From “Feast of Tabernacles,” Chapter 7- The Day of Atonement, continued
THE BIRTH OF THE SPIRIT
“He cannot sin…” This is the plain Word of God. However, as God’s children we all can testify that we are born of God, and that we do sin. And therefore we present some very plausible arguments to prove that God does not mean exactly what He said. Let us forever cease trying to justify ourselves. “Let God be true and every man a liar.” The only scriptural explanation of this verse is that we are not “born again” in the fullness of this regenerating experience. Our new birth, by the Spirit, genuine as it is, has not developed into maturity. We have been reproduced after God’s likeness like the seed which is produced by the flower, or the egg that is produced by the bird. That seed or that egg is a genuine birth, containing all the potentialities of a new flower exactly like the flower that produced it, or a new bird exactly like its parent. But the full glory and the potentialities of that new life lie dormant within the seed or the egg–and are by no means manifest, or even apparent to our observation. One can see no similarity whatsoever between the tiny seed with its black crusty covering, and the beautiful red poppy which waves its petals in the breeze; no similarity between the little blue egg in the nest, and the bird that flies aloft into the atmosphere on wings of liberty. In fact, if we did not understand the mysterious processes of nature, we would consider one a fool to suggest that the seed and the poppy are one and the same thing; or that the egg and the bird are one and the same thing. And yet they are–in kind, in nature, in possibility.
So it is with the birth of the Spirit. Thank God for the seed, the incorruptible seed, in virtue of which we have become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4), or “born again” (1 Pet. 1:23). But that seed in the hearts of God’s people has scarcely developed beyond the germ state; it has not grown and developed to the place where we can testify, “his seed abideth” in us; and therefore we can and do sin.
A NEW MAN IS TO BE BORN
Let the saints of God who have eyes to see and ears to hear, rejoice in the plan and purpose of God which even now is unfolding before our very eyes. God is hastening the day and hour of Christian perfection. We do not have it, nor have we seen it in any person anywhere at any time. For we are not speaking merely of a life made free from this particular sin or that particular sin, from a bad temper, or a bitter spirit, or sinful habits. We are speaking, rather, of a life which is the very life of Jesus Christ reproduced in the fragile earthen vessels of this human clay. Our prayer, therefore, should be as Jesus commanded, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, even as it is in Heaven.” It is, first and foremost, the birth of the Kingdom of God in our own little earth, in the clay of our flesh; for the “Kingdom of God is within you…” It is the perfecting unto maturity of the Christ who came into our hearts as the Seed when we received Him as our Saviour. It is the springing forth of the water of life into glorious liberty and spontaneity–even the water that we drank when Christ came into our lives. Jesus promised it would become a “Fountain of water leaping up into everlasting life” (Jn. 4:14, Literal). It is “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” rising up unto maturity, and being “formed within you” (Gal. 4:19). GHW
This lesson is a wonderful explanation of the need for the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11-16, which says, “11 And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of people, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, that is, Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
John Wesley’s short definition of Christian perfection is “loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. This implies, that no wrong temper, none contrary to love, remains in the soul; and that all the thoughts, words, and actions, are governed by pure love.” Wesley’s definition is in complete harmony with the values, mission, and calling of the five-fold ministry.