This phrase is the title deed of all believers, no matter how weak or inadequate they may feel themselves to be; this is a very simple, but yet a very blessed truth. It includes all believers from the great apostle to the Gentiles, to the feeblest lamb in the flock of Christ. It can be most discouraging and it is wrong to make unspiritual comparisons between our abilities and those of other believers; they may seem to us to be more devoted, more fruitful, more knowledgeable, but the ground of atonement is the same for every believer. This is the common platform on which every believer stands, and “for whom Christ died” is a fitting appellation over every believer, which time and eternity can never erase.
By faith all believers are in the eternal calm of God, having everything that the finished work of Christ has secured. We are far above principalities and powers, since we are in Him who is alive for evermore, who is the Living One, and once was dead. We are as near to God as Christ is, for speaking to His Father our Lord Jesus says, “thou … hast loved them, as thou hast loved me”, John 17. 23. In Him we are filled with all the fulness of God. But as to fact, we discover another side of the truth, which is
According to typology as we understand it, all believers are still in the wilderness. Not all our enemies have yet been destroyed. The world is around us and against us. We are sheltered by the blood, but we are still in a condemned world; yet we are eternally justified, and by grace we are saved individuals.
Being still in the wilderness, we require guidance by the eye of God every day. As the Israelites of old had no signposts or highways in the trackless desert and were guided by the pillar-cloud, so mere human wisdom and advice can never direct the believer in his heavenward journey. God’s Word alone is his light. As the
Israelites marching through a barren wilderness had to get their bread daily from heaven, so the believer gets no food for his new nature from that which his fellow-men all around enjoy. He now says with the apostle, “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me”, Gal. 2. 20. As the Israelites required water from the Rock in the dry parched land, so the believer daily drinks of the truth of God. Christ is his daily refreshment. The Israelites likewise had Joshua to fight and Moses to pray against their foe Amalek; so we have the Holy Spirit to war against the flesh, and we have our Intercessor with the Father. Christ presents for us on high the value of His blood, and daily we require our feet to be washed from all earthly defilement. These are God’s provisions for our sin.
Every believer is really, as to fact, in the wilderness and in Canaan at one and the same time; different aspects may be more prominently ours at one time than at another; this constitutes experience. But the experience of believers is not always true Christian experience.
What do we find the everyday experience of believers to be? According as a believer understands what are his standing and state, so will be his experience. Every believer’s experience should be a walking with God! As to experience, the believer may be sheltered by the blood and hardly know it, like an Israelite in Egypt not realizing the safety that there was under the blood-sprinkled lintel. The believer may consciously be at peace with God by the blood, but may still be trembling under the fear of coming into condemnation, like an Israelite not seeing the path through the sea, and trembling lest Pharaoh’s host should destroy him. He will only walk with God according to the light he has received. He may be rejoicing on the solid ground of the Risen Christ, for ever having done with all that which was against him, and being conscious that God is now for him; he then walks with God, like an Israelite who had passed through the Red Sea, and entered upon the wilderness journey. And finally, he may be walking as in heavenly places, like an Israelite who had passed through Jordan and settled in Canaan. He is God’s workmanship, and is now entering into the mystery of His will, Eph. 1. 9, having lost sight of the thought of his own salvation, and being absorbed in God.
To summarize these three aspects: The standing of every believer before God in Christ Jesus is known only by faith here; it is the same for all believers, and is independent of a believer realizing or enjoying it. The actual state of every believer upon the earth is likewise the same. What an anomaly is any believer in the world! He is a son of God walking through a God-hating world, with a God-hating devil at its head, and having within him a natural God-hating nature. But the experience of every believer is not the same; it varies in different people, and in the same person at different times. This variation occurs as they know their standing before God, know their state, and walk in the Spirit.
Because the foundation truth of the atoning death of the Lord is not fully laid hold of by some believers, they suffer from unsettled peace, constant variation in their spiritual condition, and from continual ups and downs in their experience. Every doubt in the mind of a believer is a dishonour done to the Word of God and the sacrifice of Christ. Those things which so many have to deplore - those fluctuations and waverings - are but trifling consequences, comparatively, inasmuch as they only affect their experience. The effect produced upon their worship, their service, and their testimony is far more serious, because the Lord’s honour is concerned. But, alas! generally speaking this latter is little thought of, because personal salvation is the grand object (the aim and the end) of the majority of professing Christians.
We are prone to look upon everything that affects us as essential, and all that affects the glory of Christ in and by us as non-essential. However it is well to see with distinctness, that the same truth which gives the soul settled peace puts it also into the position of intelligent worship, acceptable service, and effectual testimony. In 1 Corinthians 15 the apostle sets forth the death and resurrection of Christ as the grand foundation of everything, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures”, vv. 1-4.
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