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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

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 Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

(Indeed, it's been hard not to race ahead here, am up ahead of the postings a bit and it just keeps getting better...)
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[b]The Plane of Delight (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)[/b]

[i]While we look . . . at the things which are not seen. (2 Corinthians 4:18)

But if our inward man were to make a leap and spring into the Perfect, we should find and taste how that the Perfect is without measure, number or end, better and nobler than all which is imperfect andin part, and the Eternal above the temporal or perishable, and the foundation and source above all that floweth or can ever flow from it.[/i]

When we think of being delivered from sin, of being filled with the Spirit, we say, “Oh, I shall never get there, it is only for exceptional people like the Apostle Paul”; but when by God’s grace we get there we find it is the easiest place to live; it is not a mountain-peak, but a flat tableland of delight with plenty of room for everyone. “And I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless”—that is not the life we are to live hereafter, but the life God would have us live now; most of us are far too diffident about getting there.

[b](a) The Altitude of Love[/b]

[i]. . . the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 rv)

A Master called Bætius said, “It is of sin that we do not love that which is Best.” He hath spoken the truth. That which is best should be the dearest of all things to us.[/i]

Is it? Sometimes we crave for something less than the best, beware! We ought to love the most what is best. The spirit of God in us can teach us how to love the best, through faith, through knowledge, through everything till we are altogether in love with God, in absolute harmony with Him, absorbed in the one great purpose of God.

[i]And in our love of it, neither helpfulness nor unhelpfulness, advantage nor injury, gain nor loss, honour nor dishonour, praise nor blame, nor anything of the kind should be regarded.[/i]

1 Corinthians 13 is not an ideal, it is an identification which makes the ideal possible. Never put the ideal where the Spirit of God does not put it. The ideal comes after the identification.

[b](b) The Atmosphere of Life[/b]

[i]But the fruit of the Spirit is love. . . . (Galatians 5:22)

Now that creature in which the Eternal Good, most manifesteth itself shineth forth, worketh, is most known and loved, is the best, and that wherein the Eternal Good is least manifested is the least good of all creatures.[/i]

In days gone by we all used to love the creatures that exhibit reflections of the Eternal Good—honour and courage and strength, but when we are made one with Jesus Christ we find we love the creatures that exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. A great alteration has come over our outlook; God is altering the thing that matters.

[i]Therefore when we have to do with the creatures and hold converse with them, and take note of their diverse qualities, the best creatures must always be the dearest to us, and we must cleave to them, and unite ourselves to them.[/i]

“What communion hath light with darkness?” The education God puts His children through in life is, “first that which is natural; then that which is spiritual,” until we are rooted and grounded in Him, then there is no danger evermore to that life. It is always better further on—through the natural to the spiritual. No wonder the counsel of the Spirit through the writer to the Hebrews is “Ye have need of patience.”

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

Oswald Chambers


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 Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

[b]Chapter V[/b]

[b]The Philosophy of Following Our Lord[/b]

[i]First, man must consider the teaching and the life of Jesus Christ, for He hath taught poverty and lived it. And a man should follow the teaching and the life, if he wisheth to be perfect, for He saith, “Whoso loveth Me keepeth My commandments and My counsels, and heareth My word."[/i]

In every profession under heaven the great ambition of the natural heart is to be perfect. When Jesus Christ was faced with a splendid specimen of a young man, He said, “If you would be perfect, I will tell you what to do.”

“If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” The whole outcome of following Jesus is expressed for us in these words, viz. that the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, will come and make Their abode with the man who loves Jesus and keeps His word. As long as the devil can keep us terrified of thinking, he will always limit the work of God in our souls.

[b]The Way of the Follower Negative[/b]

[i]If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. (Luke 9:23)[/i]

The word “deny” embraces what the Apostle Paul meant when he said “mortify therefore,” or, make dead, “your members which are upon the earth” (Colossians 3:5).

[b](a) Infirmity-Sins[/b]

[i]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)[/i]

It might now be said, What is man in his selfhood, that he must deny, if he wisheth to follow after Christ? Man’s selfhood consisteth in four things. First, his frailty, and that he falleth into sins; and this he must needs set aside; he must die to his defects and sins, and mortify himself.

The disposition in us is either implanted naturally through the first Adam, or implanted supernaturally through the last Adam by regeneration and sanctification. We breed our temperament out of the disposition that is in us. If we are going to follow Jesus, we must do to death infirmity-sins. God cannot do it, we have to do it ourselves. Satan takes occasion of the frailty of the bodily temple and says, “Now you know you cannot do that, you are so infirm, you cannot concentrate your mind,” etc. Never allow bodily infirmities to hinder you obeying the commands of Jesus. Paul says, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” “I buffet [bruise, mg] my body, and bring it into bondage” (rv). Through the Atonement God deals with the wrong disposition in us, then He gives us the glorious privilege of making our bodies “instruments of righteousness unto God.”

[b](b) Inordinate Affection[/b]

[i]Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; . . . inordinate affection. . . . (Colossians 3:5)

Secondly, he is inclined to creatures. For man is inclined by nature to his like, and he must kill nature, and must withdraw from creatures, for God and creatures are opposites. And therefore he who wisheth to have God must leave creatures. For the soul is so narrow that God and the creature cannot dwell together in her; and therefore if God is to dwell in thy soul, the creature must remain without.[/i]

In Colossians 3:5 Paul is describing an unsanctified man, but the same man sanctified is inclined to creatures rather than to the Creator. Watch the hard things Jesus says about father, mother, wife, children, our own life (see Luke 14:26); He says if we are going to follow Him, these must be on the outside of the central citadel. The central citadel must be God and God alone. When once we are willing to “do to death” our clinging to creatures, which in certain supreme calls comes between ourselves and God, Jesus says we will receive an hundredfold, because immediately we are rightly related to God He can trust us with creaturerelationships without fear of inordinateness. With the majority of us these relationships are cut off, not by our own doing, God has to do it for us; He has to come with strange providences and cut them off, because we have professed that we are going to follow Jesus. We forget that sanctification is only the beginning; the one purpose of sanctification is that Jesus might be “marvelled at in all them that believed.”

Oswald Chambers


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 Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

[b](c) Inveterate Luxury[/b]

[i]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. (1 Corinthians 9:27)

The third point is, that man to part from selfhood should drop all sensual delight, for he must die to this and kill it in himself if he wisheth to have God’s comfort. As St. Bernard saith, “The comfort of God is so noble that no one receiveth it who seeketh comfort elsewhere.”[/i]

The natural life in a sanctified man or woman is neither moral nor immoral, it is the gift God has given the saint to sacrifice on the altar of love to God. Jesus Christ had a natural body, it was not a sin for Him to be hungry, but it would have been a sin for Him to satisfy that hunger when God had told Him not to, and Satan came to Him when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, and was an hungred, and said, “Satisfy that hunger now.”†The body we have is not sinful in itself; if it were, it would be untrue to say that Jesus Christ was sinless. Paul’s words have reference to the fact that our body has been ruled by a sinful disposition, a disposition which simply means I am going to find my sustaining in creature comforts. After we are sanctified we have the same body, but it is ruled by a new disposition, and we have to sacrifice our natural life to God even as Jesus did, so that we make the natural life spiritual by a series of direct moral choices.

[b](d) Intellectual Intemperance[/b]

[i]And lest I should be exalted above measure . . . through the abundance of the revelations . . . (2 Corinthians 12:7)

The fourth thing a man must let go if he wisheth to follow Christ, is spiritual natural comforts, which are generated in man, by detecting the distinction between spiritual and natural knowledge. . . . Whoever tarries by this natural rational delight, hinders himself from the supernatural delight which God in His grace imparteth to the soul.[/i]

Intellectual intemperance is a great snare to a saint. Bodily fasting is child’s play compared to the determined fasting from the intellectual apprehension of the teachings of Jesus that goes beyond what we are living out. The characteristic of many spiritual people to-day is intellectual intemperance, fanatical intoxication with the things of God, wild exuberance, an unlikeness to the sanity of Jesus in the very ways of God. There is a danger in the enjoyment of the delights and the power that come to us through Jesus Christ’s salvation without lifting the life into keeping with His teaching, especially in spiritual people whose minds have never been disciplined and they wander off into all kinds of vagaries. That accounts for the distinction we find between spiritual sincerity and spiritual reality.

All this is the negative side of following our Lord. Have we told Jesus we will follow Him? Are we prepared to do our part in keeping under the body for one purpose only, that we may learn the fellowship of following? Are we beginning to realise that until we are born again the teachings of Jesus are simple; after we are born again they become growingly difficult, and we find clouds and darkness are round about the things we thought we knew perfectly well once, and following our Lord is one of these things?

Oswald Chambers


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 Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

[b]The Way of the Fellowship Positive[/b]

[i]And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it. (Matthew 10:38-39)[/i]

It is possible to be grossly selfish in absorbing the salvation of Jesus, to enjoy all its benedictions, and never follow Him one step. So Jesus says, “If any man would follow Me, this is the way”— “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

[b](a) Working Virtue from God[/b]

[i]. . . for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. (Romans 6:19)

First, man should kill sin in himself through virtue; for just as man is removed from God by sin must he be brought nigh again unto God by virtue . . . but let no one believe that he is free from sins, unless he hath taken unto himself all the virtues.[/i]

The positive side is this—that we work all the virtues of Jesus in and through our members, but this can only be done when all self-reliance has come to an end (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:9). Our natural virtues are remnants of what God created man to be, not promises of what he is going to be. The natural virtues cannot be patched up to come anywhere near God’s demands, and the sign that God is at work in us is that He corrupts our confidence in the natural virtues. It is simply an amplification of the old Gospel hymn—

[i]Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy Cross I cling![/i]

[b](b) Willing Poverty for God[/b]

[i]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. (2 Corinthians 8:9)

The second thing that man must shun is the love for creatures. Poverty of spirit is a going out of yourself and out of everything earthly. Thereby he despiseth creatures, is despised by them, and is thus set free. A truly poor man taketh nothing from creatures, but all from God, be it bodily or spiritual. God alone will be the Giver.[/i]

To be willingly poor for God is to strip myself of all things for the sake of Jesus Christ. One of the greatest snares is built on what is really a great truth, viz. that every man has Christ in himself. The pernicious use that is made of that statement is that therefore man draws power from himself. Never! Jesus Christ never drew power from Himself: He drew it always from without Himself, viz. from His Father. “The Son can do nothing of Himself” (John 5:19, see John 5:30). Beware of being rich spiritually on earth, only be rich spiritually in heaven. Jesus said to the rich young ruler, “If you will strip yourself and have no riches here, you will lay up for yourself treasure in heaven Treasure in heaven.” is faith that has been tried (cf. Revelation 3:18). Immediately we begin to have fellowship with Jesus we have to live the life of faith at all costs; it may be bitter to begin with, but afterwards it is ineffably and indescribably sweet—willing poverty for God, a determined going outside myself and every earthly thing.

Oswald Chambers


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 Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

[b](c) Watchful Purity for God[/b]

[i]Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (1 John 3:9)

But who knoweth, wilt thou ask, if he have all virtues? I answer to this like John, who saith, “Whosoever is born of God cannot sin.” For in the same moment in which God the Father begetteth His Son in the soul, sins and all unlikeness disappear, and all virtues are born in her in a likeness to God.[/i]

According to that statement of the Apostle John no one is free from sin unless he is possessed of all the virtues. The Apostle is not teaching sinless perfection; he is teaching perfect sinlessness, which is a different matter. If as sanctified souls we walk in the light, as God is in the light, the revelation is that through the Atonement “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” That does not mean cleansing from all sin in our consciousness; if it did, it would produce hypocrisy. Any number of people are not conscious of sin, but it does not follow that they are cleansed from all sin. It is not our consciousness that is referred to, but the consciousness God has of us; what we are conscious of is walking in the light with nothing to hide. The outcome of following our Lord is a holiness of character so that God sees nothing to censure† because the life of His Son is working out in every particular. Our main idea is to keep steadfastly in the blazing light of God so that He can exhibit the virtues of Jesus through us unhindered. “If ye love Me, ye will keep My commandments” (rv). How many of them? All of them. Then, says Jesus, “We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him”—in heaven? No, here.

[b](d) Wonderful Passion for God[/b]

[i]Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2)

. . . and whoso would eat its fruit (the fruit of the holy cross) with profit must break it off from the cross by steadfast internal contemplation of the Passion of Our Lord.

All on the cross is full of fruit, and more than all tongues could in truth proclaim. Nay, angels’ tongues could not describe the overflowing grace that is there hidden in the Passion of our Lord. Blessed are those who have found this treasure.[/i]

Steady contemplation of the Passion of our Lord will “do to death” everything that is not of God. It is only after a long while of going on with God and steady contemplation of the Cross that we begin to understand its meaning. “To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise” is said at only one place, viz. at the Cross.

This is not a message about our salvation and sanctification, but about the outcome of salvation and sanctification in our implicit life, i.e. where we live it and cannot speak it. Jesus said, “If any man would be My disciple . . .” not, “If any man would be saved and sanctified.” “If any man will be My disciple—those are the conditions.” Jesus Christ always talked about discipleship with an “If.” We are at perfect liberty to toss our spiritual head and say, “No, thank you, that is a bit too stern for me,” and the Lord will never say a word, we can do exactly what we like. He will never plead, but the opportunity is there, “If . . .”

After all, it is the great stern call of Jesus that fascinates men and women quicker than anything. It is not the gospel of being saved from hell and enjoying heaven that attracts men, saving in a very shallow mood; it is Christ crucified that attracts men; Jesus said so—“I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” Jesus Christ never attracts us by the unspeakable bliss of Paradise; He attracts us by an ugly beam. We talk about getting down to the depths of a man’s soul: Jesus Christ is the only One Who ever did. If once a man has heard the appeal of Jesus from the Cross, he begins to find there is something there that answers the cry of the human heart and the problem of the whole world. What we have to do as God’s servants is to lift up Christ crucified. We can either do it as gramophones, or as those who are in fellowship with Him.

Many of us have heard Jesus Christ’s first “Follow Me”—to a life of liberty and joy and gladness; how many of us have heard the second “Follow Me”—“deny your right to yourself and ‘do to death’ in yourself everything that never was in Me”?

[i]The quotations are from the book entitled The Following of Christ, by John Tauler.[/i]

Oswald Chambers


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

[b]Chapter VI[/b]

[b]The Philosophy of Godliness[/b]

[i]Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father. John 14:12[/i]

[b]The Way of the Working of God[/b]

[i]Then said they unto Him, What shall we do that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him Whom He hath sent. (John 6:28-29)

There are two kinds of work in God—a working within and a working outwardly. The working inward is God’s being and nature, the outward working is the creature. . . . God worketh in souls that He may bring them to the first origin from which they have flowed, for by their works they cannot go in again.[/i]

These words of Jesus sum up the whole mystery of the work of grace, viz. that to “work the works of God” we must stop working and let God work. “This is the work of God, that ye believe. . . .”Un-belief is the most active thing on earth; it is negative on God’s side, not on ours. Un-belief is a fretful, worrying, questioning, annoying, self-centred spirit. To believe is to stop all this and let God work.

[i][b](a) The Working Master[/b][/i]

[i]. . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

If man is to come to God, he must be empty of all work and let God work alone. . . . Now, all that God willeth to have from us is that we be inactive, and let Him be the working Master.[/i]

Paul does not say, Work out something that will tell for your salvation; he says, Work out in the expression of your life the salvation God has worked in. If we think for a moment we shall soon know how much we are saved—What does our tongue say? what kind of things do our ears like to listen to? what kind of bodily associates do we like to be with? These things will always tell not only other people but ourselves what kind of salvation God has worked in. In regeneration God works us into relation with Himself that by our bodily expression we may prove Whose we are. If you are trying to be a Christian it is a sure sign you are not one. Fancy trying to be the daughter of your mother! you cannot help being her daughter. But try and be the daughter of someone else’s mother! Unless God has worked in us we shall hinder Him all the time by trying to be His children; we cannot, we have to be born from above (rv mg) by the will of God first, be regenerated; then our working is not working to help God, it is working to let God express through us what He has done in us so that we may prove we are the children of our Father in heaven (see Matthew 5:43-48).

So many of us put prayer and work and consecration in place of the working of God; we make ourselves the workers. God is the Worker, we work out what He works in. Spirituality is what God is after, not religiosity. The great snare in religion without genuine spirituality is that people ape being good when they are absolutely mean. There is no value whatever in religious externals, the only thing that is of value is spiritual reality, and this is spiritual reality—that I allow God to work in me to will and to do of His good pleasure, and then work out what He has worked in, being carefully careless about everything saving my relationship to God.

Chambers, O.


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 Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

[b][i](b) The Workable Medium[/i][/b]

[i]If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered. (John 15:6)

If we were altogether inactive we should be perfect men. For all that is good is the work of God, and if God does not work it, it is not good.[/i]

I wonder how many of us are living on the virtues of our grandparents! The natural virtues are remnants of what the original creation of man once was, they are not promises of what man is going to be; what man is going to be is seen in the life of Jesus Christ. The workable medium is man. God takes as the medium of working the stuff we are made of, and all He requires is for us to be inactive and let Him work. When once we are rightly related to God through the Atonement we will be inactive and not in the way of His working in us as He worked in Jesus; consequently we shall be able to work out in our natural life all that God wills. It is the old twist, we will try to do what God alone can do, and then we mourn before God because He won’t do what we alone can do. We put up sighing petitions—“I have tried to be good”; “I have tried to sanctify myself.” All that is the work of God, and the best thing to do is to stop trying and let God do it. What we have to do, and what God cannot do, is to work out what He has worked in. We try to do God’s work for Him, and God has to wait until we are passive enough to let Him work in us. To believe in Jesus means retiring and letting God take the mastership inside. That is all God asks of us. Have we ever got into the way of letting God work, or are we so amazingly important that we really wonder in our nerves and ways what the Almighty does before we are up in the morning! We are so certain we know what is right, and if we don’t always keep at it God cannot get on. Compare that view with the grand, marvellous working of God in the life of the Lord Jesus. Our Lord did not work for God; He said, “The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.” Have we any faith in God at all? Do we really expect God to work in us the good pleasure of His will, or do we expect He will only do it as we pray and plead and sacrifice? All these things shut the door to God working. What we have to ask away from, to knock at, to seek through, are these pressing strivings of our own—

[i]When we stay our feeble efforts, And from struggling cease, Unconditional surrender Brings us God’s own peace.[/i]

—a doctrine easily travestied, but a doctrine God never safeguards. The whole basis of modern Christian work is the great impulsive desire to evade concentration on God. We will work for Him any day rather than let Him work in us. When a man or woman realises what God does work in them through Jesus Christ, they become almost lunatic with joy in the eyes of the world. It is this truth we are trying to state, viz. the realisation of the wonderful salvation of God.

[b][i](c) The Worker’s Manner[/i][/b]

[i]And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

How is a man to know if his work is of himself or from God? Shortly be it said; there are three supernatural divine virtues, Faith, Hope, and Love or Charity; whatever increaseth virtues is from God, but what diminisheth them is a sign that it is the work of man. . . . For what man worketh of himself, he applieth to himself and to time . . . but what God worketh, draweth a man away from himself to eternity, and this increaseth Faith, Hope, and Charity.[/i]

How much of faith, hope, and love is worked in us when we try to convince somebody else? It is not our business to convince other people, that is the insistence of a merely intellectual, unspiritual life. The Spirit of God will do the convicting when we are in the relationship where we simply convey God’s word. We exploit the word of God in order to fit it into some view of our own that we have generated; but when it comes to the great calm peace and rest of the Lord Jesus, we can easily test where we are. To “rest in the Lord” is the perfection of inward activity. In the ordinary reasoning of man it means sitting with folded arms and letting God do everything; in reality it is being so absolutely stayed on God that we are free to do the active work of men without fuss. The times God works most wonderfully are the times we never think about it. When we work of ourselves we always connect things with time. “What is the good of faith, hope and love when I have to earn my living?” Compare that outlook with what Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount—“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” It means on our part a continual carelessness about everything but that one thing. The great curse of modern Christianity is that people will not be careless about things they have no right to be careful about, and they will not let God make them careful about their relationship to Him. Sum it up for yourself—what do you think about most, not on the surface, but in the deep centre of your centre? What is the real basal thought of your life—“what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; . . . what ye shall put on”? None of us are so stupid or lacking in cunning as to say we do think of these things: but if we think of what will happen to “all these things” if we put God first, we know where we are, God is not first. If He is first you know you can never think of anything He will forget.

Chambers, O.


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 Oswald Chambers ~ If Thou Wilt Be Perfect . . .

[b]The Way of the Working of the Godly[/b]

[i]Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; . . . and all things are of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

What is the divine work? It is twofold, what God worketh in the soul, one the work of grace, the other essential and divine. By the work of grace man is prepared for the essential . . . by grace God maketh man well-pleasing, it driveth him away from all defective things on to virtue, so that with it he obtaineth all virtues.[/i]

The only sign that we are new creations (rv mg) in Christ Jesus is that we know all things are of God. When we are in difficult circumstances, when we are hard up, when friends slander us, to whom do we go? If we know that “all things are of God,” then we certainly are new creations in Christ Jesus. The things that upset the external life reveal where we live. If we are in Christ the whole basis of our goings is God, not conceptions of God, not ideas of God, but God Himself. We do not need any more ideas about God, the world is full of ideas about God, they are all worthless, because the ideas of God in anyone’s head are of no more use than our own ideas. What we need is a real God, not more ideas about Him. Immediately we get a real God we find that “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”; we are so absolutely one with God that we never think of saying we are, the whole life is hid with Christ in God.

[b](a) The Experimental Virtue[/b]

[i]For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)

God worketh through His grace in man, when He draweth him away from sin and leadeth him on to virtue, if man leaveth sin and exerciseth virtue, this is a grace of God.[/i]

When we are first born again of the Spirit and become rightly related to God, the whole set of our life is along God’s line, other people looking at us know how marvellously God has transformed us; we do things and wonder why we do them. That is experimental virtue, but it is accidental, that is, the expression in our life is that of spiritual innocence not of spiritual holiness yet; then slowly and surely the Holy Spirit leads on to the next thing—the essence of virtue.

[b](b) The Essence of Virtue[/b]

[i]My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you. (Galatians 4:19)

The second work that God worketh in the soul is essential; when man cometh to this that he hath obtained all accidental virtue, and so now arriveth at the essence of virtue, then God worketh all virtue in him in an essential way, namely, the Heavenly Father begetteth His Son in the soul, and this birth raiseth the spirit above all created things into God.[/i]

“Until Christ”—not Jesus Christ, but Christ, the Son of God, Who was Incarnate once as a Man called Jesus Christ—“until Christ be formed in you.” No wonder Paul talks about “the riches of the glory of this mystery; . . . which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This is not an innocent state, it is a holy state, the very essence of the life is holy, and as we draw on His resurrection life, the life of Jesus is manifested in our mortal flesh.

[b](c) The Essential Vision[/b]

[i]But God . . . hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4, 6)[/i]

Nevertheless grace leaveth not the man, but it directeth and ordereth the forces of man and cherisheth the divine birth in the essence of the soul; . . . the spirit of man hath now passed over to the Godhead.

Being seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus does not mean lolling about on the mount of transfiguration, singing ecstatic hymns, and letting demon-possessed boys go to the devil in the valley; it means being in the accursed places of this earth as far as the walk of the feet is concerned, but in undisturbed communion with God.

In the historic Jesus Christ the spirit of man passed over to the Godhead and Jesus saw essentially, not experimentally, and the same thing happens when Christ is formed in us. God’s grace does not leave a man after an experience of grace. The common idea of how to live the right life seems to be that it is by getting continual “bouts” of God’s grace, that an insight into God’s grace will last us several days. As a matter of fact it won’t last us any time. That is not what God’s grace means.

“. . . while we look not at the things which are seen”—that battle never stops. The things that are seen are not the devil, but the pressing things, the things that distract; when Christ is formed in us and the essential vision comes through looking at the things which are not seen, we find that God makes other people shadows. If my saintly friends are images of God to me, I have much further to go, yet. God alone must be my Stay and Source and everything. That is the way the godly life is lived.

What is a godly life? A life like God in my bodily edition. Imitation is the great stumblingblock to sanctification. Be yourself first, then go to your own funeral, and let God for ever after be All in all.

[i](The quotations are from the book entitled The Following of Christ, by John Tauler.)[/i]

Chambers, O.



_________________
Mike Balog

 2005/5/18 22:47Profile





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