The Word of Truth
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Editor’s Note: This letter was not a response to a specific question, but we felt that it was profitable for publication.
The Indwelling Christ
Greetings this morning in the name of the Lord Jesus, our Redeemer and Friend. He is reigning in my heart and in the hearts of all who love Him with all their hearts, their souls, their minds, and their strength. It is a great blessing to be all the Lord’s. I have known what it means to be saved and only partially the Lord’s, but I have been blessed to have been led into the heart rest of perfected holiness, perfect love. This is the heritage of God’s children—that they should cease from their own labors to work the works of God. “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God…. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:9-10) This perfection is not a perfecting of the intellect, nor of human judgment and disposition, but it is a perfecting of the motives of the heart. How blessed to be pure in heart and thus enabled to see God revealed! “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
All about us are those who walk after the ways of men (1 Corinthians 3:3), some saved and most not saved: the former without rebellion, the latter in rebellion. “Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought.” (1 Corinthians 2:6)
We are deeply involved in the spiritual conflict of this day of salvation in the way that Brother Paul describes to the Colossians. “Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” (Colossians 1:27-29) I am emphasizing the words Christ in you and in me, because I find this concept/reality is a peculiar difficulty to the unsaved and to the unsanctified. The unsaved in that He is not in them and they know Him not; the unsanctified in that they are greatly hindered by carnality from seeing Him within. To thus grasp Christ within and to trust in Him in His inward reality is to exercise effective faith for holy living—the faith in Jesus so necessary to be an overcomer and to reign in this life (Romans 5:17,21; 1 John 4:4). A good part of the hindrance comes from a reliance on that which is seen outwardly, instead of that which is seen inwardly by faith. One brother in our congregation, who has been quite unstable, has often said, “If I could just see God…. If He would just talk to me like a person….” The concept of seeing that which is unseen has been a mystery to him. But I am glad to report that his inward eyes are being opened a little as he receives the King’s eyesalve (Revelation 3:18), and I have hopes that things are and will be better than in the past.
How weighty the scripture on this point: “Ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.” (2 Corinthianns 5:12) This scripture is just a little before the verse which so thoroughly describes the radical, revolutionary change that takes place in every true Christian’s heart when they are translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of the Son. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthianns 5:17) (See also Colossians 1:13.)
In wielding this spiritual warfare against the adversary of truth and his victims, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) Then: “Do ye look on things after the outward appearance?” (2 Corinthians 10:7) This emphasizes further the thought that deliverance from sin and deliverance from carnality is an unseen thing to fleshly eyes (although the effects of the change can be seen in outward appearance). Carnal (fleshly) weapons accomplish outward things, whereas not-carnal weapons used in spiritual warfare bring about inward deliverances and inward changes. The clear focus of the New Testament is on these things that are not seen, as contrasted with the things that are seen. Accordingly we find Jesus teaching that “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21) These statements were made to the demand of the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God should come. Their attention was directed to the kingdom of God within. There was an outward manifestation of the Lord Jesus in His first coming, and men had their own ideas as to what that outward manifestation meant. His physically being here in bodily form was a temporary manifestation—but inwardly, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)
Now this focus on an inward reality is everywhere in the New Testament scriptures. In Mark 12:28-34, we read of a man who hungered for righteousness and desired to get ahold of truth. He asked a perceptive question and responded to the divine answer in a way that showed he was humbling his heart and was open and receptive inwardly to what the Lord Jesus had come to bring. And so we find the Master telling him, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:34) And we find our Lord standing before an earthly magistrate (Pilate) and telling him: “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” (John 18:36) Pilate, being an earthly representative of an exceedingly powerful earthly kingdom, the superpower of its day, said, “Art thou a king then?” We feel sorry for the man. All he could see was the things of this world, and Jesus did not look like a king to him. But Jesus answered him according to the nature of this spiritual, inward kingdom. “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” (John 18:37) This did not impress Pilate at all, as he was blind to such a kingdom, and he disregarded it, turning away and saying, “What is truth?” (John 18:38)
In Luke 10:1-12, we read of the seventy being sent forth in spiritual warfare, and as they conferred spiritual benefit on the people by the power of God (healing, deliverance, etc.), the effect was described in the following words: “The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” (Luke 10:9) In the seventy’s encountering the opposition, we find this declaration, “Be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” (Luke 10:11) The following description of spiritual judgment that descended (and descends) upon those who inwardly rejected the gospel (the kingdom of God) is sweeping and horrifying. From this, we see that spiritual warfare is just as real and conclusive as physical warfare—in a different realm, the unseen (to physical eyes). To human eyes, these brethren were just more preachers with certain thoughts, etc., howbeit with power from God that would convince any who had ears to hear. But in spiritual reality, these were troops of the heavenly kingdom, carrying out spiritual warfare for good or for bad, depending on how the people made choice in their hearts. Here is the prophecy of those battles:
Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.
Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.
They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.
The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?
You will notice that there is mercy offered in this terrible spiritual judgment. The whole point was repentance inwardly—the rending of the heart, and not the garments. The instrument of this judgment is a people who are not after the normal conduct and way of men. They do not break their ranks, nor thrust another. They are independently directed: “they shall walk every one in his path” (the individual leading and burden of the Holy Ghost, which keeps them from hindering each other), and even this wonderful feature: “when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.” It is wonderful to be one of these. This sword, the Word of God in the hands of the Holy Ghost, corrects, reproves, and instructs in the ways of the Lord. How gladly we fall upon it, and how joyfully we receive reproof and chastening at the hands of Him who loves us and knows all things! Truly these things can be said of those who are used of God in His work on the earth during the time of our probation. “The day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?” This agrees with Malachi, who says, “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:2-3) And the result of the day of His coming, His appearing? “Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” (Malachi 3:4)
We find record of the fulfilment of these scriptures in Brother Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost:
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Notice again all the effect of this spiritual warfare: “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” About three thousand persons were pricked in their hearts and called on the name of the Lord. They were translated into the kingdom of God that very day, the day of the Lord. All of their values and esteemed things, even their sun, moon, and stars were removed and replaced by something vastly superior from heaven itself, from the throne of God. Praise God!
They that turned the world upside down had come hither, sent by the Almighty, and these approximately three thousand had received the visitation of the Lord. The inward vision replaced the outward. The kingdom of God was within and had come without observation. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 14:17) Before this, they had their ideas as to what the kingdom of God was, and these ideas were physical and involved freedom from the Romans, etc., but when they were delivered of sin, they found that God had something better than removing the Roman yoke. The brethren preaching to them had once thought as they thought (Mark 10:35-40). It is evident that James and John thought then that the kingdom was earthly, that Christ would reveal Himself as an earthly king. Their ambition angered the other ten; all of them misunderstood the nature of the kingdom of God. Then Jesus told them, “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45) But on the day of Pentecost, it is evident that the Holy Ghost had taken this “thrusting at one another” out of them, and their ranks were unbroken. They were now able to do the works of God instead of the works of men.
“ ’Tis the kingdom we have now within us;
It is peace, it is comfort and joy,
And a hope in our blessed Redeemer,
Which the tempter can never destroy.
“We are dead to the world and its pleasure;
Our affections are centered above,
Where we own such a wonderful treasure,
’Tis a home in the city of love.”*