Two Practical Issues
Now there is another thing to remember in this connection and it is that, while God's starting place is unalterable, on our side there are two things of a practical character in relation to it.
1. An Acceptance of God's Position
Firstly, there must be an acceptance of all the implications of the fact in one definite act of faith and consecration. You and I will never know at any one time all the implications. We shall never be able to see all that God means in laying down this law of a fixed starting place. Everything, from the Divine standpoint, is bound up with that, and takes its rise from that, but we shall only realize this as we go on. It is for us to take the attitude of faith and consecration toward all the implications of it, though we do not fully know what they are. In one definite act we have to come to the place where we say: Now Lord, what You mean by bringing me to Your starting place, and all that is bound up with that, I stand into by faith. It is one definite act of commitment, acceptance, and consecration.
Many people have a very insufficient conception of the meaning of consecration. So often it is thought to be just a handing over of the life to God, a giving of oneself to the Lord in complete surrender. Well, of course, it is that, but there is far more in such an act of consecration than is generally recognized. Complete consecration means that we are going to allow the Lord to do all that He means by consecration, and not merely what we may think it to mean. When the Lord gets both His hands upon a life, as it were, and that life is completely in His hands, the Lord does extraordinary things with, and in, that life; strange things; deep things; many things which were not looked for, not expected; things which are very unpleasant to the flesh and very mysterious, which the natural mind can never reconcile with the wisdom of God, nor with the love of God. That is all a part of consecration. Consecration means that we are henceforth in the Lord's hands for Him to do what He sees is necessary. It is rather the surrender of an inner life, an inner being to God, than the mere superficial idea of just putting your life into the hands of God, with the thought that now God is going to use you mightily. There is something very much more in consecration than that, and from the standpoint of God, Who knows us, knows the requirements, knows what is necessary, there are many implications bound up with coming to God's starting place.
You and I have to recognize that, and in once act of faith hand ourselves over to all the implications which are clear before His eyes, and not only to what we may see of them at the moment. We find that as we go on, and things which we never thought of, never imagined, never anticipated, begin to arise in our experience, and we come to crises, to something in the nature of an impasse with the Lord, where we have a controversy over the Lord's ways with us and come face to face with the Lord in a challenging attitude, the Lord will wait until we soften toward Him, and then He will say to us: 'But this was in the original reckoning! This is nothing new! This is not something that has just come in by the way! This was all in the original reckoning, and you told Me I could do just exactly what I liked! Are you prepared to stand on your original ground? This is what consecration and surrender means, and you accepted it for all that it meant. Are you going to stand there now?'
Many of you know what is meant, although you have not had it presented in this way to your minds. You know that every fresh crisis only takes you back to your original position with the Lord. It at once recalls you to the place where you started, where you gave yourself to the Lord for all His way and will. Now you are saying: But I did not think it meant this! But the Lord did mean this, and He has thought a great deal more than we have ever yet conceived. God's starting place has to be accepted in all its implications in one act of faith in Him.
2. A Progressive Outworking
Secondly, there is the other side of this. There will be a progressive working out of the implications. God does not bring us in experience in on complete act into all those implications. They are all settled in Him, all perfected in Christ, but in us the implications will be worked out progressively. This, however, will only be on the ground that we have given the Lord full permission to work them out, and given Him an open way. Then He will work out progressively the implications of God's starting place.
(continued with # 3)