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That piece of work at some time in its history goes down to death. It may seem that all its effectives are being destroyed and that there will be nothing of it left. Then there comes a swing of the pendulum and from the very lowest depths of the grave of this buried piece of work there is an uprising by the quickening life of God.
Many servants of God have seen the work to which they were sure they were called, go this way. For some mysterious reason it seems that God takes the work down to death before it can live with abiding vitality and victory. Perhaps it is just that the human life must go out in order that the Divine life might come in.
2. Liberty Through Surrender
"Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free."
The whole of Isaiah 53 is a wonderful exposition of this truth.
Here is the suffering Servant of Jehovah. By His own consent He is taken into a many-sided captivity. He has emptied Himself to become obedient to the death of the Cross. He has surrendered His divine rights, and has made Himself of no reputation, but is allowing Himself to be the plaything of all evil forces, in order that going down under them on the human side, He might tear them asunder and rise in transcendant victory over them, far above all principalities and powers.
The Cross is a picture of captivity on the human side. "He saved others, Himself He cannot save." "Cannot" is the ruling word of the Adamic race, but the Cross is the instrument or means by which the complete emancipation is wrought by Christ for Himself as the representative and inclusive Person of the new race.
When the Cross has done its work there is liberation from all human limitations, and Christ breaks forth from the grave in a way which gives Him the mastery of the whole situation.
Those who have been identified with Him in His death are raised by Him to a life on a supernatural level, and through them He achieves such things as were before utterly impossible.
There is no human explanation of the accomplishments of Christ through the ages since Calvary. The human side has been totally inadequate. This is true intellectually, socially, physically, constitutionally in the case of by far the greater number of those who have been used in these transcendent achievements.
They have been the transmitters to the world of things which "Eye saw not, ear heard not, things which entered not into the heart of man," but which God revealed to them by His Spirit. The work done, the range covered, and the undying nature of their services has been in every way utterly out of proportion to the human resources. Not only so, but as we have already pointed out, everything that the devil could utilise, stir up, and rally to their undoing and defeat has only borne out the fact of the supernatural and limitless nature of the work.
3. Enlargement Through Loss
Refer to Isaiah 53 again. Here we see the Redeeming Servant of God going into desolation. The whole picture is one of desolation. He is alone, despised and rejected - terrible aloneness - His Cross has cost Him everything. His own brethren do not believe in Him, His nearest disciples do not understand Him, and yet how did that wonderful chapter close? "He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days; ...He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied."
From that point of the losses of the Cross and its promise of "seed," we move on to the ultimate vindication. "Behold a Lamb as it had been slain, in the midst of the Throne," and around Him "great multitudes which no man could number, out of all nations, and tribes and peoples and tongues." There is the gain, the countless multitude, the result of His travail.
The practical application is this: Very often it does seem that God requires a lot of us; that this Cross makes tremendous inroads, tremendous demands, and sometimes forces the demand to the point of pain, when we have to hand over to Him something very dear. We seem all the time to be giving, giving. It seems that the law of sacrifice is tremendously at work. But this is the road and the law by which, and by which alone, the infinite and transcendent gain can come.
There is the Devil spreading out before the Lord, "all the Kingdoms of the world and the glory thereof," and saying, "all these will I give Thee, if -" and this is the subtle significance of it - "if you will only keep off that Cross." Satan knew what the Cross was going to mean, namely, that he would lose the world kingdoms and that Christ would have them by that Cross. So in effect his words meant, "Keep off that Cross, and I will give you everything."
But said the Master, in effect, I am going to the Cross and I can afford to reject your offer for the time being. So He went by the way that led to the Cross, rejecting the world, denying Himself, and there, according to His own words. "The prince of this world was cast out," and He gained more than the Devil could have given Him. He gets the kingdoms of the world after all, by letting them go.
Are you prepared to let go in order to obtain? Let go the temporal for the eternal, the transient for the abiding, the earthly for the heavenly, the present glamour for the ultimate glory? This is the way to possess all things. Christ now has received of His Father's hands eternal fulness, and by our union with Him through the Cross, even these lives may become transcendently rich and unspeakably full.
Some of us have proved that the things that we were most loath to let go - but which at length we gladly yielded up - have come back to us with a greater fulness or have been the way of an enrichment transcending anything we before knew.
The compensation is overwhelming as at the Cross we lay our treasure in the dust, "the gold of Ophir with the stones of the brook," that the Almighty should be our treasure.