choice” that they also may squander their living and waste their gifts in the service of a harlot system that awaits the fearful judgment of God. As it was in the days of Noah, so should it be in the days of the Son of man. There were giants, men of renown, then, and there are giants in the earth now, men of renown whose names have become household words internationally.
I have no confidence in anything that pretends to be a spiritual move, which leaves its converts in a harlot system already under the curse of God, waiting His fearful and instantaneous judgment. “These are spots in your feasts of charity, feeding themselves without fear. Clouds they are without water, carried about by (doctrinal) winds; trees whose fruit withereth, twice dead, plucked up by the roots, raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these saying, “The Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgment upon all and to convince all who are ungodly of their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed.” Jude 12-15
If we will turn our hearts away from the religious vanity, the churchianity, and the fraud that everywhere besets us, and turn our eyes upon Christ Jesus, we will find that He is all in all. God’s people are guilty of a great error in that they have sought so many things. They have sought salvation, truth, righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, spiritual gifts, healing power, sonship, and a host of other things but oh, what a universe of truth is bound up in this simple statement, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things?” Rom. 8:32. See what a tremendous weight of truth is sheltered here, teaching us that God gives all things with His Son Jesus Christ, and apart from Him He gives nothing. This does not mean that God gives us Christ as a Savior, and that afterward we are to commence seeking truth and wisdom and righteousness, for Christ Himself is truth and there is no truth apart from Him. To know Him is to know truth, walk in truth, speak in truth, be filled with truth, and at last to be truth itself.
Furthermore to know Him who is truth empowers one to immediately recognize all that is error. The more we come to know Christ, the more we come to recognize the flagrant error of so much that is taught in the name of truth. If the doctrines that men try so hard to prove run contrary to the very nature of Christ, then know that all that is contrary to His gracious Spirit is error. For years without number the evangelicals in their missionary fervor have taught that all heathen men will be condemned forever to groan in eternal flames in unremitting torment because they did not accept Christ, their ignorance of His existence being no excuse whatever. I have no hesitation whatsoever in calling this a lie, because everything about it is contrary to the very nature of the blessed Christ I know. It is contrary to His love, contrary to His kindness and mercy, contrary to His foreknowledge, contrary to immutable wisdom, and contrary to His great and all inclusive redemption, of which it is stated that as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
It is not our purpose here to settle doctrinal errors or to refute the traditions of men, but rather to show that all who truly know Christ become acquainted with His ways. Thus they know instinctively whether or not the things they hear concerning Him are born of truth or born of error. David in his Psalms said, “He made known His ways unto Moses; His acts unto the children of Israel.” There is a great difference between the children of Israel, who as bystanders saw the acts of God, and Moses, who knew
God’s ways simply because he knew God. I have heard people talk and talk like gleeful children returning from a circus about the little things they have seen God do in their midst, but all their glowing talk was a heaviness and a grief to my spirit, because all they knew concerned the acts of God which they had seen, but God Himself they did not know.
Christ, then, is truth, and to know Christ is to know truth. We do not find truth by thumbing through the manifold opinions of men, picking out a morsel here and a nugget there. We come to know truth by knowing Him. Centuries ago our Lord Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate. Pilate asked, “Art Thou a king, then?” To this Jesus replied, “Thou sayest that I am a king.” To be crowned as a king was not the purpose of Christ’s first coming. It was the Jews who had accused Him of wanting to be a king.” Therefore He replied, “Thou sayest that I am a king.” After saying this, He told Pilate what His true purpose of coming into the world really was, saying, “To this end was I born, and for this purpose came I into the world, that I might bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice.” John 18:37. To this statement Pilate asked, “What is truth?” And if he had waited for a reply, he would not have heard a long dissertation on a multiplicity of doctrines, but the same simple statement that thrilled the enquiring Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6. How well did David say, “Thou wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy and at Thy right hand are pleasures for ever more.” Psa. 16:11
In our associations with Christian people we find many who would give almost anything if they could attain to a great gift of power but it is seldom that men covet wisdom. Yet “wisdom is the principal thing.” Wisdom is better than rubies and more to be desired than fine gold. Fools despise wisdom and instruction but the Lord layeth up sound wisdom for the upright. Therefore let wisdom enter into thine heart. Happy is the man that findeth it, for he shall receive favor of the Lord. If we make wisdom our sister, understanding will be our kinswoman. If we exalt her (wisdom), she will promote us, and if we embrace her, she will bring us honor. Wisdom is a crown of glory to our head and an ornament of grace about our neck, but the fear of the Lord is the very foundation of wisdom.
God has made Christ to be our wisdom. 1 Cor. 1:30. In Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Col. 2:3. Because they are hidden in Him, then it is impossible to find them anywhere else except in Him. The natural man never understands the things of the Spirit of God. They appear foolishness to him, for he does not dwell hi Christ, but in the world. There is one wisdom from beneath and another wisdom from above. The first is of the earth earthy; the second is of the Lord from heaven. They are as opposite as day and night. In fact, they are the day and the night.
The apostle Paul had learned a wonderful thing when he came to the Corinthians, saying, “When I came to you, I came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom declaring unto you the testimony of God, for I determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified; and my speech was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and power.” He knew, too, that Jesus Christ was God’s wisdom.
Oh, to know that God gives nothing apart from Jesus Christ! He does not give us wisdom. He gives us Christ and in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom. How eloquent then were the words of Paul: “Let this mind dwell in you which was also in Christ Jesus,” for the mind that dwelt in Christ Jesus was the Father’s mind, the mind that holds within its omniscient greatness every secret of the universe whether terrestrial, sidereal, or celestial, secrets which He Himself had made and hidden within the greatness of His own mind to be shared by those who let His mind dwell in them. How inexhaustible God’s resources of wisdom and knowledge are! How unfathomable His decisions, how untraceable His ways!
Should all the things of wisdom be written that should be written, they would fill not only the pages of this tiny book but the world and the universe as well. The day utters God’s wisdom; the night showeth His understanding. When unlearned and ignorant men have been with Jesus, all men take note of them. Neither can they resist the wisdom and understanding with which they speak, for the Lord has made Him to be the wisdom of God, and all who dwell in Him dwell in wisdom. Without question a man could study all his life concerning the wisdom of God and, though he might marvel at it, yet he could not possess it, for wisdom is not a thing to be learned, but wisdom is a living person, and that person is Jesus Christ the Lord.
God’s righteousness is neither a moral standard nor a code of ethics. God’s righteousness is Jesus Christ. Apart from Him all our righteousnesses are filthy rags and putrefying sores. To come to the heavenly Father saying, “Lord, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even this publican,” is to come trusting in our own righteousness, and to go away unjustified. But to come to God as a sinner, believing only in the righteousness of Christ, which He freely offered to all the world through the shedding of His blood, is to find cleansing from every sin and righteousness in His sight. Christ is God’s righteousness, and He is our righteousness, and all who believe in Him are justified.
The righteousness that comes to men through Jesus Christ is based not on achieving, but on believing, for the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God which comes by faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe. No difference is made among men, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; but we are justified freely by God’s grace through the great redemption God has provided in Christ Jesus whom God has made a propitiation (that is, one who completely satisfies the law-giver) through faith in His blood to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins, that God might be a just God and the justifier of all who believe in Jesus Christ. Compare Rom. 3:21-28.
There is no righteousness anywhere available outside of Jesus Christ, whom God hath made our righteousness. God looked for judgment but behold, oppression. He looked for righteousness but, behold, a cry, Isa. 5:7, (the cry of the oppressed). Christ is made unto us righteousness, 1 Cor. 1:30 and we are made the righteousness of God in Him. 1 Cor. 5:21. With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, Rom. 10:10, and with the mouth confession is made that it has been found in Christ. Thus we are found in Him, not having our own righteousness, but the righteousness of God, which comes by faith in Jesus Christ. See Phil. 3:8, 9.
In considering a subject so vast as this we must freely admit that one could go on and on forever, never finding a suitable place to stop. Scripture can be added to scripture, type-to-type, and prophecy to prophecy to demonstrate times without number that Jesus Christ is all in all. What an eternity it would take to exhaust this one truth: God hath made Him to be wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption! Hundreds of men have spent their whole lifetime studying the lowly spider, of which there are now fifty thousand known species with more being added every year. Others spend their whole life probing the mysteries of the human brain, but find its mystery far beyond the reach of man. If earthly things are so far beyond our wisdom and ability to comprehend, how can we ever expect to fathom the wisdom of God, His righteousness, the power of His sanctification, or the marvels of His redemption? No wonder Jesus said, “If I have told you earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?”
All the truths of the resurrection can be learned by diligent study but there is one truth that cannot be learned by study, and that is that Jesus Christ Himself is the resurrection and apart from Him there is no resurrection. In vital union with Him there is not only resurrection, but also a complete absence of death, for He is both resurrection and life. We delight to hear the story of Martha and Mary at the tomb of Lazarus, and of Jesus who dried away their falling tears as He transformed their theories of a far-off resurrection day to a living reality that they might see that the resurrection was not a doctrine, but a person, not the almost hopeless waiting for an event too distant for reality, but the wonderful nearness of a Christ in whom there was no death, but only life eternal. Well had Martha said, “Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” How could he have died in the presence of eternal life? And furthermore, how could he remain dead in the literal presence of the resurrection?
Many years ago the renowned D. L. Moody was called upon to preach his first funeral sermon. Not knowing what to say at a funeral, he searched his mind in vain for a suitable topic. At last he thought of a seemingly good idea. He would look through the gospels for one of Jesus’ own funeral sermons. To his amazement he made the marvelous discovery that Jesus never preached a funeral sermon, but broke up every funeral He attended by raising the dead to life again.
“I am the resurrection”; thus He spoke
In lovely Bethany one cloudy day
To weeping sisters; yet those living words
Healed not their wounds, nor dried their tears away.
Naught did they see but death; the chasm wide
Was deep and dark and cold. They did not know
Eternal life was standing by their side.
“I am the resurrection”. Yet they wept,
Though Life Eternal looked into their eyes;
For resurrection came to visit earth
When Jesus left His home beyond the skies.
So Life walked down that day with human feet
To where death trembled in the graves dark gloom;
Life challenged death; he dropped the keys and fled
And with Christ’s life a man came from the tomb.
“I am the resurrection”; angels smiled
That day in spring they rolled the stone away;
While humans wept, they could not yet believe
That conquered death could never hold his prey.
But in that grave Life stepped from out a shroud.
Life fears no shrouds, nor death’s vale dark and wild;
The everlasting arms were lifting Him
As tenderly as Mother lifts her child.
“I am the resurrection;” Jesus walked
Beneath the trees that He Himself had made;
And watched a broken hearted woman weep
Outside a tomb where all her hopes were laid.
If He could bring a dead man back to life,
If by His word death vanished from the tomb,
Could He not bring back hopes that now are dead
And resurrect lost joys from nights dark gloom?
“I am the resurrection”; Jesus spoke;
One word fell from the lips of endless Life;
One word; a name; but that was word enough
To banish all the darkness, fear and strife.
Raised from the dead were Mary’s hopes and joys,
Gone were her sorrows; gone her doubts and fears;
She understood then what we now should know
Eternal Life is walking through the years.
“He is the resurrection”; and today
We walk the road with Him in life anew;
The resurrection life He gave to them
Is life that He now wants to give to you.
He is that Life; He gives it freely when
We bid Him enter never more to part.
You find it not beyond the starry skies.
You have it when you have Him in your heart.
Chas. S. Price
Oh, that God’s people would learn that it is in vital union with Him that we have all things, for He is all, and all things are ours in Him and in Him alone!
Saints of all ages have earnestly looked for “that blessed hope,” the appearing of the great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. But as they have looked for His appearing, they have done with it as with all other things. They have changed that blessed hope into a doctrine to be quarreled about rather than to see and feel and know His coming here and now. There is a coming of the Lord when every eye shall see Him, when even those who hate Him will see Him in the clouds of heaven, when even the beast from the pit will vainly try to make war against Him. This will be a wonderful hour, and my own heart longs for that glorious day far more than anything I can possibly imagine, but there is something transpiring now in our midst. There is a secret coming that can be known, but never explained. So essential is it that all who partake of it will not only see Him when He comes in glory, but they will be with Him when He comes.
We have read the story of the seventh chapter of John of how the brethren of the Lord advised Jesus to show Himself openly and manifest His works to the world, for, said they, “There is no person that doeth anything in secret and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If Thou do these things, show Thyself to the world.” John 7:4. Indeed, from an earthly standpoint they were right, but with Him it is different, for He seeks not to be known openly to the world and to the gazing eyes of unbelieving men, but secretly unto those who know Him and love Him above all else and long for His presence. Therefore it is written that, when His brethren were gone up to the feast, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. Verse 10. And while all the people milled about, saying, “Where is He,” He was right there walking about among them, known not to the arguing crowd but only to that little company whom He could call His own.
There is a secret coming that is taking place now as a few chosen people recognize the presence of the Savior. “Lo, I am with you always,” He still says today, and “If any man love me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love Him, and We will come unto him and make Our abode with him.” John 14:23
As a boy I was raised on a farm, an experience that has been a lifelong blessing to me. There were no idlers around our house. From the rising of the sun to the going down thereof there was always plenty of work to do, but by some stroke of magic we always managed to crowd in an abundance of fun. We had no fancy swimming pools with trained life-guards, just the good old swimming hole with frogs and ducks and garter snakes to enjoy the fun with us. We had no elegant ice arenas, just the frozen lake from which we often shoveled two feet of snow before we could skate; but oh, what fun we had! No one, thank God, had ever thought of such a time wasting brainwasher as a television.
We were hard bitten individualists pushing back the vast frontiers of our wild west, always thinking for ourselves. As little boys we made games of the work we saw the men do. When the giant threshing machines came around in the fall, we played threshing machines. We concocted our engines and separators. We imitated the shouting of the men, the hissing of the steam, the fire in the boilers, the turning of belts and the whir of pulleys, and the clanging of the giant steel monsters as they waddled about. We even changed our names to names that seemed more suitable for thresher men, such as Bill and Jack, Ray or Chet. But for all our threshing and all our noise not one kernel of grain ever trickled from our toy machines.
The people of God have become like this. They are interested in sound effects and fanfare more than in reality. They are more concerned about the noise that follows the train than about the train itself. They are far more concerned about the signs following the believer than about the believer that the signs follow. They are more interested in the conglomeration they call doctrine than they are in Jesus Christ who is the truth. They are more interested in redemption than in the Redeemer, more enthused about the work they are doing/or Christ than they are about Christ Himself, more worried about the tradition of assembling together than whether or not He is in the midst of them, coveting earnestly the best gifts but giving neither thought nor heed to the more excellent way.
We have come to a tremendous hour in this, the end of the age. We have come to a time when all the sons of God are going to have to differentiate between the false and the true. We are at the place where we must cast aside the ragged garments of our traditions which we have worn as truth and embrace Christ, who is Himself the truth. We are going to have to cease running here and there to find some man who can show us the way, and embrace Him who said, “I am the way.” Our endless search for life must end in the abundant realization that Christ Himself is life everlasting. Seek no longer to justify yourself either in the sight of God or of man, for by Him we are justified from all things from which we could not be justified by the Law of Moses. Cease in God’s name from searching for shepherds and pastors to lead you, and learn the reality of truth in these words, “I am the good Shepherd; the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep,” John 10:39. Learn that He is not only the Shepherd, but also the door to the sheepfold, John 10:2, by which the shepherd enters that He might call all His sheep by name and go before them that they should know no other voice but His. John 10:3-6.
Apart from Him there is no resurrection, for He is the resurrection, and all who know His voice here and now will know it then and come forth in that wonderful day when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and shall come forth. Does your heart cry aloud for sanctification? There is no sanctification apart from Him. Does your soul yearn for righteousness, wisdom and redemption? They cannot be attained apart from vital union with Christ, for God has made Him to be wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Oh, that men would cease their lifelong search for all these things and seek only union with Christ who is the wisdom of God and the power of God. To seek the blessings of God apart from Him is to search for water in a burning wilderness where no water is, but all is yours in Him; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. 1 Cor. 21-23.
Woe to us, for in our day every concerted effort is being made to occupy the minds of the people of God so that they never concentrate on Christ or come to any real knowledge of Him. Professing Christendom, including the people who profess to be born again, have their lives so crammed and cluttered with the manifold programs of the church system that they will finally awake to the fearful knowledge that they do not know Him. They have spent their lives keeping the vineyards of others. But their own vineyards have they not kept. Song of S. 1:6. So busy are they with the demands of the harlot daughters of Babylon that they have forgotten the proverb, “By means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread.” Prov. 6:26
Let us cease from the vanity of longstanding tradition and learn the truth of this text: “To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him.” Cor. 8:6. “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things.” Rom. 8:32
“Tell me, O Thou whom my soul lovest, where Thou feedest, where Thou makest Thy flock to rest at noon; for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of Thy companions?” Song of Sol. 1:7
As in water face answereth to face and as deep calleth unto deep, so those who seek the Lord find Christ, and in Him all things.
LOVEST THOU ME?
In the hearts of many thousands today God has created a deep and holy longing for true sonship. Few, if any, fully understand the moving of the Holy Spirit within them; neither do they always know the meaning of the prayer within their breast. The eighth chapter of Romans appears to be the very heart and centre of all sonship teaching. It is here that Paul plainly states, “For we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts (God) knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit (the Holy Spirit), for He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Rom. 8:26-27. The remaining verses unfold God’s marvelous plan to bring man to sonship, a purpose ordained before the ages began. Whom He did foreknow He did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Sonship is the hope of all creation, and sonship is the hope and plan of God. “Let us make man in Our image and after Our likeness” was the immutable purpose of God in the beginning and, because all God’s purposes are immutable, there never can be variableness nor shadow of turning. The universe is soon to see a whole race of sons in the very image of Christ. This is the new creation, and this is the fulfillment of the scripture “Behold, I and the children which God has given Me.” Heb. 2:13
There is a great difference between the realm of the sons of men and the realm of the sons of God. Were it not for the grace of God in Christ Jesus, the gulf between the two realms would be impassable. “But you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that, though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich.” 2 Cor. 8:9. He who was the Son of God became the Son of man that we who were but sons of men might become sons of God. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that we can do to attain the sonship which God offers, but that glory can be attained by letting Jesus Christ live and abide within. The hope of glory is Christ in you, and Christ in you is the hope of glory. Christ is the redeemer, and sonship is the ultimate in the plan of redemption.
Jesus Christ Himself is the first and foremost step toward sonship. Would God that men and women would cease their search for spectacular things and seek only to know Christ and love Him for what He is and who He is. If a man seeks wealth, he gets what wealth can do. If he seeks fame, he gains but a fading leaf. He may attain spiritual gifts but find himself devoid of love. He may prophesy, speak in all manner of tongues, and perform all manner of miracles, yet still have nothing. He may fill a life with blazing zeal only to hear the final words, “I never knew you. Depart from Me.” But he who makes Christ his constant quest shall abide in Him and bring forth much fruit. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega. “From Him everything comes, by Him everything exists, and in Him everything ends.” Rom. 11:36 (Good-speed)
It is to our eternal shame that Jesus Christ has become a back number in all church circles today. The works that men strive to do in the name of Christ have pushed Him right out the door and usurped His throne. While men have preached salvation, they have forgotten to love the Saviour. While thousands have sought healing, they have forgotten the Healer. They have fervently sought spiritual gifts, but the Giver they do not know. They have sought blessings but have forgotten the Blesser. They have run after miracles but left the Miracle Worker behind. They have sought loaves and fishes, but not the Lord who gave them. Oh, how soon men forget the fountain of life and, instead of pointing all men to Him, they try to fill their little buckets with its life-giving water and run off to start something of their own. For three days Jesus had healed the sick in the wilderness, and, when the fasting people almost fainted for bread, He fed five thousand men besides women and children with the loaves and fishes that a little boy gave from his lunch basket. The next day they sought earnestly for Christ, and, when they had found Him, He said to them, “Ye sought me not because of the miracle, but because ye ate of the loaves and were filled.” How unutterably sad is such a picture, yet we must admit that this is a true portrait of ourselves who have for years sought all manner of things from God’s hand, but God we have not sought and Christ we have not known.
I do not believe it is right to seek for things apart from Christ. Why have people become possessed with such a mania to seek for things? The choicest gifts of God are snatched at by the careless, the uninitiated, the unprepared, and the unbelieving as though they were items of merchandise on a bargain counter. People are forever laying claims to sonship, gifts, miracles, dreams, visions, new names, and many other such things, but they seek not to know Him. They have never walked with Him through Gethsemane and have no desire to do so. Love for crowds and applause of men has forbidden many to stand with Christ in the lonely rejection of Pilate’s hall, and their love of the things that belong to this age has arrested them lest they should follow Him all the way to Calvary’s hill of sorrow to be crucified unto the world and see the world crucified unto them.
The things which I write are not written to condemn, but these things are written for the sake of those whose hearts are set on paying the price of full sonship, which price is so great that only the poor in spirit will be able to pay it. We are standing now at the very doors of the kingdom of God. The dawning light of a new age is brightening the eastern sky. The mournful notes of the night are giving way to the joyful songs of the morning. The breezes are laden with sweet perfume from the realm of life. The weeping that has endured for the night is being hushed, for joy is coming with the morning. The year of great decision has come. The day has come to cease from the nonsense of playing church. The hour has come when Jesus Christ must become all in all. We must stop seeking things and start loving Him. Surely the very heart of Christ is continually saddened by man’s quest for the loaves and fishes he hopes to get from God, for, while men diligently seek for all these things, they love not the Lord nor are they acquainted with His ways. Everywhere today Christians seek the blessing of the kingdom, but they have not sought the kingdom. Few have had a great coronation day when Jesus Christ, the King of kings, was enthroned in the kingdom of their hearts. They call Him King, but heed not His scepter. They call Him Lord, but listen not to His will or command.
Many centuries ago a scribe came to Jesus with the question, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: This is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said, Well, Master, Thou has said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but He: and to love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he had answered discreetly, He said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” Mark 12:28-34
The law of love is the greatest of all laws, and we need have no hesitation in saying that, if Israel had been able to keep the first commandment, there would have been absolutely no need for the other nine; for what man on earth who loves God with all his heart and soul and strength and mind would ever steal, covet, kill, commit adultery, bear false witness, fail to honor his father and mother, or disrespect the day the Lord made holy? Upon this first commandment hangs all the law and all the prophets, and all the will of God is fulfilled in it. Is it any wonder, then, that the blessed Master, upon hearing the discreet answer of the scribe, said, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” True love for God is both the fulfillment of the law and the guarantee of the kingdom.
The Lord has the most wonderful way of driving truth home to our hearts! We are told of another man who came running to Jesus under similar circumstances, but with a very different heart. This young man was very anxious to attain to life and spiritual blessing. He was like millions of Christians in our day who are zealous for all manner of spiritual things. They would gladly run from coast to coast to be in a healing meeting. No journey would be too great to hear something new. They will even spend hours in prayer in the hope that they might receive a gift from God or that they might accomplish something for God. But there is one thing sadly lacking, and it is the thing they lack that keeps them ever on the run, seeking this and that to try to fill the aching void which Christ alone can fill.
So this young man came running to Jesus and, kneeling before Him in great earnestness, he asked, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, defraud not, honor thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto Him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus, beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up thy cross, and follow Me. And he was sad at that saying and went away grieved, for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto His disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:17-23. Here was a splendid young man, diligent in all the things of God, but he did not love God as much as he loved things. He was rich in money and possessions, and these, being uppermost in his life, had pushed God off the throne of his heart and sent him sadly away. Having fallen short of the love of God, he fell short of all the commandments, and he fell short of the kingdom as well.
The church system is full of rich people. Many of them have little money, but they possess the kind of riches peculiar to the Laodicean church. They have their church, their friends, their doctrines, their programs. They don’t want to be disturbed; they want to go along just as they are. One of the most deceptive terms ever coined was the expression full gospel. For years I applied that appellation to myself, knowing not that I, like millions more, was miserable and wretched, poor, blind, and naked, and needed to buy of Him. As long as we feel we have the full gospel, our eyes are fast closed to the ever, widening wonders of eternal truth and revelation.
Jesus knew this young man just as He knows all men. He had seen how diligent he was in every form of religion. To all outward appearance there was nothing lacking in his life of devotion to God, yet he well knew there was a desperate lack, for Matthew records his words, “What lack I yet?” Matt. 19:20. Well also did Jesus know that it was not God, but earthly possessions, which occupied the throne of the young man’s heart. Our blessed Lord always knows and He has the simplest ways of testing the truth of our professions. So He said, “If thou wilt be perfect, sell what thou hast and give to the poor, and come, take up thy cross and follow Me.” This is the way divine wisdom demonstrates where the true affection of the heart really dwells. It is easy for man to proclaim how dearly he loves God, but the test of his love comes when God offers him a cross, and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest. The cross means death. It means death to all earthly things. It means following Christ to the ultimate of His divine will and pleasure.
It is easy to sing, “Where He leads me I will follow.” Millions have sung those wonderful words even while they steadfastly refused the call of the Holy Spirit as He sought to lead them to Christ, and they have gone sadly away to walk in the old ways again. Do not think for a moment that, because you can raise your hand and sing, “Where He leads me I will follow,” your consecration is complete. The proof of your love will be found when the Spirit speaks to your heart, asking you to follow Him into some unknown. Will your voice still sing, “Lead on, Thou Captain of my soul”, or will it with this young man suddenly fall silent? Many times I receive letters from earnest people who rejoice in the revelation of the hour. They have seen the deplorable condition of the Babylonish church system; they know the Spirit of God is calling them on to sonship; they know God is calling them to leave their old haunts and follow Him into the unknown. They even testify that God has spoken to them to leave the Babylonish church system and follow Him to Zion, but they sadly say they are unable to do it because they have friends and relations back there. Others are afraid to do it because they would be lonesome and they would have no church home, and so, like the rich young man of our story, they trade the hope of the glory of the kingdom of God for a few visible things that they can possess now but lose later. This young man was not an irreligious sinner who was rejecting Christ and salvation. He was about as full gospel as he could be, but, when it came to taking the cross that is offered to every man, he could not do it. Jesus shook His head sadly, and, looking upon His disciples, said, “A rich man shall hardly enter the kingdom of heaven. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matt. 19:23-24
The real lack in the life of this young man was the love of God. When we love God, time and place, people and things no longer own us. God has become the center of our universe.
He has become the King on our throne: the hub of our wheel is His throne. He is OUT father, our mother, our sister and brother. He is OUT friend, for in Him we live and move and have our being. To love God is better, better far, than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. The love of God is greater far than any cross, stronger than any den of lions, more powerful than a fiery furnace, more able than friend or foe, glorying in its cross, stronger than death, triumphing in the resurrection.
We have been very extravagant in our labor and work for God, but have we been extravagant in our love for Him? Have you ever heard people try to make a bargain with God? Have you ever tried to make a bargain yourself? “Lord,” they often say, “if You will heal me, I will serve You. If You will deliver me from death. I will live for You.” Thousands of men, crouching in fox holes on a field of battle, have promised God that they would serve Him if they came out alive, but, when they were delivered, they forgot their promise. The truth is that the Lord knew all the time it was fear, not love, that motivated them, but His great love delivered anyway. Let us consider our experience well, for it may even now be fear, not love that causes us to be a Christian at all. The godly Job had the right attitude when he said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” It is not our promises that God wants. It is not our bargains nor deals, for He does not heed them. They have their source in the carnal mind. He is calling to all men, “Son, give Me thine heart.” Prov. 23:26. Well does His omniscient mind know that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” When things of earth are held as treasures, the heart abides with them; the mind dwells upon them. They drag the affections away from Christ, usurping His throne and setting themselves up as king in Christ’s stead.
It was a wonderful profession that dear Peter made the night Jesus was betrayed. “Why cannot I follow Thee now?” he asked. “I will lay down my life for Thy sake.” John 13:37. But what good was the profession, even though he was honest, when Jesus knew that before the morning light he would deny Him three times? It is not the labor of our hands that Jesus wants. It is not the fervent profession of our lips or our earnest supplication in prayer. His call comes echoing like a trumpet o’er the mountains of time, “Son, give Me thine heart.”
Some weeks had gone by since the night that Jesus was betrayed – that night in which He had said, “Thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shalt follow Me afterward.” Peter had denied his Lord and like a terrible dream of the night the memory of it haunted his soul. St. Luke records that, when Peter denied for the third time, Jesus turned and looked on him, and Peter, remembering His words, went out and wept bitterly. Luke 22:61, 62 As his body shook with sobs and his rough hands brushed blinding tears from his eyes, he understood for the first time why the Master had said, “Thou canst not follow Me now.”
How often during life have we all been brought face to face with some reality that has proved our elaborate profession to be a lie! Our proud boasts of trusting God have vanished in the face of illness, our fidelity has been shaken by the ravages of temptation, and our professions of love have drooped and fainted before the reality of the cross we were called upon to bear. The look, which Jesus gave to Peter that night, was full of meaning, pregnant with the goodness of God. It was a look of understanding, a look of kindness, a look of reproof, a look of forgiveness, and above all a look of love for a man who had grossly overestimated his devotion to Christ. To him the sun had set on his horizon forever, and naught but the yawning gulf of despair was before him. But with what love on the morrow did angels say, “Go, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee.” Mark 16:7
O, love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe
That in Thine ocean’s depth its flow
May richer, fuller be.
Much as God loves His children, none can deceive Him with a glib profession. Great as was His love for Peter, still He knew that even now he was not ready and able to follow all the way. Even the glory of the resurrection did not fully erase the weakness that was there. Our Lord had unmistakably risen from the dead. He had shown Himself to all His disciples and performed many signs before them to prove beyond a doubt that He was risen. The apostle left this faithful testimony: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples which are not written in this book: But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.” John 20:30-31. It was after all the infallible glory of the resurrection that Peter said, “I go a-fishing.” John 21:3. Perhaps no one knows just what motivated this decision. Was it fear or unbelief or just plain frustration? I know not, but at any rate he went fishing along with the other disciples who were with him, and, as may be expected, they caught nothing. The lake that so often had yielded its bounty to them in years past now seems to be completely empty. Their labor was in vain, for they had gone without the Lord. It takes more than zeal to bear us over the desolating ravages of broken hopes and bitter disappointments. How true it is that “hope deferred maketh the heart sick.” Prov. 13:12. But all who will be sons of God must learn by experience that, when faith falters, hope fades, and zeal dies, love abides. It never fails. It is stronger than death. It bridges the oceans of separation, plucks the prisoner from his dungeon, strengthens the feeble knees and the hands that hang down. It will not quench the smoking flax nor break the bruised reed till it sends forth judgment unto truth.
Well did Jesus know that His ministry to Peter could not be complete until He knew that his love for Him was greater than his love for any other thing. The story that follows that unprofitable night of fishing is worthy to be written on the very gates of Paradise. “When the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore, (bless His name!) but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered Him, No; And He said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship and ye shall find. They cast therefore and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked) and did cast himself into the sea …And as soon as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread …So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these (the fish and the occupation of fishing)? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My lambs. He saith unto him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? Peter was grieved that He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me. (Undoubtedly the bitter memory of his thrice repeated denial filled him with grief.) And he saith unto Him, Lord, Thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love Thee.” Then said Jesus, Verily, verily I say unto thee, when thou wast young, thou girdest thyself and walked whither thou wouldst; but when thou shall be old, thou shall stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldst not. This spake He signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when He had spoken this He saith unto him, Follow Me.” John 21. Only a little while ago He had said, “Thou canst not follow Me now.” But now that steadfast love has filled his heart, he hears the loving command, “Follow Me.” And well did he follow Him until that day when they carried him forth and spread forth his hands upon a cross, “Even as our Lord Jesus had showed him.”
The world would have lost a priceless treasure had Jesus gone back to heaven before He extracted from Peter the extravagant profession that God knew all things, knew that he loved Jesus, and loved Him above and beyond all other things, in (he universe. It is not enough to love Christ “more than these.” It is not enough to love Him more than certain pleasures or more than certain things or certain people. God is not sufficed until we love Him with all our spirit, soul, body, and strength. When such love as this exists in the human heart, it is because God dwells in us; and because God dwells in us, His love dwells in us. Then from the eternal fountain within the love of God flows forth to all creatures and all things. There is no love apart from God, for God is love. If we love one another, it is because God dwelleth in us and His love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12. Oh, how often we have all been exhorted to show love or to try to show love to our brethren! You cannot manifest what you do not possess and it is only hypocrisy to try. What men need is not a feigned and hypocritical outward show of love, but the indwelling Christ, for God Himself is love and all things are the objects of His love. Love can no more come from an empty heart than water can come from an empty cistern. Either it is there or it is not there. Love cannot be manufactured at will. Of all the detestable things in the world there is nothing so obnoxious and hateful as fond words that cover up a deceitful heart, a “God bless you” that comes from a heart that inwardly curses you, or a smile that covers the fangs of a wolf. “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he; Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee; the morsel which thou has eaten shalt thou vomit up and lose thy sweet words.” Prov. 23:7–8
Love is not a thing you try to manifest. Love is a person that dwells within. Love is not a transient thing that comes and goes like anger or fear. Love abides. There is a universe of difference between liking and loving. Love has nothing whatever to do with infatuation or sentimentality. Love is a thing apart that cannot be separated from its source, and that source is God. He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16.
Our Lord taught us to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you.” Christians of all ages have made the great mistake of trying to love their enemies when their love for God was far, far from perfect. We cannot love our enemies before we love God. Our profession of fidelity to Christ may be as bold as that of Peter, but our denial of Christ may be swifter still when the test comes. The ten words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”, can only come from a heart made beautiful by the fragrant life of the indwelling Christ. We will learn to love our enemies only when the years have taught us that it was the blindness of their hate that made us flee away to the center of God’s will. Understanding will teach us that, had it not been for their rejection of us, we, as they, would have missed the purpose of God for our life.
It was a contrary wind that shipwrecked Paul on the little island of Melita, Acts 27:4, but it was that same wind that blew his ship into the harbor of God‘s perfect will. It was a contrary wind that enraged the sea in the days of Jonah, but it forced him back to Nineveh where one hundred twenty thousand souls were saved in forty days. It was the contrary wind of hate that sold poor Joseph into the slavery and affliction of Egypt, but many years later from an understanding heart he was able to say to his trembling brethren, “Fear not; you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
How often the expression “but God” is used in scripture! Paul says we were by nature the children of wrath, but God, who is rich in mercy with His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ. Eph. 2:4–5. “Scarcely for a righteous man would one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die, but God commandeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:7–8. “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God giveth the increase.” Joseph had also learned the but God secret. The passing years had helped to erase the bitterness of ignorance from his heart till now he was able to see the purpose of God shining through the dark clouds of his tribulation. He was able to look far beyond the blind hate of his brethren, far beyond the despair of that terrible day when they rejected him and sold him as a slave into Egypt, an act that naught but hate and envy could devise. But now, beyond it all he could see the supreme wisdom of the eternal purpose that had kept his feet through the thorny paths of adversity, bringing him to such exalted glory. Now he understood the meaning of the contrary winds, which at first had blighted his every hope, but at last had placed him on Egypt‘s throne to be a deliverer to all who trusted in him. It was in this exalted position of wisdom and understanding that he was able to say amid his happy tears, “Fear not; for am I in the place of God? But, as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore, fear ye not.” Gen. 50:19-21
Do not try to feign love for your enemies. You will begin to love them when the Spirit of the Lord dwelling in your heart has given you understanding. No man will ever truly love God until, through the understanding God has given him, he clearly sees that God has a purpose for all things that have ever befallen mankind. As long as you say with Jacob, “All these things are against me,” Gen. 42:36, you can never love. But, when you can say with the understanding of Paul, “All things work together for good”, Rom. 8:28, then you will know what the love of God really is. Every man or woman who would truly love God and come to the maturity of sonship must sooner or later know the heartache of being rejected by those he loves and trusts. If we follow Christ, there will always come a time when against our own will we will find ourselves walking alone. But lift up your drooping head and look, for the light that shines before you is forming a rainbow through your tears. When at last the purpose of God unfolds before your wondering eyes, you will praise Him for the fiery trials of the way that tempered your metal and made you fit for His kingdom.
One ship drives east
And another drives west
By the self-same wind that blows.
Its the set of the sail
And not the gale
That determines the way it goes.
Like the winds of the sea
Are the winds of fate
As we voyage along through life.
Tis the set of the soul
That decides the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.
Love is not a matter of trying to forgive and forget or to pretend that no wrong ever existed; neither is it a matter of ignoring the fact that a wrong was ever done, for eventually God will judge all wrong-doers. It is folly to imagine that we can immediately be reconciled to those who have hated us, even though from an understanding heart we can pray with Stephen, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”, or though we can pray with Jesus, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Yet God is just, and those who have whipped and scourged us must come to true repentance or they themselves will be scourged. If we think we can be truly reconciled to our enemies before both we and they have seen things as God sees them, then we will be bitterly disappointed. Until that good hour came when Joseph’s brethren stood trembling before him, hating themselves for their wicked act inspired of their own envy, there could be no true reconciliation. But the moment they saw the panorama of their evil against the wisdom of God, their hearts broke in repentance, and for the first time the love of Joseph, pent-up for years, was able to flood forth upon them.
Wrongs are never cancelled without repentance, but when our spirit sees the value of God’s chastening rod, our understanding heart will secretly thank Him for those who so relentlessly wielded the scourge. When Joseph saw the purpose of God, he could thank God that his wicked brethren were used of Him to bring him to the desired haven of God’s will. I am sure Jonah must have thanked God for both the storm of the sea and the hell of the whale’s belly. It is when we see His purpose that we love them that hate us and pray for them that despitefully use us and persecute us.
In the town of Bethany six days before the Passover a story unfolded that has shed the fragrance of its perfume through the dismal valleys of the ages. Wherever the Gospel has been preached, the lovely story has been told of the night that Jesus sat at supper and Lazarus, who was raised from the dead, sat with Him. While lovely Martha fulfilled her ministry of serving, Mary came with an alabaster box, a whole pound of ointment of spikenard, costing three hundred pence. (A whole year’s wages. Cf. Matt. 20:2.) Love, like grief, is always simple, never ceremonious; therefore, because her love was real, she unceremoniously broke the box and, weeping, bathed His feet with her tears and wiped them with the beautiful hair of her head, for a woman’s hair is her glory. Then with an extravagance that love alone could devise she abundantly anointed His feet and His head with the precious ointment until the whole house was filled with its fragrance. This was love — simple, pure, unadulterated love for her Lord – poured out affectionately, extravagantly, and unstintingly lavished upon Him. This is the kind of love Jesus sought but could not obtain from the rich young ruler. This is the love He sought from Simon Peter when He thrice repeated the question, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?” This is the love He seeks from us.
Now whenever anyone is found who unstintingly pours out his love to Christ, there are always those wise “do-gooders” about who support their own shameful lack of love for Him by belittling his devotion. With pharisaical disdain they explain how the sacrifice might have been put to better use. It might have been given to the poor, or it might have been given to the missionaries that souls might have been saved. Little do these people know the true value of the love of Christ, for it is when He is lifted up that men are drawn to Him. When His love is manifested in our hearts, sinners are affected by the glory of His love shining through us. Publicans and harlots, thieves and rogues are touched by the light of His love in us. Then they with true repentance seek Christ through their tears until His love shines from their hearts as well.
We do not need more preachers and more missionaries. We do not need more money or better organization. We need more lovers. It was Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of the Lord, who advanced the plausible idea, “This ointment should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” It certainly sounds like a good idea, a plausible thought indeed. Perhaps for a moment it shamed the heart of this precious woman, who seemed to be so thoughtless of the poor. Then Jesus spoke. He held no sympathy for the high sounding nonsense, which Judas proposed. He never looks on outward appearance, but He sees the true devotion of the heart. Judas cared not for the poor and neither did he care for Jesus, but Mary loved Christ, and through Him she loved all mankind. “Let her alone,” said Jesus, “Against the day of My burial hath she done this. The poor ye have with you always, but Me ye have not always.”
We are living in an age when Christians are full of good works, but too often are destitute of love for Christ. The world has never known such fervent religious activity. People are exhorted to do many strange things to supposedly promote the cause of Christ. Thousands of people have mortgaged their homes to finance the construction of elaborate temples and tabernacles. Money left by thrifty and devoted husbands to care for their widows in their old age has been inveigled from them to further the grandiose schemes of some conniving preacher. The promise to return the money on demand is freely given, but soon forgotten or ignored and the widow left destitute. Widows have written me to tell me that they have been the innocent victim of this conniving treachery. Jesus did not say in vain, “They rob widow’s houses and for pretence make long prayers; therefore they shall receive greater damnation.” Widows have always been an easy target for these unscrupulous religious vultures who have forgotten that it is the duty of the church to care for widows – not for widows to care for the church.
It would be impossible to enumerate the multiplied thousands of ambitious schemes foisted upon a gullible people with the hope of extracting more money and devotion from them. The ointment is always being sold to give to the poor, the missionaries, the building fund, the Sunday School, the organ fund, to build a world church or a wilderness refuge against the day of tribulation. But few there are indeed who break the box and extravagantly pour the precious ointment of love upon the head of Christ. Yet this alone will cause the fragrance of His love and light to reach the darkened world.
Love for Christ must be the motivating force of our lives. If we pray because we love to be in His presence, that is good. If we pray because we hope to extract something from Him – a gift, a healing, a blessing, or some other thing, we are wrong and have made ourselves naught but beggars waiting for a hand-out, upon receiving which we go away destitute of love or relationship to Him who gave it. We can receive gifts all our life without either loving or knowing the giver, and children who are given most usually love the least. But he who seeks God’s face and yearns to know Him separate and apart from all things, all people, and all activity will in return find that God Himself has become all things to him. He has become wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption – yes, redemption for spirit, soul, and body as well.
If Christ is in the boat, it matters not whether the sea is wild or calm. If one whose form is as the Son of God walks hi the furnace of fire, it matters not a whit that they have heated the furnace seven times hotter. If Christ is in the den of lions, the mighty monarchs of the jungle are but purring kittens. It was far better for Peter, fast locked in jail, to fall asleep in Christ’s love than to spend the night trying to pick the lock. It is not more fervent activity that we need, for even a Judas can advocate that, but where are those lovers who, breaking the ointment of their devotion, pour it on Christ’s head while through their tears of joy they sing,
More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee;
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee;
This is my earnest plea; more love, O Christ, to Thee.
Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek, give what is best.
This all my prayer shall be; more love, O Christ, to Thee.
There is purpose in all things in the world and in the universe – a purpose in man, a purpose in the fall of man, a purpose in the redemption of man, a purpose in temptation, tribulation, grief, pain, and death. There is purpose in light and darkness, in heat and cold, a purpose in joy and sadness, in unity and division. There is divine, omniscient, immutable purpose in every act of God. No man can love God or anybody or anything simply because he is told to love. It cannot be done. When human beings love each other, there is always an underlying reason. It may be beauty, character, or virtue, but there is always a reason. So also true love for God has its birth in understanding. You cannot truly love God because of hope of heaven or fear of hell. True love lives in the simple trust that He doeth all things well. In our affliction He is afflicted. In our joy He is made happy, and all of these, whether joy or affliction, are working for our eternal good, being ordained in love before the world was. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom and with all thy getting get understanding.
Loving and abiding go hand in hand. It is always easy to abide with those we love, but most distressing to abide with those we love not. With God abiding is not abiding with, but abiding in, God abiding in us and we abiding in God. Therefore John said by the Spirit, “Let that therefore abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning (Christ). If that therefore which ye have heard from the beginning remain in you, ye shall continue in the Son and in the Father.” 1 John 2:24. “And now, little children, abide in Him: that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” Vs. 28
Now since the world and all the world system are enemies of God, we can clearly see that it is impossible to love God and love the world at the same time, for, if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Let no man think, therefore, that he can truly love God, yet sit for hours before his television, feasting his eyes and distorting his mind with all manner of corruption, violence, sex, intrigue, suggestion, and advertisement where the low and corrupt are exalted, and the exalted, the pure, the honorable are made low. This is completely impossible. Well, too, do we know that none among us would invite Jesus Christ to sit with us to see it, for it is part of the world, and if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Well did Jesus say, “No man can serve two masters, for either he will love the one and hate the other, or he will cling to the one and despise the other.” To cling to the world you must despise the commandment of God, and to cling to God you must despise the world. Many “rich young men” today are missing the kingdom because they love this one-eyed monster more than they love the cross of Christ.
Do you not think it is most significant that John, the apostle of love, should say in the very midst of his teaching, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him, for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” 1 John 2:15-17. These things test our love and devotion to Christ.
Let us go still further, for the world system includes a multitude of religious systems. If we will but superficially examine the existing church system, we will see that it belongs not to God, but to the world system. It uses all the schemes of the world for advancement, it makes gain godliness, it compasses land and sea to make proselytes, and its ministers are educated of men. In the days of Jeremiah, when Israel was doomed to captivity in Babylon, religion was filthy and corrupt. Jeremiah said, “For both the prophet and the priest are profane (worldly). Yea, in My house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord. Wherefore their way shall be unto thee as slippery ways in darkness.” Jer. 23:11–12. Then he continues in a message to our modern day, saying, “In the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken, yet they prophesied. (A perfect picture of the modern clergy.) Yet if they had stood in My counsel and had caused My people to hear My words, they should have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings.” Verses 21-22 See Jer. 23:1-4. The mighty Isaiah describes our day as the day when the Lord would turn the earth upside down. In that day, he said, it shall be “as with the people, so with the priest.” Isa. 24:2. That simple statement described our day exactly, for what the people want, the priest gives them; what the servant wants is what the master must give. What the maid wants is what the mistress gives. In this way Isaiah shows that the religious system and the world system work the same way exactly. “As with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with the master; as with the maid, so with the mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury.” It is small wonder then that God has ordained to call His people, His true people, His true sons, His true church, out of Babylon – out of the Babel of religion, for that is the world, and out of the world itself, for that is an enemy of God.
There is only one sure place; it is in Him. There is only one to love; it is He. God is calling His sons to “come out”. Not to come out of one system and into another! Not to leave one organization and enter another, but to leave them all and abide in Him. As Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees to follow God to the city, which had foundations, and as Israel left Egypt to dwell beneath the cloud of His glory, so in these last days He is calling a people who will abide in His love, abide in Him and He in them.
I have found this mighty secret, that true unity with the brethren is only attained by those who have found unity with God because they love Him, for “everyone that loveth Him that begat (God) loveth him that is begotten of Him.” The church in two thousand years has not found unity among its people, but when this secret is learned, unity of spirit rolls like a tide on the ocean of God‘s love. When you abide in God’s love and God’s love abides in you, all the world of friend and foe is loved in Him.
In conclusion let our hearts thrill to the marvelous wonders vouchsafed to us all in the words of 1 John 2:15, Phillips’ translation: “Never give your hearts to this world or to any of the things in it. A man cannot love the Father and love the world at the same time, for the whole world system, based as it is on men’s primitive desires, their greedy ambitions, and the glamour of all they think splendid, is not derived from the Father at all, but from the world itself. The world and all its passionate desires will one day disappear, but the man who is following God’s will is part of the permanent and cannot die.
In these troublous times in which we live a great deal is heard about revelation. People inclined to the spectacular adopt the ever, present hearsay and, their ardent wishes being father to their thoughts, they imagine God has revealed something to them; then, grasping upon some likely scripture that seems to support their fanciful notion, they proclaim it far and wide as a truth from God and a divine revelation. It is not our concern even in the least to either confirm or condemn any of these things except to say that it is well nigh impossible for God to reveal anything to any man while that man is happily absorbed in things just as they are. The all wise Lord does not give revelation to men to better enable them to build up their own work or to establish their little kingdom, but He gives His divine revelation and understanding to those who long to be free from the tyranny and oppression of both people and things that imprison men in the jail of human tradition, binding them in chains of darkness to the incessant treadmill of the religious systems of earth. He gives His revelation to those who long to break the power of their inherited evil will that they might enter into the immutable will of God to become one heart and one soul with the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. He gives His revelation to those who seek the heart of Jesus Christ as the very center of all truth, knowing that truth is not cold calculation but a living person, for He alone is truth. In the knowledge of this holy fact they willingly cast aside the prattle of scribe and Pharisee together with the endless dissertations and sermons of men, refusing to be spoiled through philosophy and vain deceit after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ, for they know that in Him, and in Him alone, the fullness of the Godhead dwells embodied.
Before God enlightens the understanding of any man, he will always find himself fed up, sick to death, and disconsolate with things as they are in his realm of unending tradition. Go as far back into history as we wish and we will always discover that, before men were carried away into the great and high mountain of revelation, they had to be separated from the fading, dying, and wearisome systems of their day that their wondering eyes might behold the glory of an age yet unborn and believe with all assurance things which men now consider unlawful to be uttered.
The last book in the Bible is not the Revelation of St. John the Divine, but the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Verse 1 Wonderful, indeed, were the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah. Incomparable was the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was made flesh and dwelt among us as portrayed by the Gospels. Unlawful to be uttered was the marvelous story of the formation of a vast family of sons in His very image as taught by the apostle Paul, but far beyond all imagination of understanding is the revelation of Jesus Christ as it was shown to the apostle John in the book of Revelation, for there we see the consummation of the eternal purpose that from the beginning of the ages was hid in God.
So it was that John was carried away that he might embrace the things of a coming age and behold the Christ in a fullness never before known. If any man on earth ever knew Jesus Christ, it was certainly John, the beloved disciple. He had followed Him into the mount of transfiguration and had heard Him whisper that which was denied all others. He had stood alone with Jesus in Pilate’s hall and near the cross with those few weeping women who loved their Lord. Was he not among the first to visit the tomb and the first to believe that the resurrection had taken place? John 20:8. Was it not John who first recognized Him after their fruitless night of fishing? John 21:7. Had he not seen Him ascend to heaven? Yes, he knew Him as perhaps none other ever knew Him, but he knew only in part, and the little He knew would seem like nothing at all compared to the magnificent splendor that was yet to be revealed, a splendor so effulgent that he would fall as one dead before its glorious light of completeness. Rev. 1:17.
How unworthy we are to speak or write of such transcending glory! Is it any wonder that even such an one as John must be carried away by the Spirit before his eye was permitted to behold it? So away from his church work he was taken, away from the hustle and bustle, away from activity, away from the ever present pressing needs of people, away from all assembling, from preaching and healing, away from good men and carnal men, away from conference and argument, away, away, away to lonely Patmos where the senseless crowd could be forgotten and the petty demands of mortals be unheard, where things before deemed important become but a fading leaf in the light of reality-But physical isolation on Patmos was not enough. To be forcefully carried there in body would not do. That was but a beginning, albeit a necessary beginning. It was as John fasted and prayed, loving Jesus Christ and looking into His very heart for truth, that he found his spirit strangely soaring into celestial realms. Stilled was the sweet murmur of the waves on the shore, hushed the sound of screeching gulls. Earth receded; heaven matured and opened to him. “And I heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” Rev. 1:10–11 Here in the light of God’s presence, separated from all that bound him, he saw Christ in a fullness never before imagined.
With each succeeding revelation of truth there comes the necessity to be carried away in the Spirit further and further into those open heavens where things that remain hidden and obscure are made plainly visible. When the time had come for John to see the truth of Babylon, he was carried away in the Spirit to a wilderness. Rev. 17:1-3 There he saw the apostate church, not as the bride of Christ as Christians vainly imagine, but as a defiled and wanton harlot, full of adulteries and everything that belongs to the world system, drunken with the blood of saints and martyrs of Jesus, decked in gold and silver and costly array, and carried by the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit.
It is a never, ending source of wonder to me to find how very, very few people have really been able to see what spiritual Babylon is. No amount of explanation will open their eyes to it. They will freely admit that all organized religion belongs to the harlot system, but on every occasion they excuse their own situation and the group to which they belong. They cannot see because they have not been carried away by the Spirit of revelation. Well did the prophet Isaiah declare, “The heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” Acts 28:27 Nothing but the Spirit of revelation from God can show this truth to men. That is why so few are able to see it, and that is why they fail to flee from it.
Still later, when the time had come for the Spirit of God to reveal to John the wonderful truth of the bride of Christ, one of the seven angels came to him, saying, “Come hither, and I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife, and he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.” Rev. 21:2, 9–10
The revelation of Jesus Christ grows apace, and, as God is eternal, so the great unfolding of His eternal power and purpose will go on and on forever and ever, for ages and dispensations, for God is eternally progressive. The last book of the Bible is a grand series of revelation, each fitting like the parts of a puzzle into one great masterpiece, each blending as the sound of sweet voices into the harmony of a mighty choir. The eternal mysteries hidden from ages and dispensations in the mind of God are freed from their shrouds. The veils are lifted and taken away. Since this strange book is one great revelation given in many parts, it is only normal that, with the unfolding of each new part, there should be a catching away in the Spirit, for mortal men in mortal flesh do not with mortal eyes behold the things that belong to immortal realms because a darkling veil hangs over their eyes, hiding all things that belong to a spiritual world. Heaven is closed to the natural man. Though its glories are everywhere about him, he cannot see them, for he is a natural man. He is like the frightened servant of Elisha who stood trembling in fear of the armed hosts at the gate, while Elisha sat calm in the presence of the hosts of the Lord that filled the mountains about him. 2 Kings 6:13-17.
To behold the things that belong to a spiritual world we must be carried away by the Spirit into the realms of God, for it is beyond the veil that the glory lies, and it is there that He dwells in the light that no man approacheth. 1 Tim. 6:16. The ministry of Jesus Christ was different from the ministry of any other man, for He was the Son of God. All who will ever come to sonship will attain that goal only through Him. While other men minister with the heavens closed, Jesus ministered with the heavens open. From the moment John the Baptist immersed the Lamb of God in the Jordan, the heavens opened to Him, Matt. 3:16, and during all His earthly ministry they never once closed again until that awful moment that darkness covered the earth at high noon, and with a dreadful cry of abandonment that reached the four corners of the universe He cried, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Everything Jesus did He did under the open heavens. Though those about Him knew it not, He stood continually in the heavenly realm, seeing God, hearing His voice and receiving His commands, surrounded by angels great in power and might, and ministered to by multitudes of heavenly hosts. So great was His realization of the open heaven all about Him that on one occasion He admitted He was in heaven, saying, “No man hath ascended to heaven but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man, who is in heaven.” John 3:13. When He healed the sick, He did it under open heavens. When He fed the multitudes, there was no veil that hid Him from God’s presence. When He stood at the tomb of Lazarus, He knew that God was there, for the heavens were open and no dark mist hid God’s face from Him.
Is it any wonder that such a life and ministry was crowned by unending success? How could desolating failures dog the footsteps of One who did all things with the light of the eternal shining upon Him through an open heaven? Only sons of God are privileged to minister under open heavens and sonship can only be attained through complete union with Jesus Christ. It cannot come by any effort of man however great that effort may be. Apparent success in ministry has nothing to do with sonship. Crowds of listeners, faith that will remove mountains, and a world filled with good works have nothing to do with our attaining sonship. Sonship is only for those who find complete unity with Him. We are far more likely to find it in the lowly than in the mighty, more likely to find it in the lonesomeness of a cottage than in the glamour of a pulpit. We may find it among those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, but never among the satisfied, fat, and flourishing members of this harlot church system whether they are glamorizing a golden pulpit or warming a wooden pew. For while they speak great swelling words of vanity, they do but allure through their wantonness those who had escaped from all who live in error. Sitting on many waters, they commit fornication with the kings of the earth, making the people drunk with the intoxicating wine of their fornication.
How my heart doth loathe this harlot system, which with her bewitching eyes deceives the hearts of men! Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death. She has cast down many wounded and strong men are slain by her. Let not thine heart decline to her ways. Go not astray in her paths. She will persuade you with her much fair speech and cause you to yield to her flattering lips until you follow her as an ox to the slaughter or a fool to the correction of the stocks. Hearken diligently then, and attend not the words of her mouth.
Full well did Jesus speak forth the words of truth and soberness when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which UK persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.”
It is not enough to see as men see. It is not enough to understand as men understand, for the natural mind never can receive the things of the Spirit of God, neither can it know them, for they are all spiritually discerned. Those blessed ones who long to walk far above the natural realm and enter into the realms of God’s understanding must expect that they will first be carried away by the Spirit into those wonderful regions of God. Their souls, their spirits, and even their bodies will become dissatisfied with the sensuous traditions and vain janglings of religious men. In their spirits they will long for celestial places, the realm of heaven open, and God who sees the longing heart will carry them away to the green pastures of heavenly truth.
As long as a man is satisfied with the primitive things of this earthly religious realm and the glamour of all he thinks splendid, he will never be carried away into the magnificent glory of spiritual understanding. He is of the earth earthy, having no desire for anything beyond the scope of his natural mind and the primitive things it can comprehend. There must come a healthy discontent with the primitive traditions that have held men captive throughout the church age, for the church system is now as full of tradition as was Israel in the age of the law. To those who tenaciously adhered to the letter of the law Jesus said, “Ye make the truth of God of no effect by your tradition.” Tradition! Tradition! Tradition! Never ending tradition! Sunday schools have become such a tradition that they are accepted as a Bible institution and a commandment of the Lord, but they are only a human tradition and are not once mentioned or hinted at in scripture. Bible schools have become such a tradition that one would be led to believe they, too, are a scriptural institution, but they are not. They are a man-made institution that has filled the world with professional preachers who are nothing more than Bible-thumping copy-cats, clouds without water, carried about of the wind, trees whose fruit is withered, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots. These are murmurers and complainers walking after their own lusts. Their mouth speaketh great swelling words of vanity, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. Jude 16. How can any man deny that denominationalism and sectarianism have become a tradition among the people until today it would appear that only a handful of the earth’s inhabitants know that God dwelleth not in these temples made with human hands. God did not build these denominations. He does not own them and He has turned away His face from beholding them. They have become the habitation of devils and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. “Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partaker of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues, for her sins have reached to heaven and God has remembered her iniquities.” Rev. 18:5
The age of human reason is about to collapse. The day of the rule of men is almost over. The rickety tower of man’s building, which he hopes will reach to heaven is leaning precariously on its crumbling foundation and its exalted works are tumbling around his head. The world with all its confusion and turmoil is being prepared for the rule of Jesus Christ. Amid the din of war, the confusion of nations, the violence and corruption that abounds to the four corners of the earth, there is a people being groomed to take the kingdom. They are being raised out of the darkness and night of a purely natural realm. They are being carried away of the Spirit into celestial realms that they might know the things that are coming on the world and be prepared of God to rule and reign in the glory and wisdom of their heavenly Father.
Let those who are being thus led of God think it not strange that they are misunderstood by the world and the worldly church around them, for they who walk in the night are clothed upon with darkness, but they who are of the day walk in the light and there is no darkness in them. A man cannot love God and love the world at the same time, for the whole world system is based on the things that men see and feel, taste, touch and smell, and those who are of the world love what is their own. But the celestial realm is filled with that which the eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man. These two kingdoms – natural and spiritual – are farther apart than the poles. They are the antithesis of each other. One is flesh; the other is spirit. One is darkness; the other is light. One is of this world; the other is not of this world. “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John 15:19
Thus it was that John was separated more and more from even the very best of people, for, though we may not realize it, even the best of people lie bound in the chains of tradition or are content to spend their lives paddling in water ankle deep. They have never learned that just beyond the roaring breakers lie the fathomless depths of an ocean deep, mighty, and untamed by human power or wisdom. Thus it was that John was by his oppressors carried away, yea, carried away bodily and by force to the lonesomeness of the Isle of Patmos. We may at times well thank God for our oppressors who, for reasons which they think valid and sincere, drive us into separation from themselves and banish us from their presence, for it is in the alone-ness of our wilderness experience that we count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord. I know of no man who has reached great heights with God amid the noise and excitement of many people. Meetings and public gatherings have certainly had their place in the past, but
Heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight;
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
No man should underestimate the vast importance of separation from people whether it be forced or voluntary. It was beside the burning bush in the wilderness of Horeb that God revealed to Moses a purpose that will never die. In a dank prison cell in a foreign land He gave to Joseph the interpretation of a dream that amazed the whole world and brought a deliverance beyond the imagination of any human mind. Was it not in the captivity of Babylon that Daniel wrote his prophecy a prophecy more up to date than tomorrow’s newspaper? Was not John the Baptist in a wilderness until the day of his showing to Israel? Yet of men born of women there has none arisen greater than he. Thus John, the apostle of love, the man who perhaps knew Jesus Christ more perfectly than all others, was carried away bodily and forcefully to the lonely isle into complete isolation and separation from men and their childish opinions. Words fail to tell of the vast importance of such an experience with God. We may never be carried to a deserted isle. We may never be in prison in Egypt, or be forced to flee to a desert as Moses did; but as sure as God is in His heaven every man who ever beholds the surpassing glory of His presence must first have his life crushed out of him by trial and tribulation. He will know the bitterness of being alone. He will know the heartache of being deserted. He will know the frustration that comes from that demon of misunderstanding. He will feel the pains of lies and misrepresentation, and endure with closed lips the taunts and jibes of those whom he loved most as they in gleeful hope declare the judgment of God upon him. “He saved others; let him save himself,” they will cast in his teeth. Vinegar mingled with gall will be his drink as they part his garments among them and cast lots for his vesture. “My God! My God! Why hast Thou forsaken me” will be his bitter cry as darkness floods the earth and sky. But fear not! The sun will shine again more brightly than before, for each fiery trial ushers him to higher ground and to a clearer atmosphere where the sun of God’s love and wisdom shineth ever brighter.
144,000 separate stories could not embrace the wilderness journeys of all the sons of God, but be it known to all that sooner or later those who shall be accounted worthy to attain His glory will feel the pain of forced separation. Fear none of these things as they come upon you, but hide yourself in Him for a little moment until the indignation be over past. The hour is coming when you shall say hi triumph, “These light afflictions which were but for a moment have worked for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
When beneath some heavy cross you fault
And say, “I cannot bear this heavy load alone,”
You say the truth. Christ made it purposely
So heavy that you must return to Him.
The bitter grief, which no one understands
Conveys a secret message from the King,
Entreating you to come to Him again.
The Man of sorrows understands it well;
In all points tempted, He can feel with you.
You cannot come too often or too near.
The Son of God is infinite in grace;
His presence satisfies the longing soul;
And those who walk with Him from day to day
Can never have a solitary way.
Oh that men would quit their whining and pining for past days, for friends they loved and cherished in their yesteryears, stop trying to correct the misunderstandings which have been circulated to give them pain, and, instead, start looking upward through their tears, for they will see a rainbow round God’s throne. Look for the hand that guides you through pathless seas and trackless air, for then the revelation of God will begin to unfold and His purpose be accomplished.
There is a power whose care
Teaches Thy way along the pathless coast,
The desert, and the illimitable air,
Lone wandering, but not lost.
He, who from zone to zone
Guides through the boundless coast
Thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must walk alone
Will guide my steps aright.
The physical separation of the apostle John from all he loved and held dear was naught but a necessary preparation for the glories into which he was now to be carried in the Spirit. Since God does not reveal Himself except to those who are separated from the throng, how essential then was this preparation in the life of the great apostle, for now, carried by the Spirit into the realms of God, his wondering eyes were to behold a vision of Christ such as no man at any time had even remotely known. “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day and heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet, saying, ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last… and I turned to see the voice that spoke to me, and, being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the 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… Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” Rev. 1:10-18
This is the revelation of Christ as He will appear at the end of the age. It is not the revelation of Jesus of Nazareth as He appeared two thousand years ago, despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief from whom we hid our faces; not the lowly Jesus who was born in a manger in Bethlehem and rode upon a colt, the foal of an ass, into Jerusalem where He was crucified, but the exalted Christ, Jesus Christ the Head with all His body of sons who have come into that same image throughout the church age. It is the fulfillment of the scripture, “Here am I and the children which God has given me.” Heb. 2:13
Though we cannot now turn aside to behold at length the glory of the fullness of Christ as John beheld Him here, yet be it known to all that it was toward this mighty fullness of Christ that God, the Father, had been building through every age and dispensation. Jesus knew this truth full well when He said, “Henceforth ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Oh that those who read would learn that the completeness of God’s Christ is not seen in Jesus of Nazareth alone, but in Jesus of Nazareth, the Head and firstborn Son of God, together with that vast family who through the wisdom of eternal God come to sonship during this age of grace, for they are the body of Christ, the fullness of Him who filleth all in all, the breast, the arms, the hands, the thighs, the legs, and the blessed feet of Christ, who shall bear upon the mountains of Zion the glad tidings of the gospel of peace even as it is written, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace…” Rom. 10:15. (Also Isa. 52:7.) They shall not hear the gospel of ages past, but the gospel of the kingdom of God, which is the gospel of everlasting peace. It is the truth of all previous ages contained in one gospel, the gospel of peace.
When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He said, “What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter,” for Peter had said “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part in Me,” said Jesus, for full well the Son of God knew that He was preparing this man a place in His own body, the Father’s house of many mansions. Likewise He is preparing a place in His body (His body of many sons) for you and me and for all others who through His blood and the fierce furnaces of affliction grow up into Him who is the head and firstborn of many brethren. Rom. 8:29.
John was beholding the completeness of Christ at the end of this age. He was seeing the fulfillment of God’s purpose up to the end of this age of grace, Christ with His body of sons so complete in unity that they appear but one man, one son, one body. The voice like a single trumpet was in reality the voice of many waters, and waters, as we know, are people and tongues and nations. The head and hairs were white as wool, as white as snow. The eyes were as a flame of fire, the feet like fine brass as if they burned in a furnace of fire. The breast was girt about with a golden girdle, and a garment that made all to be one covered the whole body. Full well did John say that this was one like the Son of man, for, as we have already said, this was not Jesus of Nazareth, the lonely Son of Bethlehem, Judaea, and Calvary, but the complete body of the Christ, Jesus the head joined to those sons who comprise the breast, the arms, the hands, the thighs and legs and feet. This was also Paul’s vision when he dipped his pen in inspiration and wrote, “Whom He did foreknow He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Rom. 8:29. “For it became Him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation (Jesus) perfect through sufferings. For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one, (or all have one Father); for which cause He (Jesus) is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare Thy name unto My brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee. And again, I will put my trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children (sons) which God hath given Me.” Heb. 2:10-13
This is the vision John was carried away to see – carried away in the Spirit beyond the corroding influences of the flesh, beyond the corrupting influences of people, beyond the blinding blight of Christians who see nothing beyond the end of their noses and whose ears are sensitive only to the noise some clatter of the world around them. There are clearer skies than those that fill with mist and cloud above us, a purer atmosphere than this earthly smog we breathe, for there are skies where God’s love beams upon us, and air of the Spirit that doth from death relieve. Oh Lord, open our eyes that we may behold wonderful things out of Thy law!
It must have been a wonderful experience for those who stood with John the Baptist long years ago to hear his inspired voice with trumpet tones proclaiming, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” But I am utterly bewildered to know with what triumphant proclamation God will introduce to the world this one whose head and hairs are white as snow, whose breast is girt with a golden girdle, whose feet are like burning brass, and whose trumpet voice, like the sweet harmony of many waters, shall echo o’er all the mountains of Zion the glad, glad tidings of the gospel of peace.
Beloved reader, it is to these blessed realms that your spirit should be carried away. Our dear brother Paul once said, “Be not carried away with divers and strange doctrines, for it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace.” It is so very easy in this age of abounding iniquity to be carried away captive by it, but let us rather beware lest we be led away by the error of the wicked one and so fall from our own steadfastness. 2 Pet. 3:17. The world is full of error. The cup of iniquity is so full that it is running over. The sins of the world are too many and too awful to bear contemplation, for so depraved have become the deeds of men that it is a shame to speak of the things which are done of them in secret. Eph. 5:12. Therefore have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Paul by inspiration once wrote to the Galatians, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you?” It is so easy to let something small hinder us from running with patience the race that is set before us. It is so natural to grow weary in well-doing and faint by the way. It is so simple to turn our eyes from yonder guiding light to hearken for a moment to the enchanting sounds of earth, leaving our vessel to be dashed upon the rocks about us. One of the easiest things in all the world is to let down, slow up, and take it easy. It is so easy to let down on our life of prayer and communion with God. I am frankly amazed to find only a miserable handful of people who are concerned enough about themselves and the spiritual welfare of their families to halt the day’s activities for a time of reading the Bible and united prayer at the throne of grace. Yet it is here above all places that lifelong communion with God is established. It is here that true priesthood begins. If we have become too busy to attend to this most important office of our priesthood, then we are too busy. We are placing first things last and last things first. Activity, work, and business are often thieves and robbers that steal from our spiritual life the most blessed promises of sonship, for all that come before Him are thieves and robbers. No amount of work, no peevishness on the part of children, no fear of friends or relations should be allowed to rob our home and our family of that communion with God which has no substitute anywhere.
It has been my long-standing belief that children should take part in family worship from the very moment they are old enough to lisp a prayer. The moment they are able to falteringly read a verse of scripture, they should take their part in family reading. Children who grow up in this atmosphere will find themselves being kept by the power of God, even when they don’t want to be kept. They will not fall readily into the ways of the world, for wisdom will teach them and understanding will keep them. The greatest heritage a father and mother can leave to their children is not dollars and cents, but an example of sincere godliness. This is infinitely more valuable to them than a college education or a university degree, for without godliness true greatness can never be attained. The fear of the Lord is always the beginning of wisdom.
There will be little value in drawing beautiful word pictures of the effulgent glories of God’s plan if, neglecting all, we slip into eternal desolation, for it is better never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto us. Of all such it is written, “The dog has turned to his vomit again and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” There is no book in the Bible that soars to greater heights of revelation than does the book of Hebrews, yet with what diligence does the writer continually exhort us with such urgent phrases as these: “Let us therefore fear lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. Let us holdfast to our profession. Let us come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
The writer of the book of Hebrews was infinitely concerned for the welfare of those to whom he wrote, for they had reached great heights of understanding and had gone much further than many others in that they had left the mere principles of the doctrine of Christ such as repentance from dead works, faith toward God, the doctrines of baptisms and the laying on of hands, and all the other teachings that belong only to the infancy of Christian experience. These people had tasted by experience the glory of the kingdom age and the good word of God and the power of coming ages, yet he knew that even such as these were still able to fall away and miss the goal of sonship which the priesthood of Melchizedek signifies. Heb. 6:1-12. See also Heb. 7.
God’s divine power has given unto us “all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who has 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 which is in the world through lust. And beside all this, giving all diligence, let us add to our 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… 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 to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ… Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance.” 2 Pet. 1:3-13
The systems of men are collapsing all around us. Countless thousands who once loved only Christ are being carried away to join hands and hearts with the lecherous harlot of Babylon, which every day spreads her damning influence farther abroad. Bewitching mankind with her eyes and with sweet voice as the mythical sirens, she lures humanity to the rocks of destruction. But while the world and the vast multitude of the professing church is being carried away by the ignorance and superstition of this age of reason, see to it that you be not carried away with them, but rather that you be carried away by the Spirit of God into these high and holy places of revelation and experience where humble men are changed by His Spirit from glory to glory until they come into that same image and that same body of Jesus Christ.
Never permit yourself to be carried into modernistic deadness, nor yet into fantastic and spurious revelation that is not revelation at all, but just high-sounding nonsense that gives pre-eminence to human beings and draws no one closer to Christ. I do not want any experience that I can attain apart from Him; neither do I want any teaching disallowed by His word.
Paul told us that in the last days perilous times would come, and, indeed, they are very perilous; therefore, seek not your wisdom from either men or women, but from Christ alone. Seek not to be led by men, but by Christ who is the good shepherd. If you learn to know His voice and follow Him, you will never go astray, but, if you follow men or sects, you will certainly be led into error. “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow Me; and I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish; neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father that gave them Me is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29
Let us not then be carried away into divers and strange doctrines, but carried away to those high mountains of truth and revelation where we are changed into that same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
TREASURES OF TRUTH, Volume 12, Seed For The Sower and Bread For The [George R. Hawtin] ~ BOOK 1