The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another
Lord, Thou knowest that this very act of prayer as we pause at this point in out acknowledgment and confession that we cannot go on without Thee, and we have no wish to do so. Lord, for the speaking of Thy truth, for the reception, understanding, and obedience, we need Thee; we cannot do without Thee. We rest back upon Thy faithfulness, Thy mercy, Thy grace, and we believe that trusting in Thee, Thou wilt not fail us; and we shall come through by the help of God, so be it. And seeing that it is so, the glory will be Thine alone through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
We in these hours are being occupied with the climax of humanity as represented in the appearing in this world of God's Son in human form, and we have reached the point in these meditations where we are at present occupied with the battleground of the two humanities, that battleground being particularly focused in the two letters to the Corinthians; that is their place in the sovereign ordering of God. Other letters have particular aspects, but here in Corinthians we find the focal point of the great controversy between the old and the New, the first Adam and the last Adam, the one humanity and the Other.
Let me say here before we proceed that our consideration may seem to be very much of a destructive character, hard, exacting, not pleasant at all to our old humanity. These letters are drastic; and as we have said, devastating to the old humanity; and the apostle is really hitting very hard, saying some very strong things - while in love, yet being very faithful. I do want to very definitely point this out that the apostle took that attitude and handled the situation as strongly, forcefully, radically as he did, not because he wanted to hurt anybody, not just because he did not agree with these people, but because he had seen - he had devastatingly seen the Lord Jesus in Glory. This man's whole life and ministry were actuated by what he called "the heavenly vision," and he had seen the greatness, the immensity of the significance of Jesus Christ in the whole economy of God in this universe.
Beyond Paul's power to explain and express (for he exhausted all language in his attempt to do so), Jesus Christ for him had appeared and was continually in his heart being revealed in such magnitudes as to make him feel that anything that gets in the way of our attaining must be ruthlessly dealt with. He said: "Brethren, I have not attained, I am not already complete, I press toward the mark, the prize of the on-high calling." What was it? Utter conformity to the image of God's Son - the real apprehension in his own experience of the wonder and glory of Jesus Christ - to attain unto that was the all-consuming object and passion of his life because he had seen!
Now my point this morning is not intended to be destructive and negative and only against. If we are seemingly being very hard on this old man, it is with the positive always in view; it is unto something - unto the image of God's Son. Now having said that, let us proceed with this battleground of the two humanities as gathered into these two letters to the Corinthians which we will only be able to touch so lightly and so imperfectly this week, but I think sufficiently to indicate a great deal more which you will grasp.
The Expression of Jesus Christ
So here we are in the midst of the whole business of the New Testament, the transition from one humanity to Another and that where Christians are concerned. You must remember these letters were written to a local assembly, and while individuals in the assembly are picked out and pinpointed and spoken straightly to about their conduct, their behavior, their manner of life, it is the assembly that the apostle is concerned with and what a local assembly should be as an expression of Jesus Christ. That is the only object for the existence of any local assembly - the expression of Jesus Christ. The apostle was concerned with that nucleus in Corinth of the whole Body of Christ, and I think that it is very impressive that down through twenty centuries in every widening circles from nation to nation, country to country, to the farthest bounds of this earth, the ministry to the Corinthians ought to take on that character and not just be a localized something. Oh, that every local company of the Lord's people said something for all time and for all eternity and to all the world as to the meaning of Jesus Christ!
A local church is intended to have the values of Jesus Christ, which are never capable of being just localized. They must - not by their effort, organization, machinery, or anything of that kind, but because they are that - they must have an expansive influence beyond themselves and beyond their own time: spiritual values. Now I want to get to this matter of how that is reached and what it is that males the Lord's people like that, both individually and collectively.
You see, the heart of this whole matter is not a system, either of teaching or of practice. It is not an ecclesiasticism: that is only another word for church order. It is not that or any of the things which Christianity has become, not all the accretions and the developments and the forms, but the heart of this whole thing is the Person - the Person of a Man with a capital "M". Manhood is God's great thought from creation. He has put His supreme value upon this form of creation - humanity - and bound up all His interest with a kind of humanity that He wants to possess to represent Him. "Let us make man in Our own image, according to Our likeness." What is an image, what is a likeness? a representation. God said: "Our image, Our likeness, a representation of Us." But I am afraid the representation is more or less very poor at Corinth. God expressing Himself in a species called humanity - to that He has committed Himself and all His interests; and if you want to know really what the Holy Spirit's coming and operation is for, it is jut that - TO GET HOLD OF A MANKIND AFTER THIS ONE MAN.
So it is a Person; always focus your eyes on the Person, keep your eyes on the Person of Jesus Christ. The New Testament is all about that. It is always the Person, and this Person is repeatedly saying and affirming: "I AM." Whatever the capacity, Shepherd or Door or Vine, these are only aspects of His Person, of what He is, "I AM." He has stepped right into the arena of history and is the only One Who is allowed to do it, to say: "I AM." Tremendous things are said concerning this, and God hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness not by, but in a Man of His Own choice. The judgment of this whole world is going to be on the ground of Christ. Not what sins you have committed, more or less what you might call small or big. No, that is not the ground of judgment. The ground of judgment is where do you stand in relation to Jesus Christ, and how much of Him is there. He will judge the world in the Man. Now thing about that. It is the Person which we must keep all the time in view as we proceed!
(continued with # 2)