Monthly Archives: November 2013

Our Grave Is Behind Us

Last time we talked of the joyful sound, the Shout of Triumph—the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ– and the significance of walking in the light of His countenance.  The light in His face is Gospel light, new-covenant light, light that makes what is true in Him true also in us.  It enables us to walk even as He walks, no longer subject to the law of sin and death, but in the empowering sway of a new law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

And it means that the same light of the Gospel that shines in the face of Jesus Christ shines forth from the faces of those who are beholding His face.

This is what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about.  He must shine forth.  Our world is in the grip of “sin’s dread sway” and the tentacles of death.  Oh for the Joyful Sound of the Gospel of eternal life to go forth in this hour proclaiming liberty to the captives!  Oh to go out with joy, and be led forth with peace—testifying, demonstrating in the power of the Spirit, that those who know the Joyful Sound—they live no longer under sentence of death.  They have been sentenced to Life!  Their grave is behind them, not before them.

Yes, they may “fall asleep in Jesus,” but death is no longer their lot.  And so, what joy!

I came across this gem in a book (When He Is Come) by A.W. Tozer recently, and want to pass it on.

The joy of the Holy Ghost is not something worked up—it is a post-resurrection joy.  Christ came out of the grave, and the Spirit of the risen Christ comes back to His people.  The joy that we have is the joy that looks back on the grave.  This is not a joy that we have in spite of the knowledge that we must die—it is a joy that results from the fact that in Christ we have already died, and risen, and there is no real death out there for the true child of God.

Astonishing words, but for those who know the joyful sound of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—it’s a fact.  They were buried with Christ in baptism; their grave is behind them now.  And being also risen with Him, they walk no more in darkness under the pall of death.  Now they walk in the light of His Countenance.  It may be as dark as the grave round about them, but right in the midst of it all they know His Voice and walk in the light of His shining face.

It is light, as I said, that liberates from the law of sin and death.  And so these ones—how beautiful are their feet upon the mountains!  Oh the message they have!  It is not just words; the way they walk and the Kingdom they walk in is their message.  It is Good News!  They proclaim by their very lives that their God reigns!  Not sin.  Not death.  Their lives proclaim that where once sin reigned in the power of death, now “grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5.21).

This is His promise—the promise of the Gospel.  The law of sin and death reigns in each and every one of those born in Adam.  All you have to do to find yourself under the law of sin and death is get born, and you don’t have any choice even in that.  But—oh the joyful sound—those born in Christ have been liberated from the law of sin and death!  They have entered the Kingdom of God, and a new Law rules in them now.  Sin and death no longer hold sway!  Now they walk in the liberating Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus!

Family of God, those of us who know the joyful sound, we are grateful, and forever shall be, for what our beloved Lord Jesus Christ accomplished in His Cross.  Yet even after all these centuries we have scarcely scratched the surface of this wondrous Gospel of the Kingdom, the Good News of our salvation.  Wondrous things and mighty triumphs are before us!  Let us take up our own cross, then, and follow with our Saviour, lifting up our eyes and walking in the light of His countenance– come what may.  The promise is that His kingdom of grace and eternal Life will ultimately overthrow the kingdom of sin and death till there is not so much as a trace of it left on this planet, and the glory of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.

The Joyful Sound And The Shining Face

The last few days I have been making melody in my heart to the Lord with the words of an old song that I first heard many years ago at Brother Graham’s little Faith Tabernacle in Calgary.

Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound.
They shall walk, walk O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance.
Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound!

The words are from Psalm 89:15.

Now, what is the joyful sound?  The Hebrew word is teruwah, which means shout of joy or triumph, or the sound of a trumpet blast, whether of jubilee or alarm of war.  In this song it is obviously the shout of joy and triumph, for Psalm 89 is about the eternal Throne of David, and is prophetic of Christ the Son of David ascending to the throne of Heaven.  (What a triumph that is!)  We find the same word in Psalm 47.5:  “God is gone up (has ascended) with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.”  It is also used of the great shout the people made when the ark came into the camp (1 Sam. 4.5) and later when David and all Israel brought the ark home to Zion (2 Sam. 6.15).

All this, of course, is prophetic.  For you and I in new-covenant days, the joyful sound can only be the shout of triumph that accompanies the Glad Tidings of great joy—that the Son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ, has triumphed over all His enemies and ours, and is seated on the highest throne in the universe with all power in heaven and earth.  There’s a lot of bad news out there these days, but beloved, have we heard these tidings—this Good News?  Do we know that Salvation has come—the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who has triumphed over the reign of sin and death in the family of man?

Wonderful—astounding—news!  Oh, the Gospel that we have!  It truly is the joyful sound!  It is truly cause to shout and leap for joy!  For, on the Cross of Calvary our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ stopped—yes, stopped—the invasion of sin and death into the family of man.

You say it doesn’t appear to be true?  And that sin and death are on the rampage like never before?  Then family of God (we who know the joyful sound) let us walk in the light of His shining countenance so that from our own faces there may be a shining forth of the truth of the Gospel in this dark world of ours!

For, that Jesus saved us from our sins, and from death the wages of sin, is only the beginning of the Glad Tidings.  Our Salvation is not only salvation from something.  He is salvation to something as well.  Yes of course, you say, now we’ll go to Heaven when we die.  True, but don’t sell yourself short.  It is much more than that!

Saved by His Life?

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Rom. 5.10).

What is this—saved by His life?  Yes, it is wonderful that our Saviour’s death justifies us and reconciles us to God.  But His resurrection and ascension and the gift of His Spirit makes us a new creation now.  Jesus told the disciples He would send them the Spirit when He went away, enjoining them to His own eternal life.  “Because I live,” He promised, “ye shall live also,” (Jn. 14.19).  Do we grasp this?  He is alive with eternal life!  “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him” (Rom. 6.9).  Wonderful for Him, right?  Yes, and wonderful for you and me also!  For He says, “Because I live ye shall live also.”  This is the power of His ascension life!  And He is not talking about mere unending existence; He is talking about the Life over which sin and death have no dominion.  Meaning that there is provision for us right here on earth to walk step by step in the Pathway of Life Himself… right through the valley of the shadow of death.  It is a walk in the Spirit that is an outshining of the truth that, right here in this present evil world, sin and death no longer reign in those who are saved.  The sorry picture is that all too often there is no apparent difference between those who are saved and those who are still captives to the law of sin and death.  Why are we not more jealous for what is our own?

Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Rom. 6.4).

Newness of life!  It is a walk in the light of His countenance—His face!  It is new-covenant light; we are not governed by rule and regulation, statute and precept and ordinance, but by a Law of life.  Meaning (let us understand this) those who walk in this light are no longer subject to the law of sin and death.  They walk in the light of life.  They are rebels, you might say: they refuse to obey the law of sin and death any more.  They have heard and know the joyful sound; they have a different ruler now, and they walk in the light of His countenance…

…And therefore in their own faces they manifest His own Shining Face of victory, shining in the darkness of this world the light of life and love and joy and peace and hope and righteousness.

More next time.

Thank God For… You

Have you ever been frightened by the sudden awareness that you were in the presence of something very holy?  This happened to me recently while reading one of the letters of the apostle Paul.  A certain fear came unexpectedly upon me; I suddenly became aware of the deep love for the saints that dwelt in this man.

Paul, it seems, was always thinking about the saints of the Lord that he knew in various places.  Like a parent whose children are scattered far and wide, they were always on his mind… and continually in his prayers.

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers… (Rom. 1.9).

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers… (Eph. 1.15,16).

…Praying always for you… (Col. 1.3).

I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day… (2 Tim. 1.3).

I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers… (Phm. 4).

We (Paul and Silvanus and Timothy) give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers… (1 Thes. 1.2).

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you making request with joy… (Phil. 1.4).

If you will take your New Testament and (when you have time) read the last two passages I quoted—Philippians Chapter 1 verses 3-11, and the first three chapters of 1 Thessalonians—I  think you will come away from your reading the same way I have, awed by the depths of the love you have touched in this man.  His prayers to God on the behalf of the saints were the consequence of the love in his heart for them.  He loved the saints.  He loved them deeply.  And so he couldn’t help it, he had to be on his knees for them.

One thing more—did you notice this in the verses quoted above?  Paul is always thanking God for the saints.  Why would he be thanking God for them?  It was because of their faith (Rom. 1.8, Col. 1.3) and their growing love for God and for one another (1 Thes. 1.2, 2 Thes. 1.3), that is to say, for their fellowship in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1.3).  How it comforted Paul’s heart in this dark and wicked world to know that some here and there had turned from darkness to walk in light.  Paul was in fellowship with these ones.

It’s a word that has lost much of its strength these days—fellowship.  It means, simply, sharing together, or commonness; but what Paul and these other saints shared and held in common was an uncommon cause, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They were vastly outnumbered in this cause, were persecuted and despised and hated in this cause.  So when they came together it was something very precious, and tender.  They were brothers and sisters who loved one another and were ready to die for one another.  And so they were greatly thankful for one another.

This got me thinking.  It hadn’t really occurred to me.  Am I thankful for my brothers and sisters?  Yes, I pray for them, but how often do I get on my knees and thank God for them?  I mean, really thank God for them!  They are my comrades in battle.  They are my fellow pilgrims on a dangerous journey.  They are an oasis of green in the waste and howling wilderness of this world.  They love the Lord Jesus with all their hearts, and they want to do His will.  Many there are who love darkness rather than light, but these have turned from darkness to light, and with the help of the Lord’s grace they are determined to be faithful.  At the cost of their lives if need be.  This caused great thankfulness to well up in Paul.  He thanked God for these ones.  And prayed continually for them.  It is far from an easy walk; it is fraught with peril in this present evil age.  And so Paul found these saints continually on his heart, and continually in his prayers.

Do we want to be like Paul?  It will mean coming into a love that, in its continual preoccupation with others, loses sight of itself.  But let’s not stop at the desire to be like Paul.  There’s another reason why Paul prayed so continually for the saints.  Paul was like Jesus.  And Jesus is preoccupied with the saints.  Jesus at the right hand of God is continually praying for the saints.

He ever liveth to make intercession for us (Heb. 7.25).

It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Rom. 8.34).

And so if Christ at the right hand of God is continually praying for the saints, this is what Paul found himself doing also.  He prayed continually for the saints because the Holy Spirit of the ascended Christ dwelt in Him—and so the same love that burned in Christ burned in him also, continually firing his prayers with the fire of the Spirit.

Are we short of this, brothers and sisters?  Does the same love that dwelt in Paul dwell in you and me?  Oh how we need this more and more in the body of Christ in this difficult hour—the love of Christ.  We could not help but pray for one another, then.  I mean, fervently.  It’s the only way we would find release from the burden of love in us.

Release, I say… yet like a fire, this love grows when you feed it.  If just now it’s not much of a fire, let’s feed it then!  It will grow.  And grow.  And grow…

Let there arise in our hearts a new appreciation—Paul’s appreciation, the Lord’s own appreciation—for our fellow saints.  We need one another.  Let us be praying for one another.

And thanking God for one another.