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Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Job Experience # 9

A Job Experience # 9

"Again...satan smote Job..." continued -

3. "Surely He hath born our griefs, and carried out sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:4, 5). More than any other passage of scripture, Isaiah 52:13-15 and Isaiah 53 reveal the details of the innermost workings of the Cross of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And it is even more wonderful when we realize that Isaiah was used to record these innermost details over 600 years before Christ was crucified. This portion of scripture is very remarkable, for it is written in the past, present, and future tense, for example: - He was wounded for our transgressions - and with His stripes we are healed - He shall see the travail of His soul. In other words, all the work accomplished through the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is "from everlasting to everlasting" - the Cross is always a present-accomplishment from eternity past throughout eternity future.

Therefore, the greatest and most important battle in all the battles of the ages was being fought through and upon the Cross of Christ. Through the Cross: "God disarmed the principalities and powers ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Christ and in the Cross" (Col. 2:15). The religious leaders of that day thought they put Jesus on the Cross! Rome thought they ordered the crucifixion of Jesus the Nazarene! And satan and all his evil host thought they were crucifying the Christ of God. But, beloved, the Word of God says: "...it pleased the Lord (the Lord purposed) to bruise (to crush) Him..." The Cross of Christ always was, and is, and ever shall be, the most important factor in the Full Purpose of God in Christ: "...when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His see, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities" (Isa. 53:10, 11).

Isaiah 53:4 says, "Yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted..."; and the context of this scripture indicates that we are mostly ignorant of, and probably never will fully understand, the Fullness of the Atoning Work of the Cross. But, beloved, we can by faith believe it! We can rejoice in it! We can walk and live in the reality of it! And we can spend eternity learning of the Fullness of the Atoning Work of the Cross of Christ.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities,
The chastening of our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall upon Him (Isa. 53?4-6)

And so, after considering these examples of the word, "smote", we see that when the Holy Spirit states that "satan...smote Job", He is emphasizing the importance of the warfare that is taking place in the unseen realm between God and his enemy. A warfare that will result in God's End through His Way.

"You have heard of the endurance of Job"

"And Much Time Having Elapsed..."

Thus, satan went forth from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with loathsome and painful sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And Job took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself, and he sat down among the ashes, an unclean place without the city.

Then, much time having elapsed, his wife said to him, "Are you still holding fast to your integrity? How long wilt thou persist saying, "Behold I will wait yet a little longer in hope and expectation of my deliverance?" Renounce God, and die."

The majority who interpret this portion of scripture are very hard on the wife of Job. They seem to forget that up to this point Job's wife had suffered through the same calamities that satan had brought upon Job: Along with Job, she had suffered the loss of their home and lands; and most grievous and painful of all, her mother's heart had been broken by the death of the children. And then, for what seemed like an unendurable length of time, she had watched her husband suffer pain, grief, and affliction. The Septuagint Bible seems to catch the essence of her grief and sorrow as it speaks of what must have been in her heart: "...those sons and daughters, whom I brought forth with pangs and sorrow, and for whom I toiled in vain, are vanished from the earth; and (Job) thou thyself sittest among the putrefaction of worms, all night long in the open air, while I am wandering about or working for wages, from place to place and from house to house, wishing for the setting of the sun, that I may rest from the sorrows I endure...."

No wonder Job's wife broke under the strain of the calamities that befell them; no wonder she could not endure such sufferings; on the contrary, we believe that it was only as Job depended on God's "tender mercy" (James 5:11) that Job endured until God had His End through His Way.

So then, because of the great stress that Job's wife was under, we do not believe that we can be critical or judge her. We know that she allowed herself to be used by satan to discourage Job when she entreated her husband to "Renounce God and die". We know that she spoke without understanding and wisdom, but still we cannot judge or be critical of her.

Remember! even the Apostle Peter allowed himself to be used by satan, to speak against the Cross of Christ (Matt. 16:21-36). Remember! Christ rebuked Peter, and said unto him: "Get thee behind Me, satan...".

Beloved, if most of us will be honest before God, we have all allowed the enemy to use us, knowingly or unknowingly, to come against or speak against our brethren, at one time or another; and we have done this even when they are undergoing deep stress and trouble. Now, if we are to be counted among the faithful, we believe that at such times as this, we must be willing by God's grace to make up the difference for those who are breaking under their stressful circumstances. Job did this for his wife - listen as he giver her a word of faith and a word of wisdom upon which they can stand:

Whereupon he looking steadfastly at her said, "Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh... Like one of the women without understanding hast thou spoken... What?... If we have received good things at the hand of the Lord, shall we not bear up under afflictions?" In all these things which befell him, Job transgressed not with his lips against God (Job 2:10).

Furthermore, we know that God showed Job's wife His compassion; for when the Lord "turned the captivity of Job", He gave Job twice as much as Job had had before. And the Lord gave him seven sons and three daughters, which means Job's wife came into the good of all that God gave Job, for Job could not have had these children by himself: "Job endured, and his wife came into her portion of God's End. Beloved, when God's full End is accomplished in each and every one of His children's lives, would it not be wonderful to find that God had used us, even in a small way, to make up the difference for those who broke under the strain of the unseen warfare?!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 10)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A Job Experience # 8

A Job Experience # 8

"Thus Job Did Continually, continued -

Beloved, as Job uttered these words, which came from the very depths of his heart, satan's first attempt to stop God's purpose in Job's life went down to defeat. Now these are the first words that Job spoke after he was informed of the great calamities which had come upon him; and so brethren, when Job uttered these words, satan went down in defeat - satan's deadly and powerful plan to cause Job to err from "God's Way" was defeated.

satan had prophesied:
"...he will curse Thee to Thy Face."
But instead,
Job humbled himself under the Mighty Hand of God;
And Job worshiped and said:
"Blessed Be The Name of the Lord."

"Again...satan smote Job..."

However, we find that satan was not through with Job, for in chapter two of Job we are again taken into the realm that is unseen, as the Word of God solemnly states: "Again...satan came... to present himself before the Lord." Again satan was summoned by the Lord, by the Eternal One, to give account of himself, for God knew that His enemy was still seeking to devour the purpose that He had for Job's life. Consequently, our Sovereign Lord, Who is always progressing towards His End, permits satan to further afflict Job; and, remember, whenever God permits satan to afflict one of His own, He always has His eternal purpose in view.

So satan, "again," moves against Job, and this time satan afflicts him not only in spirit and soul but also in body. Job two, verse seven, says that satan "smote" Job with loathsome and painful sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Now, the Holy Spirit has a definite reason for using the word "smote" when He describes satan's attack upon Job. Some of the most powerful struggles and intense spiritual conflicts recorded in the Word are behind the use of this word "smote" - conflicts and struggles which have far-reaching effects and results in the Divine Plan. Therefore, let us take note of three such instances in other portions of the Bible in order that we may understand the conflict that Job suffered.

1. "...these made war with Bera king of Sodom...and in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims..." (Gen. 14:2, 5). Here we find satan showing just how far he will go in his war against God's purpose in Christ, as he ruthlessly causes a war between the evil powers under his control: - the kings of the earth, which represent satan's control over fallen man; the Rephaims, which are the descendants of the giants of Genesis 6, the monsters of iniquity, who were, and are, the seed of the serpent; and Sodom, which speaks of perversion and also represents that which satan sets into motion in order to pervert the Right Way of the Lord. And behind this war, which satan inspired between those under his control was satan's attempt to cause Abraham to compromise with Sodom and thereby corrupt "The Seed," which is Christ. But Abraham said to the king of Sodom, "I will not take anything that is thine." And after these things, the Word of the Lord came to Abraham saying: "Fear not, Abram: I Am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward" (Gen. 15:1).

2. "For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I Am the Lord. And the blood shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt." (Exodus 12:12, 13). These scriptures point to the Cross, and they speak of the great unseen warfare that took place when God, through the shed Blood of the Lamb, saved and delivered His people out of the bondage of Egypt. Egypt represents the world that is under the rule of satan: it represents a bondage which, if not broken, ultimately means slavery and death and destruction.

Furthermore, God used satan's own power, the destroyer and his evil angels, to "smite" the firstborn of Egypt, "the chief of their strength." In Genesis 49:3, where Jacob is speaking of his firstborn, we find why most nations and families considered the firstborn to be the chief of their strength: "...you are my first-born; my might and the beginning of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power". The destroyer could not touch God's people because of the Blood of the Lamb, but the might and strength and dignity and power of Egypt's firstborn was destroyed. God also executed judgment upon all the gods of Egypt. The destroyer (Exodus 12:23), satan himself, set out to enslave God's people, and to destroy the purpose God had for their lives; but, in the end, satan could only destroy his own evil. Thus, through it all, the Lord saved and delivered His own people unto Himself, in order that they would build and become His only habitation.

He (God) cast upon them
(upon Egypt and upon all the gods of Egypt)
the fierceness of His anger,
wrath, and indignation, and trouble,
by sending evil angels among them...
And smote all the firstborn in their land,
the chief of all their strength...
But made His own people to go forth like sheep,
And guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
And He led them on safely so that they feared not:
The enemy said,
"I will pursue, I will overtake...
my hand shall destroy them."
But the sea overwhelmed their enemies...
Thy Right Hand, O Lord,
hath dashed in pieces the enemy...
Thou in Thy mercy hast led forth the People
Thou hast redeemed:
Thou hast guided them in Thy strength
unto Thy holy habitation. (Psalm 78:49-53; Exodus 15:9, 10, 6, 13).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 9)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Job Experience # 7

A Job Experience # 7

"Thus Job Did Continually"

So Job is one of the first of God's people to be involved in the unseen, spiritual warfare that has continued throughout the ages; and we have seen that Job was praying when this battle began. We believe it was Job's prayers that caused satan to turn his attention to Job at this time; for satan fears and hates the results of the effectual prayer of a righteous man, because satan sees his end in the results of prayers that are prayed with God's End in view (James 5:16). So, satan immediately sets out to stop, or hinder, such prayers.

However, satan did not set the appointed time for this warfare in which Job's spirit, soul, and body are the battleground. No! The battle took place in the sovereign timing of the Lord, for God "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will." Beloved, we need to come to a place in the Lord where we realize that God is never surprised. He is never taken off guard by anything. He knows all things past, present, and future, for He is the Lord. He is the Eternal One, and no matter what satan does in his attempt to stop it, God's purpose continues on exactly as He determined "in the beginning" (John 1:1-3; Eph. 1:1-14).

So Job is praying, and although it is unknown to him at the time, as he is praying, Job enters the battle of the ages; and the unseen warfare intensifies! Jo is praying, he is continually worshiping and praying, because he is concerned for his children. Do we find him praying for his children's health? Do we find him praying for their prosperity? Do we find him bemoaning his own state or wanting out from under the pressure that every parent suffers when their children worry or trouble them? No, we do not find him praying this way.  Now, we are not saying it is wrong to pray in some of these ways, for we need to cast all our care upon the Lord, and when he prayed for his children, he prayed prayers that had God's End in view.

Consequently, we find Job concerned, first of all, for God's satisfaction; and more than anything else, this caused him to be concerned about his children's heart relationship with God: for Job said, "Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed  God in their hearts." We know that Job was more concerned about God's satisfaction, about God's desires, than he was about anything else, because he offered "burnt offerings"; and the burnt offerings which is symbolic of the Perfections of Christ, was offered wholly for God's satisfaction. The burnt offering typified Christ offering Himself without spot to God. It was a voluntary offering - Christ laid down His life voluntarily and devotedly - He cried: "I delight to do Thy will, O My God" (Psalm 40:7, 8; Heb. 10:5-10). The entire sacrifice was wholly and completely for God, such was the devotion of Christ's heart.

Before the burnt offering was sacrificed upon the altar, the worshiper laid his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, and this symbolizes the completeness of our atonement; for there was a double transfer: the unworthiness of the offerer was transferred to the offering (Christ) and the acceptableness of the offering (Christ) was transferred to the offerer - "...wherein (in His grace) He hath made us accepted in the Beloved" (Lev. 1; Eph. 1:6). "And the priest shall burn all upon the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour, a sweet and satisfying odor, unto the Lord" (Lev. 1:9). And in Ephesians 5:2, we find Christ the reality of that which is symbolized by the burnt offering:

...Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.

Thus Job the servant, the bondslave of the Lord, offered burnt offerings on behalf of his children. He prayed and stood in the worthiness of Christ, and even though disaster struck and his children lost their lives on this earth, they were not lost to God - because of Job's stand in Christ, they were "accepted in the Beloved." It was Christ's Worthiness that caused both Job and his family to be "accepted in the Beloved"; and because of Christ's Worthiness, we can take the same stand, and have the same assurance, that our loved ones are "accepted in the Beloved." Nevertheless, the loss of one's children is one of the hardest things that anyone must endure; and Job had to endure this pain for the rest of his life on earth. But let us remember this, God knows the end as well as the beginning and Job has now been with his children, all of his children, and he has been with the family of God, for over 4,000 years according to our time; and according to God's purpose in Christ, he will be with them for eternity.

Now Job's grief was just as great, and just as heartbreaking, and just as hard to live with, as anyone's would be who had suffered such a loss. But Job endured. Yes, satan had unleashed his fury, but Job endured. And at the time of his greatest grief and heartache, Job fell down and worshiped the Lord and said: "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." And the Word tells us that "in all this" Job did not charge wrong or injustice to God, he did not blame God, which is another way of saying: "...we know that all things work together for good (for God's ultimate good) to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28). Thus Job worshiped the Lord with these words:

Naked I came from my mother's womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 8)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Job Experience # 6

A Job Experience # 6

My Servant Job , continued -

AND THE BATTLE HAD BEGUN!

So, as we look into this heavenly scene, we find that the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and satan also came among them. The context of these scriptures indicate that the "sons of God" are angels, the ministering spirits of God; and they have taken their station before Lord to give account, and to receive their instructions. It seems that Job's prayers not only stirred satan into action but the angelic hosts as well.

Brethren, as we search into these scriptures about the unseen realm, there are many things that are difficult to understand. We can understand the angels of God coming before Him, but what is satan doing there? - satan whose very name means: the adversary of God and of God's Purpose in Christ! - the opposer of God and of God's Purpose in Christ! - the withstander of God and of God's Purpose in Christ! What is satan, the source of evil, doing there?

Now we know that satan does not have free access into the Sovereign Presence of God, because satan is not, nor ever shall be, covered with the Blood of the Lamb. Job had access into God's Presence (Rom. 5:2; Eph. 2:18; 3:12); Job could come boldly to the Throne of Grace because the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:18-20). All who have been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb have free access unto God; they can come boldly unto the Throne of Grace (Heb. 4:16); and Job lived in the good of the Blood of the Lamb, and he could pray and cry and say with assurance: "I know that my Redeemer liveth..." (Job 19:25). Oh, beloved, because of the Blood of the Lamb, we have access! We have access! We can come boldly to the Throne of Grace!

But satan did not, nor ever will have, free access into the Presence of God. No! satan did not dare, nor will he ever dare, to come boldly into the Sovereign Presence of God. In God's Plan, the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world, before anything was created, before there ever was a satan; therefore, from the beginning, satan has been a defeated foe because of the Blood of the Lamb.

So what does the Word of God mean when it says that the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and satan also came among them? There can be only one answer - satan is there because he has been Sovereignly summoned by the Almighty God, and satan must, however unwillingly, subject himself and give account of himself to God.

The Lord's Own Words point this out when He says: "Whence comest thou?" Our All-Knowing God knew where and what satan had been doing; but now satan must give an account of himself before God. The fact that satan cannot tempt or test or touch Job, or his family, without permission declares satan's absolute subjection unto God!

We must always remember that God is never the source of evil; and if the Lord allows evil to afflict us, He will also cause it to ultimately bring forth that which He purposed in Christ - God will cause it to bring forth that which is a measure of the Fullness of Christ; and every time there is an increase of the Fullness of Christ, satan again suffers a resounding defeat.

The Battle Begins!

So the battle begins, and the Lord takes the offensive and puts satan on the defensive by asking him two questions which he must answer; and these two questions are designed by God to reveal the evil depths, intents, and character of the satanic being. Remember, God knows that in His appointed timing this great spiritual conflict will be recorded in His Word; and the Lord is allowing this unseen realm to be revealed so that His people may be prepared and equipped and instructed for the unseen, spiritual warfare which takes place throughout the ages, until all things are consummated in Christ.

Therefore, when the Lord said to satan, "Whence comest thou?" He was commanding satan to give an account of himself and of his evil doings. And because satan had no choice, he answered: "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it" (Job 1:7).

In 1 Peter 5:8, we find a graphic explanation of what it means when satan, the adversary, is going to and fro... walking up and down...in the earth. Listen to Peter, who well knew what it meant to be a target of satan, listen as he issues a solemn warning: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking  whom he may devour [seeking someone to seize upon and devour]. And what is satan's evil intent, what is satan, the adversary, the devil seeking to devour? - he is out to devour that which God purposed in the life of His people! satan is out to stop an increase of Christ's Fullness!

The Lord knows satan's evil intent; hence, He asks him: "Hast thou considered My servant Job?..." (Job 1:8). The Hebrew Interlinear gives us the most accurate account of this scripture: "And Jehovah said to satan, 'Have you set your heart on My servant Job?...' " And in the next few verses satan makes it clear that he has set his iniquitous heart upon Job; consequently, we see what motivates satan's evil heart,for the adversary of God is always seeking out those whose life is an expression of the Fullness of Christ - satan is always considering ways, setting his evil heart upon ways, of devouring the faithful in Christ. Job is one of the first upon whom satan "set his heart"; and throughout the ages, satan, the devourer has continued his furious assault against God's own until, in the Book of Revelation, we find him turning all his devouring rage against the Church, which is the Body of Christ.

In Revelation, five times the Holy Spirit warns the churches, of every age, of this evil adversary. Five times satan is singled out as the one who would stop the churches from becoming the Fullness of Christ -

1. the synagogue of satan (2:9)
2. where satan's seat (throne) is (2:13)
3. where satan dwelleth (2:13)
4. the depths of satan (2:24)
5. the synagogue of satan (3:9)

And before we go on, we must always remember that Revelation 12:9-12 tells us that the old serpent, called the devil and satan, is overcome because of the Blood of the Lamb. And in this group of scriptures, we are again shown God's Absolute Sovereignty over satan because Revelation 12:12 declares that satan knows he only has a short time; and this means satan only has a short time because God has sovereignly placed a limit upon the time that satan can do his evil.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Job Experience # 5

A Job Experience # 5

My Servant Job

The Book of Job, as well as every other book and letter in the Bible, has its own unique purpose in the Full Purpose of God in Christ. And right from the beginning, the Holy Spirit makes it clear that Job's sufferings are not taking place because of something he had done or had not done. Job is not suffering because he had displeased God or because he had sinned. In fact, quite the opposite is true, for the Word of God makes it clear that Job's sufferings are allowed by God Himself. And for this reason, we need to keep in mind, as we are searching into that which Job endured, that God is Omniscient: He is All-Knowing - He knows all the past! He knows all the present, and future is all "now" to God. And when God allowed the enemy to attack Job, God knew that Job would endure! God knew that satan would be defeated through Job's experience! God knew that Job's sufferings would bring forth eternal results in His Purpose! And God knew that the Book of Job's experiences would sustain and comfort all suffering Christians throughout the ages!

So in the very first verses of the Book of Job, the Holy Spirit tells us that Job "was blameless and upright, and one who (reverently) feared God and abstained from and shunned evil [because it was wrong]" (Job 1:1). We also have God Himself speaking of Job in the most intimate of terms, as He calls him: "My servant Job" (Job 1:8). In this portion of Scripture, God uses the most personal and possessive of pronouns, He uses the word "My"; and in using the pronoun "My", God is stating unequivocally that Job is His possession. God is saying, "Job is Mine! Job belongs to Me! Job is My possession !" And God not only says this of Job at the beginning, before Job's afflictions began, but He also makes this same statement four times in the last chapter of Job as Job's sufferings are reaching God's End.

So, right from the beginning, God proclaims that Job is "My servant." Job is My bondslave; and a bondslave of God is one whose will has been swallowed up in the Will of God. And we shall find that it is very significant that the first time God makes this proclamation of Job, He is making it to satan himself. Now Job is an ordinary person just like us, so how could this statement ever be made of him or us? Well, there is only one answer. God has Another Whom He calls "My Servant" (Zech. 3:8), and this One is His Perfect Bondslave, the One Who "took upon Him the form of a servant (bondslave)," Jesus Christ our Lord (Phil. 2:7). And it is because we are in Him, and of Him, that we, or any other child of God, such as Job, can be called "My servant."

We have said that God first made this statement about Job to satan himself, so let us return to the scene of the intense warfare that is taking place between God and His archenemy,satan - an unseen warfare in which Job's spirit, soul, and body is the battleground! In the Book of Job, the Holy Spirit grants us an extraordinary look into the realm that cannot be truly comprehended nor perceived by the human nature, intellect, or senses. Remember, this invisible realm can only be accurately revealed by the Holy Spirit, and the interpretation of this unseen realm can only be interpreted by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit interprets all things by and in and through the inspired, written Word of God - the Holy Bible. In the Scripture, we know that most of the time we are called on to view this unseen realm by faith; but in the Book of Job, God has chosen to reveal something of this unseen realm. Therefore, it is essential that we grasp, by the Spirit, what He wants us to know and to experience.

The Lord always has a very significant reason for granting us such a revelation into the unseen realm; and, and in this instance, we believe He has done so in order to prepare us for more effective intercession. Therefore, when this warfare begins between God and satan, it is of great consequence that the Holy Spirit records that Job is praying and offering burnt offerings unto the Lord on behalf of his family. In the Word of God the burnt offering, which is a type of Christ's Perfection, was offered wholly to please God. It was a sweet-smelling sacrifice, a type of the perfections of Christ. This sacrifice was always wholly for God's satisfaction and pleasure, and it was always offered in a state of worship, consecration, and prayer. Also in Job, chapters 41 and 42, as this warfare is reaching God's climactic End, let us take note that Job is praying, for the Holy Spirit records that Job is called upon by God to pray on behalf of his friends.

So when this warfare begins, Job is praying. And furthermore, it is quite possible that this warfare is the result of Job's praying. The Book of Daniel, and many other instances in the Word of God, makes it clear that nothing stirs the enemy of God into action more than prayer. Thus, in Job 1:5 we read:

"And it came about, when the days of feasting had completed their cycle, that Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, "Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts". Thus Job did continually."

And the very next words that the Holy Spirit solemnly puts on record are these: "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and satan also came among them." If we lift out a few statements from these scriptures, we shall see that the battle lines had been drawn:

"Thus Job did continually..."
(Job continually prayed on behalf of)
"Now" (at that time, at that season)\
"there was a day when...The Lord...and satan..."
"The Lord...and satan...two irreconcilable foes"
AND THE BATTLE HAD BEGUN!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Job Experience # 4

A Job Experience # 4

Spiritual Warfare Must Be Fought In Every Age, continued 

Beloved, Christ said as He faced the Cross, "My Kingdom is not of this world"; which means, if His Kingdom were of this world, there would be no Cross. But the Cross is a settled fact, so His Kingdom is not of this world; His Kingdom is a New Creation in which Christ is All, and in All.

Thus, Christ is the Consolation (the Comfort) of Israel because the Consolation, the Comfort, is a Person. And when we are in a place of being pressed out of measure, it is only as we come to know Christ more intimately and more fully that we can experience Him as the Comfort, "The Consolation of God" -

In tribulation, He is our Peace! In despair, He is our Joy! In weakness, He is our Sufficiency! In death, He is our Life! He is our all in all - He is the Comfort of God!

In the Church, there are many who are teaching of our rewards, of our blessings, and of the place and position of God's Kingdom that we will come into at the "end-time"; and we are not saying it is wrong to learn of this. But, beloved, in this life, and in the life to come, the Highest Calling, the Fullest Blessing, the Greatest Reward, is to intimately and thoroughly know our Christ.

"That I may know Him - that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding [the wonders of His Person] more strongly and more clearly. And that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His Resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His Sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His Likeness even] to His Death..." (Phil. 3:10).

"That I may know Him..." - this is our comfort, this is our great consolation, from the Father of Mercies and the God of all comfort. And, dear ones, in the measure that we know Him, that is the measure that we will endure until God has His End through His Way.

The Effectual Work of the Holy Spirit

Now, we have seen that God the Father is the God (The Source) of all comfort and that Christ Himself is "The Comfort"; and in the Gospel of John, we will find that the Holy Spirit is "The Comforter" (John 14:16-26 and 16:7-15) tells us that the Holy Spirit is "The Comforter". He is the One Who makes all that Christ is a reality in our lives. As the Comforter, He is our Counselor, our Helper, our Intercessor, our Advocate, our Strengthener, our Standby. "The Comforter." The Holy Spirit, was sent by the Father in the Name of Christ that He may abide with us forever (He lives with us and in us) - He is the Spirit of Truth and He shall teach us the all things of Christ, and He shall bring the all things of Christ to our remembrance and He will guide us into all Truth. "The Comforter" will honor and glorify Christ, because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Christ's and He will reveal, declare, disclose, and transmit it to us. So, here again, we learn more of the Fullness of the Three in One - the Fullness of God, the Fullness of Christ, the Fullness of the Godhead: -

God the Father: The Father of Mercies and the God of ALL Comfort -
God the Son: The Comfort -
God the Holy Spirit: The Comforter.

In 2 Corinthians the word "comfort" is used many times and in various ways, and we shall see that it has much to do with that which the Holy Spirit works (energeo) in and through the lives of the Lord's people, especially when they are in the midst of trial. We also said we believe that in 2 Corinthians Paul and those with him were experiencing that which Job experienced, they were being brought to the place where they "abhor" themselves - they were being brought to the place where they "should not trust in (themselves), but in God Which raiseth from the dead". - Remember Job's cry: "I know that my Redeemer liveth." 

At this point, we again need to remember the original goal of our study, which is, how we can become more effective as intercessors - how we can become intercessors who have one intent, one purpose and one motive, and that is, that God have His End through His Way - and that way is always the Way of the Cross. We also stated
 that this kind of intercession becomes a progressive reality and power in our lives in the measure that we yield to the chastenings and the purgings of the Lord, and we said that Job's experience was one of the greatest examples of the Lord's dealing with His people in such a way. And, as we proceed, we are going to see that Job's experience and Paul's experience were very similar as the Holy Spirit worked His eternal results in and through their lives.


We have said that Job's story is probably one of the oldest stories in the whole Bible, in fact, his story probably took place before any of the Word of God had been written, for it is almost universally understood that Job lived in the age of the patriarchs (a time which took place before the time of Moses). Job was going through the worst of times, and he could not understand why he was suffering in such a way. No one really seemed to understand why Job was suffering: not Job, not his wife, not his closest friends. They did not realize that a great warfare was taking place in the unseen realm between God and His archenemy, satan - a warfare in which Job's spirit, soul, and body were the battleground - a warfare that would result in God's End and in satan's defeat. And this warfare had eternal results, for over 2,000 years later, we find James writing these inspired words of comfort to suffering Christians of that age,and of the ages to come: "You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful."

And before we look further into Job's experiences, let us see that the object of the great warfare which was taking place in the unseen realm was that God gain His End in Job's life! God accomplished many things in Job's life that had eternal results, but one of the most precious and encouraging things is that Job came into a fuller and more intimate knowledge of his Lord and God.

So, what knowledge did Job gain? Did he learn of the great warfare that was taking place in the unseen realm, and did he learn that satan was defeated? We do not know if Job even knew of this unseen battle, probably he did not! Did he learn of God's greatness and majesty? Well, if we read some of the statements that Job made, and of the thoughts he had about God, we will realize that he already had a vast experiential knowledge and wisdom of God's Greatness and Majesty. No, the outcome of the Lord's dealings with Job was much more intimate and precious than that; for after all that Job had suffered - he suffered the loss of his children, he suffered the lose of his health, he suffered the loss of his houses and lands, he suffered seeing his wife break under their troubles, and when he desperately needed comfort from his friends, he suffered the loss of their respect and esteem, and he suffered their sincere but cruel accusations of his character - No, after all that he suffered, the most precious result was this, - Job came into the full reality that his Lord and his God was, and ever shall be, "full compassion and is merciful."

The enemy wanted Job to become bitter and to blame God because of his problems. But Job endured, and he came to know, in the most intimate way possible, his Lord as "the Comfort."

And, beloved, all through the ages, when the faithful have faced the un-endurance of Job; and they are comforted by the fact that they too can endure until God has His End through His Way - they too are comforted, for as they are progressing towards God's End, they are coming to know that, "the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5 - "My Servant Job"

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A Job Experience # 3

A Job Experience # 3

The Work of the Holy Spirit In the Life and Experience of Job, continued -

Now, Paul and the others with him were not having suicidal thoughts anymore than Job was when he wished he had never been born (Job 3); or when Elijah requested for himself that he might die (1 Kings 19). Suicidal thoughts are always the work of the devil, they are never the work of the Holy Spirit. No! These people were in trouble and they were very, very discouraged; and all that they, themselves, had ever wanted to accomplish for the Lord seemed doomed to failure. They were "pressed out beyond all their natural ability, their natural strength, their natural sufficiencies. They found themselves in a place where anything that they could do would not change the situation. They had come to a place where the sufferings were so great, the afflictions so fierce, the trouble and pressures so weighed them down, that they wanted to give up; it seemed that they could not go any further. They were weak and insufficient and, to them, it seemed like the end. And it was the end! It was God's End! for God's End is that we be "pressed out of measure," and His Wise Reason for this is found in 2 Corinthians 1:9: "But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God Which raiseth the dead..."

So we see that Paul and the others were having a hard time: - they despaired of life; they were so anxious about Titus that they left an open door for the Gospel; Paul had fightings without and fears within, he also writes that he had asked the Lord three times to remove that which was "a thorn in the flesh"; etc., etc. However, a few years later we find this same Paul, who had been so pressed out of measure that he even despaired of life, writing to the Philippians these precious words as he faced certain death (he just did not know when):

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21).

He says, "I do not know which to choose; I desire with all my heart to depart and be with Christ. And yet, to remain on in the flesh is more needful for you." What a dwelling place in Christ, what a reality in Christ, Paul had come into! He could now say with with full assurance and joy in the Lord:

"...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,
therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased,
and I know how to abound:
every where and in all things I am instructed
both to be full and to be hungry,
both to abound and to suffer need.
I have strength for all things in Christ
Who empowers me -
I am ready for anything and equal to anything
through Him Who infuses inner strength into me,
[that is, I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency].
(Phil. 4:11 - 13).

Paul says, "I have learned how to be content in whatever state I am." And where and when did Paul learn this? He learned much of this through the experiences which he wrote about in 2 Corinthians; and if Paul and those with him could learn these things, so can we. We can, if we yield to the effectual work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, learn in "whatsoever state" we are in "therewith to be content," for the Holy Spirit will work into our lives the true reality of contentment in Christ - contentment which can say, no matter how difficult our situation may be, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Spiritual Warfare Must Be Fought In Each and Every Age

It was about 27 years after the resurrection of Christ when the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write 2 Corinthians. Rome rules the known world, and the Roman Emperor Nero had been in power for about three years, and, as yet, there was not much indication of the great havoc he would cause against the people of God. However, in the unseen realm, a great spiritual battle was taking place and building to a world-shaking, age-convulsing climax. Two forces - one, Spiritual and Holy; and the other, religious and evil - were battling for the hearts of God's people. This same kind of unseen battle had taken place in Job's time, and in Noah's time, and in Daniel's time. And we know that this spiritual warfare must be fought in each age and generation; and this is because, even though satan knows he was completely triumphed over by Christ's death and resurrection, he is still doing his evil-all to stop the Church from becoming the Fullness of the One Who defeated him - the archenemy of God furiously rages against the Church because he knows he has no place, and never will have a place, in the realm in which Christ is All, and in All!

Therefore, as Paul was writing his letter to the Corinthians, the Church was about to face its greatest persecution thus far. The malignant hatred of satan against Christ was about to be unleashed upon them. And God was preparing them (and all Christians to come after them) for this great struggle; and through their sufferings, tribulations, and great pressures, they would come to know Him as "the Father of Mercies, and the God of all Comfort."

Beloved, when we are in the midst of great distress, we all need comfort; but we also need to realize that the comfort that proceeds from the natural man will not suffice when we are in the midst of the battle of the ages. Comfort that comes from the natural man, even if it comes from our closest and sincerest Christian friends, will not help us endure - the comfort that springs from the natural man will not produce a people who will endure until God has His End through His Way. And so it is important to know that the true comfort that has its source in God will always bring us into a fuller, and more intimate knowledge of our Christ.

In Luke 2:25, we are told that Christ, the Messiah, is The Consolation (the Comfort) of Israel. Now what does this mean? Israel had long hoped for their Messiah, the Christ of God: all of the Old Testament points to this. Israel was waiting for the Messiah to come and make their lives a better one in this world. They believed He would be King over the world and that they would be the privileged ones who would rule the world with Him.And they believed all things would then be wonderful and happy, and whatever it was that made them unhappy, weak, insufficient, sorrowful, afflicted or persecuted, etc., would be ended. And, if we are honest, most of us hope for similar things, particularly when we are in a very hard place, a place which presses us beyond measure. When we are in a place where there is nothing that can be done to remedy the situation, oh, how we desire to be out from under the pressure.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4)