If I’d know Christ’s risen power
The New Jerusalem is the conclusion of the entire Bible of sixty-six books. In the New Testament the designation new indicates resurrection, something that comes out from death. To live a new life is to live a life in resurrection (Rom. 6:4). Anything that has not passed through death is old. To be new, something must pass through death and enter into resurrection. The ultimate issue of the entire revelation of the Bible is a new city in resurrection. Today we are in the long tunnel of death through the cross. I have been in this tunnel for over sixty years. It is here that we find our pathway. Stanza 1 and the chorus of Hymns, #631 say, "If I'd know Christ's risen power, / I must ever love the Cross; / Life from death alone arises; / There's no gain except by loss. / If no death, no life, / If no death, no life; / Life from death alone arises; / If no death, no life."
In Philippians 3:10 Paul speaks of knowing Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of, the participation in, His sufferings. The fellowship of Christ's sufferings involves much more than Christ's crucifixion alone. In Christ's crucifixion, when God judged Christ as our Substitute, put our sins on Him, and made Him sin for us, Christ was under the suffering of death (1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18; 2 Cor. 5:21). We have no part in Christ's suffering of death for redemption. Before He was crucified, however, Christ was continually under the suffering of death for thirty-three and a half years. Paul tells us that he shared in the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. In this fellowship of Christ's sufferings Paul was being conformed to His death. Likewise, as we walk today on this pathway, we are under the suffering of Christ's death in order to be conformed to His death.
Stanza 2 of Hymns, #631 says, "If I'd have Christ formed within me, / I must breathe my final breath, / Live within the Cross's shadow, / Put my soul-life e'er to death." In the dark tunnel of Christ's death, we Jive in the shadow of the cross. Here we put our soul-life to death not by ourselves but through the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14; cf. Rom. 8:J 3). From morning until evening we must continually put our soul-life to death. We need to tell our soul-life that death is its destination. The soul-life is the "I" (Gal. 2:20), and the place where we put it is the death of Christ. We are continually in the tunnel putting ourselves to death. Here we enjoy Christ as the divine life, and here He is lived out of us. Everything related to life is in the death of Christ. Without this, life is simply a term. The resurrection life is nowhere else but in the death of Christ. In the tunnel of His death there are no left turns, right turns, U-turns, or exits. We simply must go forward, not knowing when we will emerge. We must be prepared to go through this tunnel for our entire life. This is our pathway.
In addition to serving by God's life, we need to see that the entire Expressing the Divine Attributes in Human Virtues 433 universe opposes this life. Our natural disposition, our spouse, our parents, and our children oppose this life. Hence, when we live and serve by this life, we will surely encounter opposition, even to the point that we need not only to endure but also to die to our self, natural life, and old man. When the Lord was living this life as a man on earth, He said, "Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24). The way the Lord took was not only to endure but also to die. Hymns, #631 says, "If no death, no life." According to our natural concept, none of us are willing to die; but according to the revelation of the Bible, blessed is the one who is willing to die!
Hymns, #631 speaks of the subjective experience of the cross. Stanza 1 says, "If I'd know Christ's risen power, / I must ever love the Cross." Stanza 2 says, "Live within the Cross's shadow, / Put my soul¬-life e'er to death." It is by Christ's resurrection power that we live in the mold and shadow of the cross. This enables us to live a life of death and resurrection.
In Philippians 3:10 Paul continued on to say, "To know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death." In this passage, we see further the secret to experiencing Christ. One of the secrets is the power of resurrection. The other is the conformation to His death, which is the conformation to His cross. Stanza one of #631 in Hymns says, "If I'd know Christ's risen power, I must ever love the Cross." The power of resurrection is our riches. If you are a rich man, you will spend your money gladly. To be conformed to the cross is the way our riches are spent. This passage tells us the experience of Paul. It shows us that if we do not know the power of resurrection and do not live in resurrection, there is no way for us to die by ourselves. It is the power of resurrection that bears us on to death and that takes us on the way of the cross.
Today the reality of Christ's resurrection is the Holy Spirit. When you live in the Spirit, you live in the reality of resurrection. The last stanza of #631 in Hymns says, "If God thru th' Eternal Spirit nail me ever with the Lord." It is the Spirit who nails you. Hence, it is not your colleagues or your husband or wife who is dealing with you. Rather, it is the Holy Spirit in you who is taking you on in the experience of the Lord's death, so that you can be conformed to His death. Therefore, the conformation to the cross comes about through the power of resurrection.
This is why we must learn to exercise our spirit, experience the Spirit, and receive the killing of the cross. If we would not receive the cross, but would only exercise our spirit, this experience of the spirit would not be reliable. The result of a true exercise of the spirit will surely cause us to die and to be crucified. The cross and the Holy Spirit go together. The two also follow one another. On the one hand, we must receive the cross before the Holy Spirit will fill us up. On the other hand, we must be full of the power of the Holy Spirit before we can receive the cross. The two complement each other. From Philippians 3:10 we see that the power of resurrection is the Spirit, and the conformation to the cross is death. This is the secret to our experience of Christ.
Today we the saved ones are the same as He is. According to the flesh, we are sons of Adam; we may also say that according to the Spirit of holiness, we are sons of God. However, we have not yet lived like sons of God. Whether or not you live like a son of God depends on whether or not you are living under the shadow of death. Have you died to yourself in dealing with your wife, your husband, your children, or anyone else? To give up ourselves, to remain on the cross, to die to ourselves, is to be conformed to the Lord's death. When we are thus conformed to His death, the Spirit will operate in us. This is like a grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying; the outer shell decays, but the life within begins to operate. This is referred to in a hymn: "Only then as death is working/Will His life thru me be poured./If no death, no life…" (Hymns, #631).
Today we are mysterious people. Outsiders cannot understand us because we have a desire to be conformed to Christ's death. Furthermore, we have the capacity within us to do this, and this capacity is the power of resurrection. Even nature itself testifies to the fact of resurrection. Within a small seed there is not only life but also resurrection. If that seed falls into the earth and dies, a sprout will eventually rise up from underneath the earth. That is the power of resurrection. We are like small seeds. The more we are put into death, the more we have the expression of the power of resurrection. This is why we like to forgive people and forget their mistakes.
In a proper sense, we want to suffer loss so that we can gain Christ (Phil. 3:7-8). There are some hymns in our hymnal which speak about loss and gain (see Hymns, #631 and #635—stanzas 15 and 16). Loss and gain is the significance of the cross. The cross is a means to bring us loss and then gain. To live and walk under the crucifixion of Christ is to be conformed to Christ's death by the mysterious power of resurrection. Just as life and resurrection are hidden within a seed, Christ as life and resurrection is hidden within us. Within us we have Christ as our life and resurrection.
We must see that in order to have the church, the Body of Christ, the house of God, the kingdom of God, and the bride of Christ, death is necessary. We must allow God to operate on us; this is to experience the cross. To be conformed to His death, as mentioned in Philippians 3:10, is to be made the same as the form of Christ's death, that is, to take Christ's death as the mold of our life. In our daily living of the church life, the life of the Body of Christ, we need to be conformed to His death. Hymns, #631 is a short hymn consisting of only three stanzas, but almost every line is a new utterance. Stanza 2 says,
If I'd have Christ formed within me,
I must breathe my final breath,
Live within the Cross's shadow,
Put my soul-life e'er to death.
It is only in this way that Christ can be formed in us. Such a hymn has the practical experience as well as the fact and the truth.
Living through dying is the basic thought of the Bible. For one to live, he must die. In John 12:24 the Lord Jesus said, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." Brother A. B. Simpson also said in one of his hymns, "This the secret nature hideth, harvest grows from buried grain" (Hymns, #482). This shows us that the biblical principle is living through dying. God's way of salvation is to terminate us by the cross of Christ and to resurrect us by His Spirit of life. This appears to be a cruel punishment, but actually it is a glorious deliverance. Based on the revelation of the whole Bible, we see clearly that living through dying is God's saving way.
The first ministry in the New Testament is that of John the Baptist. He came out to preach the baptism of repentance and immersed and buried men into the water, which signifies death, in order to terminate the man of the old creation. Following that, there was the ministry of the Lord Jesus. His ministry caused the terminated ones to have a new beginning, to resurrect from the dead, and to obtain the divine life. This adequately proves that in the salvation of God's New Testament economy, there is a fundamental thought and principle, which is that fallen man can receive life only through death. Death is the initiation into resurrection. We have a hymn (Hymns, #631) which speaks very well concerning this matter.
The crucifixion, the killing, the death, of Christ goes along with the resurrection of Christ. Philippians 3:10 says, "To know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death." A good hymn concerning the death of Christ going along with the resurrection of Christ is #631 in Hymns. The first stanza of this hymn says:
If I'd know Christ's risen power,
I must ever love the Cross;
Life from death alone arises;
There's no gain except by loss.
The killing element of the death of Christ is in the compounded Spirit (Exo. 30:23a). Antibiotics contain certain elements which kill germs. The killing elements in antibiotics are like the element of the death of Christ being compounded in the Spirit. This killing element in the compound Spirit is applied to all negative persons, things, and matters related to us in our daily life, church life, and work, in the anointing of the Spirit as the anointing ointment (1 John 2:20, 27; Rom. 8:13b; Gal. 5:24). The anointing within us is the move of the compound Spirit as the compound ointment. In this anointing, a killing element is applied to kill all negative things in our life.
The killing element in the compounded Spirit, applied to all the negative persons, things, and matters in our life, is for us to live a crucified life by the power of Christ's resurrection life (Phil. 3:10). Hymns #631 and #481 in Hymns both refer to the resurrection power for us to live a crucified life.
Stanza one of hymn #631 in Hymns says, "If I'd know Christ's risen power,/I must ever love the Cross;/Life from death alone arises;/There's no gain except by loss." Stanza two says, "If I'd have Christ formed within me,/I must breathe my final breath,/Live within the Cross's shadow,/Put my soul-life e'er to death." If we know the power of resurrection, we will surely be delighted to be in the mold of the cross and to be conformed to it. Hence, Philippians 3:10 says that it is through the resurrection power of Christ that we are conformed to the death of Christ. By ourselves we cannot be conformed to Christ's death; by ourselves we cannot deny ourselves. We are conformed to the death of Christ by the power of His resurrection, which is not a thing or a matter but a person, the life-giving Spirit.
Philippians 3:10 first speaks of knowing Christ as a wonderful person. We can never exhaust telling who He is. Second, it speaks of knowing the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Then while we are experientially enjoying the fellowship of His sufferings, we are being conformed to His death. The death of Christ is a mold. We are living in this mold of death. Christ's death should be the mold of our life. We will all eventually declare: "I am not only living; I am dying. I die to everything; I am a dying person. My living is in the mold of Christ's death."
We are not conformed to the death of Adam. The death of Adam is a terrible thing, but Christ's death is sweet. While we are living, we die in the mold of His death. We are enjoying knowing Christ experientially; we are enjoying knowing the power of Christ's resurrection; and we are enjoying knowing the fellowship of His sufferings. While we are in the enjoyment of this experiential knowledge, we are being conformed to the mold of His death.
We are persons under the shadow of the cross of Christ. The Christian life is both a living life and a dying life. We live, but we live in the mold of the death of Christ. When the Lord Jesus lived on the earth, He was being crucified every day. Every day He lived a crucified life. We also can live such a life because we have the power of His resurrection. As we have seen, this power is the person of Christ, and Christ today is the Spirit of Jesus Christ who is in our spirit. As we remain in our spirit, we experience this power in the shadow of the death of Christ. Every day our spouse and children are the "shadows of death" to us. Our children may be very enjoyable to us at first. However, one day they may become shadows, and the more they grow, the darker the shadows may become. Eventually, our children will put us into the mold of the cross. We should simply remain there and say, "Hallelujah!"
Not only are our marriage life and family life the mold of the cross, but even the church life becomes the mold of the cross to us. Certain saints may wonder why there are hardships in the "glorious church life," and eventually the church life may not seem so glorious to them. Every brother and sister may seem to be a "dark shadow." This may cause some to consider moving to a new locality. However, they may discover that the church in the locality to which they move is even darker. Furthermore, if they leave the church, their situation will become darker still. We have no place to which we may escape. Every locality is a cross. This is our destiny. We have been destined to pass through the cross. Only when we are in the New Jerusalem in the new heavens and new earth will we be out of the shadow of death. In the New Jerusalem there will be no night and no shadow (Rev. 21:25). However, today there are shadows of the cross everywhere.
Praise the Lord that within us there is the power of resurrection. Paul said, "I can do all things in Him who empowers me" (Phil. 4:13). The One who empowers us is the power of resurrection. By Him we can live a life that expresses and magnifies Christ (Phil. 1:20).
Lord Jesus may we be those who love not our soul life unto death. Operate in us to conform us to Your death. Amen.
Wellington, New Zealand
What a wonderful truth resurrection! Shown in creation: the seed! May I know His death that I may live in His resurrection, may I know His resurrection then His death will operate in me. Amen. O Lord I love You.