You will recall so much in your New Testament when I just mention these things. First of all it is a transition from one man to Another, from Adam to Christ. We read that in 1 Corinthians 15: "the first man," He called "him" ...? No, He called "them" man. (Genesis 5:2). That is racial; that is humanity. He called them. That is very simple - the first man, Adam. It is the same thing, "Adam" and "man," as you noticed in the margin of Genesis 5. "He called them 'man'." And the New Testament wholly bears upon this transition from one humanity to Another, from one racial head and inclusive person to Another. It is a New Humanity, going beyond transition then, which is a racial one, from Adam to Christ, from the first man to the last Man.
Secondly, there is a transition from one nation to Another. I know there is room for a lot of controversy there about Israel; nevertheless, the New Testament and Christ Himself came down on this quite emphatically: "The Kingdom of God shall be taken away from you (that is, Israel), and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." Heavenly Fruit, not earthly. Transition from one nation to Another.
And Peter, oh, Peter! I am amazed at Peter, are you not? That erstwhile Judaistic traditonalist who had a battle with the Lord over Gentiles in Caesarea, going to the house of Cornelius and even saying in a contradiction of terms to the Lord, "Not so, Lord." You cannot put those words together -"Lord" and "Not so." The other man, Paul, you remember when he met Christ, said: "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" But Peter has not got out of his tradition quite yet; and even at Antioch - dissimulation. When James and the elders came down from Jerusalem, Peter withdrew himself from eating with the Gentiles. He has still got a little bit of grave clothes left on him, but marvel of marvels, when you come to his letters he is out. "Ye are an elect race." Who? The saints scattered throughout Pontius, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Bithynia. And elect race. He is out of the one nation, now into the Other. The transition has been consummated in this man. But it was a battle. Always a battle over this old association with the natural man. We are going to see much more of that.
Then it is a transition from once economy to the Other. Your letter to the Hebrews is one solid argument for this transition. I am so impressed with the constant recurrence in the New Testament of one phrase which leads out with linking words: the phrase is "Not, But". John began that, did he not? Christ said to the woman of Samaria: "Not in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem, but in spirit." "Not, nor, but" - and you find that occurring again and again.
And here you come to this great transition from one economy to Another, the old economy taking in the great ministry of angels: that is a subject for a morning in itself. The ministry of angels in the old economy. The law was given through angels. Angels came again and again to Gideon, to Daniel. The archangels, marvelous ministry of angels - but the letter to the Hebrews opens up, "Not unto angels ... but" - "Not, But" - what a change! And the following argument is that this New Economy infinitely transcends the ministry of angels.
And as you get on toward the end of that letter to the Hebrews, you have another of these transitory phrases: "You are not come unto a mount, a palpable mount, that burned with fire ... but ye are come ..." - how vast is this movement. From the old economy to the bringing in of the New Economy. There is one thing only in your New Testament, introduced by Christ in the Gospels and followed out by the apostles; and in this letter to the Hebrews, the solid object of the whole letter is the transition from one economy to Another. Oh, read it again and glory in it. Read that letter again to the Hebrews. Glory in this: "My, what a thing we have been brought into." Tabernacle? Yes, says the writer, there was a tabernacle on this earth, and for the time being ... until the time. That is all gone, he says, and now we have come into the True Tabernacle not made with hands, which God has made, a Heavenly Tabernacle. See how wonderful the transition is! - the passing over from one economy to Another.
I must pause to ask, is this where Christiandom has gone astray?
Is it still holding on to the old economy? Is it still in the grave clothes? Is it still that old Mosaic economy with its forms and ways? Is it not emancipated into the Heavenlies?!
That is what the Lord wants to do with us here.
From one nation to Another: Abraham to Christ, Moses to Christ. From one sovereignty to Another: we know how full the New Testament is of David and His Greater Son - full of it. But it shows the transition from one earthly sovereignty to Another Heavenly Sovereignty in Jesus Christ.
And so we could go on marking these aspects of the transition. And if you want a key to the gospel of John, remember John wrote the whole of that gospel on one thought only. The key to the whole of that gospel is this transition from one to Christ. He has taken over. That is why the many "I Am"s. You notice those "I AM's have a reflection upon the old. I am not the vine, "I AM the True Vine." Israel was a vine, but He has taken over as the True Vine. Israel was a false vine - did not bring forth the fruit.
Now, I am not going to start with John's gospel, but I give you a key. When you move from the introduction of this Other Humanity in the Person of Christ in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, (and this is the key to them all) and come through the desolation of the Cross, you come into Acts, and what are you in? Oh, this marvelous emancipation - transition. - in the book of the Acts. What desolation was made in that whole system because through the desolation of the Cross, there is the emergence into this Other side - this New Humanity. Watch how the Lord is working on this old humanity to wind it up, progressively now bringing it to where life has put it.
The Climax of the Full Knowledge of Christ
You know, friends, God always works backward towards something. Well, in the creation, He was working backward. Read it again. Why have we in the New Testament so many words which begin with the little prefix "re," regeneration, reconciliation; all have that little prefix "re," for He is working back.
Things have gone away, gone wrong, got out of God's way, and God is returning to where they went wrong. God usually does that with us. And so what is God's beginning? It is His Son before the foundation of the world. Right back in the Eternal counsels His Son was made the beginning, God's stating place. Men have all gone astray, because of history, "all of us like sheep have gone astray."
GOD GETS BACK TO HIS BEGINNING, HIS SON. CHRISTIANDOM HAS GONE ASTRAY. AND THE ONLY WAY OF SAVING CHRISTIANDOM IS TO GET BACK TO GOD'S BEGINNING, A TRUE AND RIGHT APPREHENSION OF HIS SON.
I do not want to just go on with material. There is an application of this to us. I am convinced, I know it is true, that what the Lord is doing with so many of us is stripping us, stripping us of the things which we have taken on or we have gotten into; He is stripping them off and bringing us down to the place where it is the Lord Jesus or it is nothing! If the Lord Jesus fails, there is nothing to live for, and some of us have come to the place where we have said to the Lord, "Lord, if You are not going to come in and fill this place, please take us away: there is nothing more to live for." Is that exaggeration?
I believe the Lord is doing that with many of His people today, taking away their ministry, taking away the fellowships on which they rested so much, taking away the things, even the Christian things - their work, their preaching. When you start preaching there becomes a fascination about preaching; you get over that as you get older ... you say, "Lord, don't let me preach unless You're going to do the preaching." The Lord is doing that sort of thing, just stripping us, stripping us of things, even Christian things; and He is going to fill the place Himself.
Now is not that the real climax revealed?! Put it into these words of the Apostle Paul, "Till we all attain unto ..." what? Oh, what a pity our translators have not given us an exact translation! They have said, "until we all attain to ... the knowledge of the Son of God." No! it is "to the full knowledge of the Son of God ... to the measure of the stature of ..." what? A MAN. The climax of the knowledge of Christ, the full knowledge of Christ, is our attainment. And what is it? - a kind of a man which is the reproduction of, if I may put it this way, Jesus Christ the Man. And so we are coming more and more to this - that it is only the Lord: it is Christ.
I AM CHRIST'S LET THE NAME SUFFICE.
Oh, if only we have got
a large enough apprehension of HIM!
Well, now I am going to break off here, and if the Lord wills, continue from that point getting nearer to this tomorrow morning [this article is from a conference Rev. Sparks attended and spoke.] With all this greatness of setting, of background, in which we are if we are in Christ, does not that very phrase open up to this conception of God's purpose that in Christ there is Another Humanity?!
This is what the Lord is doing with you, with me, making something different; oh, it is too slow, I know, for us. We do not seem to be making much progress that way, but He is undoing and He is adding.
But, what do we know? But, what do I know? Oh, I feel worse than ever I did in my life in myself If it were not for Christ, I would not be here today. No, I would have gone out; I would not be here through all the stresses, all those times when down in the dust I have simply said, "Lord, You have made a mistake, You've made a great mistake, I am Your great mistake. You ought never to have brought me into this position." It always seems like that in our experiences; but here we are. We have survived, and more than survived; we are here. And we believe we are here by the power of God in Jesus Christ. That we do know, and so we can say, "It is Christ, It is Christ, and it is a mighty Christ in our history."
Well, this is enough for this morning. See what He is doing?! May He show us that He has marvelous thoughts for what He has conceived - Humanity as His crown and His goal. Shall we pray ...
Lord, we do beseech Thee, we entreat Thee, to open the eyes of our understanding. Do not let this be so much more talking, teaching -certainly not an end in itself. But Lord, bow us in Thy Presence. We know that the real discovery of whether we are in with Thee at this time will not just be in our attending the meetings; it will be in the prayer that is behind, outside of the meetings, in our rooms, in our hearts. Lead us, we pray Thee. Deep exercise about this matter of what Thou art working toward, and why Thou art dealing with us as Thou art. So help us, by Thy grace, in the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.
(continued with # 1 - "Practical Devastation of Our Old Humanity" )