By J.B. Stoney
The great failure of the church was giving up Paul. "All... in Asia" did not give up evangelical truth but they gave up Paul; anything popular you may have, but not Paul. Why? Because he is heavenly.
Colossians 2:20 is "over Jordan." In Romans (6:1-11), [you are] "dead to sin "- dead with Christ - out of the man; but in Colossians you are out of the place where the man is. Gilgal is the actual spot: all of man goes. Many understand Marah (Exodus 15:23-26) who do not understand Gilgal (Joshua 5:2-12). Marah is that I refuse the thing that would draw me from the wilderness. In Gilgal you drop it all: it is cut off, and cannot be resumed.
The children of Israel ate the Passover when they got over Jordan, and the day after they ate the old corn of the land! That Passover was a type of the Lord's Supper in which I can say, I have reached the consummation of His accomplished work; I begin a new day, and I eat the old corn of the land.
What has hindered souls from understanding the mystery is that they are not consciously on heavenly ground. No man gets clear of the intrusion of the flesh until he gets to Gilgal. We ought to be able to say to every offer of the flesh, I do not want your learning, I do not want your sanctimoniousness, I want nothing but Christ, for I am "complete in him" and He is everything and in all. I am looking [down].
You know very little about a person if you only know what he was, and not what he is; and that is the difference between the manna and the old corn of the land.
There is nothing a man so revolts from naturally than to see that this scene is gone. But though this scene is gone for me I am supported down here by supplies from the place where my Lord has gone. By the Holy Spirit I walk the path He has trod to the place where He has gone; where He is. There are many who have for a moment tasted it; and I would ask, Had you your relatives, your property, there? No, I had only the Lord. And were you happy without them? Perfectly so!
There are many in heart over Jordan who have never accepted it. Your acceptance of the new place necessitates dropping everything connected with the old place. Like a recruit brought to the barrack gate; he drops the old, the civilian, to get the new. The apostle said when he was caught up into the third heaven, he did not know whether he was in the body or out of the body.
They say that a man in a balloon loses first the sense of feeling, then the sight of things below, then his hearing, and lastly consciousness. You do not get the right idea of sanctification until you come to this. In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul has come down from the place where he did not know whether he was in the body, and now he will have a crippled body. The more I understand the exaltation, the more I shall be crippled here.
Once you separate the [assembly] from the gospel, [you are] prepared for any departure, human subsidy, and carnal support of any kind. I have no doubt Laodicea springs out of this (carrying on christian things without Christ). How often the evangelist deplores the state of his converts: your converts are the pattern of yourself. No one ever understood the gospel thoroughly that did not understand the [assembly].
I never saw the brother who left the heavenly ground who did not become Babylonish - not Egyptian, for Egypt is the gross world, but Babylon is the refined, or if you will, aesthetic world.
Laodicea is christian religion without Christ Himself. Do not give up the heavenly side! Do not give up Paul! Do not be ashamed of "the testimony of our Lord nor of me his prisoner."