The Testimony of Jesus (continued)
The Living Presence of Jesus (continued)
It is all very simple; but that is what the Church is in the first place to make this world know that Jesus is alive, not merely declaring the doctrinal fact, but by living in the power of His resurrection. There are times in some countries when the Church is not able to preach and proclaim the truth of Christ, but that is not the end of its power. Even though silenced in words, it can still make known that Jesus is alive. Yes, the testimony of Jesus is: "I am He That Liveth..."; "the church of the "living" God, the pillar and stay of the truth ..."; but it is more - it is the living victory of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. "I became dead, and behold, I am alive ...", never to become dead again. "I have the keys of death ...", the mastery, the authority, the power over death. 'I have absolutely triumphed over death and all that occasioned death - sin - in the power of the Holy Spirit.' That is the testimony of Jesus: His living victory, present where Christians are.
Are you thinking that this is all very wonderful and very beautiful, but is this practical? Listen! It is so practical that, if you are a living member of Christ, and if you are in a company of believers, born-again believers, constituted by the Holy Spirit, on this true spiritual basis, you will, without doubt, be taken into situations, conditions, where only the resurrection power of Jesus Christ will get you through! Your very survival will necessitate your knowing the power of His resurrection. For individual believers, from time to time, and for local companies of the Lord's people, just as truly as for the Church universal, survival is a testimony to the fact that death has no place here. Death cannot swallow this up - death itself has been swallowed up in victory! What a glorious assurance that is! What a ground of confidence! What an encouragement! We come to times when it looks as though the end has come, we are not going to survive and get through. But never believe it! The life of Jesus was not taken from Him by men: He deliberately laid it down, by His own free will. "This authority", He said, "I received from My Father." The life of Paul was not taken from him by the executioner's axe just outside Rome. "I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come." Here is a man who knows when it is the Lord's time for him to go to glory: he is just being offered up, and he is handing himself over. Paul never said, 'I am going to be executed, they are going to kill me'; he said, "I am being offered up."
If you and I are living on the basis of this One, Who says: "I became dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore" - if we are living in the power of His resurrection, our end will be God-governed, not man-governed. It will be when the Lord says, "It is enough", not when circumstances dictate. God is in charge of this where His Church is concerned. And so, whatever the world does, whatever men do, and whatever the devil does with the Church, local or universal, if it is really on this basis, it just cannot be brought to nought. Gamaliel is our standby here, is he not? 'If it is of God, you had better leave it alone; you had better not be found to be fighting against God. Be careful! If it is not of God, well, it will peter out sooner or later; but if it is of God, you can do nothing..." (Acts 5:34-39). And that from a non-Christian! You see the point. This is the Church which is to embody the testimony of Jesus in terms of a life that has conquered death, to be the embodiment of a living victory in the power of the Holy Spirit.
(continued with # 69 - (Expressing the Nature of Christ)