Letter on the Lord's Death

Dear Brethren—All exclusive points are out of place at the Lord's table: it is clear Christ's death is before us...—It was not to be done in remembrance of deliverance from Egypt, but in remembrance of Him— “my memory.” But the simple answer to this link-breaking out of the sentence is, that there is nothing about it in it. The Greek does not mean breaking every link with the creation, and says nothing about it; that is a simple fact. Should anyone press it as a consequence, if led by the Spirit of God, all well, and show that Christ's death involved it, if it be so, is another matter; but it is not in that sentence. I am not quite sure that I understand it, and though I am quite disposed to see a right intention, in those who taught it, for it was breaking with the world, I doubt a little that they do any more. My impression is, that their intention is right, and that they aim at an important truth, but I cannot go quite so fast as some. When He comes again and takes this earth and governs it and blesses it, it is as Himself risen, that is true: but you can hardly call this world then the new creation. “The link of life in Him with this world was broken,” but then I should be a little shy of speaking of His being linked with it at any time, though coming into it as a true man born of a woman, for the suffering of death and partaking of flesh and blood. But He says, “They are not of the world, as I am not of the world.” And again, “Ye are of this world, I am not of this world; ye are from beneath, I am from above.” Yet, I repeat, I believe the object to be right (that is, that we are crucified to the world, and the world to us), at least, I am quite ready to suppose so. But I affirm positively it is not εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν δνάμνησιν, though it be in death He is symbolized before us; but it is Him we remember, and I doubt that the form in which it is put could be made good from scripture, and scripture is wiser than we are. But as an effect, it does imply our having died to the world; for we show forth the Lord's death till He come; but I cannot admit with this absoluteness that every Christian is, according to scripture, dead to the old creation, because his body is of the old creation: we are waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body. I see it held up as desirable that a man should live absolutely in the power of the Spirit, and know nothing else. But he that marries does well: what creation is that of? and he that forbids to marry does very ill. I see two things: God's part in the old creation, and yet fully recognized, marriage as at the beginning, children, amiable nature (the Lord loved the young man when He looked on him); but a power brought in wholly above and out of it. If one lives according to this, all well, it is to be desired; but to condemn the other is to condemn God. Sin has come in and spoiled it, and there is thus hindrance, care, sorrow in the flesh, that is true; but God ordered it in the beginning, and God owns what He ordered till He brings in something new. Dead to sin, to the world, to the law, that I find in scripture, but not to the old creation, and that is the place of every Christian, and he is to hold himself so; but dead to the old creation God does not say, for it is God's creation, and every creature of God is good. Live above it in its present state, all well, and better, if it be given to us; but death to the first creation, and breaking every link with it, is not true whilst we are in the body. Scripture does not say so; and scripture, I say again, is much wiser than we are. There is a new creation, and as in Christ we are of it, I think we may say the first fruits of it, and of His creatures at any rate. Καινὴ κτίσις is a very singular expression; it is not “he is” as in English, but merely affirms its existence and character for one in Christ. But then when the scriptures say He died, it is not to the old creation; but “He who knew no sin was made sin,” and elsewhere, “In that he died, he died unto sin once.” It is well and safe not to go beyond scripture. Fresh truths and mighty powers fill our sails, and it is well; but they may, if we trust them, and the consequences we draw, carry our minds on to rocks hidden underneath the surface. The word of God checks, or rather keeps us in the right and safe course. The first intentions may be right: but when not so kept, when one's own mind is trusted, it may run into open ungodliness—the common result of the human mind being trusted with mighty truths, or rather trusting itself with them; and in these days this has to be watched.