The Riches of His Glory: The Pathway of the Glory (continued)
God's Glory is Reached Through Adversity (continued)
What Is the Pathway of the Glory?
satan was determined to bring Paul's ministry to an end by bringing that man to an end. Over this wide area in Asia, things moved toward that in churches. The churches, which owed their existence instrumentally to this man, and owed all that they had spiritually to him and to the Lord, had turned against him. In 2 Timothy, chapter one, at verse 15 he says, "All they which are in Asia be turned from me." False brethren betrayed him. And what an accumulation of evil things gathered and focused upon that prison in Rome, all saying with their own meaning: Limitation, curtailment, shortening of tenure, of influence and life. That is the natural, satanic situation very imperfectly described and set out.
On the human side, if looked at just purely as a natural situation, everything in that prison and those chains seemed to say what the enemy meant, and what men meant: this is an end! and this is a curtailment in every way. And yet, looked at from heaven's standpoint, and from history's standpoint, it is the most glorious triumph over the work of the enemy. They said, limitation, heaven said, enlargement. They said, death, agony. Heaven said, a new beginning, not only of the man in heaven, but of his ministry. For it was out of that imprisonment at Rome, and all that which was set for the ending of that ministry - his death - out of that has come the greatest ministry that he fulfilled.
The letters from that prison embrace a fullness of Divine revelation that can be found no where else, an enrichment for the Church beyond, beyond our telling. An expansion of ministry far far beyond the whole range of his missionary journeys personally. Today, in every country of this world Paul is known; perhaps not in every spot in every country, but in every country. From far East to far West, far North to far South, that man is known and his ministry has gone forth.
And today, Paulinism, the theological world, through all the battle of the years, you know, Paul is on top. They just cannot cope with this man, they cannot silence him, they cannot account for him. You probably will not know a great deal of the battle. Those of us who have read and studied through many years of this conflict, of ideologies and philosophies and theologies focusing upon this man Paul, know how at one point the whole thing became just this issue, "Away from Paul back to Christ," back to Christ, or "back to Jesus" as they put it, away with Paul. "Paul has betrayed Christianity." All this sort of thing is a terrific battle on that ground. But today, the very schools that were represented by that position are saying Paul is the interpreter of Christ, the supreme interpreter of Christ.
You see, this man's life started in a blaze of glory. Glory descended and struck him, as we said earlier, that glory went right through his life. And he never got away from that glory. He had seen the glory of the Lord at his beginning; and although the end of his earthly course seemed naturally to be so inglorious, so much speaking for apparent triumph of the forces which were against him, nevertheless, two thousand years have not quenched that glory. He shines with it today and we, a little minute fragment of a very great wold-wide whole, are here at this time together, glorying in the glory which has come through that man. So, I say that the last chapter of the Book of the Acts is just the consummate and inclusive setting forth of the whole book, showing the pathway of the glory.
What is the pathway of the glory? It has two sides. The one side is the reduction of the natural, the human element. It demands that; it will always work that way. It will always be the reduction, the nullifying, the weaning, the emptying, the undoing of the natural human element of man. And running alongside of that, there is always the positive increase of Christ. This is the pathway of the glory. One the one side, there is an ever increasing and setting aside of the natural man, even as a Christian, and in the work of the Lord. Consequently, we must be getting more and more to the consciousness that it must be the Lord, or there will be nothing at all. The human factor is increasingly of no account. That is the pathway to glory.
(continued with # 35)