Rest and Liberty In The Spirit # 2
We can rest - without passivity which is a wrong kind of rest, a false rest; without that kind of fatalism which says, "What is to be, will be." But if we are definitely seeking to move with the Lord, we can rest. The Holy Spirit has this matter in hand, and every deviation of ours will find the Holy Spirit reacting to it and bringing us back. Every time we feel we can go on no longer, we find we come back again, we just cannot stay thee, back we come again. We know that it is not just our persistence, but thee is a persistence of God. He has this thing in hand, and that is liberty.
These others were coming in and saying, "You must, and unless you do...!" The apostle said, "There is no must about it, you walk in the Spirit and you will." You can take it for granted, you can rest in this: the Holy Spirit has come to take charge of this matter, and if you will seek to be in real fellowship with the Lord, you will be free from all that terrible bondage of all the time being beaten by what you ought to do and ought not to do. You are at liberty in Christ, you are at rest. All I have to do is to have no rebellion in my heart, to have no resistance to the Spirit, to seek to be open to the Lord. The Holy Spirit has the whole thing in hand if I will keep in the road; He has come to do this - I can rest. That is liberty in Christ from the terrible bondage of law. It is the work of the Spirit.
I put it very simply because we must never come under a strain in the Christian life. Sometimes there is presented to us some view of the great purpose of God, some presentation of truth that is altogether beyond us; something from the Word of God which we would call deeper or higher or fuller is brought to us, and we have it explained and all its laws and principles set forth, and then the whole thing becomes a strain. How can I get into that, how can I attain to that? The thing is so big and it seems so terribly beyond us. Well, if that is of the Lord, if that is the Lord's will, then, Lord, I adjust to that, I accept that, and I say, "Lord, I am committed to that; if You see there are those things that would get in the way, I am prepared for You to deal with those things that would get in the way, I am prepared for You to deal with those things." And you rest in faith, you apprehend, you lay hold. Then the Lord has got that, the Holy Spirit has come to do that, and, being like that, you do not make a great burden of it. We need not make a strain of it at all. The enemy would like us to make a terrible strain of this whole thing, and so the Christian life becomes something that takes the joy and rest out. It is just the opposite! The Holy Spirit has come to do this. All that we have to see to is that the Holy Spirit does not meet positive obstruction in us, that we are going on with the Lord as He shows us, and He will work the whole thing out.
Paul was the great personal example of the way of spiritual fullness as to its beginnings. You notice that in the beginning of this letter, Paul takes pains to present his own spiritual history. He is reinforcing his argument by a good deal about himself. He tells us of his beginnings, how it came to him. "Neither did I receive it (the gospel) from man, nor was I taught it, but ... through revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:12). "It was the good pleasure of God...to reveal his Son in me" (Gal. 1:15-16). Then he tells us various things about himself, but his point is that his whole spiritual life was based upon a firsthand, living knowledge of the Lord and not something second-hand. And that is the first key to spiritual fullness, that this is a living spiritual matter that is firsthand, and not something that we receive from books, study, conferences, messages, other people, but for us, whatever there may have been of help towards understanding, the thing has become a personal living thing, and it is like that all the time. That is the key to spiritual fullness.
The Holy Spirit's Urge in Ministry
But then you notice the apostle here is not only the example of the basis of spiritual fullness, but he is the great example of this principle that I have been trying to set forth - the urge of the Spirit. If the Lord had been content with anything less than fullness, if the Lord had been satisfied that these people had been saved with a good conversion from paganism to Christ, then Paul would not have been worried. You would never have words like this - "of whom I am again in travail." What is this travail? What is this thing that Paul is talking about as to himself - "striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily" (Col. 1:29). "That we may present every man perfect in Christ" (Col. 1:28). Paul is the personal example of the Holy Spirit's great concern for His spiritual fullness of the Lord's people.
I speak from our own case as those who need to be on this ground ourselves, this ground of rest, this ground of confidence that the Holy Spirit is going to do the whole thing while we are walking in the Spirit. If we are called to be ministers of the fullness of Christ, that is, of greater measures of Christ to others, if we have been apprehended by Christ with a view to bringing the Lord's people into a greater fullness, we can take it that the Lord will never let us settle down to something less. May we take our own experience? I cannot tell you how many times in the course of these good few years now, I have been personally tempted to take a lower level of ministry, to be content with just so much and not go any further, because this reach for the Lord's fullest thought is so costly. It brings us into such suffering of almost every kind, in the spiritual realm and among men and among our brethren in Christ. To stand for God's ultimate, complete thought and intention involves us in such a lot, and the temptation comes sometimes, under extreme pressure, not to go so far, not to be so utter, not to stand for so much. The temptation is, if only you would come within a smaller compass, a lot of this trouble would would be lifted from you. And sometimes we have almost felt, "Well, perhaps we are trying to go a bit too far,and so on. Next time we are going to give a much simpler message!" But oh, we cannot, it just does not work. The Holy Spirit will not let you, and you come to a real crisis. Did the Lord call you to that? If so, you are going to do a terrible injury if you do not go right on with it. I mean this: the Spirit of God within just will not let you come down; He reacts, and you have to go on and go on. He has this thing in hand, and the issue is that you have to violate the Holy Spirit in order to take a lower line or level, and who will do that?
The apostle raised a very serious question with these Galatians. He said, If you accept this alternative, "ye are fallen away from grace" (5:4); you have got out of the realm where grace obtains and put yourself on another basis. That is exceedingly serious!
My point is that, if the Lord has in His sovereignty called us into the work, the ministry, of His fullest desire or His fuller desire for His people, the Holy Spirit will not allow us to argue ourselves out of it and say, "Well, look at all these other Christians. They are happy with something less, the Lord blesses them, and why this and why that where they are concerned?" When we say, "What of this man?" the Lord says to us, "What is that to thee, follow thou Me." He does not allow us to argue ourselves out on the ground of other Christians. The Spirit brings us back again. What He does in the matter of our Christian lives in bringing us back if we withdraw, if we get away, He does in the case of the purpose for which we are called into service. He makes us know that, whatever others may be called to do, this is our calling and we cannot get away from it. He expects nothing less, and we shall find our rest, not in an easier way, but in going on with the Lord; we shall find our life in the way of the Lord's calling, and any other is the way of death; not liberty at all, but bondage.