Monday 22 July 2013

Yes I Am 8 - Humans Have No Nature

2 Timothy 19Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, The Lord knows them that are his. And, Let every one that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, 

Yes I am by Norman Grubb

We now come to what I think is the most important section of this Total Truth, because it has been missed in its completeness by nearly the whole of the Bible-believing body of Christ - a bold thing to say, but it seems to me to be the fact. It concerns what we call our human nature, and that is where our problems and entanglements lie. Even if new creatures in Christ with a new nature, we mistakenly think we have an old, scarred nature - we sometimes call it "the flesh" - which persists in being like an albatross around our neck, a constant rival distracting our attention and stumbling us in our walk. It is precisely that which made Paul cry out, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Wretched, yet redeemed!

It seems as if we acquired an old nature through the Fall, and now have a new nature in Christ, and the two remain deadly rivals, dog eating dog - a struggle from which we are never free in this life - the old man-new man syndrome... and the best we can hope for is a means of the new counteracting the old; and yet with a sense that the old always remains in us, though we are Christ’s - remains as a deadly element which Jeremiah calls "the heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked."

By "nature" we’re not now meaning our natural faculties and capacities of body and soul. Our nature, in that sense, means the type of person we are, which is expressed through our soul and body. We may say someone has a kind nature or a harsh nature, a sensitive nature or an unfeeling nature, and so on. But the "old nature" or "new nature" is not the faculties and appetites of a person, but rather the expression of the true personality of the person.

The evangelical church seems divided between two convictions concerning these natures. Each persuasion is antagonistic to the other. One, by far the largest, maintains that we have two natures when redeemed; and we must live with that fact, battling away against the old nature as in Romans 7, and affirming that there is a deliverance in Romans 8 which we must daily apply to relieve us from the pressures of 7!

The other section of the body of believers is strong, persistent, and stoutly convinced that theirs is the truth -though they are in the minority in the whole company of believers and often are considered dangerous or suspect. They are given the general title of "holiness people." They use such terms as "entire sanctification," "perfect love," "full salvation," and are usually considered to be followers of the sanctification teaching that was reestablished in the church through John and Charles Wesley and John Fletcher. There are many precious people among them, with whom I have close links. Their conviction is that after the first stage of our new birth, which centers in justification, we must have a second radical experience of the fullness of salvation in Christ by the elimination of the old man and his total replacement by the new man "created in righteousness and true holiness" with "the heart purified by faith" - and that is the full application of our identification with Christ in His death and resurrection by the Spirit. 

By "nature" we’re not now meaning our natural faculties and capacities of body and soul. Our nature, in that sense, means the type of person we are, which is expressed through our soul and body.

Both say we have a human nature. One maintains that our old nature corrupted by the Fall is supplanted by a new nature in Christ, but that the old remains - so that our new way of living is by recognizing the two, the old being counteracted by the new. The other agrees that we all start with a human nature which has become corrupted through the Fall, but holds that the impartation of the new nature in Christ in its totality, by a second work of grace, totally replaces the old nature. The term "eradication" is sometimes used, though most "holiness teachers" regard that as an overstatement of their position, not sufficiently allowing for the continuance of "infirmities."
But I am saying that the true revelation of the Bible is that we humans have no nature. We’re not created to have a nature, but to be containers of a "deity nature," a divine nature, and we humans can only ever express the nature of the one within us. All the Bible symbols of our humanity are those of being containers and expressers of one who is not ourselves, but is a god. All that matters is, "Which god?"
The illustrations used of us in our humanity are vessels, branches, body members, slaves, wives, temples. In every case that means we are the agent by which the occupant operates. As vessels, we are said to be either "vessels of wrath" or "vessels of mercy," but we must be either one or the other. The vessel of wrath, of course, is a container of the god by whom we experience wrath; and the vessel of mercy of Him by whom we receive mercy (Rom. 9:22-23). So it is not the type of vessel that is of importance, but the nature of the liquid that it contains.
The branch illustration is even more explicit, for a branch is but part of a vine, the two being in life-union. A branch is merely the living means by which a vine reproduces itself in its fruit. A branch has no distinct nature; it has the nature of its vine. The fruit is of the vine, not of the branch. And when Jesus said "I am the true vine and you are the branches," He was obviously implying that there is also a false vine producing its fruit - one vine being He the true Life, and the other being the usurper (John 15).

 So it is not the type of vessel that is of importance, but the nature of the liquid that it contains.
We are called temples, and the temple was only the outer means by which the living God manifested His presence. Thus the Shekinah Glory shone through the tabernacle; and His glory is seen in us as His temples. In every case, a temple is only the dwelling place of a deity and reveals his presence, not its own. We are either a temple that contains an idol god, or one in which the living God dwells and walks. A temple has no nature but that of the god in it (1 Cor. 8:10 and 2 Cor. 6:16).
We are called married wives, and Paul distinctly says we all in the human race are married to the one husband or the other. According to Romans 7, the moment we recognize that in Christ’s death we are cut off from our old husband, Satan, then we are immediately united in a new marriage to Christ who is risen from the dead. No momentary gap between the marriages! And the point is that here he is speaking of marriage in what we might call a biological sense: the wife receives the seed of the husband and bears his children, whether "the motions of sins" or "fruit unto God." The wife is presented as merely the fruit bearer, not the fruit producer.
Then Paul, in Romans 6:16-23, calls us slaves (as it is in the Greek) and says all of us all the time are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness - slaves of Satan or slaves of Jesus. But slaves are merely the property of their owners, with no kind of a life of their own and doing only the work of their owner.
Finally, we are members of the body of Christ, and any body operates by the mind and will of the head, and nothing else. It has no body-led activity of its own.
So in each case the human is only the agent - as temple, manifesting the presence of the deity; as branch, expressing the nature and producing the fruit of the vine; as body member, set in action by the head; as slave, doing the will of the owner; as wife, bearing the children of the husband; and as vessel, only a container and nothing else.

2 Timothy continued...but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. 21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared to every good work. …
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