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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Cross and the Holy Spirit # 2

The New Testament Counterpart

We now follow the same course as we have followed in every connection. This part of Isaiah's prophecies, and this chapter in particular, carries us to the New Testament counterpart. We have seen that there are parts of the New Testament which answer distinctly and clearly to the different phases and movements in these prophecies of Isaiah. And the New Testament counterpart of this sixty-fist chapter is undoubtedly Paul's Letter to the Galatians. Let us look at a few fragments from that letter. You will see how they bring in Isaiah 61, the anointing of the Spirit.

Paul's Letter to the Galatians

"This only would I learn from you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now perfected in the flesh? ... He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth He it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? ... Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law ... that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Gal. 3:2, 5, 13-14).

"And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba, Father' " (4:6).

"For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness" (5:5).

"But I say, 'Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would. But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law ... If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk" (5:16-18, 25).

"For he that soweth unto his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life" (6:8).

All that, as you notice, has to do with the Spirit - which is, of course, another way of speaking of the anointing. We will now take another brief series, which follows the line of the Cross.

"I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me ..." (2:20).

"O foolish Galatians, who did bewitch you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly set forth crucified?" (3:1).

"And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof" (5:24).

"But far be it from me to glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (6:14).

These two series of extracts from this brief letter "to the churches in Galatia" (1:2) make it clear that two of its major themes are the Cross and the Holy Spirit. It is the bridge that is passed over between Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 61.

The Essentially Spiritual Nature of Christianity

Now we all know that this Letter to the Galatians contains Paul's tremendous battle. Yes, Paul was out for a fight when he set himself to write this document. There is no more vehement product of the pen of Paul that that which we have in this letter. But what is the battle over? What is it all about? Of course, there are theological and doctrinal answers to that question; but it may be said, with a good deal of support both from the letter itself and from other parts of the New Testament, that this battle of Paul's all related to the essentially spiritual character of Christianity. The Christianity which is the true Christianity is an essential spiritual thing. That is what the battle is about. It shows so clearly, in every connection, that the Cross leads to a spiritual position, to a spiritual condition.

The great enemy, who had very useful instruments in the Judaizers, was fighting to make of Christianity something other than a spiritual thing; to bring it on to an other than spiritual basis. Both then, and ever since, he has sought, either to resolve Christianity into a matter of rites and ceremonies - ritual, formalism, earthly and temporal symbols, representations, figures, and so forth; or, failing that, to substitute for it the false spirituality sometimes dignified by the name of 'mysticism.' That was satan's object, and Paul saw that the issue was nothing less than the real meaning, the essential nature, of Christianity - what it is. And Paul was not giving it away, because he had had a tremendous experience on this very matter. He therefore set himself to fight this thing with all the strength at his command, to make it perfectly clear that Christianity is not in any respect an earthly system - it is a heavenly life. Christianity is essentially a life in the Spirit, and the Cross is intended to produce that. If it does not produce it, there is some reason for it in those concerned. It means that the whole nature of Christianity has been changed, and the meaning of the Cross subverted.

So Paul lunges at this subtle move of the enemy with all the force of the Cross, and brings in every weapon to which he can lay his hand. What are some of those weapons?

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - "Paul's Weapons Against the Debasing of Christianity = 1. His Personal History")

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