SUNDAYS are CLASSICS
Every Sunday we post Classics of Chrisitanity
“The Pearls of Faith in the Fields of Christendom”
Hell got bigger. Grace got Greater, and the world is heading for Hell in a handbasket. You really don’t want to go there. Unless you seriously don’t do something about it, You are Going to Hell. Hell was not made for you and you weren’t made for Hell. It isn’t oblivion you are facing when you die, but absolute and total isolation. The ansence of God since you are created by God will cause suffering you never imagined. It was never intended for you to go there. You are going in the wrong direction and admit it or not, Hell is waiting for you. Jesus Said, Call on Me and You Shall Be Saved. We call it Salvation because it is. It is not going where you deserve to be, and that is Hell. Jesus said it, You Must Be Born Again. Read these so you can be assured God wants you in heaven, not hell. “Call upon the Name of the Lord, and You Shall Be Saved”. Reject them, pure and simple, You Go to hell.
It’s your call, it just might be your Last Call. —Michael James Stone
PARTICIPANTS OF THE CROSS CHRIST’S DEATH OUR DEATH (continued)
For this purpose Jesus came. His death was no mere accident. He was “slain front the foundation of the world.” His death was not simply that of a martyr. “I lay down my life that I may take it again. No man taketh it from me but I lay it down of myself” (John x. 17-18). “Now is my soul troubled (referring to His Cross) ; and what shall I say? Father save me from this hour: but for this Cause come .I unto this hour” (John xii. 29), Verily, His death was no afterthought, but the indispensable achievement incident to the engendering of a Crucified Church. A crucified Christ that He might have crucified followers.
But, I repeat, we must choose. If the Christ spirit is to blossom out in us in its fullest splendour so that we shall attain the measure of the stature of the Perfect Man, we must, by an act of the will, yield ourselves to that which is already potentially our status before God: identification with the Cross of Christ. We must, on the basis of the Cross, and our oneness with Christ in death, refuse the “old life.” “The Kingdom of God suffereth violence and the violent take it by force.” We must not only refuse the “old life” in a sublime moment of surrender when the truth of our oneness with Christ bursts in upon us, but we must do it consistently, every time nature would reinstate itself. We must do it as consistently and as habitually as we would, so to speak hold our noses from the stench of some filthy alley which daily we must pass. In a sense, you have it once and for all in a position you intelligently take, for you are grafted into the Trunk of the Eternal Christ whose “death-resurrection-mid-process,” you share; but in another sense it is all held in Divine trust so that you might as a free moral agent choose, and choose again, and again, and continue to choose. Which will you have? The Divine Life which flows as a great river of life from the Throne and from the Lamb? Then you must refuse your own life. It has been corrupted by sin. Cut yourself off from it by standing in Christ’s death. Receive a Heavenly life moment by moment. Do this, and you shall be more than conqueror. Do this, and you will no longer agonize over a role, seeking to imitate the Christ; you will all unconsciously, spontaneously walk as Jesus walked. You could not be anything but like Him, sharing as you do His death and His resurrection. It will be an easy thing, a joyous thing, a lovely thing-like the play of children. It is now natural for you to be Christian for you have been made a partaker of the Divine nature.
Oh! that the Church might see this sublime Truth. She has been enjoying a fifty per cent. redemption because she has not realized the implications of the Cross. She has not been willing to die with her Lord. She does not “possess her possessions” because she has not learned to reckon herself dead to sin. She is still under the thralldom of the “flesh, the world, and the devil,” because she has not believed her Lord, who over and over, by precept and by example, and finally by the far depths of His self-emptying on Calvary, sought to inculcate the sublime principle of self-renunciation. She has not believed that eternal life can only be found by an utter renunciation of the “old life.” She has sought to imitate her Lord-in the energy of the “flesh-life” reproduce His way. She has not been willing to acknowledge her utter inability in this regard, and to lay down her own life in order to become the participant of the Heavenly. She cannot convey life to a dying world because she does violence to her covenant. That covenant was made on Calvary. It is a covenant of death. Christ led the way, He bids us follow. A deep eternal union, a grafting of the soul into Christ, a great merging of interests, purposes, aspirations, all, is to be consummated. This is the gospel. But God has, in terms so unmistakable, so eloquent, so sublime, so provoking that all ages and all races, and all generations might not fail to grasp the meaning, revealed upon what basis this union may be achieved. It is through the Cross of Christ. The “old life” must be drained out, and in the person of the Son of Man it was terminated. But the Church has not come under the consuming fires of the Radium of Golgotha. Hence, her impotence in this great hour when a world crisis not only economic but moral is upon us.
It is folly to talk of revival apart from a deep participation in the Cross. Christian leaders have become suspicious. One hardly dare speak of revival. And the Church does well in holding herself aloof from all clap-trap Evangelism. All revival in the Church which springs from the “flesh-life,” that is, the merely natural, which is brought about by a mere working up of the “soulish-life”; all revival which fails to cut in upon the “old-life” and bring it to the place called Calvary for execution, is spurious. If God were to lend Himself to such revivals and such gatherings, noted for their wild-fire (two of Aaron’s sons lost their lives because of the introduction of strangefire into the ceremonial offerings of the Israelites), if, I repeat, God were to place the seal of His approval upon such counterfeit fire, He would constitute Himself an enemy of the Cross. He would be antagonistic to the Son. He would be reviving what Christ has slain. Saul might refuse to hew down Agag, but not Samuel. “The flesh profiteth nothing,” “Our old man is crucified with Christ.” “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” We read in Exodus that the oil was not applied until first the blood had been sprinkled. The oil (Holy Spirit) after the blood (Cross) (Exod. xxxi. 32). To share the Christ-life, we must partake of Christ’s Cross.
It is interesting to note how that in the great Book of Nature, this same lesson is taught. There is hardly a page in all the Book which fails to emphasize the fact that all life springs out of death. Not a tree, not a blossom, not a shrub, not a fruit, but what cost the death of a seed.
The other day a cotton planter took me out to see his plantation. I am so glad that he insisted that I follow him out between the rows of cotton, for God spoke to me through my friend’s exposition of the ways of cotton seed. He dug up half a dozen seeds-just sprouting-to show me, in a manner I can never forget, that before the seed sends any sprouts up it sends a long root down. One would imagine that the seed already buried would have enough of death, and that it would send its first sprout up for air and light and freedom. No-first down deeper in its already hidden tomb.
How clearly through Old Testament type and symbol and story, the Holy Spirit flashes light upon this mystery-this fact of our co-crucifixion with Christ. Abraham must sacrifice his Isaac. Isaac was spared, yet, in spirit, Abraham offered him up. It was because he had done this thing that the promise was made: “In blessing I will bless thee and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of Heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore.” And even previous to that, we read, that it was from “the womb as good as dead” that he issued. Joseph is buried in an Egyptian prison before he rises to become a veritable saviour, seated on the throne which he seemed to share with the mighty Pharaoh. For forty years on the lonely slopes of Midian the fiery Moses is schooled. There were graves, if I may so speak, scattered all over the mountainside where hope after hope was buried until at last self goes down in utter annihilation. But for those graves, the Man of God who spoke face to face with Jehovah, who became the moral giant of antiquity, and whose guiding hand will be felt in the affairs of nations until the end of time, could not have been. If Leviticus with its myriad sacrifices, its rivers of blood, means anything, it means that God meets man on but one basis-the basis of the Cross.
Our pleasure-infatuated, jazz-intoxicated age will stop its ears and gnash its teeth as those who stoned Stephen. For these things hurt. But, those who have tasted of the Lord, and pant after the wine of Heaven; those who cannot be satisfied with anything short of the fullness of the Spirit, and whose hearts are, as it were, “a furnace of desire” for the deep things of God, these truths that cut and burn, and blast away the old-life are welcomed with an unspeakable joy.
Dr. Trumball, in that masterful study of ancient sacrifices, Blood Covenant, points out that all the peoples of antiquity, of whatever race, or country, practiced in one form or another, sacrifices, either of animals, or of human beings. He wisely gathers from a study which took him to the sacrificial altars of countless aborigines, that an instinct so universal and so deep-seated reveals the fact that man in his blind gropings after God, moved by the deepest intuitions of the race, never has attempted to establish harmonious relations with the Divine, without it be upon the basis of death.
The Israelites must go down into the valley of the Jordan, leaving in the bed of the stream twelve stones, in order to enter the land of milk and honey. The waters return as Israel passes, burying the twelve stones, symbolic of Israel’s twelve tribes. Israel cannot abide in Canaan without a constant abiding in death through the twelve symbolic stones, buried in the stream (Joshua iv. 9) . David does not come to the throne until in the caves of the Philistines, where he was hunted down like a dog by the infuriated Saul, he dies-deaths innumerable. The Psalms, with all their varied loveliness, so adapted to human woe, their seraphic unfolding of the life of communion, could not have been, but for the inner crucifixion in the heart of the sweet singer of Israel, brought about by the mad persecutions of Saul. Isaiah sees the Lord and is undone. He must be purged of the old life by a fiery coal from off the altar of Heaven. Jeremiah dies a thousand deaths as he weeps over the chosen people. Jonah is pitched into the sea and is swallowed by a whale-even then he does not come forth wholly purged from self. God’s people have never in any age come to the mountain-peak of spiritual attainment, the glory of unbroken communion with the Most High, without having the “self-life,” the “flesh-life,” brought again and again to the dust of death. When the “fair one” of Canticles cries out: “kiss me with kisses of thy mouth” (the symbolical languages of Canticles indicative of the soul’s thirst for union with Christ), speedily there follows the confession: “A bundle of myrrh (bitter) is my well beloved to me.” “My beloved is as a cluster of Cyprus (cemetery-tree) in the vineyards of Engedi.” Ah yes! it must be death.
The Beloved cannot bring us to union with Himself without a deep participation in His Cross. The fretful, greedy, self-centered, fussy, lustful, hateful “flesh-life” (see Gal. v. 19, for an analysis of “flesh-life”) must die. It must be absolutely and mercilessly terminated. At this point our Saviour must be firm. He dare not spare. He must not waver. He is compelled to be severe. He cannot bring us to the highest without coming between us and the lower.
Have yon taken your place with Christ in His death? By an act of faith you must lay hold of that death as your death; you must place Christ’s Cross between yourself and “the body of sin.” You must learn to refuse on the basis of your crucifixion the life of nature, the so-called “flesh-life.” You must take your stand with Christ on Calvary ground and each time that the “self-life” would assert itself, say: “In Christ I died. In His name, I refuse.” This done, the Holy Spirit will bear witness to your faith and set you free, and keep you free.