[House Church Talk] The Cross

Greg Bledsoe gbledsoe at knology.net
Sun Jan 25 17:30:24 EST 2004

Thank you for this wonderful and encouraging note, Brother.  

Recently I discovered why my life has been a living hell for the last
seven years.  My wife has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality
Disorder.  Nothing in my life has been more crushing than the daily
struggle with the coping strategies of her mental illness.

May the Lord Work in it.  

Greg Bledsoe

On Sat, 2004-01-24 at 00:52, bro.oliverpeng wrote:
> Hi, I just registered for the house church talk, but I am not sure how to 
> post my comment.  So, here's my first try.  Sorry about the messy 
> attempt.  I am trying to reply to Bruce's post on "The Cross."  
> A.B. Simpson was so right to point out the wonderful "treasures 
> of the hail" (job 38:22-23) as a "haven of rest and inspiration 
> of unspeakable power".  The Lord's way is always the way of the 
> cross.  His hail is but an agent teaching us to triumph in 
> adversity in the mercy and love of Christ.  Job declared in the 
> end, "when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold."  So 
> echoed Isaiah, "Grain for bread is crushed."  Shall we pass off 
> God's way as archaic?  Shall we circumvent the cross?  
> Scripturally, genuine spiritual awakening is always preceded by 
> repentance.  A broken spirit and contrite heart He has 
> desired.  Take the prodigal son.  Take the prostitute who had 
> seven demonic spirits cast out of her. 
> Perhaps one of the biggest problems facing many students of the 
> Word is their inability to understand the two-foldness of the 
> Word.  Many precious truths in the bible are impregnated with and 
> operating under the principle of two-foldness.  Failure to 
> understand the two-foldness of the truth has pitted the 
> Calvinists and the Armenians in centuries-old squabbles.  
> For instance, John said "He who has the Son has life." And Paul 
> said else-where "it is the Spirit that gives life."  On surface, 
> this seems to be an oxymoron; if we have the Son we have life 
> already, then why would the Spirit give the life that we already 
> have?  Herein lies the two-foldness: ESSENTIALLY, we who have the 
> Son have life--done deal, no need to struggle for more life.  
> But, economically, there is a great need to have more and more 
> life imparted into us.  Take the golden lampstand  
> essentially, it is made out of gold.  Gold becomes its essence.  
> But ECONOMICALLY, it was beaten into the shape and form of a 
> lampstand.  
> Essentially, it is gold, economically, it's a lampstand.  Essence 
> without economy does not make it very functional, though valuable 
> it is.  All Christians have divine life as essence, but not all 
> Christians can function and express that life adequately.  Our 
> desperate need is to grow and mature and attain the "measure of 
> the stature of the fullness of Christ."  It is in this process of 
> growing and maturing, our life in the spirit starts to spread 
> out, enlarge and invade into our soul life.  This is where the 
> Lord's dealing takes place and learning and submission to it 
> yields its fruit of the Spirit.  
> It is the same with the cross of Christ.  Essentially, the cross 
> represents the finished work of Christ.  Done deal.  No need to 
> struggle and strive.  We are dead in Him.  We are alive in Him.  
> We are complete in Him.  Hallelujah!  What a good news.  
> Economically though, we need to let the finished work of Christ 
> on the cross subjectively deal with our hidden pride (show me one 
> who isnt plagued by it), our lying tongue, our carnality, 
> youthful lust, greed...you name it.  The problem with most 
> Christians is that their understanding of the Word is only a 
> single-edged sword--long on essence but short on economy.  
> Just a casual glance in the Word, and we easily get the sense of 
> enlargement.  God called out a single person and made him into a 
> family; God took the family and made it into 12 tribes, then the 
> 12 tribes into a nation.  And God's thought for this nation was 
> for it to "become great."  He wanted the nation to spread out and 
> enlarge from sea to sea.  The N.T. follows the same principle.  
> He started with a single lowly Man from Nazareth and enlarged Him 
> into a corporate man, the Church; and eventually, He will 
> enlarge the corporate man into a kingdom.  And the "increase of 
> His kingdom" is said to be "without end."  May I also submit that 
> the increase and the enlargement that the bible speaks about is 
> not merely a physical or numerical increase.  It is the increase 
> and enlargement of Christ.  Oh, that Christ may fill up, sum up 
> and head up all and in all!  
> Paul's writings are full of charges to "run the race," "earnestly 
> pursue," "press on," "gain Christ," etc....  The Hebrew writer 
> three times charged us to "go forward" and "do not shrink 
> back."  "If you shrink back," says the Lord, "My soul is not 
> pleased with you."  We must ask, if we already have gotten 
> all we'll ever need, then why do we need to run the race, pursue, 
> press on, gain Christ, come forward and not shrink back?  The 
> answer is simple: we have received all the fullness of Christ in 
> our spirit essentially.  But we must have our capacity (in our 
> soul) enlarged to gain more Christ economically.  
> The ten virgins may give us some insight.  All ten virgins have 
> all the oil (Holy Spirit) they would ever need in their lamps--
> the human spirit, for "the spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord" 
> (Prov.)  This was given to them.  They did not earn it.  
> Likewise, we did not earn the Holy Spirit; we received the Holy 
> Spirit when we were saved by grace.  
> But the five wise virgins have extra oil in their VESSELS (soul 
> life that has been dealt with).  The five foolish ones are told 
> to "BUY" the extra oil (for their vessels)!  This is the "gaining 
> Christ" that Paul talks about in Phil. 3; it starts to take place 
> when our soul life is being dealt with through the subjective 
> cross.  The increased measure of Christ in us always comes with a 
> price, for the cross is always involved in it.  By the way, the 
> price of oil is cheap now compared to later when our Bridegroom 
> returns.  Those who frown on the teaching of the cross, take 
> heed.  Buy now, or they may not be able to afford it.  
> Simple "economics."  No pun intended.  
> Many Christians have no use for the Lord's dealings.  When 
> suffering comes, they ask the Lord to remove it.  When afflicted 
> with sickness, they ask for healing.  When strapped financially, 
> they ask for prosperity.  When pressed, they ask for escape....  
> Not that they, or we, should not seek relief from adversities, 
> but their single-minded treatment of all adversities as coming 
> from the devil and therefore must be rebuked and stomped leaves 
> no room for the Holy Spirit to bring about inward change through 
> His chastening.  They are quick to pray for outward changes, but 
> no sustaining, transforming and deep inward change takes place.  
> Small wonder that the soul power is rampant in the Charismatic 
> circle.  The power of the Holy Spirit is greatest only when the 
> power of the soul is dealt with and broken!  
> The president of my State university recently made a 
> comment, attaching a pair of wings to a caterpillar does not 
> make it a butterfly; it is still a caterpillar.  Butterfly comes 
> by transformation only.  There is no instant spirituality.  True 
> spirituality must come through much dealings of the cross.  
> I have observed as a youngster how silkworms weaved cocoons 
> around themselves.  When the process of transformation was 
> complete, the moth would chew a hole in the cocoon and begin a 
> long and tedious breakout.  Unwilling to see the horrendous 
> struggle, Id take a pair of scissors to cut the hole to help the 
> struggling moth.  Alas, it always ended in tragedy!  The moth 
> came out deformed and weak.  It was the horrendous struggle that 
> made the moth strong and pumped its blood through its wings and 
> legs.  My help had robbed the poor little creature of its glory 
> and doomed it to sickness and early death!  
> Some dear brothers frown on any sharing on the cross, dealings, 
> and brokenness; but dealings will come regardless whether they 
> frown on them or not.  Jesus said, "in the world you WILL have 
> tribulations, in Me you may have peace."  These dealings are 
> divinely appointed and permitted to mature and perfect us.  He 
> chastens those whom He loves, and He scourges every son whom He 
> receives.  
> It's true that at regeneration we received a perfect and complete 
> divine life, and we will not need one ounce more of it.  Paul 
> said in Col. that "all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him 
> bodily.", and John said "and of His fullness we have all 
> received, and grace upon grace."  Since we have all received of 
> His fullness, and since we have been made complete in Him, it 
> stands to reason that we have no need for anything more, least of 
> all dealings and the cross.  The only problem is, these brothers 
> who insist on this view fail to realize the need to grow and 
> mature.  Just because a baby has all the organs, limbs and 
> faculties and life does not assure the baby the full mastery of 
> all his organs, limbs and faculties.  He has to grow.  And growth 
> is full of perils, stumbling, mistakes and defeat.  The Lord uses 
> each peril, stumbling, mistake and defeat to train His children 
> for reigning and glory in maturity.  Those who reject dealings 
> also neglect growth and maturity, to say nothing of 
> reigning and glory.  
> The church is the counterpart of Christ--a living body who is 
> constituted in character with Christ and conformed to the image 
> of Christ.  Just how is the lowly and humble character of the 
> Lamb constituted into us?  More often than not, it is HAMMERED 
> into us much the same way the golden lampstand in the Holy Place 
> is hammered from one lump of gold.  Whether we are yielding to or 
> balking at the hammering of the Holy Spirit determines whether we 
> are the lampstand, the church.  The sweet fragrance of Christ can 
> only come from broken alabaster bottles.  
> People who are familiar with T. Austin-Sparks' teaching on the 
> cross have commented: "Another focus was the subjective 
> experience of the cross of Christ, going beyond forgiveness to 
> deliverance from the power of sin and self as described in Romans 
> chapter six, and leading on to a walk with others in newness of 
> life in a corporate or church fellowship....  It was his emphasis 
> on the subjective work of the cross in human lives that 
> distinguished TAS' early messages from other 'deeper life' 
> ministries of that period.  It supplied people with a positive 
> meaning for and inward peace about their sufferings and the 
> sometimes painful divine disciplines that they encountered in 
> this life."  Another one of his fellow-workers commented: "He 
> preached a gospel of full salvation by simple faith in 
> Christ's sacrifice, but he further stressed that the one who 
> knows the cleansing by the blood of Jesus should also allow the 
> same cross to work in the depth of the soul in order to be 
> released from self and thus find a less carnal and more spiritual 
> walk with God.  TAS himself had gone through a crisis of self-
> undoing by his acceptance of the cross' verdict on his old 
> nature, and had found it to be the introduction into an 
> altogether new enjoyment of Christ's life, an 'open heaven' as he 
> would often say."  ("Theodore Austin-Sparks-Reflection on His 
> Life and Work" by Angus M. Gunn)  
> Carnal-minded Christians view the cross as a curse that brings 
> sufferings, poverty and deprivation therefore must be shunned.  
> Other Christians view it as great deliverance that saved us from 
> death into life, but refuse to acknowledge its subjective power 
> to daily release us from self and to produce the character and 
> fragrance of Christ in us economically.   True spirituality 
> includes both the essential aspect and the economical aspect.  
> One cannot stand without the other.  May the Holy Spirit help 
> deepen our perception and enlarge our heart for a truly blessed 
> walk with the Lord, and may He temper our temperament to produce 
> both the essential and the economical unto the testimony of 
> Jesus.  
> Blessings to all, 
> Oliver  
> ________________________________________________________________
> Sent via the EV1 webmail system at mail.ev1.net

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