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Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Release of the Lord # 6

The Release of the Lord # 6

"We straitly charged you not to teach IN THIS NAME," said the High Priest, but they rejoiced that "they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor FOR THE NAME." (Acts 5:28, 41).

So it goes on and on. The Name is the power and passion throughout.

But it is more than a title or designation. It is the "content" of the name. What was it, and is it, that is contained in the Name?

Firstly, the Name embodies:

1. The Victory of a Nature

In Philippians 2:9, we are told that Jesus, as a reward for His condescension, humiliation,and obedience unto death, was given "the name which is above every name." This represented among other things the triumph of an unsullied and unblemished nature. Sinless, He carried His robes of character through every "temptation common to man" (1 Cor. 10:13), and "offered Himself without spot unto God" (Hebrews 9:14). The world, evil men and the powers of darkness combined to corrupt or entrap Him and blemish His character, but, even when "He Who knew no sin was made sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21) and "bare our sins in His body upon the tree" (1 Peter 2:24), His own spirit remained unbending and undefiled. This victory cut the ground from under the feet of the evil powers. "The prince of this world came and had nothing" in Him (John 14:30). The Name is the embodiment of tried and proved holiness: hence it is the ground and instrument of victory for the sinner over sin, and for the believer over satan and the evil powers.

2. The Victory of Meekness

This is a feature that is made much of in the Scriptures. It is that which lies within the so-often-used- symbol of The Lamb. The essence of meekness is selflessness. Unresisting, unassuming disinterestedness and teachableness, these are its marks.  In its spiritual power and moral values, meekness is the most far-reaching virtue of all. The ruin of creation and man; the distance and discord between man and God; the rift in the universe, and the bitter and terrible entail of sin and death, with all the sorrow and suffering of a disrupted order: all this is due to that satanic pride which led its aspirant to set his throne "above the stars of God," to be "like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:13, 14); and, on being hurled from his high place, to conspire to wreck God's word and to dishonor His Name. The One Who would undertake the immense task of undoing and rectifying this damage and vindicating THAT NAME must Himself be without the slightest trace of the evil thing - pride; He must, indeed, be the very personification of its opposite. No ground suitable to satan's victory must be found in Him, for satan cannot cast out satan (Mark 3:23). That little phrase, "He humbled Himself" (Phil. 2:8), speaks of one of the mightiest and most potent forces in God's moral and spiritual universe.

The NAME, then, represents all that satan-undoing virtue, hence its potency when used in the power of the Holy Spirit.

3. The Victory of Love

This universe is shot through and through with hate. From that primal hatred of God mentioned above, the work of the evil powers is ever to turn man against God, and to make man - as God's chief creation - destroy himself by mistrust, suspicion, fear, jealousy, rivalry, sin, and a thousand other ways. Into such a world, there came One Who should declare and demonstrate the love of God, and inculcate His love in a new creation: it was the inbreathing of the Spirit of love; the planting of the Vine, the fruit of which is love. You will find that the New Testament, when you trace this matter of love through it, is just the Testament of Love. The Cross of Christ is where all the hate in the universe - human and satanic - converged and overflowed, and where all the love of God met and defeated it. That victory is embodied IN THE NAME. No one can hate another and bear THE NAME OF CHRIST.

How much more is gathered into THE NAME! The power of truth; the victory of faith; and so much more. It is indeed a MIGHTY NAME, in Heaven and earth, and hell. The Holy Spirit knows all its meaning, nature, and content; and when He came to vindicate and glorify THAT NAME, and the Church lived and worked under His anointing, "mighty things" happened IN THE NAME.

The recovery of faith in THE NAME, with a new appreciation of its significance and a return to its ground, would prove that it is no less potent now than it was then. But there must be an all-dominating passion for its honor - a single-minded jealousy that will govern all things with the one consideration: Is this glorifying to THE NAME OF JESUS?

So THE NAME is not merely a formula to be appended to our prayers or professions. It is a power: but its potency demands that everything correspond to an be governed by the Spirit and character of its Divine Bearer. We may take THE NAME upon our lips, but, as it happened with the seven sons of Sceva (Acts 19:4), the evil powers may turn and rend us because they do not recognize the person: "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye?" THE NAME must be taken and used in the power of the Spirit, and that power is only found where Jesus is truly present in unoffended good pleasure.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Release of the Lord # 5

The Release of the Lord # 5

The Basic Reality

The evidence is overwhelming that from Pentecost onward the basis of the fullest, richest, and most effectual world-testimony of Jesus has been a 'holiness movement from heaven': that is, a heart-changing, life-revolutionizing, whole-being-captivating realization of Who Jesus is - the first as to His Sovereignty in the Throne of Deity, and the second as to His Sovereignty in the life at all points. To be 'filled with the Holy Spirit' is to be filled with holiness, love, humility, joy, and a passion for securing to the "Beloved" the fruit of His travail in every nation. No 'spiritual' movement, convention, teaching, is valid without the hall-mark of spontaneous concern for the eternal well-being of others. Far too often intensive movements result in morbid introspection. There is nothing more paralyzing than this. And the reaction from it is just as perilous. Enthusiasm, interest, high spirits, 'personality,' education, or enterprise, harnessed to a more or less dated 'decision for Christ,' are frequently the points of emphasis in this reaction.

The cost to a convert in New Testament times was too great to permit of anything that was superficial or merely a matter of romance or enthusiasm. The motive power must spring from a very real and deep knowledge of the Lord, balanced by an ardent passion for His satisfaction in the nations.

What Pentecost Was

We have failed far too terribly to realize what 'Pentecost,' and the 'baptism of the Holy Spirit,' really was. The external accompaniments and effects have obscured the deeper elements. We have interpreted it in terms of activity, signs, waves of emotion, excitability, and so forth. But our supreme need is to know the true meaning of this 'baptism.'

We therefore give the following all-inclusive definition. The baptism of the Holy Spirit means the enthronement of the Lord Jesus as absolute Sovereign, without reservation or rival, in the entire life, in all its interests and activities.

Within this compass there are one or two specific things which we may point out.

Firstly, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a baptism into the holiness of the Lord. It is a baptism with fire, which must be interpreted, primarily, not as zest, but as sanctification. Pentecost was a 'holiness movement from heaven.' This was the significance of the terrible incident with Ananias and Sapphira. This holiness of the Lord, established by the Holy Spirit, has to be carried into every phase and department of life: spirit, mind, body; relationships, transactions, methods, means. Anything doubtful, questionable, equivocal, and so on, is a contradiction and an antagonism  to the Spirit of Holiness. It is unfortunate that it should be necessary even to mention such things in the realm of the work of the Lord, but that necessity is laid upon us.

Secondly, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a 'baptism into the love of Christ.' This is another element in the "fire." It need hardly be said that this love is something more and other than natural warm-heartedness, largeness of nature, generosity, sentiment and nice words. It is love which 'suffers long, envies not, knows no jealousy, makes no parade, gives itself no airs, is not puffed up, never rejoices in self-vindication when opponents are proved wrong, is always slow to expose, always eager to believe the best, never seeks its own ends or interests.' This love knows how to be abased, to be set aside, to be outshone; how to have its interests crossed; how to persist when forsaken; and much more. Only the Holy Spirit can impart and maintain this love.

Thirdly, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the 'baptism into the war of the ages.' Not into a religious playground or sports field, but into the grim, terrific, bloody conflict with "principalities and powers," with "the world rulers of this darkness," with "the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." Immediately upon our Lord's baptism, the Spirit came upon Him, and He was brought there and then, by the act of the Spirit, into awful contact with the leader of the  opposing hierarchy. So it was with the Church. So it is with every one baptized into Christ. Thank God, the victory has been secured and the issue settled at Calvary, but the fight continues. It will take the mighty energizing of the Spirit of the Lord of hosts - "strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inward man" (Eph. 3:16) - in all the efficacy of the Precious Blood, to accomplish the deepest work of God in this age. There will be times when we are unable to work, or to preach, or to do anything but 'stand and withstand.' Many are contented while they can be active and do something. This can be a real snare. It is spiritual vitality that counts, not much busyness!

A Practical Instance

We will conclude with an incident from the story of Uganda which carries its own significance.

In the early days of the Church in Uganda, a boy who had been baptized came to Pilkington and told him of his failure to be true to Christ in the pathetic words, "I sin as much as ever I did." Pilkington was cut to the quick, and the desire for fresh spiritual power was deepened in his heart. Shortly afterwards he went apart on to one of the islands in the Victoria Nyanza that he might wait upon God and receive fresh power from Him. His prayers were answered, and later he could write to Bishop Tucker as follows:

"I want to tell you that we (mission and people) are in the midst of a time of great blessing. God has enabled several of us to see that for a long time past we have been working in our own strength, and that consequently there has been no power in our lives, and very little blessing. We have, however, been brought to see that the command, 'be filled with the Spirit,' is as much laid upon us as upon the Ephesians, and that power for effectual service is placed at our disposal if we will but appropriate it. I cannot tell you the difference it has made to us in our lives as well as in our work. Now we are full of joy, whereas a little while ago (I am speaking of myself in this) the depression was almost unbearable. As for our work, God is now using us, and a wonderful wave of blessing is passing over the land."

Part Three

In any consideration of the effectiveness of the Church's witness in the world in its early days, it is essential that careful note be taken of the governing concepts in New Testament evangelism is undeniable. We therefore essay to bring some of those into clear relief. That to which we would give primary place -

The Power of the Name

In the book which gives us the record of those first decades of Christianity, we might almost say that - apart from the Holy Spirit Himself - the paramount place is given to the Name of Jesus. In almost His last words to His disciples before returning to Heaven, the Lord had said:

"Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer ... and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached IN HIS NAME unto all the nations..." (Luke 24:47).

On the Day of Pentecost Peter cried:

"Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you IN THE NAME of Jesus Christ..." (Acts 2:38).

In healing the lame man, Peter said:

"IN THE NAME of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk" (Acts 3:6).

To the crowd that ran to see the miracle, Peter said that it had been "by faith IN HIS NAME" (Acts 3:16).

To the High Priest, Peter declared that the man was healed "IN THE NAME of Jesus Christ ... Whom ye crucified, Whom God raised from the dead..." (Acts 4:10).

The Council commanded that they should "speak henceforth to no man IN HIS NAME" (Acts 4:17).

In the face of threats and commands the Church prayed that 'signs and wonders might be done THROUGH THE NAME of Jesus' (Acts 4:30).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6)

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Release of the Lord # 4

The Release of the Lord # 4

The Starting Place of the Testimony in Every Nation - continued

Let us again state the all-inclusive basis and background of all true, victorious life and service. It is the revelation of the Person of Christ crucified, in the Godhead, and in the throne of absolute sovereignty, and this objective fact becoming by the Holy Spirit a power in the life and a passion in the heart.

It is the effect of this that lies behind all the great record of conquests in many regions, through many instruments. This goes behind, and makes unnecessary, all advocacy of 'foreign' or other missions. Not that such advocacy has been fruitless, for God has come through it; but its strenuousness and its costliness are the marks of spiritual decline, and are the characteristics of a system which speaks of a bondage in which the Lord's honor is involved. We shall best explain what we mean if we illustrate from history.

Some Notable Examples of Modern Times

We have before us the records of movements and men that have been really effectual and fruitful in the world-testimony of the Lord Jesus.

Here is the amazing story of the great days of the Moravian mission. In the first twenty years they actually sent out more missionaries than the whole Protestant Church had done in two hundred years. Of the closed lands entered, the range covered, the sufferings gladly endured, the lives lived and laid down, the grace of God manifested, it stirs wonder and shame to read. Someone has said that 'if members of the Protestant churches went out as missionaries in corresponding numbers there would be a force of 400,000 foreign workers, which is vastly more than the number estimated as necessary to achieve the evangelization of the world.'

Only for want of space do we reluctantly refrain from giving pages from this tremendous story; but what lay behind it?

In the first place the Cross had been deeply wrought into the very being of this people. Their country was made a field of blood by massacre. They were driven from their homes. From a population of three million they were reduced by persecution to one million. Indeed it sometimes appeared as if they would be entirely extinguished. Out of these fires of afflictions there arose a company purified by the fire, and with another fire burning in their bones. It was the fire of a passionate love for the Lord Jesus. The meetings of these brethren, when they later became possible, breathed the atmosphere of "the upper room." Covenants were made  that self in all its forms should be entirely banished - self-will, self-love, self-interest, self-seeking. To be poor in spirit would be their quest, and everyone would give himself to be taught by the Holy Spirit. A prayer-watch was set up which should burn day and night, and by means of relays the entire twenty-four hours were occupied in seeking the Lord. 'To win for the Lamb that was slain the reward of His sufferings,' was their adopted motto.

All this is its own argument. Here a deeply inwrought work of the Cross issued in a mighty, personal love for the Lord Jesus. Personal considerations were lost, and no persuasion was necessary. Shall we not say the truth when we say that souls languish by the millions in darkness and death for want of a deep baptism of the Church - the company of saved ones - into the passion and love of God in Christ?

If the China Inland Mission has been a monument to anything as to God's methods, it is supremely so to the living reality of union with Christ. With all his vision and passion for inland China, it is well known that Mr. Hudson Taylor, as he went from place to place addressing gatherings of Christians in this and other countries, said very little about China, often nothing at all. He just poured out his spiritual message to bring the Lord's people into a fuller knowledge of the meaning of their union with Christ. The central and supreme thing in this fellowship with the Lord was the universal efficacy of prayer.

Listen to him: 'In the study of that Divine Word I learned that to obtain successful workers, not elaborate appeals for help, but earnest prayer to God ... and the deepening of the spiritual life of the Church, so that men should be unable to stay at home, were what was needed.'

Were we to put the inner history of this work - the original spiritual background - into a few words, we should say that it was NOT a matter of organization, advocacy, propaganda, appeals, or advertisement. It centered in a man with a deep knowledge of God, born of a deeply inwrought work of the Cross, bringing to the Lord's people a living, spiritual message as to their fullest life in Him, and as to the practical outworking of such a life through prayer.

Mr. Hudson Taylor was no 'teacher' in the sense of presenting truth in a systematized form. He was not one of the great 'Bible teachers,' in the generally accepted sense of that term. His was a message which immediately led to two issues: firstly, the relationship of the believer to the Lord;and then the practical outworking of that, in prayer and other forms of service, to bring the Gospel to those whose only chance of receiving it was by means of such special endeavors. Mr. Hudson Taylor's life (and therefore, we must think, the history of the mission) turned at a given point upon a deeper realization of what oneness with the Lord really means. This is revealed in a letter to his sister which is printed in the second volume of his life.

Not only in Africa, through the South African General Mission, but in all parts of the world, the ministry of Dr. Andrew Murray has been wondrously rich in its fruits. It was not, again, by advocacy of propaganda, but purely by spiritual teaching, through a ministry almost exclusively to the Lord's people, a message concerning practical holiness, the ministry of intercession, and the power of the Holy Spirit, that this fruit was born. Out of this ministry sprang the above 'Mission,' and the consecration of many lives to the Lord's service. The ministry, not the 'Mission,' was the dynamic.

We could add at great length the evidence, pointing to the influence of such lives, and to the power of the movement for the 'deepening of spiritual life.' The pages of the missionary issues of Christian periodicals; the messages of 'Keswick's' great men in those early days; and the pages of that monumental History of the C.M.S. by Dr. Eugene Stock, all bear testimony to this.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Release of the Lord # 3

The Release of the Lord # 3

The "testimony of Jesus" then, is that Jesus lives universally triumphant, and the Church is the "pillar" (or monument) of that truth. It is His resurrection Body, possessed of His risen Life and administered by the Holy Spirit, as the repository of that life.

The testimony of Jesus is in effect a life - His Life. Not a mode of life, but a vital, infinite force; indestructible, irresistible, incorruptible, a vital force mediated to the spiritually dead wherever there is a readiness and willingness to believe on the Lord Jesus.

It burst the old molds, "wine-skins" of tradition, worn-out systems, man-made orders and forms.

It sets aside even those things which were once raised up and greatly used by God, but which have ceased to be living, and are only past history. Even Judaism ceases to count here. The testimony of Jesus liberates captives, and a word spoken by its power is as an irresistible challenge to "let My people go." Lazarus must come forth when He, "the resurrection, and the life", commands through His Church. This life, issuing forth from the risen Lord as within 'the Body' by the Eternal Spirit, is the compelling power of the world-mission and testimony of Jesus.

There is no precedent in the New Testament for appealing for workers or missionaries. This is at best but a sorry alternative or necessity. When the Holy Spirit is really in possession and the life is manifested, then He takes the initiative in all work and workers, saying, "Separate Me ... for the work whereunto I have called them."

Great emphasis is laid in the New Testament upon receiving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the universally Sovereign Lord - "the Heir of all things." His mission is world-wide, cosmic. World-vision, world-passion, world-vocation, are the inevitable, immediate result of the establishment of His Lordship within. It cannot be otherwise. Then what is the matter that this thing is not spontaneous with so many? Why do not the Lord's people spread the Testimony by simply talking out of a full heart? Is this also the indictment of Acts 19:2-5?

Is the cost a deterrent by which the Spirit is quenched? It will cost. To no place did the New Testament witnesses go with the "Testimony" but what the enemy - the dragon - made war. It was up to him to do so, for he stood to be a very great loser. It was the battle for dominion. This was his unwilling compliment, his unintentional congratulation. They represented something and possessed something which made hell angry and afraid.

The Lord's purpose and method in this age is to bring into resurrection-union with Himself two or three in every place and to 'add unto them such as are being saved.'

It is an accretion of life, not enticement, 'attraction,' advertisement. Here again the Holy Spirit takes the initiative when a true testimony is born.

The greatest need of the hour is a revitalizing of the Lord's people with His risen life by the Holy Spirit. May we soon see this, and come to the place where everything - tradition, system, common acceptances, forms and molds, prejudices, personal interests, reputation, prestige, compromise, the opinions of others, policy, and so on - will be sacrificed, if needs be, for life, and the true and living TESTIMONY OF JESUS. So shall He find His release again and scatter the fire anew.

Part Two

In our last issue our particular emphasis was upon the nature of the "testimony of Jesus." We saw that the great, objective, historic fact, that Jesus was risen from among the dead and was in the place of supreme sovereignty and glory - which fact had been manifested by many infallible proofs - had also a subjective counterpart: namely, within the ones who were His "witnesses." That same Lord Jesus had become to them, by the Holy Spirit,an inward reality,and that inward fact was manifested as a life: "eternal life," resurrection life, life triumphant over death; Divine life in all its holiness, energy, spontaneity, might, persistence, and fruitfulness; in fact, the life which the Lord Jesus is, in Person. (Read: 1 John 1:2; 5:9-13, 20; Acts 1:8, 22; 2:32, 36; 3:15; 4:33; 5:30, 32; 10:40-42; 13:30, 37; Romans 1:4). The testimony to the Person of Jesus is the power of His Life in and through His "members" by the Holy Spirit.

THE STARTING PLACE OF THE TESTIMONY IN EVERY NATION

Our present object will be to show something more of what this means in experience and service, especially in connection with the age-purpose of a testimony in the nations. If comparisons and contrasts are made and disorders pointed out, it is not in a spirit of criticism, far less of censoriousness; neither is it want of appreciation of, or esteem for, the work being so honestly and sacrificially done. God forbid that any word of ours should bring a shadow upon any activity which counts even a little for Him. We have a burden - a sometimes overwhelming burden - occasioned both by the spiritual ineffectiveness (partial or complete) that we see around, and by the manifest misconception and confusion that prevails regarding Divine ends and methods. It is the need for immediate, direct, absolute spiritual effectiveness that governs the pursuance of this subject.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Release of the Lord # 2

The Release of the Lord # 2

We think that there is such a phrase, and it is this:

THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS

This accounts for everything when possessing as it possessed them. Let us look it up.

"Who bare witness of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 1:2).

"I was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 1:9).

"I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held" (Revelation 6:9).

"And the dragon waxed wroth with the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and hold the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 12:17).

"I am a fellow-servant with thee and with thy brethren that hold the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 19:10).

"And I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 20:4).

"Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you" (1 Corinthians 1:6).

"They will not receive of thee testimony concerning Me" (Acts 22:18).

"Our testimony unto you was believed" (2 Thess. 1:10).

"Be not ashamed therefore of the testimony of our Lord" (2 Timothy 1:8).

"Ye shall be My witnesses" (Acts 1:8; same root in Greek as 'testimony'.

"Must one be ordained to be a witness with us" (Acts 1:22).

"This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we are all witnesses" (Acts 2:32).

"Raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses" (Acts 2:32).

"Not to all the people, but unto witnesses" (Acts 10:41).

"With great power gave the apostles their witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 4:33).

"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the Word of their testimony" (Revelation 12:11).

The New Testament, read in the light of these passages, shows very clearly that the remarkable story which it recounts is that of a testimony. It remains for us to ask what this testimony was. To clear the way for the positive answer we must say something as to what this "testimony" was not.

1. The Testimony of Jesus Was Not A Teaching

There is nothing in the whole story upon which to rest an argument or affirmation that the Apostles went out to the world with "The Teaching of Jesus." They were not propagating new doctrines or a system of truth. The teaching resulted from the acceptance of the testimony, the expounding of its content followed that acceptance and was kept for believers only. It was a result, not a cause. The most they ever did was to substantiate their testimony from the Scriptures, and affirm certain facts concerning the Person of Christ.

2. The Testimony of Jesus was NOT a New Religion

'Christianity' was not set over against or alongside of other religions and made 'comparative.' It was some time before some of the Apostles themselves realized the implications of their testimony in the matter of their being emancipated from Judaism. Great as the change was, they did not at first realize that they had been taken out of their 'religion.' Later they found that they were out and committed in spite of their own prejudices, and had to do their thinking and discussing after the thing had become a fact in embarrassing experience. See Peter in the house of Cornelius, and the events of Acts 10, 11, 15, etc.

3. The Testimony of Jesus Was NOT a New Movement

No plans were laid. There was no policy. Organization was entirely absent, and any which subsequently had to be admitted was forced upon them by the embarrassment of the very vitality of things, and then it was of the simplest.

A thought-out campaign did not exist. To set up, launch, form, bring into being, or found a new society, sect, 'church', community, was not in mind. They did not set out for such, and although their testimony gave distinctiveness to all who believed; although outsiders labeled them and misinterpreted their motive and purpose; the distinguishing feature was life.

What then was "The Testimony of Jesus?"

All-inclusively it was the proclamation and affirmation of a fact. That fact was - and is - The Universal Sovereignty and Lordship of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, established and vindicated by the resurrection from the dead.

This testimony has two sides. The objective and historic fact, of which they had many infallible proofs, had become demonstrated in the power of that resurrection by the Holy Spirit in "the church, which is His body" - in all its members, in all its activities. That lie, which in Him had conquered sin, death, hell, satan, and had carried Him from "the lowest part" to the "far above all heavens," had been implanted in them by the Holy Spirit sent down from Heaven.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Release of the Lord # 1

The Release of the Lord # 1

Part One

Read: Isaiah 61:1-3; Lev. 25:10; Luke 12:49, 50; 4:18, 19; Acts 2:1

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified."

"And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family."

"I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!"

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord."

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place."

The book which is known to us as "The Acts of the Apostles," and sometimes "The Acts of the Holy Spirit," might truly be named - The Release of Jesus Christ.

Luke introduces it with the observation that he had earlier written the beginnings of the acts and teaching of Jesus; implying that continuation is now his object and purpose. But what a change! The former activities were bounded and limited by time and space,and, at best, covered but a few square miles of Syrian soil. For the most part Omnipresence was in chains, except for a few breakings through of power at a distance. The activities and teaching were almost entirely limited to a people of one nation and tongue. Then, by outward urge, persuasion, and encouragement, He caused His wishes to be carried out; and to the dull minds of the spiritually unquickened He gave His spiritual treasures; explanations and reasons being necessary to confidence. Then, the necessity was laid upon Him of a very slow disillusionment and unfolding as to what form the end of the phase would take, because of the controlling personal interests, even in the inner circle. Pride, ambition, doubt, malice, self-assertiveness, self-confidence, self-realization, self-defense, like barber wires, circled around and wounded Him whenever He sought to move forward. Ever conscious from the beginning that world-dominion was His as "Heir of all things," yet He had not a place to lay His head, and to be "crucified through weakness" was to be His portion.

What a change! NOW He has shaken off all His chains. Time and space no longer have any power over Him. Geography, the material things, satan, demons, men, nations, thrones, all have been fully stripped off by Him. NOW, by an inward dynamic, in spite of every threat and peril, men and women are moving out in every direction with a passion for the glory of His Name. NOW, not as an historic figure, known after the flesh, but, by an inward revelation of transcendent magnitude, He is known after the Spirit. NOW, the once dreaded, unacceptable, offending Cross is all their glory. NOW, suffering reproach has supplanted pride; selfless, disinterested sacrifice takes the place of ambition; a mighty energizing faith - not their own - has destroyed doubt; they lay down their own lives gladly and suffer the loss of all things for that Name!

In one strategic stroke He begins with a multitude representing "every nation under heaven."  See how this fire spreads without artificial and forced agencies.

In the year 33 A.D., a few Galilean fishermen were seeking liberty of speech in Jerusalem, and were severely handled as men poor and ignorant.

In the year that Paul died, how did the matter stand? There were churches in Jerusalem, in Caesarea, in Antioch and all Syria, in Galatia, in Ephesus, Sardis, Laodicea and throughout the west coast of lesser Asia, in Phillippi, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth, Rome, Alexandria, in the chief cities of the islands and the mainland of Greece, and the western Roman colonies.

A Sad Comparison

There are some significant omissions from this record of conquests. We never read of the organizing of a missionary campaign.

Such things as deputations, lecturers and lectures, exhibitions, appeals, advertisements, and so on, with all their cost and expenditure of time, money, energy, all to try to get Christians interested in the souls of the unsaved, are never hinted at. Any reporting of what God had done in the regions beyond was never by way of propaganda or advocacy. Statistics as mental stimulants; pathetic, tragic, sensational stories as emotional stimulants; urge and drive as volitional stimulants had no place here, so far as we can discern. The thing was firstly of the Spirit, not of the soul. The endeavor to reverse this order is undoubtedly the reason for a tremendous amount of the weakness and breakdown of today.

Speaking generally, this whole matter of the world-mission of the Church is on pre-resurrection ground today. The Lord is not straitened in Himself, but He is straitened in His people.

On the one hand, there is a need of workers, for almost half the human race is without the knowledge of Christ; and on the other hand workers are often ready to go forth, yet there are no means to send them. A third condition, almost more tragic, abounds, that of the spiritual breakdown of many who do go, so that 'converts' are not really and genuinely born from above with the Spirit of Sonship becoming truly resident within. Demon powers persist in dominion and challenge. A policy of slow absorption of 'Christianity', through education, familiarization, and so on, as a compromise between failure to work upon the basis of genuine regeneration and an honest acknowledgement of the same with its practical implications, has been adopted. Finally there are the many who return home with lost assurance.

Surely all this stands in direct contrast to the spirit and experience of the New Testament. It is not difficult to go on at great length making distinctions between the two standards, that of the New Testament and that which has largely been since, but the more important things is to display the secrets of that former glory.

We are convinced that He Who is "the same yesterday, and today, and for ever," desires to have, and can have, His work on the same plane to the end of the age, and that in some parts of the world it is happening in a way very similar to the early days.

Here then begins an inquiry into the nature of the work of the risen Lord in "the Church, which is His body."

We ask, first of all, is there any phrase which embodies the conception, the motive, and the dynamic of this spontaneous world-conquest at its beginning?

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Power With God # 1

Power With God # 1

"Righteousness Which Is According to Faith"

Exemplified In Noah

"And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of Man, when a land sinneth against Me by committing a trespass, and I stretch out My hand upon it, and break the staff of the bread thereof, and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast; though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord Jehovah ... Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out My wrath upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast; though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, they should deliver neither son nor daughter; they should but deliver their own souls by their righteousness" (Ezekiel 14:12-14, 19, 20).

"Then said the Lord to me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet My mind would not be toward this people: cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth" (Jeremiah 15:1).

God Takes Account of Those Who Have Power With Him

It is a remarkable thing that the Lord is  doing when, in this way, He selects certain names and brings them to the fore over against such a very dark and hopeless situation, and says of them: 'Although these men were there, and although these men stood before Me, it would make no difference; they alone, by themselves, would be saved.' In doing this, He has selected from all the men who had ever prevailed with Him those who more than any others, had power with God. If anything could be done, if God could be influenced, persuaded to intervene, to change the situation which was so desperate, these men would do it, and would be the ones who would have power with God. The very first thing that strikes us is just that - God taking account of men who had power with Him. The Lord carries that a very long way. He says, in effect: 'I take that right to the very limit of possibility - where possibility ends these men go; if anything could be done, however desperate the situation, these are the men who will bring it about.' It is something to note that God takes account of men who have power with Him. God knows them; He knows what He has had to do, what He has been compelled to do because of such men.

God Puts Himself Into the Hands of Men

By inference, this carries the truth that God puts Himself into the hands of men. God is not going to move unless there are those who prevail with Him, and the inference is: 'I am your hands, if you will press the matter far enough, if you will learn how to prevail.' God will, or will not, move according to knowledge of how to prevail with Him in a situation or a matter. That is something to think about. If a situation could be altered God says: 'Such and such are the men through whom I would do it.' Of course, I am not dealing with the situations in the contexts of these two passages in Ezekiel and Jeremiah. That is not the point. I am not taking up the situation in Israel, which had become an impossible situation, and its handling and solution was one which could only be done through judgment, and the terrible judgment of the seventy years' captivity. God would deal with it in that way. But He had reached the point where no man could ask the Lord to deal with it on the spot, and it would happen. That is not our concern at the moment.

It is this: That there are situations which do go a very long way, as we shall see, which are still open to be dealt with by heaven, but which never will be dealt with unless there are those who know how to prevail with God. God offers Himself to be prevailed with, to yield Himself in all His sovereign power, in all His grace, in all His mercy, to men and people who know the secret of prevailing.

Now let us note at this very point, lest our hearts begin to lose assurance and hope, that the men here mentioned as being the most outstanding examples of prevailing with God were not taken account of for what they were in themselves. There were two things which made it possible for the Lord to take account of them.

A Heart Relationship With The Lord

One was their heart relationship to the Lord. Look at the men: Noah, Daniel, Job, Moses, Samuel. Well, there are some grand things about those men. The Lord has not covered up the other side. You are sometimes a little surprised at what the Lord does say about some of them. If you read the whole story, you do feel that there may be some ground of contradiction here in these men. You know the end of Noah - a very sad picture. You hear a New Testament Apostle saying: "Ye have heard of the patience of Job" (James 5:11), but when you read the Book of Job, you sometimes feel that if ever there was a man without patience it is Job. We know about Moses, and even Samuel seems to have passed out almost under a cloud. Well, I think it is clear that in their case, as in the case of so many of the others who are held up by God as examples of this or that, it was not because of what they were in themselves that God singled them out, but in every case you do see this: that in spite of their humanity, their weaknesses, their failures, their lapses, there was a heart relationship to the Lord which cannot be questioned, and when you look at the context of these very passages, that is the thing which first of all is impressed upon you - the heart of these people. God is troubled about the heart of this people. The prophets word about Israel at this time was: "The heart of these people is turned away from Me, and turned to idols." "This people draw nigh unto Me, and with their mouth and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from far from Me" (Isaiah 29:13). It is a heart question, and it was that state of heart which at length brought about this impasse - that God could do nothing. Over against that, men are mentioned who, despite their human weaknesses, were men whose hearts were in a very utter place with the Lord.

But that is not all. That is a beginning point, but there is another reason why the Lord singled out these men. It was because of certain spiritual factors which were the great characteristics of their very life, factors which do count with God. When you look at each of these men, read their story and sum it all up, you have to say: That is the thing that marks that man's life, and that, and that. Each one of them is the embodiment of something, and it is that thing which counts with God and which was the basis of their having power with God. That is what we are after at this time - that which makes for power with God.

Two Ways of Estimating Men

May I just stay here, after what I have just said, to add this. There are two ways in which we may estimate men, by which we may judge them and their history and arrive at a conclusion about them. There is the natural side, the way in which men naturally look at men. When the world reads the story of some of these men, such as David, and others, well, they sum it all up with a sneer and pass it all out as utterly unworthy. It is the natural way of judging men and appraising their value, and that was the point upon which the Lord came down with Job's friends. They judged Job naturally, by the sight of the eye, by what appeared on the surface, and summed him up as a bad lot. You can look on men of God like that, just taking account of the flaws, the weaknesses and all that human side, which is, after all, poor stuff in the best. Very few men, if any, have ever come out of the judgments of men completely free of that sort of thing. But there is another way, and that is as to their spiritual values, to judge spiritually. It is just here that the Lord says: "Touch not Mine anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm" (1 Chron. 16:22). Why should they touch the Lord's anointed? Only because they have misjudged them and had come to wrong conclusions about them. The Lord will not let us touch any one of His, however much they may be at fault in our judgment. It is a very solemn thing to remember that: that our hand must not come down upon any of the Lord's own in judgment; that has to be left with the Lord. It may be that there is plenty from our point of view and to our judgment that would justify our taking such an antagonistic or opposed attitude, but the Lord will not have it. That comes out in the case of Job. Moses was a frail human vessel capable of making mistakes,but see what the Lord will do with those who assail Moses, and touch his acceptance with God, his standing before the Lord! I do feel it is necessary for us to remember that, because who belongs to the Lord is very precious and must not be touched. There are always two ways of looking at and judging men and people of God. There is this natural side which has plenty to criticize, but the Lord will disapprove if we do it. There is the spiritual way of judging and it is necessary to look further and see how far those count for God, whether there is not something there that is of the Lord.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - Noah Singled Out By God)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Self and Its Pride Oppose the Holy Spirit # 2

Self and Its Pride Oppose the Holy Spirit # 2

So great is the blindness which pride brings to the soul, that helpless creatures feel exalted because of natural abilities that are given them by God, and boast of such things as though they were their own. No man has the power to do anything, except by a life that every moment is loaned to him from God: he has no more power of his own to breathe or move a hand than to stop the earth or extinguish the sun. This is the dependent, helpless poverty of man's state, which is a good reason for humility. Since it is God who "gives to all men life,and breath and all that we possess" (Acts 17:25); to ascribe glory to ourselves for these things is to be guilty both of stealing and lying. For pride takes to ourselves those things which only belong to God, and in denying the truth of our helpless dependence upon Him, we pretend to be something that we are not.

What is the result of this pride which blinds us to our true condition? We reason ourselves into all kinds of misery, making our lives the tools of unnecessary desires. Seeking after imaginary happiness, creating to ourselves a thousand unnatural needs, amusing our hearts with false hopes and insatiable passions, envying one another, we bring distress of every sort upon ourselves. Let any man but look back upon his own life and see what jealous ambitions, what vain thoughts, what desires have taken up the greater part of his life! Let him consider how foolish he has been in his words and manner of living, how often he has rejected reason to follow lust and passion, how seldom he has been able to please himself, and how often he has been displeased with others; how soon he has changed his mind, hated what he had formerly loved, and loved what he had formerly hated: how often he has been angry over trifles, pleased and displeased with the very same things, and so often changed from one vain entertainment or project to another! When any man honestly considers his life in this way, he will then realize that nothing is so unbecoming in any man as self-exaltation and pride. Perhaps there are very few people in the world who would not rather choose to die than to have all their secret thoughts, lusts, follies, errors of judgment, vanities, false motives, uneasiness, hatred, envies, and corruptions made known to the world. And shall pride be entertained in a heart thus conscious of its own miserable condition and behavior? 

It is not only the lust for possessions and the distractions of life that nourish pride, but even devotions and charities, strivings after humility and goodness expose man to fresh and strong temptations of this evil spirit of self-exaltation. Every good thought, every good action, exposes one to the assaults of vanity and self-satisfaction. None have more occasion to be afraid of the approaches of pride than those who have made some advances in a pious life: for pride can grow as well upon virtues as upon vices, and can even praise itself while using words that seem to be praising God.

Now what is it in the human soul that most of all hinders the death of this old man? What is it that above all strengthens and exalts the life of self, and makes it the master and governor of all the powers of the heart and soul? It is the imagined genius of self-will, the glory of learning, and the conceit of natural reason. These are the master builders of pride's temple in the heart of man, and like faithful priests they keep up the daily worship of the false god, self. Whereas man ought to be the temple of the living God, self sits there in the natural man, obsessed with his imagined abilities, and fiercely jealous of his own independent interests.

Let it be clearly understood that all these magnificent corruptions of the natural man have their origin in his miserable fall from the life of God in his soul. Self-love, self-exaltation, self-will, and all the other partners of a natural reason would have had no more place among men than blindness, ignorance, and sickness, had man continued as he was created in the image of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Everything that then dwelt in him or came from him would have expressed only so much of God, and nothing of himself, and would have manifested nothing inwardly or outwardly but the heavenly powers of his triune Creator. Man would then have had no more self-conscious realization of his own goodness than of his own creating power upon beholding the animals and trees about him or the stars above.

Had that been man's perfect state without the fall, then consider how unreasonable and odious it must be for poor, sinful creatures to take delight in their own imagined greatness, while the highest and most glorious sons of heaven seek no other occupation than that of glorifying God alone. Pride is only the disorder of the fallen world, and has no place among other beings. It can only subsist where ignorance and sensuality, impurity, reign. If man will boast of anything as his own, he must boast of his misery and sin, for there is nothing else but this that is his own property or his own doing. Let a man, when he is most delighted with himself, but contemplate our blessed Lord stretched out and nailed upon the Cross; and then let him consider how absurd it must be for a heart full of pride and self-esteem to pray to God by virtue of the sufferings and death of the meek and lowly One.

It is man's dreadful fall from the life of God in his soul that has given birth to self and the deceit of pride. These are the great enemies of man and God, because they oppose the Spirit of God, through whose gracious work in the heart alone man can receive eternal life. And when the lusts of the flesh have had their last day, and the pride of life has only a dead body to inhibit, the soul of man which remains will know at last that it has nothing of its own, nothing than can say "I do this, or I posses that." Then all that man has or does, will either be the glory of God manifested in him, or the power of hell in full possession of his soul. The time of man's playing with words and intellect, of grasping after positions among men or of amusing himself with the foolish toys of this vain world, can last no longer than he is able to eat and drink with the creatures of this world. When the time comes that he must take his leave of earthly treasure and honors, then all the stately structures which genius, learning, and proud imagination have painted before his own eyes or those of others must bear full witness to Solomon's "vanity of vanities, all is vanity" (Eccl. 1:1).

That humility which is despised by men now, and is so contrary to the spirit of this world, will then be known to be the root of that faith which overcomes the world, the flesh, and the devil. He who dares to be poor and contemptible in the eyes of this present evil world in order to approve himself to God; who resists and rejects all human glory; who opposes the clamor of his passions; meekly bears all injuries and wrongs; and dares to wait for his reward until the invisible hand of God gives to every one his proper place: that one will be found to be the man of true wisdom in the coming day. He is the good soldier of Jesus Christ, who has fought the good fight of faith. Yet it cannot have been in his own strength or wisdom, but only as he has embraced the death of Christ as the crucifixion of his own devilish self, and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, has known the indwelling life of the meek and lowly Lamb of God in his soul.

~William Law~

(The End)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Classic Christian Quotes # 1

Classic Christian Quotes # 1

When God wants to judge a nation He gives them wicked rulers.

~Unknown~
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If satan got kicked out of heaven because of sin, what makes you think you'll make it to heaven in sin?

~Unknown~
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Tell me not of your justification, unless you have also some marks of sanctification. Boast not of Christ's work for you, unless you can show us the Spirit's work in you.

~J. C. Ryle~
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You may fool your pastor; you may fool yourself, but you will never fool God.

~A. W. Tozer~
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God never negotiates with men. Jesus Christ's death on that Cross put an end to any kind of negotiations. It is now Christ or nothing. It is now God's Word or nothing.

~A. W. Tozer~
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Trying to do the Lord's work in your own strength is the most exhausting and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.

~Corrie Ten Boom~
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Give me 100 preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of God on earth.

~John Wesley~
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If satan can't make you bad, he'll make you busy.

~Adrian Rogers~
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If the church marries herself to the spirit of the times, she will find herself a widow in the next generation.

~Charles Stanley~
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The saddest road to hell is the one that runs under the pulpit, past the Bible, through the middle of warnings and invitations.

~J. C. Ryle~
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The only people who want to change the gospel are those who are unchanged by it.

~Leonard Ravenhill~
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Do you go to church to meet God or to hear a sermon about Him? How many come to church expecting a conformation with Deity?

~Leonard Ravenhill~
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The blessings of God in riches enough for a wise man, and all the world is not enough for a fool.

~Charles Spurgeon~
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Sin forsaken is one of the best evidences of sin forgiven.

~J. C. Ryle~
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Careful for nothing, prayerful for everything, thankful for anything.

~D. L. Moody~
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There is only one Master of the human heart - Jesus Christ.

~Oswald Chambers~
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Stand at the foot of the Cross, and count the purple drops by which you have been cleansed; see the thorn-crown; mark His scourged shoulders, still gushing with rills. And if you do not lie prostrate on the ground before that Cross, you have never seen it.

~Charles Spurgeon~
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Christ will be Lord, or He will be judge. Every man must decide whether he will take Him as Lord now, or face Him as judge later.

~A.W. Tozer~
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You can't pray for them and gossip about them.

~Unknown~
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The closer we are to God, the more the slightest sin will cause us deep sorrow.

~R. C. Sproul~
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It is not the will of God if it goes against the Word of God.

~Unknown~
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When the devil sees a man or woman who really believes in prayer, who knows how to pray, and who really does pray, and, above all, when he sees a whole church on its face before God in prayer, he trembles as much as he ever did, for he knows that his day in that church or community is at an end.

~R. A. Torry~
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God never says, 'ooops'.

~Unknown~

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Self and Its Pride Oppose the Holy Spirit # 1

Self and its Pride Oppose the Holy Spirit # 1 

All the vices of fallen angels and men have their root in the proud atheism of self, which has replaced God as its only life and power. Men are dead to God because they are living to self. Self-love, self-esteem, and self-seeking are the essence and the life of pride, and the devil, the father of pride, is never absent from these passions, not without an influence in them. Without a death to self, there is no escape from satan's power over us. Wherever self-abilities are allowed a share in Christian service or worship, there the satanic spirit of pride has its power in the Church.

On the other hand, all the virtues of the heavenly life are the virtues of humility. Not a joy or glory or praise of the redeemed but has its birth in humility. It is humility alone that makes the impossible gulf between heaven and hell. No angels are in heaven but because humility is in all their breath; no devils are in hell but because the fire of pride has corrupted their whole life. Humility places man in that posture before God of an open heart, thankfully receiving the inward breathings of divine life and light and love. Pride shuts every man up to himself, bringing a death to all that is of God. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God" (James 4:6).

Herein lies the great struggle for eternal life: pride and humility are the two master powers, the two kingdoms in strife for the eternal possession of man. Every son of Adam is in the service of self, regardless of education or position in life, until a humility that comes solely from heaven has become his redemption through the indwelling Christ. Until then, all will be done by the right hand only that the left hand may know it. Nor can humility be cultivated through a sound head-knowledge of Scripture words and doctrines. The only true humility which the world has ever seen is that of the meek and lowly Lamb of God: and no man can have the least degree of this humility, except from the redeeming life of Christ. He only fights the good fight of faith whose strife is that the self-idolatrous nature which he received from Adam may be brought to death through the power of the Cross, that Christ's own supernatural humility may come to life within him.

The enemies to man's rising out of the fall of Adam are many. But the supreme enemy, called antichrist, is self-exaltation. There has been much speculation to see where and what antichrist is or by what marks he may be recognized. To know with certainty what he is not, one need only read this short description which Christ gives of Himself: "I can do nothing of myself ... I came not to do my own will ... I seek not my own glory ... I am meek and lowly of heart" (John 5:30, 8:50; Matthew 11:28). Now if this be Christ, then self-exaltation, being in the highest and fullest opposition, must be that spirit of antichrist that opposes and withstands the whole nature and Spirit of Christ. And although that particular man who is to be the ultimate embodiment of this spirit may not be yet upon the earth; nevertheless, no man need look any further than his own heart to find the same antichrist which John said was "already in the world" (1 John 4:3) in his own day. What therefore has everyone so much to fear, to renounce and abhor, as every inward breathing of self-exaltation, and every outward work that proceeds from it?

Now at what things shall a man look to see that working of self from which pride gains its power to hinder the birth and life of the humble Jesus in his soul? Shall he call the pomps and vanities of the world the highest works of self-adoration? Shall he look at the thirst for riches and honor to see the pride that has the most of antichrist in it? By no means. These are shameful enough marks of the vain heart of man; yet, comparatively speaking, they are but the skin-deep follies of that pride which the fall of man has begotten and brought forth within him. To discover the deepest root and iron strength of pride and self-exaltation, one must enter into the secret chamber of man's soul, where the Spirit of God, who alone gives humility and meek submission, was denied through Adam's sin, thus bringing that death which came upon all men, for all have sinned. satan's own spirit of self-exaltation became the strong man that kept charge of the house, till a stronger than he should regain possession.

Here in man's innermost being, self had its awful birth, and established its throne, reigning over a kingdom of secret pride, of which all outward pomp and vanities are but its childish, transitory playthings. "It is not those things from without that defile a man" (Mark 7:15), said Christ, "but out of the heart comes all the evil of man's defilement" (Matthew 15:18). The inward strong man of pride, the diabolical self, has his higher works within; he dwells in the strength of the heart, and here every power and faculty of the soul offers continual incense to him. Memory is the faithful repository of all the fine things that self has ever done, and lest any of them should be lost or forgotten, memory is continually setting them before self's eyes. Man's intellect has all the world before it, yet goes after nothing but as self sends it, ever seeking new projects to enlarge its dominion. Imagination, as the last and truest support of self, lays unseen worlds at his feet, and crowns him with secret revenges and fancied honors. This is that satanic, natural self that must be denied and crucified, or there can be no disciple of Christ. There is no plainer interpretation than this that can be put upon the words of Jesus, "Except a man deny self, and take up the cross and follow me, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 9:23, 14:27).

~William Law~

(continued with # 2)