Editor's Letters
by T. Austin-Sparks

July-August 1966

Dear Fellow-Travellers,

It is only occasionally that we write personally. Our desire has always been to avoid drawing attention to persons and things in the ministry, and to occupy our readers with the Lord and the ministry of His Word. But, from time to time, we have felt it to be both wise and important to definitely remind our readers of the purpose which governs this ministry, and has always done so. We receive many kind letters after every issue of the paper. Many of these express appreciation of "the teaching", the "new light", the "special emphasis", etc. We much appreciate this motive to encourage. Many go deeper and speak of the spiritual values in bringing the writers into a new position with the Lord. There are those who seem to think of us as seeking to propagate a particular and peculiar teaching or theory, and to form a new and peculiar sect or body of Christians as separate from the whole Church of Christ. This, of course, is wholly wrong and a misapprehension. God has taken very strong action to keep the means used, both personal, people, and place, on a basis of weakness, simplicity, humility, and utter dependence upon Himself. We know very well that He will not have His glory given to men or places or things.

What, then, is this ministry? We must go back. The name of this little paper, which has been the printed expression of the ministry for the past almost forty-four years, embodies the meaning - "Witness and Testimony". "Witness": the instrument or vessel used. "Testimony": the ministry in and through the vessel. The Testimony has ever been - but growing as light has increased - to the greatness and fullness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man. This greatness has been centred and unfolded in (1) His Person; (2) The immensity of God's eternal purpose as centred in and exclusively related to Him; (3) The greatness of His Cross as basic and essential to the greatness of His Person and work both for and in believers; (4) The greatness of the Church which is His Body as essential to, and chosen for, His ultimate Self-manifestation in fullness and government in the new heavens and the new earth; (5) The necessity that all the people of God should know, not only of salvation, but of the immense purpose of salvation in the eternal council of God, being brought to "full growth" by the supply of Jesus Christ in ample measure. We feel that the New Testament contains a tremendous urgency in this matter; such urgency is summed up in the words of the Apostle Paul: "Admonishing every man and teaching every man... that we may present every man perfect (complete) in Christ" (Colossians 1:28). We believe that all the sovereign activities of the Holy Spirit are directed to and dictated by this end and object. There may be different aspects, but the end is single and one. The great evangelizing and missionary efforts, in so far as they are governed by the Holy Spirit, have this end in view. There may be the big net cast into the sea into which fish of every kind will be found, but a great sorting out is going to be done by heaven. There may be a very general sowing of the seed, but the ultimate value will be but a proportion, which itself will be comparative. These are parables of Christ with principles inherent. It is not a little impressive that the evangelist who - in his own lifetime - has spoken to more people about Christ than any other man in history, has written the following:

"Thousands of loyal church members are beginning to meet in prayer groups and Bible Study classes. Multitudes of Christians within the church are moving toward the point where they may reject the institution that we call the church. They are beginning to turn to more simplified forms of worship. They are hungry for a personal and vital experience with Jesus Christ. They want a heartwarming personal faith. Unless the church quickly recovers its authoritative Biblical message, we may witness the spectacle of millions of Christians going outside the institutional church to find spiritual food" (italics ours).
- Dr. Billy Graham in World Aflame, page 89.

While we can honestly say that we have never felt it to be a part of our commission to tell people to leave their church or their missions, old readers will know how much the food question has been a burden with us. The matter of spiritual feeding has such a large place in the New Testament, and if we can rightly be said to be a 'ministry' and not a 'Movement' or organization, this feeding of the hungry world-wide can rightly interpret our concern. This explains the "Conferences" or "Conventions" held in many places throughout the years, and surely it explains the Lord's blessing upon them. But, after all, it will be 'broken bread' resulting in what is found of Christ in the numerous lives and places represented.

With large areas of the world unable to have Bibles, and the very great extension of the discrediting of the authority and integrity of the Scriptures, it is not difficult to foresee a 'famine of hearing the Word'. Hence there is a need for 'solid food'. The New Testament shows a tremendous concern for the feeding and building up, not only of more mature saints, but of the young converts. We do not know how much longer the ministry of this instrument will go on, perhaps for only a short time, but God will have other instruments for what He needs. We are concerned, however, that 'our bow may abide in strength' until it is laid down, and we need your prayers that it may do so.

Our Lord Jesus had a passionate compassion on hungry people and His great miracle of feeding was a "sign" of His estimate of the importance of spiritual food. Anyone who has not this concern, or who by their action cuts off supplies of such food, is certainly contrary to the mind and heart of Christ.

The Lord fulfil all His purpose of grace in you all.

Yours in the fellowship of His Son,
T. Austin-Sparks


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