Part One: The Basis of Our Calling
Paul was a man obsessed. "To me, is this grace given, to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ: and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery": "Forgetting those things which are behind… I press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling" And that same Spirit obsesses us.
We are an obsessed people. We are among the Pauls of our day. Like Paul, "This one thing I do." Paul had a two-fold commission (Col. 1:23–28). The first was to bring the Gentiles to Christ. The second, to be sure that when saved, they know the total truth–what he called "fulfilling the word" to them–the completion, the total: that it is not merely a reconciliation relationship to God as His redeemed sons (wonderful enough), but the marvel of the revelation that He brought His human family into existence, made of the stuff of His own being (Acts 17:28), so that they can contain Him, The Person, in their persons. This is the "mystery hidden from ages and generations now made manifest, which is Christ in you," and, no "in" in the separate outer concept we external people have of relationship between the separate things, but the "in" of union—-"joined to the Lord one spirit." In Jesus’ words, "I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one."
Thus He, "the light of the world," and we "are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14). And it does not say "have" but "are"–it is lamp (we humans) manifesting light (God)–which is it, lamp or light? But a complete light can only be manifested by a complete lamp, which means, as Paul said (Col. 1:28), not just a complete Christ in us, but a complete "us," perfect in Him." And that is our total. But how?
Our obsessed commission, now thank God shared by many of us, therefore is to show how we are those completed persons, and we are, and then share our discovery with all our brethren in Christ.
Most of our writings and sharings, as we go from place to place, as in my most recent book, Yes I Am, and in the pages of this our Intercessor magazine, are giving this one total answer. Regretfully, however, we have to face the fact, even in God’s redeemed family, as Jesus said, it is still "few there be that find it," for it is only those who, in the Sermon on the Mount, will not take no, but "hunger and thirst after righteousness" until they are filled–and they are still few.
Put very briefly, this vital radical "knowing" is the revelation by the Scriptures (especially Paul’s writings), inwardly and individually confirmed by the only reliable witness, the Spirit Himself. It is that God has forever been the "I AM," not the "I have": He is an Is-er, not a Has-er. All He gives is Himself in His own nature. He IS the love, light, power, wisdom, sanctification, finally "All in all" (1 Cor. 15:28). Not qualities He gives, but Himself expressing His own qualities by our human forms.
Not "Becomers" but "Containers"
This gives a radically different understanding of who we humans really are; not as "become" but as "containers," not as self–expressers but God–expressers, not our nature but His, and we humans having no nature of our own. We are called vessels, but it is not the nature of the vessel but of what it makes available. We are branches, but the nature is that of the vine whose fruit it reproduces. We are temples, but it’s not the type of form of the temple but of its In-dweller. We are body-members, but it is the head which operates through the body. Or in modern terns, we are computers with great potentials, but only operate what the programmer puts into us.
The whole universe as His creation only operates by one other basic reality. All consists of pairs of opposites, and the one utilizes the other to express itself: light, dark; sweet, bitter; hard, soft; yes, no; heat, cold. All is "rhythmic balanced interchange." So it is the same of our personhood, the central reality of the universe: our God–made selves made in His likeness. We can only operate by the interaction of opposites. Our human faculties can express the negative of the "spirit of error," self-for-self, or the positive "Spirit of Truth," the self–for–others.
God had eternally settled that for Himself by never being a lonely One who would be for Himself, but in the intensity of His love–longing, eternally begetting His Son as the express image of His person, so that the Two are bound together in their love bond, and the Third, the Spirit then expressing that divine other-love nature in His universe. Tit. 1:2 declares that.
But God then used His rebel heavenly being, Lucifer, who chose the opposite to His Creator and became fixed as the god of self-for-self, to entice our first Adam progenitor, and Eve, into his own false choice, and thus be captive to his nature (Eph. 2:1–3). And this has been the fact of us all, by which we could learn the hell of that way of self-destruction. And this Satan-nature condition has been marvelously replaced by our Last Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ, representing us in His body on that Tree. He died as us "made sin," (2 Cor. 5:21), expressing as us that sin–nature; and in that death out went the false spirit, and therefore out of our bodies (Rom. 6:6, 10), and rising with His own Spirit of holiness in that risen Body representing us.
Seeing the Final Deceit
But before we can enter in fullness of understanding and consequent confident living, the final deceit of that error spirit has to be exposed and gotten rid of. That deceit is that he, Satan, was himself never an independent self, for there is no such thing in the universe, but was God’s creature and thus His negative convenient agent, deceiving himself about his false self-sufficiency (Is. 14:13-14), though given limited authority (Lu. 4:6). This self-deceit he imparted to us, giving us this lie of being independent selves. The purpose of God was that, in order for us to become totally reliable inheritors and managers of His universe together with our Elder Brother His Son (Rom. 8:17), we must fully know, experience in all bitterness, and discard forever this false concept of independent self. Then we can become totally reliable by totally knowing that the hidden secret of our free actions is that it is really He as we, in place of that false vine (Jn. 15:1-2); the True Vine by branch, Light by lamp, liquid in the vessels, etc. Not to be fooled again!
Yet that bitter dose of that deceit is the very nitty-gritty of our permanent awareness of the trick played on us (Rom. 7:11): the lie that we ever "ran" ourselves, when as Jesus said, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father (not our lusts) ye do" That lying deceit, as if we are self–acting, self–operating, self-relying independent selves is finally eradicated by Paul in Romans 7, when in the solution to his negative self-reactions and the misery they caused him (7:24), the light was finally lit, never again to be extinguished, that those negative self–reactions in him, when he was a new creature in Christ with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, were not really he at all, because we humans never have had a nature of our own, but were the lying deceiving self-reactions of "sin dwelling in him" (7:17, 20)–sin the expressed nature of "Mr Sin," that evil one; and he had been cast out at Calvary forever from our bodies as his dwelling place. Then Paul wrote, with his glory shout of confirmed deliverance, "I am free" (Rom. 7:25; 8:1-2).
My human self made by God was never a wrong self in itself; all that God makes in all appetites and faculties is "very good;" it was a misused self by the lying indweller, but now a rightly used self by the Right Indweller: change of indwelling deity, not of the containing vessel or reproducing branch. I am free. No more condemnation of my apparently devious self.
My True Self At Last
And so Paul enters in by his word of affirming faith, such as in Gal. 2:20, which is now also ours. "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me." His own inner knowing of Rom. 8:2, not by some desperate self-effort of trying to commit oneself to be changed, but the simple, though totally radical, recognition of faith that I was and am freed from my false deceiving indweller through Calvary; and now Christ has taken Satan’s place, as I boldly possess my possessions. And what I affirm and confess by the spoken word of faith, the Inner Spirit confirms (1 Jn. 5:10)… I go free–a completed human self containing our Complete Christ.
Thus with that personal freedom to be my true self (really my human self with its exchanged operators), I am at last my true self. In this Satan–infected world, all the assaults of false self-responses by temptations will pour in on me, as they did on the Perfect man (Heb. 4:15); but no condemnation. I accept, not resist or deny, Satan’s rights to pull at me by every means, to get me back to my old reaction of Use independent self. I don’t deny all forms of temptation, nor take condemnation; but by recognizing his rights to "roar" at me in this world, I am now free to respond by recognizing who I really am–Christ in my form; and that is turning on the light which swallows the dark–and replaces Satan’s pulls by the Christ–nature which I now express–love for hate, faith for fear, self–giving for self–gratification, etc. Gal. 5:17 thoroughly replaced by 5:18.
But now and only now, can I in the fullness of my liberated reality be my true self. And now what is that self? We have sought to make it fully plain–it is my human self expressing His divine self (2 Pet. 1:4). But now what is the nature of His divine Self? We well know through Calvary (1 Jn. 4:10). It is my Father’s nature of other-love, totally absorbed with bringing all of His human family who come within hearing distance into who they really ARE, through His own Calvary completion of 2 Cor. 5:21. He as we! That same Spirit who entered Jesus and established His Life’s purpose, when the Spirit came on Him in the form of a dove. From then onward He knew it was the Spirit operating in His human Jesus–form ("The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach the gospel to the poor…" Lu. 4:18-21). I, the Son, "do nothing by myself." And even His going to Calvary was by the Spirit (Heb. 9:14). So also of course His resurrection. And then His plain word at the supper table that the same Spirit would indwell and operate us, and would come to us at Pentecost. So for us all, who are now made conscious of our own Pentecost by faith and confirming witness, by the same Spirit we are AS HE. We are "in the light, as He is in the light": we walk as He walked; we know as He knows; we live the right life as He lived it; we love as He loves; we believe with His believing; and all is headed up by John’s final all-inclusive statement that "as He is, so are we in this world." (1 Jn. 1:7; 2:6; 27; 3:7; 4:16; 5:10, 20; 4:17).
So then what? It can only be that that same Spirit obsession which "drove" Him to die in faith and rise that we might first die and then live, now obsesses us, if He is the real we! So here it is. This is why I’ve spent so long running through what I’ve just said. If I know who I am–and I must know that I know–then I am totally caught. I am enslaved. I am a Godaholic. And that can only mean that I have one real drive, like Paul, "to make all men see." The Total Self-giver, that Lamb slain for the world, that Lamb now on the Throne, can only be Himself as me, not just in me, but as me. The same "zeal of God’s house" eats me up.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 11 No 1
- God’s Obsession
- Editor’s Note
- British Update
- Moments with Meryl
- Excerpts from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- Get-together in New York
- Our Weakness Is Our Glory
- The Divine Intercessor
- Straight and Narrow and Uphill
- The Letter to the Romans
- To Think About
- Struggle of Romans Seven
- Questions & Answers
- The Only Two Natures
- God’s Promises
- The Mailbox
- New Light on the Twelve Steps
- A Look at a Book
- From God Unlimited
- Words to Live By