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Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Recovering of the Lord's Testimony in Fullness # 12

The Lord Draws Near on the Basis of Worship

Now that is just the divide point in the Bible. When God made man and brought him into fellowship with Himself, everything was for the Lord. Man had no other object in view for which to live and work than the Lord. It was a beautiful state of things. It was man and the Lord, and the Lord, it would seem, coming in the cool of the evening, walking in the garden to receive those whom He had made, and there was joy in their life and in their work. The Lord had pleasure in that. It is always shown in the Bible that the Lord has pleasure in, and draws near to, those who are in a state of worship. That is to say, the Lord's drawing near is on the ground that their heart is out to Himself. You never find the Lord drawing near when it is otherwise, unless it be in judgment. But when the Lord comes in blessing, in benediction, it is because there are hearts out to Himself, and if the Lord came there into the garden, as He is shown to have done, it was because there were hearts toward Him, because He found there that which satisfied Him. When the Lord Jesus was here it was like that. He loved to be where He found a heart open to Him, ready to receive Him, ready to answer to His desires. That is why He went to Bethany so often. There was a heart there for Him, for the Lord. There was a spirit of worship.

The devil's Deception of Mankind

But then there came the terrible break, and the enemy came into the garden to divert from God, to divert to himself. But how? - and this is a terrible thing to recognize. He brought man's own personal interests into view, man's own personal interests first, and showed him that he could have something - he could get something. Up to that point it was all that the Lord could get, and now the situation is that man can have something. The enemy was working in a deep and subtle way to draw away from God to himself; and so, getting man into alliance with himself, he deceived man into thinking that he was going to have the benefit, when all the time it was the devil who was going to have the benefit. That is the deception of mankind. He was turned from God to get something, a good time, this world, and all that, and in the end he finds he has been duped, and the devil has got it all - and him into the bargain. That is the tragedy and the deception. But you see the point: it was in order to draw away from God by this self-interest, this selfishness - and that broke the worship. From that time it has been like that. The world is a selfish wold, a world that draws to itself, that does not give God His place, does not let Him have everything, first and last. That is how things are.

But now God wants His spiritual Jerusalem: He wants that recovered where everything, voluntarily and gladly - delightingly - is for the Lord; a people who delight in the Lord. Our Lord Jesus was the embodiment of this principle. "I delight to do Thy will, O my God" (Psalm 40:8). His delight was in the Lord. He is the true embodiment of the spirit of the heavenly Jerusalem, where everything, not under constraint but wholeheartedly, is unto the Lord.

A Divided Heart

Now you look at this wall in its ruin, in its brokenness, as we are doing at this time, and you say again, 'Why this state of things? Why this picture of tragedy? What is come to pass that everyone seeing it wags the head or heaves a sigh? What has happened that that which was once so glorious has come to this? What is it?" And the answer is: 'Their worship went away from the Lord; the very thing for which Jerusalem existed, that i, to be wholly for the Lord, was broken into; they allowed other objects of worship to seize upon their hearts and lives.' Yes, the Lord was displeased, and therefore Jerusalem had no justification in continuing in the sight of God. God sees no reason why it should go on at all, and so He hands it over to destruction. It was not what it was meant to be.

And may that not be the explanation of a good deal of weakness - yes, in our lives, and in the Church as a whole, in that which bears the name of the Lord; defeat, brokenness, the absence of those signs that the Lord is present, those marks of the Lord's pleasure? may it not be that there is a dividedness of heart, a reservation in our lives? that there is, after all somewhere deep down, some self-principle at work? May it not be that? I am not judging, but I do know the deception of these hearts of ours. They are indeed "deceitful above all things" (Jeremiah 17:9). Very often, when we think that what we are doing is for the Lord, we are having a good deal of pleasure in it ourselves, and if in the service of the lord the element of personal pleasure is withheld or covered, we have a very bad time - after all, it was somehow or other for ourselves. Yes, it is like that. We do not want to be too introspective, but you see what I mean. The Lord looks on the heart, and  when He really sees that the heart is wholly toward Him, that there is no mixture, no other god, no other interest, then the Lord commits Himself to that life, to that Jerusalem. The Lord commits Himself where it is wholly for Him. That is worship.

Now you see, the ground of satan's detracting and diverting from God is this wretched self-life in one or other of its numerous forms. Over against that, God's ground, where He encamps, where He commits Himself, is the ground of Himself alone. God commits Himself to Himself, and to no one else. If the Lord is here, if the Lord has His place fully and wholly, utterly, if it is all for the Lord, the Lord will commit Himself to that ground; not to our ground and certainly not to satan's ground; but to Himself. if it is for Himself, then He will be for Himself, and we all agree that that is perfectly safe and anything else would not be safe at all. The Lord is the only safe ground upon which He Himself can work and be present.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13 - "A Disposition for the Lord")

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