Google+ Followers

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 23

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 23

The Nature and Purpose of the Church, part 2, continued 

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, 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 us 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 then in the 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. 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 what 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 baptism, not our Lord's table, not our method of procedure, 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 you are a Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" 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. 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 shines 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 # 24 - The Immense Significance of Jesus Christ: Crucified, Risen,and Exalted)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 22

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 22

The Growth Of Ministry Is Through "Afflictions" - "Consolations", continued -

satan is "the god of this world," and the trouble at Corinth, as the whole of the First Letter shows, is that the world has laid its deadly, paralyzing hand upon those people. The world and the old humanity lie under a curse. Does that sound strong, brethren? But have you never said, "this accursed self." It is this accursed self that is in the way all the time. Yes, that humanity lies under a curse from the beginning, and this world lies under a curse which means that that humanity and this world can never go through to God's end as it is. The end of that humanity and of this world is what? destruction, removal right from the Face of God. Paul saw this as to the Corinthians, and natural man intruding, and this world - its judgments, its standards, its conceptions, its values, its ideas - among these people in the church, controlling, influencing - the world of Corinth had come into the church at Corinth - in its mentality, in its manner, and in its procedure: how the world does it .... that was at Corinth.

Yes, our natural man lies under a curse, our old humanity lies under a curse. It cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God because God has put His veto on it. It is vetoed, and this world is vetoed as to God's things. And who has done it? The god of this age, the prince of this world; and when God breaks in, He said: "Let there be light," because darkness is not of God; it is of the devil. And here we have it in the spiritual part: "he hath blinded" - the god of this age, blinded and brought into darkness this old humanity; and when God says, "Let there be light," the work of the devil is undone and the judgment is removed and that should be the effect of ministry.

The ministry of Christ should be out of darkness into Light; and you remember the commission to the Apostle Paul at the beginning, "To whom I send thee, to turn them from darkness to light." - The right translation in the Greek language is: "That they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of satan unto God, that they may receive an inheritance." This is ministry, the turning from darkness to Light, from the power of satan unto God, to have an inheritance which they lost in Adam. It is very full. That should be the impact and influence out of our presence as ministers of Christ.

When Christ was present, mostly to His disciples, preparing them for their work ahead; but it was not only what He said, it was as much His personal presence. He would come somewhere and He had not said anything, and demons would cry out: "I know Thee Whom Thou art; the Holy One of God." They could not hold their peace. His Presence dragged them out. His very Presence was an exposure of man, an exposure of satan: His Presence, and that is the ministration of Christ.

O Lord, make us ministers, make me a minister, as far as I can bear it, that the impact, the registration, the influence may be people moving into the Light, really seeing the Light in an inward way. The Light - not of truth, or even of Scripture to begin with, but through Scripture - the Light of Jesus Christ.

The Test of Ministry Is In Its Eternal Value

That is all I have time to say this morning about ministry - unless I add this word again, from Corinthians - the test of ministry is in its eternal value. Now the Apostle Paul associates the two things: Affliction and Eternal Value. He says, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while ..." (now do not stop there, get your conjunction) "...while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; (passing, transient) but the things which are not seen are eternal." The test of our ministry is perhaps not going to be what we see in our own lifetime, but what is afterward, going on to eternity.

When you get to glory, do you not want to discover that you meant far more than you knew you did? That there was a great deal more value in your being here than ever you saw. Oh, this soul life of the old humanity does want to see, it is always doing things to see, to see the result, to see the value. "While we look not at the things which are seen." I think perhaps this is one of the most testing words in the Bible to the old man. How can we live on what is not seen and what is in the eternal future and be satisfied? Oh, that is not the old humanity, but it is the New - the eternal value of ministry.

The Nature and Purpose of The Church - Part Two

Now for a little while I will go on to the next thing: 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 the 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 Bridge," 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.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 23)

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 21

The Great Transition From One Humanity To Another # 21

The Nature and Dynamic of Ministry, continued -

Brethren, I am not saying that Bible study is wrong, but I am saying that through it all, has Christ appeared? and is He appearing? You may be a minister, a preacher, a Bible teacher of renown, and it may stop there; but the whole question is whether I am officially that or just a humble member of Christ, without any public gift at all, without any human ordination, I can be ministering Christ, in some way, ministering Christ, and that is the ministry. That is the source of all true ministry from beginning to end. Here the apostle is making it that. Paul is saying: "It began in me and is going on in me, and all that I have to say to you believers is what I am seeing of the Lord Jesus, a growing, inward unveiling of God's Son."

The Growth of Ministry Is Through Afflictions - Consolations

Now the question arises, how does the ministry grow, proceed? In these letters, and especially in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, we have the answer; and it is going to touch us quite deeply, acutely I think, on this matter of the procedure of ministry, of the growth of ministry. How will this be? Will it be by more study, more books? Oh, no, dear friends, that is not the way of a growing,continuing ministry; and the ministry has got to grow all the time, deepen and enlarge all the time, but how? Please read again your Second Letter to the Corinthians, and before you have gotten very far, indeed almost immediately in that letter, you come on some words which are repeated again and again. What are they? "afflictions"; "consolations."

Underline those words right at the beginning of the Second Letter. And in that connection the apostle brings forth his own great experience: "I would have you know what befell me - so great a death. (He had the sentence that it was death.) But we had the sentence of death. We despaired of life. We were pressed out of our measure." Then, and right through that letter, the apostle is constantly striking that note of sufferings, sufferings, sufferings.

"WE HAVE THIS TREASURE"
WHICH IS THIS MINISTRY,
THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST,
IN OUR HEARTS.

"We have it in vessels," and I like the literal translation of "fragile clay," capable of being broken and smashed. "Beyond our measure of endurance, even unto despair, we despaired of life," and then he will give us a couple of catalogues of his afflictions.

Now you ought to sit down brethren, and think about that if you are thinking about ministry. My, you ought to think about all that Paul himself met, encountered, and went through from center to circumference. At the center what do you find? - unfaithful, disloyal, and treacherous brethren, and moving out from that center in every enlarging circles, there are many implications in this letter, as well as statements, of what people were saying about him: "He was not a true apostle. He is not one of the twelve. He never saw Jesus after the resurrection. He is not a true apostle; he is an imposter. He is a deceiver. He is just going around cadging, getting money from Christians." These are all implications; a whole list of them. This is implied. It is there.

Paul goes on to say: If any man has suffered, "I more than them all." And then he speaks of the many times he was in prison, of how may times he received the stripes, and how many times he was in the deep and shipwrecked, a night and a day in the deep, of how may times he was in hunger and in nakedness and in peril - in sea, on land, from robbers and fellow Christians. It is a terrible double list that he gives to these chapters of Second Corinthians. Read them again, and no wonder that word has such a large place at the beginning of the letter - "afflictions of Christ which abound unto us, that the consolations also may abound." That is the ministry, those periods when even men like this man Paul, perhaps the greatest minister that Christ ever had, will say: "I despaired. I despaired of life, I was pressed beyond my measure of endurance." That is how the ministry grows.

If we really say to the Lord, "Lord,make my life a ministry of Christ," this is how the ministry grows, this is how it goes on. This is how the ministry proceeds, deepens, and becomes more fruitful. Believe me, dear friends, if the apostle is representative of ministry and if we as servants of God are to be spiritually fruitful - if really true ministers of Jesus Christ, there will be in the background of our lives the secret sufferings, a hidden history with God under His hand.

If you are going to be a true minister of Christ, ministering Christ, He is going to take you into some deep experiences with Him, very deep experiences, where you will discover something that is going to be of great value to others; for it is the crucified and suffering servant of God who is really the fruitful one, the one of whom you can say: "That man is not talking out of his library, from his books, that man knows what he is talking about - he has been there. He has been in it. This has come out of the travail of his soul." Read 2 Corinthians again in the light of how the ministry grows. Oh, I speak and say these things to you, but God only knows how I hold my breath, for we do know that if the Lord has done anything at all, it has been by a hard way. It has been by the "afflictions" of Christ that we might know the "consolations" of Christ; and, as the people of God what do we want? information or consolation?

I know what your answer is over that, but I want you to notice that this is something terrible in the whole cosmic realm, for ministry is not just limited to the people among whom we move. This kind of ministry is "cosmic ministry." What do I mean? I mean this: the god of this age had blinded the minds of the unbelieving, lest as a precaution, as a move, a strategic move, lost he Light of the knowledge of the glory of God should shine upon them. If our gospel is hid, it is hid in them that are perishing in whom the god of this age had blinded. - What is such a ministry? It is the undoing of that devilish work of spiritual blindness. All spiritual blindness is not just natural, it is satanic, and you have got to have something that strikes there beyond the merely natural condition, that strikes right home to the source of that condition, "he hath blinded."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 22)