Chapter 6: Rising By Falling

Speaking of Jesus at the time of His dedication, Simeon prophesied that . . .

'This child is destined to cause the falling and the rising of many in Israel.' (Luke 2:34)
Even today, this prophecy is still finding fulfillment, for Jesus is still causing the falling and the rising of many in modern-day Israel. In fact, this falling, first, and then rising, is an essential happening in the spiritual economy that governs the Christian life, for we simply have to fall before we can rise. In other words, we have to realize our nothingness before we can stand boldly before the throne of God.
But just where are we to fall? None other place than at the foot of the cross, for here we see Jesus in all His loving glory, and here we see ourselves as we really are. It is at the foot of the cross, therefore, that we fall to the highest place that we can ever reach, for . . .
'Kneeling in faith at the cross, [we have] reached the highest place to which man can attain.' (SD222)
Herein lies the beauty and the power of the gospel in that we are not expected to rise in our own strength - we are simply called upon to bow in humble penitence at the bleeding feet of our victorious Master, and in so doing we will have reached the very zenith of our spiritual experience for . . .
'The crown of glory awaits those who bow at the foot of the cross.' (5T475)
Some may have great difficulty with this concept. Can there be glory in falling? Can humility earn for us a crown? Surely it would be better to rise without first falling? Yet the Christian walk only ever begins with an almighty fall - and it is this fall that earns for us a crown . . . and anyone who tries to earn this crown in any other way is sincerely deceived, . . .
'The Lord would have His people sound in the faith . . They are not to look forward, thinking that at some future time a great work is to be done for them; for the work is now complete.' (1SM394, 395)
They 'are losing the right way, in consequence of thinking that they must climb to heaven, that they must do something to merit the favor of God. They seek to make themselves better by their own unaided efforts. This they can never accomplish.' (1SM368)
Yet the tragic reality is that, even today, . . .
'This matter is so dimly comprehended that thousands upon thousands claiming to be sons of God are children of the wicked one, because they will depend upon their own works.' (6BC1071)
Notice from the above just how serious this matter really is. If we entertain the idea that our own righteousness can elevate us in any way, or that our righteousness can in any way atone for our wrongs; or if we depend in any degree upon our own works to save us; we number ourselves amongst the 'children of the wicked one.'
As startling as this truth may be, it is nevertheless a truth that will make us whole in that it helps us to realize our desperate need of a complete Saviour. The fact is that this realization is fundamental to our faith, yet, tragically, . . .
'There are many who claim to be children of God who are resting their hopes upon other dependencies, rather than on the blood of Christ alone. When urged to rest their faith wholly upon Christ as a complete Saviour, many reveal the fact that they have faith in something that they think they can do. They say, "I have a great deal to do before I can be fit to come to Christ." Another says, "When I have done to the uttermost all that I can do, then the Lord Jesus will come to my help." They imagine that they have a great deal to do themselves to save their own souls, and that Jesus will come in and piece out that part which is lacking, and give the finishing stroke to their salvation. These poor souls will not be strong in God until they accept Christ as a complete Saviour. They can add nothing to their salvation.' (SD227)
As a result of this sad misperception, . . .
'There are many who seem to feel that they have a great work to do themselves before they can come to Christ for His salvation. They seem to think that Jesus will come in at the very last of their struggle, and give them help by putting the finishing touch to their lifework. It seems difficult for them to understand that Christ is a complete Saviour, and able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. They lose sight of the fact that Christ Himself is "the way, the truth, and the life." ' (3SM181)
If we wish to entertain a hope that is absolute, therefore, we have to realize and accept that in all the universe there was but One who could satisfy the claims of God's law.
'Since the divine law is as sacred as God Himself, only One equal with God could make atonement for its transgression. None but Christ could redeem fallen man from the curse of the law and bring him again into harmony with heaven.' (PP63)
Which leads us to ask the question, If Jesus has provided all the works that would ever be needed to redeem the entire world, why is it that man is so sorely inclined to credit his works with merit for salvation?
One good reason is that we have not comprehended the deep spirituality of God's law - which law is a perfect word representation of God's character. As a result, we have not perceived of the high and holy nature of God and, without this perception of His absolute holiness, we do not and cannot have a right perception of our true condition. This is why . . .
'Many are deceived concerning the condition of their hearts. They do not realize that the natural heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. They wrap themselves about with their own righteousness and are satisfied in reaching their own human standard of character. [But man] has nothing of his own but what is tainted and corrupted, polluted with sin, utterly repulsive to a pure and holy God. Apart from Christ, we have no merit, no righteousness. Our sinfulness, our weakness, our human imperfection make it impossible that we should appear before God.' (1SM320, 342, 333)
In short, therefore, . . .
'The human family have all transgressed the law of God, and as transgressors of the law, man is hopelessly ruined; for he is the enemy of God, without strength to do any good thing.' (1SM321)
In fact, if we could see ourselves as we really are, we would realize that . . .
'We have not the first reason for self-congratulation and self-exaltation.' (1SM126)
Yet none of these declarations should discourage us. They should make us fall, yes, but it is in falling that we rise to receive the crown of eternal life. And as we fall, all heaven breaks into glorious song.
The Revealer of Truth

In the light of the foregoing, we can understand that . . .
'It is only he who knows himself to be a sinner that Christ can save.' (COL158)
This is one reason why God gave us His law, to stand as a mirror before us, giving us a word picture of His perfect character and casting back upon our minds an accurate reflection of our depraved condition. It is in this sense that . . .
'The law condemns the sinner and drives him to Christ.' (UL377)
Contrary to widespread opinion, therefore, the law of God does not speak of the goal to be reached by a people who are intent on saving themselves. Rather, it is the perfect pattern, given to us by a perfect God, to reveal to us our perfect need of a perfect and complete Saviour who kept the law perfectly on our behalf.
We do not, and we cannot rise up to the standard of God's holy, but that very law, properly understand, does cause us to fall down at the foot of the cross.
'The sense of sin, urged home by the law, drives the sinner to the Saviour.' (1SM241)
In this light, therefore, we will understand that God is not trying to shield us from a face-to-face confrontation with our guilt. On the contrary, He has given us His law to reveal to us just how guilty we really are - for only a deep-seated realization of our guilt will enable us to realize just how much we need a Saviour. This is why . . .
'Those who have not humbled their souls before God in acknowledging their guilt have not yet fulfilled the first condition of acceptance.' (5T636)
Guilt, in fact, is the key that opens the door to a meaningful love relationship with Jesus:
'No deep-seated love for Jesus can dwell in the heart that does not realize its own sinfulness.' (SC65)
'The less we see to esteem in ourselves, the more we shall see to esteem in the infinite purity and loveliness of our Saviour.' (SC65)
This is not to say that God wants us to squirm eternally under feelings of remorse and shame. He simply wants us to acknowledge our guilt so that He can introduce us to the One who paid the ultimate price in order to free us from our guilt.
'God reveals to us our guilt that we may flee to Christ, and through Him be set free from the bondage of sin, and rejoice in the liberty of the sons of God.' (MB10)
To be sure, there is not a moment when God is not longing to shower us with mercy, but until we acknowledge our guilt, and thus acknowledge our need of His mercy, His hands are tied. 'I want you to enjoy a deep sense of forgiveness,' we might hear Him say, 'but until you acknowledge your guilt, until you acknowledge that you have need of a complete Saviour, you will not accept the complete provision that I have made for altogether guilty people.'
Thus the Lord, through His prophets, through books, through the conscience, through straight testimonies, has sought to lift up His law so that we might come to an awareness of our great need, and thus find relief and release in the precious arms of Jesus.
This is why, . . .
'The more we know of God's laws, the clearer it becomes that we aren't obeying them; His laws serve only to make us see that we are sinners.' (Romans 3:20, LB)
How sad, therefore, that so many fail to understand that . . .
'The law was added so that the trespass might increase.' (Romans 5:20)
Instead of gazing into the law of liberty and allowing deep conviction to take hold of their hearts, however, instead of falling on their knees and acknowledging their spiritual destitution, they set out with all determination, and all-too-often with all sincerity, to try and keep the law in the hope that this can save them. They work hard at becoming 'commandment- keepers,' which in itself is not a bad thing, except that they believe that they can keep the commandments in their own strength and that their commandment-keeping can earn their pardon and their salvation. Somehow there is a veil over their minds and they simply cannot come to terms with the fact that . . .
'The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith [and not by commandment-keeping].' (Galatians 3:24)
Yes, this is a truth that many find most difficult to accept, largely because it cuts across human pride. But the humbling fact is that . . .
'Man is justified freely by God's grace through faith, and not by works.' (TMK82)
How thankful we should be, therefore, for a Saviour who completed the work on our behalf. How grateful we should be for a Saviour who provided all the works that would ever be needed to satisfy the demands of the law.
Are you resting in His completed work, dear reader? Are you aware of the fact that . . .
'The Lord would have His people sound in the faith – not ignorant of the great salvation so abundantly provided for them. They are not to look forward, thinking that at some future time a great work is to be done for them; for the work is now complete.' (1SM394, 395)
The work is now complete - the price has been paid in full and, as a result, salvation is offered to us as a gift - in the purest understanding of the word. If we try and pay for this gift, or to earn this gift, we turn the gift into an obligation - and God simply cannot be obligated in any way or degree to sinners.
Thanks to Jesus, salvation is full, abundant and free. And all we have to do is to fall in order to receive it - and it is in the falling that we rise.

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