The Church's Position and Power in the Heavenlies

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 7 - Open Question & Answer Session 2

Initials of those giving answers (where known) refer to:
S.A. - Samuel Alexander
T.A.-S. - Theodore Austin-Sparks
P.W.F. - P. W. Faunch
L.O. - Lady Ogle
G.P. - George Paterson
G.T. - George Taylor

Q. The sovereignty of our Lord. We have proclaimed a Saviour who can deliver men from sin and we have had our Christians in China. We have proclaimed Him as Lord of our life, but feel that there is something more than that as Sovereign Lord. What further message have we to give out in teaching to those who have come to know Him as Saviour and Deliverer?

A. G.P. In your message to the individual, would your gospel message have included anything concerning the background of the universe? That is to say, the Lordship of Christ is universal, and so far as the deliverance side is concerned, it is deliverance from bondage of principalities and powers. If our gospel message has been related to the Saviour from sin as some kind of impersonal thing, or Saviour from a state in which we are by nature, once we have come to the place of knowing we have been saved out of the state as a guilty sinner, we may still be without any conception at all of the background of the universe from which we still need to have an emancipation. If our message to the world brings before men the revelation that they are not only in a state of sinnership, they are defiled and need to be cleansed, but they are in the bondage of a power from which they need to be delivered as a matter of day to day experience, then you are getting into a much bigger realm, where the sovereignty of the Lord operates.

G.P. Once you touch the spiritual background of the universe you touch the ground over which the Lord's sovereignty, so far as deliverance is concerned, comes into expression. Souls have got to be delivered from the tyranny of the enemy. We must bring in the whole background of the sovereignty of the Lord in the universe, and the fact that the Father has seated Him at His own right hand far above all principalities and powers. All heavenly beings of light and darkness are subject to Him and we as saved ones are called to share that sovereignty with Him, to be with Him in the throne far above all created beings in the universe. So that the Lordship of Jesus Christ and its relation to the individual soul, the gospel we preach, is the gospel of the Sovereignty. The Lord Jesus did not come to save individuals from sin, but to deliver them and seat them in Himself in the very place in the throne far above those spiritual forces here on earth which in their sinful state had dominion over them. It is that when you bring in the fact of the Lord's transcendence of every other name in the universe, and we are called to share the power of that Name.

Q. It would be interesting to know how far you have been able to put that before them?

A. Very little indeed.

Q. In preaching the gospel to the individual in a land where evil spirits and idol worship is a current everyday thing among the people, is there a special opportunity for bringing home to the unsaved the real nature of the universe, that is, its spiritual background? And is there an opportunity for presenting a full gospel to such people, because they have an actual knowledge of the working of spiritual forces which we, in a country like this, do not have?

A. L.O. There is the opportunity, but we seldom get there. Missionaries are so occupied in clearing the ground. The people we speak to have no notion of a personal Creator. They generally recognise heaven and speak of heaven as if it is... well, they say we are the same as you, we worship heaven and earth. But there is an opportunity undoubtedly if the missionaries knew themselves. It is the same in India. There is so much open sin in the church itself.

Q. Where there are really true conversions in China, exceptional people, does not the Holy Spirit Himself bring the power of that truth into them?

A. In some cases. Sometimes Christian evangelists speak lightly of the idols, and would throw them about. This offends and terrifies the people. They have sought to point out that there is a satanic power behind the idol which they should not treat lightly. Some recognise that and they would not speak slightingly as if it was a little thing; they recognise they are up against the powers of darkness. A young Christian teacher who was born again, said, "I cannot explain it, but these things are so." And after some years in China, we found we were up against mysteries, the deep things of Satan. We thought they were idle tales, but they were true. Terrible things, awful things; this shows the power of Satan behind these things. We never say, "There is nothing to be afraid of", but we say that there is only shelter in the power of the blood of the Lord Jesus. One feels they need a fuller message and we have to know how to deliver it.

Q. Is it not possible to make that very fact, this spiritual realm of things, the point of approach? To start straightaway more particularly with those who have some intelligence in the unseen world - is it not that we should start with the sovereignty of Christ recognising and explaining to these folk the powers they are conscious of, the explanation of that as the satanic background? Then we can say we come to proclaim One who has dealt with that, and come to the personal side of salvation after.

A. We have done that in some instances.

Q. With what result?

A. L.O. We have had isolated instances. One woman, Satan oppressed, told others that we were there to tell her of One who has met all that, who is greater than Satan, and she said, "Who would not believe such good things as that? I am going home to tell my daughter-in-law; that will ease her sorrows and sooth her grief." That was years ago. We have not had many like that, it has been drudgery very often and seemed as if the ground was so hard, the seed would not go into it.

L.O. I was reading a pamphlet speaking of the experience of a missionary who went to those in darkness with the Sovereignty of the Lord Jesus, told of the One who had met all this, overthrown it, and had authority over it all. And then he turned and said, "That One is your Saviour" and brought in the message of the cross. The response was, "Is there someone who will be able to deliver me out of this awful fear?" On that ground he presented the message of redemption and got an entrance where for years he had worked and got no entrance. This was when they found One who could deliver them, who loved them, and that One was their Saviour.

P.W.F. This shows the necessity of the missionary being flexible enough in his conception of what his message is, to seek to meet the conscious need of the people. They are only conscious of the evil thing and while the missionaries are trying to teach them they are sinners, they are only conscious of the fear and dread they are in. If the Lord is presented in that way, as One able to deliver, personal redemption will follow that. They are not open to receive while their minds are beclouded and numbed by fear.

G.T. We must have that in mind. The Apostle went about preaching Jesus as Lord. When you hear from the Field that Christ has been upheld as Saviour and there has been failure because the Lordship has not been proclaimed, is it not a strategy of the devil's activity in having got the messengers of the gospel out of their throne position and their message has failed likewise? If they went in a throne position they would have gone with a throne message. The majority do not know their riches in Christ.

G.P. The best way to reach the unsaved world is by a quickening and re-establishing in the Lord's people of a true spiritual position. And this further point which we do well to take note of: the value of a messenger of the gospel to the Lord is in proportion to their own personal knowledge and experience of the throne life. The sending out of numbers of immature messengers is not service for the Lord at all; it might be to the contrary. Sending those who are preaching something not adequate, you have trouble upon trouble, and set up a sense of defeat instead of coming through victoriously.

L.O. Also, unless there is the full message of the exalted Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit cannot come through and give attestation. He cannot come through in full manifestation because of an inadequate message.

P.W.F. "He was not because Jesus was not yet glorified."

G.P. Link that up with the Word we have read just in passing; it is necessary to see the heavenly side of that. We can preach about Jesus being Lord, some lovely conception about it, but we need to get into the heavenly significance of His Lordship. We may have an earthly mind or idea about this.

P.W.F. It is standing before Him.

T.A.-S. It upsets a very great deal of that kind of talk which says, "Well, let us keep to the simplicities and let us not give young converts strong meat." There might be some truth there, but it upsets a very great deal. The whole question is how much should be given to an unsaved one, or to a young convert? How much should be given of the gospel? I think what we have been saying has brought out quite clearly that you should give them a full message and the full message is not outlining to them a system of things about principalities and powers. The full message is embodied in the absolute sovereignty and Lordship of the Lord Jesus and what that represents for us, so that when you go and proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, that is your gospel, that is your message; you are covering all the ground dealing with every realm.

L.O. So many of the missionaries have not understood about principalities and powers and have brought the people to a knowledge of Jesus as their Saviour and left them open to all those, and they are baffled and troubled. Dealing among Indians we are not up against the same idolatry and satanic fear in the same way as in Africa and China. One day whilst among the Indians one was brought face to face with this instance. One of the Indians came with a very bad cut in his hand and his bodily condition was awful, he had not seen water for some months. Enquired into the reason, his wife recently became the mother of a babe. A rule among the Indians was that if the father is seen running at all, or takes a bath, the baby would die. Now, some folks laugh at this, but if they knew that such things happened, they would not laugh. When the native takes a bath or runs, that thing happens and the child dies. We had to stand up against it. We dressed the native's hand and said, "When you come this evening I want to see you clean." For fear of losing his child he would not have the bath, but we had to be firm and made him take one, but realised that in taking that step we had to stand in the full victory of Calvary and plead the triumph of our Lord whom we were seeking to represent. And that child did not die. We were not able to present to the Indians the fulness of our message in that sense, but nevertheless the Lord brought it home to our hearts. The satanic power was operating through that superstition.

Q. Were you able to tell the Indian that you were appealing to your Lord in the matter?

A. L.O. No, the village was burnt down to the ground.

The thing for us to fix our hearts upon, and ask the Lord to teach us, is do we, each of us, know how to deal with such a case where there is a soul dominated by the power of the enemy along such intangible lines as that? It cannot be dealt with by merely urging him to do this, that, or the other. Do we know how to tackle a thing of that sort? That is the realm we are called to minister in. We need to come into the realm where we can deliver souls.

Bodakian: (A testimony) Last year at Slavanka we heard a message on the Lordship of the Lord Jesus and we went back in the good of it. A young convert had bad feelings that he would like to kill himself and take away the life of his wife. He was crying and confessing that he would not even kill a fly. He knew it was not himself; he felt pushed (by the enemy) and he came for help. He said, "I feel like taking something and throwing it at your head and yet I love you and would not do it." This was satanic power of course, and we took the matter and prayed with him and asked the Lord to deliver him. You see, this was received light and the occasion came to use it.

G.P. You were against principalities and powers and not against flesh and blood.

Bodakian: He had been to the spiritualists to get away from this and had got in the thick of it.

Q. What is the origin of voluntary thought?

A. G.P. What do you mean by voluntary?

Q. Those that come despite your setting your mind to resist them when one has claimed the full victory of the blood and is trusting the Lord.

A. G.P. What do you do with them when they come?

Q. How can you dismiss them?

A. G.P. By positive faith in the blood and asserting that you are in the good of His victory. In His Name we deliberately refuse anything that is not of Him. The helmet of salvation is provided in the armour for that very thing. The helmet is the protection for the head. In the Lord Jesus there is sufficient equipment for us for protection from the most malignant line of teaching. We need not go outside of the Lord to find a perfect covering, and the helmet of salvation relates to the protection of the head and the protecting of us from those thoughts from the evil one. As we take a positive position about the loins girt with truth, so we may take that attitude to have the helmet of salvation upon our heads. If touched by them despite our general attitude of looking to the Lord though, it should be finally sufficient for us in the Lord's Name to plead the protection of the blood against that of the enemy which has come in. But if it does not work, I suggest that somewhere we are not in the good of things.

P.W.F. Seeing there a condition of mind that makes that position, the apostle says, "Gird up the loins of your mind" and suggests an activity of mind, alertness of mind. People say, "You cannot help when you think." You can, your mind is your own. You should have control over your mind, and if the mind has become subject to voluntary thoughts over which there is no real control, it means that somehow the mind has got out of control, and we need to come to the Lord about that. There is an inactivity of the mind which we must guard against, "Set your mind upon the things which are above." If, in spite of that, there comes an injection of thought that persists against one's own choice, there is first the appeal to the Lord concerning it and the faith application of the precious blood. And then if that does not avail, there is another last line of action that one has sometimes had to take. That is, in faith to take this position which we have been talking about, in spirit, and rebuke that interfering spirit in the Name of the Lord. I have found that when everything else has failed that has met the case.

G.T. Positive instruction is good (Phil. 4:8) to keep our mind always occupied with the right things, the heavenly things. There are cases, because of hereditary reasons, in some cases a mind that is in itself uncontrolled and made sport of by the devil, things coming in uncontrolled by us. There is only one way of dealing with that, and that is by standing in the position the Lord has put us into in the heavenlies over these things, and claiming the full power of the triumph of the Lord over them and by that we shall come into the mind of Christ being in that position. That instruction in Philippians chapter 4 keeps our minds occupied with the right things.

G.P. Sometimes you have to just mention the blood and the thing disappears on the spot, but there needs to be the persistent refusal to take the thing on and even if it remains we use our faith by deliberately refusing to accept it and watch for the Lord to deliver us. The Lord allows this to strengthen our faith and teach us to stand.

Q. B.J. Concerning the sovereignty of the Lord, I feel that if we are in the throne and we preach the sovereignty of the Lord over every realm, men and women ought to come in absolute surrender to the message of the sovereignty? There ought to be more yielding. The gospel was given for the salvation of men and we ought to see more definite breaking on the part of men under the impact of the message of sovereignty.

A. G.P. There is some explanation - the church's ministry comes in along the line of intercession and not only the preaching of the Word, and the Lord's people should follow the Lord's messengers in adequate prayer. If the Lord gives the word, then that is not a thing that you can register as actual open accomplishment etc.

T.A.-S. I was reading the other day - it will answer that part of the question - an article by a servant of the Lord of great and long experience and he was asked to write his experiences, especially along the line of having been used by the Lord in leading men to Christ. And he said that over a long period of years, this servant of the Lord knew that he had the Lord's message and was giving it in the power of the Spirit, but the Lord had rarely let him see the immediate result. As he looked back over the years, he knew of a great company who had been led to the Lord through his ministry, but many had often written years after to say that at a certain day when he was preaching at a certain place, they were led to the Lord. He knew nothing about it at the time. That may be a part answer to the question. But I think more than one of us might have to say the same thing. The result of our ministry has very rarely been immediately apparent, but a very great deal of correspondence received gives reason to believe almost all over the world there are those who came into blessing by that ministry. Whether we should stipulate that our message should have immediate results is rather open to question. The thing is: what is the Lord doing? Just because we do not see it we are not to conclude that nothing has been done. There is a registration if the word is in the power of the Spirit, "My word shall not return unto Me void". We must take it that there is fruit.

T.A.-S. Coming back to the other question about that side of things, we have covered a fair amount of ground, but we want to tie that thing up because it is not an isolated problem, it is a common problem. We want to make sure of one thing: that our common or ordinary habits of life are not loose. What I mean by that is not morally loose, but of a more or less passive character; that our general habits of life are deliberate, that we do not have blind spots and neutral patches, that we are positive in our general mode of life. Deliberate. If we are weak generally, we are exposed, of course, to this sort of thing. And it is no use trying to deal with these matters as merely emergency things, but to try and meet them at the front door. And every day mental life has to be attended to, that we are not slip-shod, lackadaisical or of a passive kind. We must be deliberate in life. Maintaining the loins of the mind. Passivity provides ground for the enemy along this line. It is a dangerous thing to decline into a passive state. As soon as you have nothing on hand, the enemy will begin to work in your imagination, and you have given him the ground if you do that.

T.A.-S. On the other hand, on the positive side we must remember what the Lord says in His Word about this armour of light, this armour of God. It has to be taken up and put on. For example, the helmet of salvation. We get a mental picture of this as a literal thing, but we have to see exactly what this is spiritually. It refers to something around the head, salvation around the head. Put salvation around your head; that is literally the Greek there. Put it on, put on the helmet of salvation. That is a deliberate thing to be done. It represents a positive action. The Lord makes it good as we act positively and say, "In the Name of the Lord I deliberately put salvation around my head." The whole of the salvation of God is provided to protect our minds as well as the other parts, and we have to act very definitely. The positive element in that little passage in Ephesians 6 about the armour is impressive. The word 'against' is used five times in Ephesians 6:11­-12. Our wrestling is not with flesh and blood but AGAINST principalities, AGAINST powers, and so on, that one word repeatedly coming there represents a spiritual attitude. It means that we are to stand in a positive attitude right through the whole thing. It represents a positiveness of spirit, of attitude, as set over against anything passive at all. The maintenance of a definite attitude right through.

T.A.-S. The word 'wrestling' there is a tremendously interesting word again. In the Greek it brings up the picture of two men wrestling with a view to one actually throwing the other down and then holding him down. All that is contained in the Greek words there; the picture of one man seeking to fling the other down and when he has flung him down, to keep him down. You see how strong it is. And this flinging down is in relation to the wiles of the devil. One is stressing the positive side of things. How very positive this is and how passivity is totally in opposition to things there. "Whom resist steadfast in the faith". But it is not wrestling in emergency, it is training to resist and maintaining that position at all times. We do not just begin to resist when we are conscious that the enemy is about, but even when the enemy seems to be taking a holiday. This is a state of spirit which is to be maintained. Maybe that makes the Christian life very strenuous, arduous. It does mean we are always to remember that our adversary goes about seeking whom he may devour. "Whom resist..." Always going about - if he does not come one way he will come another and the Lord's children have to keep free from all passive hours. So many think the time to fight is when the enemy is evident. You have to be in a prepared state and never be taken unawares if or when these thoughts begin to be flung at your mind.

L.O. Experience along this line... during illness a good many years ago, I was unable to sleep and the most terrific thoughts would come, quite foreign to me in every way. I would plead the blood, take protection of the Name and go to sleep. Shortly afterwards these thoughts would come back overwhelmingly. On asking the Lord about this, He said, "What about your fallow ground?" He meant idle thoughts, imaginative thoughts. I was shown that those idle thoughts and idle imaginations were no-man's ground in the mind and when the enemy wanted the occasion, the ground was already there. This was a very great warning. It was nothing sinful or wrong, but just letting the mind go and then at a given time when the enemy wanted it, the ground was there.

T.A.-S. No day-dreams and no nightmares!

E.N. Commit thy works unto the Lord and He shall establish thy thoughts. If we commit all that we do to God He has promised to establish our thoughts.

G.P. We do need to know more and more the value of that promise in the Word, that in times when thoughts seem to be almost beyond our control to direct, that as far as we can master them to direct them upon the Lord Himself. "Set your mind on the Lord." My own experience in a time when, owing to continue going on in one's business affairs, occupied in many things constantly, the mind got into a state of being wound up, as though you had not got your mind detached. I could not get my mind detached and put it on something else. My desk and letters were all there, and the Lord showed me that if your mind is in a whirl, fix it upon Him and you get deliverance. We need not try to unwind our mind and put it on something else, but I found that to apply the mind actively towards the Lord automatically cuts you off from the other thing and in a few minutes you find yourself resting in the Lord. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose imagination is stayed on Thee".

P.W.F. What has just been said does away with the conception that some folks have that if you commit yourself to the Lord at the beginning of the day and trust Him, well, all will be well. That is not all the truth; there is a danger of getting into a sort of passivity of trust that He does not come down upon. Alertness and occupying the mind with Him is essential.

Form spiritual habits. Habits of thought, you can train yourself to them, and refuse certain other thoughts.

Q. An incident here related concerning a young convert in Brussels who complains of bad dreams. Dreaming of the old life. How would you deal with this case?

A. T.A.-S. Get him into an attitude towards it. Come alongside of him in definite prayer, pointing out that this thing has all the possibilities of bringing into captivity to the enemy again. There is an enemy factor in that, and you would have to get right down alongside of him and in definite prayer take a position against that. It is a very common experience. It is just possible for us when we are tired to say, "Good-night Lord, take care of us" and get into bed. But we have to learn that it is very necessary to take a definite position with the Lord before you go to sleep because the enemy does work havoc with the Lord's children during the night in that very way. This represents some deliberate action in prayer on the part of two at least, with a brother like that, to deal with it, and have that thing wound up and stopped in the Name of the Lord and by the Lord. It can be done, but it has to be taken seriously. You cannot go round the corner and say commit yourself to the Lord, etc. You have to tackle a thing like that in the Name of the Lord. It is a most perilous thing. It is a part of the horrible treachery and cruelty of the enemy that he takes unconscious hours so often to do damage to the Lord's children. But we have to stand in with the Lord very definitely.

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.