Editor's Letters
by T. Austin-Sparks

January-February 1942

Beloved of God,

The world-situation in which we enter this New Year - I feel - provides the background for a fruitful re-emphasis and enlargement upon a note touched in the letter at the end of 1940. It relates to the whole question as to what the Lord means for His people in this state of things. We said then that if this is something which relates to the spiritual life of God's people on the earth, it could not be confined to a limited area, but that all places where His people are would sooner or later be involved. (We were then thinking particularly of the U.S.A.) Certain features of the course of things so far must be recognized.

(1) The very wide-spread acknowledgment by leaders, political and religious, that this is preeminently a spiritual issue in its essential nature. (Note the use of such terms as "Satanic", "Antichrist", in public utterances.)

(2) The destruction of properties, without discrimination for places of long and world-renowned Evangelical traditions. An immense amount of the fabric of organized Christianity has been demolished and wiped out, and very much of that which is the material means of Christian propaganda has just gone up in smoke.

(3) A great deal of the established order of Christian activity and procedure has been suspended and rendered impossible.

(4) On quite a number of occasions loud, boastful and proud declarations as to our strength, our ability, our material and moral resources as a guarantee of victory, etc. have been swiftly followed by some setback, disaster, or more serious outlook.

(5) On several occasions united prayer has been followed by a marvellous deliverance, yet in such a way as to leave little room for man to take the glory, but to which it is only possible to attribute the intervention of God (e.g. Dunkirk).

(6) Another, and to many of us a very impressive, feature of this time is the way in which the Lord is causing so many of those who are affected by the Government orders to hold themselves for Him for disposal, without prejudicing their course by adopting a set position as to what they are willing or unwilling to do. We have seen this attitude of faith resulting in tremendous spiritual values to those concerned and, through them, to many others.

There are many other, major and minor, features of the present situation which could be mentioned as being very significant, but everything put together does seem to point to one issue as to what the Lord is set upon. The issue may have broader meanings for the nations generally, for the whole question of national sins, Godlessness, and unrighteousness, etc. is undoubtedly involved.

There is also a big issue in relation to religion and what is called Christianity, but is anything but the Christianity of Divine revelation. Rather is it mere Humanism, Psychology, and many other things in the place of Regeneration. We cannot deal with these, wider issues here, but for the Lord's own true people this issue seems to be quite clear. The inquiry is being forced upon us as to whether there has been too wide a gap between the means and the end: whether there has not been a confusing of means with the end. Things, activities, institutions, programmes, etc. may have been the conscious or unconscious standard by which spiritual measure has been judged: the "things seen" being the sole or predominant factors. The fact remains that with the Lord spiritual measure, the measure of Christ as positively expressed in the life and experience of His own, is the only and ultimate concern. It is not even just that we have received Christ, or are getting others to receive Him; but it is Christ in fulness which is God's immediate interest and all-governing goal. No matter what the activities and zeal may be, if spiritual increase is not the definite and immediate outcome, then the Lord's heart is not satisfied. Great traditions and monuments to that which no longer represents a commensurate spiritual value are of no concern to the Lord. This is a time in which He is most clearly saying that the inwardness of Christ as over against the outward associations of Christ; the heavenliness of our relatedness to a heavenly Christ as over against an earthly system of Christianity: and a spiritual walk with Christ as over against a round and schedule of Christian functions and activities, are the things which govern Him in what He does or allows in our lives. This is only saying in other words what the prophets of Israel said in times of national and international upheaval and judgment. Oh that there were a prophetic voice of adequate authority today! It is the tragedy of our times that there is not such. Is it that the people would not hear, or is it that the Lord is preparing them to hear? "He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith."

It is possible that this paper may have to undergo some change in its form or measure after this issue, as the paper situation is becoming very acute, and we are advised of serious curtailment. Pray that this ministry be maintained as long as it can serve spiritual ends to the full. It will encourage you to know that during this second year of war, more literature has been sent out - by request - than in any year in our history. We do all send you our loving greetings, and assure you of constant prayerful fellowship. Sincere thanks for all letters of appreciation and assurance of fellowship.

The Lord make this year one of very great spiritual enlargement.

Yours in the hope of His calling,
T. AUSTIN-SPARKS

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