by T. Austin-Sparks
We are now returning to the point from which we began on Saturday afternoon when we said that all that we were going to consider would be gathered into the Cross and the Name of the Lord. We then did, very briefly and lightly, indicate that these two things are found together right through the Word of God. We instanced several of the occasions where they are found together. It only needs to be said again here that that is so, and that that is open to proof if you will look at it. In the Old Testament, of course, the Cross is represented by the altar, and there it is a matter of the union of the altar and the Name of the Lord; the Name of the Lord connected with the altar. In the New Testament, as we expect to find it, the altar is changed for the cross, but the Name is still kept with it.
I just return your thoughts to a couple of passages which indicate this very definitely and clearly. One we have already considered fairly fully. We are going to greatly abbreviate or shorten it for our purpose at this time. In the letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, at the end of verse 8, we just have the words: "The Cross," and then verse 9 goes on, "Wherefore, the Name which is above every name." "The Cross... Wherefore... the Name." All the rest that is there is gathered into that.
Turn back to the letter to the Ephesians and you have the same thing indicated. Chapter 1, verse 20: "He raised Him from the dead and made Him to sit above every name that is named." "He raised Him... above every name that is named." Of course, you will take account of the context of both of those passages, and you will find that it is all about what God has done through the Cross of the Lord Jesus as the basis for glorifying His own Name, or bringing His own glory into full manifestation.
With that then, as our basic position, the union between the Cross and the Name - the Name of the Cross - let us go on. The book of the Acts, which is a very large and full book, as you know, stands entirely on the ground of the Cross. That book is just the issue of the Cross, the spontaneous issue of the Cross. It would never have been written, and all that was there would never have happened, but for the Cross; it rests upon the Cross. And in that book of the Acts, the term or phrase: "the Name," is mentioned no fewer than 33 times - which carries its own significance. The Name which is preeminent and predominant throughout that whole wonderful book, called the book of the Acts, rests upon the Cross. And in the New Testament, as a whole, everything is "in the Name," the Name of the Lord Jesus. People are exhorted "to believe into the Name." In answer to their inquiry as to what they should do, they are bidden "to be baptized in the Name." Their gathering together as the Lord's people was "gathering in the Name." All their prayer was "in the Name." They were praying "in the Name." They were preaching and teaching "in the Name." And the work that they were doing, healing the sick and so on, was all "in the Name." It was that that caused the trouble. The rulers came upon them and forbad them to speak or teach any more "in this Name." All that - and it is a most inspiring and helpful and instructive study just to look at that in the New Testament; all that rests upon the Cross, and is inseparably connected therewith.
The Name of the Lord Jesus came before Christianity. Christianity took its character, in the first place, from the Name. It was the Name that gave to Christianity its nature. I fear that it may have been reversed since. It seems, although perhaps not deliberately and intentionally or consciously, but it does seem that Christianity has come before the Name, and gets in the way of the Name, and very largely is a contradiction of the Name. So that what we have to understand, and what has to be recovered if there is going to be anything like the power and effectiveness and fruitfulness that there was at the beginning, is what the Name signified and implied because it is not just a title, a designation, some phrase, some tag put on: "in the Name of Jesus". It has become so commonplace to do that, so [much a] matter of practice and course to use the phrase "in the Name of Jesus," but nothing seems to happen, with all that - so little results, so little is present even when that kind of speaking and terminology is used as the commonplace thing. No, it is not just a title, it is not just a designation, just not the name of someone, although that Someone may be the Lord Jesus Himself. It is something very much more than that.
It is impossible to consider this matter of the Lord's Name in the Old Testament without recognising that it is not just the difference of title from other gods and other lords, it's an entirely different kind of being, and there is more in it than that. And what is true in the Old Testament is true, yes, infinitely and transcendently more, in the New Testament. May I repeat: what we have to understand and what has to be recovered is the significance and implications of the Name as the apostles understood it, as the Holy Spirit caused it to mean and therefore, which resulted in such tremendous things. When they said, "In the Name of Jesus Christ" something happened. When they prayed, "In the Name of Jesus Christ," something happened. When they preached in the Name, something happened. It's that "something" which is there that we have to know and to recover. The Name and its glory has got to come back into its right place.
Well, we have said, and we repeat that:
The Name Rests Upon and Issues from the Cross
Therefore, all the meaning of the Cross is embodied in the Name. That's simple enough, but it's very important. All the meaning of the Cross is embodied in the Name; and to separate these two is to put asunder what God has put together, and when you do that you destroy the real value.
The Name can never be effective without the meaning of the Cross behind it, or present with it. For the Name to manifest all its Divine power and fullness, it must be kept vitally bound up with the Cross. It must rest all the time upon that which has given it those values, "unto death... wherefore the Name." You cannot divide those two; "Wherefore, the Name," and they remain together so that it becomes necessary for us, dear friends, to reconsider some of the great meanings of the Cross which are gathered into the Name of the Lord Jesus and give that Name its real meaning and value.
I am going to assume that we here today, or this morning, are the Lord's children, so that it becomes unnecessary for me to spend time in speaking about those values of the Cross which have made us the Lord's people; to speak about the atonement and justification by faith, and the initial union with Christ by new birth. These are values of the Cross, meanings of the Cross, which are gathered into the Name. Of course, nothing more can be, until that is true, but I am assuming that you here do know and understand that the Name of the Lord Jesus means for you your sins forgiven, your union with Christ, and your justification before God, so that I can dismiss that in this company and proceed beyond that to these further values and meanings of the Cross which are gathered into the Name.
Firstly then, the Cross was the place, the scene, and the occasion of the overthrow of a kingdom and its prince. We've got to be very sure about that. Of course, we all believe in the common phrase "The Victory of Calvary," and well, we know or we think we know a lot about that, but we've got to be very sure about this because it doesn't always seem to be working out. It was definitely and positively (if the New Testament means anything at all) the occasion of the overthrow of a kingdom and its prince. That kingdom is a nature and a system in this world - ruled by satan - a nature, and because a nature, a system. Every nature produces its own system; every system is the product of a particular nature.
When I use the word "system" I am only using another word for kingdom. In every different kingdom, a certain nature predominates. That need not be followed up, it's obvious.
In the kingdom of this world, there is a nature and that kingdom takes its strength and its form from that nature; and it is in that nature, through that system, that satan rules. And the principle of that rule of satan is:
The Alienation of Man from God.
That sums up everything. All the works and ways of satan have one object, just one object. His ways and his works are perhaps countless, so various that they are often difficult to track down, but howsoever many they be, and however great their variety, they are all gathered into one single object, and that is: to alienate men from God. That may be done by making a great deal of man, making him his own god, his own lord, the very deification of humanity, the enthronement of man upon the throne of his own glory. Or it may be, on the other hand, to the other extreme, by depression and misery and suffering and degradation. And everything between those two extremes is just to make man, on the one hand, independent of God, and on the other hand bitter against God. The object is one: alienation from God, making man to part with God, to be independent of God, to take a course of self-will, to blind man, to make him ignorant; everything to get in between man and the Lord.
That is the nature that is in the kingdom of this world, isn't it? For the most part, you can divide the whole world into those two sections. On the one hand: man made to feel that he doesn't need God, that he can get on quite well without God and be independent of God and give God no thought. And that very largely is along the line of many preoccupations and what he calls "pleasures", the filling of his life so full that there is no place for God, or on the other hand, that more positive attitude toward God of bitterness and rebellion and hatred. In greater or lesser degrees, the whole world is summed up of those two things. And it is in every natural heart, every natural heart. That is the kingdom of satan, that is the kingdom of this world of which he is prince. We keep on the focal point: that which comes in between God and man, and man and God, as satan's supreme objective and activity.
The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ meant the destruction of that. It was the occasion when the prince of this world was cast out, when that kingdom received its fatal blow, when that work of satan was met, mastered, and overcome. The Lord Jesus through His Cross holds that victory in His hands. It has not yet become, of course, true in the world actually, but we are coming to this in a moment. The fact is there, that the Lord Jesus has done that. And believers into the Name of the Lord Jesus, know it, and are in the good of that, so that the Name, the Name, embodies this: that that kingdom and that ruler has been cast out. The Cross meant its destruction and the Name is the Name of the One who specifically did that! Did that!
How did He do it? Firstly, there was none of that kingdom, that nature, in Him. Oh, how Satan worked along every line, by every means, to get in between the Son and the Father, between Christ and God. I say, by every means. We haven't the record of all the secret battles, but we have enough to know that there was a battle going on throughout His life to, in some way, get in between Him and the Father. "If Thou be the Son, if Thou be the Son, if Thou be the Son," trying to insinuate a question, a doubt - open the way for a breach. So I am not staying to take you through His life showing how here and there, in this way and in that, the enemy was at work by pressure and oppression, by subtlety, by foes, by friends, working all the time to find this gap where he could just thrust in his wedge, and then he would drive it home and do with the Last Adam what he did with the first. But, "the prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in Me," He said. "The prince of this world," note the phrase, not "the devil comes", not "the great adversary", but "the prince of this world comes and hath nothing in Me." He could not get in between Him and the Father. He could not bring about this alienation, this division and separation. He just could not do it. But, for our Lord, it was a matter of constant vigilance and constant conflict. It was not automatic. The mystery, the mystery of His humanity, the humanity of God, God Incarnate is just that, that He had to fight our battles. It is a theological problem, I know, how a perfect Being can be tempted. Leave it! The fact is writ large in the Word that it was real. He was not just play-acting, it was real; it was a battle unto blood to maintain this to the last.
You know, it is no small thing, no small thing when risen, just immediately after He had been raised from the dead, He said, "I ascend unto My God and your God, My Father and your Father." That's a tremendous victory over the dividing work and power of the enemy. He is still in union and fellowship. Ah, but what that meant, what that meant in the moment of His being forsaken by the Father... yet, that's not the last word. No, that cry of forsakenness was not the last cry, the last cry was, "Father, into Thy hands..." Father - the relationship through all is unbroken, He has triumphed in Himself. Yes, that's how He did it. All hell raged, raged on that ground alone. Everything, everything is focused in this Man. Satan's kingdom is at stake in this one Man. All his hopes, all his age-long hopes and ambitions, are in the balances of this one Man. And the pivot of all is this: this relationship with God. And so hell raged from its depths against Him on this ground alone, this one ground of fellowship with God.
It cost Him everything, it cost Him everything. Here in this world, it cost Him everything. Satan saw to it that He didn't have anything here in this world. "All right, all right, if you're not coming into my kingdom and yielding to my law and falling down and worshipping me and putting me in the place of God your Father, you shall have nothing, I'll see to that," and He had nothing, not so much as a place to lay His head. He did much more than that, right through to the end; and then from satan's side and the instruments of satan, He was murdered for it. Thank God we know another side to that, but from that side He was literally murdered by satan and satan's agents. He was killed for that reason only, because of the battle that He had come to fight out to a victorious issue and conclusion, the battle of this relationship with God. But He triumphed.
He Triumphed Through Death
There's God's miracle. The thing that was intended and calculated by that evil kingdom to be His destruction, was its own destruction. The one who planned all that, thinking that it would be his supreme triumph, found it to be his supreme triumph in a way that was not meant: the undoing of that kingdom and its prince. That, dear friends, is the Cross.
Now you see the book of the Acts which brings in the Church, the book of the Acts and all that is there and the Church, stood on that ground. It stood on that ground. It took up the values, that value of the Cross. By the Holy Spirit it was caused to stand upon that tremendous victory which Christ had wrought. By the very Holy Spirit, the Church at the beginning was brought into a marvelous union and fellowship with God. Oh, how strong it was, now let hell rage against the Church as it raged against Him and harry it to death, to martyrdom - he can't get in between them and their Lord. They have come into the good of His tremendous victory over that kingdom and its prince. The Church stood on that ground. And seeing that that was the content of the Name, we can understand now the potency of the Name in and through the Church and on the Church in those days, that standing on that ground when they employed the Name, they employed the mighty victory that was gathered into that Name: what Christ had done in His Cross, and things happened.
But Satan has not given up. There is still the need for the Church to stand on its rightful ground of the Cross and the Name - the Name and the Cross - and to be as vigilant as was its Lord and to be all the time girded, because the world, the world as a spirit, the world as a nature, the world as a spiritual system, is all the time seeking some point at which it can insinuate itself to get between the Church and the Lord, to make it necessary for the Lord to stand back, unable to go on with His people because, because that other thing has got some place in some way. This is the work that is going on.
Yes, how subtle it all is. You go back with this thought over your Old Testament again, and you see that not always was it by open assault that the enemy brought in the peoples of the world against the people of God to overpower them and to subject them to their deities. Not always along the line of open suffering and affliction. But oh, how often in the Old Testament it was a very subtle, quiet insinuation of something, just working like that, almost secretly. People were hardly alive to what was happening, but then, they woke up one day to find that the Lord was no longer with them, they woke up to find that they were in defeat, they had lost their Lord and lost their power and lost their position. And when the prophets, who were the seers, the men who saw, the men who knew the reason, seeing what the people did not see; the prophets came to interpret their condition and their situation, they put their finger always and ever upon some secret thing that was of that other kingdom which had got in.
This is a tremendous business, dear friends, for the people of God. It is like that. Why the loss of power? Why the loss of the Lord's presence? Why the loss of the situation such as obtained at the beginning in the days of the book of the Acts? Why are things so different? Why all the weakness and the defeat and the poverty and the hunger amongst the Lord's people? Why? Because there is that with which the Lord will not, cannot ally Himself. It's got in between Him and His people. You may call it the "world" if you like. We speak about the world in the church, and worldliness of Christians. Well, well, what do you mean by that? What do you mean by that? It is not always the grasping, sadly enough amongst many Christians, multitudes of Christians, there are the blatant worldlinesses. And in Christian assemblies and companies, what are called churches, it is vast worldliness, but that's not all. So many methods employed, and ways of going about things, so much of the energy and heat brought in is just of that other kingdom. It is not the Holy Ghost. Where does it come from?
I sometimes think (and I am going to say a rather serious thing) I sometimes think that satan can energise to do what looks like the work of God. Satan is always far-seeing, and if he can get a false movement in the name of the Lord, a false movement which is ostensibly a Christian movement, but which is false and is drawing upon other resources than the Holy Spirit of God, he sees quite clearly that the time will come when it will be far more difficult to touch things in that direction than it was before. The thing will have become hardened, so hard as to be almost impregnable. You may speak about the Lord there, "Oh, no we've had some, we've seen how that works out, that doesn't last; we are not going to have any more of that." That's a state at last worse than the first.
Well, if you don't understand me and agree with that, leave it; but there it is. There's a subtle working to get his kingdom in the place of the kingdom of God, and he'll do it by any means.
The Cross does represent the undoing of that kingdom, and therefore, the Church must be a Cross-governed Church. The Cross must be its foundation and its basis, not in doctrine only, not in theory alone. You may have all the doctrine, it may be most accurate and sound, as to the atonement and as to the Cross, the life, death, resurrection of the Lord Jesus, all that, and it may count for nothing, spiritually, in effect. We can be outright fundamentalists and spiritual, real spiritual life and power, may be utterly absent. It's not that, it's not that. It is that the Cross is there as an actuality, a reality, undercutting all the kingdom and nature of Satan's kingdom; it must be there. The Church will know nothing of that first power unless it is so, or shall I say, will only know power, in so far as it is so. That's the meaning of the Name. When we use the Name we ought to be in our own hearts meaning the bringing in of all the potency of the Cross of the Lord Jesus over against the kingdom of satan in its nature and in its objective.
You know quite well that without understanding all this, without having had it explained and interpreted to you, when you really have come, as we put it, "to the Cross," that is, when you have received by faith the values of Christ's death and resurrection, you know that the very first thing that springs up in your consciousness is: "Somehow, I can't explain it, but I feel nearer to God, and God feels nearer to me." That's the most elementary way of putting it, isn't it? Just the language of a little child, "I feel that God is nearer to me and I am nearer to God than ever before. Somehow or other God and I have been brought together"; there is fellowship with God, no longer enmity. There is a consciousness of union, no longer separation. Ah, but more, there's a consciousness of love, and no longer bitterness or hatred or independence. But it comes to this, "This is my life and if ever I lose this, I lose everything. God has become in Christ everything." That's the first consciousness, isn't it?
Well, there you are, that's the work of the Cross, that's the proof, the simple elementary proof that the Lord Jesus in His Cross went right for the heart of this whole thing; this separation between God and man, He went right there and fought that out. And so, in Him risen, we are brought to and joined with God. If that sounds too simple, too elementary for you wonderful advanced Christians, don't brush it aside. It's the most beautiful thing, but the most costly thing. Oh, what a cost, what it cost our Lord just to fight out that battle, to overthrow that tremendous force and power to get in between God and man. He fought out our battle.
Do you see? That's the meaning of the Name; that's the outworking of the Name. If that is true, if we are in the value of that, oh, how wonderful the Name, how powerful the Name. It's a great victory, isn't it? And do you not see that the object of the enemy, all the way, still his object, still his object, is to recover that ground? And he persists in trying, not now to keep us away from God, but to again get in between us and the Lord by any, any, means whatsoever. It's a terrible thing for one who has really known that fellowship with God to lose the consciousness of it. It's the terror of the Cross again, isn't it? The terror of that moment of forsakenness, casting its shadow over. It is almost as though it were being said 'He did not, He did not win that victory.' It's as though all that Christ did is being nullified. Oh, what a thing it is, this fellowship with God. And therefore, our whole New Testament is constructed for believers upon this one thing: the way, the way of maintained and deepened union with God. It is only another way of putting "the way of Life in the Spirit." It is a battle, it calls for vigilance.
Remember, dear friends, that still the prince of this world in his own kingdom, to which, thank God we do not belong, because we have been translated out of the authority of darkness and into the kingdom of the Son of His Love; he still assails us. He still assails us from without, to try to get in between us and the Lord and if that happens, you know where it comes from. You know where it comes from, that doesn't come from the Lord. Beware of what interpretation you put upon the shadows between you and the Lord. You know where they come from, you know the remedy. You know the remedy: it's Christ and what He has done in His Cross. But do you see the issue of this? Ah, the dishonour of His Name, we come back to that every time: the motive.
What is the motive for our vigilance, for our warring? What is the motive for our watchfulness? What is the motive, the only adequate motive for dealing with everything that comes between us and the Lord? The motive must be the honour of His Name. In the fighting out of that battle in life and death, it was the Name of the Father, the Name of the Father.
Oh, how much we have got to realise of what we know, that marvelous prayer which is called His "High Priestly prayer" as He was just going, so to speak, to the altar; as He was going to the Cross, it's the Name, the Name, the Name, and it's the Name involved in these, this company. He is praying, pouring Himself out in His concern for the Name which He has given them. "I have given them Thy Name; I have given them Thy Name. Oh, keep them in Thy Name!" The honour of the Father's Name is the passion of His soul. He fought the battle of that honour right through in the Cross. And you and I must be baptized into that same concern for the honour of His Name in His people, not something objective and abstract, but true in His people: the honour of His Name.
When we go on later, perhaps this afternoon, we shall see that in some very practical way, but I feel that that's enough to challenge us and occupy us this morning. We don't need more than that. Oh, that we should see one thing: when we say "in the Name of the Lord Jesus," we are not just repeating some formal platitude, some habitual way of speaking as Christians. We really ought to be meaning, "by the Cross of the Lord Jesus and all it means." You can put it that way if you like, this and that and the other, "by the Cross of the Lord Jesus," the ground upon which God intends. But that Cross, in all its values, is embodied in the Name and the Name just means that, and it means nothing without that.
The Lord give us to see and understand the meaning of the Name, and to be set upon the recovery of its values, we pray.