"He Must Reign" (continued)
We have said that, for the apostles, the reign of Christ had already begun; it did obtain in their time. How did they come to that conviction, to that knowledge? We will keep, for our purpose, to the man whose words we have extracted, the man Paul. Paul's knowledge of Christ as reigning sprang out of his personal experience of that fact. He had had an encounter in his life with the reigning, glorified Lord; and the Lord from Heaven had had an encounter with him. It had become something in his own personal experience, history and life. It was something very personal; and it has to be that. Until it is that, it can be very theoretical. It has to be personal and experimental. And it was so with Paul. In that encounter, on the way to Damascus, two very personal words had been used, and I think it all centers in that fact.
Two Personal Words
First of all, Paul had been spoken to by his own personal name: "Saul, Saul!" His own name was called and reiterated. He is being nailed down to this personally; he is not getting away with it; he is not being allowed to mistake what he hears. It is being directed to the man in his own personal name. He is not mixed up in a crowd; he is not just met in a teaching: the thing has come quite straight at him as a man, as an individual - "Saul, Saul!" I am not suggesting that we all have to have the same form of encounter. But we all have to have the same crisis; that is, we are all to have, and can have, a point in our life when we come face to face with the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ; and there is the crisis upon which all the future turns. It is a tremendous thing to come face to face with the Lordship of Christ; it is a greater thing than coming face to face with His Saviourhood. There are many people who are saved by the Saviour, and own Him as Saviour, but whose lives are seriously lacking in the power of His Lordship. That is a statement - we leave it.
The other very personal word to Saul was the one that came when he asked, "Who art Thou, Lord?" The answer came: "I am Jesus ..."; and, lest Saul should prevaricate, try to evade, get around it, by saying, "yes, but our country is full of men by that name; which Jesus do you mean?" - the Lord safeguarded it by adding: "...Whom thou persecutest" - "the Jesus Whom you are persecuting - that is the One!" And Saul knew Who that One was, right enough. He had but one Jesus in all his thoughts and in all his plans, and that Jesus he was determined to blot out and wipe out from the world's memory; he was out to eradicate every trace of that Jesus. "I am Jesus - the One that you are persecuting." You see how personal the Lord made this matter. He brought it right home, first to the man himself, and then to the very purpose of his life - the very object to which he had dedicated all his strength of mind and body for its destruction: "I am Jesus."
Something like that is really necessary if there is to be any kind of repetition, in the Church and in us, of the after results in the life of Paul. There has to come a point where, instead of being just one of a multitude, we come, personally and individually, under His absolute personal domination and Lordship. Our whole life - all our ambitions, all our enterprises, all our commitments, are now brought under His Lordship. It is a tremendous thing, but the glory of that Throne waits upon the acceptance of its Government, its Lordship.
(continued with # 57 - "Paul's Transfigured Bible")