by T. Austin-Sparks
Foreword to the Original Printing
The content of this little volume was mostly given as a series of Conference messages, and the spoken form and local setting has not been altered in printing. From time to time God lays special stress upon matters which are central and basic to the life and witness of the Church, which is the Body of Christ, which matters are in danger of being lost sight of. His method of doing this is sometimes that of laying His hand upon some and taking them in deep places where their only hope of life and ministry is the revelation which He gives them there. Thus they become entrusted with a testimony which creates a specific ministry to, and in, and through the Body of Christ: only a testimony, not a "movement," a sect, an organization, although He may create or raise up a vehicle or base for such a ministry. Personal interests are ruled out, God sees to that, and any suggestion of a tendency to make anything of the persons or the means swiftly meets His arresting disfavour. By such deep ways and at a "Great price is this freedom bought," but being of God and not of men there is a blessed release from all anxiety as to the outworking of the Divine purpose. Such is the nature of the "Testimony" herein set forth. This revelation through the Word is released in printed form, not as propaganda or in the interests of any "movement," but that - if God will so use it - the "Eternal Purpose" may be served and that there may be won for the Lamb that was slain some reward of His sufferings. "That in all Things He might have the preeminence."
Forest Hill, London.
[From the late 1920's]
Foreword to the 1948 Edition
"The Centrality and Universality of the Cross" was the first book to be published in connection with "Witness and Testimony" literature. The content was given in a series of Conference messages, and it was published in the spoken form. It is many years since the first edition ran out, and there have been many requests for a re-publication. This present edition has been rewritten so that the redundancies of the spoken form are eliminated.
When this message was first published, the Lord was holding very strongly to the particular emphasis which it represents - the fuller meaning of the Cross. We have never departed from that basic position, but as the years have passed we have been led to the superstructure and the issue of all. Thus the Church in its fuller meaning followed in true spiritual sequence, as the House is through the Altar. While still emphasising the essential and full meaning of that through which the Lord reaches His end - namely, the Cross and the Church - we have in the steady process of Divine leading and dealings come to our present supreme emphasis - the Fullness of Christ, and God's Eternal Purpose concerning His Son. This is inclusive, but we trust that we shall abide in the way of progress in seeing more and more of what that fullness means. As the Cross remains basic and operative to keep the way clear of all that spells death, even legalistic applications of Divine things, we are sure that more than ever we have yet seen will be shown.
We pray that this ministry's bow may abide in strength, and that many more will be helped by it toward that goal, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.