by T. Austin-Sparks
Where shall we begin when we want to consider the revelation of the
heart of God in Jesus Christ in those years? "God so loved the
world." Think of John's usage of the very term "Father." That is a
new revelation, for the most part, to humanity. It comes in in a
fulness and depth of meaning in the New Testament which is quite
fresh. The heart of God is laid bare in the Lord Jesus. Oh yes, to
the shame of us Christians so often, to my shaming, perhaps to
yours, our attitude towards sinners, the discredited, the
loathsome, the repulsive, the antagonistic, the rejecting, the
despising, the malicious, so often, is such a different attitude
from His. What an attitude He took. Without condoning sin, and never
justifying evil, nevertheless, He went on with a love and a
forbearance and a patience and a yearning that, I say, shames us.
One has a reason and an object in view in saying this, to which we
are working in a minute. And then, of course, His three and a half
years were for the manifestation of the power of God, the mighty
works of God which were wrought by Him and through Him. The power of
God was clearly set forth and administered by Him. Men had very
ample opportunity of seeing the power of God manifested through Him.
Of course, the appreciation of men, carnal men, worldly men, lies
very largely within their own realm of what is physically
demonstrated. They cannot appreciate spiritual power in the
spiritual realm. But the power of God was displayed to them in the
realm where they could recognise it. All manner of sicknesses and
infirmities, as well as power over nature, power over temporal
conditions, power in many realms, and, of course, power in the
spiritual realm, but man could not go that far; but these years were
occupied with the display of the Father's power, mainly in the
behalf of man for his good and blessing and benefit. Well, that is
all very clear, I think.
But what about the third phase, the forty days? It is a testing phase. It has a meaning of its own, and it was unto the establishing of the fact and nature of the perfect redemption which He had accomplished for man in spirit and soul and body. The record is that "by many infallible proofs" He appeared unto them - was made known unto them - after His resurrection. There was the establishment first of all of the fact that He was risen, the fact that Christ who had died was alive. Read in Acts 17:31 "God hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained."
Here in the resurrection you have - while God, very God - yet Man in a state of perfect redemption where the whole man is represented in his completely redeemed state. The forty days represent man in Christ as God intends man to be. Why does He call attention to Himself as He does, "Handle me and see: a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have." "Reach hither thy hand and put it into my side" - "feel these hands, it is I myself - handle me and see." Why is it? And yet that body, that humanity, which could be handled, felt, touched, could pass through doors that were bolted, and be found at great distances in a moment of time. That is not a spirit, this is a spiritual body. There is all the difference between a spirit and a spiritual body. We are not going to be disembodied spirits floating, about in the air. We are going to have glorified bodies, and here is the earnest, here is the type, here is the representation.
Forty days is the Bible probation period which is always intended to issue in glory. Forty years for Israel ought, in the purpose of God, to have issued in Canaan. His forty days were a probation period for manifestation ere He entered into glory:- the manifestation, the establishment of the fact and nature of redemption for man, which He had accomplished and which He gathered up in His own Person as representing man fully redeemed, spirit, soul, and body. That is why Christ spent thirty years, three and a half years, and forty days here on the earth.
Now then, what has that to do with the Holy Spirit? Beloved, why did the Holy Spirit come? We said, to take Christ's place here. In other words, the Holy Spirit is here to inwardly work towards that in the believer:- as the Spirit of the glorified Christ, to bring to birth, so to speak, Christ within. The One who fully forms Christ in that believer, and conforms that believer to the image of Christ until, apart from His Deity and His Godhead, there is a manifestation of Christ glorified in every believer in the consummation of the redemptive activity of God. That is the Holy Spirit's purpose in being here. To take up Christ in the completeness of His work and Person as Son of Man glorified, and work toward that in every believer. But go back over the ground. The Holy Spirit is here in relation to the thirty years to bring Christ glorified into a vital relationship to us, a vital relationship; there is the spiritual counterpart of the thirty years. "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit" and the Holy Spirit is here to link Christ with us and us with Christ in a vital oneness and relationship so that it is "Christ in us" and "Christ our life." You cannot have anything more utter than that. Christ our life. There is the relationship. It does not mean He loses His personality or His individual identity, but it does mean that He links Himself with us and us with Himself in new birth so that we are one, and we can say "I am His and He is mine for ever," the oneness is absolute.
Then the Holy Spirit is here also in relation to the purpose of the three and a half years, the manifestation of the mind of God in the believer:- taking of the heavenly, the Divine things, and showing them. There is no knowledge of God in reality, apart from the Holy Spirit. There is no knowledge of the mind of God without the Holy Spirit. But He has come that within us there might be a revelation of the Father's mind in Jesus Christ. Says the apostle John, "The anointing which you have received abideth in you and ye have no need that any man should teach you, the anointing in you teacheth you all things." "He that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit." The revelation inwardly of the mind of God is the work of the Holy Spirit, "He shall take of mine and reveal it unto you." "He shall not speak of Himself but whatsoever He shall hear that shall He speak" "All things that the Father hath are mine, therefore said I, he shall take of mine and shew it unto you." You see it is the Father's things given to Christ, taken by the Holy Spirit and revealed to us:- the mind, the love. Oh, let us stay here in heart if we cannot in word, stay here in heart for this is where we need the Holy Spirit, if we need the Holy Spirit anywhere. A revelation of the Father's heart. The Holy Spirit has come as the Spirit of Christ glorified, to take up that object of His being here, and work that object out now, not as merely a public historic testimony, but as an inward spiritual reality, "the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost." It is the work of the Holy Spirit to do that, and there is no love that is truly the love of God, and will stand the test and go all the way that God's love goes without the Holy Spirit, but given the Holy Spirit love becomes almost, I was going to say - omnipotent, given the Holy Spirit there is little impossible in the realm of love: but oh, we know so little of that. That is why I am talking about the need of the Holy Spirit; but if you and I need one thing more than anything else, it is more of that love of God shed abroad in the heart, poured forth in the heart by the Holy Spirit. We will have to come back to that again before we are through, I think.
Then the third thing concerning the three and a half years - the power of God. This again is a thing to be considered by itself, but we merely mention it in this connection. "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send Him unto you." "But if I go away." What is bound up for us in the coming of the Spirit? "The works that I do shall ye do and greater than these shall ye do, because I go to the Father." This is, in effect, because in My going the Holy Spirit comes! "And greater works than these shall ye do." How? Why? In as much as the spiritual and eternal are greater than the physical and the temporal, in that degree the greater works are wrought by you in the power of the Holy Spirit. They could not appreciate that in those days. Whether it takes more power to say 'Rise, take up thy bed and walk' or 'Thy sins be forgiven thee' - 'But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power to forgive sins' - a sign of that greater thing - "He said to the sick of the palsy, 'Rise, take up thy bed.'" It was a sign of greater power in the spiritual realm. It is a far greater thing to raise the spiritually dead than the physically dead; a far greater thing to open spiritually blind eyes than the natural. The physically raised from the dead will die again, those who are blind physically may have their eyes opened and be given their sight, but it is only for three-score years and ten "and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow." The opening of spiritually deaf ears is greater than opening naturally deaf ears. "Greater works than these shall ye do because I go to the Father." 'The Holy Spirit is coming to do in the spiritual realm what I have been doing in three and a half years as only a sign.' Well, they passed from that realm to a realm where everything was heavenly, everything spiritual, where God was no longer going to do things to judge and condemn doubly an unbelieving race.
"Greater works... because I go to the Father." You see the power of God is to be manifested by the Holy Spirit in the higher realm of spiritual resurrection, enlightenment, quickening, and all those counterpart activities of what Christ did in the three and a half years. The Spirit is here to take up the three and a half years, but He is also here to take up the forty days. Oh no, not to give us glorified or spiritualised bodies now, but, beloved, if the Holy Spirit does not come inside and begin to make us spiritual men and women, with a spiritual mind and spiritual apprehension and spiritual sensibilities, senses and faculties, and develop them, you may take it for granted you will never have a spiritual body. It will take a spiritual inner man to have a spiritual outer man. "And to every seed its own body." The seed of the resurrection body is the New Man, the Christ within, and that man is being formed now. As Paul prayed, "My little children for whom I travail again till Christ be fully formed in you." That forming of Christ within, and that conforming to the image of Christ is the Spirit's movement toward clothing that inner new man with the heavenly body. "To every seed its own body." And the forty days represent that full model, pattern of God's glorified humanity towards which the Holy Spirit's incoming and activity is directed for every man.
Now that is all elementary and simple, for I said we would reduce it to a few concrete propositions. There are some basic primary facts which must be laid down once and for all by us, and in mentioning these perhaps we will close.
Firstly, salvation from the start to finish, from the first simple exercise of faith right on through all its course and development to the last touch of an instantaneous glorification, the whole from beginning to end is inseparable from the Lord Jesus in Person. That is a simple statement. You need not use as many words as I have used, put it in your own way. Salvation from the start to finish is inseparable from the Lord Jesus in Person. It is the "salvation which is in Christ Jesus" and there is none outside. That is the first thing that has got to be settled once and for all. You cannot come to the Lord Jesus as you would go to the grocer's shop and get salvation and take it away in a parcel. Forgive that way of putting it but some people talk about salvation as though it was some thing they got. We never get salvation as some thing, but as some One. The whole of salvation in every part and fragment is bound up with Christ in Person and you cannot separate the thing from Him. It is Christ, and not salvation as something in itself.
Secondly, Christ is the personal representative of God's new creation, that is, in resurrection. See Christ in resurrection and you see the personal representative in fulness of God's new creation, God's new creation man.
Thirdly, the Holy Spirit is the personal representative of Christ. They are one, He is the Spirit of Christ. As such, He is the Spirit of the new creation.
Now you put those three together before we go further and you see; salvation in its entirety is inseparable from Christ in Person. Christ is the representative of God's new creation: you have Christ, you have God's new creation, you have got all that is included in the new creation. The Holy Spirit is the personal representative of Christ; they are one, and He is the Spirit of the new creation; therefore, when we are saved, it is that the Holy Spirit has brought Christ as God's new creation into our hearts, the representative of God's new creation has come in, and from that moment everything is related to Christ within us, the Holy Spirit working in relation to Christ in us. And then finally, the new creation therefore, is all of God. If Christ is all of God, and the new creation is Christ dwelling within the renewed spirit, then the new creation has a new nature. That is not in our own selves, that is Christ, and that is Christ in our renewed spirit. Whether we live in the new or in the old depends upon whether we are living in the spirit or in the flesh; that opens up the whole of that realm of flesh and spirit. If we walk in the Spirit we shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh, but there is that indwelling Representative of God's new creation which is all and utterly of God in its nature. Yes, in mind, the mind of Christ; the heart, yes, the heart of Christ; the will, yes, the will of Christ, as the mind, heart and will of God were in Him now they are in us by the Holy Spirit. Divine disposition is there by the Holy Spirit as Personal Representative of Christ, it is there, a divine disposition.
Now as we have just said, everything for us from that time depends upon whether we are going to be utterly, absolutely surrendered to and governed by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, and let Him so work in us and we so co-operate with Him in His working in us that the mind which is the mind of the Lord, the heart which is the heart of the Lord, the will which is the will of the Lord, the disposition which is the disposition of the Lord, grows, transcending all the time the old mind, heart, will, disposition, and Christ thus being fully formed in us. That is new creation in Christ Jesus.
My emphasis at the moment is upon this, that the new creation is all of God, and in so far, beloved, as we are not all of God in mind, heart, will, disposition, or in any other way, in that degree we have come short of the full work of the Holy Spirit. Now that is not said to condemn or judge, for who on this earth can ever claim to have reached the fulness of the Holy Spirit's work in them? Not one of us here would make such a claim, but one says it in order to point out that when we come into evidence, with our mind, will, disposition, when we begin to allow that to assert itself, show itself, intrude itself, when we permit that in any way whatever, and do not immediately turn upon it in the power of Christ's death and repudiate it, in that measure we are not walking after the Spirit, in that measure we are failing to recognise this great thing, that the new creation is all of God. Oh, that we should immediately turn upon any kind of showing of ourselves and say "that is not of God," not excusing it, not covering it up, not saying that that is my weakness, infirmity, my temperament; no, that is not of God, that is not the new creation, that is not the Holy Spirit! That is the way we must deal with things. You and I must learn to deal with things thus and that is walking after the spirit. You find the Holy Spirit co-operates with that, for He has come as the Spirit of the glorified Christ. And what is that? Everything that cannot be glorified has to be put away by that cross, for God has never glorified the old man yet and the Spirit has not come in to glorify or excuse our old man, He has come in to do with him what Christ did with him in the cross, rule him out.
We have got a lot of work to do, haven't we? But remember this is the Spirit's way and while that may seem to be an appalling proposition from the positive side, beloved, "He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world." The Holy Spirit is mightier than our flesh. The Holy Spirit is mightier than the old man. Christ, by the Eternal Spirit gathered up all the old man of thousands of generations and proved more than a match, triumphant over all the power of fallen humanity; and the power of the Spirit, that Spirit of the glorified One is for us. To me it is tremendous that God has glorified man, a thing that He could not do with one man of all the teeming millions from Adam to Christ; He could never glorify a man until Christ came and put away that man for ever, and all the sin associated with him, and then arose as apart from Adam's humanity into a new humanity, God-glorified man, and He is the type and representative of the humanity that God will have when redemption has run its course. That is our hope, and that One is in us by the Holy Spirit. What hope - "Christ in you the hope of glory."