June 6, 2009

How are you being built up?

"When the soul is built up in Christ, it wants no other religion but to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. It wants no other righteousness to recommend it to God, it wants no other salvation, nor title to eternal bliss. It wants no other hope but that which Jesus sweetly communicates; no other faith but that which He blessedly gives; no other love but that which He deigns to shed abroad. Being crucified with Christ, Christ lives in him; and the sum and substance of his religion is to live by the faith of the Son of God.

The religion of the Holy Spirit is to be brought to enjoy the sweet testimony that we are Christ's, and that Christ is ours. And then, through the feeling effects of it in our souls, to be laid low in our own eyes, to be abased in our own sight, to have our consciences made tender and sprinkled from guilt and filth, and to spend our breath in praising and blessing His holy name.

But what a different way of building up this is from being built up in the Arminian method on the one hand, or the dead Calvinistic mode on the other!

The Arminian says, "You must pray, strive, and do your best; you must be active in God's cause; you must go about collecting money for the missionaries; you must be up and doing– and so in some way or other make yourself fit to receive the grace of God".

The dry Calvinist says, "Away with your doubts and fears, we will have none of that rubbish. Where do you find hope in the Bible? Believers are to rejoice always, and have done with sighs and groans. The gospel is all liberty and peace. Christ is everything, all in all– and therefore away with all your rubbish of experience".

So that the Arminian on the one hand pulls down the work of Christ to substitute creature-righteousness; and the dry Calvinist on the other pulls down the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul to build up a nominal Christ.

But the way in which the Spirit of God works is to lay the creature low, by bringing it into nothingness, and crushing it into self-abasement and self-loathing, so as to press out of it everything on which the creature can depend. Like a surgeon, who will run his lancet into the abscess, and let out the gory matter, in order to effect a thorough cure; so the Spirit of the Lord thrusting His sharp sword into the heart, lets out the inward corruption, and never heals the wound until He has thoroughly probed it. And when He has laid bare the heart, He heals it by pouring in the balmy blood of Jesus, as that which, by its application, cleanses from all sin.

But, as was observed before, this breaking down and building up run parallel with a Christian's life. As pride rises, it must be broken down. As self-righteousness starts up, it must be brought low. As the wisdom of the creature exalts itself against the wisdom of God, it must be laid prostrate. So that the work of the Spirit, continually going on in the conscience of a living soul, is breaking down and building up, breaking down and building up, breaking down and building up.

When we are low, He will give us a lift; when we are high, He will pull us down; when we are secretly exalting ourselves, He will give us such a sight of our dreadful depravity and corruption, as shall lay us in the dust; when we are full of guilt and self-condemnation, He will sometimes raise us up by a discovery of salvation through the blood of the Lamb. So that the Spirit of the Lord, carrying on His twofold operation in the hearts and consciences of God's children, will keep breaking down when needful, and building up when needful; and thus, in His own time and way, fits them for Jesus, as well as fills their souls with the love of Jesus.

J.C. Philpot 1841

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