That Which Was From The Beginning
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 10 - The Life, the Anointing, and the Blood (continued)

The Anointing

As with the life, so with the anointing. We note at the outset a distinction and contrast; that as the life constitutes an organism as differing from an organisation, the anointing constitutes a revelation as differing from an imitation. That distinction must be both recognised and followed out to its full meaning. The tragedy of Christendom is that it has become a set, static system. It is Christianity formulated into doctrine, creed, ordinances, orders and work. This means that Christians arrive at their position very largely by acceptance of something presented to them as already crystallised and arranged. That is, of course, the danger which lurks in close proximity to everything that God does. God does a new thing in life, and then that thing becomes crystallised, formulated, set, and others take it on like that, or enter into it and carry it on, or seek to carry it on. In that way it becomes something other than it was, because those who take it up and seek to carry it on did not come into it as those who came in in the first instance. They came into it by revelation in life. These others come into something which exists, and is accepted in its formulated state. The anointing stands over against everything like that.

(1) The Anointing Constitutes a Revelation

It always means a revelation as differing from an imitation. You cannot imitate the New Testament and have life and effectiveness. You cannot take up what is set forth in the New Testament and reproduce it or perpetuate it by conforming to its outward form and structure. That is, if life and effectiveness are to be known, you cannot take up what is set forth in the New Testament as the church or as the work of God, or as the doctrine of Christ, and carry it on. A great many people have tried that. They say, "We are going to have a New Testament order of things, we are going to have a New Testament church, we are going to have a New Testament movement." And so they get down to the New Testament and say: "Now, in the New Testament this is what happened, and this is how they did it, and this is what they did." And they, so to speak, "draw it up" from the New Testament. They launch it, and think to have New Testament effectiveness. That is useless, and that is quite a false method of procedure.

In the New Testament the experience came before ever the doctrine came. The history was set up before the explanation of the history was given. Doctrine is to explain life, not to make it. We can never imitate life, we can never imitate the things of God and be sure that we are going to have the same result and the same effectiveness. Every fresh believer has got to know, as though it had never existed before their time, the meaning of the anointing. And when a believer really comes to know the meaning of the anointing, their feeling is that no one else ever knew it before! To them it is as though no one else had come into that, and if someone else should happen to say that they know something about that, it is a great surprise to such a one who has just come into it. You may have been saying things for years, and then someone suddenly comes into it by the anointing, and begins to say things that you have been saying for years, perfectly oblivious of the fact that you have been saying them in their hearing all that time. It is as though they had never heard them and they cannot understand that ever anybody should have said those things ever before. The anointing brings revelation, and revelation is always something amazingly fresh, so fresh that no one ever did have it before the person who has now got it. 

Imitation is not like that at all. Imitation has no wonder and nothing startling. There is no dynamic about imitation, but as a matter of fact there is always a lie about imitation, because imitation is never the truth in essence; it still is imitation. Sooner or later the best imitation will be manifested as but an imitation, and it will be manifested in the midst of disaster. These are the things of which the apostle speaks when he says that the things which can be shaken will be shaken, and there will be some excellent imitations of the New Testament which will collapse in the shaking, but that which is of the anointing must abide.

Things Related to the Anointing

We will now look at some of the things which the anointing means. We have said that the anointing means

(a) The coming in of God

God is from that moment involved in the life or in the situation. God is bound up with things as the supreme factor, and when you touch the anointing you touch God. So the Lord says; "Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm (1 Chron. 16:22), because if you do, you are touching Me." So Saul of Tarsus discovered: "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting..." (Acts 9:5). The anointing means that the Lord is there.

In the Old Testament we have an instance of the anointing of the shields (Isa. 21:5) for battle. What did that mean? That God came in as the defence. God came in in relation to the battle to be the defence of His people. It is a tremendous thing to have God coming in, and you can never secure that by imitation. That comes by anointing. It is a great thing for defensive purposes. It is a great thing for aggressive purposes. It is a great thing to know that God is with you, and that is the meaning of the anointing.

That is why in the book of the Acts we have everything brought out in its full significance by way of laying down principles. Through the dispensation the same demonstration has not always followed, but the book of the Acts is basic for the dispensation, to show by demonstration of principles what the truth is and what God's mind is about things. There you have the first instances, and when God does a thing for the first time, He usually does it in such a way as to say, "Now that is My mind for ever; take note of that, and, although in the future I may not demonstrate the thing in that way, never think that I do not hold to that as fully as I did at the beginning."

Take the cases of Ananias and Sapphira. Here God has come in. You have a situation with the anointing, and God has involved Himself in the church. Ananias and Sapphira did not lie to men, they lie to the Holy Ghost, and by way of showing what a terrible thing it is to stand against God as involved by the anointing, the Lord smites. Now the Lord does not always smite immediately through the dispensation, but He never departs from the same standard. It is a dangerous thing to touch the anointing. In the long run it works out that way. It may not be instantaneous, but the law holds good. So you may take all first things of God as representing God's mind in a very full and strong way, and when God is involved, whatever is done, whatever happens, where there is an anointing it is with God that men have to reckon. Herein, then, is the value of the anointing to begin with.

(b)  Choice or Election

We see this in the Old Testament. Take the case of David as an outstanding instance. Jesse made all his sons to pass before Samuel, but the Lord said concerning each one, It is not he. They all passed, and Samuel said, "Are these all the children?" (1 Sam. 16:11). There was one, the youngest, and he was keeping the sheep. Samuel said he was to be brought, and when he came in, the Lord told Samuel that this was the one, and he arose and anointed him. You see it was God's choice, the elected instrument.

It is, again, an illustration of a principle. God anoints His elect instrument and the anointing relates to election. But you must not look upon election in the merely individual or personal sense; far less must you think of it in relation to salvation. Election takes us right back with Paul in those words: "just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4). Who were chosen? To whom does that refer? It does not refer to you, and it does not refer to me. It refers to the whole Body of Christ. It is the church as the eternally elect vessel for the purpose of God, a heavenly vocation, and the anointing relates to that election.

(c) Office or Vocation

We must follow these statements up by noting two other things, that the anointing connects with office, or vocation. It is the vessel of God which is in view. That vessel is the church, the Body of Christ, and the church is not chosen to be saved. It is saved in relation to a purpose. The main thing about the church is not that it is saved, but that, being saved, its salvation relates to something infinitely greater than its salvation: that is, the purpose of its salvation, the eternal vocation - a vocation now in a spiritual way, a vocation "in the ages to come" (Eph. 2:7), an administrative vocation. The anointing, therefore, connects with office or vocation. So you find it in the Old Testament. The anointing is not to make people the Lord's. The anointing does not make people the Lord's, but the anointing makes the Lord's people His servants, His representatives. It brings into office in relation to God. Let us remember that fact about the anointing.


(d) The Organism, the Body

"By one spirit we were all baptized into one body" (1 Cor. 12:13). What is the baptism of the Holy Ghost? That is it: "By one spirit... baptized into one body." The Holy Spirit of the anointing means the organism, the Body of Christ. If we knew the truth from God's standpoint, there is no such thing as an individual baptism of the Holy Spirit. In our experience we may come into it individually, but from God's standpoint there is no such thing as an individual baptism of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit from the divine standpoint is a corporate thing. It is not fragmentary, it is not the baptism of so many detached, isolated, separate units; it is the baptism of one Body under one Head. It is the anointing from one Head upon all members as one Body, and in experience we are going to find that the Holy Spirit stands by that law and that for the fullest expression of the anointing, there must be fellowship and relatedness. There must be a ceasing from what is merely individualistic. Whether you understand that, whether you accept that or not, makes no difference. That is the truth of God's Word and for the fulness of the anointing we are destined to prove that that is so.

The revelation concerning the anointing is that there is oneness in all things. The Body is one, there is one Body and one Spirit; not so many spirits as there are members of the Body, or Christians, but one Spirit and one Body. And there is one ministry, just as there is one life.

Look at the application of that truth in the New Testament. Why did they lay hands upon those who had been baptized, confessing Christ? Just in testimony to the fact that the Body is one, a testimony of identification with one another. So Ananias, who was not a bishop, not a high ecclesiastic, but a representative member of a local assembly in Damascus, laid his hands upon Saul and said, "Brother". That was a tremendous thing in that case. That could only be done by the grace of God and the anointing. Ananias had had a struggle to get there. He had to get well on top of himself to enter into that ministry, and the Lord had to get him into a position before He could get him there. Ananias argued with the Lord. The Lord said, "Go" (Acts 9:15). "Now, Ananias, are you going to be subject to Me or are you going to be head in this matter?" When Ananias recognised the Headship, the Lordship of Christ, and subjected himself thereto, he went, and the anointing was with him and he was able to say what he would never have said of himself. He did not just lay a hand on Saul in a kind of friendly way, but he, coming in, laid his hands upon him and said, "Brother Saul". Here is identification, recognition of the Lord having added this man, another member of the Body of Christ and sharing the one life. There is the oneness of the Body under one anointing.

The ministry is one, set forth in the New Testament. Why did they lay hands upon them when they sent them forth? "Then, when they had... laid their hands on them, they sent them away" (Acts 13:3), or they sent them forth. Why? Simply because the ministry is one, and they were saying, "This is not your ministry, this is the ministry of the Body of Christ. What you do in it is as much our affair as yours, and we are involved in this, and we are going out with you in this, in spirit. We are a part of this ministry, and you must always remember that you must not take it out and make it yours. This is the ministry of all of us." That is the principle involved. It is one ministry and identification; the church committing itself to the ministry of every minister in it. There is strength there if that is recognised. What strength there would be for the service of the Lord! What value for the Lord in spiritual ministry!

The life is one. "Is any among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church... anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord" (James 5:14). What is this oil? The symbol of the anointing Spirit. What is the need? It is the need of life for the body. How does that life become ministered to such a one? By the oneness of the anointing. Who are the elders? They are representative members who stand for the church, in whom the whole church is represented. They, so to speak, bring the church with them in the Spirit, and recognising and taking account of one anointing, it is one life, and life is ministry.

Has someone got out of the way and fallen into sin which is not unto death? What does he need? What has happened to him? It is not unto that ultimate death, but undoubtedly it is unto some death. He needs recovery to life. He has touched a realm of death. He gets out and cannot get back into life. How will he get back? "You shall take life for him", you shall minister life to him. He has been asking for himself, but he cannot get it. The least member must be upheld, and he must recognise his relatedness to others, and others must recognise their relatedness to this one. Life will come as the oneness is recognised.

Oneness in all things is the meaning of the anointing, and anyone who violates oneness, violates the anointing. Anybody who breaks from the oneness suspends the values of the anointing; we come to recognise the meaning of the oneness and we do not come into the full values of the anointing. Therefore, the anointing does postulate the organism, the Body.

(e) Death and Burial of the Natural

The anointing presupposes the death and burial of the life of nature. That is why the Holy Spirit followed baptism. Baptism, as we are told clearly by the apostle, is that testimony or that way by which we testify to our identification with Christ in His death and in His burial, and then in His resurrection. As Paul says in Romans 6:4: "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead... so we too might walk in newness of life." What does that burial with Him mean? What does the Cross of Christ mean? Turn to Colossians 2:11-12 and read what the apostle says there about it.

Baptism is a way of declaring that the life of nature has been put aside and has disappeared from view. Conybeare is very emphatic and very definite and precise: "When you disappeared in the water". You cannot go very far beyond that. The life of nature is regarded as having disappeared. That is, not just the vicious nature, the gross, sensual nature; but man as a whole in what he is by nature, good and bad. And that is not only his moral life, but the man himself in all that he is as being something apart from God: his natural abilities apart from God, all his capabilities apart from God, all that he is in mind and in body; all that he can do apart from God. "I have been crucified with Christ... it is no longer I." The anointing presupposes that, because the anointing does not come until afterwards. Pentecost is after Calvary. The Holy Spirit and the anointing is after baptism. Therefore, there can be no anointing and none of the values of the anointing until the life of nature has been repudiated and brought into death and burial with Christ by faith, so that in the future it is not going to be the expression of the life of nature at all, it is going to be the Lord. Any ability that man may have, has now to come under the anointing and be nothing whatever apart from the Lord. It must be so much under the anointing that there will be no difficulty in subjecting the natural reason to the will of God and to the mind of God. The Lord is going to be given the right to dictate the method and the policy, and all our organising abilities as such, by nature have got to come under the government of the Holy Spirit and not get in the way of the Spirit. We would have a way of doing things with natural reason and common sense, which would often conflict with the way that the Holy Spirit does things.

Who would ever, governed by good worldly common sense and moved according to this world's judgements, have left a centre of throbbing revival at a time when things were really on the move and souls were being saved, and gone down by a way which is desert and left the whole thing? Natural reason and judgement would be in revolt against the sense of that and the wisdom of that. But the Holy Spirit knows exactly what He is doing, and He does things like that which come directly into conflict with our idea of things, so often, and our death union with Christ means that we are always ready to subject our reasoning to the Holy Spirit.

We do not get there all at once, but as we go on, having taken this position by faith, we find that the Holy Spirit does work this out, and it does really become a working thing in experience. So that so often we find that, whereas we would do things in a certain way, the Spirit checks us and causes that some other course should be adopted and we go on in faith, though we cannot see why it should be so, and in ourselves we would argue against it. But we have learned to be obedient to the Spirit. And in the long run, in the final issue, we are compelled to go down before the Lord and say, "This was not my way, and I would never have done it like that." The life of nature in every way is brought down under the power of the Cross when the anointing functions, and the anointing is always marvellous in the outworking, it is marvellous what the Lord does in His own way! That is one of the romantic aspects of a life in the Spirit, that you are caused to wonder and be amazed at how the Lord gets His achievements and reaches His end, so utterly contrary to our way and by such means as man would never employ. So, unto the principalities and powers, now in the church He is showing His manifold wisdom, but that has to be by the anointing so that the Cross, as testified to in baptism of our taking our position in Christ's death and burial, is basic to the anointing and the anointing presupposes that. If there is an anointing it is because that obtains.

Capacity for Divine Things

Then, further, the anointing carries with it capacity for divine things. We know quite well, both from the Word and from our own experience, that the natural man understands not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, they are foolishness unto him. We can say with equal emphasis that the natural man cannot do divine things, with all our good motives and intentions, we cannot do the work of God. No man can know the things of God, no man can do the things of God, no man can do God's works of himself. Only the anointing knows the things of God and can achieve the things of God and do the work of God, but the anointing carries with it capacity for apprehending divine things; and that capacity grows and continually grows.

You know well the difference between two who may even speak or minister on the same thing. One will take the Scriptures and tell you what the Scriptures say on that matter, and bring the Scriptures together in a wonderfully organised way and cleverly built up as a structure, and that, with much pains and labour, is presented as God's truth. As God's truth, there is no question in it; that is what the Word of God teaches, that is true, you cannot get away from it. Another one will come along and deal with the same thing, and as that one deals with it, you are having your eyes opened, getting beneath the Word, and seeing something beyond to which the Scripture points. You feel that you are being led into something which is life and revelation. It is the same truth. One is the result of the effort of the natural brain in connection with the Word of God. The result is very clever, but it still remains without that extra element that makes all the difference; that element that is life, that challenges. The other comes in with the Word by revelation, under the anointing. What he has, is not apart from the Scriptures, and it is not extra to the Scriptures, but it is what is inside the Scriptures. When we speak of a revelation we are not talking about something extra to the Word of God, we are talking about the inner content and meaning of the Word of God, the deeper secret of the Word of God. Some see what is written; others see what lies behind what is written. That is revelation. It takes the anointing to get you there, anointed eyes to see, anointed ears to hear what the Word really does say, not in letters and not in sentences, but the mind of God within them. The anointing gives that capacity and that capacity is a growing thing as we abide by the anointing.

So many have the value of their ministry spoiled because they project their own brains too much into divine things and do not submit their own minds to the instruction of the Holy Spirit.

These are values of the anointing, and the Lord is saying to us something for the future. He is laying the foundation for future days. It is probable that we shall come into experiences where this will be more necessary to us than we realise it to be at the moment. The Lord is seeking to get a stock-in-trade for the future, laying in something that we are going to need.

The Value of the Blood

We are largely reiterating what has already been said in this connection. The life constitutes an organism as differing from an organisation. The anointing constitutes a revelation as differing from an imitation. The blood constitutes an abiding and powerful witness against all that is not the true life and the true anointing. To put that in another way, it preserves the life and the anointing. The blood is the continuous power of the Cross or of Christ crucified, to keep things true and pure. The Cross sets aside and rules out all energies which are not the divine life, and the Cross has got to be continually applied so that the energies shall abidingly be the energies of divine life. The danger is always the coming in of energies which are not the energies of the divine life: the energies of our enthusiasms, the energies of our interest in the things of the Lord, the energies of our great desire bringing us in with passion to see things moving. These are all soul energies and they can become the dominant thing. We are not saying that the divine life and the divine energies will not stir us up to strong feeling, or move us to action, or create deep desire and feeling about things, but let us note that there is a great difference between our soul force seeking to attain unto divine ends, and the power of divine life and anointing working through us and yet always keeping us in a subject place. The Cross keeps that right. The blood must witness all the time against a life which is a false life, which is the life of nature insinuating itself into divine things. No amount of soul force can effect divine purpose. It is only by the life of the risen Lord that it can come into being and go through. We have constantly to get back to the Cross.

You remember that in the book of Joshua, the base of operations in the conquest of the land was at Gilgal. They went out from Gilgal to battle, and when they had won in that battle, they came back to Gilgal. Every time there was some achievement, they came back to Gilgal. What was Gilgal? The place of circumcision, where the whole body of the flesh is represented as having been put aside. These energies for conquest are the result of the work of the Cross (Col. 2:11).

It is so easy when, by the anointing, by the energy of divine life, something has been done for us to follow it up with our own drive and with the heat of our own souls to try to perpetuate it and maintain it, keep it going. We need to go back and have all that put under the Cross afresh so that the energy shall remain the power and the energies of divine life; that is the continuous testimony of the blood to keep things pure in relation to ourselves. It is possible to begin in the spirit and to seek to go on in the flesh, and not recognise that that has happened.

The resources, the measures, the means which are not of the anointing, are witnessed against by the blood. The blood is set forth in the Word as witnessing to Christ, and witnessing against the world and the flesh and the Devil.

Here we learn our lessons. If we really have come under the anointing, there is that in us which checks us up as to our methods, as to the means we employ, as to the resources upon which we are drawing. And we know quite well, deep down in our being, that the Lord is not with us in that, the Lord is not in that, the Lord is not going on with that. We ought to thank God for the fact that there is the reality of the Spirit working by the blood to keep things right. We need a sensitiveness to the Lord, maintained by much prayer, to know this witness and to be kept, by the witness of the blood, free from death elements and destructive forces.

The blood represents a divine standard. That is the point. It is the standard of divine life - the perfections of Christ, the nature which is without corruption. All that is not according to that divine standard is witnessed against by the blood. So, if we do slip, if we do sin and the testimony is in danger, and the anointing is involved, the blood is available to put us right and to keep the way open and to maintain the life. The effect of the blood is not all finished with when you are saved, and the appeal to the blood is continuous. The value of the blood goes right on and the virtue of the blood has to be appropriated all the time. There is no more sacrifice for sin, there is no more shedding of blood. That is once and for all, it is true, but the efficacy is to be appropriated continually all the way along, to keep things pure.

There are people who do not agree with that as doctrine, but what is the history of things where it is repudiated? There are more schisms and divisions and inconsistencies in Christian life than in probably any other realm. If things are going to be maintained in purity, we have to recognise the abiding value of the blood as the positive expression of the Cross. The Cross is not a crucifix; that is, there is no value in a crucifix. The Cross is an abidingly living thing, but the abiding value is the blood which is deathless and eternal, not a thing of time. We do not derive our value from the crucifixion, we derive our value from the blood that was shed at Calvary, and that value is a tremendously potent thing in this universe to keep things up to God's standard.

The Lord explain all this, and lead us into the values of the life, and the anointing, and the blood.

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