Position and Power - The Power of His Resurrection
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 3 - The Power of His Resurrection (continued)

I have been very much occupied of late, I believe by the Lord, with the words of the apostle in his great declaration as to his own spiritual quest in Philippians 3:10 and I am feeling that the Lord is continuing to emphasise that in my heart for the sake of His people in these days, especially the clause, "...the power of His resurrection." "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection." And in connection with that, very familiar words which to some considerable extent explain what Paul meant by that statement, in the letter to the Ephesians 1:19: "...the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to that working of the strength of His might which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and made Him to sit at His right hand in the heavenlies, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come: and He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all."

The Range of the Power

Now all that which we have from verse 20, to the end, as well as the beginning of chapter 2 is a definition of "the power of His resurrection." You see the tremendous range of it; "raised Him from among the dead ones," and the end of that exercise of power was in placing Him in the throne, subjecting all things to Him, giving Him to be Head over all things to the Church. It is a vast range of power that. The power operates not only in bringing back Christ from among the dead, but in taking Him through all realms, through all hierarchies, through every range and order of authority and dominion, putting Him above them all at His own right hand and gathering under Him under His authority and in subjection to Him, all those powers, all those orders, making Him Head of them all and then giving Him to be Head in that sense to the Church. We have pointed out exactly what is said here, that it is not that He was given to be Head of the Church merely, not that He was just given to be Head over all things in the Church: that is not what is said, that is included, but He was given to be Head over all things, over every principality and power and rule and dominion and every name in this age, and in that which is to come, Head over all that, and as Head over all that, given to the Church so that the Church comes into all that in every realm, and that is the power of His resurrection.

Is Christ Head over every principality and power? The Church comes into that, He is Head over that unto the Church; over every name in this age and that to come. He is that to the Church. Are all things put in subjection under Him? He is given as that to the church. Head; it is the power of His resurrection. You see what we come into in the power of His resurrection and you begin to see perhaps a glimpse of what Paul was after. He had got by the Spirit, a vision of the vastness, the comprehensiveness, the fulness of the power of His resurrection; what is included in it, what is embodied in it, what it leads to, and he saw that he, as a member of Christ's Body was called into that in the power of that resurrection, and so his prayer is, "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection."

And if I am to come into all that, if Christ is to be that to me as a member of His body, then I must know Him also in the fellowship of His sufferings, sufferings which make Christ all; being made conformable to His death; for we can only reach unto the fulness of the power of the resurrection as we know what it is in ourselves to be crucified with Christ. That is his prayer. I merely intimate this at the moment to show what really is in view, how His resurrection is an immense thing, it touches all realms, and what we have got to see, I feel, more and more as the Lord's children is that the testimony of Jesus is gathered up into the power of His resurrection. There is, beloved, an increasing need for that testimony. You cannot move about this world at all amongst the Lord's people without being impressed with the clamant need, and the conscious groaning, craving on the part of so many of the Lord's children for the knowledge of Christ in a living way.

The Need of Life, and the Peril of False Life

The need for life is the need of this hour. Life! Anything that comes along in the Name of the Lord Jesus which seems to have life, forms for the Lord's people in these days, the very greatest peril, and if at the end the Devil is going to give life to the Image, that is going to be his supreme strategy because at the end the one thing the Lord's people will need to know is spiritual life. Life is the need. There is much light; of course not everywhere, there is very little light over a great area, but there is light and in certain quarters, plenty of light. Truth, teaching, knowledge: but no amount of light and truth and knowledge can make up for the absence of life, and while we do not for one moment suggest that life can take the place of light, we do emphasise that these two must go together.

The peril is to have a kind of life, which is not true life, without knowledge. On the other hand, there is an equal peril of having a very great deal of truth without life; life in this sense, the power of His resurrection. I do not mean animation, emotion, activity; but life, in this New Testament sense, the power of His resurrection which registers itself in the spiritual realm not merely upon the soul consciousness of men. And we should settle this one thing, if we have not already settled it, that whatever may be the need in these end times, the need above all other things is to know Christ in the power of His resurrection. We have often said that Paul was a personal representation of the dispensation to which he was chosen and called to give its special revelation. Paul was an elect vessel chosen of God for the specific purpose of transmitting the revelation which is the revelation and feature of this whole dispensation, that is, the church which is the body of Christ. That is the feature of this dispensation, and Paul was in a special way called for the revelation of the mystery, the church the body of Christ. If he was so called, naturally God would conform him, as the personal vessel, to the truth which he was to contain and give forth, and make the vessel one with the truth so that he would be the embodiment of the truth; and, therefore, in the experience and life of the apostle, there would be the changing phases and emphases of the dispensation. At the beginning of his life there would be the one emphasis, as there was, and as he moved on the emphasis would perhaps change; change in its direction and change in its degree, not one bit contradicting what had gone before, but advancing upon it. And so you find changes taking place in the life of the apostle, no revelation set aside but increased, built upon, and the emphasis changing.

Maturity Marked by Inwardness of Life

In the early days of his ministry the Divine life and power of resurrection was manifested in a large measure outwardly, as it says, "God wrought special miracles by the hand of Paul," and those outward manifestations of the power of the resurrection were features of his earlier ministry. When you get to the latter days of his ministry you do not read of such things, you read of his own infirmity, of Timothy's "oft infirmities," of two or three other men in the closest association with the apostle who were left in sickness, or recovered by gracious ministration of Divine life to them from serious sickness but not being healed by a miracle. The order has changed, life is expressing itself, the same life, the same power of His resurrection but expressing itself in different forms. He is the dispensation in himself and in the end the power of Christ's resurrection in the life of the apostle, was something different in its expression from what it was at the beginning. It is now more inward whereas before it was more outward, and as we are coming towards the end of that dispensation which the apostle embodied and represented in himself, we are coming into those very features where the power of Christ's resurrection has got to be a mighty inward thing, and probably apart from outward miracles and demonstrations.

Now Paul, at the end of his life, in the writing of this Philippian letter is seeing more of the spiritual meaning of the power of His resurrection. Once perhaps in his own mind, the power of Christ's resurrection was related mostly with this outward manifestation - I say "perhaps," and not without some ground for saying it - limited to the realm where it could be recognised by the senses, registered by an ordinary intelligence, the outward forms of expressing the power of that resurrection. But he has been expanded, so to speak, he has gained a higher apprehension of the meaning of the power of that resurrection, and as he goes on and comes to the time when he writes the fuller knowledge of his heart in these later letters, you find that his presentation of the power of Christ's resurrection reaches a range which is far beyond the sentient, far beyond the visible, far beyond the tangible, and far beyond the recognition of the ordinary spiritual intelligence where a new emphasis of "a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" is necessary to apprehend "the exceeding greatness" of that power. You see when you come to an Ephesian time, so to speak, an Ephesian position, because there is a far greater meaning than ever you have recognised in that which you already possess in earnest, you need "a spirit of wisdom and revelation" to bring you into the position where you are "strong to apprehend with all saints," where you can now recognise the exceeding greatness of that thing, that "working of the strength of His might which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead" and carried Him through all realms, and at last "gave Him to be head over all things to the church which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all."

This is our position, I feel, our need, and the need of the Lord's people everywhere; because of the time in which we live, because we are not at the beginning of the age, because we are at the end of the dispensation, the need of the Lord's people today is an enlarged capacity for knowing Him and the power of His resurrection experimentally, and living it; to have intelligence in the realm of life. Oh, there is a lot bound up with that simple statement. Intelligence in the realm of life. We have said that one of the gravest spiritual perils today is a life without spiritual intelligence. I am not speaking of the Life, I am speaking of an ostensible life. Yes, errors, deceptions, have their vogue and their advantage today because of the deadness of the Lord's people, and they come along with what appears to be like life, and there is need for life, and they carry everything before them, and the only counter to sweeping errors and deceptions of the last days is that the Lord's people should know Him in the power of His resurrection, that is, that they should have Christ as their Life, in large measure. If you have Christ as your life you are satisfied, and no deception can carry you away. If you have not, anything that offers life will be a peril to you. Everything here amongst the Lord's people must be in relation to Him there, but on a basis of intelligent life.

Ezekiel's Vision of the Goings of God

Now of course I am thinking in Ezekiel 1. You pick up the first chapter of Ezekiel, the ordinary reader will, of course, soon put it down again, but if you will take pains quietly and prayerfully to hold that chapter in the light of the rest of the Word of God, you will have a good deal of help. I simply suggest to you the features of that chapter. You remember first of all we are introduced to the Cherubim, the four living ones, the four living creatures with their fourfold appearance, the man, the lion, the ox, the eagle. You know quite well that that is the fourfold presentation of Christ in incarnation; the man, the Son of man, representation for God. The designation to the prophet "Son of man"; and the prophet was the one who represented God, spoke for God, acted for God. So that the man-aspect is representation. The lion is the royalty, the sovereignty; and the ox is the service and suffering; and the eagle is always the heavenly mystery. You know that this is presented in the four gospels; that Matthew was the lion, the Sovereign; and Mark, the ox, the Servant, suffering; and Luke is the Man, the Son of man; and John is the eagle, the heavenly mystery of the Person of Christ. That is all familiar ground, but when you get to the book of Revelation, the Cherubim are transferred from Christ as separate in Person to a corporate company, so that what you have at the end is Christ and His church represented in the Cherubim; that Christ and the church, His body, is representation and sovereignty and service and heavenly mystery, the mystery of the church the Body of Christ: there is always a mystery about the true Church.

Well, that is what you have introduced with the first chapter here in Ezekiel. When you bring all the rest of Scripture together you have something that is down here on the earth in union with Someone Who is up there. When you get to the end of the chapter you have, "And above the firmament in the throne one like unto a Man," and this down here 'the Cherubim-instrument' is linked with Him there. Then you come in with the wheels, wheels within wheels linked with the Cherubim, and these represent the goings of God in the earth. They are the mobile symbols of God's goings in the earth in relation to the One up there, through a vessel, an instrument, the Church; and then you see the spirit in the living creatures and the wheels, one spirit; and then action, as the spirit moves the living ones move and the wheels move and they go straight forward, they turn not to the right hand nor to the left. The goings of God through the ages are straight, direct, deliberate. There are no deviations in the goings of God; God goes straight on; but there is activity, life; it is all life, living; one spirit in the wheels, going, going, going. I think there is no more active chapter in Scriptures than the first chapter of Ezekiel; action, movement. Going - yes, but there is this feature, as you look you are told that the wheels are full of eyes. That is, if I may reverently say it, the ingeniousness of God to give that touch. Yes, there is a distinct instrument for the testimony here, there is the mystery about it which is here in representation. It is here in relation to the throne, the sovereignty, it is here to suffer and to serve, but it is in the thought and mind of God, a distinct entity, not an organisation. A distinct entity, and the life of Him Who is there is in it. Life! It has got to be throbbing with life, in the goings of God, but it has got to be full of eyes. That life has to be intelligent life, life with clearness of vision. You come into that in Ephesians where you have the one body, "the church which is His body," the one Spirit, and the Spirit is much in Ephesians; and you have the eternal goings of God; "foreordained," "predestined according to the foreknowledge of God"; the eternal goings, the straight goings of God.

In Ephesians you have, "the eyes of your heart being enlightened"; "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him." Intelligent life; and beloved, that is one of our great needs today. We need Life, the power of His resurrection for the testimony, but it must be in intelligence. Now if the Lord could make all the truth that we know, live, we would be that; that would be Ezekiel 1 fulfilled spiritually in our day! But that is to be our object, that is to be the end that governs our being here; not just to have more truth, more teaching, but, "Lord, begin to make what we know, live, in a fuller and more commensurate way." So that we shall not be just a vessel that has a lot of knowledge, but with the knowledge shall have the life, the power of His resurrection. I believe that the power of His resurrection is the combination of truth and life. When the Lord Jesus rose from the dead He "opened their understanding" and when their understanding was opened they knew Him in an entirely new way, in a heavenly way, a spiritual way in which they had never known Him before, and that led on to a new power. As Saul of Tarsus, two things that came to Paul on the Damascus Road, the opening of his eyes, that is, the light came as to the Lord Jesus, His Person, and with that the power of Christ's resurrection. It blinded him, it stunned him, it overwhelmed him, the power of that resurrection; where it had put Christ, the position that Jesus of Nazareth held. Those two things, and that formed Paul's testimony for evermore, and what he says at the end of his life to the Philippians is only the outworking of what he saw at the beginning of his life. He had, through the years, come to know what that meant in relation to him, for him, and he had gone on and still at the end is saying, "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection." "That I may now know even more of what there is to be known of what I saw that day on the way to Damascus." It was eyes opened, and life followed. That was the power of the resurrection - opened eyes, and life given.

Now I do not want to seem to be abstract, and to get you out of the realm of what is essentially and immediately practical, but we ought to bend all our hearts and seek that the Lord might have an adequate testimony, through an adequate vessel, at this end time, to meet the false lie and false light that is simply swamping this earth and carrying multitudes of the Lord's children away into error. The Lord do it for His Name's sake.

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