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.
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.
(continued with # 4)