SUBMITTING TO GOD TO TAKE THE NARROW WAY OF THE CROSS
In Philippians 2 Paul mentions submission many times. To be submissive is to agree with whatever God says. In the chorus of #481 in Hymns, Brother A. B. Simpson wrote “All the way to Calvary.” This is the Lord’s ordination and commandment for us. Since the Lord died on the cross, we also should take the narrow way of the cross. The Christian life is, on the one hand, to live daily. On the other hand, it is to die daily. The life between a husband and a wife is a “martyr’s” life. Daily the wife slaughters the husband, and the husband the wife. If you have been living wholly and proudly without having others slaughter you, you are a defeated Christian. You must be a “martyred” Christian not just before the Roman Caesar, but before your husband or your wife. In other words, let your husband or wife slaughter you and terminate you.
Today, you are living in the Training Center. Every dormitory room is a slaughterhouse. We know that in the Old Testament, the first step in the offering of a burnt offering is the killing of the sacrifice. Then there has to be the skinning, the cutting to pieces, and finally, the laying of the sacrifice on the altar to be burnt to ashes. Only then will the sacrifice be accepted, and only then will the sacrifice be considered complete. The result of the burnt offering is a pile of ashes. Today when I come to your dormitory, and I do not see ashes, it means that you are not yet “martyred,” that you have not been “slaughtered,” and that you have not been burnt to ashes. You have not yet taken the narrow way of the cross.
In Philippians 2:17 Paul said, “But if even I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and priestly service of your faith, I rejoice and rejoice together with you all.” Paul added to the faith of the Philippians the drink offering. This was to encourage the Philippians that though they had difficulties and sufferings for the sake of believing in the Lord, Paul’s suffering in his prison was even more than theirs. It was as if they were the burnt offerings, and he was the drink offering on top of the burnt offerings. This is what it means to be martyred. Actually, before Paul was martyred, he had been martyred already. In his feeling, he was daily slaughtered, he was daily martyred.
However, we must see that this kind of martyrdom is salvation. If the ones who are living together among you always win and never are slaughtered, then you are all failures. If you are continually being slaughtered, it seems that you are being dealt with and terminated by others. It seems that you are defeated. But actually you are being saved.
Today, the divorce rate in the United States is quite high. Many people remarry, even two or three times, or even more. We have to realize that husbands and wives separate from each other because neither one would sacrifice. The word sacrifice in Chinese is very meaningful. It has as its root the word bull. This shows that it is a bull or a goat that is being used as a sacrifice. When the animal is put to death, the result is a sacrifice. This is the way of the cross.
OBEDIENT UNTO DEATH FOR THE WORKING OUT OF OUR SALVATION
Today, our marriage life, family life, and church life are all a “slaughtering” life. Not only do we have to be saved through the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, but we have to obey God as well and to learn to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Paul said in Philippians 2, “So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not only as in my presence, but now much rather in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (v. 12). The word “salvation” here is the same as the one used in chapter one. In the original language, the word “work out” has the meaning of living out. In other words, Paul hoped that the Philippians would live out their salvation.
We have to see that today our living is our working. When you live out your salvation, you are working out your salvation. When the Lord Jesus is in you, He is your salvation. But He has not been lived out as your outward salvation. For example, while you are having your dinner at the Training Center, a sister at the same table may have said something that hurt you very much. You may not have tried to explain anything. You may have forced yourself to be patient and to finish your meal. But after the meal, you would go to a place where no one could see you and then you would cry yourself out. After you cry, you may still act ostensibly as if nothing has happened. This shows that you have not lived out your salvation. Instead you live out your “hypocrisy.”
Hence, living out our salvation, that is, working out our salvation, is a great spiritual work. In the hymn by Simpson, he said that we are “to His death conformed to be” (Hymns, #481). This is the condition for working out our salvation. To work out our salvation, we have to be obedient unto death and remain in death. We have to be obedient to the portion that God has given us. This is to die. If we do not die, we are not being obedient. When a difficult situation arises, we have to say, “Praise the Lord!” We have to realize that it is prepared for us by the Lord. We have to work out our salvation through the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
In 2:13 Paul continued on to say, “For it is God who operates in you both the willing and the working for His good pleasure.” The God mentioned here is the Spirit of Jesus Christ in chapter one. He is also the Spirit with the bountiful supply, operating within us that we would accomplish His good pleasure, which is to live out our salvation. Today we are not saved by work. We are saved by the Spirit who operates within us. It is by the bountiful supply of our God that we can obey God’s ordination.
God’s ordination for us today and His measure for us in all the environments is death. This is true in our marriage life. It is also true in our bearing and raising up of children. The more our self dies, the more we overcome and are spiritual, and can work out our salvation.
(The Glorious Vision and the Way of the Cross, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)