Accepting and Maintaining

 •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 10
IT is impossible to see with too much clearness the contrast which lies between our condition as believers in Christ, and remember what we were as natural ones. Having been in the latter state before God, but now out of it, we must have before us that it was not in consequence of our wickedness only that we were involved in such a condition, but also on account of having descended from the man “by whom sin entered into the world.”
Born in this state, our actions necessarily have had the color of his condition, and that as the nature was bad, so must have been the actions.
But now, as Christians, and responsible ones here, God looks not merely for good actions in the moral sense of the word, but the reproduction of Christ in us. In the former case, as the action was according to the nature, so also is the latter: as power was required in the former in order to express the action, so does the latter require a power also. When man in nature is alive apart from God, the devil is the gainer by his activity, and man is the chief agent; so now, if I am here to manifest Christ, it is evident that not only must the nature be of God, but the power also.
Being in this new position before God, I have given me at the beginning what I shall have forever save the changed body—that, as I break with man on earth and the devil, I begin with One in the glory of God; and so great is this change, that it is according as I see its greatness and reality that my walk here will be determined; and though I may not know or even hear of such a change, the truth is not altered that, as a Christian, I begin from a place unknown by, and far beyond the mind of man.
It may be asked, “Can both these powers and natures exist at the same time?” They can and do exist continually, the believer has both, but he is to so manifest the new nature by the new power, that the old things are not to be recognized, but kept in the place of death, in order that Christ may be reproduced in him.
Whether I reproduce Christ or not, I am as perfect as He is before God; if I am connected in any way with Christ, through faith’s exercise, I am meet for that glory wherein He dwells. Hence it is not in consequence of fulfilling our duties here, as responsible ones before God, that blessings in
God’s counsels are attributed to us. I have all I am ever going to receive (save the changed body) when the “no working faith” receives God’s word—Christ and His glory are mine forever, old things having passed away.
Now if I do not accept what God has done and what He has given me, how can I maintain a place here commensurate with them? Two great dangers arise from not simply and fully accepting what God has done—viz., the truth is owned abstractedly without faith being exercised, and consequently an earthly walk; secondly, assuming the responsible place here without knowing in the heart the position and blessings which belong to the believer. Bad as the world is, these two principles active in it often tend to make it more spurious than ever.
The former is more frequently found among saints, though the latter is on the increase. A spiritual mind cannot fail to perceive that the spirit of evangelization at the present time tends to promote both these principles, the latter especially: the knowledge merely of a Saviour who has been provided for sinners is deemed sufficient for the converts to take the place of workers for Christ. A limited knowledge of God in His wondrous workings in grace must produce an impoverished walk here below, and the evil effects of such, both to the world and to the saints of God, can hardly be estimated. A believer may exclaim, “If I do not trust in the cross, nothing is of any avail to me!” Such is not the language of Scripture. It is for me to accept what God has done for me, and what He has given me, and then learn now in righteousness He could have acted towards me in the way He has done. If I give a person fifty sovereigns, it is not for him at first to question how it is that I can act so freely towards him: it is after he has accepted what I have to give he can better understand why I so acted; and the more he then sees that he had no claim on me whatsoever, the more will he recognize the grace which served him. So with the believer—if I simply receive what God in His infinite grace has given me, and the nearness to Himself of the place which is mine, with a worshipping heart I learn how He came to do all this for me, and at the same time I also learn how He dealt with me as one “in the flesh” at the cross.
In the prayer in John 17 we have the Father, Christ, and glory, but no mention either of the cross or the Holy Ghost. Christ says in the beginning of the chapter, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” Here it is a question between Christ and His Father—the work which the Father gave Him to do. The work is divinely settled, and the results follow. The results are for the believer in connection with Christ’s glory, and for him to accept by faith.
Many souls are perplexed about the truth of death and resurrection with Christ. They think until they know what this truth is in their hearts, they are not entitled to own the fullness of God’s grace: that they are not fit for the place which God has given the believer until they arrive there consciously; in fact they are trying to reach Christ and the glory according to their own thoughts of death and resurrection.
Now if I simply own my position at first in faith, that it is in Christ, I will afterward be enabled to practically maintain that position, but for me to try to reach a position in which I am already is a matter most anomalous.
The nature of these two truths must be clearly seen by the believer— viz., Accepting and Maintaining. The divinely devised plan has been divinely accomplished, and the blessings accruing to me I am to accept in faith as mine. I receive a power to enable me to conduct myself worthy of the place and possessions which have been given me, and also learn increasingly of the love and grace which led Christ to die in order that I might have them. Faith is a wonderful thing, as everything be which comes from God. The truth of death and resurrection is also accepted in faith, and the power enables me to walk as one who is not of this world, but an heir of glory. The cross now receives a prominence in my thoughts which it had not before; I look back at it, I learn the judgment passed upon flesh there; and (which principle I carry about with me) if the cross and this truth disappear, the flesh shows itself, and I for the time practically am as one who is in the flesh, and who also practically denies my position in Christ. Hence faith; faith must continually be in exercise. The soul in Romans 7 in the state of misery mentioned has not in faith owned the flesh judged at the cross; he does not in faith accept that he is “not in the flesh,” though at the same time desiring to please God; and as the state in which he is practically at the time is alien to God, confusion and wretchedness as depicted, then must ensue.
The chapter describes a transitional state of soul—it is neither the normal state of the natural man nor the normal state of the Christian, but the state of the believer passing out of the former into the latter; and the less faith exercised during these exercises, the greater the bondage and yearnings of soul. The Christian’s life is one of faith—faith in everything; else if not, he is below his place as a Christian. Faith knows God, receives the truth in the divine way, and the heart of faith renounces every principle of the natural man.
It is also remarkable that in Romans, chapters 6 and 7, there is no mention of the Holy Ghost—there is in the fifth and eighth chapters. The proneness of the quickened one to look within for the workings of the Spirit, through had teaching, &c., appears to be guarded against by God in the omission. As also mentioned, in John 17 there is no mention of the Holy Ghost, though there is much about Him in the preceding chapters.
We lose not a little if we overlook the double rejection of Christ by man. He was in glory when man finally rejected Him. The place from whence man would not have Him, is the place in which He will have man through grace. The link was not then formed between man, as man, and Christ; hence if a link was to be formed through any means with Christ and those on earth, it is evident the link must have been in connection with Him where He is, for He is in the same place still. Hence Acts 9, “Why persecutest thou me?” Here is the link between those on earth and Christ in glory, and so united are they that they are all one “me.”
Paul shortly after was found preaching “Christ,” not His work merely. (See same chapter.) Such a connection must involve no light responsibility as we pass through this world, for as the virtues of the Man above flow into those united to Him on earth, they are responsible for what they are, and what has been given them—in short, to carry themselves here in a manner compatible with what they are as united to a Man in glory. This position on earth—this close connection with Christ above—and the results which He looks for in consequence, comparatively speaking, are but little apprehended.
Many profess to follow Christ, to represent Him here, who do not see what the place of a disciple is. When multitudes went with Christ, as we find in Luke 14, He turned and said unto them, “If any man come unto me, and hate not his own (this latter word not in our translation) father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” &c.
The consequence of taking a place for Christ here, without having first counted the cost, must be a lameness in walk and weakness in manifesting Him who is professed to be owned. When the cost has not been counted, a worldly Christianity, of which there is such abundance, must ensue; a standard according to circumstances is raised to enable professors to retain the world and to speak of Christ at same time, and what we see so solemnly being developed—the world asserting its right and power to worship God, caused in great measure by the looseness, carelessness, and worldliness which have characterized, and do so still, the mass of God’s saints.
Christ puts the greatest difficulty at first, if the cost be counted and the difficulty overcome, all will come right. The responsibility resting upon us is great; have we all counted the cost to be for Christ here?
It is plain I must be sensible of what God has done in order to praise Him for it; it is in the sense of what I am now, and what are mine, that my heart will praise Him. And if I cannot praise Him for what He has given me, how can I praise Him for the way He has acted with His Son in order to give them to me? Hence, at the Lord’s Table, the meeting might often be called a believers’ meeting merely, for there is not present the spirit of worship which is a consequence of the fullness of blessings bestowed in love, and received by the heart. I shall never be able to estimate the work of the Cross, by merely seeing Christ as having died for me; the knowledge of what I have righteously and graciously received in consequence, of the work, will enable me to value it. And it is as we enter into these things that we enter into the wondrous love which gave Christ to die for us, for “herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son a propitiation for our sins.” 1 John, 4:10.
May the Lord give us to see what we are—heavenly ones now, and our calling here—to testify for and represent our Head in heaven!