Now we come this evening to the remaining half of the conference, all of which has to be crowded into as short a time as possible, therefore, not very much detail must be tarried with. And I think that the outline which you have before you of the whole, really does speak for itself. [He refers to this diagram: www.austin-sparks.net/images/diagram2.html] It presents what the Bible is all about. And it is all about the eternal glory which God determined and purposed should fill His whole creation and which should be centred in His Son and from His Son radiated through a people known to us now in the Scripture as the church, which is Christ's Body.
We have looked back into the past eternity and, with the Word of God, seen the eternal Son with the Father in His glory, the glory which He had with Him before the world was, to use His own words. We have also, by the Word of God again, been taken back and shown those expanding counsels of God to have a people in fellowship with His Son, sharing that glory and ultimately manifesting it, or ministering it. We have seen the interruption in the Divine purpose by sin - the great rift which came in heaven and on earth. All this we have seen by the Word of God. It is not our imagination or something we are making up, but there it is, the Word of God does show these things.
And then, with the rift, the action of Satan first, and then the complicity of man with him - the suspended glory and God reacting, the Divine thrust in and forward to take all the measures to see that His purpose would not be ultimately destroyed or frustrated. And so we saw right down from the eternity which is yet to be, where the glory is in fulness, unclouded, unshadowed, the light is thrown along the ages, right to the beginning and by means of that light, a shadow, a shadow. A shadow of a Man. In the light of the eternal glory, the shadow of the Man, Christ Jesus, to be discerned all the way through, right from that point where the glory was interrupted. God introduced, shall we say "in shadow form", for everything was a shadow of Him, introduced His Man, with a capital and a very big capital "M", and with Him the Cross, to show that in and by that Man the glory was going to be secured, but by the Cross. Because of what had come in, it would be the Cross as the instrument by which God would do it.
And we have seen the two great aspects of the Cross in this connection: in connection with the glory, the mediatorial aspect, mediation, that is the altar, the sacrifice, the priest - filling the Old Testament and especially as introduced in the first section of the Old Testament, as laying the foundation for everything else. And then in the second large section, the whole principle of authority introduced, the kingship, because it was not only corruption that came in, pollution and defilement, it was positive animosity, antagonism, rebellion. The only way to deal with that is by a centralised supreme authority. That principle, then, was introduced at the point known to us as the book of Joshua and running right through to the book of Esther. A large section of the Old Testament.
And then, the third section which we call the prophets, bringing in the principle of representation or re-presentation, bringing back into clear view God's full intention and standing so powerfully, so mightily against all that is against that intention of God.
Well, the Old Testament is summed up in that way: the priest (the mediator); the king (the authority); the prophet (the representation of God's thoughts). And as we have seen, in every case, nothing was made perfect, indeed over all at a point "failure" was written. While there was a deposit to be carried on, the thing was not final in its effecting of God's purpose and bringing in the full glory... only in hints, and in types, and in figures, and in symbols.
And so we come at last to the point where it is all brought to perfection and we come to the Man Himself, the Man Himself.
The Man Christ Jesus
He is brought to us in full view in those four books known to us as the four gospels, Matthew to John. It is the Man Himself. He has come at last, not now in type or figure or symbol, but in personal reality and actuality. The shadow has now become the substance. That pointed to has been reached and here He is on the scene and that Will, that Will - "having made known unto us the mystery of His Will... that we should be unto the praise of His glory" (Eph. 1:9,12), that big capital WILL is embodied in this Man. You know the words of Scripture about that don't you, let me read them to you: "Wherefore when He cometh into the world He saith: A body didst thou prepare for Me, then said I, Lo I come, in the roll of the book it is written of Me, to do Thy will, O God" [Heb. 10:7]. 'A body to do Thy will, according to what has been said before, a body to do Thy will.' The Man embodies the WILL. He is the embodiment of God's WILL. If you can put Jesus Christ out of God's universe, then you have defeated utterly God's eternal purpose and made glory impossible, but if you cannot put Him out, and a good many have tried, and are trying, then God's purpose is going most certainly to be realised. It is embodied in One who cannot be put out, as we shall see as we go along.
We must recognise the significance of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus, God's Son, in bodily form. It is nothing less than the taking up of the eternal Will of God, the Will of God before the world was, the determination of God then, as to how things should be, taking that up in His own person and making Himself responsible for its realisation. And He has done it. The Will is embodied, the Will is done, "I come... I am come to do Thy will." And that passage from which we have just read goes on to say that that Will has been done: "By which will He has perfected forever", once for all, it is perfectly done. He has done the Will of God.
It's a great thing, dear friends, for you and for me, if only we can grasp it, not as a statement of truth, or doctrine, but if really we can grasp it by faith to our hearts, that the Christ whom we have received within us as God's children, who is within us, is there as the One who has perfectly done all God's Will and God looks upon Him in that way. He has done God's Will, He has perfected God's will, God's will is perfected in man in this universe. When we tonight partake of this loaf, in symbol, not in reality but in symbol, we are testifying to the fact that we have taken into our very being One who has perfected the Will of God, and as we eat, He is becoming a part of us in that way. I know the danger associated with making such a statement. Perhaps it wants safeguarding. It is not a literal, of course, a literal feeding and making Christ a part of us, but in faith our union with the Lord Jesus inwardly, spiritually, means that we are linked with the accomplished Will of God, and our lives rest upon that. All the rest, all the rest of our training, our discipline, springs out of something that is already done! We have a perfected salvation to rest upon. And that is perhaps the greatest difficulty for many Christians to believe. They still think that something has got to be done in order that they should be saved. Well, it hasn't; it's all done! The rest is only the working out of what has been done. We ought to rest upon this: the Will has been perfectly done and the statement of Scripture is: "By which will, by which will we are sanctified once for all" [Heb. 10:10]. And so because the Will has been embodied and the Will has been done, the glory has been recovered in Him. The glory has been recovered in Him! He said, "I have glorified Thee on the earth" He said it to the Father, "I have glorified Thee on the earth", and there was a point in His time on the earth, when, in the presence of three disciples, on a mountain, He was transfigured before them. He was glorified, the glory came upon Him, spirit, soul and body. As we have often pointed out, so far as He was concerned, He was fit to go to heaven right away, and be there in the matchless eternal glory of God and of heaven. Nothing more, so far as He was concerned, needed to be done. God glorified Him because in Him God saw a perfect Man, morally and spiritually. For you, for me, He stayed. He came down the Mount in order that what was true of Him might be made true of us, and that by way of the Cross.
It's very wonderful that God, having perfected Him in that way as man, has done it as the guarantee that you and I will be like Him, the guarantee that you and I will be like Him. "And when we shall see Him", says the Word, "we shall be like Him" [1 John 3:2]. We shall be like Him. That is the mediator, the mediator of the glory, the authority.
That which answers to the next section of the Old Testament, this is in the book of the Acts, He said on His resurrection, Matthew 28:18: "All authority has just been given to Me in heaven and on earth". The authority, the kingship... received at the hands of the Father. Again, because He was "Obedient unto death, the death of the cross, God hath highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow" [Phil. 2:8-10]. The authority has been given to Him. That is where we begin the book of the Acts, the authority received and vested in Him, the kingship the Lordship, the sovereign headship. That authority is instated in heaven; in heaven. Luke 24:51: "When He had given commandment to His disciples, He lifted up His hands and blessed them, and while they were looking, He was received up into heaven." And they were as miserable as people could be and went back saying "we've lost everything"?! Not at all, it says, "And they returned, glorifying God."Glorifying God! The glory was instated in heaven. I am very glad about that. It might be in danger down here, but it can't be in danger up there! I meant just now, it is instated where it is unreachable and untouchable by all adverse forces. It is in heaven, in heaven! The authority is in heaven, and no power against it can get there to touch it, to interfere with it any more. Oh, I would like to stay with that, because the Scriptures have something to say about the very purging of the heavens by the virtue of the Blood and the Cross of the Lord Jesus. They have been purged, they have come under the mighty effect of His work on the Cross, and no corruption can get there any more; no interference with this authority. Everything is there! Blessed be God, it is out of reach of anything or anyone against it. That is all we say about the fact that Jesus is in heaven, glorified. The authority is there, or the headquarters of everything is in heaven and the authority exercised.
You say, "Yes, those are beautiful ideas... wonderful teaching, but how about the proof, the evidence?" Well, read the book of the Acts, that's all. Read it! Here it is, a book of 28 chapters, just crammed full of the exercise of that heavenly authority by the heavenly Man, Jesus Christ. The first expression of that authority, as we noted in the Old Testament, was the unifying of disrupted and disintegrated elements. Here are men, in the closest proximity to Him while He is here in the flesh, but they are twelve units, twelve fragments, without any kind of organic relatedness or oneness. Indeed, they bear all the marks of this disruption in the natural realm: their quarrelling, their contentions, they are envious of one another, they are trying to outdo one another, there is nothing about them that speaks of a oneness of heart and mind and spirit. But see, when the Holy Spirit came, and Christ being exalted to heaven, these men, these men, they're a unit! They are bound in a wonderful oneness of spirit, the unification basic by this authority of Christ being exercised, uniting a disintegrated body, bringing it together. See, it is essential that, to all that follows. This kind of kingship, this kind of lordship, this kind of sovereign headship, Jesus as Lord, absolutely Lord, within and without, is essential to all the work which follows.
We pointed out that in the kings of the Old Testament, in David, in Solomon, by the unification of the nation, they came into a wonderful wealth, wonderful richness, wonderful power, wonderful dominion over all forces against them. It was their solid unity, because of one reigning, governing head that led to that glorious reign of Solomon, and a greater than Solomon is here. So much came out of this unity. We cannot make too much of spiritual oneness. How important, essential it is, to all that follows in the book of the Acts, and you can see that immediately Satan got to work to try to counter that oneness. He made some people complain that they were not being looked after, and what not. At once he is seeking to break up again, to destroy the oneness because he sees what a potent factor that is. It is a testimony to the absolute triumph of Jesus over the work of the devil. It opens the way for the glory, whereas all this other state of things is so shameful, and such, such a denial of the triumph of His Cross.
Oh, you and I ought to make very, very much more of this matter of spiritual oneness, of fellowship and unity than we do but, mark you, it is the realm of a tremendous battle. The enemy is out against it. Unifying... I mustn't stay with all the details of this Lordship, this authority co-ordinating. You can see it in the book of the Acts can't you, a wonderful co-ordinating, causing the various parts to work together harmoniously to one end. It's just romantic, this book, of how the Holy Spirit in the authority of Jesus Christ is making this work in with that! Here up country, way up country, there's a man who really does want spiritual help, and he is praying for it, for guidance and for light, how he can come into God's full mind. He senses that there is something very much more that he should come into, and he is praying about it, and away right down country the Holy Spirit touches and takes hold of the very man to meet that need and co-ordinates this thing. You see? And it's like that right through this book, isn't it? It is the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus being exercised in co-ordinating things, in administering the matters of His church, and seeing that all the needs are met, wonderfully met, and then overruling even the adversities and the works of the enemy. If there is one thing more than another in this book that is impressive, it is the way in which the sovereign Lord overruled evil, overruled the works of the devil, overruled the works of evil men and caused all these things which were intended to be against, just to fulfill the very end that they wanted to stop. Yes, this is a book of the authority secured in Christ and who can read the book without saying, "It's the book of glory, it's the book of glory!" You want to say "Glory be to God!" as you go on from chapter to chapter, don't you? Just like that: "Oh, glory be to God for that!" It is glorious all the way along, and it is simply because Jesus is on the throne, the authority has been established in Him.
A word about the third section:-
That, of course, is found in those many books of the New Testament from the letter to the Romans to the letter of Jude and many letters between, but what they really amount to, and please do recognise this: you take up Romans, or Corinthians, or Galatians, or any of these letters, you are not just reading them as letters in themselves; they are all a part of one whole. And the one inclusive, all-governing object of them is to bring this Man into view as God's model. And from many angles, from many angles the Holy Spirit is working to make that model good, to fulfill it in the church. So you take this up, this letter is only an aspect of Christ and if the Holy Spirit can get us according to that, He has got us according to Christ. Christ is there in heaven as the model, the pattern, and the Holy Spirit has come and is now saying this, and this, and this, through these letters, bearing upon the whole matter of conformity to Christ. For, we are told, that that was in the mind of God before man was created. We were "foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son" that's the declaration of Scripture. Now, with the Son instated as the model, the pattern, the Holy Spirit comes, and by means of instructions and exhortations and warnings, and all that is in these letters, the Holy Spirit is saying: "This is the way in which to be conformed to Christ. These are the things which are the things of Christ to be reproduced in you." That is all that I can say about that aspect of representation, but do remember that these many letters from Romans to Jude, in some way or another bear upon that one thing.
God has got His pattern Man and the Holy Spirit has come to conform us to the image of that pattern, to work it out in His people. And so that would become clear if I had time to dwell upon every one of those letters (which I have not) you would see that every one of them deals with this matter of Christ-likeness, in some way or another. That is what it is all about: Christ-likeness, that is all - doing this thing in an inward way in believers, with an object. With an object, first of all, of getting rid of all the ground inwardly that cannot be glorified. All that is contrary to Christ, all that is a contradiction to Christ can never be glorified, and getting rid of it, and reproducing Christ and making Christ everything, and steadily increasing the measure of Christ in us unto the great consummation of glory. But, the crown, the crown... it's inward first and then the crown is outward. We have in this first letter to the Corinthians chapter 15, this statement: these very bodies, this body of ours, this body of corruption, shall be made like unto the body of His glory, His glorious body! It is inward first, and then it is crowned outwardly with a glorified body, the body of His glory. Now that was what God made man for, to have a body of glory. But it is a moral matter, it's a spiritual matter, it's got to begin inside with Christ-likeness, or the nature of God. The vehicle, vessel or the vehicle of all this we are saying is the church. The church, then, becomes the vessel and the vehicle of what is true of Christ, not in an atoning way, but in another sense: mediating. That is, taking on that great work that Christ has done by His Cross, and declaring it to the world, standing between the Saviour and those needing to be saved; between the glorified Christ and that whole situation which needs to be changed. The church comes in there, that is the church's vocation, the church's mission, the church's business to stand in the gap between the Saviour and the sinner, and to mediate; to mediate by proclamation, by testimony, by life, His salvation to others.
He could do it without us, but He has chosen to do it through us, by means of us, that they should know and only know by means of the church, that they should see and only see by means of the church; a mediatorial instrument. Let me say again, not in atonement, but in this work of making the atonement known and transmitting it. And that is not done officially. Whenever you get down and alongside of a sinner who is seeking the Saviour and you pray with and for that one, something is given of help, something is mediated, you are not the Saviour, you can't save anyone, but Christ comes through you and they are helped, helped by means of you, and the church is here on this earth as a whole for that purpose. How poor is my setting of this forth tonight, I can only do this much, indicating the church is also here to mediate the authority of Christ, to mediate the authority of Christ because the authority of Christ can only be known in and through the church again in this dispensation. That Christ is on the throne has got to be made known by the church. Oh, are we failing? Are we failing? Is it true that we are really here, registering this sovereign Lordship upon this world, upon these situations, upon these works of the enemy? That is what the church is for. The Lord recover us to the place of His throne authority, not in any official way, but in a true spiritual way!
And what is true of the mediation and the authority is true of the representation. They will not see what the Lord is like, only by means of you and me, by means of the church. The church is here to let them see what the Lord is like, oh, Lord help us! How little they see what He is like! But that is what we are here for. We must seek Him about this. They'll not know unless they see it in His people.
We close then this very hurried, scanty survey, with:-
The Great Triumphant Consummation
Of all which we have in the book of the Revelation... it's wonderful this book, it gathers everything up right from the beginning of the Bible and tells us everything else; all these things are gathered into it. And first of all, the great Person in His threefold capacity is presented, and then He overshadows the whole of that book of Revelation. Here He is, the mediator in terms of the Lamb slain, the Lamb slain and the Lamb in the midst of the throne, that is the great mediatorial capacity of this Man, this Son of God. But not only there, in the full power of His Cross, there in the full authority of His exaltation, that book of Revelation is the book of the authority of Jesus Christ. Right from the beginning it is just that. He is judging, He is adjudicating, He is deciding, He is passing the sentences, He is gathering everything before His throne. Yes, He is testing the nature of everything. He is in the place of authority in that book, at last. And, He is there as the great pattern by which everything is being tested.
Always remember this, that the first chapter of the book of the Revelation is the setting forth of Christ in symbolic terms, as the standard by which God judges everything afterwards. He begins by judging the churches, by the presented standard. All those symbolic things that are said about this One who is presented, that is, His hair being white as wool, His eyes as a flame of fire, His feet like burnished brass, all these things are only symbols of spiritual realities, you see? His hair as white as wool, for instance: His thoughts and His judgments are absolutely flawless! His mind is without any kind of mixture of good and bad; there is no compromise, there is no diplomacy, there is no policy here, it is downright, bare principle, Divine principle by which He judges; no favouritism, nothing of that, His hair as white as wool. His eyes as a flame of fire, He knows everything, and by perfect knowledge He can judge. He is not judging by faulty judgment where He doesn't know all and He doesn't see all, no, He sees right through everything. And so on and on.
Here He is presented in this comprehensive, complete, composite way of symbolism as the Standard, and it is as though God was saying to these churches, these seven churches, "Now then, how do you measure up to the Standard? Can you measure up to the Standard? That is the ground of judgment." And then from the churches He moves to the nations. And then He moves to the great hierarchy of Satan, the very kingdom of the devil himself and it is all on the basis of this Man, and on the basis of what He has done by His Cross, "The Lamb shall overcome". And it is a strange mixing up of the Lion and the Lamb, the one angel said, "The lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed and overcome and I turned to see..." John might have said "I turned to see this lion", but "and being turned I saw a lamb". A strange mixture of symbols, but you see the point. It is by the Cross that He triumphs, by the Cross that He exercises His authority. The Cross is the means of His power, His dominion. Here it is then: the authority, the mediation, the representation.
And how does it all finish? Well everything has been dealt with now that is foreign, foreign to God, inimical to God; it's all been dealt with and the glory comes back. The end is: the angel, the great angel said to the apostle, "Come hither, I will show you the Lamb's wife, the Bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away into a great high mountain...". I don't know what John was expecting to see, the Bride, the Lamb's wife, "And he showed me the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, having the glory of God". That is the end, "Having the glory of God", and that is again a symbol of this church in the light of which, the book goes on to say, the nations walk and derive their values from this. God has got His end at last.
So Revelation is linked with Genesis, and the long story between laying down the principles by which the end shall be reached. And here it is, it is reached. It's reached. You say, "Yes, again a wonderful, wonderful conception of things, and presentation of truth, but how do we know?" Well, I've said it before, it is the simplest thing to say, but it is a very real thing and a very true thing: come to the Lord Jesus in reality, make Him your Mediator, your Saviour, make Him your Lord, and let Him be your pattern to which the Holy Spirit is conforming you, and glory begins, it begins in your heart! Any, anybody who has had a true new birth, or a true conversion, who has really come to the Lord Jesus and made Him Saviour and Lord, knows that glory begins at once. Some of you have had your first day of glory today! Here outside some were saying, you've had your first day. Has glory begun? Aren't you happy? Aren't you thanking God?
You may not put it in my language or these terms, but what it amounts to is this: Oh, praise the Lord, oh glory be to God for this! Glory has begun. And as you go on with the Lord, there will be perhaps difficult times, there will be perhaps times when it is hard to get through and to accept, but every time you get clear of those things, you will find a new uprising of glory. Every victory brings fresh glory. Every emergence from ourselves (and that is where the glory never is) brings more glory. We are the trouble to the glory, we are the ones that get in the way of the glory, oh, if only we could get rid of ourselves, it would be glory. Well, every time we get over a bit more of ourselves, there is still more glory; it is like that, this is no fiction, we know it to be so, and, thank God, we are moving on to that hour, that moment of the last stage, and the breaking through into the final glory when He shall come to be glorified in His saints and marvelled at in all them that believe. Is that not wonderful? That is what it says, He is coming to be glorified in His saints and to be marvelled at. Would you ever have believed that possible of me, of so-and-so? It is perfectly marvellous. Marvelled at in all them that believe. That is the end, the glorious consummation. It rests upon the Saviourhood of Jesus Christ, the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and the conformity to His image by the Holy Spirit - these things made in us bring us back to the glory which He has secured.