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Thursday, June 22, 2017

His Great Love # 6

His Great Love # 6

All-Sufficient Provision In The Beloved, continued -

That causes Paul to go out along one wonderful line, and he says, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself up for me" (Gal. 2:20). (Paul is not saying that when we died in Christ we lost our individuality. We ought to have lost our individualism, but not our individuality.) There is some difficulty in translating the verse just quoted. "I live by the faith of the Son of God," or "which is in the Son of God." It seems to me that, in keeping with so much more that Paul says, it means this: "It is Christ Who is providing what is necessary for this new life on the other side of the Cross. I live by Him, I live by the prevision that He makes." Yes, and God, in calling us into His Son, has called us into an all sufficient provision. You say, "I cannot love, especially in certain directions." But Christ can, and He has proved it in your case. Do you think everybody loves you? There are some people who do not love you, but Christ loves you whatever you are. You might be unloved for very good reasons by everybody else; He loves you, God loves you now with that love that can and does love the unlovely. He can provide us with a love to love.

Is not this the wonder of the whole evangel? Have we not many times heard missionaries who have come home saying, "When I was called of God to go to such and such a country and people, they were the very people I felt I could never love; everything about them stirred up in me only bad feelings; but I have come to love them, they are my people."  Well, that is simple enough. My point is that to be called into Christ is to be called into a provision for what that very word "beloved" means. You have the great example of Paul and the Corinthians. If ever a people deserved the opposite of love from a man, those Corinthians deserved it from Paul. They owed everything to him, and they treated him, to say the least of it, most shabbily, so that he could say that the more he loved them, the less they loved him (2 Cor. 12:15). When you read about them your uppermost feeling is that it requires a great deal to love those people. Yet what is Paul's attitude? His heart is going out in brokenness over them. This is love that is not natural, it is in Christ, it is the provision in the Beloved. Do you catch the thought? I need not labor it. In Christ is an all-sufficient provision.

Well, Paul has many aspects to this great reality of "in Christ." As you know, he says that God put us all into Christ in the Cross. When Christ died and was judged of God, in Him we, too, were judged and death passed upon us all. We are in Him also risen; and not only so, for we are not just left here on this earth as risen: we are in Him seated in the heavenlies. How many aspects of this "in Christ" matter there are! What does it amount to? It amounts to this, that only Christ is the sphere of the believer, and in Christ that great heart intention of God in the creation is realized - a people in the Beloved, beloved of God, the objects of that love, and who should be filled (the Lord forgive us for our failures!) with that same love of God. It is in that sphere of Christ that God proceeds with His love purpose.

Conformity To The Beloved

What is God doing with us in Christ? Inclusively, He is seeking to conform us to the image of His Son in terms of love. What is your idea of the image of God's Son? He is the Son of His love, and the very word "Son" is a love term, than which there is no higher and fuller, and in the revelation of God, Son, Sonship, is the embodiment and exhaustion of love. "Conformed to the image of His Son" in terms of love. I am putting something on you and on myself when I say these things, but there it is. You must ask the Lord to write the force of this in your heart and do not just take it as an address. The Lord will have to help us after this, for there will have to be some very real dealings with Him. We are going to be challenged and found out on this. It is well that we are very much occupied with the word "grace." "Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be." We love that word. Do we realize that is only the other word for love, and that it speaks of the initiative of God in this whole matter? In grace He chose us. The initiative of God was in love.

Then what is true of our position in the Beloved is put upon us as our obligation, and when we are bidden to love one another we are bidden to show to others the grace that God has shown to us. In 1 John 4:19 there is a fragment which is so often quoted - or misquoted when it is quoted from the Authorized Version - "We love Him, because He first loved us." It is a misquotation because the "Him" should not be there, and to put it in really does not make sense with the context. "We love, because He first loved us." That is the whole of John's argument in that letter. "If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:11). "God so loved"; He gave the all that He in heaven possessed. We therefore love one another, because He loved us first.

That is a tremendous test of the reality of our being "in Christ," and a tremendous challenge, and we need something with which to meet and answer that challenge. Paul says that provision is all in the Beloved. That does not get us close enough. It is not us though the beloved Christ is a kind of sphere and God has put everything inside there. It is Himself. "It is no longer I, but Christ liveth in me." Christ is the supplier. Oh, how much Paul dwells upon that! Right through to the end, to the ultimate realization - "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). If there is anything beyond what I have said,it might be summed up in that word "glory." "...hath called us unto His eternal glory" (1 Peter 5:10). But what is the glory? There is no glory except the glory of perfected love. Perfected love is the glory of God. The glory of God is His love.

Well, if you forget all that has been said, do get the impression upon your heart of the one thing - "His great love wherewith He loved us." This whole matter of a Christian's live is gathered into that. That love in us is the satisfying answer to the heart of God. It is not how much truth and doctrine we possess, how much teaching we have or give; it is not a matter of the mysteries of the Gospel; it all resolves itself into this - the love of God shown to us and then shown by us; that is all. The Lord help us!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7 - Love Serving

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