By Harry Ironside (1876-1951)
From his book, Changed by Beholding
What does it mean then, when it says we “are saved by His life?” It means this, that He who died for us on the Cross now lives to carry us through to the glory. He lives to maintain us, to sustain us; He lives to give us all the grace and strength we need from day to day that we may glorify Him in this scene. He lives to make us exactly like Himself in that day when He returns in power and glory. “Because I live, ye shall live also.” We have been justified from all things; now we can draw on His omnipotent power as the living Christ that we may have the needed strength to glorify Him, as we tread the pilgrim way. “We are saved by His life.”
You remember in John 17, that wonderful prayer of His as He knelt there before His disciples, and as He lifted up His eyes to Heaven. Seven times over He speaks of “those that Thou gavest Me.” Oh, how dear they were to Him! He asks the Father regarding them. In verse 17, He says, “Sanctify them through Thy truth. Thy word is truth.” To be sanctified is to be set apart for Christ’s own possession and for His use. The Lord Jesus Christ says of Himself, “Say ye of Him, Whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest because I said, I am the Son of God?” One Person of the eternal Trinity was set apart to come down into the world and to accomplish the work of salvation. That work accomplished, now He says, “I sanctify Myself”—I set Myself apart.
He has taken His place at God’s right hand in order that He might undertake for His people that we might be sanctified through the truth. And there in the glory, He is representing us before God. He has sent His Holy Spirit as His representative down into this world in order to apply His Word to our hearts and consciences, that we may be separated from everything unclean and unholy, and thus live entirely to His glory in this present evil world. It is in this sense that we are saved by His life. How much do we enter into the reality of it? I am afraid some of us are content to stop at the Cross. We must begin there. There is no other way of approach to God. But as we go on, we are to be occupied with the Risen One, at God’s right hand.
Now we want to be like Him; we want to be used of Him in this sin-stained world. But in order that this may be so, He has set Himself apart that our hearts may be fully taken up with Him, and we are changed as we behold Him. He would have us yield to Him, as those who are alive from the dead, that His Risen life may be manifested in us.
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:10-11)
Think of it, that through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, sent from the Father, the Risen life of Jesus is manifested in the surrendered believer, as in this sense he seeks to bear witness to the One who died for him, and now lives to keep him. “The life also of Jesus is made manifest in our mortal flesh.”
Some years ago, I was working among the Indians in Arizona. The Presbyterians have a splendid work established at a place called Ganado on Arizona Desert, among the Navajo Indians. I went out there for some meetings, and they took me the first day through the buildings. We went into the hospital, and in one ward, there was a Navajo woman lying upon a cot; she could not speak a word of English, and I could only speak three words of Navajo, so we could not have any conversation. The missionary told me something about her. It seems that nine weeks before, the missionary doctor had received a call to go out over the desert to a hogan (little Navajo hut) where a boy was lying ill. The doctor got into his Ford car and rattled across the desert. As the doctor was on his way, he came to a clump of bushes rising up from the desert land, and he heard, as he drew near, a terrible scream; it was a scream that did not sound human at all. He thought it was the cry of a wild beast. He had the idea that perhaps one of the Indians had set one of those cruel steel traps and that a cougar, or a prairie wolf, or some other creature, had been caught by the leg and had twisted or dragged itself away with a torn limb, and was screaming in anguish somewhere. That thing does happen. (It costs a lot to get those furs that some of you ladies wear.) The doctor thought it was some such creature in pain, and he took a gun and began to work his way through the bush in order to get to the other side, and all the time this awful screaming was ringing in his ears. When he got to the other side of the bush, he found it was not a wild beast at all, and there was no steel trap. There lay a Navajo woman on the ground, and the doctor soon saw that she was paralyzed, and she was suffering unspeakable anguish. He made certain examinations and decided there was no hope for her. Gangrene had already set in, and it looked as if she must die. But he thought, Well, I won’t have her die out here. And he gave her some morphia to quiet her. He then wrapped her in a blanket and took her to the Mission hospital.
It happened that she had been terribly ill, and the Indian doctor pow-wowed over her, and as he could not get the devil out of her, he said, “She is going to die.” And so they took her and threw her out to die. For four days, she had lain there paralyzed, without a bite of food to eat, or a drop of water to drink, with the fierce burning sun pouring down upon her by day and suffering intense cold at night (for it was about 7000 feet above sea level). He took her to the hospital, and after some prayer, he operated. The doctor never left her bedside for nine days and nights. He had a big chair put beside her, and he was ready at the moment she stirred to minister to her. At the end of the ninth day, the fever had gone, and it was evident she was going to recover. She had been unconscious all the time, and when she recovered consciousness, she looked about her and saw where she was, and the Indian nurse told her of what had happened. “Why did he do it?” she asked. “He is nothing to me, I am an Indian, he is a white man. My own people threw me out, and he brought me here and made me to live. Why was it?”
And Mary, the Indian nurse, said, “It is the love of Christ in his heart.”
“The love of Christ,” said the woman, “What is the love of Christ? I have never heard of the love of Christ. What do you mean?” The Indian nurse could not explain it to her all at once, for this woman’s mind was so dark. It would have taken days to tell her. You would have to go back to the Creation and then go on right through the Bible in order to show how God’s love was revealed. And it took two or three days before they could even get thus far.
Some days passed, and they told her more and more, and now they thought the time had come when she ought to be able to decide for Christ. So, they knelt beside her, and Mr. Mitchell, the missionary, said, “My sister, have you not come to see the love of Christ, and cannot you trust your soul to Jesus. Turn to Him from all your heathen idolatry. Take Him as your Savior.” And she just looked at him. The Indian can keep quiet in more languages than any other person I know. You can talk and talk, and they just look and look with those big eyes of theirs. And they waited for a little while, but there was no answer. And then the door at the end of the ward opened, and the doctor looked in to see how his patient was, and seeing the missionary there, he went out again.
The face of the Indian woman lit up, and then she said to my friend, Mr. Mitchell, “If Jesus is anything like the doctor, I can trust Him forever,” and she came to Christ. Do you see what had reached her? She had seen divine love manifested in a man. This is what you and I are called to exhibit to the world.
(image from the cover of Changed by Beholding (Lighthouse Trails); photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)