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Monday, October 1, 2012

God's Supreme Interest in Man # 6

The Pattern and the Purpose

This is Putting on the New Man

Colossians 3:8-11

Now we will go over the five points that compare the above verse: first, the retrospect to the Creator and the created, where it says, "...created in Him after the image of Him that created him." This is going back to the Creator and His creating. Next, there is the pattern and the purpose of the creating. Christ is the Pattern, the Purpose; and man is the created who is to be "renewed after the image of Him." Then, thirdly, there is the real nature and meaning of the crisis in the life of the believer, which involves "ye have put off ... and put on." Then there is the occupation and energy of the Holy Spirit, where man is "being renewed after the image." And, finally, there is the exclusiveness and the inclusiveness of Christ, where "there cannot be ... but Christ ... ALL, and in ALL."

We have dwelt for some time upon the first of those things mentioned: the man and his Creator, the Creator and the created. We have spoken of the disintegration of the first man and the invasion of schism into human life resulting in the long history of human frustration. That on the one side, and on the other side is the intervention through the Incarnation of God in Christ to reintegrate and reunify human life, to redeem man from that state of schism and frustration. And all this is leading us to the final emphasis, which is really the focal point of all our consideration and concern at this time - the dominant idea in all is God's supreme interest in man. God is supremely concerned with this that is called man, human life, manhood, according to His Son Jesus Christ.

God is not concerned or interested or active in relation to mere things. We are concerned with things, and we are tremendously affected by things. What I mean is this, a lot of our time and energy is taken up with systems and with societies and with institutions and with organizations and forms. Even in our Christian life and worship, there are things - there is the outside. God is not so concerned as we are with all that. If we could just cut in there between these interests, we would be saved from so much. We are almost harassed by the things of Christianity, with the meetings and ministers and forms of worship, how things are done, for there are the thousand and one things which have been built up around Christianity. Now I say, we are concerned with and affected by the things of Christianity. But God is not: God goes right through all of this and looks inside of all this. He does not look on the "outside" as we do. He just goes right in, and what He is interested in, concerned with, and seeking for, is man himself - man, a human lie that satisfies His created thought. He is dealing with you and with me as people.

As we have said, sometimes He seems to be so concentrated as to single us out as though we were the only individuals in His universe. It seems as though the whole world is something that relates to us only. Do you understand that He isolates us by our experiences and shuts us up and imprisons us into spiritual history in order to deal with us? Yes, God is supremely concerned with man, men if you life - mankind. He is looking for men in order to make of mankind a man after the image of Him that created him, that is, Jesus Christ. The only possible reunification, reintegration of human life is Christ, is in Christ; and it will be - this is quite a simple statement and an obvious one, but one which we very much overlook - it will be just in the measure and degree in which Christ, the Man, the Heavenly Man, is in us that we shall be united with one another. We can put it the other way: in the measure in which Christ is not there in our relationships will be the measure of our schism and the measure of our frustration.

Now let us go on to the second  of these points: The Pattern and the Purpose, "being renewed after the image of Him that created him". We have to focus our attention, our heart's attention upon the Him Who is the IMAGE, unto which we are to be renewed. So we find the Image introduced, inducted, presented, and He is officially from heaven and historically on earth, presented to us at His baptism, foreshadowing His Cross. "This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." That marks a point at which He assumes His official position as the IMAGE unto which this renewing is to take place. He is presented, inducted, and introduced into the world before heaven. The heaven was opened, the Voice said before men and before hell, "Behold" - Thou art My Beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased."

God made Him the focal point of this universe and all creation. Here is the focal point: Which is the IMAGE introduced and presented, to Which humanity is to be conformed, to Which humanity is to be renewed or perish and pass out. Governing all is the presentation of the IMAGE. After the presentation or the induction, there came immediately the testing. It is spiritually important to recognize the sequence, the immediate sequence, presented, introduced, inducted, and then tested.

You know that there ought to be no break in those chapters three and four in the gospel by Luke. Jesus baptized, coming up out of the water, heaven opened, the Spirit descending, the Voice from heaven attesting. "Then was Jesus led" of That Spirit which had come upon Him, into the wilderness, to be tempted or tried by the devil, the other central figure in creation. After the identifying - "This is My Beloved Son" - the testing came.

And I want you to note again the inclusiveness of this testing, this time of temptation. It must have been in the mind of Christ something tremendously important to take account of. The fact that it is recorded in all the gospels, and referred to later in the New Testament, and the fact that Jesus was reticent about speaking of His own inner history. He alone could have told about this experience, for no one else was with Him. He was in the wilderness alone. He alone knew about this, but at some subsequent time He must have told it, so that Matthew and Luke could record it to be placed on record; and divulging one of the deepest experiences of His earthly history in this way must  surely mean that it held a very great  significance in the whole meaning of the Incarnation.

And that is the point I want you to notice and to take careful account of. This stands in a position of very great significance in the whole meaning of the Incarnation of the Son of God. It is so inclusive of everything.  Every subsequent temptation that came to the Lord Jesus, and this temptation was not the only one. You remember, it says at the end of this, and "then the devil leaveth Him for a season." For a season! It is as though the devil said, I will be back again, it is not the end of this and how true it was. Every subsequent attack of the enemy would take on the very things that were included in this one along different lines, in different garb, but the same thing, again and again in principle.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7)

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