The Cross, and the Unity of Vision and Ministry in the Church
by T. Austin-Sparks

Preface

The February Conference
[This summary of the conference preceded the notes of the actual conference messages in the magazine.]


The Lord gave the Word: this sums up the impression left by a remarkable Conference. His Presence was throughout the feature of each session. Indeed, we are learning, though it may seem trite to say so, that His Presence is salvation, for His Presence is everything; it certainly constitutes the ecclesia, since without His Presence we have no right to call ourselves the assembly of God. It is not the preaching, the teaching, or anything that may gather under the category of human activity, but it is HE, Himself, Who brings and supplies all the constituents of the feast. Without His Presence word and work are all in vain.

It is one thing to pay lip-service to such truths, but quite another to live in them and by them. We therefore praise God for His faithfulness in reducing us to such weakness and impotence that, having ruled us out, He has a free course for the manifestation of His glory.

It is also very difficult to report the spoken word. Our readers must therefore pray that the Lord may, by His Spirit so bring the messages that were spoken and are now reported in these pages through, that they may share with us the deep impressions made upon our hearts.

The theme we felt was Divinely timely, "The Cross, and the unity of the Vision and of the Ministry of the Church, the Body of Christ."

One thing was emphatically registered as being absolutely essential for the children of God to realise in these closing days of the dispensation - THE ONLY objective VISION of the Church must be JESUS, revealed by the Holy Ghost.

For fear of any question we mean Jesus the Christ come in the flesh, crucified, and thus glorified through His out-resurrection.

All other visions are subjective, that is, they may be realisations in experience of certain truths in the Christian life; but there abides ONE VISION, the Heavenly Vision; it is Jesus in the Godhead, and the fulness of the Godhead in Him. The Light, Who is God, is the Light of His Glory in the Face of Jesus the Christ.

The complementary truth to this was that the vision of the Body is not objective, but subjective. We do not visualise a Body: we see Jesus. But by the Holy Ghost we should realise the Body as a Life that is One in the fellowship of One Spirit.

So likewise the one ministry is the building-up of His Glorious Body in the energy of the Holy Spirit. The ministry is wholly of the One Spirit. He can only use us as the natural man is kept continually crucified, and thus His Life is free to function through us. And it is also so necessary to make clear that every saint should share in this one ministry, the Holy Ghost's upbuilding of the Body, for the Body maketh its own increase in that abiding constituent of the Divine Nature which is Love; that is to say God Himself in Christ supplies the increase as out from His own Being by the Holy Spirit. It is an increase of God! Therefore it must be by His Spirit, since it is a circulation and supplying of His own Life through the members as they abide in Him, and thus, through the travail of the Interceding Spirit, are made channels for the Divine communications.

This is so important to realise. What avail are mental visions of the truth of the Body without a spiritual realisation of the fact of the Body as working in our own hearts in the Passion of the Divine Love?

Then it is so easy to say this, and to re-affirm it, but once again, beloved friends in our Lord, it is not the anointed ministry in the Word that builds up the saints into the heavenly Body of God in Christ: this is but the means the Holy Spirit would use to bring the saints to maturity, a maturity in the simplicity of the revelation of the Truth as it is in Jesus, in order that they, the saints (including these anointed ministers also as saints now) might commence through the travail and in-working of the Spirit in their hearts to build-up the Body in the Love that prompts and compels continual Holy Ghost prayer.

May God call us all to our holy, heavenly vocation, a vocation so far beyond our self-bound nature as well as all natural powers, that we are forced to cry unto Him for His enabling Spirit to mightily energise us.

Surely the Cross in its utter ruling out of the self-life is the only possible basis for such a ministry.


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