DEAR CIRCLE OF FRIENDS IN CHRIST,
Firstly, as promised, a brief report on the conference in
Switzerland. To the many friends who assured us of prayer for that
time we can say, without reserve, that the Lord answered very
truly. All our fears as to insufficient accommodation proved
unnecessary, for no one had to be refused; extra accommodation
came to knowledge when we arrived, and the company was provided
for in a number of places. It was a good company, representing
quite a number of countries. The spirit and fellowship were very
good, and the Lord graciously helped in the ministry. We were glad
to have with us our brothers Lambert of Richmond and Thompson of
Bombay. Both ministered at morning prayers, and brother Thompson
spoke once in the evening.
Without reference to the matter, quite spontaneously, six
of the company asked if they could give testimony in believer's
baptism, and the Lord, quite wonderfully, arranged for this to be
possible. It was a highlight of the conference.
We were led to be occupied throughout with the last two
chapters of the book of the Revelation, and the Lord put His
finger upon many very practical matters relating to the full end
toward which He is working. As to weather, it was the best week
that we have ever had at Aeschi. It was not easy to leave this
literal and spiritual mountain time, but we trust that "the God of
the Mountains" will be as real in the valleys as there.
And now, after the conferences in U.S.A., Holland, and
Switzerland, we are much before the Lord for the future. Not with
the Lord, but with us there are big questions in the place of
prayer, and issues in the balances. He already knows the answers
but we wait.
The whole matter of our future base and sphere is a major
issue, and we ask for fellowship in this connection. Our work
seems to be finished at Honor Oak and the new orientation does not
seem to need our particular ministry and function. We, however,
have no intention of moving without definite leading by the Lord.
We remain His "ambassador in bonds".
The Church of God is passing
into, or through, some very big changes, and there is much
"overturning, overturning, until he comes whose right it
is" (Ezekiel 21:27). While there is very much confusion in
every realm, the lines of demarcation and definition are being
drawn in Christianity. Categories are being made manifest and
destinies fixed accordingly. While the great net of evangelism
spreads, the haul will be sorted out and the winnowing fan of
reality and utterness will test "of what sort it is".
Perhaps one of the most testing discriminations will be between
the big and the intrinsic.
There is one thing that is
giving me a good deal of anxiety and apprehension. In this time
when a twofold movement is taking place on a wide scale: that is,
on the one hand the great movement toward union (not unity), as
in the World Council of Churches, on the policy of the combine
and monopoly, with all the necessary compromises and sacrifice of
distinctiveness of message; and on the other hand the unrest,
dissatisfaction, and loosening of ties with the established
system of churches and institutions, resulting in many leaving
their old associations and either meeting in groups, or drifting
without anchorage in their disappointment - my disturbing fear is
that there will be a movement, or some movements, toward the
formation of another undenominational or interdenominational
denomination, this coming about also by policy, expediency, or
seeming necessity. Such a movement would only be another
tragedy and incipient sectarian calamity, which history would
show to have been not of God but of man, although with the best
of motives. May the Lord save from this so serious mistake! It
would be a starting at the wrong end; a trying to form
something, instead of an organic growth from a
living illumination, a revolutionary encounter with an unveiling
of the true nature of the Church. For this latter God would have
to lay an apprehending hand upon a man, or body of men, and, by a
devastating showing of the true, universal, and spiritual
significance of Christ, as effectively emancipating them from all
the historic accretions of Christianity as the Apostle
Paul was emancipated from historic Judaism. The growth of this
organism would be as other emancipated men sprang from the
essential root, and not just adhered or sponsored. The power of
such an organism would be the all-conquering life of
resurrection: "The power that worketh in us." There is
nothing artificial, imitation, or manufactured about this, and it
requires no propaganda. The Holy Spirit is the great Propagandist
of what is of heaven.
The above is written out of a
very deep concern; a longing and a fear. It should be remembered
that when God made His "new thing", His "new
cruse" as the foundation of this dispensation of the Spirit
and the Church, He did so with a nucleus of deeply disciplined
men who had been broken by the Cross and reunited by the
Resurrection. These two things were wrought deeply into their
very constitution and were the ground upon which the Holy Spirit
built in every place. This is the only positive ground for
the Church and the churches. Anything other will be negative.
They were men who had seen! It may be that, if the Lord is
to have such a spiritual impact as was then made on the world, it
will be necessary to sift down to that basis the conglomeration
of the man-made and start - or go on - with the small but
This may be like "a voice
crying in the wilderness", but perhaps some wind of God
would carry it as a guide or warning where it is needed.
It has always been contrary to
our principle to advise people to leave this or that; rather have
we said: 'Stay until your very spiritual life is at stake'; but,
as things are, it is becoming more and more evident that God must
"do a new thing" if His full end is to be reached.
May He raise up His Prophets to "show the house to
the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed"; and may some
Josiah (personal or corporate) arise to lead to such a taste of
the real thing as to result in the leaving of all that is false.
We can only resort to prayer!
Yours for His full satisfaction alone,
T. AUSTIN-SPARKS, Editor.