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 Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

[b]If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .[/b]

[i]Talks on Spiritual Philosophy[/i]

[u]Introduction[/u]

Lectures on biblical philosophy given at the Bible Training College, London, from January to July 1912.

Always a voracious reader of wide-ranging taste, Chambers included the writings of many philosophers in his personal study. During Oswald’s student days at the University of Edinburgh (1895-1896), he very likely studied Metaphysics and the History of Philosophy under Professor Andrew Seth and Moral Philosophy under Professor Henry Calderwood. In addition, he may well have attended Dr. Alexander Whyte’s* Young Men’s Classes, held every Sunday evening following the service at Free St. George’s Church. When Chambers arrived in Edinburgh, Dr. Whyte was dealing with “The Mystics,” including Tauler and the book, Theologia Germanica, which are both quoted throughout If Thou Wilt Be Perfect.

In 1900, Chambers was teaching philosophy at Dunoon College,* a small theological school across the Firth of Clyde from Glasgow, Scotland. When his students, most of whom had no university training, expressed their difficulty in making sense of existing textbooks, Chambers compiled and published his own Outlines for the Study of Historical Philosophy as a guide for his classes.
Of his lecture series on Biblical Philosophy at the Bible Training College* in 1912, Chambers said: “The Ethics and Philosophy classes have taken a great stride in advance, and this is all the more surprising as the Bible Philosophy class is anything but a popular subject as commonly conceived; yet the numbers attending this class grow.”

One of Chambers’ recurring themes was the critical necessity for every Christian to think. “The reason why the average Christian worker is only the average Christian worker,” Oswald told his students, “is that he or she will remain grossly ignorant about what he does not see any need for. All of you have intelligence, and you must use it for God.”


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 Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

[b][u]Foreword[/b][/u]

[b]On Tauler and on [i]Theologia Germanica[/i][/b]

Two names are mentioned in this book, one is a man, Tauler, and the other a volume, Theologia Germanica. Quotations are made from them. Both belong to pre-Reformation times. John Tauler was born in Strasbourg about 1300. He was a Dominican monk and had already achieved honour and reputation as a preacher when a great change occurred in his spiritual outlook. An unknown layman, after hearing him preach, was moved to tell him that he was allowing himself to be “killed by the letter,” and was yet in darkness, and had not tasted the sweetness of the Holy Ghost. The preacher took the words in a spirit of meekness and was ready to receive helpful counsel from his unknown friend. “You must,” he said, “take up your cross and follow our Lord Jesus Christ and His example in utter sincerity, humility and patience, and must let go all your proud reasoning.” He advised him to cease his preaching for a while and in quiet contemplation examine his life in the mirror of our Lord’s. Tauler was nearly fifty, but he took the place of abasement and self-surrender, and for nearly two years was a seeker of God’s way, praying that God’s life might be brought forth in him. His former friends thought him demented. When the clear light came and he knew the time had come to bear his witness in public, he found it not easy to begin, but soon wisdom and grace from the Holy Spirit were bestowed in abundant measure. So began years of wonderful work for God. In those days when salvation by simple faith in Jesus Christ was so largely hidden beneath ceremonial worship, he taught many that the way to God was by a New Birth that brought men into a vital relation to the Living God. His sermons greatly influenced Luther. They have ministered to many in many countries. A volume of his sermons has been published in English under the title, The Following of Christ.

The book, Theologia Germanica, belongs to the same period. Its author is unknown. That also prepared for the Reformation, as it lays stress on the Holy Spirit’s application of Christ’s work to the heart of a believer. God never leaves Himself without a witness, and in that bedimmed period these lights were shining and have been shining ever since.

John Wesley complained to William Law that when he was an earnest inquirer he had been directed to the mystic writers, and so had missed the basic truth of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. We all need to know the initial experience of Christ as the Propitiation for our sins, and as the One who has brought to a world of sinners the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness. Afterwards we may find, as Wesley did, much light in such writers as the above upon how God works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure, and how we can work out our own salvation (Philippians 2:12-13).

The quotations made by Oswald Chambers are themselves of great value, and the expository words that follow are full of luminous and practical teaching for us to-day.

London
David Lambert*
April 1939


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 Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

[b]The Philosophy of Perfection[/b]

[i]But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. 1 Corinthians 13:10 (rv)[/i]

[i]“That which is perfect” is a Being, who hath comprehended and included all things in Himself and His own Substance, and without whom, and besides whom, there is no true Substance, and in whom all things have their Substance.[/i]

[b]That Which Is Perfect[/b]

The Bible reveals that “that which is perfect” is a Being. God is the only Perfect Being; no human being is perfect apart from God. We make the blunder of applying to human beings terms which the Bible applies to God only. Our Lord in replying to the rich young ruler, who used the term “Good Master,” said, “None is good save One, even God” (rv). There is only one Being to whom the term “good” can be applied, and that is the Perfect Being, the term cannot be applied to good men. In the Sermon on the Mount our Lord places God as the model for Christian character; He does not say, “Be good as a man is good,” but—“Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (rv). We are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, not by struggle and effort, but by the impartation of that which is Perfect. We are accustomed to the use of the word “perfect” in connection with our relationship to God (e.g. Philippians 3:12-15), but here the word is used in a bigger sense, viz. perfect as God is perfect.

“Love” is another term we are apt to apply wrongly. We emphasise perfect love towards our fellow-men; the Bible emphasises perfect love to God. Love is an indefinable word, and in the Bible it is always used as directly characteristic of God—“God is love.” In Romans 5:5, Paul says that “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts,” not the power to love God, but the love of God.

Or take Truth. The Truth is our Lord Himself, consequently any part of the truth may be a lie unless it leads to a relation to the Truth. Salvation, sanctification, the Second Coming are all parts of the Truth, but none is the Truth; and they are only parts of the Truth as they are absorbed by the Truth, our Lord Himself. We are not told to expound the way of salvation, or to teach sanctification, but to lift up Jesus, i.e. to proclaim the truth.

Oswald Chambers


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 Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

[b]That Which Is Perception[/b] (1 Corinthians 2:11-16; 1 John 2:27)

Perception means the power of discernment. “To whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (rv). We all see the common occurrences of daily life, but who amongst us can perceive the arm of the Lord behind them? who can perceive behind the thunder the voice of God? The characteristic of the man without the Spirit of God is that he has no power of perception, he cannot perceive God’s working behind ordinary occurrences. The events of ordinary days and nights present facts we cannot explain, the only way to explain them is by receiving the Spirit of God Who will impart to us an interpretation that will keep the heart strong and confident in God, because it gives us an understanding of God Who is behind all things; but to the one who is not there, the explanations seem absurd.

Perception in the natural world is called intuition—I know I know, although I do not know how I know. In the spiritual world this knowledge is the “anointing” the Apostle John alludes to. When the Holy Spirit is in us He will never let us stop at the part experience. He will cause our part experience to keep us always one with the Perfect and will reveal God to us. If ever we imagine that the Spirit of God gives us an illumination apart from the written Word, Satan is twisting the truth, and it is this kind of passage that he distorts most.

[i]The things which are in part cannot be apprehended, known and expressed; but the Perfect cannot be apprehended, known and expressed by any creature as creature.[/i]

Peter tells us to be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in us. He did not say give reasonings, but a reason. We can give a reason for that we know, but we cannot reason it out with the man who has not the same spirit. We can state that we are right with God because we have received His Spirit on the word of Jesus, but our reasonings are nonsense to the man who has not accepted the Holy Spirit.

Chambers, O.


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 Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

[b]The Coming of the Perfect[/b] (John 17:22; Psalm 86:11)

[i]Now when that which is Perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. But when doth it come? I say, when as much as may be, it is known, felt and tasted of the soul. . . . So also God who is the Highest Good, willeth not to hide Himself from any, wheresoever He findeth a devout soul, that is thoroughly purified from all creatures. For in what measure we put off the creature, in the same measure are we able to put on the Creator, neither more nor less.[/i]

“That they may be one”—in experience? No, “that they may be one, even as We are one.” That is infinitely beyond experience, it is a perfect oneness not only in adjustment but in realisation. In our spiritual experience it means knowing that—“In all the world there is none but Thee, my God, there is none but Thee.” Other people have become shadows, the creature we used to rely upon has proved a broken reed, the spiritual experience we built upon has deserted us, the methods of guidance that used to bless our souls starve us now. This is illustrated in the purifying of Abraham’s faith, the purification went on until Abraham was lost in God. He did not lose his identity, he reached his identity in God. The hymns that are full of absorption in God are true of deepest spiritual experience, but only true in the fundamental sense, in the surface sense they are in error.

The Psalmist prayed, “Unite my heart to fear Thy name”—the whole spirit, soul and body so united with God that the soul does not think separately of body, soul or spirit, but only of God. There are false unities possible in a man’s experience whereby man’s spirit, soul and body are brought into harmony. Paul calls these things idolatry,† because idolatry is the uniting of body, soul and spirit to the wrong god.

If we are despising the chastening of the Lord and fainting when rebuked of Him, it is because we do not understand what God is doing; He is weaning us from creatures to Himself, from the things we have been united to instead of being united to Him only. When God is weaning a soul from creatures, from Christian experience, from teachers and friends, then is the time that the devil begins the advocacy of self-pity. Satan tried to make Jesus realise Himself apart from God (see Matthew 16:23), but He would not—“For I am come down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me” (rv). When we are filled with the Holy Spirit He unites us body, soul and spirit with God until we are one with God even as Jesus was. This is the meaning of the Atonement—at-one-ment with God.

The one perfect Personality is our Lord. When we separate ourselves from Jesus we are in part, we are not perfect but when the life of Jesus comes into us we no more think of the separating of spirit, soul and body, we think of Jesus only. Remember, we are not sanctified for our sakes, but for God’s sake. How many of us are trying to exploit God with the diplomacy which the world uses? We try to exploit God when we pray—“O Lord, give me this gift, this experience.” That is the spirit which springs from the devil, we are trying to ape being devout souls, trying to be like Christians, but wanting a relation to God on our own lines. We can only get rightly related to God through Jesus Christ. The coming of the Perfect means that we are made one with God by Jesus. Immediately we are rightly related to God, perfectly adjusted to Him, the Perfect life comes to us and through us.

Chambers, O.


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 Re: Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

[b]The Conversion of the Part[/b]

[i]. . . it is impossible to the creature in virtue of its creature-nature and qualities, that of which it saith “I” and “myself” to be perfect. For in whatsoever creature the Perfect shall be known, therein the creature-nature and qualities, I, the Self and the like, must all be lost and done away.[/i]

Our Lord told the rich young ruler to fling away all he had, to think of himself as possessing nothing—“Be a mere conscious man and give that manhood to Me. Lose altogether the sense of yourself as one who wants to be blessed and be related to God in Me” (see Matthew 19:21).

[i]So long as we think much of these things, cleave to them with love, joy, pleasure or desire, so long remaineth the Perfect unknown to us.[/i]

If we seek the baptism of the Holy Ghost in order that God may make us great servants of His, we shall never receive anything. God baptises us with the Holy Ghost that He may be All in all.

Numbers of people say, “I have asked God to sanctify me and He has not done it.” Of course He has not! Do we find one word in the Bible which tells us to pray, “Lord, sanctify me”? What we do read is that God sanctifies what we give. An unconditional “give up” is the condition of sanctification, not claiming something for ourselves. This is where unscriptural holiness teaching has played so much havoc with spiritual experience. We receive from God on one condition only, viz. that we yield ourselves to Him and are willing to receive nothing. Immediately we state conditions and say, “I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit,” “I want to be delivered from sin,” “I want to be the means of saving souls”—we may pray to further orders, but an answer will never come that way. That is all the energy of the flesh, it has no thought of the claims of Jesus on the life. Are we willing to be baptised into His death? How much struggle is there in a dead man? How much assertion of “I” and “me” and “mine”—“I have had such a wonderful experience”? The Spirit of God will never witness to testimonies along that line, they are not true to the genius of the Holy Ghost, not true to the nature of Jesus. “Whosoever shall confess Me before men,” said Jesus. If there is a tightness and a dryness in our experience it is because we have begun to take the advice of someone other than God, have begun to try and make our experience like someone else said it should be. “But they, . . . measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are without understanding” ( rv).

Chambers, O.


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 Re: Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .


“You must,” he said, “take up your cross and follow our Lord Jesus Christ and His example in utter sincerity, humility and patience, and must let go all your proud reasoning.” He advised him to cease his preaching for a while and in quiet contemplation examine his life in the mirror of our Lord’s. Tauler was nearly fifty, but he took the place of abasement and self-surrender, and for nearly two years was a seeker of God’s way, praying that God’s life might be brought forth in him. His former friends thought him demented. When the clear light came and he knew the time had come to bear his witness in public, he found it not easy to begin, but soon wisdom and grace from the Holy Spirit were bestowed in abundant measure. So began years of wonderful work for God. In those days when salvation by simple faith in Jesus Christ was so largely hidden beneath ceremonial worship, he taught many that the way to God was by a New Birth that brought men into a vital relation to the Living God.


Sorry to interupt your thread, but this really touched me. God says You will seek and find me says the Lord when you seek me with all your heart. Have I really sought him with all my heart? To have an experience of that nature where the lights go on, and you see the world through eyes of the risen saviour, what blessedness what joy.


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 Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

Hi ZekeO,

Quote:
Sorry to interupt...


Please do!

There is some tremendous thought throughout this, it has taken some constraint not to jump ahead though there have been bits and pieces snatched and placed elsewhere.
Quote:
To have an experience of that nature where the lights go on, and you see the world through eyes of the risen saviour, what blessedness what joy.


Indeed! Think he really drives it home as it progress's...


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 Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

[b]The Concentration of Perception[/b] (John 15:5; Philippians 4:13)

[i]That which hath flowed forth from it, is no true Substance, and hath no Substance except in the Perfect, but is an accident, or a brightness, or a visible appearance, which is no Substance, and hath no Substance except in the fire whence the brightness flowed forth, such as the sun or a candle.[/i]

“Without Me ye can do nothing.” If we are not spiritual we will say that is not true, but if we are spiritual we know it is true. Our Lord said many things that are only true in the domain in which He spoke them. For instance, He said, “Ye have not life in yourselves” (John 6:53 rv). We have life, but not in the domain Jesus means. We are alive physically, alive morally and intellectually without Jesus, but we are not alive spiritually. “Ye have not this life in yourselves.” “If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God, or whether I speak from Myself” (rv). What is God’s will? That we should receive His Spirit, and God will give us the Holy Spirit if we ask. If we put ourselves in the condition of paupers and waive all right to the gift and are willing to receive, then Jesus said, God will put into us the Spirit that is in Him. When we have received the Holy Spirit we begin to realise that what Jesus said is true, “without Me ye can do nothing”—in the spiritual life. If some of us are asked to give our testimony, to speak in the open air, to take a meeting, we faint because we have not learned the lesson of drawing on the Perfect life, of drawing on Jesus. “Without Me”—nothing; but—“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Have we ever come to the place of saying, “Lord, do in me all Thou dost want to do?” We ask God to do much less than this and think we are asking for tremendous things; we have to come to the place of saying, “Lord, I ask that Thy will may be done in me.” The will of God is the gladdest, brightest, most bountiful thing possible to conceive, and yet some of us talk of the will of God with a terrific sigh—“Oh well, I suppose it is the will of God,” as if His will were the most calamitous thing that could befall us.

Are we learning to think and perceive and interpret Christian experience along this line? When people come to us, are we so relying on the Holy Spirit that He can easily lead them to Jesus, or are we trying to make their square lives fit into our round experience, trying to fit their broad experience into our poor narrow waistcoat-pocket experience? We are off our territory on those lines; we are here for one purpose only, to be taken up with Jesus.

Chambers, O.


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 Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

[b]The Principle of Sin[/b] (1 John 5:8-12)

[i]The Scripture and the Faith and the Truth say, Sin is nought else, but that the creature turneth away from the unchangeable Good and betaketh itself to the changeable; that is to say, that it turneth away from the Perfect to “that which is in part” and imperfect, and most often to itself.[/i]

This is the principle of sin. Anything in spiritual life or in sensual life that makes us draw our life from anything less than God is of the essence of sin. God made man to have dominion over the life of the sea and air and earth, but God was to have dominion over man. Adam sinned by taking his claim to his right to himself. This claim to my right to myself works in those who are born again, and it is called “the carnal mind.” It expresses itself like this—“I want the baptism of the Holy Ghost; I want to be sanctified; I want to be filled with the Spirit; I want to be used of God.” All that springs from the wrong source, it is not drawing its life from the right place. When we receive and recognise and rely on the Holy Spirit, all that stops for ever. We have to “walk in the light, as He is in the light,” the light that Jesus walked in (see John 6:38; 14:10).

[b]The Presence of Sin[/b] (John 5:30-32; Romans 1:25)

[i]When the creature claimeth for its own anything good, such as Substance, Life, Knowledge, Power, and in short whatever we should call good, as if it were that, or possessed that, or that were itself or that proceeded from it—as often as this cometh to pass, the creature goeth astray.[/i]

The one characteristic of love is that it thinks of nothing for itself, it is absorbed in God. “Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not . . . love taketh not account of the evil.” We cannot live as Jesus lived by trying to imitate Him. “Jesus called a little child to Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Except ye . . . become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Our Lord was not setting up a child as an ideal, but as a fact. A child does not work from a conscious ambition, it obeys the law of the life that is in him without thinking. When we are born again and rightly related to God we will live the right kind of life without thinking. Immediately we begin to think about it, we fix our eyes on our own whiteness and go wrong. Much of the holiness teaching of to-day makes people fix their eyes on their own whiteness, not on Jesus Christ—“I give up this and that, I fast here, I do this and the other, I will give up anything and everything to possess a perfect life.” We will never get it in that way, but only by the passion of an absolute devotion to Jesus and that is only possible by receiving the Holy Spirit and obeying Him.

[b]The Propagation of Sin[/b] (1 John 3:4-8; Isaiah 14:12-13; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Colossians 2:20-23)

[i]What did the devil do else, or what was his going astray and his fall else, but that he claimed for himself to be also somewhat, and would have it that somewhat was his, and something was due to him? This setting up of a claim and his “I” and “me” and “mine,” these were his going astray, and his fall. And thus it is to this day.[/i]

John’s argument is not to do with an act of sin, but with the disposition of sin. It is this that the devil propagates in human beings. Why don’t we realise what God’s Book says? We talk about chopping off this, and doing that, and having times of consecration to God. The only test of holiness is that the life of Jesus is being manifested in our mortal flesh, and that we are not appealed to on the lines He was not appealed to on; nothing springs up in us and says, “Now that is mine.” The perfect love is given to us freely by the grace of God, and we can hinder it when we like, no matter what our experience has been, if we cease drawing on the life of God. Anything we possess as our own, as a possession of our own personality, is the very essence and principle of sin at work. “If any man will come after Me,” said Jesus, “let him deny himself”; literally, let him give up his right to himself to Me, “and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Our Lord said this over and over again, but we have come to the conclusion that He did not mean what He said and we piously and reverently pass it over.

[i]The quotations are from the book entitled Theologia Germanica.[/i]

Chambers, O.


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