Now, the big question that arises for us is: Have we any ground for believing that this can be our own up-to-date experience? And I want to say that the New Testament presents us with very solid ground for just that. We find very much, in the experiences of men and women after the Lord had gone to glory, that had this effect. I need only turn you to the Book of the Acts, and remind you of that Ethiopian on his way home, disappointed and desolate, sorrowful and perplexed. Surely we may say that, through His servant Philip and through the word of Isaiah 53, the Risen Lord met that man. The whole scene was changed. The last thing we hear of him is: "he went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:39). Here is a transfigured life, a transfigured situation, because one has come into touch with the Risen Lord. That incident is typical of the marvelous transformation that took place when the Spirit of the Lord touched people, came into their lives, came into their midst. They met sometimes in much perplexity and oppression, n much affliction and suffering with the threats of the rulers, and they went away changed people, full of joy, full of confidence.
Has the dispensation changed since the time of the Acts? That book has never had a conclusion; it is just broken off. The Holy Spirit never intended Luke to write the end of the story, because it had to go on and on and on to the end of the dispensation. What was true then is to be true in our experience now. Yes, we have plenty of ground and evidence for this. But then, you say, 'On what ground can this experience be mind?' If the Scripture gives that which justifies an expectation that it should be true in our case, if we really have it in the Word that it ought to be like that with us, then the question arises, 'How can this be true of me?' Let me therefore try to say, as concisely as possible, how it can be - how we really can know this.
The Need for (1) A Positive Stand Upon the Ground of the Cross
Firstly, we must take our stand most positively on that ground which God has provided for us through the Cross of the Lord Jesus. That is, we must appropriate all the values of Isaiah 53, as being provided for us. Isaiah 53 tells us all that has been done for us. "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him." "He bare the sin of many." Our whole state and condition, under condemnation and judgment, was put on Him by God Himself. 'He, He made His soul an offering for sin.' That was on the Divine side. If you and I will still linger on the ground of question or doubt as to whether the Lord Jesus has done that, for us, as men and women, for our sins, past, present and future, there is no hope of this transforming experience of resurrection! If you are still nursing condemnation, still opening your heart or your mind to accusations, you are, in effect, denying the work of the Lord on the Cross, and God cannot show you His mighty arm.
"To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" Never to the man or woman who brings in any question as to the work of the Lord Jesus in His Cross! Never! You must get right off that ground in every way. If you are so fond of doubting and questioning, if you will so tenaciously hold on to condemnation, can you not swing right over in the opposite direction, put all that capacity for doubting and unbelieving around the other way, and say about your condemnation: 'I don't believe it! Isaiah 53 says that He took all that for me: then I definitely do not believe, I will not believe - the Cross of the Lord Jesus forbids me to believe - that there is condemnation.' Yes, put your strong and mighty capacity for unbelieving the other way around - let it be converted! Put it over against all the work of the accusing spirits, the accusing conscience and the accusing heart. Meet the whole thing in reverse!
No, we shall never know this mighty, many-sided transformation and transfiguration of life, until we quite positively take our stand upon the values which we see secured for us in Isaiah 53. We shall once again, and in the simplicity of a beginner, have to sit down with that chapter, and, as has been so often said, put our own name in there: 'He was wounded for my transgressions; He was bruised for my iniquities; the chastisement of my peace was upon Him; with His stripes I am healed.' We shall never experience resurrection glory until we have our feet firmly planted on that ground. You see, it is we ourselves who constitute the ground of death: it is in us - it is not in Christ; we must therefore repudiate our own ground. We must say, when the accuser would bring all our sins to remembrance: 'Yes, I know them well, and thousands more; but ... there is One Who died in my place.' Faith must credit God and Christ with the full meaning of the Cross.
(continued with # 1 - "A Positive Drawing Upon the Power of His Resurrection")