Christ In Heaven and Christ Within # 1
The Need for Balance
"Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:20).
"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (Romans 6:1-6).
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1, 2).
"Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us" (Romans 8:33, 34).
We feel the importance of saying a word with regard to Christ in heaven and Christ within the believer, that is, what is objective and what is subjective. It is tremendously important that we should keep a proper balance of truth. A very great deal of our trouble is because of there being an unbalanced emphasis upon some aspect of truth. It is good to know the truth, and it is good to rejoice in it, but it is just possible that even truth may get us into trouble. There are many perils lying in the direction of truth, even spiritual truth; and there are not a few of the Lord's people who have fallen into those perils. It is not that they suffer from want of light, but they are suffering very much because they have not got their light properly adjusted and balanced. Thus it becomes very necessary for us to get things in their right perspective and proportion. Preponderance on any one side will always lead to spiritual injury, and very often disaster. The history of many instrumentality's which have been raised up and used by the Lord is eventually the sad story of a loss of power and effectiveness because of striking an unbalanced emphasis, of putting some side of truth in a place out of proportion to that which is complementary to it.
It is not just a matter of being all round, that is, of having everything and being in everything; but in the constitution of a body we find that one law is balanced by another. All the laws, of course, are necessary, and it is important to give due place to every function in our bodies; but there run parallel laws and functions, one balances the other. There is that which is complementary to something else. These two things are, as it were, twins, running together, and to over-emphasize or overdevelop one means to throw the whole order out, and to bring about quite serious limitation and weakness, and to make things far less effective than they should be.
So it is in spiritual matters. There are always balancing truths. There is one thing, but there is something which goes with it in its right measure, and causes it to fulfill its purpose and to serve its end most effectively. There is this order in the Divine creation - one thing is necessary to another to make that other fulfill its purpose to the full. That is where balance has to be observed and maintained.
The Adversary Using God's Work Against Him
Then we must remember that the adversary is always wanting to use God's own work and God's own truth against God Himself. That fact is made very clear in the Scriptures, and we may observe it in experience and in spiritual history. This line of action is more successful for the adversary than perhaps any other, because the result is that he immediately prejudices God's work and God's truth. He closes the door to the acceptance of what is of God simply by using it against God, and one of his most successful methods is that of securing an over-emphasis or an unbalanced apprehension of Divine truth. You will see what I mean as we go along.
A Peril With Every Blessing
So that with every Divine blessing there is a peril. Wherever there is something which is really from the Lord, that has linked with it its own peculiar peril.
Now these are merely general observations, as leading up to this brief meditation along the specific line of what is subjective as to the work of the Lord Jesus for and in the believer. We will look at both of these separately very briefly, seeing what the blessing is and what the perils are.
The Objective Side
We take the objective side first, the Lord Jesus presented to us as in heaven. We know that He is there, and we know that a very great deal is said in the Word about His being there; but why is He there? In the first place: How did He get there? Now you will notice if you look into the Word that whenever the heavenly side of the ascension of the Lord Jesus is presented, that is, whenever the matter is looked at from above, it does not speak about His going up or His ascension, but it speaks about His being received up. In the first chapter of the Book of Acts it is recorded that as the disciples were looking up into heaven after the Lord Jesus had been taken up from among them, two angels appeared and said to them: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, Who was received up ..." (the Authorized version says: "taken up.") That is an angelic, or a heavenly, standpoint, and the word "received" represents something more than just the fact that He ascended to heaven. It carries with it this fact, that it would be impossible for the Lord Jesus to be received in heaven if He had not perfectly accomplished the work which He came from heaven to do. In effect, heaven would have been closed to Him; heaven would have had to say to Him, 'But You have not done the work; there can be no reception until You have.' But it was because He had perfected the work which He came to do, and there was nothing more to be added to it, that heaven received Him, and it was a great reception! Psalm 24 gives us some idea of what that reception was:
"Life up your heads, O ye gates;
and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting
doors: and the King of glory will
come in. Who is the King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle."
You see, it implies the work that he has done by His Cross, in overthrowing all His and our enemies, meeting all the demand of human need in the matter of salvation, perfecting our salvation. And so He is "received up", and is at the right hand of God; and the right hand is always in Scripture the place of strength and honor. He is at the right hand of God because the work which He came to do was finished. That is, our salvation has been perfected by and in the Lord Jesus. There is nothing whatever for Him to add to it. That is the most elementary thing to say, and yet it is so foundational. So many of the Lord's people have not yet entered into the joyful appreciation of that - that the Lord Jesus really has given the last stroke and the last touch to our salvation; that when heaven received Him, heaven set its seal to the perfected work of His Cross; and that He is there in possession of a salvation which has not still to be accomplished but which is final, full, complete, utter.
Perfect Salvation When We Believe
Our salvation rests upon our faith acceptance of that, not of anything subsequent to that. In the day in which we believe in the Lord Jesus on the ground of the perfection of the work of His Cross, we receive perfection of salvation, and enter into all that salvation to its very last degree. We shall never - though we were to live for centuries on this earth, - we shall never in Christ be one little bit more perfect than we are in Him in the very moment that we believe. All that is made good to us in the day that we believe. There are no questions, no hazards, no risks, the thing is settled, it is ours: full and complete in Christ. The Blood of the Lord Jesus has dealt with the whole sin question, root and branch, once and for all,for us. The question of condemnation has been for ever settled. You cannot have anything more utter than this - no condemnation! "There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." It does not say: 'There is no condemnation to those who have faithfully been going on with the Lord for years.' It says: "to them that are in Christ Jesus". And when are you "in Christ?" You are in Christ the moment that you believe in relation to His work on the Cross for your salvation, and in that very moment you enter into the place of NO CONDEMNATION, and freedom from condemnation cannot be more complete than that.
The tremendously important thing is for us to have that settled in our own hearts. We are saved, we are forgiven, we are delivered from condemnation. In Christ we are perfect. He is our perfection, and that perfection of His is ours through faith. The people who have the purest, clearest, fullest heart-grasp of that are the happiest people, the people who know joy. The people who have not grasped that are disturbed people, they have not the fullness of joy, they are always afraid, anxious, worrying about their salvation, doubting; and the enemy plays many tricks with people who have not settled that once and for all.
Now that is the blessed truth of what is objective in salvation for the believer as in Christ. I am so glad that He is in heaven "far above all" with this matter. If He were here in this world I might think that anything could happen: but He is not, nor is He in any realm where anything can happen; He is beyond all happenings in the matter of salvation. That salvation of ours in its perfection has been put beyond the reach of anything that can throw a doubt upon it, or raise a question about it - beyond the touch of anything that can bring it into uncertainty.
The Perils of the Objective Apprehension
But there are perils associated even with that blessed truth, because it is only one side of the truth. It is the first side; it is the thing which must come first, but it is only one side, and therefore it is just possible to make salvation one-sided by putting all the emphasis upon that and not giving due place to the other side.
1. The Peril of Shallowness
What are some of the perils? Well, we begin with the simplest, the peril of superficiality, of shallowness. What Christ has done for us may be a matter of very great joy and rejoicing and satisfaction; but contentment in that realm and with that side alone may just prevent that deep work which is necessary, which comes by the complementary side of the truth of Christ's work, the subjective. Thus it is found that many people, who are rejoicing to the full in the finality of their salvation in Christ, are living very much upon the surface, and not learning a very great deal about the deeper realities and fuller meaning of Christ. That is the first and perhaps the simplest form of peril.
(continued with # 2 - The Peril of Delayed Maturity)