- Overcomer Literature Trust
THE PATHWAY TO LIFE IN GOD
By Jessie Penn-Lewis
This booklet is in the form of a Bible Study, which is aimed at presenting in some degree our death with Christ on the subjective side of the Holy Spirit’s dealings with the individual. In a preface to the first edition, Mrs.Penn-Lewis wrote, ‘There is no desire to dogmatise or to systematise, but only to show in the main the experimental pathway. The Holy Spirit is not bound, and leads along this road in a thousand different ways. The writer earnestly prays all to whom the booklet is not of present use, to put it aside until God in His own time and way becomes His own interpreter.’
There is so much loose thinking and teaching abroad today concerning the experimental side of the Christian life, that the sober, biblical approach of these pages is recommended to all, who are anxious to see His working in and through them. May His abundant blessing be upon this message as it is scattered far and wide.
The Pathway to Life in God
“Circumcision is nothing; neither is uncircumcision; but a new creature. And they who press forward in this path, peace be on them” (Gal 6v15-16 Syriac).
“Thou wilt show me the path of life” (Psalm 16v11).
The Work of Redemption
I. Why a new life was needed
Our condition by nature.
“Death passed unto all men, for that all sinned” (Romans 5v12).
“Ye were dead through your trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2v1).
“Alienated from the life of God” (Ephesians 4v18) (see also Romans 3v10-12, & Ephesians 2v3).
II. How a new life became possible
By the gift of the only begotten Son of God.
“God hath sent His only . . . Son . . . that we might live” (1 John 4v9).
“God . . . sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4v10).
By the atoning death for sinners of the Son of God.
“Him Who knew no sin . . . made to be sin on our behalf” (2 Cor 5v21).
“Whom God purposed to be a propitiation” (Romans 3v25).
“That . . . He should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2v9).
By the death with Him of all for whom He died.
“One died for all, therefore all died” (2 Cor 5vl4).
“His own self carried up our sins . . . to the tree, that we having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness” (1 Peter 2v24).
By the union with Him in life, of all who died in Him.
“Joined to another, even to Him Who was raised from the dead” (Rom. 7v4).
“Raised with Him through faith in the working of God, Who raised Him” (Col. 2v12).
“Quickened us together with Christ . . . raised us with Him” (Eph. 2v5-6).
By His taking back to God all who live in Him.
“Christ died . . . that He might bring us to God” (I Peter 3v18, Eph. 2v13).
By becoming the source of life to all believers.
“Every one that taketh hold of the Son, taketh hold of life” (1 John 5v12).
“If, when . . . enemies . . . reconciled to God by death of His Son . . . saved, by sharing in His life” (Rom. 5v11 Conybeare).
By giving the Holy Ghost as the imparter of life.
“Jesus . . . exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath poured forth this” (Acts 2v33).
“The Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus . . . shall quicken” (Rom 8v11).
The Holy Son of God took our nature upon Him, carried it to the Cross, and died in the sinner’s stead. The only way back to God is through that Cross as the gate to life.
After such a costly plan of redemption, wrought out by the Triune God, “How much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” (Luke 11v13).
The Subjective Work of the Holy Spirit
“He saved us by the washing of the new birth, and by the renovation of the “Holy Spirit shed on us by Jesus our Life-giver” (Titus 3v4-6).
“The Spirit of truth . . . shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you” (John 16v13-14).
The Holy Spirit is given to apply to sinners the finished work of Christ, and is now moving over a world lying in the shadow of death, seeking to work into each soul individually, first the death, and then the Risen Life of Christ.
Let us trace:
I. How the Holy Spirit deals with souls dead.
As the convicting Spirit,
“He . . . will convict the world in respect of sin” (John 16v8).
“The wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6v23).
As the revealing Spirit,
“He shall testify of Me” (John 15v26).
“Behold the Lamb of God which beareth away the sin of the world” (John 1v29).
“Having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1v20).
Calvary - the place of Life
“I, if I be lifted up . . . will draw all men unto Myself” (John 12v32).
“The Word of the Cross . . . is the power of God” (1Cor 1v18).
The Spirit draws the sin-burdened soul to the place called Calvary. The message of life through the death of Another, received into the heart, gives peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
“The Spirit breatheth . . . thou canst not tell whence . . . whither . . . so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3v8).
“It is the Spirit that quickeneth” (John 6v63).
“He that heareth . . . believeth . . . hath eternal life and . . .hath passed out of death into life” (John 5v24).
The experience of the new-born soul.
“One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see” (John 9v25).
“Begotten again . . . of incorruptible seed” (1 Peter 1v23 & James 1v21).
The breath of God quickens the dead soul; access to God is restored, and the way is open to the Throne of grace. . . . “Behold he prayeth” (Acts 9v11). The Spirit of adoption prompts the cry ‘Father’. The Bible is like a new book, for the new-born soul longs for the spiritual milk of the Word (1 Peter 2v2), that it may grow thereby. There is joy and peace in believing, new desires, new hopes, and the soul seems to walk in an entirely new world.
But a babe in Christ is ‘yet carnal’ in some degree, because of the limit of its spiritual power of apprehension, but it will become ‘spiritual’ more rapidly, if it learns clearly the basis of the new life in Christ, as taught by Paul to the Roman converts. For the Scripture does not separate with a long interval the forgiveness of sins, and that vital fellowship with the death of Christ which delivers from the bondage of sin. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not with meat; for ye were not yet able to bear it . . . for ye are yet carnal” (1 Corinthians 3v1-3). And to the Romans, “Are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6v3).
II. How the Holy Spirit deals with believers.
“The desire of the flesh fights against the Spirit, and the desire of the Spirit fights against the flesh; and its variance tends to hinder you from doing what you wish to do. But they who are Christ's have: crucified the flesh . . . let our steps be guided by the Spirit” (Gal. 5 v17, 24 & 25,Conybeare).
The soul saved from wrath, reconciled to God, yet ignorant of the full message of the Cross, has again to be convicted of a deeper need. It is the work of the Spirit to fight against all that is of the old life, and bring it to the Cross. Accordingly He deals with the soul at this point by,
1. Convicting of the bondage of sin.
“I am carnal, sold under sin” (Romans 7v14).
“The fleshly mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor can be; and they whose life is in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8v7-8, Conybeare).
2. Convicting of the need of the Spirit's entire possession.
“Know ye not . . . that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor 3v16). “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be . . . the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” (Romans 8v9).
3. By creating the intense cry for deliverance.
“I know that . . . in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. O wretched man . . . who shall deliver me?” (Romans 7v18 - 24).
The Spirit reveals the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the utter uselessness of the life lived ‘after the flesh’. He creates that furnace of intense desire which makes the soul prepared to let Him do His work, and have His way at all costs. He spares no means to bring God’s purchased possession to the definite decision of taking God’s side against the old life, and making the unreserved, irrevocable surrender to God, that is necessary for liberty.
So to speak, the believer must ‘sign the death warrant’, and agree that death with Christ shall be made really true in experience. Here he reaches,
CALVARY, the place of deliverance.
“Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him . . . that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin, for he that hath died is justified from sin” (Romans 6v 6 - 7).
The Holy Spirit leads the soul back to Calvary, to learn that it has been crucified with Christ, therefore it is free from the bondage, and claims of sin. In Him it has died to that wherein it was holden (Romans 7v6), and because the Holy One took the curse, and carried the accursed ones to the tree in His own Person, it may now receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3v 13 - 14).
III. The Holy Spirit’s deliverance and its results
“The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8 v2).
1. Deliverance from the power of sin.
“We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?” (Rom 6v2).
“The death that He died, He died unto sin once for all. . . . even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin but alive unto God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign” (Romans 6v10-12).
As we stand upon the Word of God, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus will keep us free from the old bondage, enable us to live unto God, and walk in newness of life.
2. Deliverance from the desires of the flesh.
“Walk by the Spirit, ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh . . . they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh” (Galatians 5v16-24).
By the flesh, Paul generally denotes that which is earthly in man, as opposed to that which is spiritual. They that are of Christ, and determined to be Christ’s without reserve, have crucified the flesh with all its likes, and ‘strong desires’. They ‘live by the Spirit’, and seek to let their steps be guided by the Spirit.
If we have been really ‘crucified with Christ’, we can easily surrender anything for our brother’s sake, ‘for whom Christ died’ (Romans 14v15, 21), and lay aside all undue indulgence of the natural appetites, and renounce habits which are not befitting the temple of God.
The life of God in the soul has a much closer connection with modes of living than is generally supposed. If Christians, instead of indulging and pampering the appetite for meats and drinks, would be satisfied with simple nourishment, and with that quantity which is adequate to all the purposes of nature, what abundant blessings would result to body and mind (The Hidden Life by T.C.Upham).
If the soul is in earnest the Spirit will deal with all details of action, in ‘making provision for the flesh’, and with many things in the ‘manner of life’ of those who desire to be wholly under His control.
3. Deliverance from the world.
“Far be it from me to glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6v14).
“If ye died with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as though living in the world . . .” (Colossians 2v20).
It was the Cross of Christ, and Paul’s place with Him upon that cross, that severed him from the world. Like Paul, we are to account that we are now ‘not living in the world’, for our life abides in heaven. We have naught to do with worldly aims, ambitions, and interests. We care no more for the world’s aims or its applause, its conventionalities, its thraldom of fashion, its pride of life, position or power; even the Christian world, with its pride of denomination, its ‘views’, its praise or blame, and its glorying in men. The apostle Paul would have written again to-day, “Each one of you saith ‘I’. ‘I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ’. Is Christ divided?” (I Corinthians lv 12 -13).
In the cross of Christ we have been separated from all the elements that make up ‘this present evil world’. Yes, it is true we are in the world (John 17v15), but we are in it to live as Christ lived, for it is written, “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked” (I John 2v6). “As He is, even so are we in this world” (1 John 4v17).
United to the Risen Son of God, we have “overcome the world” (1 John 5v4-5). The application in detail must be shown by the Holy Spirit to each soul He indwells, but the main secret lies in being so ‘other-worldly’ in heart and mind, that we carry the heavenly spirit into all the duties of life.
4. Deliverance from the bondage of the law.
“Ye also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ; that ye should be joined to another . . . Him . . . raised from the dead” (Romans 7v4).
We are discharged from the claims of the law, for ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ’ hath made us free. By the supply of the Spirit of Jesus day by day, the requirement of the law can now be fulfilled in us, as we “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8v4).
Love (the love-life of Jesus in us) works no ill to his neighbour; “love therefore is the fulfilment of the law” (Romans 13v10).
No theoretical ‘death’, no mental reckoning, will make all this true in us! Naught but a very real fellowship with the death of Christ, and a faith wrought in us by God, as He reveals to us the glorious liberty that is ours through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
IV. The Holy Spirit in full possession
“God who knows the heart, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as He did unto us . . . cleansing their hearts by faith” (Acts 15v8-9).
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3v17 & Colossians 1v27).
The searchlight of God has done its work; all is yielded to the cross in obedient and trustful surrender. Deliverance has come, sometimes as a marked crisis, or else gently and imperceptibly.
Four things are at least clear:
1. The soul proves that sin has lost its power, and it is free from the thraldom of old habits (John 8v36).
2. It can say with an assurance that it had never had before, “I have been crucified with Christ.” It knows it is “alive unto God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6v11).
3. The Risen Lord has been revealed within (Galatians 1 v15-16), and the soul walks in a new life that seems a foretaste of heaven.
4. The Spirit bears witness to the anointing (1 John 2v27), and gives liberty of utterance, and power in service. He Himself is the Anointing, and His mighty working will increase day by day, if the soul will follow on in implicit obedience to know the Lord.
The “manifestation of the Spirit” is given for profit (1 Corinthians 12v7), and is according to the faith and abandonment of the vessel He takes possession of. To some He comes so gently that they are only conscious of deep peace and clear light, with liberty of utterance, access in prayer, illumination of the Word, and freedom from the the bondage of sin. To others He comes after a seeking with an intensity of abandonment that accepts no apparent denial, and no limit. These ‘take the kingdom by force’, and to these souls He is able to manifest Himself in en-dynamiting power.
So much depends upon the vessel, its capacity, its depth of intensity, its apprehension, as well as the previous dealings of the Spirit, that no two experiences can be quite similar.
In any case the soul is filled, and filled to overflowing. For months, maybe for years, as it walks in obedience to the light of God, it is used to others, so much so that it is apt to think it is at the summit of the spiritual life. Nevertheless; very much more lies on before, for the infilling of the Spirit is but the beginning of the real walk with God. It is His blessed work to lead us on from life in union with Christ to life with Christ in the bosom of the Father.
The soul, following on to know the Lord, at length finds a strange change in experience. The ‘overflow’ ceases, and the natural man with his personal characteristics, is again in evidence. For a time all these were hidden, but now it is to be seen that the soul lives partially in the life of nature, and partially in the life of God.
The impulsive man is more or less unrestrained in his impulsiveness, the sensitive man is over-sensitive, the reserved man is still painfully reserved, the strong character fights for the truth that he sees, and insists that it shall be expressed in his language. The heart is right and true, but the ‘natural’ man is at work for God.
“The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.... The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is of heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthly; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15v 45-48).
The Word of the Cross "The
Word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged
sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit”
The Word of the Cross
Word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged
sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit”
The Spirit works through the Word of God. The thought in the original of this passage suggests a sacrificial knife. The whole being given up to God, and sealed by the indwelling of His Divine Spirit, must be dealt with through and through. His Word must pierce even to the dividing of soul and spirit.
The Holy Spirit reveals to us the earthy life, as we are able to bear it, and as He does so, to our dismay, we discover how much of our own life has been mingled with what we thought purely spiritual. He shows us the corruption of all that springs from this source, the uselessness of all our creaturely activity in the service of God, all human effort.
He drains us of all our power, strength, wisdom, and knowledge. We once thought we were capable, and had ‘gifts’ that He could use; now failure is over all. ‘Ichabod’ seems written upon the work of God in which we gloried, a blight is upon it, and we cry, ‘I have spent my strength for naught’.
In addition, our emotional life seems gone, and we are aghast at our ‘hardness’. We think we are backsliding and seem powerless to help it; everything appears unreal to ourselves, and we almost think we are hypocrites; we would fly from our work, if we dared.
Yes, this is the pathway to the life wholly centred upon God, all must go to death, even our love which craves for response, to make room for God, and for His love which loves without response, and is pure and unselfish.
The Spirit also unveils another form of the life of nature in spiritual things, which is most subtle. We may call it ‘consecrated self’, self with its riches of past experience, its nervous anxiety for God’s glory, its desire for success, its seeking to be the greatest in God’s kingdom, its craving after signs and experiences. Its ceaseless cry is ‘Bless me, bless me, O Lord’; it runs after spiritual enjoyment in meetings; it criticises God’s messengers; it looks down upon others not at its own point of spiritual experience; it talks over ‘where people are’ spiritually; it forces ‘truth’ before souls are able to bear it; and it under-values the work of God in the earlier degrees.
Let us note the change; once it was self for self, now it is self for God.
The Divine Spirit deals with this subtle form of the soulish life by, apparently, withdrawing all the spiritual riches once given, power in prayer, love for souls, grasp of the promises, consciousness of God’s presence. He permits failure through trifles which once did not touch us, and allows the self-hood, with all its peculiar personal characteristics, to stand forth in our sight in all its hideous loathsomeness. All these things were visible to Him, but they were hidden from us, whilst we were occupied with our heart experience of His gracious Presence and power.
At last we know ourselves. We struggle to regain our old footing, but all seems vain and we are in despair.
The stripping is vividly pictured in Job 19v6-21 and the cry of the soul in its bitter anguish in Psalm 88.
The attitude of the soul during this time
“Though He slay me, yet will I wait for Him” (Job 13v15).
“He knoweth the way that I take; when He hath tried me I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23v10).
All along this path of stripping, we must, by faith ceaselessly turn to the finished work of Christ upon the Cross of Calvary, with a steadfast yielding to the Divine Spirit to set us free. “If by the Spirit you make to die the doings of the body, you shall live” (Romans 8v13-14).
The Holy Spirit is able to work very rapidly in a yielded soul, in one who will not swerve from abandonment, in one who will walk blindfold with God and say ‘Yes’ all the way, counting all things loss to be “found in Him” (Phil. 3v9), pressing on to know Him.
CALVARY - The grave of Christ
“He that is entered into His rest hath himself also rested from his works” (Hebrews 4v10).
“We were buried . . . with Him through baptism into death” (Romans 6v4).
“United with Him by the likeness of His death” (Romans 6v5).
The Spirit has brought the soul to such a sense of powerlessness and nothingness that it can only say, “Thou hast brought me into the dust of death” (Psalm 22v15). Fresh light is thrown upon the grave of Christ, and we see that we have not only been crucified with Him, having died to sin, but that we have been brought to an end of ourselves in His tomb.
The Spirit reveals a yet deeper meaning in the Cross of Calvary. The Word of the Cross was the power of God unto salvation from the bondage of sin; it is again the energy of God to the soul who has ceased from itself, and its own works. Anchoring upon the faithful God, the soul has nothing to ask for itself, nothing to say but ‘Father glorify Thy Name’. It fears the activity of its own life, and sees so clearly its comeliness to be corruption. It must now lie still in the hand of God, truly wrecked upon Him.
Here let us note some dangers to the soul at every stage of the spiritual life:
1. Watching the experience. God does not deal with all in exactly the same way; the work has to be done, and He has a thousand ways of doing it; resistance only brings keen suffering, as well as the pain of powerlessness.
2. Sitting in judgment on oneself. We must not look inwards for evidence of death. There can be no consciousness of death! Our faith is to rest upon Christ’s death, upon our having been planted into His death, and our having died with Him
3. Self seeking to put self to death. This is only another form of self-effort, which produces a morbid self-dissecting, that hinders the Spirit in His work. We are to leave ourselves in the hand of God, and cast ourselves continually upon the Living Christ to work in us mightily.
4.Self trying to ‘see’ the ‘truth’. This is an activity of the mind that must be yielded to God. We cannot ‘grasp’ mentally what must be revealed by the Spirit, and apprehended by faith. There is no form of creaturely activity that hinders more than this, and we can refuse to yield to the temptation of ‘wanting to see’ the ‘truth’.
5.Self wanting another’s experience. We must beware of preconceptions, based on the experience of others, of how the Holy Spirit will deal with us. He leads each soul individually, according to its need, character, temperament, etc.. The more simple and child-like we are in placing ourselves in the hand of God, the more rapidly can the Spirit free us from our hindrances and reveal to us our habitation in the heart of our Father God.
Our adversary the devil will be on the alert to harass the soul in every possible way, whilst it is under the mighty hand of God. It is the special opportunity for him to excel as the “accuser of the brethren”. He must be overcome by the “blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 12v11) by a steady testimony of faith in the Faithful God, and by a surrender, even unto death, of all that one’s ‘own life’ would cling to, though this be of spiritual experiment.
VI. Christ . . . our life. (Colossians 3v4)
“Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13v14, Galatians 3v27).
“If any man is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old things are passed away, behold, they are become new. But all things are of God” (2 Corinthians 5v17-18).
This transition into Christ as the sphere of life, is sometimes imperceptible and sometimes a crisis. The soul seems to be emerging from the tomb into a new world of which it has hitherto had but glimpses, and now it understands His word, “You in Me” (John 14v20).
Now the language of the heart is “To me to live is Christ”, for He must be be the source of life in every action, that we may live by Him, as He lived by the Father.
The life established
“He that stablisheth us . . . into Christ, and anointed us is God” (2Corinthians 1v21).
United to Christ, and clothed with Him, the spirit of faith so possesses the soul that the life of faith becomes as easy as breathing. It is natural for a child to trust its Father. The life of God in the soul will flow back into God in simple child-like faith.
There is now:
1. An effortless reckoning back to the Cross, and the grave of Christ, as the foundation of continuous deliverance from the old life. Now the soul can say, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me: and that life . . . I live in faith” (Galatians 2v20).
The Holy Spirit now bears witness to the reckoning which is so different to the old mental reckoning. With intense reality we see the Cross of Christ severing us from ourselves and the past, so that the accounting it true is lost sight of in the knowledge that we are reckoning what is true, according to the Word of God. We may sin, and disobey the Indwelling Lord, but the cost is so bitter that we cry, ‘How can I?’ We then fear nothing so much as to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, whereby we are sealed unto the day of redemption. The soul also knows that it stands simply by faith, but it is “the faith wrought in you by God” (Colossians 2v12).
2. A continuous dependence upon Christ as the Living One, not by effort or by definite acts of faith, so much as by a restful abiding in Him.“It is no more I that live, but Christ is living in me; and my outward life which still remains, I live in the faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2v20).
“I can do all things in Him Who strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4v13, (See also 2 Corinthians 13v37).
“I will speak only of the works which Christ has wrought by me . . . with the might of the Spirit of God” (Romans 15v18-19).
The transition into Christ through His Cross and grave, is a work done in the very springs of our being, down in the secret depths. As we live in Him by faith, His life will rapidly bring the circumference, the “earthly house of our bodily frame” (2 Corinthians 5v1) under His complete control.
3. A thankful resting under the shelter of the blood sprinkled upon the Mercy-seat, with a deep sense of its momentary need for unbroken communion.
“If we walk in the light, as He is in the light . . . the blood of Jesus . . . cleanseth from all sin” (1 John 1v7).
“In sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and the sprinkling of the blood” (1 Peter 1v2).
Only as we walk in the light of God, which is intensified day by day, can we really abide under the power of the cleansing blood. The soul may walk with a conscience void of offence, and know nothing against itself, yet it is not hereby justified. It never draws near in specific access to the Throne without reminding the Father of the sprinkled blood. In any conscious transgression there is the same instinctive instantaneous application to the fountain opened for sin, with honest confession of sin and deep humiliation before the Father’s footstool.
4. A keen appetite for the written Word as Spirit-food for the new life.
“The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6v63)
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3v16, John 15v7)
The Word of God is now spirit and life to the soul, as day by day it is unveiled in fresh beauty by its Author. It is illuminated with the light of the Spirit, and is truly the voice of God to the heart seeking to know Him. The soul is deeply conscious of the necessity of implicit obedience, and a sensitive walk in all the will of God.
5. An intense longing to press on to know the Lord, and enter into all the deepest purposes of God.
“I count all things to be loss for the . . . knowledge of Christ . . . I press onward, if indeed, I might lay hold on that for which Christ also laid hold on me” (Philippians 3v8-12).
“I hold not my life of any account . . . in comparison of accomplishing my course” (Acts 20v24).
The life of union with Christ has been well described to be a series of ever advancing goals. As the soul presses on, the vision widens, and its cry grows deeper, “that I may know Him”.
There is no finality, and no state of experience to rest upon, short of the hour when we shall see the Glorified Lord face to face, and be like Him perfectly.
the claims of sin; the heavenly life sprang out of death in more abundant measure as the earth-life was surrendered to His grave; and now it is life out of death to other souls as the believer in the “power of His resurrection”, is brought still deeper into the fellowship of His sufferings, “being made conformable to His death” (Philippians 3v10).“In
all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved
us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor . . . things
present, nor things to come, nor things above, nor things below . . .
shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ
Jesus our Lord” (Romans
VII. Hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3v3)
“Ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me and I in you” (John 14v20).
“For ye died and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3v3).
Buried with Him by baptism into His death, joined to Him in His resurrection, clothed with Him as the whole ‘armour of God’, the soul is led on to know its union with Christ in His ascension; taught of the Spirit to overcome as He overcame, it finds itself hidden with Him in the very heart of God. The Son reveals the Father, and fulfils His word: “The hour cometh when I shall . . . tell you plainly of the Father” (John 16v25).
“We will come . . . and make our abode with him” (John 14v23).
The life of the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Ghost, now possesses the sanctuary of God in human vessels, and conversely - joined to the Son, through the Holy Spirit, the believer is hidden with Christ in God. ‘Where I am, there shall also My servant be’.
In the Father’s presence there is quietness and assurance, deep calm and stillness, for the emotional life is held under the control of Him Who dwells in the centre of the soul, keeping the whole being stayed upon Him. Hence there are no shocks or surprises, there are tears, sufferings and sorrows, but all the sting is gone from earth-born afflictions.
VIII. The little children of the Father
“He that abideth in love abideth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4v16).
Now we find the marks of the new creation life becoming more evident.
1. The child spirit.
“Little children . . . ye know the Father” (1 John 2v13).
“Wherefore thou art no more a slave, but a son” (Galatians 4v7).
2. The child-obedience to the Father's Word.
“Whoso keepeth His word, in him verily hath the love of God been perfected” ( matured) (1 John 2v5).
“He that keepeth His commandments abideth in Him and He in him” (1John 3v24).
The spirit of obedience comes with Christ formed in us, and made unto us sanctification. He was obedient unto death to His Father’s will. The life of God, established in the soul, makes obedience to the Word and will of God a settled habit, and an unquestioning attitude day by day.
3. The child-faith in the Father.
“If our heart condemn us not, we have boldness toward God, and whatsoever we ask, we receive” (1 John 3v21-22).
“This is the boldness . . . toward Him . . . anything!” (1 John 5v14).
The spirit of faith (2 Corinthians 4v13) is as characteristic of the Divine life supplied to the soul, as unbelief is of the earthy life that we surrender to the cross.
4. The child-love to the other children of the Father.
“Whosoever loveth Him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of Him” (1 John 5v1).
The love-life is so true that the soul cannot rest when there is a cloud between it and another child of the Father. When it draws near the Father’s footstool and remembers anything that may have pained another, or caused misunderstanding, it hastens away to remove the cloud ere it pours out its heart-petitions at the Father’s feet (Matthew 5v23-24).
IX. The Father's life in the children
1. A life of increasing knowledge of the Father.
“The new man . . . grows continually to a more perfect knowledge and likeness of his Creator” (Colossians 3v10).
Here the growth is rapid. In the earlier stages God was dealing deeply to gain possession of the whole being; now the soul, possessed and environed by God abides in Him, and grows continually in the full knowledge of Him (Ephesians 1v17). “Filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom . . . increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians lv9-10).
2. A life of increasing conformity to the image of the Son.
“Made like to the pattern of His Son, that many brethren might be joined to Him, the First-born” (Romans 8v29).
“With face unveiled . . . transformed continually” (2 Corinthians 3v 18).
Day by day through the supply of the Spirit of Jesus, the soul is conformed to Him in His meekness and humility; rejoicing to be, like Him, as one who serves; finding it no effort, but a joy, to be ‘less than the least of all saints’ in loving ministry to others.
3. A life of overcoming in the life of the Son.
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome . . . because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4v4).
“Whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh” (1 John 5v4).
The temptations are more subtle, the conflicts keener, the devices of the evil one more awful, but with the Word of God abiding the soul overcomes by the blood of the Lamb, hiding as a babe in the bosom of its Father.
Trusting to the Divine Spirit to guard the avenues of the outer life it trusts Him also to keep it in its hiding place. “He that was begotten of God keepeth him, and the evil one toucheth him not” (I John 5v18).
4. A life increasingly moved by the Spirit of the Father.
“As many as are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For ye . . . received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father” (Romans 8v14-15).
Crying as a babe, Abba, Father, the soul is now taught of God to discern His will in circumstances, and to recognize earthly restrictions as limits set by the Father. It ceases to push and make ways for itself, and rests in God to move others to fulfil His will. It walks softly in child-like dependence upon the safe guarding of the Father’s hand, and trusts Him to give keen vision of the subtleties of the evil one as he seeks to produce ‘impressions’, ‘voices’, ‘manifestations’ which are not of God.
It accepts the Word of God with child-like confidence, and knows that the indwelling Spirit of the Father will not contradict His Written Word, but will hourly lead the trustful soul in accordance - not with wrenched or isolated texts - but with its broad principles.
X. Ye have an anointing (1 John 2v20)
“Of the Son He saith . . . Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows” (Hebrews 1v8-9).
“Little children . . . ye have an anointing from the Holy One . . . if that which ye heard from the beginning abide in you, ye also shall abide in the Son, and in the Father” (1 John 2v18-24).
The full power of the Anointing Spirit is now manifested as the soul abides in the Son - the great High Priest, “anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows” (Hebrews 1v9).
Already received and experienced, in a measure, from the hour the soul knew the Comforter had come, the anointing oil here increases into a perpetual and steady flow - even “rivers of oil” (Ezekiel 32v14).
XI. Characteristics of the Anointing
1. The ‘Anointing’ abideth.
“The anointing which ye received of Him abideth” (l John 2v27).
In the earlier stages the manifestation of the Anointing appeared intermittent or transient according to the dealing of the Spirit, as He withdrew from the consciousness deeper into the centre, that He might bring the soul into one life with Christ in God.
2. The ‘Anointing’ teacheth.
“His anointing teacheth you concerning all things . . . even as it taught you, ye abide in Him” (I John 2v27).
The little children are taught ‘concerning all things’ so as to abide in the Father’s Presence. He wakens them morning by morning to hear as they that are taught (Isaiah 50v4), for He opens their ear to hear what the Spirit saith unto the Children of God, interpreting spiritual things to the spiritual. “The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2v10).
3. The ‘Anointing’ equips for service.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me . . . He anointeth Me to preach . . . to proclaim release . . . to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4v18).
Thus spake the Christ, “the Anointed” (John 1v41), on the eve of His ministry, and His children must also be anointed ones if they are to walk in His steps. The anointing of the sons of Aaron followed their identification with the sin-offering, burnt offering, and the ram of consecration. (Exodus 29v7).
The hand of faith laid upon the Head of our Substitute of Calvary’s Cross, in each aspect of His sacrifice - transferring ourselves to Him as the Substitute - is quickly done by the act of a surrendered will, but the full measure of fellowship with Him, in the waters of Jordan, is needed to bring us into that vital union with Him where we become the little children of the Father, and abide under the Anointing of the Anointed Son.
A little child shall lead them (Isaiah 11v6)
“Out of the mouth of babes . . . praise” (Matthew 21v16).
How marvellous the infinite grace of the Lord Jesus in thus coming down to us, when we were dead in the transgressions and uncircumcision of our flesh (Colossians 2v13), stooping to our level, and step by step, by His Spirit, tenderly, graciously leading us on, bearing with our ignorance and earthly mindedness, until at last He sees of the travail of His soul and is satisfied, having brought us back to God (1 Peter 3v18).
Still more wonderful is His grace when through those thus brought back, He goes forth again to meet other souls, with patient tenderness to win them, and lead them on from faith to faith, until they too are at rest in the heart of God.
“As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you” (John 20v21).
We are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
“Little children, guard yourselves from idols” (1 John 5v21).