"Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily." Colossians 1:25-29.
A solemn responsibility rests upon the men who teach God's Word. They are not to try to work the Holy Spirit; they are themselves to be worked by the Holy Spirit.
We greatly desire that at this time the Holy Spirit may show every professing Christian the fullness and perfection of Christ's atoning sacrifice. It was a whole and entire sacrifice that Christ made for the sins of the world. We are living and working and breathing in a low atmosphere. Now and then we get glimpses of Christ, but much selfishness is manifested. Our failure to appropriate the grace of Christ leaves us defective and faithless, unable correctly to represent Christ. By clinging to self, ministering to our selfish interests, we dishonour God, and the Sacred Word [that] we minister is made to taste of the uncleansed vessel through which it is communicated. Self is so largely revealed that the sacredness of the truth is lost sight of.
Will not those who profess to be Christians walk in the light of the Sun of Righteousness showing by their life and character that they realise the value of the atoning sacrifice of Christ our Saviour? The truth is not to be rendered lustreless by a manifestation of our own unsanctified, selfish spirit. The truth must shine forth in the life; then Christ is glorified. Emptied of self we must be, else we cannot show that Christ is formed within, the hope of glory. The Lord would have self hidden, for when it appears, souls are misled. The preciousness and importance of truth must appear, and will appear, when self is hid with Christ in God; then Jesus will be revealed in our lives. Our characters will be moulded after the divine similitude. Then the Holy Spirit will control the human agent. Men will possess the attributes of Christ.
The minds of many are clouded with unbelief because those who unite with the church as the chosen of God do not reveal the virtues that are the fruits of the Spirit. Joining the church is not a sure evidence that a man has joined himself to Christ. The new birth is a rare experience in this age of the world. This is the reason why there are so many perplexities in the churches. Many, so many, who assume the name of Christ are unsanctified and unholy. They have been baptised, but they were buried alive. Self did not die, and therefore they did not rise to newness of life in Christ.
Thousands who claim to be religious are not Christians. Paul was very strict in carrying out his religion, but he was not a Christian until Christ revealed Himself to him and talked with him, showing him that he was persecuting his Master in the person of His saints. Then Paul was converted. He became one of the sect he had despised and hated; and for his love of Christ he received the same cruel treatment that he had once co-operated with others in giving.
The churches have an abundance of the religion and zeal that Paul had. Many persecute those who differ from them in religious matters. But no true Christian will persecute one who conscientiously differs from him in faith. Those who try to force the consciences of their fellowmen do it because Christ is not abiding in their hearts. They do not realise that they have the attributes of Satan, but he delights to make them his instruments to bear witness against God's chosen ones. They strive to make them observe rites that have no foundation in the Word of God. When these persecutors have the Spirit of Christ, they will hear and receive the words of Christ "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." 1 Chronicles 16:22. Christ and Him crucified will absorb the whole soul.
"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." Colossians 3:12-17.
"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons." Verses 23-25.
What does God require? Perfection, nothing less than perfection. But if we would be perfect, we must put no confidence in self. Daily we must know and understand that self is not to be trusted. We need to grasp God's promises with firm faith. We need to ask for the Holy Spirit with a full realisation of our own helplessness. Then when the Holy Spirit works we shall not give self the glory. The Holy Spirit will graciously take the heart into His keeping, bringing to it all the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. We shall be kept by the power of God through faith.
When we are daily under the control of God's Spirit, we shall be commandment-keeping people. We may show to the world that obedience to God's commands brings its own reward, even in this life, and in the future life eternal blessedness. Notwithstanding our profession of faith, the Lord by whom our actions are weighed, sees but an imperfect representation of Christ. He has declared that such a condition of things cannot glorify Him.
It means much to commit the keeping of the soul to God. It means that we are to live and walk by faith, not trusting in or glorifying self, but looking to Jesus our Advocate as the Author and Finisher of our faith. The Holy Spirit will do His work upon the heart that is contrite, but never can He work upon a self-important, self-righteous soul. In his own wisdom such a one would mend himself. He interposes between his soul and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will work if self will not interpose.
Where is our dependence? Where is our help? God's Word tells us: "The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." John 14:26. The Holy Spirit is ready to co-operate with all who will receive Him and be taught by Him. All who lay hold on the truth and are sanctified through the truth are so united with Christ that they can represent Him in word and action. They have put on Christ, and they possess a power that enables them to reveal the truth to others. May the Holy Spirit speak to the hearts of God's chosen people, that their words may be as choice as gold, as they give the bread of life to those in transgression and sin.
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. . . . Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me." John 14:21-24.
If through the imputed righteousness of Christ we strive to keep God's commandments, we shall not be fractious [inclined to make trouble] when things do not please us. We will say, "I am not my own, I am bought with a price. I am the property of Christ, who has bought me with His own blood." "Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:20.
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 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 15:4-5. We show that we are fruit-bearers by pure words, unselfish planning in the meekness and lowliness of Christ, by softened hearts full of sympathy, love, and compassion.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." Galatians 5:22-26.
God's people are justified through the administration of the "better covenant," through Christ's righteousness. A covenant is an agreement by which parties bind themselves and each other to the fulfilment of certain conditions. Thus the human agent enters into agreement with God to comply with the conditions specified in His Word. His conduct shows whether or not he respects these conditions.
Man gains everything by obeying the covenant-keeping God. God's attributes are imparted to man, enabling him to exercise mercy and compassion. God's covenant assures us of His unchangeable character. Why then are those who claim to believe in God changeable, fickle, untrustworthy? Why do they not do service heartily, as under obligation to please and glorify God? It is not enough for us to have a general idea of God's requirements. We must know for ourselves what His requirements and our obligations are. The terms of God's covenant are: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself." Luke 10:27. These are the conditions of life. "This do," Christ said, "and thou shalt live." Verse 28.
Christ's death and resurrection completed His covenant. Before this time, it was revealed through types and shadows, which pointed to the great offering to be made by the world's Redeemer, offered in promise for the sins of the world. Anciently believers were saved by the same Saviour as now, but it was a God veiled. They saw God's mercy in figures. The promise given to Adam and Eve in Eden was the gospel to a fallen race. The promise was made that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, and it should bruise His heel. Christ's sacrifice is the glorious fulfilment of the whole Jewish economy. The Sun of Righteousness has risen. Christ our Righteousness is shining in brightness upon us.
God did not lessen His claim upon men in order to save them. When as a sinless offering Christ bowed His head and died, when by the Almighty's unseen hand the veil of the temple was rent in twain, a new and living way was opened. All can now approach God through the merits of Christ. It is because the veil has been rent that men can draw nigh to God. They need not depend on priest or ceremonial sacrifice. Liberty is given to all to go directly to God through a personal Saviour.
It is God's pleasure and will that the blessings bestowed on man shall be given in perfect completeness. He has made provision that every difficulty may be overcome, every want supplied through the Holy Spirit. Thus He designs that man shall perfect a Christian character. God would have us contemplate His love, His promises, given so freely to those who have no merit in themselves. He would have us depend fully, gratefully, rejoicingly, in the righteousness provided for us in Christ. To all who come to God in His appointed way, He freely listens.
"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18. Beholding Christ means studying His life as given in His Word. We are to dig for truth as for hidden treasure. We are to fix our eyes upon Christ. When we take Him as our personal Saviour, this gives us boldness to approach the throne of grace. By beholding, we become changed--morally assimilated to the One who is perfect in character. By receiving His imputed righteousness, through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, we become like Him. The image of Christ is cherished, and it captivates the whole being.
The Lord abides with the contrite soul. "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." "Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." Isaiah 57:15; 66:1-2.
Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, 50-55.