Chain Reaction in Realms of the Spirit
Beauty For Ashes Part 4 - George H. Warnock
CHAPTER 5 - DISCOVERING OUR CROSS
The Holy Spirit, when He is Lord in our lives, will cause us to focus on the Cross as the pathway of life. Not merely on that cruel instrument of torture that brought Jesus to His death, BUT ON THE CROSS AS THE PATHWAY OF LIFE.
God "condemned sin in the flesh" when Jesus died on the Cross. But our struggle has always been to find how to put an end to sin in our flesh, here where we are now--2,000 years removed from the Cross on which Jesus died, And the answer is clear. It is by the functioning of the Law of the Spirit. And we can be sure that NOT UNTIL WE GIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT HIS LORDSHIP IN OUR LIVES, AND IN OUR GATHERINGS TOGETHER IN HIS NAME, ARE WE GOING TO EXPERIENCE THIS MIGHTY WORKING IN OUR MIDST.
Now the Law of the Spirit will lead us IN THE SAME PATHWAY OF OBEDIENCE THAT JESUS WALKED IN, AND THIS WILL MAKE HIS VICTORY OVER THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH TO BE EFFECTUAL IN OUR LIVES. The victory is in His Cross, but it is the Spirit who makes it effectual in our lives. This is what our baptism in water is all about--"Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). Do we hear what He is saying? "THAT LIKE AS CHRIST--EVEN SO WE ALSO..."
But how can we expect to discover this vital witness of the Spirit in water baptism, if in our baptism we are not experiencing the life of the Spirit? If in our baptism we are not experiencing "the washing of water by the Word"? If in our baptism we are not saying, "From this moment on, Lord, I am Yours. I hereby die to my own thoughts, to my own will, to my own desires, to my own way of life. Lord, this is what the Cross meant to You, and this is what it must mean to me, from this day forward."
The "water" is a witness. The "blood" is a witness. For the "water" is our witness that we believe in the "blood" and in the "cross" which caused the blood to flow, BUT THE SPIRIT OF GOD MUST QUICKEN TO OUR HEARTS AND MINDS WHAT GOD DID AT THE CROSS IF WE ARE GOING TO EXPERIENCE AN EFFECTUAL CLEANSING OF THE BLOOD IN OUR LIVES.
"This is He that came by WATER AND BLOOD, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by WATER AND BLOOD. And it is THE SPIRIT that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth" (1 Jn. 5:6). Oh, that we might be caught away in THE FLOW OF THE SPIRIT, IN THE FLOW OF THIS CLEANSING STREAM!
We know what Jesus accomplished at the Cross, because we believe His Word. BUT ONLY HIS SPIRIT CAN MAKE IT VITAL AND REAL IN OUR LIVES. For just as a bird was slain for the cleansing of the leper, and its blood mingled with pure, running water in an earthen vessel (and this became a cleansing stream for the leper in Israel)--so when the blood of the Lord Jesus was shed, there issued forth from His sacrifice a cleansing stream of BLOOD AND WATER: "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out BLOOD AND WATER. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true..." (Jn. 19:34-35).
BLOOD AND WATER! BLOOD AND WATER! This is the stream that cleanses--not the sterile water of the baptismal tank or font. ONLY THE PRESENCE OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD CAN MAKE OUR BAPTISM IN WATER TO BE EFFECTUAL AND MEANINGFUL. In saying this I am not minimizing the importance of water baptism, but seeking to elevate it. MERE RITUAL ACCOMPLISHES NOTHING. Whatever we do in obedience to the Lord must be accompanied by His Presence and Spirit if it is going to be effectual. The water that the children of Israel drank in the wilderness was "spiritual," because it was impregnated with the Life of Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). The bread they ate in the wilderness was "spiritual" because it was prepared in Heaven and endued with the Life of Christ (1 Cor. 10:3). The Water of the Word is "spiritual" when it is endued, impregnated, and anointed with the Holy Spirit. If it is a mere doctrinal position it is all in vain. It must be a flowing stream. The water of purification that God ordained for the cleansing of the leper had to be "running" water, or "living" water. And it was effectual because the living bird was dipped in the water and in the blood, and released to soar into the heavens and over the fields. (See Lev. 14:4-7).
Now our baptism in water is a testimony to all that we are washed in the blood, and are committed to walk in the way of the Cross. The Holy Spirit is the faithful Witness, as He soars in the heavens... with Blood and Water dripping from His wings. Hear Him, as we soar with Him in heavenly places. "There is cleansing, perfect cleansing from all sin and defilement! His blood has made us clean! The water of truth applies the blood to our hearts!" And the Spirit is witness to the truth, for He was there when Jesus died, and He bears witness "that the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." He knows that there is nothing more pure, in Heaven or in earth, than the sinner who is washed in the water and the blood of the Lord Jesus.
Now I am confident that God wants His Holy Spirit to bear witness to the cleansing of the blood in our hearts and minds, AS TRULY AND AS EFFECTIVELY AS CHRIST BEARS WITNESS BEFORE THE THRONE OF GOD THAT OUR REDEMPTION IS COMPLETE. BUT HOW ARE WE GOING TO HEAR THAT CLEAR WITNESS THAT STANDS BEFORE THE FATHER IF THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS NOT GIVEN HIS LORDSHIP AND AUTHORITY IN OUR MIDST TO SPEAK TO OUR HEARTS THAT SAME LIVING WORD THAT CHRIST OUR MEDIATOR SPEAKS BEFORE THE THRONE?
The Three Witnesses
The blood and the water flowed from His side,
And sprinkled the earth below,
For earth was the vessel that God did provide
To receive this cleansing flow.
And the Spirit of truth was there on that day,
God's Witness, so faithful and sure
That our sins are removed and taken away,
And the heart of the leper made pure.
His pinions are stained with the blood of the Son,
As He soars o'er the hills and the fields.
O hear His clear witness, "The work has been done,
You are cleansed in the stream that heals!"
For the Spirit is witness that water and blood
Flowed from His wounded side,
That we might be cleansed in the streams of God,
Ever with Him to abide.
There is nothing more clean on the earth below,
Nor in Heaven's pure realms above,
Than the children of men who abide in the flow
Of the streams of His mercy and love.
O plunge and be clean in the River of God,
And soar on the wings of the Dove,
Immersed in the Fountain of Water and Blood,
Redeemed by the Son of His love!
I am confident that there are multitudes of believers who have the witness of the Word that they are "accepted in the Beloved," but who lack that clear witness of the Spirit that they are buried with Christ, cleansed by the Blood, and risen with Him to walk in newness of life. Submitting to another baptism will not do it. Knowing more about the doctrines of the Word will not do it. Understanding more of the mysteries of the New Covenant will not do it. We must return to the Lordship of Christ! His Spirit must become the Lord in our midst!
"IT IS THE SPIRIT THAT BEARETH WITNESS BECAUSE THE SPIRIT IS TRUTH."
When God's people, even just a nucleus of them, will come to this kind of commitment: "Lord, I will do what You say--I will go Your Way--as You give me the grace and the power to do it," then we are going to see a "nuclear" spiritual reaction that will set in motion THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE in the Body of Christ, in ways that will exceed our fondest expectations. But where is that passionate longing and desire for the return of His Lordship to our midst? As long as we are content to know that blessed state of justification by His blood--without having a passionate desire for Christ to be Lord of His Church, without knowing that earnest commitment to walk in His way and become identified with His Cross--we are not going to experience that mighty presence of the Spirit in our midst that will bring cleansing and deliverance and holiness to the people of God.
I am confident that the Lord is rising up in His Church in this hour with those burning "eyes of fire" to sweep away the dross from His people, and to bring us back to the Cross from which we have strayed; and that He is going to set in motion the forces of resurrection life in the Body of Christ that we might know and experience in our daily lives the blood of His Cross, and the power of His resurrection. But do we really desire this to happen? Do we really desire to discover our cross?
If we do, this must bring us to the place where we are ready to cancel our plans, desires, pursuits, ambitions--be they base and worldly, or noble and spiritual. THE ONE MOTIVATING PRINCIPLE THAT GUIDED OUR LORD JESUS WAS NOT GOD'S PLAN FOR THE WORLD, OR GOD'S PLAN FOR THE KINGDOM, OR GOD'S PLAN FOR THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL--IT WAS SIMPLY AND ONLY A PASSION AND DESIRE TO WALK IN THE WILL OF THE FATHER. Everything that He did--everything that was good and righteous and beautiful--sprang out from this simple commitment:
"I CAN OF MINE OWN SELF DO NOTHING: AS I HEAR, I JUDGE: AND MY JUDGMENT IS JUST; BECAUSE I SEEK NOT MINE OWN WILL, BUT THE WILL OF THE FATHER WHICH HATH SENT ME" (Jn. 5:30).
I am confident that the heart of God is heavy and grieved as He listens in to the cries of a very zealous, but a very wretched and miserable Laodicean Church, for more preachers, and more church buildings and temples, and more seminars, and more television, and more radio, and more music, and more money, money, money, "to get the job done." If we had ears to hear what He is saying, we would sense the grief of His heart, and His longing for a people who would come to stillness, and hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches...
"My son, give Me thine heart."
"My people, will you not become broken bread in My hands, that I might do as I will?"
"Where is the house that ye build unto Me? and where is the place of My rest? For all those things... have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My Word" (Isa. 66:1-2).
The Accusation Of The Lord Jesus
"And they crucified Him... and set up over His head His accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS" (Matt. 27:35, 37).
Jesus seemed to be a little evasive when Pilate asked Him if He was a king. Not because He was unwilling to tell the truth but because His Kingdom was vastly different from what Pilate understood about kingdoms. But when Pilate insisted, "Art thou the King of the Jews?" Jesus gave a very direct answer: "My Kingdom is not of this world: if My Kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight... Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth..." (Jn. 18:36-37).
Our Lord Jesus never promoted His Kingdom except as it related to proclaiming the Truth, walking in the Truth, living the Truth; for this is the whole character and ultimate essence of the Kingdom of God.
Once again as in the days of Jesus there is a lot of expectation concerning the Kingdom of God; and it is still as greatly distorted and misunderstood by God's people as it was back then. Jesus made it clear that His Kingdom did not relate to eating and drinking, to the economy, to political movements, or to externally getting involved with the kingdoms of this world. On one occasion they even tried to force Him to be their King. BUT WHEN THEY FULLY UNDERSTOOD THAT HE CAME TO CHANGE THEIR HEARTS RATHER THAN THEIR GOVERNMENT, THEY WERE QUICK TO CRUCIFY HIM. The Jewish Sanhedrin understood the nature of His mission much more than most of our Christian leaders do today:
"If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation" (Jn .11:48).
And then there was a very remarkable prophecy by the High Priest in which He not only prophesied the death of Jesus, but went on to say things that he himself did not understand: that this One would not only gather together the people of God there in their own nation, but would reach out and gather together the people of God wherever they were in all nations.
THIS PROPHECY BECAME THE CRUX OF THE WHOLE MATTER, for we are told: "Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put Him to death." (See Jn. 11:48-53).
What was the sentence, and what was the accusation of the Lord Jesus? THAT WHICH JESUS CLAIMED TO BE, THAT WHICH HE ACTUALLY WAS--THIS BECAME THE ACCUSATION AGAINST HIM. Pilate wrote it out in bold letters for all men and all nations to read, for it was written "in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin" (Jn. 19:20). I believe the Lord wanted it in the language of all men, for His Cross was to have great implications for the whole world. Pilate would not change the reading of it, even though the Jews pressed him to revise it to read: "This is Jesus who claimed to be the King of the Jews."
For here was One crucified for an apostate but very religious people--the Hebrews.
Here was One crucified for the intellectual and the wise--the Greeks--and by His Cross He would bring all their wisdom to nought.
Here was One crucified for the strong and the mighty--the Romans--but by that Cross He would bring all their power to nought.
For the Hebrews professed to have knowledge and truth, yet walked in darkness.
The Greeks were noted for their quest after wisdom and knowledge, yet they never found God in all of their searching.
The Romans had become that powerful empire that Nebuchadnezzar had seen in his vision--strong as iron--but by the Cross their kingdom would be crushed and scattered like the dust of the threshing floor.
"THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS."
This became His accusation.
I emphasize these things, because once again there is great expectation for the Kingdom of God, and rightly so. The truth of God is beginning to shine afresh in the hearts of men. But once again it is shining forth in the darkness. God knows how to sort it all out. He still knows how to divide the light from the darkness, as He did in the beginning. It looks like a polluted mixture-and it is. Nevertheless God is preparing a people for His Glory. He is preparing--
A Glorious Church..
A Holy & Cleansed Bride..
A Godly Remnant..
A Firstfruits People..
Sons of God..
Kings and Priests..
And perhaps we should mention one more, although no one is laying claim to it, But the great apostle Paul used it much--Bondslaves! Jesus Himself took this role, even though He was the firstborn Son, and highly exalted over all creation. Not that we as God's people are called to be "bondslaves." We are called to sonship and to liberty--and foreordained to be conformed to the image of the Firstborn.
But what we are by calling--And how we attain to this high calling--These represent two different things.
For the "calling" is according to God's plan and purpose... But the attainment of it is according as we learn obedience and walk in His ways.
How important it is that we recognize God's WAY. Certainly God wants us to know the "hope of His calling." BUT HE ALSO WANTS US TO KNOW THE WAY INTO THAT CALLING. Our Lord Jesus was KING, but He took the position of a bondslave, and discovered in this pathway of obedience THE HIGHWAY TO THE THRONE. "Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him, and gave Him a Name which is above every name--" Why? Because He emptied Himself, made Himself of no reputation, and came in the form of a BONDSLAVE. (See Phil. 2:8-9).
Getting involved in "the ministry" is not the high calling. This could very well lead to conceit, high-mindedness, and a sense of superiority and achievement--especially if one is successful. But the "high calling" is achieved by seeking out the pathway of God that would identify us with the sufferings of Christ. (See Phil. 3:8-10). In this pathway you might find yourself walking in a very unexciting, very ordinary, very unpretentious, very restrictive, very unfulfilling pathway. If you had to write your biography it could be very boring, as you would talk about working in shops and factories, about tending the children, about washing pots and pans, about tilling the field, or hammering nails, or bending tin. And in it all, of course, experiencing the ordinary joys and sorrows of ordinary people. BUT IF THIS BE GOD'S WILL FOR YOU, IT IS GOING TO BE RIGHT THERE IN THE PATHWAY THAT GOD ORDAINED, THAT YOU WILL COME TO KNOW HIM IN A VERY MEANINGFUL WAY, AND BECOME THAT SPECIAL TREASURE THAT HIS HEART IS LONGING FOR.
On the other hand, you might choose to walk in some kind of a "spiritual ministry," and if you have certain ministerial qualities you might become very successful in that. BUT IF IT IS NOT BY GOD'S APPOINTMENT YOU WILL NOT COME TO KNOW AND EXPERIENCE THE HIGH CALLING OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS. FOR THIS "HIGH CALLING" IS RESERVED FOR HIM THAT IS PREPARED TO LAY DOWN HIS LIFE, IN ORDER THAT HE MAY FIND THE LIFE OF CHRIST THAT PROCEEDS FROM A WALK OF TOTAL OBEDIENCE TO HIS WILL.
But we are talking about the accusation of the Lord Jesus, because it is in this context that we want to speak about our accusation, if we truly walk in identification with Him.
What Jesus was, a King of righteousness and truth, this became His accusation at the hands of a world He came to reprove. It was a perverted charge, of course; but it was because of who He was, and who He claimed to be, that He was crucified.
Now who are you? Who am I? Part of a glorious and triumphant Church? Members of the Holy Bride of Christ? Overcomers? Sons of God, being prepared and groomed for manifestation? Kings and Priests unto God? I trust we are...
BUT IF YOU AND I ARE ANY OF THESE, NOT IN OUR DOCTRINE ONLY, BUT BECAUSE WE HAVE COME TO VITAL UNION WITH CHRIST, THEN THESE TITLES OF THE HIGH CALLING WILL BE THE CAUSE OF OUR ACCUSATION. AND IF WE WALK IN THE PATHWAY OF OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD, THESE TITLES OF HONOR WILL BE NAILED ABOVE OUR HEAD ON OUR CROSS BY MEN WHO SEEK TO PERVERT THE TRUTH IN ORDER TO BRING ABOUT OUR DESTRUCTION. It is not because we live in a "democracy" that we are free from persecution. It is because we are bringing no vital reproof to the world of darkness about us.
"But we had the SENTENCE OF DEATH in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead" (2 Cor. 1:9). Paul was sentenced to death. He was on death-row. Not by the Roman Government--not yet. But right there in His walk with God--the word he preached, the word he lived, brought him into collision with the world about him; with his brethren in Judaism, and with false brethren in the Church, He was "crucified unto the world." The world was "crucified unto him" (Gal. 6:14).
For men of truth, who not only know the truth but walk in it, are always nailed to the very cross they are constrained to declare. Paul carried his cross around with him wherever he went--NOT BECAUSE HE MINISTERED DEATH, BUT BECAUSE HE MINISTERED LIFE. He didn't carry a gold cross on a chain about his neck; but he was nailed to one wherever he went. It had to be this way because he spoke the truth and walked in it. He didn't try to make a cross so he could boast he was like Jesus. The world made it for him, and nailed him to it, because he walked as Jesus walked.
We might continue on as we are--teaching, preaching, evangelizing, establishing churches, healing the sick, writing books, singing songs--and we could go on and on enumerating the various areas of service that God has committed into the hands of His servants in the House of God--And all this may be bringing joy and blessing and deliverance to many of God's people--BUT BE PREPARED, IF YOU WANT TO BE TOTALLY COMMITTED TO THE WILL AND THE WAY OF GOD--BE PREPARED FOR THE DAY WHEN MEN WILL TAKE DOWN YOUR BANNER OF HONOR, AND NAIL IT ABOVE YOUR HEAD ON YOUR CROSS--Because the truth of God is sterile as long as it remains a teaching or a doctrine; but it becomes offensive to the world about us when we begin to walk in it.
Chapter 6 - Led By the Spirit of God
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