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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 26

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 26

A Cosmic Cross: A Cosmic Death, continued - 

Brethren, I must not start with too much detail, but the Cross of the Lord Jesus is a very practical thing. The Cross is not just an historic thing. The Cross is not just something in the Christian creed. The Cross of the Lord Jesus is a devastating thing, a terrific thing, and it takes us a lifetime to learn how much that is true. However, the fact is here from the beginning: it is the zero hour of the Adamic race. And furthermore, the Cross is the registration of the subjection of the prince of this world. "Now the whole world lieth in the wicked one," says the apostle, "the whole world lieth (is in the lap of) the evil one." By nature, we are in that realm, in that kingdom, but the great and mighty work of the Cross is this transition - "hath transferred  (or transitioned) us out of the authority of darkness, ... into the kingdom of the Son of His Love." By nature we are within that kingdom of the prince of this world, but at the Cross Jesus said, "Now is the prince of this world cast out." Now what did Christ mean? He did not mean the annihilation of the devil. We know that quite well. Not that he ceased to be a being or to have power, but something better than that. Perhaps you know there is such a thing as victory, and there is something more than victory; there is being a conqueror, and there is being more than conqueror. What do I mean?

Many of you can remember, although in America, perhaps, you did not take much account of it and do not know much about it. bit some of us lived through the great Boer Wars in South Africa, and you know how that went on and on, and what devastation and desolation that Boer War saw in South Africa. At last, the British gained the upper hand and captured some of the Boer generals, and among them was General Botha: does that name mean anything to you? He was one of the great generals of the Boer army; and they captured him, and they put him in prison. He was conquered. As Botha watched the British, as he watched their way, their life, and learned the truth about them, he began to change. At last, to make the story short, he became one of Britian's best counselors and allies. The life of General Botha is a wonderful thing - how highly he was honored and respected. even into the First World War he came as a helper, a great helper on the side of the British. What had happened? Ah, yes, he was conquered - but there was more than conqueror; the enemy was made an ally.

Oh, you say, "Is satan for us then?" No, he is not for us. I supposed the analogy breaks down here, but what do we find in the New Testament? "I would have you know, brethren, the things which befell me have fallen out for the furtherance..." And those things which befell were satanic activities, and the Lord has taken hold of satan's work and made them serve His End. That is more than conqueror.

Perhaps we would rather that the Lord would wipe him out, wipe out his resistance altogether; but it is better that the Lord in His All-Authority in heaven and on earth makes the enemy in the long run serve His Purpose. That is more than conqueror. You and I know that he is an unwilling servant, but you have this all the way through your New Testament, such as: "saints in Caesar's household..." etc.

You see, the Cross was the registration of this subjection to Jesus Christ of the prince of this world. The Cross was the sentence of death upon the world itself, (I am keeping to Paul again), the sentence of death upon this world which lies under a curse. Jesus Himself as He came to the Cross knelt in prayer and lifted His heart to His Father in the presence of some of His disciples and said, "They are not of this world, even as I am not of this world, I pray not that Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but keep them from the evil one." The world is banned, the world system, the world spirit, the world influence is banned by the Cross. There is no such thing as a worldly Christian. And if you are worldly, you are contradicting your Christian life. However, here it is, the Cross pronounced the death sentence upon this world.

That is the negative side, but the Cross as Paul saw it in Jesus Christ was the D-Day of the New Creation. "D-Day" - what is that? Deliverance Day! Peter must walk in here and say to us:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath begotten us again into a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God."

The D-Day - a New hope for a New Creation: a creation that breaks into New Life, New Hope through the Cross in the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Ministry By The Spirit - On the Ground of the Cross

Now surely all that does give us a much larger conception of the Cross. And I am not going to be able to cover all the ground of these three things, so I will mix up the next two, the ministry and the Church; mark you, issuing from the Cross, inherent in the Cross. No Church without the Cross. No ministry without the Cross. So hence, the Cross is the ground upon which the Holy Spirit encamps for ministry. Therefore, you can understand why it is that there has been such as assault made upon the Cross, to get it out of the preaching, to put other complexions upon it that are not true of it.

If you in the power of the Holy Spirit live the life of the Cross, and minister Christ crucified, the Holy Spirit comes on that! You want to know where the Holy Spirit encamps, where He takes up His position for cooperation? - He takes it up always on the Cross, and you will never come through to a genuine, true knowledge of the fullness of the Holy Spirit unless the Cross is the foundation. The Cross is the only safety, the only safety, in the midst of many things that are false and counter things. And what I want to know about everything is what place the Cross has there, not as a teaching, a theory, doctrine, and something in the Bible, but where is the Cross in the life there? That is the Holy Spirit's camping ground, Christ crucified, as preached in the power of the Holy Spirit.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 27)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 25

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 25

He Died In My Place - He Died For All

And what an "all" Paul saw; it comes out in considerable fullness in his ministry. What Paul saw first of all was that death, that ignominious death, that shameful death, that awful death, was his own death. Paul saw what God thought of him; it was God's attitude toward him. He could say: "That Man on that Cross like that, in all that state of degradation and shame and helpless weakness, despised and rejected, all that - that was me, that was me, that was what God thinks of my humanity. He died for me (but you know that the meaning is 'in my place'). When He died, I died, that was my death, and that was God's conception of me, Saul of Tarsus!" Oh, what a revolution! He had a great idea of himself and his own abilities; but, look, this is God unveiling Saul of Tarsus, but more than that: "He died in my place." And that was a death, a new idea about death.

Moreover Paul saw, and I am keeping, of course, firstly to his teaching; I am not reading in anything, making up something. You can sit down with it yourself and prove everything that I am saying from the New Testament. He saw not only that that death, that awful death, as a judgment upon a kind of man was his death, but he saw that it was the death of the whole human race in Adam. What does Paul say? "Because we thus judge that One died in the place of all, therefore all died." Coneybeare says, "It was the death of the whole race... 'As in Adam all die.'" This is the new conception to the Cross of the Lord Jesus. Our death, the death of the whole race, the humanity to which we belong by nature, the whole - all died. But then Paul came to see this also, that in the death of Jesus it was not death as an end; it was a death that destroyed Death. In  a sense, it was a death which was the end of Death. "He tasted death for all men," it is true; but then, "He destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil."

A Cosmic Cross: A Cosmic Death

So, from the death of Death, which Paul saw in the Cross, the death of Death has taken place: Christ is risen, He is alive forevermore. And Paul saw more: he saw that that Cross was, to use the word we have used before, it was a cosmic Death. That is, it reached out beyond the individual and beyond the race to that whole encompassing realm of evil forces which had brought about this condition, making that judgment necessary. And as he went to the Cross, Jesus said, "Now is the prince of this world (cosmos) cast out." And later the apostle said, A"He stripped off principalities and powers ... made a show of them openly... triumphing over them in His Cross." A cosmic Cross, a cosmic Death, touching the uttermost bounds of the lower heavenlies, destroying him that had the power of death, that is, satan.

Paul came to see all this when He saw by revelation of God His Son revealed "in him," and so, let us come further over into this matter of the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Exaltation of the Lord Jesus. You see,

If the revelation of Jesus Christ comprehends all those three things that we have said, comprehends the destiny of humanity (one side of humanity's destiny is judgment, out of Christ: the other side of humanity is glory, in Christ) -

if in the seeing of Jesus Christ in his heart revealed, Paul saw the nature and the dynamic of all true ministry during this whole dispensation - 

If he also say, began to see, and saw with increasing fullness as he went on, the nature and the vocation of the Church now and in the ages to come - 

If he saw all those three mighty things in the Face of Jesus Christ, in the Person of Jesus Christ - that is, in the Presence and Revelation of Jesus Christ -

If he saw all that (and remember, this is the vital thing for this morning), Paul saw that all that human destiny, all that ministry through the centuries, and all that place and vocation of the Church in time and in eternity, Paul saw that it was all centered in the Cross of the Lord Jesus.

Mighty, mighty thing was the Cross to Paul. "May it never be," said he, "that I should boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ... We preach Christ crucified...I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified," for all this content is in the Cross of the Lord Jesus. Paul saw that the Cross of Jesus Christ was the climax of humanity. He saw that the Cross of Jesus Christ was the zero hour of the old Adam race, the place at which in the darkness (ah, more than natural darkness) God said: "The door is closed, the door is closed upon a certain kind of humanity. This is zero for that humanity." We take a lifetime to learn that. When the Holy Spirit gets hold of a life, He is always bringing us back to that, that one fact, and putting His finger upon this and that, and something else, and saying in us: "That went out through the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; the Cross has closed the door on that. If you bring that in, you are countering the work of the Cross."

In the Letter to the Hebrews, as well as in these Corinthian Letters, it is a terrible, terrible thing to go back upon the Cross and crucify afresh the Son of God and stamp upon the Blood of our redemption. Oh, the apostles had a lot to say about that, but that is controversial; however, it is not our subject this morning, but there it is. Brethren, the Cross has said an eternal "No" to the whole kind, type, and way of a certain humanity. The Holy Spirit is trying to teach us that; and if you are sensitive to the Holy Spirit, you know quite well what the Holy Spirit will allow and what He will not, or you ought to.

Oh, young Christians especially, but all of us, how important it is for us to know the Holy Spirit in this way. You go to this one, and to that one, going around asking your questions, "Ought I? May I? Should I? Can I?" No need for that at all; and if anybody begins to tell you "you may" or "you may not," they are doing the wrong thing. You ought to know in your own heart by the Holy Spirit, if you are born of the Spirit, you ought to know by the Spirit making you uncomfortable about certain things. Not whispering in your ear in words and saying: "No, you must not do that," but inside. "I'm not so happy about this as I once was; I don't feel so free to do these things as I once did." You know what I mean; the Holy Spirit is only bringing you back to the Cross and saying again: "zero to that, the end of that, that belongs to the old humanity."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 26)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 24

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 24

The Immense Significance Of Jesus Christ: Crucified, Risen, and Exalted

Lord, when we say to Thee, "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous thing out of Thy law," Thou knowest that the most "wonderful" Thou canst show to us is Thy Son; and so, not things, but Him. Open our eyes that we may see Him this morning. It is to Thee, and not to man, but to Thee that we say, "We would see Jesus"; and O Lord, grant it in Thy mercy that when we leave this place we are able truly to say: "We have seen the Lord." Be it so, for Thy Name's sake, Amen

Now we come to the last of these hours in which we have been occupied with the "Great Transition," having said at the beginning that the whole Bible is occupied with God and humanity. The Old Testament, with an old humanity throughout, showed how utterly unreliable that humanity is, and how it eventually proved a failure as the Old Testament closes. I expect you have noticed that not in the chronological order, but in the spiritual order the Old Testament closes with Malachi, and what a sorry picture in Malachi it is, the closing of the book in failure. The New Testament is occupied wholly with the introduction and development of a New Humanity, brought in with the Lord Jesus Christ; and from that point the whole of the New Testament is occupied with this New Humanity, of which Christ is the Representative of its birth, its growth,and its eventual and ultimate glorification.

That is the general background of these morning hours this week. And we came two days ago to the all-inclusive vision of the Lord Jesus and began (as we shall never finish though we stayed here all our life) began to see what there is in Jesus Christ, what He has brought in, and what the Apostle Paul saw in the Lord Jesus when, as he put it, "It pleased God to reveal His Son in me." What an immense revealing that was, which grew and grew all through the life of the apostle. And we said that four things came to the apostle in that vision, that "Heavenly Vision," that inward seeing of the Lord Jesus.

Firstly, in Jesus glorified, Paul saw, according to the eternal thoughts of God, the place and the nature and the destiny of humanity, the Humanity after Christ. Then Paul saw the nature and dynamic of a life ministry, of a ministry through this long dispensation between the ascension of the Lord Jesus and His coming again, he saw what the ministry is, the vocation. He saw that when he saw the Lord Jesus. We spent a lot of time on it: not enough. Then Paul saw the nature and the purpose of the Church now, and as he put it, "unto the Age of the ages." These three great things he saw, and then Paul saw a fourth. With this, we are going to be occupied this morning.

Paul Saw Jesus Christ Crucified, Risen, Exalted

Saul of Tarsus saw Jesus of Nazareth glorified - "The Man in The Glory." And as he gazed and gazed inwardly upon that Man,seeing that vision, that revelation, he saw these three things that  we have mentioned, and then Paul saw the immense significance of Jesus Christ Crucified, Risen, and Exalted; and, of course, these are the things which fill all his writings. You will have to approach them with these four things before you. Let me repeat, the immense significance of Jesus Christ Crucified, Risen, and Exalted.

We are totally incapable of sensing, recognizing, conceiving what happened to this man, Saul of Tarsus, when he saw the Lord Jesus. He had thought of Jesus the Nazarene as an imposter, a false teacher, a false leader, as One Who was leading people astray; and all the feelings of animosity and hatred and bitterness, of which that great soul was capable, overflowed against this Man - Jesus of Nazareth. He made it his life business, with his tremendous abilities, his natural abilities, and his training, and all his knowledge; he made it his life business to blot out any remnant related to that Man, Jesus Christ, Jesus of Nazareth. Saul viewed the Cross of Jesus Christ as His deserved crucifixion. He viewed the death of Jesus of Nazareth as death, death as we know it - the end. And that in shame - deserved shame, deserved ignominy, deserved disgrace. And more than that, from his Jewish standpoint, he viewed that Man on that Cross as cursed of God, as cursed of Almighty God! This was his mind about Jesus of Nazareth.

When Paul saw Jesus on the way to Damascus and he was smitten with the Light, not knowing at that moment Who and what it meant, he said, because of the overpoweringness of it, "Who art Thou, Lord?" I say we can never enter into the tremendous convulsion that must have taken place in this man Saul when there came back in answer: "I am Jesus, I am Jesus, that One of Whom you have had all those thoughts and feelings. I am He, I am Jesus." I say, we cannot enter into what that man must have felt at that moment, but it was then, and from then on, that he began to see This Man Jesus, Glorified, in the Seat of Power, capable of smiting even such a man as Saul of Tarsus to the ground with one stroke, and prostrating him, leaving him one who has got to be lifted up by men, and by the arm led blind to the place where he was going. In the overwhelmingness of it, he began to see in that One that it was not just a crucifixion, and it was not a death; but that Jesus Christ, Crucified, was all that his life after (that which he learned by revelation and experience throughout his life) and teaching showed him to have seen.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 25 - He Died In My Place: He Died For All)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 23

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 23

The Nature and Purpose of the Church, part 2, continued 

Oh, do take this to heart, dear friends, for I do not intend to offend anyone, but what is God doing? What is He after? Is He after making a new institution called the Church, a new ecclesiasticism, something that has a denominator among men like the individual denominations or the non-denominations? Is God doing that? Is that what God is doing? (This is where we need a mental revision, a heart revision.) NO! He is NOT in it. NO, is not doing that. He is only with the people, not with the thing. But God is doing in the spiritual way what He did at the beginning. He is saying and proceeding, proceeding with His concept: "Let Us make man, let Us make Man." The Church is the One New man: - Let us make a Man, not an institution, or any of these things that the Church is called. God said: "Let Us make a Man," and that is what He is doing with you and with me. God is not trying to make of us any of these many things that Christians are called and the names by which they go. He is just getting to work on us to constitute us "the Man."

You remember what we said in the beginning: "He called them (man and woman) - He called them man." Here in this (and, sisters, be careful how you take what I am now going to say, for "there is neither male nor female") it is a Man, that is, it is a Humanity. I cannot explain to you, because I do not know what that Humanity is going to be afterward in glory, but Jesus answering a certain man's question about marriage and repeated marriages, (whose wife a certain woman would be afterward out of all she had married) said, "Ye do err... in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels." It is a kind of Humanity that is different. Oh, the questions will arise, "Shall I know my husband in heaven, shall I know my wife in heaven?" Yes! But we shall know in a way in which it is far better to know, however precious may have been the human relationships, husband and wife, wife and husbands here - yes, precious, very precious; but is it not better when a husband and wife know each other in the Spirit then in the flesh? Is it not lovely when they flow together from one Spirit, one vision, one objective that their united lives manifest Jesus Christ in the home and in the neighborhood? There is something very precious about that.

I had a son, and the Lord took him about three or four years ago;and as my son, we have a good relationship. There was not strife between us as father and son, no difficulty at all. He and I had such spiritual fellowship that I could open my heart to him as fully as I could to anybody, and more than to most people - for he was not only my son, but he was my spiritual friend. Brethren, you know what I am talking about. That is how we are going to know, and it will be a better kind of knowing. Do not worry, then, whether you know your husband or your wife. Oh, you will: "Then shall I know, even as I have been known by the Lord."

The Vocation: The Emanation of Christ

Now we must move on. The vocation of the Church now and in eternity is going to be just the emanation of Christ. It is now intended to be that, and God help us to be that. It is not this and that and one or more of a hundred things that are the idea about the Church today, but it is just this one thing, the presence of a different kind of Man in the individual and collectively. Let us take it universally.

Are you not impressed with how Peter, having passed through the great transition from the old Jewish humanity,got right through - after his battles with the Gentiles at Caesarea, and Cornelius' house - after his battle down at Antioch when James and the elders came down from Jerusalem, when Peter withdrew himself from eating with the Gentiles ("dissimulation" Paul called it.) When he got through it all, and thank God Peter got through it all, what did he say in the opening of his letter? "To the saints, scattered throughout Pontius, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia." Peter says: "Ye, Galatians, Cappadocians, Asians, Bithynians, you are all scattered. The dispersion has taken place, and you are all scattered, you saints, and yet you are a spiritual house, One House. Not so many houses, but One House, Everywhere." What is this? It is where the Lord is dwelling, in men and women.

The Church universal according to the Divine concept is just One Man in the earth. How we discover that when we meet somebody we have never met before and they are the Lord's. It is wonderful until you begin to ask or they begin to ask what you belong to. If you just talk about things of the Lord, One Man, One Blessed Man, it is like that. Well, that is very elementary;  it is very simple, but that is what the Church is universally: that is what the Church is locally.

When people come into the local company, they do not come in and say, "Well, this is how they behave, this is what they do; they have baptisms, they have the Lord's table, and they have this form of worship." No, these things may be all right, they may have their place, they may be a part of a Divine order, but what is it they are to meet? - not our baptism, not our Lord's table, not our method of procedure, not our technique, but "God is in this place!" - they meet the Lord. They may not be able to put it like that, they may not be able to define it or explain it, but the impress is: "There is something there, these people have got life, these people are in  the good of something that you will not find anywhere else. It is the Lord." Oh, that all our local companies were just like that, in whatever way we go on, the thing that impresses is: "The Lord is here, the Lord is here."

I have moved out from the universal to the local company, and now I am going to move down to the individual. To the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul said: "Do you not know that you are a Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" He dwells in you. I am a microcosm of the Church (or intended to be), and each one of you is intended to be a microcosm of the Church. Now what is it? What is true of the universal Church collectively is to be true in our case, it is to be Christ that people meet when they meet us individually. What broke upon this man Paul's heart was not something that he studied up, read up, or worked out in his mind, but he saw Jesus as Lord (and He is a lifetime of seeing). Paul began to see, and to go on to see, what the Church really is. And I will say this, brethren, you do not know anything about the Church if you have not seen Jesus Christ - however much you have read and talked about it, if you have not seen Him, you do not know what the Church is. It is not a thing. But if you have seen Him, it is a Him, it is a Person Who is dwelling in persons - that is the Church! I think that is enough this morning. Very much more could be said, but time has gone. Let us pray.

Make the truth live in us, O Lord. May that Divine fiat take place, light shines into our hearts, and the eyes of our understanding be enlightened that we may see light in Thy Light. For Thy Name and Glory and Satisfaction's sake. Amen

!T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 24 - The Immense Significance of Jesus Christ: Crucified, Risen,and Exalted)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 22

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 22

The Growth Of Ministry Is Through "Afflictions" - "Consolations", continued -

satan is "the god of this world," and the trouble at Corinth, as the whole of the First Letter shows, is that the world has laid its deadly, paralyzing hand upon those people. The world and the old humanity lie under a curse. Does that sound strong, brethren? But have you never said, "this accursed self." It is this accursed self that is in the way all the time. Yes, that humanity lies under a curse from the beginning, and this world lies under a curse which means that that humanity and this world can never go through to God's end as it is. The end of that humanity and of this world is what? destruction, removal right from the Face of God. Paul saw this as to the Corinthians, and natural man intruding, and this world - its judgments, its standards, its conceptions, its values, its ideas - among these people in the church, controlling, influencing - the world of Corinth had come into the church at Corinth - in its mentality, in its manner, and in its procedure: how the world does it .... that was at Corinth.

Yes, our natural man lies under a curse, our old humanity lies under a curse. It cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God because God has put His veto on it. It is vetoed, and this world is vetoed as to God's things. And who has done it? The god of this age, the prince of this world; and when God breaks in, He said: "Let there be light," because darkness is not of God; it is of the devil. And here we have it in the spiritual part: "he hath blinded" - the god of this age, blinded and brought into darkness this old humanity; and when God says, "Let there be light," the work of the devil is undone and the judgment is removed and that should be the effect of ministry.

The ministry of Christ should be out of darkness into Light; and you remember the commission to the Apostle Paul at the beginning, "To whom I send thee, to turn them from darkness to light." - The right translation in the Greek language is: "That they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of satan unto God, that they may receive an inheritance." This is ministry, the turning from darkness to Light, from the power of satan unto God, to have an inheritance which they lost in Adam. It is very full. That should be the impact and influence out of our presence as ministers of Christ.

When Christ was present, mostly to His disciples, preparing them for their work ahead; but it was not only what He said, it was as much His personal presence. He would come somewhere and He had not said anything, and demons would cry out: "I know Thee Whom Thou art; the Holy One of God." They could not hold their peace. His Presence dragged them out. His very Presence was an exposure of man, an exposure of satan: His Presence, and that is the ministration of Christ.

O Lord, make us ministers, make me a minister, as far as I can bear it, that the impact, the registration, the influence may be people moving into the Light, really seeing the Light in an inward way. The Light - not of truth, or even of Scripture to begin with, but through Scripture - the Light of Jesus Christ.

The Test of Ministry Is In Its Eternal Value

That is all I have time to say this morning about ministry - unless I add this word again, from Corinthians - the test of ministry is in its eternal value. Now the Apostle Paul associates the two things: Affliction and Eternal Value. He says, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while ..." (now do not stop there, get your conjunction) "...while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; (passing, transient) but the things which are not seen are eternal." The test of our ministry is perhaps not going to be what we see in our own lifetime, but what is afterward, going on to eternity.

When you get to glory, do you not want to discover that you meant far more than you knew you did? That there was a great deal more value in your being here than ever you saw. Oh, this soul life of the old humanity does want to see, it is always doing things to see, to see the result, to see the value. "While we look not at the things which are seen." I think perhaps this is one of the most testing words in the Bible to the old man. How can we live on what is not seen and what is in the eternal future and be satisfied? Oh, that is not the old humanity, but it is the New - the eternal value of ministry.

The Nature and Purpose of The Church - Part Two

Now for a little while I will go on to the next thing: the nature and purpose of the Church, now and in the ages afterward; and here again, we need a revised version of what we mean when we speak of the Church. Through the years I have talked and written much about the Church. But on this very matter of the Church I find that I am being forced to a revision, not to abandon what has been said, taught, and believed, and acted upon, but as we go on, a great deal of what we did at the beginning, of what we called our Church teaching, a great deal has, shall I say, broken down.

Now, brethren, what are you finding about the Church today? To begin with, you may be looking around everywhere and saying: "Where is it? Is this the Church? Well, this does not come up to Ephesians; far from it, it is very much like Corinthians." So, what is the Church? What is the function now and in the ages to come? The Apostle Paul always linked these two things together: "Unto Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus through all ages, forever and ever" - the function of the Church afterward, as well as now.

What is the Church? Of course, there are various symbols of the Church. The Church is called "the House of God," it is called a "Temple," it is called "the Body of Christ," it is called "the Bridge," and so on. You may ask, "Are these different things?" No, they are only aspects of one thing. Each of those definitions or designations or titles is only a functionary aspect of the Church. The House of God - the place where God lives. The Temple of God - where He is worshiped. The Body of Christ - the vessel of a Personality. The Body of Christ is a function, a many-sided function of the expression of the Personality. The Bride is the expression of the affectional relationship between Christ and the Church. "Christ loved the Church, gave Himself for it... so ought husbands to love their wives..." The Bride is the affectional relationship between Christ and His Church. These are all symbols of the one thing, but what is the one thing of which these are but aspects? And that is what we have got to come to, that is where our revision of mentality has to take place.

So, what is the inclusive designation of the Church? "One Man" - You have it in that great Church letter of Ephesians where "He has broken down the middle wall of partition" between Jew and Gentile (racially the old human divisions, compartments) He has removed the division and has made "of the twain one new man." The inclusive designation is a Man, "One new man," - a New Humanity. It is the aggregate of the New Creation people, men and women, Jews and Gentiles (not remaining as they are naturally, Jews and Gentiles) but just one New Man, one New Humanity: that is the Church! And which Humanity is it? That touches on the function: there is the nature.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 23)

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 21

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 21

The Nature and Dynamic of Ministry, continued -

Brethren, I am not saying that Bible study is wrong, but I am saying that through it all, has Christ appeared? and is He appearing? You may be a minister, a preacher, a Bible teacher of renown, and it may stop there; but the whole question is whether I am officially that or just a humble member of Christ, without any public gift at all, without any human ordination, I can be ministering Christ, in some way, ministering Christ, and that is the ministry. That is the source of all true ministry from beginning to end. Here the apostle is making it that. Paul is saying: "It began in me and is going on in me, and all that I have to say to you believers is what I am seeing of the Lord Jesus, a growing, inward unveiling of God's Son."

The Growth of Ministry Is Through Afflictions - Consolations

Now the question arises, how does the ministry grow, proceed? In these letters, and especially in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, we have the answer; and it is going to touch us quite deeply, acutely I think, on this matter of the procedure of ministry, of the growth of ministry. How will this be? Will it be by more study, more books? Oh, no, dear friends, that is not the way of a growing,continuing ministry; and the ministry has got to grow all the time, deepen and enlarge all the time, but how? Please read again your Second Letter to the Corinthians, and before you have gotten very far, indeed almost immediately in that letter, you come on some words which are repeated again and again. What are they? "afflictions"; "consolations."

Underline those words right at the beginning of the Second Letter. And in that connection the apostle brings forth his own great experience: "I would have you know what befell me - so great a death. (He had the sentence that it was death.) But we had the sentence of death. We despaired of life. We were pressed out of our measure." Then, and right through that letter, the apostle is constantly striking that note of sufferings, sufferings, sufferings.

"WE HAVE THIS TREASURE"
WHICH IS THIS MINISTRY,
THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST,
IN OUR HEARTS.

"We have it in vessels," and I like the literal translation of "fragile clay," capable of being broken and smashed. "Beyond our measure of endurance, even unto despair, we despaired of life," and then he will give us a couple of catalogues of his afflictions.

Now you ought to sit down brethren, and think about that if you are thinking about ministry. My, you ought to think about all that Paul himself met, encountered, and went through from center to circumference. At the center what do you find? - unfaithful, disloyal, and treacherous brethren, and moving out from that center in every enlarging circles, there are many implications in this letter, as well as statements, of what people were saying about him: "He was not a true apostle. He is not one of the twelve. He never saw Jesus after the resurrection. He is not a true apostle; he is an imposter. He is a deceiver. He is just going around cadging, getting money from Christians." These are all implications; a whole list of them. This is implied. It is there.

Paul goes on to say: If any man has suffered, "I more than them all." And then he speaks of the many times he was in prison, of how may times he received the stripes, and how many times he was in the deep and shipwrecked, a night and a day in the deep, of how may times he was in hunger and in nakedness and in peril - in sea, on land, from robbers and fellow Christians. It is a terrible double list that he gives to these chapters of Second Corinthians. Read them again, and no wonder that word has such a large place at the beginning of the letter - "afflictions of Christ which abound unto us, that the consolations also may abound." That is the ministry, those periods when even men like this man Paul, perhaps the greatest minister that Christ ever had, will say: "I despaired. I despaired of life, I was pressed beyond my measure of endurance." That is how the ministry grows.

If we really say to the Lord, "Lord,make my life a ministry of Christ," this is how the ministry grows, this is how it goes on. This is how the ministry proceeds, deepens, and becomes more fruitful. Believe me, dear friends, if the apostle is representative of ministry and if we as servants of God are to be spiritually fruitful - if really true ministers of Jesus Christ, there will be in the background of our lives the secret sufferings, a hidden history with God under His hand.

If you are going to be a true minister of Christ, ministering Christ, He is going to take you into some deep experiences with Him, very deep experiences, where you will discover something that is going to be of great value to others; for it is the crucified and suffering servant of God who is really the fruitful one, the one of whom you can say: "That man is not talking out of his library, from his books, that man knows what he is talking about - he has been there. He has been in it. This has come out of the travail of his soul." Read 2 Corinthians again in the light of how the ministry grows. Oh, I speak and say these things to you, but God only knows how I hold my breath, for we do know that if the Lord has done anything at all, it has been by a hard way. It has been by the "afflictions" of Christ that we might know the "consolations" of Christ; and, as the people of God what do we want? information or consolation?

I know what your answer is over that, but I want you to notice that this is something terrible in the whole cosmic realm, for ministry is not just limited to the people among whom we move. This kind of ministry is "cosmic ministry." What do I mean? I mean this: the god of this age had blinded the minds of the unbelieving, lest as a precaution, as a move, a strategic move, lost he Light of the knowledge of the glory of God should shine upon them. If our gospel is hid, it is hid in them that are perishing in whom the god of this age had blinded. - What is such a ministry? It is the undoing of that devilish work of spiritual blindness. All spiritual blindness is not just natural, it is satanic, and you have got to have something that strikes there beyond the merely natural condition, that strikes right home to the source of that condition, "he hath blinded."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 22)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 20

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 20

The Nature and Dynamic of Ministry, continued -

As Paul begins, he goes right back to the Damascus Road, to the beginning of his Christian life and ministry, for you will remember that it was there, right at the commencement, when the Lord gave him his commission: "to whom I send thee" (Acts 26:17). Paul goes right back to his conversion, to the beginning of his life in union with Christ, and he says this: "as to life, as to vocation, as to ministry, that I might proclaim Him among the nations, God revealed His Son in me." Here you have the Source of everything! It is this vision of the Lord Jesus that is the Nature of the ministry, that is the Source of the ministry, that is the dynamic of all true ministry, for all true ministry in this dispensation issues and proceeds from an inshining of Divine Light revealing Jesus Christ. "It pleased God to reveal His Son in me." That gives us a secret.

Saul of Tarsus is on the way to Damascus, and on the way he saw a Light from heaven. That is objective, something that blinded him from without. That Light turned out to be the Glorified Lord Jesus, and Paul is saying here in this fragment to the Galatians that he not only objectively saw that Light and that Glorified Man, but also something happened inside of him. Inside of him, he said: "Jesus of Nazareth Whom I am on the way to persecute and Whose persecution has become the one passion of my life - Jesus of Nazareth, that impostor (as I believe) that evil man, that deceiver - this is He?! He has been here among us walking the streets of Jerusalem, of Galilee, up and down the country, that same One had now appeared to me, that same One, not a different One - only in appearance and in knowledge, but the same One. What does this mean?!"

That inshining carried with it an overwhelming meaning significance in the life of Paul, and so away to the desert he went to lie and to dwell upon this, and that Light which has shone on him was shining in him, and he was seeing the significance of Who? - God's Son! True, but he was seeing Jesus of Nazareth, the Man Glorified - the Man having reached the ultimate of God's intention for man. Paul thought within: "Because I knew Him as a man, whether I saw Him in the flesh or not, I knew Him - all about Him as a man among men, and human eyes could not discriminate between Him and other men, only there was something about Him that was different, but He is a Man among men, and this is that same Man - transfigured": this he had to think in the light of that inward revelation.

People who know the Greek here know that this Word: "It pleased God to reveal His Son in me," is a subjective-objective. Paul could say: "I saw objectively, but I also saw subjectively," and until that happens, dear friends, we are not in the way of effectual ministry. You may be seeing by what is said to you throughout this week, you may be seeing in a sort of objective way, everything objectively, and that is very wonderful; but has it broken through from the objective to the subjective where you can say: 'My word, I have never seen it like that, I have never seen Him in that way." This "objective-subjective" seeing is what happened to the apostle, and it was the beginning both of his Christian life and of his ministry; and they both went together.

Brethren, do you know that you as a believer, as a Christian, are constituted for ministry from the day of your new birth? Do you know that you are ordained a minister the moment you are regenerated into this New Humanity? Do not wait for the day when someone will ordain you to the ministry. Oh, no, your calling of God is from the beginning unto ministry. About this, Paul said that it was, it corresponded to, what happened at the creation. Paul said in Second Corinthians, that great letter of the ministry: God Who said, "Let there be light, let light be," has repeated that Divine fiat in a spiritual way in our hearts, "has shined into our hearts"; - God has said in these darkened human hearts, "let light be"... shined into our hearts with what object? - "to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." For those of you who have heard this before and have heard me say it before, bear with me if I may just stay for a moment with that word "glory." Yes, it was objective glory with Saul of Tarsus which he saw, but what is that glory? What is the glory of God?

We have been hearing in the second session about the God of glory appearing to Abraham. What is the glory of God? The glory of God is His absolute satisfaction with anyone or any situation. When God is satisfied,something emanates from Him. We know that in simple ways in Christian experience. If there is something over which you may have had a battle, a real battle, and you have got through to what the Lord has been trying to get you to and the battle is over and you are responsive wholly to the will of God, what happens? There is such a sense of blessedness inside. The fight is finished, the battle is over, there is rest and peace and joy within. Now that is glory because it is on the way to that ultimate accomplishment of the whole will of God in a Humanity when the glory will be universal. Yes, the "glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" just means this: because the Lord Jesus was so satisfying to the very nature of God that there was about Him something of peace and rest and joy. He carried with Him the satisfaction of God. "I always do the things that are pleasing to Him": that is the glory.

Do not think of glory just as this objective, shining, blazing something, but think of it as shining into your hearts. Oh, how can I explain it? It is just this - that inside we have come to the place where we are satisfied with the Lord Jesus and meet the satisfaction of God. "Not what I am, O Lord, but what Thou art - that, that alone, can be my soul's true rest. Thy Love, not mine, is glory." Paul said "God carried out this New fiat in my heart, and in our heart, Corinthians. He shone in. He said, "Let light be, and there was light." It was a Light that was never on land or sea, "the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

Now that is the spring of ministry, and what is the ministry? What do we mean by ministry? Well, ministry is the outshining of Jesus Christ from our lives, and you do not need to have gone to convocations; you do not need to have any artificial or mechanical means. You may study your Bible, and you may give the most wonderfully organized and arranged Bible readings; but the question is, is that ministry?

Are you emanating Christ?
Are you transmitting Christ?
Is Christ coming through your teaching?

Are people sensing Christ and not your study, not your library, not your commentaries, not your versions, not your translations. But the point is, where does this come from, where did we get it, how did we get it???

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 21)