Battleground of the Two Humanities
Lord, Thou knowest that this very act of prayer as we pause at this point is our acknowledgement and confession that we cannot go on without Thee, and we have no wish to do so. Lord, for the speaking of Thy truth, for the reception, understanding, and obedience, we need Thee; we cannot do without Thee. We rest back upon Thy faithfulness, Thy mercy, Thy grace, and we believe that trusting in Thee, Thou wilt not fail us; and we shall come through by the help of God, so be it. And seeing that it is so, the glory will be Thine alone through our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
We in these hours are being occupied with the climax of humanity as represented in the appearing in this world of God's Son in human form, and we have reached the point in these meditations where we are at present occupied with the battleground of the two humanities, that battleground being particularly focused in the two letters to the Corinthians; that is their place in the sovereign ordering of God. Other letters have particular aspects, but here in Corinthians we find the focal point of the great controversy between the Old and the New, the first Adam and the last Adam, the one humanity and the Other.
Let me say here before we proceed that our consideration may seem to be very much of a destructive character, hard, exacting, not pleasant at all to our old humanity. These letters are drastic; and as we have said, devastating to the old humanity; and the apostle is really hitting very hard, saying some very strong things - while in love, yet being very faithful. I do want to very definitely point this out that the apostle took that attitude and handled the situation as strongly, forcefully, radically as he did, not because he wanted to hurt anybody, not just because he did not agree with these people, but because he had seen - he had devastatingly seen the Lord Jesus in Glory. This man's whole life and ministry were actuated by what he called "the heavenly vision," and he had seen the greatness, the immensity of the significance of Jesus Christ in the whole economy of God in this universe.
Beyond Paul's power to explain and express (for he exhausted all language in his attempt to do so), Jesus Christ for him had appeared and was continually in his heart being revealed in such magnitudes as to make him feel that anything that gets in the way of our attaining must be ruthlessly dealt with. He said: "Brethren, I have not attained, I am not already complete, I press toward the mark, the prize of the on-high calling." What was it?
Utter conformity to the image of God's Son - the real apprehension in his own experience of the wonder and glory of Jesus Christ - to attain unto that was the all-consuming object and passion of his life because he had seen!
Now my point this morning is not intended to be destructive and negative and only against. If we are seemingly being very hard on this old man, it is with the positive always in view; it is unto something - unto the image of God's Son. Now having said that, let us proceed with this battleground of the two humanities as gathered into these two letters to the Corinthians which we will only be able to touch so lightly and so imperfectly this week, but I think sufficiently to indicate a great deal more which you will grasp.
The Expression of Jesus Christ
So here we are in the midst of the whole business of the New Testament, the transition from one humanity to Another and that where Christians are concerned. You must remember these letters were written to a local assembly, and while individuals in the assembly are picked out and pinpointed and spoken straightly to about their conduct, their behavior, their manner of life, it is the assembly that the apostle is concerned with and what a local assembly should be as an expression of Jesus Christ. That is the only object for the existence of any local assembly - the expression of Jesus Christ. The apostle was concerned with that nucleus in Corinth of the whole Body of Christ, and I think that it is very impressive that down through twenty centuries
in ever widening circles from nation to nation, country to country, to the farthest bounds of this earth, the ministry to the Corinthians has expanded and today it is dealing with us. A local assembly ought to take on that character and not just be a localized thing. It ought to have a universal significance, to say something. Oh, that every local company of the Lord's people said something for all time and for all eternity and to all the world as to the meaning of Jesus Christ!
(continued with # 17)