whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to
the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn
among many brethren" (Romans 8:29).
"He that descended is the same also that ascended
far above all the heavens, that he might fill all
things" (Ephesians 4:10).
"My little children, of whom I am again in
travail until Christ be fully formed in you"
"...to whom God was pleased to make known what is
the riches of the glory of this mystery among the
nations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory"
"...being made manifest that ye are an epistle of
Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with
the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but
in tables that are hearts of flesh" (2
It is very important for us to recognize just what those
last words are saying. What is the meaning of 2
Corinthians, chapter three and verse three? To begin
with, we can break it up into three things.
Firstly, it says that the Holy Spirit is writing a life
of Christ. Secondly, this writing of the life of Christ
is in the inner experience of believers. Thirdly, this
biography of Jesus Christ is for all men to read. Is that
perfectly clear? Well, let us break it up again.
begin with the parchment. You know that the New Testament
was written originally upon parchment. At one time the
Apostle Paul asked someone very particularly to bring his
parchments to him, and probably they were his epistles.
Now he says that the Holy Spirit is writing a life of
Christ on parchment, but this parchment is the inner life
of believers. He says: "Not in tables of
stone", and although he does not actually say so, he
means that it is not on parchment. The writing material
of the Holy Spirit is the inner life of believers. The
born-again believer has a new inner life upon which the
Holy Spirit can write, but the one who is not born again
is not suitable parchment for the Holy Spirit. The
Apostle said quite a lot about that in the first letter
to the Corinthians. "The natural man receiveth not
the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness
unto him; and he cannot know them" (1 Corinthians
2:14). In other words, the natural man is not suitable
writing material for the Holy Spirit, and it is only the
spiritual man who is suitable for the work of the Holy
The Lord Jesus said this to Nicodemus, who was very
familiar with the parchments of the Old Testament. He
knew all about those manuscripts, but the Lord Jesus told
him that he was not suitable material for the Holy
Spirit. He could not receive Him, and therefore he could
not understand what He was doing. The Lord Jesus told
him: 'You must be born again, for you must be a new man
to understand what the Holy Spirit is saying.'
This new man is made alive to the Holy Spirit and is
sensitive to Him. We have here a tape recorder, and all
that is being said is being received because the tape is
sensitive. If anyone coughs in this meeting we shall hear
it for months, and perhaps for years to come! So it is
with the spirit of the new man in Christ. The Holy Spirit
is writing a life of Christ, and I do trust that we are
all going to be very sensitive to Him in these days.
WHICH IS BEING WRITTEN
thing that we note is that the spiritual experiences of
believers are a repetition of the life of Jesus Christ,
and it is upon that statement that our morning meetings
this week will be founded. It may take you some time to
understand it, but I do want you to recognise what this
word is saying. The Holy Spirit is writing a biography of
Jesus Christ, and it is a spiritual biography, written in
the spiritual life and experience of believers. All that
which was true of the Lord Jesus, excepting His deity, is
going to be written in our spiritual experience. That is
a tremendous statement! And it is going to be a
tremendous thing to recognise. You have spiritual
experiences, things come into your spiritual history; but
if you understand what the Holy Spirit is doing, you
should realise that He is writing something about the
Lord Jesus, and that something that was true of the Lord
Jesus is being reproduced in you.
You will recall the passages which we read:
"Foreordained to be conformed to the image of his
Son... Christ fully formed in you... that he might fill
all things." Our spiritual life belongs to the
"all things", and your spirit is one of the
Let me repeat: The Holy Spirit is now writing a
biography, the life of Christ, in the spiritual history
of the Lord's people.
THE BASIS OF ALL GOD'S WORK
great thing about the Lord Jesus was His Sonship, and the
Holy Spirit is writing sonship in us. Remember that
sonship always relates to God's purpose, for it is the
beginning and the end of His purpose, which is in
humanity. While Jesus Christ, as Son of God, is God
Himself, sonship relates to humanity. It is in the
incarnation of the Lord Jesus that His Sonship is
manifested. You see, I am leaving deity aside, for the
deity of the Lord Jesus is not something that will be
reproduced in us, but, leaving His deity aside, the Holy
Spirit is writing His sonship in us. The little fragment
that we read said: "That he might be the firstborn
among many brethren", and by new birth we receive
the gift of sonship.
So, sonship is the basis of all God's work. It begins in
Jesus Christ, and then it is carried on in the born-again
TESTIMONY OF JESUS
use the word 'testimony' in relation to the Lord Jesus.
The 'testimony of Jesus' is used in various ways, but it
is not a system of doctrine. It is the continuation of
the life of Jesus. You can have the doctrine of the
testimony and not be an example of the life of Jesus. Our
basic word says that we, as living epistles, are to be
read and known of all men, but WHAT are all men to
read and know? Is it a system of doctrine? Is it a form
of Christianity? It is not one of the many things that
are said about it, but just Christ going on living in His
people. We sing:
be the glory, risen, conqu'ring Son!"
and we put everything on that! He is the risen, glorious
Son of God, reliving His life, by the Holy Spirit, in us.
Perhaps that is not very encouraging to us, but that is
because we are trying to get it all at once. No, this is
a whole lifework of the Holy Spirit, and then, after this
life, there is that wonderful parenthesis, that interval
between this life and the next when we shall all be
changed. So we are back at the beginning:
"Foreordained to be conformed to the image of his
Son", and we are being "changed into his
likeness" (2 Corinthians 3:18). That is going on
through this life - or, it ought to be! - and then there
comes the interval when we leave his world and we awake
in His likeness.
So the testimony of Jesus in this world is not only that
Jesus is alive, but He is alive in us.
Now let me repeat: The life of the believer is intended
to be the history of Jesus Christ rewritten. "Ye are
an epistle" - or a biography.
SCHOOL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
us with two things. It brings us into the school of the
Holy Spirit, where we are learning our lessons, but we
are not learning them from a book. We are learning them
by what the Holy Spirit is doing in us, which means that
when we are in His hands everything that comes into our
spiritual history has in it a lesson about Jesus Christ.
So the second thing is that we have to look at our
experiences and ask: 'What have I to learn about Christ
in this? In what way does this experience provide the
Holy Spirit with an opportunity of teaching me something
about Jesus Christ?' Sometimes we cannot understand what
the Lord is doing with us! We cannot see the meaning of
an experience, but if we are really in the hands of the
Holy Spirit, our experiences are going to lead us on to
know the Lord better. Therefore we must not reject our
experiences; we must not think of them as unnecessary, we
must not rebel against them, we must not think that they
have no meaning, but we must take every experience into
the presence of the Lord and say: 'Now, Lord, You must
teach me what You mean by letting me have this
experience.' That is the foundation of this ministry:
learning Christ, but not just in our heads. You may have
your heads and your notebooks full of information this
week, but it has to go down deeper. The New Testament
speaks about "the eyes of your heart"
So often at the beginning of a conference people come to
us with a lot of problems and questions and they would
like to take all our time getting answers to their
problems and questions. They are not always very pleased
when we say: 'Wait until the end of the conference, and
perhaps you will have no more questions to ask!' If the
Holy Spirit is with us He is going to enlighten the eyes
of our hearts, and we are going to see with our hearts.
That is the best way to see, and the only way.
You know, a mother sees in one way, and a woman who has
had no children sees in another. When our eldest daughter
was a little baby she was in her pram, crying very
loudly, and a lady came along and said: 'What is the
matter with her?' She had not got a wedding ring on. My
wife said: 'Oh, she is tired', and the good lady said:
'Well, why does she not go to sleep, then?' The mother
understands what someone who has not the heart
relationship cannot understand.
The best knowledge is heart knowledge. That word:
"The eyes of your heart" is sometimes
translated: "The eyes of your understanding",
and understanding is the best knowledge.
Now have you got this clear at the beginning? You see,
during this conference I am going over the life of Christ
and will take up a number of His experiences and will try
to show you how those experiences are reproduced in
believers so that we become the living biography of Jesus
Christ, for that is what those words mean.
I would like you to think about this. The four Gospels
have a literal biography of Jesus Christ, but they were
written AFTER the epistles. They tell us of the
earthly life of the Lord Jesus, but when you have that
you have not got everything. Indeed, you have only a very
little. The epistles were written in order to show us
that all that which was in the Gospels has to be made
real in us. I have always had a question about going to
the Holy Land! If you do not agree with me, well, that
does not matter! But, you know, I have been to the Holy
Land spiritually. I have seen so much of it in my inner
life. I do not need to go to Mount Calvary, for I
understand much more of Calvary by not having gone there.
I need not go up to the high mountain of the
Transfiguration, for I have seen that in my heart. All
these things that happened to the Lord Jesus only
happened in a temporal way, in order to lay the
foundation. The Holy Spirit had not come down then, so in
the Gospels He was only writing a historic life of Jesus.
He was not writing the inner spiritual experience of that
history. That is what He came down to do, and that is
very much better than going to Palestine. Well, go to
Palestine if you want to, but remember that the Holy
Spirit has come to write Palestine in us, and we are
going to think about that this week, if the Lord helps
Are you clear about what I have tried to say? "Ye
are an epistle [or biography] of Christ... written not
with ink... not in tables of stone", and we may add,
'not on sheets of parchment, not by the finger of man,
but by the Spirit of God, who is writing upon the tables
which are hearts of flesh'. Does that give you a new idea
about what is happening? Remember, then, that if you are
in the hands of the Holy Spirit, He is trying to write
the life of Jesus Christ in you so that all may be able
The Christians in the early days were known by different
names. They were known as Christians, and by other names,
but one of the names by which they became known
everywhere was: 'The people of the way.' I wonder where
that name came from, and how people got that idea? Was it
the Christians' different way of life? Yes, perhaps so.
Was it their teaching and their practice? Yes, perhaps.
But was it because Jesus said: "I am the way",
and the Christians were going the way of Christ, and
people saw that they were going that way? Perhaps that
was what it was, and that is what it is meant to be.
These people were going the way of Jesus Christ, and not
trying to follow His example. That may be important, but
they were going that way because the Holy Spirit in them
was taking them that way. The Lord Jesus was driven into
the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. There is, or should
be, in us an inward urge to go in a certain way, and that
way is the way of the Lord Jesus - and in that way we
learn Christ. We are 'People of the Way'.