"A Candlestick of Pure
Gold: of Beaten Work" Exodus 25:31
"The Testimony of Jesus" Revelation 1:9
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|March -- April, 1969
||Vol. 47, No. 2
FROM THE EDITOR
WE are very grateful for the response that we have received to our
'Earnest Appeal' in the last issue. It was only meant as an effort to
keep the Paper to a circulation that is really meeting need, but the
response has been more than just a 'Yes' or 'No'. Thank you!
It was our hope that, with this issue of the paper, we might be in a
position to give something fuller and more decisive regarding the
matter of our premises. All that we can do as we go to press is to say
that our deadline for evacuation is the 28th of February. We have
nothing to inform you as to a new location. If this is known before the
final runoff of the paper, we will insert a slip. Failing that, all
correspondence can continue to be addressed as hitherto, and if we have
moved mail will either be forwarded or collected. You will continue to
pray with us over this matter.
We are much burdened for the many hungry and scattered sheep. There is
an immense activity and movement in the realm of evangelistic effort on
behalf of the unsaved, and we are one with such concern. It has been
one of the criticisms against us that we have no such concern. This is
utterly untrue, but there is a great need that the saved shall be
instructed and fed. This is evidenced by the fact that so much of the
New Testament is occupied with the concern for believers and the
"Building up of the Body of Christ". It is to that ministry that we
feel that this little instrument has been called, and, while we feel
our terrible inadequacy to touch even the fringe of the need, we are
seeking to be faithful to this trust. If you really feel that your own
need is ministered to by this channel, will you not ask the Lord to put
the burden of the hungry multitude upon your heart, and seek to share
the "Bread" with those whom you know share your hunger? The time is
short; the world is becoming impossibly confused. The god of this world
continues his great strategy of "blinding" and keeping in the dark. The
cry is imperative for eye-opening ministry.
The first sermon that I ever preached as a young man was on Acts
26:17b-18, and I feel that burden more than ever now. You ask the Lord
to raise up men who have seen, and have that commission and anointing.
Warmest greetings, T. Austin-Sparks.
P.S. -- I have very urgent appeals for ministry this year in U.S.A. and
on the continent of Europe. Please pray! [25/26]
THE MISSION AND THE MESSAGE OF JESUS
2. IN THE GOSPEL BY MARK
WE have said that the whole of the New Testament is occupied with one
thing in three parts -- the mission, the meaning and the message of
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and that every one of the twenty-seven
parts of the New Testament contains some particular aspect of those
three things. We went on to see how that is true in the Gospel by
Matthew, and now we are going to see this in the Gospel by Mark.
Now I am going to ask you to look at quite a number of passages:
"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of
God" (Mark 1:1).
Those are the first words in this Gospel. Now we turn to the last
words, in chapter 16:20:
"And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord
working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed."
"And when he had considered the thing, he came to the
house of Mary the mother of John whose surname was Mark" (Acts
"And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when
they had fulfilled their ministration, taking with them John whose
surname was Mark" (Acts 12:25).
"And when they were at Salamis, they proclaimed the word
of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John as their
attendant" (Acts 13:5).
"Now Paul and his company set sail from Paphos, and came
to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departed from them and returned to
Jerusalem" (Acts 13:13).
"And after some days Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us
return now and visit the brethren in every city wherein we proclaimed
the word of the Lord and see how they fare. And Barnabas was minded to
take with them John also, who was called Mark" (Acts 15:37-38).
"Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with
thee: for he is useful to me for ministering" (2 Timothy 4:11).
"She that is in Babylon, elect together with you
saluteth you: and so doth Mark my son" (1 Peter 5:13).
WHO WAS MARK?
Those passages give the life story of Mark and we hardly need to take
time to ask: Who was Mark? His full name was John Mark, and he was a
cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10, R.V.). Now I want you to remember
these details that I am giving you, for there is a significance bound
up with very one of them. He was a cousin of Barnabas, and we shall
have more to say about that presently. We know nothing about his
father, but we do know that his mother owned the upper room in
Jerusalem, and there was a lot of history bound up with that upper
room! It was probably the room in which the Lord had the Last Supper
before He died. John Mark knew all about that! He certainly knew all
that happened in Jerusalem, at least during the last week of our Lord's
life. There was a Christian man who lived in the first half of the
second century, whose name was Papias, and he wrote this: "Mark, having
become Peter's interpreter, wrote down accurately, though not in order,
as many as he remembered of the things said or done by the Lord." There
is a very great deal to be said about that, as we shall see in a minute.
At that point, then, we want to recognize a very important principle.
If you forget everything else, remember this. We are speaking about the
mission, the meaning and the message of Jesus Christ, and we must
recognize that those three things were written in the lives of the
Lord's servants. Mark did not only write the history: he was
that history. The history of Jesus Christ was very largely written in
the experience of Mark, and that is what we are going to see.
Let us recognize that when the Lord gets hold of our lives, He does not
just make us talkers about Him, nor does He just make us writers of
books about Him. He writes Himself in our experience and such
are the only true teachers and preachers. I know that I say a very
responsible thing when I say that, but it is essential that when we
speak or write about the Lord Jesus people see Him behind our words.
That is why the Lord Jesus makes spiritual history in our experience.
When we come to this man, John Mark, we have to see the man behind his
Gospel, and that is why we read all those passages about his history.
THE NATURE OF THE GOSPEL BY MARK
Let us begin by looking at the nature of his Gospel. Here we come upon
a young man in a big [26/27] hurry! He is very
eager to get things done. He has no time for chronology, and times and
places do not matter very much with him. His whole disposition is: let
us get on with the work! This young man has only three words in his
vocabulary. You read the Gospel and you will find them: 'straightway! '
Have you noticed how often Mark uses that word? 'Straightway ... and
straightway ...', and he goes on like that. The second word is
'immediately', and the third is 'forthwith'. Thirteen chapters begin
with the word 'and'. You see, this young man is getting on with it.
John Mark does not give us any genealogy, nor introduction, but he
begins at once: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ". It is
the shortest of all the Gospels, but he puts into a short space a very
great deal of material. He gives us just enough facts for action, so
much so, that scholars believe that Matthew and Luke built their
Gospels on Mark. And you notice the last words in his Gospel: "They
went forth, and preached". This young man is getting on with the work!
His idea is to get things done as quickly as possible.
That is our foundation. Now we begin on the message, which comes out of
several things. Firstly, his title: "they had John as their minister",
or, in other words, "as their attendant". They had John Mark to assist
them in the work; he was a servant to the ministry. Just remember that
as we go on.
JOHN MARK ON TRIAL
Then as to his history. The first thing that we have about John Mark's
history is that he was put on trial. He was given an opportunity --
"Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem ... taking with them John
whose surname was Mark". That provided this young man with a great
opportunity. He was on probation. He had the opportunity of proving
himself, and proving himself in difficulty.
JOHN MARK A FAILURE
Secondly, John Mark was a failure. He could not stand up to the
situation, so he went home. That nice upper room in Jerusalem was much
more comfortable than this life with the apostles! So Luke says that
"John departed from them and returned to Jerusalem". John Mark a
Do any of you here feel that you have been a failure? Well, the story
does not finish there. We come to the third doing, which is
JOHN MARK RECOVERED
Why the failure? We have said that things were too difficult, but why
were they too difficult? It would seem that John Mark's beginning in
the work was without an adequate foundation. How did it come about that
John Mark ever went with Barnabas and Paul? Do you notice the order in
which I put the names? Barnabas and Paul! That order will be changed
presently ... but did John Mark go on a basis of family interest? Dear
old Uncle Barnabas! And dear old Uncle Barnabas did want to give his
dear young cousin an opportunity and it was out of family
sentimentality that he wanted Mark to go with them.
Do you think that I am reading something into this? It was this very
personal relationship which resulted in the separation of Barnabas and
Paul. John Mark went into the work on someone else's experience and not
on his own. I do want you to get the picture right! We know that
Barnabas was a very loving man. He had a large heart. You remember the
story of Barnabas! Paul, on one occasion said: "Even Barnabas was
carried away" (Galatians 2:13) -- 'You wouldn't think that Barnabas
would ever be carried away!' And John Mark was captivated by this
large-hearted, sentimental uncle. He was captivated by some strong,
loving personality, and he was not captivated by Jesus Christ. His
foundation was some man and not the Lord, and anything like that is
bound to break down sooner or later. Do you remember what we said about
Matthew? His message is the absolute foundation of Christianity,
because it is the absolute lordship of Jesus Christ, and that was the
weakness in the life of John Mark. Uncle Barnabas was lord! And the
very best men are not good enough to go through this battle.
Well, the point is this: the absolute necessity for a personal
experience of the lordship of Jesus Christ. It is a very dangerous
thing to put a young man in responsibility if he has not got that
experience! That is the ground of proving ourselves. Policy must never
take the place of principle. Diplomacy says: 'Give the young man a
chance', but principle says: 'Let only approved people be put into
Well, we see that Mark broke down on natural grounds, but he came to
victory when he came under the mastery of the Lord Jesus. He could
never have written this Gospel if that were not true. All his
enthusiasm in this Gospel is to speak about the glory of the Lord
Jesus, and nowhere do you find him speaking about what a wonderful
uncle he had. It is always about what a wonderful Lord he had, and that
meant a great change. We began with him as an attendant, and we end
with him as a partner. He is not now just a busy servant, he is now a
partner in the firm. He has passed from being [27/28]
unprofitable to being "profitable" -- and that is the word that the
great apostle Paul used about John Mark in the end: "Take Mark, and
bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry" (2
Timothy 4:11, A.V.). What a big change! Do you want just to be an
attendant, or do you want to be a partner in the gospel? One who is
just doing a lot of things, or one who is carrying heavy
responsibility? Well, we are getting nearer to the message.
THE PLACE WHICH THE GOSPEL BY MARK OCCUPIES
The next thing is the place which Mark's Gospel occupies, and this
again is a very significant thing. You know that Mark's Gospel was the
first Gospel to be written. It was written before Matthew, before Luke
and before John. Why then was it not given the first place? This is not
natural at all. Seeing that it was the first Gospel to be written,
surely it ought to have the first place! But the Holy Spirit knew what
He was doing. He never works on natural lines, but on spiritual lines,
and that is a different order from man's way of doing things.
So Mark has second place, and, oh! here is the message! All
service and activity must come out of authority and submission. Matthew
first: the authority of Jesus Christ and His absolute lord ship. Mark
second: all service comes out of submission to the Lord Jesus. All
action must follow the mastery of Jesus Christ. What is the chief
characteristic of a true servant of the Lord? It is meekness. That is
true of the Lord Jesus. Do you remember John 13, when He laid aside His
robe girded Himself with a towel, the symbol of the bond-slave, poured
water into a basin, and then He -- the Lord of glory, through Whom and
by Whom all things were created -- now divested of everything, was on
His knees, washing the feet of sinful men! He was right when He said:
"I am meek and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29)! Was there ever one who
served the Lord more fully?
We have said that Mark was very closely connected with Peter in his
writing, and I wonder if you remember the spiritual connection between
these two? The Lord Jesus said something to Peter that he never forgot,
and when he was about to be executed he said: "even as our Lord Jesus
Christ signified unto me" (2 Peter 1:14). When and where did the Lord
signify that to Peter? What was it that the Lord showed him? 'Simon,
when you were young you girded yourself and went wheresoever you wanted
to go. You took your life into your own hands and did as you liked.
When you are old another will gird you and carry you where you would
not go' (John 21:18). There you have the change between the old Simon
and Peter in the end. We know that the whole history of Peter, when the
Lard was here was of one who was wanting to have his own way all the
time. Sometimes he would even tell the Lord that He was wrong! In other
words he said: 'Lord, You are wrong in that! Lord, You don t know what
You are saying!' This man must have a very deep history, for the
government must be taken out of his hands and put into other hands.
From being a dictator he must be a bond-slave, and we know the story of
how that happened: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that
he might sift you as wheat: but I made supplication for thee, that thy
faith fail not: and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, stablish
thy brethren" (Luke 22:31-32). True service comes out of submission.
So both Peter and Mark embody the principle of subjection to the
lordship of Christ. I like that little fragment which we read in
Peter's Letter. It is a very tender reference to John Mark: "She that
is in Babylon ... saluteth you: and so doth Mark my son". There is a
lot of history in that!
Well, now I am going to say a thing which is very difficult to say. You
may not all understand it, but I will try to make it simple. It is
always a very perilous thing to sublimate the soul. Now you do not
understand that, but let me explain. It is possible to put soulish
emotion in the place of spiritual feeling and soulish emotion is just
sentimentality. It is that kind of emotion which people call love: 'Oh,
my dear cousin John Mark, I do want you to come with me into the Lord's
work! You know I love you very much, and I am quite sure that your dear
mother in Jerusalem would like you to be a minister. Come along, Mark,
and I will introduce you to Paul and get him to agree to your coming.'
Of course, that is all very lovely, but it is not spirituality. That is
false spirituality, what I have called the sublimation of the soul. It
is mistaking the soul for the spirit, and in that there is no deep
brokenness of soul. Do you see what I mean?
Well, what does all this have to do with the mission, the meaning and
the message of Jesus Christ? John Mark has shown us in his Gospel how
very active the Lord Jesus was, how tireless He was in doing the will
of His Father. There were times when they had no opportunity even for
taking their food. Mark says: 'Straightway ... immediately ...
forthwith ... they went forth' and that is the story of Jesus. No,
there is no laziness about the Lord Jesus! Paul's words were very fully
fulfilled in His case: "Always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1
Corinthians 15:58). Jesus was wholly committed to the work of His
Father, but -- and it is [28/29] a big 'but' --
there was no one on this earth ever who was more in subjection to the
will of His Father. Two words sum up the work of the Lord Jesus:
submission and dependence. He said: "I must work the works of him that
sent me, while it is day" (John 9:4). Yes, that is true, but He never
did one work without first asking His Father if He should do it. For
everything that He did, and every place to which He went, He asked the
Father's guidance. With us it all seems so necessary, and the situation
is so needy, and the soul says: 'You ought to do it', but not with
Jesus. Do you remember the three temptations in the wilderness? They
all seemed so reasonable and necessary, but never did necessity or
reason govern the Lord Jesus. He was joined to heaven by the anointing
Spirit. Why should the Son of God need to pray? Because He was
dependent upon His Father. For guidance, for what He should do, He
always referred to the Father, and for strength to do it He had to live
by the Father.
That principle was written in the history of John Mark. It did not mean
that either the Lord Jesus or John Mark did less because they were
dependent upon the Father. I think they did much more, and they did
much better, and their work remains to this day because "whatsoever God
doeth, it shall be for ever" (Ecclesiastes 3:14).
I wonder if you have got the message of John Mark? Let me say to my
younger brothers: Be John Marks in the last situation. Be utterly
committed to Jesus Christ, and He will make you a very useful partner
in the Kingdom.
(To be continued)
THE GRACE OF GOD
"Exhort servants to be in subjection to their own
masters and to be well-pleasing to them in all things not gainsaying:
not purloining but showing all good fidelity: that they may adorn the
doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. For the grace of God hath
appeared bringing salvation to all men" (Titus 2:9-11).
"The word of the truth of the gospel which is come unto
you even as it is also in all the world bearing fruit and increasing,
as it doth in you also, since the day we heard and knew the grace of
God in truth" (Colossians 1:5-6).
"He hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee"
(2 Corinthians 12:9).
"MY grace is sufficient for thee." For the Apostle that solved a
very great problem in his life, and met a need in such a remarkable way
that he was still in the good of it fourteen years afterwards. You
notice that he does not say so. He is speaking as if the Lord were
continually saying this word to him, as if it were a present
experience. In a sense he does not speak of it in the past, as
something finished and over and written in history, but it is that past
experience which still comes right up to the present moment and stands
good today. "He hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for
Now the grace of God, I believe, is, so far as we are concerned, one of
the biggest and most vital truths of Divine reality, and the real
burden of what I wish to say to you in the Lord's Name is something
after this fashion. The grace of God -- yes it does express that
loving, kind, considerate, thoughtful sympathy of the Lord for us. For
the sinner it means that, though God might be angry with him, He is
not; that, though He has every reason for hating him, hurling him into
the abyss, and feeling an implacable resentment toward him, He does
not. His feelings toward the sinner are those of kindness, of desire,
of sympathy, of compassion. If you are tempted to wonder whether you
have ever known the Lord or not, or if you are tempted to feel that God
is against you, those temptations are of the devil, though he may be
masquerading as an angel of light. There is a sphere, a realm, into
which, in God's infinite mercy, we have been brought, and that means
that His attitude toward us is one of grace. In the general sense that
may even be said of those who do not know God, for, today being the day
of grace, God is not, in the first place, angry with men except as they
harden their hearts and refuse His grace.
So, as we touch every realm of human need in our lives as Christians,
we are again touching a realm where the grace of God becomes such a
precious thing, and in the hour of trial and of deep tribulation, of
testing or of perplexity, of loneliness, or whatever be the peculiar
trouble and difficulty of any one child of God, it is still true that
the Lord has that attitude and sympathy and comes near with His own
blessed presence as a balm and a comfort. In that sense (and it is in
that sense that [29/30] these words are usually
applied), "My grace is sufficient for thee".
GRACE MORE THAN COMFORT
I have said all that because it is very true and very precious, but
there is something more that I feel we need to know, for the grace of
God is much more than that kindly, comforting, sympathetic love. It is
the mighty power of God for the fulfilment of His will in our lives. I
believe it is a need that may be found in many of us to know the Lord
saying -- not just: 'I will comfort you, I will cheer you up; I will
pity you, I will assure you of My love!', but: 'There is no need for
the experience through which you are passing! There is no need for your
failure, nor for those experiences of which you are ashamed and for
which you are sorry, and which you feel need to be covered and hidden!
All that sad story of failure is not necessary!' 'Well,' you begin to
say, 'look at the circumstances in which I am! Look at those people
with whom I have to do! Look at my upbringing and my handicap, my
circumstances, myself!' The Lord knows them far better than you do!
Nevertheless, He does not accept that any one of them, nor all of them
together, are the real explanation of your failure, of your wandering,
of your place of difficulty, or of your experience of defeat. None of
these things is the true reason why you do not know the will of God
being fulfilled in your life. What, then, is the reason? It is that you
do not know the grace of God. You may object to that, but I say it
again. You do not know the grace of God, and that is your difficulty.
The Apostle Paul, under the peculiarly acute trial which came upon him,
was also in danger of failing and fainting, and to his cries to the
Lord he received an answer, which was: "My grace is sufficient for
thee!" The Lord did not mean: 'It is all right, Paul! You have this
trial and this suffering, and it is all very bitter and very hard, but
I will just comfort you and give you the grace to bear it quietly!' The
Lord did not only mean that. He was saying: 'Paul, in spite of this
thing, you will reach the goal. The heavenly vision will be realized.
My grace is sufficient, not just to comfort you, but to get you
through. Paul was feeling: 'This thing is like a great stake that holds
me to the ground. It is driven in by the devil, and here I am down here
when I would be up there. Now, if the Lord, in His sovereign power,
would rebuke the devil and remove the stake, then I could get busy
climbing up there!' But the Lord said: 'No, you do not get there that
way. Let the devil drive in his stake that cripples you, handicaps you,
and makes you, as you have never been before, aware of your own utter
helplessness, but My answer is not to remove the handicap. My answer is
that there is a spiritual power which I call My grace that will, in
spite of everything, in spite of your own more conscious weakness,
disability, inability, yet bring you to that heavenly goal. My grace is
sufficient!' That was the Lord's word to the Apostle, and it is His
word to us.
GRACE FOR SERVICE
Is My grace sufficient for ministry? When the Apostle had that vision,
it was not of himself with the Lord in glory. That is some people's
idea of heaven, but it is not the Lord's idea, for it would not be very
glorious to Him, and does not represent His purpose one little bit. No,
the vision was of a great Company of redeemed souls brought right
through to glory in spite of their own hopelessness, of the tremendous
pull of the world, of the power of sin, of the antagonism of the devil,
and of sin and shame on their side. Paul saw that vision and his heart
was moved with a great desire to serve the Lord in that. He longed to
pour out all that he had and all that he ever could be in order that
that might be realized, not just in him, but that he might serve the
Lord in bringing others there, and then, doubtless just when he was
most full of hope as to the glory and blessedness of this ministry, and
he left all for the Lord to do that, he was smitten down. Some of us
know something of what that means: the bitter disappointment of not
being able to fulfil our ministry. And that is how it came to Paul.
From a human point of view he was out of the ministry and it was
Satan's work. That was a very bitter thought to Paul, but the Lord came
to him after his third appeal, when he was really desperate, and
assured him that, far from being out of the ministry, he was now coming
into it, and that this experience was a part of it. 'Paul, you shall
fulfil a ministry with this suffering, this disability, such as you
could never have fulfilled by any other way, but it will not be you. My
grace is sufficient for you!'
I have said this in order that we may catch something of the thought of
God's grace being a tremendous power, and a practical power, in the
GRACE FOR CHARACTER AND CONDUCT
When we turn to Titus, that is just exactly what Paul says. The
Apostle, in writing to this younger brother, had gone to some length to
set out the kind of life that the Lord's people should live, summing up
the whole matter of our duty and life here in the [30/31]
world in one beautiful phrase in which he speaks of our "adorning the
doctrine of God our Saviour in all things". Then immediately he comes
to the practical power that produces practical holiness, and what is
it? "For the grace of God hath appeared." There is the secret
of Christian conduct. We do not want to be neglectful of or indifferent
to the whole matter of living here on earth lives that are a credit to
the Lord and having nothing to be ashamed of before Him and before men,
but what is the secret of that? It is the grace of God, and you will
notice how the Apostle passes into one or two spheres in which the
grace of God becomes a working, effective power.
First of all, "the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to
all men", and I take it that this thought of salvation refers in the
first instance to the inward life. The grace of God is sufficient for
our inward life. It comes in the power of salvation for deliverance,
and the sphere in which we need deliverance is inside, and not outside.
Let us be quite sure about that. You would never dispute it in relation
to anyone, man or woman, who does not know the Saviour. You know that,
when you begin to speak to them of the Christian life, they will always
say that in their circumstances, just where they are, it is not
possible to live a Christian life. And the attitude of the natural man
is always that it is the outward realm that needs changing, but we all
know that it is not there. What we need is deliverance inwardly, and if
we are free there, then we will be all right wherever we are.
Now, it is the grace of God which, appearing, brings salvation to all
men. The Authorized Version says: "The grace of God that bringeth
salvation hath appeared to all men", but that cannot be the meaning,
for it is not true. Of course, the problem arises: Does the grace of
God bring salvation to all men? Surely this is what it means: the grace
of God has appeared and it is a grace which is capable of saving all
men, of bringing salvation to every kind of man. There is none so weak
or so handicapped that the grace of God is not sufficient for them, nor
is there anyone so strong or so good that the grace of God is not their
only sufficiency. It is for all men, and it does not matter where the
word of the Lord finds you. There is only one solution to your problem,
and that is the grace of God. There are so many realms in which we may
need deliverance, but the grace of God comes bringing salvation. "The
grace of God hath appeared", has been made manifest. The whole effort
of the Spirit of God is to make us believe that this is something that God
has in hand -- and that is so true of the whole Christian life. Your
problem may be (and perhaps in this very thing you do not know the
grace of God) that you have not yet realized how utterly and completely
the whole matter of the Christian life is God's concern. It is His
responsibility, and it is from His side. How do you know the grace of
God? Well, God appears to you with it. You cannot say more than that!
This is what happened to Paul. It is true that he prayed three times,
but he did not get deliverance by praying, and nothing was put on the
credit side of his life for his helpfulness because he prayed three
times. No, deliverance came to him when the Lord appeared. "He hath
said unto me ...". Oh, when the Lord speaks to you, you know it! You
see, this does not speak of a man wresting a promise from God. It
speaks of the grace of God, unmerited, unexpected, and very
often unasked. And it appears to all. Blessed be His Name!
It appeared supremely in the Person of His dear Son, who is the very
embodiment of God's grace. Who was asking for Him to come? Who was
expecting Him? There were very few who wanted Him, but He came, moved
by His great Divine compassion and concern which we call the grace of
God. The Lord Jesus Christ came, so that now, by His Spirit and through
His word in the Gospel, the grace of God is manifested to us. It is not
what we are doing, but God coming to our hearts and offering Himself in
grace. You say: 'I wish the Lord would do that to me!' Have you ever
seriously faced this fact: that the Lord is doing that to you? I think
the matter becomes personal very often when we make it personal. "My
grace is sufficient for thee!" Is that the Lord's word to you? Of
course, if you heard it coming out of heaven you think you might
believe that it was the Lord speaking to you. You would not know if
this is the Lord speaking to you, because it does not come in some
supernatural way. We do not know how it came to Paul, and we do not
need to know. Many of us have known the Lord speaking His word to us
just by reading it. It has come to us, not as the word of man, but as
the Word of God, and we have known that it is the Lord speaking to us.
Then we have doubted. Was it the Lord's Word? We have to say in faith:
'It is the Lord's word, and all the promises of God are Yea and Amen in
Christ Jesus. The Lord is saying to me: "My grace is sufficient for
thee." Well, then, I believe it and I stand on it!' That is so often
how it happens -- it becomes a matter of faith.
GRACE FOR THEE
"My grace is sufficient for thee." Now that is just [31/32] exactly the point where the faith wavers a
bit, if it does not fail. We have no doubt in believing that the Lord's
grace was sufficient for the Apostle Paul, for it is very easy to
believe things about him. We may even have no doubt that the Lord's
grace is sufficient for other people. Have you never, in another human
life, seen things that were unbearable and would altogether have
handicapped and made a walk with God impossible, and then have you not
seen that person overcoming and walking with God? Of course, the devil
will say to you: 'You are different!' But you are not. Why have they
overcome? What have you been looking at when you have been looking at a
true Christian's life? The value of being brought up in Sunday school
and knowing Christian doctrines? No, thousands of people have had that
and there is not a sign of the grace of God in them, so it is not that.
Is it that you have been seeing people who are extraordinary people and
have such a strength of ability that they can walk in the way of
holiness and obedience to God? No!
But let us see other people's failures. Why? To encourage us to know
that these are fallible people, capable of the most terrible collapse
spiritually, and sometimes even morally. It is like that in the Word of
God. What is God's purpose in doing that, and why does He allow some of
us to be seen in our failures? Perhaps He is just pointing out a truth
to some soul. Here is someone whom you thought was wonderful, but they
are not so wonderful after all -- and yet there is something wonderful
about them! They are failing men and women, but the grace of God in
them causes them not to fail. However, if they move from the grace of
God for one moment they are miserable failures -- and that is true of
all of us!
So there is no real excuse for you. God's word is just as much for you
as for any other -- "My grace is sufficient for thee." Would
you dare to tell the Lord that His grace is not sufficient for you? Is
it sufficient for you? Well, you have been failing -- but why have you
been failing? The Apostle wrote to the Colossians of a day (and what a
day!) "since ye knew the grace of God in truth". Wonderful things had
been happening in these Colossian believers. They were growing, and
increasing in holiness, and pressing toward the goal of glory, the goal
which is set before us here. The goal of grace is the blessed appearing
of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and when you
have the grace of God in your heart, you have that hope burning
brightly. That is the goal -- the blessed hope of Christ's appearing in
glory, and of our having our inheritance with Him in that same glory.
That is the end, and that end is for you, presented to you by the Lord
-- and yet you have been failing. Well, what is the matter? It is
because you have not the experience that the Colossians had -- and what
was their experience? It is very simple! They knew the grace of God in
truth. That is how they began. There was a day, not when they resolved
to be Christians, but when they said: 'Now we know the grace of God!'
The Lord had spoken to them concerning their sin and their guilt and
their need, and had said: 'My grace is sufficient to save you!' They
said: 'Praise God, we believe it is -- we are sure it is!' And that was
But every step of the way, every phase, every aspect, meant for them a
new knowledge of the grace of God, a new speaking into their hearts by
the Lord of His word: "My grace is sufficient for thee."
Now the Galatians moved from that ground. They did not give up being
Christians. They tried to be Christians, and that was their trouble.
The Apostle said to them: 'You have fallen from grace!' That does not
mean that they had slipped into sin, though it does lead into sin. They
tried to have their salvation by works and by their own efforts. Paul
said: 'You have made Christ of none effect! You have fallen from
grace!' And that is the explanation of a lot of trouble in Christian
lives. It is not that we are not trying to be Christians, but that we are
trying to be Christians, and we have been deceived into the thought
that we can be. We fall from grace, and we fail.
The true path of the just, that path which is 'as a shining light that
shineth more and more unto the perfect day', is just a simple walk of a
continually increasing knowledge of the grace of God. It begins in its
appearance for our salvation, whoever we are. It takes us through,
whoever we are. It will take us through a life of learning, of being
instructed, of being chastened, and of being trained in a way of
holiness. It will take us through to that blessed hope, even the
appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who
gave Himself for us. That is the grace of God -- Christ giving Himself,
and that is the grace of God at every aspect. He gave Himself for us
that He might give Himself to us, giving Himself to us to purge
us from all iniquity and to purify unto Himself a people for His own
possession. That is the same thing as the glory: glory for us being
with the Lord, and glory for Him that at long last, after the centuries
upon centuries, He has a people who are His own peculiar treasure,
precious above all else that He possesses -- the peculiar treasure of a
redeemed people. If you seek, and if in eternity it be [32/33]
sought, the secret that lies behind this people, the peculiar treasure
precious to the Lord's own heart above all else -- for He said: "All
the earth is Mine" -- it is just this: that they knew the grace of God
in truth. The Lord said to them, kept on saying it, and the good of
what He said remained "My grace is sufficient for thee." - H. F.
THE CHURCH -- ITS NATURE, PRINCIPLES
AND VOCATION (2)
WHEN our Lord made the great pronouncement about His Church: "... I
will build my Church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against
it", He intimated three things. One, that He would build a definite
entity called His Church. Two, that that Church would encounter an
opposing force in its full and final enmity. Three, that that power
would be taken at its ultimate strength and be destroyed, that is, made
incapable of prevailing against that Church. In this full statement
there is a very definite indication of the fundamental nature of His
true Church. We have been saying earlier that the Church is essentially
a spiritual thing, and that spirituality is its basic principle. But
can we be still clearer as to what we mean by spirituality? Yes, I
think that we can, and that by using an alternative word, the word
THE CHURCH IS ESSENTIALLY SUPERNATURAL
The Church is the embodiment of true Christianity, and true
Christianity is supernatural, or it is nothing! It is only when and
where that is fully realized and accepted that the Church really exists
and can be the power that it is intended to be.
1. SUPERNATURAL IN ORIGIN
First of all, Christianity and the Church (in truth, identical terms)
came down from heaven, and have still unceasingly to be received and entered
from there. This is the very foundational truth of Christ Himself and
of the Church in every individual incorporated into it. The teaching of
the New Testament everywhere is this. The origin and home of Christ was
in heaven. John's Gospel and Paul's Letter to the Ephesians are a
particular and emphatic argument for this one thing, and they
comprehend the New Testament in this truth. In the former the repeated
affirmation of Christ as to His heavenly origin is the basis of everything
in the whole Gospel. It is a "verily, verily" -- 'most truly', and
everything in the Gospel is intended to bear that out and be evidence
But when that has been recognized, the Gospel, and the rest of the
New Testament return from that to affirm equally that the Church
embodies that truth and fact of Christ. John 3 will employ the
identical language -- "verily, verily" -- in connection with any single
individual entering the Church. That individual, no matter if he be the
best specimen and representative of the Old Testament Israel (such as
Nicodemus) just "cannot" enter along the horizontal line of this
creation; he cannot enter by the door of nature, of tradition, of
'religion'; he "must be born from above". By this birth
he is constituted a super-natural being in the innermost
reality of his being: what Paul calls "a new creation".
Then correspondingly the Church is born from above on the Day of
Pentecost. The difference between the same persons before and after
that event, and the corporate nature of the new entity, are patent to
all who have eyes to see. It is supernatural.
2. SUPERNATURAL IN SUPPORT
What was -- and is -- true of the origin and home of Christ and
His Church is shown with overwhelming evidence to be true of
their sustenance and survival. 'Bread from heaven' only means the
sustaining, supporting power of heavenly resources. This is seen in two
connections. One, in the law of utter dependence upon God and heaven;
the very principle of the Incarnation -- "He emptied himself"
(Philippians 2:7). Again, John's Gospel is a constant emphatic
assertion of this. The double "verily, verily" is employed to affirm
this -- (5:19): "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing
of (out from) himself", etc., etc. For every work, for every word, for
every time, He declared that He was dependent upon His Father, upon
heaven. It explains His lowly birth, His lowly upbringing, His later
homelessness. It explains His being "despised and rejected of men". But
was there ever a life and work so powerful as His?
The other connection is that of the Church. [33/34]
When we consider the human material of the first nucleus, and mainly
of its growth; when we take into account what it did not have
of this world's goods and support; and when we think of all that was
against it in every conceivable way, bent upon its annihilation; and
then remark its more than survival as an entity, there is only one word
for it -- supernatural! I confess that I have marvelled at the
sustained and triumphant faith of a man like the Apostle Paul when I
see him suffering as he did, and when I read his own catalogues of
sufferings. The natural mind would say: 'This is not the support of
heaven', but we have the verdict of many centuries, and it is the
evidence and verdict of the supernatural.
Surely all this is contained in that further double "verily" of John
vi, where -- with an allusion to Israel's life in the wilderness --
Jesus declares Himself to be the Bread of God from heaven. Indeed, so
strong, meaningful, and imperative is His mind on this matter that in
that chapter He uses the double "verily" four times. The wilderness has
always been the symbol or figure of a place outside of the world, and
the succour and sustenance in conditions so inimical to life demand
resources from another realm. The history of the spiritual life is the
history of secret supernatural support. Silently, without
demonstration; sustained, without failing, sufficient, without poverty,
the Manna fell, and the Heavenly Lord of Life has maintained His Church
in the same way. Yes, while it has been silent and often almost
imperceptible to the natural senses, yet in fact, it has been a
working of immense power. The New Testament will teach us that the very
birth and sustenance of the Church is the counterpart of Israel's
emancipation from Egypt. There and then the power of God extended and
exhausted the whole might of Egypt and its gods, and then
nullified death itself.
The part of the New Testament which most specifically brings the Church
into view uses such words as: "The exceeding greatness of his
power which is to usward who believe."
We have far from understood the terrific thing that was involved in the
death and resurrection of Christ in order to secure the Church
Surely we have said enough already to do one or two very -- supremely
-- important things.
Firstly, to show what the true Church is according to the New Testament
revelation. If this is not a misapprehension of that revelation, it
must be a very discriminating thing; that is, it must reveal a very
great difference between the true Church, on one side, and that immense
umbrella which goes by the name on the other side, an umbrella under
which have gathered so many institutions and conflicting conceptions.
It should be a corrective of two extremes. The extreme of a too great
an inclusiveness which overlooks the fundamental and essential nature
of the supernatural, of which we have spoken: the supernatural in the
new birth from heaven of every individual in the Church. Also a
corrective of the opposite extreme of an unscriptural exclusiveness,
which makes Christ smaller than He really is in excluding from
fellowship truly born-again believers on the ground of some particular
technique of 'protection', or some specific interpretation of truth.
Further, if what we have said is a true definition of the Church and
its nature, then, surely, it explains loss of power, of impact, of
supernatural influence, and it explains the confusion, the poverty of
spiritual food for hungry sheep, and the scatteredness which is Satan's
special strategy to rob the Church of its vocation to take the Kingdom
The explanation is that the great power of utter dependence upon God,
which is the categorical demand of God for the showing of His own
glory, has been surrendered to recourse to the world for means,
methods, fashions, etc., to make God's work 'successful'. Satan is not
one bit afraid of anything that will use his own kingdom for its glory!
He will even sponsor anything that will give him a place. The curse
resting upon him and this world will always spell frustration,
confusion, and eventual vanity to all that is of his kingdom, hence so
much of these very things in a Church which is -- in any respect
-- of this world. The Church has so largely failed to discern why -- in
essential relation to His mission and ministry -- the temptation of
Jesus in the wilderness is given a place in three of the Gospels, and in
that specific connection John's Gospel is so gathered up in chapter
17, where the emphasis of Jesus is upon His not being of this world,
and the same of His Church!
The Church -- universal and local -- which is constituted on spiritual
and heavenly principles will have food enough for its own needs, and to
spare for all the world. The hungry will gravitate toward such. It will
be a spiritual magnet which will draw the Lord's people
together in a spiritual fellowship. It will therefore be an
object of Satan's special attention to undo it. But, even if he
succeeds in destroying its temporal aspects, by martyrdom,
fire, dissensions, scatterings, places, etc., such a church will have
held spiritual values which are indestructible and eternal --
"for the things which are seen are temporal (transient, passing) but
the things which are not seen are eternal". [34/35]
The ultimate test is the eternal!
We said at the commencement that, while we are concerned with the
nature of the true Church universal, we have a special concern for the
local expression. We shall therefore now concentrate our attention upon
If we take seriously the first three chapters of the book of the
Revelation (and surely we must do so) we shall be impressed with the
Lord's serious concern for such local expressions. A matchless
presentation of Himself is given by way of judging the churches according
to Himself. Every feature of that presentation is a factor in
judgment. Then the churches are given a twofold symbolic definition;
one as of stars and the other as lampstands. Leaving many details until
later, we, at the moment, note that the common feature is that of the
power of testimony. It is the positive element of a challenge
to world darkness. All through what follows in relation to the churches
the feature and factor of positiveness of spiritual life and influence
are dominant and paramount. All controversy by the Lord with the
churches -- on whatever specified account -- is focused upon this
ultimate issue: the positive effect of the church being where it is. Is
there an impact within (lampstands) and without (stars)? Are they
telling, accountable, effective, unmistakable? Have they an influential
impact upon their surroundings? Is there spiritual power that has
effects? Ultimately, the continuance of their place in the Divine
economy -- being retained or 'removed' -- rests upon this issue. Many
things are detailed as the cause of the loss of power, but it is that
loss which makes for judgment.
Having noted the inclusive issue which determines everything in a local
testimony we proceed to ask and answer the question: What are
THE ESSENTIAL FEATURES OF A TRUE LOCAL CHURCH?
We are seeking to keep close and true to the overall principle that the
Church -- universal and local -- is called to be an expression of
Christ. It is impossible to read the New Testament without seeing that
the presence of Christ anywhere was the presence of
1. Heavenly light and power
This we have just indicated as the basis of His judgment of churches.
With Him it was not only the light of teaching or doctrine. It was
teaching personified. There was the teaching incarnated in manhood. His
teaching and His works were one. It was very practical light! It was
light from another world. If the stars ruled the night they did
so by the reflected light of the sun. If the churches are to have the power
of truth it must be because they give a rebound of Christ upon human
darkness. A local expression of Christ should mean that there is effective
light, both for the Lord's people (the candlesticks) and for the world
(the stars). The people who have contact with such a local church
should feel the power of the teaching, should be affected by
it, and it should be fruitful in them. This is not only a test, but it
is a testimony to what the Lord has provided for. A people living
in the good of the heavenly light received through that vessel? Is sin
rebuked and exposed? Are sinners convicted? Do the perplexed get
understanding in that presencing of Christ?
2. Heavenly life
The Lord said that His very coming into this world was "that they might
have life". Therefore, His presence in a locality by means of the
church there should mean that all who come and go register a heavenly
livingness. Not just excitableness, noise, activity, etc., but a life
which is not of this world. There are not dead forms and customs. There
is nothing in a rut. Life is mediated by all that has a place and a
part. There is a spiritual lift as of resurrection
life! No depression!
3. Heavenly food
Yet again, as we have seen earlier, the presence of Christ meant bread
for the hungry. The very "compassion" of Christ meant that He could not
bear to have people come hungry and go away the same. A true local
expression of Christ will mean that that company of His people will
have, not only enough for themselves, but the margin, or overflow to
all the hungry -- spiritually hungry. That will be a house of bread
where none ever fails to be fed. The food will not be just localized,
but will be ministered to many beyond.
4. Heavenly fellowship
An impressive feature of Christ when personally present among men was
the way He transcended the things which divide men in this world. He
made no attempt to make everyone and everything uniform by
organization, institution, denomination, class, category, forms,
systems, etc. Every type and temperament, if free from prejudice and
hypocrisy and of open heart and conscious of spiritual need, found a common
ground of fellowship and oneness in Him. He just rose above the
dividing things, and in response to Him people found that things which [35/36] had separated them just vanished. Christ
became their common ground.
Thus should it be in any local corporate expression of Christ.
Questions of association, denomination, sect, tradition, etc., should
not arise, but just vanish in the presence of the warmth of fellowship
and entire occupation with Christ. The only effective way of
true unity, heavenly fellowship, is that of the higher than earthly
ground -- the love of heaven.
5. Heavenly order
All the four things which we have mentioned as characteristic of a true
local expression of the Church and of Christ will be helped or hindered
by the presence or absence of a heavenly, spiritual order. All
appointments, positions, "offices", should be by the definite witness
of the Holy Spirit; not by man's choosing, whether by others or by the
person's ambition. As the result of much prayer by the church it should
be manifest where anointing and gift rests, so that the function of
those in any position of leadership should definitely mean that the
church is inspired, strengthened and built up. Failing this heavenly
order, there will exist an element of artificiality, a straining to make
something and keep it going. The highest level of genius will fall far
short of the smallest measure of Divine inspiration. It is this Divine
inspiration that determines all Divine service and functions. There is
no effort or strain where the anointing rests, but spontaneity
and liberty and unction. Oil has ever been a symbol of the Holy Spirit,
and where He is things should move as in oil.
This is not at all an impossible standard, but the normal expression of
the Lordship and Headship of Christ.
What God requires He makes possible.
FOR BOYS AND GIRLS
HE MEANT WELL
MANY years ago I heard of the wonderful work being done in Peru by the
LeTourneau road engineers and contractors. For this reason I was
especially glad that the past Christmas brought me from America his
life-story called Mover of Men and Mountains.
Mr. LeTourneau is now an old man and he claims to be the builder of the
largest earth-moving equipment in the world. God so blessed him that
instead of giving a tenth to the work of Christ, as most of us do, he
is able to give nine-tenths. The present story, however, concerns his
early days when he was working with his Uncle Bob in a garage in
One day an elderly customer brought in his old car which needed some
welding done on the exhaust pipe. LeTourneau put the car over the
grease pit and then climbed underneath with his torch to cut the pipe.
The whole undercarriage of the car was thick with oil and grease, which
led him to believe that if he were not careful with his torch the
boards might catch fire. So he called to his Uncle Bob to stand by with
a pail of water, in readiness to help. Then he started to work. Sure
enough the oilsoaked boards caught fire and began to smoulder. "Douse
her a little", he shouted from the pit. "It's getting warm down here."
Uncle Bob got excited and emptied the whole bucketful in one action.
Unfortunately, the bucket did not contain water but was full of clear
petrol intended for use in cleaning automobile parts. Boom! The whole
pit was filled with a sheet of flame.
By a miracle LeTourneau was not injured. He jumped out of the pit and
rushed for a fire extinguisher. Poor frightened Uncle Bob soon found
another, and between them they were able to put out the fire with very
little damage done. But it had been a near thing. Various explanations
were put out for LeTourneau's miraculous escape. The simplest one was
that because the car had a canvas top the explosion had gone upwards
and away from the pit instead of blowing down the burning boards upon
him. So far as he was concerned he knew that he had been saved by the
Lord Jesus, and all his thanks were directed towards Him.
The great thing, however, was that he had received an object lesson
about the insufficiency of being sincere which served him for the rest
of his life. His Uncle Bob loved him and certainly wished him no harm.
On the contrary, his eager action had been due to his desire to be
helpful. He did not lack in good intentions, but he showed just how
wrong even the most sincere man can be. He sincerely believed that what
the bucket contained was water which would put out the fire. But he was
wrong. The very thing which was intended to bring salvation from danger
actually made the danger much worse.
When he tells this story Mr. LeTourneau says [36/37]
that he often hears people claiming that God does not mind much what we
believe so long as we are sincere. Perhaps you have heard people say
the same thing here in England. Perhaps you have thought that it was
right and until now have been confident that nothing can harm you so
long as you are sincere. When Mr. LeTourneau hears people talking like
this he is able to tell them that sincerity is not enough. He should
know, for Uncle Bob's sincerity nearly cost him his life. Not that
Uncle Bob was more faulty than other people. Any number of men in the
same circumstances might well have made the same mistake. So we must
not be led astray by thinking that numbers make any difference. Large
numbers of people can be sincere and yet in the end be found to have
The important thing to do is to place all our reliance, not on our
opinions or feelings, but on certain facts. There can be no doubts
about the facts of the Lord Jesus. He is able to deliver us from all
danger and to save us from our sins. Mr. LeTourneau proved this for
himself and spent his life telling others and seeing the reality of
God's power in their lives. "Neither is there salvation in any other:
for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we
must be saved" (Acts 4:12). - H. F.
MORE PIONEERS OF THE HEAVENLY WAY
Genesis 45:5, 7
"God did send me before you to preserve life"
"God sent me before you to preserve ... a remnant"
IT is clear from this double statement -- "God sent me before ..." --
that Joseph was one of God's pioneers of the heavenly way. His history
holds some very helpful things in relation to the goings of God. Let us
repeat what we have said before in such connections: that we are not
engaged with a biography of the people referred to, but only with what
they represent in spiritual truths as to God's pursuit of His ultimate
end. We must remind ourselves that God's full and final end is
comprehended in His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore the Bible is the book
of Jesus Christ throughout. Every part of it has, in some way, to do
with that end and object. There are few cases in the Old Testament that
more deeply and clearly foreshadow Jesus Christ as God's end than does
This is inclusively indicated in the two fragments mentioned above
which gather up the whole purpose of his history. We can only
understand the life and history of Joseph as we recognize the purpose
governing all. When this has been pinpointed we can see without
difficulty how he points to Christ. His double statement is that the
sovereignty of God in his history had the one inclusive end and object
to "preserve life".
The life of an elect people was the all-governing object. That
undoubtedly was the mission of God's Son, and it is the fundamental
factor in the whole Bible.
Having said that, we can note the course by which that end was
pioneered: only pausing to interject that all ministries in the
choice and appointment of God are related to the one end of Christ.
The story of Joseph is both a very human story and a very Divine story,
but with one key to both. That we shall come on presently.
On the human side, if read only from the natural standpoint,
there are features which may be regarded as quite regrettable. For
instance, a father's favouritism for one member of a large family is
really an unwise thing. Whatever argument there may be for it, it only
engenders jealousies and complications. Joseph was clearly a favourite
with his father, and was perhaps -- or evidently -- singled out for
special partiality. Then Joseph had dreams which put him in a special
position of superiority over his brothers. It is quite all right to
have dreams, but it is of doubtful discretion to tell your family of
them if they are of this sort. Quite naturally they could give the
impression of arrogance and self-importance. It would therefore be very
natural for the family to develop a dislike for such a brother.
You know, Jesus was a special object of His Father's love. He did
know the destiny bound up with His life. Further, not in His case
indiscreetly, He told quite frankly to the family of Jacob (the Jews)
both those things -- His Father's love for Him, and what His destiny
would be as over them. This was undoubtedly the ostensible and
natural reason for their hatred of Him and for what they did to Him.
There are intimations that He was the lone and suspected member of His
own family, for it is definitely stated that "His brethren did not
believe [37/38] in him". He was therefore a
lonely man, discredited in His family and in the world. "Despised and
rejected of men." This in His case, as in Joseph's, led on to deep and
dark soul-sufferings, malignings, intrigues, mysterious ways of
Providence, and apparent forsakenness of God. "The iron entered into
his soul," or "His soul entered into the iron". A long period of
patient waiting unto God's time for the completion of His God-appointed
mission was involved.
The other details of Joseph's history need not be followed out here. We
have to retrace our steps to lay hold of the Divine side of it all. The
sovereignty of God is unmistakable. "God sent me before." The sovereign
foreknowledge in that word "before" is, at last, clear to Joseph when,
in the full light of God's deep and hidden ways -- "Mysterious
Providence" -- he declares to his brethren: "Ye meant it for evil, but
God meant it for good." What a "But" -- "But God!"
"Thy way, O Lord, is in the deep."
Having mentioned the human side and the Divine, we have not told the
whole story. There is an element that is neither of these: it is the
satanic. This extra factor is one with which all pioneers of the heavenly
way have to reckon. The jealousy and hatred of Joseph's brethren after
the flesh , and that in the case of Jesus, were not just natural.
There was something sinister in it. It is not easy for us to understand
how Satan knows, but it is clear from Scripture that he has an uncanny
intuitive knowledge of God's intentions, and, more strangely those
intentions being bound up with the life of elect vessels of ministry
related to those intentions. This is quite evident -- and fully
so in the case of the Lord Jesus. From Herod's satanically-inspired
murder of the babes with the sole object of destroying One, right on to
the Cross this sinister and devilish motivation is evident because he
-- Satan -- knew who that One was, and what His destiny was to be. It
was all so unnatural, and can only be explained on the ground between
the human and the Divine.
So with Joseph. Say what you will as to the human, there was something
deeper in his history than men's attitudes and actions. He was marked
out in the Divine councils as a pioneer of life, and Satan knew it.
Joseph's life from the beginning was dogged by something that was an
element of adversity, although beloved of his father.
The ways of any pioneer of heavenly purpose will always have this
involvement in difficulties and adversities which are not the lot of
ordinary people. As vocation is the principle of election, so the
vocation is the cause of all the trouble. A pioneer in the way of God's
eternal purpose will know much of "the fellowship of his sufferings";
but the throne and the crown and the glory are in view, for "God meant
(and means) it" so.
"BLESSED IS THE MAN ..."
Message given at the conference in Switzerland in
[W. E. Thompson]
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of
the wicked, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat
of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his
law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted
by the streams of water, that bringeth forth its fruit in its season,
whose leaf also doth not wither; and whatsoever he doeth he shall
prosper" (Psalm 1:1-3).
WE have been hearing how the New Testament is constructed on a
spiritual basis rather than on a chronological one, and that is also
true of the Old Testament, particularly the books of the Psalms. As we
read the Old Testament, and the Psalms, I believe we need to do so from
this standpoint. If you have good Bibles you will find that the Psalms
are divided into five books, and I think you will find that these five
books of the Psalms correspond to the five books of Moses.
The first book of Moses is Genesis, the book of beginnings, the book of
man. Throughout that book we read of God's dealings with man, and the
main content is a man; and the first book of Psalms (1 - 41) deals with
the blessed man. That is what we are now going to consider. But, for
your interest, if you read the second book of the Psalms, 42 - 73, you
will find that they correspond to the book of Exodus, for they are the
Psalms of deliverance. Then what is the next step after deliverance? It
is not service, but worship -- the sanctuary. "Thy way, O God, is in
the sanctuary" (Psalm 77:13). That is the book of Leviticus -- and you
will find a lot about the sanctuary in Psalms 73 - 89. Next we have the
book of journeyings -- the book of Numbers, and if you read that fourth
book of [38/39] Psalms (90 to 106) you will find
much about wanderings and wilderness experiences. Then, of course, the
fifth book of Moses, the book of Deuteronomy, has the land in sight.
We have also seen this week how God's history is bound up in the
history of a man, and the Psalms are the reflections of God's dealings
with a man, for we will find here almost every experience that we can
possibly know. It is said of David that he was a man after God's own
heart (Acts 13:22), and he was also a man after God's head, for it
says: "He shall do all my will." Thus we find in the Psalms the answer
to our needs and our problems.
This first Psalm begins with a very important word -- "Blessed": "
Blessed is the man ...".
WHAT ARE BLESSINGS?
Now what are blessings? We use the word a great deal. We pray for God
to bless us, to bless this one and that one, and I think perhaps it is
true to say that we have come to Aeschi for a blessing. Now I believe
that there are some Christians who consider that God is like a
supermarket. All they have to do is to get their baskets and pick a
blessing here and a blessing there; they go to the conference section
and think that they can just fill their baskets with this kind of
No, blessings are not like that. We just cannot go round and collect
them. These blessings are to be found only in Christ, and we shall find
that we shall be blessed only in the measure that we are ourselves
truly in Him and really share in a practical way His blessed life. "Blessed
is the man ...". Well, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ is the first
and the primary blessed Man, and it is the purpose and intention of God
to bring us into these blessings of Christ. 'Blessed' is the first word
used in the earliest recorded discourse of our Lord Jesus Christ --
"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"
(Matthew 5:3). God put Adam in the garden of Eden for a blessing, and
the blessings that he lost are only regained in our Lord Jesus Christ.
That is why His ministry has so much of this very important word. We
want, and we need, a blessing. so that Lord says: "Blessed ...".
Another translation of this word helps us to understand what it means
-- 'happy'. We can talk about the blessed man as a happy man.
But then I would like to ask another question. What really makes us
happy? What is it that really constitutes true, deep happiness? I think
it is the word 'satisfied'. We can take this word 'blessed' away and
put 'satisfied' in and it would be quite correct.
Now this kind of satisfaction is not a cheap and easy thing, but is
something that goes right, deep down into our very innermost being,
because it is deep in the heart of God Himself. It is the very meaning
of the Gospel. If you look at 1 Timothy 1:11 you will read a verse that
will alter your whole idea about the Gospel. It is "the gospel of the
glory of the blessed God", or " satisfied God". Is that not
wonderful? That makes a difference to what you mean when you talk about
a 'Gospel meeting', when you are supposed to preach some kind of
formula which is the answer to people's needs! No, this Gospel that we
have been brought into is the gospel of a God who is absolutely
satisfied. Why is He satisfied? Because He has found the way by which
He can reclaim man and bring Him back to Himself. After He had created
Adam He said: 'It is good!' I do not think that God was finally
satisfied after creating Adam, but He was certainly satisfied at the
coming into the world of the final Adam -- "This is my beloved Son, in
whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). And God is satisfied because of
those sons who have been brought to glory. That is why He is a blessed
God, and the only basis of our true blessing is as we experience that
in which God is well pleased; and that depends upon the measure in
which the Lord Jesus Christ reigns within us.
THE LOSS OF BLESSEDNESS
Now we find in this first Psalm how the devil tries to rob this blessed
man of the enjoyment of his blessings. The first verse, with its three
negatives, gives us an idea of how the devil tries to rob us of what
God has given us. The blessed man 'walks not in the counsel of the
ungodly; he stands not in the way of sinners; he sits not in the seat
of the scornful'. There are three nouns and three verbs in that verse,
and they are very important. The ungodly: that represents everyone who
does not acknowledge God. The sinners: that represents those who
actively do evil. The scornful: those who are directly opposed to God.
You will notice that there is a decline in these three kinds of persons.
I want to say a word to all young people under eighty, and it is this:
It is vitally important what friends you have and what company you
keep, if you are the people of God, if you are those who have a
completely different nature, and if you are the blessed people, for
this is where the devil begins to work.
Notice those three verbs: Walk -- Stand -- Sit. Again there is a
declension. We do not find ourselves immediately sitting amongst those
who scorn God. It all begins with a walk. Some years ago in [39/40] Bombay the Lord brought to Himself a
remarkable young Hindu. He came from a very staunch Hindu family, and
it was wonderful to see his growth in the things of God. Then he began
to lose his joy, his blessings. We found that he began to go right away
and his life became quite contrary to the life of a Christian.
Ultimately he went right back into his Hindu family. How did this
happen? He began by 'walking in the counsel of the ungodly'. He started
listening to his worldly friends concerning things like marriage, and
began to take advice from non-Christian friends. Then one day I looked
in his bag and I found some books. They were not very nice books. He
was 'standing in the way of sinners'; and I know many young Christians
who have lost their blessings through reading the wrong kind of books
and magazines. Eventually he found himself in the 'seat of the
scornful'. If we had the time to study the story of the Prodigal Son we
would find the same kind of thing.
This matter of walking is very important. Our walk reveals our
character. Those disciples in John i did not hear the Lord Jesus
preaching, for it says: "They looked upon Jesus as he walked, and said,
Behold the Lamb of God!" He was identified by His walk. We can disguise
ourselves in many ways. We can wear a wig, or we can paint our faces
and do a lot of outward things, but we cannot disguise our walk. The
blessed man walks in the newness of life, for we shall walk in the
light of that new, hidden life. As we know the Lord so we shall walk.
When God revealed Himself to Abraham as El Shaddai, the Almighty God,
what did He say? 'Go and preach about it!'? 'Go and write a book about
it!'? No, He said: 'Walk!' -- "Walk before me, and be thou perfect"
(Genesis 17:1). This walking is a very important part of our Christian
THE LAW OF THE LORD
In verse 2 of this Psalm we find something about the positive aspect of
this blessed man. It is very simple: "His delight is in the law of the
Lord." Now we delight our bodies in good food. We delight our souls in
a variety of ways -- in nice music, or beautiful scenery, but our
bodies and our souls do not delight in the law of the Lord. We can only
delight in the law of the Lord in the inward man. Paul said: "I delight
in the law of God after the inward man" (Romans 7:22). The natural man
never understands and delights in the Word of God. He may read it and
say that it is wonderful literatures but he does not delight in it,
because "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God"
(1 Corinthians 2:14).
We also find in verse 2 of this Psalm that this blessed man meditates
in this law, and not just for a few minutes in the morning and in the
evening. It says: "Day and night." He is constantly meditating in the
law of the Lord Jehovah.
But wait a minute! What was David's Bible? What was the "law of the
Lord" in which David meditated for such a long time? He did not have
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, nor did he have the letter to the
Ephesians. He had Genesis -- well, that is quite interesting. He had
Exodus -- yes, there are many interesting things there. He had
Leviticus -- oh, what can you get out of Leviticus? And he had the
other two books of Moses.
If we really have the life of the inward man we shall find a tremendous
lot in Leviticus, and, young people, please do not skip these books
when you read the Bible! If you want to know the real blessedness, you
meditate in these books. What is the key, the secret of them'? It is
the satisfied God! You look for the satisfied God in Leviticus and you
will find a tremendous world of richness.
THE EVIDENCE OF BLESSEDNESS
In verse 3 we find the evidence of the blessed man: "He shall be like a
tree." To you people living in Switzerland that may not be very
wonderful, for you have so many trees around you. The country is just
full of them. But to those of us who in the East a tree is quite a rare
thing, and it was certainly a rare thing in the country where David
lived. When you fly over India and look down over the barren plain you
will suddenly see a little patch which is all green, and there are many
trees. If you look more carefully you will see the reason: there will
be a river. This tree here is "planted by the streams of water". Here
is the centre where the Holy Spirit is working, and certainly our
blessedness will depend a lot upon that. Get near the stream and we
We read three things about this tree in this verse -- about its root,
its leaf and its fruit. These are very important things in this blessed
life. Without the root and the leaf there will not be fruit, and the
Lord has ordained that we shall go forth and bear fruit. The main
purpose of a tree is to bear fruit, and this is the evidence of a
blessed man. How does he do this? He must draw his life from two
sources. There is the hidden life, the roots that go down deep into the
dark earth where the streams are. The more I read concerning the Holy
Spirit the more I believe that His work is essentially hidden. We do
not read that the Holy Spirit is given to us for sensations! That life
which feeds on the Holy [40/41] Spirit is a
hidden life. David said in Psalm 51 that the Lord wanted "truth in the
inward parts", and Peter talks about "the hidden man of the heart" (1
Peter 3:4). It is this hidden life, this life deep down in the dark
that is so important to blessedness. If we had time to read Psalm 17 we
would understand more of this -- you can read that at your leisure!
Not only is there the hidden life, but there is also the outward life,
the life that is derived from the leaves. The leaves draw from the
sun's rays, and through the process which is known as 'photosynthesis'
they minister life to the tree -- and we need this corporate life. You
notice that it says: "We all with unveiled face reflecting as a
mirror the glory of the Lord", and then the photosynthesis -- the
spiritual synthesis -- goes on.
Now it is most important that we see that we maintain in balance the
hidden life and the corporate life if we are going to bear fruit, and
you notice that it is 'fruit in season'. That does not mean that you
have only to bear spiritual fruit once a year. Please do not think
that! I think it means timeliness. There is a verse in Proverbs 25
which says: "A word in due season is like apples of gold" (verse 11,
margin). The timely word, the timely act, the timely bearing of
spiritual fruit are the things which bring blessedness.
And then we find, concerning this man, that "whatsoever he doeth, he
shall prosper" (margin). Not 'it shall prosper', but " he
shall prosper". Sometimes people think that they only have to do all
these things and then go to business, and the business will prosper.
God is not interested in our business prospering, but He is interested
in us prospering.
This immediately takes us to another man in whom God's history is bound
up -- and I wish we had another hour to study the life of Joseph
together. Dear old Jacob, when he gathered his sons together at the
end, did not have very much to say about Judah and the others, but he
said this about Joseph: "Joseph is a fruitful bough. ... His branches
run over the wall" (Genesis 49:22).
(Next to the house where I am now living the neighbour has a very nice
apple tree and it comes over the wall -- and there are more apples on
my side than on his! Well, they are blessings indeed!)
Jacob goes on to say: "The Almighty, who shall bless thee, with
blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that coucheth beneath
..." (verse 25). There are many more blessings there if you will read
that passage. Joseph was a man who was prospered of God. Whatever
people did to Joseph, he prospered. We find that in Genesis 39. If his
brothers put him into a pit, he prospered, and if he was made a servant
in Potiphar's house, he prospered -- and if you want an illustration of
not walking in the ways of the ungodly and sitting in the seat of the
scornful, you read Joseph's history in Potiphar's house! You will
understand why he prospered! They put him in prison, and even there he
Now this is the character of the blessed man. It does not matter where
you put him, for he will spring up with spiritual prosperity --
blessedness. If we had time to study it we would understand that
Joseph's life was one that was alienated from his brothers. It was a
life that was contrary to a lot of the natural things around him, and
it was a life of suffering -- and there are blessings to come from the
sufferings of Christ. It may be that some of the truest blessings that
the Lord will ever give us are those that come through suffering and
limitation, but when they are the blessings of the hidden man, the
blessings of the satisfied God, we shall go right through and bear
fruit, and our blessings will be shared by many. - W. E. T.
"YE ARE MY FRIENDS"
AMONG the various titles by which Christians were called in the New
Testament surely the most wonderful is that given by the Lord Jesus --
"Ye are my friends":
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down
his life for his friends. Ye are my friends if ye do the things which I
command you. No longer do I call you servants; for the servant knoweth
not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends: for all things
that I heard from my Father I nave made Known unto you. Ye did not
choose me, but I chose you and appointed you, that ye should go and
bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide" (John 15:13-16).
It is indeed a very wonderful and beautiful thing that the Son of God
called such as the disciples were, and such as we are, His friends. I
do not think there is a greater or more beautiful word in all our
language than that word 'friend'. It is the most intimate title in all
human relationships. Every other [41/42]
relationship that we can think of may exist without this. Perhaps we
think that the marriage relationship is the most intimate, but it is
possible for that relationship to exist without friendship. Happy
indeed is the man whose wife is his friend, and happy is the wife whose
husband is her friend. It is a very close relationship between children
and parents and parents and children, but it is a great thing when the
father can call his son his friend, and when he can say, not 'my son',
but 'my friend'. And, again, it is a great thing when a child can say,
not only 'my father', but 'my friend': 'my father is my friend' -- 'my
mother is my friend'. It is something extra in relationship. We may
admire a person and have a lot of association with them: we may think
that we know them and could say: 'Well, I know so-and-so very
well', but, even so, there may not be friendship. Friendship is always
just that bit extra.
When Jesus said: "Ye are my friends", He was going beyond 'Ye are My
disciples' and 'Ye are My followers'. He could have called them by many
other names, but when He said: "Ye are my friends" He went beyond
anything else. And I think that the Lord Jesus found the most complete
satisfaction of His heart in this word. To say "Ye are my friends" was
as far as anybody could possibly go. Really, there is nothing beyond
it. You reach the end of all relationships when you really come to
friendship. How rich and how precious, then, is this title!
In the picture of the new Jerusalem which we have at the end of the
Bible it says: "The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned
with all manner of precious stones" (Revelation 21:19). The foundation
of that city was that which was most precious, and I think the most
precious foundation of life is friendship. The new Jerusalem itself
will be built upon the foundation of the friendship between the Lord
Jesus and His own.
Well, that is just a little about friendship. But what is the nature of
friendship? We have it here in John 15: "No longer do I call you
servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth, but I have
called you friends: for all things that I heard from my Father I have
made known unto you." Friendship is that position which makes it
possible to open the heart fully, to keep nothing back; and to have
such confidence that you can trust the other person with all that is in
your heart. Jesus said: 'All that the Father has shown Me I have shown
you. I have kept nothing back from you. I have put perfect confidence
in you. I have had no suspicions of you and have not been afraid to say
just what was in My heart.'
You know, that is very wonderful. Go back again in this Gospel by John
and in chapter two you will find: "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the
passover, during the feast, many believed on his name, beholding his
signs which he did. But Jesus did not trust himself unto them, for that
he knew all men, and because he needed not that any one should bear
witness concerning man, for he himself knew what was in man" (John
Jesus knew all men, and because of that He did not commit Himself to
them ... "Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus" (John
3:1), and what follows shows that Jesus knew Nicodemus and He did not
commit Himself to him. Nicodemus was not in the position of a friend,
at least, not at this time. How much he was before the end we do not
know. He did act like a friend in the burial of Jesus, for something
had happened to him by that time. But at this time he was amongst those
men to whom Jesus did not commit Himself. He simply said, in effect:
'Before I can commit Myself to you, you must be born again.'
That is the beginning of this friendship. Yes, Jesus has told us that
the real nature of friendship is that He can just commit Himself to His
friends. He said many things to other people, but He did not put
Himself into their hands. And that is all the difference. You may have
a lot of fellowship, say a lot of things, and they may be quite true
things, but that is not putting yourself into the hands of
those people. There is all the difference between conversation and
fellowship and committal. Friendship means that you have
committed yourselves to one another -- you have really put yourself
into the hands of the other person. That is what Jesus said friendship
means: "All things that I heard from my Father I have made known unto
you." 'I have had no reserves where you are concerned.'
I am sure you are feeling that this is a very wonderful thing and are
wondering more and more at it as we go on. Just think that the Son of
God should do that -- that He should be willing to commit Himself to
And these were not empty words. He went on to show that He would prove
His friendship. What is the proof of friendship? Well, of course, it is
firstly, as we have said, committing yourself to the other.
But then Jesus said this: "Greater love hath no man than this. That a
man lay down his life for his friends." That is the proof of
friendship. How much are you prepared to sacrifice, to suffer and to
put up with? "A man lay down his life for his friends." Now, of course,
you are thinking of one thing -- of dying in some way for your friends.
But there are a thousand ways of laying down your life for your
friends. It is a matter of laying down our lives all [42/43] the time -- not just some big act of dying for
our friends, but every day laying down our lives, letting something of
ourselves go, letting some personal interest go and just saying: 'That
does not matter -- it is for my friend. That is not so important -- it
is for my friend.' Friendship makes everything else unimportant. If
there is real friendship we do not stay to say: 'Well, now, must I do
that? Am I really obliged to do that? Can I not get out of it in some
way? Really, is there any harm in my doing this?'
You know, that is the attitude of a lot of Christians. 'Why may I not
do this? Is there any harm in it? A lot of other people do it so why
should I not do it? I even know Christians who do it. Must I really not
do this?' Supposing Jesus had taken that attitude! No, friendship puts
all that kind of thing away and never talks about 'Must I?' 'Is there
no other way?' This is a laying down of the life for a friend.
So I say that there are many ways of laying down our life. What is
laying down our life? It is just holding that nothing is too valuable
or important to be kept from our friend. It does not matter what it
costs, or how painful it is -- friendship makes it possible.
We have the great illustration in the Bible. There is only one man in
all the Bible who was called God's friend: "Abraham ... the friend of
God" (James 2:23). What a wonderful thing to be said of any man --
"Abraham, my friend", said God (Isaiah 41:8). It is God speaking about
a man, and He is saying "My friend"! How could God call Abraham His
friend? What made Abraham a friend of God? "Take now thy son, thine
only son, whom thou lovest ... and offer him" (Genesis 22:2). What did
Abraham say? 'You have asked too much. Isaac is too precious. He is
everything to me. Oh, no, I cannot offer him!'? No, Abraham did not
talk like that. I think it is most wonderful when it says: "And Abraham
rose early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his
young men with him, and Isaac his son, and he clave the wood for the
burnt offering" (Genesis 22:3). I venture to suggest to you that if you
were faced with that you would not get up early that morning! You would
be staying in bed just as long as you could and putting it off as long
as possible. But it says: "Abraham rose early in the morning ."
What was he about to do? He was about to enter right into the heart of
God in giving his only begotten son, and enter right into fellowship
with the passion of God's heart. "God so loved ... that He gave His
only begotten Son." It was because of that that Abraham was God's
friend. He had entered right into the heart of God and counted nothing
too precious for the friendship of God.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for
his friends", and in offering Isaac Abraham indeed laid down his life.
"Abraham, my friend." That is the nature of friendship. And Jesus
proved His friendship. This is the proof -- that He has laid down His
Then we go on to ask another question: What is the basis of this
friendship? Jesus knew what was going to happen in the near future, for
it was getting very near to the day when they would all forsake Him,
and yet, knowing all that, He said: "Ye are my friends." There must be
some basis which is more than just this present time. Jesus was looking
beyond the Cross, and He was seeing that the day would come when these
men would stand strongly on the ground of the Cross. We now have the
full story. Oh, yes, not so long after this they were letting
everything in this world go for Him. The Cross had truly entered into
their hearts. The spirit of the Cross had truly taken possession of
them and they were standing firmly upon that ground. And Jesus knew
that that was how it would be. He knew what was going to happen in the
next few days, but He was always speaking to them about afterward,
that human failure was not the last thing and was not going to be the
end of everything. To that poor, failing Peter He said this: "And do
thou, when once thou hast turned again, stablish thy brethren" (Luke
22:32). 'You are going to have a terrible fall, but that is not going
to be the end. You will turn again and you will have a great ministry
Jesus was always looking beyond the Cross, and He saw that these men
would stand upon the ground of the Cross. The Cross means that you do
not hold anything for yourself, but only for your friend, and that was
true of these men.
But Jesus also saw something else. He knew that before long they would
receive the Holy Spirit and that they would be governed by Him. And
when the Holy Spirit really takes possession you can be trusted. These
men could not be trusted without the Holy Spirit, but when He came in,
then you could depend upon them. They would not be governed by personal
interests, nor would they have any fleshly considerations, but they
would live by the Spirit and not by the flesh. And Jesus said: 'On that
ground ye are My friends, and that day is as though it is now. Ye are
My friends because I know that you men are going to stand on the ground
of the Cross and are going to be led by the Holy Spirit.'
You see, that is the basis of friendship. If we live on our own natural
ground then the Lord will [43/44] never be able
to depend upon us, but if the Cross has done its deep work in our
hearts, and if we are really governed by the Holy Spirit, the Lord has
all the ground that He requires to commit Himself to us, all that is
necessary for Him to say: "Ye are my friends."
I think there was one thing that the Lord Jesus knew about eleven of
these men. Yes, they were men of many weaknesses and many failures.
They often said the wrong thing and often did the wrong thing, but
Jesus knew that He had their hearts. In spite of everything He had
captured their hearts. They had a heart for Him. They may have made
mistakes, and He knew all about that, but He knew that they had given
Him their hearts. They had a heart for the Lord, and that is the basis
of His friendship. He is saying: 'Have I really got all your
heart? I know all about your weaknesses and your failures, but, really,
is your whole heart over on my side?'
Judas never gave his heart to the Lord. He had a heart for himself and
for worldly gain. Jesus could never say to him: 'You are My friend',
but He called him "the son of perdition" (John 27:12). But with these
eleven He was quite sure where their hearts were. He even saw what
would happen when He was on trial and crucified, but He told them what
to do and where to meet Him after that. He knew that they would
come through because they had a heart for Him. You have only to look at
these people when Jesus had been crucified and was in the grave. How
sad they were! It is as though they had lost everything in life, and
they had lost everything, simply because they had given their
whole hearts to the Lord Jesus. That is the basis of His friendship.
It is in these things, then, that the Lord is able to trust us and
commit Himself to us. This is the relationship that the Lord Jesus
wants more than anything else. The breakdown in friendship is so often
because of some natural interest arising, some question of how it is
going to affect us rather than how it is going to affect Him.
This is something very challenging to our hearts, and it is a lesson
that all of us have to learn. I have to learn it, and am trying to do
so. You have to learn it -- that the greatest thing in all life is how
our behaviour affects the Lord Jesus; how our appearance before the
world affects the Lord Jesus; how differences between us affect the
Lord Jesus. Yes, everything, how it affects the Lord Jesus. You know,
that is the very essence of friendship. True friendship is always
governed by this: 'I would do nothing to hurt my friend. That is the
last thing that ever I want to do!', and Jesus wants to put our lives
upon that basis. He will never do anything to hurt us, but how much we
hurt Him! We must bring everything to the judgment bar of friendship.
The greatest characteristic of friendship is loyalty. I do not think
there is a greater or grander virtue than loyalty. You may not always
understand your best friend; he or she may sometimes do things that you
cannot understand, things about which you do not feel very happy at the
moment, but if it is friendship you are loyal to your friend, whether
you understand him or not. You will not betray your friend or talk
about him to his detriment, nor do anything that would injure him. You
will always be loyal. Faithfulness is the heart of friendship and that
is the attitude of the Lord Jesus.
But the Lord wants to put His disciples on the same basis. He wants
this spirit and nature of friendship to exist between His own. He wants
them to have the same spirit as is in Himself and to be friends of one
another. We may say: 'Yes, he or she is my fellow-Christian.' As
Christians we may speak of one another as our brothers and sisters, but
I have said there is something more than that, more than
fellow-Christians, more than brothers and sisters. I suppose I must not
put it in the Christian realm and say more than fathers and mothers,
but the meaning is the same. There is just that something extra -- 'He
is more than my brother, he is my friend.' 'She is more than my sister,
she is my friend.' Oh, that the Lord might be able to get that kind of
May He write this word deeply in our hearts and send us back to the
places where we are going with a heart wholly for Him! Nothing held
back, but a complete committal to Him, that He has us altogether, and
by His grace we will never do anything that will hurt Him. We will
always ask the question about everything: 'How will this affect my
Lord?' You see, friendship has two sides. It is not onesided. It is not
friendship when I do all the friendliness and you do not do any. No, it
has two sides. We must be to Him what He is to us, and we must be to
one another what He is to us.
Now this is going to be a very difficult thing, but remember the Cross
and the Holy Spirit. They are the two great powers which make this
possible. The Cross is not only the crucifixion of Christ many years
ago: it is a mighty power in life every day. The Holy Spirit is not
somebody who came at Pentecost many years ago. He is here today and can
be in us, and if He really has the control of our lives the one thing
which will concern us most is 'How does my life affect the Lord Jesus?'
Take that message away with you, and seek to live by it in all the days
before us. [44/45]
CHRIST OUR ALL
3. CHRIST THE ALL-DOMINATING OBJECT AND PRIZE
WHAT we have said about Christ as our mind leads us straight into
chapter three of the Letter to the Philippians. Chapter three is the
continuation of what is in chapter two. We recognize the convenience of
chapter divisions, but we greatly regret them. They are no part of the
original New Testament writings, but were only introduced by a man
named Stephen Langton in the thirteenth century, just as the verse
divisions were made by the Paris printer Stephanas in the seventeenth
century. These divisions help us to find the place, but they are very
artificial and really -- in one way -- are apt to rob us of real
values. So very often it is essential to run straight on in the
reading, ignoring the chapter division, in order to get the full value
and meaning of the subject being dealt with.
There are few better examples of this than the one before us (as
mentioned above). The continuity is found in this: "Have this mind in
you which was in Christ Jesus", who -- in order to secure God's full
purpose and realize God's full end -- emptied Himself and let go of
everything that He had, and humbled Himself, etc. The goal and prize of
all this was His full and final exaltation and glory. This was the mind
Now Paul goes on to say that that mind had been planted in him and --
in the much lesser way -- he had let go of the rich heritage which had
been his and had counted it all valueless in view of the great "on high
calling" to "gain Christ". The loss of all things was incomparable to
that great ultimate "gain", the fullness of Christ. Christ's supreme
example, and Paul's own apprehension of Christ with this very practical
effect, were the basis of his appeal for oneness of mind in believers.
What Paul is really saying is that oneness, unity, and singlemindedness
among believers will be achieved by -- and only by -- this
Christly disposition, and by Christ being the only and all-absorbing
object and prize. He contrasts this "mind" with those who "mind earthly
things" (4:8) and who "seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ"
We could include many things in that "all seek their own", for
apparently this referred to the Judaizers, who were wanting to change
Christianity. Maybe 'their own things' were just "things" in which they
were interested in Christianity. It has turned out in Christianity that
the means to the end have become more than the end. Hence jealousies,
rivalries, vested interests, the clientele, support, the 'Mission', the
'Denomination', the Institution, etc., and if anything seems
detrimentally to affect it, a bitter spirit arises, and charges of
'sheep-stealing', divisiveness, and so on, split the spirit of Christ.
If everything were looked at as to whether it has a contribution of
Christ to make to believers, rather than how it affects our particular
interest, Christ would be the unifying object.
Paul was not saying that there must be uniformity of mind on all
particular points, for "there are diversities of gifts", and functions,
but that in right and proper diversity there should be one all-unifying
"mind"; the passion for Christ transcending and dominating all else,
and arbitrating in all Issues.
Paul's own life, a life so capable of versatility, variety, many
interests and possibilities, was unified by this "one thing" (3:13). we
must keep clearly in mind that in what Paul is saying here he is not
thinking of salvation, but of the purpose of salvation, which is so
very much more than escaping eternal judgment and getting into heaven.
I do not think that the deep concern and exercise shown here by the
Apostle meant that he feared for his salvation, but, as he says, "If by
any means I may attain" -- unto what? Being an eternally saved soul?
No! But "that I may apprehend that for which I was
apprehended": "The prize of the on-high calling".
The stress -- if that is the right word to use -- the intensity
exhibited by Paul is not because God has made it difficult, but because
every art and artifice, every means and method of Satan, every danger
in his own reactions to suffering is encountered especially by
those who are set upon, and in the way of that on-high Calling! The
enemy knows the ultimate peril to his kingdom involved in this
utterness for Christ, for the on-high calling is to reign, and there is
an "If" attached to that. So this oneness of mind is an immense
In his appeal the Apostle reminds his readers that this motive comes
from the very fact that their "citizenship is (now) in heaven" (3:20)
and therefore the "on-high" or "heavenly" calling should be in the very
constitution and disposition of a heavenly people.
May our true heavenly nature assert itself more and more powerfully so
"the things of earth (do) grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace." [45/46]
We acknowledge with gratitude the following gifts received from 1st
December 1968 to 27th January 1969:
Aberdare £3; Alberta, Canada £5; Amsterdam, Holland
£1; Barendrecht, Holland £10; Barry £1, £1;
Basle, Switzerland £1; Beckenham £50; Bedford 10s.; Belfast
£1, £1; Bengeo 4s. 5d.; Berkhamsted 7s.; Bexleyheath
£1; Bideford £1 11s. 8d.; Birmingham 10s., 10s.; Bognor
Regis £10; Bournemouth 17s. 6d.; Brighton £3, £1
10s.; Bristol £1; Bromley £5, £3; Brynmawr 10s.;
Burnham-on-Sea 10s.; Cabinteely £1; Canterbury 10s.; Chicago,
Illinois £1; Chislehurst £5; Chorley Wood £1; Church
Stretton 10s.; Cleadon £10; Colborne, Ontario £1; Congleton
£5; Copenhagen, Denmark £1; Cromer £5; Deal £1,
£2, £2 10s., £2, £1, £1; Dereham
£1; Dover 10s.; Dublin £1, £3; Dunmow £1;
Dunning £1; Eastbourne 18s. 10d., 10s.; East Orange, New Jersey
£1 5s.; Edinburgh £1 10s., £1; Eerbeck, Holland
£2; Felixstowe 15s.; Filey 5s.; Gateshead £2; Gerrards
Cross 5s.; Glasgow £1, £2, 10s., £2, £1; Great
Baddow £1; Grimsby £2; Hastings £5; Haverhill
£2; Headcorn £5; Henley £1; Hove £1; Hull
£1; Ilford £1 9s.; Indianapolis, Indiana 16s. 8d.; Ipswich
10s.; Keith £1; Kirkcudbright 5s. 4d.; Lessines, Belgium £2
9s. 6d.; Llandrindod Wells £1; London, E.11 £1; N.7
£1; N.14 £2 12s. 4d.; N.20 £1; N.W.6 10s.; S.E.12
£5, 6s. 2d.; S.E.15 £2 10s., 12s.; S.E.21 12s. 4d.; S.E.22
10s., 10s.; S.E.23 £5, 10s., £2, £1, 10s., £5;
S.E.25 10s.; S.W.l £1; S.W.11 £1; W.1 £5; Manchester
£1, 10s.; Meols 10s.; Messina, Sicily £5; Milford-on-Sea
£20; Mont Albert, Australia £1 17s. 2d.; Nelson £2
10s.; Neuchâtel, Switzerland £1, £1;
Newcastle-upon-Tyne 10s., £2; Newport £1; Newquay £2;
Nimes, France £2 1s. 1d.; Northampton £2; Oldham £5
15s. 10d.; Penylan £1 0s. 6d.; Poole £1; Reading £2;
Regina, Saskatchewan £1 3s. 2d.; Richmond £1, £1;
Rickmansworth £1; Ruislip £4; St. Gallen, Switzerland
£2; St. Ursanne, Switzerland £1; Sale £1; Sandown
10s.; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan £1 18s. 7d.; Simmozheim, Germany
£2; Slough 10s.; Southampton £1; South Shields £1,
10s.; Stanwick £2; Stockholm, Sweden £10; Stonebroom
£1 1s. 6d., 9s. 6d.; Tadworth £2; Tidcombe £2 1s. 6d;
Tonbridge £2, 10s.; Tuart Hill, West Australia £1 7s. 10d.;
Tunbridge Wells 16s. 4d.; £1 1s.; West Wickham 10s. 2d.; Wigan
£1; Wimberg, Germany £3; Winterthur, Switzerland £2;
Worthing £1 14s., £1 5s.; Wrexham £1 2s. 6d.; York
12s. 6d., £3; Zürich, Switzerland £4 16s. 5d. Total:
£346 17s. 4d.
Alexandria, Va. $20; Birmingham, Ala. $10, $5, $10, $10, $10; Butler,
Ala. $25; Charlotte, N.C. $6; Collingswood, N.J. $15; East Lansdowne,
Pa. $5; Fort Worth, Texas $10; Haddon Heights, N.J. $50; Hemet, Calif.
$19.75; Huron, Ohio $5; Jamestown, N.Y. $5; Jemison, Ala. $15;
Lansdowne, Pa. $50; La Porte, Ind. $2; Martinez, Calif. $10; Medford
Lakes, N.J. $10; Menden, Conn. $10; Monmouth, Oregon $5; Norfolk, Va.
$10; North St. Paul, Minn. $10; Ozone Park, N.Y. $41.65; Philadelphia,
Pa. $5; Pitman, N.J. $48; Roseville, Calif. $5; St. Petersburg, Fla.
$6; Sarasota, Fla. $5; Spring City, Tenn. $5; Tulsa, Okla. $23. Total:
Brantford, Ontario $5; Forteau, Labrador $1; Islington, Ontario $30.
Leduc, Alta. $2. Total: C$38.00.
Zaandam, Holland Fl. 64.00.
Lohja, Finland Sw.Kr. 10.00.
Bangalore, India Rs. 25, Rs. 40. Total: Rs.65.00.
If the Lord so wills, the conference in Aeschi, Switzerland, will be
for the period:
Saturday evening, 6th September, to
Monday morning, 15th September, 1969
Further details and forms of application for accommodation, which will
be available in English, French and German, can be obtained from:
The Conference Secretary,
Witness and Testimony Literature Trust,
39, Honor Oak Road,
London, S.E. 23, England. [46/47]
WITNESS AND TESTIMONY LITERATURE
The books and booklets listed below can all be ordered
by post from the addresses given at the end of the list. More detailed
information about the literature is available on application to the
Witness and Testimony office in London.
|By T. Austin-Sparks
|THE STEWARDSHIP OF THE MYSTERY
| Vol. 1 ALL THINGS IN CHRIST
| Vol. 2
||(Art paper covers)
|WHAT IS MAN?
|THE ON-HIGH CALLING or COMPANIONS
| OF CHRIST AND OF A HEAVENLY CALLING
|DISCIPLESHIP IN THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
|GOD'S REACTIONS TO MAN'S DEFECTIONS
|WE BEHELD HIS GLORY (Vol. 1)
||(Art paper covers)
|WE BEHELD HIS GLORY (Vol. 2)
||(Art paper covers)
|RIVERS OF LIVING WATER
|THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PAUL
|WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN
|FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS OF THE
| CHRISTIAN LIFE
|THE GOLD OF THE SANCTUARY or
| THE FINAL CRITERION
|THE CITY WHICH HATH FOUNDATIONS
|THE RECOVERING OF THE LORD'S
| TESTIMONY IN FULLNESS
|THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
|THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF SERVICE
|THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CHRIST
|IN TOUCH WITH THE THRONE
| (Some Considerations on the
|THE CENTRALITY AND SUPREMACY OF
| THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
|GOD'S SPIRITUAL HOUSE
|HIS GREAT LOVE
|UNION WITH CHRIST
|THE MORE EXCELLENT MINISTRY
| (Incorporating Union with Christ
| The Ministry of Elijah and Stewardship)
|CHRIST -- ALL, AND IN ALL
|CHRIST IN HEAVEN AND CHRIST WITHIN
|"I WILL OVERTURN"
|THE SUPREME VOCATION
||or 5/- per dozen
|A GOOD WARFARE
||or 5/- per dozen
|WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?
||or 5/- per dozen
|THE BLOOD, THE CROSS AND THE
| NAME OF THE LORD JESUS
|THE WATCHWORD OF THE SON OF MAN
|THE ARM OF THE LORD
|THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA
||or 1/6 per dozen
|CHRIST OUR LIFE
||or 1/6 per dozen
|By H. Foster (Booklet)
|THE REALITY OF GOD'S HOUSE
|By Various Authors
| (Each volume contains a number of
separate messages )
|THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY
| The three volumes, when ordered
|For Boys and Girls
|By G. Paterson
|GOSPEL MESSAGES FROM THE ANTARCTIC
| (170-page cloth-bound book.
|By H. Foster
| (All with illustrated art paper
|READY FOR THE KING (48 pp. Illus.)
|ON WINGS OF FAITH (52 pp. Illus.)
|BURIED TREASURE (48 pp. Illus.)
|OPENING IRON GATES (40 pages)
|Published by SURE FOUNDATION
|By DeVern Fromke
|THE ULTIMATE INTENTION
|UNTO FULL STATURE
A WITNESS AND A TESTIMONY
The six issues of the magazine, bound together, to form a volume with
light blue art paper cover, are available for the following years: 1956
to 1961, 1964 to 1967. Price per volume (1 year): 5/- ($0.70).
Certain back issues of the paper are also available and will be sent to
those who desire them at cost of postage only. Please indicate the date
of the issue(s) required.
POSTAGE AND PACKING: For postage and packing please add
the following to the total amount of the books ordered:
Orders totalling less than £1 -- please add 2d in the shilling.
Orders totalling more than £1 -- please add 2/6 in the £.
To the U.S.A.: Please add 10 cents in the dollar.
Orders for literature and requests for "A Witness and A Testimony"
should be addressed to:
WITNESS AND TESTIMONY LITERATURE TRUST,
39 Honor Oak Road, London, S.E.23, England.
Telephone: 01-699 5216
Witness and Testimony literature can also be obtained from:
|P.O. Box 68505,
||1505 South Westmoreland Avenue,
|Indiana 46268, U.S.A.
||California 90006, U.S.A.
|Convocation Literature Sales,
||Evangelical Literature Service,
|1370 Ray Street,
||(Mr. Donald J. David),
||158 Purasawalkam High Road,
|Virginia 23502, U.S.A.
||Madras, 7, India.
Printed in Great Britain by Billing and
Sons Limited, Guildford and London [48/ibc]
[Inside back cover]
LITERATURE IN FRENCH
(translated from English)
|By T. Austin-Sparks
||[By T. Austin-Sparks (continued)]
|L'Alpha et l'Oméga
||Questions Fondamentales de la Vie
||Le Service de Dieu
|Ce que Signifie Etre un Chrétien
||Son Grand Amour
|Le Chandelier Tout en Or
||Un Témoin et un Témoignage
|Les Choses de l'Esprit
||La Vocation Céleste
|Christ notre Vie
|Christ -- tout, et en tous
||By H. Foster
|Le Dieu de l'Amen
||L'Eglise que Dieu demande Aujourd'hui
|L'Ecole de Christ
||La Prière de l'Eglise et l'Accroissement
|En Contact avec le Trône
|Il faut qu'll Règne
||La Réalité de la Maison de Dieu
|Un Jeu de Patience
|La Loi de l'Esprit de Vie en Jésus-Christ
||By Watchman Nee
|La Maison Spirituelle de Dieu
||Etre Assis, Marcher, Tenir Ferme
|La Place Centrale et la Suprématie du
||Qu'en sera-t-il de cet Homme?
| Seigneur Jésus-Christ
||La Vie Chrétienne Normale
|Quelques Principes de la Maison de Dieu
|Qu'est-ce que l'Homme?
|Qu'est-ce qu'un Chrétien?
||L'Histoire du Bambou
The above literature in French can be obtained from: Mr. J. C.
Lienhard, 12 rue des Peupliers, 92 Bois-Colombes, France. Telephone:
[Back cover is blank]