Reading: Rom. 8:9-25.
In our previous meditation we dealt with the purpose of the cosmos and the nature of the cosmos. Now we shall consider the third thing which Christ embodies:
3. The Redemption of the Cosmos
This passage in the letter to the Romans is one of several in the New Testament which deal immediately and directly with the matter of cosmic redemption: "the whole creation". That is a very comprehensive phrase. "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain...". The creation itself was subjected to vanity, and is to be delivered from bondage. That is cosmic redemption.
Perhaps you are wondering what is the object of our being called to this meditation. The point is this: that the Lord Jesus personally is the embodiment of everything in the thought, the mind, and will of God for this universe, that the whole universe in its purpose, and its nature, is gathered up into Him personally and the knowledge of God, the knowledge of God's mind, the knowledge of all that that mind contains for the universe, and for ourselves as a part thereof, both as to nature and purpose and everything else, is simply and definitely a matter of the knowledge of the Lord Jesus. The whole Bible is but a many-sided presentation of Christ. It is full of Christ in many parts, in divers manners, we might even say thousands of sidelights (and yet perhaps the phrase is not good enough, because these are direct reflections, indications, suggestions of Christ). It is Christ that is the revelation of the whole Scripture.
The Bible is not full of many subjects that we can take up. The Bible is not full of many themes, so that we can take up this theme, and that theme, and some other theme. The Bible has only one subject, and only one theme. It may be made up of many parts, you may approach it from many standpoints, but there is only one subject in the Bible - everything concerns the Lord Jesus. As you come to the Bible and read (whether it be in Genesis or Exodus or Leviticus or in any other part) you have to take that and say, "Now, what is it in this part of the Scripture which is a part of Christ? What is the part of Christ revealed here? How does this explain Christ? What does this show Christ to be? What does this indicate as to what Christ is?" So it must all be brought in relation to Him, and He must be its interpreter. He must explain it. Then we leave subjects and themes as such, and we are all the time occupied with the Lord Jesus, and, when we are focussed on Him, the Holy Spirit has His ground for illumination. When we deal with subjects and themes we deal with them, and the Holy Spirit leaves us to deal with them, and we find that they become dry and more or less dead and technical; full of information for the mind, but not very much real illumination and spiritual Life. But when we bring everything into relation to the Lord Jesus Himself, the Holy Spirit has His ground, because the eyes of the Father and the Spirit are upon the Son all the time, to reveal Him. That is an important thing to remember. So we take up the Word, right from the very first statement, and see that from the first statement to the last, in some way Christ is in view from the Divine standpoint, and it is for us to see in what way that relates to the Lord Jesus and is a revelation of Him. He embodies and embraces everything in this universe from the standpoint of the Divine intention, both as to its nature, its order, and its purpose.
So you find that Christ is a Personal Order, as we have already said. The whole order, or Divine system of things, is embodied in Christ. You begin to look at the Lord Jesus, and wonder why He acted as He did, or refused to act as He did refuse, and you will begin to see that He is governed by something outside of the present order of this world. There was an order among men. Men wanted Him to conform to that recognised and accepted order. He absolutely refused to do so. He stood outside of that order, and refused to be brought into it. He was the embodiment of another order outside of the present order in this world; that is, as to what He should do, and when He should do it. He refused to come under the mind of man as to His life and conduct.
We have to see the spiritual nature of that. It simply amounts to this: a spiritual mind and a spiritual government; and as a part of that Man at the centre of this (in this passage in Romans), the sons of God led by the Spirit of God. The Son of God, and the sons of God, led by the Spirit of God, not conformed to this age. Christ is the embodiment of that.
Why is there an order in the church? What is the nature of the order in the church? How is that order to be brought into operation in a living way? The order of the church, as we have it in the New Testament, is not some organisation of the church. It is simply Christ as representing a perfect system, a perfect harmony, a perfect balance, a symmetry, a fitness, expressed. Here is an order in heaven, which accounts for heaven's restfulness, heaven's peacefulness, heaven's power, strength, fulness. No one in heaven ever thinks for one instant of doing anything for themselves, in their own interests, from a personal motive; therefore you can have fulness. Everyone in heaven has the whole interest of God at heart, and has lost their own personal interest in the whole. Corporate life in heaven is perfect. It is the perfection of corporate life in expression. The Lord said to His disciples (not to anybody, willy-nilly), "After this manner pray ye... Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth". That prayer was a prayer for the church, it is not a stereotyped prayer to be taken held of and continually repeated. It represents a principle. It is, in effect, the order which obtains in heaven, let that obtain here! That can only be on the ground of redemption, because the order which is in heaven has been entirely destroyed and upset here, and there has to be the fruit of redemption here before a heavenly order can be recovered here on the earth.
This very passage in Romans relates to that. You see it in two ways.
Firstly, it relates to ourselves, "who have the first fruits of the Spirit". We are those who are led by the spirit, who have the mind of the Spirit. Among us there can be, and should be, an expression of the heavenly order.
Secondly, as to the whole cosmos; that is, a coming day when the creation itself is delivered from the bondage of corruption. Then the whole earth will express the heavenly order. But that is future.
A heavenly and a spiritual order! We have called it the corporate in perfection: no personal interest, no thought for self, but everyone for the whole (not just for the other, but for the whole), because in the whole God is able to express Himself and does express Himself; there God is manifest. So everyone lives and works for the whole unto God, for the glory of God. The whole motive of heaven is the glory of God.
Christ personally is the embodiment of that whole heavenly order and system. How is it to come to the church? Not by taking the Bible - Old Testament or New Testament, or both - and trying to copy some system that you see written there. That is not the way. The way in which it is to come in is that Christ should have the absolute Lordship in every heart, that Christ should have full and growing place. When Christ comes into His place you begin to find that the heavenly order spiritually operates, and things become spontaneous - the outworking of the fact that Christ is Lord. Everything begins with the Headship of Christ, the Lordship of Christ, and when that is apprehended and established, then spontaneously a heavenly order of things begins to operate. He is the embodiment of it. Have Christ and you have everything.
What is true in the matter of an order is true in the matter of a
nature, the nature that God intended. What does it mean to be
according to God's mind in nature? Is it to see that this and
that, and some other, or a hundred and one moral virtues and
elements of God have to be striven after piecemeal? Do we see that
a certain standard of honour is according to God, and we must
strive to attain unto that standard of honour? Do we see that
Divine nature is like this, and then we have it as a model and we
are going to work for it? That is not the living way. The living
way, the sure way, is Christ: Christ within, with a right place,
and a full place, and a whole response on our part to what Christ
within indicates, is the way. It is spontaneous.
God has put His universe into Christ according to His own mind - an order, a nature, and a purpose - and then He has put that universe inside of us, "Christ in you, the hope of glory", or, as Paul puts it, we "who have the earnest of the Spirit". The earnest is the security of the whole, the assurance that the whole will follow. It is the beginning of things, but in the very beginning there is embodied the whole potentially. The universe is to be within us when Christ comes in, when the Spirit comes in. Everything is made possible by Christ being introduced into our being as God's universe of order and nature and purpose.
Then the question of responsibility arises, and responsibility becomes purely a matter of walking in the Spirit, being led by the Spirit.
The issue of that is ultimately cosmic redemption. But we have
cosmic redemption in the earnest of the Spirit. Do you recognise
what this passage says? It says that the creation itself, to
be delivered from the bondage of corruption, is bound up with our
having the earnest of the Spirit because it is bound up with the
sons of God. The sons of God, who have the spirit of God, crying,
"Abba, Father!" are led by the Spirit, and one day will be
manifested and when they are manifested, simultaneously the
creation will be delivered from the bondage of corruption. So that
cosmic redemption is all implicit in Christ in us, by the Spirit,
just as the fulness of our redemption is implicit in that.
Only one part of our redemption becomes immediately literal when Christ comes in and that is the redemption of our spirit; the redemption of our soul and our body is still future. Potentially, of course, it is all accomplished, but you and I have not the full redemption of our soul now experimentally, it is being wrought in and will be consummated. And we certainly have not the redemption of the body, but having the earnest of the Spirit the body may know what is going to be. Every time you and I, by a touch of that Spirit of Life rise up physically, experience physical quickening, we are knowing the earnest of our inheritance, the resurrection body. Do not carry that too far and say we are getting a resurrection body now, either in whole or progressively. We are not. Unless the Lord comes, death will claim these bodies. If He comes before that time, we shall be changed. But there is such a thing as another Kingdom operating now.
That is really where our whole outlook begins, but we shall not get further with that now in this meditation, as to the meaning of cosmic redemption out of the power of Satan. We shall follow that up again, but we are just now going round the central thing in this way, to indicate that Christ has everything for this universe in its redemption, embodied in Himself, and when Christ is in us, there is the earnest of cosmic or universal redemption. It has to begin in man. It has begun in us. The issue of that is complete redemption. Oh, it is a great day to look forward to, when our souls shall be redeemed. Peter says: "receiving the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls". It will be a great day when every feeling will be completely redeemed, separated from evil, and what is personal - every reasoning, every thought will be like that, every motive, emotion, action, determination and resolution will be completely separated from the touch of evil, of ruin, of a fallen nature or a personal interest.
Do not think it is the Lord's intention that we shall not have souls. Not at all. The great day will be the redemption of the soul, the salvation of the soul, in that realm in which the devil has his footing, his grip, in this creation. It is by the desires, and the reasonings, and the willings of the creation that the devil sets his ends now, and it is there that we have our battles. Our trouble is our soul. You may think that your main trouble is your body. It is your soul and the real burden is not so much the burden of the body as it is the soul.
Take it simply in the matter of our ups and downs. How uncertain are our souls! One day, for some reason or other, we feel well up, and that we shall never go down again. We feel we are on the highway. The next day we are as miserable as sin, down in the depths. And we can never know from one day to another exactly how we are going to be. What a trouble these souls of ours are! We come to a point where we think that now we believe we shall never doubt again, and before the week is out, our minds are simply full of dark questions on the things which we believed we could never question again. That is our soul.
The Lord is working in us the salvation of our souls, bringing us steadily to know that that is our souls, and we have to take hold of them and not be taken hold of by them, and say, "Now, you come with me, I am not going with you!" That is being strong in spirit, so that we do not allow our souls to carry us away. In that way we are being delivered, and our souls are being brought over, being won. The course of spiritual life should be that we are less variable as we go on with the Lord; that we are stable, that we are less swayed by our feelings, thoughts and reasonings. That is the working out of redemption, but I suppose if we stayed here a thousand years there would still be something to be done in that realm. But, blessed be God, the day is coming when these souls of ours shall know the fulness of redemption, and there will never be another suggestion or sign of unevenness - no losing balance, no swinging from side to side, but there will be a steady, sure, unwavering course for eternity, a soul completely redeemed.
Then the same thing will work out in the body. The body is going to be redeemed, that will be a great day. It will be a real body, as surely as the Lord had a body after His resurrection, but with a difference. All that is in Christ, God's Universe, and He is the explanation and the interpretation of everything.
Our business here is just to learn Christ, to know Christ. You know everything that is in the Bible when you know Christ. Always keep Christ before the Lord, and your attitude will be, "Now, I do not want to know this thing, I do not want to know what this means, and what that means in itself, but I want to know what there is of Christ in this. Where does Christ come in? What has this to do with Christ? Lord, show me Christ in this!" You will find it a wonderful thing to always keep on that line, because everything is in Him, and He is everything. So, from start to finish, it is just a matter of Christ.
Go through the Word with that, and remember God's great, inclusive, comprehensive and conclusive book of revelation is Jesus Christ Himself. Everything that ever God intended you and me to know, to be, to do, is in Christ. There is so much more than we see lying behind that little phrase which Paul uses, "in Christ Jesus".