The Deep Things of the Spirit
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 1 - The Place of Christ

Also published in the A Witness and A Testimony magazine in 1956 as an article: The Divinely Appointed Place of Christ.

"Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of man, whatsoever things God prepared for them that love Him. But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (1 Cor. 2:9-10).

And alongside of that, one or two other fragments of Scripture well-known to us:

"Canst thou by searching find out God?" (Job 11:7).

You will notice that there is a marginal reference which puts it this way:

"Canst thou find out the deep things of God?"

"The Spirit searches... the deep things of God" (1 Cor. 2:10).

"The unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph. 3:8).

"Oh, the depth of the riches... how unsearchable" (Rom. 11:33).

And then we ought to read from John's Gospel chapter 16, the Lord saying to His disciples when the Spirit is come He would take the things that are His, and show them (verses 13, 14).

I think it might be profitable if we just took a moment or two to look at two or three words outstanding in this portion of the first Corinthian letter, chapter 2. You notice the three words: prepared, searches, deep things. "Things God prepared for them that love Him", things which God made ready for them that love Him. The question of course immediately arises: When did God prepare, or make ready, those things? The word is used in different connections, and they throw light upon this question. You remember there was a request made of the Lord when He was here, by a mother concerning her two sons that when He came into His Kingdom, they might sit one on the right hand and one on the left hand, and His answer was that that was for those for whom it was prepared (Matt. 20:23). He could not do that, it was for those for whom it was prepared, already made ready, by God. The blessing of the Lord on a certain man or upon certain ones takes this form: "Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34). And one more, Ephesians 2:10, "...good works which God afore prepared that we should walk in them".

Presently we shall touch more definitely upon when that took place, but it is quite clear from these passages that there was a long anticipation of something which goes right back to the foundation of the world, or literally the words are, the laying down of the world, the mapping out of the world. It was then that this was prepared, the things which God prepared right back there for them that love Him.

Then this word 'searches', the Spirit searches all things, and the word does not mean to find out, to discover. It just means ranging the deep things of God. The Spirit's movement is deep, far, and wide, ranging the whole realm of the things of God, exploring.

And then deep things. This very same word was the word which the Lord used to His disciples - "Launch out into the deep" (Luke 5:4, KJV), and Paul used it about his experiences among which he said, "A night and a day... in the deep" (2 Cor. 11:25). Now, anybody who knows anything about the sea will get some idea of the meaning of this word that is employed here: the deep things of God.

So we are led into a very great realm when we come into the realm of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the things of the Spirit, and we are going to ask this question: What are these deep things of the Spirit? And we can only hope to think of some of them, perhaps only one at the moment. What are these deep things, which have been revealed, though never explained? We must not confuse those two things. It is possible to reveal or uncover, bring something into view, without explaining it, and we are not given the explanation to the deepest things of God. We are still left with very great questions about them as you will clearly see as we go on in this series of messages, but nevertheless they have been uncovered, they have been brought to light as immense realities and brought to light for our good.

Christ God's Appointed Heir of All Things

One of the deep things of the Spirit which have been brought to light, and I think the first, is the place of Christ in the Divine scheme of things - a very deep thing indeed, far beyond our fathoming, but nevertheless it is clearly before us in the Word. Going right back again, Hebrews 1:2, speaking of the Son, "Whom He appointed heir of all things". That is His place in the Divine scheme - "heir of all things". He was appointed that when? Well, before all things were created, because immediately it goes on to say, "through Whom all things were created, the worlds were made". He was appointed heir of all things.

You remember His parable in which He quite clearly intimated this thing. The wicked husbandmen who, having stoned the servants, espied the coming of the Son and said, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and take his inheritance" (Matt. 21:38), incidentally touching upon the deep things of Satan. It is an uncovering of Satan's deep work to rob Christ of His inheritance, and that explains the cross, from the side of the enemy, the murder of the Heir with the securing of His inheritance in view. But keeping to the Lord's own word - the Heir of all things - so Jesus, the Son of God, is revealed by the Spirit to be God's appointed Heir. Psalm 2:8, undoubtedly Messianic and prophetic: "Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession." So His inheritance is the nations and the uttermost parts of the earth, Divinely appointed, ordained, and it cannot be set aside. It is heaven and earth, for He said on His resurrection: "All authority hath been given unto Me in heaven and on earth" (Matt. 28:18); the Heir possessing all authority in every realm. So Paul prays that believers, through the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of revelation, might be able to see Christ's inheritance in the saints, (Eph. 3:18). Here are some of the "all things": the nations, the uttermost parts of the earth, the heaven and earth, and within the church His inheritance. That is a statement of fact. It is a deep thing revealed by the Spirit.

But the point does arise here: God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit. These things, then, have a very real meaning for believers. This will take us away from a superficial Christianity. If we can really grasp the meaning of this first thing for ourselves, as believers, it is going to have a very salutary effect upon us.

The Believer's Calling

Firstly, then, the calling of believers. The calling of believers is said to be in accordance with His eternal purpose. What is that? The eternal purpose is Christ inheriting all things, so that our calling, our being called, our hearing the call, is a first work of the Holy Spirit in relation to Christ coming into His inheritance according to something laid down with the foundation of the world. That makes conversion something very much bigger than just being saved, doesn't it? It is not just a matter of becoming a Christian. There is this immense background to our being called. The Holy Spirit, shall we say, has got to work in relation to the appointed Heir of all things, and you and I coming under the hand of the Holy Spirit are a part of that inheritance, and our very calling in grace is according to that purpose, and our calling therefore is something tremendous. It is only our calling. The beginning of our Christian life is not something merely incidental. It is fundamental to the whole scheme of things in relation to the Lord Jesus.

The Believer's Consciousness

Then after the call and the response, the consciousness of the believer. You can verify this out of your own experience, but I think it is true to the experience of most, if not all who respond to the Spirit's influence and call, that having done that, there comes into being, there settles down within, a sense of being owned, belonging, possessed. Shall we put it this way: I know now where I belong, this is really where I belong; I felt that I did not belong to anything or anybody before, and I ought to, but now I know I belong and to Whom I belong. It is a sense of possession, being taken into possession. It is a matter of ownership.

That is why there springs from the lips of those who have responded to the Spirit immediately the word, 'Father'. Paul says to the Galatians that His Spirit has been put into our hearts and thereby we cry 'Abba, Father', and what does 'Father' mean if it does not mean belonging? And again, 'Lord': the first ejaculation of Paul after his apprehending was 'Lord'. We love that word, but we did not always love the idea of being 'lorded over'. It is foreign to human nature to be lorded over. There is a revolt in the whole human race against being lorded over by anything or anybody, but the Christian's delight is to use that word 'Lord', and to be lorded over by Him. Master - that is music to the Christian, that word Master, as applied to the Lord Jesus. How the natural man hates the idea of Master, but here is the consciousness that comes in. We are not compelled or forced; it is spontaneous. The Spirit has brought us home, brought us to our rightful possession or possessiveness. This is how it ought to be. Well, you see, that was all arranged long before we had a being. We belong to Somebody, we are Somebody's inheritance, that is where we belong.

The Believer's Confidence

Ah, yes, and this leads surely to the believer's confidence. There is a tremendous value for us in the place of Christ in God's scheme of things. If really, in the "before times eternal" we were made a heritage, we were included in the inheritance of the Son, and the Spirit calls, do you think there is going to be any difficulty in our acceptance? It is altogether out of keeping with this whole scheme of things to have any question at all as to whether we will be accepted. If you had an inheritance, and that inheritance was brought within your reach, do you think there would be any argument as to whether it could be accepted? None at all. And so this very great, deep, blessed truth of Christ's inheritance in the saints gives us a ground of confidence as to our acceptance, no question about it. We belong to Him - why have any question as to whether we will be accepted?

Of course, He has done everything to make our acceptance a blessed reality and to dispose of anything in the way. Acceptance, assurance, what a ground of assurance! This whole question of assurance among believers which is so often challenged by the devil and every demon that he has, the shaking of confidence, the shaking of assurance bringing doubts. Why? There is no ground for it at all. It is not contingent upon our worthiness or anything about us except that we believe it. Long before this terribly complicated make-up of ours had any acceptance, the whole thing was planned. We were given to the Lord Jesus, we belong to Him. What a ground of assurance then. It stands rooted in eternity, it stands rooted in the Divine counsels. If you have heard the Spirit's call, that is not just something belonging to this moment or to this life. That is something which ranges all the ages and goes right back to the beginning. What a ground of assurance!

He will keep surely that which belongs to Him, "I am persuaded that He is able to keep" (2 Tim. 1:12). Is the Lord Jesus able to keep what is put into His hands and what really belongs to Him from eternity past? What a ground of assurance for keeping! We need have no worry about tomorrow, about the future. He is able to keep. Oh, those mighty words of the apostle: "Who shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:35). And then a catalogue of everything conceivable that might be thought to have the power of separating, and then the whole thing swallowed up: "I am persuaded none of these things... we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." Why? Simply because we belong to Him.

The Church's Message

That gives us our message. There is the believer's life as to what lies behind the call, as to what accompanies the call for assurance, for confidence for the future. What about the church's message? You see, the church's message is called a declaration. The word most characteristic of the function of the church and of the messenger of Christ is that he is a herald. It is a herald's business to make a declaration or a proclamation, an announcement. What is the message? And, mark you, this means far more than may appear on the surface. It is a declaration that all things belong to the Lord Jesus, every unsaved man and woman belongs by right to the Lord Jesus. This world in every spot by right belongs to the Lord Jesus. Put your foot down there and say. 'This place belongs to Christ by right.' The Holy Spirit, mark you, takes account of that and stands on that. Oh, yes, He has got them, they belong to Him.

It raises tremendous issues. If you declare and make known the fact that men and women belong to the Lord Jesus by every right of creation, and redemption as His inheritance, then if they refuse, they are held as guilty of rebellion against the rightful owner. It precipitates a very positive clear-cut issue.

If you are a sinner, an unsaved person, who does not recognise the absolute ownership of the Lord Jesus, and you are not, in the presence of this declaration, ceding Him His right, then you are guilty of rebellion against God's appointed Heir. It raises a tremendous issue, and it goes beyond that. If you belong to the Lord Jesus by right of God's giving and appointing, and you do not give Him yourself, you are robbing Jesus Christ of His rights. It is a very positive issue. You see, you are in the category of a robber of God. That is very serious. So this is the proclamation.

There is the good side, the Gospel side, of this. It is a grand thing, on the grounds which we have set forth, to know that I really belong to the Lord Jesus and, recognising and acknowledging that, there is no question as to whether He will accept what belongs to Him, as to whether He will keep what belongs to Him, or as to the destiny of what belongs to Him. All I have to do is to believe and cede to Him His rights. You see, this is the work of the messenger, the herald, the proclaimer. The Holy Spirit is here said to be committed to this. If we make the right proclamation or take the right position in relation to Christ's place in God's scheme of things, the Holy Spirit comes in on that.

Very often the Holy Spirit cannot come in and precipitate issues because we are not clear-cut enough as to what this whole thing is about, and it is about nothing less than Christ's heirship of all things. Get that in, and the Holy Spirit will come with tremendous conviction. We make the issue so much less and usually what the individual is going to get as the benefit of coming to the Lord Jesus, instead of primarily the rights of the Lord Jesus Himself. Proclaim Him as Lord, and the Holy Spirit will set His seal to that. The Holy Spirit always does that. In the unsaved or in the saved, when we cede anything to Him as Lord and let Him take His place as Lord on any point, the Holy Spirit bears witness. That is always His ground.

So the Spirit is committed to calling according to purpose, and sealing those who respond, conforming them to the image of God's Son, and of guiding them into all the truth related to God's purpose. That is Christ's place. It is a deep thing of God, it is a big thing, it is an immense thing, but this has been revealed, amongst many other things, to us by the Spirit. May the Lord strengthen us by His Word.


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