BY: GEORGE R. HAWTIN
THE CROSS AND THE DEATH OF SELF
The moment any man identifies himself with the cross of Christ, he enters into an entirely new realm. He has passed from death across to life. He has renounced his citizenship in this present evil world and all his allegiance to it to become a citizen of the eternal realm. Because in Christ he died, he has become part of the eternal and can never more die. He has seen the precious promises of God in Christ our Lord and, having embraced them, he has become a stranger and a pilgrim in the earth, for “they who say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city.” Heb. 11:14-16.
Until we are identified with the cross of Christ, we are citizens of this present evil age. This is the world and this is the country to which we belong. We are citizens of it; we feel at home in it. We speak its language; we covet its ways; and perhaps it is not strange that we desire to remain as we are. But, when the eye of faith has caught sight of that better country, we become restless until we partake of our new and heavenly citizenship, God’s heavenly country, a realm whose inhabitants are part of the eternal and cannot die. Borne from the perfume of earth’s drooping lilies to the realm where flowers never fade, we become citizens of a better country, a heavenly sphere, a place where old things pass away and, behold, all things become new. It is here at the great divide of the cross that the saints of God learn the full force of the message. “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for My sake (by identifying himself with Christ) shall find it.” Here at the cross the corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies, and, in dying, it brings forth fruit to life eternal. He who remains on earth’s side of the cross of Christ will find his life to be a fading leaf that in the autumn time will wither and pass away with all the fashion of this age. In saving his life, he has lost it. It is not the seed that is preserved in the bin that brings forth fruit unto life eternal, but the seed that falls into the ground and dies. The man who embraces the cross of Christ is the man who, by losing his life, has saved it. In giving his life away, he has kept it unto life eternal. In the natural world that which is kept is saved and that which is given away is lost; but in the realm of God that which is kept is lost and that which is yielded up is saved.
0 cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to hide from thee:
I lay in dust life’s glory dead
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
How well the apostle John wrote, “The world passeth away, and the lusts thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” 1 John 2:17. And how splendidly did the translator, Philips, render the passage in these words: “Never give your hearts to this world or to any of the things in it. A man cannot love the Father and love the world at the same time. For the whole world system, based as it is on men’s primitive desires, their greedy ambitions and the glamour of all they think splendid, is not derived from the Father at all, but from the world itself. The world and all its passionate desires will one day disappear. But the man who is following God’s will is part of the permanent and cannot die.”
The permanent is the eternal. And God is the eternal. The man who has reckoned himself crucified with Christ has shared in His death; and he who has shared in His death is in like manner a partaker here and now of the life that raised Jesus from the dead, a sharer and a partaker of His resurrection. I call all heaven and earth to witness the truth of these words: He who has shared in Christ’s death and shared in His resurrection has shared in Him as well. He has become a member of the in Christ company. He has become bone of His resurrected bone, flesh of His resurrected flesh, spirit of His resurrected spirit. Being one with Christ, he has become part of and one with His mystical and eternal body. So one with Christ has he become that he no longer considers himself in any way apart from Christ. In holy awe he embraces the solemn but wonderful truth, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live: yet not I, but Christ, liveth in me, and 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.” Who can frustrate such marvelous grace of God? How can that which is formed say to Him that formed it, “Why hast thou made me thus?” This is God’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes.
He who writes these lines testifies to those who read them that it is eternally settled in heaven that all who by faith have died with Christ have now become part of the eternal. Neither can they die any more. Their bodies may sleep in the dust as they wait for the morning, but death with its sting has passed away, and victory has been snatched from the yawning jaws of the tomb. Death’s cruel proboscis, filled with the deadly venom of sin, can sting us never more. “Verily, verily, I say unto you. He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24 Moffatt in his translation of this vital passage of truth uses these illuminating words: “Truly, truly I tell you, he who listens to My word and believes Him that sent Me has eternal life; he will incur no sentence of judgment; he has already passed from death across to life.” He has passed from death across to life! My God, My God!
What words are these that Thou hast left us to believe? Since, then, we have passed from death across to life. is it any wonder that we should discover ourselves to be citizens of the true and eternal realm? By the cross of Christ we have “crossed over”. We have passed from the realm where all is death to the realm where all is life. Our citizenship in this present age has been cancelled and we have taken out a new citizenship in the eternal and undying realm. For this reason Paul wrote, saying, “Your conversation is in heaven”; and again, “Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”
Many people who read these lines were once citizens of another country. Many of you have put a borderline or an ocean between the land of your birth and the land of your adoption. Many of you were of different speech and different custom, but you crossed over. You changed your citizenship and your allegiance from one country to another. You renounced your former citizenship in favor of the new one you were embracing. This by way of illustration is what we have done in the spiritual realm when by the cross of Christ we cancelled our allegiance to this present world system, its customs and its conversation, to become partakers of a new and heavenly citizenship, speakers of its new language, revelators of the beauty of its customs, the justice of its laws, the wonders of its truth, and the glory of its endless life. It is the cross of Christ that makes the difference.
The cross is forever the dividing line between all that is old and all that is new, separating the old life from the new, the old citizenship from the new, and the old allegiance from the new. It is the cross of Christ that divides between the old nature and the new. It separates the life that is after the flesh from the life that is after the Spirit. There the old life dies and the new life in Christ begins. There we bid adieu to the flesh, the world, and the devil to live after the Spirit, the New World, and Jesus Christ. There and there alone old things pass away and all things become new. The way of the cross leads home.
It would be impossible to enumerate the eternal benefits vouchsafed to those who with painstaking and prayer consider the worth of their heavenly citizenship. Whenever a man entertains the thought of changing his citizenship, he must spend hours or days or even years in consideration of it. Could a Belgian, a German, or an Englishman lightly become a citizen of China or India without much thought, or could a Chinese become an American without consideration of the vast changes in culture and language?
Breathes there a man with soul so dead
Who never to himself has said,
This is my home, my native land?
Whose heart has ne’er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he has turned
From wandering on a foreign strand?
Yet there must be no divided allegiance when our citizenship is transferred from one nation of earth to another. The story is told that once refused to give audience to a prominent American citizen who presented himself as a German-American Emperor William of Germany. Refusing the audience, he said, “I know Americans; I know Germans; but German-Americans I =do not know.” Do not pass that statement off as the haughty words of some stuffy old drone. There is much more truth in them than we imagine. I am speaking neither lies nor fiction when I declare that the vast multitude of professing Christians today are Adam-Christ Christians. While they are claiming to be crucified with Christ and citizens of His realm, they insist on maintaining their connections with the realm of Adam. They are like the seven sons of Sceva who tried to cast out a demon by saying, “We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches to come out of him.” To this the evil spirit replied, “Paul I know, and Jesus I know, but who are you?” That is indeed a very good question. Who are you? What is a German-American, a Chinese-Indian, or a French-Canadian? There is no such thing though we are forever using the term. With great sadness of heart I am convinced that the whole church system with all its profession, its exaltation of gifts, its claims of revelation and authority with God, manifests continually that Adam-Christ relationship. God knows Adam and all his citizens. God knows Christ and all His citizens. But who, pray tell, are you?
The hour has come in this the end of the age when we must declare ourselves citizens of one realm or the other. God Himself is dividing the tractable sheep from the ornery goats. We must belong to Christ or belong to Adam. We must dwell either on earth’s side of the cross or on heaven’s side. We cannot serve God and Mammon (the god of riches). We cannot love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind while dancing around the golden calf, shouting, “These be thy gods, 0 Israel.”
How easy it is for people to deny their Christian profession by the things they do! We are neither saved by the good we do nor lost by the bad we have done, but, if salvation is anything at all, it will vitally affect all that we do henceforth. Otherwise we have gained nothing whatsoever. We do not become crucified with Christ because of the evil we suddenly stop or deny ourselves, but, once a man is truly identified with Christ in His cross, there will be a vast change in everything that concerns his daily life. Otherwise how could it possibly be said that old things pass away and all things become new? Those who possess the understanding of the natural mind can never differentiate between the uselessness of a life filled with do’s and don’ts and the beauty of a life whose joy it is to please the Father because of the indwelling Christ. Christianity is not an imitation of Christ; it is the life of Christ in me. It is the not I but Christ life. This is the place of victory and this the only life that is pleasing to God. Centuries ago David, the king of Israel, said, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes; I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” Psa. 101:3. He refused to look at evil things, not to attain a crucified life, but because he had attained it.
Can there be found in all the universe a more possessive, blinding, or deceiving devil than the devil of self? Our Lord Jesus Christ once called the people and His disciples together to press home to their needy hearts a truth so profound that I greatly fear it has been lost, misunderstood, and overlooked from the beginning of time unto this very hour. This is the truth He told them on that day: “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny Himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Mark 8:34. “Let him deny himself!” Let him deny self. It is self, self, always self that stands between you and true discipleship. It is the friendly hand of self that holds you back from your cross and refuses to let you take it up daily to follow Christ. My brother, have you ever listened to the mocking crowd who stood at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ? Then listen for a moment to their vain and blasphemous clamor as they cry, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” With great solemnity of heart and mind we must now aver that never before nor since have the heckling voices of a blind and senseless rabble spoken greater truth than this. “He saved others; Himself He could not save.” You cannot save others and save yourself as well. Would God that those who preach the gospel of Christ would learn this divine secret: that it is the self-life that stands between them and the full manifestation of the purpose of God in their lives. It is self that stands between men and the will of God. It is self that stands between them and the cross, between them and God, and, if such a contradiction of terms is possible, we may now say your self is the greatest enemy of yourself.
The first law in all the world is self-preservation. Tiny insects almost too small to be seen scurry off into hiding to protect and save themselves. The instinct of every animal of the field and every bird of the air is to save and protect itself, and in man, too, perhaps above all other, is the ever present instinct to protect and preserve himself. This preservation of life and limb is a God-given instinct in all creatures great and small, but in man, alas, it does not end with the simple preservation of life and limb, but with miserly covetousness it struggles to preserve all evil tendencies as well, which must be consigned to the cross of Christ if we would be His disciples in truth.
In his remarkable book, Born Crucified, the author, L. E. Maxwell, makes the following potent observation: Quote: Even though the believer has emerged from the muddle and mixedness of Romans 7 through Paul’s command, ‘Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin’, the fact remains that he will discover many ways in which self seeks satisfaction through the as yet unredeemed spheres of his being. The flesh, the body, all our mortal coil, is evidently still present in Romans 8. That chapter presents many ways in which mortification must set in. The victorious believer will become aware of many forms of self, which must yet be dealt with. We shall discover in our service for Christ, self-confidence and self-esteem; in the slightest suffering, self-saving and self-pity; in the least misunderstanding, self-defense and self-vindication; in our station in life, self-seeking and self-centeredness; in the smallest trials, self-inspection and self-accusation; in the daily routine, self-pleasing and self-choosing; in our relationships, self-assertiveness and self-respect; in our education, self-boasting and self-expression; in our desires, self-indulgence and self-satisfaction; in our successes, self-admiration and self-congratulation; in our failures, self-excusing and self-justification; in our spiritual attainments, self-righteousness and self-complacency; in our public ministry, self-reflection and self-glory; in life as a whole, self-love and selfishness. The flesh is an “I” specialist. These are but a few of the multiplied forms of the flesh to be discovered and taken to the cross. In the palace of Wurtzung hangs a hall of glass. It is called the hall of a thousand mirrors. You enter. A thousand hands are stretched out to meet you, a thousand smiles greet your smile, a thousand eyes will weep when you weep; but they are all your hands, your smiles, your tears. What a picture of selfish man! Self all around, self-multiplied, and self-deceived. End quote.
Centuries ago Paul, by the divine wisdom given unto him, wrote these words of truth: “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. — For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written. The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. — Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus; that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God…” Rom. 15: 1, 3, 5, 6 Think diligently of what the apostle has told us here in speaking thus: “Even Christ pleased not Him-Self; as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.” Oh, how I hate to be reproached for that of which I am not guilty, and how quickly either you or I will spring to self-defense to declare our justification and our righteousness! But our blessed Lord did not so. He permitted Himself to be reproached and maligned with the guilt and sin of the whole world, and He, bearing it upon His own innocent head, was led as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare His generation? For He was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of My people was He stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. Yet, while all these reproaches, which rightly belonged to you and me, were falling upon Him, He raised not His voice in self-defense nor did He please Hun-self by proving His innocence and our guilt.
May God almighty grant henceforth that, when on occasion we would valiantly spring to the defense of self, we would remember instead the meaning of the cross and cherish the day when self was marched down the via dolorosa to be crucified with Christ and rendered dead to all the ailments of the Adamic creation. It is when the diseases of the Adamic nature would descend from the cross to beset our souls and defile our spirits that the hour of reckoning begins. Here the words of Paul flood our beings with victory, “Reckon ye also yow-selves dead to sin, but alive unto God.” “If Thou be the Son of God,” the rabble shouted, “come down from the cross.” Matt. 27:40. That, oh saint of the Lord, is the world’s vain reasoning. These are the words of men who have their portion only in this life. But unto you, oh sons of God, let the message be given, yea, let it echo eternally in your heart, that, if you are a son of God, your self must remain upon the cross and come not down at all; for, if you would have your part in Christ, all that is self must die. Yea, verily, it is as true with you as it was with Him that, if you would save others, your self cannot be saved. From this very setting of self upon the cross, as clear as a vesper bell ringing throughout the ages comes the apostles’ victorious testimony, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and 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. Oh, God! What wealth of truth lies hidden here, that he who spares not self but nails him to the accursed tree shall find life abundant and eternal from out the tomb! That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die. And thou sowest not that body that shall be, for that which is sown in corruption is raised in incorruption, that which is sown in dishonor is raised in glory, and that which is sown in weakness is raised in power. It is not I, but Christ. My ugly serpent self was crucified with Christ and from the cross it fell with Him into the ground that that which was sown in dishonor might be raised in His glory and likeness, “for thou sowest not the body which shall be, but bare grain, but God giveth it a body as it has pleased Him.” 1 Cor. 15:37, 38. Let every son of God herald the message, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ.”
It is God and God alone who can point out the wretchedness of self. Self, weak, feeble, selfish self, will never condemn itself. Even the most useless of men are often full of self-esteem. The most dissolute and unbelieving of men exult in many forms of self-righteousness. The most criminal of men is full of self-vindication. And how disgusting are those vain-glorious preachers who leave their listeners more enamored with themselves than with the Lord they profess to proclaim! We will not have to search long to find any number of men and women who, while loudly proclaiming their complete dedication to God, are found at close range to be full of self and self-ambition. Times without number have preachers and people alike come crying, “We want God, brother, we want God. We want God at any cost.” But when you tell them the way they must take – always the way of the cross – they go away in our day as the rich young ruler did in his, because the way of the cross runs completely counter to the riches they love so dearly. Sonship they want, but the cross they shun. In the outward cross where Jesus died they glory, but in the cross where their self would die they glory not at all. They hear the words, “If Thou be the Son of God, save Thy self and come down from the cross,” but in attempting this they shun the cross and forfeit their sonship. It is he who loses his life that saves it and keeps it unto life eternal.
It is easy enough to sing, “I’ll go with Him through the garden,” but do those lusty singers bestir themselves from their comfortable beds at two or three a.m. when the Spirit whispers, “Wait on Me?” I greatly fear the Spirit’s voice has been so often drowned by their sleepiness and love of self that His call has grown faint and dim and is heard no more. Time there is for friends, for visiting, for pleasure, for tickling their ears with endless frothy sermons, time to absorb the wind of rot and filth, madness, lies, hate, violence, unbelief, and make-believe that daily and nightly with phantom figure fill their parlor with the insanity of the carnal mind, thence to issue forth upon the world as a whirlwind of violence, assassination, unbelief, and immorality such as the world has never known. Shame on them that the Spirit’s voice became so dim that they could lightly build again the thing which they once destroyed to make themselves transgressors. (Gal. 2:18) Shame on them that they have come down from the cross and brought these evils down with them.
But no man can be a Son of God and save him-self. That is impossible. Well do I know that some who read these truths will cast them aside and possibly cast me aside for teaching them, but, if this be my cross, I shall not descend from it to grasp their hand. “Now is the judgment of this world: Now, now, now, shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be crucified (lifted up from the earth), will draw all men unto me.” John 12:31, 32. Oh foolish man, believest thou that the judgment is reserved for some far off day when Christ has said, ‘Wow is the judgment of the world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out?” The time has come for the “I” to be lifted up and crucified, even in this day when above all days the ambition of every man is ever to save him-self from the cross. Sons of God they would hope to be, but self they are determined to save.
When the hour of the crucifixion of our Lord drew near, Jesus began “to show unto His disciples how that He must go into Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee. But He turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan; thou art an offence unto Me; for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matt. 16:21-24. Both self and Satan dread and hate the cross. They will run to the right hand or to the left to avoid it. They will turn their backs upon it or try to climb over it, but never will they embrace it. The cross is the death knell of self, and self is the arch enemy of the cross. The cross is the eternal undoing of the self-life but from it the Christ-life is born. The cross is death to the “I”, but it is the beginning of the “not I, but Christ.”
When our Lord began to show His disciples that He would soon go to the cross to suffer and be killed, Peter began to rebuke Him. Where did He find the senseless courage that would dare to rebuke the Lord? Well, the answer seems dreadfully and awfully evident – far, far too clear to be a comfort to any of us. He got his courage as well as his thoughts from Satan himself. Well does this enemy of God, this adversary of redemption and of all mankind, know that, in that sacred and holy hour when the “I” is crucified and nailed to the cross, all his power and all his authority and sway in that life is broken forever. His hope is thwarted and his work destroyed in every life that has been identified with Christ in His cross. Once a man has become identified with the cross of Christ and the “I” of self has been reckoned in death with Him, then shall it be even as our Lord in omniscient wisdom has declared: “The prince of this world cometh and findeth nothing in me.” Satan has no power at all when self is gone. Then he has no more power in your life or mine than he had in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. When the “I” is crucified with Christ, from then on it is not I, but Christ.
How unspeakably wonderful the hour for any man when Satan, coming to tempt and destroy him, shall find nothing in him upon which he can lay hold, for all that is of the world has been crucified with Christ! Every evil with which he tempted him in times past has been reckoned dead with Christ. The lust of the flesh is mortified. The lust of the eye is dead. The pride of life is nailed to the cross. What then can Satan ever find in the man who has thus been identified with his Lord? Upon what can he lay hold to tempt and destroy since all things of Adam have been crucified with Christ?
Is it any wonder, then, that the friendly hand of self, yea, the friendly hand of Satan, was so quickly extended to withhold our Lord from the cross? “This shall not be done unto Thee,” said Peter. “You must not talk that way, Lord. You must save yourself from the cross. Don’t go to Jerusalem. Don’t let them take you. Let us fight against it with the sword, if necessary, or call twelve legions of angels to save yourself from the cross.” Save yourself, save your-self is the eternal cry! Escape the cross! Turn aside! Turn back! You are far too good to die!
“Thou savorest not the things which be of God, but those things which be of men,” was the reply of the Master. Think of it, man of God! Think of it, sister in Christ! The friendly voice of your best friends, the affectionate exhortations of your closest relatives, the kindly advice of your trusted pastor, the experienced word of those who are older and wiser would all seek to turn you aside from the cross and bid you save self. You may seek to save others, but yourself you cannot save. If you would be a Son of God, you cannot and must not “come down from the cross.” How simple it would be in hunger to turn the stones into bread! How delightful, when your sonship is challenged, to prove it by casting yourself unharmed from the temple’s pinnacle! How easy to gain the whole world by simply bowing down to the wishes of the devil to satisfy the pitiful cry of self’s remorseless ambition! Simon Peter was not one to learn his lessons easily. Even the biting sharpness of the Lord’s rebuke failed to sink deeply into his spirit. So intent was he upon saving the Lord from the cross that, when the rabble came to arrest the Savior, the disciples asked, “Shall we smite with the sword?” Luke 22:49. And Peter, filled with impatience and wrath, disdaining to await a reply, drew his sword and manfully began to defend the Lord from His cross. What infinite loss would we all have suffered had he succeeded or had twelve legions of angels descended to deliver Him on that day!
It can be neither human imagination nor the wisdom of the carnal mind that now warns with no uncertain sound that we are at this moment in the closing hours of the age. In the history of the world there have been many days of transcending importance and eternal significance, each in order bringing forth from the womb of itself the tender bud of a new era in the plan of God. Of unspeakable significance were the events of Eden. The impact of the days of Noah and of the flood that destroyed the sordid earth cannot be weighed in the scales of human understanding. The significance of the call of Abraham cannot be measured by the yard stick of human thought, nor yet the giving of the law by the natural mind. How much less, then, can mortal man with mortal mind understand the wisdom of the Father in giving Christ, the Son of God, to die for sin that all who believe should be justified in his sight and that His blood should cleanse us from our sins, (for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins)! And “if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot unto God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Heb. 9:13, 14. No man born of woman in any age, regardless of his knowledge or inspiration in these eternal things, can comprehend or encompass the fathomless depths of the Father’s wisdom.
But now the loose ends of the ages (see 1 Cor. 10:11, “ends of the ages” [world]) are being drawn into one cord of divine wisdom and revelation and the most significant event and climacteric act of God is about to transpire. The age in which we have lived for two thousand years is about to terminate in a sudden flash of calamity and judgment just as all preceding ages have done and from the struggles of its convulsive travail will come forth the long-awaited kingdom of God. From the tumult and upheaval that is encompassing the whole world in this present hour will come forth the order of the kingdom. From man’s reign of sin and inequity will come forth the righteousness and equity of the sons of God. From the ashes of the rule of the carnal mind will arise the justice of the mind of Christ. Instead of the government of selfish politicians, ever intent on satisfying their own ends and seeking their own benefits, will come the selfless reign of the sons of God, filling the earth with justice and equity that nothing shall hurt nor destroy in all God’s holy mountain.
Jesus Christ is coming again, and with Him will come all the sons of God who by His grace have come into His image throughout the ages. These sons are the body of the Son of God. This is the in Christ company. This is the fullness of Christ. This body is not the bride as so many have supposed. The bride has not yet been formed. She will be formed after the last Adam is complete, for Adam was first formed, then Eve. The body of the bridegroom, which is Jesus Christ with all his brothers, must first come to completeness in this age. Afterward shall the bride be formed that at the marriage supper of the Lamb she may become the body and they, the sons, the head. Every bachelor has his own head and also his own body, but when he takes a bride, then he becomes the head and she becomes the body. How wonderful are Thy works. Oh God, and Thy ways past finding out!
Not for the world nor all that is in it would I for one moment miss the glory of the age which is to come. To reign with Christ and with Him to usher in the magnificence of an age that has been the vision of the prophets, the dream of the sages, the purpose of God, and the earnest longing and expectation of all creation is a prize for which we willingly lay down our lives. Yea, it is a reward so precious that for its sake all who see its glory will gladly abandon every influence that would deter them from the cross, and brush aside every friendly hand that would restrain them from death to self and life age-lasting in Him. Words fail me, people of God, to lay before you the truth of all these things. I am in a strait to explain how dire is our need to strip off the grave clothes of self, how urgent our need to consign self to the cross – self with all its earthly bondage, with every earthly weight and every sin that doth so easily beset us. The patience of God is needed to run the race that is set before us as we without ceasing look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the majesty on high.
The darkness of church tradition has blinded the minds of the people of God, causing them to lose their way and come, staggering in blindness, to the end of the age, totally unprepared and unmindful of the true plan of the ages. Would God that the Holy Spirit would impress upon the minds of all who read these things that earth and heaven, men and angels, beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying fowl are waiting in the shadows for the unfolding of God’s kingdom which He has promised since the world began. But far beyond this, would God that every man who speaks of sonship having fixed his hope in Christ, might now be gripped by the almost incredible truth that Christ’s kingdom will be ushered in by the sons of God, joint heirs with Christ, men and women who have been changed into His likeness, people who have cast off the works of the flesh, received His mind, delighted in His purpose, and, having slain the fearful Goliath of self and consigned him forever to the cross, have delivered themselves from this evil age that they might reign with Him in that age which is next to come.
The dreadful events that are happening in the world day after day herald with unmistakable voices the certain truth that the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Violence is so frequent, and so common has become its dread dereliction that it is being accepted by many as a way of life that is scarcely worthy of further concern. Men’s hearts have become so hardened to it that they are matter-of-fact about it. Scarcely a newscast is read without the use of the word violence. No day passes without some new terror dismaying the hearts of the people. In God’s word you have certainly read, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the day when the Son of man cometh.” No man familiar with the scripture needs to be reminded that in the days of Noah the earth was filled with violence. Gen. 6:11. The end of the age is rushing in upon us.
The signs of earth and the heralds of heaven proclaim that the kingdom of God is at hand. But the sons of God are a different breed. They are not of this world; neither do they belong to this age. They are in the world, but they are not of it. They are citizens of another realm temporarily stranded here. Their citizenship is in the heavenlies. Their hopes and aspirations are in the age to come, for here they have no continuing city. They are strangers and pilgrims, dwelling in tents and tabernacles, looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God, for God hath prepared for them a kingdom.
During the pioneer days on the western prairies many of the early settlers had homesteaded on land that was not suitable for farming. After many fruitless years great tracts of land were taken over by the government to be fenced in for community pastures. Whenever a settler, whose land lay within this fenced area, did not wish to sell his land, another fence was erected around his farm to keep the ranging animals from damaging his farm or crops, so that while he was fenced in the great pasture, he was also fenced out of it. I think that is the way we are in this present world. We fenced in, and here for a while within the confines of this world system we must remain. We have no control over that; but we are also fenced out by virtue of the blood of Christ, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and, finally and irrevocably, by our identification with Christ in His cross.
Of course you are busy! Certainly you have to earn your living! You do, indeed, have to pay your taxes and send your children to school! But let me assure you that here and now in this present evil age there is a life hidden with Christ in God that makes your citizenship in the heavenly realm a certainty. There is a realm in Him at your right hand, yea, nearer than hands or feet, where you can live and move and order your life according to the everlasting laws of the kingdom of God to which you have come and to which you belong.
The apostle Paul taught us that we are ambassadors. 2 Cor. 5:20. Now an ambassador is a man sent from one country to another. He is never a citizen of the country where he dwells. The Japanese ambassador to London is not British; he is Japanese. Furthermore he has diplomatic immunity from the laws of the country where he resides. He cannot be searched, arrested, nor taken into custody. We, therefore, as ambassadors of heaven live for a time in this age and in this world, but our allegiance and our citizenship are in the eternal world. Our Lord Himself was fully aware of this when He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” The word world in scripture usually means age. His kingdom did not belong to the age of law nor did it belong to the age of grace, but the coming age is the age of the kingdom of God. That will be His age and the Sabbath of rest.
What, you ask, has this fact to do with the teaching of the cross? What has it to do with the crucifixion of the self-life and the abundant fullness of the kingdom of God? The answer must surely be that they have everything in common, nor can they in any wise be separated. Think, oh man of God, upon this divine and indisputable fact. God, omniscient and almighty, does nothing without reason and purpose. All His works are in wisdom; all His ways are full of understanding. If you will now earnestly consider the purpose of God for the age to come, your spiritual mind will be flooded with the understanding of the Almighty and you will see in the clearest light why it is that the Father in heaven is preparing a people who are in truth the living representation of Jesus Christ, God’s first begotten Son. Before the all-wise God ever formed a man or breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, He spoke to His Son whom He had begotten before the ages began, saying, “Let Us make man in Our image and after Our likeness, and let him have dominion …” That man should have dominion over all the earth and all things in the earth was the purpose of God before ever the world began. That divine purpose has never been changed nor will it ever be, for it is as immutable as the God who made it.
God, in whom dwelleth all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, knew beforehand that the man He would make and place in the garden would fall into sin and become a slave to himself, his physical flesh, and his carnal mind. Was it not of this very bondage to his own corruption that Paul wrote, saying, “The creature was made subject to vanity (futility and uselessness), not willingly, but by reason of Him (God) who hath subjected the same in hope. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children (sons) of God.” Rom. 8:20, 21
Let no man vainly think that the past six thousand years in which the world and all mankind have been enslaved by carnality and ruled by the god of self has no place or purpose in the plan of God. Such purposeless vanity as this has no part in the heart of the God of all purpose. I am sure I speak the truth when I say that our heavenly Father in His love and wisdom has for six thousand years been teaching us by His word, by design, and by life-long experience that self and selfishness are the root and branches of every evil in life. Self is the destruction of kings and presidents, of empires and nations, of fathers and mothers, children and homes. Well did Paul say, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” And why are men and women so madly in love with money? Because with it they hope to bestow upon self everything that the carnal mind can conceive or desire. Because of the love and lust for money men err from the truth and pierce themselves through with many sorrows. The wealth that self has lusted after as the fulfillment of all its joys has turned to rend them and destroy their hope of sonship in ages to come.
The past six dispensations have been filled with the fruitlessness of the self-life. But the seventh dispensation is God’s Sabbath of rest. It is the dispensation of the kingdom of God. In that blessed age the sons of God will reign with Christ over the entire world. No corner of earth will be out of their jurisdiction. No mighty king or dictator will reign in defiance, and no iron curtains will bar the progress of the King of kings and Lord of lords. No selfishness, greed, or inequity will exist in all Christ’s vast dominions. There will be no war and no curse, and nothing shall hurt or destroy in all God’s holy mountain for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Hear Oh man of God, and give earnest heed, ye sons! It is now in this dreadful age of greed and selfishness, violence and spoil, that the Father all-glorious is finding a people who has nailed self and selfishness to the cross of Christ. He is picking them out one by one, setting them apart as sheep are set apart from goats and as wheat is separated from the tares. These are being prepared to reign with Him in that kingdom of self-less-ness, even the kingdom of God. The self and greed that has reigned in the earth for six thousand years will not exist in that wonderful day of the kingdom of God, the seventh dispensation, the day when God and all His creation will rest from the labor and travail of the past. Make no mistake about this: should one carnal mind be among the sons of God in that day, the earth would be brought to the same curse as it is now. But such cannot be, for all who will reign with Him have passed by the way of the cross, delivered forever from self. “Not I, but Christ” is their eternal theme. The way of the cross has led us home