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The Works of Gilbert Beebe
That I May Know Him
From Signs of the Times—August 1, 1867.
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection.” Philippians 3:10
Although the apostle Paul had more cause to glory in the flesh than others, circumcised as he had been on the eighth day—of the stock of Israel—of the tribe of Benjamin—a Hebrew of the Hebrews, as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless; yet now being born of God and taught by the Spirit, he counted all these things, in which he had once gloried, but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, his Lord. Now the fullness of his aspirations are summed up in the single desire that he might win Christ, and be found in him without a rag of his own law righteousness, but having that righteousness which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith; and that he might know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death; if by any means he might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Without attempting a general investigation of the position and experience of this eminent servant of God and apostle of Christ, we propose to offer a few remarks on the two leading propositions embraced in the words which we have placed at the head of this article. Namely,
First, a knowledge of Christ Jesus, the Lord, and,
Secondly, a knowledge of the power of his resurrection.
First, a knowledge of Jesus Christ not only surpasses all human knowledge that can be attained by study from the schools of men, but is an immediate revelation from God, and made only to those who are quickened by the Holy Ghost. Christ has himself said, in his most solemn appeal to his Father, when lifting up his eyes to heaven, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3).” Hence, Simon Peter, and the other apostles, when confessing their knowledge of him as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, were by him assured that the revelation of this knowledge to them was not from or by flesh and blood, but it was revealed to them by his and their Father which is in heaven. The school of Gamaliel from which Paul had graduated, was probably as orthodox in its theology as an institution of the kind that has ever been set up or patronized by the children of men since the world began; and yet with his perfect knowledge of the Jews’ religion in which he had been thoroughly educated, he was a stranger to Christ, and betrayed his total ignorance of him when he appeared to him on his way to Damascus by inquiring, “Who art thou, Lord?” We are expressly told that none of the princes of this world knew him; for had they known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. The knowledge which the apostle had of Christ, he was free to confess, came immediately by revelation from God. “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me,” etc. (Gal. 1:15). “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father; and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him,” (Matt. 11:25-27).
How excellent must be that knowledge which comes immediately from God, and which being revealed to us by his word and Spirit, quickens every one to whom the revelation is made; so that they are born of incorruptible seed, by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever. Every one therefore, saith Jesus, who hath heard and learned of the Father cometh unto me. Well might the apostle, and well may we, cheerfully give up all that we once held dear, and even gladly give up all things else for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, and to know him as our Lord; for none can call him Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. We cannot know him and be ignorant of the Father; for the Father is in him, and he is in the Father. He and the Father are one. And he that hath seen the Son hath seen the Father also. And, remember, that thus to know him is eternal life.
Secondly, all who know the Son desire to know the power of his resurrection. Perhaps this subject of the power of the resurrection of the Son of God has not been as fully investigated in our day as many other important branches of the gospel; not however because it is any less important; but probably because the minds of the brethren have not been led to the consideration of it as they have been to other points.
That Jesus died for his people, and that he arose from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures, has been generally accepted by the saints as an incontrovertible truth, and scarcely doubted or denied by any at the present time. And indeed we were to speak only of his personal resurrection, that is of his crucified body which was laid in Joseph’s new tomb, the subject would be of peculiar interest. In vindication of his declaration that he had power to lay down his life, and power to take it up again; his resurrection has fully demonstrated that power. But when we consider that the power of his resurrection is the power of immortality in which all the subjects of salvation are quickened, and in which alone they can know the things of the Spirit, or be qualified to reign in glory, the subject is invested with thrilling interest. The power of the resurrection of the Son of God is a subject so awfully sublime and glorious as to baffle and confound the wisdom and philosophy of the sons of men; surpassing all human understanding it leaves all our intellectual powers in the distance. And even the most enlightened of the children of God confess their utter inability to comprehend its amazing fullness. Even the apostle himself with all the abundance of revelation and inspiration frankly acknowledges his inability to comprehend the fullness of its glory. He says, “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” (Phil. 3:11-14).
The mark of the prize of the high calling of the saints of God is presented in the risen and glorified body of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his resurrected body has ascended into heaven as the first fruits of them that slept; and to that exalted mark the eye of the faith of God’s elect aspires; while with eagerness we press through all the opposing impediments, in hope of eternal life which God that cannot lie promised before the world began. That mark of ultimate glory is exemplified in the resurrection and exaltation of our Lord, who is the first begotten from the dead, and by the power of his resurrection the final glory of all the saints is secured.
Let us consider, so far as light may be given us, the power of his resurrection, which Paul desired to know, and which all the saints shall ultimately know, to the saving of their souls.
Carefully avoiding all vain speculations on this incomprehensible subject, let us prayerfully search what God the Lord hath spoken on the subject by his inspired apostles. In the first chapter of the epistle to the saints which were at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus, after setting forth the election of the saints in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world, and their predestination to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, the holy apostle goes on to affirm that God has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him to whom also we have received an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. “In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption [or resurrection] of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory,” (Eph. 1:13,14). Wherefore, the apostle ceases not to pray, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling,” (Eph. 1:17,18). Namely, to a resurrection to that immortal glory of which they have now the earnest, and to which after that they believed they were sealed. And that they might also “know what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,” (Eph. 1:18-22).
In these Scriptures and their immediate connection, we are informed of the power of his resurrection; when so far enlightened as to know what is the hope of our calling and of the riches of the glory of Christ’s inheritance in his saints. In that light is revealed to us that the power of his resurrection is the power by which we were quickened and made to believe in God. His resurrection power to usward who believe is according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead. And this power is not only great, but exceeds even greatness, and exemplified the supreme greatness of the mighty power of God himself.
That power of God which was displayed in the creation of the world, in sustaining and governing all things is truly very great; but the resurrection power, by which we are made partakers of the resurrection and glory of Christ is still greater, and is therefore called the exceeding greatness of his power. It is exceeding in as far as it goes beyond all the exhibitions of the omnipotence of the eternal God, in his works of creation and providence.
To the natural eye and understanding of man, no more power is displayed in the resurrection of the crucified body of Christ than in the resurrection of Lazarus or of the widow’s son; but to whom God has given the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, this power excels all to her demonstrations of his might. They are made to know the power of his resurrection, which is to them the power of God unto salvation.
When we consider the identification of the church with Christ in his mediatorial works, as his body and fullness, and he the head over all things to that body, that he was made lower than the angels for the sufferings of death, in that angels are not capable of dying; that he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham, in which “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” He was made of a woman and made under the law to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons; a partaker of the same flesh and blood that his children were partakers of, thus legally embodying all the seed of Abraham, as his body and members, and this for the suffering of death, that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for everyone of them; and that he might thus bear our sins in his own body, and meet the penalty of the holy law in their behalf, and cancel all the demands of divine Justice; and so redeem them from under the law. “He was delivered for their offences.” Their sins were found on him, and the penalty was exacted at his hand. He died for them, and in him that law was honored and fulfilled which required that they should die; and as he died for them all, so they were all dead. And he was raised from the dead for their justification. The power of his resurrection was so exceedingly great as to abolish death, so far as he and his members were concerned, and bring life and immortality to light in his resurrection. As the apostle in this first and second chapters to the Ephesians shows that in his resurrection and exaltation above all principalities and powers, he is given to be the head over all things to the church which is his body, and the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
The divine record does not leave the subject here but goes on, “And you hath he quickened.” The division of this record into chapters and verses, by the compilers of our version of the Scriptures, should not be allowed to divert or mislead our minds from the connection of the subject. Remember, the apostle is dwelling on the exceeding greatness of the power of God in raising up Jesus from the dead, and in putting all things under his feet. It is evidently in his resurrection that he has quickened his body, the church; which in all its members were, before they were quickened, dead in trespasses and sins; and were by nature, in their earthly or Adamic nature, children of wrath even as others. But the power of his resurrection was to change their relation to the law, as a first husband, by marrying and identifying them by the power of his resurrection with the risen body of Christ. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another; even to him that is raised from the dead, that ye should bring forth fruit unto God. Romans 7:4 and Ephesians 2:1, omitting the supplied words, should read in connection with the last preceding verses. “And hath put all under his feet, and gave him the head over all to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. Even you who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked, etc.” “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ; and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Christ and his church, as the head and the body, are quickened together. We who were dead in trespasses and sins, who were by nature children of wrath, are quickened together with Christ. Such is the amazing greatness of the power of his resurrection that in the resurrection of Christ from the dead, his body, the seed of Abraham which he took on him are quickened together with him who is the head of that body; and God has raised up that body together with Christ, and made them sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. “Know ye not that so many of us were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, that ye should obey it in its lusts,” (Rom. 6:3-12).
Now precisely the same sense is conveyed in the words recorded in Colossians 2:10-15, as in Ephesians 2:1-8, and in Romans 6:3-12. Compare them carefully. “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.” But when was Christ circumcised without hands? Not when he was circumcised at eight days old, after the manner of the Jews, for that was performed with hands: but when he suffered in the flesh, was put to death in the flesh, and put off forever the body of that flesh which was made of a woman, which identified him with the seed of Abraham under the law, so that although we have known him after the flesh, yet henceforth know we him no more. He was not quickened from the dead by a return of fleshly or Adamic vitality, to be subject again to die; but by the power of an endless life; by that immortality which Paul calls the glory of the Father. In that circumcision all his body and members are circumcised, redeemed from the flesh, from the relation in which they stood to the law, to sin, and to death. And being thus dead with him, we were “Buried with him in baptism,” wherein also ye are raised with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him; having forgiven you all trespasses, blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Now in this baptism with Christ there is a death to the law signified, and putting off the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; and life and immortality to the church brought to light by the resurrection of Christ, in which the apostle positively declares that the church is risen with Christ her risen Head. Whether we are authorized to call this baptism with Christ regeneration depends not on what our modern lexicons may say as to the proper meaning of words, but rather, as we conceive on the sense in which this word is used in the two places in the Bible. We will not contend with brethren as to the sense in which the word is used, for we are forbidden to contend for words to no profit. We are content to call this doctrine baptism, or redemption, or salvation, or by any other Scriptural name. In the doctrine of the new birth as taught by our Lord and by his apostles in its personal experimental application to the saints, we all agree relative to our being called from death unto life, from darkness into marvelous light; when this resurrection life is made manifest in our personal individual experience. By the same quickening spirit and power that brought from the dead the crucified body of our Lord Jesus Christ all the saints from Abel down to the last vessel of mercy shall be brought in, all are or shall be born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you, (Rom. 8:11).
The same resurrection power that brought up from under the death and dominion of the law, the church embodied in Christ, quickens with resurrection life in the new birth, and gives assurance that the same resurrection spirit and power shall ultimately quicken the mortal bodies of the saints in their final resurrection at the last day.
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