We have read many passages in the Bible, and I would have liked to have added many more of the same kind, but there are enough as a starting point. Do you recognize what they are all about? From Genesis, the beginning, right through the Scriptures, it is one thing: man. No, it is two men, and what we are going to be occupied with is this double humanity, or two humanities, for they are the subject matter of the whole Bible. The Bible is the story of God and man, and everything is gathered into that; nothing is in the Bible but what relates to that.
Of course, the Bible begins with God: "In the beginning God ..." First we have the fact of God. This is where you start, and you are not far along before you come upon man. Human history begins with God. God as a fact - God initiating everything, taking the initiative; God at work - God's mind working out in action, in what He does. Remember that is a Bible principle. If you want to know the mind of God, you will come to know it by what God does and not always by what He says to do. More often, God's mind is revealed by how He deals with you than by what He says in words in your ear.
God is speaking in His actions, speaking very loudly in His works. God's mind is being revealed in His actions; God is at work, at work preparing everything for man. When He has made that preparation and brought man in, God says: "There is nothing more to do; at this stage. We can rest." And God is at rest when He has man introduced into his prepared place and scene.
That man Adam, the New Testament tells us, is a figure of Him that was to come, in Whom God will ultimately find man environed; the man probationed. All God's interests are centered in humanity; not in things, as such. No thing is an end with God. Man is God's end. Humanity is God's end.
With this thought, we are right back there in the very center of the interests of God, humanity. But that man Adam disappointed God, failed Him, and was rejected with the intimation of Another One, Another Man. A Representative Man, Whom God and foreordained before the foundation of the world. This MAN is foreordained and then forecast, foreshadowed; and that line of the reaction of God toward the MAN, against this other man, runs all the way through like a red line through the Old Testament. In figure, in type, in prophecy, in the spiritual history of an elect line, all moving on toward that Other Man, that Other Humanity, the different Humanity, until we reach the New Testament.
The New Testament is the crisis of humanity. Have you thought of Christianity like that? Or have you thought of Christianity only in its parts, its fragments, such as the atonement for a man's sin, man's personal salvation, man's securing of eternal hope and glory. These are all the parts of salvation, and we have made so much of them. Well, you cannot make too much of the parts, of course, until you reach the point where the parts become less than the whole; and, dear friends, we have got to readjust our conception and idea of Christianity at this point to see that with the coming of the Lord Jesus, a crisis in the whole history of humanity is reached. It is the crisis of the final word of rejection of a humanity, a kind of man, and the introduction of an entirely different kind of man, and the introduction of an entirely different kind of Humanity with the Person of Jesus Christ. When you grasp that, your whole Bible is going to come alive; it will come alive.
What have we come into? What is regeneration? You call it conversion, being "born again," or you call it regeneration. What is it that we have come into? It is generation into Another Humanity altogether different as a member of a different race of creatures, a different species of humanity. With the New Testament, this immense crisis in human history is introduced, a crisis of humanity. Another Humanity is introduced with our New Testament, the full and final type of Humanity that God is going to have; and, the tremendous thing is, all that belongs to the perfection of man is found in this REPRESENTATIVE ONE. That is introduced with our New Testament.
Jesus stands in a unique relation to the human race, and do you not see how rays of lights focus upon this great fact? What is it that God is doing with you, with me, as a bit of this humanity? What is He doing? What is He after? What is the explanation of our experience under the hand of God?
When we get under the hand of God, we are going through it. What are you expecting this week? When you go away from here, you will meet friends and they will say, "Have you had a happy time?" I think I told you before of a conference I was at once. At the end, testimonies were asked for from the ministers as to what the conference had meant to them; one and another got up and said, "Oh, I have had a wonderful time; I have had a glorious time; this has been the best time of my life ..." and so on. And then one man got up, his eyes were red, his face was strained; he said, "I do not understand this: I have had an awful time. This week has meant devastation to me. Everything that I held as important is gone. I am left with a necessity for a new Christ, a bigger Christ than ever I have known." What are you expecting this week? Well, I hope you have a good time! But your "good time", dear friends, in the light of eternity may be a very bad time. When it comes to seeing the real fruit, it may come out of a devastation.
What is God doing? He is devastating one kind of humanity. We are going to see that as we go on from day to day. He is doing it. I do not know what your experience is, but I know it is mine. I know it is the experience of many of the most used and blessed servants of god - that they are going through a terrible time. Spiritually they have come to the place, whee if the Lord, the Lord does not really stand by and take over and see them through, it is an end even of their long spiritual experience. All the past will not stand unless the Lord comes in in a new way. Is not that true with many? Yes, that is what He is doing. He is working on this very ground of the two humanities - one being that which we are by nature: and the other, that which we are in Christ.
So, what we are to be occupied with at this time is first of all, to behold the Man, to behold THE MAN. And I would pray, and do pray, that when this week is finished, we shall be able to truly express our heats in those wonderful words of a poet known to many of you. These are some lines from that wonderful poem,
I am Christ's, and let that Name suffice me.
Aye, and for me He greatly hath sufficed.
Yes, through life, through death, through sorrow,
and through sinning,
He shall suffice me, for He hath sufficed.
Christ is the end, for Christ was the beginning.
Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ.
Those words express what we would all like to be the issue of this time - CHRIST.
A New Captivation of Christ.
A New, Wonderful Appreciation of Christ.
A New Seeing of the Significance of Christ
In God's Universe.
Now for the remaining few minutes of the introduction, I want to just pinpoint this one thing. Have you recognized, (perhaps you have without putting it in these words) have you recognized that the very heart and pivot of our Bible is an immense transition? The heart of the Bible is where the Old Testament ends and the New Testament begins, for here are two halves of human history, of humanity. Right there, a that point we come on this great immense transition. The New Testament is wholly taken up with the meaning and the nature, the fact of this transition, this movement from one thing to another in humanity.
(continued with # 3)