*THE MINISTRY AND WORK OF JESUS
The kingdom of God— The message Jesus began to proclaim in Galilee after John the Baptist’s imprisonment was the good news of the kingdom of God. When He appeared to His disciples after the resurrection, He continued “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). What did Jesus mean by the kingdom of God?
When Jesus announced that the kingdom of God was drawing near, many of His hearers must have recognized an echo of those visions recorded in the Book of Daniel. These prophecies declared that one day “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed” (Dan. 2:44). Jesus’ announcement indicated the time had come when the authority of this kingdom would be exercised.
The nature of this kingdom is determined by the character of the God whose kingdom it is. The revelation of God lay at the heart of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus called Him “Father” and taught His disciples to do the same. But the term that He used when He called God “Father” was Abba (Mark 14:36), the term of affection that children used when they addressed their father at home or spoke about him to others. It was not unusual for God to be addressed in prayer as “my Father” or “our Father.” But it was most unusual for Him to be called Abba. By using this term, Jesus expressed His sense of nearness to God and His total trust in Him. He taught His followers to look to God with the trust that children show when they expect their earthly fathers to provide them with all they need. This attitude is especially expressed in the Lord’s Prayer, which may be regarded as a brief summary of Jesus’ teaching. In this prayer the disciples were taught to pray for the fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose (the coming of His kingdom) and to ask Him for daily bread (daily filling of Jesus), forgiveness of sins, and deliverance from temptation.
In Jesus’ healing of the sick and proclamation of good news to the poor, the kingdom of God was visibly present, although it was not yet fully realized. Otherwise, it would not have been necessary for Him to tell His disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10). One day, He taught, it would come “with power” (Mark 9:1), and some of them would live to see that day.
In the kingdom of God the way to honor is the way of service. In this respect, Jesus set a worthy example, choosing to give service instead of receiving it.
The death and resurrection of Jesus unleashed the kingdom of God in full power. Through proclamation of the kingdom, liberation and blessing were brought to many more than could be touched by Jesus’ brief ministry in Galilee and Judea.
The Way of the Kingdom— The ethical teaching of Jesus was part of His proclamation of the kingdom of God. Only by His death and resurrection could the divine rule be established. But even while the kingdom of God was in the process of inauguration during His ministry, its principles could be translated into action in the lives of His followers. The most familiar presentation of these principles is found in the sermon on the mount (study Matthew 5–7), which was addressed to His disciples. These principles showed how those who were already children of the kingdom ought to live.
Jesus and the law of Moses— The people whom Jesus taught already had a large body of ethical teaching in the Old Testament law. But a further body of oral interpretation and application had grown up around the Law of Moses over the centuries. Jesus declared that He had come to fulfill the law, not to destroy it (Matt. 5:17). But He emphasized its ethical quality by summarizing it in terms of what He called the two great commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God;” (Deut. 6:5) and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself;” (Lev. 19:18).”On these two commandments,” He said, hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:40).
Jesus did not claim uniqueness or originality for His ethical teaching. One of His purposes was to explain the ancient law of God. Yet there was a distinctiveness and freshness about His teaching, as He declared His authority: ”You have heard that it was said… But I say to you……”” (Matt. 5:21-22). Only in listening to His words and doing them could a person build a secure foundation for his life and ministry (Matt. 7:24-27; Luke 6:46-49). In appealing to the original purpose of God, He declared that a commandment was most faithfully obeyed when God’s purpose in giving it was fulfilled.
In a similar way, Jesus settled the question of divorce by an appeal to the original marriage ordinance (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:24-25). Since husband and wife were made one by the Creator’s decree, Jesus pointed out, divorce was an attempt to undo the work of God. If the law later allowed for divorce in certain situations (Deut. 24:1-4), that was a concession to men’s inability to keep the commandment. But it was not so in the beginning, He declared, and it should not be so for those who belong to the kingdom of God.
Jesus actually injected new life into the ethical principles of the Law of Moses. But He did not impose a new set of laws that could be enforced by external sanctions; He prescribed a way of life for His followers. The act of murder, forbidden in the sixth commandment, was punishable by death. Conduct or language likely to provoke a breach of the peace could also bring on legal penalties. No human law can detect or punish the angry thought; yet it is here, Jesus taught, that the process which leads to murder begins. Therefore, “whoever is angry with his brother… shall be in danger of the judgment….”” (Matt. 5:22). But He was careful to point out that the judgment is God’s, not man’s. The law could also punish a person for breaking the seventh commandment, which forbade adultery. But Jesus maintained that the act itself was the outcome of a person’s internal thought. Therefore, “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).
Jesus’ attitude and teaching also made many laws about property irrelevant for His followers. They should be known as people who give, not as people who get. If someone demands your cloak (outer garment), Jesus said, give it to him, and give him your tunic (undergarment) as well (Luke 6:29). There is more to life than abundance of possessions (Luke 12:15); in fact, He pointed out, material wealth is a hindrance to one’s spiritual life. The wise man therefore will get rid of it: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25). In no area have Jesus’ followers struggled more to avoid the uncompromising rigor of His words than in His teaching about the danger of possessions.
Jesus insisted that more is expected of His followers than the ordinary morality of decent people. Their ethical behavior should exceed “the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees” (Matt. 5:20). ““If you love [only] those who love you, He asked, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32). The higher standard of the kingdom of God called for acts of love to enemies and words of blessing and goodwill to persecutors. The children of the kingdom should not insist on their legal rights but obediently give them up in response to the supreme law of love.
The way of nonviolence— The principle of nonviolence is deeply ingrained in Jesus’ teaching. In His references to the “men of violence” who tried to bring in the kingdom of God by force, Jesus gave no sign that He approved of their ideals or methods. The course which He called for was the way of peace and submission. He urged His hearers not to strike back against injustice or oppression but to turn the other cheek, to go a second mile when their services were demanded for one mile, and to take the initiative in returning good for evil.
The supreme example– In the teaching of Jesus, the highest of all incentives is the example of God. This was no new principle. The central section of Leviticus is called “the law of holiness” because of its recurring theme: “I am the Lord your God… Be holy; for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44). This bears a close resemblance to Jesus’ words in (Luke 6:36), ““Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” The children of God should reproduce their Father’s character, as Jesus resurrects in them. He does not discriminate between the good and the evil in bestowing rain and sunshine; likewise, His followers should not discriminate in showing mercy to all. He delights in forgiving sinners; His children should also be marked by His forgiving Spirit.
The example of the heavenly Father and the example shown by Jesus on earth are one and the same, since Jesus came to reveal the Father. Jesus’ life was the practical demonstration of His ethical teaching. To His disciples He declared, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15).
This theme of the imitation of Jesus pervades the New Testament letters. It is especially evident in the writings of Paul, who was not personally acquainted with Jesus before he met Him on the Damascus Road. Paul instructed his converts to follow “the meekness and gentleness of Jesus” (2 Cor. 10:1). He also encouraged them to imitate Him as he himself imitated Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1). When he recommended to them the practice of all the graces that encompass Jesus, he declared, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:14). Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is presented as the One who left us an example, that we should follow in His steps (1 Pet. 2:21). The evidence of this following is validated by our daily crucifixion with Him and the manifestation of Him in our mortal flesh.
THE PERSON of JESUS
Son of Man— The title Son of Man was Jesus’ favorite way of referring to Himself. He may have done this because this was not a recognized title already known by the people and associated with popular ideas. This title means essentially ““The Man.”” But as Jesus used it, it took on new significance. Jesus applied this title to Himself in three distinct ways:
First, He used the title in a general way, almost as a substitute for the pronoun “I.” A good example of this usage occurred in the saying where Jesus contrasted John the Baptist, who “came neither eating bread nor drinking wine,” with the Son of Man, who “has come eating and drinking” (Luke 7:33-34). Another probable example is the statement that “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head…” (Luke 9:58). In this instance He warned a would-be disciple that those who wanted to follow Him must expect to share His homeless existence.
Second, Jesus used the title to emphasize that “the Son of Man must suffer” (Mark 8:31). The word must implies that His suffering was foretold by the prophets. It was, indeed, “written concerning the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt” (Mark 9:12). So when Jesus announced the presence of the betrayer at the Last Supper, He declared, “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him” (Mark 14:21). Later on the same evening He submitted to His captors with the words, “The Scriptures must be fulfilled” (Mark 14:49).
Finally, Jesus used the title Son of Man to refer to Himself as the one who exercised exceptional authority– authority delegated to Him by God. “The Son of Man has power [authority] on earth to forgive sins.” (Mark 2:10), He declared. He exercised this authority in a way that made some people criticize Him for acting with the authority of God: “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28).
The Son of Man appeared to speak and act in these cases as the representative man. If God had given man dominion over all the works of His hands, then He who was the Son of Man in this special representative sense was in a position to exercise that dominion.
Near the end of His ministry, Jesus spoke of His authority as the Son of Man at the end of time. “Men and women will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory,” He declared (Mark 13:26). He also stated to the high priest and other members of the supreme court of Israel: “You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven..” (Mark 14:62). He seemed deserted and humiliated as He stood there awaiting their verdict. But the tables would be turned when they saw Him vindicated by God as Ruler and Judge of all the world.
Only once in the Gospels was Jesus referred to as the Son of Man by anyone other than Himself. This occurred when Stephen, condemned by the Jewish SANHEDRIN, saw “the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). In Stephen’s vision the Son of Man stood as his heavenly advocate, in fulfillment of Jesus’ words: ““Whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God.” Luke 12:8).
Messiah– When Jesus made His declaration before the high priest and His colleagues, He did so in response to the question: “Are You the Jesus the Son of the Blessed?” (Mark 14:61). He replied, “”I AM.” (Mark 14:62), ”It is as you said.”” (Matt. 26:64). Jesus is the MESSIAH, the Son of David-a member of the royal family of David. For centuries the Jewish people had expected a Messiah who would restore the fortunes of Israel, liberating the nation from foreign oppression and extending His rule over Gentile nations.
Jesus belonged to the family of David. He was proclaimed as the Messiah of David’s line, both before His birth and after His resurrection. But He Himself was slow to make messianic claims. The reason for this is that the ideas associated with the Messiah in the minds of the Jewish people were quite different from the character and purpose of His ministry. Thus, He refused to give them any encouragement.
When, at Caesarea Philippi, Peter confessed Jesus to be the Messiah, Jesus directed him and his fellow disciples to tell no one that He was the Christ. After His death and resurrection, however, the concept of messiahship among His followers was transformed by what He was and did. Then He could safely be proclaimed as Messiah, God’s Anointed King, resurrected in glory to occupy the throne of the universe.
Son of God— Jesus was acclaimed as the Son of God at His baptism (Mark 1:11). But He was also given this title by the angel Gabriel at the annunciation: “That Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). The Gospel of John especially makes it clear that the Father-Son relationship belongs to eternity– that the Son is supremely qualified to reveal the Father because He has His eternal being “in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18).
At one level the title Son of God belonged officially to the Messiah, who personified the nation of Israel. “Israel is My Son, My firstborn,” said God to Pharaoh (Ex. 4:22). Of the promised prince of the house of David, God declared, “I will make him My firstborn” (Ps. 89:27).
But there was nothing merely official about Jesus’ consciousness of being the Son of God. He taught His disciples to think of God and to speak to Him as their Father. But He did not link them with Himself in this relationship and speak to them of “our Father”- yours and mine. The truth expressed in His words in (John 20:17) is implied throughout His teaching: “My Father and your Father… My God and your God.”
As the Son of God in a special sense, Jesus made Himself known to the apostle Paul on the Damascus Road. Paul said “It pleased God… to reveal His Son in me” (as it pleases Him to reveal His Son in all His children). (Gal. 1:15-16). The proclamation of Jesus as the Son of God was central to Paul’s preaching (Acts 9:20; 2 Cor. 1:19). When Jesus is presented as the Son of God in the New Testament, two aspects of His Person are emphasized: His eternal relation to God as His Father and His perfect revelation of the Father to the human race.
Word and Wisdom— Jesus’ perfect revelation of the Father is also expressed when He is described as the Word (logos) of God (John 1:1-18). The Word is the self-expression of God; that self-expression has personal status, existing eternally with God. The Word by which God created the world (Ps. 33:6) and by which He spoke through the prophets “became flesh” in the fullness of time (John 1:14), living among men and women as Jesus of Nazareth. Much that is said in the Old Testament about the Word of God is paralleled by what is said of the Wisdom of God: “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth” (Prov. 3:19). In the New Testament Jesus is portrayed as the personal Wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24,30)– the one through whom all things were created (1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2).
The Holy One of God— This title was given to Jesus by Peter (John 6:69), (RSV) and remarkably, by a demon-possessed man (Mark 1:24). In their preaching, the apostles called Jesus “the Holy One and the Just” (Acts 3:14). This was a name belonging to Him as the Messiah, indicating He was especially set apart for God. This title also emphasized His positive goodness and His complete dedication to the doing of His Father’s will. Mere “sinlessness,” in the sense of the absence of any fault, is a pale quality in comparison to the unsurpassed power for righteousness which filled His life and teaching.
The Lord–“ Jesus is Lord,” is The ultimate disciple creed. “No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). A disciple, therefore, is a person who confesses Jesus as Lord, for it is the Holy Spirit who authors the confession, and He cannot lie—Jesus is the Lord of the life that confesses Him as Lord and Master.
After His resurrection and exaltation, however, Jesus was given the title “Lord” in its full, Christological sense. Peter, concluding his address to the crowd in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, declared, “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).
The title “Lord” in the Christological sense must have been given to Jesus before the church moved out into the Gentile world. The evidence for this is the invocation “Maranatha” (KJV) or “O Lord, come!” (1 Cor. 16:22). The apostle Paul, writing to a Gentile church in the Greek-speaking world, assumed that its members were familiar with this Aramaic phrase. It was an early church title for Jesus which was taken over untranslated. It bears witness to the fact that from the earliest days of the church, the one who had been exalted as Lord was expected to return as Lord.
Another key New Testament text that shows the sense in which Jesus was acknowledged as Lord is (Philippians 2:5-11). In these verses Paul may be quoting an early confession of faith. If so, he endorsed it and made it his own. This passage tells how Jesus did not regard equality with God as something which he should exploit to his own advantage. Instead, He humbled himself to become a man, displaying “the form of God” in “the form of a servant.” He became “obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,… and that every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil. 2:8-11).
The name which is above every name is probably the title Lord, in the highest sense that it can bear. The words echo (Isaiah 45:23), where the God of Israel swears, “To Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath [or, make confession].” In the Old Testament passage the God of Israel denies to any other being the right to receive the worship which belongs to Him alone. But in the passage from Philippians He readily shares that worship with the humiliated and exalted Jesus. More than that, He shares His own name with him. When human beings honor Jesus as Lord, God is glorified.
God– If Jesus is called Lord in this supreme sense, it is not surprising that He occasionally is called God in the New Testament. Thomas, convinced that the risen Jesus stood before him, abandoned his doubts with the confession, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
But the classic text is (John 1:1). John declared that the Word existed not only “in the beginning,” where He was “with God,” but also actually “was God.” This is the Word that became incarnate as real man in Jesus, without ceasing to be what He had been from eternity. The Word was God in the sense that the Father shared with Him the fullness of His own nature. The Father remained in a technical phrase of traditional theology, “the fountain of deity.” But from that fountain the Son drew in unlimited measure.
The Bible thus presents Jesus as altogether God and altogether man– the perfect mediator between God and mankind because He partakes fully of the nature of both.
THE WORK OF JESUS
The work of Jesus has often been stated in relation to His threefold office as prophet, priest, and king. As prophet, He is the perfect spokesman of God to the world, fully revealing God’s character and will. As priest, Jesus has offered to God by His death a sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world. Now, on the basis of that sacrifice, He exercises a ministry of intercession on behalf of His people. As king, He is “the ruler over the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5)– the one to whose rule the whole world is subject. The work of Jesus can be discussed in terms of past, present, and future.
The finished work of Jesus— By the “finished” work of Jesus is meant the work of atonement or redemption for the human race which He completed by His death on the cross. This work is so perfect in itself that it requires neither repetition nor addition. Because of this work, He is called “Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14) and “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
In the Bible sin is viewed in several ways: as an offense against God, which requires a pardon; as defilement, which requires cleansing; as slavery, which cries out for emancipation; as a debt, which must be canceled; as defeat, which must be reversed by victory; and as estrangement, which must be set right by reconciliation. However sin is viewed, it is through the work of Jesus that the remedy is provided. He has procured the pardon, the cleansing the emancipation, the cancellation, the victory, and the reconciliation. When sin is viewed as an offense against God, it is also interpreted as a breach of His law. The law of God, like law in general, involves penalties against the lawbreaker. So strict are these penalties that they appear to leave no avenue of escape for the lawbreaker. The apostle Paul, conducting his argument along these lines, quoted one uncompromising declaration from the Old Testament: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them” (Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10). But Paul goes on to say that Jesus, by enduring the form of death on which a divine curse was expressly pronounced in the law, absorbed in His own person the curse invoked on the lawbreaker: “Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’)” (Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13).
Since Jesus partakes in the nature of both God and humanity, He occupies a unique status with regard to them. He represents God to humanity, and He also represents humanity to God. God is both Lawgiver and Judge; Jesus represents Him. The human family has put itself in the position of the lawbreaker; Jesus has voluntarily undertaken to represent us. The Judge has made Himself one with the guilty in order to bear our guilt. It is ordinarily out of the question for one person to bear the guilt of others. But when the one Person is the representative man, Christ Jesus, bearing the guilt of those whom He represents, the case is different.
In the hour of His death, Jesus offered His life to God on behalf of mankind. The perfect life which He offered was acceptable to God. The salvation secured through the giving up of that life is God’s free gift to mankind in Jesus. When the situation is viewed in terms of a law court, one might speak of the accused party as being acquitted. But the term preferred in the New Testament, especially in the apostle Paul’s writings, is the more positive word justified. Paul goes on to the limit of daring in speaking of God as “Him who justifies the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5). God can be so described because “Jesus died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). Those who are united by faith to Him are “justified” in Him. As Paul explained elsewhere, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). The work of Jesus, seen from this point of view, is to set humanity in a right relationship with God.
When sin is considered as defilement that requires cleansing, the most straightforward affirmation is that “the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). The effect of His death is to purify a conscience that has been polluted by sin. The same thought is expressed by the writer of the Book of Hebrews. He speaks of various materials that were prescribed by Israel’s ceremonial law to deal with forms of ritual pollution, which was an external matter. Then he asks, “How much more shall the blood of Jesus, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14). Spiritual defilement calls for spiritual cleansing, and this is what the death of Jesus has accomplished.
When sin is considered as slavery from which the slave must be set free, then the death of Jesus is spoken of as a ransom or a means of redemption. Jesus Himself declared that He came “to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Paul not only spoke of sin as slavery; he also personified sin as a slave owner who compels his slaves to obey his evil orders. When they are set free from his control by the death of Jesus to enter the service of God, they find this service, by contrast, to be perfect freedom.
The idea of sin as a debt that must be canceled is based on the teaching of Jesus. In Jesus’ parable of the creditor and the two debtors (Luke 7:40-43), the creditor forgave them both when they could make no repayment. But the debtor who owed the larger sum, and therefore had more cause to love the forgiving creditor, represented the woman whose “sins, which are many, are forgiven” (Luke 7:47). This is similar to Paul’s reference to God as “having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands” (Col. 2:14), (RSV).
Paul’s words in (Colossians 2:15) speak of the “principalities and powers” as a personification of the hostile forces in the world which have conquered men and women and hold them as prisoners of war. There was no hope of successful resistance against them until Jesus confronted them. It looked as if they had conquered Him too, but on the cross He conquered death itself, along with all other hostile forces. In His victory all who believe in Him have a share: “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:57). Sin is also viewed as estrangement, or alienation, from God. In this case, the saving work of Jesus includes the reconciliation of sinners to God. The initiative in this reconciling work is taken by God: “God was in Jesus reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). God desires the well-being of sinners; so He sends Jesus as the agent of His reconciling grace to them (Col. 1:20).
Those who are separated from God by sin are also estranged from one another. Accordingly, the work of Jesus that reconciles sinners to God also brings them together as human beings. Hostile divisions of humanity have peace with one another through Him. Paul celebrated the way in which the work of Jesus overcame the mutual estrangement of Jews and Gentiles: “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us” (Eph. 2:14).
When the work of Jesus is pictured in terms of an atoning sacrifice, it is God who takes the initiative. The word propitiation, used in this connection in older English versions of the Bible (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10), does not mean that sinful men and women have to do something to appease God or turn away His anger; neither does it mean that Jesus died on the cross to persuade God to be merciful to sinners. It is the nature of God to be a pardoning God. He has revealed His pardoning nature above all in the person and work of Jesus. This saving initiative is equally and eagerly shared by Jesus: He gladly cooperates with the Father’s purpose for the redemption of the world.
The present work of Jesus– The present work of Jesus begins with His exaltation by God, after the completion of His finished work in His death and resurrection.
The first aspect of His present work was the sending of the Holy Spirit to dwell in His people. “If I do not go away, He had said to his disciples in the Upper Room, “…the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you….” (John 16:7). The fulfillment of this promise was announced by Peter on the Day of Pentecost: “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33).
The promise of the Holy Spirit can be traced back to John the Baptist, who prophesied that the one who was to come after him, mightier than himself, would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8).
But the present work of Jesus that receives the main emphasis in the New Testament is His intercession. Paul, quoting what appears to be an early Christian confession of faith, spoke of “Jesus who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34). So too, the writer to the Hebrews says that “He ever lives to make intercession” for His people (Heb. 7:25). He describes in detail Jesus’ exceptional qualifications to be their high priest.
Jesus’ presence with God as His people’s representative provides the assurance that their requests for spiritual help are heard and granted. To know that He is there is a powerful incentive for His followers. No good thing that Jesus seeks for them is withheld by the Father.
The exaltation of Jesus is repeatedly presented in the New Testament as the fulfillment of (Psalm 110:1): “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” This means that Jesus reigns from His present place of exaltation and must do so until all His enemies are overthrown. Those enemies belong to the spiritual realm: “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26). With the destruction of death, which occurred with the resurrection of Jesus, the present phase of Jesus’ work gives way to His future work.
The future work of Jesus— During His earthly ministry, Jesus declared that He had even greater works to do in the future. He specified two of these greater works: the raising of the dead and the passing of final judgment. To raise the dead and to judge the world are prerogatives of God, but He delegated these works to His Son. While the Son would discharge these two functions at the time of the end, they were not unrelated to the events of Jesus’ present ministry. Those who were spiritually dead received new life when they responded in faith to the Son of God. In effect, they were passing judgment on themselves as they accepted or rejected the life which He offered. The raising of the dead and the passing of judgment are associated with the Second Coming of Jesus. When Paul dealt with this subject, he viewed Jesus’ appearing in glory as the occasion when His people would share His glory and be displayed to the universe as the sons and daughters of God, heirs of the new order. He added that all creation looks forward to that time, because then it “will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). Both the present work of Jesus and His future work are dependent on His “finished” work. That “finished” work was the beginning of God’s “good work” in His people. This work will not be completed until “the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6), when the entire universe will be united “in Jesus” (Eph. 1:10).
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
I must fear to look upon God, yet I must desire to see Him. To know Him as He is, I must first know myself as I am; To be made in His image, is to be transformed into the likeness of the indwelling Jesus, for Jesus is our holiness. The old man is not made holy–he is to die and be buried with the Lord Jesus in Baptism. Our holiness is the new Man and the new Man only. It is here and here only, that mercy rejoices over judgment. The Life of Jesus in our Father is the law of our Life in Him. Though we dwell on earth, we are one with He who dwells in heaven–one in will and purpose, by the Spirit of Jesus, who is the Life and Will of our Father. Jesus became man that he might be One with us; He died that we might be One with Him–The Spirit that binds Jesus to our Father, binds us to them both and binds us to each other; Love is the Source of this union and the Fruit of it. In our unity as a body we must realize His will as our common goal–our only goal. And in this love and surrender for and to Him, we must surrender ourselves–take up our cross in Truth, that true unity with Jesus, would prevail. Unity is the Resurrection and the Life of the Mind of Jesus in each of us, and when His mind is revealed we must be ready to cast aside every weight in pursuit of His will. We must keep our walk in the simplicity of this surrender–reason is out, faith is in; my way is out, His way is in; my will is gone, His is all there is.
*JESUS, THE WILL OF GOD FOR US
THE PERSON OF JESUS
Any discourse that endeavors to discern and teach about the will of God, must start and end with the Person of Jesus, for He is the starkly revealed will of God for us.
And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne, and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain.–
The visions and revelations the apostle John had of the future events of God’s providence, are here introduced with a vision of the book of God’s decrees, by which those events were fore-ordained. This is represented (Revelation 5:1) as a book in the right hand of him who sat on the throne, “written within and on the back side, and sealed with seven seals.” Books, in the form in which they were wont of old to be made, were broad leaves of parchment or paper, or something of that nature, joined together at one edge, and so rolled up together, and then sealed, or some way fastened together, to prevent their unfolding and opening. Hence we read of the roll of a book Jer. 36:2. It seems to have been such a book that John had a vision of here; and therefore it is said to be “written within and on the back side,” i. e. on the inside pages, and also on one of the outside pages, namely, that which it was rolled in, in rolling the book up together. And it is said to be “sealed with seven seals,” to signify that what was written in it was perfectly hidden and secret; or that God’s decrees of future events are sealed, and shut up from all possibility of being discovered by creatures, till God is pleased to make them known. We find that seven is often used in Scripture as the number of perfection, to signify the superlative or most perfect degree of anything, which probably arose from this, that on the seventh day God beheld the works of creation finished, and rested and rejoiced in them, as being complete and perfect.
When John saw this book, he tells us, he “saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.” And that he wept much, because “no man was found worthy to open and read the book, neither to look thereon.” And then tells us how his tears were dried up, namely, that “one of the elders said unto him, “Weep not, Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed” etc. as in the text. Though no man nor angel, nor any mere creature, was found either able to loose the seals, or worthy to be admitted to the privilege of reading the book, yet this was declared, for the comfort of this beloved disciple, that Jesus was found both able and worthy. And we have an account in the succeeding chapters how he actually did it, opening the seals in order, first one, and then another, revealing what God had decreed should come to pass hereafter. And we have an account in this chapter, of his coming and taking the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne, and of the joyful praises that were sung to him in heaven and earth on that occasion.
*THE PARADOXICAL ATTRIBUTES OF JESUS
He is called a Lion. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He seems to be called the Lion of the tribe of Judah, in allusion to what Jacob said in his blessing of the tribe on his death-bed; who, when he came to bless Judah, compares him to a lion, Gen. 49:9. “Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?” And also to the standard of the camp of Judah in the wilderness on which was displayed a lion, according to the ancient tradition of the Jews. It is much on account of the valiant acts of David that the tribe of Judah, of which David was, is in Jacob’s prophetical blessing compared to a lion; but more especially with an eye to Jesus, who also was of that tribe, and was descended of David, and is called “the Root of David”; and therefore Jesus is here called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.”
He is called a Lamb. John was told of a Lion that had prevailed to open the book, and probably expected to see a lion in his vision; but while he is expecting, behold a Lamb appears to open the book, an exceeding diverse kind of creature from a lion. A lion is a devourer, one that is wont to make terrible slaughter of others; and no creature more easily falls a prey to him than a lamb. And Jesus is here represented not only as a Lamb, a creature very liable to be slain, but a “Lamb as it had been slain,” that is, with the marks of its deadly wounds appearing on it.
Notice the diversity of the Person of Jesus:
The lion and the lamb–The lion excels in strength, and in the majesty of his appearance and voice: the lamb excels in meekness and patience—what does the comparison say to us about Jesus?
Jesus is God and therefore has all the attributes of God. The difference between these is chiefly relative, and in our manner of conceiving them. Jesus as God, is infinitely great and high above all. He is higher than the kings of the earth; for He is King of kings. He is higher than the heavens, and higher than the highest angels of heaven. So great is He, that all men, all kings and princes, are as worms of the dust before Him; all nations are as the drop of the bucket, and the light dust of the balance; and angels themselves are as nothing before Him. He is so high, that he is infinitely above any need of us; above our reach, that we cannot be profitable to Him; and above our conceptions, that we cannot comprehend Him. Prov. 30:4 “What is his name, and what is his Son’s name, if thou canst tell?” Our understandings, no matter how far we stretch them, cannot reach up to His glory. Jesus is the Creator and great Possessor of heaven and earth. He is sovereign Lord of all. He rules over the whole universe, and doth whatsoever pleases him. His knowledge is without bound. His wisdom is perfect, and nothing or no one can overrule Him. His power is infinite, and none can resist Him. His riches are immense and inexhaustible. His majesty is infinitely awful.
And yet He is One of infinite condescension. None are so low or inferior, but Jesus’ condescension is sufficient to take a gracious notice of them. He condescends not only to the angels, humbling himself to behold the things that are done in heaven, but He also condescends to such poor creatures as men; and that not only so as to take notice of princes and great men, but of those that are of most base rank and degree, “the poor of the world,” James 2:5. Such as are commonly despised by their fellow creatures, Jesus does not despise. I Cor. 1:28 “Base things of the world, and things that are despised, hath God chosen.” Jesus condescends to take notice of beggars (Luke 16:22) and people of the most despised nations. In Jesus is neither “Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free” (Col. 3:11). He that is thus high condescends to take a gracious notice of little children Matt. 19:14. “Suffer little children to come unto me.” He condescends to publicans and sinners such as you and me. So great is His condescension, that it is not only sufficient to take some gracious notice of such as these, but sufficient for every thing that is an act of condescension. His condescension is great enough to become our friend, to become our companion, to unite our souls to Him in spiritual marriage. It is enough to take our nature upon Him, to become one of us, that He may be one with us. It is great enough to abase Himself yet lower for us, even to expose Himself to shame and spitting; to yield up Himself to an absolute horrible death for us. And what act of condescension can be conceived of greater? Jesus condescends to wash our feet; but how would even the so-called greatest of men do so?
Jesus is infinite justice and infinite grace:
As Jesus is God, he is infinitely holy and just, hating sin, and disposed to execute punishment for sin. He is the Judge of the world, and the infinitely just Judge of it, and will not at all acquit the wicked, or by any means clear the guilty. And yet He is infinitely gracious and merciful. Though His justice be so strict with respect to all sin, and every breach of the law, yet He has grace sufficient for every sinner, and even the chief of sinners. And it is not only sufficient for the most unworthy to show them mercy, it is sufficient to bestow all mercy upon them, and to do all things for them. There is no benefit or blessing that they can receive, so great but the grace of Jesus is sufficient to bestow it on the greatest sinner that ever lived. It is sufficient not only to do great things, but also to suffer in order to do it, and not only to suffer, but to suffer most extremely even unto death, the most terrible of all deaths; and not only death, but the most abominable and tormenting, and every way the most terrible that men could inflict; even greater sufferings than men could inflict, who could only torment the body. He had sufferings in his soul, that were the more immediate fruits of the wrath of God against the sins of those for whom he undertakes.
In the person of Jesus do meet together infinite glory and lowest humility. Infinite glory, and the virtue of humility, meet in no other Person but Jesus. They meet in no created person; for no created person has infinite glory. But in Jesus who is both God and man, those two diverse excellencies are sweetly united. He is a person infinitely exalted in glory and dignity. Phil. 2:6. “Being in the form of God, he thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” There is equal honor due to him with the Father. John 5:23. “That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” God himself says to him, “thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever,” Heb. 1:8. And there is the same supreme respect and worship paid to him by the angels of heaven, as to God the Father, ver. 6. “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”
But though Jesus is above all in His attributes as God, He is at the same time, lower than all in His humility, for only God could condescend so far. Man can descend the depths of sin and that is low; but for He who is perfect, to descend to the depths of sacrificing Himself for that sin, is for Him the lowest of all condescension There never was so great an instance of this virtue among either men or angels, as Jesus. None ever was so sensible of the distance between God and Him, or had a heart so lowly before God, as the Man Jesus . Matt. 11:29. In his contentment in his base outward condition, contentedly living in the family of Joseph the carpenter, and Mary his mother, for thirty years together, and afterwards choosing outward baseness, poverty, and contempt, rather than earthly greatness; in his washing his disciples’ feet; in His cheerfully sustaining the form of a Servant through his whole life, and submitting to such immense humiliation at death.
In the Person of Jesus do meet together infinite majesty and transcendent meekness: These again are two qualifications that meet together in no other person but Jesus. Meekness, properly so called, is a virtue proper only to the creature: we scarcely ever find meekness mentioned as a divine attribute in Scripture; at least not in the New Testament; for thereby seems to be signified, a calmness and quietness of spirit, of He who always gives way to the will of He who sent Him, in spite of the reproach and persecution at the hands of men. Jesus, being both God and man, has both infinite majesty and superlative meekness.
Jesus is a person of infinite majesty. It is He that is spoken of, Psalm 45:3. “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.” It is He that is mighty, that rideth on the heavens, and his excellency on the sky. It is he that is terrible out of his holy places; who is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea: before whom a fire goeth, and burneth up his enemies round about; at whose presence the earth quakes, and the hills melt; who sitteth on the circle of the earth, and all the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers, who rebukes the sea, and maketh it dry and drieth up the rivers, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, from whose presence, and from the glory of whose power, the wicked shall be punished with everlasting destruction; who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who hath heaven for his throne, and the earth for his footstool, and is the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and of whose dominion there is no end.
And yet he is the most beautiful Instance of meekness, and humble quietness of spirit, that ever was; agreeable to the prophecies of Him, Matthew 21:4f “All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.” And, agreeable to what Jesus declares of himself, Matt. 11:29. “I am meek and lowly in heart.” And agreeable to what was manifest in His behavior: for there never was such an instance seen on earth, of a meek behavior, under injuries and reproaches, and towards enemies; who, when He was reviled, reviled not again. He has a wonderful spirit of forgiveness, was ready to forgive his worst enemies, and prayed for them with fervent and effectual prayers, not only laying down His life for them, but sacrificing it for them and us. With what meekness did He appear in the ring of soldiers that were contemning and mocking Him; He was silent, and opened not His mouth, but went as a lamb to the slaughter. Thus is Jesus a Lion in majesty and a Lamb in meekness. There meet in the person of Jesus the deepest reverence towards God and equality with God. Jesus, when on earth, appeared full of holy reverence towards the Father. He paid the most reverential worship to him, praying to him with postures of reverence. Thus we read of his “kneeling down and praying,” Luke 22:41. This became Jesus, as one who had taken on him the human nature, but at the same time He existed in the divine nature; whereby His Person was in all respects equal to the Person of the Father. God the Father has no attribute or perfection that the Son has not, in equal degree, and equal glory. These things meet in no other person but Jesus.
Jesus is absolutely worthy of worship, but He suffers at the hands of men:
He is perfectly innocent, and deserved no suffering, yet He suffered and died for those whom deserved to suffer and die. He deserved nothing from God by any guilt of his own, and He deserved no ill from men. He was not only harmless and undeserving of suffering, but He was infinitely worthy; worthy of the infinite love of the Father, worthy of infinite and eternal happiness, and infinitely worthy of all possible esteem, love, and service from all men. And yet he was perfectly patient under the greatest sufferings that ever were endured in this world. Heb. 12:2. “He endured the cross, despising the shame.” He suffered not from His Father for his faults, but ours; and He suffered from men not for His faults but for loving them and being willing to free and save them, which made His patience the more wonderful and the more glorious. 1 Pet. 2:20, “For what glory is it, if when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently, but if when ye do well. and suffer for it, ye take it patiently; this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called; because Jesus also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who when he was reviled, reviled not again, when he suffered, he threatened not, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” There is no such conjunction of innocence, worthiness, and patience under sufferings, as in the Person of Jesus. In the Person of Jesus we see an exceeding Spirit of obedience, with supreme dominion over heaven and earth.
Jesus is the Lord of all things in two respects: He is so, as God-man and Mediator, and thus His dominion is appointed, and given him of our Father. Having it by delegation from God, He is as it were the Father’s sent Representative. But He is Lord of all things in another respect, namely, as He is (by his original nature) God; and so He is by natural right the Lord of all, and supreme over all as much as our Father. Thus, He has dominion over the world, not by delegation, but in His own right. He is not an under God, as the Arians suppose, but to all intents and purposes is the supreme God.
And yet in the same Person is found the greatest Spirit of obedience to the commands and laws of God that ever was in the universe; which was manifest in his obedience here in this world. John 14:31 “As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.”– John 15:10. “Even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” The greatness of His obedience appears in its perfection, and in His obeying commands of such exceeding difficulty. Never has any one received commands from God of such difficulty, and that were so great a trial of obedience, as Jesus. One of God’s commands to Him was, that He should yield Himself to those dreadful sufferings that he underwent. See John 10:18. “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.” “This commandment received I of my Father.” And Jesus was thoroughly obedient to this command of God. Heb.5:8. “Though he were a Son, yet he learned obedience by the things that he suffered.” Philip. 2:8. “He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Never was there such an instance of obedience in man or angel as this, though He was at the same time supreme Lord of both angels and men.
The purpose here is to show the humility and condescension of Jesus as the will of God to us. What we should take from it is our own condescension. Obedience to God is to be
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. Psalm 27:8. Our top priority as we seek to move deeper with the Lord is ministry to Him, that He might serve through us. All that will bring glory to Him and further His kingdom, will come out of our ministry to Him and the degree of our intimacy with Him. This must be a life at His feet, literally, a great while before the breaking of the day, everyday, and several times during. It is at the feet of Jesus that the flesh falls off. It is a daily crucifixion started and sustained only at His feet. It is then that my day to day relationships prove my walk in the Spirit. I no longer ask “what would Jesus do?” I find Him doing, through me. Again, it is a daily, life-long process–I find my sanctification proportionate to my picking up my cross. As Jesus resurrects in me, I find myself dying to myself, being separated from that which is sinful; I see my Holiness coming alive in my mortal flesh–I find myself slowly separated from the world and consecrated unto God. All that I am, slowly becomes Him, all that I have becomes His–God wills it all and works it all by His Spirit. This is the call of God. I am thus, by grace, made holy in Truth, sanctified by the Blood of Jesus that I might live unto the will and purpose of God–the entire process worked at the command of my heavenly Father, by His Spirit; I thus find I have been foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son. It is in this process that I am made alive unto God, the very mind of Jesus resurrecting in me. Thus what God requires–holiness–He graciously gives. I am drawn to Jesus; I die daily; I am buried with Him in baptism–daily. I decrease, He increases–daily. All of this daily crucified life is gained at His feet. Offenses of others do not crucify my flesh, they only prove how much Jesus has taken from it in my times with Him. As I examine myself, I must constantly seek Jesus as to what I am becoming. Am I truly cleansing myself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and perfecting holiness in the fear of God? Am I experiencing the washing of the Blood of Jesus, to wash me and cleanse me? As I confess my sin, I must realize the washing of His Blood–it is His Blood that summons the gift of repentance; it is my experience of His Blood and the cleansing it brings, that moves me to accept the grace of the gift.
Though sanctification is God’s gift, I still have an active part and responsibility in it– what He gives I must walk out in His Spirit. It is as I purge out the old leaven that I become a new lump. It is here the lusts of the flesh shall be overcome, proving the manifestation of the Master; I thus spend my life walking out my salvation, the proof being the manifestation of the Master unto the execution of the will of God. I come apart to the feet of Jesus regularly, to worship Him and to be filled by Him, and to supplicate to Him-in short, I give myself to this method of prayer, and then I minister the word, when I rise and am sent by Him:
*PRAYER: JESUS AS LIFESTYLE
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 3Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.Acts 2:21-40
Acts 6:4–But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
We must find a place to meet Him regularly, and minister to Him regularly– we must give ourselves continually to prayer–life at His feet, worshipping Him, getting filled with Him and His will; and to the ministry of the word–moving out in His will, ministering at His direction. This must become your way of life–constant praise, communication and ministry to the Lord–prayer, and, out of this, ministry of Himself and His word as He leads and directs. If you cannot give a man Jesus, what have you to offer him? You come apart with the Master every morning to love and worship Him and get filled for the ministry of His word for the day, stopping during the day to come apart with Him several times more. He will make time if you are serious.
Although consumption of the Scriptures is vital and essential, it is not our end–the unbelieving Jews in the time of Jesus searched the Scriptures and thought they had eternal life, but as the Master told them, they had missed Him–and as earlier stated, they made the Scriptures their God and missed their God when He came to them as their Messiah:
37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. John 5:37-40
The Bible must be regarded as the absolute necessary means to lead us to the Person–the Scriptures are not our God though they testify of Him. They are designed to lead us to Him. The Bible is the servant of He Who inspired it. The words that He speaks unto us, they are Spirit, and they are life. It is the spoken word of God that activates the written word of God, and it is the spoken word of God that brings faith to the hearer. When God commands, Jesus imparts the faith and direction to step out and execute His will..
As we pursue total union with Jesus, all that is at enmity with Him must be totally forsaken. If you lack the resolve and power to overcome the areas where the world or the enemy has crept in, ask the Master to grace you to overcoming them. He is faithful and He will do it. The house must be swept clean of all that is contrary to Him, that He may resurrect and abide in His fullness in your mortal flesh…it is a process.
We must be careful though when decrying our sin–many times when we think of our wickedness, satan will drag it off into self-centeredness, again, making us our own masters; Vexation over our corruption, should be accompanied by a peaceful witness of the Spirit to the Sacrifice for that corruption; As the Holy Spirit witnesses of the Master, our gratitude to Him will pour out, and will deepen our commitment to Him; In short, whenever we dwell more on our wickedness than the Sacrifice for it, satan has spoken into our priorities. For if he can make us our own masters, he can destroy much. Exorbitant penitence has self as a motive, and usually will try to gain an audience. We must know what we are without Jesus, but having put our shoulder to the plow, we must not give into the temptation of looking back.
It is equally important that we not get wrapped up in the eternal security issue; those who believe they cannot return to sin, are deceived, for we all can become as we once were. Searching the Scriptures will verify this fact. We must examine and prove ourselves regularly, for our salvation is a process that must be walked out and worked out with fear and trembling (Phil. 2: 12), it is not a stationary entity; No one can snatch us out of the Master’s hand, but many have willingly gone and departed from the faith. The final days are upon us and we know that many have departed from the faith, and many more will, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils (1 Tim 4: 1). We therefore know our frailty and must not fall into presumption, but rather realize our need for the constant cleansing of His Blood, and walk out our salvation in obedience with fear and trembling.
In birthing a hungering and thirsting for greater intimacy and union with Jesus in you, our Father is giving you the grace to make it happen–know this and cease from your labors, and let Him do it. The yoke of Jesus is the will of our Father in every circumstance, no matter how large or small, and you must resolve to take His yoke upon you. Total and complete surrender to the will of God must be absolute. Only the resurrected Jesus in you can accomplish this, so resolve to start looking to Him each and every moment of your life–the prayer without ceasing is constant communication with your Master–it is not asking yourself–”what would Jesus do?” We are to be in such intimacy with Him that He ‘does’ through us. Most issues (outside the very basic ones) are too complex for us to reason what Jesus would do. Again, we must not let the old man reason–he must die. We need to abide in Jesus and He in us to the extent that the will of our Father is done–that our Father in us, He actually does the works. We must learn what it truly means to be crucified with, and buried in baptism with Jesus.
We must remember that we are men and women under Authority–we are not commanders, we are servants who obey the Master. We must avoid putting burdens on ourselves, for when we do, we are serving self, not subduing it; We must remember, we are not our own schoolmasters; Our resolution must be to let Jesus do all, for denying self is nothing more than yielding all to Him–it is also nothing less.
There is a place of closeness and unity with the Lord that comparatively few will make the sacrifice to experience.
It is the place where the soul is drawn into peace by the Lord; Blessed is the man whom the Lord chooses, and causes to approach unto Him, that he may dwell in His courts; There is at times such an awareness of His total omnipotence and sufficiency, that petition is moot, for one is on his face as a dead man; it is a dwelling at the Fountain of Living Waters, where the will is overcome, cleansed and healed, realizing that truly only One Thing is needful, and that One Thing has been found. It is here that the hallowing of God is experienced, and it is here His name is hallowed, He is discovered Gloriousness in Holiness; it is here the house is filled with His glory, His holiness revealing His hidden glory, and His glory magnifying the beauty of His holiness. He who comes near is sanctified, and before the witness of heaven, Jesus is glorified. Here the unattainable is obtained, glory gloriously piercing the heart and soul; Reverence and humbling deepen, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises; The will of God unto crucifixion has become sanctification; To move into the will of God, life is thus surrendered; Lest a corn of wheat fall to the ground and die, it will bear no fruit; it is in the grace of picking up our cross that we submit to daily death and enter into sanctification–sanctification is the fruit of crucifixion–we live and are made holy in the death of Jesus. Here, the crucifixion of the flesh becomes a cognizant, spiritual reality, the will sacrificed. Eternity is experienced in part, now. The Lord infuses Himself to such a degree into the spirit, that even the will doesn’t want to know what He is doing, as it becomes immersed in His Person. The apostle shall not be the only one who has been caught up. Any of us shall experience our seating in heavenly places when God so chooses.
When I try to find my peace in my reasoning power, I will be greatly disappointed. My concern must be in God’s preparing me, not in what He is actually going to do. We are talking a total and complete abandonment of the human will, even the will to foresee; I raise myself by lowering myself to nothing.
We must put ourselves beneath our feet, humbling ourselves before God. When we have done all things commanded of us, we must say we are unprofitable servants. It must needs be, for Jesus gives all He commands, so when we have done all, it really means He has done all through us–our flesh remains unprofitable. All is done with one purpose: apprehending, and being apprehended by, Jesus–not His Goods, but Him, nothing working in my head but His mind; It is all a work of His Spirit, so my senses must be abandoned, because all they do is complain that they cannot perceive. Getting them involved will work against the course of God’s endeavor–the soul must rule against what pleases the body. It is a grievous thing to believe only the evidence of our senses.
Self-love is evidenced in rebellion against suffering; we must submit to death that we might be armed with the mind of the Master.
We call Jesus our Master and our Lord, and we say well, for so He is: our Master–our one great Teacher, who we must learn of and whose yoke we must actively seek and take upon us; our Lord–the Author of salvation to all who obey Him.
As we walk in obedience, we will walk into holiness, set apart for the worship and service of our Father, at the direction of our Savior, the Lord of Glory. We must confess our poverty of virtue apart from the Master, for He is the only Virtue acceptable unto God. Though many may contribute to our image of Jesus, we can let none determine the subjection of our image to His. I do not model myself after the Jesus I perceive–I am modeled by God into the image of the Jesus who is. As I die daily, I no longer ask “what would Jesus do?” I find the Resurrection and the Life doing, through me.
Glory for Jesus is my life sacrificed unto His servanthood; the flesh, nothing before God or man. My top priority is always ministry to Him. My daily crucifixion is started and sustained by my death at His feet. I am buried with Him in baptism–daily; I decrease as He increases in me, daily; It is in my life at His feet that I am able to bear the evil I forgive. It is in my life at His feet that I find grace to carry out the will of God in my life; It is in my life at His feet that I am able to lay down my life for my friends, and my enemies.
I pursue nothing but Jesus; I do not pursue self denial for it is in my pursuit of Jesus that self denial will manifest; true self denial is not even aware of itself, only its Master. True freedom is to live crucified; I must take my dead self to task for I know that fleshy consolation is among my greatest enemies. I am positionally holy and sanctified in Jesus; but I will progress in holiness and in lifetime sanctification proportionate to my crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus in me.
Knowing and digesting Biblical truths with the mind, does not put the heart in possession of them. The Truth that is Jesus, is out of the realm of human experience apart from the Spirit of Truth. It was the Spiritless, uncircumcised intellect that put Jesus on the cross; Spiritless religion–man’s interpretation of the letter, killed Jesus and it still kills Him in the lives of people today. Our faith must not become mere religion–we, attempting to live out Biblical Truth–what God begins in the Spirit, we must allow Him to finish in the Spirit. The foreskin of the fleshy intellect must be cut away.
It is affliction rather than consolation that works the Resurrection and the Life in my mortal flesh. I must beware lest I become law to myself, for whom Jesus died. I must remember that my opinions can form the foundation for pride and prejudice and prevent Jesus from forbearing and enduring through me. I must not let my precepts become little Gods to me, leading me to reject any who reject them; when I am reviled for the gospel’s sake, I must not revile again; when I suffer, I must not threaten, but commit myself to He who alone judges righteously.
Lest a corn of wheat fall to the ground and die, it will bear no fruit; it is in the grace of picking up our cross that we submit to daily death and enter into sanctification–sanctification being the fruit of crucifixion. Being crucified with Him becomes our experience, His faith our possession.
While we must think on the impact of the presence of God in our lives, we must not use our fleshy reason to mold our perception and understanding of Him. Such reason will lead to suspicion of His motives and His character as we undergo the trials He ordains; such reasoning also leads us into predicting what God will do, which will, in the end, lead to our letting Him go; for if the flesh is allowed to reign in our perception of God, we shall most certainly dismiss Him as tyrant. The faith that Jesus gives, is scarcely aware of itself because it is so entrenched in our Spiritual nature; such faith operates in a sphere above reason; It is when we decide to withdraw ourselves from our own understanding and draw near to the Person of Jesus, that we move into the realm of discovering Him as He is, not as our imagination has constructed Him or as teachers have presented Him.
It is in quietness and confidence, in rest, that our Strength manifests. All thought must be stilled; all agenda done away with; for our flesh is the fire of lust that can consume us–God is not in that fire; our inward and outward voices must be completely silenced, for they are but wind, and God is not in that wind; spurred by our pride, our fleshy agenda quakes through all it touches, leaving but rubble in its wake–God is not in it. We must wrap our faces in the mantle of quiet simplicity; our yea and our nay must be one in themselves, proving the abandonment of our plan, moving us into the realm of obedience unto the voice of God which bids us to move through His presence, and with absolute silent reverence, seek His face; such a move is evidence of our greatest Grace–resurrection of the Master in our mortal flesh. We thus find ourselves slow to speak and swift to hear, our inward and outward voices become simple and unflowered…….and they become One.
For those beginning, the way of God consists in one thing only: effort to deny themselves, inwardly and outwardly, giving themselves up at their own direction to suffer for Jesus; They want to move deeper into the presence of God, not realizing that as they do, they become less aware of it; for the presence of God must become our natural habitat–so much so that we become almost unaware of it as it has so totally permeated our nature. Following Jesus is not the way of consolation, but the way of rejection and groaning. Travail in holiness tells me He is with me; When a person is brought to no desire except the Person of the Lord, then union begins. It is a disposition beyond the presence of God, though the presence of God be part of it. It is in fellowship with the living death of the cross that I find that union growing. Most who claim to know Him, seek His presence and consolation, which gratifies their own comfort and satisfaction. God seeks for us the sufferings of Jesus , and seeks our death out of our love for Him. As we grow in this union, we find that only His face will satisfy this ailment called love, and only death will cure it.
I must remember to not be rash with my mouth, and to not let my heart be hasty to utter anything before God; For God is in heaven, and I am upon the earth; therefore my words must be few before the Lord; I must remember it is the one great Listener who is resurrecting inside of me. I must ask, seek and knock for others, seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; we knock to see doors that are beyond the reach of man, open and shut unto the will of God in the lives of others. We must seek Jesus for others in the perseverance and disposition in which He sought us, for great love has no man than this; we are called to the gap. The face of soul must be set for Jerusalem, that my prayer might transform me into God’s will and purpose.
*THE BLOOD OF JESUS IS THE LIFE OF PRAYER
The enemy’s assault on the thought life is relentless, and you will have to become the same way, as you decide who will be the Master Of your mind. It is in our weakness that we become more than conquerors in prayer–listening more than petitioning and commanding.
Whosoever he be that cannot forsake all that he has cannot be a disciple of Jesus; We are told to count the cost, and in light of the Master’s statement, we find the cost of being His disciple, is everything. It is not a mandate to rule against the heart concerning possessions–it is a command to forsake all you have. No matter how His message has been watered down to a seeker-sensitive world, its flesh shattering reality remains in its absolute starkness and purity. Grace and discipleship are inseparable in the doctrine of Jesus. If I believe, I must follow Him; if I don’t follow, I don’t hold a saving faith; even the demons believe.
We are promised by the Master that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church; we must beware that the gates of the world don’t prevail as well. We must not lay our past at the cross of Jesus and walk away empty-handed; I must, by grace, behold His hands and His side, and be not faithless but believing–”My Lord and My God” must become my own.
When experiencing suffering and sorrow, I must arm my mind and remember my appointment is not unto wrath but unto affliction. It is affliction that knocks the power and glory out of the flesh; Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered. Are we, as disciples, above our Master? It is in suffering that the disciple’s discipline is secured. He shall be a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.; it is the furnace that tempers and proves. Affliction unto holiness is a rule of the kingdom.
satan has made away with the cross of the church; in many instances he has deceived the church into believing she doesn’t even have one. This has made for massive church membership, but proportionally little discipleship. Though her victory is sure, when the walk of the church is ended, it is then she shall pass from death unto life and be glorified,; but until that day, she shall walk as her Master walked–rejected and suffering, a sojourner, sacrificing herself without honor, obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; victorious in her weakness; and so shall her disciples be.
Jesus says He who takes not his cross and follows after Him, is not worthy of Him. It is willful neglect of Christian duty to not pick up your cross daily. It is hard to carry your cross in a crowd, so don’t look for much company or help. Your older Brother who bore the heaviest cross in history, goes before you; He is the Way, the most reliable of Guides, and following means fellowship, the likes of which your eyes have not seen, nor your ears heard, nor has entered into your heart.
The Christian’s cup is his cross, and it will not pass from him. To pick up one’s cross is to seize the ultimate grace and consummate union and communion with Jesus.
It is tribulation and affliction that work faith, holiness; and obedience; The Scripture tells us we are appointed to suffering. We overcome suffering by pursuing the will of God in it, and pressing through it to execute that will. Suffering did not hinder Jesus doing the will of God in His earthly walk and ministry; suffering enabled Him to perform the will of God, for it will be in suffering that we find the grace of Godly obedience. It is through suffering then, that I am enabled to obey God and walk out His will unto my salvation; It is thus my suffering becomes my consolation, for the one consolation of my life, is the performing of the will of God in it.
For even hereunto were we called: because Jesus also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow His steps; for unto us it is given in the behalf of Jesus, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake; no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
It was necessary for Jesus to enter into His glory through suffering; so us. forasmuch then as Jesus has suffered for us in the flesh, let us arm ourselves likewise with the same mind, for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. We shall not know the power of His resurrection aside from the fellowship of His sufferings. When we pray for Godly compassion, we must realize that it will be worked through suffering.
It is our cross that will prove our planting with Jesus in the likeness of His death; our crucifixion is foretold, and yet we are surprised when God bids us die that the body of sin be destroyed, that we henceforth should not serve sin. Jesus suffered that the scriptures might be fulfilled; there are many scriptures that allude to the suffering of the Christian; they too, must be fulfilled. We are still as sheep among wolves, lead to the slaughter.
All who are received as sons, are scourged. It is the chastising hand of God that proves our salvation. The Christian’s cross is his cup. God has redeemed us to make us like Himself–holy; and it is only in affliction that we become partakers of His holiness.
True consolation is to be destitute of all things, for Christ-Authored poverty is liberty. In its purest sense, this would be poverty and destitution of self–all done with the mind of an unprofitable servant. This poverty of spirit shall inherit the Kingdom. The weakening flesh strengthens the spirit; Does this not make you ready for your cross? Your cross will carry you if you will carry it: The comfort in tribulation must be the tribulation itself. Rejoice. Jesus suffered, died, and arose to enter into His Glory. So us.
If we are to go forth and make disciples of all nations, we better first let the water out of our gospel here, and teach it in its truth, its simplicity, and its purity and Power. Let us be mindful of the fact that it has always been the way of man to reason himself away from true, whole-hearted sacrifice and obedience to God. And let us not forget that disobedience without repentance, under the New Covenant, is eternally fatal, for to live in disobedience renders saving faith impossible. Many will descend into the lake with their presumption in tow.
On this road you swear not at all, neither by heaven nor by earth; you resist not evil, you surrender your cheek and your cloak; you give freely not expecting return; you love your enemies and you pray for those who persecute you, that you may prove your salvation; Growing into the completeness of your Master will be your lifestyle, and to reach that completeness you might sell all that you have that you may give to the poor. You will travel this road with the yoke of Another upon you; you must feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the sick and the prisoner; You will forgive all evil and you will bear the evil you forgive; satan will try to kill you–both through honor and dishonor; the poor, the maimed, the blind and the lame will feast at your table that you may have treasure in heaven; the power to walk this road will be in your plow, and your crop will scarcely be tangible for you labor not for perishable meat, but for the invisible meat which endures unto everlasting life, which Jesus shall give you, for you are Sealed by your Father. You will live by dying, gain by losing, rejoice by weeping…….
As you walk this road you will find a roaring lion at nearly every turn; But you shall overcome, for Jesus has overcome; satan will taunt you through heathen and brethren; he is the author of confusion and presumption in the walk of the saints, pulling men hard to the easy road and a liberal gospel. We shall know of the striving to enter the straight gate when the heart makes its end, full love and knowledge of the Person of Jesus Christ, and is willing to sacrifice all to achieve that end—for it is then that we discover we truly do not wrestle against flesh and blood although flesh and blood will wrestle against us.
The road to honor among men is paved with hell’s bricks, and it is a wide road and many there be that go there-in—-the great and roaring enticer, motivating without being heard, visible everywhere but yet unnoticed, as he leads the march into hell– for how can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only? Destruction is promised by the Master Himself, yet He goes unheeded. We must learn to take the Master at His word–literally.
The walk of life eternal is a relatively lonely walk–its hard to carry your cross in a crowd; If you have found the narrow road but are having trouble negotiating it, it is your cross that is blocking your way—You must pick it up, carry it, and make your daily advance. Your cross is heavy, its very name insinuating an extremely agonizing death— but this is death that passes unto life; the wide road offers no cross save at its end, where it agonizingly slays unto eternal condemnation.
Many have prayed for an increase in wealth under the guise of spreading the gospel; but the gospel is spread mainly by trusting and faithful disciples, giving out of their need–sacrificial giving is foundational to the gospel we preach; God honors sacrificial giving with an increase in the things of the Spirit which shall profit us immeasurably, eternally and temporally, severing our ties to the world more cleanly and permanently, giving us Life more abundantly that we may pour the life of the Master into others. The poor widow gave more than anyone else because she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living; you research it and then ask the Lord if she became rich for doing so; was wealth her motive?
Many times after much prayer we expect convenience and ease, but the Lord chooses a much more difficult path, making us surprised by the fiery trial we find ourselves in. We then question His logic and find it extremely hard to give thanks in all things, and end up learning the same lessons over and over again. Faith takes all matters to God and accepts His sovereign decision on those matters. It may get easier or it may get excruciatingly painful, but though He slay me yet will I trust Him; Many believe pain and trial prove they have missed God when just the opposite is true, for it is through much tribulation that we enter the Kingdom of Heaven–Golgatha did not erase Christian suffering–it opened to the door to more of it to the glory of our risen Lord. We have failed to arm ourselves with His mind.
Jesus died to come into us in His fullness. He thus moves into our soul and becomes the heart of our soul, even the soul of our soul. It is here that He gets hold of us, and by grace we abide and get hold of Him; And as this process is graced, shaped and nurtured by our Father, we move ever closer to total union with Him–we move into the awareness that we have become one Spirit with Him, this awareness then begins to reveal the glory of our Father in the face of our Savior, for the soul of our Father which is His Son, has filled us by His Spirit, and by His Spirit we now experience the reality that our Redeemer lives…….in us. And we look forward to that Day, when “Lord, Lord” shall become our sight.
*THE HARD SAYINGS OF JESUS AND THE DESERTION OF HIM
60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Many people at this time believed Jesus was the Messiah, and were following Him as He went from village to village; He had just finished His discourse on eating His flesh and drinking His Blood, when these ‘disciples’ decided this saying was the clincher—it coupled with all else He teaches, was just too hard to except—the original language for the word hard here is ‘harsh.’ Ring a bell? It is the crucifixion of the Messiah that makes Him a stumbling block to the Jews; it is the crucified life required by the Messiah, that makes Him a stumbling block to professed believers. Who can hear Him—they asked? Who can bear what He teaches, for it crucifies lust, passion, and pleasure of our lives; It is an offense to the flesh, and many are very ready to claim Jesus—apart from His cross and teachings. It is much easier to claim learning and never come to a knowledge of the truth, for the Truth is a person, and He is an offense to all who want a comfortable Gospel, a comfortable religion; those who think what He teaches and requires is too hard, will make it easy—they will water it down so they can have their lusts and eternal life too. “Jesus doesn’t really mean what he says” is not spoken in the church, it is just lived. We will find out momentarily, that He really does mean what He says, and that there are demands and commands for walking out salvation. The devil has deceived multitudes into thinking Jesus’ sayings and commands are too hard. The tragedy is that these people cannot realize that the blessing and liberty they are so desperately seeking, comes in submission to Jesus, and will come no other way.
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them, which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 1 Pet 2:6-8
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. John 14: 21
Salvation unto Relationship—Intimacy with the Master
Before we enter into discussion about intimacy with Jesus, we must first define, at least to an extent, salvation. The expression—“you must accept Jesus’ is true to a point, but I believe this expression has ended in death for many; The phrase suggests that Jesus stands before us, waiting on our verdict as to accept or reject Him and what He has done. What this does, is negate the cost of becoming His disciple—for it is we He is waiting on, and putting Him in that subjective position as to salvation, is to put Him in the same position as we walk out salvation—we lead Him, He does not lead us. This shallowness divides the work of Jesus from His Person, thus leading many to the quick fix of accepting Him without cost, and continuing in their lives as they were before they accepted Him. Jesus is the all-encompassing Jury, and it is His decision on our lives that we await; On the other hand, to truly accept Him, is to let Him in as Savior, and let Him become Lord of the entire life, that He may do the will of our Father through our submission to Him and our love for Him. All life interest is thus determined by Jesus.
“As He is, so are we in this world’ 1 Jn 4: 17. His reproach falls upon us, His cross becomes ours, He Himself becomes the Joy set before us. To accept Him, is to be crucified with Him, that He might resurrect and do His ministry through our obedience and submission to Him. The scripture knows nothing of a quick-fix salvation that says all we need do is accept the fact of Jesus.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of Jesus, even to them that believe on his name:
The popular axiom of receiving Jesus as Savior to inherit eternal life, is true, but these verses and many more show us that it is much more than just believing and receiving Him—the demons believe.
“As many as received Him” is grammatically identical in meaning to “believed in His name.” Believing here means ‘coming into the full revelation of the essence, character, and mission of Jesus, and a full life commitment to Him.’ It is coming into such close union with Jesus, that becoming a son or daughter of Jesus is experienced—the revelation and realization of that sonship becomes alive and aware to the believer, as the Lord puts His Seal—His Spirit—upon us. It is the awareness that Jesus has resurrected in us by His Spirit, thus making us new creatures. In this experience, faith imparted by Jesus brings revelation, knowledge, and experience of He and of our Father, by Their Spirit:
“for this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true Jesus, and Jesus whom thou hast sent.” Jn 17:3.
The Greek for the word ‘know’ here is 1097 ginosko-to know, to understand, to perceive, to have knowledge of; It is far beyond just believing or knowing “about” the Lord; it is entering into relationship with Jesus, that the will of Jesus be done on earth as it is in heaven. It is not just lip service-
“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” Matt 15:8. It is a total heart deal; And after I receive Him as Savior and Lord, I will find the true meaning of sanctification through my intimacy with Him. I will find that maturity and growth in Jesus is counting things that are gain to me, as a loss for Him; It is counting all things as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus our Lord; it is suffering the loss of all things, counting them as dung, that I may win Jesus; it is knowing Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death. It is being graced to rise into the glory of utter self-abandonment, and absolute surrender to Him. We must not fall into the trap of doing what we believe Jesus requires, while remaining unchanged ourselves, by Jesus. A man or woman may have the reputation of being a Jesusian, and may even learn to accept himself as one, while having no foundation. It is only his appearance of Jesusianity that is in his favor. Many have been deceived into thinking that hearing about Jesus and righteous is enough—they attend services and meetings, but again, themselves remain unchanged. They are hearers, but not doers, as Jesus says. We must not be conned into a resolution that we will serve Jesus, for that resolution most times ends right where it starts: we resolve, but we don’t do. We are always speaking of our calling, our efforts, our convictions, and our struggles, thus the emphasis is always on us. As we will now find out, all that talking must move into the action of doing Jesus’ will through our relationship with Jesus, and at His direction. The once-saved, always saved doctrine is true in the sense that it has ramifications attached to it:
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revillings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of Jesus.
1 Cor 6:9-11
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of Jesus? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of Jesus.
11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our Jesus.
Here the mask of hypocrisy is ripped off—the superfluous reverent claim of Jesus as Lord while living unto one’s self, and one’s lust and passions, shall end in destruction. Many today say Lord, Lord, to
*THE PERSONAL JESUS
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Rev 21:8
The fearful in this verse are those, who through cowardice, have not overcome.
Jesus, but live for the devil. One of the first questions you must ask yourself is do you really know the Lord as He is or do you know Him as many teachers and preachers have presented Him to you? If Jesus would have me share anything of Him, He would first let it become my experience, for if all I can share with you are my opinions and my interpretation of His word, I might as well be a banging gong–I must know and experience Him to effectively share Him, and in this knowing and experience of Him, I am able to say Lord, Lord, because I have made Him Lord of my life. We must have personal witness to the inspiration of Scripture–it must become our living reality; It is this experience of Him that is the sheer evidence of saving faith and a guard against hypocrisy; the faith that He gives me becomes mine through the experience He gives when I do what He tells me to do–Abraham went out not knowing where he was going, but he went with nothing but Jesus’ word and Jesus as his guide; it is this experience that moves faith from the head to the heart, and there it must rule and reign in order for obedience to become reality and experience, and thus keep hypocrisy from sneaking in; thus my life then proves my faith, because I come to know Him through the grace to obey Him; and I come to know Him for myself–it is no longer what man has taught, but it is what the Spirit of Jesus reveals to me about Jesus—confirming scripture– that sustains my hunger and thirst; I hunger and thirst not for His presence or His gifts, but for Him. What I walk and what I teach must become one, for I must be the same before men as before Jesus—again, proof that Jesus has manifested and hypocrisy is held at bay. My faith rules my experience–faith is never based upon experience, faith is based on Jesus and Him only, but faith will spring from the experience and walk He gives. I need to know Jesus to effectively share Him with you, for I must share what I know to be true not because I have read it, but because, by grace, I have lived it….and it is living it that is my greatest guard against hypocrisy. My sin has been revealed to me, as has the Sacrifice for that sin; I choose to confess and repent and move on to seek His face– the one consuming goal of my life; and by grace, Jesus imparts faith to me and the simplicity of living the gospel becomes His gift to me.
It is when we know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, and are made conformable unto His death, that we begin to perceive His faith–the life thus lived in the flesh then starts to live by the faith of the Son of Jesus. This is the crucified life, hidden with Jesus in our Father. It is this dead life that lives unto Jesus, that truly walks out salvation and walks in life eternal, and experiences the nearness of its Redemption. I am graced by my Jesus to know and obey my Master, and I move from the natural to the spiritual, from the temporal to the eternal, from death to life. It is here I must reside.
We must remember— faith’s testimony is, how it came about; Lord increase our faith–that request will most surely see Jesus put you in a circumstance where faith is needed; faith like all the other virtues is the fruit of my intimacy with Jesus; He gives the faith to start me on the way to life eternal, then provides life in a way that brings about growth in that faith and thus, glory to Jesus. My Father is working my Savior in me, and I must work Him out proportionally–I must seize Jesus, for the heart of my affection is the will of Jesus and His glory, to be done through my beloved Master. My sanctification here proves to be my death, that the life of Jesus might pour forth out of my corpse as I move among the people, doing the will of Jesus at the Master’s direction. The Son of Jesus must be the walk of the sons of Jesus; It’s that simple. The wise and the prudent will add complication of theology and doctrine to it, but the hallmark of true revelation is that babes can digest it–not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, or noble are called.
As stated many times, our number one priority is ministry to the Lord; If we are to know Him, we must spend time with Him. If we are to know Him intimately, we must lose our lives to spend our lives with Him. Grace must bring us to a place of serious hungering and thirsting to go into a deeper relationship with the Master, to keep hypocrisy from us. It is the Lord who births this hungering and thirsting, so if you’ve got it, know that it is Jesus working in your soul, that Jesus might resurrect in your mortal flesh and become your all in all. It is by His Spirit that our Savior reveals our Father, and it is by His Spirit that our Father reveals our Savior…….. and we know that life eternal is to know the only true Jesus and Jesus whom He sent, And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth
is not in him. But whosoever keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of Jesus perfected. Hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk, even as he walked. The Master’s earthly walk is always our barometer; hereby we know that we know Him and we know that grace is abounding on us and Jesus is resurrecting in us–for we are able to obey His commandments, thus He becomes our salvation.
Not I, but Jesus
What Jesus has done for me must now move and operate through me; If my decision for Jesus does not exact moral and ethical change in me, I have not seized grace unto life eternal, and am still in the throws of hypocrisy; and if I suffer not sacrifice and temporal loss as a result of my commitment to Him, I must check the pulse of my faith; I must not accept Him as Savior today, and make Him my Lord tomorrow–if I have done so, I must repent; if all I do is not determined by Him, I must reassess; If I feel comfortable and at home in the world, I must seek Him for grace to reexamine my perspective, for this is the disposition of hypocrisy—professing Jesus and living for the world. All that He is, I die daily to accept as mine, from His sorrow to His sacrifice, His cause to His cross. In doing these things, I come to relationship and revelation, of Him, and He is the Joy that is the Jesusian Life.
Many believe many things will get them through the most important Gate. Ask some who profess to be Jesusians and they will tell you that they were saved at some revival meeting years ago, and they will stand on that, though they have lived for the devil all the years since; many will profess infant baptism as their ticket, with very little sign of the Master in their lives since. Many will claim church service and their name in the church register as being synonymous with the Lamb’s Book of Life. Many believe their honest morality will get them off the hook on judgment day. But as Jesus says in our opening Scripture, life eternal is to know Him–as Savior and Lord–and to know the only true Jesus–our Creator and Father, and to know them is to obey them. Obedience to Jesus is grace without measure–it is the sure sign that the Seal of our salvation is working the resurrection of the Master in us.
7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
People fear the suffering at the hands of Jesus that it takes to learn obedience, But I submit to you that you will suffer in this life anyway, for that is the nature of this life. Why not suffer at the hand of our Father, for His methods are to make us stronger in the faith and draw us closer to Jesus. Satan will tell you that the Jesusian Life is too harsh, requires too much. He will tell you that grace will take care of your willful sin, and will justify it, because after all, nobody is perfect, so eat, drink and be merry, for Jesus has suffered, bled, and died, and that will save you no matter what your disposition toward Him. Of these, Jesus says many will plead with Him saying Lord, Lord, didn’t we do all these religious things in your name—how is it that you now cast us out? His reply—“I never knew you, depart from me, you who work iniquity”—which takes us back to John 17: 3—life eternal is to know Jesus and our Father who sent Him. And to know them, we must be born again– Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of Jesus. Being born again, is having Jesus reside in us by His Spirit, that we might execute the will of our Father at His direction; for being born again, we become spiritual, and are graced to move in Jesus by His Spirit in Truth; For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of Jesus, they are the sons of Jesus. Remember Jesus’ teaching of John 8—the servant of sin may reside in Jesus’ house now, but shall not abide there forever—it is the son—He who has Jesus as Savior and Lord, and submits through Him to the will of Jesus in all things—that shall abide forever.
We will not debate eternal security nor the elements of salvation but rather examine the word of Jesus; for it is facing up to and apprehending by grace, the Truth of that word, that is our greatest security; true grace and mercy seize the word of Jesus for what it truly means, not what convenience and a misperception of grace would have it mean; we must not be left as the rich young ruler–trying to convince our intellect that we have done enough to inherit eternal life, even though our hearts are holding our possessions; we must not be held hostage by a heart divided–Jesus is either our All in All or He is an unknown. To walk away in disobedience to the hard commands of Jesus will bring on the subtlety of hell rejoicing; To substitute presumption for grace that was purchased at history’s Heaviest Price, is utter deception and an offense to the Cross. To paraphrase the Master’s commands so that they fit the western civilization lifestyle and philosophy, is to put us under the penalty for disobedience to those commands. Many with much, step right over Lazarus lying at the gate, to get more, scarcely aware of his existence. To fall victim to satan’s claim that “Jesus doesn’t really mean what He says—after all, do you think He who died for you, in the end, will reject you?
That Jesus desires mercy rather than sacrifice is His clear word. That the road of mercy and grace is narrow and afflicted is also well attested by the word of the Master. Eternal life is a matter of the heart, and obedience to the Lord is the nourishment that keeps salvation’s heart beating–it is obedience that puts the eternal in Life for all those who profess belief.
In many instances today, the devil has taken the hard things of the gospel and substituted his cheap grace; He is believed as a matter of convenience, for to deny the flesh and the intellect is the straightest gate known to man, for it thwarts pride; and it is here that satan is most deceptive; this has happened to the point where many argue that Jesus’ hard words on eternal life are legalistic and actually thwart grace; the devil teaches we can have whatever we want, as long as we keep our heart detached from it; and, we can do whatever we want as long as we make regular confession; But the Master demands not only confession, but repentance, and literal inward and outward detachment from all that is contrary to Him--he who cannot forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple. Only one who has had much and lost it, can relate the incredible liberty of poverty.
I pursue nothing but Him–detachment, self denial, and all the other virtues will manifest in my life proportionate to my death and the resurrection of the Master in me; and that death comes about only as I pursue Jesus with heart, mind, body and soul, not by my fleshy, egotistical attempts at self-denial and service. Find me a person who says his heart is not attached to his possessions and his own glory, and I’ll show you a person who is struggling with the truth. If you don’t believe it, bid the person to sell all he has and then give the proceeds to the poor.
If we are to go forth and make disciples of all nations, we better first let the water out of our gospel here, and teach it in its truth, its simplicity, and its purity and Power. Let us be mindful of the fact that it has always been the way of man to reason himself away from true, whole-hearted sacrifice and obedience to Jesus. And let us not forget that disobedience without repentance, under the New Covenant, is eternally fatal, for to live in disobedience renders saving faith impossible. Many will descend into the lake with their presumption in tow.
As we undertake a careful examination of the words of the Master, it is between you and He just what He means and how great a price, the Pearl. Does the road to your crown truly run through your cross?
We desire to enter heaven, we must do the will of our Father who is in heaven, through Jesus who ascended from heaven to make it all possible.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Jesus is talking here about judgment day—the day He will judge the world. Many will give Him a profession of Jesusian service, including utilizing the gifts of His Spirit. Notice these works are claimed to be done “in” the name of Jesus, not “by” the name of Jesus. Important because the word in the name of Jesus, implies a connection between Jesus and the performer of the work.. Jesus is saying that spiritual results can be obtained by unspiritual men. There will be many who proclaim church duty and the like as their ticket on judgment day, forgetting that you must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven. The Master’s whole discourse here tells us there is more to salvation that just accepting and believing.
Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Luke 6:46—Again, the mask of hypocrisy ripped off by the Master. Jesus uses the same Lord, Lord, here, that He uses in describing those who will plead with Him—Lord, Lord, on judgment day. The ultimate hypocrite calls Jesus Lord, and at the same time, sins without measure. Remember, Jesus died to wash us from our sin, and, to put us in relationship with Him that sin might not have dominion over us. We mock Him if we call Him Lord and do not obey Him. A word about obedience here—obedience is not perfection; it is a heart that is submitted to Jesus, and works to submit to and obey Him. The submission is the key, for in our submission to Him, we find Him impart the grace needed to do what He commands.
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Matt 10:32-33. Jesus will make His profession before all men—“I never knew you;” you were not born again, you were not led by the Spirit of Jesus, so you are not truly a son of Jesus. For there have arisen false Jesus, and false prophets, and they have shown great signs and wonders—and you were among them; Matt 24:24. Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. (John 13:13); So how is it that you did not obey me? You honored me with your lips but your heart was far from me, for you continued to let sin dominate your life. ‘depart from me’ into everlasting fire reserved for satan, his angels, and false prophets and teachers such as yourself. You have worked iniquity—lawlessness—while professing my name. Note here: if we label the work of the Holy Spirit the work of the devil, we are guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit; If we claim to do the work of the Lord, using the hand of satan, we are guilty of the same blasphemy. This lawlessness that you worked, denied my grace which was completely open to you, to do your best to fulfill all righteousness—i.e., the law of my Father. Your acts promoted yourself, were in opposition to me, and were done to gain the favor of the world.
The will of Jesus, as our Father, is His will in the gospel, for there He is made known, as the Father of our Lord Jesus : and in him our Father. Now this is his will, that we love Jesus, and that we walk with Him to do the will of our Father through Him, that we repent of sin, that we live a holy life born out of our relationship and intimacy with Jesus who is our Holiness, and that we love Him with all our heart, mind, body and soul, and, that we love one another. This is his will, even our sanctification. If we do not comply with the will of Jesus, we mock Jesus in calling him Lord, as those did who put on him a scarlet robe, and said mockingly, ‘Hail, King of the Jews.’
What Jesus is to us, and has done for us, must become operative in us.
The disciple is not above his Master
As His disciples we cannot expect better treatment in the world than our Master had. Let us not seek more honor or pleasure in the world than Jesus had, nor aim at the worldly approval which he was never ambitious of, but always declined, nor affect that power in secular things which he would not assume; but every one that would show himself perfect, an established disciple, let him be as his Master– dead to the world, and every thing in it; let him live a life of labor, sacrifice and self-denial as his Master does, and make himself a servant of all; let him stoop, and let him toil, and do all at the direction of the Master and for His glory, and then he will be a complete disciple.
*WILL JESUS COMMIT HIMSELF TO YOU?
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
They believed him to be the promised Messiah, but did not believe in him to the salvation of their souls: for we find, from the following verse, that their hearts were not at all changed, because our blessed Lord could not trust himself to them.
Many believed that He was the Messiah, but they did not carry it to the point of just what it meant; Jesus is our Prophet, Purifier, our self-sacrificing Priest, our Lord, our Savior. Here is where they missed it—they believed when they saw the miracles that He did. We must remember that the Baptist had fired up the whole country with his prophecy that the Messiah was drawing nigh; and when Jesus came, many were awed by the miracles He did and concentrated on them, failing to believe in the Person of Jesus, as well as His name. The belief in His name here is not the belief that He speaks of later—when Jesus speaks of believing on or in His name, the original language carries with it, an adherence to His Person which brings about His Lordship in a life—not just believing that He is the Messiah—the trembling demons believe. And here is the crux of the whole matter as far as we’re concerned.
24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
They, in their hearts, refused to make Jesus the lone object of their wills; Many see the miracles He does, and they acknowledge Him in those miracles. But, they never desire Him as Lord, so He does not trust himself with them nor commit Himself to them. It is the same word that is used for believing in him. So that to believe in Jesus is to commit ourselves to him and to his guidance. In dangerous times and places such as we are now in, it is wisdom to take heed in whom we place our trust or whom we commit to; these are the turbulent, the unquiet—ever learning but really not desiring to come to a knowledge of the Truth. These are they that must see with other men’s eyes, and hear with other men’s ears, and take things as they are represented to them, always, as the wandering Israelites, want an intermediary between themselves and Jesus; Our call is to bring the people in the street and anywhere else for that matter, into adherence and attachment to the Person of Jesus; and if you are not so attached, you will have problems attaching anyone else to Him. Many simply don’t want to be put in that position, and it is those people John is here speaking; Many believe that Jesus is who He says He is and that’s as far as it goes; To these, Jesus will not commit Himself (vs. 24), for lip service is luke warmness—it is heart service that proves relationship. Here we find He refused to commit Himself, even to those who trusted that He is the Messiah; This is one of the heaviest statements of scripture, but it is in line with many actions and methods that Jesus uses. When He was offered the homage of devils, he forbade them to speak. When those who had been simply healed of bodily disease began fanatically to proclaim His praises, He oft times silenced them. He had no faith in their empty faith—theirs was not the faith which He gives, so, knowing their hearts, He refused to commit Himself to them, and open Himself to them. Understand that He did not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax (Isaiah 53)—He knew the hearts of the many who were professing belief in Him, and knowing what He knows, He refuses to commit Himself to them. Pretty scary. He saw their motives, which were mostly a desire to benefit monetarily and militarily from His Messiahship—He’s here, we shall now be healthy, wealthy, and safe. Such are many today as you know. We here guard against such apostasy, by not only preaching the pure word of Jesus, but relating what He requires for true discipleship and relationship with Him. And again, if you are not in that position, how in the world do you hope to impart Him to someone off the street? Jesus penetrates thoughts, discerns character, gleans what substance there might be from professions of faith, and, openly identifies the passions and lusts in the hearts of men. He knows all, and knowing all, He refuses to commit to some.
25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
His knowledge was not by information from others, but by his own infallible intuition.
Though they confided in Him, He did not confide in them, or let Himself down to them familiarly, as He did to His genuine disciples.
He saw through them, as He did through all men, and, perceiving the superficial character of the trust they reposed in Him, He reposed none in them.
The Spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus—lets look at this another way. Jesus is also saying here, that the testimony of Jesus—all He is, all He has done and all He says, is the Spirit of prophecy—the word of our Father to us. We consistently teach and preach this, but, as the apostle says, many are such hard of hearing. Somehow we must beseech Jesus to open this up to us—we must experience Jesus as the Spirit of Prophecy, for that is who He is, and it is His testimony of the Way to our Father, that our Father the Holy Spirit is constantly working into our lives.
28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Mt. 7: 28-29
Jesus portrays hypocrisy in a language which brings out its disastrous end, and the certainty of it. The man or woman of Jesus is tested by the ordinary temptations of life; Time is all that is required to test anything. The wolf may pretend to be a sheep for a time, but in time, his devouring nature will reveal itself. Beware of sudden trial and temptation, for they tend to reveal the heart. We must not walk out the discipleship life undetected by ourselves. Under the eye of Jesus, all masks are ripped off—nothing is hidden that shall not be revealed; that is why He said one thing is needful, and that one thing is spending time daily with Him, so He can fill us, and become the center of our lives, moving His ministry through our surrender and submission. Then when sudden trial and temptation come upon us, it is Jesus who animates our response. It is the striving heart of trying obedience to which the crown awaits. Let the disciples of Jesus beware of destroying the distinction between the “broad” and the “narrow” way; and neither be carried away by the deception of that `liberal’ school of preachers and writers whose aim is to refine away the distinguishing peculiarities of the two roads mentioned here by Jesus, nor be ashamed of the Truth which holds them up in bold, clear, sharp outline. Jesus, whom no Jesusian dare call narrow or harsh, concludes this incomparable discourse with the assurance that there are but two great ways of life– the one ending in “Life Himself,” the other in “destruction or eternal death;” that the easy road is the fatal way, the difficult road the only safe way; and that true wisdom lies in fleeing the former and making choice of the latter. Genuine, out-and-out discipleship yields its devout assent to this, and casts in its lot with all that teach it, however despised and persecuted; stopping its ears to the preachers of smooth things, health and wealth, and exploiting the Blood of Jesus for gain.
(2) while corrupt teaching is followed, sooner or later, by corresponding practice, the immediate effects are often, to all appearance, the reverse. There is often a simplicity, an earnestness, an absorption in the objects at which they aim, in preachers who are conscious that they have special ideas to lodge in the minds of their hearers; and there are other subtle elements in the popularity of some, who, by widening the strait gate and broadening the narrow way, win to religious thought and earnestness many who otherwise would in all probability have remained strangers to both.
(3) the light in which our Lord presents Himself in the closing words of this Discourse has a grandeur, revealing Him as Jesus, which must commend itself to every devout, reflecting mind; Not only does it exhibit Him as the Judge, but it represents all Jesusian duties as terminating in Him, and the blissful or blighted future of men as turning upon their doing or not doing all to Him. In perfect, yet awful accordance with this is the sentence– “DEPART FROM ME”– separation from HIM is death and hell. Jesus is the Word, who at the beginning was with Jesus and was Jesus, and if thus rich He for our sakes only became poor, then all that He says here is worthy of Himself, and shines in its own luster.
(4) while most persons within the Jesusian Church are ready to admit that, not professed, but proved subjection to the Father of our Lord Jesus — not lip, but life service– will avail “in that day,” It is not so readily admitted and felt that services such as “prophesying in Jesus’ name, and in His name casting out devils, and in His name doing many miracles or eloquent and successful preaching– even to the deliverance of souls from and Satan, shall prevail on that day, if we have not in our obedience and love, become intimate with Him; learned contributions to theological literature; great exertions for the evangelism of the masses and the vindication of religious liberty; and princely donations for either or both of these– may all be rendered in honor of Jesus, while the heart is not subjected to Him, and the life is a contradiction to Him, His commands, and His teachings.. What need, then, have we to tremble at the closing words of this great Discourse; and, “Let everyone that nameth the name of Jesus depart from iniquity”! Well may one, on rising from the study of this solemn close to the Sermon on the Mount, exclaim with, Bunyan, in the closing words of his immortal `Pilgrim, ‘ `THEN I SAW THAT THERE WAS A WAY TO HELL EVEN FROM THE GATES OF HEAVEN. ‘
*THE WALK OF DEATH
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
The subject of holiness is led up to here by meeting certain supposed erroneous conclusions from what has been said in the preceding chapter; It might be said that, if where sin abounded grace did much more abound—if in the obedience of Jesus, all believers are justified—then whether we sin or not, makes no difference. This attitude is what the apostle goes after here; when we partake of the righteousness of Jesus in Jesus, it is not a matter of symbolism—Jesus for us—we are expected to actually partake of His righteousness—this is the resurrection of Jesus in us; and the more He resurrects in us, the less sin has dominion over us; Though the righteousness of Jesus is imputed to us, we are to partake of Him—He Himself—that we might not live unto sin, but unto Jesus. Justifying faith in Jesus is union with Him, a dying with Him to sin, and Him rising in us—we are born again by His resurrection in us—His is the new life in us that makes us new creatures. The apostle here says this is the meaning of baptism—dying a rising again, of which baptism is the symbol; service to Jesus, as we submit to our union with Him; Jesus has emancipated us from the law, but in doing so, made possible the grace to emancipate us from sin’s dominion.
2 Jesus forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Our submission to Jesus, and our subsequent union with Him, gives us His power to keep sin from having dominion in our lives.
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus were baptized into his death?
Our profession of Jesus as Savior and Lord, is a profession of a life no longer dominated by sin—both in thought and in deed; The whole experience of Jesus is imparted to the professor of belief in Him—this is the idea here—we are baptized into His death and all that may proceed it in our ministry and walk. We become dead to sin and to self, because He died so we could in submitting totally to Him;
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Jesus was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Again, our profession of Jesus as Savior and Lord, is a renunciation of the flesh—the submission to death of the flesh, that Jesus might resurrect in us, which is the Newness of life referred to here; (the general resurrection of which baptism is a signal is also read in here).
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
This is a picking up of one’s cross daily—a daily crucifixion and planting—burying the flesh; for if this happens, as we walk in newness of life, and grow in Jesus and sanctification, we are assured of our salvation and therefore assured that we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection when we are raised from the grave. This planting of the flesh in death, helps pave the way for spiritual union with Jesus, for we have died unto sin and have been resurrected in righteousness;
—“verily verily I say unto to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead (unsaved who will listen and turn to Him) shall hear the voice of the Son of Jesus—and they that hear (believe and repent), shall live (eternally); also, context with the resurrection of the dead.”—I am the Resurrection and the Life (that shall rise in them that believe)he that believeth in me, though he were dead (in his sins), yet shall he live (because he has made Me Lord and Master unto the will of My Father);and whosever liveth (is alive) and believeth in me (union with Me), shall never die.
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
The old man—myself—is not reformed—he is destined for that daily cross, that the body of sin—the flesh—might be destroyed—by the resurrection of Jesus in it (I have power over all flesh), and in His resurrection in us, would grace us unto sanctification—that we will not serve sin, but be servants of righteousness unto Him. The inward change brought on by the indwelling Jesus, kills the flesh, and frees it from being a slave to sin. Our former sin-possessed and sin-dominated personality is buried with Jesus—dead; He resurrects in us by his Spirit, giving us the power over slavery to sin
8 Now if we be dead with Jesus, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Dead to our flesh, dead to our own will in all aspects of our lives, and alive unto the service of Jesus, at the direction of Jesus—He lives in us, and we in Him. Evidence of Him in our lives is evidence of Jesus’ continuing grace.
9 Knowing that Jesus being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Jesus, made himself subject to death by taking on himself our nature; He voluntarily submitted to death, once fore all, representing us (Jn. 10: 17). Death no longer has dominion over the man or woman who is in Jesus—he that liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto Jesus.
Jesus of course never sinned, nor was He infected with it as we are; but He bore the sins of many—the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Jesus submitted for us to the condition and penalty of human sin; Thus as He died to free us from sin’s dominion, we must be in Him and He in us that we might realize freedom from sin as our experience by grace.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto Jesus through Jesus our Lord.
We must pursue Jesus and union with Him to be dead unto sin and alive unto Jesus; our submission is what gives effect to the regenerating grace of Jesus. It is our willing pursuit of and total submission to Jesus that starts us and keeps us on the road of growing in sanctification. This pursuit and submission is absolutely vital to salvation—Jesus is the Author of salivation to all who obey Him—Heb. 5: 9.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
We are still in our temporal body, and the lusts of the old man continually entice us; If we let sin have dominion over us, it will. Salvation and regeneration are not regarded as having changed our old man, for he is to be put to death, that the new Man (Jesus), might come in a resurrect in us, giving us the power we need to fulfill what He commands—it is the power of His resurrection in us; We still must decide each day whom we will serve: sin or Jesus. Sin lies not in the temptations facing us, but in our yielding to them;
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto Jesus, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto Jesus.
We must yield all that we are to Jesus, in our submission to Jesus; The Greek word for ‘instruments’ here is actually ‘weapons.’ The whole idea here is that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood when we go to war by claiming Jesus; we may wrestle against our flesh, but the enticement that causes the flesh to be drawn away, does not come from flesh and blood, but from principalities and powers. The instruction is to put on the full Armor of Jesus, which is Jesus Himself. When we submitted absolutely and unconditionally to Jesus, it is to be a once-for-all thing of the heart; The yielding of our members to Jesus as weapons of righteousness, tells us of the war we have entered.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
If we are willing to resist sin, Jesus will grace us to do it. The law convicts of sin, and offers to no power to overcome it; grace imparts the Power—Jesus—to overcome it—not condone it; If sin has dominion over us, and lords itself over us, we shall find ourselves in condemnation; we who are truly under grace, will not be under sin as our master; we still sin, but again, sin does not reign in our lives. But sin will be our master if we consent to be its servant.
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? Jesus forbid.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
It is by our conduct that we show whom is our master—Jesus or sin, and we know that Jesus says we cannot serve two masters, for we will love one and hate the other; this is what we do when we claim Jesus, but refuse to repent and crawl out of the bottle or baggie—whosoever committeth sin continually is the servant of sin, not the servant of Jesus. This verse tells us that such a person—and there are many among us—shall see his life end in death—eternal death; But obedience to Jesus is unto righteousness which is unto life eternal, that we may never die; We thus are servants of Jesus and His duty, not servants of sin, for the servant of sin may abide in the house for now, but it is the true son or daughter—those who have chosen obedience unto righteousness, that shall abide in Jesus’ house forever (Jn. 8).
17 But Jesus be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
We start in sincerity, and we must continue in sincerity, realizing that though our salvation be Jesus’ gift, we must indeed show the fruit and works of Jesus in our lives; We must not let down our guard against sin and temptation; this is why we preach and teach regular quiet time with Jesus, that we may worship He and our Father by their Spirit, and be filled by Jesus that we can overcome temptation—remember, Jesus died to make it so. We must remember this as our doctrine that we not be carried about by every wind that says otherwise.
19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
We have been freed from our former bondage of sin, and are now called to render our allegiance to Righteousness—Jesus, being moved from slaves of sin, to sons of Jesus. The ‘infirmity of your flesh’ here is a dullness of spiritual perception. We must render the diligence we once had to sin, to righteousness now; This verse is the picture of true repentance; we must devote ourselves to our new Master, with same fervor we did our old one—even more so.
20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to Jesus, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of Jesus is eternal life through Jesus our Lord.
We must yield ourselves to the sole service of Jesus who is our righteousness, for we were once in the sole service of sin, having no allegiance to righteousness at all. The end of our shame in serving sin, is death;
The true believer in Jesus shares in the Lord’s resurrection; Our sins were crucified in His death, and in His resurrection we are delivered from their dominion and power. The cross itself tells us that we shall have to endure trial and temptation; the resurrection of Jesus tells us we can overcome these things through Him in us.
The purpose of the flesh is for sacrifice, for it profits nothing unless it is dead. It is at His feet that the flesh falls off.
There will be no ordering Power in our lives but Jesus–friend, foe and family, will be put in their rightful places; We forego our reception, that at any cost, His will be done; True Joy becomes the Life of the Son and the will of the Father–we must seek Him who never seeks anything but the will of our Father; we must see self only as our consciousness, our awareness of life; It is not our being, for life is hid with Jesus, in God from whom it came, and to whom it is returning.
To forgive is to heal, to be forgiven is to be healed
The Lord readily gives the gift of forgiveness if we will but forget ourselves for a moment and receive it. Many try to forgive those who have hurt or abused them, but are just unable. Jesus must give us forgiveness from the heart if we are to forgive our offenders, for we, apart from Him, can do nothing, especially forgive–the command to forgive is fulfilled by the gift of forgiveness, if we will but turn from our wicked ways and ask the Lord for it.
Those who oppose themselves must be taught that it is in the losing of the life that we find the Life and His healing; and the quicker we can get ploughing on that track, the sooner healing will come; God will thus use the experience and the suffering to minister Jesus to others. All must be put on the altar and not taken off, this includes life direction, prophecies and prophetic words, dispositions, agendas, and attitudes. It is in meekness that we instruct them that oppose themselves that God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. We must open them to God and let Him care for them–and to do that effectively, we must be intimate with Him–we must be true disciples of Jesus. The chief cause of failure in ministry, is that the minister has failed discipline himself. Discipleship puts us into the experience realm with Jesus to hurt and to learn, that we might through our suffering and pain, become obedient and effective ministers.
We must keep silence before and listen to, the hurting; it is our listening to them that prepares our hearts for God to minister to them–all apart from whatever office we might hold in the church; It is here that laity and clergy must become one, for the body and the unbelieving, need all; to minister to them, we must experience the level ground beneath the cross with them–we must in the heart of God, walk, hurt, laugh and cry with them, while informing them that the cause of their dilemma is sin–theirs, and those who have trespassed against them. God must be sought not only for His forgiveness, but for the forgiveness of the transgressor and for forgiveness of self. It is here many lack knowledge of God’s word unto perishing–they hear but resent, so they really don’t hear; they disobey and because of a lack of knowledge of God and His word, they perish. They fall into rationalizing their sin, and are deceived to the point of not necessarily denying it, but believing God tolerates it. Such action is thus judged by the law, as there is no confession or repentance, for deception has decried the need for either.
The whole counsel of God pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart, and it is the heart that needs the circumcision, its foreskin cut away.
When Jesus puts us in their shoes, hardness of heart begins to soften in all concerned–we no longer criticize the addict, we weep for him, and we weep with him; the cross may still offend, but it is allowed to do its deadly work on all of us; for it is only in the laying apart of all filthiness and superfluity of wickedness–in short, repentance–that the meekness is given to receive the engrafted word which is able to save. We must not ignore the commandment nature of God’s word, but must rather focus on it.
Salvation is for those who obey Him
Disobedience seems always the major issue; In confronting it, sin must first be identified–we must risk their hate–and then confessed, that forgiveness, grace and cleansing be realized. When confessing our sin we need to carry it to the Blood of Jesus–we need to seek the Lord for the grace of experiencing the cleansing of the Blood of Jesus–we are clean and our hearts need to seize that fact. Repentance must then be fully undertaken, sin forsaken and mortified.
Healing and deliverance then come as God graces a man to hear His Word in faith, and obey, instead of hearing, then hardening and rebelling. Strongholds are then pulled down, and the leading into total and complete surrender is undertaken, sanctification birthed and sustained. The disciplinary Word must, in love, precede the Word of grace;
Discipleship–the total pursuit of Jesus– is the key to overcoming sin–for both the minister and the ministered to. The commandment of God must be perceived as grace for that is what it is–pure grace. At the same time, we must understand that while Calvary is the proclamation of the grace of God, it is also the professor of His wrath. It is in the obedience and cleaving to Jesus that we take refuge in grace.
How can we lead, if we have not gone the narrow road of discipleship ourselves? We can’t. This is another major problem in the church today–men and women preaching from their opinions of the Word, without undergoing Christ-led suffering and experience of it. When we might be led into the fellowship of His sufferings, many unite in effort to pray it away;
Others have it thrust upon them no matter how hard they try to avoid it.
The face set for suffering and duty
And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, ”Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” Mark 8:34-35
“…can ye drink of the cup that I drink of?” Mark 10:38
Though He were a Son, yet Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered; so shall His church, so shall His disciple. Suffering is not only a law of the fallen world, it is a law of the Kingdom of God as it comes nigh and invades that fallen world. It is our intimacy with Him that reveals a hint of His trial and enables us to submit more fully to our own. God did not spare the chastening of Jesus which should be of great comfort to His disciples as they suffer. Even though Jesus is all He is, He still learned obedience by the things He suffered. It tells us that no matter how much we love and obey the Lord, we are still going to suffer. It is in suffering that the disciple’s discipline is secured. He shall be a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. Obedience is not learned but by experience, does not shine but by trial, and does not dominate but through suffering. Suffering knocks the glory and profit out of flesh, shattering the will, proving the heredity of the fruits; to the disciple, suffering is the accepted discipline, a major part of the cost. Those who are loved are chastened–we must learn to view suffering as the grace that enables true discipleship. It is the furnace that tempers and proves. For even hereunto were we called: because Jesus suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps; Our crucifixion rings throughout the New Testament. We must not inflict suffering on ourselves–it must be appointed by the Lord; A test would be how badly we want to rid ourselves of it. We must fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in our flesh for His body’s sake, which is the church; The disciple of Jesus is called to suffer because many are led to the Person of Jesus through the suffering because it glorifies Him–this is one of the ways of God; Jesus suffered to wholly and completely finish His mission; The church must now fill up her own measure of appointed suffering,; it is through the disciple that much of this suffering is executed; in this way, we share in the sufferings of Jesus, because as we suffer, He suffers; It is suffering that moves both the Church and the disciple toward perfection. They fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Jesus in their flesh–the Church is a Spiritual body, it is the flesh that must be sacrificed, filling up God’s whole demand of universal suffering; Jesus fulfilled His perfectly; Until He returns, the church shall fulfill hers. It was necessary for Jesus to suffer and enter into His glory; again, the church is not above her Master. Growth in faith is impossible, without suffering; Let us not forget that it is the perfect suffering of Jesus that molds our suffering unto holiness.
But how much of the church shrinks at the idea of passion out of suffering and rejection; the church would be above her Master if she could, claiming His very condescension and death as the basis for her life of health and prosperity. The church does not want to sacrifice herself without honor, yet that is precisely what her Savior has done. He is to this day, despised and rejected of men; as the church walks the earth, many believe that because Jesus has died and has risen, that the church must now take on His glorified nature and appearance; not so; though her victory is sure, when the walk of the church is ended, it is then she shall pass from death unto life and be glorified, but until that day, she shall walk as her Master walked—rejected and suffering, a sojourner, sacrificing herself without honor, obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, victorious in her weakness; and so shall her disciples be.
Jesus is still the same–His aid for His body comes in the form of suffering and it is in suffering that the church–like her Master–will be victorious. We must never forget that Jesus was crucified through weakness, yet he lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God; This world needs the cross of the disciple. How else can we recognize Jesus but in suffering? How many, in their prosperity seek the Master? How many more in their infirmity seek Him?
This is the true church–weak in itself, but in that weakness, strong in God’s sufficient grace. For if the church be strong in its strength, wherefore comes the need of grace? Until He returns, it will be the suffering Jesus that comes to our aid, and the disciple shall be in His likeness. Witness the twelve and their fate, Paul and his, and multitudes of others down through the ages. The twenty-first century American church knows very little of dying for her faith; but she shall soon come of age and be forced to make her choice.
In our travels, we have seen many magnificent structures and steeples. I have often wondered how many of them God built. As we travel the inner cities, we see storefronts and warehouses brimming over with brothers and sisters, many without a place to lay their heads–passion for Jesus prevails, but prosperity and honor are nowhere to be found. The last shall be first.
satan has made away with the cross of the church, in most instances deceiving her into believing she doesn’t even have one. This has made for massive church membership, but proportionally, little discipleship, as people seek and find their comfort zone in a church that requires of them no cross. The early unbelievers had the same problem–they were looking for a Messiah without a cross, failing to realize that it is the cross that defines the Messiah, and it will be the cross that will define His disciples. Jesus was led as a Lamb to the slaughter, and as it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we too, are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
It is in the slaughter that we become more than conquerors through Him. It is in the slaughter that we are exhorted, weakened to Strength and Grace, that in spite of it, neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord; It is written, that it is through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom of heaven; Again, many in this day want the power of His resurrection, but they refute the fellowship of His sufferings and being made conformable unto his death; if by any means any of us might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
The general attitude is that we have already attained, and are already perfect, and if we are suffering, there must be an “open door” somewhere; we refuse to walk in Jesus to the slaughter, that we may apprehend that for which also we are apprehended of Him—-it is the suffering of Jesus and His repudiation at the hands of men, that proves His office of Messiah; and the disciple is not above His Master— it will be the same that will prove your discipleship–the call of Jesus is a call unto death, that Life might resurrect to save, edify, exhort, and serve all of mankind. If there is not a laying down of your life, a sacrificial giving of some kind in your life, self-examination is in order. Our Father has a cross for you and it is a perfect fit, and is flawlessly designed to do its deadly work on your old man; the Lord is about to open the eyes of His body—our cross is the ultimate grace, for it signals death to the flesh, is the beginning of our transformation, and it gives us the ultimate likeness of Jesus Christ; it also works our resurrected glory. It is our cross that enables us to forgive and bear the evil we sustain and to forgive and to pray for those who transgress against us. Blessing one’s enemies and doing good to them that hate you, is the fruit of a crucified life only. These things are the laws of the cross, and all who would claim Jesus, are subject to these laws, for they spring from a living faith and are the living works of salvation–in short they are evidence the Resurrection and the Life, is in you, for apart from Him you can do nothing, including fulfilling obedience.
We are led as sheep to the slaughter–the church is called to suffering, and rather than persistently trying to pray it away, she must submit to it for that is the means of triumphing over it–Jesus triumphed over rejection, suffering and death, by submitting to them.
This world will inflict its pain and burdens on you whether you are Christian or not; the true disciple will bear the burdens appointed him by his sovereign Master.
The church always wants a word to know what is happening, where she is going; The father of the Christian race went out not knowing where he was going. Faith and faith alone, given by the Master, is the beginning and the end of the earthly journey, and the road is narrow (Greek: afflicted) and is paved with rejection and suffering: such are the measures of discipleship. We must come to grips with the fact that the church needs to be prophetic, but that we know and prophesy, only in part. I need not prophecy to instruct me to pick up my cross and start my journey into my crucifixion, which is the will of God.
On denying self
I must understand that if I purpose to practice self denial, I will, for certain, measure it. And with the self-serving sum of the times I deny myself, pride will then reckon me above my peers, more acceptable to God. I thus move myself from obeying God, to the Godless commanding of myself and men, for I have earned it by my self denial; in short I have become my master. There is no such thing as self-subjugation—we triumph over ourselves when God’s Victory has resurrected in us. Self-denial is a fruit of my intimacy with Jesus, not the off spring of fleshy resignation. And as we travel the way of the cross by choice, let us remember that it is thanksgiving to God in all things, that breaks the chains of doubt.
“….And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Luke 6:46
There will come a day that many who have called Jesus Lord, Lord, will perish because they have not done the things He says to do, and, because of the iniquity that consistently held them in bondage, by choice. For the disciple, all is contingent on the will, word, and command of Jesus—it is not where the disciple decides to go, it is where he is sent; We will be judged by our faithfulness to the direction Jesus gives in the opportunities He presents us. It is in our trying and our failing in our quest of obedience that grace aids; if we don’t try, there will be no grace; it is not failing that grieves God, it is not trying–not using in obedience, what we have been given to further the Kingdom. Obedience is not perfection, it is a heart that tries, out of love for Him. It is in our trying and failing that grace abounds and aids; Service out of irreverent fear will lead to slothfulness and wickedness, for service in this spirit, is not of God. We must try to turn a profit, as it were, even though we be unprofitable servants–and we are reminded that eternal profit is most times immeasurable. Lip service is dead faith; heart service in obedience to Jesus, renders living works unto God, obedience unto eternal salvation.
Obedience is the bread of knowledge, the nutrition that feeds and sustains wisdom. We cannot claim the promises of God without obedience to His commands; people draw nigh unto Jesus with their mouth, and honor Him with their lips; but their heart is far from Him; Many worship in vain because they do not obey the commandments of God, but adhere to the commandments of men, which is disobedience and in many instances, iniquity.
If any man has ears to hear, let him hear–Jesus is the Author of salvation to those who obey Him; we must take heed what we hear, for with what measure we mete, it shall be measured to us; When we hear and heed, God will then direct on how to mete it out, and we will grow in obedience; for the fruit of heeding is growth in the toughest principles of discipleship; The fruit of hearing only, will most always have a worm in it, and will end up dropping to the ground in rot. Even the purest desires to do good are not with fruit but by obedience.
If we try to rely on Him without obeying Him, we will find ourselves in faithless and vain worship–praise and worship without adoration and true allegiance to Him. It is in our obedience to Jesus that we show our trust in God. Discipleship grows by what it feeds on.
The will of God in our salvation is our sanctification; salvation and sanctification are not the same, but you cannot have one without the other; In order to move into sanctification from salvation, we must obey. Obedience ties salvation and sanctification together. If we are to increase in holiness, we must persist in obedience. If we would but obey His voice, we would be unto Him a holy nation;
It is the Lord that hallows us and it is the Lord that must be hallowed. Obedience unto holiness is the hallmark of the disciple. It must needs be for it is the Person of Jesus who is our Sanctification; As the process of crucifixion commences, I come to realize that its not I but Jesus who lives in me; I move into the simplicity of the one word Gospel–Jesus, who is made unto us Redemption, Wisdom, Righteousness, Salvation, Justification, Sanctification, Our All in All.
Obedience is not mere intellectual assent to the will of God, it an action that carries out the will of God at the direction of God.
The true disciple is ready at any sacrifice. His life is the commandment of the Lord, and it is out of his obedience that reverence and love for the Master is shown, the love of our Father received, the love of Jesus realized, and our Holiness made manifest–it is our obedience that sustains our transformation into the likeness of Jesus. He has brought us unto Himself; if we obey His voice, we shall be holy, the Spirit of Holiness being our Power unto obedience.
I recently heard a pastor preach for over half an hour on claiming the promises of God. Not once was obedience to God mentioned. It is the obedience of Jesus that made Him the Perfect Sacrifice–His Blood draws its infinite significance from His perfect obedience. We must hear His voice and follow His leading and then His glory will fill and sanctify this temple we live and move in.
In picking up our cross, we must realize we are preparing our own crucifixion. We must count the cost. A cross is heavy, a real burden and is the most stark of death’s symbols, but its weight will be equivalent to your present grace and to the weight of glory that anticipates your departure; it will be a cross for crown deal when you arrive at your Destination.
Jesus says He who takes not his cross and follows after Him, is not worthy of Him. It is willful neglect of Christian duty to not pick up your cross daily. It is hard to carry your cross in a crowd, so don’t look for much company or help. Your older Brother who bore the heaviest cross in history, goes before you; He is the Way, the most reliable of Guides, and following means fellowship, the likes of which your eyes have not seen, nor your ears heard, nor has entered into your heart.
The Christian’s cup is his cross, and it will not pass from him. To pick up one’s cross is to seize the ultimate grace and consummate union and communion with Jesus.
We must not imagine God’s explicit purposes in our obedience; Many labor under the assumption that greater obedience brings greater temporal blessings, and while that may be sometimes true, Jesus labored in perfect obedience and we know where it led Him; the apostles were extremely obedient–they were martyred; Many times in Scripture it is obedience to God that leads to the greatest trouble. A problem here is that we put the world’s meaning of success or failure to things Spiritual, which is a deadly, deceptive mistake. We are not to worry about the fruit of our obedience–our only concern is to obey, for that is God’s will and purpose for us. All remains well when we remain totally focused on Him. I worry not about what He is going to do with me–I realize His purpose is how I let Him prepare me for it. I fail when I ignore preparation in favor of trying to figure its consequence. My disappointment in not knowing purifies my faith; God’s seeming indifference entices my trust.
The true disciple goes bound in the spirit where he is sent, not knowing the things that shall befall him; All that live Godly in Jesus shall suffer persecution so the witness of the Holy Ghost is that bonds and afflictions will abide; But none of these things move the true disciple; neither does he count his life dear, so that he might finish his course with joy, and the ministry, which He received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. When the Lord finally returns it will be our discovery that He was here all the time..
Jesus instructs us to count the cost. Many rightfully believe He is saying to us–it will cost you your very life; are you willing to pay what it takes to be His disciple? I submit to you another side of the Master’s instruction–count the cost–the cost He paid, that it might be possible for us to become His disciples. It is a cost we can consider, but can never count. The question I must ask myself is this: Is He worth it to me? Is He worth totally giving up all that I have and all that I am? Consider what the cost is to you, but also consider your Purchase. You are giving up all you are for all He is. Is He worth it to you? He cannot and will never be available at a reduced price.
JESUS has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear His cross. He has many who desire consolation, but few who care for trial. He finds many to share His table, but few to take part in His fasting. All desire to be happy with Him; few wish to suffer anything for Him. Many follow Him to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the chalice of His passion. Many revere His miracles; few approach the shame of His Cross. Many love Him as long as they encounter no hardship; many praise and bless Him as long as they receive some comfort from Him. But if Jesus hides Himself and leaves them for a while, they fall either into complaints or into deep dejection. Those, on the contrary, who love Him for His own sake and not for any comfort of their own, bless Him in all trial and anguish of heart as well as in the bliss of consolation. Even if He should never give them consolation, yet they would continue to praise Him and wish always to give Him thanks. There is absolute power in our total love for Jesus — love that is free from all self-interest and self-love—love that looks everywhere and sees only Him. Where can a man be found who desires to serve God for nothing but his love for Jesus? Rarely indeed is a man so spiritual as to allow Jesus to strip him of all things. If a man give all his wealth, it is nothing; if he do great penance, it is little; if he gain all knowledge, he is still far from where he should be; if he have great virtue and much ardent devotion, he still lacks a great deal, and especially, the one thing that is most necessary to him. What is this one thing? The manifestation of Jesus, ruling, reigning, and ministering through the man’s life. It is in our ignorance that we are ever learning, and by grace, we will come to a knowledge of the Truth, for the Truth is the Person of Jesus Christ. For this is life eternal, that we might know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that says, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. And as we undertake our walk and ministry in reverent obedience to the Lord, when we shall have done all those things which are commanded us, we must say, we are, as He says, unprofitable servants: for we have done that which was our duty to do, with absolute surrender to Him, absolute love for Him, absolute obedience to Him, by His Spirit, working through us, in the power of His Blood. Amen.
Seek and set out your daily time to be alone with Jesus—time for the written word, much time for the Living Word. Leave curiosities alone. Contemplate such matters as bring sorrow to the heart rather than matters that merely occupy and thus possess the mind. If you withdraw yourself from unnecessary meetings and the like, you will find enough time that is suitable for the Person and presence of Jesus to occupy your whole life.
It is best to avoid the idle company of men wherever possible and choose to worship the Lord and serve Him out of retirement and rest. “As often as I have been among men,” said one writer, “I have returned less a man.” We often find this to be true when we take part in long conversations. It is easier to be silent altogether than not to speak too much. To stay at home is easier than to be sufficiently on guard while away. Anyone, then, who aims to live the inner and spiritual life must go apart regularly, with Jesus, from the crowd. Its hard to carry your cross in a crowd.
Holy silence is the foundation of holiness in speaking. It is out of our absolute submission to Jesus that the anointing to minister and serve is born. Security is the fruit of our fear of God and reverence for Him.
Temporal security is never promised by Jesus, but temporal tribulation is. The afflictions of the righteous keep them from succumbing to manifold temptations. The resolution to detach self from all that is contrary to Jesus, is the aid of grace. It is in silent contrition that the still, small voice is heard. What we lose to the world, Jesus fills in our prayer chamber, in silence before Him. The shadow of the Almighty falls over the feet of Jesus, and if that is where you reside, it will fall over you.
The hidden secrets of scripture are revealed in solitude and silence at the feet of Jesus; it is there that the Sacrifice is revealed and holy tears thus shed, washing, bathing and cleansing the soul unto inexpressible love and gratitude for He who is the Sacrifice. Anything short of Him muddies the conscience and the heart—the pursuit of carnal joy always ends in unholy sadness. To see all that is in and of the world is to see nothing, for all that is there is at enmity with God—vain glory must be left to those who are vain. It is the flint of your forehead that will carry out your obedience at the direction of Jesus, unto the will of our Father; the flint is found, and the forehead set, and sustained, at the feet of Jesus.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, original 1915 Edition, Electronic Database, Biblesoft
The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Moody Press, 1988, Biblesoft
Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986, Biblesoft
Vine’s Expository Dictionary, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985, Biblesoft
Matthew Henry Commentary, Biblesoft
The Pulpit Commentary, Erdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1978
Sermons of Jonathan Edwards
Thomas a Kempis
Catherine of Siena
St. John of the Cross