“We have been rescued, ransomed, redeemed out of our old natural life, under the power of sin, utterly and eternally. Sin has not the slightest claim on us, nor the slightest power over us, except as our ignorance or unbelief or half-heartedness allows it to have dominion. Our New Covenant birthright is to stand in the freedom with which Christ has made us free. Until the soul sees, and accepts and desires, and claims the redemption and the liberty which has the blood of the Son of God for its purchase price, and its measure, and its security, it never can fully live the New Covenant life.”
Andrew Murray, The Two Covenants
"Nothing interrupts the normal flow of ordinary life so much as love."
The World of Silence
* * * *
We know and, to some extent realise, the love of God for us because Christ expressed it in laying down his life for us. We must in turn express our love by laying down our lives for those who are our brothers...
And if, dear friends of mine, when we realise this our hearts no longer accuse us, we may have the utmost confidence in God’s presence. We receive whatever we ask for, because we are obeying his orders and following his plans. His orders are that we should put our trust in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another—as we used to hear him say in person. (1 John 3:16, 21-23)
Then Jesus came to Nazareth where he had been brought up and, according to his custom, went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read the scriptures and the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book and found the place where these words are written—‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord’.
Then he shut the book, handed it back to the attendant and resumed his seat. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed upon him and he began to tell them, “This very day this scripture has been fulfilled, while you were listening to it!” (Luke 4:16-21, Phillips)
* * *
A couple months ago, it struck me that this may be one of the most instructive moments we ever witness in the life of Jesus. At the very beginning of what we would call His “ministry years,” He is essentially saying He’s already finished: His personal presence is the eternal answer to our hearts’ every question. Yes, we still require to know Him better, to hear His teaching, to watch the miracles in all they reveal to us of the heart of God. Yes, the Cross will represent the required atonement for our sin; the Resurrection the needful freeing we require from death.
But… here with Jesus, here at the beginning of His ministry, here with some of His first hearers hearing His teachings, He is telling them and us--what?
That He Himself is the place of the Spirit’s presence; that He Himself is the Good News of the Kingdom; that He Himself is the place of perpetual, once-for-all-time freedom; that He Himself is the experience of finally receiving sight; that He Himself is deliverance—both for each of us and for others; that He Himself is the Jubilee, the final freeing, the heart’s release; that He Himself is the beginning, means and end of everything intended for humankind since the moment of our Creation.
Is that how you understand the totality of the Person of Jesus? Is He Himself--for you—everything that He truly is?
"This fact of the historical Christ brings a high degree of certainty and authority, but not full certainty and authority. For, after all, if Jesus is only historical, it would be authority outside ourselves standing in history. No authority from without can be complete authority for us, unless it can become identified with our very selves, and can speak from within. The Christ of history must become the Christ within. We cannot live upon a remembrance, however beautiful. We can only live upon a realization. But Jesus becomes that. He told his disciples that it was expedient for him to go away, so he went, but ‘he changed his presence for his omnipresence.’ He came back more vital than before. Timid believers became irresistible apostles, for Christ had moved into their inmost souls. Life became merged: ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; and yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,’ cries the transformed Paul. Archimedes, after pondering a mathematical problem, suddenly finds the solution, and in his excitement rushes up the street crying, ‘Eureka, I’ve got it!’ These men, pondering deeper problems, find a deeper solution, and cry from deeper depths: ‘We’ve got it.’ Christ becomes self-evidencing. The historical passes into the experimental. They become witnesses."
E. Stanley Jones
Christ at the Round Table
“The Spirit took his own means to found and to spread Christendom before a single apostolic step had left Jerusalem. It prepared the way before itself. Yet this was but a demonstration, as it were; the real work was now to begin, and the burden of the work was accepted by the group [of disciples] in the city. That work was the regeneration of mankind. That word has, too often, lost its force; it should be recovered. The apostles set out to generate mankind anew.
“They had not the language; they had not the ideas; they had to discover everything. They had only one fact, and that was that it had happened. Messiah had come, and been killed, and risen; and they had been dead ‘in trespasses and sin,’ and now they were not. They were regenerate; so might everyone be.”
The Descent of the Dove
Two criminals crucified with Jesus
TWO CRIMINALS WERE ALSO LED out with him for execution…
One of the criminals hanging there covered him with abuse, and said, “Aren’t you Christ? Why don’t you save yourself—and us?”
But the other one checked him with the words, “Aren’t you afraid of God even when you’re getting the same punishment as he is? And it’s fair enough for us, for we’ve only got what we deserve, but this man never did anything wrong in his life.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
And Jesus answered, “I tell you truly, this day you will be with me in paradise.”
Later that evening…
TOWARDS THE END, he would cast his glance to the left—to the now-empty cross of the teacher—and his struggling breaths would continually offer up last words. He offered up his last words perhaps one hundred times that evening. (They had broken his legs an hour or two before this.) When he turned his gaze, his darting glimpse a fragmentary impression of the scene, he would snatch another look at that empty cross; consider it. From the horizontal downward, the vertical was a river’s delta of dried blood. Its color veined and spider-webbed its way down to the earth. The earth below had a black puddle; blood drops all around. The empty cross seemed to tell a story he didn’t fully understand.
The flesh of his hands and arms was beginning to tear from the full weight of his body hanging—his broken legs sagged, twisted, beneath him. Each and every breath was shallower; agony. He could hear the groans of his former partner-in-crime, farther past.
When the end came, it came, mercifully, quickly.
The breaths became exhausting, exhausted.
He could feel his head start swaying forward and to the right.
His neck now held no power to hold it up…
And when he “awoke,” he was walking through a grand overwhelming door (more like a gateway), all of gold, entering into an impossibly cavernous interior space. He was vaguely aware of infinitudes of forms—huge glorious figures and radiant-faced individuals—watching him: but he focused all his attentions on continuing forward.
For there—up ahead—up a three-stepped stairway ending in a molten golden dais—was the Throne of Heaven and--
The happy thief, for the second time that day, spoke aloud his name:
And the man on the Throne smiled and said to him: “Now didn’t I tell you?”
“A God humiliated, even to the death on the cross; a Messiah triumphing over death by his own death. Two natures in Jesus Christ, two advents, two states of man's nature.
“Saviour, father, sacrificer, offering, food, king, wise, law-giver, afflicted, poor, having to create a people whom He must lead and nourish and bring into His land...
“He alone had to create a great people, elect, holy, and chosen; to lead, nourish, and bring it into the place of rest and holiness; to make it holy to God; to make it the temple of God; to reconcile it to, and, save it from, the wrath of God; to free it from the slavery of sin, which visibly reigns in man; to give laws to this people, and engrave these laws on their heart; to offer Himself to God for them, and sacrifice Himself for them; to be a victim without blemish, and Himself the sacrificer, having to offer Himself, His body, and His blood, and yet to offer bread and wine to God...”
You and Joseph of Arimathea arrive together at Golgotha.
The daytime crowds have dispersed.
The two criminals are sagging, dying; their legs just broken.
The Cross of Jesus has been uprooted from its post-hole; it is lying, with Him atop it--dead—in the dust and the dirt.
You and Joseph approach the body with awe; with hesitance.
You are quietly regarding that face; His closed eyes.
Together you kneel beside Him.
Together you begin to remove the nails.
You begin to anoint Jesus.
You will wrap Him when you’re done…
Within an hour, you have finished the work, taken the body down the hill, away from the city, to the tomb prepared beforehand by Joseph. The ending takes only moments. You carry the body inside, stooping your heads low as you enter into the darkness of the interior, and lay the body on the bench at the back. You bow your heads, silent, and then retreat outside. A large crew of men is required to roll the stone across the tomb’s mouth. The evening air is still and silent.
As you and Joseph walk away, you are likewise silent; you are each thinking your own thoughts about this tragic ending of something that you thought was everything. You can only imagine what Joseph is thinking. . .
You are thinking of something you’ve been thinking about all day. . .
Of that night with the Teacher, nearly exactly three years ago, sitting on a rooftop terrace, as He looked off over the moonlit city. And of His words to you on that night:
“The Son of Man must be lifted above the heads of men—as Moses lifted up that serpent in the desert—so that any man who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that every one who believes in him shall not be lost, but should have eternal life. You must understand that God has not sent his Son into the world to pass sentence upon it, but to save it—through him. Any man who believes in him is not judged at all.”
That is what Nicodemus is thinking of, as he walks away…
“It is a poor sort of faith that imagines Christ defeated by anything men can do. Make no mistake: he has already survived everything we can do to him. And as for saving the world, we ought to remember that he has done that too by his method, not ours—the method of opening the door to the Kingdom of Heaven…
“That is the other Christianity, the Kingdom that is not of this world. He told us how to come out of [the world’s] thick darkness into that light; it is done by loving God, and the means to that is loving men. So simple a statement, and yet we have found so many ways of misinterpreting it!…
“And perhaps Christianity, if we ever embrace it not for our own worldly advantage but through surrender to God, will not only enable us to obey the Ten Commandments but enable us to enjoy it; not only save this transitory world for the few perplexed years we spend in it, but bring us out of this noise and darkness and helplessness and terror that we call the world into the full Light... We men are all thieves who have stolen the self which was meant as a part of God and tried to keep it for ourselves alone. But if we give it up again, we might hear the words he spoke to a penitent thief once: ‘Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.’”
Smoke On The Mountain
By Henry Vaughan
My Soul, there is a country
Afar beyond the stars,
Where stands a winged sentry
All skillful in the wars;
There, above noise and danger
Sweet Peace sits, crown’d with smiles,
And One born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files.
He is thy gracious friend
And (O my Soul awake!)
Did in pure love descend,
To die here for thy sake.
If thou canst get but thither,
There grows the flow’r of peace,
The rose that cannot wither,
Thy fortress, and thy ease.
Leave then thy foolish ranges,
For none can thee secure,
But One, who never changes,
Thy God, thy life, thy cure.
Salvation comes not by “accepting the finished work” or “deciding for Christ.” It comes by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, the whole, living, victorious Lord who, as God and man, fought our fight and won it, accepted our debt as His own and paid it, took our sins and died under them and rose again to set us free. This is the true Christ, and nothing less will do…
The argument of the apostles is that the Man Jesus has been made higher than angels, higher than Moses and Aaron, higher than any creature in earth or heaven. And this exalted position He attained as a man. As God He already stood infinitely above all other beings. No argument was needed to prove the transcendence of the Godhead. The apostles were not declaring the preeminence of God, which would have been superfluous, but of a man, which was necessary.
Those first Christians believed that Jesus of Nazareth, a man they knew, had been raised to a position of Lordship over the universe. He was still their friend, still one of them, but had left them for a while to appear in the presence of God on their behalf. And the proof of this was the presence of the Holy Spirit among them.
One cause of our moral weakness today is an inadequate Christology. We think of Christ as God but fail to conceive of Him as a man glorified. To recapture the power of the Early Church we must believe what they believed. And they believed they had a God-approved man representing them in heaven.
Man: The Dwelling Place of God
“The gospel is not the presentation of an idea but the operation of a power. When the gospel is preached, it is not merely an utterance; it is something that occurs.”
Commentary on Romans
12 Never forget your Savior in any day of your earthly life, for the days are His and of them is made a life which is meant to express His good pleasure; as the sun rises and sets, as the moon and stars shine in their nighttime courses, you are living out the hours in which to encounter Him, know Him, show Him to the world; when you cross your threshold—going out into the world, everywhere, as His personal envoy—your life is meant to sing of His life like a springtime bird sings its anthem. So be joyous that the Holy One has called you to His side, to His Way; has made His home within you; His Cross has freed you forever: you may move through life with head held high, peace and joy your reality, because all your life is on its way Home—death is nothing to you; the days are places of rich personal encounter with Him; He will provide for your needs; and, again, all of this can only end with you in His presence forever. Glorious meaning of all meanings! says this disciple; all in Jesus is glorious meaning!
I am a person just like you, seeking to learn from life, and have weighed, considered and tested many of the wisdoms that the world offers to man. I have tried its forms of delight, and sought to better myself with the “truths” it upholds as eternal; fixed.
The ways of the earth are like “shifting shadows,” like paths leading everywhere and yet nowhere; its wisdoms as diffuse as the sons of men. Brothers and sisters, there is only one Way. To know Jesus is an endless source of wonder, and everything you give in His direction is toward an infinite gain.
The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, life and life eternal: all of these are Jesus. Abide in Him and obey His voice, for this is the joy of His disciples. He Himself will show you how to follow Him—He will reveal His hidden wisdoms—for He is good.
11 Cast your cares upon the One who is the Bread of Life,
for He is the meaning of our days.
Give yourself to Him every day of every week,
for you know not their meaning; and He does.
He “sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous,”
and empties His mercy even upon the unmerciful;
He took the curse for all by hanging upon a tree--
in that place where the tree stood, all is already finished.
Let us listen for the winding winds of the Spirit,
and regard well the ways of the Way of Jesus.
Since we know that the Spirit comes from Jesus and the Father, so we know the way to know the work He means us to do.
Each morning meet Him; every evening consider your day together; for you know that what is in Him will prosper, no matter what, and that a day with Him is always for your good.
His light is life, and it pleasant for the eyes of our heart to regard the Son.
No matter the length of your life, “this is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And remember: each day is suited to the experience of His presence; every day may find its meaning and purpose in pursuit of Him.
Brothers and sisters, let us rejoice! May our hearts be full of His joy today! Let us walk in His ways with our eyes firmly fixed on Him! For we know that we’ve been set free of judgment: you and I are free!
Today, I set aside all anxiety, distrust and unbelief; I take up your joy and peace; I embrace your plans and purposes. All in you, Jesus, is wonder and glory. Amen.
8 Who looks like Jesus?
He who interprets all his existence through Him.
Daily experience of Jesus alters the outward countenance,
and His wondrous joy becomes our inner and outer life.
I remind you: Follow our King’s words and Way, because of the New Covenant He has set with our Father. Be ever in His presence; never outside. Take the positions He Himself took in this world; never others. For the Way of our King is magnificent and unassailable, and none are those who can honestly say of it, “This is not the highest.” Each of us who keeps upon it, walking its straight narrowness, finds it daily to be life, and its footfalls to be the path unto wisdom and righteousness. For it is sweeping in its breadth of experience, because it is the living Way of a Man who Himself lived through all earthly trials. For He tasted every part of our existence; who can say that Jesus doesn’t understand us? No other has ever perfectly walked in obedience, guided perfectly by the Spirit of God, all the way to the point of dying a willed death. There was no shirking it: He died to free all people of their wickedness; to deliver mankind from the “vicious circle of sin and death.” (All this we know, of course, but what I’m endeavoring to do is draw these truths a little lower: all the way down from your head to your heart. I want to see you knowing these things, not knowing about them.)
Too, the Righteous One was buried for us. He who’d freely walked the earth, going in and out of towns, villages, synagogues, homes, was truly dead and gone. This was part of His most glorious glory. Because the sentence hanging over our heads—the penalty due for all who’d engaged in sin—involved our dying, He both died for us and was dead for us. And though a world of sinners continues on with their lives, we know the truth: it may be instantly well if they will only hear, turn, repent and believe. Yes, all mankind—from the saintliest earthly saint to the vilest wicked man or woman—is only a repentant half-turn away from the face of salvation. The Cross and Tomb are both right here: available.
This is the meaning of our heavenly-earthly lives upon this earth, that each of us is meant to live out His righteousness, in His love and mercy, so that all people, everywhere, can sense the goodness of His righteousness, love and mercy. I tell you, this is a wondrous purpose! And He has given us His own peace and joy, for all people need to see His heavenly attributes lived in regular human lives, just like ours. These attributes will always linger long after we leave them; His Way with them begins as they see Heaven’s ways right in their midst.
And as we give ourselves to knowing Jesus, and to carrying out His work upon the earth—hindered by nothing because He is limitlessly powerful—we will get to see the wonders of God in our day, and that there are no things impossible because of the Son and His Spirit. Indeed, the more we seek Him out, the more we find of Him. Even the simplest person can find untold riches of wisdom by simply seeking Jesus.
4 We have seen the way the Son bore all the embarrassments, indignities, and sufferings which are common to mankind. And look! He even shed tears with us in our pain, and was the comforter of all who mourned. Then He put Himself between the powerful oppressor of humanity, and defeated that one who’d robbed us of all comfort. And when that evil one thought that Jesus was dead—slinking off in his diabolical sense of cosmic triumph—he was in for the rudest sort of surprise, wasn’t he? For better than a martyr who’d die to set us free, leaving us orphans yet under the power of the evil one, is this One who’d die and return to us. That is the glory of this deed done by the perfect Son!
Now we see that all our lives and all the work intended for us is to acquaint mankind, all our “neighbors,” with the finished work of Jesus. This is our purpose and a work we do in tandem with the Holy Spirit.
The wise man gets to work on this, and abides in Christ.
What a joy it is to walk in perfect peace with the One who formed us by His hand, and now fills us with His own Spirit!
Again, I get glimpses of this great purpose of ours: one person may always help another, whether they be close acquaintances or strangers, for there is never any end to the people we’ll meet, and our eyes are almost always upon another who needs Him, so that we need never ask, “What is your will, Lord Jesus?” For there they are: people are the direction of God’s love: what a joy to partner with Him to reach everyone, everywhere, everyday.
And remember: We are never alone. We are forearmed with the power of the One who’s already lived this life. If we stumble, He is there to lift us up. Always. How foolish of us to forget He is ever with us or to neglect to call upon Him for the help that He so delightedly gives! Whether we are lying down, or rising up, or sitting at work, He is there beside us, and within us. And if we ever forget the nearness of His presence, He has given us an internal witness—His own heartbeat, the Holy Spirit, now lives inside us.
How much better to be “poor in spirit,” possessing the Kingdom of Heaven today, than to live like the king of a land whose boundary-lines are ever encroaching; diminishing. For it is a form of imprisonment to try to found a life upon this world; it is a poverty-existence to found your hope upon this kingdom of sand. You and I may rise and live—we may follow after the Son with our everything today: He is the only King who stooped to save His every subject. And there’s no end of Him: He is infinite in His love and loveliness. Those who’ll follow after us will know Him by how we know Him today. Surely this, too, is our purpose and a joyous pursuit of His glory.
3 Under the new economy of Heaven, there is a new season and a new Way for every matter upon the earth:
an opportunity to be reborn, and a chance never to die;
a call to plant seed, and a sending-out to reap the harvest;
a cheek to learn to turn; and His touch, through us, to heal;
an enemy already vanquished, and a Kingdom to upbuild;
a heart to weep with those who mourn; joy to laugh an honest laughter;
a comfort, within, everyday; a dance prepared for the Wedding Feast;
a freedom from judgment, and freedom from the need, ever, to judge;
a love that embraces all, and arms to be His own embrace;
a seeking that always finds, a losing-all that wills to gain all;
an eternal invitation, never to be lost, and no time to be lost in its enjoyment;
a Voice that calls away, and the same Voice who sends out;
the joy of His quiet presence, and the ecstasy of His alive life:
ever loved, freed from all hate and hatefulness;
sent to a cosmic battle that is only to be won through His peace.
What an unbelievable gain has the disciple in what he does for Jesus! I myself have experienced the joy that He has given to His sons and daughters, when consumed with that wondrous work. From within, He makes each of our days a journey with Himself. Yet, even still, He has made this Way an eternal pursuit: the day-by-day of life is swallowed up in the everlasting; the infinite. And I have learned that there is nothing higher, nothing better, than for us to live out His joy, His peace, so long as we live; also that we should learn, in quiet trust, simply to wait upon His provision—it is His promise unto us.
I have found that everything Jesus has done is “finished,” accomplished; the reconciliation of God and man is complete in Him. Every man, woman and child stands at the precipice of salvation; that which is done for them abides: God seeks to save all--through us.
And under the reign of the Son, there is eternal justice by bestowal of His righteousness, even where there was only wickedness before. He says in our hearts, “I came, not to judge the world, but to save it”—this was the purpose of His time, His ministry, His work. Too, He tells us that as sons and daughters of His, He will use all of our circumstances to train us and to purify our hearts. What happens to us is never in vain; as tragedy strikes, or uplift comes, He is working out His will in us. All we’ll ever know will come to us through His hand; there will be nothing in our journey that lacks His purpose and meaning. For all of it leads us back to Him. We are His work, and we walk His Way in His direction. We know where His Spirit within us tends: following after Him is leading us ever Heavenward. Thus I know that there is nothing higher, nothing better, than that we should rejoice in Him today, for that is the true heart of abiding.
Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
2 He says in my heart now, “Come to Me; I will be your enjoyment; find your whole life in Me.” And look! I have found it to be true. He says of joy, “It is I Myself,” and of delight, “It is yours—come and take it.” I looked inside my heart to find the joy of His life—my heart the place of His personal residence—and I found His Spirit there, showing me what is good for His sons and daughters to be, and to do, during the fleeting days of their earthly lives. We are His great work. He is building us up as houses, temples, branches in the vineyard, of His own creation. He is making us into fruitful places, works of art, planting in us the virtues and beauties of His own virtue and beauty. He has filled us with “the oil of joy”—His Holy Spirit—so that our inner lives are ever watered; ever vibrant. We, His servants, are no longer slaves: we have been born a second time into sharing a place at the Family Table. All He has is ours: “the cattle on a thousand hills” belong to Him: now they belong to us. He will give us what we need—our daily bread—from the infinite storehouses of the same One who made manna. He will sing over us, we brothers and sister of His, and He will provide for us: He delights in His sons and daughters.
He is great, and He is beyond everything and everyone who has ever walked the face of the earth. And His Way and wisdom abide with us. And whatever we ask in His name He will not keep from us. He holds nothing back that is for our good, for His heart finds joy in our enjoyment of Him: this is our experience of the life of Heaven. Let us consider all that He has done for us, all the sacrifice and love He has already shown us, and remember! He is our meaning and our purpose within this life, and there is everything to be gained in the Son.
So let us turn to consider His wisdom and Way and righteousness. For what else can the man do who follows after the King of Kings? Only what he sees the Son doing—who thus watched the Father. And thus we see that there is infinitely more to know and gain of Him; there is no end to One who is both light and life. It is our wisdom to watch Him; we walk His Way by following Him. Abiding in Jesus is the heart’s highest sense of perception. Then He may say to our hearts, “What I have done, you may do. I will be your wisdom, and I will make you wise.” And I have found this to be true in my own heart. For if I remember and encounter Jesus, both historically and contemporaneously, I see that the days are rich and robust with His presence. His life and death become wisdom and joy to me! Oh, I love Him, because what the Son is doing in me is glorious beyond all telling, for it is His life and death and resurrection all over again--in me.
Too, I love the work He’s calling me to, seeing the way it spreads His Way to the generations who’ll come after me—who knows how far my life’s work may go? Those to come, the ones to whom I’ll carry the Gospel, may come to know the Son even better than I. Isn’t that wonderful? And it is for that reason that I rise to each new day and give my heart to Him who is the purpose of each new day, for in this way another who is struggling to find wisdom and a way to life may find them—through me—by observing my own pursuit. Isn’t that the highest version of my human life? In the end, what will any man or woman hold in their hands but those strivings and pursuits that have followed in the Way of the Son? Our days with Him are joy; our work for Him is life. Even in the midst of the darkest night, He is with us. For this too He promises.
There is nothing finer for a man or woman than that they should eat of Jesus, drink of Jesus, abide in Jesus, and follow Jesus. His is the hand of God, and, of Him, we may eat and drink and abide and find our full enjoyment. And from this One who perfectly pleases His Father—who has fulfilled all righteousness—we receive all wisdom and knowledge and joy, and this to sinners like us! Yes, to “those who needed a doctor,” He has given the business of knowing Him, following Him, coming into the full pleasure of God. This is our life’s meaning and purpose—and God’s plan.
"...this is one of the most crucial definitions for the whole of Christianity; that the opposite of sin is not virtue but faith."
The Sickness Unto Death
* * *
"We, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, know that a man is justified not by performing what the Law commands but by faith in Jesus Christ. We ourselves are justified by our faith and not by our obedience to the Law, for we have recognised that no one can achieve justification by doing the 'works of the Law.' Now if, as we seek the real truth about justification, we find we are as much sinners as the Gentiles, does that mean that Christ makes us sinners? Of course not! But if I attempt to build again the whole structure of justification by the Law then I do, in earnest, make myself a sinner. For under the Law I 'died,' and now I am dead to the Law’s demands so that I may live for God. As far as the Law is concerned I may consider that I died on the cross with Christ. And my present life is not that of the old 'I,' but the living Christ within me. The bodily life I now live, I live believing in the Son of God, who loved me and sacrificed himself for me. Consequently I refuse to stultify the grace of God by reverting to the Law. For if righteousness were possible under the Law then Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:15-21, Phillips)
“The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
1 John 1:7
“CLEANSETH,” SAYS THE TEXT—not “shall cleanse.” There are multitudes who think that as a dying hope they may look forward to pardon. Oh! how infinitely better to have cleansing now than to depend on the bare possibility of forgiveness when I come to die. Some imagine that a sense of pardon is an attainment only obtainable after many years of Christian experience. But forgiveness of sin is a present thing—a privilege for this day, a joy for this very hour. The moment a sinner trusts Jesus he is fully forgiven. The text, being written in the present tense, also indicates continuance; it was “cleanseth” yesterday, it is “cleanseth” today, it will be “cleanseth” tomorrow: it will be always so with you, Christian, until you cross the river; every hour you may come to this fountain, for it cleanseth still. Notice, likewise, the completeness of the cleansing, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin”—not only from sin, but “from all sin.” Reader, I cannot tell you the exceeding sweetness of this word, but I pray God the Holy Ghost to give you a taste of it. Manifold are our sins against God. Whether the bill be little or great, the same receipt can discharge one as the other. The blood of Jesus Christ is as blessed and divine a payment for the transgressions of blaspheming Peter as for the shortcomings of loving John; our iniquity is gone, all gone at once, and all gone forever. Blessed completeness! What a sweet theme to dwell upon...
Charles H. Spurgeon
Morning and Evening
“All our attempts to crucify the flesh, or to keep it crucified, are vain: we need the light and joy of the Holy Spirit to show us what is ours in Christ, what has been given in our union with him, and what he himself will make true in our experience. The very thought of having to keep the flesh crucified may be, very often is, as of a burden, and a strain, and an impossibility: the knowledge and acceptance and faith of the indwelling Spirit makes it part of the great salvation God effectually works out in us.
“Believer, you have the Spirit of the living God dwelling in you. All we tell you of the cross and the crucified life and the crucifixion of the flesh is not to tell you what you are to do, but what you may confidently expect the Holy Spirit to do in you. It is to show you what his work is, that you may in deep humility and entire dependence, but also with joyous faith, claim and receive it. Do begin, at once, to believe, to praise God, to rejoice that you can do nothing but through the Spirit, that you are sure that you can do all things through Christ’s Spirit strengthening you.”
Andrew Murray, The Cross of Christ
“Jesus is God spelling Himself out in language that man can understand. God and man used to talk together freely. But one day man went away from God. And then he went farther away. He left home. He left his native land, Eden, where he lived with God. He emigrated from God. And through going away he lost his mother-tongue.
“A language always changes away from its native land. Through going away from his native land man lost his native speech. Through not hearing God speak he forgot the sounds of the words. His ears grew dull and then deaf. Through lack of use he lost the power of speaking the old words. His tongue grew thick. It lost its cunning. And so gradually almost all the old meanings were lost.
“God has always been eager to get to talking with man again. The silence is hard on Him. He is hungry to be on intimate terms again with his old friend. Of course he had to use a language that man could understand. Jesus is God spelling Himself out so man can understand. He is the A and the Z, and all between, of the Old Eden language of love.
“Naturally enough man had a good bit of bother in spelling Jesus out. This Jesus was something quite new. When His life spoke the simple language of Eden again, the human heart with selfishness ingrained said, ‘That sounds good, but of course He has some selfish scheme behind it all. This purity and simplicity and gentleness can’t be genuine.’ Nobody yet seems to have spelled Him out fully, though they’re all trying: All on the spelling bench. That is, all that have heard. Great numbers haven’t heard about Him yet. But many, ah! many could get enough, yes, can get enough to bring His purity into their lives and sweet peace into their hearts.
“But there were in His days upon earth some sticklers for the old spelling forms. Not the oldest, mind you. Jesus alone stands for that. This Jesus didn’t observe the idioms that had grown up outside of Eden. These people had decided that these old forms were the only ones acceptable. And so they disliked Him from the beginning, and quarrelled with Him. These idioms were dearer to them than life—that is, than His life. So having quarrelled, they did worse, and then—softly--worst. But even in their worst, Jesus was God spelling Himself out in the old simple language of Eden. His best came out in their worst.
“Some of the great nouns of the Eden tongue—the God tongue—He spelled out big. He spelled out purity, the natural life of Eden; and obedience, the rhythmic harmony of Eden; and peace, the sweet music of Eden; and power, the mastery and dominion of Eden; and love, the throbbing heart of Eden. It was in biggest, brightest letters that love was spelled out. He used the biggest capitals ever known, and traced each in a deep dripping red, with a new spelling--S-A-C-R-I-F-I-C-E.”
Quiet Talks About Jesus
“To be conformed to the image of Christ is not an ideal to be striven after. It is not as though we had to imitate him as well as we could. We cannot transform ourselves into his image; it is rather the form of Christ which seeks to be formed in us (Gal. 4.19), and to be manifested in us. Christ’s work in us is not finished until he has perfected his own form in us...
“His life on earth is not finished yet, for he continues to live in the lives of his followers. Indeed it is wrong to speak of the Christian life: we should speak rather of Christ living in us. ‘I live, and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me’ (Gal. 2.20). Jesus Christ, incarnate, crucified and glorified, has entered my life and taken charge. ‘To me to live is Christ’ (Phil. 1.21). And where Christ lives, there the Father also lives, and both Father and Son through the Holy Ghost. The Holy Trinity himself has made his dwelling in the Christian heart, filling his whole being, and transforming him into the divine image.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
“It is by the sign of the cross and by faith in Christ that death is trampled underfoot, [and] it is clear that it is Christ Himself and none other Who is the Archvictor over death and has robbed it of its power. Death used to be strong and terrible, but now, since the sojourn of the Saviour and the death and resurrection of His body, it is despised; and obviously it is by the very Christ Who mounted on the cross that it has been destroyed and vanquished finally. When the sun rises after the night and the whole world is lit up by it, nobody doubts that it is the sun which has thus shed its light everywhere and driven away the dark. Equally clear is it, since this utter scorning and trampling down of death has ensued upon the Saviour’s manifestation in the body and His death on the cross, that it is He Himself Who brought death to nought and daily raises monuments to His victory in His own disciples. How can you think otherwise, when you see men naturally weak hastening to death, unafraid at the prospect of corruption, fearless of the descent into Hades, even indeed with eager soul provoking it, not shrinking from tortures, but preferring thus to rush on death for Christ’s sake, rather than to remain in this present life? If you see with your own eyes men and women and children, even, thus welcoming death for the sake of Christ’s religion, how can you be so utterly silly and incredulous and maimed in your mind as not to realise that Christ to Whom these all bear witness, Himself gives the victory to each, making death completely powerless for those who hold His faith and bear the sign of the cross? No one in his senses doubts that a snake is dead when he sees it trampled underfoot, especially when he knows how savage it used to be; nor, if he sees boys making fun of a lion, does he doubt that the brute is either dead or completely bereft of strength. These things can be seen with our own eyes, and it is the same with the conquest of death. Doubt no longer, then, when you see death mocked and scorned by those who believe in Christ, that by Christ death was destroyed, and the corruption that goes with it resolved and brought to an end.”
Athanasius of Alexandria
Early 4th Century
There is more hid in Christ than we shall ever learn, here or there either; but they that begin first to inquire will soonest be gladdened with revelation; and with them he will be best pleased, for the slowness of his disciples troubled him of old. To say that we must wait for the other world, to know the mind of him who came to this world to give himself to us, seems to me the foolishness of a worldly and lazy spirit. The Son of God is the Teacher of men, giving to them of his Spirit—that Spirit which manifests the deep things of God, being to a man the mind of Christ. The great heresy of the Church of the present day is unbelief in this Spirit. The mass of the Church does not believe that the Spirit has a revelation for every man individually—a revelation as different from the revelation of the Bible, as the food in the moment of passing into living brain and nerve differs from the bread and meat.
George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons
* * *
Now Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God. He existed before creation began, for it was through him that every thing was made, whether spiritual or material, seen or unseen. Through him, and for him, also, were created power and dominion, ownership and authority. In fact, every single thing was created through, and for him. He is both the first principle and the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation. And now he is the head of the body which is composed of all Christian people. Life from nothing began through him, and life from the dead began through him, and he is, therefore, justly called the Lord of all. It was in him that the full nature of God chose to live, and through him God planned to reconcile in his own person, as it were, everything on earth and everything in Heaven by virtue of the sacrifice of the cross.
And you yourselves, who were strangers to God, and, in fact, through the evil things you had done, his spiritual enemies, he has now reconciled through the death of his body on the cross, so that he might welcome you to his presence clean and pure, without blame or reproach. (Colossians 1:15-22, Phillips)