The First Stage of Restoration–The Precious Blook
This excerpt from Yes, I Am, explores how the historic biblical facts of God’s plan of salvation are not just past history, but “totally applicable to our own inner selves.”
We will now see the way by which this combination of the law given by Moses and the grace and truth by Jesus Christ is not only the Total Truth, but the Total Truth to me in my personal experience—see how it is the only answer with a totally workable application to every situation, whether mine or other folks’—which makes it possible for me to say to myself, “Yes, this is it,” and then declare it to the whole world within my reach.
If this takes further digging into details (with Paul as our guide) to find out the total solution, we will be like a German pastor wrote:
God needs men, not creatures
Full of noisy, catchy phrases.
Dogs he asks for, who their noses
Deeply thrust into—Today,
And there scent Eternity.
Should it lie too deeply buried,
Then go on, and fiercely burrow,
Some of us have been doing this for years. I could not stop. I must be satisfied. I must have the complete answer. It must be wholly workable in all of life. And we boldly say we have come up with the answer: not our own, but revealed in the Scriptures and confirmed by the Holy Spirit in personal inner revelation.
The law given by God to Moses in its outer written forms, underlining the outer standards of conduct such as the sins of stealing, lying, adultery, murder, malicious destruction of another’s character, is obviously intended to produce outer responses. So it does, and for the simple reason that in our blindness we cannot penetrate into sin at its source, but can only recognize its outer products of committed sins. So the first purpose of the Ten Commandments is to pinpoint our guilt before God and produce in us a realization of His wrath, judgment, and our coming condemnation. This it effectively does by awakening in us ”the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom.” Most of us were stirred from slumber by some person or event alerting us to the reality of our condition as lost, guilty, and hopeless sinners—unless there be some means of pardon. At such a time we neither considered nor were concerned about our inner sinful condition, but saw only our sins and their fearful aftermath. Verily, for this was the law established—that by it ”all the world may become guilty before God.”
Now comes the revelation by Paul of the first deliverance stage of the cross of Christ, the amazing but solid replacement of condemnation by justification, as if the sinner had never sinned—the overplus of grace by the shed blood of His crucified body. Paul speaks of Christ Jesus being ”set forth” by God on that historic cross as a public, outward demonstration that He had truly died. That meant that as the penalty of sin is death, so He who ”bore our sins in His own body on the tree” really died, having taken our place in death.
But bodily death is but an outer detail. The real meaning of death is not body but spirit destiny: Where do I, an immortal spirit, go? If lost, I shall be among ”the spirits in prison”; if saved, among ”the spirits of just men made perfect,” Scripture reveals. So Peter proclaimed in his Pentecost speech (using David’s prophecy in Psalm 16) that the Savior went to hell where we were destined to go. But hell could not hold Him, for Satan had no hold on Him, and so His ”soul was not left in hell.” But He could not rescue Himself, for He was there representing us in our lost sinnerhood. He was ”raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father.”
So through the Lamb’s shed blood, death, and pangs of hell, all that should come to us by way of guilt, condemnation, curse, and uncleanness has disappeared forever for all men. ”God was, in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” So no man now goes to hell for his sins, but only because he has rejected the light of Christ as Savior—the light which has shone into the world. But until the Spirit does His convicting work in us, we love our darkness rather than that light and refuse to come to it.
Safe: The One and Only Key
These truths, thank God, are common knowledge to most of those who read this. But it is good to reiterate them, because they are always so precious.
Upon a life I did not live,
Upon a death I did not die
Another’s life, Another’s death
I stake my whole eternity.
However, we cannot enter into the final, total effects of the death and resurrection of our Christ until we see and share in its two processes, not just one. The first of these is the shedding of His precious blood; the second is the death of His physical body—which we shall look into later. Only by these two can this outer law of Moses become what it really is—the inner law of our spontaneous living.
But the key to entering in is faith. It is at our new birth that faith first makes its appearance in its true meaning in our lives; but we are, or at least I am, continually deepening my understanding and application of this fundamental principle of living. For all life is lived by faith and by no other way. That is why the Bible gives one whole chapter solely to its application—Hebrews 11. So we cannot spend too much time in re-examining it. Did not Jesus say plainly, ”If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes”? And was He not always underlining faith, faith, faith? ”Where is your faith?” ”Your faith has saved you.” ”I have not seen so great a faith, no, not in Israel.”
But we must see first that faith is the only means by which we operate in all life—not merely the spiritual, but also the material. Every action taken by man, from the action of the lungs in breathing to the sending of a spaceship to the moon, is nothing but faith in action.
First, something attracts our attention and is desirable. We then also see it is available. Faith is the inner action of our human spirits by which we inwardly decide that we will appropriate or experience this thing. We then speak a “word of faith”: ”I’ll go there,” ”I’ll do that,” “I’ll take that,” “I’ll make that.” Inner faith then moves into outer action. We go there. We do that. We take that. We make that. Thus faith becomes substance. Faith is replaced by the fact, or rather, becomes fact: ”I’ll go to that home” becomes ”I’m in that home.” ”I’ll take that thing” becomes ”I have that thing.” What was first desirable to me, and then available to me, now by faith becomes actual and reliable to me. I experience it. Nothing in heaven or earth can be experienced or become knowingly reliable to me except by the inner and outer action of faith, which turns possibilities into actuality. That is also why all life is really adventure, for nothing is provable to me until I experience it. Reason can take me to the outer edge of reality, but I must then leap and take by faith. I cannot prove that a chair will hold me and not collapse under me until I sit in it! So we are all ”faith gamblers.”
Our everyday human experience of faith is what gives us our inner certainties (which we need, for we are inner people). We call this ”inner know-how.” The know—how then becomes such inner substance to you and me that, when learning a trade, for instance, we boldly adopt its name and call ourselves by it. We learn carpentry and call ourselves a carpenter. We learn medicine and call ourselves a doctor. In actual fact we are cheating! For what we take, in fact takes us, whether it is food or chair or profession! The knowledge of medicine or carpentry or cooking or teaching ”takes us” as we move in by faith to acquire, it, and it becomes our know—how. We then apply our know—how, and call ourselves by its name—doctor, carpenter, cook, teacher.
So we see how fundamentally significant faith is to all life. Life operates only by faith. If this be true in the material realm, then how fundamental faith must also be in the spiritual. That is why we can never be sustained or ”held” by outer religious teaching, or even the Jesus of history—anything which is merely at outer contact level. We crave certainty!
That is why Jesus told Nicodemus that it was no good, his coming to Him just as a teacher. If he was to see the kingdom of God, he must be born of the Spirit and thus have the Spirit’s inner-knowing and inner-seeing. Paul said that if we are in Christ we are a new creature; therefore we know no man ”after the flesh,” not even Christ: ”Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him [that way] no more.”
The Same Safe Process
Here in the things of the Spirit we use the same faith process as in our daily life. Something is available to me from God’s Word… something is desirable to me because I see that it will meet my need. But this, of course, is not something tangible or visible which I can take hold of by reaching out my hands to receive it. This is something of the invisible world, something of the Spirit I’ve reached out for. So how do I now operate my faith? By the same process as in other matters—the spoken word of faith. I just inwardly say (and maybe verbally too), ”I take this,” or ”I believe that.” For now the substance must come from the Spirit—and as I affirm my taking or believing, the Spirit now is what the food or chair was to me in the visible. He gives the substance. He does that in my inner spirit—consciousness. He inwardly makes me know that I have what I’m seeking. The inner knowing is the inner spirit substance. So I operate by faith in the kingdom of Spirit precisely as I do in the kingdom of the flesh, and now faith is replaced in my inner consciousness by ”spirit substance”—God-given assurance.
What makes the new birth, which leads us into the substance of the new creation, the greatest event of our human history? Simply because for the first time we have been impelled to use our faith—faculty on a spiritual rather than a material level.
At the time of conversion we have become so convinced of our lost condition, through the impact of the outer law, that we are willing to take a revolutionary faith-action. We become aware through the written word—the one material link in the process—of the offer of forgiveness, a removal of all that guilt which propels us to a destiny in hell. And much more, we hear of acceptance by a loving, uncondemning Father who offers the gift of eternal life, purchased by the historic event of His Son’s public death on our behalf. And that death, we discover, resulted in a further event which is ”beyond human history,” His bodily resurrection—attested to by numerous of His disciples; and His unconditional offer to be our Savior requires only that we believe and receive Him as alive from the dead! But that receiving means transferring our faith to the reality of a Person whom we can neither feel, see, nor touch, and who in His resurrection is an absurdity to material—world thinking. This is why it becomes a crisis moment. It is the absurdity of faith! Now is the first time we affirm that we are believing in One who was not only crucified—a fact verifiable in history—but who is living, risen from the dead—foolishness to the world, and impossible of material verification! That is why it is the greatest moment in our human history… when we, made desperate by our need, are moved by faith into a deliberate relationship with the universal kingdom of Spirit—and with the King of that kingdom.
How does that faith become fact? By an inner spirit-knowing. None on earth can say how we know or if we really do know! But we know that we know. Into us has come an inner awareness, what Paul calls ”the Spirit bearing witness with our spirit,” that we are a child of God. And nothing can shake us.
Our inner eyes have been opened, as Jesus told Nicodemus they would be, to ”see the kingdom of God.” And if it is only those born of the Spirit who can see that kingdom, it can be no visible, earthly realm. It is the glorious kingdom of reality, for reality is spirit as God is Spirit, and we simply ”know” that we are now members of the eternal reality—that realm where Father, Son and Spirit dwell, and we with Them, and where God has all resources, all wisdom, all power, and we with Him. Men now know that this outer universe is only energy or spirit slowed down to visible forms. So we have come home, and are now eternal participators in the resources behind the universe. Never again do we mistake or confuse the trivialities of the ”bits and pieces” of material things as being the real and reliable, or irreplaceable. We look, as Paul did, ”not at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
This is now more precious to us than gold that perishes. It is the inner realization, beyond human or rational description, which takes its first living form in the consciousness of the fact that Jesus really did love me and shed His blood to take away my sin; that He is now my Savior, God now my Father, heaven my home; that eternal life is my personal possession. With that blind man put on the spot by the angry Pharisees we say: ”One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” Spirit-reality is never provable to material sense, including our own soul-senses, so we always appear to walk, as Kierkegaard said, ”on sixty-thousand fathoms of water.” It is always the ”adventure of faith,” and we walk by faith, not by sight; but inner consciousness is the real stuff of life, and by that we know—with the outer Scriptures as our bastion of defense and confirmation. But we live because we know we know.
This spirit-knowing of the new creation has two confirming evidences. One is given the Bible name of ”peace.” ”Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” It is precious indeed, but in its essence it still has a selfish element of satisfying me: I am so glad that I now have peace with God and there is nothing between us. Peace is the first baby-step of assurance given us by God, because as babes we are in a condition in which we have never yet desired anything except for ourselves, so can only be reached by an answer that will satisfy us. God’s love always reaches out to meet my need at its own level.
But the true new-creation reality is neatly packaged inside this gift of peace; for we might not take it were it publicly revealed at the outset. It is the fact of ”otherlove”: that our new relationship is to the living Trinity—Father, Son and Spirit—which is a Lover-Trinity. And here is where we are taken unawares. We who have been compulsively self-lovers now find we can’t help loving the Son who died for us, and the Father who sent Him, and the Spirit who sheds this God-love abroad in our hearts; and this being other-love, we equally can’t stop wanting to share with others this ultimate reality which is now ours. We become other-lovers. Of course, we do not at first realize that this is not we loving (for the human self cannot love in this manner) but that He is loving by us. But we do learn that later.
This love is the one outer evidence to others that something new has happened to us, because our new out-going love (as well as our peace) obviously affects our daily lives. In that sense, the inner Spirit-awareness which cannot be proved in rational terms is incontestably demonstrated in our lives. Jesus is ”seen” in us by others. The True Light has inwardly shone—of which material sunlight is only a rough outer symbol. This new Light becomes to us inner inspiration and ecstasy.