Sunday 18 January 2009

Oswald Chambers and the Third level

Sometimes as you look through classics you are like a pig hunting for truffles which is a Norman Grubb phrase I used the other day with Dan. Who would have thought that Oswald Chambers would spell out the three phases of growth so plainly and so accurately in the chapter below? Here they are:
  1. By the Cross of Christ I am saved from sin,

  2. by the Cross of Christ I am sanctified;

  3. but I never am a sacramental disciple until I deliberately lay myself on the altar
    of the Cross, and give myself over emphatically and entirely
    to be actually what I am potentially in the sight of God,viz., a member of the Body of Christ.

In this last stage there are some points. a) it is deliberate. No one can do it for us.And we do it freely when we are ready. There comes a time when as it was said in Hitchhiker's Guide to Christianity...we arrive at Psalm 110 :3 Your (F)people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; (G)In holy array, from the womb of the dawn,

b)it is entire. Not bits here and there. We see the vision and it consumes us. We may not feel able to give our whole self....but even here we give ourselves freely to the One Spirit whose speciality is to prepare the offering. He can get us there. All we supply is a basic willingness to be made willing.

c)that's when we really become part of the Body of Christ. Our body becomes His Body...but really the truth is we, individually, begin to function in harmony with and simultaneously with all the other parts of His corporate Body on Earth and in heaven.

I said to Stuart Wentworth about my time in the second level...that we were in fact building on jelly. I had spent 10 entire years of my life sowing into what I thought was the Body of Christ. I had left University early for the privilege...effectively spitting in the face of human qualifications provided in those days without spend each and every day sharing my life with others full-time in the church. Only to realise that it was all only the second level. And that the Body of Christ really only begins properly to function in the 3rd Level. After what Jorge Pradas decribed as each individual's own "Identification with Christ". We enter one by one....but we go out the other side as a fully functioning corporate being.

So for this reason the Ecumenical Movement towards Unity is essentially one mad piece of delusion. Because corporate unity can only work once each and every individual has answered before God this issue: "Unite my heart to fear/respect/sanctify Your Name". You cannot make a unity out of loads and loads of schizophrenic individuals. But once a whole load of individuals know who they are in Christ...unity is a doddle. And once the Ecumenical brigade understand the hours and hours of wasted time in meetings they have spent, they will be completely pig sick. As Florida can have all these things in a moment , once you really want them!!!!

So before getting into the chapter entitled "Sacramental Christianity" can I fend off the irritation that Sacrament will cause by saying. 1.Sacrament is not in the Bible. But two of the main ones are real enough!! Vehicles of grace. Baptism in water and the Lord's Supper or Communion. There are also others. Laying on of hands. Giving people cloths and hankies. Even our church, when it rolls out a long cloth like a river or a people can experience God's grace.

But all these are nothing compared to the real thing. Which is you and me, with Christ inside, moving around, doing His stuff. This is the meaning behind the Furniture in the Holy of Holies. The Lord's Supper in the Holy Place, with the Candle really only the "practice run", not the real thing itself. The real thing is Christ in you as you.

2.What is the difference between a "sacrament" and something from the pit of hell...the delusion that we as independant beings can somehow buy a bit of grace? What is the difference between a Toronto Fire tunnel, and say the Austrian village Corpus Christi festival where the bones of hopefully genuine miracle-moving saints are wheeled round the neighbourhood in a cart...Elisha's bones-ish style? What is the difference between Morris Cerullo or Rheinhardt Bonnke anointing his partners with oil, and a Baptist Church mass-dunking its 13 year olds because they are of age....or the Catholic Church mass-massing their 8 years olds at 1 st Communion.What is the difference between Moses raising up the serpent in the wilderness, and the subsequent worship of the same object? What is the difference between Gideon's ephod, and his subsequent shame in creating a religion out of it?

The only difference as far as I can tell is one thing: The Now Word of the Lord. Doing things entirely by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. That is the only difference as far as I can tell. A fire tunnel could become just as deathly. Just give it time!!!

So the first sentence about "sacramental" here is:

  1. to the point.

  2. incredibly deep

  3. immediately addresses dead religion from the word "go".

Here it is then : "Sacramental Christianity" from "Conformed to His Image" by Oswald Chambers

THE word " sacramental" must be understood to mean
the real presence of Christ being conveyed through the
actual elements of the speech and natural life of a
Christian. " Everyone therefore who shall confess Me
before men," that is, confess with every part of me that
" Jesus Christ has come in the flesh "—come, not only
historically, but in my flesh. (This is a quotable quote Dan)
But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord
Jesus Christ, through whom the world hath been. crucified unto
me, and I unto the world. GALATIANS vi, 14, R.V. marg.
By the Cross of Christ I am saved from sin, by the
Cross of Christ I am sanctified; but I never am a sacra-
mental disciple until I deliberately lay myself on the altar
of the Cross, and give myself over emphatically and entirely
to be actually what I am potentially in the sight of God,
viz., a member of the Body of Christ. When I swing clear
of myself and my 'own consciousness and give myself over
to Jesus Christ, He can use me as a sacrament to nourish
other lives. Most of us are on the borders of consciousness,
consciously serving, consciously devoted to God; it is all
immature, it is not the life yet. Maturity is the life of a child
—a child is never consciously childlike—so abandoned to
God that the thought of being made broken bread and
poured-out wine no longer unseals the fountain of tears.

When you are consciously being used as broken bread and
poured-out wine you are interested in your own martyrdom,
it is consciously costing you something; when you are laid
on the altar of the Cross all consciousness of self is gone,
all consciousness of what you are doing for God, or of what
God is doing through you, is gone. It is no longer possible
to talk about " my experience of sanctification " ; you are
brought to the place where you understand what is meant
by our Lord's words," Ye shall be My witnesses." Wherever
a saint goes, everything he or she does becomes a sacrament
m God's hands, unconsciously to himself. You never find
a saint being consciously used by God, He uses some
casual thing you never thought about, which is the surest
evidence that you have got beyond the stage of conscious
sanctification, you are beyond all consciousness because
God is taking you up into His consciousness; you are His,
and life becomes the natural simple life of a child. To be
everlastingly on the look-out to do some work for God
means I want to evade sacramental service—" I want to
do what I want to do." Maintain the attitude of a child
towards God and He will do what He likes with you. If
God puts you on the shelf it is in order to season you. If
He is pleased to put you in limited circumstances so that
you cannot go out into the highways of service, then enter
into sacramental service. Once you enter that service, you
can enter no other.
Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it
abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit
JOHN xii, 24.
If you are wondering whether you are going on with God
examine yourself in the light of these words. The more
spiritually real I become, the less am I of any account,
I become more and more of the nature of a grain of wheat ;
falling into the earth and dying in order that it may bring
forth fruit. " He must increase, but I must decrease,"
I only decrease as He increases, and He only increases
in me as I nourish His life by that which decreases me.
Am I willing to feed the life of the Son of God in me ?
If so, then He increases in me. There is no pathos in John's
words, but delight, " Would to God I could decrease more
quickly! " If a man attracts by his personality, then his
appeal must come along the line of the particular work he
wishes to do; but stand identified with the personality of
your Lord, like John the Baptist, and the appeal is for
His work to be done. The danger is to glory in men—
" What a wonderful personality! " If when people get
blessed they sentimentally " moon " around me, I am to
blame because m my heart I lay the nattering unction to myself
that it is because of my way of putting things ; they begin
to idealize the one who should be being made broken bread
and poured-out wine for them. Beware of stealing souls
for whom Christ died for your own affectionate wealth.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fin up
on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ
in my flesh for His body's sake, which is the church.

By " sacramental responsibility " understand the solemn
determination to keep myself notably my Lord's, and to
treat as a subtle temptation of the devil the call to take on
any responsibility that conflicts with my determined identi-
fication with His interests. God's one great interest in men
is that they are redeemed; am I identifying myself with

that interest ? Notice where God puts His disapproval on
human experiences, it is when we begin to adhere to our
conception of what sanctification is, and forget that sancti-
fication itself has to be sanctified. When we see Jesus we
will be ashamed of our deliberately conscious experience
of sanctification, that is the thing that hinders Him, because
instead of other people seeing Jesus in me, they see " me "
and not Jesus. We have to be sacramental elements in His
hands, not only in word but in actual life. After sanctifi-
cation it is difficult to state what your aim in life is, because
God has taken you up into His purposes. The design for
God's service is that He can use the saint as His hands or
His feet. Jesus taught that spiritually we should " grow
as the lilies," bringing out the life that God blesses.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A lecturer at Roffey once threw this remark into the ring 'the christian life is a series of revelations about what Christ achieved for us at our conversion'. I've pondered on the scriptures at the end of Luke and beginning of Acts where post-resurrection Jesus 'opens their minds to the meaning of the scriptures concerning himself'. Usual thing: just when they'd got it buttoned up and come to terms with having breakfast with a resurrected Messiah He goes and does that! And then in Acts Peter 'gets it' about the gentiles. Same for us. For me the sudden realisation that in Christ I am something that is impossible for us humanly - to be simultaneously a servant and a son - shattered my son-centric faith and released me to love others more freely.
We can get an inkling of something in Christ that seems just out of our reach and then 'pow' the penny drops, we see, and it's easy. The preliminary stage is awkward, frustrating, no-one can help us, we're locked into a struggle, not making much sense to ourselves, unable to articulate much to God except staring at scriptures that seem to be impenetrable and then kazoom revelation and we're there! And then the learning begins. Your biblical heroes get updated, all is new. At the top of my list now is Abraham's servant. After years of trusted servanthood he is entrusted with finding a wife for Isaac. Once he is successful he fades into the background job done. And Abigail who knelt down before David and said I am a servant of your servants and won his heart.
So about the sacramental article. I'm sure that will stir up the 'yes but I don't quite get it if I'm honest' reaction in readers. But one day the Spirit will do His work and take that which is His and declare it to us' and we'll realise that it's not something we have to do but that Christ has achieved it already - it just has to dawn on us and then watch the fruit grow! Enjolyed the article. Keep it coming.