The central secret of all history
is the union of the creature and the Creator. Not just the Creator.
Certainly not just the creature. But the union. We’ve found the whole
meaning of life in time and eternity when we’ve found that.
It’s probably beyond apprehension
by the finite mind, as well as beyond description. But if our minds
cannot completely compass this infinite glory, thank God our hearts
can experience it.
And yet, if we think around it, to
some extent our minds can compass this great fact of union. We know,
for instance, that this is what eternal life is all about. There is
eternal life, that of God. But God is three, dwelling in each other,
which is union. So original life is not one person, or still less one
thing; it’s three living in each other and proceeding out from each
other in their several offices.
Original life, then, is union. But
not just union:
That which proceeds from union, in a balance which is
so hard for us to apprehend, is a unity which still leaves us a
separate person. There is such an intimate union that there is never
again a sense of division between myself and the living God. We’ve
become one person, for “he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.”
Not two, but one. And yet within that mystery there is a unity that
allows us to retain our individuality. That’s where a major difficulty
first point that we need to get clearly in mind is the union
that we’ve become one person. We’ve got so used to the curse of the
fall, which is separation, that it’s a long time before we fully
realize the fact of our union with God. And who of us does entirely
attain to a continuous recognition of this union?
The great cry of the hearts of the
saints of the ages was union. They expressed it in a certain
terminology (which is impressive to some of us), describing the way to
union as purgation, illumination, and finally union — three phases
which to some extent resemble the little children, young men and
fathers of John’s first letter. It doesn’t exactly correspond, but
it’s somewhere near.
If you read the lives of saints you
always find that when they came to union they experienced liberation.
As soon as they grasped union, out came a great humanity, a great
love, a great power, a great service. They had found the liberating
It is when a crisis comes to you
and me — a sudden sorrow, a sudden disaster — that we realize how
separatist we are in our thinking.
The usual thing we say when a
crisis hits us is, “God permitted it.” That means that God is up there
and we are underneath. But God isn’t up there at all! He is within. I
never lift my eyes one single time to heaven to try to find Him up
there, do you? I don’t waste my breath, my sight, or anything else.
Why should I waste my time trying to get a Person to come down when He
lives within me? I can see Him where He is, in a common bit of human
flesh redeemed in His precious blood, packed full of the Holy Spirit.
This makes my whole attitude to
life different. Once I recognize that God is joined as one with me, I
no longer try to find Him or get Him to come and rescue me.
A crisis comes to me. No, no
— it doesn’t! It comes to
Not to me, but to
And I’m a mighty little part in the us, while He’s a mighty big part.
It comes to Him. And if it comes to
Him, He doesn’t just permit it, He means it to come. Well, if He means
it to come, He’s going to turn it out for His own purposes. So what is
my attitude? “Come on Lord, handle it now. Praise the Lord, it’s
perfect! Carry it out now
— I’ll watch
And it’s a great watching life. We sit on the side
lines and clap when the goals are kicked.
We’re caught out ninety nine
times out of a hundred. We say, “Why did God allow that? He’s up
there, and poor me down here.” No, I’m not. I’m in the heavenly
places, if I could but recognize it. But I’m caught out almost every
time. I’m so familiar with the separated outlook, I can hardly look
upon life from the union point of view.
That is where my shocks and my
sorrows come. I look at life from separation. I begin wondering: was
it God? was it the devil? was it this? was it that? Instead of seeing
that it happened to
and that He meant it to be. When I see that, it changes
“We speak that we do know,” said
Jesus. “We testify that we have seen.” By
He meant the Father also. “I’ve got a shared life,” He was saying.
Well, if Jesus had a shared life, we have a shared life. A united
life. Christ in us, we in Him. I can’t say this moment that my mind
can compass it. I’ve spent years trying to compass it — perhaps I
haven’t sufficient light yet. But thank God, I know that I know it —
or rather, know Him.
Friends, the cross is not the
is the objective. The cross is the gateway. It’s not
the end. The
is the end, and He is joined to me forever and I joined
to Him forever.
There are astounding statements in
I was struck when I was reading in
Colossians 3 about our relationship with Christ — the fact that we are
ascended with Him, and so on. It speaks there about the “new man.” It
says there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither bond nor free, neither
Barbarian, Greek nor Scythian. Then it says, “Christ is all, and in
If Christ is
in me, and
all in you — what’s left? Pretty
extreme, isn’t it! Even in eternity, when the Son Himself becomes
subject to the Father and hands everything over to Him that He may be
all in all, is there anything
we can have of God then than we have now if Christ is
“all, and in all”? We are
like to emphasize the Bible as an extreme book. It entitles us to live
an extreme life and preach an extreme message. Praise
His name! It certainly is
we wrote what Paul did, that
Christ is all in each one of
us, they’d say we were pantheists. But God said it!
if a common, horrible little piece of clay like me can say “Christ is
all in me,” it doesn’t leave me with much to bother about myself. I
just say, “All right God, carry on then.” He is in everything that
happens in my life; He is totally involved.
If a disease comes to me, it comes
to Him as well as to me. It’s
business then. Oh, the burdens go off! You’ll find all
our burdens are upon us because we have this separate instinct instead
of the united instinct. Every sorrow we carry, every burden we bear,
every tear of self-pity we shed (and there’s an awful lot of self-pity
in our tears), comes out of separation instead of union.
Every weakness we feel comes out of
separation. Oh, I share them with you. No one feels more weak than I
do when I’ve got to speak! I have such as easy life, I’m always glad
God has given me one cross to bear, which is the hatred and horror of
speaking. Yes, I feel weak — but it’s all nonsense. Weak? Of course
I’m weak; but there’s somebody inside me who isn’t.
What we are after is a fixed life,
a natural life. By God’s grace I learn to live naturally in a
continuous Christ-consciousness, so that it’s natural to me to live
this way. It’s Fixed in me. The Word of God abides
me, not comes into me from outside. It may have started by coming to
me, but now it abides in me.
The psalmist once wrote, “Oh, God,
my heart is fixed, my heart is fixed, I will sing and give praise.”
That’s the point we are aiming at. As Paul expressed it: “That Christ
may dwell in your heart,” not visit it occasionally. He has taken up a
permanent residence. That was Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians.
It wasn’t the first prayer he
prayed for them. It was further along the way, perhaps even his
deepest prayer. He prayed the highest things he could pray in
Ephesians because he talked the highest language. He put a unique
emphasis on the fact of Christ dwelling in their hearts by faith. He
didn’t really mention the cross here. Not that he belittled the cross,
because the only way into this is by the cross. But sometimes we can
even give the cross the wrong place. It’s the
of the cross who must have the center place.
you would call Galatians more of an objective rather than a subjective
letter. It’s defending the Christian faith from the outer assaults of
the circumcisers and legalists. That’s the general message of this
mighty letter. But I was very struck with how Paul every now and then,
right in the midst of this great apologetic of how God rescued us
through justification by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ alone, flashed
in a word of his own testimony and went clean out of the objective
into the subjective.
is a striking instance in chapter one (verses 14-16). He is giving us
insights into his conversion. Perhaps it was written 15 or 20
years after his regeneration on the road to Damascus.
He writes: “It pleased God, who
separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, to
reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen.”
I remember how I was caught out in
such a simple way when I did a translation of the New Testament in my
early days. It was into an easy language of Africa.] found that I had
translated “to reveal His Son
me,” instead of “in.” It isn’t to reveal His Son
But what struck me
— and we all have different
insights strike us, so that we can preach sermons to each other — is
the fact that regeneration is a first revelation of an
Right at the beginning, although it
may have taken him some years to compass it, we see this central
secret of union in Paul’s life. A union which is also a unity, just as
God is a union which is a unity. This is what real life, eternal life,
is. And we live it flow!
The realization of the indwelling
Christ — the central secret of union — is the only basis for life
-which has total meaning. Christ “all, and in all” — I in Him, and He
in me. What a glorious way to live!