The Divine Fellowship

Notice: Due to circumstances beyond my control, I am resigned to take a short time off. God willing, I will be back Wednesday, June 11th, 2014.

“For the One who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father.”

My friend in “the valley” kept nearly everything you could imagine. Books on subjects I never knew existed; military journals from Libya; thousands of photos of planes, trains, and various histories; and every piece of correspondence received as an adult. As I comb through his belongings and feel his life slipping away, I cannot find one single book that I gifted to him about Christ. From a man who saved everything he clearly rejected Him.

I have had many conversations with him regarding my concerns. Recently, I suggested he go to a Bible study in his new senior residence (unbeknownst to him the lovely home is run by Mennonites). He started ranting about why he did not think it was appropriate to have someone teach him what he or she “thought” about the Bible. And how every teacher on television, along with every preacher in a church taught something different.

I then said, “what if the only real way to God is Jesus, and the Bible is all about Jesus.” He then said he did not need someone peering over his shoulder to study it. To which I replied, “I bought you a Bible, how about you study it for yourself?” I convinced him how fascinating the history is (he was a history major). I am thrilled to say he accepted my challenge. After 20 years of suggestion, I could not be more thrilled to be his coach.

We had a very long hard day yesterday; therefore, our lesson today is brief. Andrew Murray titles the following excerpt “Jesus Calls Us Brethren” from the classic The Holiest of All:

The word Holy is one of the deepest in Scripture. It means a great deal more than separated or consecrated to God. The Triune God is the Thrice-Holy One: Holiness is the deepest mystery of His Being, the wondrous union of His righteousness and His love. To be holy is to be in fellowship with God, possessed of Him.

Therefore the Spirit specially bears the name of Holy, because He is the bearer to us of the love of God, and the maintenance of the divine fellowship is His special work. Jesus is the Holy One of God, who makes us holy in filling us with His Holy Spirit.

The difference between Jesus and us is great—the oneness is greater. He and we are of one, together partakers of God's life and God's holiness. Let us give abundant heed to so great salvation.


The Soul's One Desire

“For in bringing many sons to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God
--all things exist for Him and through Him—
should make the source of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

I love this lesson; it may be my favorite yet. Last night I had to do something dreadful for my friend in “the valley.” I knew it was going to take me at least a couple of hours. I put on this attitude as a shawl before I left and even though it took four hours instead of two, it went surprisingly well. In fact, it was a pleasant experience.

Today I attended the funeral of one of my doctors. Since being diagnosed with cancer, I have watched three of my doctors’ die of the same disease. When I look at this startling fact, I am speechless. Several other people that I have been cheering on in their battle with cancer are slowly losing their fight, as well.

I am deeply humbled to have lived as long as I have despite my condition. While I hope for my healing, I will cling to this verse in a new light. I encourage you to do the same. Andrew Murray titles the following excerpt “For Whom and Through Whom Are All Things” in his classic The Holiest of All:

"All for God" "All through God." Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to make these our watchwords. In all aspirations after a closer walk with God, in all efforts after a purer, truer, higher life, they are the two poles between which the soul ought to move. They are the sure marks of that true scriptural mysticism, which has such attractions for all hungry souls, who long to know and please God perfectly.

All for God! Absolutely, without a moment, a thought, a word, a person, a possession, excepted; wholly for God, this becomes the soul's one desire. It has seen that God is worthy of this, that He claims it, and that in the very nature of things, nothing less can satisfy the heart God made to be filled with Himself.

All through God! The clearer the aim becomes to be all for God, and the deeper the soul sinks into its own emptiness and impotence, under the conviction that with man it is impossible, the sooner does faith rise to see that we can not only say, but that we do dare to say, All for God! Because we may also say, All through God! God Himself will work it in us.

This is the God who has revealed Himself to us in His Son. It became Him, for whom all things and through whom are all things, to make the Leader of our salvation perfect through sufferings. Let us worship Him! Let us adore Him! Let us offer Him the sacrifice of full allegiance and childlike dependence, as the words ring through heart and life— All For God! All Through God! God Is All.

The practice of the presence of God is a most needful and most blessed spiritual exercise. As the soul bows in stillness and lowliness, and worships in silence, it gets into the right spirit for recognizing its own nothingness, and realizing that God is all—that all is for Him, and all through Him.

All for God: that is consecration. All through God: that is faith. This was the spirit in which Christ yielded Himself to God: consecration and faith.

This was the God who perfected Christ. To know and honor God in this character is the secret of perfection, for in such He can do His work. This is the God who is leading many sons to glory; to know and honor Him is the path to glory. To reveal this God and His claims, to show how to give up everything to Him,—this was what Christ came for. This is the life He brought us, the path He opened, the salvation He gives.


Living Wholly For God

“For in bringing many sons to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God
--all things exist for Him and through Him—
should make the source of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

My friend “in the valley” is beyond frustrated. He has libraries established in his name at universities and museums yet he struggles to make sense of the life he lived. How the things he did and the places he went are somehow meaningless now. I watch him struggle alone, without God to give him peace, joy, strength, and victory. The dark spirit world that served him all these years provides nothing now beyond a selfish suffering. 

Jesus came to set us free from a life of self. I hope that it is not too late for my friend. Living for God is man's highest goal, privilege, and purpose. In the living and in dying we can have the “power of the heavenly life” to comfort and guide us.

The following lesson is lengthy; it is necessary to lay a foundation. I encourage you to read it more than once to fully grasp what Murray is saying. The excerpt is titled “For Whom and Through Whom are All Things” from Andrew Murray’s classic The Holiest of All:

The apostle might have written: "It became God to make the Leader of our salvation perfect through suffering." Not without good reason does he introduce here the character in which God acted in perfecting the Son as Leader of our salvation. When man sinned and fell from God, he lost together the two blessed truths in which his relation to God had stood. His holy allegiance to God, having all things for Him, his blessed dependence on God, having all things through Him; instead of these came the reign of self, with its life for self and through self.

It was from this life of self Jesus came to redeem us, to bring us back to God, to know and honor Him as the God and Father, for whom are all things and through whom are all things. In doing this he opened again the only way which could lead to glory. He did it first by showing us in His life, as Man, how men ought to live for God and through God. And then by delivering us through His death from the dominion of sin, and winning for us the power of the heavenly life.

For whom are all things, and through whom are all things. It was in this character that God perfected Christ through sufferings. It was in this character that Christ revealed and honored God in His sufferings. It is to win and bring us to know and love and serve God in this character that Jesus is Savior.

For whom are all things. Throughout His whole life there is nothing that Jesus sought to impress more distinctly on His disciples than this, that He was the Father's messenger and servant; that there was no thought of doing His own will or seeking His own honor; that He only sought and did what would be for the Father's pleasure and glory.

He gave us the example of a man on earth living absolutely and entirely for God in heaven. His life on earth was the exhibition here in the flesh, the translation into human language, of the divine claim —"All things for God." His allegiance to God was absolute. He proved to us that man's destiny and blessedness and everlasting glory are to be found in this: Living wholly for God.

Through whom are all things. Of this too Christ's life was the exposition. He was not ashamed continually to say that He could do nothing of Himself, and that only as the Father showed Him or spoke to Him, could He work and speak. He counted this His blessedness and His strength— not to be able to do anything of Himself, but in continual dependence to wait on God and His working in Him. He knew and taught us that the man who has said in whole-hearted devotion to God, “All things for God," may confidently say too, "All things through God."


The Only Path To Glory

“For in bringing many sons to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God
--all things exist for Him and through Him—
should make the source of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

I have mentioned before that I feel as if I am living this study as a character in the book. The present section has been exceptionally difficult. Each time I turn around, I find more burdens added to the already heavy load I am carrying.

Serious matters, such as finding out my best girlfriend may have only a few months to live. And the insurance company of my friend “in the valley” telling me none of the recent bills to the doctors or hospitals will be paid because of an error I made. 

I started thinking over my life since I committed it to Christ over 25 years ago. Initially, I had a “Damascus Road experience” which is described as a conversion that is dramatic and startling. From the very beginning, I opened my heart wide to accept the life of Christ in me. There was no way you could ever convince me that Jesus was not the answer to every need I had.

However, if you knew the story of my life since conversion, and some of the terrible things that have happened to me, you might wonder how I could trust a God who could allow such things to occur. I believe that my difficulties in large part were due to my old nature -- I was a mess.

The work that was necessary for me to change could only be accomplished Jesus’ way. His process of purification involves yielding obedience to the pressure He allows. The contrast in my life now, compared with how it used to be is proof of God’s transforming power. 

I also trust that He knows what He is doing in my life today. Just this week I felt a release in my soul that made me a little less selfish; a little less rigid; a little more loving. And more free to do what I know is right.

And that my friends is true freedom. The freedom of Jesus at work in our conscience enabling us to do what is right. The following excerpt is titled “The Leader of our Salvation,” from Andrew Murray’s classic The Holiest of All:

The Lamb of God has no salvation and no perfection to give us but His own meek spirit of entire dependence and absolute submission to God. The meekness and humility that it was needful God should perfect in Him are as needful for us. We must suffer and be crucified and die with Him. Death to self and the world, at the cost of any suffering or self-denial, this is the only path to glory the Leader of our salvation has opened up to us.

And remember who this Leader is—the Son of God, the divine Maker and Upholder of all things. Not only the Son of Man as a Leader outside of us, influencing us by example and instruction, by authority and kindness does He guide us. No, but as the Son of God who works in us by His Spirit, yea who Himself dwells within us. Even as it was God who worked in Him and perfected Him, will He, as God, now work in us and perfect us.


The Power Of Sanctification

“But we do see Jesus--made lower than the angels for a short time
so that by God's grace He might taste death for everyone—
crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering in death.“

As a historian, my friend “in the valley” kept nearly everything you could imagine. If you have ever watched one of those hoarding television shows, you can imagine the chaos. Moving his belongings out of his home of 25 years was a dark and trying experience.

I finally emptied what remains into his double-wide storage shed, cringing at the job that remains before me. I am beyond exhausted. My personal and professional lives are unraveling after months of putting things off. The pressure is intense.

While I have one foot in the previous lesson, and one foot in the present, I trust God and the path that He has chosen for my ultimate good and His glory. I have peace and joy knowing I am right where He wants me to be: in the power of sanctification.

The following excerpt titled “Jesus Tasting Death for Every Man” is from Andrew Murray’s classic The Holiest of All:

HERE we have the one great reason why it was meet that Jesus should be made a little lower than the angels. It was that He might taste death for every man. In the counsel of divine grace, and in the great plan of redemption, this was one of the first objects of the incarnation—the birth was for the sake of the death. Without that wonderful birth,—THE WORD, that was God, made flesh,—the death would not have profited us. Without that wonderful birth the death would have availed us little.

What God hath joined together let no man put asunder. Let us beware of exalting the one at the expense of the other. The birth and the death are two inseparable parts of the one process by which He was perfected as the Firstborn from the dead, and became our Deliverer and King. The humanity and humiliation of Jesus was needful for His death for or on behalf of every man.

And what was the meaning of this death? And wherein lies its efficacy? In Scripture there is a twofold aspect in which the death of Christ, as our Head, is set before us. The one is that He died for sin, bearing its curse, and suffering death as God's righteous judgment on account of it. His death opened up the way to God for us. It did for us what we cannot and need not do; it wrought out a finished salvation, which we have but to accept and repose upon.

According to the other aspect, He died to sin. His death was a proof of His resistance to sin and its temptation, of His readiness rather to give up life than yield to sin; a proof that there is no way of being entirely free from the flesh and its connection with sin, but by yielding the old life to death, in order to receive afresh and direct from God a life entirely new. In this view His death was an act of infinite moral and spiritual value,—the consummation of the work God wrought when He perfected Him through suffering.

The former aspect, the death for sin on our behalf, has its value from the second, which reveals what constitutes its true nature and power. And, even so, the faith in the death for sin, must lead us into the death to sin. The one view is that of substitution: Christ doing what l cannot do. The other that of fellowship: Christ working in me what I see in Himself. The former is a finished work, and gives me boldness at once and forever to trust God. The latter is the power of sanctification, as the death and the life of Christ work in me.