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Pastor Harold and Cathy Brokke
For over sixty years Harold and Cathy Brokke have been ministering the Word of God in truth, love and faith to generations of students, missionaries, associates and friends of Bethany International all around the world. Pastor Ted Hegre, Pastor Harold Brokke and Pastor Alec Brooks, through their writings and preaching, have impacted the thinking and working of our minds and souls in Bethany International movement, based strictly on the Word of God.
Pastor Brokke has touched all areas of concern to the life of every Christian believer. Both Harold and Cathy Brokke have ministered to thousands of Christian evangelists, missionaries, and church planters around the world. Pastor Harold Brokke’s articles are short, sharp in analysis, and strong in the Word of God. Out and out a hard-core evangelical Christian, Pastor Brokke teaches straight from his heart and soul through these writings. Young and old, novice and wholly trained, all will find in these articles wisdom and understanding and practical steps for fruitful Christian living.
The present volume is Book II in the series of collected articles of Pastor Harold Brokke. By the grace of God, we would like to bring out several volumes of his articles in due course.
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THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE
Harold J. Brokke
TWO GREAT THEMES OF LIFE
Two great themes – life in Christ and abundant life in Christ – seem to move together in the Old and New Testaments. Let us consider these two themes. In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve received from the Lord the breath of life and were made a part of the family of God. And then they were faced with a deeper relationship to God typified by the tree of life. However, during the time of their temptation they partook of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and thus failed to enter into an experience which could have been theirs by partaking of the tree of life.
WALKING A STEP OF SIMPLE OBEDIENCE AND FAITH
Adam and Eve certainly had life. By a step of simple obedience and faith they could have entered into a more abundant life. But this they failed to do; and, instead, they lost the great possibilities of the paradise in which they lived.
Another great Old Testament character was Abraham. Four hundred and thirty years before the giving of the law, God offered Abraham a very simple promise, one which He confirmed with an oath: “In they seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 22:18). Here again we meet two great facts of redemption: One is called “the seed”; the other is called “the blessing.”
TWO FACTS ABOUT ABRAHAM
Galatians explains these two facts: first, “To Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Gal. 3:16). Secondly, “That upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Gal. 3:14). The first fact concerns the seed, which is Christ. Abraham was told that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. The second fact was called the blessing of Abraham and was to be available to all the nations. Stated simply, the seed is Christ and the blessing is the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In these two scriptures in Galatians, the twofoldness of God’s salvation is made plain. First, in our experience we must by faith receive the seed, the Lord Jesus Christ, as our personal Lord and Savior. As the Abrahamic covenant indicates, the blessing was to come through the seed. But Galatians 3:14 tells us also that even as we receive Christ as Lord and Savior by faith, the further blessing of the Holy Spirit must also be received by faith.
THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST
The life of Jesus Christ reveals these two facts also. He once said, “I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” Jesus lived His whole earthly life in order to perform two great acts for us: one, the act of redemption, the pouring out of His blood upon the cross of Calvary; two, the act of pouring out the gift of the Holy Spirit after His resurrection and ascension.
Christ’s redemption is the first provision that we must receive. After we have become the children of God, the Holy Spirit bears witness of this to our spirits. The second provision we must receive is the Holy Spirit in order that we might be representatives of Jesus Christ. He did not pour out the gift of the Holy Spirit upon those who had not received Him as their Lord and Savior.
Shortly before the crucifixion, Jesus made these matters very plain to the disciples in the upper room. He said:
I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you and shall be in you. I will not leave you desolate: I come unto you (John 14:16-18).
On the day of His ascension Christ’s instructions to the disciples point out to us again His concern that they understand what the Holy Spirit was to do in their lives. He sent this gift, not for their salvation, but that they might be empowered to bring the message of salvation to the whole world. The promise of Acts 1:8 was a restatement of the words that God spoke to Abraham: “In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” The blessing to come upon them through Christ Jesus was to be a blessing for the whole world. He said to them:
Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
CONFESSION AS SALVATION
Jesus was the Lord of the disciples before they had this experience of Pentecost. Thomas had already cried out, “My Lord and My God.” The disciples had believed that He had arisen from the dead, and they had confessed Him as their Lord. Paul says that this confession is salvation:
If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (10:9, 10).
But even though a believer accepts the resurrection and confesses Jesus as Lord, still he may not have obtained power from on high.
DOUBTING THE POSSESSION OF THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Many Christians testify freely and warmly of assurance in their hearts that they are saved and are the children of God. Yet they hesitate and are sometimes filled with doubt and questions concerning whether they possess the power of the Holy Spirit.
If we have assurance of salvation, should we not have assurance of this gift which Jesus Christ so freely offered the disciples? The Holy Spirit is the gift which lifts us out of a rather restricted personal consciousness of our own salvation. The Holy Spirit baptizes us with a concern for the salvation of the world. He baptizes us with power and blessing which make the burden of the Lord our burden and which inspire us to be representative witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ. He integrates all His power to one end – to make Jesus Christ known.
INNER REALIZATION OF GOD AS OUR FATHER
All that has been written in the book of Romans in chapters 1 through 7 leads us to the blessed ministry of the Holy Spirit and to the inner realization of God as our Father (Rom. 8). Christ desires to make us emancipated children of the Father, filled with His Spirit. But emancipation is not in the law. Emancipation is in the grace revealed through Jesus Christ.
We have already traced this emancipation from sin in Romans 6:
Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace. (6:14)
Romans 7 continues this theme of emancipation from the law and from sin, but reveals another fact: Men are not only guilty and in bondage but also impotent and lacking in spirituality. This we read in Romans 7:14:
We know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
The law demands spirituality, but cannot impart it. It cannot give us the Holy Spirit. The law can make demands but has not one drop of spirituality and power to offer the impotent, weak, frustrated Christian who wants to rise in power and fruitfulness.
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
In Romans 8 the great work of the Holy Spirit is introduced. Paul says:
The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death…that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (8:2, 4).
Romans 8, then, introduces to our attention the great and wonderful theme of the New Testament – the gift of the Holy Spirit. Many phrases are used to indicate this great gift: the promise of the Father, power from on high, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you, the baptism with the Spirit, anointing, sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, the earnest of our inheritance. All these phrases speak of the different aspects of the great gift of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian.
MORE ON THE EFFECTS ON THE BELIEVER, THAN ON THE HISTORY OF REDEMPTION
The main emphasis through all the book of Romans is not on the historical act of Christ’s redemption but rather on its effects on the believer. In Romans 1:16 we have already seen that Paul’s desire was to show the Christians that in actual experience, the gospel is the power of God. It was not the objective gospel that Paul was explaining but the subjective effects of this grand redemption in every phase of life.
We make a point of this because when Paul describes the work of the Holy Spirit in Romans 8, his emphasis is the very same. He does not even mention historical Pentecost. Nor does he refer to the Christian’s experience of the initial filling with the Spirit. Paul lays the emphasis upon the effect of the Holy Spirit’s fullness. In the chapters before Romans 8, Paul has spoken of the Holy Spirit only once – Romans 5:5, which says:
The love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us.
THE MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AFFECTS EVERY PART OF A CHRISTIAN’S LIFE
But now in Romans 8, in wonderful detail, Paul describes the ministry of the Holy Spirit as it affects every part of a Christian’s life. Notice the following phrases here about the Spirit:
“The law of the Spirit of life (8:2).
Who walk…after the Spirit (8:4).
The Spirit of God dwelleth in you (8:9).
If by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body (8:13).
Led by the Spirit of God (8:14).
The spirit of adoption (8:15).
The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit (8:16).
The first-fruits of the Spirit (8:23).
The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities (8:26).
The mind of the Spirit” (8:27)
God promises this gift of the Holy Spirit not to the world but to believers. The world does not receive the Spirit.
To summarize, the seeker’s first step is to believe in Christ and receive Him; then as a believer, he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus promised on the day of His ascension: “Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” First of all, Jesus makes believers disciples; then the Holy Spirit makes disciples witnesses unto the Lord Jesus.
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THE CONTENT OF FAITH
Christ at the Center
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the beginning of a new righteousness, which finds God in Christ Jesus at its very center.
Paul continues to unfold the revelation of Christ “raised again for our justification.” He shows that the channel through which we receive God’s righteousness and justification is faith in Jesus.
Paul presents the primacy of faith in these three subjects (Romans):
1. The Principle or Law of Faith (3:27-31)
2. The History of Faith (4:1-16)
3. The Dynamic of Faith (4:17-5:9)
The Principle or Law of Faith (3:27-31)
Since the time of the Reformation, we have spoken freely about justification by faith alone. Yet something has happened to the word faith. Often we lose the original meaning and content of Scriptural words; or even more dangerous than that, we tend to put other meanings into Scriptural words, meanings not found in the Bible. It is as though we put apple juice on the label but vinegar in the bottle. People sometimes become suspicious of labels. Thus we need to reemphasize the true meaning of faith.
Scripture calls man’s basic failure in obtaining the righteousness of God “the law of works.” It calls man’s basic success in obtaining righteousness “the law of faith.” These two laws need to be considered carefully.
In Romans 3:27 Paul gives one of the main secrets of the difference between these two laws:
Where then is the glorifying? It is excluded. By what manner of law? of works? Nay: but by a law of faith (3:27).
The Law of Works
The law of works promotes boasting; faith excludes it. The law of works fails to make men righteous; the law of faith succeeds in making them righteous. God insists on faith rather than law for personal justification. The law of faith cancels pride in order to preserve God’s glory. God says, “Not of works, that no man should glory.”
When a man works to attain righteousness, he is thrown on his own resources, his own moral energy. Thus when he achieves a relative standard of righteousness which seems to be better than other men’s, he glories; he is boastful; he is proud. The law of works makes man boast in his own achievements; the law of faith glories in God alone.
This is exactly the thought that Jesus taught in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. The Pharisee prayed thus with himself: “I thank thee, that I am not as the rest of men,…or even as this publican” (Luke 18:11). The Pharisee we self-righteous. A man is self-centered if he is not God-centered, for all men have some motivation. Men who operate under the law of works have a morality, but it is self-centered. The main element in all depravity is selfishness. By the law of works the very self that Jesus said His disciples should deny is enthroned. Self-enthronement is an abomination in the sight of God. No wonder the prophet Isaiah said, “All our righteousness are as filthy garments.”
Over this very issue of independence Satan began his deceptive career. His first temptation was to entice the human race to act independently. Eve acted independently of Adam, and Adam acted independently of God. They acted from their own souls, form their own selves. Thus depravity came in and contaminated the whole human race.
Dependence on Self
Self has not innate qualities of true holiness apart from God. Jesus gave one flat command concerning self; “Deny thyself.” The most cultured ways of self are the ways of death. But the law of works propagates and preserves the spirit of independence. The law of works operates against God’s whole plan in creating and redeeming mankind. Man certainly has the power to choose freely – but only that he might choose the way God has designed for him.
One common expression and attitude abroad in our day concerning the law is this: “No one can keep the law. Nobody is perfect!” Though this expression may be true of each man in his unrepentant state – because he is still committed to self-gratification – it seriously limits God’s divine provision in Christ. Humanity has neither a righteousness of its own which could ever please God nor a perfection of its own. Scripture emphasizes the truth that all men are sinners, and God must visit wrath on all unrepentant sinners.
If We Deny the Possibility of Righteousness …
Again we say, from the divine side, that to deny the possibility of righteousness is to frustrate the very meaning of redemption through Christ and His cross. The church sometimes parrots statements about our inabilities to keep the law, and then these statements become a convenient smoke screen to make practical steps of faith null and void. Isolated verses of Scripture may seem to convey the thought that unrighteousness must continue to remain in believers. But when such verses are studied in the light of their context, we see that God’s revealed purpose for man is practical holiness and righteousness “in all manner of living.”
For instance, the statement “All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” is a fact which is true of man in his sinful state. But this statement cannot be applied to a man who has found the “much more” of the grace of Jesus or to the man who knows the power of Christ’s blood and Christ’s Spirit.
Universal Fact About Fallen Man
It is so good to know that verses about man’s sinfulness are meant to announce not an unalterable fate for man but rather a universal fact about fallen man. No fate hangs over mankind determining a permanent sinful state within him. Rather, in God’s Word there is announcement of man’s failure to be what he ought to be before a holy God.
The Bible never teaches that man’s failure to attain righteousness is a life-long necessity. It points out, instead, that man’s failure is due to a basic problem which when recognized and remedied can establish the law.
Characteristics of the Law of Faith
What are the characteristics of the law of faith? Faith in Jesus Christ is not self-centered, man-centered, or independent. Faith is God-centered. Faith leans. Faith glorifies God. Faith has everything to do with God’s way but nothing to do with man’s way. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the beginning of a new righteousness which finds God in Christ Jesus at its very center.
The parable of Jesus teach man’s dependence on God. Jesus illustrated this dependence when He said that He was the Vine and we are the branches. A branch has no life except in a vine. Without the vine a branch is dead. Even so, the law of faith grafts us into Jesus Christ; the law of works leaves us without the life of the true Vine.
Jesus also said He was the Good Shepherd and we are the sheep. A sheep has no guidance except through a guide, a shepherd. Without a shepherd, a sheep is lost. Without our Shepherd, we are lost. The law of faith keeps us close to Jesus Christ, our wonderful Shepherd, who laid down His life for us that we might be saved completely. But the law of works robs us of our Shepherd, leaving us in the cold wilderness of man’s morality, and ending in death.
Why Is Faith the Channel for Justification?
Why has God chosen faith as the channel for our justification? Faith is essentially a part of God’s order in creation. In one sense faith was not chosen by God. Let me explain.
If God had a choice as to how men should be justified, only one of two ways could be taken: either by the law (principle) of works or by the law (principle) of faith. But by its very nature, the law of works strengthens man’s depravity and independence and therefore is contrary to God’s will. Works are man-centered and make men boasters, for they throw man back on his own resources. The law of works is really a rejection of God’s rule over man’s life.
It is the law of faith which glorifies God, exalting His saving work and making God the center of man’s salvation. We must therefore receive our justification as a gift from God. We cannot manufacture it ourselves. God’s method of receiving faith follows the same rule that Paul laid down when he said, “What hast thou that thou didst not receive? but if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7).
The Faith In Jesus
This faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified has omnipotent powers to slay the rule of sin and to transform all of life. In the Bible this faith is not intellectual but rather it is the whole man resting his whole life on the perfect Redeemer and Lord. Thus the testimony of I John 5:4,5: “This is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith. And who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”
Moreover, this law of faith does not make its appeal to only a segment of mankind but is the way for God to be God of Gentile and Jew alike. “Is God the God of Jews only? is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yea, of Gentiles also” (3:29).
The History of Faith (4:1-16)
In these verses Paul presents two leaders, Abraham and David. No two Old Testament characters were so revered as Abraham, the father of the nation, and King David, the father of the established kingdom. Both Abraham and David testify to justification by grace through faith and not by circumcision and law.
Abraham was justified by faith before the advent of circumcision or law: “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness” (4:3). David was justified by grace after circumcision and law were deeply incorporated into the life of Israel: “David also pronounceth blessing upon the man, unto whom God reckoneth righteousness apart from works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not reckon sin” (4:6-8).
The Dynamic of Faith (4:17-5:9)
The Apostle Paul next describes the power of Abraham’s faith in God to fulfill God’s promises to him that in his seed would all the nations of the earth be blessed.
In Abraham’s life the following issues are clear (4:17-22).
1. The God of the promise to Abraham is the God of creation and resurrection: “A father of many nations have I made thee, before whom he believed, even God, who giveth life to the dead, and calleth the things that are not, as though they were” (4:17).
2. The promise was stated to Abraham: “In hope (Abraham) believed against hope, to the end that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken” (4:18).
How then is the reckoning of righteousness possible? By two radical acts: first, an objective occurrence – the vicarious death of Jesus Christ and His actual bearing of our guilt and sin. This occurred once for all at Calvary nearly two thousand years ago (II Cor. 5:21; Isa. 53:5,6). Secondly, a subjective act – a change in each individual sinner through repentance and faith. Repentance is turning from sin, from self-vindication, and from self-trust. Faith is a turning unto Christ as the one source of forgiveness and righteousness.
3. Both Abraham and Sarah were impotent to fulfill the promise: “Without being weakened in faith he considered not his own body now as good as dead…and the deadness of Sarah’s womb” (4:19).
4. Abraham’s faith rested on God’s promise. “Yet, looking unto the promise of God…” (4:20).
5. Abraham’s faith glorified the God of the promise. “Waxed strong through faith, giving glory to God” (4:20).
6. Abraham’s faith obtained the reality. “Fully assured that what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (4:21).
7. Abraham’s faith was his righteousness. “Wherefore also it was reckoned unto him for righteousness” (4:22).
We also receive this blessing in our lives (4:23-5:1) by faith in God’s promise, just as Abraham had righteousness imputed to him by faith in God, who raised Jesus from the dead. Justification by faith can become a reality for all men.
A Record of the Blessed Results
In Romans 5:1-9 we have not the explanation of justification by faith as much as a record of the blessed results in the justified heart. First, the guilt of sin is removed. The believer begins to have fellowship with the redeeming Lord. A believer comes to have peace with God. “Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:1).
Second, God gives a believer access in prayer to His very throne, access whereby he can obtain grace to live for Him. “Through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand” (5:2). The same faith that justified gives access to the unmerited, enabling grace of God.
At the end of chapter 5, Paul explains the truth that grace, the mighty force of redemption, is stronger than all the power of sin and death. Because of this grace, we can rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (5:2). This hope means that believers have expectation of full restoration through God’s glorious redemption.
The next three verses introduce the fact that “through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom.” “And not only so, but we also rejoice in our tribulation: knowing that tribulation worketh stedfastness; and stedfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope; and hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us” (5:3-5).
Tribulation works patience in the saint; that is, it works steadfastness. Steadfastness exercises the Christian’s devotion. It gives him experience. Difficulties and obstacles help to develop maturity of character, that is, “approved faith and tried integrity” (5:4, A.N.T.). Character of this kind produces a buoyant hope, a living expectancy that the love of God is for him and in him. A new power of good will is the crowning act of regeneration. “The love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us” (5:5).
One of the first warnings that the apostles gave to the church was that the Christian life on the horizontal level would not be without tribulation, but that in the midst of it the Christian would make his boast in the Lord, knowing that tribulation is in the control of the love of God.
Next Paul gives a most penetrating analysis of divine love. “For while we were yet weak, in due season Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: for peradventure for the good man some one would even dare to die. But God commandeth this own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (5:6-8). Love is described as God’s activity meeting man in his most depraved state and redeeming him through the death of Jesus Christ. God’s love is never tardy. With outstretched and nail-scarred hands, it meets every crisis.
Christ meets men when they are without strength, ungodly, sinners, and enemies. These are the conditions of the alienated heart of man. Man did not ascend to God, but rather the love of God in Christ Jesus descended to embrace man in his deepest need.
The apostles John and Paul said these same things through their two different personalities. John said, “God so loved the world, the he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Paul said, God commandeth his own love toward us, in that, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (5:8).
We have next the highest expression of divine joy. “We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (5:11).
Paul states plainly three abiding realities of justification in the Christian life: faith (vs. 1); hope (vs. 2); love (vs. 5). The truly justified man has all the necessary endowments of divine grace to begin to lay hold of the full inheritance of sanctification. According to Romans 5:1-9, then, the believer has peace and access to God and grace. He has hope of heaven and glory. He has a new patience in tribulation and a knowledge of the love of God, the love of God pervading the heart by the Holy Spirit. The truly justified is ready to “pres toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Every true Christian deeply appreciates Paul’s words: “Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:1). With this message, Paul heralds throughout the Roman empire that which shook the church loose from the works-righteousness of the Pharisees.
John of Damascus on Justification
In the first half of the eighth century, John of Damascus wrote the following lines exalting Jesus who was raised from the dead for his justification:
‘Tis the spring of souls today,
Christ has burst His prison,
And from three days’ sleep in death
As the Son has risen;
All the winder of our sins,
Long and dark, is flying
From His light, to whom we give
Laud and praise undying.
In the sixteenth century the battle cry of the Reformation were to Martin Luther, and thousands through him, these lines: “Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God.”
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