God's goal for every believer is oneness with Him. To reach it, we must take on the character of Christ.
All the dealings God has with the soul of the believer are to bring it into oneness with Himself, that the final prayer Jesus prayed before He died may be fulfilled: "That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us....I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me" (John 17:21-23, NKJV).
This divine union was the glorious purpose in the heart of God for His people before the foundation of the world. It was accomplished in the death of Christ. It has been made known by the Scriptures. It is realized as an actual experience by many of God's dear children.
However, it is not experienced by all. God has not hidden this union or made it hard, but the eyes of many are too dim and their hearts too unbelieving for them to grasp it. It is for the purpose of bringing His people into the personal and actual realization of this that the Lord calls upon them so earnestly and so repeatedly to abandon themselves to Him. Thus He may work in them all the good pleasure of His will.
All the previous steps in the Christian life lead up to this. The Lord has made us for it, and until we have understood it and voluntarily consented to embrace it, the "travail of His soul" (Is. 53:11, KJV) for us is not satisfied, nor have our hearts found their destined and real rest.
The Reality of the Christ Life The usual course of Christian experience is pictured in the history of the disciples. First, they were awakened to see their condition and their need and came to Christ and gave their allegiance to Him. Then they followed Him, worked for Him and believed in Him.
Yet how unlike Him they were, seeking to be set up one above the other! They ran away from the cross, misunderstanding His mission and His words. They forsook their Lord in time of danger. But still they were sent out to preach, recognized by Him as His disciples, possessing power to work for Him. They knew Christ as their Lord and Master but did not yet know Him as their life.
Then came Pentecost, and these same disciples came to know Him as one with them in actual union, their very indwelling life. From then on they knew what He was within them, working in them to will and to do of His good pleasure, delivering them by the law of the Spirit of His life, from the bondage to the law of sin and death under which they had been held.
No longer did their wills and interests war with His. His will alone motivated them. His interest alone was dear to them. They were made one with Him.
Surely all can recognize this picture, though perhaps the final stage of it has not yet been fully reached. You may have given up much to follow Christ. You may have believed on Him and worked for Him and loved Him--and yet may not be like Him.
Allegiance you know, and confidence you know, but you do not yet know union. There are two wills, two interests, two lives. You have not yet lost your own life that you may live only in His.
Once it was "I and not Christ." Next it was "I and Christ." Perhaps now it is even "Christ and I." But has it yet come to be Christ only, and not I at all?
If you have followed me to this point, you will surely now be ready to take the definite step of faith which will lead your soul out of self and into Christ. You will then be prepared to abide in Him forever and to know no life but His. You need only to understand what the Scriptures teach about this marvelous union and see that it is intended for you.
Read 1 Corinthians 3:16: "Do you not know you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (NKJV), and then look at the opening of the chapter to see whom Paul was addressing--"babes in Christ" who were "yet carnal" and walked according to men (1 Cor. 3:1). You will then see that this soul-union of which I speak, this unspeakably glorious mystery of an indwelling God, is the possession of even the weakest and most failing believer in Christ. It is true that every believer's "body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God" (1 Cor. 6:19).
But although this is true, it is also equally true that the believer has to know it and live in the power of it. Like the treasures under a man's field which existed there before they were known or used by him, so does the life of Christ dwell in each believer before he knows it and lives in it. Its power is not manifested until, intelligently and voluntarily, the believer ceases from his own life and accepts Christ's life in its place.
- Continue reading >>
For a limited time, we are extending our celebration of the 40th anniversary of Charisma. As a special offer, you can get 40 issues of Charisma magazine for only $40!