OUR NATURAL life is “a vapour that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away.” You cannot say with assurance that you will be living tomorrow. As vapour only appears within certain circumstances and conditions upon which the vapour has no control, so is your life. When these circumstances and conditions are changed your life vanishes as the vapour. The flowing of the blood, the functioning of the mind, and the movement of the muscles are evidences of natural life. This life is given upon the volition of the will of God and It Is taken at His appointed time. When the mind ceases to function, the muscles to move, and the blood to flow; a person is pronounced naturally dead. This natural life is timely. It has its beginning and it has its ending.
It is a true Biblical saying that “Life is In the blood.” The expression in Leviticus 17:11 says, “the life of the flesh is In the blood.” The flow of the blood stimulates the muscles and mind. When there is a change in the flow of the blood there is a change In the functioning of the mind and movement of the muscles. Heart stimulants affect mind and muscle. When one is under the influence of alcohol, which stimulates the flow of blood, it is often truly said, “He is not himself” His actions and conversation are changed.
The Lord willing, we desire to meditate upon the functioning of the natural mind before comparing and contrasting natural and spiritual life. We want to say to the reader who is wondering what our object is in this treatise that we desire to prove a true and experienced state of life that exists in the regenerated child of God; why that regeneration is necessary; how that Jesus is our life; and, divine eternal life.
The nature of the natural mind Is to function within a natural realm. This nature would have to be changed before it could act within the spiritual realm. We reason according to our understanding. When we have only natural understanding our reasoning is according to natural wisdom. Our affections by nature are carnal, earthly, and sensual - bent on gratifying self. The approval or disapproval of the natural mind is based on a natural conscience which is forever changing with the changes of social customs and ideas. The will of the natural mind chooses that which is evil, indulges In the lusts of the flesh, and chooses to please self. This is the mind of natural life.
What is your life? Have you been elevated above that which is natural to such an extent that you are never bothered with this old nature, conscience, will, understanding, or affections? Have you been wrought upon in such a way that you are living a pure, holy, spiritual life, void of fleshly inclinations? is your life so holy that you never have a doubt concerning your future abode? I must answer, “no” to all these questions. My experience proves that I possess a darkened understanding, an unregenerated will, and earthly affections. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. There Is a natural life and there Is a spiritual life. I maintain that God’s children who have been born again and are yet living in this natural world are characters who possess dual lives. This conforms to the expression of the prophet Isaiah, 38:20, “All the days of our life.” “Our life” is an expression that Is inconsistent with the proper usage of language unless It could mean two characters in one person. There is the Spirit of God and there Is the spirit of man. As long as we live in this natural tabernacle we will be beset at times with this old depraved nature, hardened conscience, darkened understanding, unregenerated will, and earthly affections.
God infuses eternal life into one of His children by His Spirit in enacting the new birth. When this is done the one being born again is given a new nature, an enlightened understanding, a new conscience, a renewed will, and heavenly affections. This act of God does not do away with his natural birth nor his natural life. To the regenerated, born again, child of God may I ask, “What is your life?”
May I answer as God will direct God has added His life to your life. You are not only born of the flesh but of the Spirit Yes, you are given a new nature by which you are enabled to see the depravity of your old nature. Your understanding is enlightened that you may realize the darkness of your natural understanding. You are given a will toward God and godliness that proves to you that your natural will is to choose evil rather than good. These heavenly affections that God has Implanted in you shows how selfish and earthly are your natural affections. Has your life been changed Yes, as a person. You do not esteem yourself as highly as you once did. This experience has humbled you and caused you to realize your dependence. You find that where as you were in peace with yourself there is now a warfare. The flesh is lusting against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. These are contrary one to the other so that you cannot do the things you would. Neither time nor space would permit treating upon the extent of the change. May I ask another question I Has your flesh been purified, renovated, refined, or made better to know. Your experience is as Paul wrote to the Romans concerning himself, even though he had been graced by this new life being added to him. He expresses in Romans 7:19, “For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.” If you read his experience you will find that when he would do good evil was present with him. You will find thats in was mixed with all he did. He realized that he served the law of sin with his flesh. He considered himself as chief of sinners, less than the least of saints, and a wretched man who needed and prayed for deliverance. He possessed the thorn of the flesh which was a messenger of Satan to buffet him about lest he be exalted above measure. He rejoiced in physical pains and personal persecutions but the indwelling workings of sin in his carnal mind, the opposition of his depraved nature to the grace of God, caused him to cry out concerning his wretched condition. You will find that Peter possessed his old nature after being so wonderfully blessed with such special divine gifts. His regenerated will was to follow Jesus to the extent of death but there was another characteristic abiding with him that resulted In his denying any knowledge of Christ. not just once but three times, confirming with an oath, cursing and swearing. Job abhorred himself. An old prophet considered himself as being a man of unclean lips. Many wonderfully gifted characters, whose experience Is recorded in the Book of books, were affected with the same evil tendencies as you are. May I ask again, “What is your life?”
Your life is a mixture of joys and sorrows. Sometimes you are on the mountain top rejoicing In the grace and love of God but so much of the time you are in the valley of woe. Sometimes your hope of eternal abode in heaven Is so little that you wonder, “Do I have a hope?” And sometimes It is an anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast that entereth within the veil. Sometimes you doubt you have grace; at other times you are convinced of His gracious care for you. Probably much of the time the Bible is a sealed book to you; but, sometimes it is as God speaking to you. Sometimes you want to talk of God’s love for His people; but. much of the time you are shut up and have no desire to meet one who believes in God. Sometimes the minister preaches directly to you with comfort and edification; but much of the time, though you try to listen, you are cold and lifeless. Why am I thus tossed and have this cross?
You would depend upon the goodness of your own life were it not for this tossing to and fro that you experience. You must be given to know the vileness of your life, the weakness of your understanding, the deceit of your heart, the evil of your will, and the carnality of your affections before you can obey the command of Jesus to deny yourself. You must possess this cross of flesh against the Spirit before you can obey the command of Jesus, “Take up your cross. “You must realize the vileness of your own life before you can be made submissive to Jesus’ command, “Follow me.” You must realize these infirmities through the remaining part of your life, else you would not pray for salvation from sin, look to God for grace, depend upon Jesus for your merits, or hope to be finally delivered from evil into the glorious liberty of the children of God. What Is your life?
Your natural life is in evidence when the flow of the blood stimulates the activity of the natural mind and the movement of the muscles. Your spiritual life Is In evidence when the flow of the Spirit of God stimulates the spiritual mind (or heart) resulting in a godly walk and conversation. When the blood flows and the mind functions there is action of the muscles. When the Spirit flows, and the godly mind functions, there is action consisting of good works. These good works are done only by the stimulation of the Spirit of God. Thus it is by the grace of God that we are what we are.
What is your life? “For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ In God; when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him In glory” (Col. 3:3,4). We have a foretaste of Christ appearing here in time which is glorious. These experiences last only for fleeting moments; but, the glory of them encourages us to press on with renewed hope and a strengthened faith. Christ is our life because we have been made to depend upon His righteousness. Christ is our life because He suffered the penalty of death, blotting out our sins by dying, that we might live. He is the Author of our spiritual life; the Fountain from whence flows the water of life; the Root of our godly life; and, He is our Head which stimulates a godly walk and conversation. “Your life is hid with Christ in God.”
Yes, your life is hid from the world. You cannot make known to the world the precious things of this life. You cannot cause the wise and the prudent to see it. It is hid from them. Jesus thanked God that He had hid these things from the wise and the prudent and revealed them unto babes. Your life is hid from the law in Christ. The law can have no dominion over you. Your sins are hid from God by the blood of Christ for it is impossible for Him to see your sins through the blood of His Son. Those who would destroy your hope and faith cannot because your life is hid with Christ. Is it not true that your eternal life is hid from you much of the time? Two of the three things that abides now, according to Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth, proves that your eternal life is hid from you. “Now abideth faith. hope, and charity” (1 Cor. 13:13). “Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.“ If a thing Is not seen it is hid. Paul said, “We are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope:for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Rom. 8:24,25). If we see not that which is hoped for it is hid. If then, we are saved by hope, surely our life is hid with Christ. Take courage, brethren, and may God comfort you with the thought that now we see “through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.” (1 Cor. 13:12). Sometimes His smiles are hidden from us. We grope about in darkness. Our minds are taken up with the vain things of this world so that we are made to realize,
I am a stranger here below,
And what lam ‘tis hard to know,
I am so vile, so prone to sin,
I fear that I’m not born again.
What is your life? You are a stranger to yourself. Your life is so hid that you are fearful that you are not born again. When He “shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him In glory.”
These foretastes of His appearing here in time renews our hopes and strengthens our faith. We wonder so much of the time, is He coming again? Our faith and hope is that when He appears we shall appear with Him in glory. We look forward to that grand appearing when He shall take us into that glorious home where we shall live and abide with Him eternally. What is eternal life?
The word eternal indicates that this life under consideration is endless. It shall never cease but persevere without a break into an endless eternity. Those who possess this life shall never perish. They shall live forever without any danger of dying. No power is able to destroy it? for this life is in Christ.
“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12). This eternal life is interlinked in the golden chain of eternal life and includes therein all of God’s chosen people for we read, “I in them, and Thou In Me, that they may be made perfect In one” (John 17:23). The Father is in His Son, His Son Is In His chosen. His chosen is in the Son and His Son Is In the Father. This interlinking is why Jesus could say, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my father’s hand” (St. John 10:28,29).
The children of God are so interlinked in the Father and Son that it would be just as possible for God to be dethroned as for one of them to perish or lose that life I It would be denying the power of God and blaspheming His Son to proclaim that any who have this eternal life shall ever be severed from it so that the second or eternal death shall have power over them! What is eternal life? “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
If you know God and know His Son, you have eternal life. If He has seen fit to reveal Himself to you, then you know Him. Peter had eternal life as was manifested in his answer to Jesus, recorded in Matt. 18:16, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.“ This answer of Peter was given, not because he had learned it from flesh and blood, but because he had been divinely favored by a direct revelation from God as you shall see in reading the statement of Jesus following this answer. It takes the life of God imputed to an individual by the direct operation of the Holy Spirit to enable one to know God or Jesus Christ “He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). The revelation of God unto His people causes them to cease to believe in themselves, placing their trust in Him. This life of God imputed to you makes you lose confidence In yourself. This eternal life has saved the soul in regeneration and we are confident that the same spirit will save the body in the resurrection. The work of salvation that has been begun in us experimentally will surely be performed and perfected unto the deliverance of our bodies from sin and death. As this life immortalized the soul in regeneration, this life will immortalize the body in the resurrection. As we now have the first-fruits, being a foretaste, we shall come into full fruition In heaven. We shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberties of the children of God. What will be your life then? Your life will then be free from imperfections, warfares, tribulations, doubts, fears, persecutions, thirst, hunger and confusions. You shall have uninterrupted joy, peace and happiness forevermore. There will be no dying as experienced daily in this life, but you shall live, live! live! What a wonderful and glorious life is eternal life!
Elder E. J. Lambert
Tried In The Furnace
Signs of the Times
Volume 163, No. 9