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August 5

5 AUG – The Supreme Issue

The Philippian letter begins with Paul’s statement, “For to me to live is Christ”, and then goes on to express his ambition to know the Lord more and more, with his determination to pursue that knowledge as a coveted prize. If we desire to know what is meant by gaining Christ, we have to turn to Romans 8:29 where we find that God’s intention is that we should be conformed to the image of His Son. This being conformed is gaining Christ, this is the prize; it involves an attaining unto the fullness of Christ in moral perfection, which is to be the glory in which God’s sons will be manifested. It is simply this, that to come to be morally and spiritually one with Christ in His place of exaltation is the goal and prize of the Christian life. We do well to keep in view this glorious end, “the manifestation of the sons of God”.

When Paul spoke of gaining Christ and of reaching out for the prize, he was expressing his earnest longing to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. This is something which is the issue of salvation, it is God’s end in salvation, but it is clearly something which needs to be pursued. It is plain that we do not have to win salvation, and we certainly do not have to suffer the loss of all things to be saved. We are saved by faith, not by works; salvation is not a prize to be won, not something for which we must reach forward, but a present, a free gift. Beyond this, however, Paul wrote that he counted all things as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. If the power of the same Spirit is working in us, this will surely produce the same effect of making us realize how little is the worth of everything else compared with the great prize of Christ.

It is interesting to compare Mark 10 with Philippians 3, as each passage tells of a young man and his momentous decision. The two men were very similar in many respects; they were both rich rulers, men of high standing socially, intellectually, morally and religiously among their own people. Of the one it had to be said “One thing thou lackest”, while the other could affirm “One thing I do”. The nameless young man turned away from Christ; he did so sorrowfully but nevertheless he did it, and the reason was that he was not prepared to part with his great possessions. Paul had great possessions also, but they lost all their attractiveness in the light of the vision which he had of Christ; to him it was the alternative of earthly prizes or the one great heavenly prize, and he gladly made his choice of the latter.

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August 4

4 AUG – Christian Maturity Comes With His Lordship

What is spiritual maturity? What is it to go on in the Lord? I fear we have got mixed ideas about this. Many think that spiritual maturity is a more comprehensive knowledge of Christian doctrine, a larger grasp of scriptural truth, a wider expanse of the knowledge of the things of God; and many such features are recorded as marks of growth, development, spiritual maturity. Beloved, it is nothing of the kind. The hallmark of true spiritual development and maturity is this: that we have grown so much less and the Lord Jesus has grown so much more. The mature soul is one who is small in his or her own eyes, but in whose eyes the Lord Jesus is great. That is growth. We may know a very great deal, have a wonderful grasp of doctrine, of teaching, of truth, even of the Scriptures, and yet be spiritually very small, very immature, very childish. (There is all the difference between being childish and childlike.) Real spiritual growth is just this: I decrease, He increases. It is the Lord Jesus becoming more. You can test spiritual growth by that.

In the book of the Acts, they did not first of all preach Jesus as Savior. They preached Him as Lord. You see, that carried with it of necessity the Savior-hood. He must be the Christ, He must be the Savior, He must be the Son of God. All THAT is involved if He is Lord now; and if they accepted and acknowledged Him as Lord, well, that included His Savior-hood, but the Savior-hood was something subsidiary to the Lordship.

After all, the Savior-hood of Christ is but a recovering thing in relation to His Lordship. The Lordship was the eternal intention of God concerning Him. The Savior-hood is in order to get back to the Lordship, to lead on to the recovery of the Lordship. He can never be actually Lord until He has saved the inheritance of which He is the eternally designated Lord; but when He is Lord, it means that He is Savior; He HAS redeemed. The Lordship is more than the Savior-hood. And so, when you come on to God’s SUPREME ground “hath made him a Prince and a Savior” then the way is open for God to take you right on, beyond conversion, beyond the infant stage of just being born again; on to ‘growing up into Him in all things’, on to the fullness of Christ. So they put the full testimony there, where all the rest was included, and thus there was a wide open way for all God’s intention. Wherever you look in the Scriptures, you find that it is Lordship which is the secret of fullness.

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August 3

3 AUG – Gaining Ascendancy over the Stone

“They were saying: Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the tomb? …for it was exceeding great.” Mark 16:3-6

It is the principle of the Cross again. He died for us – that is the objective. We died in Him – that is the subjective. Here are two sides in spiritual experience. He keeps the balance of things. We have to have this balance wrought in us, and to be delivered from this tendency of allowing our problems to obscure the Lord, this inveterate habit of ours of viewing the position merely objectively instead of saying, ‘What does the Lord want to teach us about this? What does He want to do in us in this matter? There is something He is after in us.’ He has something to do in us before He can do it for us.

How often we have found that when we have come to a new position with the Lord, when the thing has been done in us, then there has been outward movement. So the mention of the subjective exercise suggests that we have to take this matter to our own hearts as something which requires a change in us. I am quite sure that is how they must have felt when they were able to sit down and go over it all again. ‘We were terribly obsessed with our problem and were asking who could solve it for us. The Lord has made us to see that we must be inwardly different about these things, we must have a position of faith, of rest, over them; we must believe God.’ We must gain inward ascendency over the stone before there is any ascendency to be known over it outwardly. The stone is really not outside of us in the first place. It is inside; it is in our faith, it is in our spirit, it is in our minds.

When the Lord’s interests have brought us into such a relationship with Him that we can say there is no stone so big to be removed, no problem so great for solving, no difficulty so intense, but the Lord will do what is necessary for His Son’s sake when we have come to a position like that, the Lord is free to do a lot of things very quietly. As we say, they just ‘happen’. Sometimes He may bring us into the presence of the working of His power that is manifestly terrific, but not often and certainly not always. For faith, it is more like this: there is such power at work as to make possible the setting aside of the obstacle very quietly, so that we afterward wonder “And they were amazed”. And the angel said, “Be not amazed”. It is good to have amazement, but let us recognize that a certain amount of our amazement is because we have not sufficient faith.

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August 2

2 AUG – The Stone at the Door

“They were saying: Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the tomb? …for it was exceeding great.” Mark 16:3-6

In the first place, the stone symbolized the imminence of another world than this one. That young man in his white robe speaks of the intervention of another world. There is another world entirely, in close touch with this one, and mightier than it, acting in relation to the purposes of God centered in His Son, and which can never, on any account, be swallowed up in a tomb.

Further, that stone became the symbol of the mighty, triumphant power of life over death. We look for things to happen, and yet all the time the power of His risen life is silently working and solving so many problems. The fact is that we are going on today after many an experience of trial and helplessness; we have quietly been kept going on, and we are going on; we are not yet submerged and overwhelmed and put out. That is the miracle of His Divine life silently solving the problem, dealing with so many things that seem to say, Death; an end!

The power of His resurrection is the answer to many of our problems. We look for acts; He proceeds along the silent course of life, the mighty power of life overcoming death. “It was not possible” says the Word, “that he should be holden of it (death)” (Acts 2:24). They were saying, ‘It is impossible for us to deal with this stone, this situation!’ He was saying, ‘It is not possible for death to hold Me’. There are two ways of viewing the impossible. Everything depends upon where you put the impossibility – on the thing or on God. The things which are not possible with men are possible with God (Matt. 19:26). And He answers these impossible things in the normal way for it is the normal way. The abnormal would be by signs and wonders and extraordinary happenings – demonstrations to our senses – but the normal way in the Christian life is the way of the continuous transcendence of His life over the working of death. That is the miracle of Divine life working silently. Yours, then, is a life as is the life of everyone set in the presence of the great stone of death, spiritual death. We know it, and yet we are preserved alive spiritually and we go on. That is the great miracle. It is the miracle of every day. That is the testimony that God raised Him from the dead.

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August 1

1 AUG – Appropriating Christ

To be delivered not only from sin but also from the authority of Satan is a tremendous thing. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen…” Rom.8:33, 34

What is the value of that? The accuser comes along and tries to lay a charge against us. What is our ground of answer? Oh, our ground of answer is this: “It is Christ that died, and is also risen.” That is the way to answer the accusation of the enemy. Christ has triumphed over sin and over all the ground of Satan’s authority. You and I can never meet the enemy in ourselves. He would win the argument every time. But if we present him with Christ, what can he do? “The prince of this world comes, and has nothing in Me” (John 14:30). These are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. What power does the devil have? In Christ’s death and resurrection all his power has been destroyed. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” (Rom.8:33)

“…Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col.1:27). Do you follow that? That is the provision God has made, and if only we had a fuller, readier apprehension of Christ we should find that to be the way of victory. What is it that the Holy Spirit works upon in order to make the victory in us actual? It is not our struggles to be better. The Holy Spirit never helps us in a struggle to be better. We may struggle on forever, and die struggling, and the Holy Spirit will not help us if that is the way in which we think we are going to be either saved or sanctified.

What is it with which the Holy Spirit will cooperate? It is our faith apprehension and appropriation of Christ as our perfection, as our salvation. Stop looking at yourself and your own sin and get your eyes fixed upon the Lord Jesus as perfection for you to God, and from God to you, and as you take Him by faith – “Not what I am, O Lord, but what thou art” – “I in myself am bad. In me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing, but Lord, You are my salvation, You are my righteousness, You are my holiness, You are my sanctification, I hold on to You for all that” – the Holy Spirit makes that good to us. It is our appreciation of Christ that is the Holy Spirit’s ground of activity; that is the way of deliverance.

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July 31

31 JUL – Taking In the Full Victory of Christ

It is necessary to carry the work of the cross to the full issue of Christ’s absolute victory in the realm of all principality and power, in the realm of the authority of darkness. Forgiveness of sins is a great blessing, the atonement for our sins is a great blessing, and to be saved from hell at last and go to heaven is a great blessing. We would not minimize them for a moment or take from the greatness and grandeur of those things because of the infinite cost with which they were purchased for us, but I say again, it is necessary for us to carry the work of Christ through to its full issue, and its full issue lies in the realm of principalities and powers.

It lies in the realm of the authority of darkness, the jurisdiction of darkness. That is important for the sinner to know, that it is not only a matter of being forgiven his sins and saved from sin, but that the sinner should know that in salvation all the authority, the jurisdiction of principalities and powers, of the adversary, Satan himself, has been destroyed and broken, and out of that jurisdiction, that authority, that rightful hold of Satan, they have been rescued – rescued by Christ in His cross. It means that Satan has no more power because he has no more right. His power depends on his right, and his right is based upon the state of things in our hearts, and the cross deals with the state of things in our hearts and destroys or removes the ground of his right, and breaks his power.

Carry it right through. Now – all that is in Christ for us. Christ in Himself embodies His supremacy over the adversary because in Him there is none of that ground that that adversary must have upon which to encamp and construct his rightful authority to hold in bondage. In Christ there is no such ground; Christ is in us when we believe, and the authority of Satan is broken because Christ is in us. Christ being in us – there is no ground for the jurisdiction of Satan.

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July 30

30 JUL – Christianity Is Not a Teaching

Since Paul’s day, so very much of Christian activity has been the furthering of a movement, the propagating of a teaching, and the furthering of the interests of an institution. It is not a movement, nor to establish a movement in the Earth and to get followers, adherents, members, support. It is not an institution, even though we might call that institution the church. The church has no existence in the thought of God apart from the revelation of Jesus Christ, and it is judged according to the measure in which Christ the Son of God’s love is in evidence by its existence.

Let us be careful what we mean when we speak about “the testimony”. We may have in our minds some arrangement of truth, and that truth couched in certain phraseology, form of words, and thus speak about “the testimony”; it is not the testimony in that sense. It is not a denomination, and it is not a “non-denomination”, and it is not an “inter-denomination”. It is not Christianity. It is not “the work” – oh, we are always talking about “the work”: “How is the work getting on?” – We are giving ourselves to the work, we are interested in the work, we are out in the work. It is not a mission. It is Christ! “…That I might preach Him.” If that had remained central and preeminent, all these horrible disintegrating jealousies would never have had a chance. All the wretched mess that exists in the organization of Christianity today would never have come about. It is because something specific in itself, a movement, a mission, a teaching, a testimony, a fellowship, has taken the place of Christ. People have gone out to further that, to project that, to establish that. It would not be confessed; nevertheless it is true, that today it is not so much Christ that is our work.

Now beloved, an inward revelation is the cure of all that. Am I saying too hard a thing, too sweeping a thing? [There is] the existence of all that represents the absence of an adequate inward revelation of Christ. If Christ the Son of God’s love is central and supreme in the heart of the believer, so much else goes down – it must go down. Controversies with God will divide, but those artificial things, those things resultant from man’s activity and his projecting of himself, insinuating of himself into the interests of God, those things cannot abide where there is an adequate inward revelation of the Lord Jesus; they cannot be.

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July 29

29 JUL – All Things in Christ

What is sanctification? It is not a doctrine. It is not an ‘it’ at all. It is Christ. He is made unto us sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30). If you are in Christ and if the Holy Spirit is teaching you Christ, then you are knowing all about sanctification; and if He is not, you may have a theory and doctrine of sanctification, but it will separate you from other Christians and will be bringing any number of Christians into difficulties. Probably the teaching of sanctification as a thing has brought more Christians into difficulty than any other particular doctrine through making it a thing, instead of keeping Christ as our sanctification.

I am only saying this to try to explain… that it is in the School of Christ that we are to be found, where the Holy Spirit is not teaching us things; not Church doctrine, not sanctification, not adventism, not any thing or any number of things, but teaching us Christ. What is adventism? What is the coming of the Lord? Well, it is the coming of the Lord. And what is the coming of the Lord? Well, such a word as this will give us the key: He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be marveled at in all them that believed (2 Thess. 1:10). You see, it is the consummation of something that has been going on in an inward way. How then do I best know that the coming of the Lord draws nigh? Not best of all by prophetical signs, but by what is going on within the hearts of the Lord’s people. That is the best sign of the times, namely, what the Spirit of God is doing in the people of God. But you are not interested in that. You would far sooner know what is going to happen between Germany and Russia, whether these two, after all, are going to make it up and become a great confederacy! How far does it get us? Where has all the talking about the revived Roman Empire got us? That is adventism as a thing. If only we keep close to Him Who is the sum of all truth, and move with Him and learn Him, we shall know the course of things. We shall know what is imminent. We shall have in our heart whisperings of preparation.

The best Advent preparation is to know the Lord. I am not saying that there is nothing in prophecy; don’t misunderstand me. But I do know that there are multitudes of people who are simply engrossed in prophecy as a thing whose spiritual life counts for nothing, who really have no deep inward walk with the Lord. We have seen it so often.

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July 28

28 JUL – Knowing Christ by the Spirit

The Holy Spirit’s way is to take Christ and open up Christ to the heart, and show that Christ is a heavenly order; not that the Epistles set forth as a manual a heavenly order, but that Christ is that order, and everything in the matter of order has to be kept immediately in relation to the living Person. If it becomes some “thing”, then it becomes an earthly system; and you can make out of the Epistles a hundred different earthly systems all built upon the Epistles. They will support any number of different systems, different interpretations represented by Christian orders here, and the reason is that they have been divorced from the Person.

You see, beloved, there are numerous things, numerous subjects, themes, teachings. There is “the kingdom of God”, there is “sanctification”, there is “eternal life”, there is “the victorious life”, “the overcomer” or “the overcoming life”, there is “the second coming of Christ”. These are but a few subjects, themes, truths, as they are called, which have been taken up and developed out of the Scriptures and become things with which people have become very much occupied, and in which they are very interested as things. So certain people hive off around a sanctification teaching, and they are the sanctificationists, and it becomes an “ism”. Others hive off, and they are bounded by the hedge of Second Adventism, the Lord’s coming, prophecy, and all that. So you get groups like that. I want to say that would be utterly impossible if the Person of the Lord Jesus was dominant.

What is the kingdom of God? It is Christ. If you get right inside of the Gospels, you will find that the kingdom of God is Jesus Christ. If you are living in Christ, you are in the kingdom, and you know, as the Holy Spirit teaches you Christ, what the kingdom is in every detail. The kingdom is not some thing in the first place. The kingdom, when it becomes something universal, will simply be the expression and manifestation of Christ. That is all. You come to the kingdom in and through Christ; and the same is true of everything else.

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July 27

27 JUL – Carefreeness or Carelessness?

The Lord’s attitude toward His Own is one of concern for them. He has His eye upon them; they are not out of His ken (awareness). Not only has He His eye upon them, but He has His ear open to them; and not only so, but He is taking definite care concerning them. “…casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). “Be careful to maintain good works” (Titus 3:8).

On the one hand we are exhorted to be carefree because He careth for us and on the other hand we are told to be careful. We are exhorted to take care. When He says, “In nothing be anxious” (Phil. 4:6), or “casting all your anxiety upon him,” the Lord does not mean that you are to become careless, indifferent, to put the matter away as though it is nothing to do with you, that you have no place in it at all. There is a place where the Lord expects us to take care, to be careful (in the ordinary usage of the word among us), to recognize that we have responsibility, we have to be watchful, we have to come into the situation, we have to be careful in this way and in that.

In 1 Peter 3:12-14, Peter says that the Lord’s attitude is one of solicitude for His Own. “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears unto their supplication”. While occupation must go on, many things must be attended to, there must be no distraction resulting from worry about it. “Be not… anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” (Matt. 6:31). Here is the same word again. What it amounts to seems to me to be this, that it is not just a psychological decision or resolution that we are going to be careless, we are going to be indifferent, we are not going to bother. It is to be positively an act of faith.

The anxiety usually comes in as to how things are going to turn out, what the issue is going to be. The right care is to do our part. The carefreeness is the result of committing the issue to the Lord and definitely taking the faith attitude that He will look after the outcome while we are looking after what is ours to look after. It is not just spineless optimism, it is definite faith – faith that refuses to be harassed and distracted by many things, by anything.

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