“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”
“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…”
“The ministry of Christ is not a profession: ministers are not professional gentlemen; ministers of the right kind are called from eternity, and cannot help uttering what is in them, and they are not always aware of the reach of their own meaning. They pass through periods of madness, wondering what, and what manner of time the Spirit of God within them doth signify when it tells them of coming blue skies and summers that shall encircle the globe, and songs that shall make the welkin ring with infinite joy. Do not bind the poor solitary man down as if he had invented the message, and must grammatically interpret it and bind it within parsing bounds, nor judge him by his after conduct; he is an instrument; through him God sends sounds mysterious, messages beneficent, gospels that are saving. He is not a professional gentleman. If any young men are coming into the ministry as a profession, God hinder them, build up a great granite wall in the face of them and starve them until they begin to repent and pray. We are either in the Kingdom of God or we are not in it, we cannot climb into it by ways of our own making and processes of our own invention: and if we are in it men will know by a subtle, mysterious, magnetic music and power that we have something to say not to be found on the decaying and fading pages of earthly wisdom.”
– Joseph Parker (Sermons on the Gospel of John)
“There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all temptations. As it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thoughts to any other. If it be betrayed, it bears it, for its ground and spring is the mercies and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love unfeigned; it takes its kingdom with entreaty and not with contention, and keeps it by lowliness of mind. In God alone it can rejoice, though none else regard it, or can own its life. It is conceived in sorrow, and brought forth without any to pity it, nor doth it murmur at grief and oppression. It never rejoiceth but through sufferings; for with the world’s joy it is murdered. I found it alone, being forsaken. I have fellowship therein with them who lived in dens and desolate places in the earth, who through death obtained this resurrection and eternal holy life”
– J. Nayler
“For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”
The power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ lies not in the words and the doctrine of it; its true power lies in the Love of it. The Love of God IS the Gospel; more than a message, a doctrine or a teaching, the Gospel is in itself the expression of God’s love to His fallen creation. It is the WHY which caused God to send “His only begotten Son”. Until those who declare it comprehend its true power, it will remain an impoverished message. It must be expressed from the lives of those who bear in their hearts the passion of God’s WHY!
“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power…”
1 Corinthians 4:20
What is this power? What is the flame which enabled men and women of old to turn the world upside down? What is the glory of God which fills the heavens with awe, worship and exaltation? It is the God of Holiness and His undimmed fiery Love. A Love so incomprehensible that Paul had to pray for the Church at Ephesus to be “strengthened with might” in order for them to be able to comprehend the “breadth, and length, and depth, and height” of the Love of God.
A loveless gospel is a powerless Gospel. The Church is not perishing for lack of knowledge; she is languishing from the loss of the dynamic of His love (Revelation 2:4-5). Love is the furnace, the fire and the very essence of God Himself. In the midst of all of our correct doctrine God’s decree stands as the Divine witness against our true state:
“He that loveth not knoweth not… for God is Love”
1 John 4:8
Those who hold within their hearts even the faintest quintessence of this Love cannot remain untouched in heart. They cannot sit in faithless inactivity or take comfort in a knowledge bereft of the Divine heartbeat. Many would rather discuss the correctness of the words rather than feel the burning power of the God of the message. The world will remain untouched by those who share from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge rather than the power of the Law of Life in Christ Jesus. The Gospel is not a WHAT, it is a WHO.
The cry of God is summed up simply:
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…”
It is impossible to hold the love of God within your heart and not feel the anguish, the urge and the pulse of the Almighty to express His Light and Life into this world.
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men”
“There is too much theology in the Church now, and too little of the Gospel”
God’s blessings fall in peculiar places. What men esteem wise and good, God sees quite differently.
“…for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God”
It is the purpose and mandate of the Holy Spirit to lead and to guide us into all truth. Truth is the sole agency by which we grow, comprehend and (most importantly) become true within. In order for us to become a blessing to God the Father we must grow in the understanding of where His blessings fall. His blessings fall upon that which pleases Him.
“Blessed are they which do hunger…”
In the Wisdom of God man was created with needs. In the brief outline afforded us (Genesis), the necessary provisions for the sustenance of man were created before the man. This reveals that the essential element of hunger is God inspired. Hunger is therefore an exposé of a healthy life. It is an inherent ideal of the human composition.
In the fall of Adam, man essentially fell into himself. Instead of God being the provider, sustainer and center of creation, man became the epicenter and focus of his own life. How quickly the joy and simplicity of the first created life became twisted into the paradigm of self. From this new self-centered nature, we see the horror of envy and jealously arise. These result in murder and the corresponding judgment of man being alienated from the righteousness (right being) of God. From this fallen nature man was enslaved by the tyranny of self by which this world was made subject to vanity. Into this bleak and fallen world steps the True Man; the Light and full thought of God clothed in the fabric of human flesh.
In His first discourse to the multitudes Jesus begins with the elemental dissertation of the Kingdom of God: “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. In other words, blessed are those who recognize their own poverty apart from God. Blessed are those who feel the absence and the need for the Life and Wonder of God residing within. There is a blessedness in our poverty of spirit for it is the matrix of all who would enter the Kingdom of God. The rich, the self-sufficient and the self-righteous are excluded from the wonder of God’s provisions. The Kingdom of God stands in stark contrast to those who seek the kingdom of self and all of its associated sorrows.
“…as poor, yet making many rich”
2 Corinthians 6:10
The validity of the true poverty in spirit will always be revealed in the lives of those who make others rich by the pure ministration of the wealth and wonder of God. God’s grace ever fills the empty with the fullness of Himself. He pours out the living waters upon those who thirst; His living bread is food for those who hunger. The weak are made strong and the pure in heart “see” God. How good is our God and His ways past finding out.
“…blessed are those who hear and obey God’s word”
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life”
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us…”
The simplicity of true and powerful ministry has been lost, to a large degree, in our fast-paced world of data and information. Here we see true ministry described in the simplest of terms: personal relationship with Christ. The ministry of an individual believer is the result of hearing, seeing, and handling Him, the Word of Life! It is not the echoing of something we have heard or read from others (as good as that may be); it is in our own partaking of the Living Christ whereby we share what “we have seen and heard”! It is this personal sharing of Christ that is the basis of true fellowship. There is a union of believers in the knowing of this One Body in Christ! Whenever men and women ascribe to the doctrines/teachings of men there is division and chaos; the discordant and unruly hearts of men seek to draw others to themselves rather than to Christ. The Kingdom of God is revealed in unity and power. It is in partaking of the Bread of Life that we are brought into the realization of Him as the Head of us all; His heart beating and binding us into the cords and bonds of His love.
“For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread”
1 Corinthians 10:17
This unity is the evidence that we are partakers of the One Bread. It is the miracle of His Life that makes us the One Bread and the One Body. It is in this wonder at work that the wheat and the tares are revealed, and that day is upon us.
“Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn”
We are living in the Day of the Harvest and even now this great work of God is evident. Isaac and Ishmael cannot co-exist though both of them are the offspring of Faith (Abraham); Isaac is of the womb of Rachel and Ishmael is of the womb of Hagar the Egyptian. One seeks the City of God whose builder and maker is God; the other seeks to build their own ministry/church/city and put their name on it. (See Galatians Chapter 4) Even Peter, on the Mount of Transfiguration, wanted to build “three tabernacles”. It is an inherent need of fallen man to build things unto God and name them after themselves. Peter was rebuked by the Father for such an idea.
“For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples…”
It will be become more and more apparent those who are partaking of the One Bread and those who are not. The singularity of partaking of Christ alone is what propels His people into the Unity of His Spirit. Those who are content with the division and sectarianism of our day have not yet touched or felt the wonder of gathering together unto Him. We become what we eat and drink. His flesh is meat indeed and His blood is life. It is from this ministration that all who are His come together.
“Then Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves. The one partaking of My flesh and drinking of My blood has everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is truly food, and My blood is truly drink. The one partaking of My flesh and drinking of My blood abides in Me, and I in him”
The Kingdom of God is Christ. He is the Kingdom. Our entrance into this Life can only be known by partaking and abiding in Him. There is an inherent need to be joined with others who are also abiding in Him. “Deep calleth unto deep”, life unto life. It is the desire of the hand to know the living connection it has to the foot, likewise the eye to the ear. The Kingdom of God is a living, breathing, organism which is NOT of this world. It is heavenly, spiritual and, above all, vitally joined in Christ who is the Head.
“But now, indeed, many are the members, but one body. And the eye is not able to say to the hand, I have no need of you; or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.”
1 Corinthians 12:20-21
Those who are truly in Christ are NOT ABLE to say to another member “I have no need of you”. If we are partaking of Him, one would have to deny the very life of Christ within to say such a thing. If we are in Him, we know intuitively that we need one another just as the hand needs the foot and the eye needs the ear. It is only the proud and the arrogant who think they are sufficient in themselves to meet the needs of “their” congregation or assembly.
The Kingdom of God is being raised in this day out of the debris of the methods and arrogancy of men and their selfish endeavors (“my flock”, “my church”, “my ministry”), into the wonder of those who live with such selflessness that they esteem others as more worthy than themselves. This is happening as His people partake of and minister the ONE BREAD. The Unity of the Spirit will culminate in the Unity of the Faith. Let us walk carefully before the Lord to minister His word out of a pure heart.
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind”
“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven”
The simplicity of this walk is what makes it so profound. In our submission to Him the scriptures concerning Him become true in us. There is a natural fulfilling of them as His life unfolds within. To pray, exhort, admonish and encourage another life is an outflow of His love. Concern for His Father’s house is a result of the Law of His Life. If there is no concern for the lives of others, for our brothers’ and sisters’ walks, we are outside the grip of His Life within. Paul wrote of Timothy:
“For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s”
Wherever and whenever Christ is reigning within, we will be freed from the seeking of our own things and will be servants to the things which are His! Living for self is eclipsed by a concern for the things which are Christ’s. We become stewards of God; we are no longer living for self by the power of self. Our life is now centered upon the care and the concern of His Church.
“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”
1 Corinthians 4:1-2
The call to stewardship requires faithfulness to Him whereby our growth and development brings us to the place of ministry.
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry”
1 Timothy 1:12
This ministration has nothing to do with Bible schools, denominational accreditation or seeking the approval of men. It is a ministry that arises from the call of God unto a life of obedience and faithfulness to Him.
“Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
Obedience is love in action.
Obedience is the path to power. When obedience is growing within a heart there will be a corresponding increase of the dynamic life of Christ within; it reveals our submission to Him. His Lordship within the life of an individual is expressed through the medium of obedience. In the religious world a “spiritual” life and appearing “pious” can mask the true condition of a heart. Prayer, “false humility” (Colossians 2:23), and a thorough knowledge of the scriptures may all be but superficial expressions of a proud and unsubmissive heart.
“If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations… “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh…”
The Kingdom of God is known by the power He has over the unruly desires of our hearts. It is not a life of “appearances”; it is a life of freedom from the First Adam by our submission to the Living Christ. His Kingdom reigning within liberates us from the horror of outward appearance (hypocrisy) and brings us into the simplicity of His nature. Romans, Chapter 7 is an accurate description of a life of “trying” to be spiritual without the power and unction of Christ within.
“And I have no clear knowledge of what I am doing, for that which I have a mind to do, I do not, but what I have hate for, that I do. But, if I do that which I have no mind to do, I am in agreement with the law that the law is good. So it is no longer I who do it, but the sin living in me.”
The Kingdom of God is known by a life of freedom to His Will, His Thoughts, and His Nature. This Kingdom cannot be held within the flimsy grasp of teachings and concepts. Though these things may be scripturally accurate and may hold a “form” of the life that God is after, it still requires the life and power of Christ to walk and live them. He is the Word. He is the Word made flesh Who came and dwelt among us. Yet, even with Him in their midst, the disciples exhibited very little change over the course of three and a half years. Why? A Christ with us (Emanuel) will not save us from within!
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”
The Emanuel had to go away for the power of our salvation is not in a Christ without but the living Christ within! The Lamb of God came to earth as Emanuel in order to pay the price for our salvation, but it is in His going away and coming back to His Own as the Christ within that He is now becoming our salvation. It is as He lives and reigns within our hearts that we can live in the “liberty wherein Christ has made us free”. Paul declares the wonder of this marvelous truth:
“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we preach…”
It is the Christ within who is our hope and surety of Glory. An outward conformity, achieved through the power of self, is religion at its worst; it is the womb of hypocrisy and scandal. The Kingdom of God is not in Word, it is in power; power to live and move within the spectrum of His life. Obedience is simply the fruit of Him living in us.
Contrary to much of what we hear, the Kingdom of God is not in word.
“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power”
1 Corinthians 4:20
May God help us to see that the Kingdom of God does not lie in teachings, doctrines and messages; it has very little to do with such. It is a Kingdom of Power, Substance and Reality. There is nothing ethereal, unsubstantive, or virtual about its existence. Those who consider it to be an intellectual message or concept are deceived and do not understand the truth of it. The Kingdom of God is known by the power it wields over its subjects. It is revealed within the lives of those who are growing and developing in the life and wonder of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Obedience is the dominant expression of a heart in pursuit of its reality. The Kingdom of God speaks of the Lordship and Reign of Christ; wherever He reigns is where His Kingdom is coming to be.
“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”
How can we speak of the Kingdom of God without this fundamental truth? Obedience is the underlying principle of His Kingdom. In our day of an antinomian gospel we speak of a “kingdom” in which we simply confess He is Lord and then live our lives as we see fit and expect to have access to His Kingdom promises! It is a staggering and bewildering concept.
“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city”
It is not enough to know His commandments; the entering into this magnificent City is based solely on the doing of His commandments. His Word is clear and unmistakable. Let these words ring within the sanctum of our own hearts; meditate and hold all our actions to this one great rule of the Kingdom: