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October 1

1 OCT – The Supernatural Work of the Spirit

(This) brings (us) to a supernatural basis as to resources – that we are not left to our own resources, to draw only upon our own life. No, when we are at an end, that is not the end; when we are spent, that is not exhaustion. Oh, let this come to us as a real challenge! So often we take ourselves as the measure of things. ‘Oh, I am so tired, I feel so bad, I do not feel I can go to the meeting’, and so we stay away, taking our own condition as being all that there is to count on. There is another level on which to live, another basis; and if you like to put it to the test, if you really have received the Holy Spirit you can lay hold of the Holy Spirit in the moment of most utter weakness and find yourself capable of meeting a tremendous demand, of standing up to something for which you are totally unable in yourself. There is no place, and it is altogether wrong, for any Christian to say, ‘Well, I cannot, therefore I do not try; I am made like this and I have not got this gift and that, and I have not this qualification and that’ – and thus to settle down and become neutral. I am saying to you that if you have received the Holy Spirit, such an attitude is wrong and unnecessary.

When the Holy Spirit is present, we are put upon a supernatural basis for resources, and we can prove again and again that when we have absolutely nothing, and it would be utter madness and folly for us to essay, we can lay hold of God the Holy Ghost and go through triumphantly and come out at the other end with more life than we had at the beginning – contrary to nature, supernatural.

I said I am talking about a fact, not a theory, of ‘a second blessing’; and I can speak to you out of personal experience of the fact. I know what I am talking about. It is a fact. The Holy Spirit within does mean another level for resource, which is not just our natural level; we are not left to ourselves; so do not contemplate any proposition from the standpoint of what you are or are not in yourself. That standpoint in itself may be perfectly true; but there can be a laying hold upon the Lord by faith, saying, “I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). You are surprised at what you can do if you know this great reality of the indwelling Spirit; you are capable of things you never thought you would ever do. It ought to be like that. That is the romance of a true life in the Spirit.

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September 30

30 SEP – The Consummating Work of the Holy Spirit

There is something that consummates relationship to Christ. Apart from that something, Christian life is largely negative or neutral, in a position or state of suspension, indefinite, tentative, as though there is something more yet to happen. The disciples had believed, but there was something yet that needed to be. That is how it works out; there is no doubt about it. There are multitudes who have believed that Jesus is the Christ, believed in the facts of His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension, and even of His coming again, and much more of the Christian doctrine and, having believed, they have come into a certain relationship with Him; and yet there is a pause, there seems a lack of something, and as time goes on, that lack becomes more accentuated, more apparent, more real to those concerned and to others who know them. In the Church they are either negatives or neutrals, or somehow suspended, tentative. You feel that something has to happen to them, something is needed.

Paul asked a question in this form, “Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?”  – for this is the proper translation; not, “Have ye received the Holy Spirit since ye believed?” which implies that some kind of relationship with Christ is possible without receiving the Holy Spirit. That seems to me to be implicit in this very question. Paul at once regarded these disciples as believers, but he had a question about them and put his question to them.

He at once sought to get to the root of it and to have it put right; and it was found to be that, though they had believed – had accepted certain truths which resulted in their accepting Jesus – they were not right out liberated, regnant, effective. Something still had to take place. Their relationship with Christ had to be in some way brought to a fullness, a completeness.

This consummation places life on an altogether new basis. Indeed, it places life upon what we call a supernatural level. There is no doubt about it in the case of those mentioned in the New Testament. Witness was borne that this does bring in supernatural features and factors, and puts life on that level. The Holy Spirit consummates relationship to Jesus Christ.

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September 29

29 SEP – The Awfulness of Pride

The whole meaning of Christ’s coming into this world is bound up with the matter of pride and humility; His very coming from glory. Somewhere, somehow, before He arrived, He “emptied himself” (Phil. 2:7). He spoke to the Father later of the glory He had with Him before the world was (John 17:5). He had laid aside all that; He had emptied Himself. And then His strange – ah, yes, very strange until we have this key – His strange entry into this world, the circumstances of it all related to His coming and His whole time here. “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests [lit. roosts]; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). It is all this one issue. Some tremendous thing is being fought out and dealt with, some immense thing. The whole meaning of His coming, His condescension, self-emptying, birth, life, death and the whole explanation of the experiences of His people, is all centered in this one matter. The discipline, the chastening, as it is termed, the Lord’s dealings with us, is centered in one thing: it is all related to the purpose for which Christ came, and how He came and how He accomplished the purpose.

And, further, the whole nature and vocation of the Church is centered in this one thing. The Church that is going to serve the eternal counsels of God will never be a Church of pride, self-glory, worldly glory, worldly power, worldly praise. It will be, ever and always, what it was at the beginning; something that the world will not look upon with praise, but will always look upon with contempt. That is essential to its vocation, for its vocation is positively to displace the world, and its temper and spirit and standards; to do something spiritually in this universe to rid it of that evil thing which has been its plague and curse from Adam onward.

It does not need any argument to show that the cause of wars, the cause of all the trouble, is pride – somewhere, somehow. No wonder then the phrase occurs: “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). This is not something subsequent, taking place late in the history of this world. From the foundation of the world the Lamb was slain.

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September 28

28 SEP – God’s View on Man’s Pride

It is not just that the Lord wants people of a certain kind and type; not just that He wants us to be of a certain nature. He created man for a great destiny, and this thing pride came in and made it impossible for man to fulfil that destiny. So He has secured it in a Man utterly different from us, the Lamb slain, the Man who emptied Himself, the Man who became obedient unto death, yes, such a death as the Cross, the last word in shame, in despicability; and now He says to us, “Have this mind in you” (Phil. 2:5). I think the greatest conjunction in all the Bible is there. “Wherefore… God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9) – “Wherefore …” – all that leads up to that and all that issues from that. Two vast realms of meaning and value are linked by that conjunction “wherefore”. But – ‘this is the way the Master went’. Well, we cannot do what He did, or fulfil all that He fulfilled, but we are called to drink of the cup which was His cup.

Now this is not a word, perhaps, of great inspiration, but I feel it to be a word of very great importance. This must be true of us individually. There must also be a corporate humility. This is the way along which the Lord will commit Himself. He will never give us anything to feed our flesh, to enlarge and strengthen our natural life. He will hold us to the way that keeps us safe where that is concerned. How wonderfully the Bible becomes alive when you look at it in this way! It was Adam’s sin, Israel’s sin, the sin of us all. “By reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations… that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch” (2 Cor. 12:7); that was making a man safe for great revelation, undercutting pride.

Yes, this is an important word; it explains a lot. But let us remember that the Lord always has positive ends in view, not negative. Though His ways may seem to be destructive, even annihilating ways, He has always in view and not in the far view only, but as quickly as possible, as soon as possible that position where He can Himself let go, so to speak, His own fears, His own reserves; and say, ‘I have found that to which I can give Myself without fear’. May it be like that with us.

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September 27

27 SEP – The Lord’s Dealings are Based on Our Pride

On the one side, it is terribly true: “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord” (Prov. 16:5). “The haughty he knoweth from afar” (Ps. 138:6). It all sprang out of that proud heart that lifted itself up and said, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; …I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:13, 14). With that I, all the trouble began, and that one bit his poison into the race. The poison of the human race is pride, and it has come all the way down. It is sometimes almost untraceable: we are not able always to trace it out in all its forms, because pride has what we might call negative aspects as well as positive. There are, of course, the obviously, manifestly proud, the ambitious, the assertive, the self-important, the self-sufficient. But there are negative aspects – and I use that word with regard to pride very carefully, because pride is positive whatever form it takes. It is an ugly thing. A lot of our murmuring is pride; a lot of tears are pride which we think is humility. A lot of our criticism of other people springs from pride: we think we could do better, we could go one better, setting ourselves up as the judge, the critic: pride is at the root. Very much of our poor, miserable tone is, after all, pride. Oh, how subtle and serpentine a thing this is! It is there. So the Lord has to stand back.

On the other hand, look at humility. “To this man will I look” – that is the beginning, the Lord even looking in anyone’s direction –“even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit” (Isa. 66:2), and He dwells with them (Isa. 57:15). And “the meek will he guide in judgement: and the meek will he teach his way” (Ps. 25:9). And “the meek shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). It is like that all the way through; vindication is on that basis. “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3): and you know when that was said at the time when his position was disputed, and God appeared at the entrance of the tabernacle and answered the challenge on the ground of the meekness of His servant. God stands by and vindicates the meek.

I say the whole Bible is founded on this issue. What a vital matter this is! Is not the Lord justified in taking any steps to clear up that situation – breaking, emptying, humbling, withholding, deferring, delaying; in any way bringing us to nought, to a place of utter dependence, where there is nothing we can rely upon at all but the Lord Himself? Is He justified? It is a tremendous process. It is a very real, very devastating work: and the very fact that we suffer so much shows how deep and real it is.

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September 26

26 SEP – The Reality of Sonship

What is God’s confirmation of our sonship? It is that He gives us continual experiences of being raised from the dead. He has left us here in a setting and a background of death: we are called upon to live and to walk amidst death. This world is a tomb, which sooner or later will engulf all those outside of Christ; but here we are in this very tomb, this scene and realm of death, living. We are not a part of it, we are living, and this is the testimony, this is sonship. Sonship is meant to be manifested. The end of this process is the full manifestation of the sons of God according to Romans 8:19. Here, in a spiritual way, the manifold wisdom of God is shown in the Church, to the glory of His name and to the confounding of principalities and powers.

Our new birth is our first taste of resurrection life. We notice that, after quoting the passage concerning Christ: “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee”, the Scriptures present a further quotation: “I and the children whom God hath given me” (Hebrews 2:13). The completion of the original statement is: “Behold I and the children whom God hath given me are for signs and wonders…” (Isaiah 8:18). It is clear that Isaiah’s words are put into the mouth of the Lord Jesus who links the announcement of His own Sonship by resurrection to the fact that by that same resurrection He has begotten us again unto a living hope. We are the children given to Him by virtue of His resurrection. And we are for signs and wonders.

What does this mean? Well when the evil generation of Jews demanded a sign from the Lord Jesus, He replied: “… there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet” (Matthew 12:39). He went on to point out that this sign of Jonah was connected with death and resurrection. So the signs and wonders associated with Christ and the children whom the Father has given Him are the miracles of resurrection life. This is the experience of the spiritual Christian; he repeatedly knows the impact of death and the glory of Christ’s resurrection. So it is that the Church has survived. There is no other way of accounting for the continuance of the Church through the ages than the wonder-working power of Christ’s resurrection. The powers of hell and death have come like a deluge upon the Church through the centuries and have sometimes almost seemed to quench it, but it has sprung up again in greater fullness than ever before after every such time.

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September 25

25 SEP – The Hallmark of Sonship is Resurrection

The first Adam was called God’s son (Luke 3:38) and in a sense this was true, but that sonship was never fully realized; all its meaning, all its potential, all the divine intention, was never known. It was sonship on probation which never attained to determination. In the case of the Lord Jesus, however, we are told that He was “determined the Son of God…” (Romans 1:4 m.). The first Adam failed, and in him the whole race lost its sonship. That was why the Lord Jesus went to the Cross as representative of the whole race, to meet the final consequences of that lost sonship. Those consequences were known in that eternal period of unspeakable agony, when there was the awful consciousness of what it means to be abandoned by God. By nature we are out of Christ, without God and without hope in this world, but we are not fully aware of it nor of what it involves. In that phase of the Cross, the Lord Jesus was, so to speak, projected into the full realization of that complete consciousness of what God-forsakenness really means, that which is the very terrible destiny of all deliberate rejectors to find themselves rejected.

But while our sonship through the Cross and the risen Christ is to be appropriated and entered into by faith as an act, yet for the purpose of our testimony here, it is something which has to be continuous as a spiritual experience. It is accepted in an act, but it has to be borne out in a continuous process. The New Testament shows that sonship is something which relates to the whole life of the believer in a practical way of expression, so that inasmuch as it is inseparably bound up with resurrection in the case of the Lord Jesus, for us it demands a constant experience of His resurrection power.

How do we know sonship? Well, there was a time when we believed, and in believing were made children or sons of God. “Ye are all sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). Because we believe, we have the sonship. That is very good, and of course we have always to cling tenaciously by faith to the fact that it is so. But that may have been years ago. Did the Lord just mean it to be something in our past history, something which took place years ago? We have always to hold on to that transaction with the Lord and believe, but does it not call for a reinforcement as we go along? Is there no opportunity for it to be more and more confirmed? Surely the Word teaches that there is; and so not only the origin but the experience of the believer should be that of sonship being freshly demonstrated and manifested on the same ground as its origin – that is, resurrection.

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