Beloved Brethren in Christ: It is in the rich mercy of God our Father that I am favored to speak to you again with pen and ink, as the Spirit may give me understanding in the knowledge of God and of Christ, who said to the Father, "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." – John 17:3. "That they might know Thee," embraces as many as the Father gave the Son, that the Son should give them eternal life, as He states in the preceding verse.
Therefore, all this people of Christ were without life, and also without the knowledge of the only true God and of His Anointed Son, whom He sent into the world in the flesh of His people, that He should be their Redeemer, their Resurrection, and their Life. The mere statement of this Truth carries in it the solemn fact that all the countless people of Jesus were under the law of God, under the dominion of sin, and under the power of death; that is, as transgressors of the righteous law, they were all justly condemned by it unto death everlasting, and in themselves hopelessly lost forever. "For the wages of sin is death," wrote the inspired Paul; and death is death, on and on, world without end, as to itself, or as to the power of all who have sinned to deliver themselves from it. For they have no life – they are dead – neither have they any knowledge of this fearful state they are in, nor of their awful separation from God by death; therefore, they are not sensible of their helpless ruin. Between them and God is the dreadful gulf of Death, which they never can bridge over nor cross to return to Him; for His is living, but they are dead.
It may be held that the children of men are born with life, and that this endows them with understanding and volition of will, knowledge and moral ability; which is true in a merely natural, worldly and moral sense, as to the earth, time and sense; but, let it be remembered, that this so-called first life of man is not the true Life, but natural existence only, because it is corrupted, and is forfeited by sin unto death. Therefore, every natural man is dead with he lives – "dead in trespasses and sins." – John v., Eph. ii.
As thus dead, the sinner does not know God, and cannot know Him; because he is as much separated from the knowledge of God as the living tree, or bird, or other animal is separated from the knowledge of man. The tree has organic life, it is true, but it is dead to the animal life, which is above it; and so with bird and beast, which are dead to the man-life, which is far above or superior to the mere animal life with its instincts. Equally so is man with his natural life, as first born or born of the flesh, dead to spiritual life; for he no more has it than a living plant has the life of the bird, or than the bird has the life of man.
Spiritual life is infinitely above animal or human life, and the one who has it is raised far above every one who is born of the flesh only; because this one "is passed from death unto life," and is the blessed possessor of incorruptible and eternal life. This spiritual live is divine, holy and undying; for it is not the Adam-life, but the Christ-life. So the one who has it is one with Christ in His holy and spiritual life, and is a son and heir of God in and with Christ, and shall live because He lives; and He lives to die no more. Therefore, said Jesus, "And whosever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die."
The life and the faith the believer has are both in Him; therefore, whosoever liveth liveth in Him, and whosever believeth believeth in Him, for His is the life, and He is also the author of the faith. So Paul could truly say, "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God." – Galatians ii.20. Then the life and the faith of Paul were the life of Christ and the faith of the Son of God; that is to say, Paul received them of and in Christ, as the gifts of God's grace or free favor.
Now, the question arises, How are the dead made alive? Can that which is dead raise itself up into life? This is impossible, as both Revelation and Science show. Whatever is dead is cut off and shut out from the life which it has not, or to which it is dead; therefore, it cannot reach up to the life which is above it, and raise itself up into that life. It is impossible for the stone to change itself into a living plant, or for the plant to raise itself up into a living bird or animal, or for the animal to convert itself into a living man; for each of these, in turn, is dead to the life next above it, and knows nothing whatever of that life. For there is an impassable gulf from within or below between the dead and the living, as between the mineral and the plant, or between the plant and the animal, or between the animal and the man. So, too, then, the higher must bend down to the lower, the living to the not-living, and raise it up into its own higher plane and superior life. The plant-life must lay hold upon the un-living mineral and raise it up into its own organic state, as a part of itself, before the inorganic mineral can ever live; so must the higher animal-life bend down to the vegetable and take it up into itself, if the vegetable ever becomes a partaker of animal-life; and so, too, must the man-life reach down to both the animal and vegetable and assimilate them to itself, before they can possess the life of man. This is a fixed law of Nature, as Science has positively proven. For science has absolutely demonstrated that there is no spontaneous generation – no life without the previous touch of life, or only as the result of ANTECEDENT LIFE. That is, the not-living cannot become the living. For, as in the beginning, everything brought forth AFTER ITS KIND, WITH SEED IN ITSELF, whether tree, or fish, or fowl, or beast, or man; so life only can give life or make life, and the life which it gives to another is its own life – itself.
Now, this is as true of spiritual life as it is of organic or natural life. And it is also true of the natural man, who is born of the flesh only, that he is as dead to the Christ-life as is the lump of clay to the plant-life, or the plant to the beast-life, or the beast to the Adam-life. How is it possible, then, for man voluntarily, of himself or another, of his own will, to rise above the natural and become spiritual? As easily might a thorn tree bear figs, or the Ethiopian change his skin white. Yet, what the natural man needs and must have, before he can enter into the kingdom of God and have the knowledge of the Father and the Son and correspondence or communion with them, is eternal life; for he is "dead in sin." How, then, shall man come up out of death into the exalted state and heavenly possession of spiritual life? There is only one way, for he cannot ascend up to Christ, who id the Life, because he is dead to this very life; therefore, Christ must come down to him and give him that life – Christ must live in him, or he has no Christ-life. "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son hath not life."- ! John v.12. "And this if life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." Therefore, those only who have eternal life can and do know the only true God and Jesus the only Savior; and only those who have the life of the Son of God have life. All others have only natural being, but they have not life.
Finally, how does the holy and life-giving Son of God give Himself and His life to as many as the Father gave Him? This is a question of much controversy, but there is really no ground or room for it. For not only is it the voice of Science that all life comes down from above to the un-living, >but it is the voice of God. "The gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." – Romans vi.23. Therefore, this life is not given through any other, whether angel or man, apostle, prophet or teacher. Teaching has never yet given life to the dead; yet all that the ministry of Christ can do is to teach. To them He said, "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations; * * * teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." This is the utmost that they can do. But let it be emphasized, that while true and good teachers are a great blessing and help to the living, the not-living have never yet received life, either natural or spiritual, through teaching; for not the dead, but the living only, can be taught to know the things pertaining to the life which they already have. Paul, therefore, said, "Now, we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God; * * * * but the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are (only) spiritually discerned." – 1 Cor. ii. 12,14. How plain and forcible this Truth is! The natural man can neither receive nor know anything of spiritual things, however learned he may be in things natural, because he is dead to spiritual life and knowledge; therefore, no Gospel or teacher can possibly teach him, or show him, to know the Gospel or anything spiritual, until Christ first imparts spiritual life and light. I include the Gospel among spiritual things because it is not natural. And so Paul says, as quoted, that we have received "the spirit which is of God, that we might know." The spirit, then, is given before knowledge, and it quickens us into spiritual life, and thus gives us spiritual understanding and discernment, "that we might know the things that are freely given us of God," and knowing them, rejoice in the Lord and glorify Him. Of these spiritual blessings Paul says, "God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit." – 1 Cor. ii.10. And Jesus says, "It is the Spirit that quicketh." – John vi. 63. "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." – Gal. iv.6. The one who thus cries is spiritually alive, and is born from above, born of the Spirit, and is therefore a "child of God. And so, following up the endearing names, "Abba, Father," Paul continues in the seventh verse, saying, "Wherefore, thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
In closing let me say, this new and spiritual relationship to God is as wonderful as it is exalted and glorious' for, Paul shows, it raises up those who were servants to sin under the law, and brings them into the holy and blessed estate of glorified sons and heirs unto God! "This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry." The salvation of sinners fills the holy Heaven with joy and praise. In this hope, yours to serve,