Two Sorts of Teaching
Scripture contains teaching concerning men or saints, and also teaching which refers to God and the Lord. Now we cannot do without teaching about ourselves but where this is based on Scripture it will always lead us to consider God and the Lord. The reason for this is that reminding us what we are susceptible to because of the old nature will necessarily involve bringing before us what we should be. It will lead on those who partake of the divine nature to learn about God and about His character, and hence what His children should manifest in their lives. Similarly, we will learn about the Lord Jesus Christ as the only perfect example set before us, and how we should live and witness for Him.
Ephesians 4: 32–5: 2 will illustrate my meaning: “be to one another kind, compassionate, forgiving one another, so as God also in Christ has forgiven you. Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, even as the Christ loved us, and delivered himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet–smelling savour”. Are we told what we should be? God and Christ are brought before us to remind us of that which we ought to display in our lives. Is there room for the glorification of self in such teaching? How could there be with God and the Lord Jesus Christ kept in view! Could the unfolding of divine counsels concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, and which tell us what God has done and will do for us, puff as up as the subjects of such wonderful counsels? How could that be if it were born in mind that our partaking in the fruit of these counsels flows from the sovereign mercy of our God? When the apostle was unfolding the teaching, his heart overflowed in praise to God and in prayer for the saints. He gave no encouragement to self–exaltation. Scriptural teaching about ourselves will never puff up, will never make self–satisfied, will never encourage that sectarian spirit inherent in every one of us, and will never present itself as the highest or most advanced kind of teaching. On the contrary, it will continually turn our view to God and the Lord. Teaching about ourselves which puffs us up is not the true teaching of God’s Word.
Teaching that subtly exalts the saints to the level of the Lord Jesus is on those lines. Scripture is very careful to guard the Lord’s pre–eminence, notwithstanding our unparalleled blessing as ‘in Christ’. It writes of Christ as set down at God’s right hand “in the heavenlies, above every principality, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name named, not only in this age, but also in that to come” (Eph. 1: 21). Are we above every principality, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name named, not only in this age, but also in that to come? No, for while God “has made [us] sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2: 6), only of Christ does it say that He is “the head of all principality and authority” (Col. 2: 10). Yes, we are in Him who is above those things, but Scripture nowhere teaches that we ourselves are above them. The doctrine of ‘in Christ’, if kept within its Scriptural parameters, will exalt Christ and not ourselves. If thinking about our blessings leads to proud thoughts as to our position rather than praise to the One who has blessed us (see Eph. 1: 3), then something is badly wrong. It is a sad day when much is made of man and not God, and when the Assembly is lauded instead of Christ.