As Is the Heavenly: Part 1

1 Corinthians 15:48  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 7
THERE are two great things that the Scriptures present to us as effectual for salvation. One is, the full vindicating of God's moral character in grace towards us, which the atonement does. There is righteousness in God against sin, and there is love to the sinner—for God's character is not only vindicated in the atonement, but He is glorified in it. But besides this, there is another and a distinct thing, and that is, the coming in of power to bring us out of all the misery and wretchedness which are the effects of sin, and to set us in a new place. Both these things form a part of this great salvation. The one was absolutely necessary, if sinners were to be reconciled to God at all; for the atonement must have been made in order to our being brought near to God. If God had brought us to Himself without His righteousness having been perfectly vindicated, He could not have been the holy and blessed One that He is. But all that God is, has been perfectly cleared and vindicated on the cross, which without the cross never could have been. If God had let every one off in mercy, that would not have been love; it would have been indifference to sin. If one of my children, for instance, were to be naughty, and yet I were to persist in treating him all the same as the others, that would not be love. You cannot have true love unless there is a perfect maintaining of righteousness according to the truth of God's name But to maintain that, must, necessarily, have shut out all sinners, without the cross -without the death of Christ, as giving Himself up to the perfect righteousness of God—His judgment, His hatred of sin, His authority- for it is a question of authority, as well as of holiness —and, at the same time, of perfect love to the sinner. And this is what the cross of Christ is for us—the full bringing out and vindicating of all that God is, not only in love but in holiness. It is full of blessing. We come to God as needy sinners, and we find there the mercy-seat, and His precious blood sprinkled upon it. But when in peace I can reflect upon the cross, I see how perfectly God is glorified in it. The more it shows me the holiness of God, the more, also, what a wonderful thing the cross was; there is nothing like it in heaven or earth, excepting, of course, God Himself. No creation, nothing that has ever been seen in this world, could be what the cross was. Creation may show God's power, but it cannot bring out God's love and truth as the cross does, and therefore it remains everlastingly the wonderful and blessed place of learning, what could be learned nowhere else, of all that God is.
But while that is true, there is another thing, the coming in of a deliverer to take us out of the condition in which we were by nature—for so indeed we were, poor, wretched, creatures, struggling in the ditch, and no way of getting out of it. Supposing, then, that God had been vindicated and glorified by the cross of Christ, it did not follow that you and I should therefore be brought out of the condition in which we were. This required that God should come down to us, and take us out of all the condition of sin and misery, and put us in another condition altogether, and that needs the coming in of divine power.
SALVATION is a deliverance wrought by Divine power, so as to bring us out of one condition into another. It is true, we are morally changed, but we want more than that—though whoever has got that, will surely have all the rest. But supposing I get the new nature, with its desires after holiness, what is the effect? It gives me the consciousness of all the sin that is in me. I want to be righteous, but then I see that I am not righteous, and I bow under the power of sin, and of the knowledge of such holiness, which I have learned to desire, only to find out that I have not got it. I say, What is the good of my knowing holiness in this way, if I have not got it? It is no comfort to me. Here we have been speaking of God's righteousness; but when I look I find I have no righteousness. Where can I find a resting-place for my spirit in such a state as this? It is impossible; and the very effect of having this new nature, with all its holy affections and desires after Christ, brings me to the discovery of the lack of what this new nature cannot of itself impart. I have got the cravings of the new nature—all its holy and righteous desires; but the thing craved for I have not got. It is the desire of my nature. I say, Oh! that I could be righteous; but then I am not righteous. In that way God meets us with a positive salvation. He meets us and quickens us into the desire and want of holiness; gives us a nature capable of enjoying it when we get it. But that is not all. When I have got that nature, have I got the thing I want No. I strive, and think, Oh! if I could get more of this holiness t but still I have not got it. I may hate the sin, but the sin is there that I hate. I may long to be with God, to be forever in the light of His countenance, but then I see that I have got sin, and know that the light of His countenance cannot shine upon my sin; I want a righteousness fit for His presence, and I have not got it. It is thus God meets us in the cross. He not only gives the nature that we want, but He gives us the thing that we want. And not only that, but in Christ He gives us both the perfect object and the nature, and that in power.
We get, in the expression of this, a remarkable thing in this chapter. “As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” It is not there what we shall be in point of glory, for afterward he adds, “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” We have borne the image of the first Adam, in all the consequences of his sin and ruin, and we shall bear the image of the last Adam. But he lays down first this great truth for our hearts, “As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” It is what we are now. There I find what my heart, as quickened of God, wants; and I learn what blessedness is in Christ, by whom God has revealed it to us. He has given us a righteousness in Christ who is the accepted, blessed man in the presence of God, of whom alone God could say, “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” You have been rejected by man, but you are just my delight. “As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” It is that which God brings before us. He puts us into a new condition before Himself, and then makes us judge all that is inconsistent with that. Then, besides that, power is given—not a new nature, merely, with cravings after a position which we have not got, but power to judge practically, from a position which we have got, all that is inconsistent with it. There will be that which has to be judged, but I shall judge it in the consciousness of what God has given me in Christ. It is there that I get the measure of what God, come in in power, has made me. “As is the earthy,.... as is the heavenly,” &c. Here are these two men, so to speak. There is the first Adam, of the earth, with those that pertain to him, earthy; and there is the second man, the Lord from heaven. There are these two Adams, and I get in both the pattern and model of all other men that are after their image. I get the first Adam, fallen, wretched, and corrupt; then I get the other Adam, that becomes in a spiritual sense the head of a race after He has taken that place in God's counsels in glory.
I say, There is the pattern, and model, and head of that race. It is not merely a truth that the atonement has been made for us, in respect of what we were as belonging to the first Adam; but God has been glorified in respect of our sins. The more we get into the presence of God, the more we shall learn the value of the cross. But then this chapter, in speaking of the resurrection, speaks of the corning in of power. We just see how the Lord first deals with Christ in power of resurrection, and then, at the same time, how we are objects of this very same thing.
Now what I see first in Christ, as He was upon earth, is perfect goodness in His dealings with men -perfect goodness meeting them in all their need. The heart gets cheered and encouraged by that. He feeds them when hungry, heals them when sick, casts out devils. There was power too, but not in those with whom He had to do. It was Divine power. It ministered to their wants. It was the wretchedness and misery in which man was, to which the goodness of God in Christ was applied, and the only thing in the person was the sin and misery to which the goodness was applied. I have felt latterly that the more we get at the facts of the Lord's life on earth, the more power there will be. We do not sufficiently present facts, but we reason upon the value of the facts. I am persuaded the more the facts of the gospel are presented to people's souls, the more power there will be.
Looking then at Christ upon earth, I find God in this lowly man Let me get firmly hold of that simple fact in a world of misery, and wretchedness, and toil: God has come into it and 1 have found Him I have met Him. It is by faith, of course: but still God was there, and I have met Him. I know what He is and what He is for me. I was a sinner like all the rest of the world, but God was there and He was all goodness to me. I have found Him and I know what He is, because He has been it to me. Christ was upon earth, coming down to all my need, and I have met God in Him and I know Him, Now I say, that is in one sense everything to my soul. You may reason as to what He will be in the day of judgment; but I say I have found Him and know what He is, and that is perfect goodness. I was a vile, wretched creature, troubling myself about nothing but pleasure, or worse; but I met Him and know what He is. When the soul has got that, it has got a key that opens every lock in eternity. I have found God, and I have found that He is perfect light. Of course, just because He is light, I may see failures in myself, I may be ashamed of myself; but still I know what He is and what He is to me, and thus my soul gets a resting-place and a divine acquaintance with the God I have to do with. I see that “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.” He has been here with me on earth, but now I have another trouble-that I am not fit to be with Him in heaven. Why, here is death, here is sin, here is failure to be dealt with, and sin cannot go to heaven. Therefore I get another fact. I find that this blessed One, who is the expression of this perfect grace that I did not think anything about-I find Him coming down into my condition-made sin for me—going under the death and under the judgment that were due to me, and bearing my sins. I find Christ now not merely as a living Christ upon earth, kind towards my miseries, showing all goodness to me, but as taking my place under the suffering of the wrath and judgment of God, and there I find Him altogether alone. Christ may suffer in a way in which I may suffer with Him. He may suffer from man, and we may suffer thus in our little measure. He may learn what suffering is in this world, in order to comfort me and suffer with me. But when I find the Lord suffering on the cross, there I find Him absolutely and entirely alone, and there I find the great question of sin perfectly and forever settled between God and me. But I was not there at all.
(To Be Continued.)