Life’s Supreme Secret
Many catchwords are used by God’s people, both Scriptural and home-made, to express the highest aims of their goal in God: some speak of the fullness of the Spirit, or entire sanctification, or power for service, or the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire, or full salvation, or victorious living. All these are useful, but we will start with the basic, simple, all-inclusive, word of Scripture, that was such a favourite with the Saviour: Eternal Life; or rather, just "Life", for, as we shall see, nothing but this is life. "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly", said the Saviour; and Moses put it in the plainest terms to Israel: "I call heaven and earth to witness this day that I have set before you life and death." Not a religion, not a philosophy, not a way of life called Christianity, but LIFE. And we are to discover that there is only one life, all else is death. It is absolute in definition and experience, "straight and narrow" as the Saviour said; there are no deviations, no alternatives; and it is foolproof in every conceivable situation or problem. Also, being life, it is entirely natural, not something strained, or rather hopelessly aimed at; but just lived, and lived exuberantly.
We begin by a fact of fundamental importance. Life is not a thing, an "it", at all. Life is a Person. In fact, we shall clear the ground from the start if we take careful warning against a chronic habit we all have, though to a point it is necessary and justifiable, but soon leads us deep into Bypath Meadow, the habit of looking at life in terms of abstractions, and usually arguing about them. We talk, for instance, of love or hate, faith or unbelief, sin or holiness, and so on, as if they were things in themselves, things we either need to attain or avoid; and then we have our various theories of how we can experience them or be rid of them. But love is not a thing; it is a person loving: faith is not a thing, but a person believing: life is not a thing, but a person living. There could be no such "things", if it were not that people loved and hated, were holy or sinful. For convenience sake, we abstract these various characteristics of a living person, isolate them as a research student would say, label them, and then so often get into the quicksands of a fruitless, despairing search for love, power, faith, holiness in our own lives. We are missing the vital mark. We are pursuing death, not life, that way.
It is quite plain that life is a Person, because God is life. "I am the life", said God the Son. "We have seen and shew unto you eternal life which was with the Father," writes John. "Christ our life", writes Paul. "This is the true God, and eternal life," writes John again. Therefore, "that which was from the beginning" is a Living Person, Who is all–love, light, life, power, wisdom, holiness (wholeness). Is there love? God is love. Is there light? God is light. Is there wisdom? He is wisdom. Is there faith? He is the eternal believer in Himself, for "I AM" is His name.
We cannot stress this too strongly, for the key to true being is here. Life is never found by searching for or possessing things. Life is a Person, and is found only in living relationship with the Person. The truth and importance of this will come out more strongly as we proceed. Relationship, not possession, is life; and so, when John writes of declaring to us "that eternal life" which they had seen and handled, he says straightaway, it is found in "fellowship (relationship) with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3).
And that takes us one stage further. This eternal life, the living God, is not one person living by Himself. He is three in one. He is a fellowship. And these three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, live in a relationship hardly intelligible to the finite mind, yet which, thank God, we can experience, if we cannot define. They dwell in each other in indissoluble union; yet they are three separate Persons, with separate offices and activities, proceeding out from each other in the fulfilment of them, yet never apart from each other. Mystery, indeed, yet absolutely vital that we should grasp its significance, because this is eternal life, and we ourselves must know exactly this form of life, if we are to be alive in the true sense. The Father sends the Son away from Himself into the world, yet, John says, "The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." The Spirit of the Father and the Son proceeds from Them into us, yet in such unbroken union that we can say the Father and the Son dwell in us. Union, yet distinctiveness, joined in one.
So here is the only life of the universe. Three Persons, dwelling in each other, proceeding out from each other, one God who is life, love, light, power, wisdom, purity, meekness, gentleness, goodness, faith.
–The Liberating Secret