TREASURES OF TRUTH, VOLUME 5
THE GLORY SON TO BE REVEALED
BY: GEORGE R. HAWTIN
GOING ON TO PERFECTION
Man’s journey to the celestial realm will always be punctuated with revelation and repentance, – revelation that we might catch a glimpse of the glories beyond us and repentance that we might attain them. No height of God has ever been manifest without a sovereign revelation from God’s infinite mind, and no height in God has ever been attained without the repentance that revelation demanded.
Once we came under conviction of sin. We were in the world and belonged to the realm of the ungodly, but through the sovereign revelation of the Lord we saw ourselves as sinners in His sight. The unveiling of Christ as the Savior of all mankind was a revelation to our darkened hearts. To attain the salvation, which is in Him, we repented of all things of which we were convicted and found rest and peace in Him. We sang the songs of praise and thanksgiving, rejoicing in our new-found joy. Peace like a river attended our way. We sang of happy rest, of joy-bells ringing in our hearts, and of the blessed assurance we had. The songs of redemption echoed among the thousand corridors of our beings and we were always willing to tell of the change that had been wrought since Jesus came into our hearts.
It was not long, however, before revelation and conviction followed again and again. We heard of a Baptism of the Holy Spirit and we met its higher demands that we might receive its cleansing fire. Various demands of sanctification were made of us and we responded with repentance to the conviction they brought us. On and on God has led us throughout our lives bringing light upon light and conviction upon conviction. Repentance followed repentance always consummating in greater victory and greater freedom in Him.
It is a number of years now since the great revelation shone in a blaze of glory and conviction in our hearts. Let us never forget that, though we had been justified by faith and baptized with the Spirit, practically all of our spiritual existence had been lived in the shallows and misery of church tradition, grievous, slavish tradition that had increased in darkness and density from time immemorable. While our spirits sang songs of freedom and liberty, we were bound in chains and fetters of a midnight hour and knew not that we were in prison. It was a happy day, indeed, when by a sovereign act of God light transcending the light of any earthly sun pierced the heavy darkness of our tradition and shone like a searchlight into our gloomy prison cell. We rejoiced in the light and the revelation of God, wondering in ourselves why it was we had walked in darkness so long while thinking we were in bright light. We could not understand how we could have been so bound while thinking we were free. The light of revelation did not stop with one brief searching gleam. It has shone on and on increasing in light and heat as we approach the fullness of the day. Tremendous demands have been made upon us. We have seen institution after institution disappear. We have been called upon to lay aside understanding after understanding, tradition after tradition, doctrine after doctrine, until we wondered at times if there would be anything left of the temple we had built.
One day during the earthly life of our blessed Lord His disciples took Him on a sightseeing tour of the old temple at Jerusalem. They remarked with evident pride, “Master, see what manner of stones are here!” They were proud of the glory of that ancient place of worship, filled as it was by tradition and history of bygone days. They loved and honored it and almost worshipped the ground on which it stood. Never, never, they thought, would anything ever disturb the peaceful rest of this ancient monument of worship. Their minds must have been greatly puzzled and their faces darkened with astonishment when the Master quietly told them, “I tell you there will not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.” As John the Baptist declared, “The axe is laid to the root of the trees,” so Christ was foretelling the hurling down of the rocks of their past traditions. The axe was to be laid not the trunk of the trees nor yet to the branches, for then it might have grown again, but the axe was to be laid to the root of the trees that they might never spring up. Never more would the beasts of the earth harbor in their shade or the birds of the air in their branches.
The stones of the temple were not be carefully removed to allow for modification or rebuilding. They were to be thrown down to the ground and carted away as useless, for the end of that era had surely come. However well an institution may have fulfilled a purpose, once God is through with it, it is washed up and finished. It is ready to vanish away. Our prerogative is to go on with the light – not to build again the things that are destroyed lest we become transgressors.
There need be no question in the mind of anyone but that we have come again to the end of an old era and we are standing at the threshold of a new one. The last decade has certainly been filled with wonderful things. Too numerous to mention have been the things God has taught us as we have walked in the light of His ever increasing truth. Our minds have often been staggered by the wonderful things we have seen and heard and our ambitions have been raised as we have looked forward to the promised land of the Spirit and have seen the innumerable and wonderful glories that lie just beyond the veil of the flesh. We are undoubtedly standing at the threshold of a new era in God, a new realm in the Spirit, and a new level of experience. When we come to a time like this, many will refuse to go on. There is some strange thing inherent in all men that makes them desire to exchange their moving tent for a fixed abode. They begin to feel that they have journeyed far enough and that the effort to go on into the new and more wonderful realm is too great a strain. What will I do with all the grand and marvelous things I have grown to love and adore, we ask. The truths we have learned, the government of the churches, the order and discipline, will we have to leave these as an established fact and go on? We would like to be partakers of the more excellent way, but we cannot bear to think that in that way prophecy shall fail, tongues shall cease, and knowledge shall vanish away. We become reluctant to admit that all our prophesying of the past was only in part, all our knowledge was only in part, so we cling to that which is in part and refuse to let the perfect come.
All the institutions of the past have been but a means to an end. In the mind of God they have not been the end itself. It is the body of Christ, which is the end God has in mind. All other things are just a means to bring it about. Once the house is built you dismiss the carpenters, brick-layers, plumbers and electricians and from there on the house itself enters into its ministry of being a home for a family or whatever other purpose was in the mind of the builder. In like manner, once the body of Christ is come to fullness, there must be a passing away of all the gifts and ministries that built it so that the body of Christ itself becomes a ministry to the world and to the universe.
There is a strange and foolish tendency in man to begin to rejoice more in the tools and professions of the trade than in the object we are building. The building is not to create workmen, but the workmen with their gifts are to create a building. The church is not found to create prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors, teachers, and a multitude of other ministries, but the ministries are created to found or build the church. Once that work is complete, the ministries that have built the body will decrease that the body may increase and become a ministry of life to the entire world. If you will take time to think and meditate about this, you will note that there has always been a tendency to leave off putting the emphasis on the building and to start putting the emphasis on the builders. We have been afraid to complete the building lest we run out of a job until finally we were running the job for the sake of our ministries instead of having our ministries function to complete the job. We get to thinking that the church is for the ministries rather than the ministries for the church. Personally I am not in the least sorry that I am coming to the end of the ministry as I have known it and as it has been known in the past to become a part of that ministering temple that is to fill the whole earth with the light of life. I am not sorry at all that, when that which is perfect is come, all that is in part will be done away. Neither am I sorry that the spectacular gifts calculated to awaken the dead are to give place to the wisdom and knowledge of God that flows as endlessly as the river of life itself.
There was a great deal of difference between the voice that called Lazarus from the tomb and the voice that unfolded the wisdom of God to that same Lazarus as they sat at the supper table some says later. The one was the prophetic voice calculated to call a man from the darkness of the dead. The other was the voice of eternal wisdom and understanding flowing from the mind of God to renew the mind of man. We are now experiencing this very thing. In 1948 God thundered to us by the prophetic voice as we lay sleeping the sleep of death in the denominational cemetery. The thundering, spectacular, prophetic voice was heard and reheard by our dead, dull ears. Startled and trembling we arose from the dead and came forth bound hand and foot with the grave clothes with which tradition had bound us. There were more spectacular prophecies, commands and teachings as we were loosed from one bond after another and let go free. Those spectacular things are fast fading away because their usefulness is nearing fulfillment and the hour is fast approaching when we will live in the realm of the renewed mind.
While our minds have been in the process of being renewed since the day we were called from the grave, yet they are only in the process of being renewed. The day will come when our minds will be influenced no longer by the corroding influences of corruptible flesh, for our minds are becoming one with His mind. The power of the flesh over the mind is fading away and falling off, while the power of the spirit over the mind is increasing and waxing great. While our minds are under the control of our physical senses, our bodies are dying because “they that are in a sensual state cannot please God,” (Good-speed), and if we live after the flesh we die. But when our minds are renewed and come under the control of the Christ within, then even our bodies are changed by the renewed mind so that corruption begins to put on incorruption and mortality, immortality. It is only as we are renewed in the mind of Christ that we live forever. I used to think it would be wonderful to go to the cemetery and raise the dead to life. The truth is it would be terrible, for all we would do would be restore their corruptible bodies and inflict upon them the necessity of another funeral. But those who become partakers of the renewed mind partake of the true resurrection, for then the life is in them and they cannot die.
It is difficult for me to see how the act of raising a man from the dead could be called a resurrection at all because the one who was raised would be receiving life from without. But those in whom resurrection dwells are not only raised from the dead, but have life from within so that they can never die. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” That was because He possessed life within that even death and the tomb could not extinguish. He could only die by laying His life down, but He could live again because death has no power to destroy life that is inherent within. It can only take away life that is borrowed from without.
I cannot say enough nor can I speak too highly nor with greater respect for the things that God has done in the last number of years, but I must admit, and I freely do, that though the things we have seen have been most wonderful, yet we have been seeing through a glass darkly and not face to face. Wonderful though the prophecy has been, it has been all in part and not complete. We are thankful for the spirit of wisdom and knowledge, but we have known only in part and the fullness of perfection has no yet dawned upon us. This partial wisdom has been pointing us with trembling finger to the fullness of the wisdom of God, which belongs to the celestial realm. These feeble prophesyings of the past, many of which have failed, have been but whisperings of a better realm, a better day, and a prefect order. Like breezes blowing over the sea bearing the rich fragrance of another land, so the tiny prophetic winds have born the rich perfume of the celestial realm, stirring our hearts to seek a better country, a land beyond the veil of the flesh. This wisdom and these prophesyings have been useful instruments to point us to the desired haven of the celestial, but in that haven they will be lost in the fullness of perfection. No more shall we know in part, for then we shall know even as we are known. No longer shall prophecy endure in that wonderful realm, for why should that which is partial endure when the fullness of another day has come? Prophecy shall fail; tongues shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. These things are all in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. We are standing at the threshold of the perfect realm, the realm of the Holy of Holies, the realm of the celestial. We are passing from the spiritual to the celestial, from the realm of the soul to the realm of the Spirit, from the Holy Place to the Holy of Holies.
I wish I could say with assurance that all who have come thus far will go the rest of the way and enter into the glory prepared for us from the foundation of the world, but I have no such assurance. Rather I fear that some have already turned aside, having loved too dearly the things that belong to this present age. Our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. It is far too easy to put on a false front, refuse to call a spade a spade and face up to things as they really are. Be it far from me to be the instigator of a system of do’s and do not’s. Doing this and refusing to do that, will not commend us to God in any way. Nevertheless, only a fool would deny that those who have begun to feel the touch of the celestial realm find nothing but repugnance and disgust in the trivial nonsense and humbug that belongs to this age with all its fleshly desires. How can one whose soul has basked in the sunlight of the celestial world and whose feet have wandered in the fields of God enjoy for even a moment the corrupt products of the most carnal minds on earth? I do not believe it can be done. There is something wrong somewhere. An hour of feeding on the husks of the carnal mind causes the soul to be drained of spiritual life. The face of Christ grows strangely dim and prayer loses it power.
The word of God is replete with instance after instance of people who came to the very border of a vast new experience and then turned away because the cost was more than they could bear. Did not Israel fail to enter the Land of Promise through unbelief and turn back from Kadesh-Barnea to die and rot in the wilderness? Did not the two tribes and a half remain on the wilderness side of Jordan instead of going into the Promised Land with their brethren? The parable of the sower and the seed describes with great accuracy how people miss the best things of God, failing on every level to partake fully and enter in. We are told of Demas, who departed from his calling because he loved this present world, and of John Mark, who departed and went not with them to the work. Paul the Apostle warned us of our danger in these words, “Let us therefore fear lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest any of you should seem to come short of it.” At this hour we are standing at the threshold of the incorruptible. But mark well the truth of these words! If you sow to the flesh you reap corruption; if you sow to the Spirit you reap life (incorruption). There is no possibility at all of one’s partaking of incorruption and of the flesh at the same time. Light has no fellowship with darkness, Christ has no fellowship with Belial, and flesh and spirit are separated by an impassable gulf. The one is carnal and belongs to this age; the other is spirit and belongs to the kingdom. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom, neither can corruption inherit incorruption.
Man is a triune being – spirit, soul, and body, or spirit, soul, and flesh. Your soul is your true self. You are a soul. You live in a temple of flesh, a body we call it, and rightly so. Your spirit is like unto the Spirit of God. It came forth from God in the beginning and at death it returns to God who gave it.
1. Your body or flesh is the realm of sense-consciousness.
2. Your soul is the realm of self-consciousness.
3. Your spirit is the realm of God-consciousness.
When your mind is controlled by your body through your physical senses, you have a fleshly mind which is the same thing exactly as a carnal mind. Carnal means fleshly. If on the other hand your mind is controlled by the Spirit, you have a spiritual mind. The result is as follows: to be carnally minded is death. To be spiritually minded is life. If you live after the flesh, you shall die; but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.
With a simple knowledge like this we should have no trouble at all in understanding what things belong to the flesh and what things belong to the Spirit. The things that gratify our five physical senses must necessarily belong to the body, and the things that are outside the realm of the body and the fleshly mind must necessarily belong to the realm of the spirit and the spiritual mind.
A man cannot love the Father and the world at the same time. Neither can he walk in the Spirit and walk after the flesh at the same time. The two are diametrically opposed. The one is the antithesis of the other. It is impossible to serve two masters, for you either love the one and hate the other, or you cling to the one and despise the other. It is impossible to serve God and Mammon. (Mammon was the Syrian god of riches and worldliness personified.) Let us consider for a moment why it is impossible to serve God and to serve Mammon. Riches and money belong to this present world system. I do not know of anything that money can buy except things for the use of the physical man – food, clothing, and shelter; things to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. The more money we have, the more inclined we are to serve Mammon. Benevolent god of the flesh that he is he bestows more and more of his benefits upon those who serve him. Even when money is used for charity, it is still powerless to do more than relieve the physical needs of man. And I am sorry to have to admit that I know of very, very few people who have been brought into the kingdom because they have had physical benefits bestowed upon them. Gifts have a strange way of creating ingratitude. You can never promote spirituality in the poor by giving gifts to them. You may make some progress yourself because of the blessing of liberality, but for the one who receives the gift to receive spiritual life thereby is well nigh impossible.
There was an occasion when Mary poured ointment of great value upon the head of Jesus. The covetous Judas, who always served the god Mammon, criticized the good woman for her deed, saying. “This ointment could have been sold for three hundred pence and the money given to the poor.” It sounds good, wise, and charitable. But that is the way our deceitful hearts work. It made Judas look good, gracious, thoughtful for the poor, charitable, and kind. It made Mary look bad, careless, uncharitable to the poor, and wasteful. The truth behind the thing was exactly opposite to what it appeared. Judas cared not for the poor but was thinking of the extra pennies he could have stuffed into his own purse. Mary was anointing the Son of God for the death He was to accomplish for the whole world. Jesus in His great kindness set the situation in its true light. “The poor you have with you always, but Me ye have not always.”
If you bestow temporal gifts upon a man, you impoverish yourself and make him your servant, but if you bestow a spiritual virtue upon a man, you enrich him and at the same time enrich yourself, for after you have imparted a virtue such as wisdom or knowledge to anyone, he now has the wisdom you possessed and you still possess it yourself yet in greater measure than before. It is, I think, impossible to impart our knowledge to another without having our own understanding increased. That is when it is more blessed to give than to receive.
It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven because he has too much ability to cater to his flesh. He need not withhold any pleasure from himself. He can have a great deal to eat and he can eat a great deal. He can wear any clothes he wishes: He can live in any kind of lavish circumstances he wishes. He can say to his soul, “Take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. Thou hast much goods laid up in store for many years.” But he does not know that his love of the flesh has blinded his eyes to the great eternal things. He does not know that to live after the flesh is to die. Neither has he learned that to mortify the deeds of the flesh is to live.
It seems to me that the time has come to arouse ourselves out of the complacency into which we have drifted. “Let us therefore fear lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” Let us lay aside every weight and the besetting sins and get down to patiently running the race that is set before us. Let us look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross and despised the shame, and is set down at the right hand of God. The prize, which we seek, is greater than all prizes. All other experiences in God have been but preliminary to the one we are now to enter. It will do us no good to have successfully navigated the rushing rapids of the river if we now allow ourselves to drift complacently in the shallows.
The thing I fear most is the eternal tendency of Christians to settle down in an old established order, or gain one great level of experience and, having fallen in love with it, to remain on that level, content to go on as God moved in the beginning, gathering as a group for worship, singing, praying, prophesying, teaching, and then going home to dinner. I tell you, a new order is with us if we will take God’s way. The thing we need to fear is the possibility of a promise being left us of entering into His rest and any of us coming short of it. A promise of rest, a life in the Spirit, has been left us, a promise of the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. If we will enter beyond the veil of our own flesh as Christ entered beyond the veil of His flesh, we shall enter into the realm of the renewed mind. Once we come to this desired place, it should be very evident that all the vast amount of ministering that has been used to bring us here will not be needed, but we will walk in a new realm. We will minister to the world on the plane of the renewed mind. The renewed mind will produce a renewed body, and the former things will have become old and useless and will be done away.
To further illustrate what I mean we will take another example from life. When we are children, we are ministered to by our parents in a multitude of ways. Every effort is made by them to bring us to physical and mental maturity. They use playthings, picture books, blocks, textbooks, teaching and correction to produce the kind of man or woman they desire. It would be a foolish parent, indeed, who continued to use these things beyond the realm of their usefulness. When the child becomes mature, all the things that were used to bring about maturity were done away. When we were children, Paul says, we were under tutors and governors till the time appointed by the father, but, when the child comes forth as a full-grown son, all these things are done away. What I mean to show you is this: the ministry we have known in the past is not a permanent thing. The things we have been taught are permanent, but the means of establishing them are not permanent. Reluctance to see this vital point will throw us completely off the track and cause us to end up in the same old merry-go-round into which all denominations have drifted. They all wanted to continue forever the wonderful things God had given them, and when God wanted to make the first things old and give them something new, they would not drink the new wine because, they declared, the old was better. No man having drunk old wine straightway desires new wine, for, he says, the old is better.
Am I not right in saying that the churches of the Reformation died right on the revelation that brought them to life? Is it not true that the old Pentecostal tarry meeting, once attended by such unbelievable glory, is now but a dead empty shell? Its days are over and gone and God has moved on, but the people won’t have it so. They must still have their empty shout even if there is never a known result. Is the same not true about the healing meeting? There was a time when God came forth with mighty physical signs healing the sick and performing mighty wonders, but is it not true that the hour for this is past because we are approaching the incorruptible? Yet people will not have it so. They must play with healing meetings. But healing meetings are a thing of the past and they will never return again. Their usefulness has been fulfilled and God has moved on to bring His true church to the realm of the renewed mind where this vile body of our humiliation is transformed to be fashioned after His glorious body. What benefit is there in the healing of the flesh? If we live after the flesh, we only die. But if we through the Spirit put to death the deeds of the flesh, we shall live.
Once the house is built, there is no need of a carpenter. Having established this point in our minds, let us now come to our own special revelation and teaching. God has given special gifts and ministries for the formation of the body of Christ. But take heed to this warning, for it is true. The hour is at hand when all the tools God has given us to build the body are going to be done away, because their usefulness is fulfilled. Prophecy shall be done away, tongues shall cease, knowledge (on our level) shall be done away. Even teaching itself exists no more on the plane of the renewed mind, for you will have no need that any man should teach you. When that which is perfect is come, then all those things that are in part shall be done away. When the body of Christ is complete, there is no need of ministries.
We are indeed at a critical hour. We are no smarter than people who have preceded us. We can make the same mistakes they made. We can settle down now and just keep going the rounds as we have done for the last number of years, and refuse to forsake those things that we might embrace the better things that lie before us. You may say you do not believe it, but the tendency is ever prevalent among us, and I greatly fear lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest any of us should seem to come short of it. The ministering of the outer court is not the ministering of the Holy Place and the ministering of the Holy Place is not the ministering of the Holy of Holies. The methods of denominations are totally useless in this order of the Spirit into which we are now coming, and the methods of this order will be all out of date in the realm of the celestial where we are going. It should be evident to any person that, if such valuable aids as prophecy, tongues and knowledge are to fail, cease and be done away, surely there is no hope at all of retaining the foolishness of preaching. Preaching is almost a thing of the past right now. It has been valuable in bringing about the purpose God ordained for it, but, as soon as that purpose is fulfilled, God will discard it immediately and cast it aside. Many will continue to use it after God has discarded it, but that can only be because they have missed the way.
It seems a remarkable thing to me that, after the veil in the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom opening the way into the holiest of all, a blind and stupid priesthood patched it together again so that they could continue to use it and keep the old order going. This they did for some forty years after God had signified that He was finished with that order. Finally God used the armies of Titus the Roman to destroy not only the veil of the temple but the temple as well. The same sort of spiritual denseness was evident in the wilderness. Moses had made a serpent of brass and put it on a pole that the Israelites might look unto it and be healed of their serpent bites. But after the plague of serpents was past and gone, Israel preserved the brazen serpent and burned incense to it up to the days of Hezekiah when at last that good king destroyed it. (2 Kings 18:4).
Man has always been reluctant to let go the thing that has been a blessing to him and launch out into the unknown. He fears the unknown and dreads to leave the shelter of the place he has become accustomed to. Man fights to the last breath to stay in this corruptible body, not truly believing that to depart from it and to enter the realm of the Spirit would be much better than remaining in it and having to live after the demands and dictates of corruptible flesh. We sing, “I’m longing to go,” but we fight like tigers to stay. We sing, “I’ll leave without saying good-bye,” but our good-byes are many and tearful.
The day Israel crossed the Red Sea, they were through with the bondage and slavery of Egypt. They ate no more of the garlic and onions of the land nor satisfied their stomachs at the flesh pots. They entered a new realm, an entirely new order. They ate manna that came from heaven and drank water that God gave them, but the very day they crossed over the Jordan River the manna ceased, and the old familiar pillar of fire was gone forever. Even their faithful leader, Moses, was taken from them. The watery veil of Jordan had parted to let them through to a land that had been promised to Abraham some hundreds of years earlier, a land flowing with milk and honey, a land where they would no longer be strangers and wanderers, a land that was their possession.
I seem to hear the voice of Jesus calling us today: “Come, ye blessed of my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the ages. I was hungry and ye fed Me, naked and ye clothed Me, sick and in prison and ye visited Me, thirsty and ye gave Me drink.” How literally true this is for hungry and thirsty we find Christ’s body at the end of this age.
May God grant us wisdom and understanding that we may not fail to enter beyond the veil of our own flesh. It seems very easy to do since God has revealed what the flesh is. To live after the flesh is but to sicken and die. The flesh is so trashy that, once you see what it is, the veil of the flesh falls apart and the glories of the celestial realm open to our amazed vision. The end of all flesh is come before God. Let us not fear to enter the Holiest of all. Let us rather come with boldness beyond that veil of our flesh. The only thing we need fear is “that a promise of entering into His rest being left us, any of us should seem to come short of it.”
Let us therefore fear lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of us should seem to come short of it! I think it is an excellent thing to stand still once in a while and do a little checking to see what progress we are making. Paul once wrote, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith.” It is very possible to hear and hear multiplied wonderful things, make them part of our theology, tell others about them, preach them and write about them, yet never actually set our course to attain the desired haven. There is actually nothing in the universe that can hinder you from attaining the desired haven of sonship providing your heart is fixed and set on attaining the goal. It matters not how many winds of fate blow against your frail bark. 1h& final destination depends on the set of your sail.
In Acts 27:13 it is said, “And when the south wind blew softly, they thought they had attained their purpose.” Isn’t that just like us all? When the south wind blows, we think all is well, but when the contrary winds blow, we are in dread and fear and we think God has forgotten us and had hidden Himself, leaving us to face the tempest all alone. But not so; He is always there. The winds were contrary that night on the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 14:24) when the disciples despaired of life as a mighty tempest roared upon them, but through the tempest came the Son of God making each billow a highway for His blessed feet and manifesting forth His glory in a way that would have been utterly impossible were it not for the contrary wind.
Paul’s journey to Rome was beset by contrary winds (Acts 27:4). It was contrary wind that landed him on the Island of Crete, and it was his landing on this same island that heralded a revival that turned many heathen to Christ. It was a contrary wind that blew the rebellious Jonah into the center of God’s will making him a submissive and useful servant of the Lord. If the weather had been calm, he would have sailed happily to Tarshish far from the mind and will of God. But because the winds were contrary, he found himself returned as it were from the dead, proclaiming mighty anathemas against a wicked city, and, because of the power of his message, he saw one hundred twenty thousand souls in forty days turn unto the Lord. I suppose he hated the wind while it blew and thought God was dealing harshly with him, but today he shines as a glorious sign of the resurrection and the wonderful deliverance from hell and the grave through the goodness and mercy of God. “Salvation is of the Lord,” he proclaimed, and how thankful I am today that it is of the Lord and none other. Salvation is of the Lord, not only for Jonah, but for you and me and the whole world besides.
Contrary winds of cruelty and hate took Joseph to Egypt to be sold into slavery that he might become the wise deliverer of two nations of people. Contrary winds of famine and death drove Jacob and his sons to Egypt to find refuge and hope in that land of plenty, “all these things are against me,” wept poor distraught Jacob. But they were really all for him, and had he known God as Paul did years later, he would have proclaimed, “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Contrary winds of suffering and desperate illness blew upon poor Job until in his bitter distress and frustration he cursed the day he was born, but ere the wind had ceased his joyful lips were proclaiming, “I have heard of Thee with the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee…” Oh, the value of contrary winds.
Do you realize, my brother and sister that God is more interested in your spiritual welfare than you could ever hope to be? It often appears that God is not concerned. It seems that you are walking alone, but the truth is that He never leaves you and He never forsakes you.
It is a most unfortunate thing that many people have been led to believe that for a Christian to suffer tribulation of one sort or another is sure evidence of the displeasure of the Lord. How often the sick have been told that their suffering was a sign of God’s displeasure, and how often those who enjoy good health have taken it to be certain evidence of the pleasure of God toward them. Why have we so often reversed the truth? Is not the exact opposite of this more often the truth? Have you never read that “whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth?” And again, have we never read, “If ye be without chastisement whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons’?” These scripture plainly teach that those people who have set their faces toward the goal of sonship are in for a rough voyage. They will have chastisement, trials, tribulation, affliction, persecution, reverses, sickness and misunderstanding. They will know what it is to be rejected. They will hear their good evil spoken of. They will know what it is to be despised by those who should love them, and to be scorned and set at naught by their brethren. They will know lonesomeness and experience fear within and without. They will know what it is to be betrayed by their familiar friends, but fear none of these things, for they are absolutely necessary to your sonship.
It is the trial of your faith that worketh patience. You do not possess the wonderful virtue of patience just by kneeling down and asking God to give it to you. You become a possessor of patience by having your faith tried and crushed, and tried and crushed again and again. You receive it by seeing your prayers go unanswered and your hopes deferred until your heart is weary and sick with longing. It is in the midst of such tribulation that the Spirit whispers, “The Lord is good to them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be that there may be hope, he giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him; he is filled with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off forever; but though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His tender mercies.” Lam. 3:26-32
What wonderful perfection of truth is contained in these words, “Let patience have her perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Here is a whole world of truth compressed into one line and we seem to have missed it altogether. If patience has her perfect work, we will be both perfect and entire, and wanting nothing. How different that is from the words spoken to Belghazzar long ago, “Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting*”
The writer of the book of Hebrews was dealing with a people beset by difficulty like our own, a people who had caught a glimpse of “better things”, but a people who were continually falling back because they could not let go their ancient traditions. As sheep return to their folds, so these people returned again and again to their forms and ceremonies and all their ancient Hebrew tradition. My own soul often grows weary as I read inspiring letters from people who are tasting the good things of God and the powers of the age to come, but who in the end insist on dragging in the doctrines, the forms and the ceremonies that have been our lot for centuries. They try so hard to find room in this new realm for gifts and ministries, baptisms and laying on of hands, church membership and program. They cannot understand that these are the things that are in part only, belonging to an imperfect age, but that an age of perfection is at hand. The emphasis is no longer on doing, but on being. It is no longer on miraculous gifts, but on sonship; no longer on the dispensation of grace, but on the dispensation of the kingdom of God.
There remaineth a rest for the people of God, and he who has entered into His rest has ceased from his own labor as God ceased from His. Heb. 4:9–10. Because the apostle saw that many of the Hebrew Christians were being hindered by their former ways of religious life and were failing to enter into the better things of the new realm, he rebuked and chided the people with longing and hope that they – would forget the things behind and lay hold of the things which were before them. “Let us therefore fear lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them…” Heb. 4:1–2. And again, “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief,” Verse 11. Laboring to enter into rest may seem a strange paradox, but when one realizes the strangle hold church tradition has upon the people of God, we can well see that our greatest labor will be in delivering ourselves from the bondage and strangulation of our own traditions. It was with a measure of shock that I read this no te in my diary, written forty years ago, “I am frustrated by the fetters of organization and bound by the blindness of visionless leaders.” It has taken a lifetime of labor and great revelation of the Spirit of God to deliver my soul as a bird from the snare of the fowler and to break the bondage of man’s opinions.
It takes a lifetime to “deliver them who were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” It was Mark Twain who said, “Loyalty to a petrified opinion never broke a chain nor freed a human soul.” Oh, that God’s people in this tremendous hour would seek to come to the unity and oneness with Christ that only sons of God can know! Then would their chains of tradition fall off and their cruel bondage and servitude cease.
“Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection.” It is impossible to go on to the perfection of sonship until we leave the principles behind. Baptisms, repentance, laying on of hands and spiritual gifts are first principles, the very kindergarten of Christian experience. We should long ago have passed beyond them to the more excellent way. Well do we remember our first day at school when the teacher began to instill upon our childish minds the first principles of our education? We were taught the names of the letters of the alphabet and the sound that each letter made. We learned to put two or three letters together to make little words and that if three crows sat on a tree and one flew away only two were left. And so the lesson went until we were ready to leave the principles of our education and go on to something higher up. How much progress would we have made had the second year been naught but a repetition of the first year and the third year but a repetition of the second? We would never have been ready for college if we had stayed in grade one. Yet this is exactly what the church system does continually. Year after year, decade after decade, we hear a tedious repetition of age-old topics until our minds are filled with petrified opinions that become chains and prison bars to all spiritual progress. When we ought to be teachers, we have need that one teach us the first principles of the oracles of God, and are become such as have need of milk and not of strong meat. For everyone that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. Heb. 5:12-13.
In the wonderful but little understood book of Ezekiel the flight is ever upward. Whithersoever the spirit went, the wheels went, and all activity depended upon the spirit that was in the wheels. Ezek. 1:16-20. What was the story of the Exodus but the story of the liberation of the redeemed, the liberation from bondage, flesh pots and traditions? But they, being terrified of the unknown wilderness, in their hearts turned back to Egypt. Be not like them who at the very gates of Paradise turned back in unbelief, but let us go on to perfection.