The Rule of Heaven (continued)
Universality of the Heavens (continued)
The Universality of the New Birth (continued)
I do not want to be critical, but I am consumed with this zeal that the Lord shall have that which is according to His mind. There has come about a thing which is an exceedingly perilous thing, and that is the mass movement of "decisions for Christ" by organized methods. When you preach the gospel in a popular style and bring in illustrations, stories and accounts you bring in that which is calculated to stir the emotions, and then you ask for some kind of action, and you sweep a multitude in like that, and they, from that time, call themselves saved people, and half an hour after they know no more of the real nature of the new birth than they did before. They can go on and never know the nature of the new birth and yet they say that there was a time when they became a Christian. I do not say that some of them are not born again, but on the whole it is a dangerous line because you are getting people to take the name of Christ who do not know what the new birth is. They have been persuaded into doing it, and we must understand that the new birth is not the birth of the soul at all. It is the birth of the spirit. It is a matter of rebirth from above which is God's act. The most that man can do is to take an attitude. The only step we can take is to face one way or the other. The expression of our willingness is to face that way, but the whole thing is in God's hands. It is not for anyone of us to say when we will take any step in relation to God. If God puts now at our disposal saving faith, or anything else by which to appropriate anything which is in Christ, we postpone that with eternal risks. We have got to face up with what God puts there at the time He puts it there, and we have no assurance that we will be able to take that step at any other time. It is the work of the Holy Spirit alone, and we must put to people very, very clearly the real meaning of the new birth, and it is vast in its nature. It is a great thing to be saved.
The Universality of Christ's Baptism
We pass from Bethlehem to Jordan, the next outstanding thing in the life of the Lord Jesus, and see the universal implicates and content of His baptism. You first of all have John the Baptist. He has had an archangel in relation to his birth. The Holy Spirit was involved, for he was to be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his birth. John the Baptist officially represented and gathered up in himself all prophets of the Old Testament. "There hath not arisen a great prophet than John " (Matthew 11:11). The Lord Jesus said, "It becometh us to fulfill all righteousness," and then John the Baptist introduced the Lord Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." "The Lamb of God." "Behold the Lamb of God" (Matthew 3:15; John 1:29). Millions and millions of lambs had been sacrificed but not one of all those was ever accepted of itself by God - only in the light of One Lamb. He gathered all the lambs ever slain into His own Person. The backward sweep is tremendous.
(continued with # 21)