a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth
by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much
fruit." John 12:24.
words we have the three-fold universal law of nature
which is also the three-fold law of the Cross. This
three-fold law is (1) Life through death. (2) Liberty
through surrender. (3) Enlargement through loss.
Life Through Death
supreme illustration of this law is in Christ's own case.
The real life of Christ is not the life of the three and
a half years in which He trod this earth, but it is the
life which He has been living in all the world since
Calvary. It is an open question whether the record of
those three and a half years would have survived or would
have taken the place in the history of the world which it
has taken, were it not for the romance of His continued
activities and triumphs world-wide since His crucifixion
It is this
romance that has attracted so much attention to that
brief span of His life and teaching on earth, and which
has created the world's literature relative to "The
days of His Flesh." The greatest truth about Him is
that "He was dead but is alive again."
through death has controlled the world ever since and has
made the world realise that, in spite of most determined
efforts to destroy it, here is something which is
indestructible. Great world systems, cults, and even
empires have exhausted all their resources to blot out
the Name and the continued vitality of Christ. But it is
they which have perished; He still lives on victoriously.
receive the real life of Christ until we too have
been to the Cross. The real divine life - the life of
Jesus Christ - is only known by what it does in men and
women in making them live on a plane which infinitely
transcends the human level.
said of Himself that He had "come to scatter fire on
the earth," and that He was "straightened until
it was accomplished." A baptism was necessary in
order that this divine fire or life might be liberated,
and the "straightening" of Himself destroyed.
He groaned, "Oh, that it were already
accomplished." This baptism was a baptism through
the passion, and it was through the Cross that He looked
for the realisation of all His world-wide mission. The
"fire" was to become world-wide in the members
of His body. It was thus essential that they should be
identified with Him, and identification with Christ is
only found at the Cross, where such passages as the
following have their deepest meaning:-
have been crucified with Christ and yet I live and yet no
longer I but Christ liveth in me." Galatians 2:20.
"Having been buried with Him." Colossians 2:12.
"We were baptised into His death." Romans 6:3.
"For if we have become united with Him in the
likeness of His death we shall be also in the likeness of
His resurrection." Romans 6:5.
"Like as Christ was raised from the dead, so also
we." Romans 6:4.
If we are
going to manifest that life of Christ, and if that vital
indestructible something is going to bear its powerful
testimony in the world, if that divine life - that very
life of God Himself - indestructible, victorious, is
going to bear its mighty witness and make itself felt in
the world in the members of His Body, it is only through
their oneness with Him in death and resurrection.
know this oneness, our Christian life will count for
little. We must take our place in one initial,
all-inclusive reckoning with Him in death to the old
self, and the old world with all its ambitions, desires,
programmes, ideas, and standards, and then allow that
death to be wrought out in us daily in order that the
resurrection life may be increasingly manifest in us. The
life of God cannot come into the old creation, it is the new
does this apply in the case of ourselves as sinners, but
it is a law which works out in every other relationship
of Christian life. Take the matter of the knowledge of
truth, in spiritual education. We come into the school of
the Spirit to be taught. This school differs from the
educational institutions of the world, where we go to
have a certain amount of knowledge imparted to our
brains. In secular education we can be crammed with a
vast amount of theoretical knowledge, but the Holy
Spirit's method is to have things wrought out in our very
beings so that they become us and we become them.
spiritual education something like this happens: One day
being in the spirit, something said, or something read,
or by the voice of the Spirit within, you see some
wonderful piece of truth and it breaks upon you with all
the force of a new revelation. Something you knew in theory
before now breaks upon you as a wonderful
divine unveiling. You lay hold of it, perhaps go to
prayer and thank the Lord for it and feel that you are
possessed of a great treasure which is going to be of
infinite value in your life. You do not want to lose it,
it has brought you such joy.
after a time it goes! It seems to die and go
from you entirely, all the power of it and the joy of it
seems to depart, it has become a faded vision.
to yourself, it may be, your life begins to move out
along strange lines, things in the nature of severe trial
come upon you, a situation of great difficulty arises,
and you feel that by sheer force of circumstances you are
being carried to despair and to death.
point, the only thing that occupies your questioning
mind, is that "truth" which had apparently
extremity it grips you and you make one desperate appeal
to it, whereupon it comes to life and proves its vitality
in bringing you through, up, and out to victory. What
really has happened?
received a revelation of some vital phase of truth. Good!
But that truth had to be wrought out in you so that it
became you. It was only mentally apprehended
before, and in order that it might become your very life
you had to be led into such a place of death that only
this truth could save you.
So it has
become part of your spiritual life and after that you
never lose it. It is truth you know, and have
proved, and whenever you are led to speak of it to
others, it immediately gets home, it is a living thing,
alive from the dead in your experience. This is the only
basis of effectual testimony. The grain of wheat in which
you could not see the life, although you believed in its
possibility, goes down to the grave, then the surrounding
forces and elements of God's providence begin to work
upon it. It is quickened, it germinates, and nothing
after that can resist its upward climb.
law again in the matter of service for the Master. We
have to die as workers as well as sinners. It is an awful
experience when death lays hold of our service. When, as
a worker, as a preacher, we go down to death and by sheer
force of circumstances, adversity, fruitlessness,
spiritual ineffectiveness, we throw up our hands in
despair and say, "I am at an end, I have
the test of ourselves and our service. How much was it a
matter of popularity? Were we out to make a name for
ourselves? Was it a matter of reputation? Did it matter
whether people said nice things about our work, that is,
did we feel pleased and flattered? Or did it matter if
they said nasty things, criticised, distorted, or
detracted, and we went home and had a bad time?
were we in the business?
test came, of course we should have said, "I have no
such personal ambitions, it is not my interests I am
seeking." But when we go down to death and the door
of service seems to be closing upon us, then we are laid
bare as to our motives, as to our feelings, as to whether
we are more concerned for our name than His.
this self-life we have to be emancipated before God can
use us. We have to get to the place where it does not
matter in the least what people think, or say, or do, so
long as God is satisfied and we are in the way of His
the way of peace and this is the way of victory. But we
have to go down to the realm of death, the "I"
has to be slain. It is just in this measure in which that
"I" has been crucified that Christ in the power
of His resurrection can be revealed.
To one who
asked George Muller the secret of his service, he said:
"There was a day when I died, utterly died";
and, as he spoke, he bent lower and lower until he almost
touched the floor - "died to George Muller, his
opinions, preferences, tastes and will - died to the
world, its approval or censure - died to the approval or
blame even of my brethren and friends - and since then I
have studied only to show myself approved unto God."
have we not seen this law at work in great enterprises
for the Kingdom which have most certainly been initiated
by God Himself, as well as in smaller pieces of service
to which He has undoubtedly called us.
of work at some time in its history goes down to death.
It may seem that all its effectives are being destroyed
and that there will be nothing of it left. Then there
comes a swing of the pendulum and from the very lowest
depths of the grave of this buried piece of work there is
an uprising by the quickening life of God.
servants of God have seen the work to which they were
sure they were called, go this way. For some mysterious
reason it seems that God takes the work down to death
before it can live with abiding vitality and victory.
Perhaps it is just that the human life must go out in
order that the Divine life might come in.
Liberty Through Surrender
me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free."
of Isaiah 53 is a wonderful exposition of this truth.
the suffering Servant of Jehovah. By His own
consent He is taken into a many-sided captivity. He has
emptied Himself to become obedient to the death of the
Cross. He has surrendered His divine rights, and has made
Himself of no reputation, but is allowing Himself to be
the plaything of all evil forces, in order that going
down under them on the human side, He might tear them
asunder and rise in transcendant victory over them, far
above all principalities and powers.
is a picture of captivity on the human side. "He
saved others, Himself He cannot save." "Cannot"
is the ruling word of the Adamic race, but the Cross is
the instrument or means by which the complete
emancipation is wrought by Christ for Himself as the
representative and inclusive Person of the new race.
Cross has done its work there is liberation from all
human limitations, and Christ breaks forth from the grave
in a way which gives Him the mastery of the whole
have been identified with Him in His death are raised by
Him to a life on a supernatural level, and through them
He achieves such things as were before utterly
no human explanation of the accomplishments of Christ
through the ages since Calvary. The human side has been
totally inadequate. This is true intellectually,
socially, physically, constitutionally in the case of by
far the greater number of those who have been used in
these transcendent achievements.
been the transmitters to the world of things which
"Eye saw not, ear heard not, things which entered
not into the heart of man," but which God revealed
to them by His Spirit. The work done, the range covered,
and the undying nature of their services has been in
every way utterly out of proportion to the human
resources. Not only so, but as we have already pointed
out, everything that the devil could utilise, stir up,
and rally to their undoing and defeat has only borne out
the fact of the supernatural and limitless nature of the
Enlargement Through Loss
Isaiah 53 again. Here we see the Redeeming Servant of God
going into desolation. The whole picture is one of
desolation. He is alone, despised and rejected - terrible
aloneness - His Cross has cost Him everything. His own
brethren do not believe in Him, His nearest disciples do
not understand Him, and yet how did that wonderful
chapter close? "He shall see His seed, He shall
prolong His days; ...He shall see of the travail of His
soul, and shall be satisfied."
point of the losses of the Cross and its promise of
"seed," we move on to the ultimate vindication.
"Behold a Lamb as it had been slain, in the midst of
the Throne," and around Him "great multitudes
which no man could number, out of all nations, and tribes
and peoples and tongues." There is the gain, the
countless multitude, the result of His travail.
practical application is this: Very often it does seem
that God requires a lot of us; that this Cross makes
tremendous inroads, tremendous demands, and sometimes
forces the demand to the point of pain, when we have to
hand over to Him something very dear. We seem all the
time to be giving, giving. It seems that the law of
sacrifice is tremendously at work. But this is the road
and the law by which, and by which alone, the infinite
and transcendent gain can come.
the Devil spreading out before the Lord, "all the
Kingdoms of the world and the glory thereof," and
saying, "all these will I give Thee, if -" and
this is the subtle significance of it - "if you will
only keep off that Cross." Satan knew what the Cross
was going to mean, namely, that he would lose the world
kingdoms and that Christ would have them by that Cross.
So in effect his words meant, "Keep off that Cross,
and I will give you everything."
the Master, in effect, I am going to the Cross and I can
afford to reject your offer for the time being. So He
went by the way that led to the Cross, rejecting the
world, denying Himself, and there, according to His own
words. "The prince of this world was cast out,"
and He gained more than the Devil could have given Him.
He gets the kingdoms of the world after all, by letting
prepared to let go in order to obtain? Let go the
temporal for the eternal, the transient for the abiding,
the earthly for the heavenly, the present glamour for the
ultimate glory? This is the way to possess all things.
Christ now has received of His Father's hands eternal
fulness, and by our union with Him through the Cross,
even these lives may become transcendently rich and
Some of us
have proved that the things that we were most loath to
let go - but which at length we gladly yielded up - have
come back to us with a greater fulness or have been the
way of an enrichment transcending anything we before
compensation is overwhelming as at the Cross we lay our
treasure in the dust, "the gold of Ophir with the
stones of the brook," that the Almighty should be