Readings at Croydon.

5. The Head.

Colossians 1:24-27.

At the second reading we had, "Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Until Christ be formed in you there is no real progress. Now you start from Christ living in you, and necessarily you are interested in His interests. In Romans 6 you touch life in Christ for relief, and now you learn that He has His place in you, He lives in you, and now you enter into the circle of His interests. It is not now your own side - His grace to you. "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin" - that is your side. Here it is His side - "Christ in you, the hope of glory." It is not the hope of going to heaven, but of appearing with Him in glory. As you see in chapter 3, "Then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." This is His side of things. The difficulty is to pass from our own side to Christ's side. Some of the most earnest Christians do not pass from their side to Christ's side. They like to hear of Christ in the ship - not on the water - though the latter is the place for the true heart, because it is where He is, the former is where He was. If you love Him you would like to be where He is. Look at Mary Magdalene. She says, "Tell me where thou hast laid Him and I will take Him away." She was not thinking of the difficulties. You may say she was ignorant. Affection is not always enlightened, but it is always ready for enlightenment. Enlightenment does not give you affection, it tells you how to use it. It is very important to us to see where the Colossians were. The apostle writes, he "had heard of their faith in Christ Jesus, and the love which they had to all the saints," and yet they did not know the mystery - Christ's side.

Then we must know Galatians 2:20 before we come to this?

Certainly. I believe we do not make any advance till we know Galatians 2:20.

There may be some here who were not present at our reading on that. Do you make it experimental?

Yes. I have lost the old man and got a better. Not Adam, but Christ. Therefore I am not trying to improve Adam, because he is gone.

Is that Christ formed in you?

That is Christ formed in you. You get it in the type. Isaac gets his right place. There is a moment in the history of the believer when Christ gets His right place in his soul, and there is a great advance in him from that time. I do not say that he is altered. The flesh is like Jack-in-the-box, the same as ever, but it is kept down.

Are we to understand that Galatians 2:20 is the starting point for progress?

Yes. When the truth came out first, it was shown that a great work had been effected which could not be improved. That is, your standing was effected by the work of Christ upon the cross; and then that there was also a new state; but though it was brought out most distinctly by the one used of God to bring it out, many contented themselves with the standing without the state. And they practically put standing for state.

Would standing without state be like a well-found vessel without ballast?

It is like the prodigal before he was clothed and brought into the house. He could not be in a better standing with his father, but he did not enjoy it till he was fitted for it. You don't enjoy acceptance if you are not in the state for it. It is true of you, but your state is not according to it.

You are not in the enjoyment of the love of God unless you are in a spiritual state? I have found it so.

It is the right way to prove all truth in yourself. If you put the left shoe on the right foot you soon find your mistake.

In Galatians 2:20 then I give up all confidence in myself as of Adam?

You have done with Adam. Practically "I am crucified," it does not say we. If you take the standing side, it is "our old man is crucified." (Rom. 6) But your state is to be "always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus." No one gets any blessing but through death. Some say that John 6 is once for ever. I do not agree.

You mean we must accept death?

I mean you must feed on the death of Christ. It is not merely feeding on Scripture, but on Christ's death. That is John 6. The type is walking through the Red Sea.

I suppose Paul proved that Gal. 2:20 was his normal condition?

Yes; he could say, "Always bearing about in my body the dying of Jesus."

Would you say a word about the state?

If you believe what God has done you have peace.

God has raised Christ from the dead. You are justified. That is your standing. Your state consequently is described in Romans 5:1-11.

Is Col. 3:3 standing or state?

In Col. there is another subject. We shall come to that presently. Your state is that you are practically accepting what grace has accomplished for you. In Colossians you have died with Christ from the rudiments of the world. In Romans 6 you are dead to sin. In Colossians you are dead to the world.

The great point here is Christ's side of things. "Christ in you, the hope of glory." It is not the hope of salvation. If you turn to chap. 2:1-2 you see your gain. "For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God. … in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." You see the Colossians had not come to this. They were on the ground of Acts 2. They were a godly company, but they did not know the mystery. There is no revelation of the head in Acts 2. They had the Holy Ghost, who could make them acquainted with Christ, but they did not know Christ as head.

Would you explain the order of the apprehension of the mystery?

I am coming to it. The first step is that you are brought into a new circle of things. That is Christ's glory. It is not about your side, it is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Now we come to the great advantages. The apostle writes, "I have great conflict for you." He would not have had great conflict if there had not been great opposition. He knew that there was a very dangerous snare impending. It was a combination of man's intellect and man's religion.

The two evils we have already seen with the Corinthians and the Galatians have now taken another form - with the Galatians it was human religion, with the Corinthians it was human wisdom. Now with the Colossians they combine under the plea of contributing to Christ, to help in His service. We see this described in Christendom. No one would be accepted as a minister who had not both learning and religion. I said to a brother once, "Do you see the Colossian snare among us?" "Yes," he said, "I do. The moment you see sanctimoniousness or learning prominent then the Colossian snare is at work."

Or any kind of mental activity?

Yes. Here the apostle was thinking of the gain, not of the loss. If you are occupied with the loss you have not seen the gain. "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Is there any one with any divine sense who would not say, I should like to know Him? It is not some, it is all. Now you will know what "Christ in you" is.

Now would you like to know how you get it? Turn to chapter 2:10, "And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power." Here you get the grace in which you are set. As you are complete in Him you cannot ADD to what is complete What can you add to it? How can my religion or my learning add to it? This you must first and firmly receive.

What is the force of in Him?

That it is standing. You are complete in Him. You may not realise it, but you are.

Does it bring in union?

You do not properly get union in this book. Only once the body is alluded to. In union you must reach the Person where the Person is. Here you are only outside of the world. Life is the great subject here, it is Christ's life, and what His life leads you into. The first point is, you are complete in Him. If you are seeking the Head what must you learn? That you are complete in Him without any learning or religion of your own.

Is it faith laying hold of this?

Yes, first you believe it, but if Christ is your life, if He is living in you, it must be so, for He is the head of all principality and power.

You mean that one is conscious of it?

Yes, I trust many would be able to say we are complete in Him. It is a Christian axiom.

We receive it in faith, I suppose, but we have the consciousness of it in the power of the Holy Ghost. Standing, I always receive in faith, but it is made true in me by the Spirit of God.

Our brother's question was, How are we to realise it? Only in Christ's life. We began with "Christ in you."

Are those the two points in John 14, "Ye in me, and I in you," and, "At that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in me, and I in you"?

It is John's way of putting union.

How do we draw from these treasures?

In living his life, being directed by Him. The more He lives in you the more you enjoy His things. There is no difficulty when you see that you belong to another man, and that you are to do everything by Christ. The more fully Christ rules you the better you will be in all your relations here. There is nothing about your family in the law. But when you are in Christ your household is ordered by Him.

There are only two epistles where you get this family circle. There is nothing about your family in Romans. You are to love your neighbour as yourself. That is the way to transact business. You do not attempt to alter the order of things here, you render honour to whom honour is due, you are not a citizen but a subject, you obey the powers that be. That is Romans. Here you are on different ground.

You are across Jordan in Colossians?

That will come out. Now if you read verse eleven you get the second point. "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ." You see our translators put in the words "of the sins." You can understand a pious monk saying, "Well, if that means the flesh, all my penance is worthless." So that probably he put "the sins" in the margin. The next transcriber put it into the text. The fact is you are complete in Christ. Now you find that the old man is put away, the reproach of Egypt is rolled off. It is "putting off the body of the flesh." You do not require any of it, neither its learning nor its religion. We may say, "Would not Christ use the body and mind?" Yes, when He controls them. I have no doubt Paul was an accomplished speaker, but he was so reduced "that his bodily presence was weak and his speech contemptible," and yet doubtless he did more good than ever before. The power of God was with him. Paul was showing the Corinthians that what they were boasting in was not necessary for the Lord's service.

Is that why we do not get beyond Gilgal in Colossians?

Circumcision is different from crucifixion. In the latter the man is judicially ended before God, in the other he is put away.

What do you mean by not getting beyond Gilgal?

You are across the Jordan, and the body of the flesh is put away. You are not in Canaan, the heavenly places yet, you are only preparing for it. I remember Mr. Darby asking me once where I put Colossians, and I said "entering." He did not agree with me. I wrote to him afterwards and said "preparing to enter," and with this he agreed. There are three things - entering, possessing, and dwelling. Here you are preparing to enter.

Does verse 11 mean I am cut off from the flesh as much as Christ is?

Yes. It is in His death. The body of the flesh is put off.

I do not see the difference between this and Romans 6.

In the latter it is crucified judicially ended. In the other it is put away. You cannot use it.

You mean practically put away.

It is no longer acknowledged.

It is the same death in both cases - the death of Christ.

Yes. Therefore it is "in whom," risen in Christ. The real thing is, that the body of the flesh is put away. You can no longer use it.

You may now read verse 19 for another step. "And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God." You see one can be puffed up by his fleshly mind - "not holding the Head." You get hold of the Head individually. By two things you are prepared for this - one is, "You are complete in Him," and the other is to put "off the body of the flesh." I illustrate it in this way: A man emigrated with his friends, and as soon as they landed he said, "Now, let us burn the ship so that there cannot be any retrogression." Now you see the force of "in whom" ye are risen. You must hold the Head. Presently you will see when you hold the Head. In the 19th verse you have, "Not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God." All your resources come from the Head. I could understand a philosophic man being charmed with all this if he had not to set aside his own head. Then in verse 20 you read, "Wherefore if ye have died with Christ from the rudiments of the world." You see in Romans you do not get beyond death with Christ from the man. Now, it is the same death but it is over Jordan. You are dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world.

This would include the two forms you were speaking about?

Yes, you are outside of the world condition. You have not come to the heavenly places yet. If you are not apart from man, you certainly are not outside of the world.

Then you cannot hold the Head unless you are outside of the world?

Certainly not. You could not know Christ as Head but at His own side. If you knew Him, you would be sure to know Him there.

Now you see that you are dead with Him from the rudiments of the world. Next turn to chapter 3. Read four verses.

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory."

Now, "If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above." This shows that you are not there. "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." It is more correctly "but ye have died," but you have to learn it. You have to take that ground practically, and realise that you are outside of all here through the death of Christ. Hence we read "If ye then be risen." If you be dead with Him, you must be risen with Him, and "if ye be risen with Him, seek those things which are above."

Are the rudiments of the world in chapter 2:20 all the mental and sentimental things?

It includes everything. You are clear of all belonging to this order of things.

Does "if" imply a doubt?

No, it implies responsibility, because you see, "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." Your life is in Christ. Christ is in you, and He is your life. "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory."

Would you say Romans 6 is privilege and this responsibility?

Well, I do not know how it is privilege. You start with the fact, but you have to carry it out.

But it is the reckoning of faith.

You can hardly call it the reckoning of faith. We are committed to death in baptism. The two things are very distinct. One is, you are to reckon yourself dead, and the other is, He has given you the Spirit of God so that you can mortify the deeds of the body. You may try to count yourself dead, but you are not.

What does it mean, then, in Romans 6?

Well, it is the same word as for imputing righteousness. It is imputed to you. You have to carry it out. How do you effect it? You first touch life in Christ for relief - "alive unto God, in (not through) Jesus Christ our Lord."

You would not consider it correct to speak of the reckoning of faith?

No, I would not, because it is "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Nothing gives such laxity as people thinking they can reckon themselves dead by faith. If you walk in the Spirit, you will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. If you reckon that you are dead in the sight of God by faith, I agree with you, but it is not true in your own sight by faith.

But then I reckon as God reckons.

Sad work if God saw you as you see yourself. Romans 6 is only a treatise. Romans 8 is your state, not Romans 6. You believe that the old man has gone in the sight of God, but you now want that the man should be gone to you practically.

I was talking of the step before that.

That it is gone in the sight of God. That is God's side. I want to come to your side. How are you free? "He that is dead is justified from sin."

That is God's side?

No, it is your side. You cannot be practically dead to sin but by the Spirit of God. God has effected for us in the cross of Christ. You are justified by faith. Romans 5 is faith, but Romans 8 is by the Spirit of God. God has cleared away everything from His eye in the cross. You say it has not gone from you practically. Well, yes; but God gives you the Holy Ghost, and now you can say "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."

I once said to a young man, "Do you believe that the old man is gone in the cross?" "Yes," he replied. I then said, "If you were walking in the Spirit, would he be gone to you?" He had to say "Yes," or he would have put the Holy Ghost contrary to God.

That makes it plain. Faith lays hold of that which is true to God, and then the Spirit of God makes it true to you.

You would not get the Spirit except you had believed in Christ risen.

But you accept it on God's' side. It is true for you, but it is also to be true to you. Therefore we read, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh"; and, "If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." There is death to sin.

Then it is true to me? Yes.

So that we can say we begin with faith, but the power for continuance is by the Spirit?

You never lose the efficacy of the work of Christ. It is always true with God, and always true for you, but it is not always true to you but as you walk in the Spirit.

Do I understand that it is not by faith that I am in the power of Romans 8:2, but by the Spirit of God?

Certainly. Now if you turn to Col. 3 you will see that you are in Christ's life. Now you accept circumcision. Read from verse 5, "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth. … But now, ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, etc. … And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all (every thing), and in all." Now you come to the Head.

When you get there are you holding the Head? You are. Christ is every thing then.

Is that union?

Not exactly. Union is not realized until you are brought to Christ where He is. Here it is the knowledge of the Head. It is a great thing to hold the Head, the source from which all grace comes. You practically accept circumcision, the whole body of the flesh is to be put off. Do you understand? A great many read this for practice, but it is more - that you practically accept all which has been done for you on the cross. The best illustration is Elisha's act when he got the power, lie took up his own clothes and rent them in two. He not merely threw them off, but rendered them useless. There are two parts in the body of the flesh - "lusts" which you must mortify, and "habits" which you must put off. You have put off the old man and put on the new - where there is neither Greek, learned man, nor Jew, religious man, nor man of any kind. The apostle enumerates all kinds of men to show that you are outside of all. You have reached where "Christ is every thing and in all." I know a great many to whom Christ is chief, but it is far more to be able to say He is every thing.

Does the "where" take you into the new place?

It is not so much place here as that Christ is your life. Now you derive from the Head.

When you speak of a new place you mean morally? In a way you are on new ground. You have not come to heaven yet.

Is it the practical realizing of verse 11 and 12 of chapter if.?

Yes, circumcision is accomplished for you. You have to accept what has been done for you. You accept it whole, not in detail. The body of the flesh must be put off, as Elisha rent his clothes. You refuse everything of the old man. I am timid in speaking of it, but my impression is that you do not get direction from Christ as Head, except you are apart from everything connected with the old man. I used to look to the Lord to give me a word before I went to the meeting. I do not approve of this now. Very often I am like a blank sheet of paper. I have got nothing to say, and often when a word does come it is something I know very little about. Some ask, What is the difference between being led of the Spirit and being dictated to by the Head? I do not think the Spirit ever leads any one beyond his knowledge. One effective in speaking, never advances anything he does not know. But if Christ is known as Head, the effect is that you get an idea of it at the moment. The fact that it suits the company shows that it is the Head. If the Head was directing; there the right hymn would be given out - a hymn is leading the assembly in praise. A hymn that would suit yourself would not suit the company. If you take part in the assembly, you are supposed to be the organ or the expression of the assembly at the time.

Would it be possible to have a single eye unless we were in this place, outside of man?

I suppose not. In His light we see light. If you were directed by the Head to a hymn you would be assured of His support.

So we must not give out even a hymn without the Head?

Certainly not. Why do you say "even a hymn"? The hymns are the most important part. I can often pray when I could not give out a hymn, because a hymn is praise for grace you have received.

But if the Head directs you?

Then He supports you.

This applies to prayer too?

Of course. If you have any pressure on your mind, you will not pray, because you are not free.

You have been speaking of guidance or direction. Do you mean in the assembly, or in general?

I mean in Christ's own circle. Christ is the Head in relation to His own.

Of course, but "the Lord" would cover the whole of my life.

Quite so.

You draw a distinction between "the Head and the Lord"

To be sure I do.

There is one verse more you may read (12 to 16).

"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things, put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

Now you see what you derive from the Head. You will come out in quite a new way; all comes from the Head. First, sensibilities, then charity, then "let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts" - then you are called to one body necessarily - and then the word of Christ. These three verses tell you all you get from the Head.

You said "necessarily.". Would you explain?

It takes in the whole company.

So this chapter is not individual?

It now becomes collective for the first time. But you learn it individually.

But in view of the assembly?

In view of the whole Christian circle. As someone has said, "He is the Head of all the Gentile family." If you believe the fact that Christ is the Head, a wonderful course will open out to you. He is Head, though you do not know it. How great a company we should be here tonight if we all had lost our own heads and Christ was our common Head.

Then if I hold the Head, I must take in all the Church of God?

Yes. The body of Christ. J. B. Stoney.