The Christian Life.
The Need of life.
THE Scriptures make it quite plain that the natural man is utterly and entirely devoid of spiritual life. God warned Adam in the time of his innocence, that if he disobeyed God, he would die: “the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." Adam ate and he died; and became the progenitor of beings alive to all the things of this world, but spiritually dead unto God, alienated from the life of God. In that word "alienated,'' we find some definition of “death." Death is "separation,'' and spiritual death is alienation from the life of God.
In the case of physical death, corrupting influences make themselves known, and we know a person is dead. It is the same in the spiritual realm. There are corrupting influences which we can immediately recognize. In Eph. 2, there is the corrupting influence of (1) the World. Men walk according to the course of this world, and along that course, they move like dead fish downstream until they are lost in the ocean of eternity. (2) The operation of the Devil upon the soul; "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" with all the corrupting influences of hell. (3) The Flesh—the mind and desires of the mind that are opposed to God. To a greater or lesser extent, these corrupting influences mark out the natural man and show him to be dead and in dire need of life.
The Source of Life
For everyone who is devoid of life and in need of it, there is an inexhaustible and abundant source from which he may draw spiritual life. The Bible makes it plain where the source of life is, and where it is not. Negatively, God says (John 5. 53, R.V.): "Ye have not life in yourselves." There are many people who are not clear on that point, otherwise they would not be preaching reformation, they would be preaching regeneration. When Jesus Christ said, "Ye must be born again,'' He meant it. He knew what was in man, and He knew that in their hearts was not life, but death. "Ye have not life in yourselves." On the positive side, the Bible is equally clear. "In Him was life." The source of life is the Lord Jesus Christ. "As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself." "I am the life." "This life is in His Son." The Lord Jesus Christ is the source of all life.
I am privileged to live in one of the most beautiful parts of our land. Below my house in the valley, there is a famous trout stream, and on a still evening, you may hear the murmur of the brook as it runs over the stones. It never palls on me. I have listened to that music from my earliest childhood. It is so full of the joy of life. That stream never runs dry, and the secret is that it has an inexhaustible supply at its source. High up in the hills above, are two or three beautiful lakelets, like gems set in the hills, surrounded by a riot of rhododendrons, pines, and firs. This is Calne Head. The level of those lakes never alters. As I look upon them, I think it is a faint picture of the Christ of God Who is the source of life. Exalted in the hills of God, in the beauty of holiness, He is the source of the boundless supply of life for those who are in themselves devoid of it. Those in touch with the source of life have life, but those who are not, are dead.
The Reception of Life
If we are to have this life, we must receive it from the Lord Jesus Christ, just as the brook that never runs dry, receives its supply from the lake up in the hills. How shall we receive it? Do you remember that heart-broken word of the Lord Jesus Christ, "Ye will not come to me that ye might have life." If we would have the Christian life, we must "come to Christ." What is the meaning of so much terrible stagnation in Christian circles? We hear much about dead churches and the description is only too apt. How is it that when we get in touch with some professing Christian, he is alive to the things of this world, but when you get on to spiritual things, he shuts up like a trap? The evidence of Christian life in many professing Christians is very hard to come by. It will do us no harm to examine ourselves in the presence of God and see whether there are in us the marks of life or the marks of death.
The Nature of Life.
Peter speaks of our becoming "partakers of the divine nature." Nature is the offspring of life. Certain characteristics are the outcome of life in the different kingdoms, and it is quite clear from the Bible that the nature of the Christian life is that it is a divine life. "The life of God." "The life of Jesus,'' and this in our mortal flesh. Hesitate, before you answer glibly that you are possessed of this life. Is the life of Jesus in your body? It is also eternal life. This life that is resident in the Christ of God is Divine, a life that is capable of functioning in the presence of God, which is its natural element. No wonder Christ said, "Ye must be born again"—"born from above." Every Christian is destined for the presence of God, and in some measure, has been translated into the element of God.
The Measure of Life.
"I am come that ye might have life, and that ye might have it more abundantly." The Lord Jesus Christ came to this world, not merely that we should have life, but have it more abundantly. There are two people: one is sick, weak physically (it may not be his fault, sometimes the greatest saints are the weakest physically), and the other is abounding with irrepressible life. The latter is the kind of life the Lord Jesus meant us to possess. Think of the agony He went through in order that we should have this life! "I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep." The Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross, that through His death, we might have life, not that we should merely exist.
The Manifestation of Life.
"That the life also of Jesus might be manifest in our mortal flesh." God expects that this life which we can receive without measure from Christ, shall be manifest so that everyone can see there is a difference between the Christian and the man of the world. How can it be manifest? Paul said: "Always bearing about in my body the dying of the Lord Jesus." Always delivered unto death, that the life of the Lord Jesus may be manifest. It is when there is death to self that the life of Christ becomes manifest. May these things be our experience.
“The Harvester” December 1943