IN CHRIST JESUS
The Sphere of the Believer's Life
Arthur Tappan Pierson,
"To my brother, beloved in Christ Jesus,
Rev. C. I. Scofield, D.D.,
whose fellowship in faith and Bible study
have done much to stimulate and encourage Christian believers;
and to all who have found in Christ Jesus
the sphere of all life and blessing,
this book is inscribed." --A. T. Pierson
Scripture Annotated Version
This book is in the public domain.
Reformatted by Katie Stewart
Introduction to the Book
"There is in a Russian palace, a famous 'Saloon of
Beauty,' [WStS Note-- Definition: "saloon
2. A large room or hall for receptions, public entertainment, or exhibitions."
--from The American Heritage Dictionary.] wherein are hung
over eight hundred and fifty portraits of young maidens. These pictures were painted
by Count Rotari, for Catharine the Second, the Russian empress; and the artist made
a journey, through the fifty provinces of that vast empire of the north, to find
In these superb portraits that cover the walls of this saloon, there is said to be a curiously expressed compliment to the artist's royal patron, a compliment half concealed and half revealed. In each separate picture, it is said, might be detected, by the close observer, some hidden, delicate reference to the empress for whom they were painted. Here a feature of Catharine appears; there an attitude is reproduced, some act, some favorite adornment or environment, some jewel, fashion, flower, style of dress, or manner of life -- something peculiar to, or characteristic of, the empress -- so that the walls of the saloon are lined with just so many silent tributes to her beauty, or compliments to her taste. So inventive and ingenious is the spirit of human flattery when it seeks to glorify a human fellow-mortal, breaking its flask of lavish praise on the feet of an earthly monarch.
The Word of God is a picture gallery, and it is adorned with tributes to the blessed Christ of God the Savior of mankind. Here a prophetic portrait of the coming One, and there an historic portrayal of Him who has come, here a typical sacrifice, and there the bleeding Lamb to whom all sacrifice looked forward; here a person or an event that foreshadowed the greatest of persons and the events that are the turning points of history; now a parable, a poem, an object lesson, and then a simple narration or exposition or explanation, that fills with divine meaning the mysteries that have hid their meaning for ages, waiting for the key that should unlock them. But, in whatever form or fashion, whatever guise of fact or fancy, prophecy or history, parable or miracle, type or antitype, allegory or narrative, a discerning eye may everywhere find Him -- God's appointed Messiah, God's anointed Christ. Not a human grace that has not been a faint forecast or reflection of His beauty, in whom all grace was enshrined and enthroned -- not a virtue that is not a new exhibition of His attractiveness. All that is glorious is but a phase of His infinite excellence, and so all truth and holiness, found in the Holy Scripture, are only a new tribute to Him who is the Truth, the Holy One of God.
This language is no exaggeration; on such a theme not only is exaggeration impossible, but the utmost superlative of human language falls infinitely short of His divine worth, before whose indescribable glory cherubim and seraphim can only bow, veiling their faces and covering their feet. The nearer we come to the very throne where such majesty sits, the more are we awed into silence. The more we know of Him, the less we seem to know, for the more boundless and limitless appears what remains to be known. Nothing is so conspicuous a seal of God upon the written Word, as the fact that everywhere, from Genesis to Revelation, we may find the Christ; and nothing more sets the seal of God upon the living Word than the fact that He alone explains and reveals the Scriptures.
Our present undertaking is a very simple one. We seek to show, by a few examples, the boundless range and scope of one brief phrase of two or three short words: in Christ, or, in Christ Jesus. A very small key may open a very complex lock and a very large door, and that door may itself lead into a vast building with priceless stores of wealth and beauty. This brief phrase -- a preposition followed by a proper name -- is the key to the whole New Testament.
Those three short words, in Christ Jesus, are, without doubt, the most important ever written, even by an inspired pen, to express the mutual relation of the believer and Christ. They occur, with their equivalents, over one hundred and thirty times. Sometimes we meet the expression, in Christ or in Christ Jesus, and again in Him, or in whom, etc. And sometimes this sacred name, or its equivalent pronoun, is found associated with other prepositions -- through, with, by; but the thought is essentially the same. Such repetition and variety must have some intense meaning. When, in the Word of God, a phrase like this occurs so often, and with such manifold applications, it can not be a matter of accident; there is a deep design. God's Spirit is bringing a truth of the highest importance before us, repeating for the sake of emphasis, compelling even the careless reader to give heed as to some vital teaching.
What that teaching is, in this case, it is our present purpose to inquire, and, in the light of the Scripture itself, to answer.
First of all, we should carefully settle what this phrase, in Christ, or in Christ Jesus, means.
If there be one truth of the Gospel that is fundamental, and underlies all else, it is this: A new life in Christ Jesus. He, Himself, clearly and forcibly expressed it in John 15:4: "Abide in me and I in you." By a matchless parable our Lord there taught us that all believers are branches of the Living Vine, and that, apart from Him we are nothing and can do nothing because we have in us no life. This truth finds expression in many ways in the Holy Scripture, but most frequently in that short and simple phrase we are now considering -- in Christ Jesus.
Such a phrase suggests that He is to the believer the sphere of this new life or being. Let us observe -- a sphere rather than a circle. A circle surrounds us, but only on one plane; but a sphere encompasses, envelopes us, surrounding us in every direction and on every plane. If you draw a circle on the floor, and step within its circumference, you are within it only on the level of the floor. But, if that circle could become a sphere, and you be within it, it would on every side surround you -- above and below, before and behind, on the right hand and on the left. Moreover, the sphere that surrounds you also separates you from whatever is outside of it. Again, in proportion as such a sphere is strong it also protects whatever is within it from all that is without -- from all external foes or perils. And yet again, it supplies, to whomsoever is within it, whatever it contains. This may help us to understand the great truth taught with such clearness, especially in the New Testament. Christ is there presented throughout as the sphere of the believer's whole life and being, and in this truth are included these conditions:
First, Christ Jesus surrounds or embraces the believer, in His own life; second, He separates the believer in Himself from all hostile influences; third, He protects him in Himself from all perils and foes of his life; fourth, He provides and supplies in Himself all that is needful.
We shall see a further evidence of the vital importance of the phrase, in Christ, in the fact that these two words unlock and interpret every separate book in the New Testament. Here is God's own key, whereby we may open all the various doors and enter all the glorious rooms in this Palace Beautiful, and explore all the apartments in the house of the heavenly Interpreter, from Matthew to the Apocalypse, where the door is opened into heaven. Each of the four gospel narratives, the book of the Acts, all of the epistles of Paul and Peter, James and John, and Jude, with the mysterious Revelation of Jesus Christ, show us some new relation sustained by Christ Jesus to the believer, some new aspect of Christ as his sphere of being, some new benefit or blessing enjoyed by him who is thus in Christ Jesus.
To demonstrate and illustrate this is the aim of this study of the New Testament. And, for brevity's sake, it may be well to confine our examination to the epistles of Paul, from Romans to Thessalonians, which will be seen to bear to each other, and to the phrase we are studying, a unique and complete relation. We shall trace this phrase in every one of these epistles, and find it sometimes recurring with marked frequency and variety, generally very close to the very beginning of each epistle; and usually we shall find also that the first occurrence of the phrase, in each epistle, determines its particular relation to that particular book, thus giving us a key to the special phase of the general subject presented in that epistle. The more we study the phrase and the various instances and peculiar varieties of such recurrence, the more shall we be convinced of its vital importance to all practical holy living.
In tracing the uses and bearings of this significant phrase, it will serve the purpose we have in view to regard the epistles to each of the various churches as one, even when there are two. This will give us seven instances of the application of the phrase, which will be found to be similar in the two Epistles to the Corinthians and the two addressed to the Thessalonians. We may for our purpose, therefore, regard both epistles in each of these cases as parts of one; and we shall, therefore, have before us this simple study: to examine the particular application of this expression, in Christ, or in Christ Jesus, as used by Paul in writing to the Romans, the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, and the Thessalonians." --A. T. Pierson
Table of Contents
1. The Epistle to the Romans
2. The Epistles to the Corinthians
3. The Epistle to the Galatians
4. The Epistle to the Ephesians
5. The Epistle to the Philippians
6. The Epistle to the Colossians
7. The Epistles to the Thessalonians
The Epistle to the Romans
At the very opening of this letter (1:5), we read these words: "By whom [or,
through whom] we have received grace" ( i.e., through God's Son, Jesus Christ,
our Lord); and, in 3:24, "Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption
that is in Christ Jesus." Here then we have the key to the Epistle to the Romans:
Grace, justification, redemption, in and through Christ Jesus; or, to put it briefly,
Justified in Christ.
This is manifestly the first step, for this conception belongs first in order. We can have, in Christ Jesus, nothing else, unless and until we have first justification -- a new standing before God.
Paul is inspired to begin this epistle by showing that all men, Jews and Gentiles alike, are included under sin and therefore involved in condemnation. No sinner has before him any prospect but divine wrath, until he is first freed from the law, no longer under condemnation. Hence the first unfolding of grace in the epistles is the plain revelation of God's marvelous plan, whereby sinners get the standing of saints. The question, how the condemned may become justified; the lost, saved; the alienated, reconciled; this is the question first and fully answered in this epistle.
If we examine chapter 5:1-11,
["1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our LORD Jesus Christ: 2 by Whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 and patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by His Blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the Death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His Life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our LORD Jesus Christ, by Whom we have now received the Atonement" (Romans 5:1-11).]
we shall eight times meet the phrase, through, by, or in Jesus Christ; or its equivalent. And here are represented, as bestowed upon us freely, in or through Him, justification, peace with God, access by faith, a gracious standing, rejoicing in hope of the glory of God; and, even in the experience of tribulation, the love of God shed abroad in the heart, salvation from wrath, reconciliation, safekeeping in His life, perpetual joy in God, etc.*
*Dr. Handley C. G. Moule, of Cambridge, England, in his matchless commentary on Romans, thus translates verses 10 and 11: "Much more being reconciled we shall be kept safe in His life; and, not only so, but we shall be kept always rejoicing in God."
Blessed indeed to meet, as we begin our study of the epistles
of the New Testament, this first application of the phrase, in Jesus Christ: Christ
is the sphere of our justification, with all that this involves: reconciliation,
redemption, eternal life, safekeeping. In Him the sinner at once becomes, in God's
sight, a saint, admitted to a new standing, not on the platform of law, but of grace.
Outside of Christ, is alienation; inside this sphere, reconciliation; without, death;
within, life; without, enmity; within, peace. By faith we are taken into Christ,
made at once safe from holy wrath against sin, and kept safe from all perils and
penalties. He, our divine Redeemer, becomes to us the new sphere of harmony and unity
with God and His law, with His life and His holiness.
As already intimated, each epistle has its own definite limits of application for the phrase, in Christ Jesus, and the divine truth which it conveys; and in each the range of thought is limited, in the main, by certain typical and representative events in the history and career of the God-man. In this epistle, it is to the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ that the thoughts of the reader are preeminently directed, because these events belong together as forming the very foundation of our justification. Compare chapter 4:25: "Who was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification." Here it is made unmistakably plain that the death and resurrection of Christ, together with the burial which lay between, accomplished the work of our justification. Death was the delivering over of our vicarious Substitute and Surety to the penalty of a broken law; burial was His committal to the grave, as dead; and resurrection was the deliverance from both death and hades, as the divine sign and seal of His acceptance as our Substitute and Surety and of His vicarious atonement in our behalf.
We have heard of a Russian officer whose accounts could not be made to balance, and who feared that the merciless despotism of the empire would allow no room for leniency in dealing with him. While hopelessly poring over his balance sheet and in despair of ever making up his deficiency, it is said that he wrote, half inadvertently, on the paper before him: "Who can make good this deficit?" and fell asleep at his table. The czar passed, saw the sleeping officer, glanced curiously at the paper, and taking up the pen, wrote underneath: "I, even I, Alexander." The story may be a fiction, but it illustrates a far higher debt that is forever canceled. Does the hopeless sinner confront his awful bankruptcy and ask in despair, "What can pay this my debt to a broken law?" There is One who died and rose again, who from the cross of Calvary, the tomb in the garden, and the throne in heaven, answers, "I, even I, the Lord Jesus."
Let us then fix in our minds that the special horizon of this epistle is bounded by Christ's justifying work, and includes within its scope these three prominent facts: He died, He was buried, He rose again. All the great lessons here taught center about the cross and the sepulcher. Christ was the second and last Adam; the representative of the race; and so, judicially, He stands for the believer. In His death, the believing sinner is reckoned as having died for sin, and unto sin; in His burial, as having gone down into the grave, the place of death, decay, and corruption, there to leave as crucified, dead and buried, "the old man," the old nature, and the old life of sin, now forever "put off" in Christ, "the time past of our life sufficing to have wrought our own will;" and, in Christ's resurrection, the believer is counted by God as having come forth, having "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24), endowed with a new Spirit of Life, henceforth to "walk in newness of life" (Romans 4:4).
The believer's vital union with Christ Jesus is set forth, with great clearness of statement, in chapter 6:4-11,
["4 Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the Glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His Death, we shall be also in the likeness of His Resurrection: 6 knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: 9 knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him. 10 For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our LORD" (Romans 6:4-11).]
where his identification with the Lord Jesus in His death,
burial, and resurrection is so plainly declared, and its practical bearings are shown.
Compare II Corinthians 13:4: "For though he was crucified through weakness,
yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live
with him by the power of God toward you."
In this sixth chapter of Romans seven significant statements are noticeable, and upon them the whole argument hangs and turns:
1.Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father; that is, He was divinely quickened or made alive, so that His resurrection was a miracle.
["As Christ was raised up from the dead by the Glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).]
2.We, as believers, are planted together with Him in the likeness of His resurrection; that is, we share in the very power of God which raised Him from the dead.
["For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His Death, we shall be also in the likeness of His Resurrection" (Romans 6:5).]
3.Our old man is crucified with Him; that is, the former sinful nature is judicially regarded as crucified, dead, buried, and left in the tomb of Christ.
["Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him" (Romans 6:6).]
4.That the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin; that is, the power of sin as our master is practically broken, and we are released.
["That the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (Romans 6:6).]
5.We believe that we shall also live with Him. Surely, we are not to refer this only to our final resurrection; from His resurrection, onward, forevermore, our life is one with His.
["Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him" (Romans 6:8).]
6.Death hath no more dominion over Him, and so we in Him are delivered from all that dominion of sin which is implied in death as its judicial penalty. Compare verse 14.
["9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the Law, but under Grace" (Romans 6:9, 14).]
7.In that He liveth, He liveth unto God, and to us also God is to be the source, channel, and goal of our new life, and so we are to manifest our unity with Him.
["For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God" (Romans 6:10).]
This teaching is so wonderful that it would be incredible
were it not found in the inspired Scripture, and thus sealed with the authority of
the divine Teacher. It is manifestly a revelation from God, for it never would have
entered into the heart of any mere man, untaught of God, to conceive it.
This reminds one of a most forcible utterance of Sir Monier Williams, professor of Sanskrit in Oxford University, and, perhaps, the greatest living authority on all questions affecting the literature and faiths of the Orient. At an anniversary of the Church Missionary Society in London, some ten years ago,* he delivered a most remarkable address, in which he said that, when he began investigating Hinduism and Buddhism, he began to believe in what is called the evolution and growth of religious thought. But he adds, and we give his own memorable words:
*Editor's note: This book was first published in 1898.
"I am glad of the opportunity of stating publicly, that I am persuaded I was misled by the attractiveness of such a theory, and that its main idea was erroneous.... And now I crave permission at least to give two good reasons for venturing to contravene the favorite philosophy of the day. Listen to me, ye youthful students of the so-called sacred books of the East: search them through and through, and tell me, do they affirm of Vyasa, of Zoroaster, of Confucius, of Buddha, of Mohammed, what our Bible affirms of the founder of Christianity, -- that He, a sinless man, was made sin? Not merely that He is the eradication of sin, but that He, the sinless son of man, was himself made sin. Vyasa and the other founders of Hinduism, enjoined severe penances, endless lustral washings, incessant purifications, infinite repetitions of prayer, painful pilgrimages, arduous ritual, and sacrificial observances, all with the one idea of getting rid of sin. All their books say so. But do they say that the very men who exhausted every invention for the eradication of sin were themselves sinless men made sin?... This proposition put forth in our Bible stands alone, it is wholly unparalleled; it is not to be matched by the shade of a shadow of a similar declaration in any other book claiming to be the exponent of the doctrine of any other religion in the world.
Once again, do these sacred books of the East affirm of Vyasa, of Zoroaster, of Confucius, of Buddha, of Mohammed, what our Bible affirms of the founder of Christianity, that He, a dead and buried man, was made life. Not merely that He is the giver of life, but that He, the dead and buried man, is life... All I contend for is, that such a statement is absolutely unique; and I defy you to produce the shade of a shadow of a similar declaration in any other sacred book of the world. And bear in mind that these two matchless unparalleled declarations are closely, intimately, in dissolubly connected with the great central facts and doctrines of our religion: the incarnation, the crucifixion, the resurrection, the ascension of Christ.
The two unparalleled declarations quoted by me from our Holy Bible make a gulf between it and the so-called sacred books of the East, which severs the one from the others utterly, hopelessly, and forever; not a mere rift which may be easily closed up, but a veritable gulf which cannot be bridged over by any science of religious thought, yes, a bridgeless chasm which no theory of evolution can ever span."
Professor Max Muller, in addressing the British and Foreign
Bible Society, declared, in a similar strain, that "the one key-note of all
these so-called sacred books is salvation by works. Our own Holy Bible is from the
beginning to the end a protest against this doctrine."
What Sir Monier Williams and Professor Muller thus affirm of the Word of God, as to its unique and wholly unparalleled teaching, we may find illustrated especially in this epistle. Here, if anywhere, we have the sinless One made sin for sinners, and the dead One raised from the dead to become life to believers; and here, if anywhere, we have salvation by works.
We cannot leave this thought without at least hinting at its apologetic and evidential value. The question cannot but arise: Where did the writers of this Bible get conceptions so original and unique? The world of mankind was forty centuries old when the New Testament began to be constructed, when the earliest books first appeared in the primitive Church. At least five great world kingdoms had in their way carried civilization to remarkable heights of development: the Egyptian, Assyrian-Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman. Progress had not been along the lines of commerce, martial prowess, material grandeur, and imperial splendor, alone, but philosophy had won some of its proudest triumphs. The race had done much of its subtlest and most original thinking before the Nazarene began his career of teaching. Now, how can it be accounted for that a few humble fishermen of Judea, or even a trained Hebrew scholar who had the advantage of Roman citizenship and Greek culture, should have given to mankind absolutely new ideas, and those, too, on the most vital themes? How came it that such new and marvelous conceptions are found in the Word of God, and nowhere else?
There is but one explanation: The world was visited by the Son of God. He told of heavenly things. He revealed the mind of God on subjects hitherto unveiled. What He had heard in a celestial school -- the University of God -- what no scholar or philosopher of earth had even imagined -- He testified, and some received His testimony and set to their seal, experimentally, that God is true. And so it comes to pass that the Bible -- because it is what it claims to be, God's Word, conveying God's thought -- gives us absolutely new ideas of the way of salvation, of the sinless sin bearer, of the risen Lord of life; and announces the simple terms whereby He becomes to the believer, the sphere of a new life -- his Justifier, Reconciler, Saviour.
Let us tarry at the threshold of our study of this theme, to praise Him who in the Gospel of Christ has brought to light, life and immortality; who has made the cross of Calvary a tree of life, and the sepulcher in the garden a doorway of life, and the faith of a little child the condition of life, to every penitent and believing sinner. Toplady says; "When Christ entered into Jerusalem the people spread garments in the way: when He enters into our hearts, we pull off our own righteousness, and not only lay it under Christ's feet but even trample upon it ourselves."
Let a quotation from another writer, referring to Isaiah 53:5, enforce this same lesson:
"Let every poor sinner, and let every preacher to sinners put the great truth where God puts it, in the very center and midst, as the most vital and important of all truths. How simple this verse which expresses it! It states facts, facts to which the prophet looked wonderingly forward, facts on which we look gratefully backward. He, the mighty and the holy One, He was wounded, bruised, chastised! He was treated thus, not because He deserved it, but for our sakes, because we deserved it. His punishment is our peace. His stripes are our healing. His death our life. O greatest of all facts! Well mayest Thou have the central place in prophecy, the central place in our hearts! This is the Gospel. To believe this is to be saved; He has borne the stripes and punishment due to each believer, who will, therefore, have none to bear. To believe this is to be happy, for it is to see a substitute in our place of doom and death, setting us free! To believe this is to be holy, for faith in such facts must make us love the One that suffered in our stead, and hate the sin that brought sore stripes on Him. Brother, canst thou make it singular, and say, 'He was wounded for my transgressions; He was bruised for my iniquities, the chastisement of my peace was upon Him, and with His stripes I am healed?'"
The 20th of January 1896, marked the centenary of John Howard,
the philanthropist, who went on his famous "circumnavigation of charity"
to let light into the dungeons of the world's prisons. His was a life of singular
self-sacrifice for others. Beginning amid the cottages of Cardington, and undertaking
reforms among his own tenantry, his work grew wider until from the jails and prisons
of Britain it embraced the cells of the imprisoned everywhere. In Bedford jail, where
Bunyan had spent twelve years a century before, Howard found men and women, who were
felons, living in a common day room, their night-rooms being two dungeons "down
steps." There was only a single courtyard for debtors and criminals, there was
no apartment for the jailer, and the sanitary conditions bred fatal jail fever, which
proved destructive also outside prison walls. Howard's whole soul was so moved that
he "emptied himself" of all that mortals prize, to go on his wide mission
of love, and become a servant of servants to the lowest and vilest classes.
The inscription on his monument is eloquently suggestive:
Vixit propter alios salvos fecit.
This was, indeed, the victory whereby he overcame. He lived
for others, and he gave his life for their uplifting and salvation. He was so indifferent
to fame that he forbade a project to build him a memorial. And, as Dean Milman says,
"the first statue admitted to St. Paul's was not that of a statesman, warrior,
or even of a sovereign; it was that of John Howard, the pilgrim, not to gorgeous
shrines of saints and martyrs, not even to holy lands, but to the loathsome depths
of darkness of the prisons of what called itself the civilized world."
Let us not forget where Howard learned his life lesson of philanthropy: it was from One of whom it was said, in taunt sublimely true: "He saved others; himself he cannot save" (Mark 15:31).
The Son of God and Son of Man gave Himself a ransom for many. It was by His death, burial, and resurrection that He made possible a sphere of life for you and me. Life for us was purchased by death for Him. And this first of New Testament epistles is the revelation of the first conditions of our salvation. His cross abolished our judgment; His burial abolished for us the fear of death and the grave; and His resurrection became to us alike the hope and the pledge of life, both for soul and body.
It is plain that to be in Christ justified, is far more than pardon or even reconciliation; it includes being counted as just, and put upon the same standing as Christ, before God.
The Epistles to the Corinthians
In the first epistle, the first chapter and the second verse, we first meet the phrase which we seek: "Sanctified in Christ Jesus,"
["1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be Saints, with all that in every place call upon the Name of Jesus Christ our LORD, both theirs and ours" (1 Corinthians 1:1-2).]
and, according to the rule that has been found to be true,
this proves upon examination to furnish us with the keynote of both of these epistles.
This thought is further amplified in the thirtieth verse of the same chapter, where, as from an exalted mountain peak, we seem to scan the whole horizon of our salvation and of the work of Christ. We are there taught that, being "in Christ Jesus,"
["But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus" (1 Corinthians 1:30).]
we find Him made, of God, "unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."
["But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30).]
But, in these epistles, sanctification in Christ Jesus is
as prominent as justification in Christ Jesus has been found to be in the Epistle
to the Romans. In the latter, the death of Christ was made the most prominent; here,
it is our life in Him and His life in us. There, our thoughts were directed mainly
to His cross and passion; but here, it is to His Spirit, as bestowed upon the believer
and dwelling in him. Or, to speak more accurately and carefully, the thought of the
apostle Paul begins, in the epistles to the Corinthians, where, as we might say,
it ends in the Epistle to the Romans. In the latter epistle we follow Christ through
His death and burial to His resurrection, when He comes forth from the grave endowed
with the Spirit of life. But the epistles to the Corinthians start -- may we not
say? -- from His inbreathing of the Spirit into His disciples on the day of His resurrection
and the subsequent induement of the disciples with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
We might compare the two epistles thus:
Romans: Justified in Christ Jesus by His blood.
Corinthians: Sanctified in Christ Jesus by His Spirit.
And, through both of the epistles to the Corinthians, the
golden thread of connection is thus our union with Christ by the indwelling and inworking
of His Holy Spirit.
In First Corinthians (6:17) is the brief but grand statement which illuminates and illustrates both of these letters:
"He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit."
In this language we have represented the highest conceivable unity. The stones of the building may be removed; the branch may be cut off from the vine, and the limb severed from the body; the sheep may wander from the shepherd, the child from the father; the bride may be divorced from the bridegroom; but you can not divide spirit asunder. Therefore, when we are told that "he that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit,"
["But he that is joined unto the LORD is one Spirit" (1Corinthians 6:17).]
we have the highest possible representation of unity --
a unity which nothing can dissolve.
In the First Epistle to the Corinthians this unity with the Lord Jesus is exhibited as involving especially the following privileges and duties:
First. A new knowledge of God, or insight into divine things (2:1-16).
["1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the Testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 but we speak the Wisdom of God in a mystery, even the Hidden Wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the LORD of Glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with Spiritual. 14 But 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. 15 But he that is Spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the LORD, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ" (1Corinthians 2:1-16).]
Second. A new indwelling of God, we becoming His temple and hence a new possession of us by God (3:16).
["Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1Corinthians 3:16).]
Third. A new possession in God as our portion (3:21-23).
["21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; 22 whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23 and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's" (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).]
Fourth. A new stewardship in God, with corresponding obligation (4:1-2).
["1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).]
Fifth. A new separation unto God as His holy abode (6:11-20).
["11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the Name of the LORD Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the LORD; and the LORD for the body. 14 And God hath both raised up the LORD, and will also raise up us by His own power. 15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. 16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith He, shall be one flesh. 17 But he that is joined unto the LORD is one spirit. 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1Corinthians 6:11-20).]
Sixth. A new sanctity even in secular toil, as a calling in which we abide with God (7:20-24).
["20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. 21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. 22 For he that is called in the LORD, being a servant, is the LORD's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. 23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. 24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God" (1 Corinthians 7:20-24).]
Seventh. A new subjection, even of the body, to His glory (9:27).
["But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1Corinthians 9:27).]
Eighth. A new communion with God (10:16-17).
["16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the Blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the Body of Christ? 17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that One Bread" (1Corinthians 10:16-17).]
Ninth. A new service to God, made possible by communion with Him (12).
["1 Now concerning Spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the LORD, but by the Holy Ghost. 4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same LORD. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the Word of Wisdom; to another the Word of Knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will. 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23 and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25 that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that Miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way" (1Corinthians 12:1-31).]
Tenth. A new dominion of love as the controlling power (13).
["1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 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. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity" (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).]
Eleventh. A new holiness and decorum in public assemblies (14).
["1 Follow after charity, and desire Spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. 2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the Spirit he speaketh mysteries. 3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the Church. 5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the Church may receive edifying. 6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? 7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. 10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. 11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. 12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of Spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the Church. 13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is it then? I will pray with the Spirit, and I will pray with the Understanding also: I will sing with the Spirit, and I will sing with the Understanding also. 16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? 17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. 18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: 19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my Understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. 20 Brethren, be not children in Understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in Understanding be men. 21 In the Law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear Me, saith the LORD. 22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. 23 If therefore the whole Church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? 24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: 25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. 26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the Church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all Churches of the Saints. 34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the Law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the Church. 36 What? came the Word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? 37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the Commandments of the LORD. 38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. 39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:1-40).
Twelfth. A new victory over death and the grave (15).
"1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: 5 and that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 after that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, He was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. 12 Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: Whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the Firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His Coming. 24 Then cometh The End, when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For He hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be All in All. 29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? 30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our LORD, I die daily. 32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. 33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. 35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the Resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in Glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in Power: 44 it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the Earth, earthy: the second man is the LORD from Heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the Last Trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the Law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the LORD" (1Corinthians 15:1-58).
This analysis is not, of course, exhaustive, but it serves,
so far as we have carried it, to communicate to us how truly all the thoughts of
these epistles revolve about the phrase we are considering, and the thought which
To resume: Christ is here represented as the sphere of sanctification and personal holiness. Being in Him, we have in Him unity with God by the Holy Spirit, which Spirit becomes the new element or atmosphere of that life of which Christ is the sphere. We have thus a new knowledge of God and a new indwelling of God in us; we thus possess God and are possessed by Him, separate and subject unto Him, so that even our bodies partake of His life and immortality. As Romans deals largely with what we are by our entrance into God, in Corinthians we are confronted with what we are by God's entrance into us. There, it was the new sphere of life; here, it is the new atmosphere of life. There, we in Him; here, He in us.
In Second Corinthians, the same great thought is further expanded and enlarged. Take, for instance, the first chapter, from the twentieth to the twenty-second verses,
["20 For all the Promises of God in Him are Yea, and in Him Amen, unto the Glory of God by us. 21 Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (2 Corinthians 1:20-22).]
where we are taught that in Him we are established, anointed, sealed, and have the earnest or foretaste of our future inheritance. The dominant thought here is the privilege we have in and through Christ. Paul makes very emphatic and prominent our transformation into His image (3:18);
["But 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" (2Corinthians 3:18).]
our new creation in Christ Jesus (5:17);
["Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2Corinthians 5:17).]
our separation unto Him (6:14--7:1);
["14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the Living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the LORD, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the LORD Almighty. 1 Having therefore these Promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2Corinthians 6:14-7:1).]
our unselfish liberality as the fruit of our union with Him (chapters 8 and 9);
["1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the Churches of Macedonia; 2 how that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the Gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the LORD, and unto us by the will of God. 6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. 7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. 8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 9 For ye know the grace of our LORD Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich. 10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. 11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. 12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. 13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: 15 as it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack. 16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. 17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you. 18 And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the Churches; 19 and not that only, but who was also chosen of the Churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the Glory of the same LORD, and declaration of your ready mind: 20 avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: 21 providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the LORD, but also in the sight of men. 22 And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you. 23 Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow helper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the Glory of Christ. 24 Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf. 1 For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: 2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many. 3 Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready: 4 Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting. 5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness. 6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. 10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) 11 being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; 13 whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; 14 and by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be unto God for His Unspeakable Gift" (2Corinthians 8:1-9:15).]
our abundance of revelation in Him (chapter 12), etc.
["1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the LORD. 2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the Third Heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. 6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the Truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the LORD thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 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. 11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. 13 For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong. 14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. 16 But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile. 17 Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you? 18 I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps? 19 Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying. 20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: 21 and lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed" (2Corinthians 12:1-21).]
Here, again, we have attempted no exhaustive analysis, but
have only sought to hint at the contents of the epistle, or draw the outline of this
wonderful range of thought.
In these two epistles, then, we have Christ as the sphere of our holiness, and privilege in Him; we have in Him everything else, and the very anticipation of heaven itself. We have conformity to His likeness, cleansing from sin, power over sin, fellowship with God, and revelations of the bliss of paradise, even while upon earth.
If, in these two epistles, any thought overtops the rest, it is that of the new creation in Christ Jesus (chapter 5:17),
["Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2Corinthians 5:17).]
where the word "creature" should undoubtedly be rendered "creation." Compare Galatians 6:15.
["For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature" (Galatians 6:15).]
The parallel passage is in Revelation 21:5,
["And He that sat upon the Throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these Words are true and faithful" (Revelation 21:5).]
where God says: "Behold, I make all things new."
Here that is true of the individual which is there to be realized of the whole creation.
We enter into Christ Jesus, and we have in Him the entrance into a new world, ourselves
becoming a part of that new creation.
A careful comparison of Second Corinthians (6:17-7:1)
["17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the LORD, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the LORD Almighty. 1 Having therefore these Promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2Corinthians 6:17-7:1).]
with the twenty-first chapter of Revelation (verses 3-5)
["3 And I heard a great voice out of Heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And He that sat upon the Throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these Words are true and faithful" (Revelation 21:3-5).]
will show how closely these two passages correspond.
Here, also, we see how and why Christ becomes to us the sphere of new power in becoming the sphere of new life. A sphere contains an atmosphere, and that atmosphere may be quite different from that which is outside; it may have different qualities, and be capable of supporting life in a far higher degree. So, what we could not do, outside of Christ, becomes both natural and possible in Him, because we have new appetites, desires, and affinities. The old passions, habits, bondage, are displaced by a new life, capacity, and freedom.
To clearly apprehend all this wonderful truth and freely enter into this privilege, is the ideal condition of a disciple. The idea of a new creation suggests to us also the kindred idea of a new adaptation, or affinity for God, on the part of the believer. Every form of animal existence, and even of vegetable existence, demands what we call its appropriate element; that is, a sphere of life with conditions which are necessary to its development, and even to its very subsistence and existence. We call the air the element of the bird, because the air and the bird are manifestly made for each other. We call the water the element of the fish for the same reason of mutual adaptation. The bird cannot live in the water, and the fish cannot live in the air. We observe that the bird has a breathing apparatus adapted to the atmosphere, and the fish has a breathing apparatus adapted to the water. If either were to exchange places with the other, there must be corresponding changes in its physical structure and adaptation; the bird, to live in the water, must have gills instead of lungs, and the fish to live in the air must have lungs instead of gills. So the bird's wings must change to fins and the fish's fins must change to wings. In fact, there would have to be changes in the whole structure, which it would be possible only for the Creator to effect.
How wonderfully analogous to the case of the disciple! In order to enter into Christ Jesus and to exist in the new atmosphere which we find in this new sphere of life, that atmosphere must become our element; and there must be changes, which correspond to structural changes, which must take place in our very mental and moral constitution. As it were, the lungs must change to gills, or the gills to lungs. This is what we call the new birth, or regeneration. So far as we are concerned, the act by which we enter into Christ is the act of repentance and faith, repentance being the leaving of the old sphere of life behind us, and faith being the entrance into the new sphere. But there must be a divine act, corresponding to our human act -- an act of regeneration on God's part, corresponding to the act of appropriation on our part; otherwise, even if it were possible for us to enter into the new sphere, we should find ourselves unable to live or abide in it. This is the mystery of the new birth.
If any man be in Christ, he is by necessity a new creation. He must be born from above, born again, born of the Spirit, enabled to breathe the new atmosphere and live in the new element. Whether the human act or the divine act has the precedence, we are neither concerned to inquire, nor are we capable to determine. There is a profound mystery about the whole subject upon which the Word of God sheds no decisive light; but the paradox is not a contradiction, nor does the mystery involve an absurdity. It is sufficient for us to know that we shall never enter into Christ save by our own consent, and to know with equal certainty that we shall never enter into Christ without God's new creative act.
Here we must leave the mystery, while we bless God for the privilege.
It will be seen by any thoughtful student of the Holy Scriptures how grand and important is the truth which thus meets us in these two epistles to the Corinthians. The indwelling of God in Christ is the full, final, and most complete argument for, and exhibition of, that doctrine of separation, which runs from Genesis to Revelation, throughout the entire Scripture. We may say that there are at least seven stages in the development of this doctrine:
First. Separation by covenant, as when Abraham was called out from his country and his kindred ( see Genesis 12:1-7).
["1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the Earth be blessed. 4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. 6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. 7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, Who appeared unto him" (Genesis 12:1-7).]
Second. Separation by divine fellowship, so exquisitely presented in Exodus (33:14-16) . Moses represents the fact that God's presence goes with His people as the one fact that separates himself and the people from all the others that are upon the face of the earth.
["14 And He said, My Presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. 15 And he said unto Him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the Earth" (Exodus 33:14-16).]
Third. Separation by ordinances. See Leviticus 20:24-26 where three times God addresses His people as a separated people, and makes the ceremonial distinction and difference between clean and unclean beasts, fowls and reptiles, to be the outward sign of this separation.
["24 But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people. 25 Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. 26 And ye shall be holy unto Me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be Mine" (Leviticus 20:24-26).]
Fourth. Separation by vow, as in the case of the Nazarite, in the sixth chapter of Numbers, where four conditions are made prominent:
["1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: 3 he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. 4 All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. 5 All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. 6 All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body. 7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head. 8 All the days of his separation he is holy unto the LORD. 9 And if any man die very suddenly by him, and he hath defiled the head of his consecration; then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it. 10 And on the eighth day he shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons, to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: 11 And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, and make an atonement for him, for that he sinned by the dead, and shall hallow his head that same day. 12 And he shall consecrate unto the LORD the days of his separation, and shall bring a lamb of the first year for a trespass offering: but the days that were before shall be lost, because his separation was defiled. 13 And this is the Law of the Nazarite, when the days of his separation are fulfilled: he shall be brought unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: 14 and he shall offer his offering unto the LORD, one he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering, and one ram without blemish for peace offerings, 15 and a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings. 16 And the priest shall bring them before the LORD, and shall offer his sin offering, and his burnt offering: 17 and he shall offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, with the basket of unleavened bread: the priest shall offer also his meat offering, and his drink offering. 18 And the Nazarite shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings. 19 And the priest shall take the sodden shoulder of the ram, and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them upon the hands of the Nazarite, after the hair of his separation is shaven: 20 and the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD: this is holy for the priest, with the wave breast and heave shoulder: and after that the Nazarite may drink wine. 21 This is the law of the Nazarite who hath vowed, and of his offering unto the LORD for his separation, beside that that his hand shall get: according to the vow which he vowed, so he must do after the Law of his separation. 22 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 23 Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, 24 The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: 25 the LORD make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26 the LORD lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. 27 And they shall put My Name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them" (Numbers 6:1-27).]
1. The suppression of appetite
2. Indifference to public custom
3. Absolute withdrawal from death or corruption
4. Supreme loyalty to God over all human kindred.
Fifth. Separation by obedience as presented in the entire book of Deuteronomy (compare chapter 7).
["1 When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; 2 and when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: 3 neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4 For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. 5 But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. 6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the Earth. 7 The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 but because the LORD loved you, and because He would keep the Oath which He had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the Faithful God, which keepeth Covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His Commandments to a thousand generations; 10 and repayeth them that hate Him to their face, to destroy them: He will not be slack to him that hateth Him, He will repay him to his face. 11 Thou shalt therefore keep the Commandments, and the Statutes, and the Judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them. 12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these Judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the Covenant and the mercy which He sware unto thy fathers: 13 and He will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: He will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which He sware unto thy fathers to give thee. 14 Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. 15 And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee. 16 And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee. 17 If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them? 18 Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the LORD thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt; 19 the great temptations which thine eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the stretched out arm, whereby the LORD thy God brought thee out: so shall the LORD thy God do unto all the people of whom thou art afraid. 20 Moreover the LORD thy God will send the hornet among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed. 21 Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the LORD thy God is among you, a Mighty God and Terrible. 22 And the LORD thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee. 23 But the LORD thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed. 24 And He shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under Heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them. 25 The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God. 26 Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing" (Deuteronomy 7:1-26).]
Sixth. Separation by wedlock or espousal. See Jeremiah 3:14: "I am married unto you." Compare Ezekiel 16.
["1 Again the Word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, 3 and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite. 4 And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast 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. 5 None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born. 6 And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live. 7 I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare. 8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread My skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest Mine. 9 Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. 10 I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. 11 I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. 12 And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. 13 Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. 14 And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through My comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD. 15 But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was. 16 And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places with divers colours, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like things shall not come, neither shall it be so. 17 Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of My gold and of My silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them, 18 and tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou hast set Mine oil and Mine incense before them. 19 My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou hast even set it before them for a sweet savour: and thus it was, saith the Lord GOD. 20 Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto Me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, 21 that thou hast slain My children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them? 22 And in all thine abominations and thy whoredoms thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare, and wast polluted in thy blood. 23 And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord GOD;) 24 that thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street. 25 Thou hast built thy high place at every head of the way, and hast made thy beauty to be abhorred, and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms. 26 Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke Me to anger. 27 Behold, therefore I have stretched out My hand over thee, and have diminished thine ordinary food, and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, which are ashamed of thy lewd way. 28 Thou hast played the whore also with the Assyrians, because thou wast unsatiable; yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet couldest not be satisfied. 29 Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith. 30 How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord GOD, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman; 31 in that thou buildest thine eminent place in the head of every way, and makest thine high place in every street; and hast not been as an harlot, in that thou scornest hire; 32 but as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her Husband! 33 They give gifts to all whores: but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom. 34 And the contrary is in thee from other women in thy whoredoms, whereas none followeth thee to commit whoredoms: and in that thou givest a reward, and no reward is given unto thee, therefore thou art contrary. 35 Wherefore, O harlot, hear the Word of the LORD: 36 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them; 37 behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness. 38 And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy. 39 And I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place, and shall break down thy high places: they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair jewels, and leave thee naked and bare. 40 They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords. 41 And they shall burn thine houses with fire, and execute judgments upon thee in the sight of many women: and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot, and thou also shalt give no hire any more. 42 So will I make My fury toward thee to rest, and My jealousy shall depart from thee, and I will be quiet, and will be no more angry. 43 Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted Me in all these things; behold, therefore I also will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord GOD: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations. 44 Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter. 45 Thou art thy mother's daughter, that lotheth her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, which lothed their husbands and their children: your mother was an Hittite, and your father an Amorite. 46 And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters. 47 Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways. 48 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters. 49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good. 51 Neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins; but thou hast multiplied thine abominations more than they, and hast justified thy sisters in all thine abominations which thou hast done. 52 Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters. 53 When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them: 54 that thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them. 55 When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate. 56 For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride, 57 before thy wickedness was discovered, as at the time of thy reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all that are round about her, the daughters of the Philistines, which despise thee round about. 58 Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith the LORD. 59 For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the Oath in breaking the Covenant. 60 Nevertheless I will remember My Covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an Everlasting Covenant. 61 Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant. 62 And I will establish My Covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: 63 that thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD" (Ezekiel 16:33-63).]
Compare also Ephesians 5:25-33,
["25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, 27 that He might present it to Himself a Glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the LORD the Church: 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband" (Ephesians 5:25-33).]
where this doctrine of the divine espousal of His people in Christ is expanded and applied.
Seventh. But, when we come to the epistles of the Corinthians, we have the last and greatest of all the modes of separation:
The indwelling of God in the believer by the Holy Ghost, which makes man God's habitation, temple, holy of holies! There are two ways in which a man shows himself to be the owner of a house: First, by purchase; second, by occupation. He buys the dwelling, and then he enters into it and lives in it. And these are the two ways in which God is represented as making the believer His special dwelling-place: First, you are bought with a price; second, the Spirit of God dwells in you. There can be no separation more unmistakable than this. We have been purchased by redeeming blood for the habitation of God through the Spirit, and through the Spirit God actually does indwell in every true believer.
Such indwelling of God should insure the holiness of the believer. Walter Scott wrote of a certain acquaintance: "I cannot tolerate that man; and it seems to me as if I hated him for things not only past and present, but for some future offense which is as yet in the womb of fate." The Holy Ghost's inhabitation should leave no possibility of actual sinning nor room even for the thought of sin. And where is such cleanness of soul to come from, apart from Christ? "By no political alchemy," Herbert Spencer tells us, "can you get golden conduct out of leaden instincts." The power to set the heart right, to renew the springs of action, comes from Christ through the Holy Spirit.
We thus reach the second stage of our journey through these paths of God's truth. And we here find Jesus Christ our Lord presented as the sphere of the believer's holy living -- his sanctification as well as justification, his higher salvation from sin as well as from sin's penalty. Salvation is not by character, but it is not independent of character. Heaven is not and cannot be the home of saved souls, if it be not also the abode of sanctified souls. God could have nothing less than a clean house where He lives. Nothing defiled or defiling can enter there; and He, whom the Epistle to the Romans shows as the secret of our entrance into a justified state, is here revealed to us as inbreathing the very Spirit and life of God, whereby we are made partakers of the divine nature, and thereby possible partakers of the divine bliss.
The Epistle to the Galatians
Of this epistle, both chapter one and chapter two, as far as verse 14, are historical and introductory, and the proper argument of the epistle is not fully entered upon until this preliminary or prefatory portion is passed. But, so soon as we touch the body of the epistle proper, we find the phrase in Christ or its equivalent, with Christ, abounding. See 2:15-20.
["15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the Law: for by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the Law am dead to the Law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:15-20).]
Not only does the relation of the believer to Christ, as
the sphere of his being, again appear here, as the controlling thought of this epistle,
but in no equal number of words found anywhere else is the subject presented with
such completeness and comprehensiveness. Every variety of expression is here found,
such as "by the faith of Christ," "crucified with Christ," [Galatians
2:20] et cetera, but the most striking words which arrest the eye are these: "I
live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."[2:20].
Here is the key to the Epistle to the Galatians: "In Christ Crucified, yet living unto God. "As a believer I am in Christ, and therefore I am dead to the law and to its penalty; I am in Christ, and therefore alive unto God, and dead to the world (6:14)
["But 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" (Galatians 6:14).]
and to the old self-life, and to the power of the flesh (5:24).
["And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Galatians 5:24).]
There are thus four aspects of the crucifixion -- in a sense a four-fold crucifixion of the believer:
he dies to the law both as a justifier and an accuser;
he dies to the world with its fascination and domination;
he dies to the flesh with its affections and lusts; and
he dies to himself that Christ may live in him.
The full significance of this teaching will be seen only when the exact language is carefully noted, even to the changes of voice, mood, and tense in the verb, and of prepositions which here are to be found in great variety. To begin with the prepositions: in verses 19-20 of chapter two,
["19 For I through the Law am dead to the Law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:19-20).]
we have in the English version seven prepositions: through,
to, unto, with, in, by, for; and in the Greek three dia, en, huper; others being
suggested by the case of nouns and by the construction of the sentence, and which
the English translation admirably renders by the seven prepositions there found.
But let us notice also the changes of verbs: "I am dead," or, "I died"
(RV); "I am crucified," or, "I have been crucified (RV); "the
world is crucified," or "hath been crucified unto me" (RV); and, "have
crucified the flesh." One cannot but observe the marked change in the last case,
where we have not the passive but active voice; and not without reason. For in part
our crucifixion with Christ is judicial, constructive, passive, belonging wholly
to the past and completed work of the cross; but in part it is practical, actual,
destructive of a present power and enemy; and active, as something in which we take
So far as the law is concerned, I have nothing to do as a believer but to accept Christ's satisfaction of its claims by His death, and His purchase of my justification by His obedience. The whole transaction is as much a past one as a canceled debt or a ransom paid. I, through the law, which brought Him to the cross as the sinner's satisfaction and surety, died, in Him, to the law, both as my vindicator and accuser. And so, in His death, with which by faith I am identified, the world is forevermore made my enemy because it was His, and I am in Him exposed to its derision as was He. To be in Christ implies that I am no more in the world as the sphere of my true life, love, and satisfaction. This again is a past transaction, though it may become more and more a practical reality as I come more under the power of that transaction. But, as to the flesh with its affections and lusts, is not that a daily dying to which I consent as a present fact, and which implies present pain?
The faith whereby I am made one with Christ as the sinbearer implies no participation in His vicarious agony. He suffered for me, the just for the unjust, that He might bring me unto God. But I did not suffer with Him on the cross, nor in any sense share that vicarious death, save as He was my Substitute that I might not come into judgment. He bore my sins that I might not bear them; and from the moment of my full acceptance of Him as my Saviour and Substitute and Surety, my penalty is borne and my judgment is past.
Not so of this flesh crucifixion. It is something to which I consent as a present experience. It has to do, not with a justification which He bought for me and which I afterward accepted, without participation in the process; but with a sanctification that is wrought in me by the indwelling Spirit and which I am now to participate in, working out my own salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God that worketh in me both to will and to do. This is the mortifying of our members which are upon the earth, referred to in Romans 8:13
["For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Romans 8:13).]
and in Colossians 3:5: "Mortify therefore your members."
Mortify does not mean to reckon dead but to make dead. Here is a daily, practical,
painful death which by the Spirit we in a sense inflict on ourselves, not in any
meritorious sort, but as a matter of choice, that we may be actually identified with
Christ in holy living and serving, as we are judicially one with Him in the justifying
efficacy and effect of His crucifixion.
Thus the Epistle to the Galatians meets the believer where the epistles to the Romans and to the Corinthians leave him, and urges him forward. It is the epistle of "newness of life," corresponding to His forty days' walk after His resurrection. How beautiful, and how significant! In Romans, we saw the believer in Christ expiating the law's penalty and satisfying its claims, dying, buried, and then rising by the power of the Spirit, prepared to live unto God. In Corinthians, we saw him inbreathed and indwelt of the Spirit and finding in the Spirit his divine element, the source and secret of continuous life and permanent and indissoluble union with Christ. And now the Epistle to the Galatians opens up before the believer a complete life walk, corresponding to the path which the risen Christ pursued between the sepulcher and the ascension. That walk of His in newness of life covered forty days, the period of completeness, and it stands for the rounded-out life of the believer, after he is risen with Christ and has received the Holy Spirit, whose indwelling makes such a "walk" with God, in the Spirit, possible.
For this reason it is that nowhere else but in this epistle do we find the three foes of the holy life, all put before us in their relations to Christ's cross.
There is our first foe -- the world -- and what shall I do to meet that and overcome it? "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (I John 5:4). He has overcome the world, and He bids us be of good cheer (John 16:33).
["These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).]
We have only to accept our justified standing in Him and
reckon on His death for us and His life in us, and the power of the world is broken.
Because it was and is His enemy, it is also ours; but because it was and is His vanquished
foe, it is also our subdued, defeated, overcome foe. The powers of the age to come
we have tasted, and the powers of the present evil age are driven back, and so a
second foe is defeated. We look at the unseen and eternal, rather than the seen and
temporal, and walk by faith, not by sight.
But there is a second foe of our spiritual life and holy walk, and how shall we meet it? It is the flesh, with its affections and lusts warring against the Spirit with the aspirations and affinities for God which the Spirit makes possible. Here again we are crucified with Christ. We take our stand at the cross and consent to be nailed to it, voluntarily, actually; to submit to the pain whereby the flesh dies; the hands are pierced that carnal work may no longer be done in the energy of the flesh; the feet are pierced that no longer we may walk according to the flesh; the brow is pierced with the thorn crown that our head may not any longer be held up for human diadems and fading laurel wreaths; the side is pierced that the heart may relinquish its fleshly energy and preference, and be occupied with God. This is (let us not deny it!) a painful process. It is the voluntary and daily crucifixion of the fleshly affections and lusts. And so, but only so, is a third foe defeated by the cross, which we take up daily, that we may follow Him.
Another foe remains, subtlest of all -- the self-life. What a host of foes in one: the self-trust that prevents trust only in Him, the self-help that turns us from our only true Help, the self-love that makes our own advantage an idolatrous object, the self-pride that absorbs us in our own supposed excellence, the self-defense that makes us our own champions and promotes endless strife, the self glory that puts even the glory of God in the background.
What shall be done with the self-life? Let us learn here that the only hope again is in being crucified with Christ. On the cross His self-life, though never corrupted by sin, was given up for others. He gave Himself for us. And He says to us, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself -- not his self-indulgences, which may only change their form, but himself. Much that we call self-denial is not self-denial at all. We cut off some branch of our selfish enjoyments, but the only effect is to throw back the sap into the other branches to make them more vigorous and fruitful. The ax must be laid at the root of the tree; that is denial of self. And then, as Dr. Moule beautifully says, the great gigantic, arrogant, nominative "I" is "inflected into the prostrate, humble, objective me" -- "I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." [Galatians 2:20].
There remains but one more foe -- the devil -- and we shall see that his defeat is presented to us, not in this epistle, but in the Epistle to the Ephesians; and for the obvious reason that that victory is connected not so much with the death of Christ as with His ascension to the heavenlies. Here we have to do with those foes of holy living whose defeat is particularly associated with His cross. I am crucified with Christ, and hence I am dead to the law, I am crucified to the world, I have crucified the flesh, and the self-life is nailed to the cross that the I might no longer be active but passive -- the me in whom He dwells and works. I cannot be crucified to the devil, nor can I crucify him; even to the crucified disciple he appears as a wily foe, constantly on the alert, and we need to mount with Christ to the heavenlies before Satan is beneath our feet.
What wonder, then, that in Galatians 6:15,
["For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature" (Galatians 6:15).]
as in II Corinthians 5:17,
["Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).]
we have Christ presented as the sphere of the new creation.
In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth anything, but a
new creation; no forms, ceremonies, rites, regulations of the outer life can
effect or affect the new position in Christ. We enter into Him by faith, and find
that we are in a sphere where all things are new.
No law thunders its alarms there: we are on Zion, not underneath Sinai. The world makes no appeal there, for its gold would be trodden under feet as refuse, and its crowns are all seen to be withered and worthless. The flesh has no control there, for the law of the Spirit of life controls the whole being. The old self sways us no longer, for what used to exalt itself against God and usurp authority, is content to be servant of servants to Him. We are in Christ, in a new world of privilege and possession. Like Him in His forty days' walk we are living a supernatural life, a life more in heaven than on earth, a life in the power of the Spirit, a life which defies all the old forces that swayed us, as He was no longer under the limitations of the human and the natural. The new walk with God in Christ is a walk in an essentially new world of dependence on God and of power in God. Of course, no rites will avail to introduce us into such a new world -- renewal alone would suffice.
Here, then, we have found Christ the sphere of a new life which comes to us by the surrender of the old. We cease from all dependence on the law that we may know the power of grace. We cease from all dependence on the flesh that we may walk in the Spirit, and no longer fulfill its lusts. We cease from walking with the world that we may walk with God, and we resign the self-life that the Christ-life may be fully regnant in us.
This epistle suggests a possible and practical walk with God. But its secret is a new atmosphere of life. There is a displacement of a hostile element, that once made holy living impossible, by another element which, so far as it prevails, renders deliberate sinning quite as impossible.
"Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would" (Galatians 5:16-17 RV).
To one who walks in the Spirit, the lusts of the flesh become impotent to control, until the spiritual man comes at last to marvel that he ever felt certain inclinations and passions swaying him. Let us once more hear the old Eastern story:
The haughty favorite of an Oriental monarch threw a stone at a poor priest. The dervish did not dare to throw it back, for the favorite was very powerful. So he picked up the stone and put it carefully in his pocket, saying to himself: "The time for revenge will come by and by, and then I will repay him." Not long afterward, walking in one of the streets, he saw a great crowd, and found to his astonishment, that his enemy, the favorite, who had fallen into disgrace with the king, was being paraded through the principal streets on a camel, exposed to the jests and insults of the populace. The dervish seeing all this, hastily grasped at the stone which he carried in his pocket, saying to himself: "The time for my revenge has come, and I will repay him for his insulting conduct." But after considering a moment, he threw the stone away, saying: "The time for revenge never comes; for if our enemy is powerful, revenge is dangerous as well as foolish, and if he is weak and wretched, then revenge is worse than foolish, it is mean and cruel. And in all cases it is forbidden and wicked."
Not only for revenge, but for all voluntary sin, the time
should never come to a regenerated child of God. The believer, having received the
Spirit of God as the indwelling Spirit, must accept Him practically as the inworking
Spirit, and follow His gentlest and faintest motions and leadings. There is something
higher than even to be taught by the Spirit, namely, to be led of the Spirit. We
fear many have been taught who have not been led; and failure to be led makes us
more and more incapable of being taught, for the disobedient soul becomes callous
to divine impression. He who is risen with Christ, and has the Breath of God in him,
should live as a risen, quickened, breathing son of God, and walk in the Spirit in
newness of life.
This expression, first found in Romans 6:4, is one of singular meaning, and the whole Epistle to the Galatians is a commentary upon it. Let us, therefore, tarry to examine it more carefully. "That, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
Two things here are very noticeable. First, there is to be a walk in newness of life, and, second, it is to find its type and likeness in the resurrection life of the Lord Himself.
This phrase, "newness of life," occurs only here, and itself opens up an immense territory of thought. Even in the life of the God-man there was, after His rising from the dead, a newness of life manifested, which is the type and pattern of what our life may be and ought to be in Him.
We observe apparently new conditions in our Lord's post-resurrection life on earth. Up to this time Christ had a mortal body, born of a woman, made under the law, and subject to human limitations, identified with the condition of humanity. Death was possible to that body, and actually endured by Him as part of His humiliation. But, after the resurrection, when He rose to die no more, and death had no more dominion over Him, He was, indeed, the "Prince of Life." [Acts 3:15].
His life was now and henceforth a resurrection life. He was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4) .
It was a supernatural life. His rising was a miracle. If the Scriptures are very minutely examined, it will be found that He appears to have come forth without human or even angelic aid. Though the angel rolled back the stone from the door of the sepulcher, it is never once intimated that Christ waited for that before He left the sealed tomb; it would rather appear that He emerged from that closed tomb as One who could not be thus holden. And so there is more than an intimation that He sloughed off those grave wrappings, and left them in their original convolutions, undisturbed, as they were wrapped or rolled about Him.This was what convinced John that the resurrection was miraculous. He saw the long linen cloths -- which, with a hundred pounds of spices, had been tightly wrapped about the Lord's body and head -- lying on the floor of the rock tomb, exactly as He had been enveloped in them. His body, endowed with resurrection power, had slipped out from these tight and heavy cerements of the grave (John 20:5-7).
["5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. 6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7 and the napkin, that was about His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself" (John 20:5-7).]
They could not hold Him fast. All through those forty days
Christ seems to have been independent of former conditions and limitations. He entered
with in closed doors, He assumed different forms, He appeared instantly and as instantly
vanished; and finally ascended as one whom even gravitation no more controlled.
All this suggests what is meant by our walking in newness of life, and why such a simile is connected with it, "that, like as Christ was raised from the dead," [Romans 6:4], etc. Our life in Him should be a life subject to entirely new conditions -- essentially a resurrection life: a life supernatural in power, possible only by the Spirit of Holiness; a life no longer under the dominion of former lusts, fleshly bondage; essentially a divine life, in which celestial forces prevail; a life of heavenly knowledge, and strength, and peace, and patience, and power; a life of heavenly frames, having the lamb-like, dove like quality. Our resurrection life may be and should be like His, more of heaven than of earth, a mysterious life that no worldly man or worldly minded disciple can understand or explain.
This epistle contains an instructive allegory or parable, that of Hagar and Ishmael, the pertinency of which is not seen by every reader. Let us close this chapter by a reference to it.
In Genesis chapter 4:22-31, this history is presented as having a deeper allegorical meaning than the mere surface reveals. This Hagar is Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage. Sarah represents grace, and Isaac, her son, the liberty of faith. Hagar represents law, and Ishmael, who is her son, represents the bondage which unbelief engenders. The territory in which both for a time sought to live is the believer's own experience. But the two are incompatible and irreconcilable. Faith and unbelief, liberty and slavery, love and fear, hope and despair, cannot abide together. And God says to every child of His, "cast out the bondwoman and her son, for there can be no common inheritance for the son of the bondwoman and the son of the freewoman. Give your heart wholly to the dominion of grace and faith."
The same lesson is taught in Hebrews 12:18-29,
["18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet, and the Voice of Words; which Voice they that heard intreated that the Word should not be spoken to them any more: 20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, and if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: 21 and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) 22 but ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the Living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn, which are written in Heaven, and to God the Judge of All, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the Blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. 25 See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on Earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from Heaven: 26 whose Voice then shook the Earth: but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the Earth only, but also Heaven. 27 And this Word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 for our God is a Consuming Fire" (Hebrews 12:18-29).]
in that other parable of Sinai and Sion. Leave the mount
that quakes and burns, with its blackness and darkness and tempest and trumpet and
awful voice of law; and live on Mount Sion, the place of the King's palace, with
its holy memories, experiences, and prospects. There you look back to Calvary's cross,
up to heaven's daily blessing, and forward to the far but near horizon of the blessed
hope. Faith reconciles; faith saves, not only from hell, but from the inward slough
of despond and the torments of fear. Faith makes real the encampment of God's holy
angels about the believer and the fellowship of all redeemed souls in heaven and
earth. Faith makes you conscious and confident of your heavenly citizenship, and
your interest in atoning blood, which calls not for vengeance but for mercy.
All these lessons are summed up in that one verse: "That, like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." [Romans 6:4].
The Epistle to the Ephesians
The very first verse contains the expression, "faithful
in Christ Jesus," and the third verse furnishes the key to this epistle in one
short sentence, comprising the sum of all its exalted teaching: "Who hath blessed
us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ."
This letter to the Ephesians lifts us to the very summit, the third heaven of privilege, and is especially rich in that phrase which we are now devoutly tracing throughout the New Testament. We find here at least ten separate uses or combinations of the words in Christ or in Him, as applied to the present estate of the believer, and as exhibiting His possible heavenly life even while on earth; and there is one besides which refers to coming blessing. These features of this epistle we shall find singularly true also of the companion Epistle to the Colossians.
In this epistle we are declared to be, in Christ,
["Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 1:1).]
["According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love" (Ephesians 1:4).]
predestinated to the adoption of children,
["Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (Ephesians 1:5.]
["To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).]
to have redemption and forgiveness,
["In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).]
to be quickened or made alive,
["And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).]
["And hath raised us up together" (Ephesians 2:6).]
seated in the heavenlies;
["And made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6).]
to have been sealed and to have obtained an inheritance:
["13 In Whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:13-14).]
these are the ten present blessings, and the one, yet future,
is that in Him we are to be gathered together in one, with all saints, at His coming.
The peculiar truth thus introduced to our view in this epistle is, therefore, the heavenly nature and divine fulness of this sphere of the new life. When by faith we enter into Christ, the life we are introduced into, is not earthly, but essentially heavenly. It is not to be confounded with joys and privileges which are of this world, however pure and lawful. In Christ we are lifted above the level even of saintly communion as such. Our human ties and relations with God's own people are very precious, but that of which the Spirit here treats is something higher than the human relation which disciples sustain here to each other. We ascend in thought above the Church on earth, with its assemblies of saints, its sacraments, ordinances, and fellowship; here we are viewed as one with Christ and one in Christ. He, indeed, in heaven, and we on earth; yet our life in Him a heavenly life because it is in Him who is in heaven. Hence the word "places," supplied by the translators, may mislead, for we are not as yet in heavenly places but in earthly places, though we may and ought to be in heavenly states of mind, heart, and experience.
The difference is not a mere verbal distinction. A devout woman whom I once visited, to condole with her on the recent departure of an aged and most saintly mother, said to me with a smile: "For forty years, my dear mother's mind has been in heaven." And I could not but recall those exquisite lines of Goldsmith:
Like some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale but midway leaves the storm,
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head.
While yet in the body and on earth, the mind and heart may
be in heaven; we ought to be essentially living on a higher, celestial level. This
is the grand possibility and privilege to which the Holy Spirit turns our eyes. And,
as all saints are, alike, in Christ Jesus, they are all in Him one. This thought
of our unity in Christ runs side by side with the other, of our high privilege in
Him, throughout these chapters. In fact, this unity is itself one of the most exalted
forms of this heavenly life, and is more emphasized here than perhaps anywhere else,
more figures being here employed to give it expression than in the whole New Testament
Let us first of all glance at the teachings here contained as to this unity of saints in Christ Jesus.
To begin with, the conception of Christ, as the sphere of all holy living, implies this unity. This sphere is invisible, however real, and our entrance into it and our abiding in it are not therefore matters of sense. Our place in it has to be obtained or received through the Spirit's working, and recognized or perceived through the Spirit's teaching. We must also recognize the place of other saints in the same sphere, by the same spiritual discernment. As we come into contact with true fellow believers and perceive in them the Christ image -- as we see that they breathe the same air and live the same life, that they also belong to Christ and partake also of His Spirit, our conception of the unity of all believers in Him grows continually in vividness of impression. We cannot help our love going out to them; to whatever different sphere they may belong, in family, social, or national life, they belong with us to that supreme sphere which is celestial and eternal. And here is the only real hope of unity in the Church: it is found in the recognition of our mutual relation to Christ, and in Him to each other -- as our Lord prayed, "that they also may be one in us" (John 17:21).
The spheres of family life, social life, church life, and national life are all visible, and they impress us with a vivid sense of our unity, as brothers, neighbors, fellow church members, fellow citizens. But, to a true child of God, the invisible bond that unites all believers to Christ is far more tender, and lasting, and precious; and, as we come to recognize and realize that we are all dwelling in one sphere of life in Him, we learn to look on every believer as our brother, in a sense that is infinitely higher than all human relationships. This is the one and only way to bring disciples permanently together. All other plans for promoting the unity of the Church have failed. Let us live more and more in Christ, and then we shall and must live more and more in the bonds of a holy love and peace. It must be first of all the unity of the Spirit.
This unity in Christ is so prominent in this epistle that we must not lightly pass it by. Besides the general conception of Christ as the sphere of holy life, common to all these epistles, we shall find the following other figures used here to express the same thought:
1. The body of which He is the Head and we the members (1:22-23; 2:16; 4:12-16).
["22 And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the church, 23 which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:22-23).
"And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby" (Ephesians 2:16).
"12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 but speaking the Truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ: 16 from Whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:12-16).]
2. God's workmanship (2:10).
["For we are His workmanship <Greek, poiema>, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).]
Poiema -- same word as in Romans 1:20,
["For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made <Greek, poem a>, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20).]
a creation with a definite purpose, or object, and we, all, parts of that sphere of creation -- "God's poem".
3. A commonwealth (2:12).
["That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth <Greek, politeia> of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of Promise, having no hope, and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).]
Politeia -- a community in which we are citizens, introduced into it by the blood (2:19).
["Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19).]
4. A temple, with the middle wall of partition broken down (2:14). "He is our peace." Two courts -- one.
["For He is our Peace, Who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us" (Ephesians 2:14).]
5. One new man (2:15).
["Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the Law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain One New Man, so making peace" (Ephesians 2:15).]
A very remarkable expression, nowhere else used.
6. One household of God (2: 19).
["Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household <Greek, oikeios> of God" (Ephesians 2:19).]
Oikeios, members of one household.
7. One building or temple (2:20, 22).
["20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Corner Stone; 22 in Whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:20, 22).]
In this case with reference to the one foundation, etc., and one habitation of God through the Spirit.
8. Fellow heirs (3:6).
["That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His Promise in Christ by the Gospel" (Ephesians 3:6).]
Co-heirs, participators of one inheritance.
9. Family (3:15).
["Of whom the whole family <Greek, patria> in Heaven and Earth is named" (Ephesians 3:15).]
Patria, tribe or race from one father -- an amplification and expansion of the idea of one household.
10. One body and one Spirit (4:4).
["There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling" (Ephesians 4:4).]
The septi-form of unity is contained in chapter 4, one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father.
["4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One LORD, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:4-6).]
11. The bride, or wife (5:22-23).
12. The panoply (6:10 and the following verses). All true believers are wearing the same armor, and panoplied in the same divine power.
This unity with Christ and in Him is in this epistle made to depend on our partaking of His Spirit, and hence the prominence of the Holy Spirit, to whom the references are very frequent and varied:
["In Whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise" (Ephesians 1:13).]
["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" (Ephesians 1:17).]
["19 And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, 20 which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the Heavenly Places" (Ephesians 1:19-20).]
["For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father" (Ephesians 2:18).]
["In Whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22).]
["Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (Ephesians 3:5).]
["That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man" (Ephesians 3:16).]
["There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling" (Ephesians 4:4).]
["(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)" (Ephesians 5:9).]
["And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18).]
["And take the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17).]
["Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" (Ephesians 6:18).]
Thus there are at least twelve or thirteen references to
the Spirit of God.
Here, then, is the added teaching of the Epistle 1 to the Ephesians, as compared with the preceding:
Christ is the sphere of all heavenly privilege and blessing. We have first of all fellowship with Him, so that, as He is so are we in this world. We are so in Him that God looks on us only as in Him, as having been and done and borne and achieved all that He has Himself. In Him we are God's elect, accepted, forgiven, redeemed, raised from the dead, sealed as His own, and seated with Him, in the heavenlies.
Our fellowship is thus with the Father, in Him, as close
as His own fellowship.
And our fellowship is also with all saints in heaven and on earth, of time, past, present, and future. We all belong, in Him, to Him and to one another, and the more we know Him, the more we shall know and love all who are His and who are in Him.
If there be anything higher than this, it is the heavenly life involved in all this teaching. We are already in heaven, so far as this becomes real to us, and have the earnest or foretaste of the one final inheritance of all saints.
For example, take chapter 6:10
["Finally, my brethren, be strong in the LORD, and in the power of His might" (Ephesians 6:10).<See above.>]
and following. In our wrestling against the powers of darkness
that encompass us round in the sphere of the earthly, what a refuge to be consciously
environed by the heavenly! to feel Christ as between us and all hostile principalities
and powers. Observe, how ever close our foes may be, the panoply is between us and
them.. And so it is of the believer. Christ is the panoply of our warfare. He is
next to us and between us and all our foes. How elaborately this thought is wrought
out in this chapter. The powers of darkness are here represented in a sixfold aspect,
as assailing the head, the heart, the vital parts, and the feet, and as needing to
be met by an all-encompassing coat of mail.
How are they to be confronted? Only in Christ. He is to be the hope of salvation, and so a helmet for the head; He is to be our righteousness, and so a breastplate; He is to be our truth, and so a girdle that holds us and embraces us; He is to be our sandals, and so alacrity for our feet; He is to be the sword of our defense and offense, and the shield that quenches all the fiery darts of Satan.
We have, therefore, Christ here presented, not only as the heavenly sphere of fellowship with God and with saints, but as the sphere of absolute security from all foes.
There is added one word of warning. It is amazing that the epistle which thus reveals our highest privilege should close with the most terrible caution against Satanic wiles. Here where the Spirit of God is most conspicuous as the indwelling power of the believer, the spirit of evil is the most conspicuous as the spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience.
Why is this warning? Because we are never in so great danger as when we have most confidence that we are filled with the Spirit. We are just then most apt to be confident that all our impulses and leadings are divine leadings, and so we forget to try the spirits whether they be of God. There are men and women who claim to be Spirit filled, and yet are daily doing things that are uncharitable and unrighteous; who apologize for many things that are not only foolish and unwise, but unholy in tendency and selfish in spirit; running to all sorts of fanaticism and folly, perhaps into impurity and iniquity, under the plea that they are guided by the Spirit, until the reality of the Spirit's guidance is brought into contempt. Now observe that this epistle itself puts us on our guard against all this subtle error. It gives us four criteria whereby to know the Spirit's leading.
1. He is the Spirit of obedience (2:2-6).
["2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:2-6).]
Any spirit that leads to disobedience, that makes us slaves to fleshly lusts, the wills of the flesh and of the mind -- and the course of this world -- is of the devil.
2. He is the Spirit of unity (4:3-4). Any spirit that sows seeds of strife, bitterness, rancors, and enmity among disciples, is not of God.
["3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling" (Ephesians 4:3-4).]
3. He is the Spirit whose fruit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth (5:9). By their fruits ye shall know them.
["(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)" (Ephesians 5:9).]
4. He is the Spirit whose sword is the Word (6:17).
["And take the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17).]
And any guidance which is not through the Scriptures and conformed to and confirmed by them, is false and delusive.
No other epistle is so emphatic in its presentation of the
danger to be apprehended from hostile and demoniacal principalities and powers, even
in the heavenlies. We can never get so high in our spiritual life that we are beyond
the reach of satanic wiles and lies, and seductions and suggestions. Nay, it is the
most mature disciple that Satan most surely assaults. While we are under the sway
of fleshly appetites, and of worldly allurements, the prince of darkness may safely
leave us to our bonds. But when these bonds are broken and we are enjoying the liberty
of sons of God, then we are sure to be the objects of his malignant assault. It is
as in human wars; no general-in-chief troubles himself about helpless captives; it
is the soldier that is free to fight and strong to overcome, that he watches and
seeks to vanquish and destroy.
If there be any one aim in Ephesians which marks this epistle as separate from all others, it is found in 3:18-19. "That we may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height," etc., to measure the immeasurable dimensions of this sphere of heavenly life, and love, and privilege. The two prayers of Paul which find record in this epistle (1:16-23; 3:14-21),
["16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 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: 18 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, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, 20 which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the Heavenly Places, 21 far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:16-23).
"14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, 15 of Whom the whole family in Heaven and Earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the Power that worketh in us, 21 unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (Ephesians 3:14-21).]
find in this their great petition, that the eyes of the
heart may be so opened and illumined as that the Ephesian disciples may clearly see
and know what is the hope of their calling, and what the riches of the glory of God's
inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward
believers; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.
As believers we discredit our own privileges and possessions. The statements of the Word of God seem incredible -- they pass our comprehension and even apprehension. We cannot believe that such things are true. And except the Spirit of God shall open our eyes, illumine our understandings and hearts, and so enable us to know, we shall be blinded by the very glory of our own privileges in Christ, and shall account the whole of this, not only a mystery, but a myth -- a poem, a dream. The Holy Spirit alone can make us either to possess or to apprehend what an inheritance we have in God.
The fourfold work of the Spirit is therefore presented in this epistle as nowhere else within the same brief compass: First, anointing, which affects the understanding; second, renewing, which reaches the disposition; third, sealing, which affects the heart and conscience; and fourth, filling, which makes speech and conduct full of God. But let us observe that first of all comes that anointing, which makes apprehension of these spiritual truths possible. He must become to us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him before He can make any other of these blessings realities.
Let us then seek to reach to the greatness of this truth. Christ Jesus is essentially a heavenly sphere of life. In Him we are already exalted to the heavenlies. He in heaven as the Head imparts to the body an essentially celestial experience, the earnest of the full and final inheritance.
Among these heavenly powers and privileges we may find here suggested even if not expressed:
1.A heavenly knowledge of divine mysteries
2.A heavenly life or divine quickening
3.A heavenly union with Christ and His saints
4.A heavenly fellowship with all holy being
5.A heavenly earnest or foretaste of bliss
6.A heavenly access with boldness unto God
7.A heavenly frame, renewed in love
8.A heavenly walk or conduct, manifest in all the life
9.A heavenly growth to the fulness of stature
10.A heavenly strength and power to overcome
11.A heavenly assurance or sealing of the Spirit
12.A heavenly security within the panoply of God
The Epistle to the Philippians
Observe how the opening verse salutes all the saints in
Christ Jesus, thus bringing to our view this remarkable phrase in the very salutation
of the inspired writer -- the inscription on the letter. Immediately after, in the
eleventh verse, we have the characteristic sentence which again, as a key, unlocks
the doors of this epistle: "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which
are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God." [Philippians 1:11].
This suggests as a ruling thought that in Christ we are full of all the fruits of such abiding, and that no circumstances can destroy our fruitfulness, and, among other fruits, our peace, and rest, and joy in God. This is the divine idea which we meet at every turn. So soon as the writer completes this initial sentence he proceeds to illustrate its truth in his own experience of trial. He records his adverse surroundings, which, were he not in Christ, would be unbearable. He writes as one who is at that time in bonds for Christ (1:13),
["So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places" (Philippians 1:13).]
a prisoner at Rome, and in danger of martyrdom. And yet all this turns to his fuller salvation, and even to the furtherance of the Gospel. His fetters, instead of a restraint, are made to expand and enlarge his service, as part of his privilege to suffer for His sake (1:29),
["For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29).]
and even to witness for His truth; for, as he was chained
in succession to soldiers who were members of the Praetorian guard, he took opportunity
thus to spread through the whole Praetorium the good tidings of grace.
In the second chapter he enjoins the Philippians to have in them the same mind as in Christ who "emptied" Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
["6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross" (Philippians 2:6-8).]
Then, in chapter 3, the opening exhortation is, "Rejoice in the Lord," [Philippians 3:1] while in the third verse one of the three marks of the true circumcision is that we "rejoice in Christ Jesus."
["For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3).]
This chapter is wholly occupied with the experimental illustration,
furnished in Paul's own life, of how a man who is in Christ Jesus finds in Him the
sphere of his perfect satisfaction. For Christ's sake he had given up and counted
as loss whatever he had previously counted as gain; and had made the sacrifice not
grudgingly or of necessity, but cheerfully and of choice, because in Christ he had
found such full compensation that all else seemed refuse, to be trodden under foot.
The world's most precious jewels, the diadems which carnal men most value, seemed
to him utterly contemptible beside what he perceived and received in Christ Jesus.
The epistle we are now examining is like one long song in the night, a kind of prolonged echo of that midnight prayer and praise which marked Paul's first experience in the city of Philippi when, in answer to the vision of the appeal from Macedonia, he had hastened thither, and got, as his reception, a scourging, a thrusting into an inner prison, and a torturing in the stocks. Yes, the man who sang and prayed in that inner jail is the man who in this epistle, a prisoner at Rome, sings, "Rejoice in the Lord, alway! and again I say, Rejoice!" (chapter 4:4).
If this epistle has any special keynote which is the controlling thought, in all these melodies of a holy heart, it is this: in Christ Jesus satisfied.
If the studious reader of the New Testament would test this for himself, let him take the fourth chapter, for example, and give it a thorough examination. It will be found to contain between the fourth and nineteenth verses at least seven applications and illustrations of that sublime injunction, which so marks not only this chapter, but the whole epistle.
Let us keep before us the grand thought that evidently was the dominant one in the writer's mind, that he who is in Christ Jesus, has entered into the sphere of complete joy, where he finds full compensation for all self-denials and sufferings. Without attempting to import any thought into this chapter, but simply to discover what is there, let us note the progress of the Spirit's teaching.
We may be permitted to doubt whether even such English words adequately render the brief but sublime original: "Let your mildness, gentleness, forebearingness, patience, be manifest, evident to all men. The Lord is close by -- very near." This latter expression has been perhaps hastily applied and limited to the Lord's second coming. But may the thought not be even more comforting than this? When, looking at your human environment, you find cause for disquiet, alarm, fear, and are tempted to resistance and self-defense or vindication, God says to you, let your forebearingness be manifest unto all men -- remember that the Lord Himself is nearer you than anyone else, between you and your foes. They cannot come within the sphere of your security, nor come between you and Him. Paul himself found that when all men forsook him, the Lord stood by him and strengthened him. And no man perhaps ever lived, whose peace was more absolutely uninterrupted by hostile surroundings, or whose sense of his Master's close proximity proved more absolutely satisfying and sufficient. Are you in Christ Jesus? Remember He is near, very near, next to you in respect to interposition, between you and all human foes.
In their way no more striking verses are found in the Word of God. To him who is in Christ Jesus all anxiety is a sin; be anxious for nothing. There is a refuge from all fretting care -- in everything by prayer and supplication. A curious triad! Anxiety for nothing! Thanksgiving for anything! Prayerfulness in everything! And instead of anxious care, peace which passeth understanding -- a deep abyss of perplexity and anxiety exchanged for an unfathomable deep of divine peace -- what an exchange! Christ, the sphere of the peace of God, because within that sphere is the God of peace (verse 9).
["Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of Peace shall be with you" (Philippians 4:9).]
The sphere of our satisfaction and compensation and consolation is a fortress through which no foe can break -- we are literally garrisoned by the peace of God. Be anxious for nothing! He is between you and all care.
Is this an impracticable ideal? Let a simple illustration help us to see how wholly practical and practicable this divine injunction is. There is a vast difference in the point of view from which circumstances are regarded. If they come between us and God they may hide God from us; if He comes between us and them, He may hide them from us, or even impart to them, when in themselves alone, they are dark and sad, a lustre and a glory. When the moon comes directly between the earth and the sun it may totally eclipse the orb of day; but when the earth and sun are in another relative position, the moon is at the full, and becomes not an obscurer but a reflector of the sun's light. Our blessed Lord would have us so abide in Him that all care should be shut out, or our very anxieties be transfigured into occasions of thanksgiving.
["8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of Peace shall be with you" (Philippians 4:8-9).]
Paul puts before us on the one hand whatsoever things are in themselves virtuous, or inherently desirable; and on the other whatsoever things are of good report, or honorable and influential for good; and he bids us think on these things. And where shall we find more abundant food for such thoughts than in Christ Jesus -- the sphere of all excellence? Whatsoever is true, pure, lovely; whatsoever is honest, just, and of good report may be found in Him as nowhere else. And he who is in Christ Jesus, is in the very circle and sphere of such moral and spiritual perfection. All other objects and subjects of thought are shut out by the enamoring vision of His loveliness. When we reflect, moreover, that nothing molds character and conduct like the objects of thought -- that to them we are always assimilated, and that the very source and spring of all conduct and even of motive is found in the thoughts -- it will be readily seen that it is of the highest consequence that we be insphered in Him whose presence makes impossible even the conception of whatever is impure or degrading. Here is the inspiration to exalted and heavenly reflection, meditation, and assimilation. Here we behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord and are changed into the same image from glory to glory.
["And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the Power of Christ may rest upon me" (2Corinthians 12:9).]
Such unselfishness shines with a sublime light when all the dark, dismal surroundings are taken into consideration. Here is a man who in Christ Jesus has learned to be so content that he is equally happy when he abounds and when he suffers need. When, after an interval of seeming forgetfulness and neglect, the Philippian disciples again sent their gifts to relieve his wants, and comfort his confinement, he "rejoiced," but not at any increase of personal ease, or supply of personal want -- no! He rejoiced that now at the last their care of him had again flourished -- the word literally means to burst out into leaf and bloom -- as a tree in spring.
["But I rejoiced in the LORD greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity" (Philippians 4:10).]
There had been a season during which they seemed barren of unselfish ministries; but now, as in a returning springtime of verdure and blossom, their care of him had burst into beauty; and he rejoiced at their gifts, as signs of healthy and vigorous life, or as he says later (verse 18),
["But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God" (Philippians 4:18).]
because this offering to him was a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God, a sweet savor offering; the tree by bursting again into bloom gave forth an odor, a fragrance of sweet smell, that ascended to God! Paul lost all sight of himself in his holy jealousy for their growth in grace, and especially in the consummate grace of giving! Who could learn such unselfishness and self-oblivion save he who in Christ Jesus constantly communed with the one God-man who even on the cross forgot His agonies in the prayer for His murderers, and who was willing to bear the cross and accept such soul-travail as was never known before nor since, if He might bring many souls unto glory?
["But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).]
And so Christ is the sevenfold sphere of the believers'
satisfaction. He is between us and all hostile threats, and fears, and foes; between
us and all anxieties and cares; between us and all unlovely and harmful thoughts;
between us and all murmurs of discontent; between us and all weakness and failure;
between us and all selfish absorption in our own advantage; between us and all possible
need. Within this sphere of our new life, if our faith be but equal to its perception
and reception, we shall find a personal and protecting Presence ever at hand; a perfect
peace, passing understanding; everything lovely and of good report for contemplation
and assimilation; all strength, divine strength perfected; all serenity and contentment;
all unselfish jealousy for others' growth in grace, and every supply for every need
of spirit, soul, and body. What a sphere of satisfaction and exultation!
This epistle especially unfolds to us, and emphasizes for us, that great truth that in Christ Jesus we have a sphere of perfect peace.
["6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).]
How much we need it and how far we are from it, in our ordinary
experience, no one needs to be told. And yet it is perfectly obvious that all anxiety
is both foolish and fatal to all health of body or of mind. It cannot avoid or avert
any certain evil, while it can crowd the unknown future with imaginary and uncertain
calamities and dangers, until we are half insane with the terrors our own imagination
has conjured up. Anxiety thus creates false fears, while it makes real calamities
doubly hard to bear. Even science and atheistic worldly wisdom says: "Be anxious
"Modern science has brought to light the fact that worry will kill, and determines, from recent discoveries, how worry kills. Scores of deaths, set down to other causes, are due to worry alone. Anxiety and care, the fretting and chafing of habitual worry, injure beyond repair certain cells of the brain, which being the nutritive center of the body, other organs become gradually injured; and when some disease of these organs, or ailments arise, death finally ensues. Insidiously, worry creeps upon the brain in the form of a single, constant, never-lost idea; and as the dropping of water over a period of years will wear a groove in a stone, so worry, gradually, imperceptibly, but no less surely, destroys the brain cells that are, so to speak, the commanding officers of mental power, health, and motion.
"Worry is an irritant, at certain points, producing little harm if it comes at intervals or irregularly. But against the iteration and reiteration of one idea of a disquieting sort the cells of the brain are not proof. It is as if the skull were laid bare, and the surface of the brain struck lightly with a hammer every few seconds, with mechanical precision, with never a sign of a let-up or the failure of a stroke. Just in this way does the annoying idea, the maddening thought that will not be done away with, strike or fall upon certain nerve cells, never ceasing, and week by week, diminishing the vitality of these delicate organisms, so minute that they can only be seen under the microscope."
Do not worry. Do not hurry. "Let your moderation be known to all men." Court the fresh air day and night. Sleep and rest abundantly. Sleep is nature's benediction. Spend less nervous energy each day than you make. Be cheerful. "A light heart lives long." Think only healthful thoughts. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7) . "Seek peace and pursue it" (Psalm 34:14) . Avoid passion and excitement. Associate with healthy people. Health is contagious as well as disease. Don't carry the whole world on your shoulders, far less the universe. "Trust in God and do the right." Never despair. "Lost hope is a fatal disease." "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them" (John 13:17).
If such be the voice of worldly wisdom, let us listen to the wisdom that is from above. And remember the sublime saying of the sainted George Muller. When his helpers were asked how they could account for the fact that his serene calm was undisturbed when, with two thousand orphans to clothe and feed, there was neither food in the larder nor money in the bank, and his one resort was prayer -- the answer was, that it could be accounted for only on his own philosophy:
Where anxiety begins, faith ends;
And where faith begins, anxiety ends.
The Epistle to the Colossians
In Colossians again we meet the phrase, in Christ Jesus, in the very salutation (1:4).
["Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints" (Colossians 1:4).
And in the prayer that immediately follows, "that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will,"
["For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and Spiritual understanding" (Colossians 1:9).]
et cetera, we first strike the great word of this epistle,
pleroma-- an untranslatable word.
The substance of the teaching of Colossians is this: In Christ Jesus we have the pleroma of God. This idea is inwrought into the structure of the epistle and curiously into its language.*
*We meet here and there words into which the root pleroo enters: "filled," 1:9;
["For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled <Greek, pleroo> with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and Spiritual understanding" (Colossians 1:9).]
["For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness <Greek, pleroo> dwell" (Colossians 1:19).]
["For in Him dwelleth all the fulness <Greek, pleroo> of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9).]
"fill up," 1:24;
["Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up <Greek, pleroo> that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake, which is the Church" (Colossians 1:24).]
"fulfil the word," 1:25;
["Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil <Greek, pleroo> the Word of God" (Colossians 1:25).]
"full assurance," 2:2;
["That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance <Greek, pleroo> of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ" (Colossians 2:2).]
["And ye are complete <Greek, pleroo> in Him, which is the Head of all principality and power" (Colossians 2:10).]
["Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete <Greek, pleroo> in all the will of God" (Colossians 4:12).]
The idea is that all this divine fullness dwells in Him,
and may dwell in us by our dwelling in Him.
This introduces us to the power and perfection of Christ, as the sphere of our new life: in Him, complete.
Here, as in Ephesians, there are ten blessings that are already ours, and one that is to be ours at His coming. And it is curious to compare the ten things of Ephesians, with those of this epistle:
|to be gathered in one||to be manifested|
Three in both lists are alike (which we mark with an asterisk),
all the rest are unlike;.but in Ephesians the list has reference to oneness of saints
in Christ and the present privilege of life in Him; in Colossians, to the completeness
of all and every believer in Him, and the perfection and power which are realized
Hence the same figure in both epistles: Christ the Head of Body; there with reference to unity, and here, to vitality. The ruling thought then in this epistle is found in the fullness of Christ, as the sphere of our life. He is filled with God, and in Him we also are filled with God. In fact the word, pleroma, as already remarked, cannot be translated. It means more than fullness. It is a term used by philosophy, and borrowed by Paul from philosophic authors. They claimed to know the secret of something that filled up all human deficiency -- a plenitude of knowledge and power. Paul claims that in Christ the true pleroma is found: that He as the Son of God has all the plenitude of the godhead in Him, in full measure, and running over -- and so, if we are in Him, all that divine pleroma becomes ours. Whatever perfection is in God, in His knowledge, power, strength, wisdom, love, holiness, thus fills up to the full our measure of capacity.
In the light of this truth the whole epistle becomes luminous:
1:27. Paul speaks of the riches of the glory of this mystery -- "which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." [Colossians 1:27].
1:28. "That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." [Colossians 1:28].
1:19. "It pleased the Father that in him should all [the pleroma] dwell. [Colossians 1:19].
2:3. "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." [Colossians 2:3].
2:6-7. As ye have received... Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk... in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith." [Colossians 2:6-7].
Note particularly verses 8, 9, etc., as the heart of the epistle.
["8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:8-9).]
He warns against philosophy, which holds out its false pleroma, and says: "In Him dwelleth all the [pleroma] of the godhead bodily, and ye [have the pleroma] in him" (2:9-10).
["9 For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in Him, which is the Head of all principality and power" (Colossians 2:9-10).]
If the word pleroma is untranslatable, what shall we say
of the thought of the epistle! What words shall adequately translate such a conception
into human language, or convey it to human minds! It is the same essential idea as
that which seeks expression in that last and greatest parable ever spoken by our
Lord: the vine and the branches. There several words form the salient points of thought,
arresting attention: vine, branch, and fruit; abide, ask; love, joy. The grand word
of the seven is abide, and the grand lesson is absolute and perpetual dependence
on the one hand, and perfect and perpetual fullness of blessing on the other.
Let us remember that in the vine dwells all vegetable fullness, all the fullness of soil and sap, of life and strength; and that the branch abides in the vine that it may be filled with all the fullness of the vine. Branch life, like limb life in the body, can never become independent. The child may outgrow the mother's care, and support and nourish the parent; but the branch can never outgrow its dependence, nor can the limb ever become independent of the body. The same in nature and nurture, in root and soil and sap, in life and growth, the very leaves, blooms, clusters of the branch are the leaves, blooms, and clusters of the vine. It is the full life of the vine, pushing its way through the branch's channels, that exhibits itself in every new twig, bud, flower, grape; and, as the grape rounds out into luscious fullness, it is the vine which imparts its own fullness in the juice and color and perfection of the cluster.
The disciple abides in Christ, and so his asking becomes Christ's asking; his love and joy are in fact Christ's love and joy abiding in him and filling him. So what in the parable is suggested or enfolded, is, in this epistle, unfolded. In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead bodily and substantially, and we are filled full in Him of the same pleroma of God. The thought is inexpressible. Even the Holy Ghost finds no intelligible terms to convey it; all attempts are like groanings unutterable.
The ten or eleven specific statements of what the disciple has in Christ, all have reference to this pleroma or fullness of power and perfection. We are rooted in Him -- and so like a plant we have fullness of strength and life -- so well expressed by the roots which take fast hold on the soil and absorb whatever promotes growth and strength.
We are built up in Him -- like the building which gets stability from its rock foundation, and beauty and completeness as carried on to completion.
When we are taught that in Him we are circumcised, buried, made alive, risen, seated, hid in God, and to be manifested when He is -- one of the greatest thoughts of the Word is put before us. Christ is the great representative Man -- the second and last Adam, the Son of Man. All that He experienced, from His miraculous conception to His session at God's right hand, is representative -- that is, it is in our behalf, typical as well as historical, and we are to look upon ourselves as going through all these experiences in Him. When Adam was on trial, the whole race he represented was on trial, and his fall was representative. When Christ was on trial, it was a representative of the race -- the last Adam -- who was tempted, and triumphed.
God in Christ sees us, who believe, victorious over the devil and death, the world and the flesh. It is a great mystery of grace; but in Him we were circumcised, and put away fleshly lusts -- in Him buried, that the old corrupt nature might be left in the tomb, and in Him by the Holy Ghost we were made alive unto God, raised to live a new life, by His power lifted to the heavenly sphere of life; so that now our real life is not that which is seen. It is a hidden life. The world knows us not, because it knew Him not. The springs of our true life are in Him, and in heaven. This thought is not capable of conveyance by human language or illustration.
Zechariah seeks to forecast it in the vision of the golden candlestick, whose lamps are fed through golden pipes from the two living olive trees. Every disciple is united to Christ by unseen channels, and the life we live is by the faith of the Son of God -- as the branch receives life from the vine, or the plant from the sun and air of heaven. Every day of holy living is a day of living contact with the invisible world and the unseen God -- heaven's power is communicated to earthly beings. And not until Christ is manifested, coming out of His long hiding beside the Father, will this hidden life of ours appear. When He is manifested in glory with His resurrection body, and ours is made like unto His and we are seen bearing His perfect likeness, it will be seen that all this is absolutely true; as He is, so are we in this world.
Christ came to do God's will, and took in His incarnation a body prepared for Him, and in a higher sense, another body -- the Church -- after His resurrection. This body is thus seated with Him in the heavenlies, and all enemies are to become the footstool of Christ and His mystical body, bruised under His feet. We have a right in Him to this exalted seat in the heavenlies, and to sit down with Him in peace, as those who have the sense of a finished work and completed conquest, henceforth in Him expecting -- anticipating, that all foes will be made our footstool. So far as we can take this in by faith, they are already subdued. He says, to every believer who can receive it, "Stretch forth thy withered hand!" and henceforth to find restored faculties for holy work; "Rise, take up thy bed, thou paralytic!" henceforth to find power to walk with God; "Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity!" henceforth be erect and upright and no longer bowed down and bent into deformity by Satan.
The greatest difficulty today among us believers is that we have no true apprehension of the actual present fullness, the pleroma of divine power, wisdom, strength, victory, which is in God for us, and may be found in Christ, as the sphere of our full life and energy. There is the secret of all failure: we do not avail ourselves of this fullness of God. We do not practically believe our high calling, nor perceive the riches of the glory of God's inheritance in the saints, and consequently the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe -- the standard of which is the working of that omnipotence in Christ, when God raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies. Oh, the unclaimed riches of the believer in Christ Jesus!
This pleroma may be viewed in two aspects, and is so presented in this epistle: the completeness in Christ, first, as my representative before God; and, secondly, as God's representative before me.
It must be remembered that He is both the Son of Man and the Son of God, and perfect in both relations.
It is a curious fact, showing the marvelous completeness also of the teaching whereby this truth is presented, that there are but two cases in this epistle where this word, pleroma, recurs, and they mark the divisions of thought we are now considering. Chapter 1:19: "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell."
["For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell" (Colossians 1:19).]
This is spoken of Him as Head of the body, the Church, which is a human institution, composed of redeemed sons of men. Chapter 2:9: "For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
["For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9).]
Here the statement is made as to His relation to the Godhead,
In Him we are circumcised, buried, risen, seated at God's right hand; that is said of Him as my representative; what is true of the Head of the body, is true of the body whose head He is.
But, when we are told that in Him we have redemption, that by Him God reconciles all things to Himself; that in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, it is manifest that the fullness of God toward us is meant.
These two thoughts may find an imperfect illustration in an advocate at court. Let us suppose a very difficult case at law, but on which everything hangs, property, reputation, character, life. I secure the services of the most competent and eminent of lawyers. Now, what does he do? First, he represents my case before the court, but he also represents the court before me. He could not take my case in charge if he did not understand my case perfectly, nor could he if he did not understand the law perfectly. Christ is my Advocate before God, for He is the Son of Man and understands me; He is the Son of God and understands Him; and being perfect in both relations, He becomes my Mediator; in Him I have a perfect Representative Godward, and God has a perfect Representative manward.
The practical bearing of this double truth is immense; a whole lifetime will give us but a glimpse of the infinite value of such a Saviour. As Son of Man everything about His human character and life has reference to the believer. As He is, so are we in this world. Because I believe in Him, and am united to Him, all His experiences become my own. His sinless perfection, His divine patience, His holy obedience, His triumph over Satan, are imputed to me: in Him I am presented as perfect before God. But, as Son of God, whatever He is to me, God is. I am to know the mind and heart and disposition of God toward me by knowing Christ's attitude toward me, because as He is, so is God in heaven. Hence He said to Philip: "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me, hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?" (John 14:9).
In this Epistle to the Colossians we reach almost the climax of the scripture teaching about the second and last Adam. Four or five passages need to be carefully studied by those who would take in the full meaning of this wonderful teaching: Psalm 8,
["1 O LORD our LORD, how excellent is Thy Name in all the Earth! Who hast set Thy glory above the Heavens. 2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength because of Thine enemies, that Thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 3 When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; 4 what is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him? 5 For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet: 7 all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8 the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD our LORD, how excellent is Thy Name in all the Earth!" (Psalms 8:1-9).]
compared with Hebrews 2:6-18,
["6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visitest him? 7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of Thy hands: 8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10 For it became Him, for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of Their Salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying, I will declare Thy Name unto My brethren, in the midst of the Church will I sing praise unto Thee. 13 And again, I will put My trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given Me. 14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil; 15 and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a Merciful and Faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted" (Hebrews 2:6-18).]
["12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and He that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in Him shall the Gentiles trust. 21 But as it is written, To whom He was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand" (Romans 15:12, 21).]
I Corinthians 15:21-28 and 45-49;
["21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the Firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His Coming. 24 Then cometh The End, when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For He hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be All in All. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the Last Adam was made a Quickening Spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is Spiritual. 47 The first man is of the Earth, earthy: the Second Man is the LORD from Heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (1 Corinthians 15:21-28, 45-49).]
and the epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians. In the Epistle to the Romans, Adam is the figure of the coming One (5:14).
["Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come" (Romans 5:14).]
In I Corinthians, He is the Lord of resurrection life and
victory. In the epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, He is the representative
of the believer in His whole human and heavenly experience. He stands in his stead,
and in His own miraculous birth, circumcision, baptism, temptation, crucifixion,
burial, resurrection, ascension, session at God's right hand, and coming again, the
believer may see, set forth, his own regeneration, separation unto God, confession
of faith, conquest over Satan, satisfaction of legal penalty, life in the Spirit,
exaltation to heavenly privilege, and inheritance of final glory.
This prepares for the absolute climax of this teaching in Hebrews 2,
where we see Jesus Christ, finally exalted to universal dominion, and, in Him, the redeemed Adamic race once more raised to the throne and scepter. The eighth Psalm
is not to be fulfilled in the first Adam, whose fall wrecked all his prospects of sovereignty, until the second Adam restores the ruins of the first, and gives lost man his true seat at God's right hand.
The Epistles to the Thessalonians
The keynote of both of these letters is promptly struck in the third verse of the first chapter, in the phrase, "patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."
["Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our LORD Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father" (1 Thessalonians 1:3).]
Here we are turned toward the future, the second coming of Him in whom we find the sphere of our final triumph over all foes. Hope looks forward to the future and fixes its gaze on this consummation, and hence becomes the profound secret of patience in present trials. The same blessed thought reappears in verses 9-10. "To serve the living... God; and to wait for his Son from heaven."
["9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the Living and True God; 10 and to wait for His Son from Heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).]
These two epistles therefore carry us to the climax of the
glorious truth which has lifted us to higher and higher elevations, as we have gone
from summit to summit in studying this progress of doctrine; here the Holy Spirit
gives us a glimpse of our final, ultimate, and complete victory in Christ over all
enemies and all trials.
It will be remembered that, in the epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians, we found one blessed privilege to lie in the future: in the former, our gathering together unto Him; and in the latter, our manifestation in Him. Here we are emphatically reminded of His reappearing, at which time this gathering together of all saints is to take place about the very Head of the mystical body; and their manifestation in Him, because He himself is to be manifested in glory.
The Holy Spirit guides the pen of Paul to write of these two future and crowning relations of blessing that yet await all God's saints. Compare II Thessalonians 2:1,8. "By our gathering together unto him," and, "the brightness of his coming" -- the epiphany of His parousia.
["1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, 8 and then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the LORD shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-8).]
Here we have both thoughts; and in fact both are found in
the one verse which opens the second chapter: "Now we beseech you, brethren,
by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him."
[2 Thessalonians 2:1].
To get even a glimpse of this truth, we must first know what is included in this second advent of the Son of God, as it is set forth in these two letters to Thessalonica. We present the following as a partial analysis of their contents, but sufficient to hint at the wealth of suggestion herein to be discovered:
1. The reward of service (I Thessalonians 2:19). "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?"
2. The final perfection in holiness (I Thessalonians 3:13). "Unblameable in holiness... at the coming."
["To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ with all His saints" (1 Thessalonians 3:13).]
3. The reunion of departed and surviving saints (I Thessalonians 4:13-18).
["13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. 15 For this we say unto you by the Word of the LORD, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the LORD shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the LORD Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the LORD in the air: and so shall we ever be with the LORD. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these Words" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).]
4. The triumph over death in the resurrection of the dead and the translation and transformation of the living (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
5. The final consummation of salvation. Living together with Him, forevermore (I Thessalonians 4:17).
6. The avenging of saints upon all adversaries (I Thessalonians 5:9; II Thessalonians 1:7-10).
["For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our LORD Jesus Christ" (1Thessalonians 5:9).
"7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the LORD Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our LORD Jesus Christ: 9 who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the LORD, and from the glory of His power; 10 when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).]
7. The ultimate gathering together unto Him (2 Thessalonians 2:1).
["Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him" (2 Thessalonians 2:1).]
8. The destruction of the man of sin (II Thessalonians 2:8).
["And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the LORD shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming" (2 Thessalonians 2:8).]
9. The obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (II Thessalonians 2:14).
["Whereunto He called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our LORD Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 2:14).]
10. The final, eternal glorification of saints in Him ( II Thessalonians 2:16).
["Now our LORD Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace" (2Thessalonians 2:16).]
When Christ comes again to complete our salvation, there will be at least a fourfold triumph:
1.Over sin, in unblameable holiness
2.Over suffering, endured at the hands of the wicked
3.Over death, in resurrection and translation
4.Over Antichrist and the devil
And in this triumph the saints are to be in every respect
co-partakers with Christ. His triumph is theirs, and His joy is theirs.
Only in this grand consummation will it be possible to understand what it is to be in Christ Jesus. In our present experience several necessary hindrances exist to our full realization of the blessedness of our estate in Him.
And as to the devil, obviously he is not dead. The saintliest priest of God can not stand at His altar without the unseen satanic foe at his right hand to resist him. We go up to the heavenlies in the rapt communion with God, but in the heavenlies are the hostile principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:10).
["Finally, my brethren, be strong in the LORD, and in the power of His might" (Ephesians 6:10).]
There is no escape from the approach of this devouring lion.
We may indeed escape his jaws and his paws, but we hear his roar and we tremble as
we remember how many in their securest moments have become his victims.
The day will come, when even death, the last enemy, will be destroyed, and we shall be free to enjoy Him who is our life, without even the presence of a foe. What a life that will be in Him -- when the law is forever silenced as our accuser, and Sinai's summit forever disappears! What a deliverance, when the world to come displaces the world that now is, and there are no allurements that draw from God! When the flesh and carnal mind are eternally gone, that the Spirit may rule every motion within us! And, when the bottomless pit closes its doors over the adversary of God and man, never again to release him; and, before the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the lion that roars in our path and seeks to devour our souls, falls in final destruction -- what a shout of deliverance will ring through all the universe of redeemed souls and unfallen angels!
Over these two epistles might be written one sublime word, victory. A salvation complete and glorious draws nearer than when we believed, and this is held up before us continually in these two letters. The phrases which abound here are found in their variety and combination nowhere else, for they grow naturally out of such a soil: "patience of hope,"
["Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our LORD Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father" (1Thessalonians 1:3).]
"joy of the Holy Ghost,"
["And ye became followers of us, and of the LORD, having received the Word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost" (1 Thessalonians 1:6).]
"to wait for his Son from heaven,"
["And to wait for His Son from Heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thessalonians 1:10).]
"God who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory,"
["That ye would walk worthy of God, Who hath called you unto His Kingdom and glory" (1 Thessalonians 2:12).]
"at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints,"
["To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ with all His saints" (1 Thessalonians 3:13).]
"the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven," etc.
["And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the LORD Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels" (2 Thessalonians 1:7).]
And, as these phrases abound, so these epistles abound in
arguments for holy living drawn from the glorious and blessed hope which illumines
the future. There is scarce a grace or virtue in the whole blessed catalogue of saintly
excellencies and adornments, for which this future victory and glory presents no
new incentive; obedience, service, patience, fidelity, self-denial, love, meditation
on the Word, joy, comfort, steadfastness, zeal, sanctity, honesty, hope, consolation,
vigilance, humility, gentleness, supplication, separation to God, peace -- all that
is most lovely and most helpful is made to hang upon the cherishing of the blessed
assurance of our final triumph and blessedness, in Him who is the coming One. Only
so far as this blessed hope is obscurred or practically becomes inoperative in our
lives, will our character and conduct as disciples degenerate.
Let us remember that the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is the consummation of all things which pertain to our redemption. It introduces the sublime closing scenes in the whole history of salvation. There is much that cannot be revealed to the Church and to the angelic host in the age that now is, and God waits for the ages to come to make known His manifold wisdom and grace. He finds in our present experience no data from which to convey a fit knowledge -- no dialect sufficiently meaningful to express the inexpressible things which must wait for the revelation of experience.
The more devoutly we study the Word, the more we shall discover that, like our Lord's first advent, the present revelation of grace is a necessary hiding of God's true power; new conditions are necessary for a full disclosure. When He comes again He will not come in disguise, but in proper attire and with proper attendance. He will be revealed as never before. And all spiritual truth and fact, pertaining to the believer, waits for His true epiphany, when His glory shall emerge out of clouds into fulness of revelation. We can only, like the Thessalonians, "serve and wait." To the most mature saint, that coming day is to be as absolute a surprise as the third heaven mysteries were to Paul. God has something beyond all we have conceived, waiting for us, at Christ's appearing. The words used to intimate it are the best human language supplies, but the mold is too small for the conception, and so cramps it and so distorts it. We must see in order to know, and for that vision we wait, with longing and expectant eyes, until the dazzling splendor of the coming King shall declare what no words can reveal or unveil.
As we review our studies of this sevenfold group of letters to the early Christian disciples, we find, first, a very remarkable completeness of presentation of this great privilege of the believer. He is in Christ Jesus. In Him, he finds a new sphere of life with sevenfold blessing.
First, justification with its new standing and acceptance before God.
Second, sanctification with its new power for holy living in the Spirit of God.
Third, fellowship with God in the actual practical walk in newness of life.
Fourth, exaltation to the heavenlies in an earnest or foretaste of a heavenly life.
Fifth, compensation for all present self-denials and sufferings and renunciations for Christ's sake.
Sixth, identification with Christ in His present hidden life at the right hand of the Father.
Seventh, glorification when He comes to be admired and adored of all His waiting body, the members, whose manifestation awaits His final epiphany as their head.
To this scarce anything could be added. All that subsequent
epistles can do is to amplify what is here suggested.
We notice also a marked progress of thought which is the more remarkable inasmuch as the canonical order of the books we have studied is not their chronological and historical order. As to the composition of these letters, First Thessalonians, one of the last, belongs first. We might almost say the canonical order reverses the historical. And yet the order of the teaching, as we have seen, is exactly correspondent to the order of events in our Lord's human life, so that we cannot imagine these epistles to have fallen by accident into their existing arrangement any more than "a dropped alphabet could be picked up, an Iliad," or fragments of many-colored glass could be thrown together into a mosaic. Behind the order of these books, as they appear in our New Testament, must lie a guiding hand.
Manifestly there are, in our Lord's human and mediatorial life, seven marked stages, which naturally associate themselves with certain events whose order is unchangeable:
1.His death, burial, and resurrection
2.His breathing of the indwelling Spirit into His disciples
3.His forty days of walk in resurrection newness of life
4.His ascension to the heavenlies and gift of the Spirit in power
5.His compensation for suffering in the joy set before Him
6.His session at the right hand of God -- the hidden life above
7.His manifestation or final epiphany in His second advent
But this is exactly, and in every particular, the order of thought as found in these epistles, which, as we have said, are not in the order of their production by the inspired writer.
It might be observed that this order is conspicuously similar to that in the intercessory prayer in John 17,
["1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to Heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee: 2 as Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give Eternal Life to as many as Thou hast given Him. 3 And this is Life Eternal, that they might know Thee the Only True God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent. 4 I have glorified Thee on the Earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine Own Self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was. 6 I have manifested Thy Name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy Word. 7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee. 8 For I have given unto them the Words which Thou gavest Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me. 9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine. 10 And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them. 11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine Own Name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy Name: those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the Son of Perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 And now come I to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Thy Word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through Thy Truth: Thy Word is Truth. 18 As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the Truth. 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; 21 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. 22 And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are One: 23 I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me. 24 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. 25 O Righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me. 26 and I have declared unto them Thy Name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:1-26).]
where we are led on from the sanctity, or separation unto
God, of the believers, to their unity with Christ and each other, and then to their
final beholding and sharing of His glory.
The present schemes for church unity too often overlook the fact that the basis for all true unity must be found, not in a new organization more compact in character, but a new sanctification, more complete in its nature. The Epistle to the Ephesians first, of all the epistles, unfolds the oneness of believers in Christ Jesus. Paul ascribes to Him the making one of both Jew and Gentile, and the breaking down of the middle wall of partition -- that balustrade of stone separating the court of the Gentiles from the holy place, beyond which it was death for any Gentile to pass. And there was a further "middle wall of partition," which excluded even Jews from the court of priests, and from the holiest of all (Ephesians 2:14).
["For He is Our Peace, Who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us" (Ephesians 2:14).]
That epistle, which also in the fourth chapter gives the
septiform of Christian unity, teaches us that it is a unity of the Spirit, and only
as that Spirit of God is in actual control, can there be a true inward unity. Such
unity as Christ prayed for is dependent on sanctity, and prepares for glory. Let
us be content with no other -- unification is not always unity.
The companion thought to all this is one which ministers to our highest consolation and comfort: "Herein is our love made perfect that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world" (I John 4:17). The only way for love to be made perfect, so as to cast out fear, and so that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment, is to remember and realize our complete oneness with Him -- that, as He is there, so are we here; all that He is and has attained, obtained, secured, by His atoning death and holy obedience and mediation, He is and has, as our representative -- the second Adam.
Neither the day of judgment nor the day of reward is wholly future. Every day is one of award. Whenever we confront the Word of God, His Holy Spirit, His law, our own conscience, the all-knowing God Himself, we are in the virtual presence of His mercy seat and judgment seat. And in the midst of all the terrors of His omniscient eye, there is but one deliverance from mortal fear -- we are in Christ and identified with Him. God sees us not as we are in ourselves, but as we are in Christ Jesus; and condemnation is impossible, as impossible to us as to Him. And so, wonderful as it seems, because we are in Him, His reward is ours, and to realize in any measure our oneness with Him is so far to anticipate and make present in foretaste our day of coronation and glorification. Our one aim should therefore be a full appropriation by us of all that is freely given to us, and appropriated by God for us in our Lord Jesus. We should seek to cast out unbelief, and in faith receive and enjoy all that our God has bestowed and challenged us to claim as our own, in Him.
The study of this subject, as thus unfolded in these epistles, is:
A study of salvation. This word is used in the New Testament in at least three very distinct and yet associated senses:
1.Of an accomplished fact (Luke 19:9). "This day is salvation come to this house."
2.Of a process to be carried on through life (Philippians 2:12). "Work out your own salvation" -- work out thoroughly, carry to completion.
3.Of a final result in perfection in glory (I Peter 1:5). "Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last day" -- to be brought to light as something hitherto hidden.
It is worthy of particular notice that the first and last
are simply bestowed by grace as a gift of God, not of ourselves or having any direct
connection with our endeavors or cooperation. But the second depends upon our joint
action with God. "Work out your own salvation... For it is God who worketh in
you both to will and to [work]." All through, the salvation is wholly a divine
work; but it is beautiful to observe how clearly defined in each case, and how distinct,
our attitude is. When salvation comes to us as to Zacchaeus, our attitude is simply
that of the faith which receives, accepts, appropriates the gift of God. The salvation,
which we work out with fear and trembling, demands a love responsive to God's love,
and which yields our will to His will, and leads us to work as He works in us. The
salvation which He reserves for us and reveals at the final advent of our Lord in
glory, is one upon which our hope is to fix its gaze and which it is to hold in perpetual
Taken together these three give us the complete conception of salvation. It begins in justification, which is received at once and forever as the free gift of God by faith in Christ. The process of salvation is sanctification, in which our new love to God leads us to will what He wills, and work out what He works in. The completed and glorious salvation, which awaits us at the last day, is our glorification, which our hope is to anticipate and contemplate as a final state of perfection.
A comprehensive presentation of the whole matter may be found in Titus 2:11-13,
["11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:11-13).]
which is a very conspicuous statement of the entire work
of Christ in human salvation. Here are two appearings, or epiphanies, of our Lord.
At the first, there is a salvation brought to all men; at the second, a salvation
perfected in glory for saints; and, between the two, there lies the experience of
the disciple in this present evil age, when he is to work out his own salvation --
by denying himself ungodliness and every worldly lust, and by living soberly (as
to himself), righteously (as to other men), and godly (as to God) .
No man has any proper sense of the grandeur of Christ's work of salvation, who does not apprehend the threefold aspect of that work; and much confusion of ideas will be avoided so soon as we get these distinctions clearly fixed in mind.
For example, how much needless mystification has come from not properly understanding the two apparent conditions of salvation in Paul's famous "word" or message "of faith" in Romans 10:8-10.
["8 But what saith it? The Word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the Word of Faith, which we preach; 9 that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the LORD Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:8-10).]
Here inquirers after salvation have often stumbled, because confession with the mouth seems coupled with belief in the heart, as though the two were equally necessary to salvation; whereas, in no other case is confession thus made essential. For example, Philip told the eunuch, Acts 8:37: "If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest." And Paul told the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:30-31): "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."
["30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the LORD Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:30-31).]
There is no mistaking New Testament teaching on this point. See Acts 8:38-39, where Paul in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia says: "By him all that believe are justified from all things."
["38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the LORD caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:38-39).]
How then can this same Paul teach Roman Christians that
confession with the mouth is essential to salvation?
If we notice carefully the language he used, we shall see that the reference is not the same, in the two parts of his message.
The message of faith: With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation; the former is the salvation that comes at once to faith -- righteousness mainly in the sense of justification; the other salvation is that which is to be worked out by us in obedience and conformity to God, and, of this obedience, confession is the first great act. Hence also Paul says, if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord -- that is as actual ruler and sovereign of thy whole self -- thou shalt be saved.
Again let us observe the growth of this complete salvation. Justification is instant deliverance from the penalty of sin; sanctification is progressive deliverance from the power of sin; glorification is final deliverance from the presence of sin.
How blessed practically to learn this holy lesson! We first repent of sin and believe on the name of the Son of God. We have thus immediate salvation. We are accepted in the beloved and have new standing by grace, out of the reach of all condemnation and judgment. And now, as saved saints, we are to begin a life of new and loving conformity to the will of God. We are first of all to confess Him as both Saviour and Sovereign, Prophet, Priest, and King. Then we are to study conformity to His will and consecration to His service, and so grow in grace and knowledge of Himself, changed into His image from one degree of grace and glory to another; and so we shall find our salvation itself growing; we shall be saved from the dominion of sin, the sway of self, from unfruitfulness and unfaithfulness, and saved from final apostasy.
And when He comes again our blessed hope will find fruition in the perfection of a faultless as well as blameless character, and a perfect condition of heavenly bliss and glory.
Such is the salvation found in Him who is the sphere of the believer's life, the object of his justifying faith, his sanctifying love, his glorifying hope. Where else has any such salvation been found, offered, or even suggested? We hear much of the other "great religions of the world," but not one of them has even hinted the possibility of such a salvation. For that the race had to wait for a direct revelation from God out of heaven.
One thought remains to be considered: the conditions of our entrance into this sphere of being. How am I to get into Christ Jesus and so abide in Him? There are two sides to this matter: by faith as my own act, by regeneration as God's act. On the one hand I repent of sin, and trust in Him as my Saviour. I deliberately choose to be in Him, in Him to live and move and have my being, to have Him surrounding and separating me from all else unto Himself, and providing me in Himself with all my needs and desires, and protecting me in Himself from all my fears and foes. But all this would not introduce me into Christ as the new sphere of my life, but for the power of God. It is not enough to enter a new sphere of life. I must have capacity to live in that new sphere and to breathe its atmosphere.
Every form of life has its sphere, and requires adaptation to it. As we have already seen, what is life to one animal may be death to another, and reversely. If the bird is to live in the water, it needs gills; if the fish is to live in the air, it needs lungs. Every sphere of existence has its laws, and demands adaptation of nature to enter into and live in the new element. Hence He who created us must recreate us, giving us the power or right to enter this new sphere of being, and the power or capacity to receive and enjoy life in Christ Jesus. Both sides of this great matter are presented to us in one or two verses in John 1:12,13, "As many as received Him, even to them that believe on His name, to them gave He power [right or authority] to become the sons of God; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Here the believing or receiving is the human act of faith, and the giving of power or capacity to become sons of God, to be born of God, is regeneration, the divine act of new birth.
What a privilege to be thus insphered in Christ! Who can describe the security, the absolute safety of a disciple who abides in Him? The more we search into the wonderful Word of God, the more shall we be persuaded that there are concentric circles about God, and that the closer we get and keep to Him as center, the more immunity we shall have from evils of every sort. In the inmost circle of intimate fellowship perhaps no saint has ever yet dwelt. But who can limit the possibilities of a holy life? What closeness of union and communion may yet remain to be enjoyed by some who more completely than has ever yet been realized, hide themselves in the pavilion of God and abide in the secret place of the most high, under the shadow of the Almighty, covered with His breast feathers and trusting under His wings! (Psalm 91).
["1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, He is my Refuge and my Fortress: my God; in Him will I trust. 3 Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His Truth shall be thy Shield and Buckler. 5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my Refuge, even the Most High, thy Habitation; 10 there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. 11 For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. 12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. 13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. 14 Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My Name. 15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him My salvation" (Psalm 91:1-16).]
The whole challenge of our theme is in the direction of a full conformity to Christ. And what is conformity, but transformity! Romans 7:2.
["For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the Law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the Law of her husband" (Romans 7:2).]
To be conformed is to be transformed, to be so assimilated
to God as to lose one's spiritual separation from Him.
Dr. Edward Judson calls attention to a sort of fish, or water animal, "which resembles seagrass, and hides itself in the midst of marine vegetation. Below is the head, looking like the bulb of the plant, and above is the body and the tail, looking like the blade of seagrass. The ocean currents sway the fish and the grass alike, and so the little fish escapes being devoured by its enemies. It swims along, and one can hardly perceive where fish leaves off and the grass begins, so perfect is the disguise. So a great many Christians' lives are so blended with the world that they can not easily be distinguished. They are swayed by worldly maxims and habits; they share with the world in its sinful pleasures. The difference between such Christians and worldings is not apparent. If this is the kind of Christian life you are living, you need not be afraid of persecution; the world will not think it worth while to molest such a Christian as that. You will not know what it is to drink of the cup that Christ drank of, and to be baptized with the baptism that He was baptized with. But let a man come out into the front, let him engage in some aggressive Christian work, and he will meet the same opposition which was experienced by the One who said: "I came not to send peace, but a sword." [Matthew 10:34].
May we not add, that it is the privilege of a disciple, on the other hand, to be so insphered in Christ as to be identified with and inseparable from Him, so that it may be a grand fact, "For to me to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:12) . Oh, that the child of God might be so assimilated to Him that he could no longer be distinguished from Him in character and life!
What a life that would be that mortifies all that is evil and unlawful, and sanctifies all that is lawful and good.
Surely it is high time for believers to awake out of sleep! What awful apathy and lethargy exist in the matter of spiritual life and power and victory! If such final glory and triumph are assured in Christ Jesus, may not the very promise and prospect of such victory, the assurance of such a destiny, inspire and insure present holy living! These Thessalonians turned from idols to serve the living God and to wait for His Son from heaven. They served the better because they waited. Hope reacted on faith and love and obedience. No believer can truly believe that such final perfection of character, conquest, and reward is before him without being a stronger, better, holier man for the outlook. And the close of the first epistle is the sublime expression of this argument.
"Abstain from [every form] of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and... your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, Who also will do it." [1Thessalonians 5:22-24).]