The Cross of Calvary # 11
The Cross and the Living Christ, continued
Once the believer perceives this focal point of Calvary in relation to his practical experience, all the truths of God fall into their place in beautiful harmony.
No ideal of life is too high, since the believer has but to make way for the Lord Himself to fulfill the ideal through him. No command of God for service is too great, since the Christ Himself becomes all wisdom and power within him, as he by faith retires, so to speak, to the Cross, and then moves forward to each service in reliance upon the indwelling Lord. The very entry of God comes into his life, and as he proves with joy the might of the Risen Christ thus working through him, his whole outlook changes. "I have been taught the secret ... I can do all things in Him," becomes the glad triumphant cry; "To me life is Christ," the one increasing joy; "I will speak only of the works which Christ has wrought by me", the simple testimony; "I labor in earnest conflict according to His working which works in me with mighty power", the energizing spirit of service day by day.
Oh blessed life! How restful, how glad, how free, when once the secret is known, and the soul learns to live by faith in the Son of God.
But, Paul, does this mean that you have become a machine with no personal choice or desires?
"Crucified ... yet I live," cries Paul. I am not a mummy, nor a machine! I am a human being with feelings and personal wishes, hopes and desires.
I live all the more because I have died; for the sensibilities of this human organism, dulled by slavery to sin, have now become freed to become acute and living. Not to be any longer the medium of self-sensitiveness, self-seeking or self-love, but the quickened vehicle for the manifestation of the love and life of the Christ Who now A"liveth in me."
"Me" - Paul the Apostle - who am not meet to be called an Apostle, for I persecuted the Church of God.
"Me" with all my own characteristics, temperament and tastes. All that goes to make up the personality of "me" Christ lives in "me".
Nevertheless I know it is no longer "I" that is the moving spring and center of my life. It is "not I", but the grace of God which enables me to labor more abundantly than all the apostles. It is not my life, but the life which flows from the living Christ within my heart, that is manifested through me.
But Paul, is this a wonderful consciousness to you? Do you feel dead, and do you realize great joy and heavenly ecstasy through the Risen Lord thus dwelling in your heart?
Nay, "that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith."
But what kind of faith, Paul? Is it a faith, that you have experienced death with Christ, and is it a faith that is a great effort or strain, every moment?
Nay, it is "the faith which is in the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself up for me."
Ah, blessed proof of "I" being crucified with Christ! The "I" passes from the horizon of the soul's vision, and the Son of God, in the great love of His death on the Cross, fills the whole heart and mind.
"He gave Himself up for me," becomes the dominating thought of the life, and all things are seen in the light and love of Calvary. Abandonment to the pierced hands of Him Who died brings nothing but the sweetest joy, and occupied with the object of love, the faith in Him becomes a spontaneous, unconscious attitude of the soul, who no longer is concerned with its experience, or cares for aught on earth purely in relation to itself, but longs, with deep desire, that He Who died should see of the fruit of His travail on Calvary's Cross, and be satisfied.
The Way of Faith
Paul says that the "outward life which still remains" he lives "in the faith of the Son of God." Even his own act of faith seems to have passed out of the range of his consciousness, by the assured knowledge of Christ living and working in him. The Risen Lord, taking possession of the believer, brings with Him the "spirit of faith," and the act of moment by moment trust, should eventually become as spontaneous and simple as breathing.
But there are transition stages in the spiritual life, when the soul is being led into deeper knowledge of itself, and its own powerlessness, that it may know the abounding resources in the Risen Lord. In such times of transition, the believer has often to cling in an extremity of trial to the bare word of God, that he is crucified with Christ. Fresh transactions with God will ofttimes be necessary, when he commits himself anew to Him, and trusts Him to fulfill in him His highest purposes; and when he, so to speak, casts upon the Faithful God the responsibility of bringing him out through all the testings, into the larger places of the life in Christ.
We must take heed in our dealings with God, at all times, that our faith is always in the present tense. By this we mean, that as we lay hold of His word that we were carried to the Cross with the Crucified One, we should definitely believe that He "Who quickeneth the dead, and calleth the things that are not, as though they were," does by His own creative word now communicate and maintain the life of Christ in us. With Jehovah speaking is doing. He said at the creation of the world, "Let there be," and there was. The word of the Cross from the mouth of God is as much the word of omnipotence as the word spoken at creation. Jehovah points to His Son upon the Cross, and speaks the word, "crucified with Him" - the soul responds with "Amen, so be it," and the message of the Cross becomes the power of God in all who thus believe.
(continued with # 12)