[very interesting and enlightening reading]
Life ... Promised Before Times Eternal (continued)
The whole earth was full of iniquity. The heart of every man was evil, but there was one man and his family which stood on one ground only. Noah, says Peter, was a "preacher of righteousness" - a preacher of right standing with God. The whole world was not in right standing with God, so it had to die, but Noah and his family, who were in right standing with God, were saved from death and from judgment.
Did I say that this was infancy? I think there are a great many Christians who have not got further than infancy yet! However, it is a great thing to have got that far!
The Corinthians had not got beyond Noah, for Paul said that they were still infants. They were the Lord's, because they had apprehended the truth of justification by faith, but the biography stopped at that chapter. They were still in infancy long after they should have gone on into the next chapter.
Do you see the point that I am trying to make? It is that God has ordained the whole history of humanity upon this basis of life, and the beginning of it is on the ground of right standing with God.
The second stage in the life of the Lord Jesus on this earth was His childhood, His boyhood. We have not a great deal about His boyhood in the New Testament. There are only one or two things said about it, but it was a long period, and we cannot believe that it was an empty period. It does say that He "grew in stature, and in grace with God and men" (Luke 2:52). He grew in right standing with God.
The second period of the spiritual biography of Jesus Christ is much fuller than that, indeed, it occupies practically all the rest of the New Testament, for it is the period between being born and being perfected. It states that He "was made perfect" (Hebrews 5:9). What does that mean? It may create a problem for you in that He Who was without sin, Whom we think of as being perfect, should have to be "made" perfect, but, of course, our idea of the word "perfect" is not the New Testament idea. The New Testament meaning of the word "perfect" is "being made full, or complete." While for us it may mean being made different in nature, it was not that with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit was working upon that which was not yet complete to make it complete.
I wonder if I am going to get into trouble over what I am going to say now! I am going to ask those of you who have been saved for, say, sixty years: 'Are you better in yourself today than you were in the beginning?' I have been saved for sixty years and I think I am a great deal worse today than when I was saved! Does that sound terrible? But you know what I mean - I am no more perfect today than I was sixty years ago. If you are speaking about my human nature, what I am as a child of Adam, well, old Adam is as troublesome to me today as ever he was! And yet, something is happening in us. I sometimes say: 'Well, I may be pretty bad today, but the Lord alone knows what I would have been if He had not saved me!'
This is the period of infancy to manhood. I believe that the Lord Jesus had many a temptation and many a trial during those thirty years. We just have a little glimpse of His home life, in that He had some brothers and sisters, and, you know, brothers and sisters can really put you on the spot! I had some brothers and sisters and I was not the eldest of the family, so they were often a very big trial to me. Jesus had some brothers and sisters and we are told that His brothers did not believe in Him. It is not easy when people in your own family do not believe in you. 'Oh, he thinks he is somebody! He has a lot of strange ideas, but we will knock all that out of Him!' Is that not the way they talk? Jesus was not without those difficulties and trials, and that lasted for thirty years. I do not know how much Mary told her other sons and daughters about Jesus, or whether she still kept it all in her heart, but they could see that He was different, and that was enough to provoke opposition.
Well, I need not say more. The period of boyhood was a period of discipline, a period of learning, a period of education. The Old Testament has that period and it is quite a long one, for it is the period of the Patriarchs.
Who are the Patriarchs? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. Do you not see what a period of education that was? God had these men in His school and He was teaching them the laws of Divine life. Visit Abraham at school and see what he is learning about the laws of Divine life! Was Isaac at school? Was he learning the great laws of Divine life? Let me put that in another way. Was Isaac being taught the principles of resurrection life? You know, we have some wrong ideas about these men, and we often think that Isaac was a little boy and Abraham could pick him up and put him on the altar. From our standpoint he was a grown man at that stage, not even a teenager. He had grown to have a will, a mind and feelings of his own, and he could have resisted his father. He could have rebelled against him. He was in a hard school, for he had to surrender everything to death in order that he might learn the law of resurrection life.
From Isaac we go on to Jacob. Need we say anything about Jacob? Was he at school? He was in a very hard school indeed! The discipline in Jacob's life was very severe, for God put him through it. However, he came out all right in the end and became the father of the nation, of the twelve tribes. That was resurrection! That was life out of death! That was victory out of adversity!
(continued with # 10 - (Manhood)