Month: March 2010

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another – T. Austin-Sparks

CHAPTER ONE

Our Father, our God, we ask Thee now that Thou, Who didst say “Let light be,” will shine into our hearts at this time “To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” It is that face we together have said we are seeking now. We seek Thy Face. We thank Thee that the veil is taken away. We thank Thee that the heaven is open. We thank Thee that the Holy Spirit has come. What we pray for is our need—so deeply conscious we are of it—our own impotence and helplessness, our inability to do anything, to say anything worthy of Thyself. O Lord, we confess utter dependence upon Thee, but we say to Thee, Lord, we trust Thee. Now make this then a time of entering into the good of that opened heaven, that anointing Spirit, that revelation in the Face of Jesus Christ. We ask it in His Name, Amen.

I want to lay the foundation for our meditation in this morning session, the first session of this week, by asking you to turn to several passages of Scripture from the Old Testament and from the New. Beginning in the Book of Genesis at chapter five, verse two, it states: “Male and female created He them, and blessed them, and called their name, man” (A.S.V.). Now come over to the New Testament in the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter fifteen, verses 45–49:

So also it is written, the first man became a living soul. The last Adam a life-giving Spirit. Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second Man is of heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall (or let us) also bear the image of the heavenly” (A.S.V.).

And then, please, in the Letter to the Colossians, chapter three at verse nine:

Lie not one to another; seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of Him That created him; where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all” (A.S.V.).

And finally, in the Letter to the Hebrews, chapter two at verse five, it says:

For not unto angels did He subject the world to come, whereof we speak. But one has somewhere testified, saying, ‘What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? Or the Son of Man, that Thou visitest Him?’ ”

As I have said, in this morning session we are laying the foundation for our meditations. We shall be somewhat general and comprehensive and later work inward to get to the real heart of things; however, first it is necessary for us to have a comprehensive view and vision of what is before us.

I have no doubt that not a few of you who are here at this time have come with problems, and I find that Christians everywhere the world over are full of problems in our time. If it is not problems about their own spiritual life and themselves (as it is in many cases), it is problems about other Christians; or it is problems about the Church generally and, perhaps, locally. Also, there are problems about the world. These problems are manifold, and they are apt to drain our spiritual life and get us very much locked up and held up in our spiritual progress. It is like that. A lot of Christians are doing that today. They are missing the glory because their eyes are either turned inward or earthward: that is their problem.

You remember when the people of Israel were going over the Jordan into the promised land: the Word to them was this, “You shall set the ark, a space between you and the ark, of two thousand cubits, because you have not passed this way heretofore” (Josh. 3:3–4, paraphrased). There is a wealth, a mine of profound wisdom, in that simple prescription: “a space of two thousand cubits between you and the ark, because you have not passed this way heretofore.” If you get too close to things, you will lose your perspective and you will lose your way. Do not get too near. Keep things in proportion, in perspective.

Now do you not agree with me that we have got too near things, and we have made things the everything? Is that true? Yes, even our Christian doctrine—and it is precious and important and vital and essential—yet, we have isolated our doctrines and made them the everything. We can make even the doctrine of the Cross the everything, and I can mention many other things which are like a circumscribed circle for many Christians today. They cannot see beyond that, and they cannot see anything more than that. If you talk to them, they have no interest in anything but that. They come back to it every time and hold you to it. This loss of proportion and perspective and vision in its entirety is the cause of many of our problems and much of our arrested spiritual life.

Now why am I saying this? For two reasons. You will have to get a larger vision than your personal problems and see them in a related way. I do not know very much about the science of relativity, but I come down very strongly on the principle of relatedness or relativity. We must see everything in its relatedness to everything else, and not just things as an end in themselves. I want to share with you this morning what is on my heart, and what is so much alive to me now is this comprehensive setting of the spiritual life, getting it in its greatness, its vastness, its immensity.

Now immensity can, of course, be awe-inspiring to the point of making you stand still and hold your breath. But immensity can also be an emancipating thing. You see the greatness of that into which we have been called in Christ! The Greatness of Christ! Oh, if we could this week get a new apprehension, grasp, of the infinitudes of our Christian calling, we would go away an emancipated people. And in that setting then, let us begin.

Humanity Is God’s End

This morning we have read many passages in the Bible, and I would have liked to have added many more of the same kind, but these are enough as a starting point. Do you recognize what they are all about? From Genesis, the beginning, right through the Scriptures, it is one thing: man. No, it is two men, and what we are going to be occupied with is this double humanity, or two humanities, for they are the subject matter of the whole Bible. The Bible is the story of God and man, and everything is gathered into that; nothing is in the Bible but what relates to that.

Of course, the Bible begins with God: “In the beginning God….” First we have the fact of God. This is where you start, and you are not far along before you come upon man. Human history begins with God, God as a fact—God initiating everything, taking the initiative; God at work—God’s mind working out in action, in what He does. Remember that is a Bible principle. If you want to know the mind of God, you will come to know it by what God does and not always by what He says to do. More often, God’s mind is revealed by how He deals with you than by what He says in words in your ear.

God is speaking in His actions, speaking very loudly in His works. God’s mind is being revealed in His actions; God is at work, at work preparing everything for man. When He has made that preparation and brought man in, God says: “There is nothing more to do; at this stage, We can rest.” And God is at rest when He has man introduced into his prepared place and scene.

That man Adam, the New Testament tells us, is a figure of Him that was to come, in Whom God will ultimately find His full rest. Man constituted; the man conditioned; the man environed; the man probationed. All God’s interests are centered in humanity; not in things, as such. No thing is an end with God. Man is God’s end. Humanity is God’s end.

With this thought, we are right back there in the very center of the interests of God, humanity. But that man Adam disappointed God, failed Him, and was rejected by God. And at that point, God re-acted, re-acted with the intimation of Another One, Another Man. A Representative Man, Whom God had foreordained before the foundation of the world. This Man is foreordained and then forecast, foreshadowed; and that line of the reaction of God toward the Man, against this other man, runs all the way through like a red line through the Old Testament. In figure, in type, in prophecy, in the spiritual history of an elect line, all moving on toward that Other Man, that Other Humanity, the different Humanity, until we reach the New Testament.

The New Testament is the crisis of humanity. Have you thought of Christianity like that? Or have you thought of Christianity only in its parts, its fragments, such as the Atonement for a man’s sin, man’s personal salvation, man’s securing of eternal hope and glory. These are all the parts of salvation, and we have made so much of them. Well, you cannot make too much of the parts, of course, until you reach the point where the parts become less than the whole; and, dear friends, we have got to readjust our conception and idea of Christianity at this point to see that with the coming of the Lord Jesus, a crisis in the whole history of humanity is reached. It is the crisis of the final word of rejection of a humanity, a kind of man, and the introduction of an entirely different kind of Humanity with the Person of Jesus Christ. When you grasp that, your whole Bible is going to come alive; it will come alive.

What have we come into? What is regeneration? You call it conversion, being “born again,” or you call it regeneration. What is it that we have come into?—It is generation into Another Humanity altogether different as a member of a different race of creatures, a different species of Humanity. With the New Testament, this immense crisis in human history is introduced, a crisis of humanity. Another Humanity is introduced with our New Testament, the full and final type of Humanity that God is going to have; and, the tremendous thing is, all that belongs to the perfection of man is found in this Representative One. That is introduced with our New Testament.

Jesus stands in a unique relation to the human race, and do you not see how rays of light focus upon this great fact? What is it that God is doing?—with you, with me, as a bit of this humanity. What is He doing? What is He after? What is the explanation of our experience under the hand of God?

When we get under the hand of God, we are going through it. What are you expecting this week? When you go away from here, you will meet friends and they will say, “Have you had a happy time?” I think I told you before of a conference I was at once. At the end, testimonies were asked for from the ministers as to what the conference had meant to them; one and another got up and said, “Oh, I have had a wonderful time; I have had a glorious time; this has been the best time of my life…,” and so on. And then one man got up, his eyes were red, his face was strained; he said, “I do not understand this; I have had an awful time. This week has meant devastation to me. Everything that I held as important is gone. I am left with a necessity for a new Christ, a bigger Christ than ever I have known.” What are you expecting this week? Well, I hope you have a good time! But your “good time,” dear friends, in the light of eternity may be a very bad time. When it comes to seeing the real fruit, it may come out of a devastation.

What is God doing?—He is devastating one kind of humanity. We are going to see that as we go on from day to day. He is doing it. I do not know what your experience is, but I know it is mine. I know it is the experience of many of the most used and blessed servants of God—that they are going through a terrible time. Spiritually they have come to the place, where if the Lord, the Lord does not really stand by and take over and see them through, it is an end even of their long spiritual experience. All the past will not stand unless the Lord comes in in a new way. Is not that true with many? Yes, that is what He is doing. He is working on this very ground of the two humanities—one being that which we are by nature; and the Other, that which we are in Christ.

So, what we are to be occupied with at this time is first of all, to behold the Man, to behold The Man. And I would pray, and do pray, that when this week is finished, we shall be able to truly express our hearts in those wonderful words of a poet known to many of you. These are some lines from that wonderful poem,

“Christ”

I am Christ’s, and let that Name suffice me.

Aye, and for me He greatly hath sufficed.

Yea, through life, through death, through sorrow,

and through sinning,

He shall suffice me, for He hath sufficed.

Christ is the end, for Christ was the beginning.

Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ.

Those words express what we would all like to be the issue of this time—Christ.

A New Captivation Of Christ.

A New, Wonderful Appreciation Of Christ.

A New Seeing Of The Significance Of Christ In God’s Universe.

Now for these remaining few minutes of the introduction, I want to just pinpoint this one thing. Have you recognized, (perhaps you have without putting it in these words) have you recognized that the very heart and pivot of our Bible is an immense transition? The heart of the Bible is where the Old Testament ends and the New Testament begins, for here are two halves of human history, of humanity. Right there, at that point we come on this great immense transition. The New Testament is wholly taken up with the meaning and the nature, the fact of this transition, this movement from one thing to Another in humanity.

You will recall so much in your New Testament when I just mention these things. First of all it is a transition from one man to Another, from Adam to Christ. We read that in 1 Corinthians 15: “the first man,” He called “him”…? No, He called “them” man (Gen. 5:2). That is racial; that is humanity. He called them. That is very simple—the first man, Adam. It is the same thing, “Adam” and “man,” as you noticed in the margin of Genesis 5. “He called them ‘man’.” And the New Testament wholly bears upon this transition from one humanity to Another, from one racial head and inclusive person to Another. It is a New Humanity, going beyond transition then, which is a racial one, from Adam to Christ, from the first man to the last Man.

Secondly, there is a transition from one nation to Another. I know there is room for a lot of controversy there about Israel; nevertheless, the New Testament and Christ Himself came down on this quite emphatically: “The kingdom of God shall be taken away from you (that is, Israel), and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Heavenly Fruit, not earthly. Transition from one nation to Another.

And Peter, oh, Peter! I am amazed at Peter, are you not?! That erstwhile Judaistic traditionalist who had a battle with the Lord over Gentiles in Cæsarea, going to the house of Cornelius and even saying in a contradiction of terms to the Lord, “Not so, Lord.” You cannot put those words together —“Lord” and “Not so.” The other man, Paul, you remember when he met Christ, said: “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” But Peter has not got out of his tradition quite yet; and even at Antioch—dissimulation. When James and the elders came down from Jerusalem, Peter withdrew himself from eating with the Gentiles. He has still got a little bit of grave clothes left on him, but marvel of marvels, when you come to his letters he is out. “Ye are an elect race.” Who?—The saints scattered throughout Pontius, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Bithynia. An elect race. He is out of the one nation, now into the Other. The transition has been consummated in this man. But it was a battle. Always a battle over this old association with the natural man. We are going to see much more of that.

Then it is a transition from one economy to the Other. Your letter to the Hebrews is one solid argument for this transition. I am so impressed with the constant recurrence in the New Testament of one phrase which leads out with linking words: the phrase is “Not, But.” John began that, did he not? Christ said to the woman of Samaria: “Not in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem, but in spirit” (John 4:21, 24 paraphrased). “Not, nor, but”—and you find that occurring again and again.

And here you come to this great transition from one economy to Another, the old economy taking in the great ministry of angels: that is a subject for a morning in itself. The ministry of angels in the old economy. The law was given through angels. Angels came again and again to Gideon, to Daniel. The archangels, marvelous ministry of angels—but the Letter to the Hebrews opens up, “Not unto angels… but”—“Not, But”—what a change! And the following argument is that this New Economy infinitely transcends the ministry of angels.

And as you get on toward the end of that letter to the Hebrews, you have another of these transitory phrases: “You are not come unto a mount, a palpable mount, that burned with fire… but ye are come…” —how vast is this movement from that old economy to the bringing in of the New Economy. There is one thing only in your New Testament, introduced by Christ in the Gospels and followed out by the apostles; and in this letter to the Hebrews, the solid object of the whole letter is the transition from one economy to Another. Oh, read it again and glory in it. Read that letter again to the Hebrews. Glory in this: “My, what a thing we have been brought into.” Tabernacle? Yes, says the writer, there was a tabernacle on this earth, and for the time being… until the time. That is all gone, he says, and now we have come into the True Tabernacle not made with hands, which God has made, a Heavenly Tabernacle. See how wonderful the transition is!—the passing over from one economy to Another.

I must pause to ask, is this where Christendom has gone astray?—

Is it still holding on to the old economy?

Is it still in the grave clothes?

Is it still that old Mosaic economy with its forms and ways?

Is it not emancipated into the Heavenlies?!

That is what the Lord wants to do with us here.

From one nation to Another: Abraham to Christ, Moses to Christ. From one sovereignty to Another: we know how full the New Testament is of David and His Greater Son—full of it. But it shows the transition from one earthly sovereignty to Another Heavenly Sovereignty in Jesus Christ.

And so we could go on marking these aspects of the transition. And if you want a key to the Gospel by John, remember John wrote the whole of that gospel on one thought only. The key to the whole of that gospel is this transition from one to Christ. He has taken over. That is why the many “I Am”s. You notice those “I Am”s have a reflection upon the old. I am not the vine, “I Am the True Vine.” Israel was a vine, but He has taken over as the True Vine. Israel was a false vine—did not bring forth the fruit.

Now, I am not going to start with John’s gospel, but I give you the key. When you move from the introduction of this Other Humanity in the Person of Christ in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, (and this is the key to them all) and come through the desolation of the Cross, you come into Acts, and what are you in? Oh, this marvelous emancipation—transition, transition—in the Book of the Acts. What desolation was made in that whole system because through the desolation of the Cross, there is the emergence into this Other side—this New Humanity. Watch how the Lord is working on this old humanity to wind it up, progressively now bringing it to where He has put it.

The Climax Of The Full Knowledge Of Christ

You know, friends, God always works backward towards something. Well, in the creation, He was working backward. Read it again. Why have we in the New Testament so many words which begin with the little prefix “re,” regeneration, reconciliation; all have that little prefix “re,” for He is working back.

Things have gone away, gone wrong, got out of God’s way, and God is returning to where they went wrong. God usually does that with us. And so what is God’s beginning?— It is His Son before the foundation of the world. Right back in the Eternal counsels His Son was made the beginning, God’s starting place. Men have all gone astray, because of history, “all of us like sheep have gone astray.”

God gets back to His beginning, His Son. Christendom has gone astray, and the only way of saving Christendom is to get back to God’s beginning, a true and right apprehension of His Son.

I do not want to just go on with material. There is an application of this to us. I am convinced, I know it is true, that what the Lord is doing with so many of us is stripping us, stripping us of the things which we have taken on or we have gotten into; He is stripping them off and bringing us down to the place where it is the Lord Jesus or it is nothing! If the Lord Jesus fails, there is nothing to live for, and some of us have come to the place where we have said to the Lord, “Lord, if You are not going to come in and fill this place, please take us away: there is nothing more to live for.” Is that exaggeration?

I believe the Lord is doing that with many of His people today, taking away their ministry, taking away the fellowships on which they rested so much, taking away the things, even the Christian things—their work, their preaching. When you start preaching there becomes a fascination about preaching; you get over that as you get older… you say, “Lord, don’t let me preach unless You’re going to do the preaching.” The Lord is doing that sort of thing, just stripping us, stripping us of things, even Christian things; and He is going to fill the place Himself.

Now is not that the real climax revealed?! Put it into these words of the Apostle Paul, “Till we all attain unto…” what? Oh, what a pity our translators have not given us an exact translation! They have said, “until we all attain to… the knowledge of the Son of God.” No! it is “to the full knowledge of the Son of God… to the measure of the stature of…” what? A Man. The climax of the knowledge of Christ, the full knowledge of Christ, is our attainment. And what is it?—a kind of a Man which is the reproduction of, if I may put it this way, Jesus Christ the Man. And so we are coming more and more to this—that it is only the Lord: it is Christ.

I Am Christ’s, Let the Name Suffice.

Oh, if only we have got

A large enough apprehension of Him!

Well, now I am going to break off here, and if the Lord wills, continue from that point getting nearer to this tomorrow morning. With all this greatness of setting, of background, in which we are if we are in Christ, does not that very phrase open up to this conception of God’s purpose that in Christ there is Another Humanity?!

This is what the Lord is doing with you, with me, making something different; oh, it is too slow, I know, for us. We do not seem to be making much progress that way, but He is undoing and He is adding.

But, what do we know? But, what do I know? Oh, I feel worse than ever I did in my life in myself. If it were not for Christ, I would not be here today. No, I would have gone out; I would not be here through all the stresses, all the strains, all the experiences, all the devastations, all those times when down in the dust I have simply said, “Lord, You have made a mistake, You’ve made a mistake, I am Your great mistake. You ought never to have brought me into this position.” It always seems like that in our experiences; but here we are. We have survived, and more than survived; we are here. And we believe we are here by the power of God in Jesus Christ. That we do know, and so we can say, “It is Christ, it is Christ, and it is a mighty Christ in our history.”

Well, this is enough for this morning. See what He is doing?! May He show us that He has marvelous thoughts for what He has conceived—Humanity as His crown and His goal. Shall we pray…

Lord, we do beseech Thee, we entreat Thee, to open the eyes of our understanding. Do not let this be so much more talking, teaching—certainly not an end in itself. But Lord, bow us in Thy presence. We know that the real discovery of whether we are in with Thee at this time will not just be in our attending the meetings; it will be in the prayer that is behind, outside of the meetings, in our rooms, in our hearts. Lead us, we pray Thee. Deep exercise about this matter of what Thou art working toward, and why Thou art dealing with us as Thou art. So help us, by Thy grace, in the Name of the Lord Jesus, Amen.

Additional Chapters in the book are linked here.

Various Books and Writings from Austin-Sparks are available free of charge and can be ordered here.

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March 2005 to March 2010 – W.E. Smith

It recently occurred to me that, in just a few days, this journal will have been online for no less than five years. On March 28, 2005 we posted our first message on livingwalk.com

Welcome to Livingwalk.com, a new gathering place for “life-minded” followers of Jesus Christ who want nothing added to their faith in Him; for those who hunger for a pure and simple faith, untethered from all of the human-derived layers and add-ons that have watered down the essential gospel for far too long. Our deepest desire is…

… to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:18-19)

My name is W.E. Smith, and my sincere prayer is that this endeavor would indeed serve to advance the kingdom of God in some small way. I am by no means a professional cleric, or theologian, or Bible scholar; I am merely one of the sheep like you, ever straining to hear the Master’s voice, to know his will for my life, and to watch and learn as He fulfills His Father’s business.

Livingwalk.com is an experiment really, a very personal exercise on my part to reach out, to become more transparent, and to share the wonderful life that is being developed in me from the inside out. I have made many missteps in my Christian walk, and I confess that I have arrived at this point somewhat beleaguered from the journey. All I truly want from here on in is to hold Father around the neck and hang on. Each and every day, I am starting to comprehend that this is fundamentally why Jesus came; because something precious had been lost; something perfect and wonderful had been broken.

Only He can restore me to my Heavenly Father, and effectively stamp His image on my blackened heart. Only then can I hold onto Him for all eternity and never let go. This is truly what the Christian life is all about –

– Not church things, but Christ

– Not an improved self, but a new man in Christ

– Not “christian” things, but Christ

– Not so much His gifts, But Him

– Not a gospel about Christ, but a gospel that is Christ

– Not legalism nor liberalism, but freedom in Christ

– Not busy-ness and religious activity, but expressing His Life in the Spirit!

– No more gurus, but Christ and His Revealed Word

– Not improved behavior, but a new heart and mind

It seems like every ministry and Christian celebrity out there has a formula or method these days. It seems the flock has been reduced to little more than consumers for every gospel peddler and fame-seeker out there with something “new and improved.”

Dear brother/sister, if any one this is touching a spiritual nerve in you, then I invite you to spend time here at LivingWalk – sharing, edifying others, perhaps being touched by God’s Spirit as it flows in and through each of his children.

It is my prayer that in some small way, the “rest of us” can find a place here to live, and be and learn, and discover ever more so the wonder that is this life in us. Please feel free to write us a letter, or comment on anything here to let us now how the Father is increasing His Son in your life.

If you are out here in the wilderness like me, then don’t despair, you have come to the right place. His Precious Remnant is seldom if ever found in Jerusalem, but in Bethany. Rest assured, you will not be labeled or maligned here, like you are some kind of visitor from another world. Here we uphold and exalt Him alone, sitting at His feet, to hear what he might say to us! Here, he is our All and Everything, the Light of God come into the world and our darkened hearts.

Believe me, I know that this virtual place cannot replace actually being with one another, but if the Lord finds this useful to Him, then my prayer will have been answered.

Please pray for us here at Living-Walk, that we would watch and see the Master at work, and understand what He would have us do.

Your friend in Christ Jesus,

W.E. Smith

Over the course of this time, we have so very much to be thankful for, in terms of the many tremendous things the Spirit has been revealing to us, and the many hundreds (perhaps thousands) of souls who have found their way here, and in some manner been blessed and exhorted by these words. We will continue to pray for all of you out there in the wilderness, outside the walls, that your life will move from out of the life of Adam and into Christ Jesus.

When we started, it was always our fear that this online writing ministry, like so many in the world it seems, would begin to take on a life of its own; that we might suffer the temptation of Peter (in offering to build tabernacles for the Lord, Elijah and Moses) to try to channel or in some manner organize the revelations received. That was our concern then and it still remains, for if this resource has any life in it at all, it must be the life of the Lord; His energy, His inspiration, His building of His church. This is why, for example, we do not artificially post messages on a regular or routine basis, but only when the Lord has given us something in the spirit to share. Please pray that the life of this shared word, such as it is, will continue to be breathed on by our Lord. The instant that this work becomes merely our thing, our opinion, our work, our energy, then it will become unprofitable to the Master and our Father in Heaven.

My friends, it is the rugged way of Christ that we must move ahead and mature, that we do not stand still and settle complacently on former things (see Rev. 3:17). For the Lord Jesus Christ is vast and the unsearchable riches of Christ will occupy us well into eternity. The truth of the matter is that many of the things we have written and shared here are already outdated to an extent. They were foundational and essential, yet the superstructure must go higher; for our God is in the highest heaven; He is nothing less then the Most High, and nothing conceived by mortal men can contain Him (see 2 Chron. 2:6). It is the Lord’s way that we receive and obey all that He gives us in the spirit, such that we might go deeper and further into the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. To resist, to refuse, to grip tightly to past things (even good things) is to grieve the ever-teaching Spirit, Who is always attempting to being us into the fuller things of Christ.

Many have come to this site, and many more have since moved on. Many have been challenged, while others may have been offended apparently. I dare say that if this is due in any manner to our weakness or immaturity, then our only appeal is to the Lord’s grace and loving-kindness. If, on the other hand, the offense comes from His Ever-Exhorting Word, and the discipline of the Holy Spirit, then we will continue to pray for all those who refuse to forsake this life, this world and indeed anything that is less than, or other than Christ our Lord.

Dear friends, the past five years has seen many unimaginable developments in our own lives and in the world around us. To think five years ago, for example, that a colossus so great as America would be reduced so dramatically in just such a short period of time, would have been unthinkable to many, including myself. To see, also, the nations brought so much closer to war and chaos, is also most apparent in this hour. Indeed, to watch as so many things are unfolding is on the one hand very encouraging, and on the other more than a little frightening. Yet, we must remember what our Lord affirmed –

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

Many years before He (Jesus) was even born into this world, Ezekiel saw a vision, and there above the living ones, the wheels, and the flashing firmament, above everything in fact, was a glorified man on a throne. A “man” dear brethren, not something else, not an angel, not a principality or power, not the Father, the Most High even, not the pre-incarnate Christ, but the last Adam, the fulfillment of the Father’s heart and purpose in creating humankind.

Now over the heads of the living beings there was something like an expanse, like the awesome gleam of crystal, spread out over their heads. Under the expanse their wings were stretched out straight, one toward the other; each one also had two wings covering its body on the one side and on the other. I also heard the sound of their wings like the sound of abundant waters as they went, like the voice of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army camp; whenever they stood still, they dropped their wings. And there came a voice from above the expanse that was over their heads; whenever they stood still, they dropped their wings.

Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man. Then I noticed from the appearance of His loins and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around Him. As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking. (Ezek. 1:22-28)

Everything from the beginning, in the ever-present mind of God, has been pointing to this one basic fact – God’s man on the throne of creation, over all things. All things summed up and subsumed in His Son. And once this man is complete, having found a bride worthy of Him (taken out from His body), then the final days of prophecy will commence, no sooner, no later. Then beyond that, once all things, all that offends, has been put under His feet, life will flow out from this throne (typified in the river of Ezekiel and Revelation), so that everything touched by the living water will live and thrive. This life will exist in the Son of Man and only that which receives this life and abides in it will remain.

Do you see this saints? Oh to see the man on the throne and all that He represents. Everything else becomes smaller doesn’t it? Everything else begins to fade into the background. Everything down here. America, the anti-christ, the dark pall that hangs over the testimony of Christ on the earth even, our own lot in this world, all of the final things yet remaining.

I pray that His remnant people will see this, that indeed, I will see it more clearly. Our faith is attached to One who has been given all authority! All of it! We are so small to be sure, but He is so great! The problems facing us are so large but He is larger! The questions we have are profound, but the Father’s answer is always His man on the throne, with all might and power and wisdom. This was so before the foundation of the earth! This was always in the Father’s vast heart and mind, not only that His Son would create and save all living things, but that all creation; all life, would abide in Him. Nothing outside of Him. Nothing, for that is death.

Do you see this saints? Oh how great is our God! Oh how great is our King! This is what David saw; this is what caused Him to sing and to praise His Lord even in the midst of impossible situations. We need this heavenly vision also, just like David and Ezekiel and so many others. Nothing begins until we are first taken up into the eternal reality of God, in the heavenly realms, where high up is the Lord Jesus on the throne prepared for Him from the beginning!

My friends, I am not really sure how much longer this online journal will continue, for I bring it before the Lord each day, and ask that only His will, His life will be the dynamic of all that we share. Yet, whether it remains or fades away, the imperative for all of us is so very clear – TO WATCH, TO BE VIGILANT, TO HOLD FAST to the Lord Jesus Christ and His soon-coming for His own!

“But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)

To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery — just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev. 2:26-29)

Now you may not agree with me, but the testimony remains that the many will not escape, nor overcome. The many are asleep and complacent and actually take glory in the fact that they have received all that the Lord has to offer. For them, there is no more, nothing else, nothing further. My friends, this is not His will, and all those who claim it will not overcome, and will not share in His authority over the nations once His Kingdom comes in all of its fullness (see for example Luke 19:11-27).

Many American believers may be most perplexed at the moment, as they see what amounts to the death of the “American Dream” and the end of the American century. Yet, in the great scheme of things set against His eternal purpose, the USA is nothing, and the nations are nothing. The Lord has a controversy with all of them! He is angry with every single one of them in fact! This is not one man’s opinion; but rather His Words –

“Therefore you shall prophesy against them all these words, and you shall say to them,
‘The LORD will roar from on high
And utter His voice from His holy habitation;
He will roar mightily against His fold.
He will shout like those who tread the grapes,
Against all the inhabitants of the earth.
‘A clamor has come to the end of the earth,
Because the LORD has a controversy with the nations.
He is entering into judgment with all flesh;
As for the wicked, He has given them to the sword,’ declares the LORD.”
Thus says the LORD of hosts,
“Behold, evil is going forth
From nation to nation,
And a great storm is being stirred up
From the remotest parts of the earth. (Jer. 25:30-32)

And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. (Rev. 16:13-14)

A great storm indeed, my friends! Consider, if you will, America’s official foreign policy posture towards the nation of Israel, which amount to a two-sided game of playing both sides against each other for its own gain or advantage. The USA is not officially (nor perhaps has ever truly been) a supporter of the modern nation of Israel so the Lord’s covenant with Abraham is unequivocally against America. Nothing else really matters if a nation or people is cursed by God. Many American believers, it would seem, have little knowledge or regard for God’s ancient, but still effective covenants. Yet this does not negate them! Heaven forbid! His controversy with the nations stands! And let me assert here, by the authority of the Lord and His Word, that patriotism or nationalism of any kind or degree, is utterly inappropriate for any of His heavenly people in this dispensation. We are to take only one stand, and that is the side the Lord is on! We are to represent only one kingdom, and that is the Kingdom of our Lord and His Christ!

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15)

I am British by birth and the modern downfall of Great Britain has less to do with empirical over-reach (the historical account) and more to do with her support of Israel’s enemies in the period surrounding the wars. I just watched a documentary on the return of the Jewish exiles into Palestine after World War II, and Britain’s actions were downright appalling. I dare say I was ashamed. Yet the Lord’s covenants stand, unless and until He repudiates them. In point of fact, Great Britain hasn’t been all that “great” for a very long time, and today she runs on the fumes of debt and forsaken empire.

Undoubtedly it seems, the UK and the USA will be part of the final days commercial-political system, maybe at its head, maybe not. All that is occurring presently we view as prophetic stage-setting, the placing of furniture so that once the rapture of the first fruits occurs and the restraining power of the testimony of Christ is lifted, existing global entities and institutions will quite readily fall under the control of the man of sin and his false prophet. Many indications affirm that ours is this generation, that things cannot go on for more decades or even less than that. Look how fast things fall once the tipping point occurs. God alone writes the history and the timing is in His hands. Lord make us ready!

All of this being said, I believe each believer must personally go to the Lord and ask Him what all of this means to them personally and practically in terms of temporal earthly matters, plans, decisions and so forth. This is what I am praying for all of you in this hour. The Lord, as many of you now, has asked me to forsake so much in these past five years. To be sure, I am a shred of the man I used to be when I was on top in my field and making plans, and making big money and so forth. Now I give Him each day, all that I do, all that I am, every decision, every expenditure or commitment. To be sure, I have made many missteps as I am learning to walk this way. Yet He is gracious as you know most perfectly.

“Come Lord Jesus Come”, says the bride!

Amen to that says this servant.

The Mysterious New Man – W.E. Smith

Dearest Brethren, one cannot simply read Paul’s letter to Ephesus as merely another literary thing, or even another passage of Scripture. We must fully enter into it in the same heavenly spirit that inspired it. We must get inside it and allow it to get inside us. The truths contained here are so large, you see, so heavenly, so very expansive and other-worldly. They are in fact eternal truths, having to do with the ultimate purpose of an eternal and infinitely perfect God. One cannot approach this letter as merely another word to be studied.

Very few who name the name of Christ, it seems, have any real and deep appreciation of the immensity, the enormity of what is being conveyed here, as the price for doing so is very high. To be drawn up and immersed into what Paul is describing here, what was revealed to Him as this “mystery”, this eternal secret of God; this cannot help but change us forever. And I dare say the reason that so much of our Christianity today is so small, and and why so many Christians are so small, is that so few have fully apprehended in the spirit this grand and eternal purpose of God in Christ Jesus; to fill “all things” with Himself; with His fullness. Only when the Father’s Christ is apprehended in all of His fullness, both personally and corporately, will our Christian lives be enlarged in a practical way. Only when we come to see that we are in fact represented in this fullness, in His life, that we can move beyond any small or self-interested expression of our Lord’s divine reality.

It seems fitting, by way of introduction, to begin this short, chapter-based review of the “New Man of Ephesians” with the words of Austin-Sparks –

The Letter (to the Ephesians, so-called) is written in terms of the superlative. Look at some of these superlatives: “The exceeding greatness of His power” (1:19); “the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (1:23); “the exceeding riches of His grace” (2:7); “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (3:8); “the breadth and length and height and depth,” “the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ,” “all the fulness of God” (3:18,19); “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (3:20); “far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things” (4:10); “the fulness of Christ” (4:13); “a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing” (5:27).

Are we not right in saying that the man was just unable to contain his fulness? Then, not only his phrases, but his grammatical form. He will start on a course, and then, when an extra thought comes into his mind, he will diverge and go off at a tangent, not picking up the earlier thread again until some way after. The longest sentence, without a “period” or full stop, in the New Testament occurs in this Letter. He is too full and too eager to stop for literary technicalities. The flood-gates are open, and, like a torrent, he is pouring out this fulness so long pent up. When we come to consider the nature of his revelation we shall understand better why he was so expressive in superlatives. (from, The Stewardship of the Mystery, Volume 2)

EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING (Ephesians 1)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us In Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:3-6)

Dear saints, please take a few quiet moments in the Spirit to slowly and meditatively review the entire first book of Ephesians. It is all here isn’t it? The entire plan and purpose of our Glorious Father in His Beloved Son for mankind and the entire world? Notice if you will how all of the Father’s blessings move and flow and pass though His Son, and that they are indeed spiritual and eternal blessings, conceived in His vast heart from before the foundation of the world.

What blessing do you seek my friend – is it something in or of this present natural world? Is it something outside of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is its source and benefactor someone other than the Father of All Life?

Why has He blessed us so, in and through His Beloved Son? Is it not that we might be holy and blameless before Him as His own dear children? Could the law do that? Can religion as we know it achieve it? Can the church on the corner make it so? Can we do it for ourselves perhaps? Oh how foolish and blind we are to think such things.

And why has He chosen to bless us so lavishly in His Beloved? Is it because we have done something deserving of this? Or is it not rather unto the “praise of the glory of His grace”?

Dear saints – these words are without a doubt some of the most wondrous and heavenly sentiments every written, and anyone with eyes to see will behold in them spirit and life, fullness, grace and truth. That they would be penned by a “religious man”; a Pharisee of all people, attest to the power and wonder of our Lord, in that He has claimed such for His own. Sentences and punctuation can barely contain these heavenly thoughts, and it is as though His very grace and love were spilling out beyond the lines and strokes to touch us more directly, more intimately. Go ahead, read them again out loud this time; and see if what I am suggesting is not so. I pray that He might open the eyes of your heart that you would see such things here.

What in fact is comprised in “every spiritual blessing”? What remains if there be no exception? What has He perhaps left out, or excluded if it is stated that “He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”? Yet how worldly and earthly and primal are we, to think that this life, here and now, is of such utter issue and importance. That this tent we occupy, for example, can ever aspire to where His blessings reach. Oh how small and low are our thoughts of what we have received, if this be all that fills our hope. Let us never think small or limited thoughts of He who fills the universe with His glory and praise. It must never be dear ones.

Dear saints – I know this world looks so horribly bleak and hopeless right now; that war and the threat of war hangs like a pall over so many; that the sheer depravity and brutality of men and demons is being increasingly manifested as the days advance. Yet, we have great reason to be hopeful, and even to rejoice – for soon, so very soon, all things in heaven and earth will be summed up in our Lord Jesus Christ by the Father of All Glory and Might. He will fill all things with the substance and glory of His Son surely because it has been purposed in His great heart from before time as we know it began.

Preachers today make great swelling words about how important we are; how significant we are, and how impressive we may be. Rubbish, all of it I declare. There is the Father’s Beloved Son and there is He alone; He who will subsume all things and inhabit all things for the Father’s glory alone. It is the Son who is the fulfillment of all things religious, Christian, biblical or otherwise. Ephesians declares this to be so, and who are we to question it. Rather we should fall on our faces and give praise and honor to He who has redeemed us, and claimed us, and filled us to all holiness and likeness with the Holy One! Amen.

I must confess that lately I have felt this profound ache in my soul for the world and the condition of the people I come into contact with every day. So many groping as though blind and without anyone to guide them. Yet their hearts are so coiled thick with pride, refusing to see, to be helped, to acknowledge even that they are in such a broken state. The deep leprosy of sin deeply set in their being, beneath the surface causing them to walk as though living but dead. All they have is what they are, and what they have learned from the hollow vanity of life here below – pride, lust, self-interest, greed, fear, violence and war, getting and taking, grabbing for all they can get from their puny little existence apart from God. And lest we forget, this was also you and I, for…

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He has lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made know to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which he purposes in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times {that is} the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. (Eph 1:7-12)

Billions cut off from ever knowing this mystery my friends. Most self-professing, small “c” christians barely know it to be sure. But do we? I mean has it pierced our very being deep down to the very core, such that we have abandoned everything offered in this life that we might claim “every spiritual blessing” that our Heavenly Father has held out to us in His Son? What does it mean that He has inherited us to be sons in His eternal household? Does it not mean that we are henceforth His children? That we are no longer bound to the devil as father, and his world? And if the Father is to fill all things and to sum up all things in His Son, then does that not mean that we who follow the Firstborn must be filled, and subsumed by He who is worthy to fill all creation?

And so are we being filled – is the question? Is the Lord Jesus Christ being increased in us, while we are being reduced? Have we stepped down, in other words, from the throne of our lives, and from the seat of power and influence over our thoughts and spirit? Do we persist in securing ourselves, or advancing ourselves, or positioning ourselves so that we reap the world’s blessings here below?

Consider how often this chapter speaks of the “praise of His glory”. It appears to be important for both the Father and us doesn’t it? I believe it is my beloved, and I believe it holds the key to all that He is doing, and where our hearts must be at the end of this age. For too long now we have been seeking the praise of men, and the glory of created things. Repentance and confession of sin must begin in the household of God.

In verse 18, Paul prays that the “eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe”. No defeatism here my friends, for we are His alone. He has claimed us as His dear children, and He has empowered us and enlivened us and provisioned us in His Son. Never forget that dear saints, for we do have a boast for which we can boast, and our boast is always and forever to the praises of His glory! Amen.

All things – (and all means all fellow saints) – have been placed in subjection under His feet. And the very power that raised Him from the dead and the grave is also available in us to bring us to holiness and grace in the Lord Jesus Christ; that we might stand and live and rest in the Father’s Holy Presence for time eternal. He will fill all things my friends, this is without question; but will we allow Him to fill us now fully, and to have the preeminence in our own hearts and lives?

I share all of this by way of encouragement and exhortation, for the days are drawing near, and indeed are soon upon us. I know this in my spirit as surely as I know He lives in me. What we need is not what the world says we need, or what even the church on the corner says we need, but rather every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus that our Heavenly Father has ordained for us. Let us go to him now and ask Him humbly as His dear children; and let us repent of wanting anything else.

Oh Gracious Father – what glory you have lavished on Your Son, and what grace you have provisioned for us out of the depth of Your vast kindness and love. As surely as we need air to breathe in this life, we need every spiritual blessing that You have intended for us, and for which our precious Savior gave His life. Help us O Lord, for we are poor and needy in spiritual things, and we know barely how to walk in Him whom You have chosen to assimilate all creation. Please stand O Lord Jesus. Stand so that this blind and crooked world may see You in all of Your fullness and light. Stand up by Your people; in Your little ones, of whom the world thinks naught. And thank You Gracious and Holy Father – for all things in Christ Jesus our Lord and Hope, Thank you. Amen.

BUT GOD… (Ephesians 2)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly {places} in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:1-7)

Continuing where we left off last time, we see in Ephesians 2 that our deliverance into a new life, lived on a new and higher plain of existence, has only to do with our origin and never our condition or sustained good behavior. Just as God has ordained it in the natural creation, where we derive our life defines what we are. As we look out on this forsaken world, and all the fruits of man and the evil one’s cursed defiance of God, we acknowledge that we too are born into and of this world; that we walked only according to its course as sons of disobedience; and that we served the prince of the power of the air that breathes rebellion and bitterness into every creature entering Adam’s darkened domain. Although we like to think that we can attain the tree of life, and restore the garden to its former glory and blessing, the plain and simple reality is that we cannot. Humanism and every vile and empty sort of religious or self-ordained enlightenment and improvement is a lie and a lifeless promise. History testifies to this beyond dispute for all those who are willing to accept the truth.

As verses 1-7 acknowledge, and as we see in the book of Genesis, we are dead and detached; cut off from the very life and presence of the Creator who placed us in the garden to begin with. Only His “great love with which He loved us” and the “surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” can restore that which was lost, and mend the eternal breach between us and He who formed us for His pleasure and glory.

The ultimate hope and good news of the gospel after the fall of man can only ever be –

“But God…”

And never –

“But I…”

Apart from Him we can do nothing. Oh I know we have heard this before, but do we live like we truly believe it? Do we run to Him and reach for Him with every breath in us, fully aware that failing this will result in our ruin and resorting back to what we naturally are? Oh how I wish this modern church would remember this; oh that we would cease living the apocalyptic lie that there is still some innate, underlying, unclaimed good in man; something of which compels God to take notice.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” {which is} performed in the flesh by human hands–{remember} that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Eph. 2:8-13)

His grace indeed, my brethren, and His workmanship – but has the truth of this penetrated His people quite yet? Does it inspire us to live before Him with such utter dependency and longing, knowing that His grace is the vital cord binding us to Him through His Beloved Son? Recall how Paul, in the first chapter, could never seem to praise the glory of His grace enough – how he seemed to be seeing and tasting something profoundly wondrous by way of revelation that we too must taste and see.

I must admit that I had a completely horrendous day yesterday, causing me to be so very ashamed to be called His own; and to live before Him. I truly and genuinely wanted to die right then and there, for I had misrepresented He in whom I live and move and supposedly have my being. Apparently not. That is not what I want to be. That is sincerely not what I want to represent in this dark world. “O wretched man that I am” and “I am undone” as Paul and Isaiah confessed! And oh what iniquity broods in this wicked heart of mine, waiting only to surface and reveal me for what I am. Indeed, we may be going along quite happily and confidently, thinking we are moving deeper in Him, that He is in fact being formed in us and is having His way in us. Yet how foolish we are to think such things, for God beholds our ruinous heart, and what moves on the surface – our works in other words – means nothing to Him. We are what we are, and if we are to be anything other, then it can only be in Him. I thank God immensely for His limitless patience and mercy; that His grace is deeper and truer than my falseness can ever be. Let again our boast be in His grace, and not in our works. Our hope is not in ourselves, our improvement or our potential at all, but our hope is in a new life fostered by His grace alone, and rendered real before the world in the Lamb of God.

Yes fellow saints, we have – by His great love whereby He lavished His grace upon us – been brought near in Christ Jesus our Lord; yet His grace is new every morning and with every moment, for we are not like Him as we hope to be; and yearn to be, in all holiness and grace and truth. We have so much to learn and so much to be in this new life that He has given us; and His grace – poured out of the depth of His vast heart, and rendered in His Son – is vital and precious. It represents the sum of our hope, and the practical outpouring of His love made real and reachable to us.

For He Himself is our peace, who made both {groups into} one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, {which is} the Law of commandments {contained} in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, {thus} establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner {stone,} in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (Eph 2:14-22)

Here we see not only what we are but also what we shall be – the very dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Here we also see that no longer will signposts and tablets of stone help us, for they have been usurped once and for all by He who has become the destination and fulfillment. He has become peace for us with the Holy and Immutable Father of All Life. Yes, in spite of all that we are we have found peace with Him, and access to Him, and life in Him – no longer estranged and empty, no longer strangers and aliens from the household of God, no longer outside of the promises made to Abraham and fulfilled in the Israel of God (the true Israel in other words).

Yet it is rather easy to feel at times that we are innately unworthy to be reconciled to Him; that indeed our sin, when openly manifested before us as it often is, renders us disqualified and still-born. Believe me I know my friends what this is like. So easy it is to give up on ourselves and to think that He too has given up on us. At such times it is important to remember that His grace was never lavished on us, or even promised to us on the basis of anything we did or continued to do. Indeed, it is when we feel the least worthy and the most despicable that His grace is even nearer than we think. Praise our Lord! For when we are most repulsive, He remains eternally beautiful; and there will come a day my friends, when we will stand before our Father wholly claimed and reconciled, pure from the surface to the core of what we are. And it will have been His grace that got us there; as it indeed preserves us now. Oh the depth and wonder of it all dear ones – oh if we could only truly see what we have received; and give Him all the glory that is rightfully His. Father, please help us, by your Beloved Son, Amen.

THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST (Ephesians 3)

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles–if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; {to be specific,} that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. (Eph. 3:1-7)

In this modern “cut and paste” information age, with thousands of self-ordained theologians and scholars, online bibles, proof texts and answers for every question at the ready, it is easy to forget that every essential and life-imparting truth of the Christian way comes by spiritual revelation alone. Not by reasoned study or scholarship, nor intellectual or analytical pursuit, nor seminary preparation, nor anything originating in the natural mind or intellectual capacity of man. Heavenly truth comes from God above, and it comes from Him alone down to us by way of His holy prophets and messengers. His Living Word imparts life, and this imparted life represents a spiritual and heavenly reality. It is good to remember this as we troll the web or local Christian bookstore looking for answers to what are essentially spiritual questions. There is spiritual truth and there is carnal knowledge – the one feeds the spirit, the other the fleshly mind of man.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual {thoughts} with spiritual {words.} But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:12-16)

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able {to do so,} and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. (Rom 8:5-9)

In Ephesians 3 we are presented with the most glorious of truths – a divine mystery in fact – as revealed afresh to the Apostle Paul – that the “Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus”. Yes, our Lord did affirm that salvation was “of” the Jews, but He never limited that salvation to any blood-born peoples. The wondrous news of the universal gospel hope in Christ lies mysteriously in this word “whosoever”…

“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:15)

and…

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev 22:17)

Our Lord hinted as much when He said…

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, [and] one shepherd. (John 10:16)

One fold and one shepherd. How glorious to ponder! These are those blessed ones referred to in Genesis 12:3, where it is told of Abram, that in him “all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

It is these “other sheep” from “all the families of the earth” that Paul is concerned with here, and this “Jew of Jews” has been entrusted with a previously undisclosed and divine mystery regarding God’s universal purpose in Christ Jesus that stretches beyond blood and genealogy, and as far as His Spirit will reach. The deeper theme of course is still the “riches of His grace which He lavished on us” (Eph. 1:7-8), but here Paul is drawing out with divine clarity how this grace is manifested and its universal reach. The Church, comprised of both believing Jews and Gentiles, is His body, “the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Eph. 1:23)

Now I want all of you to consider this my brethren, not theologically or even metaphysically, for the sheer scope and depth of this truth renders that impossible. Rather I want you to meditate on this in the same spirit from which this mystery was originally conveyed to the Apostle Paul. As a Pharisee, a scholar and student of the law and ordinances and works-based religion, Saul of Tarsus knew plenty about the Lord’s righteousness and justice. He knew Him as Lawgiver and Judge – and so He is. Yet when our Glorified Lord met him on that fateful day on the road to Damascus, there began Saul’s education by revelation of an aspect of the Lord that he knew so little about – His unfathomable grace. This is what, from that day forward, consumed this Jew of Jews, and penetrated everything He wrote and did in the service of these first generation believers. He defended this grace – and the freedom it conveyed, vigorously against all and any attempt to water it down through law-keeping and ritualized, outward obedience.

To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly {places.} {This was} in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. (Eph 3:8-12)

By the unfathomable riches of God’s grace, all Gentiles who believe on Christ Jesus are joined into one heavenly body with believing Israel – the true Israel of God. Once joined to the Head, this New Man demonstrates something wondrous to even the angels. This is a profound mystery concealed before now in the eternal heart of our Eternal God. Satan mocks it certainly, and shrugs it off in his arrogance as impossible. To think that mere man, formed out of the lowly dust of the ground, and wallowing in the muck of his sinfulness, shall rise to such divine heights? It is laughable to the demons certainly; but God’s faithful angels are watching intently to see how it all plays out. Clearly their money is on the Lord. They are waiting for that day when Jesus Christ, the Beloved, in all his corporate glory shall rise up and stand, and begin filling all created things that will be filled.

Oh how small and earthbound are our thoughts dear saints. How we limit Him so; He who holds all the universe between His fingers, and whose purposes reach beyond anything we could possibly imagine in our puny and finite minds. This is us He is talking about here; if only we will glimpse such an awesome reality. He dwells in us such that we might be one with Him as a new creation. This is far greater than so many useless – church versus Israel arguments about dispensations and replacement theology, etc. Oh if this is all we see, then I am afraid we are short-sighted and blind indeed. The mystery is not merely that God’s grace is deeper than the blood of a single race of people; but that he will fill the universe with a new spiritual man, and that this New Man will be comprised in spirit and character by all those who believe and derive their lives from Him. We are represented in His fullness and in the Father’s filling of all things by His beloved Son.

Go to Him now if this seems more than your fleshly mind and understanding can bear. In truth, you will never grasp this by reason alone. This is spiritual reality and it stretches far outside of our earthly minds and brick and mortar, church bulletin-based religion. In truth, this expansive mystery consumed this Jew of Jews from Tarsus, and set the course for the rest of His earthly life and ministry. Read it my friends for it is so. All through the epistles to the saints, he is frustrated to no end by those who would limit this calling to parochial religious enterprise, or even old covenant definitions. All throughout the Old Testament in fact, sprinkled here and there as little seeds of eternal splendor, are hints of this profound mystery – that all life is being subsumed into the One who is the Father’s Blessed and Beautiful Son. And that this New Man will fill all creation unto all fullness, beginning with His Beloved Church. Oh let it be so dear Father. Amen.

Dear Brethren, I don’t pretend to have all the answers related to our God’s ultimate purposes in both the Church and the earthly nation of Israel. Yet I do know that His promises are sure and certain, and that there must be in fact a destiny for natural Israel in the land for which He promised. Many prophecies indicate this, and who are we to limit Him in what He is doing by His loving grace and wisdom. What I do know is only what has been told by divine revelation regarding the present calling, that…

… the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” {which is} performed in the flesh by human hands–{remember} that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both {groups into} one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, {which is} the Law of commandments {contained} in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, {thus} establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner {stone,} in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (Eph 2:11-22)

Both groups – Jew and Gentile – reconciled in one body, and formed into one by one Spirit in Christ Jesus, such that one “New Man” might be created, and in whom the Eternal God might dwell and fill all things that will be filled in His Creation. Hallelujah! Is not the depth and magnitude of our God’s grace truly immeasurable and beyond our capacity to fully comprehend?

Who will limit Him by foolish and useless arguments about this versus that, or this group replaces that group? Has He not subsumed them both in His Son? Oh that we would truly grasp in the Spirit the full depth and breadth and height of what Paul is conveying here, my brethren.

Here is our Lord’s ultimate and glorious answer to Adam and the garden; to the fallen ones who left their first abode, and to the cursed power of sin and death that currently fills and corrupts all things on this earth. Here is the new life that swallows up all death. Here is the depth of His love by which He loved us in His Beloved! Here is where all the law and the prophets and psalms culminate! Here is where the hope of the incarnation, sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord leads! Here is why He is called the Alpha and the Omega, and the Beginning and the End! Oh little ones, fall on your face now before Him and offer praise to He who holds all things together in His Son, and whose Grace is beyond anything our puny little religious sentiments can convey. Repent if you must of limiting Him so, and all of our parochial and petty divisions in the Lord. There will be One and there will be no other! This is the true Mystery of Christ, and sadly it has been hidden by the very ones who should be living it and trumpeting it from every rooftop and roadside! Amen.

I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; {and} that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him {be} the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:8-21)

Oh what an amazing context we have for being one together in the Lord, and for loving one another as He loved us. Can we be filled up to all fullness in the Lord and yet divided against Him and each other? Are we men and women of grace and love as He has demonstrated His grace and love toward us? And is this love an earthly, self-gratifying love as men recognize and pursue it? Heavens no, for we cannot reach within ourselves for such love and grace – it must spring forth from His abundant heart, and it must be according to His power that works within us.

Do we actually believe that His Church can be all this, and that this New Man can stand up in this cursed world and authentically live the life of our Lord in all His Holiness and Grace? Can it be truly one as is the Father, Son and Spirit? I must confess that in my fallen heart I just can’t see it; at least not in myself or my own capacity to bring it about. But oh dear ones, let us pray and it will be so. For if we go to the end of the Book, we see just such a Man rising up at the end of this age, and this man is portrayed as a radiant Bride with pure and holy garments – and this Bride has only one love that penetrates all she is.

Sound incredible? And who are these people anyway; those so dispossessed and emptied of themselves and joined as one in the Lord?

Well, it is none other than you and I dear brethren. And so it shall be if only we will grasp it by His grace. Everything begins and ends by His grace – this is the overarching theme of Ephesians, and it should captivate and enthrall us as much as it did Saul of Tarsus?

Oh Father in Heaven, let this be so, for all of your little ones. In Jesus’ Blessed name we pray. Amen.

This Mysterious New Man (Ephesians 4)

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. {There is} one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4:1-6)

In Ephesians 1-3 the Apostle Paul lays down what amounts to an earth shattering mystery – that from one man, the Lord God, Creator of Heaven and Earth – will fill His created universe and restore peace and blessing from out of the abundance of His unfathomable grace. We discover that this one man is none other than the Incarnate and Resplendent Christ Jesus, the Beloved Son of His Heavenly and Eternal Father.

Oh what a mystery indeed my brethren; and how it reduces to infinitesimal specks this puny little concept we have of what Jesus Christ, Christianity and Church truly embody. We need to fully and genuinely see this little ones, before we can go any further, as I am not really sure this is what is being taught in the church on the corner or the mega-media ministries who are supposedly speaking for our Lord (and us) at the end of this age.

Chapter 4 presents a departure or jumping off point in this letter to the Greek city of Ephesus. “Therefore…” typically indicates that Paul will now endeavor to convey what it means in practical terms to these new gentile believers. Deep stuff indeed, but what does it mean for us as His first fruits? What does this filling of all things in and by His Son look like as it is embodied and expressed in the lives of His people?

Paul, inspired as he is by the Holy Spirit, begins to answer these questions as he considers the effect of God’s gracious provision and plan as it moves from the macro to the micro; from the universal to the individual, from the doctrinal or conceptual, to the practical. In this light, I might offer here that Paul’s letter to the Colossians greatly augments the one to the Ephesians in terms of conveying this divine mystery of Christ.

To enter into and apprehend all that the Father is doing in His Son – His filling of all things and reconciling of all things – we must look carefully at what was revealed to Paul as a wondrous and universe-shaking mystery –

“IF then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Col 3:1-4)

We can often gloss over these words – “Christ who is our life” and “your life is hidden with Christ in God” as some ethereal religious notion. Yet herein the reality of the new man is made real and powerful, and it is here where the rubber meets the road of our new-found existence in the heavenlies (yet still very much in this world).

Earlier in Colossians, Paul tell us –

“FOR I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Col 2:1-8)

To search for “treasure of wisdom and knowledge” anywhere or in anything or anyone other than the Father and His Son is to invite delusion, deception and distraction. It is not merely a question of whether things are right or wrong, scriptural or not, helpful or not; or whether it appears righteous and other supposed-Christians nod their heads in agreement.

The only question or consideration is whether it is “ACCORDING TO CHRIST”! Amen brethren? It either is or it isn’t – and if it isn’t then it will be burned like chaff at the fiery coming of the Lord. I cannot convey this strongly enough, and this is the only basis for true spiritual discernment for His saints. To be rooted and built up in anything other than the Lord Jesus Christ is to lead to being cheated out of all that is being offered those who overcome, and to rely on little more than the basic principles of the world, human tradition and I believe we all know a little about what these represent – misery-inducing humanism, man-size religion, quasi-sanctification (the dressing up the old man in a new suit of clothes), the simulated, pseudo-spiritual life that has no real power or vitality (only mere activity with man-honoring results).

All, my friends, and I repeat – ALL – whether it is ministry, or the renewing of the mind, or the edifying of the saints – has its beginning and end in the living and loving relationship between the Father and Son that is filling all things as the scriptures plainly teach. It is not about us at all – our puny strength or bright ideas, our intellect or best intentions. Oh that the children of God would see this more clearly and believe it once and for all! That is my prayer for all of us! Oh that He would be magnified in His people, and truly be “our life” from this day forward, as we walk forward faithfully in Him! Everything will fall into place once we do little ones; and only then can religion as we know it hope to give substance to its transcendent words and promise.

Our faith in the Father and Son must represent more than some initial affirmation or agreement of a set of gospel-defining doctrines or theological facts. It is more like entering into the relationship the Father has with His Son on a moment-to-moment basis, stretching way back into the farthest reaches of eternity. I believe this is what Paul is suggesting when he refers to our “fellowship in this mystery”. The Father in His infinite and all-encompassing love and wisdom has chosen to solve the problem of a cursed earth and the adamic man by drawing us up into the heavenlies, where both He and His Son have been one for all eternity. Jesus Christ will fill all things, starting first with His Body.

As we fail to see and apprehend this truly with spiritual eyes, we are tempted to heap up “protectors” and other earth-bound helpers to aid us in apprehending the blessings we read about in the Bible. But as many of you know, it doesn’t work this way. We must fully enter into this mystery of a Father’s love for His Son and the binding of all who believe to the Son if we are to ever bring honor and glory to our Lord who claims us as His own out of the world.

And please let me go one step further if I may at the risk of over-stepping a wee bit (although I don’t believe one can in this matter as it stretches forth to consume the universe) – it is only this mystery that fills the angels with awe and the devil with dread. Very little if anything of what we do down here as the organized and man-led church threatens Satan in any practical sense. I believe his one objective is to blind us to this mystery and to keep us from entering into it. Although the gospel and the mystery given to Paul are one in agreement, merely various points along the way in God’s ultimate plan, I believe the devil is very much content to allow us the gospel (as has been preached in Christendom for the last 1900 years anyway), but deny us the mystery of entering into the life and love of the Father and Son. Something to ponder in the spirit perhaps?

If it is at all unclear to any of you, please go to the Father now and ask that He would grant His grace such that we can all truly see His plans and purposes in all their infinite and eternal wonder. Spend much time if necessary in Ephesians and Colossians, and in the gospel of John. And read slow (if I may suggest), taking in every word as the Spirit allows you to chew on it and be changed by it. May He bless you with all blessing in the heavenlies dear saints. May His love fill us that we would truly love one another as His children! In Christ – Amen.

Let us now return to the 4th chapter of Ephesians…

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”(Now this {expression,} “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) And He gave some {as} apostles, and some {as} prophets, and some {as} evangelists, and some {as} pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all {aspects} into Him who is the head, {even} Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Eph. 4:7-16)

Here we find that our Father’s grace gets personal. It is meted out by His Eternal Wisdom and Purpose, in the form of divine spiritual gifts unto each one of us, even those who came before and have since died in the body. And such gifts were given… “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” [Note: There is much to say here touching on the three-part essence of God (Father, Son and Spirit) and man (body, soul and spirit); and the essential unity being worked out between the component parts, bringing this new man to fullness and maturity in and by Christ Jesus. Yet, the Spirit permitting, we will leave this for another time.]

In true carnal and “religious” fashion it seems, the church for close to 2000 years has focused more on the individual roles and offices than on why they were granted – to build this new man up into Christ for the fulfillment of our Father’s ultimate design and purpose. Indeed, these very gifts are the source of so much dissension and division, that any truly spirit-born person is compelled to wonder – Where is the “unity of the faith”? What about the “fullness of Christ”? What about the “whole body” being more important than the individual members? What about the “equipping of the saints for the work of service” and the attainment of the “mature man”?

Oh Father in Heaven, please help us, for we are desperately wicked, and oh how we have strayed from the true path, for which this eternal mystery in Christ Jesus binds us to Him and one another.

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in {the likeness of} God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Eph. 4:17-24)

Dearest brethren and disciples of the Living Christ – at the risk of sounding like an echo – how we can we live apart from the “life of God” and the ‘Way and Truth and Life’ imparted to us in His Beloved Son, slain from the foundation of the world, and still hope to be renewed in the spirit of our minds and to live in “righteousness and holiness of the truth”? This Mystery of the New Man that will fill all the created universe by the fullness of the Father’s Beloved Son is not merely some superfluous theological idea – perhaps interesting but of little practical value to Christians seeking to advance the will of God in all holiness and truth. Heaven forbid dear saints – for this is indeed the Spiritual Life that we all seek! This is the answer to ageless questions such as – How does it all work? How do we fulfill the will of God, and How will He ultimately reverse that foul and fateful mistake in the garden?

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE {of you} WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND {yet} DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have {something} to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such {a word} as is good for edification according to the need {of the moment,} so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Eph. 4:25-32)

Here we see the real value of the unveiling of this divine mystery, as the Apostle Paul reaches some immensely practical conclusions flowing out the divine fact that we, as a new man in Christ Jesus, are “members of one another”. Indeed, how can we seek to harm or in any manner injure our own body? It makes no sense, for do we not go to great pains to serve and even advance our own physical body? Do we not in this modern self-oriented and hedonistic age rather cherish and nurture it at all cost apparently? Here we discover that the basis for Christian love and service and unity even, is rooted in the truth that we are indeed one in the same; that this profound mystery pertaining to the fullness in Christ has substantial practical effect. We (the church and the body) are not one in some ethereal religious and organizational sense as so many clubs and groups and affiliations in the world – but we are organically one, and even more accurately – spiritually one, bound together in He who is worthy to gather all things in Himself and to subsume all things in Himself.

We do indeed share the same purpose but it is not this common purpose that makes us one. We may even share the same beliefs and values but again, this is not what constitutes our shared existence in the Holy One – all such things merely flow out of such unity and singularity of Spirit and Person. Here again we are confronted with the axiom that all living can only spring forth from life; that the Christian can only ever be expressed in and through and from Christ Jesus in all His fullness. No dear saints, don’t think for one minute that this mystery is something you can either accept or not, with little practical consequence; that it is secondary to the gospel perhaps. No indeed, dear ones, for the mystery of Christ in all His creation-filling fullness, as conveyed in Ephesians and elsewhere, is the good news and the hope of the world.

Here alone is the culmination of the Scriptures and the ultimate and eternal work of the Father, His Son and Holy Spirit. Here is the mystery uncovered and laid bare before all who will see and taste and enter in. Here is the unity and life of the Church in its expression and embodiment of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh Father of All Life! – How small are our thoughts and how we have limited You so. Forgive us O Lord, and grant us faith large enough to enter into this most Wondrous Mystery. Let us stand and walk and live as this New Man before all the world, and let the angels above and below gaze with wonder at Your indescribable grace and wisdom, in bringing to maturity someone worthy to fill all of Your creation. In Jesus’ Holy Name we pray – Amen.

The New Man Walks (Ephesians 5 and 6)

Previously in our living-walk through Ephesians, we have examined the extent to which God’s grace is being extended in the form of a great mystery, in the origination and increase of a new man in Christ Jesus – one whose reach will be universal, and whose body will incorporate all spirit-born believers. Although it may serve select interests or dispositions to limit the magnanimity of the Father’s gracious deference to one blood-born people or to physical location, this can never be, for all the created universe is the Lord’s and it is His to fill with all His fullness by any means He deems worthy.

[Note: I do indeed believe there is a national significance to Israel and even the Promised Land in God’s “earthly” plan among the nations – this is not what I am referring to here however.]

Strange it is how we are still attempting – in the vain arrogance of our religious pride – to build a “house” for the Lord God to dwell, when what He surely desires is something more; something worthy of Himself.

Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word. (Isa 66:1-2)

Clearly even Isaiah foresees the provision of the indwelling and Holy Spirit in the temple of a man’s spirit – joining him forever to the Lord in kind and nature. This hints at the mystery conveyed by the Apostle Paul, and serves to broaden our understanding of our Lord’s ultimate purposes in His creation.

Yet what does this new man look like? What does he do and what is his purpose here below? Such issues find a response in Ephesians 5 and 6, where we further see God’s grace enlivening and imparting His very nature and life into him.

Notice, for example, the emphasis on “walking” in chapter 5. Here we behold this new man walking as an instrument of light and love in a dark world; “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord”, and making the most of their time, “because the days are evil”. He is “careful how he walks” in this cursed and perverse world, exercising the wisdom of God so that he doesn’t partake of the “unfruitful deed of darkness”.

Sound familiar my brethren? Does this not perfectly describe the Lord Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry in the body? And so it should, as this new man is none other than He Himself as fully manifested and incorporated with His beloved.

Often religious men will use Ephesians 5 and 6 as the basis for convincing us to set about improving our behavior, as if this was even possible. Others may even hit closer to the truth by suggesting that only in the “Spirit” can we live in a manner pleasing to God. Now, although this sounds true on the surface, look closer with spiritual eyes my brethren, for that is not precisely what is being conveyed here by Paul. It is in the joining together in Christ as One that this new spiritual man is evidently able to walk this way. The entire context of Ephesians, which first establishes the birth of this new man, and then goes on to his first steps and his walk in the world is key.

Clearly this ideal man, this “alpha man” that so perfectly reflects and represents all that a Holy and Righteous God is, is so much more than an improved or enhanced Adam. For starters, this man is (in essence and birth) Spirit and not flesh and blood. He is in fact “filled with the spirit” and his spiritual body is joined to the Spirit of Christ Jesus such that in every existential and metaphysical sense they are one (Eph. 5:30-32). Oh how carnal we are when we limit God’s purposes and wisdom to the constraints of time and space, and the physical world, that we know is passing away. That which is mere type and shadow and preliminary can never equate to Divine Reality, regardless of how substantial or significant it may seem to carnal man (or even the carnal church).

Then there is the fact that this new man is to “walk in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us”. He is to love others in the body as himself, as if they were one and the same, which indeed they are.

He is to be “strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might”. Yet his strength and provision is not his own, but he derives all life and spiritual equipping from He who is the Head and the One who gave Himself for the Body. This man’s very livelihood and vitality as a spiritual entity is drawn from the grace and truth of the Father of All Life, down through the Son, and apprehended by constant and vigilant prayer and contrition of spirit. It is a life leaned into God, and walked out in faith, for all essential things are unseen to the soul and the body. It is only faith’s reality that draws them down from heaven and makes them apprehensible to us.

And survival, dear brethren, is not a question of religious enterprise or flailing at social ills or any other physical manifestation of wickedness –

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual {forces} of wickedness in the heavenly {places.} Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil {one.} And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints…(Eph. 6:12-18)

To even think for one minute that our puny little religious notions and playthings can withstand the prince of the power of the air and all his dark spiritual purposes is pathetic indeed. The enemy laughs at them my friends, and truth be told, he invented most if not all of them. No, this new man must walk in Christ Jesus, who represents all of our defensive and offensive spiritual provision. The demons trembled at His mere presence, and the prince of demons is confounded by Him at every turn – by His self-deprivation and faithfulness to the Father; by a loyalty and love that the god of this world cannot even begin to comprehend.

Only by standing and walking in He who is the Light of the World, can this new man shine forth and scatter the darkness. Only by walking in faith, can this new man throw down all the empty ideas and lies of the author of lies. Only by walking in love, as he has been so loved, can this new man fulfill the eternal hope of the Father, as a “fragrant aroma” and precious bride for His Beloved Son – to be joined unto Him forever and ever.

My brethren, it may be appropriate at this point to remind you that Satan too has his corporate “man”, unto which he desires and intends to fill with his rebellion and animosity towards all things God-ordained. Both the books of Daniel and Revelation have much to say of such a hell-borne counterpart to the fully realized Son of God. Here is a divine truth born of the Word to those with spiritual eyes – Wherever the world seeks to be united either by name or godless purpose, you can be fairly sure to find Satan’s man. Food for thought for all those enterprising church-folk trying to save the USA, the UK, UN or anything other such “man”.

We are so small in our thinking are we not; and so constrained in the material world of men and nations? Yet the greater truth of things is that what is being played out under heaven is a spiritual drama of boundless scope and significance. It is profoundly more than “Jesus died so that I can go to heaven” or “He suffered so that I could be free of cancer or physical pain”. As Christians, we must endeavor by God’s grace to see beyond our little bit part, and our circumstances, and our personal redemption even. Although this may sell books and fill the pews, it is an appeal to the flesh and not the Holy Spirit. I pray that the eyes of your heart would be opened to see this in genuine spiritual discernment –

There is God’s Man – the Lord Jesus Christ in all His fullness as Head and Body, and there is the Adversary’s man! There are really no others. And the climax of the ages – as revealed by all the end-time prophets – leads to what amounts to a colossal spiritual showdown between the two. This is the pure and simple truth, and I hope and pray we shall all see it.

Another point that must certainly be made regarding this new man is that He is indivisible unto Christ, and He is one. Ephesians depicts both head (Christ) and body (those gathered into Him) as inseparable, and bride and groom joined together as one in the Spirit and one in God. They live and walk as one, in perfect unity of nature and kind. They live as one, and for one another, each supplying the needs of the body, and subordinate to the will of He who has gathered them in Himself. Both their singular and collective identity is derived from the shared life that they have obtained as an outpouring of the Father’s immeasurable grace and kindness. If there is separation and unlikeness, then it is of the devil – it can never be of this new man.

Now with this in mind and spirit, I want you to honestly consider the supposed Christian landscape, and the almost universally divided condition of the church at large, both within themselves and their detachment from the Head, and determine by the Spirit whether this even remotely resembles what is here described by Paul. Can this be God’s eternal answer to the curse of sin and separation that causes even the angels to gaze in awe at His wonders and wisdom? Is this what makes the demons tremble one must wonder?

Oh the depths of His Fullness and Life that the Husbandsman has deemed gracious to provide His children. Oh the mysteries so concealed in His vast heart and hidden from the religious and earthly pride of men and devils. We must cast aside all of our empty words and meanings as He shows us what is real and true in the Abiding Word who is our Life now. Words such as “fellowship and unity and brethren” – oh that we would only taste and see what they truly are and how far they go deep into the very heart of our God and His plans. The New Man exists and walks, breathed unto life by the life-giving spirit no less than Adam was made a living soul. And we are One in Him who has breathed unto us His life! Hallelujah! Amen!

Ah, your fish fries and Sunday socials will never take you here my dear fellow. Put them away from you and come to He who can affix you to the True Vine. Pretend no more that you are what you are not! Abide in Him and release the life that is no longer your own. Have you come to Him? Good, now you must walk in Him unto all fruitfulness and glory unto God the Father!

Oh brethren, children of light – all of you if indeed you are joined to Him – let us all go to Him now and repent heart-fully in the spirit for all of our puny little, fractious thoughts and ideas; for our pitiful condition as His children, and for all that we have done to contribute to or limit His purposes in His creation. Let us pray for Christ Jesus in all His fullness; that He might stand and walk in the midst of the earth, shining as the very Light of Life within the almost universal darkness of the hour. And let us be joined to Him, in whatever way or capacity the Father might have us joined as one in the New Man, as His Firstborn, and the One to whom He will forever look and smile. In Jesus’ Precious Name. Amen.

Note: For a further journey into the life and revelation of the Apostle Paul, and his crowning literary achievement (in the spiritual sense of course) known as the Letter to the Ephesians, we encourage you to review the writings of T. Austin-Sparks here.

Copyright: © 2010 Wayne E. Smith and LivingWalk.com Permission is granted to share this material freely (non-commercial use) provided it is attributed to the author, not altered in any way, and accompanied by this notice.

The Tree and the Faithful Stream – W.E. Smith

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. (Jer. 17:7-8)

Dear brethren, this passage in Jeremiah has been ringing in my spirit for the last few days, and the image presented is one that may perhaps be a blessing and encouragement to you.

The picture is this –

It is a time of drought and barrenness above the surface of things. All is dead or dying. Yet here is this lone tree by a stream, whose roots are drinking from the stream and drawing life and vitality beneath the surface. It is bearing lush and verdant leaves, and bringing forth fruit, although all else is parched and dying. Here is a picture of the man who trusts in the Lord His God, the Well-Spring of His Life. Here is the hidden life of fruitfulness in a time of spiritual drought, barrenness and deprivation. Here is one who abides in  the life of the Living One who carries with Him the very Life of God!

Only the stream sustains this tree. The stream is all that it has, and its roots run deep into this hidden source of vitality and provision. There is no rain, no morning dew, no other supply; the stream and the life it offers is everything.

An Application –

The stream that never runs dry is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Life-Giver and the Life of God sent down among us.  To seek spiritual life and vitality, in these “dry times” in anything or anyone beyond the Source of all Life will lead only to disappointment and death. To seek spiritual life in ourselves even, in our natural energy and enthusiasm, in the life of the soul, is also perilous. Do we not see that this is what earthly, man-derived religion has become, merely the simulation of a divine life that can only truly be found in the Life of God? The only life, the only divine life that satisfies the Father, is found in the Living Word that was sent down to us. It was this very reason that He came in fact – to impart the life of God into all things; to fill all things with the very breath and vitality and dynamic of Himself.

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. (John 1:3-4)

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

“For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself. (John 5:26)

So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1 Cor. 15:45)

As one who has sought life from many sources and many things over the course of his days, I can assure you that it just isn’t there; it will never come. All rain my friends! All dew that will never come! All above the surface! All nothing! The Lord alone must be our Provision and Supply – and our roots must run deep into Him, and draw life from Him beneath it all. All life in Father’s Kingdom will ultimately flow out from His Son! He will fill all things with His life-giving fullness and vitality! Do you see this dear ones? Oh Father help us see; help this to penetrate us deeply; that only that sustained by the stream can live and thrive, even in a time of terrible drought and death.

This is why, dear saints, He alone must be our trust and confidence. For, “blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him“. What we see today on the surface of things, all that potentially fills us with fear and consternation; none of it matters for the one drinking from the Faithful Stream.

Is there darkness and corruption in the Church of Christ? Has the Laodecian spirit seemingly penetrated everything naming the name of Christ? Indeed it has, brethren, for those with eyes to see. Yet, stripped down, this is merely death, and so many forms of artificial, man-induced life. It is religion plain and simple. And the answer can only be Life! The Father’s answer to everything spoiled, fallen and dead is the Life of His Son. Not more religion! Not more noise! Not better dressed preachers! Not bigger churches! Not more plans and programs! Not fired up saints with megaphones renouncing the darkness!

But Life!

And not just any life; but the very life of God; the life bound up and flowing out of the One Who has life in Himself! The One Who is a Life-Giving Spirit! The One in Whom the very Law of the Spirit of Life abides! The One Who is both the Tree of Life and the True Vine! The Source and Supply of Eternal Life, God Life, the life that is joined forever with the First One Who holds all life in Himself!

Is it true my brethren? Then it is alive. Is it false? Then it is dead. Is it less than Christ? Then it does not contain His life. Can you see this; that it is not so much a question of this or that, but of life or death? That either the life of God is in it, or it isn’t. That either it is an expression of divine life or it is not. Please pray about this dear saints, for I believe this may be a heaven-sent revelation and encouragement for some of you.

Does it seem to us in the spirit that the testimony of Christ “out there” is dying or already dead. That there is mostly barrenness, corruption and drought? Does this discourage us and make us weep the tears of our Lord? Oh certainly my friends, at least it should.

Yet, this passage in Jeremiah tells us that, despite all of this, we can live, we can be alive with lush green leaves and branches full of fruit, even in a time of sickness, drought and decay. We can bring forth fruit that brings glory to our Heavenly Father, which was the reason all things were created in the first place.

Do we trust Him then? Is He alone our confidence? Or are we seeking life somewhere above the surface – in things, and groups and traditions and teachings and arguments and opinions, and pet doctrines, and more activity?

Is He merely another thing we add to our lives, or is He the Only Thing!

Perhaps this time of testing that many of us are going through has a singular end in view – that He alone would be our All, Our Everything – and that we would trust Him alone; that we would derive our life and confidence from Him alone. Nothing Else!

NO RAIN! NO DEW! NOTHING AT ALL!

Oh how I pray for you my brethren, and love you in Christ Jesus, and ask this to be made real to us; to go deeper into the very center of our spirit!

The time is short; I can feel it deep down, where spirit touches bone, where everything must be laid out before Him, and the chaff separated from the wheat. Oh brethren, do we see that the chaff is anything less than Christ Jesus? Anything! Pray that all that you are as a child of God will flow from the life of the Stream; that your roots will run deep into Him.

All above the surface, what we see with our eyes, is irrelevant. The heat has indeed come but we are not to fear, for we have been planted by the stream. There are no worries in this year of drought because this stream will never run dry! NEVER!

Oh Father, bring this home to these dear ones.

Your brother in the Lord,

Wayne

A Bond-Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ

RELATED SCRIPTURES:

Isaiah 61:3 and Proverbs 11:30

Seeing the World Through Heavenly Eyes – W.E. Smith

“The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness.” (Luke 11:34)

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

My friends, to see clearly, with eyes wide open in the spirit, is everything. Nothing really happens in this living walk until you come to see things through God’s eyes. To see the world, and all that it represents; to see what is behind and beneath it all, where it leads, its scope and sphere, is absolutely essential for the student and servant of Jesus Christ. Now this may sound simplistic, but everything must be reduced down to a crystal clear contrast between light and darkness, between life and death. In so many ways, this is where the process of forsaking and overcoming the world begins and ends.

“Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see…” (Luke 10:23)

Oh that our Lord would open and enlighten our spiritual eyes to see clearly what the world is and what He sees. Not only the overtly evil and unholy things, but all things conceived by the god of this world to undermine the work of the Holy Spirit and the purpose of the Lord our God.

The Scriptures are clear that all of the world wrought in Adam is under the dominion and influence of the evil one. It is also under a sentence of death, waiting to be carried out at our Lord’s return. It is a settled matter and there is no future for it. The world and all who represent it, fuel it and feed it, have already been judged and found guilty. The judgment, although delayed, is certain. Seeing this is key, my brethren.

When you were saved, what was it you were saved from? Was it not the world and its most certain destruction? Yes, we go on living in the world, touching the things of the world, but our life and hope is not in them. This is no more our home than the desert is the habitat of fish. We are sojourners and pilgrims here, looking forward, like Abraham, to a better country; a heavenly kingdom where the glory and will of God will be preeminent. We are sustained in this hostile and alien environment by His heavenly life in us, breathing in His Spirit, assuming His character, life and light.

Oh but we know how this world appeals to the flesh in us, don’t we? We are acutely aware of how it teases and tempts it. This is why our Lord minced no words, when He declared that the flesh (the life of Adam) profits nothing. It is very much at home in this world. It speaks its language and understands its ways perfectly. It quite naturally pursues its wealth and prominence. It’s life and destiny is linked to the world, and its roots run deep into it. The way of the flesh is the way of the world, for they are one and the same, nurturing one another unto death and destruction.

Those born from above in the spirit know such things. They recognize and appreciate that every time they touch the world (and how can we not) there is the danger that the flesh in them will rear up and reach for a bite. They understand perfectly that only the world can appease the lusts and appetites of the flesh, and they are forever watching and praying that their Lord would keep them safe from the evil one. In touching the world, they are careful not to let it touch them or get inside them. They have given their heart to another, and their loyalty and allegiance to another kingdom.

All that is the world; all that engenders and defines it – its economics, politics, religion, culture, science and technology, etc. – is at enmity with the Maker of the Universe. It is nothing less than the collective expression of the pride and lust of every individual in and of the world. Behind its very institutions and systems, its ‘isms and ‘ologies, and wisdom and ways are ancient and powerful spiritual forces, principalities and powers, all doing the will of their wicked taskmaster; the one who was a murderer and a thief from the beginning. Although his days are numbered, and all that remains is for judgment to fall, he still actively rules this world with an iron fist.

Dear brethren, to behold the world clearly with spiritual eyes, to perceive it as our Lord did when He walked this earth, and as He does now, is to negate its power and influence. It is by seeing that light infuses the entire body. Yes, our Lord, in His munificent glory and grace, has chosen to sanctify us in the world, not to immediately remove us from it. But make no mistake, we are not of this world, and we are not to be associated with it. We are a heavenly people, called into the household and kingdom of our God. Our treasure and pearl of great price is not to be found in this world, but above. For our treasure is the Lord Himself, and to desire Him above all else is to shun the world and all of its empty promises.

To truly see with heavenly eyes is to reject all that the world offers and represents. Satan may tempt us with gold or pleasure, but we see only rust and death. Temporal things no longer have any appeal for those with eternity in their hearts. They see through the veiled promises, pain and lies of the devil and His world. All has lost its shine. It is revealed only for what it genuinely is – hollow, empty and short-lived.

To forsake the world while still in it, and to effectively expose it for what it is by manifesting the light of truth that is Jesus Christ; this is the power and wonder of our God in this age of grace and gathering. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to extricate us from it all and make us holy in heaven or somewhere else beyond Satan’s sphere of influence?

No, His light and life would emanate through His called out children in the very midst of the darkness, delusion and death that is the world. The very Kingdom of God, the antithesis of all that the world represents, would meet it head on, just as when the man Jesus Christ was born into it, and stepped out in it, and exposed it for what it is.

Let us ask the Lord, my brethren, that He would grant us the heavenly vision to see the world only as He does, and that we would forsake it and come out of it in our hearts. Not to be physically removed from it, for this is not His will at all, but to be released from its grip in authentic spiritual separation. To have our hearts purged of all desire for the world and its painted treasure.

I really like the way A.W. Tozer suggested this when he wrote of the Christian’s “smiling indifference to the world’s attractions and their steady resistance to its temptations.” He continued –

the true saint – cares little for passing values; he looks forward eagerly to the day when eternal things shall come into their own and godliness will be found in all that matters.

Amen to that. Yet this separation is of the heart and spirit, not some form of physical asceticism. Those who seek hermetic isolation from the world have not truly seen it for what it is. In fact, this tendency to isolate oneself from the life of the world is more an expression of the world’s religious spirit than the will of God. You can’t hide or remove yourself from it, and that is not our Lord’s intent for us here and now anyway. We are to be like Daniel in the midst of Babylon, who kept himself pure by unceasingly abiding in the grace of His god. We are to expose the world by walking as heavenly lights in the darkness. We either believe that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world and that we are complete in Him or we don’t.

If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. (Col. 2:20-23)

See, dear brethren, how even such religious sounding prohibitions against contact with the world are very much part of what it represents; and they have no place for the Christian who holds all things loosely. Many think that they do, in fact, have value against the indulgence of the flesh, but Paul says the opposite here; that they are actually just as much a part of the world and the flesh as the things we are not to touch, taste or handle.

And neither is the world like some modern city, with good neighborhoods and bad, some safe and some deadly. The world is not found in its location or activity, but in its universal and antagonistic spirit that pervades all life under heaven. And it is all under the dominion and influence of the devil, and the judgment of God, enacted at the cross of Christ. We, as children of the family of God are either crucified to it, and it to us, or we’re not. It either still exercises power and control over us, or it doesn’t.

We either abide in Christ, or we abide in the world. And the measure in which we are living in Him, is directly proportionate to the measure in which we are living in the world. To come out of the world, in other words, is to abide further in Christ Jesus. Do you see this dear saints? I pray that you might. The life that we previously had in this world, sustained by the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, is gradually being replaced by newness of life in Christ Jesus, sustained by the fruit of the Tree of Life.

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:4-6)

Again, we cannot emphasize enough this capacity for seeing clearly, for even the devil can make death and darkness appear as life and light. Indeed, although many do not have the eyes to see it, the vast majority of our churches are under his immediate control, and much of what we consider organized Christianity (“speckled birds” as Watchman Nee so aptly called them) has aligned itself with the world and its ways. That the wheat and the tares would grow up together (Matthew 13) and be virtually indistinguishable to the natural eye indicates the enemy’s mastery of subterfuge and deception. For those of the world, even darkness appears as light. Yet this is not so for the children of God, whose eyes have been enlightened with true heavenly light. To really see, with eyes wide open in the spirit, is a profound a heavenly gift that accompanies our salvation and newness of life.

Yes, dear friends, we do indeed go on living in the world, employing the things of the world – its money, government and institutions, for example – but they and the spirit behind them are not ours at all, and our hope and confidence is not in them. The way of get, greed and godlessness that characterizes life in this world is no longer our way. All that is in the world, and employed by the adversary to undermine the plans and character of the Eternal God, actively working to draw souls away from Him, down into the pit of despair, delusion and death – this no longer has any claim on us.

We must surrender our hearts to the Living God who will soon pour out His righteous fury and wrath on this world and its own. No longer should the cares of this world define and manipulate us. No more should we befriend the world as it stands in enmity and opposition against all that is holy and true. The gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the kingdom – was preached as a witness against this present world, and there is no future for it! All that chokes the life of Jesus Christ in us; the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things; all of this will soon meet a violent end! We who are called sons of light, who anticipate God’s mercy and deliverance, stand in stark contrast to those who are the sons of this world, who stand blindly in the path of eternal judgment.

Dear brethren, the time has come to stop trying to patronize and appease this world, as so many pretenders are doing in this hour. Our Lord never promised us such affinity with this world, only its rejection and scorn. Yet just as He overcame the world, we too must overcome it in Him. Here is the glory and power and wonder of our Heavenly Father, that He would claim us as His own in the world and redeem us to its face, in blatant opposition to it.

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? (James 4:4-5)

How glorious that we can be in the world, touching it daily, and yet not be conformed to it, or corrupted by it. No longer does its wisdom wield any influence with us, for we see the foolishness and death that it represents. No longer do we desire the world’s spirit, its greedy desire for more, its delusion and obsession with earthly things and painted treasures. Better to be despised by the world and accepted by God, to live by His grace and not the world’s carnal pursuit of life apart from the Creator.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Eph. 2:1-3)

Here we see that origin is everything; and that everything runs its own course. What matters, in this context, is not good or evil per say, but who and where you are from. If we are of Adam, then our future is earthly and short-lived. If we are of Christ Jesus, then we have received the gift of eternal life; the very life of God. Our destiny is bound up with Him. The life of heaven has been extended to us.

It is this foundation and beginning in Christ Jesus, and our newfound nature in God, that determines the course of our lives now. He is our way and path and life. A fundamental part of this is the widening of our eyes in real heaven-sent revelation, that we might see the world as it really is, with all its glitter and paint stripped away. It is in truly beholding it, and comprehending what it represents in its opposition to our Holy Father and His Beloved Son, that we forsake and overcome it. In the Scriptures things are less defined by what they do but rather where they are from. And every man’s life and existence is either rooted in God or rooted in the adversary and the world. It is that simple. For –

You either have a fleshly mind or a spiritual mind.
You are either inspired and led by the spirit of the world or God’s Holy Spirit.
You either serve the Lord Jesus Christ or Satan the thief and pretender.
You either walk according to the basic principles of the world, leading to condemnation and death or by the life of Jesus Christ leading to heavenly blessing and life.
You are either a child in the household of God or a son of disobedience and the world.
You are either a friend of the world and at enmity with God, or you are friend of the Lord Jesus Christ, at peace with the Father in Heaven.
You either love the world and the things in the world (prominence, property, power, etc.) or you love the Father in Heaven.
You are either compelled by the spirit of the world and antichrist or you have the Holy Spirit within you transforming your heart and mind into the very image of God.
You are either led by the human soul (intelligence, reason, emotion, sentiment, and self-will), or the human spirit as animated and directed by the Holy Spirit of God.

Dear friends, there is nothing to fear or be intimated by, for He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. And again, the world is everything constituted by man’s philosophies and politics and principles, whispered into his soul over thousands of years by the liar himself. Its reach is universal and complete. Will you hide from it, dear ones, or shrink back from it? Will you be intimidated by it when the Lord Himself placed you right in the center of it for His glory alone, as a demonstration of His ascendant power and wisdom?

Consider the following wisdom from Watchman Nee –

Religious people – attempt to overcome the world by getting out of it. As Christians, this is not our attitude at all. Right here is the place where we are called to overcome. Created distinct from the world, we accept with joy the fact that God has placed us in it. That distinctiveness, our gift from God in Christ – is all the safeguard we need!

Again, we must emphasize that the world, and all that it represents as a spiritual order and system, is under the judgment of death, enacted by God’s holy law. It has been condemned, and all that remains is the penalty phase to be applied. In no place in the Scriptures do we read anything of God reforming or improving this present world or its principalities and powers. Rather, He demonstrates His love for the world by supplanting it with His order and system – the Kingdom of God and His Christ.

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15)

In proclaiming and advancing the Kingdom of God, Jesus offered a spiritual alternative to this world’s reality lived out in the power of the flesh, according to carnal pursuits. To enter His kingdom is to escape the world as we know it. Herein lies our full salvation wrought in Christ Jesus, for no longer are we subject to the world and aligned with its impending judgment and death.

Truly, my brethren, to see rightly is everything. If the lamp of the body is full of God’s heavenly light, then the world no longer holds any power over us. Its bond of deception is broken, and we are truly free indeed. No longer are we to worry about our temporal condition as the world does – what we will eat and what we will wear; what men think of us; what lies out ahead in our earthly lives. No longer is survival and material comfort and security all that drives us in life. Our focus and devotion will turn to our Heavenly Father who provides everything we need in His Only Begotten and Beloved Son through His Holy Spirit. Here is our peace and provision in the world, and to see this is to be truly free indeed!

Oh Most High and Holy Father – Oh Lord, Mighty and Loving God – By Your grace we abide here in this world, the domain of devils and every vile and abominable thing. Grant, Oh Lord, that Your might and power and wisdom would be revealed as You claim us and sanctify us as Your own! Grant that we would have eyes wide open in the spirit to see, and that the lamp of the body would shine brightly on all darkness and delusion. Oh Father in Heaven, please keep us unto Yourself in Your Beloved Son and Spirit. In His Name, we pray always. Amen.

The Wind, the Water and the Faithful One – W.E. Smith

Walking on water
The Faithful One!

Recently, while out walking and sharing with Father, two Scriptures came together in my spirit, Matthew 14 (Jesus walking on the water) and Hebrews 12:2. Here are the texts –

Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” (Matt. 14:22-33)

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:2)

Here we see that Peter, leaving the security of the boat in the midst of the storm, did in fact walk on the water a ways. We are not told how far or how many steps he took, before giving way to the elements around him. What we are told is that he saw that the wind was “contrary” (or boisterous) and this led to fear and in turn his starting to sink.

We can assume then, that while successfully walking atop the waves Peter was concentrating on something other than the “boisterous” waves, the wind, and the storm. And there can only be one object of his fixed attention and this could only be the Lord. “Looking unto Jesus –” we are told in Hebrews, “the author and finisher of our faith”.

So Peter (I am one of those who strongly feels Peter is treated far too unkindly by commentators and Christians in general) started well (no other disciples asked the Lord to command them to come to Him). And he even entered into the faith of the Lord by doing what was naturally impossible to do – he, a full grown man, did indeed stride atop the waves that he knew all too well as a seasoned fisherman. He did so because, for a short time anyway, he fixed his gaze on the only One who could perform His word; one sovereign over the natural elements.

And so, I started to reconsider all my concepts of faith – what it was, how it grew, what it means to our Heavenly Father and our Lord Himself. Clearly then, many of our religious notions regarding faith may in fact be confounding or distorting what is really a simple matter – fixing our spiritual eyes on the Faithful One!

Now faith is the assurance (or substance) of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  (Heb. 11:1)

How does our faith grow and mature then? Not by striving after more faith. Not by fixing our attention on faith itself even. Not even solely by studying great exploits in faith by so-called champions of faith (although this can certainly be most encouraging).

He is the beginning, the source, and the fulfillment of faith, yet He is also the object of it; what faith looks to. Peter knew the waves and the sea all to well. He had been tossed and turned by its swells and moods all of his life. He had no doubt looked long at the heaving tides that surrounded that little boat. He knew all too intimately the wind and storm too no doubt; the often fierce and unpredictable tyranny of the elements on the Sea of Galilee. We too, my friends, know this world all too well, how it moves and turns and tosses us about, and we have all, over the course of our lives, devised soulish ways of responding to it – instincts, habits, patterns, routines – based on all that we are and have become in this life.

Faith, as I am slowly coming to learn, is simply turning our attention; fixing our eyes on Jesus – the Way, the Truth and the Life, the Author and Perfecter of Faith, the Beginning and the End of all the plans and purposes of the Most High God. Then faith is release; releasing all of our cares and concerns and well-being (both spiritually and physically) into the hands of He alone who is faithful and steadfast. Oh brethren, that we would learn the wonderful secret of letting go, of releasing all that we are to the Captain of our Souls!

Pray that the Lord God would help you to release everything unto Him – thoughts, notions, arguments, weaknesses, ideas, assumptions, strongholds, habits, experience, history, hurt, pain, earthly wisdom – everything in fact that confounds and limits His divine purpose in us. We must leave the boat – everything that represents security and safety and familiarity in this world and in ourselves – in order that His life would be released and enlarged in us. And it is faith that moves us to ask Him to come to Him, to stand up, to step out, when everything in us screams that we will go under; that it is absurd for a man to think he can walk on the water.

Let us consider what T. Austin-Sparks offers in this regard –

Then comes the establishment in faith. This means the removal of all false ground – any ground of confidence or trust which is other than God Himself. In this category of false ground come our feelings, theories, traditions, and all external supports. All these will prove false and incapable of bearing the strain of true faith’s testing. In order to keep to reality and true life God shatters all false positions, shakes all false ground, and strips off all vain confidence. (from “Faith Unto Enlargement Through Adversity”)

It is vital to recognize that the Lord cannot hope to establish His Son in us until He alone becomes our true ground. This requires the continual testing of our faith and the stepping out into Him upon whom we must stand and walk. There is in this a constant leaving behind of all that represents “false ground”; the boat in other words, or anything else that we trust in to keep us safe and secure in this world. Where there is faith, there will always be a proving of that faith, to enlarge the Lord Jesus as our confidence and life. Do you see this dear saints? Oh Lord, bring this home to your little ones in this hour.

Now saints, we cannot work to attain greater faith – we must come to rest solely and intimately in the only One who is faithful. Praying for increased faith is fine, but we must understand how the Father might respond to this prayer – by removing all else that we trust in to hold us together in this world; like Peter’s fishing boat for example. It is the Father’s will that all be lost that we would gain His most precious gift – His Son. For what can a man hold onto while walking on the boisterous sea? For what will secure his footing atop the waves? He can reach out, but truly there is nothing there; nothing that is but the Lord Himself. This is precisely how the Father increases our faith through His Spirit, as He draws us out of our safe and familiar surroundings in our lives and places us in situations where all we have is His Son.

Are we then being tested and tried? Are the waves of hardship, loss, reduction and persecution spilling over into our little boat? Is our first temptation and response to fix our attention on the storm and the swell, the noise and the uncertainty all around us, and even how small and insignificant we are in the midst of it? These are certainly fearful and uncertain times dear brethren, times of wind and storm, and I certainly do not wish to negate how difficult daily life is becoming for many of the Lord’s people. And if my sense of the prophetic moment is anywhere near to being correct, then things are poised to get a whole lot worse before they get better.

The disciples, having set out ahead of the Lord (it was He who sent them on ahead without Him, indicating that this whole ordeal was a God-ordained training exercise), had to learn a lesson that we too must learn, and it is that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Though He was not physically with them in the boat, they were not left alone to their own doom, destiny and devices. For He was there with them in the midst, and even above the storm; there almost in view, “like a ghost”, but certainly no mere apparition or shadow, but the “substance of things hoped for”.

For our Lord was with them indeed, and as real and even more real than the water, the wind, the waves and even the boat that stood between them and the deep. As Hudson Taylor has shared, having discovered this secret long before us, brethren –

Faith, I now see, is “the substance of things hoped for,” and not mere shadow. It is not less than sight, but more. Sight only shows the outward form of things; faith gives the substance. You can rest on substance, feed on substance. Christ dwelling in the heart by faith (i.e., His Word of Promise credited) is power indeed, is life indeed. And Christ and sins will not dwell together; nor can we have His presence with love of the world, or carefulness about “many things.”

Interesting, brethren, that faith and substance (or assurance) are here associated together, for it would appear on the surface, that faith would be opposed or contradictory to substance (or the possession in hand of the thing in view). I personally have always assumed that to touch and see is superior to belief; that faith was less than sight. Yet apparently, the Lord wants us to see that this is in fact not the case, and that our faith in His Word (both the Scriptures and the Living Word made flesh) is something He takes very personally.

Dear brethren, children of the day, please pray for one another in these fearful times, that we would show forth our Lord in all His fullness and love to one another, as He cares for His Body, and brings us all to that state of readiness and maturity in faith that we know must be His will. Encourage and uplift each other, dear brethren, in the Spirit and in the Faith, whenever and wherever you have opportunity, for the days are short, and His Kingdom will soon be upon us. Exhort and admonish one another in the faith, to true steadfastness and endurance, looking to the prize of our upward calling that is out ahead of us, and not to the storm and swell that encompasses us in this hour.

Gracious and Wondrous Father, Lord of all life and strength and victory, please help us, Lord, to fix our attention on He who is the Substantial One, the Faithful One, who loved us and gave Himself for us, and who has promised us so great a future in His Kingdom. Though the wind and the storm swells all around us in this dark hour, and though each of us is being tried and tested in each our own way, help us not to suffer the natural temptation to fixate and focus on circumstance, environment or any other consideration that takes our eyes off of Him. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus glorious name, we pray. Amen.

The Perfect Law of Liberty – W.E. Smith

“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)

law“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Rom. 8:2)

There is a growing trend among evangelical Christians to start toying with adding certain Old Testament practices (days, diets, disciplines, patterns, etc.) to their newfound freedom in Christ. I find this more than a little disheartening and offer my own testimony in support of the position that this is a foolish and even destructive course of action.

My understanding and experience, from many years in a sabbath-keeping group that abided by many of the Judaic holy days, is that the laws and ordinances given to Moses actually kept me at arms-length from my God. It was not necessarily that the law was flawed or imperfect, but it was my weakness, my inability that led to such failure and frustration.

So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. (Rom. 7:12)

Yet the Law never drew me into the life of His Son, the immense depth of His grace, or the mystery of godliness revealed in the gospel. It never discipled me, nor induced me to love the Father, Son and Spirit, or empowered me to fulfill His eternal purpose for my life.

It even did not – and this may shock you – lay down complete moral truth or the ultimate answer to man’s dilemma as a fallen creature. This may seem strange as was not the law supposed to inform our moral values, teach us wisdom, and lead us forward into how God Himself perceives life.

This is true, my friends, to a degree, but the problem with the law on its own is that it imposes a burden that we cannot ever hope to bear on our own. Then gradually over many years of heaviness, it is this weight that grows to occupy our attention. The law reminds us constantly that we are captive to sin, and captivity is never a desirable condition for the human spirit, which was created to be free.

Sure the law legislated my time, and diet and speech. Yet it never seemed to be able to go deeper to the root of my hopeless condition – the blackened heart, the corrupted mind, the defiant will. It could not, in the end, save my soul. It was, as the Apostle Paul suggests, absolutely powerless to do anything but alter outward behavior. It created habits and a disciplined regimen, monitored constantly by myself and others; it contained an enforceable code that could be policed from without or within. But were these positive things? Is this all there is to this newness of life in Christ Jesus?

What the Mosaic code actually did was to reveal that the sum and total of my life amounted to a “body of death”. This makes sense, as this is fundamentally the purpose of the law, to convince us of our need for a savior –

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? (Rom. 7:18-24)

Indeed! Who or what could effectively save me from this desperate condition? Condemned under the law, and worthy of death, to whom could I turn? Paul records the answer in verse 25. I am sure it is familiar to most of you.

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Rom. 7:25)

After many years of law-keeping, I remained for the most part unchanged and still very much the old man. There was no newness of life but a growing desperation. As Paul indicates, we sincerely want to be good, but we are unable. We are powerless, and although we dress up in our sabbath-best, smile at church and nod our heads at all the religious platitudes, we are nonetheless unsaved, or still very much dead. After many years of this pretense, what we experience is the polar opposite of all that is promised in Christ – LIFE, FREEDOM, POWER, VICTORY, REAL CHANGE, HOPE, THE HEART-CHANGING LOVE OF GOD!

My friends, I knew many people who died in this situation, ignorant that the real hope of the law was the Author of Life, the Bright and Morning Star who brings a new day and a fresh hope to those fallen at the alter. How sad! That all they were left with was a changed diet and a new suit of clothes.

I am the way and the truth and the life”, pronounced our Lord. Now the law may point the way, and hint at truth, and provide a glimpse of newness of life, but it can never actually fulfill or empower any of this. Only by following Christ Jesus and living each moment in Him will we experience God’s ultimate and living hope for humankind.

Recall that the first tablets of stone were smashed to pieces, reminding us that a code written on anything but the heart is fragile and fleeting. Religion loves and needs and multiplies rules, as this is how it controls and manages people.

Yet, relationship and true life in the body of Christ needs only grace and truth and life, which not only changes behavior, but penetrates to the inner core of the old man. It engages the heart and infuses the spirit of man with the moral life of a holy God. It begins to restore the Creator’s originally intended order of spirit, soul and body that was lost in Eden.

The good news of the gospel of grace is not that we have a set of rules that work, but that we have found LIFE. Real Life. Life flowing out through the wonder and person of the Creator of all Life, the River of Life! The Inventor and Author and Champion of Life! The Healer and Restorer of Life!

But some may ask –

Is it not the law that informs our conscience of right and wrong? Must we not refer to it to know how to attain a holy life?

There are, I believe, 613 listed do’s and don’ts in the Torah. As a spirit-breathed disciple of Jesus Christ, and redeemed child of a Heavenly Father, are these alone what inform my conscience regarding good and evil, sin, and righteousness? I reject that my brethren. Although the moral truth contained in the Torah is inherently good, as Paul and John affirmed, it is also incomplete. “Grace and truth” came only with the incarnation of the divine into the world of men. Paul indicates that his gospel, revealing the complete picture, the mystery of godliness (the indwelling life of God within a man), the hope of God’s love flowing in us – all of this – solves the problem that the law defines.

Where, for example, does it say in the Torah that we are to lay down our life for our friends? Does love stop at the 613th point? How does the law guide me into the love of Christ that empties itself for the glory of God and the good of others?

Consider the fact that the reality and perspective of God now resides and abides within us through the medium of the indwelling Spirit of truth. It is He (one of the Holy Three of the Divine Trinity) that is now the informer of our conscience. My friends, take a few moments and consider the incredible enormity of this truth – that at this very moment, behind your eyes, and residing in your regenerated spirit, is the Author of All Life and Truth, the pre-existent One, the very first, the loving Shepherd of our souls!

We now not only have the rules but the Rule Giver. We not only have the end but the living, breathing fulfillment of that end. Everything the Law (and the prophets) pointed to, and hinted at, and symbolized, and foreshadowed; all that it meant to God when He created them – embodied and finalized in His Beloved Son – this is what we now have brethren. Read all about it in the book of Hebrews and Galatians. Read it and rejoice for now we have real hope, power, life and freedom.

The law also has no inherent power beyond condemning one to death. In a crude sense, it is like a speed limit sign that cannot prevent anyone from exceeding the posted speed, or a stop light that is routinely violated.

Like the Jews under law, we are free moral agents, but now we have something most of them did not – moral power, or moral life, if you will. We have the holiness of God – Jesus Christ! The power is in the life, you see, not in the understanding of what to do. Even Paul indicated that it is not merely enough to know what to do or even desire to do it –

For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. (Rom. 7:15-20)

The freedom from, and power over sin and death comes from the spirit of life residing in all those who are twice-born or born again. Nicodemus, an expert in the law, couldn’t quite get his mind around this concept, and yet it was key to Messiah’s first coming. This is why it is taught that the law paved the way, or led to Christ. It was a signpost with all arrows pointing directly to Him.

It is most enlightening that Jesus’ first directive to His new disciples was “Follow Me”. Is this not what we are to do also, follow Him? If the law was an end in itself, then why didn’t our Lord say to Peter and John and Andrew “Follow Moses”. Clearly, in my humble opinion, this is an either or decision.

John then goes on to record Jesus’ teaching that we are to imbibe Him (partake of His flesh and blood as food necessary for vitality), through the ceremonial fellowship of the Lord’s Supper. Why is this necessary if the law is sufficient of and by itself? This makes no sense really, and defies the complete testimony of the Spirit over both old and new covenants.

Legalists of every age, from Paul’s day to today, will promise you many things, dear saints, but one thing they can never actually deliver is life. This is only possible when the creature is restored to perfect moral unity with the Creator; when the child is brought home, there in that heavenly place where mortal spirit is infused with immortal spirit.

This is life we are talking about here – real life. The life is in the blood, not in the stone. Please don’t make the mistake I made, my friends. I wouldn’t be writing any of this if I had no experience to back it up.

I have heard the argument before, that the various laws and ordinances flesh out, or define sin for us, so that we can better adhere to it. Yet, this is still an intellectual thing, an act of knowing, and even though we may sincerely desire to please God by keeping such imperatives so narrowly, it still does not address the how of it all.

Now brethren, you are free to do whatever you think is helpful to you under the liberty of the New Covenant (Romans 14). Paul, a Jew, chose to abide by some (not all, and this is key, because if you break one part of the law you have broken it entirely) practices from His heritage, such as the Passover and certain Nazirite vows, for example. Yet he rejected those Jewish believers who were trying to reinstate the Mosaic code on gentile followers of Jesus Christ. This is equivalent to those today and in every age who attempt to reinstate or exalt the Torah in the lives of Christians.

Now what each of us determines to be helpful is entirely up to ourselves and the Lord. It is a personal thing, much like our devotional life. I must confess that I rarely pray on my knees, but rather I prefer to walk when conversing with the Lord. Religionists (those who consider form equal to or more important than reality) will say that I am showing disrespect to the Lord. To date, the Spirit has not yet aligned my conscience with this. I trust Him entirely, and would hope that I would change course immediately once I was convicted of this or anything else.

The problem with law-keeping however, is that human nature and the soul (the mind, emotions and will) kick in and we start projecting our personal norms and preferences on other people. I have seen it over and over again, and the history of the church over many years testifies of it.

This, incidentally, is what I believe is wrong with much of the method-driven and step-by-step ministry we see today. I may have a number of patterns or disciplines that I consider helpful for me, but the minute I tell you that these seven steps will produce the same fruit in your life, I have started imposing my relationship with God onto you, and this seldom edifies anyone over the long term. Most parents with multiple children will tell you that each of them is unique and distinct; that one style of parenting cannot be readily applied to all. This is true of God’s spiritual children, and it is what makes the church a dynamic and vibrant family.

We must understand that we are all on the same path, but that our Lord relates to us quite differently as His children. Some are stronger or weaker in the maturity of the faith, and giving them some method or regimen may be entirely counter-productive to what the Head of the Body is hoping to do with that individual. For some, one side of the soul is stronger – the reason, or the emotions, or the will – so we cannot apply the same methods and imperatives equally. We are all susceptible to the lust of the eyes and flesh and the pride of life (expressions of the soul), but not in the same degree or measure. Only the Lord Himself who searches the heart knows what His children requires individually.

Please take this to heart, my friends, and be careful of those who will try to convince you that somehow your life in Christ is incomplete. We need no supplements, for He is the All and the Everything for us now. The Law given to Moses is still doing what it was created to do when the holy finger of God engraved it in stone. Yet, let us not confuse this with the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that now governs and empowers us as God’s beloved children. This is now the active and animating principle of life for all those in Christ Jesus.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom. 8:1-8)

Please pray for us here at Living-Walk, that we would watch and see the Master at work, and understand what He would have us do.

Your friend in Christ Jesus,

Wayne