by A.T. Jones
I referred last night also to a Testimony on the thought as to this contest between the spiritual powers. I will read that at this point, because it touches not only that, but this thing that we have studied right here, as to our being absolutely dependent upon the power of right, itself, to win. We need not get stirred up, nor be abusive, nor anything of the kind, but just state the principle, and let it stand, trusting to itself to win.
In these times of special interest, the guardians of the flock of God should teach the people that the spiritual powers are in controversy; it is not human beings that are creating such intensity of feeling as now exists in the religious world. A power from Satan's spiritual synagogue is infusing the religious elements of the world, arousing men to decided action to press the advantages Satan has gained, by leading the religious world in determined warfare against those who make the word of God their guide and the sole foundation of doctrine. Satan's masterly efforts are now put forth to gather in every principle and every power that he can employ to controvert the binding claims of the law of Jehovah, especially the fourth commandment, that defines who is the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
The man of sin has thought to change times and laws; but has he done it? This is the great issue. Rome and all the churches that have drunk of her cup of iniquity, in thinking to change times and laws have exalted themselves above God, and torn down God's great memorial, the seventh-day Sabbath. The Sabbath was to stand representing God's power in his creation of the world in six days, and his resting upon the seventh day. "Wherefore" He "blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it," because that in it he had rested from all his works which God created and made. The object of the masterly working of the great deceiver has been to supersede God. In his efforts to change times and laws, he has been working to maintain a power in opposition to God, and above him.
Here is the great issue. Here are the two great powers confronting each other--the Prince of God, Jesus Christ, and the prince of darkness, Satan. Here comes the open conflict. There are but two classes in the world, and every human being will range under one of these two banners--the banner of the prince of darkness or the banner of Jesus Christ.
But to appeal to any kind of might in favour of the right, is to step on which side of the contest? It is instantly to put ourselves on the side of might as against right. And that is the wrong side and that puts us on the wrong side, whatever our profession may be. But to hold steadfastly to the principle of right as against might, right with the might within itself, to win--that is the side of divinity.
God will inspire his loyal and true children with his Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the representative of God and will be the mighty working agent in our world to bind the loyal and true into bundles for the Lord's garner. Satan is also with intense activity gathering together in bundles his tares from among the wheat.
The teaching of every true ambassador for Christ is a most solemn, serious matter now. We are engaged in a warfare which will never close until the final decision is made for all eternity. Let every disciple of Jesus be reminded that we "wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." O, there are eternal interests involved in this conflict, and there must be no surface work, no cheap experience, to meet this issue. "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgement to be punished....Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord."
Here is the principle, you see, that we have no reproach, no railing accusation, to bring against anybody, or against any opposition anybody may make. We trust the truth which we preach. The power is in the thing, not in us. It is not only its own defence but it is our defence too. And we do not have to defend it by condemning others.
The Lord would have every human intelligence in his service withhold all severe accusations and railings. We are instructed to walk with wisdom toward them that are without. Leave with God the work of condemning and judging.
It is all the same story: the truth itself is to be its own defence; the right itself is to be its own support, and ours too.
Christ invites us, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Every one who heeds this invitation will yoke up with Christ. We are to manifest at all times and in all places the meekness and lowliness of Christ. Then the Lord will stand by his messengers, and will make them his mouthpieces, and he who is mouthpiece for God will never put into the lips of human beings words which the Majesty of heaven would not utter when contending with the devil. Our only safety is in receiving divine inspiration from heaven. This alone can qualify men to be co-labourers with Christ.
Now we will study a little further along that line, in our study of the principle. The power of might as against right, we found in the previous lesson, had taken possession of this world by deceiving and bringing under his power the one into whose possession this world and the dominion of it had been put. Now the Lord, the God of heaven, did not propose to use any of the power of might, any kind of force, to take that dominion out of Satan's hands, even though it be true that he unjustly held it. There would have been no injustice in so taking it back. But that is not God's way of working; that is what we are studying.
I will say this here and can think upon it to all eternity: The universe of God rests upon the principle of self-sacrifice. The support, the stay of the very universe itself, is the principle of sacrificing self to win; that is, to win by non-resistance--to win by the sheer principle of the power of right in itself. That is what holds the universe up. In that it consists. That is simply the gospel. It would be plain enough to say the gospel is that that holds up the universe, but the principle of the gospel is the principle of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and of God denying Himself and giving Himself in Him.
So the Lord, in recovering this lost dominion, would not use any might that is not right in itself. Therefore, when He wanted to recover this whole dominion and all of mankind, He went at it in such a way that Satan himself and all of his partisans can never say that it was not fairly done.
Now it was lost by man and it is regained by Man. That is what we had in the second of Hebrews when we began this study:
For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownest him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus.
We see Jesus in the place of the man and as the man. God has not put in subjection to the angels the world to come whereof we speak, but He has put it in subjection to man, and Jesus Christ is that Man. There is the second Adam. So that I say, by man it was lost, and by Man it is regained. By Adam it was lost, and by Adam it is regained. The Adam who regains it does so, not from the place at which the first Adam stood when he lost it but from the place which the first Adam's descendants had reached in degeneracy under the influence and power of sin at the time when He entered upon the field to contest the right of Satan.
I mean, when He entered upon the field in the open, bodily contest. Practically, He entered upon the field before the universe was made, and since man's sin He entered upon it also, but He had not taken flesh and entered upon the actual contest until He came into the world in human flesh. The Lord Jesus entered upon the open field in contest with Satan, in human flesh, at the point which human flesh had reached in degeneracy at the moment when He was born into the world. There, in the weakness of human nature as it was in the world when He came into the flesh, He fought the battle.
Human nature will never be any weaker, the world will never be any worse in itself, human nature will never reach any lower condition in itself, than it had reached when Jesus Christ came into the world. The only means by which human nature will be any worse is that the same stage of iniquity will be professing Christianity. Now a man may be just nothing but wickedness, as the world was when Christ was born into the world, yet if he makes no profession of Christianity, if he does not make any profession of the principles of the gospel, God can reach that man in his lost condition by the gospel and save him through it.
But let that man profess the gospel in his wickedness and use the profession of the gospel only as a form, as a cloak to cover his wickedness, then he takes out of the hand of God the only means the Lord has of saving man and perverts it to the support of his own iniquity. And that makes him worse in this respect in that he has cut himself off from salvation by taking God's means of salvation and making it a cloak for his iniquities and the support of his wickedness. In himself, in the flesh, his own practical fleshly wickedness is not any greater: only now he is a hypocrite as well as wicked. The world in the last days will not be any worse in itself than it was when Christ was born into the world. The only way in which it will be worse is that in having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof it uses the profession of Christianity to cover its ungodliness and so perverts God's only means of salvation as to destroy itself against all remedy.
Jesus Christ came into the world in that weakest stage of human flesh and in that flesh as a man He fought the battle with Satan.
Thus Satan himself can never find any fault with the way of salvation as being in any sense unfair. Satan deceived and overcame man, as the man stood in the glory and image of God with all the blessing and the power and the goodness of God on his side. Now when this second Adam comes into human flesh right at the point to which Satan had brought the whole race by sin and there in all this weakness enters upon the contest, Satan can never say that that is not fair. He can never say, "You have taken an unfair advantage. You have come here with too strong a panoply about you, with too many safeguards, for it to be a fair contest." He cannot do it, for there stood Christ in the very weakness of the flesh to which Satan himself had brought man. Christ came in the very weakness which Satan had brought upon the race; and in that weakness says, "Here we are for the conflict." and our Brother won it! He won it! Thank the Lord! and glory to His name!
Now another view or another phase of the same view: You remember in the Week of Prayer readings one of them was on the subject of loyalty to God and the passage in Job was considered relative to the sons of God which came before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.
The thought was presented that these sons of God were those from the other worlds--the different parts of the universe--corresponding to what Adam was as he stood at the head of this world when the world was made and put under his power and given to him as his dominion. The Scripture says Adam was the son of God. Now when Satan came into this world and took the dominion by taking under his power the head of this dominion, he then stood in the place in this world where Adam should have stood. Therefore when the sons of God from the other worlds came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan came also among them and presented himself before the Lord, as the representative of this world, which is under his dominion. I simply present this to call your attention to the thought for further study.
Now from Satan's dominion here, ever since he obtained it, God has been calling from this world people to Himself. Ever since the day that Satan obtained control of this world and God said, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed," God has been calling people from the ranks of Satan unto Himself and into His dominion. And many had been coming all the time. But all the time Satan had been making the charge that that was not fair. He was arguing, "These are my rightful conquest and you are leading them off to you. What have you done that, by right, you can do that, when I gained it here?" Thus he was always contesting the right of God to do this and was also accusing all those whom God called out of this world unto Himself. He was accusing them before God day and night. He declared, "These are my property. They are my rightful subjects. They are laden with sin and are altogether wicked. Yet you call them out and justify them and hold them before the universe, and propose to hold them up before the universe as though they had been good all the time. That is not fair. They are sinners; they are wicked. They are just like the rest of us over here." Thus he is the accuser of the brethren, accusing before God day and night every one who had turned from his authority unto God's.
Now Jesus came into the world to demonstrate that He had the right to do all this and that it was fair. And He came at the point of weakness which we considered awhile ago and entered upon the contest with Satan to recover, by right, the headship of this lost dominion. Now notice: Satan had gained, not by right, but by might as against right, the headship of this dominion from the first Adam to whom it was rightfully given. The second Adam comes, not by might as against right, but by right against might and regains the headship of this world and all the dominion of it. Therefore, when He was raised from the dead, He was raised up to the headship of all principality and power and might and dominion, not only of this world but also of that which is to come.
Now turn to the twelfth chapter of Revelation. There is the passage from which is derived all this that I have been saying. When Christ was born into the world, the vision opens and there stood Satan ready to devour Christ as soon as he should be born. Seventh verse:
There was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.
Now the ninth verse:
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
Now the word "accuser" there signifies in the Greek, "he who accuses another in a court"--that would correspond in our country to a prosecuting attorney. The German translation gives the same idea exactly. Our word "accuser" does not give it so clearly, because one man may accuse another falsely and tell lies about him and backbite as thousands of people do. That is following the same principle of Satan, of course, but that is not the thought here. Here this accuser is one who comes as a prosecuting attorney into a court. You see the situation: Here was Satan, who had this dominion, and God was calling and receiving those who would turn to Him from the power of Satan, but Satan claimed the right to all these subject. Now he would enter into the court of God and there as a prosecuting attorney he would prosecute all these, his subjects, as slave-holders used to do under the Fugitive Slave Law in the United States. He would prosecute all these in that court and demand that they should be given up once more to his authority and that it was not in justice or out of right that they should be taken thus away.
And, too, there was room for him to present that argument with an apparent shadow of right to it, because the contest had not yet been carried on, the battle had not been fought and the victory won so completely that his argument and his right as a prosecuting attorney should be annihilated. Now it is true that the promise was certain and the victory was certain and the promise of God secure but still it was yet to be tested in an open conflict in the flesh. So that when Christ came in the flesh there was just as much temptation upon Him through the power of Satan as though there never had been any promise of redemption. Or shall we say that much? Shall we say that when Christ did come in the flesh, there was as much temptation for Him to meet and it was as real a temptation as though no promise had ever been made of redemption? Assuredly. If not, then He was guarded against temptation and the conflict was not real but more imaginary than real.
He came into the world to demonstrate the unrighteousness of that argument that Satan was presenting in the courts of God, as the prosecuting attorney from this country. That is the thought; it is legal all the way through. Jesus came here into Satan's territory and took human nature at the point to which Satan himself had brought it. In this human nature He met Satan on his own ground and against all his own power defeated him merely by the power of trusting in right itself as against might. He exercised no shadow of right [sic.] Himself to do anything of Himself, to protect or help Himself. He trusted completely and fully in that divine power of right as against might and all that it can bring. And He conquered and thus became by right the head of this dominion again and of all who will be redeemed from it and of the redemption of the dominion itself.
And now that word also in the Greek which says that the accuser of our brethren "is cast down," conveys the idea of a prosecuting attorney who comes into court but he has no case any more. He is repudiated. He has no place for argument. Why? Because now we have an Advocate in the court, Jesus Christ the righteous. Yes. Thank the Lord!
In the court, before Jesus Christ came in the flesh, there was the accuser of the brethren a prosecuting attorney, pleading his legal rights to the subjects of his dominion, as they were leaving his dominion, and going over to the other. He could present that argument with the appearance of a shadow of right, because his dominion, his authority, had not yet been positively contested. But Christ came and did contest it righteously and fairly at every step of the way and so fairly that Satan himself cannot bring any charge of unfairness against it. And having won it, now Christ takes the place in court, not as a prosecuting attorney, but as an Advocate. And when He comes into court as Advocate by right, the other one, the accuser, the prosecuting attorney, is repudiated; he is shut out; he has no case at all against those whom he would accuse. That is good; that is good.
"These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. and if any man sin," there may be the accuser still. He may enter his plea as a prosecuting attorney, but now "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" and by His standing in court, that prosecuting attorney is repudiated, put out, and cast down. That is the story, and I am glad of it. That is the value of our Advocate in the court. He shuts out the prosecuting attorney and takes away his case so that he has no place in court at all. Thank the Lord!
Now we come to another point. It is in answer to a query that has arisen in the minds of some upon the point that was made the other night, that the Lord Jesus in heaven will never be in all respects as He was before. The query is this: There stands the scripture--we read it that night--we took the text upon that, "Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." That will be done. That glory which He had before the world was, is His now, and will be His to all eternity. And so you look in the Bulletin, pages 331, 332, and you will see the Testimony which I read upon the humiliation of Christ. He who was born in the form of God took the form of man. "In the flesh he was all the while as God, but he did not appear as God." "He divested himself of the form of God, and in its stead took the form and fashion of man." "The glories of the form of God, He for awhile relinquished."
Note the difference: The glories of the form of God He for awhile relinquished. But the form of God itself, He to all eternity relinquished. That is the contrast that is in the Scriptures and in that contrast that is here. Being in the form of God, He took the form of man. Then, on page 382 of the Bulletin we read again from the Testimony this word: "Bearing our human form before the Father's throne and through eternal ages." Do you see? The difference is not in the glory. It is in the form upon which the glory rests and through which it is manifested and through which it is reflected.
Now there is something else in that that comes right along with the thought. He was in the form of God--He left that, He emptied Himself and the French version is translated "He annihilated himself," and it is none too strong for as to the form which He bore, He annihilated Himself and in that form He will never again appear. "Our human form" He bears "before the Father's throne and through eternal ages." And the glory of the form of God which He had when He was in the form of God--that glory He brings to our human form. "The glory which thou gavest me, I have given thee." He has given the glory of God everlastingly to us, to the human form, to human flesh.
Instead of Christ's being lowered, we are exalted. Instead of divinity's being lowered or lessened, humanity is exalted and glorified. Instead of bringing Him down to all eternity to where we are, it lifts us to all eternity to where He is. Instead of robbing Him of His glory and putting Him where we are, who have none, He laid aside this glory for a season and became ourselves and took our form forever in order that He in this form and we in Him shall be exalted to the glory which He had before the world was.
Now there is a little more in that yet. In what form was the contest carried on with Satan? In our human form, in my form, in my nature, in your nature. For how much of God's universe was that contest carried on? How much was involved in it? The whole of it. Then in this world and in our flesh and form there was carried on the contest, there was fought the battle and there was gained the victory that involves the whole universe. In this contest the whole universe was involved, one way or the other, whichever way it should have turned.
Therefore, to carry out God's eternal purpose, He had to come into this world and to take our form and nature, because in this world and in our form and nature is where that purpose was contested and where it all centred. He who was one with God emptied Himself and took our form and nature and fought the battle in this form and nature and the battle was won in this form and nature. To what form and nature belongs the victory? To our form and nature belongs the victory. In the nature of things it is to our form and nature in Jesus Christ and joined with Jesus Christ that the victory belongs. So you see that this contest, this victory, not only carries us in the universe to where Adam was, nor only to where He would have been, but to where Jesus Christ, by divine right, is. O, it is wonderful. That is so. and the best of all is that it is true.
We too often lose sight of the glory of this in looking only at the misfortune of the entrance of sin. It was a misfortune, it is true, that sin should enter the universe at all. And in that sense it was a misfortune that sin struck this world so that the battle had to be fought in this world for the universe. But having struck this world and involved this world, it involved you and me, so that here, in our nature, had to be fought the contest for the universe, and we can thank God that the victory is won and that we have a share in this victory for the universe. Therefore it is not altogether a misfortune, you see, because God is able to turn our greatest misfortunes into the grandest victories. It would have been the greatest misfortune for us if there were no redemption. But when God puts His hand to a thing, He turns our greatest misfortunes into the grandest victories. And this greatest misfortune to the universe, God turns to the grandest victory for the universe. O, He makes it turn to the absolute and eternal triumph of the universe!
Christ did empty Himself of the form of God and take our human form. He did empty Himself of the nature of God and take our human nature. And in so doing He brought divinity to humanity. In so doing He caused humanity to conquer Satan and sin. Against all Satan's power, Christ won the victory in our human nature, and therefore He says not only, "Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was," but he says, further, "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them." Instead of bringing Him to all eternity to where we were, it takes us to all eternity to where He is.
"Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift." We have an Advocate in the heavenly court, who, by every conceivable right, stands there as our Advocate and shuts out the prosecuting attorney that would accuse us before God day and night. He wins our cases, because He has won them. And now being in the form of God, He emptied Himself and took the form of a servant. "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him [and he has exalted us in him], and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
We delight to bow our knees to Him now, in that day we shall rejoice to do it also, in His glory. Bu whether one does it now or not, in that day when Jesus Christ is crowned with His triumphal crown before the universe and for the universe, then every knee, from Lucifer unto the last man that has rejected Him, will also bow and will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and they will do it to the glory of God the Father. And in that day every tongue in the universe will confess the divinity of the truth and the everlasting righteousness of the principle of right as against might.