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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Immense Significance of Jesus Christ:

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another

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 things 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 men, 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 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, for he had thought of Jesus the Nazarene as an impostor, a false teacher, a false  leaders, 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 mid 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 that mentality; that One, about 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 such as he had thought of 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.

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, n 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."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "A Cosmic Cross, A Cosmic Death")

There Is A Limit to Affliction


Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more (Nah. 1:12).

There is a limit to affliction. God sends it, and removes it. Do you sigh and say, "When will the end be?" Let us quietly wait and patiently endure the will of the Lord till He cometh. Our Father takes away the rod when His design in using it is fully served.
 
If the affliction is sent for testing us, that our graces may glorify God, it will end when the Lord has made us bear witness to His praise.
 
We would not wish the affliction to depart until God has gotten out of us all the honor which we can possibly yield Him. There may be today " a great calm." Who knows how soon those raging billows will give place to a sea of glass and the sea birds sit on the gentle waves?
 
After long tribulation, the flail is hung up, and the wheat rests in the garner. We may, before many hours are past, be just as happy as now we are sorrowful.
 
It is not hard for the Lord to turn night into day. He that sends the clouds can as easily clear the skies. Let us be of good cheer. It is better farther on. Let us sing Hallelujah by anticipation.
--C.H. Spurgeon
 
The great Husbandman is not always threshing. Trial is only for a season. The showers soon pass. Weeping may tarry only for the few hours of the short summer night; it must be gone at day break. Our light affliction is but for a moment. Trial is for a purpose, "If needs be."
 
The very fact of trial proves that there is something in us very precious to our Lord; else He would not spend so much pains and time on us. Christ would not test us if He did not see the precious ore of faith mingled in the rocky matrix of our nature; and it is to bring this out into purity and beauty that He forces us through the fiery ordeal.
 
Be patient, O sufferer!  The result will more than compensate for all our trials, when we see how they wrought out the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. To have one word of God's commendation; to be honored before the holy angels; to be glorified in Christ, so as to be better able to flash His glory on Himself-ah! that will more than repay for all.
--Tried by Fire
 
As the wights of the clock, or the ballast in the vessel, are necessary for their right orderings, so is trouble in the soul-life. The sweetest scents are only obtained by tremendous pressure; the fairest flowers grow amid Alpine snow-solitudes; the fairest gems have suffered longest from the lapidary's wheel; the noblest statues have borne most blows of the chisel. All, however, are under law. Nothing happens that has not been appointed with consummate care and foresight.

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Nature and Purpose of the Church

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another

Now for a little while I will go on to the 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 its 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 Bride," 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.

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, He 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 you 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 than in he 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; and 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 why 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 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 your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit? 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, an it. 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 shine 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 - "The Immense Significance of Jesus Christ: Crucified, Risen, and Exalted")

She Was Healed Immediately


Luke 8:47
She was healed immediately.
 
One of the most touching and teaching of the Saviour's miracles is before us to-night. The woman was very ignorant. She imagined that virtue came out of Christ by a law of necessity, without His knowledge or direct will. Moreover, she was a stranger to the generosity of Jesus' character, or she would not have gone behind to steal the cure which He was so ready to bestow. Misery should always place itself right in the face of mercy. Had she known the love of Jesus' heart, she would have said, "I have but to put myself where He can see me-His omniscience will teach Him my case, and His love at once will work my cure." We admire her faith, but we marvel at her ignorance. After she had obtained the cure, she rejoiced with trembling: glad was she that the divine virtue had wrought a marvel in her; but she feared lest Christ should retract the blessing, and put a negative upon the grant of His grace: little did she comprehend the fulness of His love! We have not so clear a view of Him as we could wish; we know not the heights and depths of His love; but we know of a surety that He is too good to withdraw from a trembling soul the gift which it has been able to obtain. But here is the marvel of it: little as was her knowledge, her faith, because it was real faith, saved her, and saved her at once. There was no tedious delay-faith's miracle was instantaneous. If we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, salvation is our present and eternal possession. If in the list of the Lord's children we are written as the feeblest of the family, yet, being heirs through faith, no power, human or devilish, can eject us from salvation. If we dare not lean our heads upon His bosom with John, yet if we can venture in the press behind Him, and touch the hem of his garment, we are made whole. Courage, timid one! thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God."

~Charles Spurgeon~

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another # 5

The All-Governing and Dominating Vision: The Seeing of Jesus Our Lord

He Must: He Must Have: He Will Have

The Summation of All - His Son

Are you not surprised when Paul has finished his letters, and he says, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ..." (this benediction has become so commonplace and lost so much of its contextual significance as applying and relating to the whole Corinthian situation). What is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?  '...though He were rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich." That is the grace of the Lord Jesus, self-emptying; Paul will later say that to the Philippians.

The benediction, what is it? "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ." It is Jesus Christ all the time. "The love of God." How do you know it? In Jesus Christ only, never in any other way can we know the Love of God. "The fellowship of the Holy Spirit": the communion, the unity, the removal of those divisions and that divisive spirit, ("I am of Paul, Apollos, Peter, and so on - ").

"HAVE I NOT SEEN JESUS OUR LORD?"

"HE WAS PLEASED TO REVEAL HIS SON IN ME"

Now time does not permit me to start this morning on the next great thing: how seeing Jesus is the source, the character, of all ministry in this dispensation. But let us hold what we have heard this morning quietly before the Lord because it challenges us. How far are we here able to say with the effect of it, the revolution, the transformation, the transition: - "Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?" "He was pleased to reveal His Son in me." And when that happened, my word, what a lot went. It just went and what a lot came. How different! I have called this section:

THE ALL-GOVERNING AND DOMINATING VISION, - THE SEEING OF JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.

Go and ask Him to do that with you, and let me just say this, it is not something that is going to be all done at once.  Oh, no, some of us after many years are seeing more today of the significance and meaning of Jesus our Lord than we have ever seen all through out lives. It has got to be like that, thank God, it has got to be like that. We always have a margin, a plus, an extra right to the end. As one brother has said, "All ministry should have such an overflow that on man every finishes his sermon," and you know what he meant. When you have come to the end of your time, you have got far more than your time will allow you to go on with. And it ought to be like that over the Lord Jesus. Oh, how much more I see than I have ever been able to say or could say today. I see HE is so vast, so full, so immense. We are here, dear friends not to talk about greatness of Christ as a subject, but to be the expression of it! It may defeat us. We may go to the grave (if He does not come) feeling, "Oh, we haven't begun yet," but it should be like that. He is so great, so wonderful! And may the fiat take place if it has not. But if it has, and our eyes, the yes of our hearts, ave been enlightened, we have begun to see something of Him. Remember, there should be no stalemate over this, no arrested progress as at Corinth, no undue babyhood. Yes, it is all right to be a baby when you are a baby; but it is a horrible thing to be a baby when you have the years of maturity.

That is how it was at Corinth. Growth was stunted, it was arrested, because of what? They had really failed to see the Lord Jesus. They had heard the teaching; they knew what the apostle was talking about, but he has to come back with this: "The eyes o our heart be enlightened." He has to come back with this Second Letter to them: "The veil taken away," and we all with unveiled face see Another Face, "the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." and "are changed into the same image from glory to glory." Shall we pray ...

Oh, Lord, we can only say that with the presentation of the truth Thou would go beyond, take us beyond; and grant that every life here may stand in the good of the unveiled face of Jesus Christ - the glory therein --- may stand in the good of having seen Jesus our Lord. O make that true of everyone of us, very true, wonderfully true, and growingly true, until we finally see His face. We ask it in His name, Amen.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with - "The Nature and Dynamic of Ministry and the Nature and Purpose of the Church")

The Love of the Father


1 John 3:1,2
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God.
 
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us. Consider who we were, and what we feel ourselves to be even now when corruption is powerful in us, and you will wonder at our adoption. Yet we are called "the sons of God." What a high relationship is that of a son, and what privileges it brings! What care and tenderness the son expects from his father, and what love the father feels towards the son! But all that, and more than that, we now have through Christ. As for the temporary drawback of suffering with the elder brother, this we accept as an honor: "Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not." We are content to be unknown with Him in His humiliation, for we are to be exalted with Him. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." That is easy to read, but it is not so easy to feel. How is it with your heart this morning? Are you in the lowest depths of sorrow? Does corruption rise within your spirit, and grace seem like a poor spark trampled under foot? Does your faith almost fail you? Fear not, it is neither your graces nor feelings on which you are to live: you must live simply by faith on Christ. With all these things against us, now-in the very depths of our sorrow, wherever we may be- now, as much in the valley as on the mountain, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." "Ah, but," you say, "see how I am arrayed! my graces are not bright; my righteousness does not shine with apparent glory." But read the next: "It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him." The Holy Spirit shall purify our minds, and divine power shall refine our bodies, then shall we see Him as He is.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another # 4

The All-Governing and Dominating Vision: The Seeing of Jesus Our Lord

He Must: He Must Have: He Will Have

(1) The Summation of all - His Son

Now the apostle shows then that the advent of Jesus Christ into this world was this: first of all, it was the summation of all God's former forms and ways of His Self-revelation. "God Who at sundry times and in divers places spake unto the prophets," spake by the prophets in many sided fragmentary bits. Here a line and there a line; a bit through this one and a bit through that one, all speaking bits and pieces and fragments. He has summed them all up now, gathered them all together, made One Sum of them; and it is the summation of all when His Son comes into this world incarnate. That is what is here! See Jesus and you see the summation of all God's previous methods and ways and times of Self-revelation. It is the full and the final revelation of God in Jesus Christ.

That is what this young man Saul of Tarsus, with his background of the Old Testament in his mind (so that he could quote the whole thing without the Book) with that he saw Jesus Christ, the Risen Glorified Lord; and his Bible became a new book. Paul saw that in the One everything was gathered up, everything was summed up, "Have not I seen Jesus our Lord; and when I saw Him, I saw." There are no more fragments, the thing is complete now; no more bits and pieces, it is just one great glorious whole. No more "then" and "now" and "afterward", it is all eternally present in HIM now: the summation of all God's previous ways of Self-revelation.

(2) His Son - The End of the Old Economy and the Introduction of an Entirely New Economy

Then Paul saw, and this meant so much to a Jew and an educated Jew, so thoroughly educated as was Saul of Tarsus, he saw that Jesus our Lord was not only the summation of all God's previous ways of revealing Himself, but He was the consummation of a whole economy, the whole of the Mosaic economy. That is why I say I am sure that Paul had a hand in this Hebrew letter, because the whole of the Mosaic economy is gone over in that letter. And what is the purpose of that letter? The transition from that Mosaic economy to Christ. HE is the High Priest. HE is the Sacrifice. HE is the Altar. HE is the Temple. HE is everything that that economy represented in type and figure, but HE is the consummation of that. HE is the end of that and the introduction of an entirely New economy. It is a Heavenly One in the heavens, "not made with hands." Oh, the terms are so definite. "Not of this creation." The consummation of a whole economy. Brethren, has Christendom seen what Paul saw? Has Christendom grasped this yet? Is it still clinging onto the old economy in its vestments, its robings, its ritual, its external things? Has it failed to see that this is all finished with, and now our robing is the robing of HIS Righteousness, and no other can appear before God. All our adornments are spiritual. 

Peter has seen this, for in 1 Peter 3:3-4 he speaks to the dear sisters "whose adorning is not the plaiting of the hair and the wearing of jewelry." What is the word "adorning"? "Adorning" in the original is "Whose world (cosmos)" - "whose cosmos" is the word "adorning." "Whose cosmos, whose world," whose realm and system of things is not this getting yourself up in making an impression. Oh, I am not holding any agreement with carelessness and slovenliness and that sort of thing, but the question is what "world" do you live in? - how do you appear to others, what impression do you make by these outward things? "No," says Peter, of the saintly women whose world is not that. That is not their world, that is not their cosmos, their system, but their "adorning" is "the ornament of a meek and a quiet spirit." So we see one system of externals is gone, and it is all now a system of the Spirit in the heart, a Heavenly thing for a Heavenly people.

Now some people have seen the principle, and they have tried to put it into effect by putting on a certain kind of raiment and becoming a sect who wear that kind raiment. They have seen the principle all right, but you cannot fulfill a principle in that way. It is the Spirit that comes out and expresses itself. The end of an economy, its consummation and then the transition to an entirely new regime, the regime of the MAN perfected and installed in glory as God's Model for this New Humanity. "According to Christ" is the phrase so often used.

It is "according to Christ' or "not according to Christ." That is the test, the challenge, according to the perfected MAN and Humanity installed in Heaven, God's Pattern, to which He is working.

He is working, and here we come back again to the place of the Holy Spirit in the letters to the Corinthians, especially the First Letter. As we look through the letter, what is the full, ultimate, supreme function of the Holy Spirit? - "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, ... though I give all my goods to the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and ave not love, I have nothing." The supreme work of the Holy Spirit is the Character of Jesus Christ, not love as a thing. You can put on love as a thing. You can put that on, and it can be a pretension, a way of behaving and speaking. Beloved, people can come and put their hand on your shoulder and be treacherous behind your back by pointing out your faults to someone else. It must be "unfeigned love" the apostle says. "Unfeigned, unhypocritical, love of the brethren": it is the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6#

There Is Always Room Higher Up


The hill country shall be thine (Josh. 17:18, RV).

There is always room higher up. When the valleys are full of Canaanites, whose iron chariots withstand your progress, get up into the hills, occupy the upper spaces. If you can no longer work for God, pray for those who can. If you cannot move earth by your speech, you may move Heaven. If the development of life on the lower slopes is impossible, through limitations of service, the necessity of maintaining others, and such-like restrictions, let it break out toward the unseen, the eternal, the Divine.

Faith can fell forests. Even if the tribes had realized what treasures lay above them, they would hardly have dared to suppose it possible to rid the hills of their dense forest-growth. But as God indicated their task, He reminded them that they had power enough. The visions of things that seem impossible are presented to us, like these forest-covered steeps, not to mock us, but to incite us to spiritual exploits which would be impossible unless God had stored within us the great strength of His own indwelling.

Difficulty is sent to reveal to us what God can do in answer to the faith that prays and works. Are you straitened in the valleys? Get away to the hills, live there; get honey out of the rock, and wealth out of the terraced slopes now hidden by forest.

--Daily Devotional Commentary

Got any rivers they say are uncrossable,
Got any mountains they say "can't tunnel through"?
We specialize in the wholly impossible,

Doing the things they say you can't do.

~L. B. Cowman~

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The All-Governing and Dominating Vision # 3

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another

The All-Governing and Dominating Vision: Of Seeing Jesus Our Lord

He Must: He Must Have: He will Have!

Paul shows us in these letters to the Corinthians and by his influence, at least, in the letter to the Hebrews, he shows us God's intense interest in man and God's infinite patience and perseverance and pains with man through history. God never, never wiped out any mankind until it had finally gone beyond the point of no return where mankind said, "We will not, we will not," finally "Will will not" - that was Noah's day. Noah - a preacher of righteousness, and the effect in them was: "We will not." So God said, "The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth." God never did anything like that until the cup of iniquity was full to overflowing, and there was no hope because of man's settled determination not to have the revealed will of God.

Apart from that, look at the infinite pains and patience and perseverance of God. Oh, how marvelous is God in His Sovereignty. I think God chose the Jewish race because it was going to extend Him to the fullness of His patience; and think that He chose it for no other purpose than just to show what mercy He has. Well, that would take us into another part of First Corinthians: "God hath chosen the foolish things - the weak things - the ignoble things - that are not." We see what patience, what long-suffering, what pains, what perseverance is shown by the apostle on the part of God with mankind because God has set such store by this kind of creation; and if God should never have a humanity like that at the end, then God is defeated utterly and He is not God, the God of the Bible. He must - He must, and He will have a humantiy that His heart is set upon!

Moreover, the apostle shows here by the Spirit, that all God's dealings with His Own children (and the terms are family terms: His Own children, His Own family) he shows that all God's dealings with His Own children and family had this end in view - the transition unto the glory, bringing many sons to glory, getting many sons to glory. But we must link with that: "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked or reproved of Him. Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth. He scourgeth every son that He places by Him." That wonderful chapter in Hebrews 12 about God's dealings with His children, His family, showing that "no chastening (child-training) for the present seeth to be joyous, but grievous" - for the present, grievous.

You and I know something about that. But "afterward," there is an "afterward"; and it is that "afterward" that God is working toward in His dealings with us, difficult as they may be. We will come to that again, and I do not know whether we will get to it this morning, but here is the principle. Oh!! God is not against us when we are having a hard time. The devil says He is. Have a bad time, and there is at once a little demon at your ear accusing God, maligning God, trying to get a twist in your mind that questions God, trying to get you right back into the garden again, "Hath God said?" trying to get you onto the old Adam ground again. Oh, brethren, I can say this more wisely than I can go through it, and so can you hear it more easily than you can go through it, but there is that "afterward." What afterward? The end of One Corinthians, chapter fifteen. Oh, yes, all things, "But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." All His dealings with us are governed by this great destiny for which He has made us and called us.

Destined For Sonship

Now all this the apostle shows, all this is represented by the perfected Man in glory, and all this is not only represented by Him there as the ultimate of God for mankind, but it is secured in that Man in the glory. It is security for us, and in this connection the apostle uses a figure from the Greek about the Holy Spirit having been given to us as an "earnest" of our final redemption. You know what the figure is? What is it? You see some goods, some produce at a depot on a railroad station. It is destined for something or somewhere, and there is stamped on it "sample," "sample," destined for sonship. It is an earnest, it is a firstfruits, it is a prophecy, but there is more to follow; and a great deal more to follow. This is only the beginning, this is only a piece of what is coming; and the apostle uses that figure of speech. The Greeks understood quite well what he was talking about. Paul says: "He has given us the Spirit as the 'sample,' the earnest, the prophecy, of what is to be." It is secured, it is all there secured in Him to come to us; and He has sent Him (is it irreverent to speak of the Holy Spirit like this?) - He sent the SAMPLE. If you and I really have the Spirit, what have we got? The earnest of our inheritance, and what is it? We have this witness, this assurance, and the working of this Power holding us unto something, unto a destiny. THANK GOD FOR THAT HOLDING. To quote the Apostle Peter: "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto a salvation to be revealed in the last time." WE ARE KEPT BY THE POWER.

Now where would any of us be today if there had not been that holding of us? When we really did let go, when we really did say: "We can go no further, this is the end." And we would have gone if it had been left to us. Well, the miracle is we are here kept by the earnest of the Spirit unto that because it is secured unto us in Christ. So the apostle says: "Cast not away, cast not away your confidence which hath great recompense of reward. You have need of patience that after you have done the will of God ..." Brethren, there is so much in all this. He shows that it is all represented in the MAN perfected in heaven; even more, it is secured in HIM up there. I am glad it is up there and out of this world beyond any power to undo the security.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - "(1) The Summation of All - His Son")

Your Heavenly Father Knoweth


Your heavenly Father knoweth

A visitor at a school for the deaf and dumb was writing questions on the blackboard for the children. By and by he wrote this sentence: "Why has God made me to hear and speak, and made you deaf and dumb?"

The awful sentence fell upon the little ones like a fierce blow in the face. They sat palsied before that dreadful "Why?" And then a little girl arose.

Her lip was trembling. Her eyes were swimming with tears. Straight to the board she walked, and, picking up the crayon, wrote with firm hand these precious words: "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight!" What a reply! It reaches up and lays hold of an eternal truth upon which the maturest believer as well as the youngest child of God may alike securely rest -- the truth that God is your Father.

Do you mean that? Do you really and fully believe that? When you do, then your dove of faith will no longer wander in weary unrest, but will settle down forever in its eternal resting place of peace. "Your Father!"

I can still believe that a day comes for all of us, however far off it may be, when we shall understand; when these tragedies, that now blacken and darken the very air of heaven for us, will sink into their places in a scheme so august, so magnificent, so joyful, that we shall laugh for wonder and delight.

--Arthur Christopher Bacon

No chance hath brought this ill to me;
'Tis God's own hand, so let it be,
He seeth what I cannot see.
There is a need-be for each pain,
And He one day will make it plain
That earthly loss is heavenly gain.
Like as a piece of tapestry
Viewed from the back appears to be
Naught but threads tangled hopelessly;
But in the front a picture fair
Rewards the worker for his care,
Proving his skill and patience rare.
Thou art the Workman, I the frame.
Lord, for the glory of Thy Name,

Perfect Thine image on the same.

~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The All-Governing and Dominating Vision # 2

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another

The Seeing of Jesus Christ Our Lord

What we are going to be occupied with this morning is this all-governing, all-dominating vision of Jesus Christ. This brings in four of the greatest matters with which we can have to do The seeing of Jesus - how comprehensive and revolutionary it is! These four things are major things. Firstly: The place and destiny of man in the economy of God. That comes in with a seeing of Jesus our Lord.

I am glad the apostle added that last clause, "our Lord," and I would like to point out that in the New Testament, the name "Jesus" by itself is only used when it relates to His pre-resurrection life. If the name "Jesus" is used alone, you will find that the context is of His pre-resurrection life. However, after the resurrection, the apostles never called Him "Jesus" alone, they always linked on our Lord, our Lord Jesus, the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us note "Jesus," yes; but "our Lord" and His Lordship came into view after His resurrection and ascension. Right thee on the Damascus Road, "and he said, 'Who art Thou, Lord?' " - "I AM Jesus." He knew it was Jesus. "Lord, (not, Jesus, what will You have me to do?' but) Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" The very beginning of a revolution of a transition from knowing after the flesh to knowing after the Spirit. All that is parenthetical. Let us go on.

The four magnitudes which come in with a true Spiritual seeing of Jesus are:

THE PLACE AND DESTINY OF MAN IN THE ECONOMY OF GOD

THE NATURE AND DYNAMIC OF MINISTRY IN THIS DISPENSATION

THE NATURE AND PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH NOW AND IN THE AFTER-AGES

THE IMMENSE SIGNIFICANCE IN THAT THREE-FOLD CONTEXT OF CHRIST CRUCIFIED, RISEN, AND EXALTED

These are four very big things, and they are all comprehended by "Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?" - "It pleased God to reveal His Son in me"; and when He revealed His Son in  me, this is what I began to see. That is what the apostle is saying: "This is what I began to see." He does not tabulate these things like that, but I have just taken these four magnitudes as the content and substance of the New Testament.

This is where we begin; firstly the seeing of Jesus our Lord or God revealing His Son in us, illuminating, unveiling, the place and destiny of man in the Divine Economy. I must say here (though it might get me onto controversial ground) I am a firm believer that the Apostle Paul had a very real hand in the writing of the letter to the Hebrews. Whether he actually wrote it or dictated it, I am certain that Paul had a very definite and direct influence, to say the least, upon the writing of the letter to the Hebrews; and you will recognize it in what I am going to say. It is there; it comes out of that.

Paul, from the beginning in his First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter fifteen, takes up man from his inception. He says, "The first man, Adam." It starts with man; it goes  right back to the beginning of humanity, mankind, and he follows right through mankind on the battleground of the two humanities until he reaches the point of man glorified. How marvelous that chapter is. I have stood back from that chapter many times, and said, "How did any mortal man know that?" It could only be because he had seen Jesus Christ. That is the only answer.

A New Man in Christ

"There are bodies terrestrial, and there are bodies celestial. There are bodies earthly and there are bodies heavenly; and as we have born the image of the earthly, so we shall bear the image of the heavenly." Here Paul describes something of the nature of this Heavenly Body, this Heavenly physical Body, this glorified Manhood. This is an amazing unveiling of the destiny of man in the economy of God.

So Paul takes up manhood first in Adam, and then by the Cross, he smites that race in Adam, discredits it, rejects it, and puts it aside, and starts with the New Man, "The last Adam": "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation," - the old humanity past, all is New. We have the whole history of man in this letter, right from his inception in the heart of God, his inception in the creation of the first Adam and his rejection in this letter; and then we have man created in the New Man, Christ.

Oh, what a Man this is in glory. In this we groan! But what is the groaning about? Oh, for that for which I was created; which God meant for me. In this we groan waiting, "waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body," the putting on of our New Man. "When this corruptible will have put on incorruption." My, do you not groan for that? Incorruption, this mortal dying "will have put on immortality." eternally living. Now how did Paul get all that? "Have I not seen Jesus, our Lord?" "It pleased God to reveal His Son in me."

Paul said: "God has repeated His divine fiat in me. Over all the world is chaos and darkness God said, 'Let light be - and there was light,' a fiat of God, and He has done that in me. God has repeated and said, In this darkened humanity, 'Let light be'; and when He said that, I - in the Light - saw His Son and in His Son I saw all that God intended and intends for mankind" - man's destiny in the economy of God.

All that is in chapter fifteen, and Paul tells us out of this seeing that the world to come is going to be entirely subjected to this man and this Humanity. As I was saying, this is Hebrews two: "For Thou madest Him in order to have dominion over the works of Thy Hand. Thou has put all things in Thine economy and intention under His feet," but we do not see that true of the old humanity. It is discredited, it is lost, it has lost that kingdom.

BUT WE SEE JESUS, WE SEE JESUS THE REPRESENTATIVE MAN OF THIS NEW HUMANITY. THE INCLUSIVE MAN, THE LAST ADAM OF THIS HUMANITY. WE SEE HIM BOUND WITH GORY AND HONOR. THAT IS THE DESTINY OF MAN IN THE INTENTION OF GOD. THAT IS WHAT PAUL IS SAYING HERE BY THE SPIRIT.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Lord I Love You But ...


Hebrews 6:10-12

Most of us are quick to declare our love for God, but at times our reluctance to serve Him tells a different story. Honestly consider whether you have ever found yourself saying or thinking, I love you, Lord, but don't call me to do that! Or perhaps you served Him, but with a flawed attitude: If no one else will do it, then I guess I will. What causes us to be reluctant servants?

Busyness: Sometimes our schedules are so full that there's no space to follow the Lord when we hear Him calling us to minister in a certain area. We all need "margins" in our lives if we want to abide in God's will.

Inadequacy: Perhaps you feel unqualified to serve, and you're thinking, Surely there's someone more gifted who could do that job. But that's just an excuse; the Lord promises to equip those He calls (2 Cor. 3:4-6).

Selfishness: Sacrificial service is never convenient. It may require that we change our plans, give up our comforts, or even make financial sacrifices.

Lack of love: This is the hardest for us to admit—that we just don't care enough. Our reluctance to serve others reveals a lack of devotion to the Lord. Those who love Christ with all their heart will joyfully serve Him by ministering to those in their families, workplaces, communities, and churches.

Are you quick to follow the Lord's leading when a need arises, or are you a reluctant servant who's preoccupied with your own plans and desires? Any service we offer in Jesus' name will not be in vain. You'll experience the joy of giving and the assurance that the Lord won't forget your sacrifice.

~Charles Stanley~

Friday, February 22, 2013

God's Tender Heart



He answered her not a word (Matt. 15:23).
He will be silent in his love (Zeph. 3:17).s 

It may be a child of God is reading these words who has had some great crushing sorrow, some bitter disappointment, some heart-breaking blow from a totally unexpected quarter. You are longing for your Master's voice bidding you "Be of good cheer," but only silence and a sense of mystery and misery meet you --"He answered her not a word."

God's tender heart must often ache listening to all the sad, complaining cries which arise from our weak, impatient hearts, because we do not see that for our own sakes He answers not at all or otherwise than seems best to our tear-blinded, short-sighted eyes. The silences of Jesus are as eloquent as His speech and may be a sign, not of His disapproval, but of His approval and of a deep purpose of blessing for you.

"Why art thou cast down, O…soul?" Thou shalt yet praise Him, yes, even for His silence. Listen to an old and beautiful story of how one Christian dreamed that she saw three others at prayer. As they knelt the Master drew near to them.
As He approached the first of the three, He bent over her in tenderness and grace, with smiles full of radiant love and spoke to her in accents of purest, sweetest music. Leaving her, He came to the next, but only placed His hand upon her bowed bead, and gave her one look of loving approval. The third woman He passed almost abruptly without stopping for a word or glance.

The woman in her dream said to herself, "How greatly He must love the first one, to the second He gave His approval, but none of the special demonstrations of love He gave the first; and the third must have grieved Him deeply, for He gave her no word at all and not even a passing look.

"I wonder what she has done, and why He made so much difference between them?" As she tried to account for the action of her Lord, He Himself stood by her and said: "O woman! how wrongly hast thou interpreted Me. The first kneeling woman needs all the weight of My tenderness and care to keep her feet in My narrow way. She needs My love, thought and help every moment of the day. Without it she would fail and fall.

"The second has stronger faith and deeper love, and I can trust her to trust Me however things may go and whatever people do. The third, whom I seemed not to notice, and even to neglect, has faith and love of the finest quality, and her I am training by quick and drastic processes for the highest and holiest service.

"She knows Me so intimately, and trusts Me so utterly, that she is independent of words or looks or any outward intimation of My approval. She is not dismayed nor discouraged by any circumstances through which I arrange that she shall pass; she trusts Me when sense and reason and every finer instinct of the natural heart would rebel;--because she knows that I am working in her for eternity, and that what I do, though she knows not the explanation now, she will understand hereafter.

"I am silent in My love because I love beyond the power of words to express, or of human hearts to understand, and also for your sakes that you may learn to love and trust Me in Spirit-taught, spontaneous response to My love, without the spur of anything outward to call it forth."

He "will do marvels" if you will learn the mystery of His silence, and praise Him, for every time He withdraws His gifts that you may better know and love the Giver.

~L. B. Cowman~

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The All-Governing and Dominating Vision:

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another

The All-Governing and Dominating Vision: The Seeing of Jesus Our Lord

Lord, we have to appeal to Thee again for Thy compassion. What a pathetic thing it would be if we tried to do heavenly work with earthly means; divine work in our own human strength. And that is just were we are now. We need Thy sympathy, Thy compassion, for our speaking and our hearing will really profit us nothing, will have no eternal value. O Lord, help us with Thy divine help at this time that we may speak under the anointing and with the unction of the Holy Spirit; and also in the same way hear. Anoint our ears, anoint our ears, and give us a hearing that is not just our natural hearing that we may this morning by the power of the Holy Spirit hear the voice of the son of God and live. Grant us this mercy for Thine own name and glory's sake, Amen

We have been occupied in these morning hours with the great transition from an old humanity as in Adam to a New accredited Humanity in Christ. Our first attention was with the exposure and the devastation of that discredited humanity as we saw it representatively gathered around the  Cross of the Lord Jesus in Caiaphas, Pilate, Judas Iscariot, Peer, and the two on the Emmaus road. Then we saw what a devastation the Cross was or an exposure of the old humanity at its highest, at its best; and there could have been nothing worse when we were finished. Then we went on to the battleground of the two humanities as we have it in the two letters to the Corinthians: on the one side, "the natural man" which is the old humanity; on the other side, the "spiritual man," the New.

We stood and did little more than look into those letters in a general way, pinpointing a few things in the letters where the carry-over between the natural man and the spiritual man or that which is natural and that which is spiritual, the natural touching so many things, even the most sacred things. The things of the Spirit touched by the hand of the natural man and taken up and used for the natural man's gratification and glory. That is what is in the First Letter to the Corinthians.

There is much more detail, with which we are not going to deal; we have only touched it in order to indicate something. I trust that you have seen the indication of how dangerous it is and with what tragic consequences the touch of the natural man on spiritual things can be. We brought out that most terrible warning, the warning to Christians as in Corinth: to "born again" people called "saints", separated unto God, came that terrible warning where Israel's tragedy in the wilderness is taken as the ground of the warning. They perished in the wilderness, and the apostle uses that to warn the Corinthians that the battle can be lost in the wilderness if there is any compromise between the natural and the Spiritual. If you are still in Egypt, while being geographically so to speak out of Egypt but Egypt not being spiritually out of you, then you are positionally where the Corinthians were.

Now that is all the negative side, however we came yesterday morning to point out that the answer the apostle gave concerning the whole compass of things in the First Letter, the answer he gave to the ten questions raised by the Corinthians in a letter to him, was not in a code of rules and laws like the Mosaic, but in principles. And all the principles gathered into one principle which amounted to this: how much of Christ is in this? How much of Christ is in your divisions? "Is Christ divided?"

Paul, pinpointing the whole question of division, said: "Is Christ divided? Where you baptized into Paul?" Christ is the principle of solving that problem of divisions and all the other matters which I am not going to reiterate now. The answer he gave to the solving of these difficulties is focusing on Christ. The answer he gave them was how much does this minister Christ? How much does this represent of Christ? Everything is tested from that standpoint, judged and settled. Paul said these things are answered by principle and the principle is Christ.  

"Have I Not Seen Jesus Our Lord?".

Now having come past that, with all there is left in the letters, we come onto the positive side. I want you just to look at one or two fragments from the First Letter to the Corinthians. It is only a fragment found in chapter nine at verse one: "Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?" It is that clause that I want you to take hold of and hold for a moment - "Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?"

And now over to Second Corinthians, chapter four, verse four: "In whom the god of this age had blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them." And in verse six: "Seeing it is God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, Who shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

"Have I Not Seen Jesus Our Lord?"

"God has shined into our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Again I would like to add another fragment; this time from the letter to the Galatians, chapter one, verse fifteen. It is in a rather large section, but I would like to lift out just a fragment, "But when it was the good pleasure of God to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the nations:" It was the good pleasure of God to reveal His Son in me.

"Have I Not Seen Jesus Our Lord?"

Of course, the immediate context of those words is the apostle authenticating his apostleship and answering those who said that he was not an authentic apostle because he was not one of the  twelve. That is connected with that charge, but it has a very much larger and more comprehensive context than that, as you see from these other verses and many more like them. His answer to them: "Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?" "It pleased God to reveal His Son in me." God, the same God Who said in the beginning, "Let light be, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ"; which means, in the Person of Jesus Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "The Seeing of Jesus Our Lord")

For Just A Little While



Today's Scripture will start with the very last word of 1 Peter 1:4, just so you know who it is talking about, and go through verse 7,

…you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Notice in verse 6 it says, Though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.  That phrase "a little while" literally means a season.  The King James Version says, Though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.

I like the phrase "a little while".  That tells me the season is going to end.  It is not forever.  Every season ends.  Winter ends.  Spring ends.  Summer ends.  Fall ends.  Every season has a beginning, and every season has an end.

If you are in a trial right now and feeling the weight of it, you are grieved because of it,  I have good news.  It will not be forever.  Things are going to change.  It may not seem like it, but that season will come to an end.

Even if you are not experiencing a trial today, I am confident you have gone through such a season, and it is likely that you will probably experience such a season again.

When you do, or if you are today, be encouraged.  God's Word wants you—and me—to remember it is for just a little while. 

~Bayless Conley~

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Grounded In Truth


Psalm 25:4-10

If we'll let the truths of Scripture fill our minds, guard our emotions, and influence our conduct, God will richly reward us. I'm talking about spiritual blessings here (though He at times chooses to bless materially as well). By reading and meditating on His Word, you'll learn to understand His ways. This isn't something we can figure out on our own, because His ways are unlike ours—they are higher, bigger, and eternal.

Also, your relationship with the Lord will grow increasingly more intimate because He chooses to reveal Himself to those who seek Him and obey His instructions. When you see that God always keeps His promises, your confidence in His faithfulness will soar. No matter what the situation, you'll know you can trust Him. Then He'll transform your worries into joyful anticipation about what He's going to do next in your life. Even if hard times await, you'll be convinced that the Lord will work them out for good.

A life grounded in truth is powerful. Those who live by the Word develop spiritual discernment, which guides their choices and guards against deception. Because they demonstrate wisdom and godliness, the Lord enables them to impact others greatly. Since He knows they can be trusted, He also gives them greater responsibilities and opportunities for service in His kingdom.

With all this available to us, wouldn't it be wise to invest our time and energy in building the truth of God's Word into our lives? The other activities which clamor for our attention seem so important or pleasurable, but none of them can offer us the spiritual riches of a life grounded in truth.

~Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Corinthian Questions

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another

The Enunciation of A Principle

Now from that point, we begin on these things about which the Corinthians wrote to Paul. At sometime they sent a letter to him with a whole list of questions, and I am not going to try to answer them all; but I want you to note one thing - how did Paul really answer all of those questions? He did answer them, and while he said some things about some of these matters, giving advice and discussing the thing with them, he did not answer them in the form of something that you could put into a book as a book of regulations, as a book of laws. He did not just write a blue print to answer, for example: "Should a woman who has become a Christian and has a non-Christian husband, leave him?" Or the other way: "Should a man who has become a Christian and his wife has not accepted a Christian, give up his position as a slave and try to be free?" "Should we refuse to eat meat that has been sold in a market, but previously offered to an idol?"

There are a lot of questions like that in the letter, and evidently there had been one question about what id today called charismatic, "spiritual gifts." Paul has some things to say about this, but do you feel that he is conclusive in the things that he says? I do not think so. Paul never intended that here, and he never intended to be another Moses writing ten commandments  over against ten questions. He had a far better way of answering them than that, if only they would recognize it. In all these things, what was his real way of approach and answer? - the enunciation of a principle. If only you can get hold of the principle, you have got the answers. Please get this, whatever you forget, please get a hold of this: the answer to it all is a principle.

Now I am coming don to that question of gifts, tongues, and so on. It was a problem, a question, at Corinth. Paul had been asked something about it, and so he uses a part of his letter and says: "Now concerning the spirituals ..." He says some things about tongues, apparently quite a bit about tongues; but as far as I can see he does not finally answer the question on tongues. However, he does enunciate a principle about it and all the gifts, and he answers it in this way, this is the effect of it, this is really the answer: on the one hand, none of these things - none of the gifts of God, are ends in themselves. If you draw a circle around either one or all of them and say - this is the "know-all and the end-all," you are going to come to an impasse, sooner or later. You are going to find that you are held up, and your spiritual maturity is arrested.

Brethren, however supernatural and precious it might be, beware of an experience becoming the beginning and the end. None of these things are ends in themselves, and the apostle says about this particular thing, and about gifts as a whole as he deals with them, that this is the principle concerning them: Are they leading to a greater measure of Christ?  ARE THEY LEADING TO A GREATER MEASURE OF CHRIST?

In this letter, the apostle uses a word which I am sorry that the translators have left out and put another one in its place. The word they have used is "edification," and, of course, if you give a very strict explanation or definition of the Greek word for "edification", you will get the true meaning of the apostle's thought. What Paul did say and mean  was "for building up." For building up what? - THE INCREASE OF JESUS CHRIST. Are these things ends in themselves, wonderful as they may be? Are they leading on to a greater measure of Jesus Christ? Are they building up the Body of Christ? That is the challenge of every gift: How does it minister and effect an increase of Jesus Christ?!

Now they had every one of these things at Corinth and over against them was this low moral level: this poor spiritual standard. Here at Corinth they had the gifts and came behind in no spiritual gift, but here is Christ, where is the increase of Christ? Paul had to say: "I have to speak to you as babes." What the Lord looks for, what must be, is the increase of the measure of the fullness of Jesus Christ. The question is, after all, how much of Christ is in the individual, in the assembly? How much of Christ, and no the obsession with things even though they be the supernaturals, but the captivation of Jesus Christ - because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man Whom He hath ordained; ... It must be just the Lord, the kind of Man that He is, the kind of Humanity that He is.



Conformative To His Son

Some of you, and some of us, have gone through deep deep waters, dark waters under the Hand of God. We have cried out and asked, "Why should this come to me, Lord? Does this come to other Christians? Why?"  Well, I have only one answer: "He is working all things out to the counsel of His own will" -  conformative to His Son. And on the one side, the side of the Cross, this is getting rid of something, breaking down something, emptying you of something; you were too full, you had to be emptied on the other side. You may not see it, but Heaven knows a bit more of the Lord Jesus in your softness, in your patience, in your sympathy, in your understanding, in your heart going out for others and for the Lord. And I suppose I ought to say that the most perilous thing that the Lord could allow for us is the us to know how good we are getting. Is that not true? I will have something more to say about that later on. Shall we close ...

Our Lord, there is so much here; it does need Thy covering, and Thy handling, Thy protection. It will need grace in Thy dear people, much grace. Give them that grace to receive, to understand. Protect us all as to just how much it is Christ, not even, not even Christian things. He is our object and goal. Be it so for Thy Name's sake, Amen.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with - "The All-governing and Dominating Vision: The Seeing of Jesus Our Lord")