we have a further word of prayer: "Lord, when we
pray, it is our way of saying we cannot do without Thee.
There is nothing that we can do without Thee. We are
wholly dependent on Thee, Lord, and we acknowledge it,
and we are very conscious of it. If there is to be
anything of eternal value in this time, it must be
Thyself Who is doing it. We also lift our hearts to Thee
in a humble, earnest dependence; and, we say to Thee,
Lord, You speak and give us to hear Thee, deeper than the
voice that Thou dost use as Thine instrument, for Thy
Name's sake, Amen."
we come to the actual message which I feel the Lord has
given, there are one or two preliminary things that I
would like to say. I think you will agree with me if you
know anything about conditions today inside Christianity
and outside it, the greatest need of our time is a
reappraisal of Christianity, a new apprehension of what
we come into when we come to Christ. There has been much
lost, very much lost, of the true nature and essence of
Christianity, and there has been much distortion,
resulting in confusion. I repeat, the need of our time is
a re-presentation and understanding of what it is we have
come into when we come into Christ.
an age of cheapness. Get it as cheaply and as quickly as
you can, with just as little cost and tiresomeness.
"Get it quickly: get it easily." That thought
governs the whole world system. Everything is now aligned
to getting it done easily and getting it done quickly. It
is that way in your kitchen, your scurrying, your
household affairs, and in every other realm. What is true
in the secular has now become very largely true in the
spiritual. The standards have been terribly lowered.
Bigness has substituted greatness. Greatness, the true
meaning of the word is no longer considered. Oh, how we
hear, "Big, oh yes, the bigger, then assuredly that
is the most successful," but this is absolutely
contrary to the Bible, to all gospel. It is like that.
easiness, lightness, glamorousness, excitement, emotion:
this is the order of our day. This hurrying that we are
speaking of comes so largely into Christianity: and the
result is that we have quite a poor type of Christian.
may despise the Puritans, but the devil, someone has
said, has made great capital out of using that word,
"puritan," by way of discrediting something
that was very vital and deep, strong and foundational,
for the foundations were well laid in those days. Perhaps
it is a good sign that today such people as the Moody
Press are reproducing the writings of the Puritans. A
very good sign! There is a bringing back of that
substantial teaching of past generations. Reproducing,
that is a good sign, perhaps indicating a direction at
very glad that there is a manifest outreach, especially
on the part of young people, for reality. They are tired
and sick of unreality. That is a very good thing indeed
if only they find reality and do not go in for the
substitutes that are today being retailed so lavishly,
the substitutes which seem to be real and are an
you have, therefore, today a superficial kind of
Christianity: it is shallow. There is very little stamina
about it. As soon as things become difficult, contrary,
and seem not to be what was expected, people begin to
back off. Their expectation was a false one. Things are
not what they expected and are getting rather hot and
rather tiresome and rather exacting; and then, as the
Scripture says, "in the last time many shall fall
away." The stamina is not there: there is no power
of endurance. The public looks very good and very
pleasant where, for a little while, it is address that
seems to attract, but it easily wears out. It does not
last. That is a condition of our time, a lot of noise and
a lot of show.
a fear of seriousness and a fear of death. The slogan
today is "Are you happy?" Even amongst
Christians, the question is one of "Are you
happy?" Well, perhaps there are two ways of thinking
about that; but let me say at once, and I have young
Christians very much in mind as I am speaking, that if
you are going on with the Lord, you are going to have
some unhappy days. Is that too bad to say right at the
beginning of a conference?
I was at
a conference once, and a large number of Christian
ministers was there. We had a week on the Cross, and it
was a devastating week. In the end, an appeal was made
for testimonies as to what the week had meant to these
men, and one very excitable man got up. Everything for
him was wonderful, marvelous, terrific. It was
tremendous. He sat down. Presently, a man got up onto the
platform, and he said, "Wonderful? Happy? Why, I
have just been shattered, smashed to pieces. My whole
life has been taken down to be made all over again."
That man counted for God after that. You understand what
while we are going to be joyful in the Lord, sometimes
there is a large gap between being happy and joyful.
"Happy" depends upon "hap":
"Joy" goes on whatever "happens."
Well, this is something that I must say at the beginning:
there is a need of a recovery or reappraisal of the true
nature of that into which we have come when we have come
are going to begin and take a brief statement in the
Scripture as the basis of these considerations. You will
find it in the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter
1, verse 9: "God is faithful, through Whom ye
were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ,
our Lord." "CALLED," underline the
word, "called," into "fellowship
with His (God's) Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
that we may follow will be: The Person of the Fellowship,
Son of God, Jesus Christ, our Lord; The People of the
Fellowship, "ye were called" The
Purpose of the Fellowship; The Process of the Fellowship;
The Prospect of the Fellowship; and The Peril of the
The Person of the Fellowship, His
begin with The Person of the Fellowship, His Son, Jesus,
Christ, Lord. A new appraisal and apprehension of the
Person is basic to everything else. Until we have an
adequate apprehension of Christ, we have not got a sound
and sure foundation for our Christian life. Everything
begins with and flows from our understanding of Jesus
Christ. What do we know about Jesus Christ? Well, let us
look at Him from several different angles, in several
all, we shall look at His Eternity, the Eternal Sonship,
the Eternal Anointing, which the word, "Christ,"
means. Let us look at the Eternal Lordship of Jesus
Christ: let us look at the Eternity of this One into Whom
we have come if we have rightly come into Christianity.
are two beginnings in the Bible. The Bible begins with
one: "In the beginning God created the heaven and
the earth." Yet, there is a beginning before
that beginning. In John's gospel, chapter 1, verse 1, it
says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was God." This
in Genesis 1:1 follows the beginning of John's gospel.
"All things were created by Him."
beginning before the beginning of this creation - this
Jesus, this Christ, was away back there before time,
before all things. Look at this matchless, I mean,
matchless statement in the Letter to the Colossians. Will
you look at it? You have heard it often perhaps, but you
can never read this without taking a deep breath or even
holding your breath. The Colossian letter, chapter 1, at
"...He is the image of the
invisible God, the Firstborn of ALL creation; for in Him
ALL things were created, in the heavens, and on the
earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or
dominions, or principalities, or powers: ALL things were
created by Him, and for Him: and He is before ALL things,
and in Him ALL things hold together. He is the Head of
the body, the church: Who is the beginning, the Firstborn
from the dead; that in ALL things He might have the
pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him
should ALL fullness dwell..."
little word there compasses everything, and you cannot
get outside of it, "all," - ALL. It is
putting everything around it every time. You cannot add
to that because that ALL comprehends the universe;
and He is over all and through all and all things are
that great prayer, begins as the Lord is lifting up His
eyes to heaven and says, "Father, glorify Thou Me
with the glory which I had with Thee before the world
was." "The glory that I had with Thee
before the world was." - And then Paul opens a
window and just gives us a glimpse in that letter to
the Philippians when he says, "...Who, existing
in the form of God..." A long way back
before anything else was this One, to Whom we have come;
and in the terms of fellowship, we are "called into
the fellowship" of this One. Later, we shall bring
that down to our own selves and how we are related to
that; but for the moment, our object right at the
beginning is to see how great this One is Whom we call "Lord,
Jesus, Christ," and Whom we
believe to be God's Son, Master of the Ages, greater than
time, the Master of all things in the universe, the
Creator of all - the One active in creation, and yet the
One to Whom all the creation belongs.
may not think in the light of many happenings and much
history and the world conditions that such statements are
true; but even though that is difficult to understand, it
is true. All I have to say to you is that if you have come into true Christianity and a true relationship
with this One, Jesus Christ, then you have come to the
Bible. You have come to the Bible, and you have got to
take the Bible and take it as it stands; and what I have
given to you is a fragment of the Bible, but it is the
do not understand. Something is wrong with me, I think, I
do not understand how people, anybody or any system, can
claim to be Christian and not believe the Bible. Where
did they get it from if they did not get it from the
Bible? Where did it come from? What do they know at all
about anything in this realm of Christianity apart from
the Bible? Really, their attitude simply means that they
have got the Bible, and they have taken a name which is
the name in the Bible, the dominating name, and they do
not believe it. They do not accept it.
young people, you take it from me, you take it from an
old man; and do not take it as from an old man but as
from one who was your age once and who began the
Christian life at your age and has gone on and on all
these... shall I say, centuries? What I mean is I have
had plenty of time, plenty of time and opportunity and
occasion for testing the Bible. I took dogmatic theology
under a prince of modernists. If you understand what that
means for a young man, you know I have had opportunity to
test the Bible.
would not be here today if I had not taken the Bible and
come to know at least something of the truth of it. I
have gone through all the problems, theological problems,
doctrinal problems, through all the controversies, I know
it all or think I do, a lot of it; and I have come to
prove that it is a safe thing to believe what this Bible
says and to act accordingly. You will find God behind
that in marvelous ways.
could say a lot more about that, but, you see, you begin
here by saying, "The Bible says these
things...." You begin with the things that the Bible
says about this One, and it says, "Jesus Christ
our Lord." The Bible says that. "Lord."
You say it does not mean just that. All right,
do what you like about that; but you will have to come
back - sooner or later, God grant it sooner - to believe
and to know that these things are true: that in spite of
everything, He is this One before all time, the Creator
of all things, the Eternal Son of God. I could quote so
much more Scripture in this very connection, as you know.
such a lot of Christmas, do you? Well, Christianity does
make a lot of Christmas; but, after all, what is
Christmas? Christmas is only, after all, a fragment, a
mighty fragment, within this compass of the Eternal Son
of God. He did not begin at Bethlehem. There are some
people who think that Jesus began His existence at
Bethlehem. That was an incident in the course of the
ages; a mighty, significant, and necessary incident. We
all know what for; but, true, you do not begin with Him
at Bethlehem. We will come to that later on and what the
story really does mean for us, but remember that long,
long, long before there was ever such a place or name as Bethlehem,
He was there. No, He did not begin there.
let us go on. What is His Eternity? Then we come through
that eternity to His Divine appointment. The fragment
which introduces us to this appointment and to which
many, many other statements have been linked, the
fragment is the statement in the Letter to the Hebrews,
chapter 1, right at the beginning. "God has at
the end of all former times, all
former methods, all former economies, all former ways of
speaking and working, in the end of all those times, He
has spoken to us in His Son." We are
back at our Corinthian text - "called into the
fellowship of His Son."
Heir Of All Things
spoken at last fully and finally in His Son, "Whom
He appointed the Heir of all
things." When was that? We do not know.
It is a statement again, way back somewhere, undated,
that there was this appointment made: this designation
was decided upon that He, the Son of the Father, was made
"Heir of all things," and
it goes on to say, "...through Whom He made the
passage continues in a great and marvelous, sevenfold
description of Him that you can read, but first we see
that He was appointed Heir of all things, the rightful
Heir, the destined Lord of the universe. Heir, God's
Heir! The title to "all things" is His
by Divine determination and decree from all eternity. He
is to possess, to have all things. He knew it Himself.
This was the mystery of His knowledge when He was here:
He was God's Heir.
it: He said it when He gave the parable of the man who
planted a vineyard. He let it out to husbandmen and went
into a far country. The time of the fruit drew near, and
he sent his servant to claim his rights, to possess what
was his. They cast him out, and he sent another (these
are the prophets). He sent another, and they maltreated
him. They cast him out, and so he went on until he had no
more prophets or servants of that kind to send. He said, "I
will send my beloved son:... they will reverence
him." But when they saw the son coming, they
said, "This is the heir."
knowledge of Jesus about Himself is that He was the
eternally designated Heir of all things Who was sent by
God to claim God's rights, to which we shall refer again.
"This is the Heir": this is Jesus'
consciousness and knowledge; and John, you know, says,
"He came unto His own things and the people who were
His own received Him not." In the parable, they cast
him out. "Let us kill him," they said.
"Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be
ours." Oh, the profundity of that parable, embracing
all time and eternity. He was the Heir, appointed and
destined for all things.
into the fellowship of His Son" may mean a
fellowship with being cast out and being slain, simply
because you are related to the One Who is the Heir; and
there is another who says, "not if I can prevent
it." Relationship with this One, fellowship with
this One, involves being in His Own rejection if you are
in right relationship with Him.
I do not
think very much of a type of Christian who does not
suffer for his or her Christianity. Well, I do not want
to discourage you; but make no mistake about it, this
word FELLOWSHIP covers a lot of ground and a lot
of things. In eternity past, there was His appointment to
the right of all things as Heir. This has been the ground
of dispute, of course, through the ages, but we are not
at the end of the story yet.
The Significance Of Christ In The
thing is His significance in the universe. Shall we have
a look at one or two passages in this connection? May we
go to the well-known Ephesian letter, chapter 1, at verse
9: "Having made known, (because God has done
it) having made known unto us the mystery of His
Will, according to His good pleasure (we are to weigh
every fragment) having made known unto us the mystery of
His Will, the hidden secret of His Will, according
to His good pleasure which He purposed in Him, that
is, in Christ, until a dispensation of the
fulness of times, to sum up all things in
Christ - to sum up all things in Christ - the things in
the heavens and the things upon the earth, in Him, I say,
in Whom we were made a heritage, joint-heirs, having
been foreordained according to the purpose of Him
Who worketh all things after the counsel of
His Will: to the end that we should be unto the
praise of His glory. "
significance of Christ in the universe? - that all things
are to be summed up or re-gathered into Him eventually.
The mystery, the hidden secret of His Will and His
working all things after the counsel of that Will, is to
at last re-gather all things into this One. This brings
us back to that passage that we read earlier in the
I hope I
am not tiring you with my slowness. That is a part of old
age; but, nevertheless, we are not in a hurry to cover a
lot of superficial ground. Let us get right inside
because we have got to do some "mental
Colossians, chapter 1, again at verse 17: "And He
is before all things, and in Him all things
consist." "In Him all things hold
together." I could understand that many of you
young people do not understand that, but it is the
Scripture; and if you do not grasp some of the truth of
it, I will take you to Calvary to the hour when the sun
should have been at its strongest, its most powerful,
burning and scorching, but there was darkness over the
face of the earth till the ninth hour. What has happened?
And then it says: "There was a great
earthquake." The earth shook: it was rent. What has
happened? The One Who holds all things together has been
slain: the rightful Heir of all things has been put out
of His heritage.
right, put Him out, and you will go to pieces. That is
what happens. Put Him out, and sooner or later you will
disintegrate because, as many of us know, the integration
of our life is our union with Jesus Christ. He brought us
together, we poor, broken, scattered creatures. Oh, how
sorry we are.
the youth of today - how scattered, disillusioned,
disappointed, dissatisfied. We who know Christ know
cohesion, but they know no unity in their lives.
"The scattered" is the word. He is the One Who
integrates, in Whom all things hold together and in Whom
the story of the Cross has been written in terms of His
holding all things together.
says, "I have no more purpose for shining." The
Earth says, "There is no purpose in my holding
together." No wonder the centurion said,
"Truly, this was the Son of God." Do not think
that was just a mental conclusion from observation. It
was something deeper than that. "In Him all
things hold together," and, will you believe me,
we are moving rapidly toward the disintegration of this
creation and race?!
The Exceeding Greatness Of His Position
His Position. Well, we have read His position already,
and I guess we might as well have one fragment about
this. God raised Him to "exceeding
greatness," the "exceeding
greatness" of God's power, the power of God,
which was in excess of all other powers. It was in excess
of death and hell, the grave and sin, and the devil,
exceeding all other powers. "...the exceeding
greatness of His power, ...which He exercised in Christ,
when He raised Him from the dead, and (not left Him
on the earth or even risen, but) set Him at His Own
right hand... far above all principality, power, rule and
authority." Also, there is another
statement which recurs in the New Testament, and it is
the place that God has given Him (as in Him is) "the
name which is above every name."
into the fellowship of... Jesus Christ our Lord."
Every word is full and rich and pregnant with eternal
meaning. This is His position - do you believe that? It
is stated. The devil will often come and suggest to you,
"If that is true, why? Why? Why?" He has
whispered that into my ear more than once.
had such a battle to get anywhere as we had getting to
this conference. [This was spoken in connection with
a conference Brother Sparks was attending in the United
States.] We had made our arrangements, booked our
passage, and then there was a strike on that line. We had
to be switched to another line. Then my wife was taken
ill, unable to be moved, laid low for two or three days.
Finally, we came back to this changed line, expecting to
come away from the airport at nine o'clock in the
morning. We got onto the plane and were told "We are
very sorry, the plane has engine trouble, and we cannot
tell when it will leave." We were put on another
line. It was having trouble (not surprised). After
waiting a bit longer, we were informed that this plane
had broken down.
were there at the airport from nine o'clock in the
morning until twenty minutes past five in the afternoon.
It was a long, long day with weariness and not knowing
what was going to happen next. At last, we got on the
airplane, and we went out and had to wait its turn to
leave. We came away and arrived in New York seven and a
half hours late. The system for getting our baggage out
of the plane had broken down. We were told it would be an
hour before we could get our baggage through customs.
After a few more formalities like that, standing in line,
awaiting our turn, we finally got to bed at twenty
minutes to four in the morning. We had to leave again the
next morning. That was not without some difficulties.
arrangements to be in Louisville on Monday morning. My
wife was ill again. Could I leave her? Could I come?
Should I not take her back to London straightway? Not
yet! You see, what a battle! Here is all this
frustration, complication, seeming confusion and a little
demon - I assure you that! The question came: "Is He
Lord? Is He Lord? Are these the signs of His Lordship? Is
He in control of everything?" You know, when you are
up against it, the devil is no myth. He is watching to
anyhow, we arrived at our destination. Was all this
trouble because Jesus Christ was to be magnified?! Is
that not what we have heard? "We should be to the
praise of His glory." Well, His position is
stated in the Word, and we always have to say to
ourselves, "The end is not yet, and the end will be
with Him, and not the other one."
then, we are "called into the fellowship" of
this One, His Son, and called into all that the
Word says about "in a Son" (Heb. 1:2;
Nestle's Greek Interlinear). He is the destined Lord: the
One destined to embrace all things, the appointed Heir.
He is the very continuity and consistency and integration
of all things; and He will, at last, sum up in Himself,
or having Himself summed up, gather together - thus,
reuniting this broken universe. It is and shall be
comprehended by Him, God's Son.
universe? Jesus, the name of His humiliation. Christ, and
you know that is only the other word for Messiah. The
Messiah - the ever hoped for, looked for, longed for One
Who was to restore the kingdom, but not an earthly one. "My
kingdom is not of this world" - The
Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Anointed One, our Lord. Our
know, dear friends, it does not matter how long you live
or how much you may have ministered, meditated, hoped,
prayed, or experienced: you will always be defeated when
you try to set forth the Lord Jesus in any measure of
fullness. We start on an impossible task, do we not? I
have just ventured into the impossible of telling you of
do want, if all the things said are difficult for you, is
that an impression will have been made of the Lord Jesus
Christ. I want you all, especially you young people (and
perhaps many of you have recently come to the Lord
Jesus), I want you to go away saying, "I never,
never knew how great it was to come to Him! What a great
thing it is to be 'called into the fellowship' of God's
Son. How great He is!" An impression - the Lord make
the impression, or may He come upon us with awesome
not come into some very small, light, frivolous thing.
However we may joyfully sing our choruses and so on, but
remember, this is no cheap thing. This is no small thing.
This is no easy thing. This is a thing which embraces the
universe, and we are called into that fellowship.
have yet to see what the fellowship is and who are in it.
This is just the beginning, the magnifying of the Lord
Jesus. I pray that you may have a new glimpse of the
wonder of the One Whom you love and Whom you call,
Saviour AND LORD.
we pray: "Lord, Thou knowest how helpless and
hopeless we feel even approaching this great matter.
Lord, we do ask Thee to take up where we have failed,
carry on where we leave off. Do leave an
impression. When we who know Thee somewhat, perhaps,
think we know Thee, yet come to realize far, far greater
than ever we have thought, and at the end of
a long, full life we may yet be saying, '...that I
might know Him.' Give us a sense then of the
infinite greatness into which we have come by Thy call.
We ask this, this pardon for all our weakness and
failure, in the Name of the Lord Jesus.