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  1. What is the sum of the believer’s blessings in Christ? Heaven, because it eventually physically places us with God. Not as now in the presence of His sight (Pro 15:3), but latter, in the presence of Himself (Rev 21:2, 4). The thought of Heaven has no equal as to its exhorting encouragement when you “set your affections on things above,” more than “on things on the earth” (Col 3:2). After all, it’s not this world from which we are to seek “things,” but from “above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (v 1). NC No Place Like Home! Is the Lord Jesus “in heavenly places”? Am I united to Him there now, or am I only going to be united when I die? Am I now in this very place before the Father, “raised up together” with the Lord Jesus, and so “in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ehp 2:6)? It is quite evident that the doctrine of Ephesians is that we are so; it is notorious that the doctrine of most Christians is that we cannot be so till we die. Now, why is it that people do not enter into this truth? A primary reason is, you cannot be both an earthly man entering into that which occupies men here below (earthly centered—NC), and a heavenly man too (heavenly centered—NC); but the natural mind would like to make the best of this world, and the best of the next too. The truth is, I must cross the Jordan now as a Christian; nay, I have crossed it in Christ if I am a Christian. So you will observe that I am not going to point out to you what you have to do, but I wish to make plain what God has done for you, if you are a believer. How blessed it is that Christianity does not hold out what I must attain to in order to be saved (other than receive—which is manifested in our walk—NC), but is a revelation of what the Father has given me in His beloved Son! Our Father gives us a salvation so full, that it not only means that we have been brought across the Red Sea (thus made pilgrims and strangers in this world), but that we have been brought across the Jordan into heavenly places, and blessed with all spiritual blessings there (Eph 1:3). You say, perhaps, it is mysticism. No such thing. It is the very negation of mysticism. For this turns the eye to the Lord Jesus in glory, and the Father’s work in Him! Whereas mysticism occupies the heart merely with its feelings about Him. If the Lord Jesus is my life (Col 3:4, 10; 2Pe 1:4; “seed” e.g. new nature – 1Jo 3:9), and He is seated there, it is evident that I have by the Spirit if God who dwells in me, and who has been sent by the Lord Jesus (Jhn 15:26; 16:7), a divine link with Him who has entered there. It is thus that the Father speaks of us according to that which is true of His Son. That is, He being there and He being the life of the believer, and the Holy Spirit the power of that life, we are spoken of according to the place that the Lord Jesus has entered. I beseech you to hold fast this vital truth. You have passed across the Jordan as truly as you have marched through the Red Sea (since your rebirth—NC). You are not only to remember that you are a pilgrim in this dark world, but that you have a living link in heaven; be sure you regard it as your own proper home. The wilderness is merely a place of sojourn, but the heavenly places are our only abiding position. The Father’s purpose to have us in heaven with Himself was decreed before the world was (in my understanding He’s always known who would not “resist” His drawing—NC). The world has become sinful (majority of mankind—NC) and so has become a wilderness, for there would be no wilderness if there was no sin, but the Father has delivered us in grace from our sins, and has also brought us in spirit through the wilderness into glory. As a matter of fact, indeed, we have sin, and are passing through the wilderness; but in title and position, and as united to the Lord Jesus as our life we are clear from both. May the Father in His grace give us to enter more into this truth, and to live in the reality of it! - W Kelly Excerpt from MJS devotional for August 22: “We come to feel our need, and often attempt independently to supply it by our own means; the Lord must confound us in the attempt; but having done so, He leads in dependence to find and acquire an inconceivably greater answer to our wishes than even that which we prescribed for ourselves. The prodigal only sought ‘sustenance’ from the citizen in the ‘far country,’ but back in his father’s house he found not bread merely, but abounding welcome and a fatted calf.” –Miles J Stanford http://www.abideabove.com/hungry-heart/
  2. Can you always, with permanent conviction, call Heaven your present possession? This is one among many Biblical truths from which believers are to appropriate for exhortation from the “comfort of the scriptures” (Rom 15:4). How eternal life is comprehended will determine whether or not there will be a walk in the encouragement of spiritual growth truths. Concerning the “New Heaven,” believers are considered presently there because of the surety of its inevitable occurrence. Though our present condition is earthly, our present position is heavenly (Eph 2:6), which answers to our Lord’s declaration that, “I go and prepare a place for you and I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” This concurs with the Lord’s action of being our heavenly “Forerunner” (Heb 6:20). NC Heavenly Dwelling The two great subjects of the testimony of the Holy Spirit are the sufferings of the Lord Jesus and the glories to follow. When these two connected truths are received into the soul by the teaching of the Spirit, they necessarily sever it from the absorbing power of earthly interests. Take the Cross, for example. “They are enemies of the Cross of Cross . . . who mind earthly things” (Phl 3:18, 19). On the other hand, take the resurrection. ”If ye then be risen with Christ . . . set your affection (the same as “mind” in the former quotation) on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col 3:2). The great moral of the Gospel is heaven as a present enjoyable reality, as the home of our affections, the center of our interests. This is indeed a wondrous truth, but how little we know the actuality of it in our souls! The characteristic of our present calling is, that it is “heavenly.” We are addressed as “holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling.” Our true tabernacle is in heaven; our only Priest is in heaven. The epistle to the Hebrews sets forth the heavenly worship, which faith alone can recognize in direct contrast to earthly worship, which the senses could recognize. The priest of the Jews was a visible person; the sacrifices, tangible objects; the temple, a material structure: all beautiful and orderly and suitable to the system with which God Himself has connected them; but to faith, they are mere shadows of glorious and eternal realities (God began with visibly-aided proof and gradually minimized it to allow faith to be exercised in its greatest capacity before its time is gone, for soon we will walk by sight—NC). The heart of man naturally lingers about the shadows; and the full-blown evil of the Judaizing tendency (not that Judaism is evil but attempting the admixture of it with Christianity is—NC), with which the Apostle Paul dealt so sternly, is now become habitual to the thought of Christianity, and has helped to form that characteristic of “dwellers on earth.” Judaism has been taken as the pattern of what men call Christianity, and thus Christianity itself is regarded as a mere improvement or refinement of Judaism, instead of being regarded according to Paul as its direct contrast (opposite—NC). The new piece has been added to the old garment, “and the rent is become worse.” We are exhorted to walk worthy of the calling wherewith we have been called (Eph 4:1). This implies the knowledge of our “calling.” It is a “high calling.” The word rendered “high” is the same as that rendered “above” in Colossians 3. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” We are called of God from beneath to above, from earth to heaven. We are bodily on this earth and in this world, yet we belong not to either—“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Hence also the pilgrim and stranger character of the saint: heaven is his home, and oh, that we as ardently desired to be with the Lord Jesus where He is, as He desires to have us with Him! We are not as “those that dwell on the earth” (Rev 13:14). Moralists, philanthropists and politicians all recognize something valuable in Christianity, and use it as helpful to their own ends; and thus has Christianity been dragged down from its lofty eminence, till almost all that is distinctive is lost amidst so many elements which are foreign. The long continued attempt to apply Christianity to the world, merely as an aid to its civilization, has led to the loss of even the theory of the Church. In time it may well be that nothing will be so offensive to “the dwellers on the earth” as the assertion of the peculiar privileges and special hope of the Church. - Wm Kelly (1821-1906)
  3. During your times of light, moderate or severe trials do you look unto self to find what you may have of the Lord to endure, or have you learned that there is nothing within you personally—not even the new nature—that delivers through trials. Knowing what to do in our times of stress is only half the resolution; knowing how to practice what is known brings the answer, and “Casting all your care upon Him” (1Pe 5:7) is always the proper procedure. Any other means is looking unto self for the answer, and regardless the appeal that self-reliance may possess, it’s always nothing more than a temporary delay at most. It’s also important to note that the “trying of your faith” needs the proper response—so you’ll be able to continue to be properly trial-conformed (1Pe 1:6), as this gradually increases in difficulty, but never beyond “that you are able.” Consistently putting all that we care about, pleasantries and difficulties, into God’s keeping means you’re believing His Word concerning everything in your life, that “He careth for you.” So, the protocol is first “what”; cast everything on our Father. Then “how”; trusting that He is using “all things”—“to work together for good” to you (Rom 8:28). The greatest significance in this truth is in knowing that it is solely dependent upon our position in Christ, and never the condition of our walk, which will always be progressing “in the Spirit.” The maturity of our “walk in the Spirit” varies between all and is merely an indicator of where we are concerning the level of conformity to His Word, and not a means of His deliverance, because the point of deliverance through a trial proceeds from Himself, in providing its understanding to us. You will eventually know you’re not following God’s protocol when the resolution-times for closure often seem too lengthy. Sure, God’s teachings of conformity concerning our lifestyle (walk) are hard, but not “grievous” (1Jo 5:3), because He will always “make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1Cor 10:13); and the relief (escape) is always a matter of faith in His written Word. It’s from the trials we learn the most concerning our walk. The two primary factors concerning their application are that they will always come and go; and they contain in one degree or another the element of “hardness,” which continues to conform and manifest our walk of faith “as a good solder of Jesus Christ” (2Ti 2:3). It is in the difficulties that we are brought to see if we are trusting in the “arm of flesh” (2Ch 32:8) or the arm of God. Myself, I’ve learned the former always eventually leads in succession to the latter, as God will have it no other way for us. NC
  4. It’s not in redemption that one “changes . . . from glory to glory,” for once applied it fully saves; which will show in our permanent lifestyle. It’s our earthly walk that manifests in escalating glories all that we already are (1Jo 4:17), and all that we already have (2Pe 1:3) in Christ! The present “divine nature” indwelt by the believer will not be any newer than it is now. Therefore the primary differences in the resurrected saint’s essence will be the absence of “the old man,” and the newness of the finally “redeemed body” (Rom 8:23). NC “Follow After Love” “I have espoused you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor 11:2). Paul’s song accounts for all that is in Solomon’s Song. The Father looks upon the believer as altogether lovely. A sinner in himself, he has, by faith, taken on him the beauty of the Lord Jesus. He is “in Him.” He is “accepted in the Beloved.” Faith alone gives him all this comeliness. He has been baptized into the Lord Jesus, and put Him on. This is the beauty of the believer; and he is lovely in the Lord Jesus’ eye. Indeed in this form of beauty there can be no spot. The very “best robe” in the Father’s house is on Him. For it is the Lord Jesus Himself that the believer is arrayed with. Such harmonies are there between the Son of Solomon, the Gospels and the Pauline Epistles. We are naturally prone (due to the indwelling old man—NC) to be suspicious of any offer to make us happy in our Father. Because our moral sense—our natural conscience, tells us of our having lost all right, even to His ordinary blessings. Yet, in the revelation of God, faith reads our abundant title to be near Him and happy with Him, though our natural conscience and our sense of the fitness of things would have it otherwise. Faith feeds where the moral sensibilities of the natural mind would count it presuming to tread. The Song of Solomon opens with strong and fervent desire toward Himself; reaching forth to apprehend Him in some more intimate manner that had been preciously understood. It is as though the saint has been conscious of being in a lower condition than would now satisfy. For at times the soul rests itself simply on the firm ground of doctrines, such as “the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth from all sin.” It is the simple and sure power of such truth that alone answers, at times, the need of the soul. But again, at times, the ground under our feet, as believers, is understood and rested on and it is the Lord Jesus Himself that the heart desires. She had been keeping the vineyards (Son of Solomon 1:6)—attending to things abroad—but now was learning that her own vineyard had been neglected; and the deeper things of personal fellowship are longed for. The saint is leaving Martha’s and taking Mary’s place, hungering to feed under His own eye and from His own hand, not another’s. Now it is conscious of being more at home, more about its own vineyard; as though it had left the Martha place, “busy about with many things” (Luk 10:40—still unnecessarily preoccupied with much of this life—NC) and assuming the Mary place at the feet of the Lord Jesus in personal fellowship. There is a great influence upon the soul to be occupied with such affections (Christ’s fellowship—NC). It strengthens and sanctifies—for all question of our standing is anticipated, and our energy in meeting temptation is increased, and thus the liberty of our soul is secured. For how can the thought of condemnation or the temptation to defilement be entertained, when the believer is seeking to reach more into the light and joy of such communion and fellowship as this? Does it not lead him into more than a mere escape from the spirit of bondage, or from practical sin (sin commissions—NC)? Is it not the divine method of making him more than conqueror? “For we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (The Scriptures are “as a mirror” of Christ, which shows us what we are to look like – Jam 1:22, 23. Thus the more we look into it, the more we will remember how we are supposed to look. 2Cor 3:18). - J G Bellett (1795–1864)
  5. Death in Christ is antecedent to life in Christ, and not only is this death a single occurrence but renders one to remain so concerning the curse of sin. Thus believers do not die to the sin nature but “are dead” to it; and this death intends not the absence of its presence in us, nor immunity to its effects, but rather the freedom from sin’s dominion and damnation (Rom 6:14; 8:1). The evidence of our death in Christ is the work of the Spirit’s mortification shown in our walk (Rom 8:13), all for the purpose “so we also should walk in newness of life” in Christ (Rom 6:4). NC Heavenly Life-Source It goes without saying that the believer has eternal life. But it should be carefully observed that he is never said to have it in himself (it’s here that so many have yet to grasp the full implications of eternal life, in considering that the lifestyle effects eternal life, but the order is that eternal life effects our lifestyle—NC). “This life is in His Son” (1Jo 5:11 – and not in what we do, but what we do manifests the presence or absence of eternal life—NC). Having eternal life, we have it, therefore, only in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is this fact which guarantees to us its absolute security, assures us that we can never be lost, for whoever would rob us of it, must first pluck us out of His hands; nay more, must pluck Him from His seat at the right hand of the Father. Christ is our life (Col 3:4). Our life is not here. This, indeed, is the statement of Paul. “Ye have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:3). He had just been pointing out our responsibilities (vs 1, 2) as connected with our having died and risen with Christ. As dead with Him, we are not to act as alive in the world (Col 2:20). He has died out of this scene, has no present place in it; He is, as far as this world is concerned, a dead man. We, therefore, commence our Christian life by taking the place of death. We are buried with Christ in baptism (Col 2:12); and God’s estimate of us is that we have died. Hence our responsibility to walk accordingly, to mortify our members which are upon the earth, etc. (Col 3:5). Scripture teaches us that the Father has so completely associated us with His Son, that He count us with Him as dead to sin (Rom 6); dead to law (Rom 7; Gal 5:23); and dead to the world (Gal 6); and hence faith accepts and reckons upon His estimate as true. We have been brought through the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus out of this scene into a new position and place—so completely, that it can be said of us, “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you” (Rom 8:9). Our life, therefore, is not here—it cannot be, for we have died to the world—but it is hid with Christ in God. How blessed for us if we did but accept the full consequences of this truth! What an immense gain if we only started on the Christian life by accepting death upon all around us! How it would lift us out of our circumstances, if we looked steadfastly away from all that we see, up to where the Lord Jesus is, and remember that our life is there; that He is our Life. What power it would give us over “the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”! We need to judge ourselves in these things, for we shall find the secret of much of our weakness and failure lies in seeking our life in the things of this world. Having died and risen with Christ, the believer’s life-associations should be connected with the place into which he has been brought; even as Paul says, “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20). Only then—when this truth is accepted—shall we know the joy of continual occupation with the Lord Jesus at the Father’s right hand. It may be added, the object of all the Father’s dealings with us now is to bring us under the influence of this truth. If we will find our life in things down here, He must bring death upon them, and thus lead us to see through many a grief and bitter sorrow, that the Lord Jesus—and He alone—is the life of the believer. As one of old has said, “He often dims the brightness of this scene that we may behold the glory above”; and the source of that glory is in the face of the Lord Jesus (2Cor 4:6). - Edward Dennett (1831–1914)
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