“I pray . . . that they all may be one;
as Thou, Father, art in Me,
and I in Thee,
that they may be one in Us . . .
and the glory which Thou
hast given Me I have given them;
that they may be one,
even as We are one.
. . . That the love
wherewith Thou hast loved Me
may be in them, and I in them.”
(See John 17.)
Christ and His Bride Become One
IT IS AMAZING to me to think and meditate on the incarnation of Christ for His bride, that He, the very God, would take the form of flesh to be like His bride, and that in turn He would purpose to conform HER to HIS image so SHE would be like HIM. And all this thought of (if we can speak like this of God)—purposed by God the Father who wanted a bride for God the Son! And thus the Husband and the bride become one, as the Father and the Son are one.
Then to think of the institution of marriage that was designed and set-up by God, that two should become “one flesh,” and this being a picture depicting Christ and the church—the heavenly Husband and His bride! That is why marriage on earth is such a sacred thing.
THAT is why on-going sanctification, the on-going process of being conformed to the image of Christ is so important. Brides are known to look in the mirror to see how their image is appearing. So must Christ bride as she prepares herself for the wedding. Oh! Upon looking on herself, she may not see HIS reflection yet in her, but her bridesmaids may be able to see Him in her! And when SHE looks and sees some ugly spots, she can run to Him and look to Him, and in looking, she even then begins to look more and more like the Bridegroom!
In fact, that is why the bride is still on earth. It is her training ground, her preparation chamber, and her business is all about that preparation for the coming wedding, and her being conformed to her heavenly Husband’s image, reflecting His image even upon others that may see her as she is so closely identified with Him. She never wants to misrepresent Him, but to show others WHAT HE IS LIKE!
I am just now reminded again of dear Richard Wurmbrand, who spent 14 years as a prisoner under communism in Romania. In prison there were religious prisoners, like he was, being there for preaching Christ, and there were some who were political prisoners, even being atheists and communists themselves.
One time a political prisoner approached the one who had been speaking of Christ, Richard Wurmbrand, and said, in effect, “Who is this Jesus you speak of? I have never seen him; what does He look like?”
Richard Wurmbrand replied, “He looks like me.” He was not being presumptuous. He knew we are to be as epistles, read of all men. And he knew that he was to reflect Christ, and he was the only one in the prison that he could then point to, to give this inquirer any kind of idea of who Jesus was. So that is why he said, “He looks like me.” And upon that answer the prisoner said, “If he looks like YOU, then I want Him!” He was not seeing the flesh nature Wurmbrand but was seeing Christ’s image in a “new man.”
What was being reflected “in the mirror” was the new man in Richard Wurmbrand, the living Christ within!
In my writing along these lines in previous booklets, someone was fearful I was falling in line with “antinomians” who say since Christ fulfilled the law for them, they no longer need to be concerned with keeping the law; and some even say that they need not be concerned with personal sin because Christ dealt with the sin-issue on the cross. At the same time this person charged me with putting Christ to an open shame because I was teaching that He still fulfills the law, when He was over and done with that when He left earth. Frankly, I was shocked. How could a Christian brother make such a false charge?
What I have been teaching, and glorying in, is NOT that Christ fulfilled the law on our behalf and so we no longer need to be concerned with fulfilling the law and leading holy lives—since that was done “once” and law-keeping is now “out of the way.” NO! Christ kept the law in behalf of His people because they could not, having no power. He paid the penalty of a broken law for us. Period. BUT, that does not FREE us to go ahead and break the law and SIN. Christ and God the Father would NEVER smile on that! But rather Christ did what we could not, and He turns around and works upon His bride so she will live like the Savior lives, in holiness!
Thus Christ by His Holy Spirit, implants life in His bride, via the new birth, plants in us a renewed spirit, and He and the Father come and live IN us, taking Their abode IN us, and live out a holy, godly live THROUGH US! If this is not happening in a good obvious measure, you have no right to claim to be born again. There must be good fruit, and when people look in the mirror, they need to see Christ’s image, just as that prisoner in Romania saw upon gazing at Richard Wurmbrand! It is a small world, but large enough to take in heavenly glory!
Now the person contending with me somehow thinks that Christ no longer fulfills the law, as if to say if He were, we would be putting Him to open shame. What a sad erroneous message! Christ is law-fulfillment personified! The law, the will, the high standard of God is an eternal standard for holiness and righteousness. The Lord will NEVER do what is contrary to His Word and Law and Will. He cannot lie and He cannot sin. That was true when He lived on earth in the flesh, and it is still true. And the truth is, He gives US freedom, like the law of liberty, and power, like His power within to live the same way. Not free to sin, but free to live as He lives. Without Him, He tells His bride, we could do nothing. Without Him we would not even have His love, and that love is the fulfilling of the law. It causes us to evidence His life in us by working out our salvation “with fear and trembling.”
So my contender is fearful that my saying it is Christ working in us, that others will think it is not us being the ones accountable, that Christ does the work so we don’t need to. Somehow he thinks I am saying the same thing. And if I say it is Christ, then I am saying that Christ has to do the fulfilling work over again, thus putting Him to open shame, and at the same time getting man off-the-hook so he can a sin because Christ did or does all that for us.
Seems like a lot of convoluted jargon to me! I can follow his false reasoning, but it is not true.
What? Did Christ come to earth to fulfill the law for His people, and was that a “shame” to Him? Perish the thought! Then, did He go back to Heaven to live a live NOT fulfilling His own law and standard? Perish that thought, too! Is He not the same Christ in Heaven as He was on earth? I am sure my contender does not mean THAT! Then why would it be a shame for Christ to still fulfill the law? He is Holy God and always fulfills and lives according to His own righteous standard—pure holiness! He can do nothing contrary to the law for it is His own. He now even fulfills that law and standard by love in His bride. We are taught to live as He lives. That is one truth we should be able to grasp!
Christ is not doing redemption work over. And He is not in us to excuse us for our remaining sin. But He is, always was, and always will be the Holy God whose life itself is pure holiness. The thing is, He purposes for His bride to be like Him and to walk in His ways, on His path, with His same love, and with His same power. If you want to paint an analogy, then think of our Lord walking through an orchard picking His own fruit and putting it in a basket. Right behind Him is His loving bride with her basket, and she is putting the same fruit in her basket as well. As they leave the orchard, they go home together, hand-in-hand, both with the same fruit, walking in the same direction—Home!
Certainly when we fulfill the law in love, it is God’s love. Our spirit walks in the way of the Spirit of God, so identified with Him that it is Him but it is ALSO us walking and fulfilling!
Reader, sometimes I am so amazed that I feel speechless, dumbfounded, in awe and wonder. Here I am, having just written this booklet (to end with 8 pages), and I picked up a book on “God’s Way of Holiness” by Horatius Bonar, given to me not much more than a week ago by a local pastor. Horatius Bonar was born in 1808, over 200 years ago. Yet, as I finish this booklet, I pick up Bonar’s book and I give below what I read! It is the same blessed truth, only he emphasizes a continuing “duality.”
(By the way, pause a minute. In another booklet, the one on “The Word Made Flesh,” I write the introductory message. I try to write simply. While some old writers are hard to understand after my short message in that booklet, it is followed by “The Word Made Flesh” by J. C. Ryle, written over 200 years ago. It, too, is written simply. It is easy to understand by the child of God. Still more amazing is an excerpt following that by John Jewell, written nearly 500 years ago! It, too, is simple, and easy to understand. All these are so very practical and up-to-date for the reader in the 21st Century! Get “The Word Made Flesh,” and read it, too.—g/b)
Now be blessed as you read the following by Horatius Bonar:
THE NEW LIFE
. . . Here let us also notice the duality or twofoldness of divine truth, the overlooking of which has occasioned much fruitless controversy and originated many falsehoods. Truth is, indeed, not two-sided, but many-sided, as a well-cut crystal. In a more general sense, however, it is truly DOUBLE; with a heavenly and an earthly, a divine and a human side or aspect. It is at the line where these two meet that the greatest nicety of adjustment is required, and hence it is here that divergent theologies have come specially into conflict. The heavenward and the earthward aspects of truth must be carefully distinguished—the one fitting into the other, the one the counterpart of the other. God is absolute Sovereign; this is one side. Man has volition of his own, and is not a machine or a stone; that is the other. God chooses and draws according to the good pleasure of His will; yet He hinders no man from coming or from willing. God is the Giver of faith, yet “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) Hence the difficulty of believing is not from the absence of proper faculties, but from the derangement of these, and conversion is God’s restoration of these to their original nature. Faith is not a foreign gem imported into the soul, distinct from all our original powers; it is simply the man believing, in consequence of his soul being set right by the Holy Spirit, but he believes and disbelieves in the same way as before. It is not the intellect, or the mind, or the affections, that believe; it is the man, the whole man, the same whole man that formerly disbelieved. Very absurd and unphilososphical (not to say unscriptural) have been questions raised as to the seat of faith, whether it is in the intellect, or the will, or the heart. Faith is the man believing, just as love is the man loving. In Romans 10:9, the apostle is not contrasting the heart with the mind, but with the mouth; in other words, the inner with the outer man.
God worketh in us both to will and to do, yet He commands us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. It is God that sanctifies us, yet it is through “the truth” that we are sanctified. (John 17:17). It is God that purifies (Titus 2:14), yet it is by faith that our hearts are purified (Acts 15:9). It is God that fills us with joy and peace, and yet this is “in believing.” This duality is the key to the solution of many a hard controversy. The movements of man’s intellect are not suspended by God but assumed and regulated; the intellect itself is not overborne and forced, but set free to work its true work truly. The “heavenly things” and “earthly things” are distinct, yet not separate; always to be viewed in connection with each other, yet not confused; for confusion here is mysticism, superstition, and false doctrine. “There are celestial bodes, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another (1 Corinthians 15:40). In every Bible truth there are two elements, the divine and the human; but the divine element is one thing, the human another. The theology that embodies most truth is that which knows how to recognize both of these, without confusion, yet without isolation or antagonism, and which refuses to merge either the divine in the human or the human in the divine.
Hence the necessity for confining ourselves to the Word, and the danger of introducing human metaphysics into questions connected with the spiritual change wrought on us. It is God that worketh; it is we who are wrought upon; and everything needful to be known in connection with this work is revealed in the divine record. We give this thought some prominence because of the tendency with many to magnify humanity and to undervalue the greatness of that change which begins the Christian course and character. No elevation of natural taste, no infusion of religious or benevolent earnestness, no cultivation of the intellect, can fill up the description given us in the word of one “who fears God,” and is “called according to His purpose,” “begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). And we urge this the more decidedly because, as the beginning, so will be the middle and the end. A false idea or a diverging step at the outset may lead to a false religion throughout life, to an imperfect and superficial goodness, as one incorrect figure or sign in an equation falsifies both process and result. If the dislocated joint is not properly set, it will never work comfortably; and if the wound is merely skinned over, the disease may be taking its own way underneath, all the more fatally because it is supposed to have been removed.
How the Holy Spirit operates in producing the newness of which we have spoken, we know not; yet we know that He does not destroy or reverse man’s faculties; He nenovates them all, so that they fulfill the true ends for which they were given. As He does not make the hand the foot, nor the eye the ear, so He does not make the heart the intellect, nor the will the judgment. Each faculty remains the same in the end and use as before, only purified and set properly to work. Nor does the Holy Spirit supersede the use of our faculties by His indwelling.
Rather does this indwelling make these more serviceable, more energetic, each one doing his proper work and fulfilling his proper office; while the whole man, body, soul and spirit, instead of being brought under mechanical constraint, is made more truly free [remember “the law of liberty”?—g/b] never more fully himself than when filled with the Holy Spirit. For the result of the indwelling Spirit is liberty; not bondage, or the production of an artificial character.
Thus, although no violence is done to our being in regeneration, omnipotence is at work at every point. Our new being is not the result of a mechanical process, yet it is the product of divine power. God claims it as a “creation,” and as His own handiwork. “He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God” (2 Corinthians 5:5), where the word implies the thorough elaboration of some difficult piece of work. “It is God which worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13), where the expressions indicate an operation which influences our “willing” as well as our “doing,” and this on account of His being “well pleased” wth Christ (Matthew 3:17), and with His own eternal design. “God’s tillage” (or husbandry, 1 Corinthians 3:9), is His name for us when speaking as an husbandman, “God’s building” (or fabric), His name when speaking as an architect. It is to the image of His Son that He has predestinated us to be conformed, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29), having “chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).
It is, then, to holiness that God is calling us (1 Thessalonians 4:7); that we should have our “fruit unto holiness” (Romans 6:22), [ask for our booklet, “Christian Fruit-Bearing”—g/b], that our hearts should be established “unblameable in holiness” (1 Thessalonians 3:13); that we should abound in “all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11) [also ask for the booklet, “Perfecting Holiness in the Fear of God”—g/b]; that we should be “a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5); “holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15); “called with as holy calling” (2 Timothy 1:9); “holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4), presenting not only our souls but our bodies as (not only a living but) a holy sacrifice to God (Rom 12:1); nay, remembering that these bodies are not only “a sacrifice,” but a “temple of the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 6:9).
Holiness is likeness to God, to Him who is the Holy One of Israel, to Him whom they laud in Heaven, as “Holy, holy, holy” (Revelation 4:8). It is likeness to Christ, to “that holy thing” which was born of the virgin, to Him who was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). It is not disjunction from evil, and from an evil world; but it is separation unto God and His service. It is priestly separation, for priestly service. It is distinctiveness such as that which marked the tabernacle and all its vessels, separation from every common use: separation by blood of the everlasting covenant,” this blood (or that which it signifies, namely, death) being interposed between us and all common things, so that we are dead, but alive unto God, alive to righteousness, having died and risen in Him whose blood has made us what we are, saints, holy ones.
This holiness or consecration extends to every part of our persons, fills up our being, spreads over our life, influences everything we are, or do, or think, or speak, or plan, small or great, outward or inward, negative or positive, our loving, our hating, our sorrowing, our rejoicing, our recreations, our business, our friendships, our relationships, our silence, our speech, our reading, or writing, our going out and our coming in—our whole man in every movement of spirit, soul, and body. In the house, the sanctuary, the chamber, the market, the shop, the desk, the highway, it must be seen that ours is a consecrated life.
I must stop this excerpt here. But this is what I have been trying to say and teach, only this dear man of God, out of the past, says it in such a more sublime and profound way than I. Order the book, “God’s Way of Holiness,” from Chapel Library, 2603 West Wright St., Pensacola, Florida 32505.
NOW I want to finish out this booklet with more “icing on the cake,” or since bread is so much more healthy, I want to take more bread out of the oven!
After the death of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, his widow Suzie wrote a beautiful small book of devotional reading entitled “A Cluster of Camphire” or “Words of Cheer and Comfort for Sick and Sorrowing Souls.” The excerpt below ties right in with the subject of this booklet you now hold in you hands. So here is MORE shared blessing. Read, be instructed, and rejoice in the Lord.
THE TOUCH OF FAITH
“Who touched Me? . . . Somebody
hath touched Me.”
“Master, the multitude throng Thee and press Thee, and says Thou Who touched Me?” In all that vast surging crowd of people, jostling each other in order to get a view of the wonderful Man in their midst, and even pressing upon Him in their rude inquisitiveness, there was but one poor suffering woman who understood His mission, and tested for herself the power she believed Him to possess.
Blessed Lord Jesus, this sick and sorrowful “somebody” shall be my guide to Thy feet, this morning! I rejoice to know that her touch of faith must have been the result of Thine own Divine love and compassion. Thine hand must have moved her heart, or her finger would never have been laid on the hem of Thy garment. Thou must have awakened within her the desire and the trust which produced such happy results. This “somebody’s” sad case, dear Lord, was well known to Thee, and, “for the sake of them that stood by,” as well as a sweet incentive to all those who should hereafter believe on Thy Name, Thou didst graciously draw this sin-sick, soul-sick, unclean creature to Thee, that Thou mightest bestow on her both pardon and healing! Oh! Wilt Thou not repeat the miracle at this moment, Lord? Both writer and reader are needing the exercise of Thine Omnipotent power on their behalf, and are now stretching forth trembling hands of faith to receive the blessing Thou alone canst give! O bid us touch and live!
Do you wonder, poor sinner, whether your need and your longings, and your first faint hopes of mercy, are known to the dear Savior whom you seek? See here how instantly the Lord was aware of a touch upon the edge of His robe, and how immediately He knew that virtue (power) was gone out of Him. What strong encouragement this should give to a timid, shrinking soul! The slightest contact of faith with Christ ensures salvation. So full is He to save, that, even from His raiment, the sacred healing flowed, in response to this poor woman’s trustful touch. How much more will spiritual cleanliness be bestowed on thee when thou sayest—
“My faith doth lay her hand
On that dear head of Thine,
While like a penitent I stand,
And her confess my sin.”
I want to cheer my own soul with this comfort of God. I am realizing very painfully that “in me dwelleth no good thing”; nay, more, that “evil is present with me.” The fight against inbred corruption is fierce, and I am well-nigh spent in the struggle. Is not this the very time to test and trust the Savior’s power? I shall have to force my wa through as crowd of iniquities, and doubts, and discouragements; but mine is an urgent case, and I know that, “if I may touch but His clothes, I shall be whole,” for so surely as my faith meets my Savior’s free grace, my deliverance is assured and complete. Ah! How insensitive and ignorant it would be to draw back in full view of life eternal, and choose to perish rather than to persist!
“But,” says one, “I think I could more easily push my way through as crowd of people, and really reach out my hand to touch Jesus, than I can spiritually and mentally imitate that woman’s action.” Yes, I see, you are an unbelieving Thomas; you must put your finger in the print of the nails, and thrust your hand into His side, ere you believe. This always has seemed to me a wilful and hard-hearted resolve on the part of the apostle, yet how tenderly the Lord dealt with it, how fully and freely He gave Thomas leave to set his doubts at rest in his own way! I do not think he availed himself of the permission; the glory of the Savior’s risen body scattered all his skepticism in a moment; but there was gentle reproof; Christ’s after-word, “Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
O my gracious Lord, it is a marvel of marvels that Thou dost allow my faith to draw forth Thy Divine power to heal and save! It is sweet comfort to remember that Thou didst know all about that silent woman, stealthily creeping up behind Thee to snatch a blessing even from Thy garment; but it is still greater solace to understand that Thou didst permit her feeble finger to unlock, as it were, the sluices of Thine eternal love, so that spirit, soul, and body were at once flooded with heavenly grace and favor, and with perfect peace and pardon! O Lord Jesus, words fail me to extol Thy wondrous compassion, Thine unspeakable pity and love; but do, I beseech Thee, now draw some other poor sad “somebodies” to Thy dear feet, that they, too, may be made whole!
—A Cluster of Camphire
AMEN AND AMEN!
PRAISE YE THE LORD!
(Ask for the booklet: “Why Do the Righteous Suffer?”)