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Oneness With Christ

by Hannah Whitall Smith

All the dealings of God with the soul of the believer are in order to bring him into oneness with Himself, that the prayer of our Lord may be fulfilled: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” … “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.”
     This soul-union was the glorious purpose inthe heart of God for His people before the foundation of the world. It was themystery hid from ages and generations. It was accomplished in the incarnationof Christ. It has been made known by the Scriptures. And it is realized as anactual experience by many of God’s dear children.
     But not by all. It is true of all, and God hasnot hidden it or made it hard, but the eyes of many are too dim and theirhearts too unbelieving, and they fail to grasp it. And it is for the verypurpose of bringing them into the personal and actual realization of this, thatthe Lord is stirring up believers everywhere at the present time to abandonthemselves to Him, that He may work in them all the good pleasure of Hiswill.
    All the previous steps in the Christian life lead up to this. The Lord has made us for it; and until we have intelligently apprehended it, and have voluntarily consented to embrace it, the travail of His soul for us is not satisfied, nor have our hearts found their destined and final rest.
     The usual course of Christian experience ispictured in the history of the disciples. First they were awakened to see theircondition and their need, and they came to Christ and gave in their allegianceto Him. Then they followed Him, worked for Him, believed in Him; and yet, howunlike Him! seeking to be set up one above the other; running away from thecross; misunderstanding His mission and His words; forsaking their Lord in timeof danger; but still sent out to preach, recognized by Him as His disciples,possessing power to work for Him. They knew Christ only “after the flesh,” asoutside of them, their Lord and Master, but not yet their Life.
     Then came Pentecost, and these disciples came toknow Him as inwardly revealed; as one with them in actual union, their veryindwelling Life. Henceforth He was to them Christ within, working in them towill and to do of His good pleasure; delivering them by the law of the Spiritof His life from the bondage to the law of sin and death, under which they hadbeen held. No longer was it between themselves and Him, a war of wills and aclashing of interest. One will alone animated them, and that was His will. Oneinterest alone was dear to them, and that was His. They were made ONE withHim.
     And surely all can recognize this picture, thoughperhaps as yet the final stage of it has not been fully reached. You may haveleft much to follow Christ, dear reader; you may have believed on him, andworked for Him, and loved Him, and yet may not be like Him. Allegiance youknow, and confidence you know, but not yet union. There are two wills, twointerests, two lives. You have not yet lost your own life that you may liveonly in His. Once it was I and not Christ; then it was I and Christ; perhapsnow it is even Christ and I. But has it come yet to be Christ only, and not Iat all?
     Perhaps you do not understand what this onenessmeans. Some people think it consists in a great emotion or a wonderful feelingof oneness, and they turn inward to examine their emotions, thinking to decideby the state of these, what is the state of their interior union with God. Butnowhere is the mistake of trusting to feelings greater than here.
     Oneness with Christ must, in the very nature ofthings, consists in a Christ-like life and character. It is not what we feel,but what we are that settles the question. No matter how exalted or intense ouremotions on the subject may be, if there is not a likeness of character withChrist, a unity of aim and purpose, a similarity of thought and of action,there can be no real oneness.
     This is plain common-sense, and it is Scripturalas well.
     We speak of two people being one, and we meanthat their purposes, and actions, and thoughts, and desires are alike. A friendmay pour out upon us enthusiastic expressions of love, and unity and oneness,but if that friend’s aims, and actions, and ways of looking at things areexactly opposite to ours, we cannot feel there is any real oneness between us,notwithstanding all our affection for one another. To be truly one withanother, we must have the same likes and dislikes, the same joys and sorrows,the same hopes and fears. As someone says, we must look through one another’seyes, and think with one another’s brains. This is, as I said above, only plaincommon-sense.
     And oneness with Christ can be judged by no otherrule. It is out of the question to be one with Him in any other way than in theway of nature, and character, and life. Unless we are Christ-like in ourthoughts and our ways, we are not one with Him, no matter how we feel.
     I have seen Christians, with hardly oneChrist-like attribute in their whole characters, who yet were so emotional andhad such ecstatic feelings of love for Christ, as to think themselves justifiedin claiming the closest oneness with Him. I scarcely know a sadder sight.Surely our Lord meant to reach such cases when He said in Matthew 7:21, “Notevery one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom ofheaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” He was notmaking here any arbitrary statement of God’s will, but a simple announcement ofthe nature of things. Of course it must be so. It is like saying, “No man canenter the ranks of astronomers who is not an astronomer.” Emotions will notmake a man an astronomer, but life and action. He must be one, not merely feelthat he is one.
     There is no escape from this inexorable nature ofthings, and especially here. Unless we are one with Christ as to character andlife and action, we cannot be one with Him in any other way, for there is noother way. We must be “partakers of His nature” or we cannot be partakers ofHis life, for His life and His nature are one.
     But emotional souls do not always recognize this.They feel so near Christ and so united to Him, that they think it must be real;and overlooking the absolute necessity of Christ-likeness of character andwalk, they are building their hopes and their confidence on their delightfulemotions and exalted feelings, and think they must be one with Him, or theycould not have such rich and holy experiences.
     Now it is a psychological fact that these orsimilar emotions can be produced by other causes than a purely divineinfluence, and that they are largely dependent upon temperament and physicalconditions. It is most dangerous, therefore, to make them a test of ourspiritual union with Christ. It may result in just such a grievousself-deception as our Lord warns against in Luke 6:46-49, “And why call ye me,Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Our soul delights perhaps incalling Him, Lord, Lord, but are we doing the things which He said; for this,He tells us, is the important point, after all.
     If, therefore, led by our feelings, we are sayingin meetings, or among our friends, or even in our own heart before the Lord,that we are abiding in Him, let us take home to ourselves in solemnconsideration these words of the Holy Ghost, “He that saith he abideth in Him,ought himself so to walk, even as He walked.”
     Unless we are thus walking, we cannot possibly beabiding in Him, no matter how much we may feel as if we were.
     If you are really one with Christ you will besweet to those who are cross to you; you will bear everything and make nocomplaints; when you are reviled you will not revile again; you will consent tobe trampled on, as Christ was, and feel nothing but love in return; you willseek the honor of others rather than your own; you will take the lowest place,and be the servant of all, as Christ was; you will literally and truly loveyour enemies and do good to them that despitefully use you; you will, in short,live a Christ-like life, and manifest outwardly as well as feel inwardly aChrist-like spirit, and will walk among men as He walked among them. This, dearfriends, is what it is to be one with Christ. And if all this is not your lifeaccording to your measure, then you are not one with Him, no matter howecstatic or exalted your feelings may be.
     To be one with Christ is too wonderful and solemnand mighty an experience to be reached by any overflow or exaltation of merefeeling. He was holy, and those who are one with Him will be holy also. Thereis no escape from this simple and obvious fact.
     When our Lord tried to make us understand Hisoneness with God, He expressed it in such words as these, “I do always thethings that please Him.” “Whatsoever He saith unto me that I do.” “The Son cando nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do; for what things soeverHe doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” “I can of mine own self donothing; as I hear I judge, and my judgment is just; because I seek not mineown will, but the will of Him that sent me.” “If I do not the works of myFather, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe theworks; that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in Him.”
     The test of oneness then, was the doing of thesame works, and it is the test of oneness now. And if our Lord could say ofHimself that if He did not the works of his Father, He did not ask to bebelieved, no matter what professions or claims He might make, surely Hisdisciples must do no less.
     It is forever true in the nature of things that”a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bringforth good fruit.” It is not that they will not, but they cannot. And a soulthat is one with Christ will just as surely bring forth a Christ-like life, asa grapevine will bring forth grapes and not thistles.
     Not that I would be understood to object toemotions. On the contrary, I believe they are very precious gifts, when theyare from God, and are to be greatly rejoiced in. But what I do object to is themaking them a test or proof of spiritual states, either in ourselves or others,and depending on them as the foundation of our faith. Let them come or let themgo, just as God pleases, and make no account of them either way. But always seeto it that the really vital marks of oneness with Christ, the marks of likenessin character, and life, and walk, are ours, and all will be well. For “he thatsaith I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth isnot in Him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of Godperfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.”
     It may be, my dear reader, that the grief of yourlife has been the fact that you have so few good feelings. You try your hardestto get up the feelings which you hear others talking about, but they will notcome. You pray for them fervently, and are often tempted to upbraid God becauseHe does not grant them to you. And you are filled with an almost unbearableanguish because you think your want of emotion is a sign that there is not anyinterior union of your soul with Christ. You judge altogether by your feelings,and think there is no other way to judge.
     Now my advice to you is to let your feelings go,and pay no regard to them whatever. They really have nothing to do with thematter. They are not the indicators of your spiritual state, but are merely theindicators of your temperament, or of your present physical condition. Peoplein very low states of grace are often the subjects of very powerful emotionalexperiences. We all know this from the scenes we have heard of or witnessed atcamp-meetings and revivals. I myself had a colored servant once who wouldbecome unconscious under the power of her wonderful experiences, whenever therewas a revival meeting at their church, who yet had hardly a token of anyspiritual life about her at other times, and who was, in fact, not even moral.Now surely, if the Bible teaches nothing else, it does teach this, that aChrist-like life and walk must accompany any experience which is really born ofHis spirit. It could not be otherwise in the very nature of things. But I fearsome Christians have separated the two things so entirely in their conceptions,as to have exalted their experiences at the expense of their walk, and havecome to care far more about their emotions than about their character.
     A certain colored congregation in one of theSouthern States was a plague to the whole neighborhood by their open disregardof even the ordinary rules of morality; stealing, and lying, and cheating,without apparently a single prick of conscience on the subject. And yet theirnightly meetings were times of the greatest emotion and “power.” Someonefinally spoke to the preacher about it, and begged him to preach a sermon onmorality, which would lead his people to see their sins. “Ah, missus,” hereplied, “I knows dey’s bad, but den it always brings a coldness like over demeetings when I preaches about dem things.”
     You are helpless as to your emotions, butcharacter you can have if you will. You can be so filled with Christ as to beChrist-like, and if you are Christ-like, then you are one with Him in the onlyvital and essential way, even though your feelings may tell you that it is animpossibility.
     Having thus settled what oneness with Christreally is, the next point for us to consider is how to reach it forourselves.
     We must first of all find out what are the factsin the case, and what is our own relation to these facts.
     If you read such passages as 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Knowye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth inyou?” and then look at the opening of the chapter to see to whom thesewonderful words are spoken, even to “babes in Christ,” who were “yet carnal,”and walked according to man, you will see that this soul-union of which Ispeak, this unspeakably glorious mystery of an indwelling God is the possessionof even the weakest and most failing believer in Christ. So that it is not anew thing you are to ask for, but only to realize that which you already have.Of every believer in the Lord Jesus it is absolutely true, that his “body isthe temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in him, which he has of God.”
     It seems to me just in this way; as though Christwere living in a house, shut up in a far-off closet, unknown and unnoticed bythe dwellers in the house, longing to make Himself known to them and be onewith them in all their daily lives, and share in all their interests, butunwilling to force Himself upon their notice; as nothing but a voluntarycompanionship could meet or satisfy the needs of His love. The days pass byover that favored household, and they remain in ignorance of their marvellousprivilege. They come and go about all their daily affairs with no thought oftheir wonderful Guest. Their plans are laid without reference to Him. Hiswisdom to guide, and His strength to protect, are all lost to them. Lonely daysand weeks are spent in sadness, which might have been full of the sweetness ofHis presence.
     But suddenly the announcement is made, “The Lordis in the house!”
     How will its owner receive the intelligence? Willhe call out an eager thanksgiving, and throw wide open every door for theentrance of his glorious Guest; Or will he shrink and hesitate, afraid of Hispresence and seek to reserve some private corner for a refuge from Hisall-seeing eye?
     Dear friend, I make the glad announcement to theethat the Lord is in thy heart. Since the day of thy conversion He has beendwelling there, but thou hast lived on in ignorance of it. Every moment duringall that time might have been passed in the sunshine of His sweet presence, andevery step have been taken under His advice. But because thou knew it not, andhast never looked for Him there, thy life has been lonely and full of failure.But now that I make the announcement to thee, how wilt thou receive it? Artthou glad to have Him? Wilt thou throw wide open every door to welcome Him in?Wilt thou joyfully and thankfully give up the government of thy life into Hishands? Wilt thou consult Him about everything, and let Him decide each step forthee, and mark out every path? Wilt thou invite Him to thy innermost chambers,and make Him the sharer in thy most hidden life? Wilt thou say, “YES!” to allHis longing for union with thee, and with a glad and eager abandonment, handthyself and all that concerns thee over into His hands? If thou wilt, thenshall thy soul begin to know something of the joy of union with Christ.
     And yet, after all, this is but a faint pictureof the blessed reality. For far more glorious than it would be to have Christ adweller in the house or in the heart, is it to be brought into such a real andactual union with Him as to be one with Him, one will, one purpose, oneinterest, one life. Human words cannot express such glory as this. And yet Iwant to express it. I want to make your souls so unutterably hungry to realizeit, that day or night you cannot rest without it. Do you understand the words,one with Christ? Do you catch the slightest glimpse of their marvellousmeaning? Does not your whole soul begin to exult over such a wondrous destiny?For it is a reality. It means to have no life but His life, to have no will butHis will, to have no interests but His interests, to share His riches, to enterinto His joys, to partake of His sorrows, to manifest His life, to have thesame mind as He had, to think, and feel, and act, and walk as He did. Oh, whocould have dreamed that such a destiny could have been ours!
     Wilt thou have it, dear soul? Thy Lord will notforce it on thee, for He wants thee as His companion and His friend, and aforced union would be incompatible with this. It must be voluntary on thypart.
     The bride must say a willing “Yes,” to herbridegroom, or the joy of their union is utterly wanting. Canst thou say awilling “Yes,” to thy Lord?
     It is such a simple transaction, and yet so real!The steps are but three. First, be convinced that the Scriptures teach thisglorious indwelling of thy God; then surrender thy whole being to Him…; and finally believe that He… is dwelling in thee. Begin to reckon thyself dead, and to reckon Christ as thy only life. Maintain this attitude of soul unwaveringly. Say, “I am crucifiedwith Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,” over andover day and night, until it becomes the habitual breathing of thy soul. Putoff thy self-life by faith and in fact continually, and put on practically thelife of Christ. Let this act become, by its constant repetition, the attitudeof thy whole being. And as surely as thou dost this day by day, thou shalt findthyself continually bearing about in thy body the dying of the Lord Jesus, thatthe life also of Jesus may be made manifest in thy mortal flesh. Thou shaltlearn to know what salvation means; and shalt have opened out to thy astonishedgaze secrets of the Lord, of which thou hast hitherto hardly dreamed.

How have I erred! God is my home
And God Himself is here.
Why have I looked so far for Him,
Who is nowhere but near?

Yet God is never so far off
As even to be near;
He is within, our spirit is
The home He holds most dear.

So all the while I thought myself
Homeless, forlorn, and weary;
Missing my joy, I walked the earth,
Myself God’s sanctuary.

This page Copyright © 2000 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: https://www.peterwade.com/.

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