The Kingdom That Cannot be Shaken
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 4 - Constituted by the Finality of the Work of Christ

Reading: Hebrews 12:28.

This brings us into that large section of the letter to the Hebrews which from the point of view of subject matter covers the bulk of the letter; that is, as to the priestly person and priestly work of the Lord Jesus.

His Priestly Person

In the first place we are brought to recognise the finality which is characteristic of His priestly person, and we are directed to such passages as those which are in chapter 7, taking Melchizedek as a type of His priestly person:

“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him, to whom Abraham divided a tenth part of all (being first, by interpretation, King of righteousness, and then also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God), abideth a priest continually” (verses 1-3).

“Who hath been made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life” (verse 16).

“(For they indeed have been made priests without an oath; but he with an oath by him that saith of him, The Lord sware and will not repent himself, Thou art a priest for ever)” (verse 21).

Now the priestly person of the Lord Jesus is there and elsewhere seen to have as His supreme, central, all-inclusive factor, eternity. The whole point of the argument is that the Lord Jesus, as God’s High Priest, stands altogether outside of any particular period of time, dispensation or economy. His origin no one knows, without beginning of days, without genealogy. He is the Eternal One, and He is that not only as a member of the Godhead, not only as Very God in deity, and not only as the eternal Son of God, but here the point is that He is eternal in His priestly person: He bounds all time and all eternity in His person as priest. The principle of that eternity is an indissoluble life, and a life which is not subject at all to the effect of time, a life which in no way is tainted or touched by that which means corruption and death; so that being constituted on the principle of this indissoluble, incorruptible, indestructible life, there is that in the very priest Himself which is unshakeable. This Kingdom which we are receiving, or which we are exhorted to be receiving, is a Kingdom which is built upon this priestly person who Himself is constituted by an indissoluble life.

Israel was called to be a kingdom of priests, and Israel was gathered round Aaron as a high priest, and the argument in the letter to the Hebrews is that the value of Aaron’s high priesthood at most could only be for a day. Therefore Israel’s place as a kingdom of priests could only be a temporary thing because it rested upon something which was only of time, because Aaron himself had a nature and a life for which offering for sin had to be made. He had a corruptible life, and the writer of the letter to the Hebrews says that he had to offer sacrifices for himself as well as for the people because of the nature that was in him. He himself, and his work, and the people were all subject to death because all were subject to that corruption that was in them.

This Son goes right outside of that realm altogether and takes things right outside of that realm, and the value is that which is represented by what He Himself is. In Him is an incorruptible and therefore indissoluble life, and therefore He ever liveth; and the practical value of that in application is that He is therefore able to save right on to the uttermost, right on to the end — and there is no end — those that come unto God by Him.

The force of this presentation of finality in the priestly person of the Lord Jesus is this, that that is the kind of kingdom which is coming to us, which is offered to us, into which we are brought through Christ. It is the kingdom of an incorruptible nature, and an indissoluble life, which absolutely rules out death and corruption and all those elements which undermine the stability of the universe. The stability of God’s new universe rests upon what Jesus is as to His nature and as to the life which He possesses. It does not rest upon anything at all that is corruptible, or anything that is capable of changing, of passing. This is the unshakeable Kingdom, rooted in the very person of the Lord Jesus, and what that person is as after the power of an endless life, an indissoluble life. I think it is a very striking phrase: “...but made like unto the Son of God... after the power of an indissoluble life”.

Do you see, then, that in which our salvation stands, upon which it rests? First of all upon the priestly Person. You cannot rightly value the priestly work of the Lord Jesus until you have rightly grasped the priestly Person, because the work that He does is done out of what He is, and is therefore like Him; that is, it partakes of the very same elements and constituents. A great thing to rest upon is the Person of our Priest. It is not first of all resting upon something that He has done; it is first of all resting upon Himself and what He is. This One who was appointed heir of all things, through whom the ages were made, who was the very effulgence of the Father’s person, the very expression of the Father’s image — that One became Priest and His office was shot through and through with what He was Himself. Now, give to the priestly office the values of the very effulgence of God, the express image of the Father’s person, the Maker of the ages, and the Heir of all things, and you endue priesthood with something that is altogether outside of the changes and the course of this world.

That sounds very great, very high, very exalted, but unless you get hold of it you are going to be shaken. This is the point. The Lord’s people need to be established. The Lord has in view here the establishing of His people by way of shakings, and they can only be established as they see what their foundation is, and the foundation is not something which belongs to time, it is something right outside of time. It is not something which is subject to death; it is altogether outside of death. Nothing in the course of this present world’s history can touch it, because it cannot touch Him.

We must rightly see the Lord Jesus: who our High Priest is, and what our High Priest is. That is an end of everything; yes, that is finality.

His Priestly Work

Then as to His priestly work. If His priestly person is eternal, then this word teaches us that His priestly work is perfect, and those conclusions of this letter are full of value. You go through, and you see how frequently things are represented as once and for all finished. Look at some of them.

Redemption accomplished

Take chapter 9 verse 12. There is contrast in those words between Aaron who went in once a year with the blood of goats and calves, every year going in. Therefore whatever redemption was represented in that blood and in that entering in, was at most only a yearly thing. But now here is the Lord Jesus, said to have entered by His own blood once for all, once for ever, having obtained, not a twelve monthly redemption, but eternal redemption; so that His priestly work has the element of finality in it in regard to redemption. Our redemption is perfect.

Or look again at chapter 10 verse 12. Punctuation does not matter in this passage. It says here: “But he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, (the comma comes there) sat down on the right hand of God”. You could put the comma in another place: “...when he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down...”. No one knows where the comma should come, but it does not matter. The point is that once for all He offered a sacrifice for sins, and redemption became an accomplished fact. These are the constituents of the unshakeable Kingdom. But there is no chance in this; there is no speculation about it. It is not a question of how things will turn out: it is done, it is finished, it is perfected for ever in Christ. That is redemption.

Sanctification accomplished

Then look again at chapter 10 verse 10. Our sanctification in Him has reached finality, and the Kingdom which cannot be shaken has in it that great fact, something which is done. We shall never get anywhere while, on any one of these points, we are still looking to the Lord to do something.

Now that is a most important thing to grasp. Are you pleading with the Lord to sanctify you? It is not until you receive and thank God that the Holy Spirit is released that you know it, because until you do that you are putting things back generations, and you are virtually saying that what the Lord Jesus Christ did, He has not done. If you asked me for a coin, and I put that coin on the table for you, and then you kept asking me for the coin, and I said to you: Well, there it is on the table, you may take it! But you still ignored the coin and kept asking me to give it to you, I should wonder what was the matter with you. Nothing must be taken away, even by inference or suggestion, from the perfection of His work: it is done, and you see the whole call of this book is for faith. The great appeal of this book is for faith. We will come to that again, but faith is not that God will do something but that He has done something and we rest upon something that is done. Our whole attitude has got to be that of those for whom everything is an accomplished fact. We have been sanctified once for all.

Of course, I have to say something more about that later, but it does not come here. What we are trying to do is to emphasise this element of finality in the priestly work of the Lord Jesus.

Perfection accomplished

Look again at chapter 10 verse 14. We are building things up. It is as though he said, “It takes your breath away to know that you have been sanctified; now then, I will see that you have nothing at all to stand upon; I will go beyond that and say that, being sanctified, you are also perfected for ever.” Can this be true? Do we read it rightly: “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified”? He has just said that we are sanctified; now he says we are not only sanctified but also perfected for ever. Our perfection is an accomplished fact in Christ.

We very often hear and speak of our identification with Christ in death. We say so often that when He died we died with Him. What do we mean? We define that in this way: we say He died as us, not only for us but also as us, that when He died God saw us dead in Him. And then we say when He rose we were raised together with Him, and God saw us risen in Him, or saw Him as us risen, and called upon us to reckon ourselves to be alive unto God in Christ. That identification matter spreads over all these things. Is He sanctified? So are we. Is He perfected? So are we. We are before God what He is before God: that is the ground for faith, and that is unshakeable ground.

Glory accomplished

Then look at chapter 2 verse 10: “For it became him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory” (the Revised Version margin reads: “having brought many sons to glory”). You can read it which way you like: “ bringing many sons to glory...”, or “having brought many sons to glory...”. It is only a part of the whole comprehensive truth. Is He in glory? So are we. What is the basis of our glorification? It is that He is already glorified. On what ground shall we be glorified? On the ground that He is glorified as the guarantee. Now what was the point of the Lord Jesus going all this way — redemption, sanctification, perfection, glory? The point is that it is not for Himself. There is no need, there never was any need, for Him to go that way for Himself. He went that way for us.

He has gone the way. That is the point. The Lord Jesus is not now doing the work of redemption. He is not now doing the work of sanctification. He is not now doing the work of perfection. He has done it all. That is the point here. It is all done, and that is the foundation for the faith of the people of God.

Preservation accomplished

One more thing, which is found in chapter 7 verse 25: “Wherefore also He is able to save to the uttermost...”, or, as the Revised Version margin puts it: “ to save completely...”.

Our preservation rests upon His ever living, His living ever, and making intercession for us. I am quite sure you will agree that if our preservation rested upon our prayers it would be a very fitful kind of experience, but, blessed be God, this is in Him as all other things are in Him. He is alive for ever, and alive for ever making intercession for the saints. There are things which are tremendous facts in our history, of which we have no consciousness, and this is one of them. Explain why it is that we are here today: why there is that going on, that persisting, that enduring, that coming through. It is a miracle how the saints, how the church, survives. Explain why our faith has not failed, why we have not gone out in view of the excessive pressure and trial. Why do we go on, with all the suffering and all the difficulty? It is not due to us; it is not due to anything here. This is the answer: He makes intercession! Do you think that such a one as He is, being in the relationship that He has to the Father, being the Son of God’s love, any prayer of His will not be answered? Do you think that He prays futile prayers, that He does not pray according to the will of God? The assurance is that prayer according to the will of God will be answered: it cannot be otherwise. Does He ever pray other than according to the will of God? No, His prayers are prevailing for us, and when we get through there finally to the glory it will just be due to His having been holding on for us all the time.

Now these things are brought to us cumulatively and they are presented as the constituents of an unshakeable Kingdom, and the Holy Spirit would say to us through this word: Fasten your faith upon these things and you will be unshakeable; get these things under your feet as your foundation, and you will abide for ever; receive the Kingdom that cannot be shaken, receive the fact that redemption is accomplished, sanctification is accomplished, perfection is accomplished, glory is accomplished; intercession is effective and triumphant; preservation rests with Him and not with us.

We have said that it is not until we really do get hold of that in faith that the Holy Spirit can begin to make it good in us. The danger is — and it is a danger into which many have fallen — to simply accept that in an objective way, and, accepting it in an objective way, to proceed blindly, careless of the necessity for it being made good subjectively. That has resulted in an utterly false position and a many-sided contradiction.

There is the other side, that what is true in Him has got to be made true in us, and God is making it true in us. The redemption that is in Christ Jesus is going on in those who believe, and we are moving daily to that day when the finality which has been reached in Him will be reached in us. His Body has been redeemed from corruption. “Thou wilt not suffer thy Holy One to see corruption.” He was redeemed from corruption in His Body. We are moving to the day when this corruptible shall put on incorruption in the day of the redemption of the Body. The earnest of the redemption of the Body is the Holy Spirit of His already redeemed Body. There is depth of truth and value in the Lord’s Table that you and I have not grasped for practical purposes. When we take the loaf and testify that we are one loaf with Him, that we are joined with Him in His Body (“Take, eat: this is my Body, which is for you”, said He) what are we doing? We are laying hold by faith of the fact that we are to be made like unto His glorious Body, and in that giving of Himself by the Holy Spirit we have the earnest of a glorified body. So that by faith I live now upon the Body of Christ, redeemed, delivered from death, and that is the meaning of Romans 8:11. “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead be in you, he that raised up Jesus from the dead shall also quicken your mortal body by his Spirit who dwelleth in you.” The Spirit that redeemed Christ’s Body from corruption is in us to quicken our mortal body, to deliver us now from premature corruption. It is the earnest of our bodies being made like unto His glorious Body, the Holy Spirit in us. By faith now we accept the values of Christ’s Body having been delivered from corruption. The Holy Spirit sustains us here on the principle of what Christ has gone through, and where He is. We are by the Spirit linked with what Christ is and how Christ is.

I have only singled that out as a very practical illustration, the realm of the redemption of the body. What is true there is true on all these points. Do I want to know in Him sanctification, as I want to know in my body redemption from corruption? Then I must by faith take Christ as my sanctification, and the Holy Spirit operates on that. I do not ask the Lord to do something called sanctification; I ask the Lord to make good in me the sanctification which is already perfected in His Son. It is living on Christ in every respect by faith, and the Holy Spirit, the active, intelligent agent, gets to work to make good in us that which our faith appropriates, that which we lay hold of by faith. And so here is finality in Christ as to His priestly work.

The Finality of the Calling and Position of the Lord’s People

Now I shall come nearer to what I have just said if I go one step further in the matter of finality as to the calling and position of the Lord’s people.

The calling and position of the Lord’s people as set forth in this letter and elsewhere, is shown to be heavenly not earthly, and that from the divine standpoint is final. That is God’s conclusion, that is God’s settled mind: the church is heavenly and not earthly. The church is not becoming heavenly, it is not going to heaven. From God’s standpoint it is now heavenly, utterly and finally. But we are not going to stay with that for the moment. I want to come to the second point:

The Responsibility of the Lord’s People

This letter makes it perfectly clear that there is responsibility on the side of the Lord’s people in connection with all that we have been saying, the priestly person and the priestly work of the Lord Jesus. Responsibility runs right through this letter, but responsibility is related to this secured and available completeness, and the relation to that is one of progressiveness. Responsibility rests upon our progressiveness in this which is a completed work for us. The urge here is, “Let us go on”, or “Let us be going on.” As we are found in a state of going on to full growth the Lord places to our account everything. It is a question of progressive receiving or forfeiting the Kingdom which cannot be shaken.

On the one hand the call is: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partners in a heavenly calling...”; “We are made partakers with Christ if...”. There are a lot of provisional things in this letter, and if you read them by themselves it will make you feel that everything is uncertain, is not as settled as we have been saying, but that is purely the side of responsibility, and responsibility is all gathered up into one thing — going on, and Israel is taken as an illustration of people who did not go on. Their hearts went back; they did not go on; they stopped. You can see them as a people who are not by any means pressing on, and they perished in the wilderness. They are taken as an example and as a warning.

Now all the warnings, and all those provisional elements in this letter are connected with God’s full end, not with our salvation but with God’s full end. They are connected with the inheritance, with the Kingdom, and in a word what is said here is: You may miss the Kingdom, you may lose the Kingdom, you may not lose your salvation but you may lose the Kingdom; and there are the strongest things in all the Scriptures said here. Terrible things are said in chapter 10 and they are only to be explained in the light of the Kingdom which is to be received. “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them that draw back unto perdition...”. That sounds strong. That sounds like the loss of salvation. Then, Israel came out of Egypt on the ground of shed and sprinkled blood, the blood of a covenant. They became God’s people, they perished in the wilderness, and that wilderness perishing was a perdition indeed. Later the remnant, the new generation, went into the land, possessed it, and they again ceased to go on and God sent them away into Babylon, and Babylon was perdition. They did not cease to be the Lord’s people, but they were in perdition. A remnant came back, and in the remnant there were those who went on: “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him... and they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day wherein I do make a peculiar treasure.” They went on, but where do you find them at the end of the New Testament, and where do you find them in the days of the Lord Jesus? Where is this Israel now? The Lord Jesus, God’s final speech, appeared in their midst; God speaks at the end of the times in His Son. They did not go on. They drew back. I ask you whether Israel has been in perdition since the year seventy? Is Israel in perdition today? What word describes better the state of the historic Israel, the Jews, today? Is it not perdition? But are they not still that distinctive race? Have they not yet a future as God’s people? Have they ever been cut off? That would contradict Romans to start with. It would contradict Ezekiel. But are they not in perdition? “We are not of those who draw back unto perdition”; “ soul shall have no pleasure in him.” It is terribly true, the Lord’s attitude towards Israel when they drew back from His Son. How could Israel go through that awful experience of the year seventy, and the awful experience since, if the Lord’s soul had pleasure in them? No, it is concerning the Kingdom. We may lose the Kingdom if we may not lose our salvation.

“The rest of the dead lived not again for a thousand years.” There is a different resurrection for the Kingdom, and we may miss it. Responsibility is not for our salvation, our redemption, our sanctification. He has taken responsibility for that. The responsibility is that we can go on in what He has done and we make progress in what is an accomplished thing for us, and as we do that the whole question of responsibility is settled, is answered, and we come by the obedience of faith to the realisation of the truth that He has accomplished it all: it is for us through faith. So faith becomes a great word in this letter, and faith is linked with this progressive attitude, looking on and going on. It was unbelief, says the apostle, that brought Israel to perdition in the wilderness, to a standstill. Faith would have meant that they went on to the Kingdom. So the Lord calls strongly to us to recognise that the Kingdom is constituted by all these elements of finality, and we are called by faith to receive the Kingdom, to go on to full growth, and not to draw back, not to turn aside, not to allow doubt and unbelief to creep in and paralyse our walk so that we cease to go on. Finality in connection with the calling and position of the Lord’s people as to responsibility is here: He has accomplished everything for us, and we by faith must go on in the accomplished thing. So shall we be established, unshakeable.

Our attitude has to be a very practical one from day to day. We are not yet in ourselves perfect. We discover that as we go on more and more how imperfect we are, how far from wholly sanctified. But if, when that reality comes upon us strongly and sternly, with all its discouragement and despair, we take that on, if we sit down under that, if we regard that as the final thing, then it is perdition, we shall know it. But if we take this attitude, even today, when for some reason we are smitten again with the imperfection, the lack of sanctification; if we turn to the Lord and say, “Lord, this is me, it is not You; You are other than this. You are not as I am; I take anew my position by faith in what you are. I step off of the ground of what I am and on to the ground of what you are!”, we shall discover that the Holy Spirit comes in on that, and we shall know comfort, and find release, deliverance and uplift.

You could take the other two courses of just accepting that, and sit down and be miserable for the rest of the day, or the rest of your days; or you could begin to struggle and strive to get out of your mire, out of your slough, deploring that you got in and you had so often got in, and you are going to make another effort. You will not get very far either way: you will be dragging along. But if you take Christ’s ground by faith, repudiate your ground and take His ground by faith, and tell the Lord that He is altogether other than you are and you take the ground of what He is by faith, then the Holy Spirit will deliver you, you will find help and deliverance, you will find yourself lifted with new comfort, new strength, and, what is more, new energy to go on, and you will not so easily get into that mire again. You will grow so that the mire is left more and more behind. The Holy Spirit is working on the ground of what Jesus is.

You will find this principle operates in many ways, not only in the matter of definite sin or failure, when you are tripped up at some time or become particularly conscious of your own unholiness, but in many other ways.

Take the matter of going to bed at night just enjoying the Lord, full of the blessedness of the Lord, all at peace with the Lord, no cloud between you and the Lord; you simply go to bed and you go to sleep, and in the morning you wake up to find that all the blessedness has flown, somehow or other everything is as though it had never been, and you have got to start all over again: it is as though you had got to start the Christian life again. Sometimes we have the blessed experience of waking up in the morning in the joy of the Lord, and everything is clear, but that is not always so. We may have the most blessed fellowship with the Lord last thing at night, and simply the bottom has fallen out of everything through the night, and it is like starting the Christian life all over again in the morning. We may be irritable, we may be anything, not feeling a bit like a Christian: everything is topsy-turvy. What are we going to do? Are we going to raise questions about this Christianity, that it is not certain, not stable, variable, and so on? Or are we going to succumb to these feelings, these sensations, this situation, this condition of things and have a wretched day because we feel like that today, that is how we are today; it is a bad day and so we go through a bad day? What is going to happen? It is very real sometimes, you feel just about as evil as you can feel, and you have all the reasons for asking the questions as to whether you are a Christian at all.

The cause may be any one of a number of things. It may be the Devil himself is anticipating something: he has a sense of something coming which is of value to the Lord, and he has come in and right from your waking consciousness he is surrounding you with a black cloud of evil enmity and is pressing that upon you to frustrate and defeat something for God. But whatever the reason is there is the fact: you feel bad, and everything argues that you are bad. What is your way out? I will tell you how I have found deliverance. I have turned to the Lord and said, Lord, You are not this; You are other than this. You do not change from night to morning; there is no variableness with You. You are not subject to all these elements which give us these different and varying sensations: You are the same Lord, just the same, unchanging, unchangeable. Last night You were love, and You are love this morning; last night You were peace, and You are peace this morning; last night You were joy, and You are joy this morning. You are outside of all this, Lord; I take my stand on what You are, and repudiate what I am, and all this. I forsake this ground and take my place in You as other than this.

I have found that is a ground on which the Lord encamps for deliverance. It is so easy to just settle on that ground, put up your tent there for the day, and go on saying, Oh, well —! Repudiate that ground, but not in that psychological way of simply repudiating something and saying it does not exist. Repudiate that ground in the positive way of Christ’s ground. He is not that; He is other than we are, and by faith we take His ground.

The Holy Spirit works according to that faith, and there is deliverance. Am I feeling evil? He is not feeling evil. Lord, I take your ground this morning. It is a law of victory, it is the ground of what Christ is, and that is unshakeable ground.

That is the Kingdom which we are to be receiving. In that way, by that faith, we go on to full growth. It is full growth in Christ, and in what He is.

The Lord interpret this to us, and open our understanding, so that we shall come to rest and be established.

[ Previous Chapter ] [ Contents ] [ Next Chapter ]

  • Alphabetical
  • Chronological
  • Topical
  • Alphabetical
  • Chronological
  • Topical
  • Alphabetical
  • Chronological
  • Alphabetical
  • Chronological