Category Archives: The New Covenant

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.

We Have A Faithful Mediator

It is a great encouragement to me in these unstable times to remember that the Lord Jesus Christ will be faithful to mediate the New Covenant.

With all the troubling things taking place in our world, with all the forebodings of dark things ahead, we need this assurance—that no matter what happens, He who sits on the highest throne in the universe has been given a mandate to fulfill a covenant in God’s chosen, and He will not rest till He has done so.

Who are the chosen?  They are those, whether Jew or Gentile, who have been brought into covenant relationship with God through their faith in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

And what is the covenant?

This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts… (Heb. 8.10).

God made this covenant originally with the house of Israel, and then brought the Gentiles into it.  I am glad.

And what does the completed covenant look like?

It looks like a people who look just like Jesus Christ the Son of God Himself.

In fact Isaiah tells us twice that He Himself is the covenant.  Isaiah prophesies of a certain Servant, whom we know from the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah and Acts 8.35 to be the Lord Jesus Christ.

Behold My Servant, whom I uphold, Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth… I the LORD have called Thee in righteousness, and will hold Thine hand, and will keep Thee, and give Thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles… (Isa. 42.1,6).

Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard Thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped Thee: and I will preserve Thee, and give Thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages…” (Isa. 49.8).

The old covenant (no longer in effect) was the laws and statutes God gave Israel on Sinai.  The new covenant (now in effect) is the laws of God written within our very hearts and minds—that is to say, Christ Himself.  “I will give Thee for a covenant…”

This is why Jesus in His great high priestly prayer concludes by saying:

I have made known unto them Thy Name, and will make it known, that the love wherewith Thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them (Jn. 17.26).

Notice how He says that.  The love of God in them is one and the same thing as “I in them.”  That is the fulfillment of the new covenant in our lives—the same love that was in Jesus now in you and me, to the extent that it is actually Christ Himself come to full maturity in you and me.

And this is why John says that when love with us is made perfect (that is how the original Greek reads: “Herein is love with us made perfect…” 1 Jn. 4.17)  …when love-with-us is made perfect, or has come to full maturity, we shall have boldness in the day of judgment, “because as He is, so are we in this world” (1 Jn. 4.17).

Yes, in this world, and this is a time of judgment and great upheaval.

And this is why Paul says that God’s purpose is that we be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8.29).  And that nothing can hinder this purpose of God.  In fact, we know that God is working all things together for good in the lives of those who are called according to this purpose (Rom. 8.28).

What good, Paul?  What is this good that you have in mind?

For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8.29).

This is the good Paul is speaking of, the purpose God is working toward in this world, and He will cause all things to work together and help Him out in this great eternal purpose of His.

So whatever happens in these last days, whether cataclysmic world events, or troubles closer to home in our own lives and families, let us continue to embrace and rest in the promise, and keep our eyes and our faith fixed on Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.

He will not fail nor be discouraged till He has accomplished the work God gave Him to do, and surveys it all, and says, “Perfect.  Amen.”

Help For Doubters

I remember George Warnock frequently pointing out (in the little home gatherings I once was part of) that he’d never seen a painting of Peter walking on the water.  It’s always of Peter going under.  “Why is it that artists never paint Peter walking on the water to go to Jesus?” George would ask.  “Peter as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus actually walked on the water.”

George also liked to remind us that “doubting Thomas,” as history remembers him, was actually the one who said to the other disciples, “Let us go and die with Him” (Jn. 11.16).

There’s something about the sin-stained human heart that likes to remember the fault or the failure, whether in others—or in ourselves.  We can be very merciless on others, even more so on ourselves when we have failed… even attributing that lack of mercy to God.

But God does not have the same evil propensity.  Our Lord Jesus Christ is the mediator of a New Covenant in which God says:

I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more (Heb. 8.12).

This must be why the New Covenant apostles who wrote our New Testament are themselves very forgetful when it comes to recording the sins and failures of others.  Peter called Lot “that righteous man” (2 Pt. 2.8).  But when I read the story of Lot I come away with a different opinion. Paul says Abraham “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God…” (Rom. 4.20).  No mention whatever of his going down to Egypt, or that episode with Hagar.  No mention of Sarah’s doubting either.

Moses too.  The writer of Hebrews says, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king…” (Heb. 11.27). But Moses telling his own story said, “Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh” (Ex. 2.15).

Yes, I realize that Peter’s failures are recorded in the New Testament.  But even this is to show us the wonderful love and mercy of the Lord in forgiving and restoring him.

“Love only waits to forgive and forget,” the hymn writer said.

Also this from the prophet Isaiah:

I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins (Isa. 43.25).

It doesn’t say, “I cannot remember thy sins,” but, “I will not remember thy sins.”  God refuses to remember the sins and transgressions and failures of those who believe in Jesus, whom God made sin (or, a sin offering) for us.

That’s how God sees things.  He sees the sin offering of Christ, and therefore forgets our sins.  That’s the wonder and the grace of the New Covenant that causes God to put all our sins behind Him—behind His back (Isa. 38.17).

So, when our conscience insists on remembering things we wish we could forget, let’s continue to look to the mediator of the New Covenant.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit to vanquish all doubt, to purify the conscience by faith, and bring it to agree with what God accomplished in Christ at Calvary—the forgiveness of our sins, the putting away of sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit to make this as real to us and in us as it was at Calvary.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit to cause the water and the blood that flowed mingled down Jesus’ side at Calvary to flow down over our conscience as well—convincing it of the truth!

Peter doubted, and began to sink.  Jesus straightway reached out his hand and lifted him up.  He failed badly at the cross as well—three times.  Jesus again reached down and lifted him up—three times (Jn. 21.15-17).  No wonder Peter became the kind of man who was always ready to reach out his own hand to strengthen his brethren (Lk. 22.32).

Thomas doubted… but this was one who did not go forgotten in a time of doubt.  This was one whose will was true, one who had boldly set himself to die with Jesus.  And so in a time of doubt the Lord Jesus gave him an opportunity to put his fingers into the nail prints in His hands and the hole in His side where the spear had pierced Him.  The Holy Spirit can do the same for you and me, can make that just as real to us—that He who was delivered up to be crucified for our offences is living proof of our forgiveness and justification (Rom. 4.25).

How oft, O Lord, Thy face hath shone
On doubting souls whose wills were true!
Thou Christ of Cephas and of John,
Thou art the Christ of Thomas, too.

He loved Thee well, and calmly said,
“Come, let us go, and die with Him.”
Yet when Thine Easter news was spread,
‘Mid all its light his eyes were dim.

His brethren’s word he would not take
But craved to touch those hands of Thine:
The bruised reed Thou didst not break:
He saw, and hailed his Lord divine.

He saw Thee ris’n; at once he rose
To full belief’s unclouded height;
And still through his confession flows
To Christian souls Thy life and light.

O Saviour, make Thy presence known
To all who doubt Thy Word and Thee;
And teach them in that Word alone
To find the truth that sets them free.

And we who know how true Thou art,
And Thee as God and Lord adore,
Give us, we pray, a loyal heart,
To trust and love Thee more and more.

William Bright, 1824-1901

Are You Still Saved?

Last time we talked about holding fast the title deed of our salvation—which is faith.  “Faith is the title deed of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.”

Back in the old days when I lived in Calgary—yes I know, I am going back a long way—I used to know an old saint named Andy Svensen.  He was an amiable old man with a permanent twinkle in his eye—and a permanent question on his lips whenever he greeted me.

“Are you still saved?” he would smile, eyes twinkling, as he shook my hand.  I had no idea how long Andy had been saved—a long time.  I had only been saved a few months.

“Yes,” I would smile back confidently, “I’m still saved.”

I didn’t know it at the time, but I realize now that Andy was making a doctrinal statement by asking that question.  Once-saved-always-saved.

It’s good doctrine… as long as it’s held in tension with the many ifs in the Bible.

And you that were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled
In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight:
IF ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel… (Col. 1.21-23).

For we are made partakers of Christ IF we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end (Heb. 3.14).

Today, IF ye will hear His Voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work forty years (Heb. 3.8).

The writer of Hebrews applies the whole story of Israel failing to enter their promised land to us in our day.  For we too have a promised heritage—and that’s what salvation is all about.  God’s purpose is to bring us into our inheritance, the fullness of the salvation Christ purchased for us on Calvary with His own blood.

The implication is that it is possible for us to fall short of this salvation as they of old fell short… if we do not continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel.  Instead of overcoming in the wilderness, they were overthrown in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10.5).  The same with us… if we believe not, as they believed not—that is, disobey as they disobeyed (Heb. Ch. 3).  It is possible to fall short of the Promise if we cast away our confidence, which hath great recompense of reward (Heb. 10.35).  It is possible to fall short in the trial of faith if we don’t continue to come to the Throne of grace for the provision we need in every trial.  The provision is there at the Throne of grace—no matter how great the trial.  The greater the trial the greater the grace, and the greater the provision.  But neglect or disobedience on our part—call it lack of faith—could sever us from our promised salvation.

It’s quite the thing to discover that God charged those in the wilderness of not believing in Him.  “…They believed not in God, and trusted not in His salvation” (Ps. 78.22).  That’s quite the statement, but that’s what God said.  Whatever they held doctrinally, He said, “they believed not in God.”  They had been saved from destruction in Egypt by the blood of the lamb, and rejoiced as they crossed the Red Sea.  “There did we rejoice in Him” (Ps. 66.6).  But now in the wilderness… where did their faith go?  God was in the process of unfolding this great salvation, but “they trusted not in His salvation.”  They lost the joy.  This did not look like salvation—this huge trial they were in.  “They believed not in God.”  The true test of whether or not we believe in God is what happens in the fiery trial.  It may be affliction, or difficult circumstances, or unjust treatment, or persecution… or the furnace of time when God’s promise seems nowhere in sight.  “Manifold trials,” Peter calls them.  It’s all the fiery trial where our faith is assayed—whether it is genuine or not.  Do we continue to believe in God… or not?  Do we continue to come to the Throne of Grace for the provision God has for us in this trial, or like Israel of old in the wilderness, do we draw back?  They drew back.  Drew back unto what?

For we are not of them who draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe unto the saving of the soul” (Heb. 10.19).

…So there are ifs in the Bible.  If we do not heed them there is no guarantee of salvation.

The beautiful thing about the New Covenant ifs is that they do not rest upon our own shoulders alone.  Yes, we have a part in it, we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.  But this work is working with God.

For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2.13).

What a wonder.  This is cause for great rejoicing and comfort.  We have an Advocate—the Holy Spirit—who is committed to securing our part in the New Covenant as much as God’s part.  If it were not so, the New Covenant could not rightly be called a better covenant (Heb. 8.6).  Why is it better?  Well, what was wrong with the old one?  It was the people.  God found fault with the Old Covenant because of the people.

For if the first had been faultless, then should no place have been found for the second.
For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come when I will make a New Covenant… (Heb. 8.8).

The New Covenant, then, is better because it contains provision for our complete success!  Jesus our great high priest is—not only on the Throne of Grace in Heaven, but also right here in our hearts by the Holy Spirit—“the surety of a better covenant” (Heb. 7.22).

So there is cause for much rejoicing.  We can have the joy of the Lord every step along the way as much as when we first crossed the Red Sea.  Yes, “there did we rejoice in Him.”  But let us “hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope steadfast unto the end” (Heb. 3.6).  We can do this step by step along the way—all along the way—as we continue to tap into the provision of the Throne of Grace.

Which brings me back to my old friend Andy Svenson.  He’s gone to his reward now.  But I recall once when I visited Andy in his little three-room house in Bowness—he was a bachelor, had never married.  He greeted me at the door with a handshake and a smile– and his favourite question– and invited me in.  I liked the little place: it was a bit cluttered, but clean.  The good, homey smell of coffee had long since percolated into everything in the house.  We visited for a bit—this old man with his wisps of white hair and this young man who had not yet parted ways with his hippy-style locks.  And then Andy asked me: “Do you like to sing?”

Without waiting for me to answer he got out a tattered old hymn book and started to, well, sing… holding the book so I could read the words too.

Sweeter as the years go by, sweeter as the years go by,
Richer, fuller, deeper, Jesus’ love is sweeter,
Sweeter as the years go by.

This is how it should be with us, beloved.  Yes, the ifs are there.   And we must heed them.  But as we heed them with the help of the Holy Spirit, this will be our song all along the way.

…Which, it just comes to me, is what A Mending Feast is all about.

The Lampstand—The Corporate Testimony Of Jesus Christ (Pt. 4)

Last time we talked of individuals who had the testimony of Jesus Christ.  John on Patmos had this testimony.  The messenger who was showing John the things he wrote about in the Revelation had this testimony—so powerful a testimony of Jesus Christ that John was tempted to worship him.  He thought the man was Jesus Himself.

This is a very tremendous thing—individual men coming into the testimony of Jesus Christ.  But as great as it is, it doesn’t hold a candle to what God has in mind.  We admire great saints, but God is not satisfied with just one person here and there coming into this tremendous testimony.  His desire is that this testimony be revealed in something called the church, where all the members—every man and woman and boy and girl—are shining forth this pure testimony together as one Man.

Remember that in the Old Testament it was the tabernacle that was called the “tabernacle of the testimony.”  The tabernacle in the wilderness had a testimony—had something to reveal about God, something to say about God.  But the tabernacle was just a “figure” foreshadowing Christ—the corporate Christ, that is—Christ in union with His bride, His body.  Some very good teachings are available on this, showing how every aspect of the tabernacle speaks of Christ and His church.  The bread on the table of showbread, for example.  This speaks of the body of Christ.  Paul said, “For we, being many, are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Cor. 10.17).

And the lampstand in the tabernacle.  John saw the Son of man walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.  And he said these seven lampstands were “the seven churches” (Rev. 1.20).  A single lampstand, then, represents the local church, which is to have the light and testimony of Jesus Christ shining in it.  (See also Rev. 11.3,4, Zech. Ch. 4.)

To some extent—certainly not in full measure, but to some extent—the church in Corinth had this testimony.  It was a lampstand in which the Testimony of Jesus Christ was shining.  As we read 1 Corinthians we discover the wick in the lamp needed trimming, but nevertheless the Corinthian church was a genuine lampstand shining forth the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Earlier we quoted the passage in which Paul said he had come to the Corinthians with “the testimony of God.”  How did Paul come to them with this testimony?  It was not the Torah Paul came to Corinth with.  It was “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified,” that Paul testified of.  And the result of his testimony was that the testimony of Jesus Christ was reproduced in the Corinthian church.

I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor. 1.4-9).

This is quite the thing.  The Corinthian church had the “testimony of Christ” confirmed in their midst—a living word expressed corporately, as well as the manifestation of the Spirit, the shining forth of Christ in the gifts of the Spirit—also a corporate expression.  It’s quite something, isn’t it, that this church that is given the reputation for being such a carnal church had a testimony like that.  “The testimony of Christ was confirmed in you…” Paul said.  That is awesome to read!  In other words, people coming into the Corinthian assembly became aware of Christ.

What was the evidence that the testimony of Christ the Anointed One was confirmed (established, made firm) in the Corinthian church?  It was that, as a result of the Spirit of Christ in their midst they were enriched “in all utterance, and in all knowledge.”  They had spiritual knowledge, and not only that, they could give it forth; there was a vital “discourse” taking place in their assembly—the sharing together of the things of Christ with one another.  And they came behind “in no gift.”  Paul brings these more fully into view in Chapter Twelve.  Diverse manifestations of the Spirit were abundant in the Corinthian assembly, and functioning together produced “the testimony of Christ.”  With a word, a psalm, a doctrine, a tongue, an interpretation, a prophecy, a revelation, a healing… each one of the Corinthians in differing ways and differing measures participated in the Testimony of Christ.  All were involved in this (1 Cor. 14.26).

There’s a lot of emphasis on the ministry these days.  There are a lot of great pastors around.  Because of the Internet there are a lot of great messages available.  But it’s painful how little of the corporate testimony there is—of this “one loaf, one body,” of this lampstand wherein the Oil of the Holy Spirit is aflame and light shines forth, light shines forth in the lampstand—in a church, I mean, every single member being vitally involved in the shining testimony.  You hear of anointed preaching.  But where is the corporate anointing that enables all in the body of Christ to function vitally?  As it is, the saints are pretty much used to leaving it all up to “the ministry,” and the ministry for the most part are content to leave it that way.  But this kind of church order is short of the glory of God.  We must seek the corporate testimony for Christ’s sake—for the glory of His Name.  It’s only as this corporate testimony comes into being that the communities around us will see the glory of the Lord.

“By one Spirit are ye baptized into one body,” said Paul.  I anticipate, then, that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire—it is my conviction that this is yet ahead for us, though I know we have seen a measure of it in the past—is going to cause great shakings throughout the ten thousand denominations of Christendom.  God is going to bring into being local churches that function as one anointed body in which every member is vital—not just the pastor behind the pulpit.

And these local lampstands are going to be one in the Spirit with all other lampstands.  This thing called denominational Christianity is going to go up in smoke as a result of this powerful baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire.

And this baptism is going to cause great shakings in the “come-out-of-her” groups as well.  For, there is as much a sense of oldness about the come-outer groups and home fellowships these days as there is about the denominational system.  (I am encouraged by this; something new is at the door.)  In fact I would say there are many out there in the denominational system who, walking in the light they have, are walking a closer walk with Jesus than some of the “come-outers.”

Come-outers like to remind people that the true meaning of ekklesia is the called out assembly.  And they are the called-out ones, they insist.  But so was the Corinthian church a called-out assembly.  Just how far had they come out?  They were still in many ways carnal, Paul said, and walked as men. Because of it their lamp sent up a dirty, sooty flame.  There were divisions in their midst.  There was immorality.  And though they had been given abundant knowledge, they ended up priding themselves in the knowledge they had.  They thought they knew a lot.  Paul had to humble them on this account.  I think it is something like ten times in his first letter to the Corinthians that Paul—obviously deliberately—provoked them with the words, “Know ye not…?”  “Know ye not…?”  “Know ye not…?”

It isn’t knowledge that is the light that must shine in the lampstand, Paul said.  It is love that is light.

And so the great High Priest through His servant Paul had to trim the wick of this lampstand in order that the Testimony of Christ continue to shine brightly in Corinth.

The lampstand—a church—is a corporate witness.  Yes, each of us is to have a testimony which is the Testimony of Jesus Christ.  But the fullness of the Testimony of Jesus Christ is the corporate testimony.  Jesus prayed in His high-priestly prayer, “I have made known unto them Thy Name, and will make it known, that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in THEM, and I in THEM.”  Them, He says.  I in them.  It is a corporate thing.  If Jesus is in you as well as in me, how can there be any discord or division between us?  Or between churches?

I know there has been much emphasis on “the baptism,” and the gifts of the Spirit over the past century or so—more specifically since the 1948 revival at North Battleford, Saskatchewan, from which the Charismatic movement got its beginnings.  They got that name from the charismata—the gifts of the Spirit.  It wasn’t really God’s plan, but it seems He permitted men to take the charismata back into their denominations instead of coming out of the denominations and by one Spirit being baptized into one body.  Of course they realize they must have unity—the Bible calls for unity among Christians.  But they are determined they will have unity their own way—they will have “the baptism” and maintain their denominations in the process.  It is frightening disobedience to the Spirit of Christ.  Deception—great deception—is inevitable.  We are seeing it already.

And so let us be very watchful not to get drawn into it.

But let us be filled with anticipation also.  Yes, deception abounds.  The beautiful realm of the gifts of the Spirit has become contaminated.  The lights that once burned brightly have faded and yellowed.  Charismatic is almost a dirty word these days.  But there is more ahead of us than behind us.  There is yet a mighty baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire ahead for us.  I believe we are yet going to see manifestations of the Spirit, manifestations of Christ, that will utterly—and literally—floor us, and cause us to weep… and cry for joy.  People will fall on their faces and worship God.

And I believe we are going to see a wondrous unity come forth as God baptizes us by one Spirit into one body.  We have known so much of division.  We have mourned and wept over it all.  Who of us has not anguished with Christ over the divided condition of the body of Christ?  But His word still stands.  “By one Spirit are ye baptized into one body.”  The fire of this baptism must, then—and will—consume all that is discordant with the Lord Jesus Christ.  A corporate testimony of Jesus Christ is going to come forth.

Beloved, we must be encouraged in this dark hour to know that our Lord Jesus Christ is not finished yet.  He who walketh among the seven golden lampstands will not rest till His pure testimony is shining forth in every place.  And Jesus Christ Himself is seen in the churches!

The Testimony Of Jesus Christ (Pt. 2)

Last time we talked of the Testimony in the days of the Old Covenant.  God’s testimony in the Old Covenant was the Law.

For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel… (Ps. 78.5).

Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples (Isa. 8.16).

Under the Old Covenant the law and the testimony were equated, were one—and God bore witness to this with His Presence over the tabernacle.

Now let’s look at certain New Testament scriptures that talk of the Testimony.

Paul, writing to the Corinthians:

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2.1,2).

What an astonishing thing to say.  This man, a Jew steeped in the law and the prophets, comes to Gentiles with “the testimony of God.”  Which is?  The Old Covenant Law, the Torah?  No.  Not any longer.  Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.  The New Covenant testimony of God is all bound up in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The scribes and Pharisees, Jesus told His disciples, sat “in Moses’ seat” (Mt. 23.2).  They felt confident they were the custodians of the testimony—the word of God, the Torah, the Scriptures.  And yes, it’s true: to them God had committed the oracles of God.  But when the True Oracle came into their midstthe living Word of God, this Man born of the Spirit, baptized in the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, and thereby witnessing faithfully of His Father, doing only what He saw His Father doing, speaking only what He heard His Father speaking—this One became the faithful and true Witness—the testimony of God.

He was crucified for that testimony.

In The Revelation we find in a number of places the phrase, “the testimony of Jesus Christ.”  And we find it coupled with “the word of God.”

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw (Rev. 1.1,2).

I, John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1.9).

John is not talking of two different things for which he was banished to Patmos—expounding the word of God, and then going out and testifying, witnessing, about Jesus Christ.  What he is saying is that the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ are one and the same thing.  Someone may say they have the word of God, pointing to the Bible.  And indeed, Jesus the Son of God said the Scriptures were those that testified of Him (Jn. 5.39).  But it is He Himself who is the Word of God.  Merely having the words of Scripture or of doctrine is not the kind of testimony that got John in trouble.  Just as Jesus Christ the Word of God was crucified for the testimony He bore, it was “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ” that landed John in Patmos.

Now we come to the thing that is of the utmost importance.  How was it possible for John to say he had the testimony of Jesus Christ?  Jesus was in Heaven when John wrote about being in Patmos for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.  If Jesus was in Heaven, how could He give His testimony here on earth?  And how could John have this testimony?  It was because John had the Witness in himself.

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness (the Testimony) in himself (1 Jn. 5.10).

The Witness?  What is this speaking of?

And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1 Jn. 5.6).

This, really, is the greatest of wonders.  What can be more wonderful than to have Jesus Christ the Son of God Himself in us?  John had this!  He had the Spirit of Christ—the Witness—in Himself.  He had been born again, and had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire.  The Spirit of God, the Spirit of the living Word, dwelt in him.  No doubt John knew much of the letter of the word by memory—the Old Testament scriptures.  But beyond that, the living word of God was dwelling in John, abiding in him, as he taught in one of his letters.  “…The word of God abideth in you…” (1 Jn. 2.14).  He is speaking of the Testimony—the Witness—the Spirit of Jesus Christ the word of God.

It is the Spirit of God who has the Testimony of Jesus Christ the Word of God.  The Spirit of God here in the earth is the faithful witness of Jesus Christ the Word of God at the right hand of God in the heavens.  John had this Spirit—this Testimony.  And so John’s own testimony, because of the Spirit of Christ that dwelt in Him, was nothing less than the Testimony of Jesus Christ.

What about you and me, then?  Do we have the Spirit of Christ?  We are to bear that same Testimony, then, that same expression of the word of God that manifests the living Christ in and through our lives.

What was the testimony of Jesus Christ the Son of God when He was here?  He did what He saw the Father doing.  He spoke what He heard Him speaking.  He revealed the Father.  He was the faithful and true Witness.  He bore witness of the Father.  He said:

He that hath seen me hath seen the Father (Jn. 14.9).

That was His testimony.  And correspondingly, He said:

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me, and ye also shall bear witness… (Jn. 15.26,27).

What a wonder.  The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, testifies of Jesus Christ.  And because of the Holy Spirit we too are to bear this same precious testimony—which is nothing less than the shining forth of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself—as we too are faithful to do only what the Holy Spirit is doing, and speak only what He is speaking.

…So that—I tremble at this word—you and I by the empowering grace of God are ultimately able to say, “He that has seen me has seen Jesus Christ.”

Do you see why I am held in thrall by this phrase—the testimony of Jesus Christ?

Beloved, this ought to provoke us to a deeper seeking.  This is our greatest need—the testimony of Jesus Christ.  Because oh, how men need to see Him!  Many of us claim to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  No doubt we do—in measure.  But to what extent do we have this beautiful pure testimony of Jesus Christ among men?  Can we say yet that, “He that has seen me has seen Jesus?”  You say that’s blasphemy?  But that is the whole purpose of the Holy Spirit.  It’s only blasphemy if the Holy Spirit is not capable of fully and faithfully bearing witness to the Son of God.  Let me ask.  Does the Holy Spirit bear a pure and full and faithful witness to Christ?  It’s blasphemy to say He cannot.

But if the Holy Spirit bears this faithful testimony, so too shall those who are baptized—immersed—in the Holy Spirit.  We who have the Spirit of Christ—He is given to enable us to have the Testimony of Jesus Christ, to shine forth the Testimony of Jesus Christ—nothing less.

Why, then, do we so readily settle for less? Oh, how men need to see Him!

Remember, though.  The Greek word for testimony is marturion—from which we get our English martyr.

There is a price tag on this Testimony.  Jesus was crucified for this Testimony.  John was in exile in Patmos for this Testimony.  We who have this Testimony will also pay that price—even here in our so-called free Christian nations.

The Testimony Of Jesus Christ (Part 1)

I have been held in thrall for a long time by the phrase, “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (You know the meaning of enthral. It means “to hold in or reduce to slavery, to hold spellbound.” A thrall is a servant slave, a bondman.)

And so—the testimony of Jesus Christ. It’s an absolutely captivating phrase. To live a life of liberty outside the thraldom of this Testimony is a life that has been sadly wasted.

The phrase, or a similar one, appears in the New Testament a number of times. But first we need to find out what “the testimony” was in Old Covenant days.

Stephen while giving the testimony for which he was stoned—it was the testimony of Jesus Christ—said this:

Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen (Acts 7.44).

“The tabernacle of witness.” My interlinear shows the article in the Greek: “the tabernacle of the testimony.”

The tabernacle of the testimony was among our fathers in the wilderness, as commanded He who spoke to Moses, to make it according to the model which he had seen.

And so the tabernacle in the wilderness was called “the tabernacle of the testimony.” Why so? We find our answer in Exodus.

And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel (Ex. 25.22).

The tabernacle was called the tabernacle of the testimony because in it was “the testimony” that God commanded was to be placed in the ark—the ten commandments.  This “testimony” was placed in the ark, and therefore the ark itself was called “the ark of the testimony.” And because the ark of the testimony was in the Holy of holies of the tabernacle, the tabernacle itself was called “the tabernacle of the testimony.”

And so the “ten words” in the ark covered by the mercy seat—this was the testimony of God. They summed up the whole of the Torah, the Law. This was God’s testimony revealing who He was, what He was like, the kind of God He was. If Israel would keep this Law, this would be God’s testimony among men. By keeping His commandments, by keeping this Law, they would “bear witness” to God, to the kind of God He was. In this way men would come to see the kind of God He was.  “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me… Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy… Thou shalt not kill… Thou shalt not commit adultery…” and so on. Keeping these commandments—not just reciting them—would result in a true portrayal of God among men, a true testimony of God.

The tragic thing is that Israel never did come to realize that this “testimony” in the ark was actually a testimony against them, as Moses later told them. For they never could keep this testimony, as much as they gloried in having it.

Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee (Dt. 31.26).

That was the Old Covenant testimony—a testimony that forever left Israel a guilty people with no means to relieve that guilt but by the blood of bulls and goats. How dismal if God had left things there. But He didn’t. When we come into the New Covenant we see the testimony of God linked up with a wonderful Name—our Lord Jesus Christ.

More next time. And you will see why I am enthralled.