The Highest Life

Eph. 1:3,4.0---'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ: even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love.'

Four times Paul writes of life in Christ as dwelling in 'the heavenlies,' by which term he means a life of transcending perfection and blessedness.

What is this highest life? In a word, it signifies a sincere attempt to reduce the Christian creed to experience and practice; to strive to be and to do whatever our faith demands. It means that we love God with 'all our mind, and soul, and strength.' Whosoever aspires to the ideal life must be able to say with St. Paul, 'I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me' [Gal. 2:20]. The law of Christ determines the whole program of life, and the love of Christ becomes the effectual motive to universal obedience. They who will be perfect must be one with Him as the branch is one with the vine, not as the mistletoe which finds shallow rootage in a crevice, or as the ivy or orchid that take precarious hold by a tendril. To live the higher life is to possess the mind of Christ, to reflect His image, to walk in His steps. Or, to put it from another point of view---which is not another---only as the Holy Spirit dwells richly in our hearts, illuminating, energizing, hallowing them, can we reach the shining heights, where it is good to dwell with the Master, to see His glory, and to be changed into the same image. The highest life is to make the thought of godliness the ruling idea of the mind, the master-passion of the heart, the supreme law of conduct and action.

What does this imply and promise?

Enlargement of vision.---Living on lower grades of spiritual life, we find it difficult to grasp the great articles of our creed, and were it not for the rare moments which come in the poorest lives we might lose our hold of them altogether. Living so near to the worldly, how many things intrude upon us and obscure the great truths by which we live! Soon they are only dimly seen; and when no longer vividly realized, how easy it is to deny them! Very different is the case when we live near to God.

Purity of Character.---A rare degree of purity is another implication of the highest life. 'He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love.' Long before that resent event, the Paleolithic period, in the counsels of eternity God determined that all believers in Christ Jesus should become 'partakers of the Divine nature'---so far as that is possible to a creature---reflecting the Divine glory, knowing His peace. Every believer in Christ from the hour of spiritual birth receives this power and privilege. 'That ye be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, which after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth' [Eph. 4:23,24]. By faith, resolution, and diligence we may grow in grace, and attain to the stature of men in Christ Jesus.

Such purity means an interior perfection. This is the first aim of one who would live the higher life. The training of the conscience becomes a primal duty. The conscience of a Christian may be a rude organ, whose judgments are crude and unsafe, but climbing higher it is touched to finer issues. It is wonderful to what perfection the eye can be educated. Herschel thought that the workers on the mosaics of the Vatican could distinguish at least thirty thousand different shades of color. It is equally surprising to what perfection the ear may be trained. Weber said that musicians can distinguish notes separated in the scale of sound by only one-sixtieth part of a musical tone. To what perfection, then, may not the conscience be raised! We are often struck by the majestic moral judgments of our Lord; their exquisite discrimination, their authority, instantaneousness and unanswerableness, are most impressive. It is impossible to yield ourselves entirely up to God and to live to His glory without the conscience acquiring a sensitiveness, truthfulness and sovereignty far excelling that of natural man.

It means also an outward goodness. The reality of interior sanctification is evidenced by excellence of character and conduct. Out of profound spirituality ought to spring commanding practical goodness. We are told by the naturalist that on their native rocks and ledges Alpine flowers are specially rich and gorgeous. The deep blue of the gentians, as well as crimson, rich reds, purple, gold-yellow, and pure white are scattered in lavish profusion. Lowland flowers when transferred to Alpine gardens at 6,000 feet become richer and deeper and more vivid in color. The reverse is equally true, for these mountain plants are neither so gorgeous nor so rich planted in the lowlands as on their native rocks and ledges; their color fades, their glory is lost. Is not this a parable of the graces of life as cultivated on the lowlands of experience, or on its mountain heights? We cannot define the beauty of character felt in sincere spiritually-minded people, any more than we can define other forms of beauty; yet it is undeniable that there is a singular charm of character in the genuine saint. We cannot live 'quite on the verge of heaven' without sharing in its beauty and sweetness.

A perfected blessedness.---To attain the heights and dwell there implies a perfected blessedness. 'Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.' 'And Peter answered, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here' [Matt. 17:4]. It is always good to be with Him, the meaner elements beneath our feet. No experience of initial discipleship is without its deep satisfaction; but ascending the hill of the Lord and dwelling in the holy place, we see more fully the glory of the Lord, and receive more richly of His fullness. 'The heavenly places' must be good to live in. All things there are pure and delightful.

It is also said, of the vast number of bees and butterflies that are noticed in the higher Alps. It would seem that they quit the pastures and dare the glaciers, lured by the rarer sweetness of the flowers growing on the higher reaches of the mountain. Another writer testifies, "No Greek honey can match the luxury you get among the Sennereien of the higher Alps. The flowers that thrive along the meridian of the snows offer the most delicious pasture for fastidious bees." Once more we see as in a glass the image of the spiritual truth. Slighting all inferior gratifications, renouncing all dubious compromises, giving himself wholly to the Lord, the believer realizes a blessedness that he never knew as a half-hearted disciple. With the nearer approach, the closer communion, the full reliance of the heart in the promises of God and sincerest delight in the law of God, we find the restfulness and sweetness of which the psalmist sings so exultingly.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha