Christ Our All (1935)

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 4 - An Open Heaven

And thou shalt make a veil... and the veil shall separate unto you between the holy place and the most holy." Ex. 26:31-36.

"And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom..." Matt. 27:46-51.

The object of our meditation is: Jesus Christ in heaven as our Sufficiency. We have already seen that our Lord Jesus' resources came from His Father when He was here on this earth. He voluntarily lived in a state of absolute dependence on Him. He willed it to be so. He refused to have anything in Himself. Everything He needed He drew from heaven; He received it from above.

When we are in resurrection-union with Christ, the Holy Spirit brings us into oneness with Him who is in heaven for us. That means: all the resources upon which the Lord Jesus lived are at our disposal. These resources were secret resources, that is, they were unknown to the world. The people around Him were absolutely in the dark as to the source of His power. There was a secret relationship between Him and His Father which impressed them. They saw that there was something in the background of His life, a mysterious power and knowledge, which was not ordinary to man. He had a whole set of resources at His command which no one possessed. He had a knowledge which was far beyond man's understanding. And because He lived a secret life, a life in His Father, His resources were mysterious and wonderful to men.

If we live in heavenly union with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, the same resources are at our disposal. Let us remind ourselves of the Word which is at the basis of our meditation: "The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ." That means that all the resources which are in Christ are available for us. But we have to learn to live in such close fellowship with Him as He lived with His Father in the days of His flesh.

Now let us look at some of these secret resources and turn to Hebrews 9:3-4: "And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holy of holies". We have here the tabernacle as it was in the earth, with its holy place and its most holy. The holy place represented the earth. There we have the candlestick, the altar of incense, and the table of showbread, pointing - in type - to the Lord Jesus Christ. Now Jesus Christ has gone through the veil into the place of future realities, where everything is Christ, Christ All and in all. Heaven is open since Christ rent the veil. For the natural man heaven is closed. This includes not only the heaven we may go to one day, but it represents a sphere, the present realm of God's activity, which we can share in union with Him.

We too, have an open heaven. Paul says: "Our citizenship is in heaven"! If our walk on this earth is to be a heavenly one, we must have an open heaven, for we are utterly dependent upon heaven for spiritual blessing. The door of heaven is closed to the natural man. Even a man like Nicodemus cannot see it, and even less enter it.

Let us repeat that the 'holy place' of the tabernacle represents the earth, and the 'most holy place' heaven. In the one place we have the types of heavenly things. In the other was God Himself. Between the two was the veil. Death would meet anyone who would go through that veil into the most holy place, except by God's special command.

The letter to the Hebrews tells us further that that veil was a type of Christ's flesh. There are two sides in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ: an earthly side (towards the earth) and a heavenly one (towards God). Between heaven and earth was the veil, and Christ's flesh was that veil. When Jesus Christ died on the cross the veil in the temple was rent from the top to the bottom. Now the types gave place to the reality. What was but suggestive, pointing to God, passed away, and man was allowed to draw near to God. The flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ is speaking of human limitation which formed a barrier between the realities of God and man. If we look into the holy place of the tabernacle we have features and illustrations of heavenly things because of man's limitation.

The whole of the Old Testament is giving us these object lessons, because man by nature cannot enter into the realities of divine things. God could speak to man about heavenly things only by way of earthly representations. He had to teach man like one teaches a child, in giving him these pictures and parables of divine things. That is the meaning of the 'holy place'. No one was allowed to enter through the veil, which separated the holy place from the most holy, and which were types of earth and heaven.

Now Israel was to give by its life an illustration, a pattern of the things of God. What happened to Israel is a parable for us. Therefore Israel's history is so significant for us who, in the light of the New Testament, are now enabled to see in these Old Testament types as divine realities.

Once a year, on the day of the atonement, the veil was lifted. After many preparations the high priest was allowed to enter into the 'most holy place'. But it was only once a year and then it was closed again. But the day of atonement spoke of something deeper in the intentions of God. That day was pointing to the fact that, according to God's will, the veil was not to remain for ever, but there would be an atonement through which heaven was to be kept open for ever.

When Christ died on the cross the veil was rent. What God had planned from before times eternal, was accomplished in Him. Now the way to God is open for ever! In Christ the rent veil opened the way. He had come in the flesh, as the Son of God, to do that work which no one could do. In Christ risen there is no veil anymore. As Son of Man He accepted our human limitation. As Son of Man He was the representative MAN. But as Son of God He was linked with heaven. In His person He was the veil of the tabernacle. He stood between heaven and earth. He stood between man's limitation and God's fulness, between the types and the realities. When He lived among men, He spoke in parables of heavenly things, because of the limitations of man who was unable to apprehend them. So He brought heavenly things in earthly forms. He said: "If I told you earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you heavenly things?" What He meant was: "If I have put heavenly things in the form of earthly parables and types, and you have not understood, how will you understand if I speak with you in a heavenly language!"

Now all these limitations are passed away. Christ is in truth 'the way'. He has entered, through the veil of His flesh, the innermost sanctuary, the most holy place, and opened the way. It is Christ crucified who is the way for us into the immediate presence of God.

And when He says: "I am the truth", it means: all that you see are but types and symbols serving as pictures. They are not the heavenly things in themselves. HE is the reality of all these things. In HIM we have the reality. The priests were occupied in the tabernacle, year in year out, but their works were 'dead' works which could never lead to a living union with God. Now Christ said: "I am the life". Only in Christ there is life. The blood of goats and bulls and the life in that blood was only a reminder, a type. No one but Christ can give life. HE is the living reality.

Now we see heaven and earth united in Christ risen and ascended. He is the mediator. He is the ladder which Jacob saw in his dream, and upon which the angels of God were ascending and descending. The Lord referred to that when speaking to Nathanael, saying: "Ye shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." What was but a type at Bethel has become a living reality in Christ. He is uniting heaven and earth. In Him - in the two sides of His nature - God and man are brought together, heaven and earth are united. He is the way, the only way of communication for heaven and earth. Union with Christ means to live under an open heaven, in the presence of God, and in all the reality of the new life.

The Holy Spirit is given us on that ground. He came upon the Lord Jesus after His baptism in the Jordan. The heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. Now Christ risen means an open heaven. The Spirit of the Anointing comes upon us because the crucified One is risen. He comes to us out of an open heaven which the Son of God has opened for us.

But what was the value of the anointing? It is to bring us unto a heavenly union with God. The Lord Jesus said: "When he, the Spirit... is come, he shall guide you into all the truth." And John confirms this in saying: "The anointing which ye received... teaches you concerning all things." That is represented by the angels ascending and descending. The Holy Spirit is communicating with us, but Christ is the ladder, reaching from earth to heaven. Where is that ladder? It is not in the world. The ladder is set up in our hearts. It is Christ in our hearts. There is an open way from heaven in our hearts, Christ Himself, leading us into the very presence of God. The Holy Spirit moves in relation to Christ to bring us into communion with Christ, just as Christ is in communion with His Father.

The all-sufficiency of Christ is secured for us on that basis. We are in the heavenlies, because Christ is in us. If joined to His person the limitations are gone. There is a direct and immediate communion with God, and the Holy Spirit can reveal to us heavenly things.

Thus we understand what it means to receive everything directly from God in Christ. Christ in us means an inward knowledge of God, a heart-relationship with Him. It is an inward life from God, an inward power of God. But that is a mystery which the world does not and cannot know. It cannot understand that our Lord Jesus was willing to accept exactly the same basis of life with its limitation in which we live, although without sin. Yet, in fellowship with His Father, He continually broke through these limitations, and overcame them in drawing all His provision, all the fulness from His Father alone. His sufficiency was in His Father.

So we are called to live, by the Spirit, a life triumphant over all our weaknesses, a life where Christ is everything, and where His victory is our victory. The work of the Cross is finished. The veil is rent. The way is open.

Thus Christ risen in heaven means for us an open heaven where everything is possible for us in Christ, that we may glorify Him. All things are given us in Him. And it is the anointing which teaches us all things.

In keeping with T. Austin-Sparks' wishes that what was freely received should be freely given and not sold for profit, and that his messages be reproduced word for word, we ask if you choose to share these messages with others, to please respect his wishes and offer them freely - free of any changes, free of any charge (except necessary distribution costs) and with this statement included.