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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : Spiritual maturity

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lwpray
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 Re: Spiritual maturity



Galatians and the Day of the Adoption
That brings us right to this letter to the Galatians. You will notice in the course of this letter that the apostle Paul lights upon Abraham, and takes up everything in relation to Abraham, and in so doing he throws back our horizon tremendously. To begin with, he gets rid of a whole dispensation, the Jewish dispensation, which came between Abraham and Christ. He leaps right over it, pushes it on one side, and gets back into the universal. He says, in effect, “That was a merely local thing, a merely temporal thing. It came in, it served a purpose, and it is now done with. Now let us go back to Abraham, and take things up there. That is where things began, and we come in with Abraham.” “Know therefore”, he concludes, “that they which be of faith, the same are sons of Abraham”.

You will know that there is a great similarity between this letter and the letter to the Romans. The subject is almost identical, the object the same. The letter to the Romans is a more thorough-going treatise (if we may call it that) on the subject of law and grace. The letter to the Galatians is an impassioned outburst of righteous indignation. The spirit of the apostle is aflame at the outrages against the work of God which were being perpetrated, to which we will refer later. The object is the same, and if you go back to the fourth chapter of the Romans you have this remarkable word: “Now the promise to Abraham that he should be heir of the world…” You have no such thing recorded in the Old Testament. Nothing in the Old Testament says that God made promise to Abraham that he should be heir of the world in this sense. It is there that the apostle takes things up with Abraham. In his letter to the Galatians, he deals with everything along the line of sonship, adoption, heirs of the promise made to Abraham. That is inheritance. When you have grasped that, and recognised what that means, you are getting into the flaming heart of the apostle. We cannot get into this letter unless we understand and recognise the tremendous background of it. In a word, what we are presented with is this: God made a promise to Abraham that he should be heir of the world. Upon that we are told that Abraham looked for a city whose builder and maker was God, and we find Abraham refusing all the cities of this world, choosing to dwell in tents with Isaac and Jacob who were also the heirs of the promise; repudiating this world and its cities, because he looked for a city whose builder and maker was God, with the promise that he should be heir of the world.

Now we look at the apostle’s argument in this letter to the Galatians. Who is a Jew? Not he who is one naturally. He is a Jew who is linked with Abraham’s seed by faith. “Not unto seeds”, says the apostle, “but… to thy seed, which is Christ.” Abraham’s seed is Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ constitutes us the seed of Abraham. One of the last clauses of this letter to the Galatians refers to the Israel of God, and leading up to that is all this about the “Jerusalem that is beneath, that is in bondage with her children, and the Jerusalem which is above and is free, which is the mother of us all”. He looked for a city. We are Abraham’s seed by faith in Jesus Christ, related to a city, and that city is to govern the world. The end of the Word of God makes it perfectly clear that the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, is the church, and in this whole dispensation the church is the object upon which God’s heart is set, in order that she may govern the inhabited earth in the ages to come. That is the purpose. That government demands full spiritual growth, and because of the greatness, the seriousness, and the importance of God’s eternal purpose as to the government of this world, if in heart you enter into that with God, you also will become aflame as did the apostle, when you discover there are things which are working insidiously against God’s purpose in the saints, to frustrate spiritual full growth. Get the range of the thing, and then it goes to your heart. Everything that stands athwart God’s purpose is to be met with indignation, with uncompromising zeal, for this matter is so important. It is our loyalty to God. It is our oneness of heart with God’s purpose.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/10/26 14:25Profile
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 Re: Spiritual maturity



God has a cherished purpose concerning His Son. In His infinite grace He has called us according to that purpose. The fact of what we are, as it breaks upon us so continually, is perhaps the thing which discourages us most of all from believing in a thing like this, and yet it is true that you and I, despite what we are, our utter worthlessness — ah, more than that, despite all the enmity that is in us against God by nature, all that is there that is so utterly contrary to God’s nature, all the rebellion against God by nature, of which we are so capable under provocation — we are, by God’s infinite grace, which comes down to us in Jesus Christ, called to govern the inhabited earth in the ages to come, for God, with God, in His Son. That is the purpose. That is what God is seeking in this dispensation, that instrument, that vessel for coming world-government.
When you and I recognise what the grace of God is, grace which finds a way for our forgiveness, and our deliverance from judgment, grace upon grace, ever mounting up until it sets us on the throne with Himself, in accordance with the word which He has spoken, “…shall sit with me in my throne, as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne”; such grace coming home to our hearts surely would make us intensely jealous for God and deeply loyal to God. Surely if we felt that grace our attitude would be: “Oh, if anything dares to touch God’s purpose, God’s interest, that which is dearest of all to God’s heart, I for one will have no compromise with that, I for one will show that I am utterly with God.” That surely ought to be our reaction to the grace of God. It was because the apostle Paul had such a deep, deep sense of the grace of God in eternal purpose calling him that you find him so burning with zeal, so mightily stirred to white heat when there rose up something to interfere with God’s purpose.
That explains the letter to the Galatians. Listen to his words in the first chapter. There is no compromise about this: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema.” That is very straight language. Let him be accursed. Why? Because he is interfering with God’s purpose when he seeks to subvert the saints, when he interferes with their going on to full growth.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/10/26 16:46Profile
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 Re: Spiritual maturity




Sonship, adoption, is something which lies ahead. The adoption has not yet taken place. We are children of God, we have the Spirit of sonship, but the adoption is not yet; that is coming. The word “adoption” would help us more if it were translated literally; for it bears a different meaning in the New Testament from that which obtains among us today. The word simply means placing as sons, the installation as sons. It is rather the official element than the element of relationship. It occurs only five times in the New Testament, and these are all in Paul’s letters, and every occurrence is very interesting and helpful.
So that is ahead, and it is that to which the apostle refers in his letter to the Romans: “The earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God.” That lies in the future, and that is the day when the government of the inhabited earth to come will be taken up in the saints conformed to the image of His Son, in the church as mature.
Now you see, I am sure a little more of the importance, and why there is given such a place of importance to this matter of full growth. It is in maturity that the inheritance is to be possessed, that the placing of sons is to take place, that the subjecting of the inhabited earth to come is to transpire. Hence the need for going on to full growth. Government is important to God, and it is the full meaning of grace in the saints. So much, then, for our further emphasis upon the importance.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/10/27 1:52Profile
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 Re: Spiritual maturity



A Retrospect of the Letters to the Romans and Corinthians
We have said that these letters of the apostle Paul are each dealing with some aspect of spiritual maturity, or dealing with the matter from respective points of view. The letter to the Romans, as we have already pointed out, represents the work by which relatedness to the Lord is brought about unto His full purpose. The purpose is brought into view right at the outset, the manifestation of the sons of God conformed to the image of His Son. That is the purpose. Then everything is dealt with in order that a relationship shall be brought about, so that God can begin His purpose and proceed to its realisation. Thus, in the letter to the Romans you have a revelation of God’s attitude toward men by nature. The whole race is taken into view, and the verdict is, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, and therefore lie under judgment and death. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Gentile and Jew are all in the same position before God. It is a startling fact, nevertheless clearly and positively stated; irreligious and religious; those who were without and those who were with the oracles of God. The natural difference that the oracles of God are seen to have made is that they have proved how helpless man is, and how deeply sinful he is by nature. The law came in, and, far from saving man, it only accentuated the natural condition of human weakness and sinfulness, and made manifest how impossible it is for man to stand up to God’s requirement. So that universally man by nature is proved to be hopeless and helpless, under sin, condemnation, judgment and death.

Then the cross of the Lord Jesus is brought into view as the place where God’s verdict concerning man universally was put into effect in the representative person of the Lord Jesus, who was made sin in our stead. The whole race passed under the actual judgment of God in the cross, and when Christ died, from God’s standpoint, the race died under judgment.
Then the resurrection of the Lord Jesus comes in, as marking God’s new beginning, a new relationship, where sin has been destroyed in judgment, and now, on the ground of sin having been destroyed and removed, there is a new relationship with God in Christ risen, in which relationship the Holy Spirit is given, the Spirit of the new creation. A new life is given — “…the law of the Spirit of life in Christ…” — and then in that new relationship, the purpose is embarked upon by the indwelling Spirit. Conformity to the image of His Son is the end. The call is that believers should apprehend that position of union with Christ in death, in burial, and resurrection, and by faith take their place therein. That becomes the foundation of God’s purpose. Without that God cannot even make a beginning.
That is the letter to the Romans in brief. Our position by faith has to correspond to Jesus Christ crucified, dead, buried, risen and receiving the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of sonship, to be led into God’s purpose.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/10/27 12:44Profile
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 Re: Spiritual maturity



The first letter to the Corinthians takes us one step past that, and shows us the kind of person who will move on to God’s end, to God’s purpose, and what is necessary in believers in order that there may come about full spiritual growth. The key word in Romans is “in Christ”: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus…” That is relationship. The key word to the first letter to the Corinthians is: “He that is spiritual…” The whole of that first letter has to do with spirituals in men and in things. The first letter to the Corinthians, then, has to do entirely with what a spiritual person is, how a spiritual person will act and speak; or, by contrast, how a spiritual person will not act and will not speak. The whole letter, chapter after chapter, sets carnality over against spirituality, and says, “Now this is carnality, and it blocks the way to God’s end, and is the cause of spiritual arrest.” It is necessary that a man shall be spiritual in the innermost reality of his being, that he shall be spiritually minded, and that this spiritual mind, the mind of Christ, shall govern him in every consideration.
One mark of the carnality of the Corinthians was their divisions, their natural preferences, likes and dislikes amongst people. Paul says, in effect, “If you were spiritual there would be none of that. If you are going on to full growth then you have to get clear of all that.” So you go through the whole letter, and find that the finger of the Spirit lights through the apostle upon point after point, revealing carnality, and how it works out to spiritual arrest. They are seen to be full of contradictions, and full of denials, and full of limitation. He that is spiritual is not like that. Spirituality is essential to full growth.
In the second letter to the Corinthians the key word is “the face of Jesus Christ”. By inference we are taken right back to the first creation. “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness…” (the first act in the creation), “…hath shined into our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”. What is the object of the creation? Jesus Christ is the object of the creation. Through Him, and unto Him, and by Him all things were created. But that object was not realised in the first creation, and whereas light came first, darkness soon followed on the disobedience of man, and so God’s purpose in the face of Jesus Christ was not recognised; it was shut out. Now God begins His new creation: “If any man is in Christ, there is a new creation.” What is the first thing that governs the new creation? “God… hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” That is the key to everything.
How shall we reach God’s purpose, God’s end? How shall we grow in grace? By the continuous unveiling of God in Christ in our hearts. It has to go on, and so the word there heads up into this: “We… beholding (the word indicates continuous activity, maintaining our gaze, fixing our eyes) …are changed into the same image…” We are coming to God’s end, the image of His Son, by the Holy Spirit keeping in our hearts a growing unveiling of the Lord Jesus.
We have the purpose of God set before us, we know what the calling is, we understand why we are urged to give diligence to make our calling and our election sure. We know that, while we may not fall from salvation, we may fall from the inheritance. We know that we may lose God’s full purpose by not going on. Otherwise why this urge? We receive our salvation through grace, and I am quite sure that it will be the grace of God that carries us through unto the purpose; for who of us would get through, but by the grace of God? Nevertheless, for the inheritance unto the adoption as sons, coming to the government of the inhabited earth to come, there has to be an attitude of pressing on to full growth, lest we fail of the calling. It is the failure to recognise that which has led so many people into a fog, and into perplexity, and I think, into false teaching concerning certain things in the New Testament. It is the inheritance which governs. Until we are really governed by God’s full purpose we do not understand a great deal of the New Testament. In the purpose of God we are “foreordained unto the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ”, the placing as sons for governmental purposes in the ages to come.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/10/27 16:49Profile
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 Re: Spiritual maturity



Chapter Five
Christ Formed Within

Reading: Galatians 3.
“…I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you” Galatians 4:19.
The Resistance to Divine Purpose

As we continue our meditation in relation to spiritual growth, spiritual full growth, recognising, as we have sought to do, the very great and serious place which the matter occupies in the Word of God, and how important the Lord evidently regards it, there is the other side to that fact which must impress us, namely, the way in which this matter of spiritual growth is fraught with opposition. Whenever you touch upon it you find yourself in the presence of something set against it. It is never presented in passive conditions. It is always encompassed by active opposing elements and forces. You find that the exhortation, the encouragement, the admonition is all of the most positive character as over against something. Whenever God has moved in the past towards spiritual increase, there is always present some counter-move, some antagonistic element. You can see it through the Word of God again and again.
When the Lord would bring Israel from the bondage and limitation of Egypt, at once there was bitter conflict. When Israel was at last brought into the land, almost immediately there was an Achan to arrest the whole movement and bring to a standstill that development unto the fullness of which the land spoke, and for the moment it was effectively done. So you may see it in a great number of instances in the Old Testament.
When God brought His Son into the world, which was a great movement towards spiritual fullness, there was to begin with a Herod, and then the Jews in their prejudice. Let us take note of the fact that prejudice is always set against spiritual progress. Prejudice never does give God a chance. It is a closed door. If one thing more than another marked the Jews, in the days when He who was God’s fullness came amongst men, it was prejudice, and it was that which limited them, and robbed them of God’s full purpose.
When the Day of Pentecost was fully come, and a mighty move towards fullness was made — that which the apostle later refers to as “the fullness of him that filleth all in all” — hardly has the church started upon its course before you find a suitable instrument to the enemy’s arresting work in Ananias and Sapphira. Then you move on to the great apostle Paul, and always dogging his steps everywhere are the Judaisers.
So it is, that every movement of God is met by a counter-movement. Every step towards spiritual enlargement finds something present from the other side to check it, to arrest it, to frustrate it.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/10/28 1:13Profile
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 Re: Spiritual maturity



The Letters of Paul
Thus these letters of Paul bring up into view a large number of things which Satan has produced, very largely through the flesh, as counter-movements to God’s end — full growth. As we have seen, in Corinth it was carnality, and also in Corinth, as is made perfectly clear in the early chapters of the second letter to the Corinthians, and among the Galatians, it was the Judaisers. Theirs was a very unworthy way of going to work. One of their great strokes against what God was seeking to do, was doing through His servant Paul, was their attack upon him in person; that is, their attack upon him as the vessel being used by God, an attack in ways unworthy of those who professed to be seeking the interests of God.
It is always so. When God moves and takes up a vessel for the increase of Christ in His people, for spiritual enlargement, Satan raises up an attack upon that vessel, and seeks to frustrate the purpose by prejudicing that purpose through the vessel in some way. He will mis­represent, lie — oh, he will use every kind of movement to discount the instrument, so that the divine object may fall into disrepute or be brought under arrest.
Now here is a letter (the letter to the Galatians) which is full of terrific conflict. Martin Luther was a fighter if he was anything, and he said he had betrothed this letter to himself. But what did Luther say further in relation to that? “Beforehand I was in quietness and comfort, in rest and acceptance, but since I have surrounded myself with a solid block of enemies”! That is significant because of what this letter stands for. Would to God that Martin Luther had seen all that it stands for, instead of only its beginnings. However, here we are in the presence of conflict, and the point is for us to recognise that if God is moving towards the enlargement of the measure of Christ in the saints, that movement encounters all hell’s antagonism, and the vessel used by the Lord to that end will come under the massed assaults of the enemy, both vehement and malicious. He will stop short at nothing in seeking to render that vessel inoperative, to paralyse it, so that it cannot fulfil its divine mission. I always take the apostle Paul as a personal representative of the truth which was committed to him, as a vessel, one in whom all that related to that truth was wrought out in his own history; and in this point, as in so many others, it is quite manifest that Paul was raised up as a special vessel in relation to the full, eternal purpose of God concerning the church, and there was not another man in the dispensation who so met the force of hell, in its endeavour to paralyse and destroy, as that man. He stands to show us in his own history, and in his own person, what we may expect if we are linked with God’s full purpose.
This should be enlightening and encouraging, looked at from one standpoint. It should explain things, and it should set us on our feet. The danger so often with us, when there is a mighty uprising of spiritual antagonism and we are made to suffer, and are suffering intensely, is that we should regard that suffering as something in itself, seek to attribute it to natural causes, to feel that it is something in the course of life which has come our way. We think we are just sufferers, and fail to see that, however the thing may appear to be like that, it is related definitely and directly to the purpose with which we are occupied.
It may be that you are not able to enter into this, because you are not in the experience of it, but others will understand. Believe me, that if you have betrothed God’s full purpose to you, if you are married to God’s full thought for His people — for yourself and for others, especially for the church — you are going to meet the Devil’s attempted frustration of it in every conceivable way; the frustration of yourself, the frustration of your ministry. You are going to meet it physically, you are going to meet it in your soul, and you are going to meet it spiritually. You are going to meet it inside yourself, and you are going to meet it outside yourself. You are going to find yourself in a battle. And what is true of the individual will be true of any company that is standing in relation to God for that purpose.


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Lars Widerberg

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 Re: Spiritual maturity



The Form of the Attack Among the Galatians
So we find ourselves in that very atmosphere immediately we open this letter to the Galatians. Paul wastes no time here. He uses very few words by way of nicety. He introduces himself, and his introduction is an attack. He opens the battle in his first sentence. “Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man…)” That is an attack. The battle is joined. Judaisers have been at work, and they have persuaded these Galatians that Paul was not an authentic apostle, but had set himself up as something; he was not one of the twelve, but was self-appointed. “Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead).” You see, that is accepting the challenge. How it goes to the heart of things! It takes hold of the sword of the enemy and turns it right round and pierces himself. The Judaisers say I am not an apostle by recognition of Jerusalem; I have not been ordained at headquarters; I am not one of the authentic twelve; I have not received my credentials from the ecclesiastics, those who are called pillars. I agree! But I take my apostleship higher; I received it “through Jesus Christ, and God the Father…” What can you say to that? How are you going to handle that?
Now that is only just to point out that you are in the presence of conflict, and to establish the fact that where God is seeking to move towards the bringing of His Son to full formation in the church, Satan is always most active to defeat that end by any means possible. Bear that in mind at all times. The Lord help us to do it. If we remember that, it will be to our salvation.
What the Judaisers sought to do is perhaps something which we need not consider in detail. Had they had their way, this is what the effect and the outcome would have been, namely, that the Galatians would have returned to, and have become settled and fixed in religious formality, in ceremonial and ritual, in tradition and external religious works at the cost, firstly, of life, and ultimately of God’s eternal purpose. The apostle takes up the battle for life in this letter, and makes it an issue of life.
We can clearly see that the method of the enemy was not restricted to the Galatians, for it had gone on before their day, and it goes on still: formalism, religious formality, ceremonial, ritual, religious traditions, many outward works in the name of God, all that in the place of, firstly, spiritual life, and then, finally, in the place of God’s full intention for His people. That is very true. Of course, the enemy always knows where he has a salient point, where he has a vantage ground. These Galatians were mainly Gentiles, and they had come out of paganism, and in their pagan religious system there were many rites and ceremonials, many religious ordinances. There were all those performances and outward activities which constituted the form of worship of their gods, and to the natural man, the man of the soul, such things are indispensable. He must have what is tangible, he must have helps in religion; he must hear something, see something, do something, handle something. All these accompaniments of religion are essential to religion, and his religion would be a poor, starved thing if you took those away. Take the artistic away, take the aesthetic away, take away all the externals that come to our senses, and those means by which we express our sentient life, and what is religion? This pure, spiritual life of faith without anything of that is an uninteresting thing to the soul, and is very vague. Yes, what an unreal thing it is! These Galatians had come out of all that other thing, and had turned to the Lord. Then the Judaisers had come along with the Jewish order, and said, “Except you are circumcised you cannot be saved, and what you need is to come back to the Jewish ordinances”. If you are at low ebb spiritually you are not able to stand up to that sort of thing very well, when there are plausible arguments and strong constraints, and when there is a turning upon the instrument which has been used for you and the pointing out of all the flaws and weaknesses in that one, and the showing of how that one has set himself up to be something which is contrary to the accepted position at Jerusalem. These leaders in Jerusalem had known Jesus Christ personally, in the flesh; they had been with Him, and they did not agree with this sort of thing, they still believed in these Jewish ordinances. “So you see Paul is all wrong; he is just one by himself, no one agrees with him”, was what they urged.
It was all so subtle, and thus Satan had his point with them in relation to their old form of life, working on that uncrucified soul-life, and they came under the spell. “O, foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?” As we have pointed out, the literal words there are, “Who did cast over you the witch’s spell?” A spell is a nice sensation, till you wake up. A spell is usually cast over a person in order to rob him of something, and that in fact is what happened in the case before us.


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Lars Widerberg

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 Re: Spiritual maturity



Spiritual Apprehension of Christ
Let us, then, recognise the point, namely, that in Christ we are called out of that whole thing. That is earthly, that is of man, tradition, religious system of rites and ordinances, of days, times and seasons. We have been called out of that into a heavenly life in Jesus Christ by faith. When you really do get through you never have any inclination towards that other thing again, you are spoiled for it. But that is just the point of Galatians 4:19: “My little children for whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you.” Paul was not saying at this point that he was in travail in relation to that end when Christ should be fully formed in them in the purpose of God. Of course, it had its bearing upon that, it was related to that ultimately, but that is not what he means here; not that full conformity to the image of Christ, not that full development of Christ in them. What he is saying here is this: “I am in travail until Christ takes definite shape in you.” It is the difference between the embryo and the fully formed child. He said he was in agony about that. The trouble with them was that they had not clearly seen Christ, not clearly apprehended Christ; Christ was not distinctly defined in them, the meaning of Christ had not become definite in them. Something had happened. They had been begotten from above, they had received the Spirit, by faith they had turned to the Lord Jesus, but it has become evident that they have not grasped the significance of Christ. Paul said, “I fear lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” What is labour in vain? Oh beloved, in relation to God’s purpose, in relation to God’s full thought, it is far from being enough that we should just believe on the Lord Jesus; it is essential that we should see who and what Jesus is, and what He means.

If you want proof that this is the point here between Paul and the Galatians, recognise this, that the personal name of the Lord Jesus Christ occurs forty-three times in this very brief letter. It is not the descriptive title, as so often elsewhere. It is the personal name, the Man Christ Jesus thirty-nine times out of the forty-three in this letter. Why? Why should he bring such a tremendous number of references to Him into this letter? Well, it is self-evident. Hear his exclamation, to this effect: “Before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly set forth, crucified”, placarded openly, and you have not seen! Four times in this letter the Cross of Christ is referred to in relation to the biggest things with which we have to do. We are not going to stop now with them, but those four statements about the Cross of the Lord Jesus in this letter are the greatest things that could be said about the Cross, and they all have reference to the end of the personal ego: “I have been crucified…” — the all embracing fact; then, by the same means, severance from the law — “I… died unto the law”; severance from the flesh — “They that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof”; severance from the world — “Far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” “Before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly set forth crucified”, and you have not seen the implications.


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Lars Widerberg

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 Re: Spiritual maturity



If you had but believed (Galatians and all others) you would have once for all been delivered from earthly religious systems, earthly orders, rites, ceremonies, traditions, and all that sort of thing, and you would be in a heavenly place; for Christ crucified means that. To apprehend Christ means absolute emancipation out of everything here, even in a religious way, after a religious kind. It is that which represents the whole question of maturity and immaturity. You ask, What was it that constituted immaturity amongst the Galatians? It was that, under persuasion, influence and argument, they were ready to drop back so easily and so quickly into an earthly religious order with which the Cross of Christ had finished, which the Cross of Christ had brought to an end. Oh yes, the law of Moses, and all his order, and his ritual ended in the Cross of the Lord Jesus. It served a purpose, but reached its fulfilment in Christ, and Christ crucified marked an end. In Christ risen, all that it pointed to is taken up in a spiritual way to heaven, and now we are united with Christ in heaven. He fulfils all the values of that for us. He is our High Priest, our sacrifice, our precious Blood, our meeting place, our righteousness, our approach, our access to God, our acceptance. Everything shadowed in the types and figures is carried up into Him risen and exalted, and we have it all in spiritual value. Yes, you say, but it is all so far away, and unreal, and we want something that we can handle and see and hear. Ah, that is immaturity, that is spiritual infancy. Children always want something (and rightly so) that they can see and hear. But the apostle in this letter plunges the Galatians right into the place where all those infant things are finished with. He says, “You must begin sonship from the beginning”. It is remarkable how far advanced he is in his point of view in this letter.

While the placing of sons lies in the future, while the inheritance lies there, the apostle says, we are all sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ, and we are expected now to begin to live upon the sonship principle. We do not want toys to play with on the earth, picture books to look at, object lessons, but we have come in spirit immediately to an apprehension of Jesus Christ, and a living fellowship with Him, so that all that kind of thing is passed. The Cross of the Lord Jesus in this letter is not set forth merely in relation to what we would call gross sin, but is set over against all religion in the flesh, and when Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me”, he further adds: “and that life which I now live in the flesh, I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God…” You notice the context. It is the difference between life in the law and life in the risen Christ; not the difference between the religious life of the Jew as such and the religious man as such. All that is one thing, and the Cross cuts that off, and the “I” that is in that is brought to an end. Now I live, he says, “yet no longer I, but Christ… and that life which I now live I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God…” It is a kind of life. The Cross brings out to that kind of life which is the life of the Son of God lived by us through faith. That must be reserved for further consideration. We will stay with the more obvious points in the letter.


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Lars Widerberg

 2004/10/29 7:33Profile





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