THE SURRENDERED life is the life on the other side of Jordan. It is the fruitful life, the victorious life, the life of the Spirit in us. The fruitful life does not begin until we cross Jordan. In this study we shall find the answer to our question.
Joshua crossed Jordan. Then he met the Captain of the Lord's host. As soon as he was aware of the Captain's identity, he fell upon his face and asked, "What wilt thou have thy servant to do?" This is a question from a surrendered heart. He made no suggestion; simply asked, and bowed in submission. Joshua found the blessing of absolute surrender. His life was at once fruitful.
The good land, the Promised Land, the realm of the Spirit life, — this country is guarded, in our experience, by the giants of Anak, or, in other words, the devil. After we have been saved, the devil does not care how long we wander in the wilderness, just so we do not seek to enter the fruitful life across Jordan. But once we cross Jordan and take our place behind our Great Leader, the Delivever, Jesus Christ, the enemy will at once begin to defend his "walled cities." Satan does not want us to come to the place where God can possess us, and work in us and do His great work in our souls. So, he begins to defeat every advance we try to make. These walled cities of this land can be taken only through the power of Christ, but they CAN be taken.
TO TAKE these cities means, transferring to the other figure, becoming fruitful and having victory over sin. To be fruitful is the normal desire of every child of God. Not to have this desire is to be in an unhealthy spiritual condition. The fruitful life is spoken of in John 12:24: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
Immediately, there is the prospect of abiding alone. It is the picture of the grain kept from the earth, of the life kept from death. "Except it die" is the condition of "abiding alone," never reproducing, never living in fruitfulness. "If it die" is the condition of fruitfulness.
The prospect of the fruitful life is here exalted. "If it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." Here is the "if" that blights so many Christian lives. It must be removed. Christ here refers to His own death. He changed the "if" to "must." "The Son of Man MUST be lifted up." No "ifs" in His program. He settled it by inserting "must," and went on to the Cross.
So must we. No life can be fruitful without dying. Go back to the figure. The Spirit is in the body as the heart is in the grain. Both were put there by God. The heart is put in the hard, crusted grain; the Holy Spirit is put in the earthly, selfish life. Both the grain and the self-life must be broken before the heart of the Spirit can have freedom to work. Only death can do this. They must each fall into the ground and die ere they bring forth much fruit.
Jesus was powerful enough to do great things. But with all His power to do, He yet chose to die. IT WAS BY DYING AND NOT BY DOING THAT HE BECAME FRUITFUL. THIS IS THE UNALTERABLE NECESSITY FOR US WHO SEEK TO ENTER THE PROMISED LAND.
How does this come into our lives? Often I have spoken of it. I will try again to say it. We must die. We must fall into the ground. How helpless we are to do anything for God! And yet, how we strive to do! What do we need to do? What is there to do for God? What can we bring to God as an offering? Is He not self-sufficient? Is He not complete without anything we can give? We can make no sacrifice to Him. What then can we do? We can simply receive what He does for us; let His sacrifice for us become effective in us. He gives us all, which is the Holy Spirit. All we can do is: yield ourselves to that Spirit to let Him perform what God wills in us.
THE "deeper life" is not doing for God; it is yielding ourselves as failures to God to let Him do for us. God performs His purposes only when He is doing for us. We enter into that purpose only when we let Him do for us. Dying with Christ is yielding all to Him that He may possess us, He is in us now we must let Him possess us. The grain simply falls into the ground; that is all it can do. That is surrender; that is yielding. All else is done by God, both in the grain and with us. The grain grows naturally; so do we, when we fall into the ground. And all because we fell into the ground — nothing more, as far as we are concerned.
"But," you say, "shall we do nothing?" I answer, "What can we do?" What does the grain do? It grows: That is what we can do if we fall into the ground, and give up self and our own efforts, and trust God to do for us what we have failed to do and cannot ever do.
Out of growth comes fruitage. This is a natural process. But fruitage is after growth, and growth is after we have "fallen into the ground." You want to do something for God? Then yield yourself to God in faith and let Him do something for you. "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." Why not yield, "fall into the ground," die, and begin to grow in another kind of life? This is the work of God. Fruitfulness comes later, after we have died and started to grow from the ground (I speak in the figure, of course.).
Most of us want to bear fruit before we grow. Churches are full of people like that, trying to run out "shoots" prematurely. Fruitage is the product of long growth and maturity. Most of us are not mature enough to bear fruit. Some of us have not even "fallen into the ground," yet we are teaching Sunday-school classes, or possibly even preaching to others from the pulpit.
Many who have not died in Christ to the self-life, yet who are bent on bearing fruit, are substituting the fruit of the flesh. It is often more spectacular, but it is utterly unfit for the Master's use.
Why must we die? In order to get the old life out oi the way. Nothing, hinders the heart of the grain like the old shell or crust. Likewise nothing hinders the Spirit life like the shell of self — self-plans, self-power, self-methods, self-objectives, self-prominence and self-preferment. Self cannot even discern the purposes of God, much less do them. Much of what we are doing in our churches today is the self-life trying to produce fpiritual fruit.
THE "mystery of godliness" has escaped most of us. It is indeed a mystery. Godliness is being, not doing. A man can be only what he has become. And spiritually, he can become only what God makes him. How different would be our churches If we could catch this mystery!
To quit doing, and become, is hateful to the flesh. The flesh does not want us to become, it wants to do for us. The flesh hates to quit doing because it would mean that most of our smart innovations and mechanical gadgets must die with the flesh. The rush of much of the activity in our churches would die out, and, like Joshua, we would become worshippers of a .God who has much to give us, and would no longer stand in the way of His purposes to give us His larger life. We would no longer, in our rush to do something to merit or compel His approval, fail to discern Him, being centered in discerning our own fine doings.
I go back here to Martha and Mary. They are the outstanding Bible example. Martha was trying to do for the Master. Discerning Him, Mary performed a more proper service by letting Him do for her. "The Son of Man came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." Mary discerned this, and opened her heart to Him. This was what the Master wanted. He said so. This is what God wants of you and me — to open our hearts and receive what He wants to do for us.
This crucifies the flesh, of course, and this crucifixion the flesh hates. The flesh in many good men, earnest men, zealous men, holds back here. But discerning the "mystery" of godliness lies in this truth.
We perform God's purpose by letting Him possess us. The flesh is ruled out, yea, and all its works. Our doing, from there on, will be of a different order. It will be far less showy, less pretentious, but far more mellow, spiritual, and effective. There will be less worry, more peace; less anxiety, more faith; less disappointment, more victory.
But if we do nothing, what fruit shall we bear? I do not say we shall do nothing. But what we do will be God within us, and it will be far different from that which we try to prosecute in our own power, and for the scanty fruitage of which we are constantly having to apologize before the world.
What is the result of a life which has fallen into the ground and died? Fruitfulness! What kind of fruit? The fruit of the Spirit of life. And what is that? "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control."
What wonders Christ could perform with lives and churches like that!
[From The Western Recorder, December 19, 1940. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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