The Spiritual Resources of the Church (continued)
The Marks of a Spiritual People
A. Living By Divine, Not Natural, Life
Well, firstly, it means that the life of such a people must be spiritual life. In the work of God there can be, and often is, the projecting of a great deal of natural life-force. You may call it by different terms - zeal, enthusiasm, drive, energy, any such word to describe putting yourself into the thing with all your might to make it go. So, by this zest, by this intensity, by this strength, you get the work of God done. Now, it is not that I am talking about. If this thing is going to be done in the spiritual realm, it is only going to be done by spiritual life, and spiritual life is something altogether different from natural life. As we are basing everything upon the Cross, allowing the Cross to be our basis and our interpretation, it is just here that the great cleavage is made, the great difference is recognized, the great turnover takes place. At the Cross, so far as spiritual effect, is brought to an end, is at a discount. Even natural physical life, energy, strength, as producing anything spiritual in effect, counts for nothing. When you are coming into touch with spiritual forces, what is the good of muscular or constitutional strength in the physical, natural realm? Those forces have only to touch the strongest body and it will be broken. So you find in the New Testament that all counting upon the energy, the capability, the strength of the natural life, is set aside, and the men concerned are brought to an end of that and made to know that their spiritual work, their spiritual accountability, takes its rise from Divine life even for the body, so that, under the hand of God, they come to the place where, unless Divine life is administered even to their physical bodies - strong as they have been physically and constitutionally before - they cannot go on, they are at an end.
Paul is a great outstanding example of that. The others were there too. Peter cam to his crisis on that. He was very sure of himself and what he could do, how far he could go, what he could go through and endure; but he had to come, by means of the Cross, in the very presence of the Cross, to the place where he recognized that he could never get through on that. The words of the Lord to him had an immediate meaning - "Thou canst not follow Me now; but thou shalt follow afterwards" (John 13:36); not 'hereafter,' that is, in the distant Hereafter, in the next life, but "afterwards." After what? - after you have learned this lesson of the utter impotence of human life, and the absolute necessity and potency of Divine life, even in the physical realm.
(continued with # 9)