The prophets had dimly seen something. You will hear a prophet saying: "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Well, that prophet had begun to see something; and there are other things like that. It is but a beginning, but what they are saying is that this One is going to come into full view. 'We are pointing on to Him', they say, 'looking on to the day when this One shall come right out into recognition.' And this is that day; we are in the day of the prophets' fulfilled vision.
These are not merely words, great ideas. It has to be true of you, even though it my be only at its beginnings, that the apprehension of Jesus Christ in your heart is tremendous, is overwhelming. He is your vision, and He has mastered you in the sense of His greatness. We shall never get through without vision. We shall break if we have no vision, or if our vision is arrested. If something interferes with the clearness, the fullness, of our vision, we shall begin to go around in circles, not knowing where we are. The vision will carry us on if it is kept clear and full. Have yo got it? When the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, this tremendous thing happened - they saw the Lord, and in seeing Him they began to be emancipated from everything that was other or less than He. Those who did not see, well, they began to pass out and either became nonentities in the spiritual realm or, because of their prejudices, enemies to those who saw. The instance in John 9 was fulfilled in a spiritual sense. The Lord opened the eyes of the man born blind. What happened? The others cast him out. Those who saw in the day of the Spirit's coming were excommunicated by many who were prejudiced. They were cut off. There is always a price attached to seeing.
But that is not our subject now. Simply, what the Lord has been saying to us, in the first place, is that He desires to have, and must have - and therefore He can have - in this dispensation a people with their eyes open, a seeing people who have the faculty in themselves.
(c) Vision To Be Personal And Increasing In Every Believer
Now, the difference between the dispensations is just that. In the old dispensation everything had to be told to the people. They had to get it secondhand from someone else; it was never their own, it was not original. In the new dispensation of the Holy Spirit, the thing was in themselves; the root of the matter was in them. But Christianity has become very largely a system which has reverted to the level of the old dispensation. That is, so many Christians have their lives based upon addresses and sermons and going to meetings and being told by other people. How many Christians do you find today who are really living in the good of a throbbing, personal revelation of Jesus Christ? I do not think that is an improper question. The great need of our day is for the people of God to be re-established on the basis upon which the Church was founded in the beginning, a Holy Spirit basis; and the very beginning of that basis is this - not to have a lot of information given to Christians, but that the Christians should have the faculty of spiritual sight within them, should have the capacity for seeing, and should themselves be seeing. Can you say: 'My eyes are open; I am seeing God's eternal purpose, I am seeing the significance of Christ; I am seeing more and more as to the Lord Jesus? Unless it is like that, we shall leave the Holy Spirit behind, and we shall have to turn around and go back to find Him where we left Him, because a life in the Holy Spirit right up to date is a life of continually increasing vision. Vision is absolutely essential, both as to faculty and as to object.
The Instrumentality of the Cross
(a) Death - The Removal of What Is Of Man
Still recapitulating, we went on next to see that, in order to keep the faculty alive and the vision growing, the Holy Spirit has an instrument. He always works by an instrument, and that instrument is the Cross; that is, the principle of the Cross of the Lord Jesus.
This means, on the one side, the removal of everything that cannot come into the new Kingdom; getting rid of that which in God's sight is dead and has to be put away - that is to say, the sum total of the self-life. Call it by other names if you like - the flesh, the natural life, the old Adam, and so on. I prefer this designation - the self-principle - because it is very comprehensive: whether it be the self-principle acting in the outward direction, in assertiveness, in imposition, where the self is the impact; or whether it act in the inward direction, drawing to self. Oh, how many aspects their are of the self-life in both these direction! We may know some of the more obvious ones, but are we not learning how deeply rooted, with countless fibers, is this "self"? We never get to the end of it. It spreads its tentacles throughout our whole constitution - "I", somehow, strong or weak. It is just as bad for it to be weak as to be strong. Self-pity is only a way of drawing attention to ourselves and being occupied with ourselves, and it is just as pernicious as self-assertiveness. It is "self", all the same; it belongs to the same root, it comes from the same source. It all comes from that false life of the one who said: "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; and I will sit upon the mount of the congregation ... I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:13, 14). "I" - "I" - "I" -. Truly, we cannot exhaust the forms of this self-life.
Now, because it is so many-sided and so far-reaching and so deeply rooted, the Lord cannot deal with it all at once in the active way. He has dealt with it all at once potentially in the Cross of His Son. But now the application of that must go on. You and I must know continually the application of the principle of the Cross to the various forms of the self-life. We must learn both the need for and the manner of its being smitten, stricken, laid low and brought under the hand of God; and that is the meaning of "disciple", that is the meaning of training. It is on that side of things that the Holy Spirit is constantly taking precautions against the self-life. Even in the case of a far-advanced and well-crucified Apostle, it becomes necessary, in the presence of great Divine deposits , for God to take precautions and put a stake in his flesh and give him a messenger of satan to buffet him, lest he should become exalted (2 Corinthians 12:7). That is very practical. The Holy Spirit uses the principle and the law of the Cross repeatedly and ever more deeply in order to get rid of the rubbish - that which occupies the ground which must be occupied by the Lord Himself. There has to be a lot of clearing of the ground in order to build the new spiritual kingdom within.
(continued with - "(b) Resurrection - The Expression of the Lord Himself")