By Leonard Ravenhill
Philippians the third chapter and verse ten: "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;"
There are obviously four statements in this verse:
First, "that I may know Him."
Second, "and the power of His resurrection."
Third, "the fellowship of His suffering."
Fourth, "being made conformable unto His death."
Paul is writing here to the saints at Philippi. Philippi was named by Alexander the Great for his father, Philip. We are told that this was really the birth place of the Roman Empire because of a battle fought here and won. But Paul is considering in this epistle something infinitely greater than any perishing empire of men.
It is wonderful, to me anyhow, that here is this aged man... battlescarred and worn, but notice his prayer:
his aspiration never dies
his vision never becomes dim,
the fever on his spirit never, in any way, got dull
He does not pray to be released from prison... he might have done that.
He does not pray even that he might have a ministry here... though I am sure he aspired to that.
He does not pray that his body may be healed... I am sure that though he was not diseased, he was possibly terribly weak by the suffering he'd endured.
His aspiration is this: First, that I may know Him.
Usually the text gets that weight put on it: That I may know him, and sometimes, the other part: The power of His resurrection.
Now, there is no question, at least in my mind, about this:
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is
the standard of power in the New Testament. What is there after that? ... It is the miracle of miracles! I don't think an Easter Sunday goes by, indeed it does not, in that I am not reminded of just a little phrase from an old hymn: "Today he rose and left the dead, and Satan's empire fell." Sometimes I hear people say: "Lord, destroy the work of the devil." He has already destroyed the work of the devil!
The proof, the standard of God's power in the New Testament is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The standard of God's power in the Old Testament was the deliverance of the people of Israel through the Red Sea which brought them finally into the land of promise. In the Old Testament the miracle is the raising of a dead nation, because they were in captivity, in Egypt, which is a type of the world. They were under the dominion of Pharaoh, which is a type of the devil, and they were brought as the Word of God says, "God called them with a strong hand. He delivered them with a strong hand and a stretched out arm."
All the way from Moses to Malachi there is a constant referring to "Look what God did when He delivered Israel." Now, is anything bigger than that? Have you got a problem bigger than that? Can you imagine anything that demands on God more than that? So,
He delivered them.
He brought them out of captivity.
He snapped their fetters, and
He led them by His own hand and His own arm.
In the New Testament the standard miracle, the standard of God's power, is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Then, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, there is of course the resurrection of the individual from the dead. We are told so again and again. Ephesians 2 for instance says: "You have been quickened who were dead in trespasses and in sins." Now, he does not say that we will die. He says that we were dead. And the same miracle power that raised up Jesus from the dead is the power that raised us up from the dead.
You know, I don't think it put any strain on God to make the world. He just created it. It did not put any strain on God to create light. He just spoke the word and said: "Let there be light," and there was light. But I am going to suggest to you that in a sense it put a strain on God to raise Jesus from the dead. In the sense that it tells us in Ephesians what is "the exceeding greatness of His power to us all who believe according to the working of His mighty power when He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set as His own right hand in heavenly places." There is an awful lot of energy there! He says: "the exceeding greatness." You see, there are measures of God's power exerted through the Word of God. Sometimes a thing doesn't even cost God as much power as others. But it says here: "the exceeding greatness of His power towards us who believe according to the working of His mighty power which He WROUGHT in Christ when He raised Him from the dead."
There was a very tragic thing happened during the past week. A young couple with a very beautiful child discovered the child was missing. Sounded an alarm. Eventually they received a phone call to say that the child will be returned unharmed for JUST a couple of million dollars. The child happened to be the grandchild of one of the great tycoons in South America. A man who has made multi-millions of dollars out of tins. Immediately contact was made with him and of course he got everybody stirred up about this awful tragedy that happened in Europe. A child had been stolen. The demand was two million dollars. He said: "We'll pay it." Now, do you think it took any energy for that man to reach over and take his check book and, having ten million dollars just write out a check for two million dollars? That demands no energy, only to write the check. But what I am going to suggest is that there was nothing in writing the check. There were awful anxieties and problems in his spirit, in his mind, everything was tormenting him. When he thought about all the possibilities that there were in getting that child back.
To interpret that this way: God said, "let there be light," and there was light. But I don't think He said, "let there be Calvary," and there was Calvary. You are dealing here with moral and spiritual principles. You are dealing with powers of darkness. Now, Jesus Christ was a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. And I think again that we forget so much of the agony of the Father from the time Jesus left the ivory palaces to come into a world of woe. The loneliness was on the behalf of the Father, because He had no one in heaven with whom He could communicate. And He sees His Friend going there to the cross. His Son is going to bear the whole sin of the whole world. There is only one way to do it ... as the hymn writer says: "Thou didst not spare Thine only Son, but gavest Him for a world undone." But you see, Calvary is the expression of the love of God.
Calvary expresses the love of God.
The resurrection explains the power of God.
You think about all the colossal Epistles that Paul has written. He's got the most amazing track record of any man that has ever lived outside of Jesus:
He has raised the dead,
he has opened the eyes of the blind,
he has cast out demons,
he has written more epistles than all the other men put together.
AND YET HE SAYS: "I WANT TO KNOW HIM."
It isn't that he does not know Him; he says there is a fuller revelation of Him. I've been thinking about this text for a few days. Then I read a letter from an old friend - he is 96 years old now - and it just fits right in with what I had been thinking. He said, "Ravenhill, I have been thinking about that word where Paul says 'That I may know Him and the POWER of His resurrection.' Now look," he said, "for sixty years I've been trying to fathom that, but I do not understand the mystery of it. There is something there I can't unearth."
It reminded me of when we were in Ireland. There was a little godly man by the name of Busby in a town called Dungannon. He was a strange character for sure; that is why he liked me, because we were both strange. He had a marvelous ministry of prayer and healing. One day we went to his little house, it wasn't much more than a shack, and he said: "Well, I've got it, I've got it." "You got what?" "Remember I told you there is no water around here?" He had started digging a well four feet in diameter. It was a heart breaking job, but he is a muscular man. He had been a weight lifter, though he was only about five feet high he had a tremendous physique. He went down fourteen feet and then he came to a slab of rock. As hard as any rock you ever saw in your life. And his friend said: "Well, Smarty, there you are. What are you going to do now?" He said: "Shift the rock. It's a plug. And when I pull that plug the water is going to come." He just turned that rock on one side and water poured out. He could hardly get out of the well fast enough.
You know, when I read what my old friend said I thought: that's right. There is something in this word resurrection that as yet we have not fathomed. There is a plug here if you like, we've got to lift it and discover what there is lying underneath it.
Look again at Paul. Man I would be intoxicated with joy if I had a ministry like it. I get people sometimes who say: "You wrote me a letter; it turned my life around." Well, I thank God I can be His servant in that... But Paul has written letters that turned millions of lives around.
Starving people have gone to his epistles and found strength.
Thirsty people have gone and found something to drink.
The weak have gone and found energy in them.
The hopeless have gone and found hope.
People that were just at the end of their tether suddenly started to live because this man had an inspiration. Yet he says: "despite that, you won't spoil me. I may have written epistles, I may have raised the dead, but let me tell you something I want to aspire: I want to know Him, and I want to reach out in life. I want to know my resurrection Life." You see, no other religion in the world has a resurrection. This is the crowning miracle of God. Paul builds like a pyramid upside-down with all his epistles. Fourteen if you count Hebrews as his. And putting Hebrews at the top, he turns them all over and balances them on a fine point saying: "with all I've given you...
about the mercy of God,
the majesty of God,
predestination, all the future,
ALL is balanced on one thing: THE RESURRECTION.
And if there is no resurrection you are through, you are yet in your sins!"
Well, what is unique about it? Other folk had experienced resurrection. Didn't Jesus raise people up from the dead? Yes He did. Because He said: "I AM the resurrection."
The resurrection isn't part of my theology, the resurrection IS A PERSON.
Paul made it clear in the twenty-fourth chapter of Acts. He said: Because Jesus rose everybody will rise.
One day a man lifted a latch as it were...( you know, like sometimes you've opened a door and everything in the cupboard was falling out and you try to get it back and somehow it wouldn't, and you thought, "Oh, I'll let it go." Pum! Out it comes. We've all done it.) One day a man lifted a latch and he let iniquity come into the world. And by one man's sin he polluted the whole human race. To pollute one life is bad, but to pollute millions and billions of people since creation...!? Then Newman says in his hymn, which isn't quite right, "Oh loving wisdom of our God, when all was sin and shame a second Adam..." No, not a second. If there is a second there might be a third. He was the LAST Adam. "Loving wisdom of our God when all was sin and shame a last Adam to the fight and to the rescue come. Oh, wisest love that flesh and blood which did in Adam fail."
I can't prove this, but I'm sure that one day Jesus said in Eternity to His Father, who was heart broken over the sin in the universe, "Father will you let me go to earth and show them you can live in flesh and blood and be a perfect example of Your Holiness? I can live there and obey You even if the gates of hell came upon me." And He wants us to think as He did, like the Word of God says, "As He was, so are we in this world." God expects me to have the world of flesh and the devil under my feet. I'll get bruised. My emotions will raise or fall. My days will be dark or light. It has to be that way . It is the way the Master went...
I was reading today where Paul says, "Sorrow came upon me." I was reading of Jesus when He went into the garden and it says, "As he went into the garden He was in great heaviness of spirit." Don't let the devil trick you on your emotions. Your standing with God does not change because your feelings change. I get up one morning, I could conquer the world with two fingers; I get up the next morning and I feel if somebody blew on me I'd nearly fall over. Emotions are so uncertain. They are so unpredictable. You can't chart a course for them. Jesus says I am the resurrection and the Life.
Oh, I love, I love, I love to think of old Parker, maybe not the greatest preacher, but sure a great preacher of England. Visualizing that resurrection morning when the stone was put over the grave... and those precious women... (Remember this: they were the last at the cross they were the first at the sepulchre). And that one precious woman, can you imagine that one? She was going to carry the body of Jesus, and you know what? If it'd been there she'd have done it too. Because there are times that with your zeal and human love you can do things you could never have... she would have taken that body if she could. But no. She got there and the stone was there - just before she got there, anyhow - and then over the stone the wax and over the wax the seal. And then the soldiers and then finally... I can see Satan saying: "I'm not sure if I can manage this," and then some demon says: "Your majesty, let's roll the sin of the world against the stone. Now we've got Him. The stone, the wax, the seal, the soldiers, the sin of the world." "Well, I'm not sure that we'll keep Him captive." And a demon says: "Your majesty, supposing every demon puts his shoulder against that stone we've got Him now."... When I hear the Cape Canaveral countdown I always think: Friend, you are two thousand years too late, because the countdown was the resurrection morning. Old Lucifer says: "We've got Him now, hold Him. We've got the stone, the wax, the seal, the soldiers, the sin of the world, every demon. HOLD IT, HOLD IT, HOLD IT, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five..." He was just going to say two... and the Holy Spirit slipped in and RAISED UP JESUS FROM THE DEAD. How do I know, because Romans eight says that. "The Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead."
His resurrection is wonderful, but He raised me from the dead! God perpetuated that miracle in me: "You hath He quickened who were dead on transpasses and sins."...not you will die, but you were dead. Some of us would even admit more than that, we stank as well. We smelled, we made other people feel the rottenness of our lives. When Jesus says, "I am the resurrec..." I like that. I happen to know at the end of the Revelation Jesus says: "Listen, I am He that liveth and was dead and behold I am alive andI have the keys of death and of hell." And friend, you won't die one minute before God wants you to if you are in His will. I don't care if you rot in a concentration camp or what. He has the time of your death, He has the time of my death. He has the keys, nobody will destroy us. HE HAS THE KEYS.
"All power is given unto Me," He says. Well, I say, there were other resurrections. YES, but they were all different. You know, Jesus was quite comfortable in the presence of death, it didn't trouble Him. Who did He raise from the dead? He raised Jairus' daughter, He raised the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus. Three people He raised from the dead. What is the difference between their resurrection and His? Oh, a lot.
First: theirs had no vicarious power to it.
Second: they were all called forth from the tomb, He wasn't.
Third: when they came forth from the tomb they were all bound with cloths, headbands, and their feet. And we know Jesus walked out of it. He slipped out of those cloths like a... like a caterpillar slips out of a cocoon. He did not need anybody to call Him forth.
So everybody else that was raised from the dead:
Number one: somebody else called them --- nobody called Him.
Number two: they were bound with cloths --- He was not bound with cloths.
Number three: they all went back and died again.
Didn't they?... at least I have not seen them around. So I kind of figure they must be dead. But what does the scripture say about the Lord Jesus? Well, let me read it to you. Romans chapter 6 verse 8 it says: (Oh man, this puts the clincher on the whole thing.) "Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him." Man, that's worth a thousand Alleluias; if you say one I'll forgive you.
Death hath no more dominion over him.
Yes, sir!. The other men died twice. It's appointed unto man once to die. Some of them, poor souls, had to die twice, that's pretty rough isn't it. You say, Enoch and Elijah did not die, did they? Hey you wait. Get to the end of Revelation see what happened. Who lies in the streets of Jerusalem? So God is going to fulfill... you see we live under a moral law. God said, "whatever a man shall sow, that also shall he reap." And if God says in Adam all die, they are going to die. But he says, "Jesus came..." knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him."
Now lets step back a minute. I say that the Spirit that raised up Jesus from the dead is the Spirit that quickens us, because man is dead in trespasses and in sin. That's why sometimes you can't drive home to people how bad they are. Sometimes we say, "they sit and reject the gospel"... they never heard it. They never heard it. With these ears yes...When Moody came to England he upset a lot of the preachers. He thought they were so, you know, nice English, stuffy Englishmen with their academic degrees and everything. Moody was a murderer, well, I mean he murdered the English language anyhow. Man, he could not say Jerusalem in three syllables, he said Jusum. He called Daniel, Daneel. It took the English about a week to figure out what he was talking about. He murdered the king's English. He was not even a good looking man, he'd never gotten away with it in our day, he didn't have a nice toothpaste smile, and a nice personality. But brother I'll tell you, God was on that little shoe salesman from Chicago. There's no man swept England since like old Moody did. Alexander McLaren, the king of the pulpit in the North of England, was in the meetings, on the platform and he listened with amazement. One day in one of the services at a big auditorium a man came down the aisle weeping and he collapsed at the altar. Alexander McLaren saw his main deacon come down to the altar. The main deacon of the First Baptist Church of Manchester, now at the altar listening to an illiterate American!? He said, "I went down to him and put my arm round his shoulder and said, 'brother Smith -or whatever he was- what are you doing here? You are a deacon." He said, "Yes, sir. I'm a deacon in your, church." "But I don't understand," said McLaren, "as a matter of fact brother look, uh, I'm considered a great preacher and I preached on this text about three weeks ago and you listened to every word." The poor deacon said straight back to him, "But I never heard a thing you said."
He heard it, but the inward ear was not open, he was dead, he was unresponsive in that sense. No man comes unto the Father, except the Father draw him. "You hath He quickened."
Now listen, if He quickens. I don't believe that necessarily everybody gets saved in the first meeting that they hear the gospel in, and I didn't, for sure. I think there are times that, just like a worm eating in somebody's heart, the Spirit of conviction comes until people get sleepless and troubled and worried and anxious and then finally you don't have to coach or beg or threaten, the Spirit of God has done His work. But we don't like it in these days. I'm making no excuses. I'm just saying this: people didn't used to get saved like they get saved now. You know, even the Pentecostals that I know don't have any tarrying meetings anymore; they used to when we were kids. The used to say to a deacon going out, "You know, I believe that I know there's something wrong in my life and I'd like to come to a tarrying meeting. I want to tarry." And they used to have "tarrying" meetings. They had select company of deacons who stayed in that meeting 'till people met God. They wanted to be endued with power from on high. I don't care which way its done, that's not the point. But I'm saying, there no longer seems to be that raw deep conviction of the Spirit of God where men and women say, "Foul I to thy fountain fly, wash me Savior or I die! " Again, we offer people heaven. We offer them peace of mind. We offer them forgiveness. I never heard Graham clearer than when about a month ago he said, "Look, I've come to this conclusion, that salvation means this: Is your heart occupied by God?" Isn't that what it really is? Christ in you the hope of glory?
You see, again Paul runs his flag, to the Corinthians of all people - if there was a cesspool on earth it was Corinth. He runs his flag up there in his second epistle chapter 5 verse 17 where he says, "if any man,..." I love that! I never say it to myself, or pray it without getting goose pimples. "If any man be in Christ,"
if he be in Christ he is a new creation!. God is not in the patching up business. He does not plug you where you are leaking; He makes man a new creation. Don't we sing it in that lovely hymn of Wesley's: "Finish then Thy new creation, pure and spotless let us be.?" Wesley was right when he said, "Justification is sanctification begun." Sanctification is instantaneous and progressive. The Christian life is process, crisis, process, crisis. Except it is uphill. If it were level it would not be so bad, but brother it's uphill. Now when a man is born again in the Spirit of God... what does it say in Romans 6:4 and 5... if it really happened: "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. " And writing to the Colossians he says, "If ye be risen in Christ." The if there is not a question, it really isn't. It's a bad translation. Should be: "because you are risen in Christ seek those things which are above." When Jesus was raised from the dead He just shuffled off that coat, that cloak He was wearing and left it behind. Now if a man is a new creature in Christ all those habits are going to break away. You know why? Because habits are the clothing of the soul. And if you have filthy habits, when you are born again of the Spirit of God and become a new creation those dirty, filthy, rotten habits will drop off just like that.
I remember preaching the first day of World War Two. I was to start an eight day crusade in the head church of the Nazarene in Glasgow, Scotland. That night before the meeting they announce World War Two had began. Well, that shattered our meetings, I'll tell you. It was a big church, I don't think we got more than fifty people, and we started to have the meeting in a side room, and I preached my heart out every night. One night I just said, "Look, if you have business to do, if you do not know you are born again of the Spirit of God, if you're still bound, and fettered, and burdened, and your consciences lashes you, and the fear of death, and the fear of judgment torments you, come and receive Christ, confess your sin, ask for cleansing ask for the Holy Spirit." And I said, "We'll wait. We won't sing. You just walk out into that side room." If I remember right three people walked out. We prayed. We talked with them. Then I looked back and saw a fine rosy cheeked Scotch boy there and he beckoned me. I went to him and I said, "hello." He said, "My name is...Donald Wilson," I think he said, "Ach" he went on in his Scottish way, "Mr. Ravenhill, I am not a Christian. I believe I'm a very good boy. But oh, I need Christ." So I said, "Well that's great. If you know that it's a wonderful thing. Do you come from a Christian family?" He said, "Ach, no. My father is a communist, and he's a very, very vicious communist." "What about your mother?" "Ach, she was a Christian, but she's backsliden." I asked, "Well, how do you know?" "Ach, I know. She goes to movies." - You see, when you are born again, over in Europe, movies go right out. You never enter a movie house... otherways you are feeding the devil's children with God's money... you are spending time there... I'm just telling you what he said - Then he asked me about salvation, I told him what it meant. He not only got rid of his sins, he gave his life to Jesus, and Jesus became not only his Savior, but his Lord. And also, "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus..." I said, "Do you know what it means? Let me lay the cards on the table. It means that if you repent of your sins, and you take Christ as your Savior, you go home and when you get in you shut the door and you put your arms up like this and you say to your daddy... Will your daddy be home?" "Ach, he'll be smoking his pipe in his chair, and reading the Glasgow Herald, and... Ach, he'll be there drinking his beer maybe, and mother will be there." "All right," I said, "now you have a good chance. Shut the door, put your back behind it, fold your arms so you can't get out and just say 'father, I've become a Christian tonight. I've taken Jesus as my Lord and my Savior." "Ach, ach, ach," he said, "does it mean all that." I said, "Well, He says if you are ashamed to confess Him, He'll be ashamed to confess you before His Father in heaven." Well, I'll tell you, the meetings did not swell too much. Everybody was terrified; there were threats that we were going to be wiped out by bombing every night. Yet a couple of dozen people came.
At a latter meeting there was a man sitting there. A scared man with kind of a red thing around his neck. I just made a short appeal, I said, "Maybe there is someone here needs Christ tonight. If you do, you just up and walk into that room. I'll come and pray with you." This man got up, and walked into the room. I talked with him. Asked him if he knew the... "No, no, no, ach not at all," he said, "not at all. I'm a communist." Oh, and he ranted away about communism, about the evils of this and that...but he said, "Listen that's not the problem. I've got a wee laddie, he's not fifteen. Do you know what he did? Two nights ago he came home and shut the door and put his arms up like this and said, 'Daddy, Mommy, you've got a new son. I've been saved and Jesus is my Lord and He's my Savior. And he knocked me for a loop. I didn't want to smoke, I didn't want to drink my beer, I thought, 'what my laddie?'" "My god," he said, "I should have shown him the way." "My laddie's got saved?" he said, "My laddie, where did it happen?" "Oh," he said, "there's a..." (I think they call the English sasinack?) "sasinack preaching down there in the church and I went." "Oh," he says, "those are good folk, they are the only people have a street meeting down at the cross there. Now laddie," he said, "you'll be in good company if you stay with those people." - That was a good testimony for a communist- He said, "You know, if my laddie got saved, if he needed saving, sure I need it." You know that big rough man that looked like he could have turned around and thrown me right through the building, he just bawled like a child. He said, "I am a sinner, I need a Savior. I'll do anything you tell me." I said, "there's only one thing to do: break your heart at the cross. Don't make any excuses. Say: 'I'm a sinner. A sinner who on Jesus rely, and come for a pardon God cannot deny,' and He'll take you in."
Well, I did not go back to that town for a few years. When I preached again in that stately church, the war was over. As we sat there the pastor, James Baxter McClagen, said to me, "Brother Ravenhill, you see that well dressed man over there on the left, the one with the white Scotch collar on and the..." "Yes," I said. "That's Wilson." It did not ring a bell. "Wilson. Oh..." He says, "come on. You remember the communist that got saved because his laddie stood up and testified..." "Yeah." He said, "Well, that's him. You know, he is about the strongest Christian in this church. Man, you can rely on that man, he's as sure as the dawn. And as a matter of fact, he wants you to go to their home for a meal."
I went to the house and the whole family had gotten saved, teenage daughters, mother had gotten back to God... I looked at the house, it was beautifully painted, beautifully done and he added, "You know, Mr. Ravenhill, I was the kind of guy who wanted to get the world right, and I wasn't right myself." And he said, "I'll tell you how much change it makes: Jesus Christ has not only changed my life, He's changed the whole home. I wasn't content even to live in the slum I was in. I thought, 'No this is not the place we should be.' I discovered the Gospel did this: it met me personally, it met me domestically, it met me socially. Because I've been able to go back in the factory and tell men there of the miracle of the Gospel, that He took out the habit. And what I was cursing other people for I had in myself. I had money, but I spent it on liquor, smoking, all the other things, and since Christ came He completely changed and revolutionized my life." That's the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. This is a classical case in my mind. Again, " you hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and in sin."
Let me look at Colossians 3:1 and 2 before I finish. Paul says, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things 'which are beneath.'"
The destination is this: that the life is the life above.
The design is this: set your affection on them.
It's one thing for God to make it possible, it's another thing for us to appropriate that thing. Step back a minute into Colossians. It says again what Romans says in verse 12 of chapter 2: "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven all trespasses;" Now verse 20: "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 'Which perish with the using') after the commandments and doctrines of men?" Now chapter 3:1 "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, 'wherein' Christ sitteth on the right hand of 'the Father'"
I am going to finish with this: Look, Paul, to me, is
the most mature Christian that ever lived,
the most successful ministry,
the man who had such revelations that God said keep your mouth closed about it! (I sometimes wonder if he had a preview of what John finally saw in the book of the Revelation, but God says you can't say a word about it. Somebody else is going to do it). Here is a man who's reached the peak, as it were, of spirituality and yet he says, "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection." The resurrection of Jesus Christ ended all His ministry. It made a final, complete separation, and He had perfect peace when He lost the crowd, when He lost His miracle ministry. When he wasn't teaching the basic laws of His Kingdom, the Kingdom of Love, nor Teaching the Sermon on the Mount. And He was contented just to walk, walk, walk in His resurrection life. Are you and I as contented as that? This man says, "Look, I'm in prison." I'm sure he was, because at the end of his epistle he says, "Listen, there are saints in Ceasars household." And I think maybe he was in a basement chained up down there. And again he did not ask for deliverance, he says, "You know, that resurrection power that quickened Him, I want that resurrection." It says here what it says nowhere else in the New Testament: "I want to attain the out resurrection from the dead. He is talking, I believe, about the out resurrection from the dead, but he is also talking about that resurrection power. Why? Because he says, "If you are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above." Not things earthly, sensual, devilish. Have as little as you can with it. Seek the lofty things, the holy things, the life of prayer, the life of inspiration, the life of joy in the Spirit. Remind yourself now, not when you "shuffle off this mortal coil." Tell yourself every morning: EVEN NOW I'M A CHILD OF GOD. Sure the world will rough me up. It roughed Him up. "Is this vile world a friend to Grace to help us on to God?" No sir, it's not. As Tozer used to say, "Len, remember, keep this in your mind. Remember this: that while you and I are on earth we are passing through enemy territory." Yes, it's hostile country. The old enemy is going to shoot darts at us. Oppositions are going to come. We are speckled birds . The world doesn't like what we do. Doesn't like what we say. Doesn't like the way we act. It is a
It follows its god.
It is ruled by the prince of the power of the air.
There is an eternal antagonism between the two.
But keep your head up. Remember that you can draw day by day, by day, by day, hour by hour, moment by moment on the resurrection life of Jesus, because the resurrection life of Jesus is the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus form the dead.
The older I get the more I realize every work of the Holy Spirit is majestic. He gave us this Word, and I thank God it doesn't go moldy like the bread to the children of Israel. They kept it too long, it went moldy. Well, this has been round two thousand years, its sweeter than honey in the honey comb. It's more precious. The Holy Ghost made it. Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. The Church, which is His body, was the creation of the Holy Ghost. The Child in the womb of the virgin Mary was conceived by the Holy Ghost. The dead in Christ He's going to raise. And in that raising, gone is every sin that man has ever committed from here back to eternity... If a man will come...no matter what kind of sin it is. You can rate it as you like... put it in different categories, makes no difference. The Word of God says that Jesus was raised from the dead and He dieth no more. And because He lives we shall live also.
The death of the Lord Jesus, the cross, proves the love of God.
The resurrection proves the power of God.
And "if He were risen from the dead,"
God intended we have under our feet what He had:
Jesus is risen. He's cut off from the world. He lives in it, but He is not of it. Again, I can't explain what this does to me, but when I think that for 40 days and nights He didn't say a word to the world. When I think that for 2000 years He's never bothered with the Jews. Makes me wonder...if God turns His back on America before long we are in for an awful, awful lot of trouble. Worse than we've ever dreamed of. Maybe if Gabriel could shout a word to America right now, or to England, or to Australia, so called civilized countries, he'd say, what Jesus said: "Oh, Jerusalem, oh Corazin, oh Bethsaida, if thou knewest the day of thy visitation." We don't know how blessed we are... We've food, we've clothing. You think it might take a judgment, or prison to get some people really together? To break down bad spirits, and unforgiving spirits, and hardness of heart? Will it have to be done in tears, because it hasn't been done at the cross through the love of the Lord Jesus?
Let's aspire, by the grace of God, day by day.
Lets say with Paul: "That we may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship..." I'm not asking to slip out of the fellowship. The Church of Jesus is suffering and I want to suffer with them in that sense, as best I can in spirit, and maybe we'll do it physically. "That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, being made conformable to His death."
Because if I really died. If that baptism I went into is a symbol only of something that had happened at the moment Jesus died, I died with Him. The moment that He rose, I rose with Him... And I am not dragging a withered limb. He did a complete job. Sure there are corrections, there are improvements, there is growth in grace. But He died that we might be cleansed,
He died that we might be pure,
He died that we might lead a victorious life.
The resurrection life of Jesus quickening our mortal bodies. One day that resurrection will actually take place in a triumphant shattering of all the graves. They are going to come "from earth's wide bounds and ocean's farthest coasts, through gates of pearls will stream in a countless host, singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia. Won't it be wonderful to sit down with Paul and ask what he really meant about this resurrection power?
Lets keep reading,
and lets keep believing,
and lets keep obeying.
Father we thank you. We are so glad again we have not followed a cunningly devised fable. We thank you for the revelation of truth which is eternal. We pray for an expansion of vision. An expansion of revelation. A deeper willingness to go further with Thee than we have gone before. That we may go and walk circumspectly, that if You would appear at our side, we wouldn't embarrass You, because we are walking in the place of obedience.
Copyright © 1994 by Leonard Ravenhill - http://www.ravenhill.org/