The Cross, and the Unity of Vision and Ministry in the Church
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 2 - Soul-Sacrifice the Principle of Unity in the Ministry of the Church

(Notes of an address given at the February Conference.)
 
"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it in abundance." (John 10:10.)

The thief comes with a very definite purpose. He comes to steal; he comes to kill; and he comes to destroy. You do not need to be told who the thief is. The thief is the devil. The one who would rob God of His glory, and of His purpose, and of His sheep, if that were possible. But there is a very precious word in this same chapter, "Neither shall any one pluck them out of My hand."

But the devil is not playing at things. He is a desperate being and out for desperate ends; but opposed to his desperation is the zeal of the Lord of Hosts. The antithesis to that desperate energy of the devil is the more than equally zealous energy of the Holy Ghost, the outgoings of Omnipotent Love, the passion of God by the Holy Spirit. And the only thing that can meet the devil is this passion of God. The passion of God met him in the blood, and overcame him. In the blood of Jesus there was released the energy of the eternal passion. We need to recognise that the soul of Jesus was the soul of One Who made God actual in this world by an Incarnation; and that behind His soul was the Eternal Spirit as the Spring of it; and that His soul was a constituent manifestation, through the blood in a body here on earth, of the eternal being of God. When the blood was shed that soul was poured out; and there was released in the universe the divine energy; yet the divine energy in another form, not in the form of omnipotence, but in a form that seemed to be weakness, nevertheless in an invisible might that you and I cannot discern, except by revelation, and then only in part. For it was the impact of almighty God through the blood of Jesus that met the devil. God was in the Christ. You see, you have something that has met this desperate purpose of Satan. And the only thing that can meet the desperate purpose of Satan in you and me is that same power that was in the Lord Jesus, and is now in us, by virtue of what He wrought. It is the zeal of the Lord of Hosts. It is very important to recognise that these are not pictures. The Lord has not given these parables for the sake of our imagination; but He is really trying to unveil the desperate issues that are behind the scenes with regard to the eternal purpose of God in the church. No member of the church, therefore, can afford to be complacent, or to be haphazard, or to be easy-going.

"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. Now I am come that they may have life (and, as you know, this word 'life' means life in its essential vitality, 'zoe'), and that they may have it in abundance."

Abundant life! So that you have the adequate meeting of the need of the sheep, as there is that without which would continually perambulate in order to destroy, to steal and to slay. There is, on the other hand, the resources of abundant life for the sheep. But how is that obtained? Well, in this way:- "I am the good Shepherd; the good Shepherd layeth down His life for the sheep." But it is important to notice that an entirely different word is used for "life" here, "I am the good Shepherd; the good Shepherd layeth down His soul for the sheep."

It was by the laying down of His soul that the gift of "Eternal Life" was made possible. Because as He was manifest in the flesh, and offered in the passion of the Cross, He was justified in the Spirit, and the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God Himself was released through the victory of the Lord Jesus Christ in His passion. He not only stripped off from Himself principalities and powers, triumphing over them in it, but in His ascension He secured the release out of the Divine Being of the Holy Ghost for the church. This is the gift of the Holy Ghost; this, the release of the Spirit of God out of the Divine Being in and through the ascended Lord. The Spirit of Divine Man as the nature and substance of our life henceforth - born out from God, and energised and maintained by God. It is that. This is the stupendous fact of God now in Christ and in the church - THE HOLY GHOST. He has received the promise of the Father. The Spirit that was already His as the Son of God in fellowship with the Father from all eternity is now given to Him as ascended Man and Head of the Body, so that He is able to release for us, as out from Himself, the Eternal Spirit, to dwell in and upon us as members of the church.

Each one of us, as members of Christ's Body, have resting in and upon us the eternal resources of God for our spirit. That is the truth that every born from above child of God ought to know. There is the energy of a life in your spirit which is infinite, exhaustless, because it proceeds out from God. And in your new birth you are not merely made a little puny individual spirit, but you are related to God in one Spirit, and therefore upon you rests the descended Spirit of God continually, as you abide under the blood. But this was not possible except as He laid down His soul - laid down that life in its human essence and form.

"I am the good Shepherd, the good Shepherd layeth down His 'psuche,' or soul, for the sheep."

This was the quintessence, the very essential nature of that sacrificial love in Him, which caused the Father to delight in Him (17th verse).

"Therefore doth My Father love me, because I lay down My 'psuche' (soul) that I may take it again (in His ascension). No one taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have authority to lay it down; and I have authority to take it again. This commandment (or charge) have I received from My Father."

He needed the commandment of the Father to lay down that peculiar "psuche," life, or soul, because it affected the life of the Divine Being. It was bound up with the Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Ghost were alike bound up in the soul of Jesus. The value of the soul of Jesus and the dimensions of the soul of Jesus are the value and dimensions of the Eternal Spirit. You need to recognise that it was through the Eternal Spirit He offered Himself unto God. Once we get the meaning in these words the Holy Spirit means us to have, we see that it was through the Divine Being in its essence as Spirit that He offered Himself - through the out-pouring of His soul. There is, therefore, a coming through of God in the pouring out of the soul of Jesus, a coming through of God in the shed blood; for the blood is not merely the corpuscular fluid, but there is released as the blood is shed that other life, which is commensurate with the source of it, begotten out from God. A Divine Life is in the flesh of Jesus, and that invisible soul of Jesus manifested in the glory of His Manhood (but, of course, illimitable in its resources in the Eternal Spirit), that soul was released, and there came through all the values of the Eternal Spirit, for through the eternal values of His own Spirit He offered Himself unto God. May the Lord give revelation that we may see the might of the blood of Jesus as a heavenly power, as something that is able to meet Satan in the highest realms of his range.

You find the last phase of the church of God has the revelation of the meaning, the value, the power, of the blood of Jesus:- "They overcame him (Satan) because of the blood of the Lamb."

It was the Lamb that John (the Apostle) saw by the Holy Ghost. The Lamb in the midst of the Throne - the Lamb newly slain and bleeding in the throne of God. All symbolic, because our finite minds can only take in truth as it is presented in symbol, but the reality is that in the centre of the Divine Life. Sovereignty is the power of the blood of Jesus.

The Lord Jesus, therefore, needed the commandment of the Father because the laying down of His "psuche" or soul involved the Trinity, involved Deity; and as an integral Being out from God, the Father in Him, and He in the Father by One Spirit, He needed the authority of the Godhead to lay down this life. Of course, we need to recognise that He could never have been slain. No man could take it from Him; no devil could take it from Him. He voluntarily laid down His life. He was crucified through weakness, through His yielding Himself to that passion whereby He met the powers of darkness, being our Representative for sin, triumphing over them in it. But if we could only see the other side of that Cross we should behold the magnificence of God, the glory of God as revealed in it.

Now one is led to this verse because here is the principle of unity. This is the principle by which God is harmonising the universe. It is the thing of which Jesus has given so wonderful an example in laying down His soul. He laid down His peerless, unique, spotless soul: the incorruptible blood of the Christ was poured out, that essence of His life, which has cleansed the universe and reconciled all things unto God. "Things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions, all things reconciled to Him." He laid down His pure, peerless soul in order that there might be released life abundant, not that "psuche" life, but that Spirit, that Life out from God Himself, for you and for me as we are begotten of Him. This is the principle of unity because thus He becomes the Head of the universe in the Godhead as Man, and thus He secures the eternal principle that all things shall be gathered up, or headed up in the Christ of God. In John 12:23 there are words that are very familiar:- "Jesus answered them saying - The hour is come that the Son of Man should be glorified (in the Godhead: He does not mean that He might simply have some display of glory as for Himself; but that He might be glorified in the Divine Being as Man, and the Divine Being be glorified in Him.) Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit."

He is speaking of Himself first of all as laying down His soul, but now He extends that principle to those who shall share with Him this life, this life of ascension in God, this life which is Spirit. We must follow the same principle that He followed, not only for our salvation, but for our identification with Him. We do not save ourselves in any way by trying to follow Jesus. I hope you recognise the meaning of that. We do not save ourselves in any way by trying to follow Jesus, because we cannot. The one who endeavoured best to follow Jesus in the flesh was Peter. He tried hard; and he did all kinds of desperately courageous things, and there was no man so resolute, and determined as he. He was the one who stepped out on the sea in that dark and stormy night. If ever there was a dare-devil it was Peter in the realm of his flesh. You must not minimise Peter's attributes of heart and mind as a man in the natural. He was the man who took out his sword and was prepared to fight single-handed the armed forces that came to arrest the Saviour. Just two swords they had, and Peter unsheathed one and was prepared to defend the Lord Jesus Christ against the world. That speaks for his courage; but he knew nothing about this other thing. He knew nothing about the impact of hell; he knew nothing about the impact of principalities and powers.

You remember the Lord (ch. 13) says - "Whither I go thou canst not follow Me now," and Peter says: "I will lay down my soul for Thy sake." But he did not know what it is to lay down the soul. He thought it was to die in the mortal body. That is not laying down the soul. There are plenty of men with dare-devil courage who will face that, but that is not laying down the soul. And the Lord tells him: "Wilt thou lay down thy soul for My sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee the cock shall not crow till thou hast denied Me thrice." As much as to say, You do not know the impact of Satan, and the weakness of your own moral fibre. You will crumple up as I take My sheltering hand from over you; but I have prayed the Father that thy faith fail not, and when thou art turned again at last, and hast seen thine own weakness, then strengthen the brethren. And it is only the brethren who have had this crash who can strengthen others, because they know the weakness of the flesh, the impossibility of any man or woman fighting their way through.

"Thou shalt follow Me hereafter." That means following Him in the way of laying down your life; but we are only able to lay down that life through the operation of the Cross. It is only as the Holy Spirit makes possible the laying down constantly of the natural life into that death which Jesus has already died for us that we can follow Him through into the Godhead, have access unto the Father in Fellowship of one Spirit in Him. We only live in the Spirit as we are crucified in the flesh. We only live in God as we die in ourselves. That is the fashion of it. The Apostle accepted the working out of the cross in his own life. Bearing about in his body the putting to death of the Lord Jesus that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in his mortal flesh. The life of Jesus, which is the life of the Eternal Spirit, is only made possible in our mortal flesh as we lay down our souls by the power of the Cross. This is the principle of unity. He is speaking here in John to His future disciples - those who together with Him shall become that "first-fruits" unto God in that Pentecostal presentation. He is the first-fruits to God in that Easter presentation of Ascension, but now there will be that Pentecostal presentation, that baptism whereby we are baptised into One Body, and shall be the first-fruits of the new creation in and through the Christ Personal Who is "God over all, blessed for ever."

Thus He elaborates what must be the principle of our following - "He that loveth his life (life here is 'psuche,' soul) shall lose it." Now how many of us are fondly loving our souls. Well, I would not like to say that there is one person here who did not still love his own soul. I find I do love myself, and it is the cross to constantly lay down by the power of the Spirit - this self-life. What makes your pride to be hurt so swiftly? It is the self-love. What makes you so self-conscious about the testimony? It is self-love. Why is it that you suffer this and that agony very often under the slights and rebuffs of your brethren and of the world? It is self-love. It is that in us which is self. It is that personal life in us (not that individual life in us) which is the thing which prevents the unity of the Body. It is the "ego," the "I" in its various manifestations that prevents unity. And so He says: "He that loveth his soul shall lose it; and he that hateth his soul in this world shall guard it unto life eternal." That is to say, the true soul life shall become manifest in eternity when you and I are resurrected in His likeness; when you and I at last receive the end of our faith, which is the gaining possession of our souls; then our personal life will be saved because it will partake of His Person and His Nature. We guard that personal life of ours, which is so dear to us, as we lose it, lay it down constantly by the power of the Spirit thus working out the cross in our nature day by day.

Then He says these tender words: "If any one minister to Me." This is our ministry - to minister to Him. It is not our ministry to minister to one another first. You remember in Acts 13:2, it describes certain disciples ministering unto the Lord. Oh, if we had this vision, that our service is to minister to the Lord, not first of all to the church. A ministry to the church in your self-life is void, and your personal ministry becomes a thing that is your snare. But, as we saw this afternoon, the vision of the church which makes for unity is the vision of the ascended Lord. The objective vision is the vision of the Christ Himself - we see Jesus! We have that same faculty to see by the Spirit that He had. He was able to lift up His eyes into heaven. That has been very precious to me this Conference - He lifted His eyes into heaven and He saw, as it were, by the Spirit. "No one hath seen the Father but the Son." The glory of the Father filled His life. The love of the Father constrained His heart that He was able thus, because of that vision of the Father's glory, to lay down His soul constantly, until at last it came unto that death of the Cross when He was made sin for us. And what a test! He met all the accusations of hell, as our representative, in the realm of His soul. He lost His soul, so to speak, in pouring it out for our sakes, and He guarded it in the Life Eternal. That is the way He went, and that is the way you and I are called to follow. That is, as He had the faculty by the Spirit to lift up His eyes into heaven, so, praise God, we have also.

Oh, tell me friends, what do you see when you pray? Do you know Jesus by the Holy Ghost? Have you the revelation of Jesus as there in your spirit, a clear light shining right down from the Godhead into your heart so that you see Jesus crowned with glory and honour, a consciousness of Jesus over all? There was in Him a God consciousness; and there is in you and me also as we are born out from Him a God-consciousness in our spirit, and we lift up our eyes into heaven. So we saw that the unity of ministry is secondary to the vision of Jesus. There is no disunity when people have the vision of Jesus. In old days I have been at church meetings that were a little bit lively and some members got cross with one another and began to talk as if God were a million miles away. But that is not possible when we are conscious of the presence of God.

But this is the consciousness of the child of God - the presence of God. Lift up your eyes into heaven. Behold Jesus. That is the one thing that makes for unity as the objective vision. And then, as we saw this afternoon, the subjective vision - the vision within our hearts - is the functioning, the reality of the Son of God revealed in us. He is revealed to us in the Godhead, and He is revealed in us as a functioning Life, as members of the Son of God. I touch you, I touch God. You touch me, you touch God. Touching God? Yes! "Why persecutest thou Me, Saul?" As our brother was saying some months ago, Paul touched Jesus in Stephen. The Son of God whom Paul harried was also by His Spirit in those. They were integral parts of Him, essential parts of Him. So the objective vision that makes for unity is the ascended Lord; the subjective vision that makes for unity is a realisation in the Body, a realisation that is inward, functional, essential, vital; and if one member of the body suffer, all the members suffer with that one; and if one member of the body is glorified, or exalted, all members are glorified in that one. It is a functioning life - and have you realised that the Life is inward in us by the anointing? We should recognise how precious each child of God is to the Father, and therefore how precious they should be to us.

But now here you have the principle by which unity is promoted in us. "If any man minister to Me, let him follow Me." Peter in the flesh cannot follow Him, but Peter in the Spirit can. Peter in the new birth, and under the anointing of the Spirit can follow Him in the way of the Cross. He is not following Him now as a sinner, but following Him as a saint, as one who is sanctified, as one who is being led by the Spirit, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." These are taken step by step through their life as blind men, being willing to submit to the Spirit; but you can only submit to the Spirit as the self-life is laid down. "If any man will minister unto Me, where I am there shall also My ministering servant be." Ah, then you know, in identification with Him, your life is hid with Christ in God. Yes, even here in the earth, you ascend into heaven by the Spirit and He says, "If any man minister to Me, him will My Father honour." That is our ministry, to minister to the Christ and to minister to Him first of all directly in worship, in fellowship, in adoration, and then to minister to Him in the Body. But that ministry in the body, as we saw this afternoon means the laying down of the soul.

Now the soul life in you and me is the personal life, it is not the individual life. There is a distinction here which we need to recognise. As individuals, you and I persist. You do not cease to be. There is no "Nirvana" to the Christian, no absorption into anything, not even into God. The marvellous thing is that God transforms you absolutely and entirely so that you are a new creation. "Old things are passed away, and all things are become new." You somehow persist, and that is the miracle. Paul says, "I am crucified together with Christ." (God has wrought that, I believe it.) Nevertheless I live. That is a mystery. No longer I - still that is not altogether true. Paul, you have still a bit of "I" in you, surely? "No longer I, but Christ liveth in me." How can this be? Listen further, "and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God." It is to live it by faith. It is by faith there is the upspringing of another life in you as you are prepared, by the Cross, to relegate your life to death. The other Life, the Spirit of the Eternal in your spirit springs up as the puny self-life is relegated to the Cross, yet you persist. That is the miracle, the marvel of God, that after He has destroyed you, so to speak, after He has put you to death, yet you live. That is the doctrine that is foolishness to the natural mind and to the wisdom of this world. To us who believe it is the very dynamic of God. The one who is speaking knows that it is the power of God that as he is prepared to relegate constantly, by the power of the Spirit, the self-life to death, another Life out from God springs up in his spirit. This is what we confess:-
Thou of life the fountain art
Freely let me take of Thee
Spring Thou up within my heart!
But He does not spring up as the religious man merely. It is not because you sing hymns, because you have been to revival meetings and your religious emotions have all been stirred, your love of music has been fed. That is not it. It is in the reality of the Christian life. That is, you lay down constantly the self-life, another Life springs up out from God in your spirit,
Spring Thou up within my heart
Rise to all eternity.
Personality then has to be relegated to death, being in the realm of the soul, but individuality is in the realm of the spirit, deeper down. God preserves this, and yet He transforms it, and the unity of vision in the church and the unity of ministry is always imperilled by this thrust of the personality, the uprising of the human personality, but not the human individuality. God does not rob you of your individuality, but He wants you to lay down your personality. It is the personal that attracts and gathers, intrudes and causes schism. It is when He is obscured and hidden by some other personality, some other interest than He coming between, and that is the point where the self-life, the soul-life has to be hated, loathed. Why? Because it would rob my Lord of His place. It would be sacrilege, robbing the temple, intruding something else in the place of God Incarnate in Christ Jesus, and I must lay down this soul of mine in all its operations.

Now, we who have heard a lot about soulishness in these past years are in danger of some deception because we think of psychicality in only one realm, and that is in the realm of emotion. We think of temperamental, nervous, hysterical, easily moved people, and say: Oh, that is very soulish. But that is not the only form of soulishness. We do not need to be told that the soul has three forms of life - in the realm of the emotions, in the realm of the intellect, and in the realm of the will. Soul is made up of these three forms of personal life - the emotional or life of sensibility: the intellectual life, or reason, and the volitional, or the life of will. Now, a great many are ready to recognise it when it is in the realm of the emotions, but they do not recognise it when it comes in the form of intellect; and because they are cold and not emotional; they are inclined to think they are not psychical but they may be much more psychical than a rather highly-strung person who gives way to feeling. This is one of the perils. There you get the breaking in of the devil as he is able by powerful intellectual impact to bring about schism, and it is the intrusion of the self-life there that makes for disunity of vision.

The vision must be only of God on the one hand in Christ, and only of the Body as an expression of the Christ on earth - a two-fold vision. One of Him in the Godhead; the other of His life shared in a great corporate company, and the divine purpose to be realised in the progression of that corporate company. So you see another aspect of the self or soul life, quite apart from the emotion, is the intellect or reason, which must be laid down. Oh, how that can intrude into the realm of the spiritual! How there can be the thrust of the personal in the intrusion of teaching, of doctrine, and how there can come in mixture. There may be first of all a genuine revelation, and then intellectual pride comes in and adds to it, or takes from it, which all makes for disunity. Why is it that now in the body of Christ, in the church, there is such a multitude of divisions gathered around powerful teachers, and every school thinking it is right, and looking askance at one another? It is because there has come in this element of the soul in intellectuality.

Then there is the will. Oh, the will seems to be splendid because there is neither now - no psychicality apparent in the form of emotion, or in intellect, only the strong personal hold and drive and thrust. That is will, and all that personal life of ours has to be laid down and hated if we are to minister to Him, because we can only minister to Him in the Body, as the life is functional in the Spirit and rules us out. That is the hardest thing to bear - to be ruled out. Here I must lay down in the dust life's glory dead: to recognise the meaning of the word "All flesh is grass." And the glory of man, what is that? "The flower of the field." The soul-life? Well, that also is grass and must perish. What is it that endures forever? The word of God - the written, uttered, incarnate and now consummate Word of God as bound up in the progression of the Body.

Paul recognises his ministry as a member of the Body in Colossians - that he might complete the word of God. The word of God has to be completed in all those who shall be born out of that Eternal Word and made one with Him. Paul sees that, and he is prepared to suffer afflictions for the body's sake; to lay down constantly all the self-life; all self-realisation! Yes, even self-realisation in the body! And there is a snare! You and I can still have a subtle thought of self-realisation, rather than that He might see of the travail of His soul. There is only One to see of the travail of His soul: that is the pure soul that was laid down at Calvary. Your soul and mine in their natural state, as God sees them, are very, very unspeakable things, for they express the natural corruption of our hearts. It is only that which is of the Spirit is life. It is only that which comes out from Himself that brings a glory to God. All that which comes out from me; all that which springs out of my personality, whether it be in emotion, intellect, or will, will not glorify Him. It will obscure Him; it will draw attention to me. This life of mine must be laid down that His life may come through. That is why God can only use the weak. He cannot use the strong, He cannot use the wise, He can only use those who are quite unable in their own sight. It is the "nothings," or those that have been brought to nothing by the impact of His glory, and have found, like Daniel, "That all their comeliness is turned to corruption," or like John at Patmos - falling at His feet as those who are dead. Yet again, we get the principle of unity in falling at His feet as those who are dead! Dead men don't quarrel, and dead men don't make schism. Dead men do not provoke that which would in any way obscure His purpose, because their self-life has been reduced to dust and ashes in their own estimation as before His glory, and now they choose to live only by the Spirit.

Now, as one says that, one is stating the ultimate reality. There is a principle in that which we do not achieve ever by any attainment. If you lived to be one hundred years you would never get there. It is a process first, the thing that the Holy Ghost has begun to perform in you and me: "He that hath begun a good work in you will perfect it unto the day of Christ," and we are in school. We are disciples. We have gathered around Jesus, not as they gathered around Him in the days of His flesh, but we are gathered around Him as He is in the throne. He is in the midst of the Church; He is in the midst of two or three where they gather unto His name. We gather around Him; we learn of Him; we learn of Him the meaning of His Cross, the significance of His Cross. He endured His Cross, not for His own sake, but for our sakes; and the principle of His Cross is now made to operate in us by the Holy Ghost. So we see that as we are born out from Him there is going to be a constant striving of the Spirit in us to secure the realisation of this new creation, for it is in the realm of the new creation we are while our life is hid with Christ in God. Romans 8: "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in birth pangs." In it, and also in us, are the convulsive workings of the Holy Spirit Who is seeking to break through in the universe; but first of all to break through in the church. Just as you have it in that marvellous type of Jacob who was of promise, so in you and me there is that struggle. Well, He is going to overcome. Only Israel can prevail, that which is indeed of God, because He has seen God face to face; because He has had the vision, the one vision of the glory of God in Christ. Peniel! I have seen God face to face. There is a struggle going on continually - the self-life, the I, that is my original I, still here; but now there is another Life arising out from God by faith; and this other Life from God, energised by the Spirit, crucifies the other. As he comes up in the realm of feeling he is to be crucified; as he comes up in the realm of intellect he is to be crucified; as he comes up in the realm of will he is to be crucified.

Hate your own life; and then another life, His life accepted as your spiritual life, arises within you. It is by the energy of another life! And when we come to realise that we cannot live the Christian life, we cannot follow Christ in the energy of our flesh, neither by dint of intellectual power, because the vision of far distances is open to us, nor in the realm of our will because of the tremendous determination about us, but because we recognise that "In me, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing," and we are humbled to the dust, because in the realm of the personal we are not in it. Yet we remain individuals, but allow another Life to come in, not in passivity, but in a rigid assent, claiming continually that the Holy Ghost shall put that self-life to death. "If ye through the Spirit do put to death the doings of the body, ye shall live."

And what a One we have to gaze upon, Whose soul was spotless, and in Whom was no sin, yet He laid it down for our sakes and became poor, continually poorer, helpless and impotent in this world. The most foolish of the foolish who could not save Himself, and could not help Himself. Could not turn a stone into a barley loaf to feed Himself, though He might feed a multitude! Who is wearied as other men are, yet gives life to others. Who in Himself knew the weakness and frailty of our mortality, yet had the resources of immortality, because in His self-life He refused to live, the peerless Jesus! Endued, we must believe, with every possibility of human glory, with every equipment of emotion and intellect and will, that could have out-Napoleoned Napoleon, of course, and out-Caesared Caesar. He could have been a prince of men by reason of natural endowment, as we would call it, but: He refused so to live. He laid down His soul, constantly in ever, ever increasing tests of faith, until the Lord at last made Him realise that He must pour out that soul that had never known sin as a sin-offering and taste death spiritually for every man - to be cut off as far as His self-consciousness was concerned from the Eternal Spirit, Who was the spring of His life. He was obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.

We are not called to face such things as that, but we are called to hate this life because it caused that. It was self-assertion in Satan that began the thing, simply self-assertion. "I will" - only the will - only another conception to that of the glory of God. If you read the scriptures carefully you will see that this was the sin of the beginning, and this self-assertion in me is begotten in me from him, the devil that root of sin, which is this life of self deep down entrenched in my being, so much so I cannot detect it. It can come up in the most deceptive ways - the deceitfulness of sin - this thing in me caused that. Well, if He laid down His life, surely I ought to be willing to lay down mine, and to lay it down in such fashion as He makes possible because He said "Ye shall follow Me afterwards." So you yield to His Spirit, and then you cease to be anything that causes disunity, anything that causes schism. It is always the "ego" uprising that causes disunity in one form or another.

May the Lord make us worthy of this calling for His Name's sake.

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