The Closed Door
      Gateway to Spiritual Fullness
                                                         Great Are Thy Works

“Let Thy work appear to Thy servants, and Thy majesty to their children.  And let the beauty
of the Lord our God be upon us; and do confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm
the work of our hands” (Ps. 90:16-17).  

“For Thou, O Lord, hast made me glad by what Thou hast done, I will sing for joy at the
works of Thy hands.  How great are Thy works, O Lord!  Thy thoughts are very deep” (Ps.
92:4-5).   

From these above verses we can see two sets of hands – “the work of our
(men’s) hands,” and “the works of Thy (the Lord’s) hands.”  We understand and agree that
the works of the Lord’s hands are everlasting, the works of
man’s hands are for naught.  Interestingly though, Ps. 90:17 attempts to secure
permanence to the works of man’s hands.  Is this another one of those wonderful oxymoron
in the Bible through which the Lord intends to convey a special message?  

The entire Bible has but one theme, the entire divine thought has but one focus -- the Son
of God, Jesus Christ.  And God the Father probably spent all of eternity past in intimate
fellowship with His Beloved Son about presenting His dear Son as the center and totality
of God’s economy.  

God’s plan, in time, began to unfold, and we started to see Christ in every aspect of God’s
work albeit superficially at first as we received the divine life into our newly regenerated
spirit.  With each baby-step we took, we enjoyed Christ as the great benefactor, One who
provided and protected at our hours of need.  At this stage of our Christian life, everything
was centered on
us; God’s works were all for us.  We saw nothing beyond a God who was
there to satisfy our needs and wants, solve our problems and deliver us from troubles –
especially the latter.  

Gradually, as we journey along life’s winding roads, mountain tops and deep valleys, our
soul-life frequently gets bumped out of our self-centered orbit whether we like it or not.  
With each trial and temptation, affliction and humbling, God meticulously works to nudge us
to the point where we learn to humble and surrender ourselves and start seeing Christ who
is everything, and who is the center of the universe.  We are no longer the center of God’s
plan, Christ is.  And what a joy it was, the day we surrendered ourselves and discovered
Christ being all and in all!  

As each Christian traverses in life’s winding road, there shall be important milestones
along the way.  A journey without milestones is a wayward journey.  Take Jacob for
instance.  His early journey brought him to a place he named “Bethel” for an initial vision of
God and His house.  Though immature and a novice in spiritual things, the firsthand
experience at Bethel did leave a deep imprint in his life – this was an important milestone.  

After amassing much livestock, two wives, children, maids and servants, he journeyed
back to the land of his father’s.  At Peniel, by the bank of the river, he wrestled with an
angel all night showing no sign of fatigue.  By daybreak the angel had to touch the hollow of
his thigh to cripple him.  This tough, mighty, cunning and shrewd Jacob finally surrendered.  
The hands that used to grasp the world now grasped the Lord and would not let go.  Jacob
became “Israel.”  Another important milestone.  

At each milestone, a degree of soul life is dealt with.  At each milestone, a measure of
Christ is gained.  At each milestone, a change in character and perception begins to take
place.  

When we look back at all these milestones in our lives, we will see the hand of the Lord.  
We will discover that God’s dealings and our subsequent surrenders yielded golden
nuggets of Christ-like character of lowliness, meekness and grace.  These cumulative
milestones are becoming testimony of Jesus along life’s narrow ways.  These milestones
represent God’s works to impart experiential knowledge of Christ and produce His Son’s
character in us.  

A milestone without something of Christ being formed in us is no milestone at all.  A
milestone without something of our soul life being dealt with cannot be considered a
milestone either.  These milestones testify that the Lord is doing a great work in each of
us.  

It takes divine revelation to see what God is doing in us; and God takes great delight to
grant such revelation for it pleased the Father to “reveal His Son in me,” so declared Paul
in Gal. 1:16.  It is the goal of God’s work to reveal Christ, form Christ and make Him
preeminent in us.  All of God’s works are connected with this aim.  In fact, it would not be
belaboring the point to highly stress this blessed fact again and again.  

The disciples of Jesus are often reflections of our experiences.  They thought they knew
Him, but they proved over and over to have known Him but scarcely and superficially.  It
was usually the lowly, simple, and overlooked brothers and sisters who won the Lord’s
heart and praise.  The high-profile brothers seemed to always clamor over outward issues:
power, glamour and jostling for positions, while the lowly and simple ones quietly and
contentedly drew near to His feet.  

The same Jesus was seen by all, yet only the lowly and the simple really saw Him.  

For three and a half years, Jesus worked on revealing Himself to His disciples, but their
natural and religious concepts kept getting in the way until the cross of Calvary dealt a final
blow to man’s natural mindset.  The cross remains to be the best vantage point today for
seeing the full revelation of Christ and entering into the reality of the works of Christ.  

This subjective work of the cross continues, and as long as we surrender to His works, we
shall keep receiving fresher revelations of the beauty of Christ.  

When Moses prayed, “Let Thy work appear to Thy servants, and Thy majesty to their
children” in Ps 90:16, he knew that it took far more than merely mental knowledge or
physical perception to see God’s work, it required revelation to see God’s work.  In fact,
Moses didn’t just pray this for himself, but for all (“Thy servants”) to see God’s work
resulting in Christ being perceived as the majestic One.  

The Psalmist in Ps. 92:5 also discovered the greatness of God’s works: “How great are
Thy works, O Lord! Thy thoughts are very deep.”  All of the Lord’s works around us,
whether they be miracles, healing, provisions, victories…, are great works, but none
greater than that of inwardly conquering us and forming Christ within us.  The ten plagues
in the land of pharaoh, the miracles of Israel’s 40-year wandering, the defeat of Israel’s
enemies…all point to the fact that while all works done for us outwardly are great works,
God’s people remain an obstinate and stubborn lot on the inside.  The greatest work
requires that the
self within be dethroned and brought under subjection.  

Unless man is brought to the place of surrender and brokenness, he has scarcely seen
God’s “great works” yet.  

God’s thought of Christ is very deep, and He stops at nothing to usher us into a full
knowledge and experience of this wonderful Christ.  The Enemy, on the other hand, works
with all his might to keep God’s people content with a little superficial knowledge and
experience of Christ.  Indeed, nothing is quite as damaging to the people of God as
contentment in mediocrity.  

Recently, an older brother in Mexico voiced his concern for the younger brethren in the
assemblies there who seemed to be satisfied with mere superficial knowledge and
experiences of Christ.  No doubt, this concern came from the Lord.  When man travails
before God with this burden for the depth of Christ, the Holy Spirit will begin to work.  There
is nothing that invigorates the Lord to answer man’s prayers like a deep burden for more of
Christ to be constituted in His saints.  

Ezekiel saw something of the depth of Christ in the form of water flowing from under the
threshold of the house of God.  Measurements were taken: first a trickle reaching the
ankles, then the knees, then the loins, finally a deep river that could not be forded (Ezk. 47:
1-5).  

As indicated in these verses, the increasing depths come with each measuring.  In the
same way, our deepening perception of Christ can only come from the measuring of the
Holy Spirit which implies the dealings of the cross.  Such are the works of God.  

On the one side, the Holy Spirit measures us often in the form of corrections and
chastening. On the other side, when the chastening result in Christ being formed in us, we
see milestones.  How we need the Holy Spirit to measure us and erect milestones in our
journeys!  

As more and more milestones are being erected, we are being transformed “from glory to
glory,” and dear saints, this is how we acquire the “beauty of the Lord” that the Psalmist
prayed for in Ps 90:1.  

The other day, I wrote to an older brother in the Lord about a deeply stressful experience I
recently went through, the older brother promptly replied, “Congratulations,” he declared,
“you have just had a back-door revival!”

Well, I am not sure about “back-door revival,” I do know that the Lord carried me through
the dark valley as I desperately held on to Him.  In the depth of my agony, I knew the church
was not mine but His to protect, the testimony was not mine but His to uphold.  He did it
all.  Glory to Him!  

May we all learn to pray as Moses did, “And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us;
and do confirm (give permanence to) the work of our hands; yes, confirm (give
permanence to) the work of our hands” (Ps. 90:17).  The way to acquire the “beauty of the
Lord” is to allow the Holy Spirit to do His works of dealing with the self and impartation of
Christ -- “beauty for ashes” was another way of putting it.  .  

As the ugly self decreases, the beauty of Christ can then be added, and with each
increase in the measure of the stature of Christ comes the possibility of the works of the
Lord being performed in, through, and out of us thus can there be the
permanence in the
“work of our hands.”  

How else can the work of men’s hands secure permanence, aside from Christ Himself
doing the work in, through, and out of us?  

O, may the precious Lord do His work in us so that, as Paul prayed, “Christ may be
formed” in us (Gal. 4:19)!  Just as Paul’s prayer indicates, for Christ to be formed, travail is
needed.  No travail, no Christ.  As a measurable stature of Christ is formed in us,
His hand
begins to work in, through, and out of us thus giving permanence to “the work of
our
hands
.”  It’s still His hand doing all the work.  

May the work of the Lord’s hand result in the beauty of Christ being upon us.  
May we also echo the sentiment of the Psalmist, “How great are Thy works, O Lord!  Thy
thoughts are very deep.”  

Oliver Peng  
01/25/2006