Excerpts taken from "They Found the Secret"

By V. Raymond Edman

They Found the Secret began as a series of twenty articles written for Christian Life magazine that were gathered together in a book in 1960. What Edman tried to do was to show in the actual lives of Christian people how the power of Christ, called by him "the indwelling life of Christ," was the source of every believer's spiritual strength. This had been a much neglected theme in the writings of evangelical Christians for the last fifty years or so. Dr. Edman's goal was to put the idea into the mainstream of the movement so that all could benefit by entering into a life-transforming relationship with Christ. It is not enough just to know about Christ, or to know about what He did for us, nor even to experience His work in us. What is needed is to experience Him in us, as He works out God's inscrutable will. [Walter Elwell, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.]

Introduction

Every now and then we come across a life that is radiant, revealing a richness, a warmth, a triumph that intrigues and challenges us. The details of their experiences [in this book] are usually quite different yet as we listen to their stories and watch their lives, either in our reading or in our contact with them, we begin to see a pattern that reveals their secret. Out of discouragement and defeat they have come into victory. Out of weakness and weariness they have been made strong. Out of ineffectiveness and apparent uselessness they have become efficient and enthusiastic.

The pattern seems to be self-centeredness, self-effort, increasing inner dissatisfaction and outer discouragement, a temptation to give it all up because there is no better way, and then finding the Spirit of God to be their strength, their guide, their confidence and companion--in a word, their life.

The crisis of the deeper life is the key that unlocks the secret of their transformation. It is the beginning of the exchanged life.

What is the exchanged life? Really, it is not some thing, it is some One. It is the indwelling of the Lord Jesus Christ made real and rewarding by the Holy Spirit.

It is new life for old. It is rejoicing for weariness and radiance for dreariness. It is strength for weakness and steadiness for uncertainty. It is triumph even through tears and tenderness of heart instead of touchiness. It is lowliness of spirit instead of self-exaltation and loveliness of life because of the presence of the altogether Lovely One.

Said the Savior: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." We find newness of life in Christ by receiving Him as our own Savior from the penalty of sin. Abundance of that life we find by surrendering self and drawing on the unfailing resources of the Almighty. There is life and there is life more abundant. This is the exchanged life.

From a multitude of witnesses throughout the centuries I have chosen just a few by way of illustration. The pattern of their experiences is much the same. They had believed on the Savior, yet they were burdened and bewildered, unfaithful, and unfruitful, always yearning for a better way and never achieving by their efforts a better life. Then they came to a crisis of utter heart surrender to the Savior, a meeting with Him in the innermost depths of their spirit; and they found the Holy Spirit to be an unfailing fountain of life and refreshment. Thereafter life was never again the same, because in one way or another they had learned what the apostle Paul had testified: "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." New life had been exchanged for old.

I have deliberately chosen witnesses of diverse personalities and backgrounds. God is no respecter of persons! The details of their experience of the crisis of the deeper life are delightfully different; yet their testimony to the reality of the joy and power of the Spirit-filled life is unanimous. Nowhere in Scripture are we taught to seek experience. Rather, the Word says, "Seek ye the Lord." It is He who satisfies the longing soul. He is the secret of the exchanged life!

J. Hudson Taylor

The Exchanged Life

The deep dealing of God with His children varies in detail but the general pattern seems much alike for individual cases. Into each life there arises an awareness of failure, a falling short of all that one should be in the Lord; then there is a definite meeting with the risen Savior in utter surrender of heart, which is indeed death to the self. There follows an appropriation by faith of His resurrection life through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. As a result there is realized an overflow of life likened by the Lord Jesus to "rivers of water." (See John 7:37-39.)

As a lad Hudson Taylor had come to know the Lord Jesus as his personal Savior. In his youth he had been called to the mission field of China. For fifteen years he had served earnestly and effectively in that land before he came into experiential possession of "the exchanged life." At the age of thirty-seven he opened his heart to his mother in a long letter that expressed his innermost hunger and thirst:

"My own position becomes continually more and more responsible, and my need greater of special grace to fill it; but I have continually to mourn that I follow at such a distance and learn so slowly to imitate my precious Master. I cannot tell you how I am buffeted sometimes by temptation. I never knew how bad a heart I had. Yet I do know that I love God and love His work, and desire to serve Him only in all things. And I value above all things that precious Savior in Whom alone I can be accepted. Often I am tempted to think that one so full of sin cannot be a child of God at all; but I try to throw it back, and rejoice all the more in the preciousness of Jesus, and in the riches of that grace that has made us 'accepted in the Beloved.' Beloved He is of God; beloved He ought to be of us. But oh, how short I fall here again! May God help me to love Him more and serve Him better. Do pray for me. Pray that the Lord will keep me from sin, will sanctify me wholly, will use me more largely in His service."

The human heart has no desires that God cannot satisfy. The Christian's greatest difficulty is to take literally the promises of the Savior. Said the Lord Jesus: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." We are told to come to Him, not to some friend, not to some experience, not to some feeling or frame of mind. We are not even to come just to the Word of God: rather, we are to go through that Word to the person of the Lord Jesus Himself.

The way to heart satisfaction and rest of spirit for Hudson Taylor was learned from a fellow missionary, John McCarthy. In a letter to Mr. Taylor he wrote: "To let my loving Savior work in me His will, my sanctification is what I would live for by His grace. Abiding, not striving nor struggling; looking off unto Him; trusting Him for present power; trusting Him to subdue all inward corruption; resting in the love of an almighty Savior, in the conscious joy of a complete salvation, a salvation 'from all sin' (this is His Word); willing that His will should truly be supreme--this is not new, and yet 'tis new to me. I feel as though the first dawning of a glorious day had risen upon me. I hail it with trembling, yet with trust. I seem to have got to the edge only, but of a sea which is boundless; to have sipped only, but of that which fully satisfies. Christ literally all seems to me now the power, the only power for service; the only ground for unchanging joy. May He lead us into the realization of His unfathomable fullness."

The Lord used this letter literally to lead Mr. Taylor "into the realization of His unfathomable fullness." The missionary was always reticent about telling details of his transforming experience; but he did say, "As I read, I saw it all. I looked to Jesus; and when I saw, oh how the joy flowed!"

His fellow missionaries said of him, "Mr. Taylor went out, a new man in a new world, to tell what the Lord had done for his soul."

Writing to his sister in England he said: "As to work, mine was never so plentiful, so responsible, or so difficult; but the weight and strain are all gone. The last month or more has been perhaps, the happiest of my life; and I long to tell you a little of what the Lord has done for my soul. I do not know how far I may be able to make myself intelligible about it, for there is nothing new or strange or wonderful--and yet, all is new! In a word, "Whereas once I was blind, now I see…'

"When my agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before. McCarthy, who had been much exercised by the same sense of failure, but saw the light before I did, wrote (I quote from memory): 'But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.'

"As I read I saw it all! 'If we believe not, He abideth faithful.' I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I saw, oh, how joy overflowed!) that He had said, 'I will never leave you.' 'Ah, there is rest!' I thought. 'I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I'll strive no more. For has He not promised to abide with me--never to leave me, never to fail me?' And, dearie, He never will!

'But this was not all He showed me, nor one half. As I thought of the Vine and the branches, what light the blessed Spirit poured into my soul! How great seemed my mistake in having wished to get the sap, the fullness out of Him. I saw not only that Jesus would never leave me, but that I was a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. The vine now I see, is not the root merely, but all--root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit: and Jesus is not only that: He is soil and sunshine, air and showers, and ten thousand times more than we have ever dreamed, wished for, or needed. Oh, the joy of seeing this truth! I do pray that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ…..

"The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being sweeter than another, is the rest which full identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest positions He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient."

God's grace is indeed sufficient, and the heart that has come to know personally and ultimately the risen Lord Jesus by the overflow of His Spirit experiences the reality of "rivers of living water." With Isaiah he knows that "thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee."

Many years after Hudson Taylor's meeting with the Lord Jesus in "the little crowded house in Chin-kiang," an Anglican clergyman, the Reverend H. B. Macartney of Melbourne, Australia, added this testimony to that of many others regarding the missionary's possession of the life that is Christ:

"He was an object lesson in quietness. He drew from the Bank of Heaven every farthing of his daily income--'My peace I give unto you.' Whatever did not agitate the Savior, or ruffle His spirit was not to agitate him. The serenity of the Lord Jesus concerning any matter and at its most critical moment, this was his ideal and practical possession. He knew nothing of rush or hurry, of quivering nerves or vexation of spirit. He knew there was a peace passing all understanding, and that he could not do without it.

"Now I was altogether different. Mine is a peculiarly nervous disposition, and with a busy life I found myself in a tremor all day long. I did not enjoy the Lord as I knew I ought. Nervous agitation possessed me as long as there was anything to be done. The greatest loss of my life was the loss of the light of the Lord's presence and fellowship during writing hours. The daily mail robbed me of His delightful society.

"I am in the study, you are in the big spare room,' I said to Mr. Taylor at length. 'You are occupied with millions, I with tens. Your letters are presently important, mine of comparatively little moment. Yet I am worried and distressed, while you are always calm. Do tell me what makes the difference.'

"My dear Macartney,' he replied, 'the peace you speak of is in my case more than a delightful privilege, it is a necessity.'

"He said most emphatically, 'I could not possibly get through the work I have to do without the peace of God "which passeth all understanding" keeping my heart and mind.'"

….Here is a man almost sixty years of age, bearing tremendous burdens, yet absolutely calm and unruffled. Oh, the pile of letters! Any one of which might contain news of death, or shortness of funds, or riots or serious trouble. Yet all were opened, read and answered with the same tranquility--Christ his reason for peace, his power for calm. Dwelling in Christ he partook of His very being and resources, in the midst of and concerning the very matters in question.

"Yet he was delightfully free and natural. I can find no words to describe it save the Scriptural expression 'in God.' He was 'in God' all the time, and God in him. It was the true 'abiding' of John 15."

With good reason could the clergyman add the exhortation to all: "Are you in a hurry, flurried, distressed? Look up! See the Man in the Glory! Let the face of Jesus shine upon you--the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. Is He worried, troubled, distressed? There is no wrinkle on His brow, no least shade of anxiety. Yet the affairs are His as much as yours."

Hudson Taylor could not find words more adequate to express the truth of the Scriptures he had proved by experience than those in the little booklet by Harriet Beecher Stowe, How to Live on Christ, a copy of which he sent to every member of the mission. In part Mrs. Stowe stated:

"How does the branch bear fruit? Not by incessant effort for sunshine and air; not by vain struggles for those vivifying influences which give beauty to the blossom, and verdure to the leaf: it simply abides in the vine, in silent and undisturbed union, and blossoms and fruit appear as of spontaneous growth.

"How, then, shall a Christian bear fruit? By efforts and struggles to obtain that which is freely given; by meditations on watchfulness, on prayer, on action, on temptation, and on dangers? No: there must be a full concentration of the thoughts and affections on Christ; a complete surrender of the whole being to Him; a constant looking to Him for grace. Christians in whom these dispositions are once firmly fixed go on calmly as the infant borne in the arms of its mother. Christ reminds them of every duty in its time and place, reproves them for every error, counsels them in every difficulty, excites them to every needful activity. In spiritual as in temporal matters they take no thought for the morrow; for they know that Christ will be as accessible tomorrow as today, and that time imposes no barrier on His love. Their hope and trust rest solely on what He is willing and able to do for them; on nothing that they suppose themselves able and willing to do for Him. Their talisman for every temptation and sorrow is their oft-repeated child-like surrender of their whole being to Him."

Such is the "exchanged life," the abiding, fruitful life, the life that is Christ, which should be the possession of every believer. Galatians 2:20 should be, and can be, a glorious reality:

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

[These excerpts where taken from the book They Found the Secret, by V. Raymond Edman, published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530. ISBN: 0-310-24051-4. It can be ordered from most Christian bookstores, and I highly recommend it for all who truly desire to have Jesus Christ in them, who desire the "indwelling of Christ" in their personal lives.] [Or you can order online: http://www.amazon.com ]

Dwight L. Moody

More and more Moody's preaching became characterized by the spirit of love. Declared the evangelist: "The only way any church can get a blessing is to lay aside all difference, all criticism, all coldness and party feeling, and come to the Lord as one man; and when the church lives in the power of the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians I am sure that many will be added daily to the flock of God. I would like to have the church read that chapter together on their knees…and, as you do so, pray God to apply it with power. Of late my earnest prayer to God has been that He would help me to to save more, and I cannot tell you how wonderfully He has answered my prayer.

Moody at the New York Hippodrome, he preached:

"Now I want this thing clearly understood. We believe firmly that [if] any man…has been cleansed by the blood, redeemed by the blood, and been sealed by the Holy Ghost, the Holy Ghost dwells in him. And a thought I want to call your attention to is this, that God has got a good many children who have just barely got life, but not power for service. You might say safely, I think, without exaggeration, that nineteen out of every twenty of professed Christians are of no earthly account so far as building up Christ's kingdom; but on the contrary they are standing right in the way, and the reason is because they have just got life and have settled down, and have not sought for power. The Holy Ghost coming upon them with power is distinct and separate from conversion. If the Scripture doesn't teach it I am ready to correct it.

"Let us look and see what God says, and if you will look in the third chapter of Luke you will see that all these thirty years Christ had been in Nazareth He had been a son, but now the Holy Ghost comes upon Him for service, and He goes back to Nazareth and finds a place where it is written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, to recover sight to the blind, and set at liberty them that are bruised.' And for three years we find Him preaching the kingdom of God, casting out devils, and raising the dead, while for thirty years that He was at Nazareth, we hear nothing of Him. He was a son all the while, but now He is anointed for service; and if the Son of God has got to be anointed, do not His disciples need it, and shall we not seek it, and shall we barely rest with conversion?"

"In the 7th chapter of John, 38th and 39th verses, Jesus says, 'He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (but this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)' Now, do you tell me that Peter and John and James and the rest of those men had not been converted at that time? Had they been three years with the Son of God and had not been born of the Spirit? Had not Nicodemus been born of the Spirit, and had not men been converted before them? Yes, but they were saints without power, and must tarry in Jerusalem until imbued with power from on high. I believe we should accomplish more in one week than we should in years if we had only this fresh baptism…

"It seems to me we have got about three classes of Christians: the first class, in the 3rd chapter of John, were those who had got to Calvary and there got life. They believed on the Son and were saved, and there they rested satisfied. They did not seek anything higher. Then in the 4th chapter of John we come to a better class of Christians. There it was a well of living water bubbling up. There are a few of these, but they are not a hundredth part of the first class. But the best class is in the 7th chapter of John: 'Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.' That is the kind of Christian we ought to be…

"A great many think because they have been filled once, they are going to be full for all time after; but O, my friends, we are leaky vessels, and have to be kept right under the fountain all the time in order to keep full. If we are going to be used by God we have to be very humble. A man that lives close to God will be the humblest of men. I heard a man say that God always chooses the vessel that is close at hand. Let us keep near Him."

Dr. C.L. Schofield spoke this at D.L. Moody's funeral service: "Doubtless this unlettered New England country boy became what he was by the grace of God. The secrets of Dwight L Moody's power were: First, in a definite experience of Christ's saving grace. He has passed out of death into life, and he knew it. Secondly, he believed in the divine authority of the Scriptures. The Bible was to him the voice of God, and he made it resound as such in the consciences of men. Thirdly, he was baptized with the Holy Spirit, and he knew it. It was to him as definite experience as his conversion. Fourthly, he was a man of prayer. He believed in a mighty and unfettered God. Fifthly, he believed in works, in ceaseless effort, in wise provision, in the power of organization, of publicity. He expected the supernatural to work, but through the natural. He hitched his wagon to a star, but he always kept the wheels on the ground and the axles well oiled."