"Sell that thou hast."

Matthew 19:21.

J. A. N.

Christian Friend vol. 14, 1887, p. 225.

The believer's position as standing in new creation, and as associated with Christ risen and glorified, is widely known today amongst believers; but it is of the deepest importance to judge in the light of the Lord's own presence and word how far our ways practically comport with being "risen with Christ." Nor is it our ways only, but that from which the walk is produced; namely, the whole energy of our moral being.

Unspeakably blessed it is when the Spirit is unhinderedly leading forth our hearts and minds to our Lord in glory, giving the heart to be at home where He is sitting. This is indeed rest, for the heart is then outside of this scene where trial and conflict are. Trial and conflict there will be to the end of our course; but are our affections (mind) on things above? (Col. 3:2.)

First there is, "Seek those things which are above." The babe in Christ can do this. How is it we see in some believers, with little or no intelligence of their place in Christ as heavenly, that ardent hope and joy in prospect of heaven when they shall have passed from this world and its trouble and sorrow? It is the Spirit leading them forth to what concerns Christ in glory. They feel they cannot rest in this scene, and, unintelligent as they are, their hearts aspire to a scene where they can rest - where Christ is. Blessed it is indeed if souls, in the freshness and joy of first knowing Christ, thus give place to the Spirit leading their hearts into communion with Christ, at the right hand of God. Seeking the things above, they will find them. We have nothing dissociated from Christ. He is the blessed object of our hearts, so that in seeking what is above we are brought into immediate contact with Himself. He has ascended that He might fill all things. (Eph. 4.) We await that bright day of glory when His filling all things will be manifested to this poor world, now groaning under the bondage of corruption. Are our hearts and minds meanwhile engaged with Him, and practically in fellowship with Him, in that place and glory where His God and Father has set Him, and where He yet waits until His enemies are made the footstool of His feet? This is of the utmost moment now to the glory and praise of His precious name amongst His own, in this the scene of His. rejection, and where truly He is yet the despised and rejected of men. But how often is it sorrowfully evident that the mind is on earth instead of above, where He is? How little the hearts of His own value the sweetness and power of the Spirit in them, witnessing not of Himself, but our beloved Lord, the absent, earth-rejected One; receiving of Him, and showing it unto us, and thus glorifying Him. (John 16:13-14.)

Matthew 19 will show us further what we have in this present scene. A young man comes to Jesus desiring to know how he might obtain eternal life. Jesus indicated perfect righteousness, according to the standard of the One who is "good," as the means through which life eternal had to be gained. This failing to reach the young man's conscience, Jesus brought in what is characteristic of God Himself. "If thou wilt be perfect." (v. 21.) "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect;" the only time this word perfect is used in Matthew. But to produce perfection in this scene, there must be separation from it. The heart must be dissociated from it. Hence there is the "selling," then communion with God in the character He now displays towards the world - "grace." "Give to the poor." But what is this selling? It is not abandoning what we have, or throwing it away, but parting with it to receive more than its equivalent. If we turn to Philippians 3 we shall have a lovely example of this selling. There Paul is seen suffering the loss of all things, counting them but dung. But did he do so, like a monk, in his self-mortification, to work out a fitness for eternal life? No; this would have been a throwing away what he had, without aught being received. But he did it "to gain Christ." This was in truth infinitely more than he gave up. Nor was there anything of self in thus giving all up to gain Christ. All was of Christ Himself. "Apprehended of Christ Jesus." Then, in communion with His Lord's purpose, and absorbed with His excellency, he could joyfully "sell what he had" and "give to the poor" in consequence also. "As poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." (2 Cor. 6:10.) Lovely character and path truly in this scene of selfishness and misery. Somewhat conformed unto Him, who for our sakes became poor, though surely the path of Him who abode in His Father's love, and finished the work given Him to do, infinitely transcends all.

There is another side to this selling. God hath called us unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ. Blessed be His name for that. But He is faithful. (1 Cor. 1:9.) In faithfulness then He must judge in the saint what hinders the enjoyment of this fellowship. It concerns His own glory to do so. How often then what we have stands between us and the enjoyment and expression of what is in Christ? With that God must deal, and, if need be, remove it. How sad, and grieving too, surely to His heart of grace and love as our Father, to have to destroy "what we have," instead of our "selling" it in communion with His own mind. This latter is joy unutterable to our souls; but how often years of a believer's life are withered and blasted with suffering from God's faithfulness to him as His child! The Lord give His own fully to "be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." Eph. 5.) "All that is in the world … is not of the Father." (1 John 2:16.) As then there is severance from this scene, the treasure in heaven is known and enjoyed. To us this treasure is Christ - He whom God hath highly exalted, and given a name above every name. (Phil. 2:9.) We are "complete in Him." What greater treasure could God have given us than His beloved Son? Meanwhile that treasure is in heaven. "Seated together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus." "Blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ." (Eph. 1:3, and Eph. 2:6.)

To follow Him is placed last of all; and necessarily so. Until the soul is "rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught" (Col. 2:7), there always will be some danger of the believer being spoiled with something after the traditions of men. What havoc it works, for souls to take the path of following Christ in service before they have learned where their treasure is, before their hearts, built up in Him, can, abiding in Him, repose in communion with Him above at His Father's right hand. The Lord grant, to the glory of His own name, that flowing from Himself, "your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ" (Col. 2:5), may be more and more displayed by His own, waiting to be for ever with Him in glory, bearing then the image of the heavenly. (1 Cor. 15:49.) Now in Him "we have redemption through His blood." (Eph. 1:7.) "The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Gal. 6:14.) Let us then, for His beloved name's sake, sell what we have, count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord. Then shall we know, in all its blessed fulness, our treasure in heaven, where He who gave Himself for us is glorified, and where God has now associated us with Him. Oh, let us in these evil days have our minds where He is sitting! Then there will be power to bring forth that for which He has chosen us, and for which He hath set us. (John 15:16.) Do not our hearts covet to meet His own mind and desire in this day of rejection and trial? J. A. N.

* * *

There are two things that present themselves to us in Christ - the attractions to our hearts of His grace and goodness, and His work which brings our souls into the presence of God.

* * *

Here then (Heb. 9) are the three aspects of the result of the work of Christ: immediate access to God, a purged conscience, an eternal redemption.