|CALLED UNTO HOLINESS - 01. ONENESS WITH CHRIST|
ONENESS WITH CHRIST
From the Convention invitation that went out I read, "The dominant note of the messages will be a call to holiness of life - "Be ye holy, for I am holy." Do you want to be holy? Perhaps some of us here are defeated; we want to be victorious. We are enslaved; we want to be delivered. We are spiritually tired; we want rest. We are discouraged; we want peace. We are sorrowful; we want joy. But do we have a sense of the utter uncleanness of our lives, so that the deepest cry of our heart is for holiness?
The twin word for holiness in Scripture is that precious word sanctification. Let us listen to what GOD says regarding His will and His calling for us.
"For this is the will of God, even your sanctification" (I Thessalonians 4:3).
"For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness" (I Thessalonians 4:7).
CHRIST prayed for our sanctification.
"Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth... And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth" (John 17:17, 19).
It was the provision that GOD made in the gift of the HOLY SPIRIT as our Sanctifier.
"God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" (II Thessalonians 2:13).
In Ephesians, where we have the deepest truths given us in all the Word of GOD regarding the relationship of the Christian to CHRIST, the favorite word for the Christian is "saint." Do you like to be called that? Everyone of us is either a sinner or a saint in the sight of GOD. Perhaps it would make some of us very angry, if someone called us a sinner. But would we resent it almost as much to be called a saint? We must be one or the other. It makes a tremendous demand upon you and me to be called a saint. But that is what the Lord, the Head of the Church, calls those who have been united to Him and have become part of His body.
Then, if we are saints, we certainly should live as saints. This was His purpose for us before there was ever a world or anyone in it.
"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy" (Ephesians 1:4).
Think of it! "Before the foundation of the world" you, if you are in CHRIST, were chosen to be holy, even as He is holy. The truth of sanctification is as clearly taught in the Word of GOD as the truth of salvation, It is a glorious truth, and yet it is feared, It is a precious word, and yet it is shunned, There are two or three reasons for this. One is our ignorance of the meaning of it as GOD reveals it in His Book, so we are filled with prejudice. Another is unscriptural teaching about this glorious truth, and so we are filled with fear. Nowhere in the Word are we taught that sanctification means the eradication of the old sinful nature so that we are rendered impossible of sinning and even delivered from the presence of sin. Another reason is that scriptural sanctification makes too great a demand upon us, and so we resist the truth. We want a little leeway to sin left us. We do not truly desire to be holy. What is the scriptural meaning of the word? The primary meaning is, someone or something wholly set apart unto GOD. Is not that beautiful? If we are Christians at all, is not that what we want: to be wholly set apart unto GOD; to be separated unto the perfect possession, the complete control and the exclusive use of the Lord JESUS CHRIST is the primary meaning of the word "sanctified."
Then there is the secondary meaning: that which belongs to GOD must be like GOD. We must be holy for He is holy. GOD, the Holy Father; GOD, the Holy Son; and GOD, the HOLY SPIRIT indwell the Christian. Is not that reason enough why we should be sanctified? Wholly set apart unto GOD? Made holy even as GOD Himself is holy? But is such sanctification, issuing in holiness of life, the standard of the present-day church? Do we hear much about such a standard as this in the church today? Has each of us as a Christian taken such a standard? Far from it. On the contrary, we find such a lowered standard of life even among GOD's people. Someone, who taught a Bible class, asked for a definition of sin. One person in the class said, "That is very difficult to give today, because what we called sin twentyfive years ago we do not call sin today."
Alas, that is only too true! There are Christian. women wearing clothes today that twenty-five years ago would have been considered indecent. A minister's wife spoke to an unsaved woman asking her to accept CHRIST as her Saviour. The woman replied, "I do not wish to become a Christian, but if I were one, I would never appear in the house of GOD with such clothes as you wear." This lowered standard of life is the reason for the condition of the church today. We find also a mixed standard in the church. There are people who are militantly orthodox in belief who are equally heterodox in conduct. I know one Christian woman who would not go to hear the pastor of her church preach - she would go to the Sunday school and then go home because he was so modernistic. But she sent her little daughter to a dancing school. I know another woman who believes in the truth of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and she has a certain standard for her life. She will not go to the cinema and she will not dance, but she smokes. The mixed standards among even orthodox Christians is another reason for the lack of holiness and power in the present-day church.
So we must turn to the Word and to the Lord to get our standard of what the Christian life is in the purpose of GOD. Let us listen to the words of our Lord in His last conversation with His disciples before His crucifixion.
"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). The close, intimate nature of the Christian's relationship to CHRIST is revealed in the words, "I am the vine, ye are the branches." Within this relationship a threefold standard of life is revealed.
"Ye in me" - Oneness in CHRIST.
"I in you" - Likeness to CHRIST.
"Much fruit" - Fullness of CHRIST.
We are to have three messages at these meetings for women, and they are to be, on this threefold, theme; oneness with CHRIST through positional sanctification; likeness to CHRIST through progressive sanctification; and fullness in CHRIST through personal sanctification.
Oneness with CHRIST through Positional Sanctification
"He that abideth in Me" (John 15:5).
That little, word "in" is the biggest little word in all the Bible. Usually our first concern in our Christian experience is what we are. But where we are is of paramount importance, because where we are determines what we are. "Ye in me" precedes "I in you." The branch must be in the vine before it can bear fruit. Then, where are you today, my friend?
The Bible shows us just two positions in which any human being can be - one is the position of the sinner, the other is that of the saint. To become a Christian we have to pass out of one position into the other. These two positions are radically different. Scripture reveals with crystal clearness these, two trinities as pictured, which we will now study together for a moment.
Satan -T- CHRIST
World -H- Church
Satan has a kingdom. CHRIST says so. In one passage recording the words of our Lord, the kingdom of GOD and the kingdom of Satan are put in exact antithesis to each other. Satan is the head of a rebel kingdom that was set up against the real kingdom of GOD. He is a traitor purposing to take GOD's place in the governmental affairs of the universe and in the worship of human hearts. He is "the prince of this world" and "the god of this world." He is the enemy of CHRIST and the adversary of the Christian.
The World. The world is the antithesis of the church. The best definition of the church is that given to us in the Epistle to the Ephesians where it is revealed as the body of CHRIST. Then what is the world? It is the body of Satan. It is human society without CHRIST. It is unregenerated mankind in captivity to and under the control of Satan.
"The whole world lieth in wickedness" (I John 5:19).
The position of the world is clearly stated. It is in Satan.
The Flesh. The flesh is all that one is without CHRIST. He has only a sinfu1 nature that originated in Satan and entered into Adam as he yielded to the serpent's temptation in Eden. The flesh is the satanic spirit in the sinner.
Let us turn now to a moment's study of the other Trinity.
CHRIST. He is the Head of GOD's kingdom, the One to whom all power in Heaven and on earth has been given. CHRIST is the Saviour of the world who has been exalted to be Lord over the universe and Head over all things to the church. CHRIST is the Servant of GOD and the Saviour of men.
The Church. Have you thought of the church as the local church to which you belong? Sometimes I am asked if I belong to "the Church?" I come from the United States where we do not have a State Church and, of course, every one there believes that the denomination of which he is a member is the church. Well, what is the church? There is but one.
"Gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:22, 23).
The church is a divine society in CHRIST. It is regenerated mankind in the possession, control and use of the Lord JESUS CHRIST.
The Spirit. The Spirit is the HOLY SPIRIT. He is the very same SPIRIT who indwelt, infilled and empowered CHRIST, when He lived and worked on earth. On the day of Pentecost He was sent to indwell, infill and empower each Christian who formed the church.
The Two Trinities Exact Opposites
These two trinities are the exact opposite of one another. Satan is the very, embodiment of evil and hate. His names and works show this. He is "the wicked one," "the adversary," "the tempter," "a liar," "a murderer," "a deceiver." Everything that he is and does is a manifestation of hate toward CHRIST and the Christian. The world partakes of the nature of Satan as CHRIST Himself says.
"The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil" (John 7:7).
"If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:19).
The flesh is both evil and irreconcilably hostile toward GOD.
"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God; neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:7).
Everyone has within him a traitor to GOD. It is that awful sinful nature the very essence of which is hostility to GOD. But to turn to the other trinity we find CHRIST the very embodiment of holiness and love. All His names and works show it. He is "the Holy One and Just"; "the Good Shepherd"; "the merciful and faithful High Priest," "the Bread of Life," "the Saviour of the world." Everything that He is and does is the manifestation of love toward GOD and toward man. The church partakes of the nature of CHRIST and He is living within it now through the power of the HOLY SPIRIT to make it holy and loving as He is. He will one day present it unto Himself perfected in holiness and without blemish.
"But we all . . . are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).
"That he might, present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:27).
The Spirit is the HOLY SPIRIT Who is revealed as the Spirit of love in all His manifold operations.
There are two pictures before us. One is the picture of a Satan-controlled, a world-conformed and a flesh-centered life. The other is the picture of a Christ-controlled; Christ-conformed; Christ-centered life. And they are pictures in color. One is in unrelieved midnight darkness that indicates the uttermost of ruin, resulting in eternal death. The other is in unshadowed midday light that promises the uttermost of redemption resulting in eternal life. Dear friend, in which of these trinities are you? You are in one or the other for there is no other place to be. There is no middle ground between these two positions. You are either in the trinity of which Satan is the head, of which the world is the embodiment, and the flesh is the expression; or you are in the trinity of which CHRIST is the Head, of which the church is the manifestation, and the HOLY SPIRIT is the power. Where are you this moment? It is the most important question any human person ever faces in all his life. Will you not face it now and give your answer?
One thing, and only one thing, determines where you are. It is your relation to the crucified, risen, ascended, exalted Saviour and Lord. The salvation and the sanctification of the believing sinner required two outpourings - the outpouring of the blood of the Saviour on Calvary and the outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord at Pentecost.
The Blood of the Saviour
The Blood of the Saviour is that which both saves and sanctifies.
"Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own Blood" (Revelation 1:5).
"Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own Blood, suffered without the gate" (Hebrews 13:12).
It is the Blood alone that saves. Are you trusting for salvation in anything in yourself, in your character or in your good works? Or are you trusting in the sacraments or ordinances of the church? There is but one thing that saves and that is the Blood of JESUS outpoured on Calvary's
It is the Blood that sanctifies. It separated us from the kingdom of Satan. It crucified us unto the world and the world unto us. And it delivered us out of the sphere of the flesh. The crucifixion of JESUS CHRIST put an end to the old creation and separated us completely from everything that pertains to it. It put aside everything but CHRIST. It placed CHRIST as Saviour at the very center of the Christian's life, making him Christ-centered.
The Baptism with the Spirit
Following Calvary came Pentecost. The believers in that upper room were baptized with the HOLY SPIRIT, and the church, the body of CHRIST, was formed. Every believer came into oneness with CHRIST and with one another through that baptism. The fountain of fullness of life in CHRIST JESUS was opened and each one drank and was filled. From that day on down through the centuries every person who has put faith in the Blood of the Saviour has been baptized by the HOLY SPIRIT into that one body. He has been made one with CHRIST and the fullness of CHRIST's life has been made his potentially. It is this Spirit-baptism that sanctifies. It separates us unto CHRIST, the church and the Spirit. It sets aside everything unto CHRIST: It puts CHRIST as the Life of our life and the Lord of our life, and makes the Christian Christ-conformed and Christ-controlled. Now where are you? I want that question to be burned into every heart, so that if there is a single person here who is still living in that infernal trinity of midnight darkness of Satan, the world and the flesh, you will not be able to sleep until you have come out of it by putting simple faith in the Blood of the Saviour.
The Cross of CHRIST-the Great Divide
The Cross of CHRIST is the Great Divide. It makes a clean-cut cleavage between the sphere of darkness and death and the sphere of light and life. It is the boundary line between the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of GOD. It calls subjects out of the one kingdom into the other and compels the sinner to make a choice. Have you responded to that call? Have you crossed that Great Divide? Have you put faith in the Blood of your Saviour? The answer to this question determines not only with which trinity you choose to company in time, but with which you will spend eternity. Perhaps the majority of us here in this place have chosen to come to CHRIST by way of the Cross. But, friends, we may think very lightly of the Cross of CHRIST. We can put a cross on top of a church building or hang it on the wall of our home, we can wear it as an ornament around the neck, we can place a cross as a bookmark in the Bible. But it is quite another thing to let the Cross of CHRIST make accursed everything in that old life, until it is impossible for us, knowingly and willfully to give the devil place, or to be conformed to the world in any part of life or to allow self still to have sovereignty over us.
The Baptism with the Spirit - The Open Fountain
As a Christian are you wholly set apart unto CHRIST? Are you wholly in His possession, under His control and for His use? Will you frankly face this question today?
"Neither give place to the devil" (Ephesians 4:27).
Have you given even standing room to the devil in your life? If so will you deliberately take it back now and yield that place to CHRIST?
"Be not conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2).
Is your life at any point or in any phase conformed to the world? If you find any such conformity will you acknowledge it and come right out in complete separation at any cost?
"Put off... the old man... Put on the new man" (Ephesians 4:22, 24).
Will you honestly examine your life to see if you are under the dominion of the flesh at any known point? If so, will you deliberately "put off... the old man" and "put on the new man"? The question has been put on the negative side, let it now be put positively. Is CHRIST the source of everything in your life as far as you know? Is everything from Him? Is He the center of your life? Is everything in Him? Is He the goal of your life? Is everything for Him? That is the standard, my friends. Do not say that it is too high. I did not set such a standard for the Christian's life. The Lord JESUS did it. But are not we Christians unutterably selfish if we want to get everything from Him for time and for eternity, and then give as little back to Him as we can? Are we willing to take this standard - CHRIST, the source of everything; CHRIST, the center of everything; CHRIST, the goal of everything, for our life?
That will cause us some heart searching. But for what did we come to Keswick? We shall not get the blessing we want in any easy way. There is no easy road to holiness. Are we willing to pay the price that we may have the prize? CHRIST is something to you, but is He everything? There are three ways we can look upon CHRIST. We can say, "Yes, He is my Saviour, I could not get along without CHRIST. I would be unable to live and I surely would be afraid to die without CHRIST. I must have CHRIST, but I want CHRIST and -." Then after that word "and" we write in something out of that old trinity, that we still desire to keep and consider essential to our happiness. CHRIST is not enough. CHRIST does not satisfy altogether, so we go outside to get satisfaction in some worldly friendship or pleasure, or in some fleshly appetite or activity. CHRIST and -. Is that where some of us are in relationship to our Saviour? If it is, let us acknowledge it frankly.
I have a very dear Christian friend who is thoroughly orthodox. She honors the whole Word of GOD, and would loyally defend it against any attack. CHRIST is much to her but He is not yet everything. It is CHRIST and the world, the cinema. Is it not a pity? We shall not have the cinema in Heaven, thank GOD. We shall have to get along without it and many other things that seem tremendously necessary to us down here. Is the joy of Heaven to be lessened for you because you will be compelled to leave the things of the world behind?
But listen to what He says to us about the world here and now.
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (I John 2:15).
Then there are others who say, "Yes, I must have CHRIST but -. He is my Saviour and I know He has perfectly cared for my past. But somehow He does not seem able to meet my present need. He is not sufficient for my circumstances, for my environment, for my sufferings and trials." CHRIST is not equal to my need. CHRIST does not suffice. When I was in the United States not long ago I talked with a business woman who formerly had a good position and a fair bank account, and CHRIST as her Saviour. She got along very comfortably with the three. Then she lost both her position and her bank account. She came to me in great distress and depression. I said to her, "But you still have CHRIST, and He is equal to this difficulty and trial in your life." She said, "Yes. I have CHRIST but -," and lapsed back into her depression. For half an hour we talked, yet she did not get beyond "CHRIST but-." He was not equal to her difficulty, He did not suffice for her need. Oh! how wounded that all-sufficient One must have been!
But there is still another way in which we may look upon our Lord. CHRIST only; CHRIST enough to satisfy the affection and aspiration of the human heart. CHRIST only; CHRIST equal to every need of spirit, soul and body; to every demand of my circumstances and environment. CHRIST suffices for every trial and affliction and loss. CHRIST only, my all and in all. Can we say it? Is He that to you?
In closing, will you pardon a personal testimony to the all-sufficiency of CHRIST. I would give a good deal not to give it, but I dare not refuse to give it for this reason. Many times I have had people say, "It is very easy for you to be good for you have nothing to do but study your Bible and lead meetings." I often have the feeling when holding up any such standard of life as I have been this afternoon, that some people are thinking, "That is all right for her to say, but she is not in my situation, she does not have to live in my home with that cantankerous person with whom I live. She looks perfectly well and strong and does not have to endure the physical infirmity which i have. I know what she says is out of GOD's Word, but I do not believe it works in daily practical life." May I testify to the unfailing sufficiency of the Lord JESUS CHRIST in severe affliction and great trial? Will you please do me the kindness of forgetting what I have to say of myself and remember only what is said of the all-sufficiency of CHRIST. For that purpose only is the testimony given. I have been very ill for six weeks and have been out of bed only an hour or two a day until last Thursday, when for the first time I was up and dressed for a whole day. When the invitation came from Mr. Aldis several months ago to take these meetings, the Lord gave absolute assurance that the invitation came from Him and that it was His will to accept. Then came a terrible attack of asthma which took me quickly to the lowest depths of physical suffering and weakness which, humanly speaking, made this ministry at Keswick seem quite impossible. But to me and to several close, praying friends, it seemed clearly an attack of Satan to thwart GOD in this ministry. Satan never wants a message given that reveals who he is and that magnifies the blood of the Saviour. But the temptation of Satan always has another side; it is the testing of GOD. When we realize that we can go right through, for our Lord JESUS is allsufficient. Last Thursday I hardly had breath enough to answer a question. For weeks it had been that way. But I said, "I will take CHRIST as my breath." I did, and He sufficed. My very life seemed ebbing away, and I thought "CHRIST is my life." And He was. Then my strength went down to the place where it seemed as though I had not enough strength to breathe another breath or even to offer a prayer. But I remembered the Word said that He is our strength. I took Him at His Word and He was my strength. But the most wicked work of Satan was attempting to rob me of a singing heart. You know the verse in Ephesians, "Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." What is the use of having breath, or life, or strength, if one has not a singing heart? So I said, "I will take CHRIST as my song," and He sufficed for the darkest hour.
Again and again in the night as I fairly fought for breath, the words came back to me, "Christ is all and in all," and, when He is that to one, He is all-sufficient. And I knew that if He were that to me, He would let me give this message to you. Will you just take this testimony born out of trial and temptation? Will you believe that CHRIST is all-sufficient? If there is someone here who is struggling against some great trial in your physical life, your home circumstances, your spiritual experience, will you believe that CHRIST is enough and equal to it all? Will you let Him become all and in all to you?
Just this last word. It will mean a stripping of all that is not CHRIST. Are you willing for that in order that CHRIST may be pre-eminent in all things in your life and that you may be holy even as He is holy? Unto such a life have you and I been called.