by T. Austin-Sparks
Lord, Thou knowest that this very act of prayer as we pause at this point, is our acknowledgement and confession that we cannot go on without Thee, and we have no wish to do so. Lord, for the speaking of Thy truth, for the reception, understanding, and obedience, we need Thee. We cannot do without Thee. We rest back upon Thy faithfulness, Thy mercy, Thy grace, and we believe that trusting in Thee, Thou wilt not fail us; and we shall come through by the help of God. So be it. And seeing that it is so, the glory will be Thine alone through our Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
We are, in these hours as you know, being occupied with the climax of humanity as represented in the appearing in this world of God's Son in human form. And we have reached the point in these meditations where we are at present occupied with the battleground of the two humanities. And that battleground is particularly focused in the two letters to the Corinthians; that is their place in the sovereign ordering of God. Other letters have particular aspects, but here is the focal point of the great, great controversy between the old and the new, the first Adam and the last Adam, the one humanity and the other.
Let me say here before we proceed, that while these letters are so drastic, and as we have said, devastating to the old humanity, and the apostle is really using the sledgehammer and hitting very hard, saying some very strong things and is, while in love, being very faithful. Therefore our consideration may seem to be very much of a destructive character, hard, exacting, not pleasant at all to our old humanity. I do want to very definitely point out this: that the apostle took that attitude and handled this situation as strongly, forcefully, radically as he did, not because he wanted to hurt anybody, not because he did not just agree with these people, but because he had seen, he had devastatingly seen, the Lord Jesus in glory.
This man's whole life, his ministry, were actuated by what he called "the heavenly vision". And he had seen the greatness, the immensity of the significance of Jesus Christ in the whole economy of God in this universe, beyond his power to explain and express (for he exhausted all language in his attempt to do so). Jesus Christ, for him, had appeared and was continually in his heart being revealed in such magnitude as to make him feel that anything that gets in the way of our [attaining] must be ruthlessly dealt with. He goes on: "Brethren, I have not attained, I am not already complete, I press toward the mark, the prize of the on-high calling". What was it? Utter conformity to the image of God's Son, that the real apprehension of his own experience of
the wonder and glory of Jesus Christ, to attain unto that, was the all-consuming object and [fact] of his life, because he had seen!
Now my point in saying this, is if we are seemingly being very hard on this old man here this morning, it is not negative, it is not intended to be destructive, negative, being against, against, against; it is with the positive always in view. It is unto something, and what a something!
Now, having said that, let us proceed with this battleground of the two humanities as gathered into these two letters to the Corinthians which we will only be able to touch this week so lightly and so imperfectly, but I think sufficiently to indicate a great deal more that I trust you will grasp. So here we are in the midst of this New Testament business. The whole business of the New Testament: the transition from one humanity to another and that where Christians are concerned.
You must remember that these letters were written to a local assembly, and while individuals in the assembly are picked out and pinpointed and spoken straightly to about their conduct, their behaviour, and manner of life, it is the assembly that the apostle is concerned with and what a local assembly should be as an expression of Jesus Christ. That is the only object for the existence of any local assembly: the expression of Jesus Christ.
The apostle was concerned with that nucleus in Corinth of the whole Body of Christ. And I think it's very impressive, don't you, that down through twenty centuries in ever widening circles from nation to nation, country to country, to the farthest bounds of this earth, that the ministry to the Corinthians has expanded and today it's dealing with us. A local assembly ought to take on that character and not just be a local, and localised thing. It ought to have a universal significance, to say something. Oh, that every local company of the Lord's people said something for all time and for all eternity and to all the world as to the meaning of Jesus Christ!
I said the other day that [I, in a day or two] I would be saying something about the church, well, this is it. This is it. A local church is intended to have the values of Jesus Christ, which are never capable of being just localised. They must, not by their effort, organisation, machinery, or anything of that kind, but because they are that, they must have an expansive influence beyond themselves and beyond their own time: spiritual values.
Now, I didn't intend to start off on that line, but we may come to it again before we finish this week. But I want to get back here to this matter of how that is reached and what it is that makes the Lord's people like that, both individually and collectively. So I must focus everything again. You see, the heart of this whole matter is not a system, either of teaching or of practice. It is not an ecclesiasticism: that is only another word for church order. It is not that or any of the things which Christianity has become; all the accretions and developments, the forms. The heart of this whole thing is the Person - the Person of a Man with a capital M. Manhood is God's great thought from creation.
He has put His supreme value upon this form of creation: humanity, and bound up all His interests with a kind of humanity which He wants to possess to represent Him. To represent Him: "Let Us make man in Our own image, after Our own likeness." What is an image, what is a likeness? A representation. People are, this week, coming with their cameras and wanting to take a picture. And then they [show the picture] and the picture is not us, it's a representation of us; good, bad, or indifferent! It's a representation on it: our image, our likeness, a representation of us. I'm rather afraid that the representation is more or less good, and very poor at Corinth.
God expressing Himself in a species called humanity - to that He has committed Himself and all His interests. If you want to know really what the Holy Spirit's coming and operation is for, it is just that: to get hold of a Mankind after this one Man.
So it's a Person; always focus and keep your eyes on the Person. You see the New Testament is just all about that, always the Person, and this Person is repeatedly saying and affirming: "I Am. I Am. I Am!" See, whatever the capacity, Shepherd or Door or Vine, they are only aspects of His Person, of what He is, "I Am." He has stepped right into the arena of history and as the only One Who is allowed to do it, to say: "I Am." Tremendous things are said and I am [only finding and pointing things out] on this, tremendous things are said. God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness not by, but in a Man of His Own choice. The judgment of this whole world is going to be on the ground of Christ; not what sins you've committed, not more or less what you might call small or big. No, that's not the ground at all. God's judging is this: where do you stand in relation to Jesus Christ, and how much of Him is there?
He will judge the world in the Man. Now think about that. It is the Person which we must keep all the time in view as we proceed.
The utter and absolute difference that this Man is, from the whole race of humanity as we know it, hence, as we have seen, because of that immense difference, there's got to be the undoing of the one in order to make room for the other. God's full and utter beginning, all over again, is with this Man. You notice that this implies or indicates that at the time the Lord Jesus came into this world, God had considered and decided that the human race had become big enough and large enough to wind it all up. Here is this great multitude, the Jews and Gentiles, filling the world that then was, and it was enough to represent the whole world; a race, a great race. Then the Lord God said: "Finished. And We will start with one Man all over again, one Man, the last Adam, a new Race." The whole of humanity set aside and a new brought in by this first Man, "the Firstborn among many brethren."
Well, here in these letters to the Corinthians, as we have pointed out, we see the tragedy, the tragedy that can come about amongst Christians, as individuals and Christians as a company, because of this one thing: because of a carry-over of that old rejected, discredited and rejected humanity, into the realm of the new. A terrible tragedy. You see, the Spirit of God has caused it to be written. It's unpleasant reading, I don't like reading a lot of this letter. When I read what is here, what they're doing, that in a Christian assembly there is such a thing as incest; a man and his mother! Incest; in a Christian assembly! And all the other things, some of which we shall touch upon.
The Awful Tragedy Amongst Christians
You are not going to tell me that that belongs to Corinth two thousand years ago. No. We are meeting this in Christian companies continually: adultery and what not. Are we not? Well, it's a terrible tragedy when you ignore that great gap that God has placed by the Cross between one humanity and another, when you do not recognise how utter is that cleavage which the Cross has made. If you bypass the Cross in this matter of human life, you're in the way of tragedy, the tragedy of your whole spiritual life and testimony. This is very testing isn't it?
The Cross is more than a teaching, a doctrine, it's a terrible, terrible, though on the other hand a very glorious setting forth of the great thing that God has done and is after. Well, here's the new Man introduced and we must keep Him in view even while we speak about this tragedy, and the battleground of these two humanities.
Now we must spend a little while in getting our position, as is represented by this first letter to the Corinthians in particular. Their position (and what might be our position, it undoubtedly is the position of many Christians today) what is the position in which the apostle, or the Holy Spirit through the apostle, puts the Corinthians? I wonder if you have noticed that in this first letter to the Corinthians, Israel's history in the wilderness as is recorded in Exodus to Deuteronomy, is mentioned fourteen times, and is pinpointed in a very particular way, as we shall see in a minute.
So that here, the Corinthians are shown to be in that period between Egypt and the land. That's their position spiritually. Oh yes, they're out of Egypt, that is, they are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and have come out under its covering. The Corinthians are there, the apostle takes note of that as he introduces the letter "unto the saints". And do revise, if necessary, your mentality about that word "saint"; it simply means the "separated ones" - those who have come out unto God. That's all! That's a saint, it is one who has come out to God, been separated, redeemed by precious blood, positionally separated and out.
Chapter 10: "I would have you know, brethren, that all our fathers were baptised into Moses in the sea, and in the cloud." Baptised. Oh, look, [I have to stay, better than later on,] I am certain, I know, that multitudes of Christians are in a false position by their baptism. A false position! They've been put into a false position by baptism. You'll say, "Have you been baptised?" "Oh yes, I was baptised on so and so, and I was baptised by So and So." My word, the conception of the meaning of that, is as remote from their lives as can be. Baptised, but in the wilderness, as we find them here. Yes, under the regime of the Holy Spirit, again I underline the regime, it's the era of the Spirit. They're there. They are in the Kingdom of God, if "Kingdom of God" means the sovereign rule of God, as it does, they are under the sovereign rule of God. They are positionally in the Kingdom of God, not in the general sense of Divine sovereignty over the Universe, but in a more particular sense of Divine sovereignty. Yes, they are all that, [you see,] and they are experiencing supernatural activities of God; objectively, supernatural things are happening to them, the Corinthians.
"You have come, you come behind in no spiritual gift." All the gifts are there, the supernaturals. Later, the apostle in answering one of the ten questions that they present to him, says: "Now concerning the spirituals..." and he goes on about tongues and so on. See? We're coming back to this in a minute, I know your ears were [listening].
But let us move slowly, carefully, for these are all truths that were Israel's in the wilderness, between Egypt and the land. Yet, with all that true of the Corinthians, the apostle had to gird himself up and gather himself together and make one positive resolution. To these people with all this: "I determined, I made up my mind, I know nothing amongst you save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." To Christians! To Christians with all this, redeemed by the precious blood, positionally separated unto God, within the sovereign rule of His Kingship and His Kingdom, and objectively knowing much of His sovereign, supernatural activities in their history. To them the apostle has to say this categorically: "To you I have made up my mind, I resolved, I determined, that amongst you it should be nothing but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."
What is all this about? Well, you see, it's this cleavage in chapter 2 between what the apostle designates "the natural man" and "he that is spiritual"; and the battle is between the two. That's the battleground, between these two men.
I wonder if you people in this country ever have time to sit down and think, and stop talking; be quiet? I say I wonder, I know your tremendous activity, I know your tremendous activities, and [I'm not innocent at it,] but do we? I would recommend something to you, for your own need, for your own quiet time, not for public reading or anything like that. I would recommend to you that translation of the New Testament, The Amplified New Testament. If you will remember, without taking a lot of detail and precious time, if you remember, the translators of The Amplified Bible state in their introduction: "Our object is to get inside of the original language which is so much richer than the English and has so many shades of meaning that no English words can convey and to give that amplification which is true to the sense and meaning of the original language. It takes a lot of words and a lot of shades to explain the Greek there, the original language, and so we have given the amplification which is true to the sense of the original language." Now, you'll want a lot of patience to read that, you say, "It's impossible to read it [entirely]", but if you would sit down with that, you would be searched and illuminated. I'm saying this, I pray that you do, really, sit down and work your way through clause after clause of your New Testament.
I look at Christians today, and I say, "They haven't read their New Testament! Look at it!" Here is a specific thing, and in the Corinthian letter, a specific thing said by the apostle, and look at them! An utter contradiction of that; they are not seeing, yet they hold this New Testament as their charter.
Now, why is this? A phrase. When Paul wrote this first letter to the Corinthians, in speaking about the condition there, he pinpointed and said: "When you do so and so, are you not as men?" You say, "Mustn't I be as a man? Cannot I be as a man? Why not as men?" It's almost breath-taking, you know! "I'm a man! May I not be a man?" No. Not after a certain humanity, it's not allowed. That man is not allowed in here to be a man. The Cross has stripped him of that manhood, "...you have put off (and the Greek language again is: you have taken off your clothes) you have put off the old man and his doings and have put on the new Man," and so there is a manhood that is not allowed in here at all.
"Are ye not as men?" but I say again, that's very searching, isn't it? "You are talking like men, as men talk; behaving as men behave; and it is not allowed, that kind of humanity." That man is an intrusion. That man is an intrusion; he is! And he is under a Divinely imposed embargo. And this second chapter indicates the embargo: "The natural man" - that's the man, "cannot, he cannot" [then he says more about it:] "receive the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them." Would to God that Christendom would imbibe that!
This man is an intrusion into the place where he has no standing with God; it's an assumption which has led to a presumption. It is presumption for us to come into this realm of the new Humanity with ourselves, to bring ourselves in any way in. You see the strength of this man is shown here in this chapter 2, and I am keeping close to the text although I don't quote the actual wording. It's the truth that is here: the strength of his proceeding is of himself. The apostle is talking about power, see? Power. And these Corinthians had a great idea of power-politics. Power! Power! Power! Yes, power is all right if it's the power of God; but their idea of power was the world's idea of power, and their power was of themselves which meant that it was of the world.
Now we bring in what the other Man is saying about this. Go back to John 5: "The Son can do nothing out from Himself" - the Son of God can do nothing out from Himself. And this great servant, who wrote this letter: "Of mine own self, I can do nothing; when I am weak, then I am strong; I glory in my weakness that the power of God, Christ, may encamp upon me." You know all that, don't you? We know it so well.
The strength of the power of this old creation, this old humanity, is utterly undercut in the new. And, mark you, whether you have reached it yet or not, if the Spirit of God gets hold of you - and you want Him to, perhaps you pray that He will - but let me tell you, you are in for something! If He really gets hold of you, the day is coming when you will feel utterly helpless in yourself, at the end of all your ability for anything in yourself, and you will come to the place where you will say: "Lord, if You don't... this is the end." All this power idea for which the first Adam made his bid - to be as God, powerful in himself - all that has been undercut in the new Man, "Christ crucified."
Power? Be careful in your quest for power, dear friends, because that just may lead you to the place of the devastation of all you've known. So keep, keep the positive in view: "...that the power..." unto these Corinthians, the apostle starts: "I was amongst you in weakness, in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling." Why? He answers the why: "that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." The power.
Wisdom is another great word in this second chapter, isn't it? The wisdom of this world, the wisdom of men, and that quest, that almost lust of the Greeks and the Corinthians for wisdom, wisdom, and their philosophers.
That is, the power to judge. The power to judge: to discriminate, to determine, and to decide; that's wisdom. In their procedure it was of themselves in Corinth. Their wisdom was their own and the wisdom of this world.
There is a thing here that I confess to you I don't understand, I don't understand this, it's something beyond me, of course that doesn't mean very much, I'm not very far. But to this Corinthian assembly, the apostle comes down on one of the other points of this carry-over. "If any of you have a matter, do not go before the judges of this world, the courts, with your matter, with your matter as Christians. To ask a worldly, a worldly man with worldly wisdom to decide your affair; in this matter perhaps you've been wronged by another Christian brother or sister, be it for litigation to the courts of the world, further to judge, with human wisdom to make a decision. No. No, that's the way the world goes, that's the way the old humanity goes. Now, you, you ought in Corinth, as an assembly in the new Humanity in Christ to have an ability that this world has not got in the matter of wisdom and judgment." And the thing that I don't understand is this phrase: "Don't you know that we shall judge angels?" Have you thought about that? "Oh, I thought they were superior beings to ourselves; I thought they knew everything!" And the time is coming, the apostle says, "when we shall sit in judgment upon angels". We shall judge angels, and he uses that here, to show that there is another kind of wisdom altogether from the wisdom of the best in the old humanity - a wisdom, he says, which "is not of this world... Christ is made unto us the Wisdom of God".
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. The spiritual man therefore ought to have the power of judgment, discrimination, discernment, and understanding that even a magistrate in this world hasn't got. Don't you think that's tremendous? I say, this Humanity is very different isn't it?
You see, they were doing this, and they brought in, therefore, this old humanity and wisdom. Their driving force was their own souls in Corinth. It was soul force, and that is the principle of this world: soul force. It's something to dwell upon that, this soul force. Have we not in the last, this last part of the age, seen what that can do? Yes, we have seen it, extended to literally terrible, frightening proportions; soul force in the nations. Well, it's there with us all, I am not going to start on soul and spirit. I am beginning to feel that there is a little too much being said about that. There was a time when it had a real point, it has that today; but it's become a subject, and a fascinating subject. We want to be very careful not to get taken up with subjects. But here is the fact that at Corinth, the driving force was soul force; it was not the force of the Spirit.
These people were clever people, were intellectual people, were efficient people; but it was in a realm that is not allowed. Don't you make too much of human intellectualism. That's where Christendom has gone astray. I think one of the most deadening things today is theology. You see? Most definitely it's theology, as such: intellectualism in the realm of Divine things. The power of the brain has made an awful mess in Christendom.
Yes, they were intellectual with the philosophy of the Greeks. They were clever, they were efficient; but this letter is saying, that's out there, and not allowed in here at all. There's another kind of knowledge here. And how utter the apostle is in this matter when he says: "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, they are discerned by the spiritual," that is, the spiritual man, the man of the Spirit.
Then he says: "As it is written, as it is written: eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." I suppose you at once say, "That must be after this life; what He has prepared for us afterwards". Oh, I don't believe that; I believe that begins now. It's for us now: the things that the eye, the natural eye, the old human eye, have never seen and never can see; the things that have never entered into the natural heart, the old humanity heart, "God hath revealed them to us by His Spirit". "Hath revealed". Hath, that's not hereafter: "hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit." You are standing in the good of that. The opened heaven, the Anointing Spirit, and God revealing His Son in us; and in so doing, devastating us, but opening a new vista entirely of possibilities, of wonder. It is like that all the time, going on.
Can you say, "It's going on, yes, I am seeing in my heart more and more of, not the truth as a theory, but His Son; His Son! And seeing His Son is undoing a lot of my own conceptions and ideas, and my valuations, and just making them shrivel up. I see Him to be an entirely new conception, a new conception of the Church!"
I must reiterate that the Church is not a thing; it is not an institution; it is not a denomination, nor all the denominations put together. It is not anything like that. The Church is a Person expressed in mankind, in human life.
The apostles never went anywhere with the preconceived idea: "We will have a church here. We will set up a church here, we will form a church here." Never! They went and preached Jesus Christ and when people saw God, began to see Jesus Christ, He became the cohesive power, to draw them together, and they were there; without any trying or formation to form them; the trial of formation. [There was that.] And when you went in there, if they were really on that ground, what did you meet? Ah, no, you did not meet, "This is how they go to work, this is their way of procedure, this is what they are teaching". There was a power; they met Jesus Christ. They met Jesus Christ! That's the Church, and there is no other Church in the New Testament.
Well, here you are, it comes back to that: the natural man cannot, is debarred. "But he that is spiritual judgeth all things." Judgeth all things, he has this new spiritual capacity; and it is, as this letter teaches, the increase of that spiritual capacity of spiritual measure, which is the thing that is the ground of appeal to these people in Corinth. "While you talk as men," he says, "while you behave as men, are you not babes?" Though that man should be the greatest brain that has ever been produced - compassing all the bodies celestial and terrestrial, this nuclear-age, man developed to the dimensions of humanity today - though he be that, though he be a man like that, he cannot; there's a limit. He cannot know, he cannot see, he just cannot! And if you talk to some of these very brainy people, and try to talk about the blood of Jesus, you get them out of their depth at once. You can't make any headway, can you?
Well, there, that is how it is, but there is a world, a realm, open to the spiritual man of the new Humanity which is beyond anything else of which the old humanity is capable.
Well now, from that point, you see, you begin on these things about which the Corinthians wrote to Paul. At sometime they sent a letter to him with a whole list of questions. A whole list of questions and I am not going to try to answer them all; but I want you to note one thing. One thing: how did Paul really answer all of those questions? He did answer them, and while he said some things about some of these matters, giving advice and discussing the thing with them, he did not in something that you could put into a book as a book of regulations, of laws, a blue print to answer: "Well, should a woman who has become a Christian and has a non-Christian husband, leave him?" Or the other way: "Should a man who has become a Christian and his wife has not accepted the Lord, should he leave her?" You see, it was like this, "Should a slave who has become a Christian, give up his position as a slave and try to be free?" "Should we refuse to eat meat that has been sold in a market, but previously offered to an idol?" A whole lot of questions like that, you see.
And evidently there had been one question about what is today called charismata.
A question. He has some things to say about this, but do you feel that he is conclusive in the things that he says? I don't think so. He never intended that here, Paul never intended to be another Moses writing ten commandments over against ten questions, with ten answers; he never intended it. He had a far better way of doing it than that, a far better way if only they would recognise it. In all these things, in all these things what was his real way of approach and answer? The enunciation of a principle. Oh, if only you can get hold of the principle, you have got the answers. Do get this, whatever you forget, you know this: the answer to it all is a principle.
Now I am coming down on that question, one of them: gifts, tongues, and so on. It was a problem, at Corinth, a question. Paul had been asked something about it, and so he uses a part of his letter in saying: "Now concerning the spirituals...". He says some things about tongues, apparently quite a bit about tongues, but as far as I can see he doesn't finally answer the question on tongues. But he does enunciate a principle about it and all the gifts, and he answers it in this way. He says the effect of it, is really the answer. On the one hand, none of these things are ends in themselves. If you draw a circle around either one or all of them, and say, "That's the know-all and the end-all," you are going to come to an impasse, sooner or later. An impasse sooner or later: you are going to find that you are held up, and your maturity is arrested. But, that's the negative.
[Knowing that's wrong] note that, because I'm finding a lot of people today who are very interested in and are having experiences in what I'm saying [without a judgment being passed] which I trust is spiritual counsel. I find so many people, and so many talk about that kind of thing, this kind of thing, and when you want to talk about the Lord, they're silent. They're silent! And the silence can be cut with a knife, until they get a chance to get in, and then they come on this thing, this thing, and then they'll hold the floor with that as long as they can and then you can't [say any more,] can't get any further, that's the end: that particular experience.
Beware of an experience, however supernatural it might be, becoming the beginning and the end. None of these things are ends in themselves, but the apostle says about this particular thing, and about gifts as a whole as he deals with them, this is the principle, and he uses a word which I am so sorry the translators have left out and put another one in its place. The word they have used is "edification". Well, if you give a very strict, a very strict explanation or definition of the word "edification," you may get it, but really, as we've often said, really what edification means to most people, is headification! Now that is far from the apostle's thought. What he did say was: "for building up". For building up what? The increase of Jesus Christ! Are these things ends in themselves, wonderful as they may be, but are they leading on to a greater measure of Jesus Christ? Building up! That's the challenge of every gift: how does it minister an effect of an increase of Jesus Christ?
Now, they had every one of these things at Corinth and over against them was this low moral level: this poor spiritual standard. Do you say, "That's exaggeration, you don't like these things, do you?" But see, I know. I haven't been moving in Christian circles for more than fifty years without knowing something. When a pastor comes to me (which he did, and this is only one), "Brother I am, I am so shocked! I am so shocked that I think I've got to give up my ministry. I have come up against something that has knocked me to bits. You know that my church is a Pentecostal church and our people speak much in tongues. Do you know, the other Saturday night my leading brother was picked up in the street, helplessly intoxicated, and speaking in tongues!" Now that's a literal thing that happened.
Here at Corinth they had the gifts and came behind in no spiritual gift, but, but but! Where is Christ? The increase of Christ? "I have to speak to you as babes." "Speak gently won't you, [and don't you make some feel guilty..."] But I must really get to this, because the heart, the soul of this whole matter, this whole matter, I'm not against what is of the Lord, no, no, I am not preaching [down on these things,] I am saying that what we look for, what the Lord looks for, what must be, gifts or no gifts, is the increase of the measure of Jesus Christ. I am not so sure that you cannot have the greater fullness of Jesus Christ without the gifts; indeed, I've a good deal that would bear out that that's possible! There's a mighty, mighty beyond all this, and at most and best, these things are to lead on.
If you bring in, associated with them, some of the old humanity, you are strictly circumventing the object of the new one. Whether it be right or whether it be false, the question is: how much of Christ, after all, is in the individual, in the assembly - Christ! Not the obsession with things even though they be the supernaturals, but captivation with Jesus Christ.
That's a good point at which to stop this morning, it must be that, dear friends. If you feel you've got to exercise a good deal of patience with me after this, do remember what I said. I have no axes to grind, as we say, it is the Lord! Just the Lord! The kind that He is, the kind of Humanity that He is!
And some of you, some of us who have gone through deep, deep waters, dark waters under the hand of God, we've cried out and asked, "Why? Why should this come to me? It doesn't come to other Christians? Why? Why?" Well, I have only one answer, it's a difficult answer for me sometimes to accept, but only one answer: He is working all things out to the counsel of His own will, conformative to His Son. And on the one side, this is getting rid of something, breaking down something, emptying you of something; you were too full, you had to be emptied. On the other side, you may not see it, you may not see it, but heaven knows, there's a bit more of the Lord Jesus in your softness, in your patience, in your sympathy, in your understanding, in your heart out going for others and for the Lord. And I suppose I ought to say there, you know the most perilous thing that the Lord could allow for us is to know how good we are getting. Isn't that true? I will have something more to say about that later on. Shall we close?
Our Lord, there is so much here; it does need Thy covering, and Thy handling, Thy protection. It will need grace in Thy dear people, much grace. Give them that grace to receive, to understand. It will test us all as to just how much it is Christ, not even, not even Christian things, that is our object and goal. Be it so, for Thy name's sake.