What the Gospel Is
It is very important that we should know what the Gospel is. If we
were asked to state what the Gospel is, probably we should set down
some passages of Scripture which we consider are inclusive of the
Gospel. Probably John 3:16 and say - that is the Gospel. We should
be right to a point, but at best we should only be stating certain
basic truths about the Gospel; glorious truths and yet not in
themselves the Gospel in its fulness or in its central meaning.
Those are wonderful facts and they are constituent parts of the
Gospel, but that is not the Gospel in the sense in which you and I
must understand the Gospel and know the meaning of the Gospel.
I believe that the Gospel is just this, simply, but most profoundly,
that the Son of God, Who is also Son of Man, has come, and in His
Coming has expressed in the world the Divine type of what God
intended before times eternal that His race, His creation, should
be. That is God contracted to the span of human life; God manifest
in the flesh; God combining with His own essential nature another
kind of creation called "man" and in that combination producing as
out from Himself a type, a kind, a species which never occupied the
world before (so far as we know), which was His thought and
conception before the foundation of the world. A creature in which
God is resident Himself by His Divine Nature; and in the coming of
the Lord Jesus, the Christ, we have that species represented, that
type manifested, and that is the Gospel. That into the image of that
Son those who become identified with Him in oneness of that Divine
life are destined to be conformed, to be the instrument for the
manifestation of God by His indwelling.
And that is the mystery of which the Apostle Paul speaks so much,
you are familiar with the word: "the mystery which hath been hid
from all ages and generations which is Christ in you, the Hope of
glory." "This mystery is great; we are members of His Body, of His
flesh, and of His bones." The realisation of this will be both
personal and corporate.
Now the Master threw some advanced rays of light upon that
revelation which was to come by the Holy Spirit later through a
spirit-indwelt Church and its members when He said words with which
we are very familiar - "In that day (what day? well we know) ye
shall know that ye are in Me and I in you," "and if a man love Me he
will keep My words and My Father will love him and we will come unto
him and make our abode with him." Further, in His prayer: "I in them
and Thou in Me," and again: "If any man will hear I will come in
Then later these words from the realisation of that marvellous
foreshadowing and promise: "If Christ is in you the body is dead
because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness." "That
Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" - "Jesus Christ is in
you," - and "for me to live is Christ" to which might be added many
declarations and utterances relative to this great central truth.
The Gospel is the manifestation and revelation of that which was in
the heart of God before the world as to what His own people should
be; that His people in whom He Himself is resident, through whom He
reveals and manifests Himself, who are definitely partakers of His
Divine nature, and that that representative, Jesus Christ, the Son
of God and Son of Man, has achieved that work by His Cross whereby
God may get His end and realise His original purpose. That is the
Gospel. And seeing Him, not as an historical figure, not as just
Jesus of Nazareth, but seeing Him as the representative of all the
sons of God as an inclusive Son and understanding the true nature of
the Lord Jesus, we see that which God has from eternity chosen us to
be in Himself. That is the Good News; that is the promise, that is
the prophecy, that is the power. Of course, I am quite conscious
that many questions might rise out of a statement like that, but I
am not careful to stay and discuss such at this moment. We want to
recognise one or two other things in relation to this theme which
arises out of that declaration.
We have often said that although God created Adam and intended him
to fulfil ultimately, and to realise, the work which Christ the Lord
came to do and to realise, it was but a probationary creation; He
did not create him at the outset on the same plane as the Lord
Jesus, and therefore he never lost what the Lord Jesus regained, but
the Lord Jesus brought infinitely more than ever Adam lost.
It was the Divine intention that ultimately the Lord should inhabit
and indwell, and reside within and manifest Himself, as out from the
man of His creation. But that first creation which was in the mind
of God intended to realise that end ignominiously failed and fell
from God. The Cross does not come in to retrieve merely that loss.
There is much misconception that Calvary just regains Paradise and
reconstructs the mass of wreckage of Adam's fall and mistake and
blunder and sin. The Cross may do such, but it does infinitely more.
It does not start where Adam went wrong; now it starts with God
Incarnate and on the ground of all that Calvary has done in wiping
out one order which has proved ineffective you start where God
originally intended man should end, where man should have arrived at
the end of his probation. If Adam had not fallen there would have
been a development and a growth unto partaking of a life which is
uncreated. That is why God hedged around that Tree of Life so that a
man should not perpetuate a species endlessly. He might later have
taken that, and possessing the life of the Ages,
sharing one life with God, uncreated life, endless life, he might
have come at length to the standard of the Sonship. But the
probation failed and so man on that plane was wiped out in the Cross
and that creation brought to an end; and when the Lord Jesus rises
from the dead He rises not of a fallen Adam race but He rises as the
first begotten from the dead, of a new species altogether; and it is
a new creation, not a renewed creation - a new creation, something
that has never been before. And that is brought about by the same
Spirit as energised out from God in the original creation but which
energises so much the more now to bring forth this other thing.
There never was such an energising of the Holy Spirit in the history
of the Universe as is manifested in the raising of Jesus from the
In our resurrection union with Christ we are to "walk in newness of
spirit." Not merely the old spirit resuscitated, but a newness of
spirit. What is this newness? It is in the fact of the indwelling of
the Holy Spirit as its true life; Christ resident within by the Holy
Spirit. This is new. It was never true of man before, the operations
of the spirit of God were always upon before - as from
It brings us right back to the A.B.C. of our Christian life and
experience to recognise this, that sonship in this superlative sense,
relationship to God of this kind, which is to be sons of God in the
Eternal Son, is on the basis of God Himself being resident in our
spirit and that on the basis of a new thing which has been done in
the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, a new creation, in which God
takes up His abode. "Upon man's flesh shall not the holy anointing
From that time onward the course of spiritual experience is the
history of the progressive ascendency of God in man's spirit over
that other old outer man.
There are times when it is difficult for the Lord's people to put a
piece of tissue paper between the two. It is very difficult for you,
for instance, sometimes to be able to see the narrowest line between
your prayer and the prayer of God the Holy Spirit in you. You are
praying and for all you are worth, but your prayer as such gets
nowhere, if it were left there you could go on praying and get
nowhere until in your prayer there is an extra ingredient.
Many people have the idea that incense in the Bible represents the
prayers of God's people, that is not so. They quote Scripture from
Rev. 8 - the golden bowl containing incense, and then immediately
the declaration "which are the prayers of the saints" - be careful
of your grammar - "the incense which are the prayers of the saints."
What are the prayers of the saints? The golden bowls. What is the
incense? It is the prayer of the Holy Ghost within the saints (Rev.
5:8). The Greek in that passage makes it perfectly clear that it is
the bowls which are the prayers of the saints and the incense is
something which is added to; the incense is added into the prayers
of the saints. Elijah, a man of like passions - he prayed and "in
his praying he prayed," the something extra there. What is
that? The man prays, but as he prays something comes through his
prayer, it comes right out of the Throne of God. Only that
declaration which comes right out from God Himself can open or close
the Heavens. And that is what is meant by praying in the Holy Ghost,
the Holy Ghost praying in you. For is it not said most definitely
that He shall make intercession with groanings that cannot be
uttered. The Holy Spirit is in the Church, the Body of Christ and it
is there that He is fulfilling His advocacy and making intercession.
There are times when an unutterable something is in our spirit, an
awful cry which we are unable to articulate, a groaning which cannot
be uttered and although you cannot articulate that that is the
effective thing; that is the extra ingredient.
That is why God was so particular when He gave the ingredients of
the incense - "there shall be none of this used by men for
themselves." Not merely to make, but not for themselves.
This thing was not for the flesh, it was unto the pure purpose of
God; and if it came into the realm of the flesh there would be a
blazing forth of judgment - so it was when strange fire was offered.
It is the thing which is God Himself, effecting His purposes which
are the purposes related to this new creation.
One thanks God for that extra something, because while one has a
very blessed union with God and life in Him, one is always making
mistakes; one is constantly coming short; overwhelmed with lack of
wisdom and understanding and how they do move short of that
revelation of life utterly in the spirit. While one's relationship
to the Lord is absolutely clear, and while one's spirit is pure (I
prefer to interpret "heart" as "spirit") towards God and while one is always and
constantly praying - "Lord, plant that Cross into the depths of my
being," while one does that, in spite of the limitations, there is a
movement of the Lord, He is doing it though we be of little faith,
which is nothing else than God Himself going on with His work. That
will never be thought a reason why we can continue to blunder, but
as one is seeking to go on with the Lord, the Lord is doing His own
work. We are in union with the Lord and He has brought us on.
Sometimes He lets us make these false moves to show us that this
thing is of Himself and not of us.
The main conception is before us and the line is simply this - that
God had a design, a species in mind that is the reproduction of
Himself, an incarnation of Himself not in one man only but in a
Body, the inclusive incarnation of God, the Body of Christ, composed
of born-again ones; that was His original conception. Adam did not
lose that, he failed to attain unto it. The Cross comes in and wipes
out that kind of thing, not merely the result of Adam's failure in
himself and in the earth, He wipes it out - the first Adam.
In the resurrection this is realised, but God Himself brings about
the resurrection by the energising of the Holy Spirit and sonship in
this superlative and transcendent sense is on the ground of a union
with Christ in resurrection by an indwelling revelation of God
through the Holy Spirit. "Because we are sons God hath sent forth the Spirit of
His Son into our heart whereby we cry "Abba, Father" - "If any man
have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His." Sonship is only
possible by the way of the Cross by the indwelling Spirit.
These are far-reaching principles, but they bring with them comfort
and assurance that the end will be attained because God has promised
it. He does not leave it with us to do it, it is God Who works in
us. It is very difficult to understand why some who claim to be the
Lord's people, some who carry His Name and are engaged in what is
His service, can go on with gross and fundamental contradictions in
their life, and that the Holy Spirit should be resident in them to
declare in them the Will of God. This thing is so difficult to
understand, but I believe it is impossible to go on like that if
really the Holy Spirit is getting the upper hand.
In unenlightened days when one knew very little about the fact of
revelation, one was working upon the objective and external, even
then one recognised most clearly that they were held when they said
a thing from a pulpit or platform which was not according to the
truth, and yet it seemed to be born out by the truth, but one
remembers they did not have a good time when they were saying it.
And we are being checked like that all along if the Lord really is
within. You are safe if the Lord has really taken up residence
inside. You will have a check when you are making a mistake.
The whole secret of walking in the Lord is that the Lord is walking
May He bring us into the effectual working of it that we may know
what that extra is - Christ in you, by the Holy Spirit, the hope of glory.
Thus far we have seen something of the nature of the new man whom
God had in mind as the ultimate realisation of His desire. We have
seen that Christ Who is God manifest in the flesh is the only answer
but the absolute answer to that quest of God from before the world
and its creation, and that Christ is the first and representative
and inclusive of that type. He answers specifically to the Divine
desire and requirement in that He is a manifestation of God by the
indwelling of God.
We have been able to see just a little of the meaning of Pentecost
and of the Holy Spirit's coming as an inseparable part of the
Godhead and taking up residence in the spirit of the new creation
man on the ground of the resurrection of Jesus, the Cross having for
ever wiped out of existence, so far as God's purpose is concerned,
God's creation in Adam.
So we have the presentation as a new man in Christ Jesus; that he is
in a very real way by Divine intention a God-man - a God-indwelt
man, a God-possessed man, a God-revealing and manifesting man and in
all therefore not a natural man but a supernatural man that has the
Risen Christ as his type, he is essentially a spiritual man. All his
being and his life is spiritual, his sustenance is spiritual, his
warfare is spiritual, his service is spiritual, his equipment is
spiritual, his walk is spiritual; everything of this man is
spiritual because he is a spiritual being.
You say - "that does not describe us!" - "That surely must describe
some future state." But it does describe us if we are in Christ
Jesus. That is our description but we have to be able to clearly
make that discrimination between the outer man and the inner man and
to recognise that this man is not the outer man with which we are so
familiar, but it is the inner man to whom we, the outer man, are
such strangers. We are learning to know him and to know
ourselves by the operation of the Holy Spirit.
One feels a desire to indicate afresh by familiar words how we are
learning to know this new man as ourselves, to recognise him and to
see who he is and what he is, what he is made of, what he can do and
what are his qualifications.
We see him mostly in his enduements and service as portrayed partly
and very clearly in that 12th chapter of the first Corinthian
letter. We shall see here just again as has been said already that
this new man is as distinct from our old, outer, natural man as any
two entities can possibly be distinct from one another. These two
entities are utterly distinct from one another. They are poles
asunder and all their make-up is clearly divided and between the
two stands the Cross which writes death on the one side and life on
If this new man is a spirit-man, is born from above, born of the
Holy Spirit for that which is born of the Spirit is spirit and if we
are born of the Spirit therefore we are spirit in our new
life, new nature, and new being; if this man is such then his whole
outfit must be spiritual.
This is not something up to which you have to climb, it is
interwoven with your new life and is the expression of it, but you
are called upon to recognise three definite lines of separation, to
acknowledge them and assent to them and to allow the Holy Spirit to
make them very clear and practical in your experience; that is our
The clear line of distinction and discrimination in the matter of
use and service and work is simply this: that the abilities and
enduements and qualifications and gifts of the natural life are not
the primary ground of our activity and service in the spiritual
life; that our activity and service as a new man is upon the ground
of an entirely spiritual equipment and that is not natural but
supernatural. And that if this new man is a supernatural man,
something which cannot be produced by any of the resources of
natural life, he requires the transcendent act of God in that power
which itself transcends all the ordinary operations of the natural
and which relates to all his activities and works and these are the
product of special, definite, spiritual impactions and gifts.
Those who have no gifts naturally can have them spiritually, whilst
those who have plenty of them naturally have nothing to boast of.
The very birth is not of the will of the flesh nor of the will of
What does 1 Corinthians 12 really represent? We have thought of it
and in thinking have got into an awful lot of confusion and made
room for many preponderances. We have recognised the true nature of
this, that it is indispensably necessary that this new man by the
Holy Ghost should have special spiritual qualifications to do the
work for which the Holy Ghost - in the knowledge of God's purpose
concerning each one - has equipped and called him. God knows what we
are called to in the Body of Christ and He has made provision for
our equipment to do that thing. This chapter presents to us many of
those things by which the new man fulfils his new vocation according
to the Will of God. Dispensations and dispositions were said to be as
He willed. One does not regard these things as extraordinary
demonstrations, but as the normal and natural expression of a
spiritual life that the Lord shall give equipment for special
Now beloved, it should never be right for you to say "I am not fit
for that, I am not qualified for that; I have no abilities of any
kind or gifts or qualifications for the Lord's work." If you are
really born again of the Holy Spirit and you are this new creation,
what has happened is that being in the world you can do nothing. You
can neither talk nor use your hand nor feet nor your eyes, that you
are simply useless in the new creation. I am of the persuasion that
there are no useless things in the new creation. The Holy Spirit
wraps up with the new creation those things which are going to make
it capable of realising its end and effecting its purpose.
Having made the provision, we have as our birthright, our
inheritance in the new creation, the right of equipment of a
supernatural character unto the work of God and have it as something
which is natural to us in the spiritual realm.
Two things must be said here. The whole of our trouble is to
recognise this, that our uselessness or our usefulness in our
natural life is no criterion whatever, and that is where the Cross
comes in. It comes on the positive side for the very clever people,
to smite them right out of the realm of real spiritual
effectiveness, to smite them as clever people, as natural, in their
equipment and enduement; that is a fact, however, you may wriggle
and argue. The course of spiritual experience is to make them
realise how utterly useless they are in spiritual service, they
don't count! Their works are at an end, their abilities are at an
end, their reputation is at an end, no longer can they hold their
heads up before men and claim to be something in religious work. We
cannot do the things that we once could do even in the Name of the
But then in the recognition of that fact, the meaning of the Cross,
they come not to the end but the beginning. Behold I make all things
new and all things are now out from God, whereas before they were
out from somewhere else.
The new door with a new equipment. How different! And only those who
have gone some way through that new door know how different. Your
wisdom here is absolutely confounded, your natural genius for
getting things done is absolutely brought to confusion; you are made
a fool of if you dare to move in that realm again, and God sees that
you don't succeed in that way.
But now it is a new kind of thing - the Wisdom of God set over
against the wisdom of this world. This wisdom of this world is
sensual, psychical, is devilish. (James 2:15.) A different kind of
wisdom, "By the same Spirit the word of wisdom; to another -
knowledge," this is as far removed from natural knowledge as heaven
is from the earth. By it the things which are of God are
accomplished, are done, and that which is of God far outstrips
anything we can do.
We have got to face the fact that the Cross means on the one side to
bring us where we cry, though we have been the most able and
successful, "I cannot!" "I cannot!" - that is the end. You have got
to accept that fact, the sooner, the better, before we shall come
into that new creation, "I can, in Christ, all things."
We have to recognise this that these equipments and enduements are
racial and as such they are corporate. The Church is also called a
"nation," "an elect nation." The metaphors are all brought together
- "an elect nation, a royal priesthood, a spiritual house."
Nation - the root is a birth, it relates to a birth; it is racial,
it is on the ground of sharing one life. If this is true and the
Holy Spirit is "The Spirit of Life" that life, He is also
the Spirit of service, and therefore of equipment, by whom and
through whom the gifts are given - "distributed" - to those who
share the common life of the Body. These gifts are corporate gifts
and related, and they are not for independent service or action, but
all meant to contribute to one object and purpose, and they are
If this is true and the gifts, the qualifications, are the natural
right of birth on the basis of a common life for a common end in a
corporate Body, they will only be manifest and effective in their
own place and relationship. That is that the member has to be
properly related and put into position, and function within the
definite and clearly defined limits of their divine appointment. To
get outside your appointment in the Body of Christ is at once to
arrest the functioning of the Holy Spirit through that divine
importation. "Stir up the gift" - to keep it in the
ascendency because it may be lost in its power - stir it up.
If all this is true the Holy Spirit requires for the expression and
manifestation of the gifts a discerning of the Body, a recognition
of the fact of the Body. For spiritual equipment is dependent upon
relationship, ministry in and to the Body of Christ. If it requires
the Body for this then the Holy Spirit will require a discerning of
the Body if there is to be a manifestation of enduement for body
That brings us to that much misunderstood testimony to the Body
which was discerned undoubtedly by the Church in its first clear
days when those who were representative members in the Body brought
each new convert, each new elect member, who had confessed and
declared their union with the Body of Christ, and in a definite act
by putting their hands upon them and held a testimony to the Body,
and the Holy Spirit recognised their testimony and gave His own
attestation to it, and by such means and at such times equipped that
member for the work - it was "the work whereunto I have chosen
them." Timothy, "Stir up the gift which is in thee in the laying-on
of hands." What was that? It was there by prophecy. Do the work of
an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. When the Holy Spirit
prayed through such as prayed over Timothy, evidently He prayed
prophetically as to Timothy's work as an evangelist. "By prophecy,"
says Paul (1 Timothy 4:14,2,6,4,5).
Beloved, is this quite clear that this new man is a corporate new
man, his equipment is a corporate equipment, his enduements are for
the whole work of the Body. The recognition and discernment of that
fact is required by the Lord in a definite testimony, and then not
necessarily by any demonstration at the time. There is a quiet, a
silent moving out into ministries which take their own course and
find a special emphasis in the Body of Christ, and while we keep
within the realm of that ministry, it grows and so it becomes the
natural expression of our life in the Body of Christ.
One does feel that it is necessary to add as a note the emphatic
pronouncement that while fulfilling the Divine mind and will as
representative and "First-begotten" - the federal head of a new race
- Christ was infinitely more than that. He is very God of very God.
Deity will never be the essence of the new creation man. His will be
Divine nature by derivation, not original being. We must always
recognise the two sides to Christ's being and work.
First published in "A Witness and A Testimony" magazine, Jul-Aug 1928, Vol. 6-4.