In a recent undenominational magazine the statement was made that ‘There never was a time in the world’s history, when so much money was spent on organised evangelistic effort with such little results’. Again we often hear people saying that the principles we hold dear are being let slip. Both these statements may be true, but we believe the remedy lies in getting a better experimental understanding of the teaching concerning the Body of Christ.
We are inclined to think of this as our being one in Christ, which is of course true, but only a part of the truth. If we can but grasp the force of the fact that we are joined with our Head, not as a body of men to their commander, but as a living organ of the human body to the head, then we shall realise that all our strength is in Him.
This truth is very beautifully brought out in a letter Mr. Hudson Taylor wrote to his sister in October, 1869. He referred to a time when he realised that the work in which he was engaged called for more holiness, life and power in his soul although enjoying periods not only of peace but of real joy in the Lord, he was conscious of a sad lack of power, feeling the ingratitude, danger and sin of not living nearer to God. Every day commenced with prayer and a determined effort to keep near the Lord, but pressure of work all too frequently caused forgetfulness and the feeling of frustration, the inability to live a life of joy and victory, would result in fretted nerves and irritability as each day was marked, in varying degrees, by sin and failure. All the while Mr. Taylor could say, ‘to will was indeed present with me but how to perform I found not’: he was incapable of rising to the privileges he knew to be his as a child of God, unable to appropriate the fullness he knew resided in his Lord. He hated himself, hated his sin and yet gained no strength against it.
At last he appreciated the fact that the prerequisite for the power he sought was faith – but he had not this faith; he strove for it but it would not come; he tried to exercise it in vain. Then, when his distress was at its height, he relates how the Holy Spirit revealed to him, in a way never experienced before, his oneness with the Lord Jesus Christ; that faith was not strengthened by striving but by resting on the Faithful One. He saw the futility of striving when his Lord had said, ‘I will never leave you’, and realized true peace of heart as he rested upon His promise to abide, never to leave and never to fail. But more than this the Holy Spirit revealed to him; he now saw the mistake he had once made of likening himself to a puny branch trying to get sap from the stem, the fullness out of Him; the truth gripped his soul that he was a member of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones, really one with a risen and exalted Saviour. He asks, ‘Can Christ be rich and I poor? Can your right hand be rich and the left poor, or your head be well fed while your body starves’? and refers to the bearing this great truth had upon his prayer life. Could a bank clerk say to a customer, ‘It is only your hand that wrote that cheque, not you’. Or, ‘I cannot pay this sum to your hand, but only to you’. No more could his prayers be discredited if he offered them in the Name of Jesus on the ground that he was His, one of His many members. This full identification with Christ brought a peace and rest of heart to Mr. Taylor hitherto unknown and enabled him to write, ‘I know He is able to carry out His will and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how’. He knew that if God placed him in great perplexity, He would give much guidance; in a position of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength. He had no fear that his Lord’s resources would be unequal to the emergency and wrote, ‘His resources are mine, for He is mine and is with me and dwells in me; the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’. The presence of Christ was realized as never before; his conscience became more tender; sin was seen instantly and a full confession, without any attempt at self-justification, was followed by the peace and joy of full and complete restoration. He saw too that faith was ‘the substance of things hoped for’ (Heb.11. 1), and found that substance was something upon which he could rest and feed. He had learned how to enjoy the exhortation given by Mr. George Muller: ‘On Him then reckon, to Him look, on Him depend; and be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you’.
Herein lies the secret of success and experimental enjoyment of the truth of the oneness of the ‘body’, and what it implies.
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