The Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ
Chapter 4..... At Calvary
"... . . . Christ, Who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God."Hebrews ch.9:14
AS we have proceeded step by step through these wonderful crises of our Lord and the Spirit, it has been clearly manifested that each is distinctly related to His body. With awe and reverence we observe that Calvary shares this correspondence. There is deep significance in this, because it intimates very clearly that for every believer the will and life of the Spirit cannot be manifested unless the body be yielded. Many Christians feel that while they are in the present body, escape from certain besetting sin is impossible; their spiritual life must be limited by the weakness of the flesh. We must learn from our Lord that our life in the Spirit must not be limited by, but manifested through, the weakness of the body.
Paul declares to the Galatians ch.3:13: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." The verse of scripture at the head of this chapter declares He offered Himself through the Eternal Spirit. He was brought to be a curse by the Holy Spirit. By His inspiration He consented not merely to death, but to death as cursed for sin. He Who would not risk His body from the pinnacle of the temple at the suggestion of Satan, submitted it to Calvary as cursed for sin in order that, out of that curse, the Holy Spirit might sanctify sinners unto God. He offered the blood of a spotless life, that spotlessness being the perfect response of the Man, indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He offered Himself in the Eternal Spirit, and therefore the Spirit is conscious of the agony of Calvary. Calvary can never pass into the realm of antiquity, because the Spirit Who suffered in Christ on the Cross moves amongst men to make the agony and the curse vital and real to the conscience of every generation. Where the preaching is in the power of the Holy Spirit there the passion of Calvary comes home to men. Not merely as a sentimental emotion, but as an anguish of the Spirit in the conscience, so that the agony of Calvary which was the curse of sin is repeated in the conscience of the convicted sinner. The awfulness of Calvary is realised not as an emotional experience in the flesh, but as a deep conviction in the conscience because of the curse of sin.
It is this same Suffering Spirit Who, being in the child of God, constrains him or her to a passion for the souls of men. He keeps the love of Calvary pulsating strongly, so that the increase of the Body of the Church by the only means by which that increase is possible--the BIood of Jesus Christ in redemption--is the master passion and purpose of life. The truth of the suffering Spirit is one into which every believer must enter experimentally, recognising that the Spirit Who suffered in our Lord at Calvary indwells him or her, and that the agony of the curse is as real now as then. There is therefore, something strangely defective in the Christian who is not passionately committed to the winning of souls, whose energies are dissipated in reconstruction and reformation and are listless concerning redemption. Calvary produces a double experience. First it severs from the old life. Concerning sin, the believer is dead to it. Sin is not dead in him, but his will is dead to sin. Concerning the world, he is crucified to it.
While His body was hanging on Calvary , the gamblers went on casting lots, the priests reviled Him, the passers by condemned Him. In the eyes of the world accursed! It is difficult to see how a believer can accept an honour from the world that gave Him nothing but a Cross and a curse. And the world is dead to the believer. When we come to the death of Calvary, world values slump, the ideals, aims, plans, hopes of society are strangely inadequate for the satisfaction of those new demands of the regenerated spirit. In every generation there have been those who have perceived this truth of crucifixion. Monks have solved it, as they thought, by mortification of the body and withdrawal from the world. But that is not the way of the Spirit. On the other hand there are Christians who believe in and preach Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins. However they do not realise they have been purged from dead works, and these need to know that Calvary not only separates from the world, but that it also unites the believer with a new life on account of the Eternal Spirit. In the Eternal Spirit our Lord offered His body for death. The Holy Spirit, Who suffered in Him, gave Him life-even life out of the dead! And, just as coming from the wilderness, our Lord knew the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of power, so coming out of the grave He knew Him as the Spirit of life and resurrection.
He Who had been in the experience of our Lord creative, baptising, empowering and suffering became also a life giving Spirit. And, if we would know this life-giving power in its fullness, we must know what it means to die to the world, to be buried with Him and to trust, as He trusted, the Holy Spirit to give us life out of the dead. He became a curse for us. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to lead us as He led our Lord to take the place of an accursed one and to know that in God's sight such a position is true of us since, as dying for us, it was true of Him. And since He died for all, all died. May the Holy Spirit teach us this no less. All that He died to we must die to, and the deeper the death the more wonderful the life given of the Holy Spirit.
Marvellous indeed are the truths that lie deep in the purpose of redemption. They continually flash out upon us to make us conscious that in Calvary resides a wisdom of God far more profound than any human being has yet perceived. We have to learn humbly and obediently as the Spirit shall be pleased to open our minds. Certainly we can see that Calvary, in contrast to the Temptation, demonstrates that every child of God must make a venture with his body. He may risk it, at the suggestion of Satan, for dazzling ends concerned with self or he may bring it to Calvary, trusting the Holy Spirit for a new resurrection life. Subtle indeed are the temptations that make the argument for risk so plausible. Painful indeed is the prospect of crucifixion, but if we are truly of the household of faith we shall meet the temptation of the one with the Word of God and respond to the other in the committal prayer of abandoned confidence.
In the Old Dispensation the priest took the blood once a year into the Most Holy Place. Without the shed blood there was no access in life and blessing. The writer to the Hebrews makes it plain that our Great High Priest, the God-Man, has entered heaven by His own blood. There have been suggestions recently that we ought to emphasise the love rather than the blood, but the love of God is inseparable from the blood of Christ. Heaven has not been opened by love, but by blood! If love were enough there were no need of blood. What God has joined together let no man put asunder. No prayer reaches heaven save in the blood. Our intercessions and requests become more sacred and solemn when we remember that the ground on which they can alone be answered is the agony of the blood of Calvary. Let us dwell on this deep mystery. Christ has now entered into heaven itself, bearing with Him the marks of the newly-slain, demonstrating that death has smitten Him and yet, as newly-slain He is able to take, as Living for evermore, the marks of his having been dead. He is both priest and sacrifice. He is on the altar as victim, He is beside it as High Priest. He comes not without blood, yet can He bring no other blood than His own.
And all this is possible, deep and unfathomable as is the mystery because He offered His blood in the eternal Spirit. Let us not hesitate to embrace the facts of Scripture. The blood offered by the High Priest was sprinkled on the furniture of the Most Holy Place. The action was significant (Hebrews ch.9:23), because what the High Priest did there our Great High Priest does in heaven. In His own blood even heaven itself is cleansed! The mystery of that pollution we cannot fathom, but the fact we cannot doubt. The offering on Calvary reached out to universal blessing, not only on earth but also in heaven. Calvary is not the resignation of a broken-hearted Idealist, it is the Dynamic of the Universe whereby all things have been cleansed in the Blood of Christ. Heaven has been cleansed by His blood and our hearts are kept holy and clean by His Spirit. The natural man revolts against the blood, but the blood of the Son of God has opened heaven and cleansed it, and the Eternal Spirit of the blood purifies the believer's heart. Do let us learn not merely to trust Him for forgiveness but to trust Him for access and to pray that the Holy Spirit who suffered in Him and gave Him life out of the dead may make Calvary and Resurrection real in our experience. So that, while we live as holy ones sanctified in the blood, our intercessions may be omnipotent through Him Who by the Holy Spirit, is both Victim and Priest in the Heavenlies.
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