by T. Austin-Sparks
Beloved of God,
I write these lines in the midst of the "peace celebrations", and negotiations, although it may be some weeks before many of you receive this copy of the paper. Everything is too near for full realisation at the moment, but, although we know this world too well to have illusions about her tranquil future, we do breathe a true prayer of gratitude for any cessation of major wars, and space free from the intense strain of these years. The great spiritual adversary has not failed to use the conditions of these years in a particular way to engulf those and that which belong to the Lord. In every way and means it has been no easy thing to continue the Lord's work in outward ways. But - and this is the main point of this letter - a great story is being unfolded of His work in hidden and inward ways. Our motto for this year has been concerning His faithfulness, and how it is coming to light! From the hushed countries of the years we are now getting letters - France Holland, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, etc., and even Japan; and all telling of that faithfulness through indescribable suffering. Very few of our beloved friends have passed away through war conditions, and they all tell of His wonderful grace. This story will grow greatly, we are confident. It is indeed a joy to be in touch again, and we eagerly look for the day - may it be soon - when we can meet again. We prayerfully look for such changes as will make travelling possible and an enlargement of our printed ministry. It it just wonderful how this latter has been maintained through the war years. 1944 was a record year in our entire history for literature sent out on demand, and the first six months of 1945 have seen a considerable increase on the whole of that year. The Lord is able to maintain what He wants, no matter what the conditions.
And what does He want? We have no question or doubt about that. It is writ large throughout His Word and emphasised with unmistakable force at the end. The Lord wants, and must have, a people living in the good of the greater fulnesses of Christ! For the sake of all the rest, His own who lag behind or walk afar off, and for the world, He must have a heart and core of those who, with eyes of heart enlightened, and with willingness to pay the price, will stand for His full satisfaction, and "Overcome because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony, and love not their own lives, even unto death". This has been the object and purpose of this ministry throughout its years, but we are being increasingly pressed up into it. The new series of messages beginning with this issue [Overcomer Testimony] is the fruit of this pressure.
If there is one thing true more than another with us it is that we have never been allowed to fall into a merely doctrinal ministry; a ministry of retailing truths and ideas. Ministry and living experience have been kept very strictly, severely, and deeply in oneness. If it had not been so we could not possibly have gone on, for the cost has been too great for just the propagating of ideas. There is nothing that we want to keep going: nothing that we want to see successful. Everything can go, and we pray that it will, immediately the Lord has no commensurate use for it. We have ever tried to make one thing clear; it is that we are not seeking to set up something, and to influence people to leave other things and adhere to it. The suggestion that this is our object is the devil's way of trying to prejudice a ministry which people the world over and in all connections of Christian activity are constantly saying is meeting their deepest spiritual need. We have but one object, that is to know Christ in the fullest possible measure, and that for His Body's sake, which is the Church. We leave all practical questions as the issues of a revelation of Christ in believers, quite content that such a revelation will settle all such questions if they are obedient to the heavenly vision. It is Christ Who settles all other matters. Many will act on other and lesser grounds, misapprehending our ministry, and will therefore bring the ministry into disrepute. Some will act on true spiritual dealings of the Lord with them, and will suffer reproach from the disobedient and those bound by "the tradition of the elders".
We may have big reservations as to the rightness of the Christian system as it is now, and feel that it most definitely limits the Lord and His people, but, we know that the true Church is greater and above its earthly outwardnesses, and it is that heavenly Church that we try to see through all the other: it is wherever Christ is and in whomsoever He dwells. So our ground is the universality of Christ in all who are born of His Spirit. This is a positive position and attitude, and not a negative or passive one. So often we are confronted - and sometimes affronted - with what Christians are here and with the earthly aspects of their Christian system that it calls for a real effort to get through to Christ in them, and then the measure is small but the effort must be made, for only so can there be a hope of increase: the consciousness of our own limitation and need of constant growth and adjustment makes for patient forbearance and understanding. There can be no pedestalled "I have attained" when we are still on the Potter's wheel, and we shall not be off it until we "awake in His likeness".
Pray for this ministry, dear friends, it is truly needed, and there are many children of God all over the world who are yearning for spiritual food unto fuller life. Stand in your place with the exalted Christ, and claim His full rights for Him, and withstanding the enemy's great efforts at frustration.
With greetings and love in our Lord,