Monday 5 August 2013

Yes I Am 31 - On,Now,To The Third Level

Yes I Am by Norman Grubb
Chapter 31

We have seen with unmistakable clarity that there are stages in our becoming settled about who we are by grace, and stages through which we must pass; or we can call them grades from which we must be graduated. We have already looked into two of these… (whatever name we decide to call them): justification and unification - Christ for us and Christ in us.

But the Bible makes it plain that there are three grades, not two - and each equally necessary. We have spent much time on the first two, but it is less recognized that there is a third to be consciously entered into.

In calling them "grades" or "levels of being" there is always a danger that we may slip back into the old snare of self-effort and self-development and think of them as something we have to attain to. "Growth," also, is a common concept we use to denote what we think of as spiritual progress. How often I hear it said, "Well, it has taken you time and will take me time to get there." So we need a constant reminder that spiritual growth, or the attaining of a new "grade," is not some form of painfully acquired self-enlargement; rather it is the same old story, nothing but a growth in recognition of what Christ, our last Adam, has attained for us… which is already ours. That is why growth is spoken by Peter in his Second Epistle with these words: "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Growth, therefore, is merely the next stage of recognition of who we already are in Him; and that recognition, as we now know, is always and only by the nonworks method of faith, and the Spirit is the one who establishes us.

So with this safeguard, we move on to this third level. The simplest description of the three levels (because he uses a down-to-earth analogy) is John’s, when he writes to his readers as "little children," "young men," and "fathers" (1 John 2:12-14). He makes brief comments about what he means, spiritually speaking, by these three stages. A little child is totally dependent externally on his parents and knows nothing but what they outwardly are to him. So a little child in grace knows simply that he was a sinner, that he is forgiven through Christ, and thus, now, God is his heavenly Father. A young man has moved from outer dependence on his parents to finding his own inner resources for life - progress from outer to inner. "I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one… because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you." This is a plain-spoken description of our being established in the "on top" life which we have spent so long in examining in every detail, and into which we have now moved by the second crisis. We now know we are strong - and we know why. Therefore we are no longer tossed about in those old struggles with devil and flesh. We know inwardly, not just outwardly, what first came to us as outer, written word... but which now abides in us, fused into our inner consciousness by the Spirit. What a total description of an established, achieved life... not of trying, hoping, kind of slipping in and out of it, but being!

In calling them "grades" or "levels of being" there is always a danger that we may slip back into the old snare of self-effort and self-development and think of them as something we have to attain to.

"I have written unto you, fathers," John states cryptically, "because ye have known Him that is from the beginning." That brings us back to the realization that "knowing" in Scripture usually refers not to mere mental understanding, but implies being mixed with the thing we know. That is why the Bible uses the word for sexual intercourse: "Adam knew Eve his wife." Spiritually, it is inner know-how; and what you know, that you are. "This is eternal life," said Jesus in His great prayer to His Father, "that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." And we who are born of His Spirit know that knowing is the inner union. So when John says that we "fathers" know Him that is from the beginning, he means that, as fathers, we are in inner union with that Eternal One - not in His beginning, but as the One who now, as from the beginning, is in the process of completing what He has begun; and we are involved with Him in that completing process. Amazing grace! The point, then, is that we now are no longer dependent children, but cooperating sons: Father and Sons, Inc.!

What John has given us on its three levels in such understandable terms is seen all through Scripture in those same three forms. We are united with Christ in His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension - and Paul wrote letters which concentrate on each of these: Galatians on our identification with Him in His death; Colossians on our being risen with Him; Ephesians on our ascended life, seated with Him in the heavenlies, and its outcome.

Paul’s Roman letter we all recognize as his fully developed, detailed, and authoritative statement of what he calls "my gospel." In this letter the three states are plain enough: chapters 3 to 5 - justification (little children); 6 to 8 - unification (young men); 9 to 15 - cooperation, co-saviorhood (fathers).

being mixed with the thing we know

In Hebrews there are the three again. The writer plainly likens Jesus to Moses because, by the new birth, He saves us out of our Egypt, the world; and to Joshua, because He takes us into the land of milk and honey, the promised rest, after we have emerged from the childhood wilderness. Then he stops short very significantly, and says there is a third likeness: to Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God. In this parallel Jesus is our great High Priest. 

Now whenever there is a high priest, there must be other priests serving along with him. But when speaking here of the order of Melchisedec, the writer does not name anyone as co-priests, because those Hebrew believers had a spiritual blockage en route (5:12-6:2), showed negative reactions to their sufferings (10:32-39), and were tied in knots of self-pity (12:5-13). He does, however, describe the co-priesthood of the third level in his famous list in Hebrews chapter 11 of the giants of faith, who were the intercessor priests of their respective generations. And we are to be such for our God today, "a royal priesthood" (1 Pet. 2:9).

 inner know-how

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