Portion of Scripture read: 2 Cor. 4.
My dear friends, we are to move a step further tonight, I trust not only in understanding, but by the grace of God for many of us, in experience as we consider the work of the cross in conformation. St. Paul said to the Philippians: "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings; being made conformable unto His death." Notice first of all, he asks: "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings," and he has not put the experience in the wrong order. The power of His resurrection, then the fellowship of His sufferings, and after I have known the power of His resurrection - being made conformable unto His death.
Now let us just gather up what we have already been saying. We saw first of all the simple truth of the Word of God, and we can only accept that simple truth because the Word of God alone reveals the fact of Calvary. Where the fact of Calvary is revealed, there we must seek its interpretation. It is utter folly to find Calvary in the Scriptures and then turn outside to find an understanding of it. Where we have seen the fact revealed, there we must look for the interpretation of it, so because we find Calvary in the Scriptures, we turn to the Scriptures for its understanding. There we read that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, so I understand that Jesus Christ went to Calvary and took my place, and He became my substitute. He died in my stead. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and salvation is that. I understand and believe it: Christ died for my sins! He was made sin for me! And then we saw last night that since Jesus Christ has represented me at Calvary and died for my sins, therefore as my representative He acted on my behalf and when He died on my behalf at Calvary so in Christ I died. He represented me and committed me to death, so that I can say with St. Paul: "I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." And therefore, He who died at Calvary and was dead to sin, not only died for sin, but the death that He died was unto sin once for all. Likewise, since He died to sin as representing you and me, then the first attitude of the believer is to be dead to sin. His purpose in affection, In desire, in will, is death to sin!
So Jesus died and was buried, being buried God Himself exercised the greatness of His power as never before in the universe, for the greatest act of power for which God has ever been responsible was when He raised Jesus Christ from the dead. (Ephesians 1) So God raised Him from the dead and gave Him a life out of the grave, a life that had passed through death - resurrection life, in which death could no more have dominion over Him, for it is appointed unto man once to die.
And so out of the cross I received the blessing of life. To all those who are dead to sin God Himself imparts the life that He gave to Jesus. That is the life that God gives. He gives it in the person of the Holy Spirit, breathed through Jesus Christ. That is God's answer in Christ to every man who accepts Jesus Christ as Saviour. God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, and He imparts the life that Jesus now has, not the life that He took to the cross, because that is ended, but imparts the life that Jesus now has. So that we can, with Paul say; "the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me".
Now my dear friends, trust God to do it. Say: "I trusted God in Christ for my sins, and so tonight Jesus Christ is my Saviour and took my sin at Calvary. God did it all. It is my simple act to accept it. I reckon again Jesus Christ was dead to sin and acting on my behalf He became dead to sin. I therein consent and I can say with Jesus: It is finished! Done! From this moment my attitude to sin is to be dead." And from that moment God's Holy Spirit will begin to work God's holiness in your life. And God's Holy Spirit never gets to work in the life until we come to the place where we are dead to sin, and if you are perplexed about the working of the Holy Spirit in your life, just turn your eyes back on Calvary. Are you right about this matter of sin? Are you dead to sin in Christ? That is where we got to last night.
Now as surely as the cross leads us to the Holy Spirit - because any man who has not been led by Calvary into the life of the Spirit has not reaped the blessing of Calvary - as surely as the cross leads to the Holy Spirit, so the Spirit will lead back to the cross. It is that very experience of Calvary about which I want to speak tonight. When the Holy Spirit first brought me to Calvary He unveiled to me the fact that I was dead in sin. And when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour and had been brought to life, my spirit, which was dead in sin had been quickened by God's Holy Spirit. Then I came back to Calvary again dead to sin. Now I come to Calvary again, and this time it is to be dead to self. I have seen my sin on Calvary; now God wants me to see myself on Calvary.
Now just notice what self it is. It is everything in your life that God wants
to put on the cross to get His Will done and His purpose accomplished in you
and me. Not your sin because that is settled. You have already consented that
sin shall not have dominion over you, Wherever there is sin, take the attitude
that you are dead to it. It is settled. As soon as the Holy Spirit reveals anything
of sin that is settled. You are dead to it. But now God wants something deeper.
It is all that in His
Sovereign will He sees to be necessary to be taken to Calvary in order that His purpose may be done in the life.
And so Jesus offered a sinless body at Calvary. He had never wronged or sinned: in Him was no sin. His hands had never committed an evil act, and yet God said that His perfect sinless body was wanted for the eternal purpose, and Jesus took it to Calvary. As we saw the other night, by way of illustration, as Abraham gave his son, in whom he delighted in whom he had the promise "In Isaac shall thy seed be called," in Isaac in whom there was no seed to be seen, God said, now for my purpose I want this thy son Isaac. Not a rebellious son, not an evil son, but thine only dearly beloved son Isaac, for my purpose on the altar. And Abraham consented. My dear friends, I want to make it plain. It will be God's demand of you, of yourself, after you have received resurrection life, God will say: Now I want yourself; you are living in resurrection power and you know yourself to be indwelt by God's Holy Spirit and you do desire that the Spirit of God shall live through you, and now it is yourself, yourself in resurrection life that I want. It is the self which seems to be so useful to God - so essential to your fellows; your religious self; your moral self, yourself of a great reputation. God is saying I want it. I want that to go to Calvary. You have seen your sin there, but when you saw Calvary and saw the human race there in the person of my dear Son, you also saw Jesus with His sinless body offered up, not because it was getting in the way of the Will of God, but because in death it could serve a greater purpose than in life.
Now my dear friends, you will notice this: we are to be conformed to His death, that is to say, we are to be shaped in accordance with Calvary. Calvary is to be the mould into which our life is to be poured by God, emptied from vessel to vessel, always to be conformed to Calvary; not shaped according to Pentecost, but according to Calvary. We want to be shaped according to Pentecost God says according to Calvary, and the Church that is asking for Pentecostal blessing is really, in effect, asking for shaping and conformation to Calvary.
I look to Jesus again and see that He was willing to be a dead body on the cross, that body which had been created by the Holy Spirit, that body which was the perfect vehicle of the Will of God. He was willing for it to be a dead body on the cross. A corpse shunned! A malefactor! Without reputation! Accursed because of the cross!
Dear friends, let us not miss this tremendous point. He consented thereto in order that life might come to sinners. And therefore, when we come to the cross and, in Christ, are dead to sin, the Holy Spirit begins to work holiness in our lives, transforming our natures. He is bound to do it. There is not anybody who has ever been through the experience who has not come out changed. The Holy Spirit begins to work at once, to work in that man's life, or in that woman's life and changes the temperament and outlook. There is nothing, I believe, that is left untouched, when we become dead to sin but what the Holy Spirit begins to work out life. And just as when we came and were identified with Christ at Calvary and the Holy Spirit began to work in us, when God by His Spirit takes us back to Calvary to offer ourselves, then God begins to work through us. Identification, God works in me; conformation, God works through me.
My dear friends do not let us miss this point. Let me emphasise it. This is the point where I believe our church needs to come, right here. Where you and I have got to come if God is going to work through us in this neighbourhood. I have got to come back to the cross with my resurrection life, and I have got to offer it to God to be conformed to the death of His Son. It is conformation unto His death, because the Holy Spirit will work with mighty power for life. Life through me!
Now my dear friends, if that is what you want in this church, here it is. So St.Paul tells the Corinthians in the last chapter of the second epistle, he says that Jesus was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth through the power of God. Crucified through weakness -alive through the power of God! Do you consent that God shall keep you weak? Do you consent to it? Yes, 0h God, I consent that Thou shalt keep me weak. It may be that in order that I be kept really weak, I have to be pressed in my circumstances, chastened in my spirit and bowed down with affliction. Things pressing me on the left hand and on the right hand; things without and things within, and if all that is necessary, in order to bring me down to the place where I come to an end of myself, then Lord, my Lord was crucified through weaknes. He consented to weakness. He said: "If I were to ask My Father He would send me Legions of angels", but I consent to weakness and I take this sinless body to Calvary that death may work in me and life may come to this world which is dead in sin". Do you consent to that truth, dear friends? Do you consent that God shall use you without any feeling of power so that if you are a Sunday School Teacher you will give the message in the weakness which God brings you into, so that God's Spirit may reproduce life in the boys and girls who are in your class? You may be in business. You are harassed and perplexed, but God makes you to be a fountain of life and out of all you are passing through life comes by the Holy Spirit to those with whom you are working day by day. Say that you are willing to be in weakness. You have the treasure in an earthen vessel and you do not mind so long as while death is working in you, life is coming to this needy world in which you live and move and have your being.
When we think of a blessing coming to the world we think of a great mission, we think of everybody in the church being moved with enthusiasm, all the flesh is being worked up in the church and after the Missioner has gone nine- tenths of the inspiration goes as well and God says if we consent to be conformed to the death of His Son, the Holy Ghost will work through us to this world.
As you pass into this definite place with Christ you will know the fellowship of His sufferings; you will know it, because you will suffer at the hands of people as our Lord did, people who know their Bibles, but who read them with the wisdom of this world. It is impossible to avoid it. Of course, a man who is reading his Bible with the wisdom of this world will separate from you, and you will suffer. It is impossible to avoid it, but you will have deeper fellowship in suffering because His sufferings are redemptive and His soul is still in travail. "He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied", but His soul is still in travail. Not that it is uncertain about the victory, but it is in deep compassion about the sinner. He has given His Blood for the sin of the world, and His Spirit was offered in the Blood. When Holy Spirit comes into my life then how is it possible that I can be controlled by any other passion than the passion that Jesus had when He went to Calvary? When He went to Calvary He went there for sin. When He went to Calvary it was for an eternal purpose, and I believe the Holy Ghost when I name myself a Christian and my passion is anything less than was in the Blood of Christ.
When you are conformed to His death you will suffer agonies. You will look at Him and think of those outside of Christ, and all these appalling distinctions in the Church of Christendom today will perish. "My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" What was the master passion? It was sin and redemption. If I am to be conformed to His death it will be to know the redemptive agony, and one has got to feel that. You cannot work it up in preparation for a mission, or anything like that. That has got to be the work of God's Holy Spirit as He comes right into the very vessel of your being. And then I shall become what Paul calls a "father".
Paul told the Corinthians that there were 10,000 tutors, but not many fathers. What did he mean? Ah, there are plenty of people who can teach Christianity. They can teach but there are very few who have got creative power. Have you, dear friends? Are you a tutor or a father? "He that believeth into Me, right into me, into the conformation of the cross, out from his inner being - his deepest self which has been offered at Calvary, -out from that place which has been offered to death, shall flow rivers of living water. Then you are a father indeed. But to be content to be a tutor, a teacher! Telling people but never endued by the Holy Spirit with recreative power- being made conformable unto His death! But Jesus for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross. He saw the joy of imparting the Holy Spirit, the joy of gathering to Himself a body, the organism through which He should live through all eternity. He saw that fellowship of the redeemed, and for the joy that was set before Him he endured the cross. May God give you the vision tonight, the offering of your innermost being to death! Daily dying in the will of God for the joy the joy of knowing that as death works in you, life goes out to those who are dead in sin.
My dear friends do you want revival in this church? Here it is. Do you want to be conformed to the death of Christ? Do you consent thereto? Oh God teach me, teach me this daily dying of myself to the will of God. Bring me Oh God to weakness, to an absolute end of myself.
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