"A Candlestick of Pure
Gold: of Beaten Work" Exodus 25:31
"The Testimony of Jesus" Revelation 1:9
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|November -- December, 1968
||Vol. 46, No. 6
Dear friends of this ministry,
With this issue of the little paper we conclude another year of its
ministry. We do so with gratitude to the Lord for His enabling to
"continue unto this day", and to you who have given us so much
encouragement to go on. So many of you have written appreciative and
sympathetic letters. Although it is not possible to write personally to
all such friends, let me say that every letter is read, and I take this
opportunity to thank you most sincerely. Your prayers have been
answered in that the ministry, both of the magazine and the literature,
have been in continually enlarging demand, more this year than ever. It
is our true desire, not just to have something kept going, but that
this may be a ministry of Christ to the Lord's people who are needing
such. From many letters we realize that so many of the Lord's people
are knowing spiritual pressure and stress in an increasing measure. It
may help you to know that you are far from alone in this conflict, and
perhaps this knowledge will stimulate you in "prayer and supplication
for all saints". We have had our share in this conflict. It takes the
various manifest causes or reasons; opposition and cruel criticism and
allegations without foundation in truth; and involvement in teachings
and practices amongst Christians with which we could never agree. There
are many strange and abnormal movements and it is quite a battle to
keep free from entanglements, because many who are known to have been
associated with this ministry have gone off into these strange things.
We know that there is much "strange fire" about (Leviticus 10) and we
grieve that, through sheer hunger, many dear children of God are "led
away", for we know that the end will be disillusionment. We do want
this testimony to go on unsullied, although we are so well aware of
Among the ministries of the year two are outstanding. The Eastern
States Convocation in Maryland, U.S.A., in July. A wider range than
ever before was represented, there being friends from a large number of
States, including far West California, and Canada. There was a clear
atmosphere and we feel that the Lord was working with purpose. [117/118] Then there was Aeschi in Switzerland.
Friends gathered from many parts and nations, including Czechoslovakia
and Jugoslavia. Quite a contingent of young people was present this
year. While we believe that the ministry was its chief value, the
fellowship was a tremendous asset. This gathering together unto the
Lord is something of great value to His people, not only at the time,
but afterward. But not only those gathered, but God's people everywhere
are prayed for in times of intercession.
Much prayerful help is needed for the future. Changes are pending and
much wisdom is required in making decisions and resolving problems. So,
stand with us that there may be no loss of the Divine deposit, and that
one's "bow may remain in strength".
Greetings in His most worthy Name.
Yours in His grace, T. Austin-Sparks
THE CUP AND THE FIRE
3. THE POSITIVE NATURE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
"I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it
were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how
am I straightened till it be accomplished!" (Luke 12:49-50).
"Being assembled together with them, he charged them not
to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father,
which, said he, ye heard from me: for John indeed baptized with water;
but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence"
WAIT for the promise of the Father ... not many days hence." The
thought that I want to pass on to you concerns the positive
nature of the Holy Spirit. We know that the Holy Spirit is the answer
to the words of the Lord Jesus: "I came to scatter fire". The baptism
of the Holy Spirit was a baptism of fire. Now fire is always positive;
and if the Holy Spirit corresponds to the fire, it means that the Holy
Spirit is also positive. Fire is neither cold nor neutral: fire is
positive. When you touch it, or when it touches you, or when you get
near it, you know that you are in the presence of an element that is
THE SPIRIT ABHORS A VACUUM
Now here in these words at the beginning of this book, which we might
call 'The Book of the Scattered Fire', we have a pause, a suspense, a
kind of parenthesis. The Cross with all its meaning is an accomplished
fact. The work of redemption is finished. Everything has been done as
to the basis of the future. And everything has been foreshadowed and
foretold as to the purpose. Here it is: "Ye shall be my witnesses both
in Jerusalem ... Judaea ... Samaria ... unto the uttermost part of the
earth" (1:8). Meeting His disciples after the Resurrection, He had
given them the great commission and told them what was to be their
future ministry and work to the nations, to the remotest parts of the
earth. Everything foreshadowed and foretold, as to the purpose: and
yet, a pause, an interlude, with a big question hanging over it: a
waiting. They can do nothing, with all that. With all that, it is still
negative, it is still all in suspense, it is still in this state of
question. And the Holy Spirit was the answer. The Holy Spirit moved
right into that 'neutral zone' and turned it into a positive; changed
the whole thing from negative or neutral or question, into a mighty,
positive affirmative. The rest of this book is just the story of the
positive activity of the Holy Spirit.
That may seem very simple; it may not strike you as having very much in
it, or being very profound. But in fact there is a very great deal in
that that we ought to think about, we ought to recognize. Let me say
again: wherever you come upon the Holy Spirit in the Bible, you will
find He is positive. He does not believe in vacuums. The Bible opens
with a vacuum -- and immediately it says: "the Spirit of God". "The
Spirit of God brooded upon the face of the waters". The Spirit of God
is reacting against a vacuum. 'Without form and void empty ... and the
Spirit of God ...' You begin your Bible with this very positive
characteristic of the Holy Spirit.
And so it is all the way through. If you run through your Bible, even
from memory, with this thought in mind, when you come on the Holy
Spirit in any expression, whether in symbol or in action, you will find
that He is always tremendously positive. You have only to recall the
beginning of Ezekiel's prophecies. The living ones, the wheels, and [118/119] the Spirit -- and they go! They go,
and they go straight forward; they turn neither to the right hand nor
to the left. It is the Spirit who is the Goer; the Spirit of
the positive, who is against all that is negative, all that is neutral
and all that is empty, always seeking to be on the move forward towards
the great and consummate end. He is the 'Goer-Spirit', if I may coin
that phrase. He is always the executive of the Godhead, the
energy of God in the things of God. He is always in action. So this
book ought to be 'The Acts of the Holy Spirit', for it is that.
A POSITIVE WALK
Now, this law of the Spirit is the principle of the walk of the
Christian. The walk of the Christian is supposed to be a walk in
sanctification; there must be a sanctified walk. That is what it means
to walk in the Spirit. The definite statement is: "Walk in the Spirit,
and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:6). Are you
struggling, striving, fighting, not to fulfil the flesh? That is
negative; you will get nowhere along that line. The way not to is to do
something positive. The positive is the answer to the negative. "Walk
by the Spirit, and ye shall not ...". It is a great principle of
deliverance. God's way is always a positive way. We are occupied so
much with the negative, striving and wrestling not to do this, to stop
this and that. And we do not find that we get very far in that, do we?
The provision of the Lord is: "Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not
What does it mean to walk in the Spirit? Well, it means to consort with
the Spirit. You say, what does that mean? It is best understood by
recognizing what we do. We, by nature, consort with the flesh: we are
all the time consorting with ourselves -- our poor miserable selves;
occupied with ourselves, talking about ourselves, praying about
ourselves; keeping ourselves, our miserable selves always in front of
us. When we are so continually occupied with what we are in ourselves,
that is consorting with ourselves, is it not? How far do we get that
way? Nowhere at all! We make no progress at all by consorting with
And I am afraid there are some Christians who consort with the devil.
It is not always easy to distinguish between ourselves and the devil,
but you know he is always talking to us through ourselves. If there is
something that is wrong with us, he lets us know it. If there is
something that troubles us, he adds to the trouble, he accentuates.
Give him a little bit of his own ground, that he himself created for
himself -- for he created that ground of the old fallen Adam for
himself and for his own purposes, to work out his own designs -- give
him a little bit of that which he has made for himself, and see what he
will do with it. He will make everything of it, and it will not be long
before people who do that will find that they are in terrible bondage
to the devil through their own selves -- their own make-up and faults
and weaknesses and sinfulness. And that is consorting with the devil.
He comes and accuses, and you listen; he makes a suggestion, and you
take it on -- you almost enter into a discussion with him. You consort
with him, or you consort with yourself: and that is walking after the
Don't consort with the flesh, don't consort with the devil, have no
truck with them at all! Consort with the Spirit! The Spirit is the One
who has come alongside: the very meaning of His Name, 'Advocate' or
'Comforter' (Gk. parakletes) is One who is called alongside.
Consort with the One alongside. Have your communion with the Spirit.
Challenge yourself, and challenge the enemy, on this: Is this really of
the Spirit, does this correspond to the Word of God, is this true
according to the gospel of grace? If the answer is: No, of course it is
not! then repudiate it! That is consorting with the Spirit, always
moving on the ground of grace, the Spirit of grace.
That is a very simple beginning, but it indicates that the Holy Spirit
is positive. All that other is negative: it is pulling back, it is
draining, dragging; it is all a big 'No'. The Spirit never comes on
that ground; He is against anything like that. As in the first creation
He moved against the void, so in the new creation He has nothing to do
with, and no interest in, vacuums, voids, or anything that is negative.
Take positive ground, and you will find the Holy Spirit is with you.
Forsake your negative ground in your spiritual life.
This, in the next place, is the law of service, or testimony. Notice
quite simply: "Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon
you: and ye shall be my witnesses ...". The principle of service or
testimony is being positive. How many Christian lives get tied up in
knots because they do not testify! They do not witness, they do not let
their light shine; they are just negative. They are all the time
thinking of what people will think or say what the reactions from
others will he. All sorts of considerations come in, in that way, and
they just neutralize us, get us all tied up -- and what poor specimens
of Christians we are then!
Now note here: "They therefore that were scattered abroad upon the
tribulation that arose about [119/120] Stephen
..." (11:19) went everywhere, testifying. There was no ordination
service, no putting on of special uniform, or a badge -- 'Christian
Worker!' It was spontaneous, because the Holy Spirit is positive,
always. And again, while this may be very simple, I know of many lives
which are tied right up on this very thing: they are not positive; they
are negative, or they are neutral. The Holy Spirit is therefore not
moving on His own normal and natural basis in their life; they are
limiting Him. Be positive, and you will find the Holy Spirit is with
you, and you will get surprises. Just take notice! That is what is in
this very book of the Acts: 'the Spirit said ...' (10:19, 13:2), 'an
angel of the Lord spake ...' (8:26), and the men responded. When Philip
responds to the Spirit, when Peter responds to the Spirit, oh, what
tremendous things happen! -- to their surprise, to their amazement! The
Spirit is positive. You be positive, and you will find that He is
positive, He is with you in that.
Thirdly, this is the principle of fellowship. The fellowship of the Spirit
is the spirit of fellowship: but, again, it is positive. Fellowship is
not a passive thing: it never can be a passive thing, because all the
hosts of hell are out against it. If there is one thing that hell is
against, it is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the fellowship of the
people of God. Unceasingly, by any and every means, those evil powers
will seek to destroy that fellowship, because that fellowship spells
their final undoing. Therefore fellowship can never be a neutral,
passive kind of thing. You have got to fight for it, you have got to
stand for it, you have got to be positive about this. Let some rift go
on, and just see the havoc that delay over putting that right will work!
If you have the Spirit -- and of course I am addressing those who are
supposed to have the Spirit -- you should know that, if you are out of
joint with another member of the Body of Christ to which you belong, it
is, as it is with a dislocation in the natural physical body: there is
an ache, a perpetual ache. The Holy Spirit sets up this ache in the
spiritual Body, where there is a dislocation. And you know what happens
in the natural body if that is not attended to. Two things happen. One
is that the longer you leave it, the more difficult it becomes to put
it right; and the other is that adhesions set in -- something extra.
Extra things begin to come in and complicate the whole situation, so
that it is no longer a straightforward thing to put that joint back.
The same thing is true in the spiritual. If you let it go on, it
becomes very much more difficult and more complicated. All sorts of
other things -- accretions and adhesions -- have bound themselves round
that thing, to make it a very complicated thing now. The inflammation
is there and the ache goes on.
By that inflammation and ache the Holy Spirit is giving a positive
witness against this thing. But if you go on long enough, the Holy
Spirit will withdraw and leave you to it, just because He is positive.
He will not brook persistent negatives on these things; He just will
not have it. He is going on and saying: 'All right, if you are
determined to stay there, you can do so. I am going on.' And there
arises a very, very serious situation. That is, of course, grim and
terrible. But it all gathers round this truth that the Holy Spirit is
positive on the matter of fellowship. The Spirit says: 'Forsake not the
assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is, but so
much the more ...' (Hebrews 10:25). That is not a legal thing -- that
you must, under legal obligation, attend all the meetings, and so on.
That is your very life, that is a spiritual thing, that is the way of
the Holy Spirit. You are violating the very movement of the Spirit, if
you detach yourself and live an independent kind of life. That which
you call 'legal', which you are seeking to throw off, is really
spiritual. There is a liberty which is not the liberty of the Spirit --
it is the licence of our own souls.
If the Spirit is inactive, quiescent, not doing anything, not moving;
if there are marks and signs that the Spirit is not at work, that is an
abnormal situation. It means that, from the standpoint of the Spirit of
God, there is something wrong, something is not right. If everything
were right, the Spirit would be active; He would be doing, going; there
would be movement.
The Spirit will always be positive if He has His own ground. And what
is His ground? It is the Cross -- it is the cup. The cup and the fire,
the fire and the cup, go hand-in-hand. The mighty energy of the Spirit,
that positive element in the Spirit that is like fire -- you know it
when it comes near, or when you touch it; it is alive -- that positive
element of the Spirit goes hand-in-hand with the cup, which rules you
out and rules me out in nature. His ground is the Cross applied deeply
to us. If the Spirit has that, then He goes on, then He moves. His
ground is always the Cross.
We must challenge our hearts about this. The Holy Spirit, normally
, is always positive -- I could almost say aggressive. He is never
negative, He is never neutral. If He has to pause, it means that He is
waiting for something; for it is not His nature to do that -- He would
go on. May the Lord fill us with the mighty energy of His Spirit! [120/121]
THE FIELD AND THE HOUSE
A message given by Mr. W. E. Thompson at the conference
in Aeschi, Switzerland, in September, 1968.
Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:1-17.
I BELIEVE this is a very critical period in the history of the world,
and these meetings which we are having this week are at a vital period
in God's dealings with the world. We are living at a point in the
history of the world where we have the accumulation of centuries of
evil. We are living in days when the forces of humanism are gathering
considerable momentum. This covers the whole range of man's activities
in the field of science right over to the field of philosophy. And the
third thing is that we are living in a world which has become
concentrated into what has been described as a 'global village'.
Now against this background I believe there are two things that mark
the work of God and the men of God today. One is conflict, and
the other is confusion. I am sure that most of you here are
experiencing something of one or other of these two factors. If the
devil is not plaguing you with conflict he is doing so with confusion.
That is why I believe we must get right to the heart of the issue and
ask: What is God doing, and what are the kind of men He is using? l
think we shall find the answer to those questions in the chapter which
we have just read.
THE SPHERES IN WHICH GOD IS WORKING
The first thing I want us to notice is the spheres in which God is
working. From verse 6 of this chapter to the middle of verse 9 we read
of the field , and from the middle of verse 9 to the end of
verse 13 we read of the building.
These are two distinct spheres in which God is working, and we confuse
them to our peril. We must learn to distinguish between the work in the
field and the work on the building. The work in the field is
evangelism. It is going out and sowing the seed, reaping the harvest
and bringing it in. The building is the House of God, which God is
building for Himself, the end to which He is working.
The work in the field is very different from the work on the building.
There is a breadth of activity; it is a realm of work that is vastly
different from the work on the building. Concerning the field, Paul
could say in chapter 9 of this Letter: "By all means save
some", but when it comes to the work of the building things are very
different. There is no latitude here, no "by all means"! The only "all"
that can apply to the building is the precise plan of the Heavenly
We find in the commission the Lord Jesus Christ has given us in Matthew
28:19 reference to this very thing: "Go ... make disciples ... baptize
them ... teach them all things whatsoever I have commanded you."
We cannot take anything away from that commission from the Lord. There
are some who say: 'All we must do is to preach the Gospel. We must have
big campaigns, preach the Gospel and get the unsaved people saved.'
There are others who say: 'No, we must only consider the House of God,
the local church. We must give all our time to that.' But I believe we
must keep both in perfect balance. We must understand something of the
fields that we see today white for harvest. There are tremendous
opportunities in the world today for preaching the Word of God, but,
you know, the Lord sees those fields in a vastly different way from the
way in which we see them. When the Lord Jesus Christ said to His
disciples in John 4: 'Look on the fields', He did not expect them to
arrange a 'city-wide campaign' with a whole lot of human activity! He
could see fields that were ready in those Samaritan towns and villages,
but how did He reap the harvest from them? How did He meet the need of
those fields that were ready? It was through one poor, sinful woman! If
the Lord wants us to see the fields, He wants us to see also the way in
which they can be reached, and His way of reaching them is sometimes
surprising to us. It is not always through the big, massive effort that
appeals to man's outlook.
It is also very important that we see the work of the building. The
Lord Jesus Christ said: "I will build my church." One of the tragedies
that faces India today has been the failure to build the House of God.
I believe that missionary work, as we have known it, is coming to an
end in India. That is true of many other parts of the world as well;
missionaries are having to leave, and they are crying: 'What are the
Indians going to do now? What is going to happen when we leave?' I have
seen many cases where there has been failure to work on the building
and believers have gone right back from the things of God. In contrast
to that there is the work that our brother Bakht Singh and others like
him have been doing for the last twenty-eight years where the fruit of
the field has been brought in and built into the House of God. These
men have no worries about missionaries leaving! Nothing of this [121/122] kind of work is going to collapse, because
it is built according to the heavenly plan.
God is out for a building -- not one made with bricks and mortar, but
an holy temple in the Lord -- a spiritual house!
THE KIND OF MEN GOD IS USING
God uses men, not machines, nor methods, but men. I believe
there are three things which should mark a man of God, and to see this
clearly will help us to cut through much of the confusion we have
One is GIFT. We must have a distinct gift from God. You cannot find
this in a Bible School, nor can you acquire it from any human source.
It is a gift of the Risen Christ, and we must see that we have men who
possess true gift.
The second thing is CALLING. We must ask: Why do I preach? Does
someone pay me? Is it because I cannot do any other job? Is it because
someone told me to do this long ago? No, it is because of an
irresistible "calling " in my heart and soul from God.'
The third essential is UNCTION. There are some people who can preach
and give a marvellous message, but without unction it is of no
spiritual value whatever.
These are the things that we must look for today. More than that, if we
seek to be the Lord's servants we must be sure that these things mark
us -- and this applies whether we are young or old.
Now in this chapter there are some descriptions of the kind or
men God seeks and uses. The first is in verse 5:
That is not some professional title. It means a servant and is the word
used concerning our Lord Jesus Christ in Mark 10:43 -- the One who came
to serve, and the One who shows the quality of humility. If we want to
be ministers we have to be prepared to do a lot of humble work. We have
to be prepared to do many things that may test our pride. We will have
to go into the humblest home to seek out the simplest child of God. We
have to be prepared to do the most menial service and not always be
seen on the platform, wanting a position, a place. Paul could say that
he was a minister through whom these people had believed, and there may
be people who believe through your serving them in humility rather than
just through your preaching.
The second thing about men of God is in verse 9. They are
I think that is wonderful! GOD'S fellow-workers! You know,
during these last twenty years in India people have sometimes asked me:
'Who sent you to India? What mission has sent you?' I have replied: 'No
mission. God Himself has sent me!' But that does not seem to satisfy
them. Their God is so small that He alone cannot send people to India!
You have to have something big and human, with a lot of money. I say:
'No, I am God's fellow-worker.' I have never ceased to marvel at that
-- that God should call me to work with Him! Well, it
certainly affects every way in which I behave. Sometimes in Bombay we
get people coming into the office and asking for free literature. We
ask: 'Who are you?', and they usually say: 'I am the Lord's servant.'
They are dirty, their clothes are smelly and they have an old ragged
bag -- and they say they are the Lord's servants! Many times I have
told them: 'If you were my servant I would dismiss you!'
The fact that we are God's fellow-workers also affects our attitude to
money. I have heard of one of the Lord's servants in England whose car
once broke down, and he went to the garage to have it mended. He knew
the garage man and said to him: 'Please don't charge me too much! You
know I am only a Christian worker.' Do you know what the garage man
said? -- 'You shouldn't complain. You have a richer Master than I
have!' Oh, how we need to know the dignity of being God's
fellow-workers! We make an impression for good or bad by our very
conception of this point.
Now the third thing that Paul refers to here is in verse 10:
He talks about all his building work. Now, a builder must know exactly
what he is doing. He must have a clear understanding of the plan to
which he is working, and he must know where to get the right materials
in order to build. This is a very important factor, because what is
being built is going to be tested one day. I believe that which marks
the builder is quality . I went into an office in Bombay last
year and the walls looked just like beautiful panelled teak, which is a
very expensive wood. It looked very nice! A week or two afterwards I
went into the same office and all this panelling had been taken down.
The white-ants had destroyed much, leaving only a very thin layer --
but you know, white-ants never destroy real teak, because it is
very hard. This was just a cheap imitation. It looked like the real
things and many people [122/123] thought it was
the real thing, but the white-ants knew it was not and they soon
We are living in a day of imitations, and there are many, many
imitations in the work of God. They look like the real thing, but they
are not, and they are vulnerable to attack. I know many of the Lord's
people just seeking the various sign-gifts, or seeking an experience.
They get such an experience and say. 'What a wonderful spiritual
experience I have had!' Perhaps a lot of people get concerned and ask:
'What is this all about?', but it is soon proved to be false.
Now the test is this: Does it belong to the foundation? The foundation
of this building is Christ, and the test is very simple. Does it
glorify me or Christ? Does it build on Christ or on me? If it glorifies
our Lord Jesus Christ it is real and true. The material that we gather
for the House of God must have its origin in our Lord Jesus Christ, and
there can be no imitation Christ. Paul, writing to the Galatians, said:
'If a man preach another gospel, if a man preach another Christ, don't
just disagree with him, and don't just let him carry on. Let him be
accursed!' There can be no other foundation than Christ. We must gather
the material for the House of God from the Lord Himself.
It is said of David that he 'gathered gold in his affliction'. David
gathered gold to build the House of God, but it was in his affliction.
If the Lord gives you a little bit of trouble, if He sends some
problems into your life, and He blesses you with difficulties, just be
thankful, because by this you will get material for the House of God.
It will not be cheap, nor will it burn -- it will survive the fire, the
test of reality.
I am sorry there is not the time to say all I would like to about this
section, but I will just refer you to the other two descriptions of the
man of God which Paul mentions here. The fourth is in chapter 4:1:
A steward is one who has been left with a treasure to look after, and I
wonder if we realize the value of the treasure that has been entrusted
to us by the Lord? It is not something cheap -- it is the unsearchable
riches of Christ! Do we have a conception of those unsearchable
riches? If we do, we need to be faithful in handling them, and in our
dispensing them to others.
The last reference is in chapter 4:15, and it refers to the greatest
need that I believe there is among the people of God today:
Oh, there are lots of teachers, and all kinds of other men. They may be
called elders, pastors, and other names, but Paul says: "You have not
many fathers". There is a need for men with a fatherheart, men
who can guide the Lord's people, not as directors and 'bosses', but to
lead them and feed them as fathers. And here we need the gift of 'pity'
-- "Like as a father pitieth his children ...".
May the Lord make us like that, and the House will be built and stand.
THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD
BEFORE we proceed with the message, for the sake of any young
Christians who may read it, and who have not yet studied the use of
words in the New Testament, let us explain the one which is now to
occupy us -- the 'World'.
There are three main ways in which this word is used:
1. As to the material sphere which we call the earth.
2. As to the people who live on the earth.
3. As to the spiritual and moral system, order, economy,
and principles which govern the people.
Peter has things to say as to the climax and destiny of No. 1. John
three sixteen relates to No. 2: "God so loved the [people of this]
It is No. 3 that is the occasion of what follows here.
A reading of such passages of Scripture as John 17, John's Letters,
Colossians 2:20, 3:1-2, Galatians 1:4, and many others such, will leave
us in no doubt whatever that the New Testament designates this world
system as evil, and that any spiritual relationship with it lies under
God's judgment. It has always been so since the beginning, but we are
now living in the full development of the fact, so terribly and
shockingly, that it is ripening fast for final destruction. The
following message is very timely, and we trust that it will serve the
solemn purpose of leading many to save themselves from "this present
evil world", and will explain the spiritual conflict through which many
We shall gather up certain things which we find running through the
whole of the Scriptures, and [123/124] what we
find throughout the Scriptures is, for our present purpose, an
1. AN ABIDING ANTAGONISM AND CLASH BETWEEN
GOD AND THIS WORLD
I think that needs very little enlarging upon for the moment. Anyone
who has any grasp of the Scriptures will be able instantly to recognize
that that is so. From Cain -- the man of the earth -- right on through
the whole of the Scriptures, you are brought to recognize that abiding
antagonism and clash between God and this world.
2. AN ABIDING EXPRESSION OF THAT ANTAGONISM
BETWEEN THAT WHICH IS SPIRITUALLY RELATED TO GOD AND THIS WORLD
Anyone, any company, or anything spiritually related to God is found to
be in the expression of that antagonism and that clash between God and
this world, and that very relationship to God spiritually involves in
the clash, involves in the antagonism.
3. A NEW CONSTITUTIONAL AFFINITY WITH THIS
WORLD IS SEEN TO BE IN MAN'S NATURE,
gravitating toward the world, like the point of the compass to the
magnetic North. There is that which is in the very nature of man now as
fallen which has an affinity with this world, and gravitates towards
it, and the Scriptures reveal that that gravitation is of an inveterate
May I stay to make a parenthesis? No one is thinking that when I use
the word 'world' I am just meaning the geographical sphere. You
understand that the word 'world' is a very much bigger word as we use
it spiritually than this geographical sphere. We use that word in its
fullest meaning -- an order of things here separated from God,
organized and controlled by the evil one. That is the full meaning of
4. A SPIRITUAL SYSTEM OF INTELLIGENCE
as revealed by the Scriptures to be bent with all its might upon
maintaining that affinity, and that relationship between man and this
5. SPIRITUAL DEATH IS THE LAW WHICH GOVERNS
and is the mainstay and master-hold of that system of spiritual
intelligences. Let me repeat that: spiritual death is the law which
governs that relationship, the relationship between fallen man and this
world, and spiritual death is the mainstay and master-hold of those
spiritual intelligences which are out to maintain that relationship
between fallen man and this world.
6. TO SEVER THAT BOND, TO DESTROY THAT
AFFINITY, TO INTRODUCE A COUNTER LAW OF GRAVITATION, IS THE ESSENCE OF
THE WORK OF CHRIST
If you get that you get the heart of everything. That will explain
everything. The work of the Lord Jesus in coming from heaven and
fulfilling His mission here is, in its very essence, the severance of
the bondage of man to this world, the destroying of fallen man's
affinity therewith, and the introducing into man of another law, which
counters man's gravitation toward this fallen world, another law of
gravitation, which is not world-ward spiritually.
7. THIS SEVERANCE, THIS INTRODUCTION OF THE
NEW SPIRITUAL LAW OF HEAVENLY GRAVITATION, IS ALWAYS MARKED BY A MOST
INTENSE CONFLICT AT EVERY STAGE AND POINT
It is always fraught with deep spiritual suffering. You will never
emancipate a people spiritually from this world except by intense
conflict and through deep suffering.
8. THE METHOD IS THAT OF GOING INTO DEATH
IN ORDER TO DESTROY DEATH, AND BEING IN THE WORLD IN ORDER TO OVERCOME
That is an outline, and if you were able to sit down with that
prayerfully I am sure you would see that you have touched something
which is of primary importance. Within the range of that everything
with which you and I, as the Lord's children, have to do is gathered
up. Now I am going on to take up one point. The work of Christ, the
Cross in the work of Christ, and the purpose of His coming. That again
is gathered up into eight things.
THE EFFECT OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE
Firstly: To once and for all register in an absolute and
pre-eminent way that collision, that mutual antagonism between God and
this world . Christ's coming into this world, and Christ's work in
this world in a way unparalleled, unprecedented, registered, made
manifest, dragged out into the light, threw up into clear relief that
fact that there is a mutual antagonism between God and this world. [124/125] You can trace it through the Old Testament.
It is quite clear there, but it is more or less local or localized in
the Old Testament. When you come to the Lord Jesus coming into this
world you have the universal factor, a universal Person set down in the
midst of the universe, and universal forces focused upon Him. And
because of who He is, because God is there in Christ, because this is
no mere man, as in the case of the Old Testament, because this is "God
with us", you find that from the very commencement of His career, His
course, His time here on the earth, there broke out that smouldering
volcano of antagonism: first through Herod, and then by another, and
another, and another means, until in the end it seems that everything
has conspired and converged to cast Him out of this world, as having no
place in it, as being a menace to it.
Demons betrayed secrets, the full explanation of which is not in the
Word of God: "Art thou come to destroy us before our time? I know thee
who thou art, the Holy one of God", betraying deep mysteries concerning
the destiny and the doom of that spiritual world, that world of
spiritual intelligences. Men and demons worked together, and this hate
showed itself. What a great deal He had to say Himself about it, and to
what lengths He carried it, and into what realms -- right into the
heart of Judaism and its spiritual, religious citadel, the Scribes and
the Pharisees: "Ye are of your father the devil"; "The works of your
father ye do"; "Ye are from beneath; I am from above"; "If ye had known
the Father ye would have known Me."
You see, He carried it right there into the highest realm of religious
life as this world knew it, and finding there this deep-rooted
antagonism, and dragging it out, making it impossible for that thing to
go on being hidden, until at last, stung by His presence, it broke
loose, and from that realm came His doom, so far as his course here on
the earth was concerned as a man. Oh yes! everywhere this universal
focal point: God in Christ making manifest as never before not locally,
but universally, not merely on the earth, but in that spiritual realm
-- that there is a clash, a deep-seated and terrible clash between God
and this world. And His coming was for that purpose. It is important
for us to realize that it was necessary to expose that thing. It was
essential that that thing should be dragged out, but, oh, that the
people of God had sufficiently recognized and grasped and apprehended
this thing !
Oh, dear friends, you and I, before we are through, will see the utter
impossibility of that contradiction called 'a worldly Christian', 'a
worldly Church'. If we do not see that now, well, the Lord help us! The
very coming of the Lord Jesus into this world was, firstly, to
manifest, as had never been manifested before in a universal way, that
there is, right at the very heart of things spiritually, an antagonism
between God and this world, and that world can never be reconciled to
God. You have to use the word 'world' in another sense when speaking of
reconciling the world; that is a more limited usage of the word, but
that world of which we are speaking is beyond reconciliation. We shall
see that as we go on.
Secondly. His coming was, while to register in an absolute and
pre-eminent way that mutual antagonism, to rescue an instrument
from this world , to secure an instrument in this world for this
age, embodying that antagonism . Do you get the force of that?
Did Christ come, first of all, to make the antagonism absolutely
apparent? Yes! Then equally He came to secure an instrument in this
world, for this age, which would embody that antagonism. That is, the
instrument which Christ secures in this age, in this world, is going to
be an age expression of the antagonism between God and this world. That
means that if you and I are a part of God's instrument in this world,
resultant from the work of the Lord Jesus in His Cross, you and I are
going to be the embodiment of that antagonism; that is, there is going
to be something about us which can have no compromise with this world,
and which for ever stands in a position similar to that which the Lord
Jesus occupies in relation to this world in the spiritual antagonism.
And that instrument is going to feel the antagonism which He met, and
is going to be conscious that this place, this world, is by no means a
place of rest and abiding. "In the world ye shall have tribulation
...". To get rid of that is to undo the work of the Lord Jesus: to try
to get popularity in this world for Christianity, to escape the world's
bitterest antagonism, is to counter all that the Lord Jesus came to do.
Now that is a terrific thing to say, but it is true. I made a note in
my Testament from Martin Luther. He had a pictorial way, as you know,
of presenting truth, and he did it both for the devil and for the Lord.
In speaking about Matthew 5:10-12 he pictures the disciples of the
Lord, the believers, arriving at the gates of heaven and being met
there by the Lord Himself: and one of the questions which He asks each
one who arrives, with which He interrogates every professed disciple,
"Wert thou an abomination to the whole world as I and Mine have been
from the foundation of the world?"
Well, the Lord's coming was to secure an instrument [125/126]
in this world for the age which would embody that mutual antagonism
between God and this world. You see your calling, brethren. Does that
explain something? I think it explains a lot. The writer of the Letter
to the Hebrews has a way of putting it: "Of whom the world was not
worthy." That is his verdict on the whole matter.
Thirdly. His coming was to destroy for such (that is, such
instrument) that law of death. Note: firstly, to bring out into the
clear light, which He Himself was, the reality, the depth of that
mutual antagonism between God and the world; secondly, to take out of
the world a people for Himself, yet to be in the world for the age as a
representation of that antagonism; then, thirdly, to destroy for such
that law, that mainstay, that master-hold of the powers of evil, to
destroy him that had the power of death and to deliver them; to destroy
the power of death for His own. He came to do that. It would be
impossible for us to live here on God's side and on God's behalf, to
meet all that antagonism of hell to God, unless Christ had accomplished
the destroying of that masterhold of the devil -- spiritual death.
Dear friends, you and I are becoming more and more conscious, are we
not -- many of us are -- that the only possibility of staying in this
world and on the earth is by the life which is triumphant over death,
and unless we know more of that, this place is going to be impossible
spiritually. Is that not true? It is! There is a real spiritual world
with which we are in touch, but which we so dimly understand. What is
the spiritual experience of those who are really going on with God? It
is, on the one hand, of an intensified consciousness of death, and, on
the other hand, a growing emphasis on the power of His resurrection. Is
that true? I do not think there is any doubt about it. And this is not
something which touches merely the spiritually aged and fully matured.
I believe that the Lord would teach the younger folk this thing: those
of you who would, perhaps, think that you are not old enough to
understand and enter into these great spiritualities. I believe the
Lord would teach you that you can know deliverance and victory in the
realm of death by coming into a full apprehension of Him as your life,
and, while the phraseology, the terminology may be difficult for you,
the experience may be as clear and as simple as anything could be. The
fact that those who are children of God -- whether mature or immature
-- are children of God brings them into experiences which they
might never have if they were not the Lord's children. The Lord does
not save from going into those experiences, but in them draws out to
Himself by a strong taking hold, when something very critical is
threatened, and then Himself comes in, and it is something which is
above what man can do, and they have learned their lesson. They have
discovered that it is possible to live in this world, where death
reigns, and to know victory in Christ by taking hold of Him as their
life. He came that for His own He might destroy that law of death by
which the god of this world, the prince of this world, holds his own in
bondage, and by which he operates against the saints to try to bring
them back into bondage, the bondage of death.
Fourthly. His coming was to set up His instrument, redeemed
from the world, that counter-law of a heavenly life, to
introduce something else into their constitution. The constitutional
law of the unredeemed from the world, of those who are of this world,
is bondage to the world. They see nothing beyond the horizon of this
world, and all the time the world holds them and carries them on. The
tides of worldliness carry this world on, and to try to stem those
tides is an impossible thing until something has happened by which
there comes about the realization of this: "Greater is he that is in
you than he that is in the world", the introduction of that which is an
adequate countering to the mighty gravitating affinity in man's nature
toward the world. He came to set that up in His own, and here that big
difference is recognized, which has been so often pointed out -- that
if you really do become begotten of God, born from above, there is put
into you the life of God. You do not have to give up the world, there
is not a struggle to break with this anew that and something else, and
you never have to sit down and say: 'I suppose now that I am a
Christian I have to give up this and that, and I must not go here and I
must not go there.' You never have that sort of thing at all: you find
a counter-gravitation, you find that something else has come in which
has made that kind of gravitation comparatively weak, and your heart is
now in other directions, drawn to other things. You may test your
spiritual life by that.
Now, young people, let me say a word to you. Perhaps sometime in your
superficial thinking and imagining you think the world has a better
time than you do, and that you would like to have a little more of what
the world has. I put it to you: make up your mind to go and have it. If
you are a true Child of God, start off, and see how far down the
road you get. You will not get there. You will turn round and come
back. What is the matter with you? Well, something has happened in
spite of your thinking and your imagining and those superficial
feelings -- many of them, perhaps, the fruit of the severe time which
you have because of spiritual [126/127]
antagonism. In spite of all that you cannot go very far in that way.
You know the parable of the squirrel; you know that the gravitation is
upward. Although you might just jump down to get a nut, it is not your
place. The Lord came to do that, and it is the strategy of the Lord
never to say that you must not go there and you must not do this. He
puts something into you -- a counter-gravitation, a mighty work, which
the Lord has accomplished.
Fifthly. To gather out from the world spiritually a people for His
coming Kingdom. Not to take them away from the world. That would be
very nice, but He would take them out from the world spiritually, so
that He has here in the world His Kingdom spiritually represented by
them. And He is gathering out from the nations spiritually now; a
spiritual out-gathering, detachment, a people for that coming Kingdom.
He came to do that, and He has made it perfectly clear that His Kingdom
is not of this world and is not of things seen and handled. "I would
have you know, brethren," said the apostle, "that flesh and blood
cannot inherit the Kingdom." His Kingdom is now a spiritual thing in
the hearts of those who have been taken out of the kingdom of darkness
and translated into the Kingdom of the Son of His love. That is a thing
already done. A day will come when He will translate them from this
world while He deals with the rest, and purges this world and makes it
fit for the habitation of saints, without any antagonism. He came to do
that. He is doing it. We know it in our own hearts. That is exactly
what has happened with us. We are not of the world. Our life "is hid
with Christ in God." We look for a Saviour.
Sixthly. The whole course of spiritual experience is progressive
detachment from the world and attachment to Christ. It is a course
of spiritual history. It is a progressive thing, and not that in the
very commencement of our spiritual life we were not severed from the
world. We were fundamentally and originally separated from the world,
but you and I know quite well that our experience has been all in the
direction of this world becoming less and less, and Christ becoming
more and more and more. "Whom having not seen, we love." "Where our
treasure is, there our heart is also." We know something of the words:
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,
where Christ is ...". "Set your affections on things above, not on
things on the earth." We know that that is going on in us.
Seventhly. The death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, and the
gift [127/128] of the Holy Spirit are
the basic factors in this work of Christ. Let me repeat it. The
death, the resurrection, the ascension of Christ, and the gift of the
Holy Spirit are the factors, the basic factors, in this work of
the Lord. His death is basic, and we are told that His death is to be
entered into by us in faith. "Ye died ...". That means we were
crucified to the world and the world unto us in Christ. The
resurrection of Christ is a basic factor in this work. It means that we
stand on resurrection ground and are outside of the world. He never
appeared personally to the world again after His death. He will one
day, but He has not done so yet. So far as this age is concerned, He is
not on that level at all. He is outside of the world, and for the age
all His own, standing with Him in resurrection, are there spiritually.
His ascension means that everything now for this age for His own is
heaven-ward and not of this world. The anointing of the Holy Spirit
will lead us progressively, ever more and more, away from the world to
Christ, revealing His things. These are the basic factors in this great
work which He has come to do.
Eighthly. The Church is called to be the collective embodiment of
all that truth. The Church is called to be the collective -- the
corporate -- embodiment of that full, absolute antagonism between God
and the world. I realize that is a tremendous thing to say in the face
of what is called the Church, in the face of what we know to be
associated with what is called the Church. One hesitates in the almost
hopeless situation that immediately confronts you when you raise the
standard like that. Are we to conclude that what is called the Church
is not the Church? At any rate, let us challenge ourselves on that. We
can do no more than proclaim the truth and seek that it shall be
realized in ourselves. It is not for us to go out and denounce or to
judge, we must proclaim. But, oh! it does raise some very serious
questions for many of the Lord's people. To be in any way entangled
with that thing, that awful thing spiritually, against which God as in
Christ has been revealed to be so utterly set! To be entangled in that
through religion, through Christianity, through what is called the
Church! You know quite well that if you stand on that ground you will
meet the antagonism of the scribes and pharisees.
The Church is called to be the corporate expression of that antagonism,
of that impact, by which Christ has destroyed the power of death, and
living in the power of His resurrection. The Church is called to reveal
in itself that it is not of this world and that it is moving steadily
further and further away from the world, because Christ is becoming
more and more its life; to be the embodiment of all that is meant by
the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, the ascension of
Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. There is no doubt but that
that is how it was at the beginning. Are we to say that that is gone
for ever, and that that can never be? No, we cannot say that. We may
have to come within a very limited realm, but I verily believe that
when the Lord comes, and there is that blessed movement toward Himself
of the overcomers, He will have in them the embodiment of all that.
They will represent all that.
For myself I cannot see translation possible on any other ground. Is
the Lord going to translate this world to heaven? Never! If you are
spiritually bound up with it -- when I say 'spiritually' I mean bound
up with it in heart, a heart link -- I do not know what will happen. It
seems to me to be so distinctly contradictory to the law of Christ's
work. The work of the Lord Jesus marks the utter detachment from this
world, and the consummation is simply the crown of that which has
already taken place spiritually, the seal upon what has been done
spiritually. That is how I see it, but I know the many difficulties
that come up there.
Now let us close, so far as this broad survey is concerned, by just
putting our finger upon one or two points. Do you see now why there
must be no personal interests on the part of the people of God? What
are personal interests? They are worldly in essence, in nature. It is
what Paul spoke of when he said: "All seek their own, not the things
which are Jesus Christ's." That personal element runs out into so many
directions, and is so imperceptible in many things, that only the Lord
can bring it to light and destroy it. Do you see, on the face of it,
why there must be no personal interest, and that there must be such an
utterness of abandonment to the Lord's interests, and that anything
other than that is a spiritual link with this world? The enemy can come
in and destroy your testimony if you have any personal interests, even
in the work of the Lord. Deeper than we recognize there are those
things which represent our like and our dislike, our want and our not
want, our going to have and our not going to have, all of which give
rise to suspicion of others, and then suspicion moves silently and
imperceptibly on to jealousy, and jealousy on to a breakdown in
fellowship. Tracked right down to its source it was some personal
element, wanting it as we want it, wanting it ourselves, and not the
utter emptying of self; and in the long run, sooner or later, the enemy
has made an awful havoc because there was his link. Do you now see why?
When the Lord really gets a complete mastery of the life, He works to
have everything carried on to resurrection ground. That is, He takes
everything through a depth and a death, where we lose it, and then in a
deep crisis, in which we are brought to the point in heart of letting
that go to God, not reproaching God, not rebelling against God, not
refusing to accept God's way, but where we come to the place where our
heart is one with the heart of God over that matter; then so often the
Lord gives that back, but it has come back in a new realm. It has gone
through death and it comes back by resurrection, and there is something
in it now which is not of this world. It is not a time thing, nor
merely an earthly or natural thing. There is something about it now
which has God in it. It is on resurrection ground, and the world factor
in it has been destroyed. Now that is a true spiritual law. Do you see
why the Lord must have it that way?
Let me put that in another way. This is why everything must be brought
through to the place where it is wholly for God. Everything has to be
wholly for God. The apostle had something to say about the shortness of
the time, and those who had wives being as those who had none. Do you
think he meant that literally? Ignore your domestic responsibilities,
or ignore something which was of God, or ride rough shod over it for
what you call spiritual things? Never! A thousand times, never! What
the apostle meant was this: you have to hold everything in the light of
God's interests, and if you are holding domestic relationships, or
anything else here on this earth, on a natural level, where they are
for yourself, for time, and for what they mean to you merely in this
life -- and that is the range of things -- well, that is wrong.
Everything has to be held for God, in the light of the Lord's
interests. Why? To have that link with this world and the natural life
absolutely destroyed so that the power of spiritual death cannot
operate there. Do you not know that when you as a believer, as a
spiritual person, or I, touch things naturally we touch spiritual
death? Have you no experience of that? The power triumphant over death
is in having everything wholly for the Lord and not for ourselves, not
for this world, not for this life. Everything has to be held for the
It is so easy to sing hymns of consecration. We can sing about being
all for the Lord, and having everything for the Lord, and we can answer
to such challenges, but now let us face it. Are we holding everything
for the Lord? Have we got something which, if we would only let that
go, would in some other life give the Lord larger interests? Are we
taking this attitude: 'Now, while this thing means much to me, while in
a natural way I have deep sentimentalities with this, and it is not
easy to let things go, nevertheless, if the Lord is going to get more
by my letting go, giving up, well, that is the [128/129]
thing that counts and that matters.' That is holding things for the
Lord. Are we holding things for the Lord? If we are holding things for
ourselves, if we are holding things in this life before those heavenly
interests of the Lord, we are opening the door to spiritual death. We
cannot grow spiritually; we become earthbound, and our spiritual
progress is delayed, if not utterly arrested. Everything must be
carried over on to resurrection ground, and be wholly for the Lord,
wholly for heaven. "Set your affections on things above, not on things
on the earth." There is so much bound up with this.
Now do you understand the meaning of suffering? I ask you, those of you
who have suffered as the Lord's children, what has been the effect of
your suffering? That is, inasmuch as you have not been persistently
rebellious and hard because of the suffering, but inasmuch as you have
sought to be one with the Lord in your suffering, what has been the
effect of it? Answer me: has it been to make this world much less and
the Lord much more, the things of heaven much more? Is that not true?
This world has lost its grip, perhaps its charm, its hold. She things
which are above have become far more to you through your suffering.
Well, do you see the meaning of suffering? Do you see what the Lord is
doing? Why does He empty us out? Why does He pour us out to the last
drop? Just so that He can pour in, that is all. Just so that heavenly
things may take the place of natural, earthly things. The Lord permits
His people to suffer in order that that gravitation world-ward might be
weakened, and that that power of death might be destroyed: that they
may become a heavenly people, living by a life which is His own life,
and which it takes full spiritual intelligences to appreciate.
That is the testimony of Christ triumphant, but you cannot recognize
that with the human mind. You need a full spiritual intelligence to
grasp that. It is only principalities and powers who are able
adequately to register the power of His resurrection. They recognize
it. So the Church goes on in suffering, in weaknesses in infirmity "in
deaths oft"; but the Church will finish its course, and the issue will
be that the full measure of that law of death operating in this world
was taken by Christ in His Church and triumphed over. He is doing
something through our weakness. We do not see it nor feel it, and we
very often forget all about it in the presence of the suffering, but He
is doing something, that now unto the principalities and powers in the
heavenlies should be displayed this manifold wisdom of God. That is the
meaning of suffering -- the raising of a heavenly testimony: getting us
away from the world and making us live by a life which is hid with
Christ in God.
Do you see the utter impossibility of being all the Lord's and having
any kind of heart association with this world? That ought to come home
to us in a new way.
FOR BOYS AND GIRLS
THE UNUSUAL MESSENGER
THE circus had only recently arrived at its new pitch outside a Danish
village. The great tent was pitched, the ring was ready and all the
troupe was dressed up ready for their publicity march to invite the
villagers to the first performance, which would be that night. Suddenly
somebody began to shout: "Fire! Fire!" It was true. Already the fire
was beginning to spread among the caravans and so threatening to
destroy the whole circus. If this happened the flames might pass down
through the nearby corn fields and spread to the village itself.
It was a nasty moment, and the Ringmaster quickly realized that he
would need the help of all the villagers if the fire was to be put out
in time. They needed men, women, yes, and children, too, to fetch
buckets of water, and they needed those who were strong and could beat
out the flames. So he called for someone to hurry down to the village
and ask for everybody to come quickly and help. But who could go'? Not
the strong man, for he was helping to look after the elephants. Not the
lion tamer, for he had his own wild animals to care for. All the
attendants were rushing to get the horses to safety so none of them
could go. The only one who seemed to be available was the clown, who
was all dressed up for the show.
"Run down quickly to the village," he shouted to the funny man, "and
tell them we need their help at once if we are to save the circus, yes,
and their own homes, too." So off he ran, with his funny hat, his big
red nose and his clumsy great boots, and he burst into the village
street crying: "Fire! Fire!"
Of course, everybody came out at the sound of his loud voice, but when
they saw him he looked so funny that they all burst out laughing. He
tried to tell them that he was not being funny this time but [129/130] was very much in earnest, but the more he
tried the more they laughed. To them it was just a publicity stunt; he
was trying to get them to go up and see the circus. They admired his
cleverness but nobody made any attempt to move.
He pleaded with them and begged them to hurry before their own homes
were destroyed by the cruel fire, but his face and his clothes were so
queer that the more he pleaded the more they giggled and laughed. He
was in deadly earnest, and the tears ran down his painted face as he
appealed to first one man and then to another, asking them to take
action at once and help to put out the fire. "Come with me!" he
pleaded, "Come quickly! or else it will be too late." Alas! they only
thought that it was a very good joke and they did nothing but laugh.
All this had taken time, too much time in fact and by now the
Ringmaster was watching helplessly while the flames took possession of
everything. The fire came raging down the hillside, caught the first
wooden houses on the outskirts of the village, and then passed on from
house to house until the whole place was a mass of flames.
Too late! The villagers now realized that the clown had been in earnest
and had really meant what he said, but it was too late. They had to run
for their lives, leaving their houses and all their possessions to be
destroyed by the flaming fire. If only they had taken the warning
seriously! But then the messenger seemed so funny that they had not
been able to believe that there was any real danger until now it was
Of course, they blamed the circus for the calamity. "Why did not the
Ringmaster come himself?" they reasoned. "We would have believed it if
he had come himself. Or if he had sent some more suitable messenger,
the lion-tamer, or one of the trapeze artistes. Anyone but the clown."
The truth was, of course, that the clown was the only one available and
that he had done his utmost to convince them. If they had only taken
the trouble to enquire if his warning were true, then they might have
been in time to put out the fires while they were still small.
Sometimes when God sends His messengers to us we do not take them
seriously. Perhaps they are not the best messengers, but they may be
the only ones whom He can send. The sad thing will be if we think that
the matter is all a joke instead of realizing that the matter is really
serious. Great and lasting loss can come to us if we do not pay
attention to the call of the Gospel "How shall we escape if we neglect
so great salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3). - H. F.
"THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER,
AND THE GLORY, FOR EVER"
6. THE GLORY
WE have said much in these evenings about the Kingdom, but, of course,
as is always the case in these conferences, we have twelve basketfulls
over and we have more at the end than we had at the beginning. Someone
said to me this evening: 'We had better stay for another week!' Well,
you may have different views about that, but there is so much more to
say about the Kingdom.
We have also said something about the power and the same is true about
the power as about the Kingdom. There is far more to be said than we
could say in a week.
Now for the last word in these evenings we shall say something about
ALL GOD'S WORKS AND WAYS ARE WITH GLORY IN VIEW
Glory is the supreme and all-governing thing in all God's works and
ways. The order of words here is quite correct: not 'the glory, the
kingdom and the power', nor 'the glory, and the power and the kingdom',
but 'the kingdom, and the power, and the glory'. We have said that the
Kingdom is the Sovereign rule of God, and the sovereign rule of God and
the power of God are all directed toward the glory of God. It is not
the rule alone. It is true that God rules, but He rules with a purpose.
It is true that the power belongs to God, but He does not just use His
power to no purpose. His rule and His power are for His glory.
GOD'S NEW BEGINNINGS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
We have said that glory governs all the ways and works of God. Glory
governed God in the creation. He made all things for His glory, and
when He surveyed His creative work He said: "It is very good". I have
said before that if God looked upon us and said: 'It is very good!'
that would be glory for us. [130/131] Some of us
hope that at the end He may be able to say: Well done, good and
faithful servant!', and that is only another way of saying: 'It is very
good'. If He could say that to us it would indeed be glory for us!
Glory, then, was the governing thing in the creation.
Then you will see that all through history every new beginning of God
was with glory. It was indeed a great and wonderful new movement of God
when He visited Abram in Ur of the Chaldees. Stephen tells us that "the
God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham" (Acts
7:2), which means that God had glory in view when He took hold of
Everything was not good in the days of Noah, but when God made a new
beginning after the flood Noah built an altar upon the new earth, and
in so doing he said: "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness
thereof". In other words, he meant that the earth was for the glory of
God, and after judgment God comes back to claim the earth for His glory.
We move on to the great movement of God with Israel as a nation. God
visits the nation in Egypt to bring out that people to be a people for
His glory. I think that one of the most beautiful phrases in the Old
Testament is that one which came through the lips of God when He said:
"Israel my glory" (Isaiah 46:13). His new movement with Israel in Egypt
was in order to have a people for His glory, and having got them out of
Egypt into the wilderness, He took the next step. He gave Moses the
pattern of the tabernacle, and when 'all things were made according to
the pattern shown in the mount' (Hebrews 8:5), the glory descended and
rested upon the tabernacle and it became the tabernacle of glory.
We move on hundreds of years. God gave the pattern of the temple to
David, and when all things were made according to the mind of God we
read that "the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord" (1 Kings
We move on still many years and come to the time of the prophets. When
we have summed up all the voices of the prophets they are resolved into
one thing -- the cry for the recovery of the glory amongst the people
GOD'S NEW BEGINNINGS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Over we go to the New Testament, and to the little town of Bethlehem.
He who is called 'the Prince of Glory' is born there, and that night
the angel choir sings: "Glory to God in the highest" (Luke 2:14). This
is indeed a new movement of God, and He breaks into this world in
glory. The birth of Jesus was with glory, and all the works of Jesus
while He was here had one object in view -- they were all for the glory
of God. In John's Gospel we have the seven 'signs' that He performed
and then an eighth and the last one gathers up all the others into
itself -- and, of course, it had to be the eighth, for, as you know,
the symbolic meaning of eight is resurrection. In it Jesus said: "This
sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God" (John
11:4). All His works were unto glory.
What shall we say about His resurrection? Yes, His own resurrection is
the crown of everything, but it was a new movement of God. God is going
on in the power of resurrection, and there is no one who will question
that the resurrection of the Lord Jesus was a glorious thing.
Then what about His exaltation? He was received up into glory .
John said at one time: "The Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was
not yet glorified," so that the supreme thing about Pentecost is that
Jesus is glorified. Pentecost is not something in itself -- it is what
And on we go still. What about that coming glorious appearing of our
great God and Saviour Jesus Christ? Indeed it will be glory when He
GLORY IN THE CHURCH
That all has to do with Himself, but we step back a bit and think of
the Church. The Apostle Paul said that in the end Christ would "present
the church to himself a glorious church" (Ephesians 5:27). The
Church came in with glory on the Day of Pentecost. It commenced its
pilgrimage here with glory, and those early chapters of its history are
chapters of the Church's progress in glory. Born in glory, progressing
in glory, and to be consummated in glory: "not having a spot or
wrinkle or any such thing" (Ephesians 5:27).
THE INDIVIDUAL BELIEVER
Let us get closer still and come to the individual believer. The birth
of the new believer is with glory, and if there was no glory about the
beginning of your Christian life, you had better ask the question as to
whether you are a Christian! Every true Christian looks back upon his
or her beginning with praise to God, for it was such a glorious thing. Born
Are you going to agree with me when I say 'Progressing in
glory'? Have you some question about that? How long have you been a
Christian? One year -- five years -- ten years -- twenty years -- fifty
years? Whether it has been one year or fifty [131/132]
years, has it all been very easy? Have you had no times when
you feared that your faith would fail? Have there been no times when
you wondered whether you would be able to go on at all? Has it all been
so very easy? Have you not had many difficulties? Why are you here
tonight? It is all to the glory of God that you are here, not because you
were so strong, nor because you had such a wonderful faith but "kept by
the power of God" (1 Peter 1:5, A.V.). "Thine is the power and
thine is the glory." Our very going on in the Christian life is
all to the glory of God. Born in glory, kept by glory,
to be crowned with glory.
Well, have I said enough to prove that all God's works and ways
are with glory? Christianity is a system of glory. It begins with glory
and the last picture in the Bible is that symbol of the people of God
in the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, "having the
glory of God" (Revelation 21:11).
THE GLORY OF GRACE
But we have to stop and think again. What is the glory of God in this
dispensation? It is the glory of grace. Have you noticed how often
'grace' and 'glory' are put together? Even in the Old Testament it
says: 'The Lord will give grace and glory" (Psalm 84:11), and in Paul's
Letter to the Ephesians grace and glory are brought together in a
wonderful way. Grace is always the basis of God's glory. He shows His
glory and the riches of His glory by the way of grace. That relates to
our salvation, for God saves us for His glory, not first of all for our
glory, but for His own glory, and in order that He may get the glory it
has to be by His grace. It is not by works of ours that we are saved,
but solely by the grace of God. Why is it that so many people have such
a bad time in order to be saved? Because they have been trying to save
themselves. They have been struggling with their own sin. They have
been trying by all manner and means to find salvation in themselves,
and if they could do that in the smallest way they would take the
glory. So, whether it is an unsaved person or a saved person, God lets
them get on with it as long as they wish to try, and when, sooner or
later, they come to the place when they say: 'I can do nothing about
it. If I am going to be saved at all it can only be by the grace of
God', it is then that God steps in, because now He is going to get the
Some of you Christians think that is very elementary, and yet, you know
that it is not elementary. You know that all through the Christian life
that principle is at work. Again and again we come to the place where
we say: 'Well, but for the grace of God I will never get through.' We
may not think so, but that is the most helpful position to come to. We
sang when we started this meeting:
"'Tis the Church triumphant singing
Worthy the Lamb!"
and it will never be 'Worthy me', or 'Worthy you', or 'Worthy this
preacher and that teacher'. God takes great pains to steal the glory
from us, and it is "Worthy the Lamb!" In our salvation all the glory
will come to God.
And what is true of our salvation is also true of our service. All true
service to the Lord is governed by this one law -- God being glorified.
God has given us a great example of that in history. I do not think
that I am exaggerating when I say that the Apostle Paul was the
greatest servant that the Lord ever had -- of course, we except the
Lord Jesus. That man Paul had great natural gifts and qualifications.
He had tremendous natural resources, but there has never been a man who
more readily acknowledged that all his work was by the grace of God,
and God took great pains to keep that man on the basis of grace. He
emptied him of physical strength -- Paul spoke often of his physical
infirmities. He emptied him of all intellectual strength, and Paul
often did not know what to do or which way to turn. He had to get all
his direction from the Lord. I think I need not work this out in
detail, for it is so evident. Paul summed it all up with one statement:
"Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the
power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Human weakness,
Divine strength and Divine glory. The Lord keeps the power and the
glory to Himself.
Well, we could spend a lot of time on ministry to the glory of God, but
we just touch it and pass on, and we come on to something which is
perhaps still more helpful.
The same Apostle spoke very much about his sufferings, and the attitude
of the Apostle Paul toward his sufferings was just wonderful. I wish
that I were more like Paul in this matter! He gives us some long
catalogues of his sufferings -- sufferings in his own body, sufferings
in his circumstances, sufferings in the world, sufferings on land and
sufferings on sea, sufferings from enemies without and sufferings from
false brothers within. It is a long list of sufferings, but how did he
look at them? Oh may the Lord help us in this matter! Paul gathers them
all together and then he says: "Our light affliction, which is for the
moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of
glory" (2 Corinthians 4:17). That must have [132/133]
meant this: 'Oh, here is another bit of suffering. This is very hard
for the flesh to bear, but there is something of the glory of God to be
realized in this. I cannot see it for the moment, but it is going to
work out for the glory of God ... "As always, so now also Christ shall
be magnified in my body, whether by life, or by death"' (Philippians
Don't you wish you were more like that? I wish that every time some
trouble came I said: 'This is for the glory of God'! Whether we take
that attitude or not, God means it for His glory.
THE BACKGROUND OF THE GLORY OF GOD
Now, the glory of God is always over against a background of what is
contrary to the glory of God, and that is where grace comes in. "That I
should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn (or
stake) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan" (2 Corinthians 12:7). Paul
said that it was something driven right through his flesh to keep his
pride down, and he says: "Concerning this thing I besought the Lord
thrice, that it might depart from me. And he hath said unto me, My
grace is sufficient for thee ..." and then Paul said: "Most gladly
therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses." Suffering ... grace
OUR CHRISTIAN VOCATION
Now I have a lot more that I wanted to say about this, but I want to
close with one thing. All that I have said leads us to one thing: it
shows us what is our Christian vocation. What is the Christian
vocation'? That means your vocation and my vocation. The Christian
vocation is the vindication of Jesus Christ. We are here to vindicate
Jesus, and first of all to vindicate the present livingness of the Lord
"He lives! He lives! ...
You ask me how I know He lives --"
'Oh, the New Testament says that He died and rose again two thousand
years ago.' No, that is not an up-to-date vindication of the living
"He lives within my heart!"
It is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).
We are here for the vindication of the livingness of the Person of
Jesus Christ and for the vindication of the reality of His work in men
and women. It is quite true, according to the record, that He did some
wonderful things in men and women when He was here, and that is a
wonderful story of long ago, but the vindication of Jesus Christ is
that He does just as great a work in us today as He did then. He has
opened very much more important blind eyes than the eyes of the body.
When we were singing that chorus yesterday -- "Turn your eyes upon
Jesus" -- our brother told us why it was so precious to him, but I can
carry his story a little further.
When I was once in Los Angeles, Mrs. Helen Lemmel, who wrote that hymn,
sent a message to me to ask if I would go and pray with her. I went to
her home and there was the dear old lady sitting in her blindness. She
had a writing pad on her knee and was writing choruses. She said: 'Mr.
Sparks, I have a problem, and I want you to pray about it. The surgeon
has told me that if I will have an operation on my eyes, he thinks that
possibly I may recover my sight. My problem is this: If I were to
recover my natural sight would I lose my spiritual sight? I have
learned so much of the Lord in my blindness, and I would far sooner
remain blind naturally and keep my spiritual sight. Will you pray for
me that I may know what to do?' Before I prayed I said to Mrs. Lemmel:
'Mrs. Lemmel, what does your heart tell you to do?' She answered: 'I
think I have already decided. I am not going to have an operation.'
Well, I did pray, but I had no faith for asking for her sight.
Now, if you want to argue about that, you can go and argue, but what I
am saying right up to date is that Christ opens more important eyes
than the physical ones, and in that way, among many others, we are here
to vindicate the works of the Lord Jesus.
And we are here to vindicate His grace in suffering. Paul said: "The
sufferings of Christ abound unto us" (1 Corinthians 1:5). Now I
hesitate to speak in this way because I know the weakness of my own
heart, but it is true, is it not, that Christians have a lot of
sufferings that other people don't have? Have you not often said: 'Why
should this come to me? It does not come to these other people. Why is
it like this?' Because it is through grace that we are to come to glory
by way of suffering. God is glorified by grace in our sufferings. Paul
spoke of the time when he was 'pressed beyond measure', and had "the
sentence of death within ourselves" (2 Corinthians 1:9). Now here is a
word that you did not expect to hear from the lips of the Apostle Paul.
This man of great faith, of great spiritual strength, said: "We despaired
even of life." Paul in despair? Well, he said it, but then he added:
"In order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth
the dead." 'We were brought right down as low as that in order that the
God who raises the dead might get the glory.' It is not the strong
people [133/134] who bring glory to God, nor the
clever people, nor the important people, but "God chose the foolish
things of the world ... the weak things of the world ... the base
things of the world," and if that is not enough, "the things that are
not" (1 Corinthians 1:27-28). You know that that is what Paul said.
Why? "That no flesh should glory before God."
So, dear friends, everything in the ways and works of God is for His
glory. Let us bind that to our hearts. As we go back down into the
world of conflict and into experiences of suffering, let us hide this
word in our hearts and ask for grace to say: This is unto glory.'
"For thing is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and
ever." Do you say "Amen"?
DIVINE ORDER -- IN CHRIST (4)
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CHRIST IN HIS CROSS
WE have been giving ourselves to a seeking to see and to grasp
something of the significance of the Lord Jesus Christ and His work in
relation to the whole created universe. We are really gathered around
one thing: that He is the key to everything, and that only as He comes
into His place will the creation find the explanation and answer to it
existence. That has taken us out along several lines. We have seen that
there was a primeval order in the creation, of which He was the centre
and the sphere as the Son eternally appointed the 'heir of all things'.
There was an order expressive of God, who is the God of order. We have
seen that all progress, all fruitfulness, all satisfaction, all
fullness, is a matter of Jesus Christ; and that, so far as we are
concerned, Christians or mankind, it is a matter of knowing Him.
We have dwelt much upon this matter of order as essential to
life, to progress and to the realization of God's end. Order is a key
We went on to see something of the disruption of that order, the
interference with it and the breaking in upon it. The result: disorder,
and all its baneful consequences -- pain in the creation, spiritual
pain as well as physical pain. The Apostle has put it like this: "The
whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain" (Romans 8:22), because
things are out of order. We traced the course of that disruption and
dislocation, which began, apparently, somewhere outside of this present
world -- in heaven where there was an uprising of a leader with a great
following of angels, apparently in revolt against God's destined place
and purpose for His Son as 'the heir of all things'. It was a bid for
that position of equality with God, a bid to displace God's appointed
One. That brought disruption in that realm and the leader and his
followers were cast out -- "angels which kept not their first estate'
(Jude 6). We saw the leader of them, no doubt with his fold following,
invading this earth and breaking in, so that the beautiful order of the
creation was upset. In the first place, the order in the man; the
balance, the symmetry, the beautiful harmony in the man's own life and
constitution were upset and disorganized. Then immediately to the
corporate -- in the man and his wife, so that you can, in almost the
first mention, detect something that has come into their fellowship.
The one blamed the other for what had been done, and that momentous
ordinance of God, with so much bound up with it in His purpose -- the
two as one -- is severed. And then, of course, the family. The family
has this schism in it, working out to one brother murdering the other.
Jesus went right back to that and said of Satan: "He was a murderer
from the beginning" (John 8:44). From the family to the race, and that
book which records all this brings us to the whole race in confusion in
every way. The order, universally, in the upper realms of this earth,
in the lower heavens, the earth and its environs, what we mean by the
cosmos is shot through and through with this disruption, this schism,
this strain, this conflict, and is just shattered to pieces. Spiritual
progress in the purpose of God is arrested and all the beauty of the
Lord is marred. Well, that is where we were in our earlier chapter. Now
we come to the significance of Christ in His Cross in relation to that.
The Cross of the Lord Jesus stands right at the very centre and heart
of that whole cosmic disruption. The Cross is the heart of redemption,
but redemption relates to the whole range of Satanic interference with
the order of God. The Cross, and redemption, and salvation are far, far
greater things than dealing with men's sins. They deal with sinfulness,
which is much, much more than sins, and sinfulness is traced right to
that one who made this assault upon God's appointment, God's economy
and God's order. The Cross of the Lord Jesus stands related to that [134/135] whole realm and range of disruption and
disorder from centre to circumference. The Cross is not a small thing;
it is an immense thing, and it reaches as far as this thing that has
happened in the universe reaches. And we must look upon the Cross and
upon redemption in the light of this once existing Divine order, then
its upset and disruption, and then its recovery and eternal
establishment beyond any more fear of the thing happening again. So far
the Cross reaches, and so far Christ crucified has His significance.
THE REALMS OF DISRUPTION
1. The Cosmic Realm
The redemptive work of the Lord Jesus in the Cross follows the whole
path of this mischief. It follows that very course, and it is important
that you and I should recognize the order and sequence of this thing.
The very first realm in which the Cross has its application is the
realm of the spiritual hierarchy of evil. It begins there. On the day
of our Lord's crucifixion, or death, the very heavens were affected:
"Darkness was over the face of the earth"; "there was a great
earthquake", "the veil of the temple was rent, from top to bottom".
Heaven is involved and is breaking in, and there is a tremendous thing
happening in that realm. When we read the Gospel account, of course, we
only have the events and the associated happenings, but there was a man
who was given an insight into something more. This was not in the
Gospels and could not at that time be revealed. He tells us that in the
Cross 'He stripped off principalities and powers and made a show of
them openly, triumphing over them in it' (Colossians 2:15).
That is where redemption begins. The very heavens (by that, I take it,
the lower heavens, not God's Presence) were defiled by this revolt, and
they were purged by the Cross. The disrupting forces of the order of
God were met in the spiritual world by God's Son on the Cross. It is
far too deep and full a matter for us to dwell upon at length, but
there is a very real practical value in this, for, after all, we are
not dealing in the first place with circumstances, nor conditions, nor
with effects and results. We are dealing with causes. When there is a
breaking in, in any realm, of those disruptive, schismatic, disordering
forces, in an individual life, or in a community, or anywhere, the
usual way is to find a scapegoat, to blame somebody, to begin to look
at one another, to put it down to this, and that, and something else,
and in so doing we are missing the point and missing the way, and we
will never clear it up like that. We will only make it worse. We have
got to get behind it, for there is something behind it all -- ah, there
is someone behind it all.
I do not know what you feel about it, but with all the desire that we
may have -- and it is a very real one -- not to become
demoniacal-minded, you are just more and more forced to realize that
there is a whole system of iniquity and animosity to the things of God
at work in this universe, and it seems that these forces are more and
more at work. They come very near and are like a blanket upon you,
especially when there is something of the Lord on hand. It just recurs
like the seasons when the Lord has something more in view. It just
happens. It is not coincidence, nor chance, nor imagination, for the
thing is far too desperately real; it is calculated to put you right
out of the fight, and strategically so, at a very, very important
moment. Well, we could say much about it, but this is in a realm that
is over things, that encompasses 'things', circumstances, happenings,
feelings, and all that. They are secondary. It is what is around as the
source of them that it is important to recognize.
Now, the Lord Jesus, in His Cross, has something to say to that realm,
and you and I will never know victory over things until we know the
value of the Cross and the Blood of Jesus in that ground and realm. The
victory has got to be won in that realm, or applied in that realm,
before 'things' will give place. Oh, take that to heart! Remember that!
For we are just being 'played with' by these evil forces, and being
made to do just as they want us to do, because we have either lost, or
never have had, this key to the situation: that Calvary touches the
cosmic realm of evil. That is where the path of redemption begins, as
that is where the trouble began.
2. The Realm of Man
The next thing on the way, as you noted, is man. This whole thing,
great and far-reaching in its range, and terrible in its nature, is
focused down upon man. He is the next point of assault, to disrupt him,
divide him, and make him, in himself, incapable of functioning simply
because he is divided. You know that it is true, if you are divided in
yourself, or amongst yourselves, you cannot do anything. You are just
paralysed and cannot get anywhere. That is a fact, and the devil knows
it, if you do not! And so he comes in from the outside and brings this
disruption down to man himself, and man becomes a paralysed creature
simply because he himself is in division. His nature is divided. The
order, the beautiful order, balance and symmetry of his own personality
is upset. Man was created in an order. I am not staying with the order
of spirit, soul [135/136] and body, but there is
an order, and if that order obtains in Christ, you have a man in peace,
in rest, in strength, and a man who is accounted for something. Upset
that man in himself, in his own constitution, and throw him all out of
gear and out of order, and where does he get? Well, that is what the
Bible means by vanity. "The creation", says Paul, "was
subjected to vanity" (Romans 8:20). That is, 'You shall not get
through!' It is imposed and you cannot get anywhere.
Redemption by the Cross of the Lord Jesus is intended, dear friends, to
come to us individually to recover and restore a harmony in ourselves.
It may be a long process, but we do know that a beginning is made when
new birth takes place, when we come to the Cross of the Lord Jesus as
to our condition, our need as to ourselves, and that Cross becomes
effective just at the beginning of the Christian life. The testimony of
all that have come that way is that there is a wonderful sense of peace
that comes into the heart. Peace is only another word for harmony, you
know. It is not just that everything has quietened down. Oh, no! It is
that now you have got into true line with the purpose for which you
were made. You are on the path now. You have been all over the place,
but now your feet are on the way and something of the peace of the end
comes into the beginning. You are going to have many conflicts
presently, but the beginning is like that. Even with a little child it
is wonderful. A child does not understand all your theology and
doctrine of atonement and justification, but a little child can know
what it means to receive Jesus into the heart. And when that is done
with a little child you at once see something. Something has happened,
and it is not imagination. It is the beginning of a life re-adjusted,
reharmonized. The conflict has gone out, so far as the person is
concerned. It is like that in new birth. It is the beginning of the new
creation which, in its completion, will be a beautiful reproduction of
a lost harmonious order.
The Christian life, from that beginning, from that starting point, is
just the school in which we learn the way of harmony, the way of life.
What is it? It is everything centred in, and governed by, the Lord
Jesus. You see, we have these statements here. We are so familiar with
them that they have almost lost their real meaning to us. "In him all
things hold together." He is the integrating centre of this universe.
He brings the broken parts together, and forms again He takes hold of
the chords which are all out of tune and tunes them again into a
harmony. 'In Him all things consist.' When Jesus has His place, things
begin to be like that. There is a reconciliating. And, I say, the
Christian life is the school of learning to let Jesus have His place,
and when He has His place you know, as well as I do, that, so far as
our inner life is concerned, things are far more restful, more sure,
and certainly more fruitful. It is just that, but that is a tremendous
thing, because we say: 'Jesus has His place!' It sounds so elementary,
but you see how comprehensive it is. He is the centre of a harmonized
universe, and when He has His place, He begins to harmonize the inner
life. And the more place He has, the more unified we are, and the more
at peace we are. We know quite well how true it is in the opposite:
that when He is not getting His place in everything, everything is
under a strain.
For the individual, and His significance there as the unifying of the
heart -- one heart, not a divided heart -- it is a deep work, a
great work, and perhaps it is a long work, but that is the business of
life: the unifying of everything in Christ. That is, Christ becoming
the single Factor who makes of everything a single factor: 'For to me
to live is Christ,' a single factor unifying the whole life. Satan is
not going to leave that alone. He is going, by every possible means, to
assail it, to interfere with it if he can. But, you see, he cannot, for
he just cannot destroy Christ. He has been destroyed by Christ! And the
work of the Cross of our Lord Jesus is the ground upon which we stand,
and must stand, against all that interfering work of the evil forces to
bring us again into inward confusion and uncertainty. Satan is trying
it all the time. Stand your ground on the Cross! Stand your ground
under the Blood when he tries to rob you of that quiet assurance that
all is well, because of what the Lord Jesus has done in His Cross.
3. The Marriage Realm
You move from the personal into the corporate life. This is the pathway
of the evil forces, and this is the pathway of the Cross. Yes, into
this most sacred relationship which was the true ordinance of God at
the beginning -- husband and wife. Is it necessary for me to say to
young people who are contemplating that union: 'Be sure that it is in
Christ! Be sure that it is in Christ to begin with!' There
is no guarantee or even hope for all that it means in the purpose of
God unless it is in Christ. And there are tremendous things bound up
with that relationship in Christ. But, if it has taken place, this is
one of the sacred things that the evil forces and the evil one will
never cease to assail. You, perhaps, have not realized the tremendous
damage that the devil can do when he can separate two in that
relationship. It is a focal point of his constant attack to divide
there. That relationship is a real [136/137]
battleground through life, for there is so much for the Lord in it. If
it has in any way been interfered with, how are you going to put it
right? Not by mere human attempts. You have got to get back into
Christ, for it is only getting back on to the ground of Christ that
will put that right. It may be that the man is pulling in one direction
and the woman in another. There is no real togetherness. One has one
mind, and the other has another, one will, and another; one interest,
and another, one like, and another. And you know it is weakening, it is
frustrating and it is desolating. It is only when the two get on to the
ground of Christ crucified that that thing can be dealt with and put
right. Every one has got to let go their natural ground and take the
ground of Christ crucified as to themselves.
But, dear friends, the Word of God makes it perfect]y clear to us that,
in the beginning, that ordinance of God, that relationship, was a
representation of something far greater. This, in its testimony, is a
Church matter. 'I speak of Christ and the Church', says the Apostle in
speaking of that relationship. The real principle is the principle of
'corporate life' anywhere, anyhow, in Christ -- maybe the two, the
three, the local company, or the larger company of the Lord's people.
The principle is one principle. The enemy will stand at nothing to get
in between, to divide. And the only -- but the sure -- means of
preserving that unity is the Cross of the Lord Jesus at work in an
inward way in us all. That is a tremendous thing! But it will do it. If
only that Cross becomes really a subjective reality in all concerned,
that is the end of all divisions.
4. The Realm of the Church
We can easily see, without dwelling upon it, that this extends, beyond
the individual, beyond the two and three, beyond the little group and
company, to the Church universal. We can see that, eventually, it will
reach the whole inhabited world, when Christ has His place. 'All the
great multitude, out of every diversity of nationality, and tongue, and
clime, and kindred' will be on the ground of the Lamb slain, the Cross
of the Lord Jesus. They will be 'singing one song' in harmony. The high
notes, the low notes, and all the notes between will be ascribing worth
to the Lamb. Glorious chorus! Redemption follows that course. The Cross
of the Lord Jesus relates to that one thing, to an end where all is
reunited in Christ.
We have placed John 17 as the foundation of this message, and you know
the great, perhaps the highest, note of that chapter is in a little
clause: 'that they may be perfected into one'. Perfected
into one! That is the end of His prayer, the end of His travail, the
end of His redeeming work -- perfected into one! Then the great
arch-adversary of the Divine order can do no more. His work is
finished, his power is destroyed, for the Cross stands victorious over
this long history of disruption.
I see no hope for unity anywhere other than in the Cross of the Lord
Jesus: Christ crucified, put in His place. And although the battle goes
on, and the enemy is always trying to make a show of disruption and
disorder, if the Cross has really done a work in human hearts, there is
a basic something that will triumph over all that.
(To be continued)
"THAT YOU MAY BE ABLE TO STAND YOUR OWN GROUND
ON THE EVIL DAY"
What is this "evil day"? The context shows.
Inclusively: "The strategies and deceits of the devil". (verse 11)
In detail: Attack upon truth. (verse 14)
Attack upon right standing with God. (verse
Attack upon stability. (verse 15)
Attack upon faith. (verse 16)
Attack upon the mind. (verse 17)
Attack upon the Word of God. (verse 17)
Attack upon the prayer life. (verse 18)
This is the nature of the "evil day", or
'day of danger'. [137/138]
We acknowledge with gratitude the following gifts received during the
period 22nd July to 30th September 1968:
Aberdare £3; Airdrie £1; Amersham £1; Auckland, N.Z.
£1; Bath £1; Bedford, Ind. £10 7s. 6d.; Blackburn
£5; Brisbane, Australia £4 12s. 11d.; Bristol 10s.; Bromley
£6, £6; Burnley 5s.; Colwyn Bay £1; Congleton
£2, £4; Copenhagen, Denmark £10, £1 12s. 11d.;
Coulsdon £1; Dublin £1; Edinburgh £1 3s.; Ewell 19s.
8d.; Glasgow 15s.; Grimsby £1; Gy, Switzerland £5; Hastings
£5; Haverhill £2; Hull £2; Ilford 10s.; Ingwiller,
France £4; Inverness £2; Ipswich £3 5s. 6d., £3
12s.; Isleworth 7s.; London, N.6 £3; N.W.3 £5; S.E.2 10s.;
S.E.15 £10; S.E.23 £5, £5, £4, 10s.; S.W.18
£10; S.W.19 5s.; Manchester 2s. 6d.; Newcastle 10s.; Newton Abbot
10s.; Niagara Falls, Ont. £1 18s. 7d.; Norwich £3; Oldham
£2; Paris, France £3; Piet Retief, S. Africa £2;
Pontypool 10s.; Porth 13s. 6d.; Pretoria, S. Africa £5; Rayleigh
£3; Sale £2; Sandown £2; Shenfield £1;
Simmozheim, Germany £3; Southampton £2; Swansea £1;
Toronto, Ont. £2; Ventnor 10s.; Vryheid, S. Africa £2 18s.
2d.; Whitchurch £1; Wolverhampton £1 2s. 6d.; Woodford
Bridge £1; Worthing £1 1s.; Yeovil £2. Total:
£180 1s. 9d.
Bergenfield, N.J. $5; Birmingham, Ala. $10, $10; Boulder, Colo. $20;
Chatsworth, Calif. $10; Cleveland, Ohio $1; Collingwood, N.J. $10;
Heidelberg, Germany $25; Indianapolis, Ind. $1; Martinez, Calif. $10;
Matthews, N.C. $5; Newport News, Va. $2; Oceanside, Calif. $3; Orlando,
Fla. $5; Pitman, N.J. $20; Plainville, Conn. $5; Richmond, Va. $4.50;
St. Paul, Minn. $10; Stirling City, Calif. $10; Tulsa, Okla. $8.25;
Westchester, N.Y. $5; Winona Lake, Ind. $5; Yaphank, N.Y. $10;
Zürich, Switzerland $1. Total: $195.75.
Cape Town, S. Africa Rands 2.00; Crawford, S. Africa Rands 1.00. Total:
Copenhagen, Denmark Kr. 70.00.
Montpellier, France Fr.Fcs. 100; Nimes, France Fr.Fcs. 150. Total:
Amstelveen, Holland Fcs. 10, Fcs. 10; Bennekom, Holland Fcs. 20; Bern,
Switzerland Fcs. 20; Brenzikofen, Switzerland Fcs. 19;
Cappelle-la-Grande, France Fcs. 10; Corcelles, Switzerland Fcs. 10;
Glarus, Switzerland Fcs. 10; Gümligen, Switzerland Fcs. 20, Fcs.
20, Fcs. 20, Fcs. 10, Fcs. 10; Lausanne, Switzerland Fcs. 30;
Marseille, France Fcs. 10; Neuchâtel, Switzerland Fcs. 20; Paris,
France Fcs. 10, Fcs. 20; St. Gallen, Switzerland Fcs. 20; Schlieren,
Switzerland Fcs. 20; Winterthur, Switzerland Fcs. 14; Zeist, Holland
Fcs. 20; Zürich, Switzerland Fcs. 20, Fcs. 36. Total: Swiss Fcs.
THE MOTTO CARD FOR 1969
"The God of hope"
"The God of peace"
"The God of grace"
"God which raiseth the dead"
"Shall himself ... strengthen you"
Large size -- 8d. each (7s. per dozen)
Postage and packing -- on one card: 6d.; up
to a dozen cards: 1s. 2d.
Small size -- 4d. each (3s. 6d. per dozen)
Postage and packing -- up to a dozen cards:
4d.; up to 3 dozen cards: 6d.
The postage on cards sent overseas is a little higher
than the above rates. [138/139]
WITNESS AND TESTIMONY LITERATURE
The books and booklets listed below can all be ordered
by post from the addresses given at the end of the list. More detailed
information about the literature is available on application to the
Witness and Testimony office in London.
|By T. Austin-Sparks
|THE STEWARDSHIP OF THE MYSTERY
| Vol. 1 ALL THINGS IN CHRIST
| Vol. 2
||(Art paper covers)
|WHAT IS MAN?
|THE ON-HIGH CALLING or COMPANIONS
| OF CHRIST AND OF A HEAVENLY CALLING
|DISCIPLESHIP IN THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
|GOD'S REACTIONS TO MAN'S DEFECTIONS
|WE BEHELD HIS GLORY (Vol. 1)
||(Art paper covers)
|WE BEHELD HIS GLORY (Vol. 2)
||(Art paper covers)
|RIVERS OF LIVING WATER
|THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PAUL
|WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN
|FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS OF THE
| CHRISTIAN LIFE
|THE GOLD OF THE SANCTUARY or
| THE FINAL CRITERION
|THE CITY WHICH HATH FOUNDATIONS
|THE RECOVERING OF THE LORD'S
| TESTIMONY IN FULLNESS
|THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
|THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF SERVICE
|THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CHRIST
|IN TOUCH WITH THE THRONE
| (Some Considerations on the
|THE CENTRALITY AND SUPREMACY OF
| THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
|GOD'S SPIRITUAL HOUSE
|HIS GREAT LOVE
|UNION WITH CHRIST
|THE MORE EXCELLENT MINISTRY
| (Incorporating Union with Christ
| The Ministry of Elijah and Stewardship)
|CHRIST -- ALL, AND IN ALL
|CHRIST IN HEAVEN AND CHRIST WITHIN
|"I WILL OVERTURN"
|THE SUPREME VOCATION
||or 5/- per dozen
|A GOOD WARFARE
||or 5/- per dozen
|WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?
||or 5/- per dozen
|THE BLOOD, THE CROSS AND THE
| NAME OF THE LORD JESUS
|THE WATCHWORD OF THE SON OF MAN
|THE ARM OF THE LORD
|CHRIST OUR LIFE
||or 1/6 per dozen
|By H. Foster (Booklet)
|THE REALITY OF GOD'S HOUSE
|By Various Authors
| (Each volume contains a number of
separate messages )
|THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY
| The three volumes, when ordered
|For Boys and Girls
|By G. Paterson
|GOSPEL MESSAGES FROM THE ANTARCTIC
| (170-page cloth-bound book.
|By H. Foster
| (All with illustrated art paper
|READY FOR THE KING (48 pp. Illus.)
|ON WINGS OF FAITH (52 pp. Illus.)
|BURIED TREASURE (48 pp. Illus.)
|OPENING IRON GATES (40 pages)
|Published by SURE FOUNDATION
|By DeVern Fromke
|THE ULTIMATE INTENTION
|UNTO FULL STATURE
A WITNESS AND A TESTIMONY
The six issues of the magazine, bound together, to form a volume with
light blue art paper cover, are available for the following years: 1956
to 1961, 1964 to 1967. Price per volume (1 year): 5/- ($0.70).
Certain back issues of the paper are also available and will be sent to
those who desire them at cost of postage only. Please indicate the date
of the issue(s) required.
POSTAGE AND PACKING: For postage and packing please add
the following to the total amount of the books ordered:
Orders totalling less than £1 -- please add 2d in the shilling.
Orders totalling more than £1 -- please add 2/6 in the £.
To the U.S.A.: Please add 10 cents in the dollar.
Orders for literature and requests for "A Witness and A Testimony"
should be addressed to:
WITNESS AND TESTIMONY PUBLISHERS,
30 Dunoon Road, London, S.E.23, England.
Telephone: 01-699 5216
Witness and Testimony literature can also be obtained from:
|P.O. Box 68505,
||1505 South Westmoreland Avenue,
|Indiana 46268, U.S.A.
||California 90006, U.S.A.
|Convocation Literature Sales,
||Evangelical Literature Service,
|1370 Ray Street,
||(Mr. Donald J. David),
||158 Purasawalkam High Road,
|Virginia 23502, U.S.A.
||Madras, 7, India.
Printed in Great Britain by Billing and
Sons Limited, Guildford and London [140/ibc]
[Inside back cover]
LITERATURE IN FRENCH
(translated from English)
|By T. Austin-Sparks
||[By T. Austin-Sparks (continued)]
|L'Alpha et l'Oméga
||Questions Fondamentales de la Vie
||Le Service de Dieu
|Ce que Signifie Etre un Chrétien
||Son Grand Amour
|Le Chandelier Tout en Or
||Un Témoin et un Témoignage
|Les Choses de l'Esprit
||La Vocation Céleste
|Christ notre Vie
|Christ -- tout, et en tous
||By H. Foster
|Le Dieu de l'Amen
||L'Eglise que Dieu demande Aujourd'hui
|L'Ecole de Christ
||La Prière de l'Eglise et l'Accroissement
|En Contact avec le Trône
|Il faut qu'll Règne
||La Réalité de la Maison de Dieu
|Un Jeu de Patience
|La Loi de l'Esprit de Vie en Jésus-Christ
||By Watchman Nee
|La Maison Spirituelle de Dieu
||Etre Assis, Marcher, Tenir Ferme
|La Place Centrale et la Suprématie du
||Qu'en sera-t-il de cet Homme?
| Seigneur Jésus-Christ
||La Vie Chrétienne Normale
|Quelques Principes de la Maison de Dieu
|Qu'est-ce que l'Homme?
|Qu'est-ce qu'un Chrétien?
||L'Histoire du Bambou
The above literature in French can be obtained from: Mr. J. C.
Lienhard, 12 rue des Peupliers, 92 Bois-Colombes, France. Telephone:
[Back cover is blank]