The Habitation of God
God has been seeking a habitation a long time. God found a habitation in Jesus Christ, and He became the dwelling place of God. Christ's purpose for the world was that men, like Himself, should become the dwelling place of God. It was not purposed that Jesus Christ was to be a particular or special dwelling place of God. It was rather purposed that mankind should be just as much a holy and desirable dwelling place of God as Jesus Himself was. The purpose of the gospel of God was that through Jesus Christ His Son many sons would be begotten of God, should be begotten of Christ.
Christ's undertaking was to save mankind from their sins and transform them into sons of God like Himself. That is the purpose and work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 15 we read of the consummation of His purpose-that is, the finality, the conclusion of that purpose, when Jesus Himself having subjected all things unto Himself, is Himself also subjected unto the Father, that God may be all in all. There will not be a dissenting voice nor a rebellious heart. The will of God has been received and as a result of the will of God having been received there is no longer a necessity for a Savior, and Jesus Christ in His capacity of Savior of the world has been completed. His mission is completed.
We are so liable to feel in this great struggle we see about us, and the struggle we recognize in our nature, that there cannot possibly be a time of ultimate and final victory of the Lord Jesus Christ in the souls of men.
I want to encourage you, beloved. The Word of God portrays a time and conception of the purpose of Jesus Christ when the world, being redeemed unto Christ, no longer needs the redeeming merit of the Savior. So Jesus, having subjected all things unto Himself, is Himself also subjected unto the Father, that God may be all in all.
God is not all in all, and never will be all in all, until the will of God rules in the heart of every man, in the soul of every man, until the redemption of Jesus Christ in its great and ultimate purpose becomes a reality, a finality.
Paul Sees Christ's Purpose
I have always regarded the first and second chapters of Ephesians as two of the most remarkable in the entire Word of God. Perhaps no soul ever visioned the real purpose of God and portrayed it in words with more clearness than did Paul in these two chapters.
In the first chapter he begins by showing us that Jesus fulfilled the purpose of the Father. That as a reward for His consecration to the will of God, his death, Resurrection, Ascension and Glorification, the power of God ruled in His nature, and in very truth He was the Son of God, to Whom was committed all power, principalities and powers, Paul says, being subject unto Him.
Then, in the second chapter he begins to make this truth applicable to our own hearts, and he undertakes to show us that just as Jesus Christ was dead and in the grave, so mankind, possessed and dominated by the powers of sin and selfishness, have become "dead in sin"---that is, senseless to the Spirit of God. And as Jesus was raised from the dead, so He has purposed to lift the veil or cloud, the obsession or possession of sin, and cleanse the nature of man and unify him with God.
When he reaches this climax he puts it in this terse form: "For to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace" [Ephesians 2:15]. He shows that the ultimate and final peace that comes to the soul of man comes as the result of a divine union having taken place between Jesus Christ and the Christian soul, and there is no longer any worry or discussion over commandments or ordinances. The soul has risen above them. It has risen out of the region of commandments and laws, into a government of love. The soul joined to Christ in His divine affection, the spirit of man entering into Christ, the Spirit of Christ entering into man, causes such a transformation that the man becomes a new creature. All his impulses have changed, the ruling of his human nature ceases, and finally he is a son of God.
That is the wonder of the cleansing power and cross of Christ in the nature of man. The wonder is that Jesus purposed to make your heart and mine just as sweet and lovely and pure and holy as His own. That is the reason that He can accept the Christian as His bride. Who could imagine the Christ accepting Christians polluted, defiled, of a lower state of purity or holiness than Himself?
The Spirit of the Lord says that thus is the wonder of the redemptive power of Jesus Christ revealed to man and in man. Such is the transforming grace that through Him, through His merit, through His love, through His Spirit, the soul of man---cleansed, purified, beautified, glorified---becomes like the soul of Jesus Himself, and man and Christ meet as equals in purity. Blessed be his Name. --Message in Tongues and Interpretation
If you have felt, dear brother or sister, that you have been a sinner above all that dwelt in Jerusalem, as some did, be assured that the cleansing power of Jesus Christ is equal to your need, and the thoroughness and almightiness of His Spirit's working in you can make you a king and prince, lovely and beautiful, pure of heart and life, like unto Himself.
The triumph of the teacher is always in bringing his student to his own understanding, and even more than that, endeavoring to inspire within the student the possibility of going beyond himself in his search of knowledge and truth. Could we expect of Jesus a lesser purpose than that which we recognize in teachers everywhere? If Jesus is a redeemer, unto what is He to redeem us? What is the ideal, what is the standard to which Christ purposes to bring us? Is the standard less than that which He holds Himself? If so, it would be unworthy of the Son of God. He would not be giving to us the best of His soul.
Verily, the Word of God stands clear in one respect, that the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin. Bless God. We become clean in our nature, thoroughly infilled by His grace, every atom and fiber of the spirit and the soul and the body of man made sweet and holy, like unto Jesus Himself. Bless God.
The Purpose of Cleansing
Now this marvelous cleansing by the Spirit and power of Jesus Christ is for a definite purpose; it is a definite preparation. When we make an elaborate preparation of any kind, it is that something may follow. So this preparation in holiness and righteousness and truth in the nature of man by Jesus Christ, the Word declares, is that there may be a fitting climax; the climax is THAT MAN MAY BECOME THE DWELLING OF GOD.
God demands a holy temple in which His holiness and through which His holiness may be revealed. Consequently it becomes a matter of necessity to the Lord Jesus Christ that if He is to reveal Himself in a hundredfold measure through the Church to the world, He must have the ability to cleanse the church and present her, as the Word portrays, "[Without] spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing" [Ephesians 5:27]. Blessed be the Lord. She must be pure as Jesus is pure, beautiful within, beautiful without. The scars and wrinkles must disappear. So Christ will receive the really Christ-cleansed church as His own virgin, the bride. Blessed be the Lord.
The Wonder of His Grace
The wonder of the grace of God is revealed in us, though we have sinned, though we have become polluted, though in our soul life we have practiced adultery with the spirit of the world until the nature of the world has entered into our nature and soiled it and made it unlike the nature of Jesus Christ. And the wonder of His grace is revealed in that He receives us, cleanses us, purifies us, saves us, and being thus redeemed and cleansed by the Spirit of Christ we stand sweet and lovely and holy in His presence, pre¬pared to be His bride. One in which He can live, with whom He can fellowship, into whose nature He purposes now to come and abide.
The Apostles' Cleansing and Baptism
If you will study with care the life of the apostles you will observe that there was a process that took place in their lives so thorough and complete that Jesus said unto them, just prior to His departure, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" [John 15:3].
They had arrived in soul cleansing at the place where, by the grace of God, they were prepared for the next experience and higher purpose of Jesus, which was that they might now receive the Holy Ghost. That is, that the Spirit of Jesus Christ might come from heaven to abide in them, and thus in very truth cause them to become the dwelling place of God.
The purpose of Christ was that not only the twelve, and the hundred and twenty upon whom the Holy Ghost came at Jerusalem, and the Church at Samaria, and the household of Cornelius should be cleansed and receive the Holy Spirit, but that every son of God should receive a like experience. (The Church at Samaria was different from the Church at Jerusalem, in that it was composed of the wandering heathen tribes, and it was different from the household of Cornelius, which were intelligent Romans. But they all, in common with all the race, became the habitation of God through the Spirit.)
In common with these, the Ephesian elders in Acts 19, who were advanced in righteousness and holiness and entrusted with the care of others as shepherds of the flock, likewise received the Spirit of the Lord.
In all these instances then, we see the purpose of God is not only to cleanse a man, but being cleansed to empower him, infill him, indwell him by His own blessed almighty Spirit. The Spirit of Christ present in a holy temple has appeared to reveal Himself through that person, just as He did through the Lord Jesus Christ.
If we study the manner by which the Spirit of God revealed Himself through Jesus, then we will have the pattern or example of how the Spirit of God reveals Himself through all believers all the time.
The Spirit of God spoke through him the word of love, the word that brought conviction, the word of power. Through His nature there flowed a subtle something that no religionist but Himself and His followers possessed-the living Spirit of the living God, the anointing of the Holy Ghost, bless God, the one characteristic that makes Christianity a distinctive religion forever. It can never be identified with any other. So long as Christianity is dependent on the presence of the Holy Ghost it will remain distinctively the one religion, that of divine power and saving grace.
God, our heavenly Father, our hearts are asking that since the wondrous provision has been made, that we may seek, with all the earnestness that should characterize men and women, for this blessed almightiness, that the cleansing grace and power to be revealed in our own life. May this not be just a beautiful vision tonight, but, oh, Lord, may we receive Thee in this moment into our hearts as our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer, that the Word of Christ may be accomplished in us, and that in very truth we may look into the face of Jesus, knowing that our souls are cleansed. Amen.
When a young man, I stood in an aisle of the Methodist Church and was introduced to a young lady. As I touched her hand the marvelous moving of our natures was revealed. Presently something from her soul, that subtle something that Christians know and recognize as spirit, her spirit passed to me, went through my person until presently I realized that my soul had rent itself in affection for that woman, and we never had looked into each other's eyes in an intimate way before. From me went that subtle something to her. The result was that we were just as much soul mates and lovers in the next ten minutes as we were in the next seventeen years and had raised a family.
She was a woman of fine sensitive qualities, and she told me later that she had been in the habit of searching a young man's spirit to know if he was pure; but, she said, "In your case, the strange thing was, that my spirit made no such search. I just knew it.
I want to tell you in that matter she was not wrong, for when I was a boy, though I was surrounded by as vile a set of men as have ever lived, I determined in my soul that one day I would look into a woman's soul and tell her that I was pure.
If you held the hand of Jesus tonight, do you suppose your spirit would be capable of searching His soul to know whether He was pure? No, instinctively something in that purer spirit would cause you to know that it was your Lord.
Then I want to ask you on the other hand, suppose the Spirit of Jesus searched our own, what would he discern? That is the question, that is the big question that men are compelled continually to ask of themselves. What would the Spirit of Jesus discern in you? What would the Spirit of Jesus discern in me?
Would the Spirit of Jesus be drawn to us, or would we repel Him because of unholiness? The Word of God lays blessed and splendid emphasis in the fact we need the cleansing power of Jesus to make our spirit pure and sweet and lovely like His own. Then having cleansed us and sanctified us to Himself, then He Himself by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, comes in to dwell in our nature and take up His eternal abiding and residence in us. This we welcome, bless God, the HABITATION OF GOD through the Spirit.
Transmitting the Spirit
I sat one day on the platform of a great tabernacle in the presence of ten thousand persons who had collected to hear me preach. I had received a promise from God the night before for that occasion. The Spirit of the Lord had given in His own words an outline of the history of man's nature from the creation to the redemption and empowering by the Spirit of God. But the anointing from heaven that would make possible the presentation of such an ideal, and make it acceptable to the hearts of thousands who listened, had not yet come.
Presently from the soul of an old gentleman next to me, as I sat praying, I was conscious of the Spirit's falling about me until my nature was overcome by it. I had difficulty to maintain my seat, waiting for the preliminaries to be finished so that I could get a chance to deliver the message.
That man became the agency of divine transmission of the Spirit of God to me, just the same as Jesus Christ was the agency of divine transmission through which the Spirit of God was imparted to the people of His Day.
Such is the marvel of the nature of man united to the Lord Jesus Christ, when all the abundant fullness-the ABUNDANT FULLNESS of His holy nature-may come to you and me when our temple has been prepared to receive Him.
Beloved, if you have been getting along with an ounce of healing, bless your soul, if you have been getting along with a limited measure of blessing in your daily life, let me encourage you that the fountain will not be exhausted when your spirit is filled with the overflow.
The Spirit of God is like the bread that the disciples held in their hands; when it became filled with the Spirit of God it multiplied in their hands. When they broke off some there was more remaining than when they began. The Spirit of God is creative, generative, constructive, and the more you give the more you receive. There must be a great opening in the nature of man in order that he may be a large receiver, and the strangeness of it is that it depends upon whether you are large givers. Nothing like it in the world. It is a violation of every law of man, but it is the common law of the Spirit. Why? Because the Spirit, unlike other things, is creative. It grows, it magnifies in your soul, it multiplies as you distribute it to another.
So Jesus laid down a perpetual law: "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom" [Luke 6:381.
In my experience of twenty-five years of healing ministry, I have known very few instances of a person being healed when they approached you with such words as these: "If I am healed, I will give the church so much" or "I will make a large donation." You see the reason is that the Spirit is not received at that place. We are just entering into a knowledge of the law of Jesus Christ: "Give, and it shall be given unto you." God tried through the Mosaic Law to demonstrate to mankind that the way of blessing was the way of giving. See old Isaac when he approached God, coming with his lamb or dove in his hand, or whatever the sacrifice was that he was about to offer on his behalf.
The Christian's Offering
But beloved, Christianity has a deeper revelation of the same truth. We come, not with a dove, nor a lamb, nor a he goat, nor a heifer. No, we come with our LIFE, we come with our nature, we come with our all offering it to the Lord. Not bargaining with Him, not endeavoring by a shrewd bargain to obtain the blessing. That is the reason many a soul loses its blessing. Quit it.
Very rarely have I known people to miss the blessing of God when they came openly, saying, "I desire to receive; I want to give." Their spirit, their nature has come into harmony with God's law, "Give, and it shall be given unto you." Don't you know that is the secret of all affection between man and man, between the sexes. Men are not always seeking for some one to love them; they are seeking for some one that they can love. When two souls are seeking for the one they can love, there is a union, and the world very gradually is learning that there are real marriages. There is a union of spirit so indissoluble that nothing on earth or in heaven will ever sunder them.
Christ is seeking for the soul that will receive His love, and the Christian, the real one, is seeking for the Christ Who will receive his love. Bless God. Both are practicing the unalterable law of God, "Give, and it shall be given unto you."
Frequently we observe that sympathy becomes the door through which affection enters lives. I once talked with a nurse, and I asked her what the hardest thing in a nurse's life was. She said, "If you remain a woman and do not become steeled in your nature and hardened in your affections, you will find it most difficult to keep from permitting your affections to follow your sympathy."
And over and over, as a law of life, a woman will nurse a man, and before she is through she will love him. Why? Because sympathy for him has opened the door of her nature, and unconsciously has flowed out in affection to him.
There is a thing that is dearer to God than anything else, and the only thing that is worthwhile. It is the same thing that is dearer to every man. That thing is the affection of your heart.
You can see your son rise to a place of eminence and respect in the world, and yet he will disappoint your soul. Why? Because the soul of the real father is seeking something besides that. He is seeking the affection of the son, and if he fails to receive it, all the rest is barren.
Christ is seeking the affection of mankind, the union of their spirit with His, for without their affection there can never be that deep union of the spirit between God and man that makes possible a richness of life, made glorious by His indwelling. That is why the love of God is held forth in the Word as the one supreme attraction to draw the soul of man in returned affection.
And you can give to your Lord your money and your property and your brain, and all the other things that are usually considered to be very excellent, but if you withhold your affections from Him and give them to another, the Word says you are an adulterer.
Our Father, teach us to love thee, teach us dear Lord its value, teach us its power, teach us our spirit's need. My God, in the richness of Thy beautiful Spirit all the impoverished nature's need is supplied. In turn, if we can add to Thy joy by giving to Thee the affection of our heart, great God, who could withhold? Amen.