Bone of His Bone

Going Beyond the Imitation of Christ

by F. J. Huegel

Chapter Five


As we go forward step by step in the consideration of that which our participation in Christ implies, we will find that it is the key to unfathomable riches, the Aladdin's Lamp of unspeakable power, the gateway to such happiness as we had never dreamed could be possible this side the gates of heaven.

We cannot take these steps without experiencing such a radical revolution in our attitudes, our relationships, and our thinking, that all things indeed become new. We look back down upon the old way of Imitation, struggle, failure, confusion - the old way of "self," the way of the "flesh" - with unutterable relief, unspeakable gratitude that a new day has dawned. No disinherited prince who, after years of strife has at last come to his own - name, wealth, power in his father's palace - could look back upon years of loss and shame with feelings any more profound.

We find that after yielding all to the Master, He comes so to possess us by His Spirit that our very frame of mind is governed by Him. Are we moved to pray? He gives that spirit of prayer, access into the presence of the living God. And our prayers have a force and a vitality that leads us to laugh at the impossible. Are we tried? He holds us in His boson and the kisses of His mouth mak: our hearts to sing. Are we tempted? He girds us with might and we are more than conquerors in Him.

The next: step which we would consider is our participation in Christ's resurrection. Not only did we die in Christ - in Him we arose. Our death to self is but the gateway to a larger, fuller life - the more abundant life. As we sign our death warrant and consign the "old life" to the grave, we then find that we are the recipients of a life infinitely more wonderful - the Life of the Ages. We become once more temples of the living God. That element of discord - the self or the "flesh-life" - which, however religious, is still at enmity with God, for "they that are in the flesh cannot please God" and "the carnal mind is enmity with God." But once that element of discord is removed, God comes into His rightful place in us and we truly live.

"God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us . . . has made us alive together with Christ . . . and has raised us up together" (Eph. 2:4-6, NKJV).

Marvelous truth! Glorious fact! How it enriches! What treasures of grace, what power, what glory - what a wealth of meaning. Christ's resurrection is my resurrection. God raised me up together with Him. He is something adapted to my deepest need. I want life, life abundant, life eternal. My spirit pants for life. "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You,, O God" (Ps. 42:1, NKJV).

Jesus said that such a life was to be at the disposal of the believer. "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (Jn. 4:13-14, NKJV). "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (Jn. 7:38, NKJV). "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (Jn. 10:10, NKJV). "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, arid he that believes in Me shall never thirst" (Jn. 6:35, NKJV).

In some measure, all believers enjoy this divine life, even those still dominated by the "flesh-life." For some it is a tiny rivulet almost imperceptible, for others it is as a mighty stream, "rivers of living water" - the degree being determined by one's union with Christ and dependence upon Him (see Ez. 47, the vision of the rising waters). Were this divine life not something which in a measure all believers receive, they could not participate in Christ's Cross, for only a living creature can die. So only souls that have in a measure received the Christ-life can die to "self." "Self" cannot overcome "self." We must be Christ-possessed to die to the "flesh-life." And to the degree in which we receive Christ, we die to "self." Or, to state the matter conversely, to come more fully into Christ we must more fully die to "self."

In the first chapter of the Ephesian letter, Paul utters a marvelous prayer. He says to the Ephesians: "I . . . do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know . . . what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe" (Eph. 1:15-19, NKJV). And this power which is to us, for us, in us who believe - from where does it come? What is it? It is the "power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead" (Eph. 1:19-20, NKJV).

That is the matchless power which works in the believer - the power of Christ's resurrection! Paul longed to have the Ephesians realize that fact.

When we come to consider the requirements of the New Testament as they bear upon the Christian life, we realize that they all presuppose this very oneness of the believer with Christ in the power of His resurrection. No one but a Christ-centered soul, one with Him in death and resurrection, could possibly measure up to the ideal of Christ in Christian life and service. To love one's enemies without a deep participation in the power of Christ's endless life, with that divine love (Greek agape, divine-type love) which the Word enjoins, would no more be possible for the purely natural man - indeed, even for even the Christian in whom the "flesh-life" is still predominant - than for a worm to play the role of a bird. There is not a New Testament requirement that does not immediately bring the believer face to face with an overwhelming dilemma. Either he must cease to move in the realm of the purely natural and die to the "flesh-life," finding in the resurrected Christ a new life, or he must fail as a Christian. To the new life, the life that flows from Christ, the Sermon on the Mount presents no problems. It is all natural, easy, a spontaneous expression of principles already inherent. To the "old life," which animates man naturally, which by virtue of his oneness with a fallen race surges within him, the Sermon on the Mount can never be anything but an amazing contradiction. The ways, customs, and language, of a African tribal person would be no more unintelligible or impracticable to the average European, or American, or Latin, than the Sermon on the Mount would be to one who has not been born again (i.e. died to the "self-life" to rise up with Christ in the power of a "new life").

We deceive ourselves with the pious talk of the hour. We speak glibly of the social gospel, and heaven knows we need a social application of the teachings of Jesus, an injection of the love of Christ into all aspects of life. We talk no less glibly of following in the footsteps of the Master. But we forget that a mere mechanical doing as Jesus did as respects social relations and actions will never bring us to the Christ-life. A dead frog can be made to kick as if it were alive by the touch of an electric current.

An imitation of a Frenchman would not make me a Frenchman. I am a German and I would have to be "reborn" to be anything but what I am.

And so in the Christian life. I must be born anew. That is why Christ took me with Himself down into the grave and brought me forth a "new creation." He terminated my old life when there upon the Cross as Representative Man He died; and He imparted a new life to me when He arose from the grave.

Christ expects nothing of the "flesh." However religious its garments, however holy its appearance, however sanctified its undertakings, it still "profits nothing." It is still only "flesh." It is still only the realm of the natural. It is still "self."

The Christian faith is not simply supernatural in its Godward aspects alone. It is not simply the Incarnation of Christ which comes under the category of the miraculous. The believer, too, becomes God-possessed. He, too, as a partaker of Christ's resurrection, comes under the sway of the supernatural. It is not simply Christ dying for the sinner. It is the sinner dying in Christ! It is not simply Christ being raised from the dead. It is the believer being raised with the Divine Head! It is not simply man reaching out after God - it is God taking the form of man and then, as the "Son of Man," changing life's entire process: subjecting it to the Cross for the extinction of that great monster which has been the source of all corruption, the root of man's misery, namely, the principle of self, and then bringing man out from the tomb charged with the Life of the Ages - resurrection life. This is the Christian faith, the faith of the Apostles, the "faith of the Son of God." "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20, NKJV).

Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13, NASB)