Consecration and Crucifixion
WE COME HERE to study the method of God more closely. I am indebted here especially to a work called The Law of Faith, by Norman Grubb, for help in clarifying some of my ideas.
I have, through the years, had a fashion of trying to impress my hearer with this statement: In the light of man's judgment, God is usually slow and awkward. He never does anything with the finesse that is characteristic of man's work. He resorts to means and methods that are often very foolish to man and goes in such a round-about way to do His work that it is wearying to the flesh. People who work in the energy of the flesh have little patience with, or confidence in, God's ways. That is why we substitute for God's ways the efficiency of the flesh. That is why the product of today is so often synthetic.
What it all means is that God is doing so much more than we are doing, it is difficult for us to see why He does it the way He does and why it takes so long. Only men of faith can expect His methods to succeed or can have the patience to wait for them to mature.
Furthermore, there is so much misunderstanding as to the aims and ends of God's purposes, that we find hosts of people working for things which God does not seek nor foster. This, however, is too involved for this book, and
we will simply leave the statement for the reader's reflection. But it is true that a clearer understanding of the aims and objectives of God would serve to concentrate our blunder-buss efforts on the main things and save a lot of lost motion. It takes a long time for God to grow a tree, or cut a deep river gorge, or grow a man or a woman; and the greater His work of art, the longer it takes. We must remember also that it takes a long time for God to grow a Christian into maturity, and the means by which He does it are quite involved. For this reason we should never get ahead of God nor sit in judgment on His methods.
For instance, young people are often asked to consecrate their lives to God. When I first heard that invitation, I wanted to do it. But after I did what I thought was consecration, I expected God to lead me into some unusual expression of spiritual life which would make me very effective. When it finally dawned on me that doors were not opening into any spectacular field of expression, I wondered why, and was somewhat discouraged.
I was converted up the creek in the old church, where meeting time was once a month, and where a weak little Sunday School was held only during the summer months. Revivals came along as God seemed to indicate. We never planned revivals; we simply met for the meetings of the church on Saturday and Sunday once each month, and, if the Spirit "moved" during the meetings and the brethren were impressed, we had meeting the next night. If the Spirit "moved" again, we announced meeting for the next night. Often a revival would break out, and many would be saved. I have seen these meetings go on for three or four weeks, and the Spirit moving to make people happy and bring many into the fold. The testimony that arose from these meetings
was, "The Lord has blessed us." Here it is again - what the Lord did for us. Yes, it kept us right busy, for we had to tell of His blessings and let others know what the Lord was doing for us, and that attracted lost people from all over the country. They came and saw what our God was doing for us and were impressed, convicted, and saved. That is the way it will have to be now if we ever reach the lost. We will have to give God a chance to do something for us.
Having been reared up in that kind of religion and being an eye witness to the character it produced in the lives of those who were saved, it is natural for me to think that it could be done that way now. During one of these meetings I was saved. I remember how I came to see that I could do nothing, and, in blind trust, I fell upon God's Son as my hope. Faith, given by God, laid hold on the Word of promise, and the defence rested with a plea of guilty. Jesus saved me! I did the best I knew how to grow in grace, taught a little Sunday School class, prayed God to call me to preach, and served in whatever way I could. One day while I was hoeing corn around a sunny point, my mind was filled with thoughts of God. It was there that I heard God's call. There was no soft organ playing, other than the breeze; no choir but the birds; no consecration meeting, nor superficial seance with the Holy Spirit. Just God talking to His child in a setting wholly lacking in the soft light, soft music atmosphere of modern consecration meetings. There I eagerly answered His call.
I cannot detail the life which followed. I went to a mission school for high school training, then to a Christian college. As I see it now, I was often sinful, often conceited, often ambitious, but I thought I was humble. There seemed
to be no spectacular success in my ministry. I plodded along with the usual life of a boy struggling through unwise days, but with a desire to grow better and more effective. After college I started in a completely organized modern church as director of its educational activities and its music. I was irked by the endless details and the lack of spiritual power. Modern churches seemed to be nothing to me but big business institutions. Everybody was busy, working feverishly at something, and yet I could not see the end. The theory seemed to be that if you will set the mill up in order and get all its parts coordinating, it will, of itself, do a mass job of log sawing. The only lack seemed to be in the difficulty of getting steam in the engine and logs on the carriage. Well, I was a failure there and resigned. Nobody was to blame but myself. I just couldn't reconcile this big modern church life with the way the Spirit "moved" at the old home church.
I continued to preach wherever I had opportunity. I married, went through some bereavements and other sorrows, had some reverses financially, and at last landed in my present pastorate twenty years ago. Through these years Satan has been on the job. But through these years I have come to understand the matters written in this book.
The outstanding discovery of my life is the difference between consecration and crucifixion. Here I wish to discuss this matter, for it is most important.
Consecration, or dedication, or whatever it is, is merely the start of spiritual growth. I had thought it would be the beginning of a spectacular and phenomenal spiritual success. Really, I see now that my first acts of "consecration" had been merely an expression of a desire to live closer to God. That is usually what it means when people respond to such
invitations. It was not until I came to study God's Word in the light of the deeper spiritual life that I came to know the meaning of dedication of life. It cannot be done again and again. It is once for all, just as Jordan is crossed once for all. It is, simply, arriving at maturity. There God takes over and, from there on, your life is under His direction. You may be inconstant and often forget, but God does not. Just as we trust Him to save us and He takes complete responsibility from there on, so, when we trust Him to take our lives and make them successful, He takes over and begins to work His purposes in us. He must do something for us!
This is absolute surrender. You are troubled about your sins and failures; you hand that over to Him. You are harrassed and burdened with trial; you hand that over to Him. You want to be a good witness but find you are helpless to do it; you hand that over to Him. The whole life is surrendered to Him, and from there on He is responsible to take the lump of clay and make of it what He will. You learn, by experience, to follow the course of faith we have been discussing in previous chapters. On all these points you learn to trust God and see Him do for you what you found you could not do. Every stronghold is overcome by faith.
Keep in mind what it is to overcome by faith. It is not to remove sin, but to believe what the Bible says, that you are not under the rule of sin now, but under grace. Therefore you will not be dealt with as a sinner under judgment; the judgment of sins has passed for you. You will be dealt with now as a son under gtace. This you believe, and are free from the reign of sin. You are in the hands of a loving Father - a Great Physician who has taken your case and
promises to cure you. This victory is not to remove your trials but to make something out of them. And, in so dealing with your sins and with your trials, you will find God so good and so gracious, and His wonderful ways so far above anything the world has to offer, that you will stand through trial with grace in your heart and show what God can do for you. You will be so happy to be associated in this intimate walk with God, and will be so full of the spiritual understanding which all this brings, that your mouth will be open and you will be eager to tell "the wonderful things of God." This will make you a great witness.
But when you dedicate your life to God, He accepts you as a Iamb for the slaughter. You are an offering for the altar. Like Jesus, you are to be "kept up" until you are proven. That is, you are to be put through the tests of tribulation and patience and all the steps God may use to prepare you for the offering. Then you will be asked to go on the Cross and die with your Lord.
Consecration is merely giving yourself to God so that He can crucify you. It is the crucifixion that puts you where you can become useful. If Jesus had merely lived in this world, though He lived perfectly, that would have been no help for lost sinners. That was a test of His obedience and perfection to qualify Him for the offering. The Cross is what made Him valuable to us. And you and I may be entirely dedicated to God, but He will have to put us on the Cross before self can be put asunder so that we can be entirely His. This age talks much of consecration, but it knows little of crucifixion.
This is the pattern of life for all of God's saints. I should like to take Moses as a classic example. Moses made a spectacular
dedication of life to God. He "chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season."
When you consider what Moses was giving up and the prospect of the people of God there in bondage, it seems indeed a spectacular surrender. If Moses had come into our services then, we would have introduced him and have made a long speech about what he gave up to serve God. He would almost be worshipped because of his "sacrifice." I always get a little nausea when somebody goes to telling what somebody gave up to serve God. Poor God! what a beggar He has been! Nothing to offer anyone, but just has to beg people to give up their rich and glorious life here to serve Him because He is so pitiful and has nobody to help Him! But that is the world's estimate of this world and God's heritage.
Nobody can make any sacrifices to God. Whatever we give up cost God His precious Son. Let no one be so irreverent as to think we have anything to offer Him. He is self-sufficient, and no one can give unto Him. All we can do is worship Him, and that means utterly to deplore ourselves and confess that we deserve nothing but to go to hell, and that He only is worthy to live. That is worship! People often weep more over the hardships of the missionaries than they do over the lost condition of the heathen to whom they go. You can get more money by appealing for the comfort of a missionary than you can for the salvation of a lost sinner. All credit to those who serve God in these fields. But nobody ever outgave God. We have nothing to sacrifice. We simply have the choice of entering into His purpose and saving our lives by losing them, or of losing them by withholding them from Him
So, Moses made the surrender. No doubt it was genuine. But like many of us who have done this, he set about im- mediately in the wisdom and energy of the flesh to do great things for God. So, Moses went out immediately to set things in order for God's people. You know the story. He saw an Egyptian task master beating an Israelite slave. He killed the task master, and set the Israelite free.
Now, we are made to wonder if this was the way God wanted him to approach his task. Of course, the symbolism here is that he identified himself with his people and was rejected, as Jesus was later on. But there was something more involved. There is a sense in which it was a mistake for Moses to begin, in the energy of the flesh, to deliver God's people. The next day he saw two Israelites fighting and sought to make peace between them. They turned upon him and accused him of slaying the Egyptian. There is much preaching in this incident, but suffice it to say now that Moses was trying to solve the problem in his own wisdom. The symbolism is full: there must be a crucifixion before Israel can be delivered. So, by the turn of events, Moses is driven into the land of Midian, where God can prepare him for his great task.
And of what does that preparation consist? Simply, crucifixion! Moses was no doubt very earnest and conscien- tious when he went out to relieve his people of their burdens, and do all he could to deliver them. However, he went in the energy and wisdom of the flesh and got exactly nowhere. This is the way so many earnest souls try to serve the Lord. They have seriously dedicated their lives unto God, now they feel that God should begin to use them mightily. They are instructed to give their talents and abilities to God, and let God use them in a great way. So often they are disappointed
because they do not know the body which is consecrated is then to be crucified.
It is so easy for us to act in the wisdom of the flesh, because we are earnest and conscientious. Here is where Satan takes his advantage. He meets the conscientious soul with a proposition of the flesh, and makes it seem to have come from God. It is so easy for Satan to make our idea seem to be the very one God has sent. One wonders how many of us would have been fooled by the opportunity Moses had as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. I can hear some preacher advising the young man: "Moses, you love your people and want to serve them, don't you? Well, God has given you the greatest opportunity any man can ever have to deliver them. You remember how God directed your parents to place you where the daughter of Pharaoh could find you. Then how God delivered you to her, and you became a prince in Pharaoh's kingdom. Do you not see the hand of God in this? You just stay in there until Pharaoh dies, then you will become king. Then you can deliver your people. It is a made-to-order plan from God, and one can plainly see that this is His will."
We wonder why Moses did not do it this way. It is so appealing. And sensible! But the foolishness of God is wiser than men! God is not seeking our information; He is seeking our identification. To have the inside track on the government would have been the direct route to the deliverance of Israel. Why did God have to go forty years out of the way, and on a long sojourn in the land of Midian, when He had such a direct route to the objective? Well, the answer is, "As the heavens are high above the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways." If Moses had done it that way, he would have gotten the glory. So, God just
goes so far out of the way and waits so long, that nobody could say it was a smart plan of human ingenuity. Besides, God had to have a crucified man through whom to deliver Israel, and He had to take him out there to the Cross. He wanted Moses to become identified with Him, not with Egypt; so that when the deliverance came it would be from God, not from some smart human strategist. All God wants with any of us is our identification with Him; He has plans of His own.
Well, Moses has struck in the energy of the flesh and suddenly finds himself sitting yonder in Midian minding Jethro's sheep. I imagine he thought he had made a mistake, but that it would soon "blow over" and he could return to carry out his work. At least he has time for sober reflection. He can't see why it turned out this way. He was well equipped to do the job. He was trained in all the wisdom and customs of the Egyptians and knew the strategy of government well. He could make great speeches, and his princely background in the Egyptian world ought to have made him a dead ringer for the role of Israel's leader. He imagined, no doubt, how he could sway them when he let some of his brethren introduce him, and tell what he had given up to identify himself with them. The glamour of his former life would be no obstacle to the feminine element of Jacob's descendants, though he would let that have its greater power by a sort of subtle obscurity. Earnest as he was, like most of us, he no doubt was willing to place all this fine equipment at the disposal of God, and for the blessing of his people.
I do not reflect upon the sincerity of Moses nor upon that of any of our people who dedicate their lives to Christ. But I do say that many people never reach that state of
maturity where they can discover how much actual self there is in what they do. There is nothing in the flesh but something to crucify. In Galatians 5:19 we get a picture of what the flesh can do: "Now the works of the flesh are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like." If these are the works of the flesh, no wonder it has to be crucified! Human strategy is usually wrong, for God is working from above, and we are working from below. Our viewpoints are entirely opposite; why should not our methods be so? No wonder God's ways are so different from ours!
Moses has been in Midian now a year and has been courting one of Jethro's daughters. Nothing more has come of the Lord's plan to deliver Israel. By now Moses ~ feels, no doubt, that there was some mistake in the whole thing. He settles down to marriage and begins living there for the rest of his life. Ten years pass, and he is quite settled in Midian. He has grown rusty in court manners, has settled into the customs of the Midianites, smells like wool, and only occasionally reflects upon the brilliant prospects that lay before him on the day of his dedication to God. Who knows what went through his mind? I am merely imagining. But something of this nature entered into his reflections as the years went by. Ten years of this kind of life, wondering what God meant, and why everything turned out this way for a man who so earnestly dedicated his life to God, is certainly enough to puzzle the most faithful of God's children. Elijah grew despondent in a few hours of reverses. So have others.
Twenty years gone by! Connections in Egypt have about died out. Wonder what is going on in that country now? How are God's people faring? Will He ever raise up any- body to deliver them? Thirty years - long years - go by. No evidence of God reviving His interest in Moses.. A shepherd of Midian with a little family goes on toward his eightieth year, and life in Egypt becomes now only a faint memory. Nobody knows how far from the culture of Egypt these years have removed Moses. Plans and dreams and enthusiasm of youth now mock the venerable man. Aspirations have fallen, and for all He knows God has forgotten. Forty years have covered the pathway back to Egypt, and there is no thought of ever retracing his steps. He is too old now, and life has settled down toward eventide. What church would have called Moses as pastor now?
Suddenly a little way from him there is a bush on fire. Now God speaks. "Worship! God is here! Put off your shoes; this is holy ground !"
Moses draws near in reverence, heart beating with awe and wonder. "I want you to go and deliver Israel," says the voice. I can hear his heart throbbing. His brow wrinkles, and he tries to remember. "Deliver Israel!" he repeats with astonishment. Then, with probing memory, he repeats slowly, "Deliver Israel!" The third chapter of Exodus gives the account. After much conversation we come to the fourth chapter where Moses files objection. They will not believe him! God takes care of that with a sign. Then Moses remembers how well trained he was forty years ago, and how well equipped he was to do the job. But now - now he is out of date. He has lost his culture, his manners of court, his appeal to the children of Israel; he cannot speak
now with convincing power as he once did. He has lost his talents!
This is the confession God is waiting for. In substance He says, "Well, Moses, this is the time I have been waiting for. You started out to deliver Israel with a very earnest spirit. But you had your mouth full of things you were going to say and your head full of things you were going to do. You didn't let me fill you with my words and my thoughts. You wanted me to use what you had, but that would not serve my purposes. It has taken forty years for you to let your words and thoughts die out, so that I could fill you with mine. Now that you are empty of self, and recognize the fact that you have no power or wisdom with which to do God's work, I am ready to take you and fill you with divine wisdom and power. I have waited until you died out so I could get in you and deliver Israel. It took forty years to crucify you until you confessed yourself dead. Now that you realize you are inadequate, I will fill you and make you powerful in the Lord. From now on, when you go to the great task to which I have called you, instead of uttering your speeches, you will say to Pharaoh, "Thus saith the Lord!"
We all know the story from there on. Moses made his consecration at the age of forty; God finished his crucifixion at the age of eighty. Now he was ready for the Master's use. And so it is with us all. We are long on consecration, and do it over and over. We are not afraid of that. But we dread those nails that pin self on the Cross. It takes a long time to crucify self. Yea, we will ever have to be driving another nail in our hands, for as long as Satan can have access to the flesh, self will want to come down from the Cross. But if we are to save others we must stay
up there. It was a great Christ who could have come down from the Cross, but it was a greater Christ who could stay up there. Self must get out of the way if we are to serve God, and the only place for him is on the Cross. Until then he will always be in God's way.
This is the pattern of the lives of God's saints, Abraham, Jacob, David, Elijah, Peter, Paul, and all the rest. Consecration is not enough; we must go to the altar and die. That is why it takes God so long to bring us to maturity and fruitfulness. This is the difference between the carnal believer and the spiritual believer. The carnal man may dedicate his life to Christ, but he is unwilling to go to the Cross. The spiritual man knows the meaning of the Cross in his life; He pins the wisdom of self to the Cross and accepts the wisdom of God.
When Thomas said, "Except I see the nail prints, I will not believe," he was expressing the attitude of this world toward God's children. Only when lost men can see the marks of crucifixion in us, and can see that God has given us a life that is not of self, will they be impressed with our God and believe.
[Buell H. Kazee, Faith is the Victory, 1951. Used with the permission of Philip R. Kazee. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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