The Tragedy of the Carry-over of the Other Humanity
You see the force of that? It is forceful. In essence, Paul said, "No, I am not interested in any of these other things that you may be interested in. For me it is this Man, Christ Jesus, this different kind of Man and this Man Who is crucified to all the other kind of man: crucified to this that you think so much of, that are so important to you, crucified to the whole realm."
It is a Man, and a Man only, a kind of a Man, that is the point of this letter; all is focused, gathered into a Man. Now from that point onward, the whole thing develops. There is on the one side that man that they have tried to bring over and are still nursing here at Corinth, and there is on the other side this Other Man. You read right on and find: "If any man be in Christ, there is a New Creation, the old things have passed away; and behold all have become new." The great divide is at the Cross. Well, this is Corinth, and the old and New Humanity is the real battleground; and what a battleground it is.
If you are thinking objectively and historically, stop, stop at once; come over your two thousand years, bridge that gap, get away from geographical Corinth or historical Corinth, and come right here. We belong to that same humanity by nature; but by grace, we belong to Another Humanity. And this is where Christiandom is all in confusion today and in defeat, so that we read in papers, Christianity has had its day, it is not counting, it really does not matter, it is no impact upon world conditions and situations, and so on. That is the conclusion of the natural man because of what he sees in Christiandom.
We have to agree to a very large extent, even though we do know something else. Nevertheless, Christiandom has got into that terrible plight today for this very reason - it does not understand the cleavage which the Cross of Jesus Christ has made between the two humanities. It does not understand that there is not bridge tolerated by God between these two. The Cross has cut right in between these two humanities; and as I was saying, it may not all happen at once, but through a lifetime, the Holy Spirit will be teaching us, if we are teachable, if we are sensitive, if we are walking in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit will be teaching us: "That is you, that is not Christ. That is you, that is your way of talking, that is your way of thinking, that is your way of going about, that is just you, that is not Christ."
Oh, it would take a long time; but, oh, it would be so profitable to study this Other Man as He walked in this world and see the principles which governed His life, which were all heavenly and all spiritual and made Him absolutely incalculable in this world.
The Dividing: "He that is spiritual" and "the natural man"
We are now coming to Corinth, and we have not moved far into the letter until we are shown what belongs to the one side and what belongs to the Other. Oh, that Christiandom had really had its eyes opened to chapter two of the First Letter to the Corinthians. Here we have two designations; here are the two humanities. One is the natural man, and let me say again that is not necessarily the unborn again man. Corinth shows that and is used to show that. It stands through spiritual history to show the tragedy of a carry-over from one humanity to Another in not allowing the great transition to be clear cut. That is what is here, and so in Corinthians we have the dividing: we have "he that is spiritual" and "the natural man," and then there opens up the characteristics of each.
We launch out into the characteristics at Corinth, we come almost immediately on this: personality complexes - that is "the natural man." "I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Peter, and I am of Christ." You tell me that we are not capable of that - making even a servant of God, a greatly used servant of God and a servant of God who is a saintly man, making him the focal point, the pivot around whom we circle - his way of teaching that appeals to me, his interpretation, his personality. The apostle of the Holy Spirit puts that sort of thing in the category of the natural man because the effect of that is the divisiveness in the Body of Christ - that is what the letter opens up: divisiveness in the Body of Christ. Oh, do not talk about personalities; they may have been used to your help; you may owe a lot to the Lord because of them, but do not b constantly bringing them into view. Paul will argue back and say: "Who is Paul, who is Apollos, who is Peter? - Only servants of God through whom you believed!" Let the instrument recede into the background, and let Christ come to the front; be occupied with Him, talk about the Lord Jesus.
Perhaps there is a lot of this in a conference like this - this man's name and that man's name and this teacher and that teacher. We have our preferences and attachments, but we must drop the whole thing. Paul is saying nothing but "Jesus Christ and His crucified." We must drop all that personality complex business which in the development only means division in the Body of Christ, and division is weakness and defeat. We must restrain from this sort of thing, for this is moving along the wrong line. This is moving from the outside - trying to gather around personalities and calling that "unity" instead of dealing with it from the inside; and after all, if only, if only we saw Jesus Christ, we would see what the Church is.
Dear friends, the Church of Jesus Christ is not an "it". It is not a system of teaching. It is not something ecclesiastical. It is not an institution. (Oh, I thank God for the day when He showed me this!)
The Church is a Person and that Person
is Jesus Christ in Corporate Expression
We must revise our mentality when we talk about the Church, the Body of Christ. What are you talking about? Not an it, a something, as though it were a something in itself, and a teaching in itself. No, it is this Man, Jesus Christ, with a family, with children, brothers and sisters, begotten of God, that is the Church.
Oh, how much ecclesiasticism we can have with out the family life, but the Church after all, when you come to the final Word, is just the measure of Christ that there is in those who make it up - "till we all attain unto ... the measure ... of Christ" - every one of us. That is the Body of Christ, that is the Church.
Now, I am going to close this morning. We have seen the very first thing that you meet at Corinth is this carry-over of an old humanity in personality complexities, and the Lord says "No" and the apostle says: "No ... only 'Jesus Christ and Him crucified.' " The Lord search our hearts concerning these two humanities. Let us pray:
"Now, Lord, this can very quickly and very easily be all covered over in the next moments when we go away and have to think back as to what it was about in that hour. Spare that; save us from that. Lord, we are not wanting to impose upon Thy people any kind of suppression, but we do pray that the Holy Spirit will solemnize our hearts in the presence of such great issues in the greatest issue of all time and eternity. Give us quite meditation, prayerful meditation in our hearts to see where we are, where we are in this whole Bible. So help us, God, for Thy Son's sake." Amen
(continued with # 1 - "Battleground of the Two Humanities")