Editor's Letters
by T. Austin-Sparks

May-June 1952

Beloved of God,

In order that this ministry should be maintained in life and reality we find ourselves constantly held into the Lord by spiritual pressure and conflict. We have had a very definite transaction with Him long ago that there should never be permitted a resolving or crystallizing into a mere 'teaching' or technique of truth, but that, to the end, it should be fully in life and maintain an immediate and up-to-the-day vital contact with spiritual conditions and need. The cost of this seems to be no release from the "winepress".

Through the years we have seen how the Lord has very really used this ministry as one of interpretation of conditions and indication of the way of fuller life, but we are now coming to see how much more necessary it is than all our past burden indicated. Shall I put it this way - While we have been deeply and painfully alive to a general loss of the Lord's full mind for His people, leading to a situation and set of conditions so other than He would have, we are now seeing with greater clearness the more particular need of such a ministry, whether fulfilled through this instrumentality or another (that is only a secondary matter).

Very few Christians will disagree on the matter of our moving into very critical times for the Church of God. The fact that evangelism is being given such a great place is significant. May it not be a last call over the nations, especially the Western nations? But there ought to be a corresponding work with Christians, if indeed, we have reason to believe that the 'great shaking' has already begun. The Apostle Paul recorded in relation to the time of the end - "The Spirit saith expressly that in the latter times some shall fall away from the faith" (1 Tim. 4:1). We have entered another of those times in which the extreme pressure is resulting in many 'falling away'. While we do thank God for all who have been "faithful unto death" in China and other parts of the world, it is very painful to know of so many who have capitulated and gone over to the other side. This pressure is spreading and coming on like a dark and sinister cloud or wave. Its spirit is already felt even where its system is not established. This, and other things, raise the great and pressing issue of spiritual stamina. The Apostles sought, under the Holy Spirit's urge, to lay foundations deep and to build solidly. He knew and they knew what a strain would have to be borne and pressure experienced. Superficiality could not be tolerated and just being Christians by name, profession, or even new birth was no guarantee of 'continuing unto the end'. It is the utmost madness and folly to think that a 'decision' for Christ is adequate. It is the same to despise a ministry for consolidation, or act as though it were a superfluity or unnecessary luxury!

Thank God for all evangelism that brings souls to Christ, but let us beware of the infinite peril of not building them up and not ministering to their "full growth", and of making of the doctrine of 'once in grace always in grace' the occasion of false security, so that we miss the point of the mass of New Testament teaching which has to do with people already saved. Yes, this ministry has its place, and both the present state of believers generally, and the growing pressure upon the Lord's people give real point to it. It may not only be a matter of better Christians, but one of the survival of faith, that is involved in anything raised up by the Lord to lead to 'going on'. This may greatly account for the enemy's many-sided effort to destroy, prejudice, and neutralize such ministries. The Lord keep us, beloved, going on.

Yours in His Grace,
T. AUSTIN-SPARKS


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