Beloved of God, I
have recently been going over writings which expressed the
feelings of spiritual people of God at various times during many
years. The thing which is characteristic of them all is that the
time of writing - although long periods lay between - was felt to
be the most critical, ominous, and spiritually difficult or
almost unbearable time that ever was. In most cases the
conclusion was that the Lord must have been on the very verge of
coming. Undoubtedly this has been the feeling of at least some in
every part of time since Apostolic times. This might give us
pause in saying that the present time - difficult as it is for so
many - is more of this nature and portent than ever. It might
just be because now it is our turn. And yet there are certain
factors which may well give a deeper shade to the darkness, and a
more intense severity to this time. There is the general fact
that, the nearer we get to the end of the age, the more terribly
will the powers of darkness fight to make good all the
possibilities of their shortening time. The Scripture is
"...great wrath, knowing that his time is short". Then,
the world has grown so much as the years have passed, and it is a
much bigger place now than in Roman times or the Middle Ages.
Satan has so much more ground in humanity to use. Further - and
this is a special point to remember - the challenge to Satan's
kingdom is become so much more extended, so that, in a new sense,
the issue of "inhabited world" dominion is in view. It
is this question of world dominion that lies behind everything,
and it is this that determines the degree of spiritual pressure
and conflict. Listen to me a moment on this matter, for it is
most crucial at this time.
There have been many bids made
for the domination of this whole world, and, like the ebb and
flow of the tides, sometimes at the Neaps, and sometimes at the
Spring, the later ones have been a considerable advance upon the
earlier, extending to new territories. Thus was the Roman a great
advance upon the Babylonian, for instance.
So the reign of Antichrist,
which is the direct succession and consummation of all such bids
and movements, will be more far-reaching than all that have been.
We are actually living in an emphatic stage of this purpose which
is more ambitious than anything yet. Upon the natural side we do
not dwell, but we see by analogy some things which should head us
straight to the present implication and demand for the Church.
There is the strategical
factor. One of the outstanding features of the present campaign
is the infiltration into the nations of agents, representatives,
missionaries, and colonists. These communities are not only
propagandists, but their very presence has been made the occasion
of "rights" to be "protected". In every way
they give the aggressor-power something of its own to which to
come, and a "moral" right and claim is the (professed)
strength of the invasion or possession. This has been the case in
many instances, at least. For the rest, it is war because such
claims and rights are disputed. Now passing from the earthly to
the heavenly, this, on the higher level, is exactly the Lord's
own strategy, and therefore the occasion of the bitter warfare
waged by and with the powers of darkness.
Look again at those words of
His in Matthew 24:14.
"This gospel of the
kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony
unto all the nations; and then shall the end come."
Let us examine this statement
word by word.
"Gospel" = "Glad
"Kingdom" = (a)
The fact of royal reign or dominion.
(b) The sphere of such.
(c) The immediate and ultimate
consequences of such.
All these are inherent in the word "Kingdom".
= Proclaimed, heralded. There are five Greek words translated
"preach". The one used here means to announce
that someone has taken the power, or ascended the throne.
"Marturion" (Gk) means both a testimony, the one
who testifies, and a proof. "To set the evidence"
What then is the
meaning of this statement? It has been used, of course, in
general as the great incentive to missionary work and
world-evangelisation, and rightly so. But for want of a
recognition of the inner significance, something of real
consequence has been lost. What the Lord is really meaning here
is that He must have in every nation that which proclaims and
gives evidence of His having taken the Throne and become Lord.
"The earth is the Lord's." "God hath given him
the name which is above every name." "Being at the
right hand of God exalted." "Sit thou on my right hand
till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet," etc.
Before Christ can
come into His own place as the rightful ruler of this world,
taking the dominion thereof, He must have a testimony to His
sovereign Lordship. When David was driven out of his kingdom by
the usurping Absalom, he left the loyal Abiathar and his company
in Jerusalem so as to have that which was of himself to which to
return; and while Abiathar and his priestly company were there,
the reign of Absalom could never be universal, but would always
be virtually disputed. The presence of the true Church in the
nations is meant to act in exactly this same way in relation to
the rejected Lord.
But note; and this
is our special point; the "Testimony" is not something
merely or only stated as a truth; it is "to set the
evidence", as Weymouth puts it. Yes, to set the evidence. In
the Old Testament the Tabernacle was called the Tabernacle of
Testimony, or Witness (Num. 17:7; Acts 7:44). It was a tangible
expression of a spiritual truth. The Lord said that His apostles
should be witnesses unto Him. Satan and his powers are not
very interested in doctrine or truth as such, but they are
seriously concerned where there is representation and evidence.
They will do all in their power to swamp, kill, drive out, break
up, paralyze a vessel which really represents the Lordship of
Christ as in the power of the Holy Spirit. If only the Lord's
people will always keep immediately in mind the fact that
it is not with flesh and blood that they are wrestling, but with
principalities and powers, etc. and that the sole object of the
enemy's assaults is to destroy or spoil the evidence of Christ's
Lordship, then there would be an adequate motive for
"standing and withstanding," and for dealing with
everything that gives Satan ground to spoil the testimony.
Now then, let us
note the first implication of our being here. The work of
Apostles and their present counterpart was and is to bring into
being those - twos and threes at least - in every nation who
shall be there as a living evidence that Jesus is Lord. We
are where we are in the will of God for this purpose, and
no less than this. Satan will try to move us, to drive us, to
overwhelm us but this only gives the opportunity for proving by
the power of the Blood that Jesus has overcome him, and
really is Lord. We hold the ground for the coming Lord,
and although He will call us out for a time, we shall come with
Him to reign, if we now suffer together with him.
But; and this is a sad but; is
the Church setting the evidence? Is this really what the Church
represents in the nations now? Alas for the testimony - the
evidence! Truly the spiritual state in the light of the Lord's
revealed mind as to His Body compels us to one of two positions.
Either the Body of Christ is something distinct from the general
multitude of those who confessed Christ and received eternal
life; or else it is wholly a matter of the Church in general and
"Overcomers" in particular as those who "press on
toward the goal unto the prize of the on-high calling".
Whichever it is, the issue is the same. The Lord must have
His testimony here in fulness. The Church as a whole is far from
"setting the evidence". The appeal therefore is for
"Overcomers" and their testimony. This is the point
of this letter.
The conviction deepens and
grows that, since the loss of the Church's spiritual position in
late Apostolic times, the Lord's chief concern has been with
"Overcomers"; that is, with those who preserved or
would recover the original position and testimony as to the
absolute Lordship of Christ in every realm of life, and
pre-eminently in the realm of the spiritual evil powers. The
issue becomes clearer and stronger as the Antichrist forces show
their hand more boldly and presumptuously toward the end. This is
a time when this testimony needs to be brought out in strength
and clearness as never before. If we were asked what we most
truly believe to be the paramount need of our time we
should say with considerable emphasis: A vessel represented in
all the nations which serves the Lord in exactly the same way -
only in the spiritual, not temporal, realm - as Esther served Him
and His people, coming to the Kingdom "for such a time
as this". It is that the Lord should have a
people placed over the earth who know "Throne union"
with Him now in intercession and testimony, with a background of
deep chastening and travail: an instrument through the warring
prayer of which He can bring evil counsels to nought and save the
life of His people. Is it not clear that Christians today (to say
nothing of the unsaved) are not going to get to know God's full
thought for them, let alone enter into it, unless there is
firstly a ministry released to them by prevailing prayer, and
then an overcoming of the blinding, binding, deadening spiritual
forces which are working in a thousand different ways to keep the
children of God from apprehending that for which they have been
apprehended by Christ Jesus? The fact is that God's people do not
The present vocational purpose
of "Overcomers" is a tremendous one, for it relates to
the need of the whole Church. But their testimony is preeminently
for the Lord Himself. He must have satisfaction in His
Church! The "Cherubim" company of "Living
Ones" in identification with "The Living One" are
something very near to God for governmental purposes; spiritually
now, and literally presently. What will such a vessel be? What is
its nature? To put it simply and plainly, as the whole Bible
shows, the Lord must have a company in the earth who, in every
respect, are a heavenly people. Their spiritual resources of
life, power, wisdom, knowledge, purpose must be heavenly and by
mediation of the Holy Spirit alone. Their means and methods must
be Divinely supplied and dictated. Their energy must be directly
Divine energy; which means that they must have been separated
from their own.
relationships and associations must be heavenly. It was the
resolving into an earthly institution and system which cost the
Church its Throne power at the beginning, and there can be no
recovery without a clear position as to traditional
relationships. There will need to be a purely heavenly position
as to the really heavenly nature of the Body of Christ - the
Church, without any contradictions in earthly orders. We have
heard it said that at a certain gathering of servants of the Lord
"it was like a touch of heaven; everyone dropped - for the
time being - their differences of denomination and earthly
divisions". This speaks for itself. But why go back to them?
It will be fatal
to essay to engage in heavenly warfare with anything but a
heavenly position. We have seen terrible scattering, confusion,
and havoc made by the enemy in directions where assaults were
made upon the powers of darkness by companies which had mixture,
earthly religious contradictory orders, and conflicting
acceptances as to vital Scriptural matters.
It may be wondered
how ever such a vessel or instrument can be brought into being.
Well, it was once, at the beginning; and the secret then is the
same now. The Cross did two things. It brought Christ into the
place of absolute sovereignty, and made the establishment of that
sovereignty possible and actual in the lives of a great company
by ruling out all personal, natural, earthly traditional, and
temporal interests and influences. The Holy Spirit made Calvary
and the Exalted Christ a reality in each heart. "They were
of one mind and one soul."
We can never
arrange this, or decide to do this heavenly business to any
consequence (except failure) unless each one concerned is in it
by revelation of the Holy Spirit, and is born into it
through spiritual travail. We shall be wasting our time if we
expect, try, or even pray for anything really effective apart
from this essentially heavenly and therefore anointed ground.
There is no royal road or short cut to the Throne or to Throne
power; it will cost us everything here. We have known more than
one to be faced with this issue, and - in trying to keep
something here - miss the Lord's highest and best, and later in
life to know that it was so.
Will you go to the Lord and ask
Him to do that deep work by His Cross in the hands of the Holy
Spirit which will result in your being brought into the place
where His authority is exercised through you, and His rule is
registered in the realm where things matter most, through your
heavenly union with Him? Will you pray for the securing of the
prepared instrument to "come to the kingdom for such a time
as this"? Will you seek grace to count all gains but refuse
in the light of the prize of that "on high" calling?
Finally, will you seek the Lord that there may be just where you
are in the nations a vessel of this testimony and of this
heavenly nature, which really does "set the evidence"?
It will be a battle to secure it, as it was in every case with
the Apostles. It will be a battle to preserve it. But, given the
co-operation, the Lord can do it, and He will.
From time to time
God has sovereignly raised up a ministry or an instrument to
serve Him in a special need which then existed. We have, as the
result, the heartwarming stories of these mighty times and
ministries. But they are now of the past, and while they inspire
us, they only make us grieve that there is nothing like them now.
Surely everyone is aware of the need of "a new thing"
from above. Let us not bind ourselves to the same form which God
has taken before, but realise that He may be moving on,
and the need may be of something quite in advance of anything
that has been, although its essential spiritual features will be
in accord with the original pattern; that is - the Lordship of
Christ will be the transcendent issue. If we are coming at the
end back to that original issue, it will certainly mean
more in every way than it has ever meant in the
intervening centuries, because the consummation of that testimony
is in view.
The Lord Himself
give you the light and lead you into the prayer-travail for the
bringing forth of His testimony in fulness.
First published as an Editorial in "A Witness and A
Testimony" magazine, May-June 1941, Vol 19-3