By Norman P. Grubb
WE must examine this matter more closely. We are beginning now to touch on a subject, which has caused divisions in the Church. We must face it carefully and squarely, this subject of sanctification, holiness, the victorious life, the fullness of the Spirit, or whatever name we call it. Names apart, it will for ever be a subject of life and death interest to the re-born soul, for his heart hears the summons of his Lord: "Be ye perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect;" "Be ye holy for I am holy;" and gives its eager assent.
The Holy Spirit by Paul has traced the course of the believer's progress along one highway. It is unmistakable. It is Christ. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him." Where it is a question of the sinner's justification, it is Christ who "was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification." And when it is a question of the deliverance from indwelling sin, from the fallen ego, once again he points to Christ crucified and risen; but this time in a newer, profounder aspect, nothing like so easily grasped as the simpler fact that Christ died for us.
Romans, Galatians, Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, all make it plain. They show that when Christ died and rose again as the sinner's Substitute and Representative, He did so in a complete way. That is to say, He not merely "bore our sins in His own body on the tree," took upon Himself their reality, their defilement and their consequences, burying them with Himself in the tomb, and by His resurrection declaring that the sacrifice was accepted and the sinner justified; but also "He was made silt for us," He became the sinner Himself as his complete Substitute; sin's fruit as well as root was taken by Him. All that sin had done in man, its indwelling presence in Him, its dominion over Him, its infection of his very self, his ego, He was made all that for us, for man's greatest sin is himself! And when Christ was crucified, sinful man, as well as man's sins, was crucified in Him; when Christ was buried, sinful man was buried in Him; when. Christ rose, man rose in Him, no longer sinful however, but to walk in newness of life.
Perhaps that takes some thought for those who have not yet grasped its implications. Let such study particularly Romans 6:2-13; Galatians 2:20, 5: 26-25, 6:14; 2 Corinthians 4:10-12, 5:14-21; Ephesians 2:4.-7; Colossians 2:10-12, 20; 3:1-11; 1 Peter 2:24; and the truth will be made clear.
We look, then, not to the future for something that will happen to deliver us, but to the past for something that has happened; exactly the same as the sinner sees, not some future hope of forgiveness through some future act of God's grace, but the past historic fact of the Sin-bearer on the Cross. He sees; he believes; it is done; he has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
So now the Christian, longing to be free from the sin and self that binds him, is bidden, not to ask and hope for deliverance in the future, but to look back at that very same scene, at that same Christ crucified, and view Him from a different standpoint. There he is to see himself with and in Christ. He is to say with Paul: "I have been and still am crucified (Greek perfect tense) with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." He is to do what Paul said: "Knowing thus, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed... reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
He is to see himself crucified and buried with Christ, leaving there in the tomb that flesh, that body of sin; and himself risen with Christ, a new man in Christ, and Christ in him, no longer he that lives but Christ that lives in him.
Ah, now the battle is joined. Now we get back to where we were when last discussing faith.' Now we begin to see that present tense faith is much more difficult than past and future believing. For we find that, though we may believe with ease that the past is forgiven and the future assured, by no means so easily do we truly believe, still less be fully assured, that the present fact is true; that our old man is crucified with Him, and that we are risen with Him, set free to seek those things that are above. Such a believing simply comes in direct conflict with realities as we know them about ourselves. It simply is not true.
And this brings us face to face, where we have not got yet, with the root and marrow of faith. It also brings us up again to that question we previously raised: Is theoretical knowledge enough? Can we get through with a head knowledge when these men of old had to wrestle on to reach their place of rest in God through storm and wind and tide? No, we cannot. And as soon as we move on from a mere acquiescence in these truths to an honest personal application by faith, the storms begin to blow about us also. We become more conscious than ever of that evil present with us, we feel more than ever the impossibility of our honestly in saying and feeling and knowing with Paul that we are crucified with Christ, and that He now lives in us. We feel that a statement of faith to this effect is really a hollow sham.
There is a reason for all this. We saw at the beginning that there are two stages of faith-elementary and advanced. We instanced Madame Curie and the discovery of radium as an example of advanced faith on a natural level. We are now reaching the fringe of advanced faith in the spiritual realm. It is definitely more difficult. It reaches into things, which are when they appear not to be. It is covered by Jesus' word: "Judge not by appearances, but judge righteous judgment" (i.e. according to what is really so). We see it in the manifestation of Himself that God made to Abraham when He was summoning him to that first great act of faith. God revealed Himself as the One Who "calleth the things that be not as though they were." It involves, as with Madame Curie in the realm of the natural, having eyes that surely penetrate the realm of the invisible, and a heart that can surely reckon on what is seen there, although it is directly contrary to outward appearances. It takes us to the Word which says that the visible was made out of the invisible, as Moffatt translates Hebrews 11: 2.
The swaying battle of present-tense faith is well seen in the instance of Peter walking on the water. Peter was the pioneer in faith amongst the disciples, and it is interesting to watch his development. It was Christ who first lifted the veil and showed him the undreamed of possibilities of faith, and enticed him to make a trial, when He told him to launch into the deep and let down his nets for a draught, after a night without a catch. We see the momentary struggle of faith then, when he weighed up which he believed most, his opinion as an experienced fisherman and that of his brother fishermen on the beach, or the word of this Wonder-worker. He hesitated, then plunged: "Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing" - that was faith in appearances: "Nevertheless, at Thy Word I will let down the net that was faith in the invisible, in the power of His word and the resources at His command. It was a cheese-paring faith, even then, for he let down one net when Jesus had said "nets," and paid for his niggardliness by getting it broken! No wonder he fell at His feet, cut to the quick by his own unbelief.
But he had learned a great lesson. There are resources in God which counteract nature, and man can use them. Next time, Peter needed no invitation. To that figure walking on the water, he calls out, "Lord, bid me come to Thee on the water." No altruistic motive in this, no service for mankind, just a "stunt", we may say; but here Christ had found a pioneer in things of the Spirit and He welcomed the sign. "Come," He said. Peter got out and walked. For the one and only time in recorded history the laws of gravity which govern the sinking of a body in water were counteracted by a higher power for a mere man. How? By Peter's transferred faith. By nature, he believed and acted all his life on the known fact that a man sinks in water. In Christ he saw a higher power operative, enabling him to transcend this law of nature and walk on water. He knew by previous experience that the power of Jesus was at his disciples' disposal. So, deliberately he transferred his faith from its life-anchorage in natural law to that which he could not see or touch, to a power, which was upholding his Master and could uphold him.
But he was just a beginner, an experimenter. Along came a big wave. It would engulf him! Away, almost automatically, came his faith from its new anchorage back to the old familiar "fact" that we sink in water. And down he sank. According to his faith, so it was. No, not quite. The hand of the Savior held him. He had a ducking for his daring, but he also had gained something more priceless than any of his more cautious stay-in-the-boat brethren; an experimental knowledge of the fact that a man can stretch out the hand of faith, almost at his whim, and take hold of the hidden power of God.
That he had thoroughly grasped this amazing truth in the only way truth can be known-by trying it out and coming some bumps in the process - we see a short while after. We see Peter, with John, at the Gate of the Temple called Beautiful. Peter, knowing his secret possessions, sees a man in need, the lame beggar. Something in his appeal for alms strikes Peter, something, which comes to his heart as a call to action. "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have, give I thee." What has Peter? All the power of heaven and earth, which is released by the Name of Jesus. The power which he was invited to use in the fishing incident, which he asked if he might use in the storm incident, he now knows to be his in Christ, and he just uses it as his own in this healing incident. Faith has found its resting-place, the doors of its treasure-house lie wide open to it: "Such as I have give I thee." And when, later, he is called upon to explain this miracle of healing, note where he lays the emphasis: he points them full faced to the Christ they have rejected. His is the power. But note. He does not just say that the Name of Jesus has done this: but "His Name through faith in His Name... yea, the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness." Not just the Name, but the applied Name. There lay Peter's well-learned secret.