by Mike Ratliff
17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18 NASB)
I have a nephew, Travis, who has been battling brain cancer for last several years. He and my daughter are about the same age and used to play together when they were little. They were close. He is married and has two young boys. He is a believer as is his wife, Jennifer. I got an email today from my brother-in-law, Travis’ dad, which stated that the doctors at M.D. Anderson had basically reached the end of what they could do medically for him. What they could do would not prolong his life by much, but most certainly would add a great deal to his suffering. After prayer and a long talk with his wife, Travis told the doctors and his family that if the treatment would not make him better then he would rather just die. So, my sister’s family is preparing for him to enter hospice care and for him to stop taking all cancer fighting drugs. The doctors have told them that he would probably have 5 to 6 months. Needless to say, our whole family is now looking at things from a much more eternal perspective today.
I have watched as my sister’s family has grown spiritually through this struggle with my nephew’s cancer. When it comes to where the rubber meets the road a phony, man-centered, market-oriented, have your best life now Jesus just won’t cut it. No, when it comes to dealing with real eternal issues only faith in the real Jesus Christ, not the “man-made jesus” will do. I have not seen despair there. Sadness? Yes, I’ve seen that. I’ve seen concern too. I’ve seen that family come together to take care of those little boys and Travis’ siblings love him with their all. Where does that come from? Their faith is not in a religious system or in any man, but in Christ himself who promised to build His Church and the gates of Hell would never be able to prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). Therefore, when the fires of tribulation come, and they do, they bend, but do not break. Their knowledge of Jesus Christ is becoming deeper through this as their faith grows stronger as it is tried in the fire.
God Himself gives the right knowledge of Jesus Christ to those whom He saves. Through this knowledge He works in us to wean us away from slavery to the flesh and the things in this world that are only distractions with no eternal value. How does this work?
17 Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They will behold a far-distant land. (Isaiah 33:17 NASB)
The more you know about Christ the less will you be satisfied with superficial views of Him; and the more deeply you study His transactions in the eternal covenant, His engagements on your behalf as the eternal Surety, and the fulness of His grace which shines in all His offices, the more truly will you see the King in His beauty. Be much in such outlooks. Long more and more to see Jesus. Meditation and contemplation are often like windows of agate, and gates of carbuncle, through which we behold the Redeemer. Meditation puts the telescope to the eye, and enables us to see Jesus after a better sort than we could have seen Him if we had lived in the days of His flesh. Would that our conversation were more in heaven, and that we were more taken up with the person, the work, the beauty of our incarnate Lord. More meditation, and the beauty of the King would flash upon us with more resplendence. Beloved, it is very probable that we shall have such a sight of our glorious King as we never had before, when we come to die. Many saints in dying have looked up from amidst the stormy waters, and have seen Jesus walking on the waves of the sea, and heard Him say, “It is I, be not afraid.” Ah, yes! when the tenement begins to shake, and the clay falls away, we see Christ through the rifts, and between the rafters the sunlight of heaven comes streaming in. But if we want to see face to face the “King in His beauty” we must go to heaven for the sight, or the King must come here in person. O that He would come on the wings of the wind! He is our Husband, and we are widowed by His absence; He is our Brother dear and fair, and we are lonely without Him. Thick veils and clouds hang between our souls and their true life: when shall the day break and the shadows flee away? Oh, long-expected day, begin! – C.H. Spurgeon from Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening for Nov 16.
I heard a preacher once pray from the pulpit for Jesus not to return that day because he had other things he wanted to do. I could not believe it. He prayed another time for God not to take him home yet because he was too much in love with this life. Again, I was speechless. The ones truly in love with their Saviour want to know everything about Him and the more they know about Him, the more they know Him, and the more they want to be with Him. I have fallen in love with Revelation 22:20.
20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20 NASB)
This should be our prayer to our Lord every day. If, however, it causes you to fear or dread His return then this is a sign or marker that your knowledge and love of our Saviour is not where it needs to be. The true disciple of Christ is one who is crucified with Him. He has taken up his or her own cross and followed Him.
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26 NASB)
The disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ has the viewpoint that he or she is apprehended by our Lord and their entire purpose in this life is to serve Him and be part of the triumph in Christ. It is enough to be in the train of the conqueror.
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 2:14-17 NASB)
The proper perspective of a servant of God must not simply be as near to the highest as he can get, but it must be the highest. Be careful that you vigorously maintain God’s perspective, and remember that it must be done every day, little by little. Don’t think on a finite level. No outside power can touch the proper perspective.
The proper perspective to maintain is that we are here for only one purpose— to be captives marching in the procession of Christ’s triumphs. We are not on display in God’s showcase— we are here to exhibit only one thing— the “captivity [of our lives] to the obedience of Christ” ( 2 Corinthians 10:5 ). How small all the other perspectives are! For example, the ones that say, “I am standing all alone, battling for Jesus,” or, “I have to maintain the cause of Christ and hold down this fort for Him.” But Paul said, in essence, “I am in the procession of a conqueror, and it doesn’t matter what the difficulties are, for I am always led in triumph.” Is this idea being worked out practically in us? Paul’s secret joy was that God took him as a blatant rebel against Jesus Christ, and made him a captive— and that became his purpose. It was Paul’s joy to be a captive of the Lord, and he had no other interest in heaven or on earth. It is a shameful thing for a Christian to talk about getting the victory. We should belong so completely to the Victor that it is always His victory, and “we are more than conquerors through Him . . .” ( Romans 8:37 ).
“We are to God the fragrance of Christ . . .” ( 2 Corinthians 2:15 ). We are encompassed with the sweet aroma of Jesus, and wherever we go we are a wonderful refreshment to God. – Oswald Chambers from My Utmost For His Highest for October 24.
Chambers hit this nail on the head perfectly. This is the right obedience based upon the right knowledge of God that comes only to those who are crucified with Him, held captive by Him, and live accordingly. This is the triumph in Christ because He is going to return in the perfect point in His timing and it will be glorious. I deeply desire to be one of those simply in the train of the conqueror, being found obedient to Him in all parts of my life for my life belongs totally to Him. I know that my nephew Travis is seeking to be free from his disease and to cease being a burden (he thinks) on his family, but he will precede us to the Saviour and in this I am somewhat envious.
Soli Deo Gloria!