Though genuine believers in the Lord Jesus’ expiation for their sin presently possess salvation, what one understands concerning the issue of its permanency does not affect its work of eternal redemption, because spiritual growth doctrine is a separate issue from that of soteriological doctrine. The prior has to do with initial faith for salvation; the latter has to do with growth in faith itself, for salvation does not admit in degrees.
The great defect in believers is that, while they believe in the Savior, they have a limited or incorrect idea of what He has accomplished. When I know the measure of His work, even though I may not be in the full enjoyment of all He has wrought out for me, I at least know what is mine, and I could not accept anything else, nor anything less.
When we read that “by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb 10:14), what an immense scope and measure is presented to our minds! All which was typified by all the offerings is fulfilled in divine perfection at the Cross. In His one offering we are brought, according to God’s holiness, not only from the greatest distance, but to the greatest nearness; we are entitled to be in the Holiest of All by the work of the Lord Jesus Christ (in went the high priest alone, but now it’s all who are in Christ—NC). It is of all importance that we see that the work which sheltered us from the judgement of God, the worst and most distant place, is the same which has given us title to enter the brightest and the best place. Since His work has done the one, so has His work obtained for us the other.
Now in His one offering at Calvary there was the burnt-offering, the meat-offering, the peace-offering and the sin-offering. The latter gave the blessed God liberty to have us in the Holiest, and through it we are entitled to be there; but besides, in His presence we have fellowship with Him in His satisfaction with the Lord Jesus as the Man who glorified Him on earth in life and in death, and who is ever the prosperity-offering for every believer.
The Gospel is generally regarded as safety from future judgment because of faith in the Blood of Christ, with present earthly favor and heaven after death. This is rather more like the blessing of the millennial saint than of the Christian (millennial saint is all Jews believing not only in God - Jn 14:1 - but finally in Jesus after seeing Him - Zec 12:10; Rev 1:7—NC). It is evident that the Lord Jesus’ work secured the blessing of the millennial saint as well as that of the believer. The point to maintain is that His work, with nothing super-added to it, has secured the blessing of both the one and the other.
His Work, blessed be His name, has obtained a place for the Christian in company with Himself, typified by the sons of Aaron consecrated. We are thus, as His companions, those who have derived from Him. “Behold, I and the children which God hath given me.” “Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” His work has secured for us a like place or position with and in Himself. Hence we are here but pilgrims and strangers, and now earthly prosperity is not to be expected.
The work which enabled God, according to His glory, to have us in His house with Himself—the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, is the same work in virtue of which the
Lord Jesus will yet, as Melchisedec, come forth and bless Israel on earth in the millennial kingdom; while we, the Church, are blessed in heaven as coheirs with the Lord Jesus—that same work, but with a different blessing for each company (Jhn 20:29—NC). We might have expected this from the simple fact that on the Day of Atonement there was the blood of the bullock for Aaron and his house, the heavenly company; and the blood of the goat for Israel, or the earthly company. In the type there were two bloods; in the antitype, of course, only one blood—the Blood of the Lamb of God.
Now not only is nearness to God, as the Holiest typifies, secured for us by the work of the Lord Jesus on the Cross, but also His place is our place. His work is described, “the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1Pe 3:18); not only to save us from judgment, but to bring us to God. Thus our approach to the Father by the Lord Jesus’ work can only be measured by Himself; nay, the very glory resting on Him, as the One who has established everything according to God where man dishonored Him, transforms us into “the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Hence we are not only in nearness, but in nature too (via the eternal imparting of the “new man” or new nature, which is created after Christ’s image - Col 3:10—NC).
There are four aspects of His death, and it is thus in parts that we apprehend it. We learn first how His Blood shelters from judgment. Then, believing in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, we are not only clear of all guilt, but we are really as the type sets forth, brought to God; we can sing, “Thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.” The Son of Man is lifted up, and He is now my life (Col 3:4); “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:2). Now, in the liberty of His life, I am not only dead unto sin, but I also learn that having died with Him, I am dead to the world (Gal 6:14). I am across Jordan, I am in heaven (positionally—“hid with Christ in God”).
This is exemplified by the thief on the Cross. In one step he is transferred from the deepest degradation and distance to the greatest elevation, and there with the Lord Jesus—the most honored place. The same work brought him from one place, the lowest and the worst, to the highest and “the best” (Luk 15:22—NC). The man who would limit the Lord Jesus’ work to the first part (degradation—NC), and leave out the other (fellowship in Christ—NC), would not only deprive himself of the highest blessing, but would grievously misrepresent the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. His work sets us there in the heavenly places in Him. God said to Moses, “I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Nay, more; it is plain that a believer on the earth receives from heaven, the Spirit, which is the promise of the Father, consequent on Christ being glorified; not only a well of water springing up into everlasting life, not only lighting up the heart with the resources which are in the Lord Jesus, so that he who drinks of it never thirsts, but he is so enriched that out of his innermost being flows rivers of living waters. “He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you—that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal body.”
Moreover, the indwelling Spirit is the bond of union between us and “the Head of the Body, the Church,” making us know “the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in heavenly places.” That is, being united to the Lord Jesus by the Holy Spirit, I can now know here on earth the power which set Him in heavenly places, which raised Him from death, the lowest, man’s lowest place, up to the Father’s right and in the heavenly places; and we all, who were dead in sins, are quickened together, and raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ.
That is, the work of the Lord Jesus on the Cross has spanned the whole distance between God and us, and His place before the Father is, through grace, the believer’s place. We are not only cleared of all our offences, but in the life of Him who created us, we “joy in God (Rom 5:11),” and we are the delight of His heart. He can say, “It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad” (Luk 15:32). The “man in Christ” can pass into the highest place, “the third heaven,” and there he is received, not merely as a guest, but as one fit and welcome to the innermost circle; all this being simply and solely effected by the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- J B Stoney (1814-1897)