“I have been crucified with Christ”
“What does it mean for me to be “crucified with Christ”? I think the answer is best summed up in the words the crowd used of Jesus: “Away with Him!” God never allows this matter of being crucified with Christ to remain for us a mere theory, though I confess that for many years it was no more than that to me. I myself had preached the Cross in these very terms without knowing it in my own experience–until one day I saw with dramatic suddenness that it had been I. Nee To-sheng, who died there with my Lord. “Away with Him!” they had cried, and in saying it of Him they had also, unwittingly, echoed God’s verdict upon me. And that sentence of God upon me was carried out in Him. This new discovery affected me almost as greatly as did my first discovery of salvation. I tell you, it left me so humbled as to be for a while quite unable to preach at all, whereas till that day, I have to admit, preaching had been my consuming passion.”
“Between the idea And the reality Between the motion And the act Falls the Shadow For Thine is the Kingdom”
Experiential truth is the bridge between the idea and the substance, between the shadow of words and the Light of the Truth.
“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power”
1 Corinthians 4:20
The Truth of His Kingdom in each of us is as real as the truth which reigns in us. The power to be is the purpose of His coming:
“I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly”
“Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.”
The Land of Promise was given by the One who cannot lie; yet it remains unknown to the one who does not walk in its abundance. The Land of Promise is vast and its bounties endless and yet, like the Pearl of Great price, it must be purchased to be held. Though its beauty is unsurpassed and its luster unparalleled it yet remains untouched by the one who merely gazes upon it un-procured.
God’s promises must be walked in, for His gift to us is nothing less than Himself. To speak of knowing Him without the wonder of experience is the travesty of religion. It is in treading, sometimes slowly but still steadily, that the book of our own history of experience is written. Life must be lived to be known. Life cannot be held within the bounds of the intellect. It must be the inspiration to explore its own vastness.
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”
The scriptures present to us the essence of life; God breathing into man the magnificence of His own being. Though formed and sculpted from the dust of the earth, man remained inanimate, a thing rather than a being. It was His breath that created life. A man may hold to teachings, beliefs and forms of truth, yet without the breath of God invigorating, illuminating and ever creating, he remains a lost and empty soul.
Life can only be realized by our participation in His Life. By His design, our knowing of him must be apprehended by the tread of our feet, the investment of our life into His. He can never be known in the stagnated concepts of a doctrine! His word to the poor, the blind and the needy is “come unto ME”. Those who hunger and thirst, those who are needy come. They are drawn by the wonder and majesty of something beyond mere knowledge. There is a love, a persuasion; an inarticulate desire for which their soul pants.
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”
Those caught up in this quest can never be content with the promises concerning Him. True hunger can only be satisfied in the apprehension of the object of its desire.
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life”
John 5: 39-40
The invitation remains for the pilgrims of faith. Let us embrace the Word of the Lord afresh:
“Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.”
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith…”
2 Peter 1:5
2 Peter 1:4-12
(Read these passages
prayerfully and truthfully!)
Peter knowing “his departure was at hand” was setting forth specific truths in his last Epistle to the church to ensure that their faith would continue to abound. He sets forth with utter clarity the growth required to enter the Kingdom of God.
In this fatherly display of love for God’s people, Peter speaks calmly and truthfully of his own approaching martyrdom. His concern is not for himself; his burden is for their continued growth and vitality in the diligence required to enter the Kingdom of God. He presents a “ladder” for them to continue to add the steps necessary to receive an “entrance” into the Kingdom of God. Without this divine diligence they would fall into “barren and unfruitful” living. Peter exhorts God’s people to give “ALL diligence” to add to their faith the virtues and graces necessary to fulfill the purposes of God.
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity…”
2 Peter 1:5
Why does Peter so powerfully exhort God’s people to this diligence?
“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”
2 Peter 1:8
The cultivation of these graces in our lives is the source of our fruitfulness! Any knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ which leaves us “barren and unfruitful” is the result of a spiritual blindness and a forgetting of the marvelous love which accompanied our salvation.
“But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins”
2 Peter 1:9
Fruitless living is a testimony of our blindness and forgetfulness, in the loss of the wonder of our salvation. The diligent in heart must bear fruit; anything less is a contradiction of the nature and the ways of God (John 15:2).
Peter goes on to declare:
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall…”
2 Peter 1:10
Many speak of election and of being the called of God. Peter here exhorts us to give diligence to “make our calling and election sure”! It is foolish to glory in being called while failing to live diligently; it is a deception of those who hear but do not obey. Read these scriptures carefully, prayerfully, and honestly, for there is no greater delusion than the sin of presumption!
Peter, in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, lays before God’s people the secret of entering into the Kingdom of God: by giving all diligence to the things of God. It is important to read this in the full context for our learning…
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”
2 Peter 1:10-11
Salvation is free and is the result of faith in the mercies and wonder of God in Christ. Entrance into the Kingdom of God requires something far more than a simple confession. Until we realize the difference between an initial salvation and the entering into Kingdom of God, we will continue to see the apathy and the blindness of the Laodicean Church ethos! A gospel which does not make the distinction between these two, where mere confession alone replaces the necessity of diligence, will leave us blind and indifferent to our own condition.
“For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
When confession becomes the standard of the church, when men are satisfied in what they know rather than in what they walk and many are content to live lives which do not impact those in the world around us we can be sure of our desperate condition before God.
Barren is the life which rests upon something other than the development of Christ within.
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth”
Lukewarm living and lives devoid of the works of Faith are the revelation of the Laodicean “spirit”.
The two deadly sins of religion…
1. Faith without works
2. Works without faith.
In Hebrews the Holy spirit declares emphatically…
“And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful…”
There is a stillness required for the true knowledge of God to descend as the dew upon the soul. This knowledge of Him transcends words and religious definitions. It is simply the supremacy of His presence communicating to us the truth of His Holiness and His Power; a touching of the Divine. It is an active stillness as the voices and the clamoring of the demands of the world and the burdens of our own afflictions are silenced and we are overwhelmed by His greatness. The wonder of His Presence quiets the soul and we feel the mastery of His peace.
The call to the Stillness of God is a call to surrender, to new places of the offering of ourselves unto Him. It is from this Stillness that we get the impetus to be active in the work and purposes of the Lord. The faith imparted through our communion with Him, creates a new fervency to declare His glory to the world around us. Faith is the womb of His Works; living faith inspired by the hearing of Him within the confines of our own hearts.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”
There can be no valid doing without true hearing. Where there is no doing it is because there is no hearing. It is in our coming to Him where we hear the Glory of God calling us and sending us to do the works of Him in the earth.
“Come now therefore, and I will send thee…”
The sending forth of an individual into the purposes of God will always be to the one who has first answered the call to come to Him. Many may busy themselves with outward things, many may claim to hear Him, but the verity of a life sent forth is revealed in those who are ever engaged in the heart and the spirit of He who fully pleased and satisfied His (our) heavenly Father.
“I must work the works of Him that sent me…”
Faith instilled in the quiet of relationship will never be idle in its impact upon the lives of others.
“Draw ME and WE will run after Thee”
Song of songs 1:4
“the king hath brought me into his chambers”
Song of songs 1:4
“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.
“Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour”
1 Corinthians 3:8
The reward is according to the labour.
“He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully”
2 Corinthians 9:6
The reaping is in proportion to the sowing.
“Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you”
The receiving of God is in proportion to our faith.
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over”
The receiving of God is in proportion to our giving.
Love is the economy of God and is revealed in our involvement in the lives of others. An isolated life, secluded from others, is a life without purpose. Christ walked the streets. He was touched, reproached and loved by people, the common people. His fields, white unto harvest, is who He walked among, where He ate, and where He spoke words of Life. His life was accessible, His grace undeniable; His influence on the sea of humanity was wide. So will ours be, “according” to our faith.
All of God’s transactions with us are “proportional” to the life lived; graces of Christ given, truth sowed, purity pursued, prayers prayed, and tears wept on behalf of others. There is a reward which awaits the faithful; treasures stored up for those who have labored over the lost, the wayward and the deceived.
Deception is any life which does not spend itself for His Glory.
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him”
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering…”
2 Timothy 4:2
For the preaching of The Word to be effective, it must spring from the source which is the love of God Himself. Care and concern for the status of God’s people is the motive. It does not rise from self-righteousness but from a deep knowing that God is righteous. There is a suffering borne by those who behold apathy and complacency; a pain carried within the hearts of those who feel the call of God to deeper and higher things, who sense a responsibility to cry out in the darkness. The call to speak is greater than the vessel. The need to present God far outweighs the desire for acceptance and friendship. Longsuffering is the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit. It is not an attribute of the flesh, but its hold upon a heart produces a suffering long with the condition of God’s House.
Sin is the reason for the suffering of humanity in its lost condition. Love is the reason for suffering in the godly. Christ suffered most, leaving us an example of what righteousness will bring to one who is growing in the wonder of His light and love.
“For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself…”
Let us consider Him who endured the contradiction of sinners, who suffered long in the midst of a perverse and lost generation. The greatest contradiction was from His own people who, in their blindness, and religious ambition, condemned Him to death, even the death of the Cross. Those who follow on to know Him must experience in some small way the same rejection.
“Love suffers long, Love endures all things”, and, to whatever measure we are held in its sway, there will be a corresponding expression of its virtues. By contrast, apathy cares little, speaks smooth words, is pragmatic and remains uninvolved with the conflicts between light and darkness. It hides itself in religious garments of false separation and indifference just as the priest and the Levite who passed by the man who lay beaten in the streets. It was the despised Samaritan, who involved himself in the plight of this one, of whom the blessed Saviour tells us to “go and DO likewise”.
The true love of God necessitates involvement and personal risk. The religion of men produces insulated living and empty words which lack the one essential thing: Love. The preaching of The Word must be fueled by the fire of the Love of God to make Him known in this world.
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ”
The Grace of God received is revealed in the “necessity” to preach among those to whom the vessel is sent “the unsearchable riches of Christ”. There is no desire to draw men and women unto themselves. They have no church, organization or earthly agendas; they live to make Him known! Grace received can have no other heart!
“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”
1 Corinthians 9:17
There is no room for self-promotion or boasting; it is a burden of “necessity” to preach the Gospel. There is an unction and a fire which burns within those who hold a glimmer of His beauty and wonder. This is not a weak gospel that robs His people of the purity and the power of this love. This is not a casual gospel with a gentle presentation designed to make the wayward comfortable and anesthetized to their own sin. For what is often presented as the “love of God” is in fact a “gospel’ of a god who has been made in their own image and to their own liking.
Where are those who feel the pangs of “necessity” to make Him known in this day? May God pour out upon us a grace that produces lives compelled by the Love of God to make Him known. May He save us from slumber, indifference and ungodly apathy, speaking of “deep” things yet revealing our shallowness through unremarkable living; lives with little or no effect upon the world around us. Let us not claim to have a faith in word but which denies the power of God even within the confines of our own homes. It is time for a new generation to arise who will “Preach the Word” and bring strong exhortations of God to contend with the bondages of a lost generation.
May those who bear His fire in their hearts declare His Word unto the earth and unto the heavens!
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine”
2 Timothy 4:2