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June 1

1 JUN – Life and Spirituality Are Ageless

The issue for the Overcomer is the issue for the Church, and only to those who, in this way of experience, under the hand of God, have come to know the Lord, to know Christ inwardly, who will go right through and right out. That is the revelation of the Overcomer, the Man-child, in Revelation 12. It is knowledge of Christ in life and growth, and that on the principle of the Body, organic and corporate, and again that by reason of deathless life.

The new man in Christ has a deathless life in which there is no old age or senility. I say that because many of us are very conscious of the latter. We know that old age is creeping towards us and we are very much aware of senility overtaking, that is, growing limitations in mental powers, concentration and application and mental endurance and in other ways; which means that naturally we are not going to learn a great deal more in that way, we are not going to comprehend very much more. We are going to reach our limit and then perhaps decline naturally. But what I am saying now is this, that there is that in us which in extreme old age can still be comprehending the vast, and going far beyond the capacity of nature. Spiritual knowledge is so different, spiritual apprehension is so different from natural.

The capacity of Divine life knows nothing of decay, of corruption, of limitation, of coming to an end or declining. It is possible and it ought to be the experience of every true child of God that even in old age they bear fruit in this sense, that there is that which still is fresh and still in growth when natural powers are declining. Therefore I say this knowledge of Christ on the principle of life knows nothing of old age and senility; it goes on. Do not surrender to nature; that is, do not surrender your Christianity to nature; do not surrender to nature your birthright, which is eternal life; and do not think of eternal life as only that you are going to survive after this scene. Remember, it is a quality of life with all God’s potentialities in it, all the potentialities of reaching the vastness of those Divine thoughts in Christ.

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May 31

31 MAY – The Negative Aspect of Overcomers

Overcomers do not stand related to anything partial. I do want you to take very careful note of this. It is most important that we are clear as to what it is we have in view. I repeat therefore that Overcomers do not stand related to anything partial. They are not the sponsors and champions of particular doctrines and interpretations, and such things. With them, it is not a matter of certain conceptions of truth and practices in relation thereto, although from time to time a specific emphasis has been necessary because at certain points particular weakness and failure has arisen. Nevertheless, in the thought of God it is the whole counsel of God which He was seeking to restore and not some part of it. Overcomers, if they are according to God’s mind, are not people individually or collectively who simply underline certain truths and keep to that. Therefore they cannot be a separate and distinctive movement marked by just particular and specific teaching and separated from all others for that reason. They cannot be joined, you cannot join the Overcomer band. You cannot argue, discuss, reason out Overcomer truth and adopt it or reject it. You cannot have a Round Table for considering this thing, and then deciding what you are going to do with it. All such conceptions, mentalities and activities are ruled out. It cannot be taken up, for it is not an “it” as something apart from all God’s thought.

Overcomer is the very embodiment of all God’s thought. We have heard a certain interpretation given to a fragment which is repeated in those early chapters of Revelation. “If any man”, and “to him that overcometh” and the explanation, the interpretation, is that at the end things are no longer corporate but just individual, and the suggestion or implication of that interpretation is that all that is in Ephesians is cancelled out by Revelation, that all the teaching on the corporate nature and expression of the Body of Christ is now suspended and it has become resolved into a personal and individual matter. “If any man,” and “to him”. Dear friends, I have always found very great difficulty in believing that any one part of God’s Word rules out another part, and especially such parts as Ephesians; and while, there is an element of truth in that interpretation, unless it is safeguarded, it is very dangerous and misleading. Anything that is misleading is very dangerous.

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May 30

30 MAY – Understanding God Through Our Experiences

The thoughts of God are not just ideas and abstract mental effusions. They are all embodied and expressed in a living Person, His Son, God Himself incarnate. God’s thoughts have been brought to us in that way. We must remember that, while the Lord Jesus had an individual consciousness, He also had a race consciousness. While He, in His own mind, was a Person, an individual Person, He was in Himself also a vast corporate company, He was the nucleus of a great multitude. That is why you can never come into the Lord Jesus and be an individual. If you are in Christ you are only a part of something very vast, and all these great, these vast thoughts and intentions of God are all centered in His Son, embodied in Him, and eventually, so great is He, so vast is He as the sum of all God’s thoughts and intentions, that He will fill all things. That, of course, at once puts a great strain upon even our brains, and I hope it is not just going to be brain work.

Vital union with Christ and vital union in Him is essential to the comprehending of these thoughts of God. The way of such knowledge is the way of life, and the way of life is positive corporate union with the Lord Jesus. The way of God’s teaching is not the way of the classroom. The way of God’s teaching is the way of practical handling of us and bringing about situations in which we have to know Christ in some new way, which knowledge alone can save us from despair, which knowledge alone can deliver us, which knowledge is absolutely vital and essential to our existence. It becomes a crisis like that, so that the true spiritual life is one of a series of crises which are ends and new beginnings; the end of something inadequate, the beginning of some new discovery of Christ, some new knowledge of Him. It is practical, vital knowledge, taught by and through experience. That is the way of comprehending God, His thoughts and intentions, and it is the only way.

At no one time can we comprehend them all. Moreover, it will take a vast multitude, a countless number, to grow into those thoughts. The most that anyone could ever comprehend will be a mere fragment, an atom. It will require that great multitude which no man can number to comprehend and express the thoughts and intentions of God.

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May 29

29 MAY – Seek to Know God’s Principles Behind the Law

The Lord never just lays down laws in order to set up a system of laws. His laws are always the embodiment of His own thoughts; His laws are principles. It is a tremendous thing to be able to put your finger upon principles. Very often when precedent is not in existence, principle comes in with the power of law. You may not have a precedent for something, but there is a principle, and the principle is the precedent. Do you understand what I mean? You get the principle of a thing and you have the key to it all, and God is moving on principle, and anything that He says is not something just said to have things in a certain legal order, but because they are the embodiment of some great spiritual principle, because God is Spirit and everything that comes from God is spirit. When God says, “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together” (Heb. 10:25), He does not mean keep your meetings going. “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together… and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching”. What day? The day of fullness, the day of consummation. Unto that you have to grow, and growth is corporate.

You know quite well, if the Body is more than a metaphor and it is that if you detach a member from the rest it will not grow any more. It is a simple law of corporate life. It depends entirely for its own increase upon its vital relationship to the rest, and otherwise any development of it will be entirely artificial. You might perhaps sever a member or organ from the body and give it some artificial stimulant and get some kind of growth, but it would be artificial because it is not governed by all the other governing functions of the body. The Body is no mere metaphor. It is a Divine thought embodying Divine principles and spiritual realities. The Body is not something that you can join, take up, discuss. This is not something of special truths, the Church for instance, the Body of Christ. No, it is not doctrine just as truth. … The teaching of the Church which is His Body will not get us anywhere as teaching. We might well have meetings and circles and classes to discuss that, but that is not it. It is the spiritual reality of this, and you can only come into this organically. That demands the corporate, relatedness, the fellowship. It begins with us individually and ends with us corporately.

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May 28

28 MAY – Joint-Heirs with Christ through Suffering

“Heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him” (Rom. 8:17).

This is not just an official thing, something that is a gratuitous gift in a mechanical way, as much as to say, ‘Well, you have done a bit of work; here are your wages’. That thing has been wrought in us through the suffering and the cost and the warfare and the labor, and there is this sense of an inward co-heirship with Christ, if we suffer. It will be a very blessed thing, to us who know how much we are dependent upon the grace of God, how little we can even bear without the support of His grace; it will be a wonderful thing when at last He says, ‘This is the reward of your suffering’. We shall say, ‘Well, after all, it was our light affliction in the light of the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. How have we earned this?’ But there will be some gratification in recognizing that the Lord has taken account of what we have gone through, and has brought us into a sense of His own gratification, and given us to feel ‘Well, it was not in vain, it was not for naught’.

Why did I read those passages in the Old Testament from Numbers and Joshua? They both have to do with inheritance. I read them for this reason, that here were people who, in the first place, were concerned, were jealous, for the inheritance. And then they were people who were prepared to enter into the cost of the inheritance, after which, when they had got it, it was theirs. Yes, it was the Lord’s, but it was theirs. Do you see what I mean? It is theirs. And many of us have gone through the years in toil, in suffering, in labor and warfare in the Lord’s interests, and if there is anything that comes out of that at all, it is ours, in this sense that we are jealous over it with a right kind of jealousy. It belongs to us in the Lord. Yes, it is the Lord’s, but it belongs to us in the Lord, the fruit of suffering and of travail and of cost. Your faithfulness in prayer, and in prayer-gatherings – it is not without cost that you continue like that. Your faithfulness in the upholding of those who go out, it costs. Taking the years over, it is not without price if there is anything. The Lord has given it to you as your inheritance; that is yours. All that eternal spiritual value is yours in Christ.

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May 27

27 MAY – Inward Relationship through Suffering

The very heart of suffering, the very heart of co-heirship with Christ, is this wonderful sense of inward relationship to the object in view, inward relationship to the inheritance, inward relationship to the result, the reward. And that is the explanation of suffering, of labor, of conflict. The Lord does not just give to us without cost. He always brings us into the cost of that which He is going to give. It will be grace all the way through, but He brings us into the cost of the reward. In the end, let us repeat, we shall acknowledge that any part we have had in it of suffering, labor, warfare, has been infinitely outweighed by what He has given and that is where grace will always be our theme; but I do believe that mingled with our gratitude will be this sense that the Lord enabled us to achieve, that He did not act without us and apart from us. He brought us into it, and there will be this deep, inward, heart-relatedness to the result, that we share with Him the gratification. That is the very heart of suffering, I believe.

What we have labored for, suffered for, travailed for, becomes something over which we are very jealous. Suffering for anything is a very purifying thing. Take the matter of the child for which there has been suffering, travail. Well, other people who have not so suffered and travailed and gone through for the child can see all the defects and pass all the criticisms and arrive at their judgments, good or bad, about that child, and just stand apart and say their say about the child. But the mother may see very little of that. There is something for the mother which transcends all that.

There is nothing that is precious to the Lord, and which He would make the property of His people, but there will be suffering for it. It will only become their property in that sense as they suffer for it, and then woe betide who criticizes that! If you are detached from a thing, if you are detached from a testimony, from a work of God, you can do all the criticizing you like. You have no inward heart-relationship to it, and so you pass your judgments upon it. But if you are in it and you have suffered, if it has been a costly thing where you are concerned, then you are seeing more than all the failings, more than all those faults. The people who can criticize like that and judge and point out faults are the people who have not suffered.

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May 27

27 MAY – Inward Relationship through Suffering

The very heart of suffering, the very heart of co-heirship with Christ, is this wonderful sense of inward relationship to the object in view, inward relationship to the inheritance, inward relationship to the result, the reward. And that is the explanation of suffering, of labor, of conflict. The Lord does not just give to us without cost. He always brings us into the cost of that which He is going to give. It will be grace all the way through, but He brings us into the cost of the reward. In the end, let us repeat, we shall acknowledge that any part we have had in it of suffering, labor, warfare, has been infinitely outweighed by what He has given and that is where grace will always be our theme; but I do believe that mingled with our gratitude will be this sense that the Lord enabled us to achieve, that He did not act without us and apart from us. He brought us into it, and there will be this deep, inward, heart-relatedness to the result, that we share with Him the gratification. That is the very heart of suffering, I believe.

What we have labored for, suffered for, travailed for, becomes something over which we are very jealous. Suffering for anything is a very purifying thing. Take the matter of the child for which there has been suffering, travail. Well, other people who have not so suffered and travailed and gone through for the child can see all the defects and pass all the criticisms and arrive at their judgments, good or bad, about that child, and just stand apart and say their say about the child. But the mother may see very little of that. There is something for the mother which transcends all that.

There is nothing that is precious to the Lord, and which He would make the property of His people, but there will be suffering for it. It will only become their property in that sense as they suffer for it, and then woe betide who criticizes that! If you are detached from a thing, if you are detached from a testimony, from a work of God, you can do all the criticizing you like. You have no inward heart-relationship to it, and so you pass your judgments upon it. But if you are in it and you have suffered, if it has been a costly thing where you are concerned, then you are seeing more than all the failings, more than all those faults. The people who can criticize like that and judge and point out faults are the people who have not suffered.

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