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I am reading an entry by Oswald Chambers about the birth of Christ:
His birth in history. ¬ďTherefore also that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.¬Ē [That is the angel¬ís announcement to Mary.] Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from it. He did not evolve out of history; He came into history from the outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being; He is a Being who cannot be accounted for by the human race at all. He is not man becoming God, but God Incarnate, God coming into human flesh, coming into it from outside. His life is the Highest and Holiest entering in at the lowliest door. Our Lord¬ís birth was an advent.
He was born in a stable, and it is a debatable question to ask if He will come and have an advent in any person, except in that same way. He will not enter through any other door but the lowliest door, coming in as the Highest. So if we try to open a door to Him from the level of our own superiority or self-esteem, as if we deserve a visitation, He simply will not come. He will only come into a stable, the lowliest place. His advent is a paradigm and a pattern. It is a statement, not just once but always. For every advent of Christ, every birthing, the Highest has got to come into the lowliest, and not just at the commencement of our spiritual life, but at every event and occasion of our spiritual life. If He is to be a participant and bring the Highest, we have got to open to Him the lowliest.
I love the way Chambers writes; leave it to him to strike that great note: ¬ďHis life is the Highest and the Holiest entering in at the lowliest door.¬Ē He will never enter into a proud place. His birth was remarkable-there was no room for Him at the inn, so they had to employ the expediency of a stable. Then He was laid in a manger. I do not know how many years I went on hearing that as a kid, and then even as a believer, not knowing what a manger was. A manger is a feeding trough for animals. The place where the animals slobbered over their food is where He was laid. It is exquisite if you can see it from the point of view of God¬ís design and the expression, not only of His wisdom, but necessarily of His nature. This is not expediency for the lack of something better; this was God¬ís divine intention from eternity, that His advent would come in such a way, in such lowliness, or it could not come at all. We need to continually be reminded that if we are not experiencing the Highest, then we are not providing the lowliest.
Chambers goes on to ask,
¬ďHave I allowed my personal human life to become a ¬ĎBethlehem¬í for the Son of God? I cannot enter into the realm of the Kingdom of God unless I am born from above by a birth totally unlike natural birth. ¬ĎYe must be born again.¬í This is not a command; it is a foundation fact. The characteristic of the new birth is that I yield myself so completely to God that Christ is formed in me. Immediately when Christ is formed in me, His nature begins to work through me. God manifest in the flesh: that is what is made profoundly possible for you and me by the Redemption.¬Ē
Compare this to the more mainline evangelism, which is more a decisional Christianity. The preacher makes an altar call, the person comes forward, makes a confession, recites a prayer, and he commences his Christian life. It is a good question whether an actual birth has taken place if it is initiated by man, however well-meaning his intention, however moved he is by the message, however much he now desires to be a Christian or to forsake sin. Can man initiate that birth that has got to be wholly given of God? It is clear that there are untold numbers, maybe millions of people, who have entered Christianity decisionally; it was their decision, but it was not His birthing. It is good to be reminded that this birthing is from above, and we cannot commence this life and obtain this nature, except that it is actually birthed in us. We need to insist upon this divine prerogative, and look for that, and believe for that, and wait for that, and trust in that, and not religiously process people into a kind of evangelical Christianity by virtue of their decision.
I am taking note of Chambers¬í conclusion here. If that birthing has taken place and is the birthing of the nature of God, the divine nature into an earthly vessel, the incarnation again, then there should be evidence. Such a phenomenon cannot take place without there being some expression, some outworking of that new nature, that divine thing. If one of these decisional Christians has gone on now for 10, 15, 20 or more years and is not showing evidence of the divine nature, notwithstanding the ongoing struggle between flesh and spirit, we need to ask if indeed the new nature has been imparted. If there is no evidence of a new nature, then it is not too extreme to raise the question of whether there has been a new birth. We should even encourage the one who is not evidencing that nature, and is acting contrary to it, to put that question to the Lord: Have I really ever been born from above? If not, Lord, I implore You that that birth might come.