Life in the Spirit
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 2 - Christ Within

"And while they were looking stedfastly into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven." (Acts 1:10-11).

"...Till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ... having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." (Eph. 4:13; 2:15-16).

"...And have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all." (Col. 3:10-11).

"...And put on the new man, that after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth." (Eph. 4:24).

"For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ." (Gal. 3:27).

The Perfecting of the Son of Man

The Lord Jesus in His sufferings was perfected as Son of Man. He was perfect, without sin, and yet we are told that He was perfected through sufferings. In His case the question of sin does not arise, and is not the side of truth that comes into view in the perfecting of the Son of Man. This has to do with the fact that, being without sin, He voluntarily gave Himself up to live a life of dependence upon God; not upon Himself in any way, not to do His own human will, not to live according to His own human judgments, not to follow His own human desires, or feelings; not in any matter whatever to live or move or speak or have His being apart from the Father. On that basis He was subjected in a brief space of time to every kind of testing and trial to which any being can be subjected. We know nothing, comparatively speaking, of what He did endure as to temptation, as to trial. Even from the record of His life, where certain trials and temptations and sufferings come into view, you and I can never judge of the depth and poignancy of His travail. If the offerings in the first six chapters of the book of Leviticus are really typical of Christ, then you have practically every kind of offering subjected to fire in one way or another. Thus, not only in His Cross as the whole burnt offering, but equally in the sense of the meal offering His pure, holy, sinless human life was tested by the fire. It was in these fires, in life and in death, that He was tried, on the basis of His dependence upon the Father, His obedience to the Father, His refusal to move in any respect apart from the Father, to accept anything out of the Father's time or will.

The last and terrible test in the garden and on the Cross was the full measure of pressure to break Him down if He could be broken down, and in this way He was perfected - perfect, but perfected.

That humanity, that life which has been lived, utterly satisfying God, and utterly defeating every power and attempt of hell, is taken to glory, to God's right hand. There at God's right hand He is set forth as that perfected humanity, not only sinless, but developed to its full extent, its full capacity, through trial. Concerning that, the Spirit says to us through the Scriptures that we, through new birth and possessing the Spirit through faith, are now partakers of that very life. Let us not think of the humanity merely in terms of the physical, but of a perfect manhood, a perfect nature, which has satisfied God wholly, and is given to us by the Holy Spirit to be the truest, most inward reality of our life. It is Christ ministered to us, and when we take of the loaf we are testifying to the fact that now it is not on the basis of what we are by nature, but on the basis of what Jesus is in glory that we are living our lives, that we choose to live our lives. Then we in turn are tried, tested as to whether we will live on the basis of Christ, God's perfect Man, or whether we will forsake that ground and return to our own ground and live in any way on the ground of self. It is that which is the innermost truth of Paul's great statement: "I have been crucified with Christ..." That means that all that "I" stands for has been put away, and it is no longer I but Christ.

The Issue of Pentecost

That brings us really to the meaning of Pentecost, or the meaning of the Holy Spirit. We ask again, what is the meaning of the Holy Spirit? It is just this, that His it is to present Christ to us in terms of Lordship and Saviourhood. The Lord calls upon men to recognise that He has put Jesus Christ in the place of absolute Lordship, and so men have to bow to Christ before they can know salvation. The danger is that we should put it the other way round, and get inadequate results; for so often Christ is presented as Saviour first, and men come to Him as Saviour because they want to get out of all the misery and inconvenience which sin has brought upon them. That is really to desire salvation for their own sakes, and so an inadequate result is known. If it is kept in the Divine order, Jesus Christ is to be recognised as Lord first, and that means absolute surrender to Him; not what you are to get for yourself in the first place, but what He is to have; His rights in the life. On that basis of bowing utterly to His Lordship there is an open way into all the blessings of His Saviourhood. That is the New Testament order. The first thing the Holy Spirit does is to present Christ to us in terms of Lordship and Saviourhood.

Christ Revealed as Within

The second thing is to reveal Christ in us through faith. When Christ is presented to us, then is the challenge to faith. The whole question of obedience, of faith expressing itself in obedience, is raised. It may be instantaneous, and the same thing may seem to be simultaneous. It seems that in the case of Paul it was simultaneous, or almost so, because the appearing of Christ to him was equally the presenting of Christ to him. It was looked back upon by him and spoken of as also the revealing of God's Son in him. They are two aspects of one thing. They may be almost simultaneous, but they may not be. They are movements of the Spirit, and first is the presenting of that challenge to faith, and obedience. On that basis there is again a movement of the Holy Spirit and the revelation of Christ in us, through faith. This means the great thing. So far as we are concerned everything depends upon this state in the movement of the Spirit, because this means the coming into us of that which is "altogether other" than we are, and the coming in to us of that in terms of Lordship. This revealing of God's Son in us by the Holy Spirit does not mean just the lighting up of Christ in our hearts, not merely that inside there is a light by which we see Christ, it means the imparting of Christ. It means that Christ is revealed as in us: not only revealed in us, but revealed as in us. Christ has now become subjective, whereas before He was objective. It is something "altogether other" than we are. It takes a lifetime to discover how altogether other Christ is from what we are. He has now by the Spirit been introduced into us, and that in terms of Lordship, because the Holy Spirit means by this that we have to bow right down before Him.

That is where the conflict begins. That is where all our Christian experience begins. That is the basis of our discipline, our training, our chastening. Spiritual history is wrought out upon that ground, of Christ, so utterly other than we are, getting ascendency over us in every detail, in every sense. That is where spiritual intelligence comes, and that is what spirituality is. It is recognising, perceiving, discerning Christ as so much other than we are, and then following that intelligence and working it out, or working according to it. The advent of the Holy Spirit means the Lordship of Christ, but that is pre-eminently practical. It is not just saying, Yes, we recognise Christ as God's Son, as Lord, as on the throne, and we bow to Him as such, but the Holy Spirit comes along and begins to apply that all the way through our lives at every point, and almost every day. We can have a series of challenges upon  the question of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over our minds, our wills, our hearts, our ways; that reaction of the Holy Spirit in us to our action, where we move and the Holy Spirit counter-moves, and we know that we have moved wrongly. Every such reaction of the Holy Spirit is bringing home the fact that, with Him, Christ revealed within is in terms of Lordship, and we learn so to bow to Him in His utter difference from ourselves.

Entering into God's Rest

This has several phases. The first is the question of our coming into God's rest; and ceasing from ourselves. You can see how this issue is raised immediately by the Holy Spirit. If all that is intended by this introduction of Christ as so different from ourselves is to be realised, we must cease from ourselves, and we must cease from our own works. That means, on the other hand, that we must enter into God's rest. It means that the Cross has to be accepted and passed in fact, just as Jordan had to be passed through by Israel in fact, and then Jordan became a practical working principle for the rest of their lives. Nevertheless, Jordan had to be established as a fact in their consciousness, in their recognition, as basic to all the future, and we have to have the Cross settled as basic in like manner, which is the way into God's rest.

We see Israel passing over into the land which was represented as God's rest for them. Of the former generation the Lord said: "I swear in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest"; and they perished in the wilderness. The generation which did pass over are represented as having entered into God's rest typically, symbolically. What kind of rest was it? It was a rest of continuous battles, fightings, subduings, mighty activities.

The principle of the rest is established at the outset in Jericho. God let them know the nature of His rest by just causing them to march round Jericho day after day, and allowing them to do nothing else. There is nothing very arduous about that. Then on the seventh day they had to do it seven times. Thereupon the whole obstruction collapsed. It was not their doing. In faith they entered into God's rest, and God did what remained to be done. That was the principle upon which the conquest of the land was to take place.

If you and I are coming into all that is bound up with God's heavenly Man having been introduced into us by the Holy Spirit, we shall find that God's rest is basic to that. What is God's rest? It is our accepting as a fact the finished work of the Cross, the end of God's works in Christ. If we have never got that settled the result will be that there will be no progress, no growth. Ceasing from ourselves and being wholly occupied with Christ is God's rest. If we are going to be taken up continually with the question of our own salvation, our own sanctification, our own spiritual life, our own work for the Lord, the value of our lives to the Lord here on this earth; in any way, in any sense occupied with ourselves, even though it may be in a spiritual way; in spiritual interests and spiritual concerns taken up with ourselves, so that we are always watching our own spiritual progress, and development, just how much we are counting, how much work we are doing, we shall not grow. It takes many of the Lord's people a long time to come to the end of this which is, after all, the first stage of things with the Lord. We must get it settled as basic to everything, that Christ is made unto us righteousness, sanctification, redemption, wisdom from God. The question of our salvation is settled when we believe. It is not something given to us in ourselves, as though we had to keep it and look after it and watch over it, lest we lose our salvation. Salvation is in Christ Jesus, and He is now, through the Cross and the resurrection, beyond the reach of any destructive power, and holds our treasure, our salvation in Himself. Faith in Him settles once for all the question of our salvation. All we are asked to do is to direct our faith to the Lord Jesus as our salvation.

The matter of sanctification is the same. He is made unto us sanctification. We are to be occupied with the Lord Jesus, and forsake our own ground, and then the sanctifying work will be done. The Lord has undertaken it. Our responsibility begins and ends with reposing faith in Christ, even for sanctification. The Lord will do the rest.

Am I to take upon my own shoulders the whole matter of my usefulness to the Lord, my vocation, my service, my ministry? No, never! How many of the children of God have been beaten, and broken, and buffetted about by the question of ministry and usefulness to the Lord. That is not our affair in the first instance. What is to be done with our lives depends entirely upon our walking with the Lord. We have altogether false ideas of ministry. We have set ministry before our eyes as some kind of order of things, something into which we get, something that we take up, and ministry is nothing of the kind. Ministry is the spontaneous outgoing of Christ in us, and the more there is of Christ to go out through us, the greater will be our ministry. Let us get away from mechanical ideas of service for the Lord. The Holy Spirit, Who has introduced Christ into us, is going to construct everything upon the basis of Christ in us.

This is entering into His rest. The works were finished from the foundation of the world, the works "afore prepared that we should walk in them". How can we walk in works foreordained, of which we have no knowledge? Walk in the Spirit, and you will find yourself in the works foreordained. Rest in the finished work of Christ. It touches our salvation, it touches our sanctification, and it touches our vocation. Be wholly set upon Christ. To follow Him as the Holy Spirit makes Him known to us, that is to enter into rest.

Continuing in the Spirit

Joshua is a type of the energies of the Holy Spirit and not of Christ, as has so often been said. The land is the type of Christ, the fulness of Christ, the treasures that are in Christ. Christ is the land, flowing with milk and honey. It is by the energies of the Holy Spirit that we are to come into that; and it was as the people obeyed fully, and were subject to Joshua, that they came into possession of the fulnesses, and became a triumphant people. Our business is just to be sure that we have the Spirit, and that we are moving by the Spirit, and ceasing from ourselves. The rest is His responsibility.

We tarry with this matter, to press it in the simplest ways. Have you any reason at all to believe that the Lord Jesus has come into your life? Have there ever been any evidences of that? What are those evidences? Are not those evidences things altogether apart from yourself; that is, they are not things which you have produced, which have come from you, but rather, as you would say in your more mature spiritual phraseology, things which the Lord has shown, and the Lord has done? Have you any evidence like that? If so, why should you not just go on to the fulness of that? Did you start that? Did that originate with you? Not at all. Then, if the Lord has taken the initiative in any one thing in your life, why should He not take the initiative in the remainder. How was it He was able to do it in that one thing? Because you trusted Him for it. Did you bring about your salvation? No, He did it. Did you trust the Lord in any other detail, and did He not undertake? Why should not the Lord keep your whole life on that basis? That is but going on in the way of the Lord.

You may be struggling and straining and agonising and getting into despair, and wondering if you will ever get into things, reach this high realm of things. Perhaps you have almost decided that you never will. Perhaps you are thinking of the wings of the dove, that would fly away and be at - what? Rest? No! You will never get rest by flying away. The trouble is that you have not recognised the basic fact that the Holy Spirit has brought Christ to dwell within you, and if you will cease from your own works and refuse definitely to take up the battle again for yourself, but believe that the Lord is going to do the rest as you commit yourself to the hands of the Holy Spirit, the Lord will do the rest. I can tell you of no other way. I know of no other way. It is a matter of stepping from our own ground through the Cross, and taking the ground of Christ as risen, as ascended, and for that to be made good in us on the ground of the Cross by the Holy Spirit. It is then that things change.

Rest Essential to Growth

It is essential that we enter into God's rest on all matters. The matter of our usefulness to the Lord troubles us, and troubles many of the Lord's people. We have to abandon that concern as it becomes a personal concern. We will have a prayerful concern that we shall not fail the Lord, but if it is a matter of getting into service which at the moment is not before us, and we are going to worry ourselves about our life work, then that is not our responsibility at all. We have to settle down to the fact that if the Lord wants to do anything with us, if we are rightly adjusted, if we are at His disposal, if He has a clear way in us, He will Himself take responsibility for our usefulness to Him, whether it be little or great. It would be better for us to be tucked away in some quiet corner of the world where we were serving the Lord a hundred percent, though within a seemingly limited sphere, than for us to be out in some great thing, where we were full of activities but only about ten percent of it was really the Lord's work. To enter into God's rest is basic to growth.

That which follows is the operation of the Spirit of sonship. The operation of the Spirit of sonship never begins, is never taken up, until we have entered into God's rest. Hebrews 4 speaks of God's rest. Then in chapters 5 (from verse 12) and 6 we have such words as these: 'Of whom (Melchezidek) we have many things to say, but ye cannot receive them... When by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that someone teach you the first principles of Christ - you have to be dealt with as babes. Let us cease to speak of the first principles, and let us go on to full growth; not laying again a foundation...' Then the foundation things are mentioned by name. The writer is saying, in effect: 'You are occupied with these first things all the time, but, after all, they are foundations. They are all principles, but, after all, they are first principles. While you stay there, turning over these questions again and again, occupied with first principles, you remain babes, and you cannot go on to full growth. Settle the first principles once for all, get the foundation laid, and go on to full growth'. What does that mean? Oh, enter into God's rest over these matters, and then go on to development, to growth. Let these things which are basic to your spiritual establishment and development be settled. You cannot grow until you are in rest. The Spirit of sonship, the Spirit of full growth, cannot proceed until we have come on to the ground of God's rest, and that is the ground where Christ is all, and in all.

Take the illustration which the Apostle gives in the letter to the Galatians. You remember the whole course of his argument in that letter. He gives a contrast between the infant and slave, and the son. The child is under tutors, that is, in infancy. A bondslave is one who is in the position of ignorance; he does not know, he is not told, not taken into confidence. He and the infant are in a similar position to the spiritually immature; they are in ignorance, they are in a state of infancy, they cannot be entrusted with knowledge, with secrets, because they are in that position. On the other hand there is the son, and Paul puts the son over against the slave and the infant. The son comes into everything, he knows. So there is the contrast between these. The infancy and the slavery are related to the law. That is the argument. What is the result? Sooner or later the absence of that inward knowledge will bring about a break-down. You can see it at work, whether it be Jewish law or Christian law. There is a great deal of Christian legalism. Impose that upon anybody, and mark the issue. Take the matter of bringing up children in a family, by Christian parents. If we bring up our children under law; be it Christian law, (that is, imposing Christianity upon them as a system, as laws, as so many things which they must observe and do), what happens? When they come of age they depart from the law, and they go away from Christianity. Some of us know that in our own cases, and we know it in the case of many Christian parents heartbroken over their children. They have brought them up rigidly in Christianity, in their own Christianity, they imposed it on them, and when the child grew up he or she departed. What is the matter? There is all the difference between being under law, whether it be Jewish or Christian, and being in the position where Christ is known in the heart. One is infancy, the other is growth, or maturity, or sonship. There is no safety, no certainty, no security, unless Christ has really been implanted within by the Holy Spirit. The law never does that. We are not saying that there is no such thing as backsliding, even in those in whom the Lord is resident. That is probably the main point of the letter to the Galatians, that they received the Spirit, not by the works of the law, but by the obedience of faith. Paul is saying to them: 'Now, remember, if you go back to law you are departing from Christ'. That is a very much more serious thing than just departing from a system, and from an outward profession.

So you see that sonship is, in principle, Christ within by the Spirit, that which is "altogether other" than ourselves. By Christ within we grow. On no other ground can we do so.

You see what has happened. The Holy Spirit within has brought Man according to God's mind to dwell within us, different from what we are; and then there has to be the yielding, surrendering, handing up of everything to Him, so that we know that what we are is something altogether different from what He is. Then we gradually cease to be that, and what Christ is, is spread over our minds, our hearts, our wills, our ways, our everything, and we are in that way being conformed to the image of God's Son. That is the end of the operation of the Spirit of sonship.


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