The New Testament: The Great Transition (continued)
So, what are we to be occupied with at this time is first of all, to behold the Man, to BEHOLD THE MAN. And I would pray, and do pray, that when this week is finished, we shall be able to truly express our hearts in those wonderful words of a poet known to many of you. These are some lines from that wonderful poem:
I am Christ's, and let that Name suffice me.
Aye, and for me He greatly hath sufficed.
Yea, through life, through death, through sorrow, and through sinning,
He shall suffice me, for He hath sufficed.
Christ is the end, for Christ was the beginning.
Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ.
Those words express what we would all like to be the issue of this time - Christ.
A New Captivation Of Christ
A New,Wonderful Appreciation of Christ.
A New Seeing of the Significance of Christ In God's Universe.
Now for these remaining few minutes of the introduction, I want to just pinpoint this one thing. Have you recognized, (perhaps you have without putting it in these words) have you recognized that the very heart and pivot of our Bible is an immense transition? The heart of the Bible is where the Old Testament ends and the New Testament begins, for here are two halves of human history, of humanity. Right there, at that point we come on this great immense transition. The New Testament is wholly taken up with the meaning and the nature, the fact of this transition, this movement from one thing to Another in humanity.
You will recall so much in your New Testament when I just mention these things. First of all it is a transition from one man to Another, from Adam to Christ. We read that in 1 Corinthians 15: "the first man," He called "him?..." No, He called "them" man (Genesis 5:2). That is racial; that is humanity. He called them. That is very simple - the first man, Adam. It is the same thing, "Adam" and "man," as you noticed in the margin of Genesis 5. "He called them "man." And the New Testament wholly bears upon this transition from one humanity to Another, from one racial head and inclusive person to Another. It is a New Humanity, going beyond transition then, which is a racial one, from Adam to Christ, from the first man to the last Man.
Secondly, there is a transition from one nation to Another. I know there is room for a lot of controversy there about Israel; nevertheless, the New Testament and Christ Himself came down on this quite emphatically: "The kingdom of God shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." Heavenly Fruit, not earthly. Transition from one nation to Another.
And Peter, oh, Peter! I am amazed at Peter, are you not? That erstwhile Judaistic traditionalist who had a battle with the Lord over Gentiles in Caesarea, going to the house of Cornelius and even saying in a contradicton of terms to the Lord, "Not so, Lord." You cannot put those words together - "Lord" and "Not so." The other man, Paul, you remember when he met Christ, said: "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" But Peter has not got out of his tradition quite yet; and even an Antioch - dissimulation. When James and the elders came down from Jerusalem, Peter withdrew himself from eating with the Gentiles. He has still got a little bit of grave clothes left on him, but marvel of marvels, when you come to his letters he is out. "Ye are an elect race." Who? - The saints scattered throughout Pontius, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Bithynia. An elect race. He is out of the one nation, now into the Other. The transition has been consummated in this man. But it was a battle. Always a battle over this old association with the natural man. We are going to see much more of that.
Then it is a transition from one economy to the Other. Your letter to the Hebrews is one solid argument for this transition. I am so impressed with the constant recurrence in the New Testament of one phrase which leads out with linking words: the phrase is "Not, But." John began that, did he not? Christ said to the woman of Samaria: "Not in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem, but in spirit" (John 4:21), 24 paraphrased). "Not, nor, but" - and you find that occurring again and again.
And here you come to this great transition from one economy to Another, the old economy taking in the great ministry of angels: that is a subject for a morning in itself. The ministry of angels in the old economy. The law was given through angels. Angels came again and again to Gideon, to Daniel. The archangels, marvelous ministry of angels - but the Letter to the Hebrews opens up, "Not unto angels ... but" - "Not, but" - what a change! And the following argument is that this New Economy infinitely transcends the ministry of angels.
(continued with # 5)