"Behold, all things are become new." 2 Cor. 5: 17.
"Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" Acts 9: 6
AFTER the Lord's tender plea for the presentation of our bodies has been heeded: after His mastership has been acknowledged: after conviction and struggle have given place to decision--what then?
I. THE FULLNESS OF THE SPIRIT.
"Will there be manifestation of the fullness of the Spirit when we yield our lives to Him? Will we be aware of a great inner change in those lives ? Will there be a conscious transformation, a conscious new estate of Christian experience? To this we answer: Is the sluggish, stagnant river conscious of the inrushing waters of the sea, as it feels the throb and rush of her cleansing tides? Is the dark, gloomy old castle conscious of the fresh, sweet air that fills its windswept chambers, as they are flung wide open to it? Are the sightless eyes, that have been veiled for years in hopeless darkness, conscious of the bright light of day, when it first breaks upon their enraptured vision? So, assuredly, is there a conscious manifestation to the soul that has given itself, for all time and all things, to God. There must be, there will be, a change; a realization of His presence to a degree never before; a consciousness that the greatest crisis in the spiritual life has been passed. Nor does it matter whether such manifestation of His fullness bursts upon us like the sudden out-flashing of the sun from behind dark clouds, or steals upon us like the slow-increasing of the morning twilight, gradual, but sure. Enough for us to know that such manifestation does come; that He does reveal Himself in fullness, power, and blessing never known before. His beseeching us to present our bodies to Him was not idle entreaty; our yielding to Him was not vain experiment. He fulfills His promise, "I will manifest myself as I do not unto the world." Henceforth there is height and depth, peace and power, joy and blessing, communion and service, prayer and praise, such as the past has never possessed. To that soul who gives himself wholly to God, life is transformed beyond his fondest hopes; the blessings of the Abundant Life become richer and fuller as the days go by; God does exceeding abundantly above all he can ask or think. He is "strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man;" "filled with all the fullness of God;" made to "abound more and more;" and out of this abundance overflow ministry, testimony, and blessing to those about him." ("The Three-fold Secret of the Holy Spirit," pp. 70, 71.)
Not that surrender is a meritorious act that wins the fullness of the Spirit, but simply the act needed to give the Spirit a chance to fill us. God does not flood our being with great tides of spiritual life, all independent of our own free will. He does not lay hold of men and women and carry them to the mountain tops of Christian life and blessing regardless of all choice and violation of their own. On the contrary the Spirit's method seems to be first, conviction of God's fullness and the soul's need; then a step of obedience or faith which will give a waiting, willing God the desired chance to fulfill that need; and then life and blessing to him who obeys God in taking that step. The revelation and conviction of truth; the obedience of faith consequent upon that revelation; and the blessing consequent upon that obedience is thus, perhaps, the invariable order of the Spirit's working in the soul. It is in this divine order that surrender takes its true place, and that Paul cries, "Yield yourselves to God." Surrender is not bribing or buying the grace of God, it is simply giving opportunity to work. Surrender does not build the reservoir of God's abundant life, but does open the channels through which that life may be "shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Christ declares that out of our inmost being shall flow rivers of water. This spake He of the Spirit in them who had faith in Him. But surrender to God is one of the highest forms of faith. For, following the reception of the Spirit by faith, it is one of the highest forms of faith to so implicitly trust God as to give the whole life into His keeping to do and submit to His, will. Wherefore we may always expect to find the fuller life of the Spirit linked with that complete yielding to God which has been the theme of our study in these pages. For God never fails to respond with divine love to every act of faith in His children, and the faith which received the Spirit at conversion cannot fail to know the blessed fullness of that same Spirit when it yields itself wholly to Him who has been received.
The Word says of Christ, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1: 4). Christ, too, says of Himself, "He that followeth me shall have . . . the light of life" (John 8:12). This striking phrase "the light of life" suggests another sequence of surrender in the light which floods the soul from the presence of the abundant life of the Spirit.--The beams of the pale moon as she voyages across the midnight heavens, fall cold and lifeless upon the recipient earth beneath. But the light of the sun, falling upon that same earth, warms and quickens into life and growth every plant its genial rays touch. It is not only light but is the light of life, a peculiar kind of light, a light which emanates from a life-giving body, and which quickens, and thrills, and begets life in its illuminating as no other light can or does. Of this peculiar kind is the light which is shed abroad in the heart of a yielded child of God. It differs from mere knowledge. It is more than the cold, clear, light which enters through the inlet of the intellect. It is the light of life; the light which radiates from the Spirit of Life within him. No other light illuminates and reveals as this does. The surrendered man sees things as never before. To him the Word of God becomes a new book.
It thrills; it quickens; it convicts of failure and of unChristlikeness; it searches and lays bare the innermost depths of the soul; it discloses the holiness of God; it stimulates growth; it begets new aspirations; it stirs to zeal and service before unknown. Nor need he marvel at this. For this book is simply the book of the Spirit of Life, who floods its pages with the light of life, in him who has come to know His abundance of life. And not only from the Word of God, but also in the providences of God, and the inward monitions of the Spirit of God, does this new light break in upon his soul. Under it he now begins to understand the secret of guidance. The past lights up anew. Events apparently disconnected are seen to have been links in the chain of God's guidance. Impressions noted, but not understood, are perceived to have been the movings and leadings of God's Spirit within. The will of God is now seen in the chastening and testings of life, as we'll as in its joys and blessings, and the indescribable experience of seeing God at work in and through his life is sure proof that the light of life is illumining his inner man with its clear shining.
This, too, is an important phase of the afterward of surrender. When we yield ourselves to God as a living sacrifice while holy and acceptable in our standing in Christ, we are far from holy in our state. Yet it is only in proportion to our holiness of life and walk in Him that God can work His will in and through us as His instruments. What we are, becomes the measure of what we can do, or rather of what God can do through us. We must be Christlike in inner life if we would be Christlike in outward deed. A holy God needs a holy instrument through which to live His holy life. All that is of self within us hinders the manifestation of the Christ within us. Therefore we may expect that the God who wants a holy instrument for service will, as soon as it is yielded to Him, set His hand to its purification. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth:" He "child-traineth," as the word signifies. Once yielded to Him He lays His hand upon us, not in law, but in grace: not in punishment but in purification: not with the wrath of a judge, but the love of a Father. So well pleased is He with His firstborn Son that He would, by chastening, conform us all unto the image of that Son. Wherefore it is with the tender love of a Father, solicitous that His child might attain unto His highest purpose of Christ-likeness that there comes upon us that child-training which is the explanation of the furnace, the crucible, and the refining pot. And we ourselves may either greatly aid, or sadly hinder His work in this regard. With our wills pliant and submissive to Him at all points very quickly will He carry on his blessed work within us. But with those wills stubborn and discordant equally slow and unsatisfactory will be the process. "Sanctify them through the Truth, Thy Word is Truth,' prayed the Master. And it is even thus that the Father child-trains. The Spirit of Truth reveals the barrenness, poverty, and deformity of the self-life, and the richness, fullness, and loveliness of the Christ-life within us. With such revelation of the Truth the Spirit seeks the assent of our will to putting off the one, and putting on the other. And just as we yield our assent will He be able to work into our state, our walk, that sanctification which, in our standing, is already complete in Christ Jesus.
"'The same light that shows us sin will show the way out of it," says Andrew Murray. So, too, the same Spirit who reveals sin will lead to detachment from it, and from the things which foster it. Thus it is that the surrendered child of God soon finds himself walking the pathway of separation. Things which were doubtful before are now seen to be sinful. Many afore time pleasures are relinquished because .they no longer bring enjoyment but condemnation. Hosts of so-called innocent gratifications are clearly seen to be wasteful ones in Him who is here now "not to do his own .will but the will of Him that sent him." The deep change in. the inner motive of life--"ye are not your own"--soon works out its consequent changed view of what he dare do with the time, talents, and possessions which are in stewardship of the man who now belongs to another. He disjoins himself from former favorite pursuits or indulgences because he sees them in an entirely new light, wondering meantime why he did not always, or why others do not now see them thus. And, handfast with separation from things comes isolation from men. Difference in desires raises barriers, as surely as accord therein begets fellowship. How far friendships hinge upon community of interest is only seen when the latter vanishes. The truly consecrated man or woman is the last in the world to- cherish a "holier-than-thou" spirit might repel men; longs to be closer to the heart and life of all men than ever before: is filled with love beyond all previous experience. Yet companionships change; friends seem to be drifting away; a conscious loneliness begins to steal into the heart. Part of the price of a persistent determination to climb the highest mountain peaks of separation and fellowship with God is to lose the comradeship of those who will not climb there with you. It seems a high price to pay but, necessary to win the prize, it is worth the paying. Better a thousand-fold the loneliness of separation from the world than that of separation from God. Better the loneliness of Enoch than the companionship of Lot. There is much of danger that our false conception of "all things to all men," may make us to be nothing to any man. Isolation is insulation. But insulation is power in the spiritual as well as the electrical sphere. The hearts that need help and light seek it not among those who walk on the level with them, but from those who walk on the heights with God. If loneliness comes into the consecrated life because of its close and conscientious walk with God then welcome such loneliness, for it only brings a closer fellowship with that Lonely One who was the greatest helper a needy, sorrowing world has ever known, even though He walked in utter separation from it.
With purification and separation is linked suffering. There will be more or less of it in every yielded life. While the new man dwells in heavenly places, the old man has been put, and is to be kept, in the place of crucifixion. Thus the consecrated life has a dual aspect. It is related to the risen Christ on the one hand, to the crucified Christ on the other. Hence our experience is two-fold in its character. In our steady progress toward the consummation of our earthly Christian experience, that of abiding in Christ, God finds it needful to deal with us in relation to the self within, as well as the Christ within: from the standpoint of crucifixion, as well as that of resurrection. We bear His cross as well as His yoke. We experience the suffering of the former, as well as the easiness of the latter. His yoke of obedience is easy when Self is on the cross. But Self must and does first suffer in the crucifixion. In times of such suffering, when we find that God is dealing with us on the crucifixion side, let us patiently endure, for it is sure to be followed by a greater revelation of the power of His resurrection life within us. Let us ever remember that we bear about within us the old man, hanging in his appointed place--the cross, and that the place of death for him must forsooth be a place of suffering for us. How much of this we need, God alone knows and appoints. As we press nearer to the climax of abiding in the Resurrected One subtle phases of the self-life are revealed, all of which God expects us to submit to the cross. Of this fact we may be assured, that as we "always bear about in our body the deadness (dying) of the Lord Jesus," the life of the Lord Jesus will also be manifested in our mortal body (2 Cor. 4:10).
God is sure to lead into service the life which is yielded to Him. Such servantship is our lofty privilege here. When we yield we yield ourselves servants to obey Him, and henceforth "His servants we are." To become a servant and find no service would be strange indeed. Therefore if we patiently wait He will surely bring us into our appointed life work. For we are members of His body and He desires to work through us His will and purposes for a lost world. It may not be the active service we have planned. He may design for us a ministry of prayer, of patience, even of suffering for His name. But the highest form of service is to be in His will whatever that may be for us. If time does not, eternity assuredly will reveal that in so doing we have supremely glorified God. The consecrated child of God may therefore trustfully wait upon God for the revelation of and guidance into his life work. In quietness and confidence shall be his strength, nor shall he be put to shame. The ministry which God has chosen for him in Christ from all eternity may burst upon him like the lightning flash. Or it may come to him step by step, in the steady, almost unnoted broadening of some humble ministry until his life-work is before him. By the joy he finds in such ministry, his adaptation to it, its constant presence in his thought and plan, God's seal of success upon it, and his own growing consciousness that God has called him to it, the Spirit will cause him to assuredly gather that this is his place of service. Happy is he who when he hears the voice behind him saying "this is the way, walk ye in it," takes up His yoke with joy and gladness to walk with Him until he too can say, "I have finished the work Thou hast given me to do." Out of" God's will he is like an ocean derelict, adrift without pilot, port, or purpose. But once yielded to God, and finding his appointed place, he is like the ruler of a well-laden merchant ship, voyaging with compass, steady wind, and well-marked chart to a definite haven where some glad day his Master's voice shall rejoice his eager heart with, "Well done . . . thou has been faithful . . . I will make thee ruler over many things."
All this I may expect of God after surrender. But now that I am His yielded servant, what may God justly expect of me?
I. THE DAILY WALK OF FAITH.
I am to cease from self -dependence, and am henceforth to live a life of constant trust in, and dependence upon, the indwelling Christ. I have learned that in me alone, that is in my flesh, there is not one atom of spiritual life, and that the sole source of that spiritual life is the Son of God, who dwells within me in the Spirit. Apart from the Christ within me I am a spiritual pauper. The one great axiom of my new life is to be this: TRUST THE CHRIST WITHIN. YOU. He is my wisdom, my life, my light. He assures me that the Spirit dwelling within me has taken charge of me. The Spirit will guide: the Spirit will teach: the Spirit will purify. He will reveal the Christ: He will fit me for service: He will speak through me: He will work the works of God through me. He will at all times do all which my life needs for its perfect growth in Christ. In the old life I schemed, and planned, and fretted concerning my daily round of duty and service. In the new life I am to leave all to Him. In the old life I constantly trusted my strength, my judgment, my wisdom. In the new I am to trust His, and His alone. He is now wholly in charge. The reins are in His grasp. He is the teacher, I am the scholar; He the worker, I only the instrument; He the potter, I the clay. The Spirit is therefore now to have possession and control of me in a sense and measure unknown before I renounced proprietorship. I am now to learn the greatest lesson in the school of faith, the lesson of constant distrust of self, and constant looking unto Jesus. I am to be self-dependent in nothing, Christ-dependent in all things. Not only am I justified by faith, but I now also realize that "the just shall LIVE by faith." Jesus Christ says, "I AM THE LIFE." Therefore I am to be constantly looking to Him; I am to be continually drawing upon Him. I am to be ever living by faith in Him. The justified man says, "I trusted, and received Thee as life;" the surrendered man, "I am trusting, and constantly drawing upon Thy life." His present tense life is to be met by my present tense faith. The correlative of His "I am the Life" is my "Lord, I am living by faith in Thee." The very life which floods heaven is dependent life, "a river of water of life proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." Rev. 22:1. If the Son of God lived and the redeemed in heaven shall live thus, how much more should I, His weak, earthly child, so live. It will take line upon line and precept upon precept, with many failures and blunders on my part, ere my patient Guide will be able to inculcate this lesson of constantly distrusting the flesh within me, and constantly trusting the Christ within me. Yet He is never weary of teaching, and by His grace I shall assuredly learn it, and come to know in measure the blessed experience of the man of Tarsus, as he proclaims the great secret: "I AM LIVING BY FAITH." Gal. 2: 20.
II. THE DAILY DOING OF GOD'S WILL.
I am to accept God's will. That will is now to be the standard for the direction of my life. I am no longer to ask myself what I want to do but what God would have me do. Here God's Word as the revelation of that will is to take a new place in my life. I am to accept that Word as the standard by which I am to live. I am to accept it, however it may clash with my own thought or desire. I am to accept it, however others may differ or dissuade. When that Word says "love your enemies, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you," I am to accept and set myself to do this revealed will of God, however impracticable or absurd the world may deem it. When that Word says "casting all your care upon Him for He careth for you," I am to accept that as His will concerning care, and I am immediately to proceed to put it into practice. When that Word says, "My God shall supply all your need," I am to cease from all anxious care concerning my needs and look to God to supply as I obey. As I study God's Word, truth will flash upon me with which my daily life does not agree. I am not for a moment to question that truth, but am at once to bring my daily life into harmony with it. Thus to accept the will of God, as revealed in the Word of God, and to incarnate it in one's own life and walk, is a most heart-searching process for God's surrendered child. It ministers to rapidity of spiritual growth as naught else can possibly do. It fills him with amazement as he sees how far his life has fallen short of God's will.
I am to patiently submit to God's will. To be patient means literally "to stay under." Like the rough diamond under the polisher's tool, I am to stay under God's hand whatever may come upon me. Instead of the exultant spiritual experience I look for, may come suffering, tremendous testing, mysterious providences, darkness and uncertainty as to the future. Amid them all I am simply to stay under God's hand. I am to say "Thy will be done," both in good and evil. I am to learn "in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content." Many are willing to be in God's hand for service, but not under God purification. They are ready for the field, but not for the furnace or the forge. They are ready to minister, but not to patiently endure all things which come into their lives as either sent or permitted, by Him. Yet part of my surrender and submission to God is to submit to His choice as to the kind of experience which is to come into my life at and after surrender. He suffered His own Son to come into a place of terrific testing at the hands of the adversary at the very beginning of His ministry. The servant is not greater than his Lord. God knows exactly what is best for me. Therefore, every event which comes into my life after surrender, however inexplicable, and hard to endure, I am to patiently submit to as the very thing which God deems best for my purification, strengthening, and growth in the Christian life. "The present circumstance which presses so hard against you (if surrendered to Christ) is the best shaped tool in the Father's hand to chisel you for eternity. Trust Him then. Do not push away the instrument, lest you lose also its work." Consider the unreasonableness of any other attitude. One day I surrender myself to God to live His will instead of my own. The next day comes trial testing or suffering. Straightway, perhaps, I grow rebellious and begin to doubt my surrender, my acceptance, yea, even God Himself. That is, not twenty-four hours after I have said, "Lord, not my will, but Thine," I break faith with God because something which is "not-my-will" has entered my life. Let me ever remember that my supreme aim as a surrendered servant is to live the submission which I have made, and that this is exactly what I am doing when I patiently submit to all things which touch my life.
I am to do God's will. If by a definite act I offer myself to an employer for service it is mere honesty for me to proceed daily and faithfully to do that which I have yielded myself to do. And what but this is my surrender to God? It is (see Chapter I.) "the voluntary offering of ourselves to God to do His will instead of our own." This is what I yield myself to do. Therefore let me do it. Nothing else would be fair to man. Surely naught else is fair to God. To accept, submit to, and hourly do His will is now to be the one aim and concern of my life. "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me," said the Son. This, too, is our food as well as His: we grow strong upon it; we soon become weak and faint without it. Remembering the lofty life purpose of the first-born Son, "Lo I come to do Thy will," we too as yielded sons are to keep this ever before us as the supreme single purpose of our earthly life, even as it shall be of our eternal life in the ages to come, "The world passeth away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever."
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