WHEN DID YOU DIE ?
B. McCall Barbour
WHEAT FALL INTO THE GROUND AND DIE, IT ABIDETH ALONE: BUT IF IT DIE, IT BRINGETH FORTH MUCH FRUIT" (John xii. 24)
When Did You "DIE "?
A STRANGE question? True! Arresting? Yes! Absurd? No! Sensible? Quite! Searching? Surely! Impertinent? No! Important? Yes, supremely so! It is of the most vital and immediate importance for every child of God. Listen to the simple statements of God's Word : "Ye are dead" (Col. iii. 3); "We are dead" (Rom. vi. 2); "Crucified with Him" (Rom. vi. 6); "Have been crucified with Christ" (Gal. ii. 20); "We being dead" (I Pet. ii. 24); "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and DIE, it abideth alone; but if it Die. it bringeth forth much fruit" (John xii. 24).
To ask the question by no means implies that pharisaical attitude of spiritual pride indicated by the words :"certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others" (Luke xviii. 9). The question is asked with sincere and loving concern for all of God's dear children every where. May this great fact of our "so great salvation" (Heb. ii. 3) "ye are dead" be frankly and fully faced by all. This will be for our own greatest spiritual good, for untold blessing to others, and for the glorifying of "the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus ii. 13).
Let not, then, the question be treated with indifference, either because it seems "too doctrinal," "too deep," or "too dry." To treat it so is to do an injustice to the Love of God; to bring about a loss to our eternal welfare; and to give infinite delight to the arch-deceiver of our souls.
There need be no fear in frankly facing this question. If it is frankly faced we shall know the doctrine, that it is of God (John vii. 17). The Holy Spirit, as we obey Him, will guide us into all truth (John xvi. 13). The truth shall no longer be "too deep" or "too dry," but shall become to us a "delight" as it works for our deliverance. We shall get to know it as "the truth that makes us free" (John viii. 32).
WHEN did you "DIE"? The answer, simply stated, isÄ" When Jesus died." This, of course, is as viewed from God's standpoint. In His reckoning "It is finished." But - ah, but, alas on our side, and in the experience of many, - shall we say of the mass, - of God's dear children this "dying" has
never yet taken place. We are slow to apprehend, and to appreciate the meaning of this truth, and to appropriate the fulness of God's Salvation which is in Christ Jesus. The "fulness" of that Salvation saves us not only from our sin and from our sinning, but - note this - from that greatest of all enemies, ourselves. In God's plan and purpose, and through His divine provision, we must DIE, or remain unfruitful. Let this be emphasised by repetition of the very words of Jesus Himself: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and DIE, it abideth alone but if it DIE it bringeth forth much fruit" (John xii. 24).
Happy indeed are they who know, in their experience, the blessedness of being "Born again" (John iii. 3), and so possessing Jesus Christ as their substitutionary Saviour from their sinful past. But, indeed, thrice blessed are they who have "followed on to know" the death of SELF, through their identification with Him on the cross, - who "have been crucified with Christ" (Gal. ii. 20), - who have "DIED with Him" (Rom. vi. 3) - have been "buried with Him" (Rom. vi. 4), - have "risen with Him in newness of life" (Rom. vi.4), and who are now "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God" (Rom. vi. 11). Dear friend, is this your experience? We affectionately ask, - "When did you DIE?"
"On the cross of Calvary
Jesus died for you and me;
There He shed His precious blood
That from sin we might be free.
There was full atonement made,
There my heavy debt was paid.
It was for me that Jesus died
On the cross of Calvary."
Yes, this is blessedly true; "It was for me that Jesus died." But there also " I," "Self." the flesh," was crucified with Him. There " I " died with Him. As Paul has said, - " I " have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me; and the life which I now live in the body I live through faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up to death on my behalf." (Gal. ii. 20, Weymouth.)
"It is most important for us to understand what are the characteristics of the SELF-LIFE, and how impossible it is , when under its sway to live a spiritual life, and wield spiritual weapons in the service of God. it is useless exhorting the 'flesh'to be spiritual'; and yet the flesh, seeking to live a `spiritual' life, and calling itself `spiritual,' is the meaning of the discrepancy in so many Christian lives of to-day. We get light in our minds, spiritual phrases on our tongues, call our 'work' spiritual. -- whilst we ourseles live after the flesh in greater or lesser degree all the time." (J.PENN.LEWIS)
WHAT, then, let us ask, is this " I," this "Self" that must DIE, - that must be "crucified with Christ"? The following summary of its characteristics will help to make this plain:
The last enemy destroyed in the the believer SELF. It dies hard. It will make any concessions if a1lowed to live. Self will permit the believer to do anythiug, give anything, sacrifice anything, suffer anything, be anything, go anywhere, take any liberties, bear any crosses, afflict soul or body to any degree - anything if it can only hold sway.
It will allow victory over pride, penuriousness and passion, if not destoryed itself. It will permit any number of rivals so long as it can be promised the first place. It will consent to live in a hovel, in a garret. in the slums, in far-away heathendon, if only its life can be spared. It will endure any garb, any fare, any menial service rather than surrender.
But this concession must not be granted. SELF is too great a foe to the of God. It is everywhere present. It is the fly that spoils the ointment, the little fox that spoils the vine. It provokes God and and man and its own possessor. It drives to insomnia, invalidism and insanity. It produces disorder and derangement in the whole physical, mental, moral and spiritual constitution. It talks back, excueses and vindicates itself, and never apologies. It must DIE.
'Dying to self' is a poetic expression. It sounds romantic, heroic, chivalrous, supernatural, saint-like. It is beautiful to read about, fascinating to write about, refreshing to dream about. But it is hard to do. But it must be done. There is no abiding peace, power or prosperity without it.
We must DIE to good deeds and to bad deeds, to successer and to failures, to superiority and to inferiority, to leading and to following, to exaltation and to humiliation, to our life work, to our friends, to our foes, to every manifestation of SELF and to SELF itself. Jesus said, `The hour is come that the Son, of Man should be glorified. Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and DIE, it abideth alone, but if it DIE it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it, but he that loseth his life (himself) shall find it.' `He that will come after Me, let him deny himself.' Christ could not be glorified till after death, nor can can He be glorified in His people till SELF DIES. In close connection with this passage Jesus says, `I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all man unto Me' (John xii. 32). Self lifted up repels. Lifted up with Christ on the it draws. Happy those who can say with Paul, from a real experience. I have been crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me' (Gal. ii. 20)."
(W. J. Mosier.)
WITH satanic subtlety we are deceived by SELF. "Even our sacrifices and self-denials may be selfish," says Dr. A. B. Simpson. "Yes, our satisfaction may be selfish, Self can get up and pray, and sit down and say: `What a lovely prayer!' Self can preach a sermon and save souls and go home, pat itself on the back and say, or let the devil say it through him: `You did it splendidly; what a useful man you are!' Self can be burned to death and be proud of its fortitude. Yes, we can have religious selfishness as well as carnal selfishness."
There is a foe whose hidden power
The Christian well may fear,
More subtle far than inbred sin,
And to the heart more dear.
It is the power of ` SELFISHNESS
It is the wilful `1'
And ere my Lord can live in me
My very SELF must DIE."
Aptly has it been called "This cruel SELF." It is. And no doubt, in deepest earnestness, any a true believer prays :--
"My saviour, Thou hast offered rest,
Oh! give it then to me;
The rest of ceasing from myself,
To find my all in Thee.
This cruel self! Oh, how it strives
And works within my breast,
To come between Thee and my soul,
And keeps me back from rest."
Reader, has this been your prayer? Then, my friend, you need pray it no longer. Begin to appropriate, at this moment, what Christ now offers to you. Ask no more, but Take what now He proffers - deliverance from "this cruel SELF." Comply with His conditions. Idenitfy yourself with Him upon the cross. Be "crucified with Christ." Experiment "DIE." Find your deliverance from, and victory over, SELF, Through death. Posses your longed-for and prayed-for REST, -- the rest of "ceasing from yourself."
Be not deceived! Do not endeavour to crucify yourself. Accept by faith, the fact that God has already crucified you. "Ye are dead." We are not called to a process of SELF Crucifixion, but to the accomplished of a crucifixion of SELF already accomplished. Ye "have been crucified." By an instantaneous death we have an instantaneous deliverance, to be worked out in experience. Man's method is a gradual crucifixion of SELF, and consequently a continual slavery. Too frequently we are deceived into the crucifying of "things," and habits and desires and ` inclinations," and "affections," in a piece-meal fashion.God's method is drastic and decisive. SELF has been crucified with Christ in one act. Hence-forth "ye are dead." 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" (Gal. v. 24, 25).
"Now then, the love of Christ overmasters us, the conclusion at which we have arrived being this - that One having died for all, His death was their death, and that He died for all, in order that the living may no longer live unto themselves, but to Him Who died for them and rose again." (II Cor. v.14,15.)
"A clergyman once said, `Do you know that Campbell Morgan came to this country, and preached one sermon that destroyed forty years of my sermons? Forty years I had been preaching on the duty of sacrifice - denying things to ourselves, giving up this and that. We practised it in our family. We would give up butter one week, and try to use the money in some way that God would bless. Another week we would give up something else. And so on. Campbell Morgan said that what we needed to give up was not things but SELF. And that was the only thing we had not given up in our home. We had given up everything under the sun but SELF.'" (S.S. Times.)
Beloved, have you seen the vision of yourself, crucified upon the cross in lhe person of Jesus Christ? If not, get aside with God. In the stillness of His presence let Him speak to you.
"I am crucified with Jesus,
And the cross has set me free;
I have risen again with Jesus,
And Re lives and reigns in me.
It is sweet to DIE with Jesus,
To the world, and SELF, and sin
It is sweet to live with Jesus,
As He lives and reigns within.
This the story of the Master,
Through the Cross, He reached the Throne,
And, like Him, our path to glory
Ever leads through death alone."
"Follow ME !"
Thus it is that we may say: "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. viii.2)
But, again we warn - be not deceived! This is no doctrine of "sinless perfection," Nor is it of "annihilation of the old nature," nor is it "suppression" and ceaseless striving to keep under "the flesh." It simply is APPROPIATION of the person of Jesus Christ Himself as our very life, and a henceforth reckoning ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, and a yielding of ourselves unto Him as those who are alive from the dead (Romans vi. 13). Insomuch as we let Him live, by so much shsll the Christian life be truly lived in us, for Christ, not I, is the life.
"Likewise RECKON ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Neither yield ye your members as instrumentsof unrighteousness unto sin: but yield your selves unto God, as those who are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Rom. vi. 11-13).
"Since ye then are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ Who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.
Mortify (make dead) therefore your members which are upon the earth" Col iii. 1-5).
"Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for thr flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof" (Rom. xiii. 14). (Dead men need no attention.).
"There's a little word that the Lord has given~
For our help in the hour of need, --
Let us RECKON ourselves to be dead to sin,
To be dead to sin indeed.
There's another word that the Lord has given,
In the very same verse we read :-
Lot us RECKON ourselves as alive in Him.
As alive and alive indeed.
Let us RECKON! RECKON! RECKON!
RECKON rather than feel!
Let us be true to the reckoning,
And God will make it real."
(DR. A. B. Simpson)
HOW "RECKONING" WORKS.
"It is said that many centuries ago, a young man came to a godly saint, and asked what this meant: What is it to be dead? The old saint told him to go to the grave of brother Thomas, who had recently died, and caIl him all the vile, contemptions names he could think of, - to abuse him in every way, - and see what brother Thomas would reply.
So the young man went out to the grave, and poured forth a terrible tirade against the departed one. Then he stopped and listened, and, after a little, returned to the house. The old saint asked him if he had done as instructed, and he answered, `Yes.' `Then what did brother Thomas reply?' `Nothing.'
Then the young man was told to go back and speak of a11 the good things he could think of about brother Thomas, to flatter him, and praise him to the skies in every possible way. So the young went back and poured forth a glowing tribute to the departed one, - then listened for the answer. But none came. Upon his return he was again asked, 'What did brother Thomas reply? '`Nothing.' `Then.' The old saint said, 'That is what it means to be dead.' It is not te be moved, either by what is said against us, or by praises that are given us. Are you 'dead' ?"
Beloved, is this your experience?
I've reckoned myself to be dead unto sin,
And risen with Christ, and now He lives within;
The `life more abundant' He gives unto me,
This overflow life gives me full victory."
The life which I now live in the flesh" (body) (Gal. ii. 20). Well, what life is that? Is it Not I, but Christ "?
"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffereth for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps:
Who did no sin neither was guile found in His mouth: when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously:
Who His own self bare our sin in his own body on the tree, that we, BEING DEAD TO SINS, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes ye were healed (I Pet. ii. 21-24).
"He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again" II Cor. v. 15).
"Our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin" (Rom. vi. 6, 7).
This blessed attitude is ensured, maintained, and experienced as we reckon ourselves as "alive unto God," and so yield ourselves, and all our members, unto Him.
"I've yielded to God, and I'm saved every hour,
I've yielded to God, and I feel His sweet power.
I've trusted His promises, not one has failed
Of all His good Word, tho' the tempter assailed.
Sweet, quiet, yielded life,
blessed rest from all storm and strife;
God's own peace now fills my soul,
As on Him my way I roll."
"If it Die, it bringeth forth much fruit" The life is fruitful, fertile, fragrant, full and free. This is not only "life" but "life more abundant." "fruit" is what glorifies God. "Fruit" is the sure proof of discipleship. "Herein is My Father glorified that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples" (John xv. 8). The only "fruit" that pleases God, and that can glorify Him, is "the fruit of the Spirit." "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace. lonsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (self-control) : against such there is no law"
(Gal. v. 22-23). Such "fruit' can come from only one root - no other than the Holy Spirit. The "fruit" that is the outcome of "the flesh," no matter how beautiful it may appear, is ever and only "absolute corruption."
"Absolute honesty," "absolute purity," "absolute love," "absolute selflessness," - these are in CHRIST alone. All 'holiness" that we can ever have is found in Him. "But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification (i.e., holiness), and redemption:
that, according as it is written, `He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord' " (I Cor. i. 30, 31).
This the secret of the holy.
Not our holiness, but Him:
Jesus! empty us and fill us
With Thy fulness to the brim."
"I know that in me, that is, in my flesh (body) dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. vii. 18). Well did Paul know this fact. Nevertheless, he has made it plain, that it is just in these mortal bodies that the life of Jesus is to be manifested and magnified. "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus sake, that the life also of Jesus might manifest in our mortal flesh "II Cor. iv. 19,11).
Thus, in whatsoever sphere however lowly or exalted, and with whatever talents - many by such means, as we "let the beauty of Jesus be seem in us," will others be attracted by Him. He it is Who is the drawing power. It is not us. We are ever the privileged "channels" "channels," - but let it never be forgotten, "channels only." Is there anything more blessed than to be such a channel? Is there anything more difficult to "the flesh" than to be a "channel only"?
Just "a channels" CHRIST "the power,"
Just "a branch" CHRIST "the vine."
Just "a vessel " CHRIST "the treasure."
Just "a lamp" CHRIST "the light."
Just "a cup " CHRIST "the water."
when we are satisfied to just be such - then, and only then, with "all His won drous power flowing through us, He will use us, every day and every hour." It was for this holy and exalted service of witnessing for Him, that He purchased us with "His Own Blood" (Acts xx. 28). And it is by our identification with Him in His death and resurrection, that we shall find we are made "vessels meet for the Master's use" (II Tim. ii. 21).
Let it, then, be recognised and acknowledged that "ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price," and let the injunnction be heeded, - therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (I Cor. vi. 19,20).
"Witnessing Thy power to save me,
Setting free from SELF and sin;
Thou Who bought'st me to possess me,
In Thy fulness, Lord, come in."
"We ALSO should walk in newness of life" (Rom.vi.4).
"Buried with Christ, and raised with Him, too;
What is there left for me to do?
Simply to cease from struggling and strife,
Simply to 'walk in newness of life'"
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (Col. ii. 6).
"He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked" (I John ii. 6).
"Even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps ` (I Peter ii. 21).
Who is sufficient for these things? "Faithful is He that calleth you, Who also will do it" (I Thess. v. 24).
"I will dwell in them, and walk in them" (II Cor. vi. 16).
Reckon on HIM! Appropriate HIM! Let Him! Thus "indwelt," the life shall be "Not I, but Christ."
Not merely in the words you say,
Not merely in your deeds confessed,
But in the most unconscious way
Is Christ expressed.
Is it a beatific smile?
A holy light upon your brow?
Oh, no; I felt His presence when
You laughed just now!
For me, `twas not the truth you taught,
to you so clear, to me so dim;
But when you came to me you brought
A sense Him!
And from your eyes He beckons me
And from your heart His love is shed;
Till I lose sight of you, - and see
The CHRIST instead."
"Not I, but Christ, be honoured loved, exalted;
Not I, but Christ, be seen, be known, be heard;
Not I, but Christ, in every look and action,
Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word."
If we would "Know Him" in "the power of His resurrection," we must be identified with Him,Äaccording to our measure, - in "the fellowship of His sufferings," and be "made conformable unto His death" (dying as He died). (Phil. iii. 10.)
"If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be; if any man serve Me, him will My Father honour" (John xii. 26).
"Dying with Jesus, by death reckoned mine
Uving with Jesus a new life Divine;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine -
Moment by monment, O Lord, I am Thine."
"How may I know the victory?
So many cry;
Commit THYSELF to Calvary -
Consent to Die
God's way of gain is seeming loss;
We Die to live:
And his life comes, as to the cross
My life i give"
"If we will acquire the habit of saying `No !' not only to our bad, but to our good SELF; if we will daily deliver ourselves up to death for Jesus' sake; if we will take up our cross and follow the Master, though it be to His grave, we will become increasingly conscious of bring possessed by a richer, deeper, Diviner life than our own." (Dr. F. B. Meyer.)
When we have thus "DIED," we shall no longer seek to gratify ourselves by giving a "piece of our mind" (or may it not more often be a piece of our "tongue"). to those whose behaviour we think warrants it, or whom we think deserve it. "Bitterness," "wrath," "anger" and "clamour" will be put away. Husbands will not be "bitter" against their wives. Wives will not indulge in "railing" at their husbands. Words with a cruel, cutting sting in them, will not be send forth, to rankle in the bosom of another. And they will not need to be so sorrowfully and sh amefully atoned for and withdrawn.
Nor, when we have thus "DIED," shall we seek to "be" other than our true, natural selves. The "artificial" - the "unreal," - will go, - with all "affectation."
Perhaps amongst the readers of this little message there may happen to be some "servant of Jesus Christ," some minister of the Gospel, whom God is not using just as frequently and as abundantly as He might. Can the reason be,my brother, that the "dying" has not yet taken place, and that the sermons preached have a subtle something lurking in them, calculated to bring gratification to "SELF," rather than glory to God and good to the souls of men?
In the Life of F. B. Meyer, his biographer tells how that, after he became assistant to the Rev. C. M. Birrell at Liverpool he fell so completely under the spell of that great, and notable preacher's "polished, classic style," that he "soon became Birrellised"; that, as the younger man, he "followed the older, gaining indeed concentration and style in the process, but getting into bondage from which afterwards he was only delivered by a great spiritual crisis.
"But" - the record at the early period of his life goes on, - and oh, the pathos of that "but" - "there was only a scanty record of conversions, and, though he be popular, he scarcely imagined himself to be successful as a minister of Jesus Christ.
In this condition he met D. L. Moody, beneath whose "rugged utterance" he recognised "a spiritual power which he himself longed to possess." It was from Moody "that he learnt the art of winning men and women for Christ." And "perhaps the chief lesson Moody taught the young pastor was, that to do good work in the world he must be himself...."
And is not the shortest, surest way of be coming one's true natural self, to be found in bringing that same "self" to the place of "death." later on, herein, Dr. Myeyer tells, in his own language, of the great moment when "self" was, by his own act and will, placed on the cross, - an act which, surely, became the gateway to such an extraordinary life of fruit- bearing and usefulness as so truly became his.
When they "DIED."
IT is instructive and encouraging to know how others, who have "DIED," have faced the crisis and come through to the blessedness of this "death-born-life that never dies."
Dr. A. B. SIMPSON writes concerning this "great transaction" in his own experience:
"The death of Christ simply means for me that when He died, I died, and in God's view I am now as if I had been executed for my own sin, and am now recognised as another person who has risen with Christ, and is justified from his former sins because he has been executed for them, `For he that is dead is freed from sin.'
Not only so, it is the secret of my sanctification, for, on the cross of Calvary, I, the sinful self, was put to death; and when I lay myself over with Him upon that cross and reckon myself dead, Christ's risen life passes into me, and it is no longer my struggling, my goodness, or my badness, but my Lord Who lives in me, and through Whom, while I abide in Him, I am counted even as He, and enabled to walk even as He walked.
Beloved, have you entered into the death of Christ and counted it yours, and, through it, are you now alive unto Him in the power of His resurrection?" (From " The Christ Life.")
The Rev. F. B. MEYER, D.D., relates, when he "DIED" with Jesus, as follows : -
"On the cross Jesus Christ offered a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the whole world . . God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin. `For sin' is substitutionary. `In the likeness of sinful flesh is the reference of the cross to sanctification. On the cross God nailed, in the person of Christ, The likeness of our sinful flesh. I cannot explain it to you more than that; but I know thisÄthat next to seeing Jesus as my Sacrifice, nothing has revolutionised my life like seeing the effigy of my sinful SELF in the sinless, dying Saviour. I say to myself . . . God has nailed the likeness of my SELF-LIFE to the cross ù . . If, then, God has treated the likeness of my sinful SELF, when borne by the sinless Christ, as worthy of His curse, how terrible, in God's sight, it must be for myself to hug it, and embrace it, and live in it!
Christ and I are one. In Him I hung there. I came to an end of myself in Christ, and, kneeling at His cross, I took the position of union with Him in His death, and I consigned my SELF-LIFE to the cross. It was as though I took my SELF-LIFE, with its passions, its choices, its yearnings after perfection its fickleness, its judgement of others, its uncharify - I took it as a felon and said: "Thou are cursed, thou shalt die My God nailed thee to that cross. Come, thou shalt come. I put thee there by my choice, by my will, by my faith. Hang there.'
After that moment, that decisive moment in my life, I have ever reckoned that myself is on the cross, and that the death of Christ lies between me and it.
Whilst the Spirit of God, in the depth of your heart crucifies the SELF-LIFE, He makes Jesus Christ a living, bright reality. He fixes your thoughts upon Jesus. You do not think about the Spirit, you hardly think about the Spirit, you hardly think about self, but you think much about your Lord.
O man and woman, forgive me ! It is a very broken, bfoken way of putting the deepest mystery of the Bible, but I can only ask that the holy spirit may make you know what it is to have Jesus as the centre and origin of your life The fountain and origin, hitherto, has been SELF, has it not? Oh, cursed SELF! Barabbas, Barabbas, to the cross! The world says: 'Not Christ, but Barabbas - SELF.' The Christian says: 'Not Barabbas, but Christ' May God explain this to you for His name sake!"
Of Dr. C. I. SCOFIELD his biographer, C. G. Trumbull, writes: -
The secret of Dr. Scofield's `Victorious Life' is the same aud only secret of the Victorious Life of every believer, wherever such victory is experienced :- he 'let go and he let God' He did not try to add his efforts to God's finished and perfect work. He yeilded and believed and the Captain of his Salvation, instantly making him more than conqueror, led him in triumph. . . . Although, as a pastor in Dallas for several years, God had greatly blessed him in his own life, - and in his studies in the Word, to himself and to others - he had not yet entered into the New Testament teaching of the life of power and victory.
The light broke in through a study of the threefold experience of the Apostle Paul. Beginning as a SELF-SATISFIED, SELF- RIGHTEOUS legalist, Paul met Jesus on the Damascus-road and became a justified man; but still a man under the defeats recorded in the seventh of Romans. Passing, then, into the marvellous victories of eighth of Romans, it was plain that Paul ascribed these victories (Rom. viii. 2) to the new life in Christ Jesus, as energised' and made effectual through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The eager seeker found that great chapter athrill with the Spirit. Passing over the parenthetic nineth, tenth, and eleventh chapters, to the twelfth - the true continuation of the eighth - he found the disclosure of the, step into Victory - and not victory over the adamic SELF merely, but into the whole life of fruitful service and fulness of joy. The new act of faith demanded the presentation (of yielding) of the body; demanded not only the cessation of conscious resistance to Christ, but also the acceptance of the Christ-life plan as one of sacrifice. A life longer to serve self but Christ The thing demanded was an act, as definite as the act of faith in which the new life began.
When this was perceived, the answer in Scofield's soul was 'Obedience' From That moment a new experience of fruitful service and of inner blessing began."
"To one who asked GEORGE MULLER the secret of his service, he replied:
"There was a day when I DIED;' and, as he spoke, he bent lower, until he almost touched the floor. Continuing, he added, Died to George Muller his opininons, perferences, tastes, and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame even of my brethren or friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God.'"
Age is no limit to this experience of "Christ the life." Circumstances,- position or possessions, plenty or poverty, education or illiteracy, prove no barrier to the blessedness of this experience. Willingness to conform to the divine condition of "dyin with Him" is the alone necessity. And so it is we find that, even in regard to this "deepest mystery in the Bible," a little child may lead us.
It is recorded by Mr. Handley Bird, Mission ary in Madras, that at ten years of age his little daughter "Carol" had the knowledge, and experienced the blessedness, of being "dead with Christ." In the story of her life Mr. Bird tells us that: When she was but tea years old, dear Carol had great longings to be holy and like her Lord. She became very sensitive of little ways and words that were not lovely and sought earnestly for deliverance from SELF and every exhibition old Carol.... We often spent long evenings over the word, speaking together of the one way of deliverance from sin and SELF, therein so clearly revealed, - present salvation, here and now, through the death of Jesus for us and through our union with Him in that death.
The sixth chapter of Romans, and similar scriptures, were read and prayed over, until the truth of the experience of Gal. ii. 20 was realised : `I have been crucified with Christ.' Of the very real and blessed experience, at this period, of which her mother thus speaks, we have a sweet record in the fly-leaf of her Bible: `I truly DIED with Jesus, and I put away my old Carol on the cross with Him on the 4th of October, 1903, and I mean to live, by His help for Him all my life, Not I, But Christ. This was not when I was converted.' Fifteen months later came the outward `burial' in her baptism at Teethul, near Bombay, on January 2nd, 1905, - a very solemn and happy event in her spiritual life.. . . Never before had we so realised the force of the words of the Sufferer in the midst of HIS dread Baptism: `Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me.' To Carol it was a season of holy delight. Her record in the end of her Bible under this date reads: `Old Carol was once for all buried with Christ in baptism on the 2nd of January. 1905 Bulsar."
Appropriately, we may add the following verses, which were cherished amongst Carol's treasures"
"Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and DIE, it abideth alone: but if it DIE, it bringeth forth much fruit."
"And DIE? And DIE?
Be buried, planted, sown,
In the fearsome dark alone?
Ah, Lord, it is a better word
My soul hath heard!
Much fruit' I fain would bear:
But this! canst Thou not spare -
The cross, the grave, the night?
O leave me light!
Is there no other way?
I love the day.
Hush, my beloved,
Come closer to my heart,
That love may strength impart.
`Tis an eternal word
Thy soul hath heard.
It is a royal way -
God's way, Life's way, Love's way.
I could not spare it ME,
Nor can I thee.
Wilt bide for aye `alone'
Or for Love's sake be `sown'?"
This is the vital question. It is very personal.
Let it be repeated -
"Wilt (thou) bide for aye `alone,'
Or for Love's sake be `sown'?"
BISHOP TAYLOR SMITH in an opening address at a Keswick convention has told us how "the question" came to him.
"How well I remember," he said, "on my way to the lake on one occasion many years ago, Mr. Grubb coming up to me and saying: `Brother, are you willing ta be crucified? Are you willing to DIE, for, if you are not, you are no good? You can do nothing until you are dead." 'Except a corn o wheat fall into the ground and DIE it abideth alone.' So said the Master, Who was the Soil-less Seed in the garner of heaven, and we were the seedless soil, poor fallen humanity, and He was willing to be sown in our flash that He might bring forth the redeemed to people heaven. And we, following in His steps, must DIe unto sin if we would be raised to newness of life and share the glory which He has promised."
0 Cross, that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee:
I lay in dust life's glory DEAD,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be."
Pause now and think! Doubtless you have sung these wordsÄperhaps quite frequently-
"I lay in dust Life's glory DEAD."
Have you truly done so? Then the question is quite in order, "When did you DIE?"
IF, hitherto, these worth have only been to you a sentimental or a superficial song, realising now their vital importance, will you not make them to become a solemn, a sober and a sweet reality, and do it NOW!
I lay in dust Life's glory DEAD,"
Then shall you find that
"from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be."
THE SOUL'S RESPONSE,
(Ruth i. 16, 17.)
He said: "Wilt thou go with Me
Where shadows eclipse the light?
And she answered : "My Lord, I will follow Thee
Far under the stars of night."
But He said : " No starlight pierces the gloom
Of the valley thy feet must tread;
But it leads thee on to a cross and tomb - "
"But I go with Thee," she said.
. . . . .
"Count the cost - canst thou pay thr price, -
be as a dumb thing led;
Laid on an altar of sacrifice?"
"Bind me there my Lord" she said.
"Bind, that I may not fail -
Or hold with Thy wounded hand;
For I fear the knife and the piercing nail,
and I shrink from the burning brand,
Yet whither Thou goest I will go,
Though the way be lone and dread -"
His voice was tender, and sweet, and low, -
"Thou shalt go with Me," He said.
And none knew the anguish sore
Or the night of the way she came;
Alone, alone with the cross she bore,
Alone in her grief and shame.
Brought to the altar of sacrifice,
There as a dumb thing slain:
Was the guerdon more than the bitter price?
Was it worth the loss and pain?
Ask the seed-corn, when the grain
Ripples its ripened gold;
Ask the sower when, after toil and pain,
He garners the hundred-fold.
HE said (and His voice was glad and sweet)
Was it worth the cost, My own?"
And she answered, low at His pierced feet,
"I found at the end of the patkway lone
NOT DEATH, BUT LIFE ON A THRONE!"
"If it DIE it bringeth forth much fruit."
`IF IT DIE!"
"All through life I see a cross,
Where sons of God yield up their breath
There is no gain except by loss,
There is no life EXCEPT BY DEATH."
(WALTER C. SMITH, D.D.)