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Thursday, May 31, 2012

War Broke Out In Heaven

Lord, cleanse my heart and open it to Your message for me today. Amen

"And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast ... to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." (Revelation 12:7-9)

Did you know that heaven is not off bounds to satan right now? Until this future heavenly war takes place, satan still has limited access to heaven. And he uses that access to go before God the Father and spew evil accusations against us!

In Job 1:6 we find satan presenting himself before the Lord in order o attack Job's character. That's exactly what he's still doing today - maligning the children of God, day and night! (Revelation 12:10).

But one of these days God is going to put an end to the devil's tirades. it will be proven that these accusations against God's children hold no water because of the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ, "...And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins ..." (1 John 2:1-2).

So satan can play the role of the prosecuting attorney all he wants. Jesus is our defense attorney, and when He presents His evidence to the Judge, the case is closed. Thank God for the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin! (1 John 1:7).

There will be great rejoicing in heaven when the accuser of the brethren is cast down for good (Revelation 12:10, 12). But much woe will be coming to the earth as satan realizes he's being boxed in. This once-holy angel is on a swift downward spiral, headed for the very depths of hell, and he's going to try to take as many down with him as he can!

He already drew one-third of the angels down with him in his revolt against heaven (Revelation 12:4). But means two-thirds of the angels  didn't fall! satan and his forces will always be on the losing side of warfare with the Most High God.

~Adrian Rogers~

Bible Study - verse by verse # 66

Matthew 23:34-36 These prophets, wise men, and scribes were probably leaders in the early church who were persecuted, scourged, and killed, as Jesus predicted. The people of Jesus' generation said they would not act as their fathers did in killing the prophets whom God had sent to them, but they were about to kill the Messiah Himself and His faithful followers. Thus they would become guilty of all the righteous blood shed through the centuries.

Matthew 23:35 Jesus was giving a brief history of Old Testament martyrdom. Abel was the first martyr; Zechariah was the last mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, which ended with 2 Chronicles. Zechariah is a classic example of a man of God who was killed by those who claimed to be God's people.

Matthew 23:37 Jesus wanted to gather His people together as a hen protects her chicks under her wings, but they wouldn't let Him. Jesus also wants to protect us if we will just come to Him. Many times we hurt and don't know where to turn. We reject Christ's help because we don't thing He can give us what we need. But who knows our needs better than our Creator? Those who turn to Jesus will find that He helps and comforts as no one else can.

Matthew 23:37 Jerusalem was the capital city of God's chosen people, the ancestral home of David, Israel's greatest king, and the location of the temple, the earthly dwelling place of God. It was intended to be the center of worship of the true God and a symbol of justice to all people. But Jerusalem had become blind to God and insensitive to human need. Here we see the depth of Jesus' feelings for lost people and for His beloved city, which would soon be destroyed.

School of Christ # 39

The Governing Law - The Glory of God

Divine love is bound by a law. Love has a law where God is concerned. God's love is under a law. God's love is under the law of the glory of God, and He can show His love only in so far as showing His love is going to be to His glory. He is governed by that. In all the showing of His love, His object is that He may be glorified, and the glory of God is bound up with resurrection. "Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" ... Thy brother shall rise again."  The glory of God is in resurrection, and therefore love demands that everything shall come to the place where only resurrection will meet the situation; no curing of things, no remedying of the old man.

Oh, let me start right back at the beginning if it is necessary. There are still a lot of people in this world who think that there is something in man that can contribute to the glory of God and that Christianity is only the bringing up out of man of something that is for the glory of God. That is a long-standing fallacy and lie. It is not true. Call it what you like; it goes by various names, such as "the inner light" or "the vital spark." The Word of God all the way through is coming down tremendously on this thing. I start at zero, and zero for me means that I can contribute nothing! Everything has to come from God. The very fact that the gift of God is eternal life means that you have not got it until it is given to you. You are blind until God gives you the faculty of sight. You are dead until God gives you life. You are a hopeless cripple until God does something for you and in you which you can never do. Unless God does this thing, unless this act takes place, well, there you lie. Spiritually, that is how you are. You can contribute nothing. Nicodemus, you have nothing to give, you must be born again; I cannot take you at the point at which you come to Me! Woman of Samaria, you have nothing, and you know it and confess it: that is where I begin! Man of Bethesda, you can do nothing, and you know it: then it all rests with Me! If ever there is to be anything, it rests with Me! Lazarus, what can you do now, and what can anybody make of you? If I do not come right in as out from heaven and do this thing, then there is nothing but corruption!

This is one of the great lessons that you and I have to learn in the School of Christ, that God begins for His glory at zero, and God will take pains through the Holy Spirit to make us to know that it is zero; that is, to bring us consciously to zero, and make us realize it is all with Him. You see, the end is always governing God, and the end is His glory. Take that word through this Gospel again - the glory of God in relation to Christ. We were saying in a previous meditation that God's great end for us in Christ is glory, fullness of glory. Yes, but then there is this - that no flesh should glory before Him. And where does that come? - "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:29-31). And what is that connected with? - He "was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord". It is a question of what He is made to be. No flesh is to glory before Him. "My glory will I not give to another" (Isaiah 42:8: 48:11). Therefore it is all the Lord's matter and He will retain it in His own hands. "And when he had heard ... he abode two days ... where he was" (John 11:6). In love, governed by love, that the glory of God might be revealed, He kept away.

Have we got settled on this? We take so long to learn these basic elementary lessons. We do still cling to some sort of idea that we can produce something, and all our miserable days are simply the result of still hoping that we can in some way provide the Lord with something. Not being able to find it, but breaking down all the time, we get miserable, perfectly miserable. It takes us so long to come to the place where we do not fully and finally settle this matter, that if we lived as long as  ever man lived on this earth, we shall not be able to contribute one iota which can be acceptable to God, and which He can take and use for our salvation, for our sanctification, for our glorification, not a bit! All that He can use is His Son, and the measure of our ultimate glory will be the measure of Christ in us, just that. There will be differences in glory, as one thing differs from another. One glory of the sun, another of the moon, another for stars. There will be  differences in degree of glory, and the difference in degree of glory ultimately will be according to the measure of Christ that each one of us severally has. That in turn depends upon how much you and I by faith are really making Christ the basis of our life, the very basis of our living, of our being, how much the principle of these familiar words has its application in our case, "Not what I am, but what Thou art". Christ is all the glory, "the Lamb is all the glory in Immanuel's land."

Beloved friends, whatever you go away with, go away with this, that from God's standpoint, the glory of life depends entirely upon our faith apprehension, appropriation and appreciation of Christ, and there is no glory at all for us now or in the time to come but on that ground and on that line. I know how simple that is, how elementary, but oh, it is such a governing thing. Glory - that the Lord shall be glorified in us. What greater thing could happen than that the Lord should be glorified in us? The glory of God is bound up with the resurrection, and resurrection is God's unique and sole prerogative. So that if God is to be glorified in us, you and I have to live on Him as the resurrection and the life from day to day, and know Him as that as we go through life.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(this is the last article on "The School of Christ". I pray that everyone has gained much edification from this series! We will leave T. Austin-Sparks for a short time and begin a small series  by Andrew Murray, entitled: "Experiencing the Holy Spirit". This is a very interesting series!)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Approaching Life from a Divine Perspective

"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called" (Ephesians 4:1).

To mature in our faith, we must learn to see things from God's perspective.

Paul was a prisoner of Rome. Why then did he call himself "the prisoner of the Lord"?  Because he had the ability to see everything in terms of how it affected Christ. No matter what happened in his life, he saw it in relation to God. His questions were, "What does this mean, God?" and "How dos this affect You?"

When a problem comes in life, we are prone to say, "Oh woe is me!" and wonder how it will affect us: Will it cause me pain? Will it cost me money? Too often we think only on the earthly level. But like Paul, we should think on a heavenly level: What is God trying to teach me? How can I glorify Him in this? In fact, a good definition of Christian maturity is: automatically seeing things in light of the divine perspective.

This perspective, this God-consciousness, is the only right way for Christians to live. David said, "I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely" (Psalm 16:P8-9). Because David was always aware of God's presence, he found joy and security, and no trouble could disturb him for long.

Paul was the same way: he knew there was a reason for his imprisonment and that Christ would be glorified by it (Phil. 1:12-14). Paul wasn't preoccupied with how it affected him, and thus he was able to rejoice, even in prison.

"God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). Nothing happens outside of God's control. Let's trust that He knows what is best for us.

Suggestions for Prayer: If you tend to get discouraged or complain when troubles come, ask God to forgive you and help you see troubles from His perspective. Acknowledge before Him that He is in control of everything.

For Further Study: Paul's attitude toward difficulties was cultivated by the experience he describes in 2 Corinthians 12:2-10. What did Christ teach him about troubles in verse 9, and how did that change Paul's outlook?

~John MacArthur~

School of Christ # 38

The Governing Law of Divine Love

(John 1:4; 2:3; 3:3; 4:13-14; 5:5-9; 6:33-35; 9:1-7; 11:1-6, 17, 21, 23, 25-26)

A Zero Point

All these passages which we have read are really a sequence. They are the outflow of the first. "In him was life; and the life was the light of men." And you will notice that they all represent a zero point. The mother of Jesus said unto Him, They have no wine: there is nothing to draw upon! The next chapter is only another way of saying the same thing. Nicodemus came to Jesus and sought to commence at a point which he considered to be a good point from which to begin negotiations with the Lord Jesus, but it was a point far in advance of that which the Lord Jesus could accept: so He took him right back to zero, and said: "Ye must be born again."  We cannot start at any point beyond that. If you and I are going to come into any kind of living relationship, we must get right back there: we must come to zero and start from zero. "Ye must be born again." For except a man be born anew, he cannot see. It is no use our starting at some point where, after all, we are incapacitated from seeing. Chapter 4 is but another way of setting forth the same truth. The woman after all is found to be bankrupt, at zero. Jesus gradually draws her out and the final expression from her side, in effect, "Well, I don't know anything about that, I have not anything of that; I have been coming here every day, day after day, but I know nothing about what you are talking of?" She is down to zero: and then He says, "That is where we begin. The water that I shall give is not the drawing upon your own resources at all, not bringing something out of your well, it is not something that you can produce and I improve upon and make better. No, it is something which comes solely and only from Myself: it is a new act altogether apart from you; it is the water that I shall give. We begin all over again in this matter."

Then in chapter 5 the Holy Spirit is careful to make perfectly clear that this poor fellow was in a hopeless state, that every effort was abortive, very hope was disappointed. For thirty and eight years, a lifetime, the man had been in that state, and there is the note of despair in the man. The Lord Jesus does not say to him, Look here, you are a poor cripple; I am going to take you in hand, and after a course of treatment I will have you on your feet. I will make those old limbs over anew. I will improve on your condition. NOT AT ALL. In an instant, in a moment, it is a start again. The effect of what He does is as though the man were born again. This is not curing the old man, this is making a new man, in principle. This is something that comes in that was not there before, and could not be produced before, the ground of which was not there, something which was uniquely and solely Christ's doing. It was zero, and He began at zero.

Chapter 6 - a great multitude. Whence shall we buy bread enough for this multitude? Well, the situation is quite a hopeless one, but by His own act He meets the situation, and then follows on with His great teaching to interpret what he has done in feeding the multitude. He says, I am the Bread which come down from heaven. There is nothing here on this earth that can meet this need. It has to come out of heaven. Bread out of heaven for the life of the world: otherwise the world is dead. We begin at zero! (The loaves and fishes may represent our small measure of Christ which can be increased.)

Chapter 9 - the man born blind. Not a man who has lost his sight and is having his sight recovered. That is not the point at all. The glory of God is not found in improving, the glory of God is found in resurrection! That is what is coming out here. The glory of God is NOT found in our being able to produce something or put something into God's hands, something of ours, that He can take up and make use of. The glory of God is something solely out from God Himself, and we can contribute nothing. The glory of God comes out of zero. The man was born blind. The Lord Jesus gives him sight; he never had sight before!

Then chapter 11 gathers it all up. If you like to sit down and look at Lazarus, you will find that Lazarus is the  embodiment of "Ye must be born again": He is the embodiment of "the water that I shall give shall be in him ..." He is the embodiment of a bankrupt state; in the grave four days; but the Lord is coming to that. Lazarus is the embodiment of chapter 6: "I am the living bread which came down out of heaven ... for the life of the world". Lazarus is the embodiment of chapter 9, a man who is without sight, who is given sight by the Lord Jesus. Lazarus gathers it all up. But if you notice, in gathering up everything, the Holy Spirit is very careful to stress and emphasize one thing, namely, that the Lord Jesus will not touch the thing until it is far, far removed from any human remedy! He will not come on to the scene, or into association with it, until from all human standpoints it is bankrupt, it is at zero. And this is not a question of lack of interest, lack of sympathy, or lack o love, for here the Spirit again points out that love was there. But love is bound by a law.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 39 - "The Governing Law - The Glory of God")

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Male Child Who Was to Rule the Nations

Lord, please show me Your truth today in these Scriptures. Amen

"She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days." (Revelation 12:5-6)

The evil dragon, satan, could not stop the plan of God. Jesus Christ did come into this world through the portals of a Jewish virgin's womb. He lived a sinless life, died upon the Cross, arose from the grave a victorious Saviour, and was then caught up to heaven where He now reigns in preparation for the glorious day of His return!

So the purposes of God have not been derailed, and He continues to move history forward on the course He has set. Though the enemy rages on with increasing ferocity, we see God continues to preserve His beloved people. He protects and provides for Israel during the three-and-a-half-year period when the antichrist's wrath will be turned upon the Jews after their rejection of him in the temple (v. 6, v. 14).

In the antichrist, we see satan's twisted attempt to send a protege of his own into the world. This loathsome false Messiah will be the devil's vulgar imitation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus did the will of His Father while He was here on earth, the antichrist will do the bidding of satan.

satan failed in all of his attempts to deter the Son of God, so he tries now to get at God by harming those He loves. And during this time of the Great Tribulation, he will set his sites upon the 144,000 elect Jews (v. 17). He will try to use the anitchrist to destroy them. But his desperate and despicable plans are the ones destined for failure.

satan sails a sinking ship, and as the Almighty begins to rein him in, he knows his time is short (v. 12).

~Adrian Rogers~

School of Christ # 37

The Spirit's Law or Instrument of Instruction

Well now, I must come to a close. The altogether "other-ness"; by what means does the Spirit make that "other-ness" known to us? - for the Holy Spirit does not speak to us in audible language and words. We do not hear an outside voice saying, "This is the way, walk in it!". Then how are we to know? Well, it is in what the apostle Paul calls "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus."  "In him was life: and the life was the light."  How are we to know, by what means are we to be enlightened on this matter, on the difference between our ways, our thoughts, our feelings, and the Lords?" How are we to have light? The life was the light. "He that followeth me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). ""The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death."  Then the Spirit's instrument, if I may call it that, of our education is life in Christ. That is to say, we know the mind of the Spirit on matters by quickening, by sensing, discerning life. Divine life, the Spirit of Life. Or, on the other hand, if we are alive to the Lord, we know when the Spirit is not in agreement with anything by a sense of death, death in that direction.

That is the thing that no one can teach us by words, by giving us a lesson. But it is a thing we can know. You know it by reactions, violent reactions often. You have taken a course, and you get a bad reaction. You strive in a certain direction to realize a certain thing, and if only you would stop for a moment and look at it, you know that you are trying to bring that about. You know quite well that this thing is not spontaneous, that this lacks the spontaneity which is a mark of the Lord. You know the Lord is not coming through there. You know quite well that you have no sense of spontaneity and peace. It has to be forced, to be driven, to be made to happen. More or less, I think, every one of you who is a true child of God knows what I am talking about. But remember, this is the Spirit's instrument in the School for teaching Christ - life. The mark of a Spirit-governed, Spirit-anointed, man or woman is that they move in life, and that they minister life, and that what comes from them means life. And they know by that very law of life where the Lord is, what the Lord is in, what the Lord is after, what the Lord wants. That is how they know. 

How necessary it is for us to be alive unto God in Christ Jesus. How necessary it s for us to be all the time laying hold on life. If satan can only bring his spirits of death to bear upon us and bring our spirit under the wrappings of death, he will cut off the light at once and leave us floundering; we do not know where we are, what to do. He is always seeking to do that, and ours is a continuous battle for life. Everything or the realization of God's purpose is bound up with this "life". This "life" is potentially the sum of all Divine purpose. Just as in the seed there is life, not only of the seed, but of a great tree, and that life, if but released, will eventuate in that great tree, so in the life given to us in our spiritual infancy, our new birth, there is all the power of God's full and final and consummate thought. And satan is out, not just to cut off our life, but to prevent God's final interests and concerns in the full display which is in that lie which is given to us, that eternal life given to us now. The Spirit is always concerned with that life, and He would say to us, "Guard that life: do not allow anything to come to interfere with that life: see that whenever there is something that grieves the Spirit and arrests the operation of that life, you immediately resort to the precious Blood which stands as a witness against all the death, that precious Blood of Jesus, the incorruptible life, the witness in heaven to victory over sin and death, by which you can be delivered from that arresting hand of satan. That precious Blood is the ground upon which we must stand to deal with everything that grieves the Spirit and checks the operation of life, by which we come to know, and know in this living way, Christ in ever-growing fullness. The Lord help us.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 38 "The Governing Law of Divine Love")

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bible Study - verse by verse # 65

Matthew 23:15 The Pharisees' converts were attracted to Phariscism, not to God. By getting caught up in the details of their additional laws and regulations, they completely missed God, to whom the laws pointed. A religion of works puts pressure on people to surpass others in what they know and do. Thus, a hypocritical teacher was likely to have students who were even more hypocritical. We must make sure we are not creating Pharisees by emphasizing outward obedience at the expense of inner renewal.

Matthew 23:23, 24 It's possible to obey the details of the laws but still be disobedient in our general behavior. For example, we could be very special and faithful about giving 10% of our money to God, but refuse to give one minute of our time in helping others. Tithing is important, but giving a tithe does not exempt us from fulfilling God's other directives.

Matthew 23:24 The Pharisees strained their water so they wouldn't accidentally swallow a gnat - an unclean insect according to the law. Meticulous about the details of ceremonial cleanliness, they nevertheless had lost their perspective on inner purity. Ceremonially clean on the outside, they had corrupt hearts.

Matthew 23:25-28 Jesus condemned the Pharisees and religious leaders for outwardly appearing saintly and holy but inwardly remaining full of corruption and greed. Living our Christianity merely as a show for others is like washing a cup on the outside only. When we are clean on the inside, our cleanliness on the outside won't be a sham.

A Great Sign Appeared In Heaven

Let this time of study lead me to a deeper worship of You, Lord.

"Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth." (Revelation 12:1-2)

If you want to see what God is doing in he world, read His sign. His sign is the nation Israel. Israel is God's billboard and His blueprint for this day and age because the Jews are God's chosen people and Israel is the land of destiny.

Throughout the Bible, Israel is often referred to as a woman. In fact, in the Old Testament, Israel is spoken of as the wife of Jehovah (Isaiah 54;5-6). And God gave Joseph a prophetic dream in which these same celestial elements - the sun, the moon and twelve stars - were used to depict Israel (with Joseph being the twelfth star). (Genesis 37:9). All of this points to the fact that the woman in this passage symbolizes the nation Israel.

The child she is about to deliver is the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus came from the nation Israel (Romans 9:4-5), fulfilling God's promise to Abraham that through him all the world would be blessed.

God chose the tiny nation of Israel to be His own special treasure (Deu. 7:6). And for that reason, they are a people despised by satan. He has an ancient hatred for the woman Israel and for her Child, the Lord Jesus.

satan appears as the second sign in this chapter (Revelation 12:3), a fierce dragon the color of blood, which speaks of his murderous ways. This dragon has seven heads, which means he has great, though corrupted, wisdom. Crowns and horns speak of the power and authority he will have as he brings great suffering to the woman and stands ready to devour her Child the moment He is born (v. 4).

Yet we know satan's deadly plans will be thwarted, for this is what was just proclaimed in heaven as the seventh trumpet sounded, "... The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever!" (Revelation 11:15).

~Adrian Rogers~

School of Christ # 36

The First Lessons in the School of Christ

But when you are in, lesson #1 begins here. It is but a reiteration of what has been strongly said in earlier mediation. The first lesson in the School of Christ which the Holy Spirit takes up to teach us is what we have called the altogether "other-ness" of Christ from ourselves. This may be not only the first lesson but a continuous lesson throughout life. But this is the one thing with which the Holy Spirit begins, the altogether "other-ness" of Christ from what we are. Will you take up the Gospel of John with that one thought in mind and read it again, quietly and steadily. How different Christ is from other people, even from His disciples. You can expand from John's Gospel to all the Gospels with that one thought. It will be an education to you if the Holy Spirit is with you as you read. How utterly different He is! That difference is again and again affirmed. "Ye are from beneath; I am from above" (John 8:23). That is the difference, and that difference becomes a clash all the way along; a clash of judgments, a clash of mentalities, a clash of minds, a clash of ideas, a clash of values; a clash in everything between Him and others, even with His disciples who are with Him in the School. His nature is different. He has a heavenly nature, a Divine nature. No one else has that. He has a heavenly mind, a heavenly mentality. They have an earthly mentality, and the two cannot meet, at any point. When the last word has been said, there is a big, big gap between the two. He is so utterly other.

Now, you say, that being so, we are at a very great disadvantage. He is one thing and we are another. But that is just the nature and meaning of this School. How is that problem going to be resolved? Well, it is just resolved like this, that He is all the time speaking about a time when He will be in them and they will be in Him, and when that times comes, in the innermost and deepest reality of their being, they will be altogether other than what they are in every other part of their being. That is to say, there will be in them that which is Christ, that which is Christ in all that He is as the absolutely Other. Sometimes they will think that the best thing to do is this, but that altogether Other inside will not let them do it. Sometimes they will think that the wise thing is not to do this, and that altogether Other inside keeps saying in effect, "Get on with it!" The outer man says, "It is madness! I am only courting disaster!" The inner man says, "You are to do it!" These two cannot be reconciled. He is within and He is altogether other, and our education is to learn to follow Him, to go His way, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself ... and follow me."  Deny himself: your arguments, your judgments, your common sense sometimes. Follow Me! - and Christ is vindicated every time. Men have done the maddest things from this world's standpoint and have been vindicated. This is no suggestion that you should go and begin to do mad things. I am talking about the authority of Christ within, the difference of Christ from ourselves, and this is the first lesson the Holy Spirit would teach anyone coming into the School of Christ, that there is a great difference, this great cleavage, that He is one thing and we are quite another; and we can never be sure that we are on the right line save as we submit everything to Him.

This is why prayer has to have such a large place in the life of a child of God, and this is why prayer had such a large place in His life when He was here. The prayer life of the Lord Jesus is, in a certain realm and sense, the biggest problem that you can face. He is Christ, He is the Son of God, He is under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and He is without sin in His person, and yet, and yet, He must spend all the night in prayer after a heavy and long day's work. Again and again you come upon Him in prayer. Why must He pray? Because there are other influences at work, there are other things which are seeking to call for consideration and response and obedience, and He must keep all the time line with the anointing, in harmony with the Spirit under whose government He has placed Himself, because He can decide nothing out from Himself. If He must do that, what of us? We are not even on His sinless level. We have all that in our very natures which works violently against God, God's mind, God's will. How much the more necessary then is it for us to have a prayer life, by which the Spirit is given an opportunity of keeping us straight, keeping us on the line of Divine purpose, keeping us in the ways of the Lord, and in the times of the Lord.

Beloved, if there is one thing that a child of God will learn under the Holy Spirit's lordship, it is this thing, namely, how different He is from us, how different we are from Him, how altogether other. But, blessed be God, now in this dispensation, if we are truly children of God, the altogether Other is not merely objective but within. That is the second phase of this matter of the "other-ness". The first phase is the fact o the difference. Will you accept this? Will you now, at this very point, this moment, just settle this?  The Lord Jesus is altogether other than I am: even when I think I am most perfectly right. He may still be altogether other, and I can never, never rely upon my own sense of rightness until I have submitted my rightness to Him! That is very utter, but it is very necessary. many of us have learned these lessons. We are not talking out of a book, we are talking out of our own experience. We have been quite sure at times that we were right and we have gone forward to follow out our rightness in that judgment, and we have come to grief, and we have got into an awful fog of perplexity and bewilderment. We were quite sure we were right, but look where we have been landed! And when we come to think about it, and put it before the Lord, we have to ask ourselves, how much did I wait on the Lord  and wait for the Lord about that thing. Were we not a bit precipitate with our own sense of rightness? And that is David and the ark all over again. David's motive was all right and David's sense of God's purpose was all right. That God wanted the ark in Jerusalem was right enough, but David got the thing into his soul as an idea, and it worked itself up as a great enthusiasm within him, and so he made the cart. The motive, the good motive, the good idea, the devout spirit, got him into most awful trouble. The Lord smote Uzzah, and he died before the Lord, and the ark went into the house of Obededom, and tarried there, all because man had a good and right idea, but not not waited on the Lord!. You know the sequel. Later on, David said to the heads of the Levites, "Sanctify yourselves, both ye and your brethren, that ye may bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, unto the place that I have prepared for it. For because ye bare it not at the first, the Lord our God make a breach upon us, for that we sought him not according to the ordinance." The instruction was there all the time, but he had not waited on the Lord. If David had brought his devout enthusiasm quietly before the Lord, he would have directed him to the instruction He had given to Moses, and said, in effect, "Yes all right, but remember, this is how it is to be carried." There would have been no death, no delay, things would have gone right the first time.

Yes, we may get a very good idea for the Lord, but we have to submit it to the Lord, to be quite sure it is not our idea for the Lord, but the Lord's mind being born in us. It is very important to learn Christ; He is no other.

You see,this divides Christians very largely into two classes. Christians can be, in the main, divided into these two classes. There is that very large class of Christians whose Christianity is objective, is outward. It is a matter of having adopted a Christian life, that now they do a lot of things which they once would not do. They go to meetings, they go to church, they read the Bible, lots of things that they used not to do; and they now do not do quite a lot of things they once did. That is what holds good more or less in that class. It is now a matter of not going and doing, not going and going, being a good Christian outwardly. That is a big class with its various degrees of light and shade, a very big class of Christians indeed.

There are others who are in this School of Christ, for whom the Christian life is an inward thing of walking with the Lord and knowing the Lord in the heart, in greater or lesser degree. That is the nature of it, a real inward walk with a living Lord in their own heart. There is a great deal of difference between those two classes! [ A note: yes, there is a huge difference! Amen!]

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 37 - "The Spirit's Law or Instrument of Instruction)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

When They Finish Their Testimony

Lord, give me eyes to see and ears to hear what You have to say to me today.

"When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them." (Revelation 11:7).

The two witnesses who are anointed and empowered by God, are going to prophesy for the first three and a half years of the Tribulation (Revelation 11:3), then be killed by the antichrist. But they won't stay dead long! 

A little background helps us understand the incredible events in this chapter. The book of Daniel tells us the Tribulation will last for seven years due to a covenant between Israel and the antichrist (Daniel 9:27) which enables the rebuilding of the temple. But right in the middle of the seven year treaty, the antichrist will move into the temple and declare that he is God (2 Thess. 2:3-4). When the Jews refuse to recognize him as God, He will turn on them viciously, dispensing horrible persecution upon them for the remainder of the Tribulation.

It's possible that the murder of these two witnesses will be what catapults the antichrist to fame and inspires his attempt to establish himself as God. No one else has been able to harm the witnesses (Revelation 11:5), and the unrepentant people of the world are thrilled to have those tormenting voices of truth silenced (v. 10).

But the timing of God is clearly at work. Notice He does not allow these men to be killed until they have finished the task He called them to do (v. 7). Then, as all the world is gloating and celebrating over the demise of righteousness (vv. 9-10), god miraculously and gloriously brings these two men back to life! (v. 11). He reinvigorates their rotting corpses in the street where they lie (vv. 8-9) and calls these faithful witnesses up to heaven for all to see! (v. 12).

Because these men were faithful unto death, God receives glory (v. 13). And the message for us is that no matter what persecution we may face, we cannot truly be harmed. God not only empowers but also preserves those He calls to serve Him.

~Adrian Rogers~

Bible Study - verse by verse # 64

Matthew 23:5-7 Jesus again exposed the hypocritical attitudes of the religious leaders. They knew the Scriptures but did not live by them. They didn't care about being holy - just looking holy in order to receive the people's admiration and praise. Today, like the Pharisees, many people who know the Bible do not let it change their lives. They say they follow Jesus, but they don't live by His standards of love. People who live this way are hypocrites. We must make sure that our actions match our beliefs.

Matthew 23:5-7 People desire positions of leadership not only in business but also in church. It is dangerous when love for the position grows stronger than loyalty to God. This is what happened to the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Jesus s not against all leadership - we need Christian leaders - but against leadership that serves itself rather than others.

Matthew 23: 11, 12 Jesus challenged society's norms. To Him, greatness comes from serving - giving of yourself to help God and others. Service keeps us aware of others' needs, and it stops us from focusing only on ourselves. Jesus came as a servant. What kind of greatness do you seek?

Matthew 23:13, 14 Being a religious leader in Jerusalem was very different from being a pastor in a secular society today. Israel's history, culture, and daily life centered around its relationship with God. The religious leaders were the best known, most powerful, and most respected of all leaders. Jesus made these stinging accusations because the leaders' hunger for more power, money, and status had made them lose sight of God, and their blindness was spreading to the whole nation.

School of Christ # 35

"Lordship" and "Subjection"

If we are going to graduate in this School, graduate to the glory, the ultimate full glory of Christ, to be the competent instrument in His Kingdom for government, the one way of learning that spiritual, Divine, heavenly government which is His destiny for the saints, is subjection to the Holy Spirit. That is a very interesting word, that word "subjection", in the New Testament. I think it has been rather mishandled and given a wrong and unpleasant meaning. The idea of subjection is usually that of being crushed down underneath, being put under all the time, suppression. "Wives be in subjection to your own husbands." That is now interpreted as, You have to get down underneath; and the word does NOT mean that at all! How shall we seek to convey what the Greek word for subjection or submission really implies? Well, write down the number 1; and then you are going to write subjection or submission. How are you going to write it? Not by putting another 1 underneath. The means putting alongside it or after it.  No. 1 is the primary number, it stands in front of all that comes after, and governs and gives value to all the rest. Subjection means that He in all things has the pre-eminence. We come after and take our value from Him. It is NOT being crushed down, but deriving everything from Him as the first one: and you never derive the benefits until you know subjection to Christ. That is to say, you come after, you take second place, take that place by which you derive all the benefit; you get the value by taking a certain place. The Church is not subject to Christ in that repressive sense, not down under His heel or thumb, but just coming after, alongside. He having the pre-eminence, and the Church, His Bride, deriving all the good from His pre-eminence, from His having the first place. The Church second, yes; but who minds a second place if you are going to get all the values of the first by having second place? That is subjection. The Lord's idea for the Church is that she should have everything. But how will she get it? Not by taking the first place, but by coming alongside the Lord and in all things letting Him have the pre-eminence. That is submission, subjection. The lordship of the Spirit is not something hard that strips us, takes everything from us, and keeps us down there all the time so that we dare not move. The lordship of the Spirit is to bring us into all the fullness of that headship. But we do have to learn what that lordship is before we can come into that fullness. It is of His fullness we receive.

The trouble ever was, from Adam's day till ours, that it is not someone else's fullness that man wants, it is his own; to have it in himself and not in another. The Holy Spirit cuts that ground from under our feet and says, "It is HIS fullness, it is in HIM. He must have His place of absolute lordship before we can know of His fullness. That is enough I think, for the moment, on the meaning of the anointing. Do you grasp it? The Lord give us grace to accept the meaning of Jordan in order that we may have the open heaven and, by the open heaven, the anointing which brings in all heaven's fullness for us. But it does mean the absolute lordship of the Spirit. Lesson No. 1 in the School - oh, that is not Lesson No. 1, that is the very ground of coming into the School, that is a preliminary examination. We never get into the School until we accept the lordship of the Holy Spirit. That is why so many do not get on very far in the knowledge of the Lord. They have never accepted the implications of the anointing, never really come down into Jordan. Their progress, their learning, is very slow, very poor. Find a person who really knows the meaning of the Cross, of Jordan, in the clearing of the way for the lordship of the Spirit, and you will find quick growth, you will find spiritual development far ahead of all others. It is very true. That is the preliminary, the entrance examination.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 36 - "The First Lesson in the School of Christ")

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Becoming Holy

"Be not conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2)

The Scriptures place great emphasis on our part in sanctification, on what you and I have to do. What is the point of the mighty arguments of Paul and the apostles in their letters if sanctification is something that I am to receive? Why the exhortations?

Here is one exhortation from the apostle Peter: "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11). Do you notice what he says? We do not receive our sanctification and are then delivered from these things. No; he tells us to abstain from them and to keep ourselves from them. And the tragedy is that so many people are spending their lives waiting to receive something, and in the meantime they are not abstaining from these fleshly lusts.

Take a statement from Paul: "Let him that stole steal no more" (Ephesians 4:28). That is what he is to do. He is not to wait to receive something; he is commanded to give up stealing. What can be more specific than that? And people who are guilty of foolish talking and jesting and other unseemly things are not to do them (Ephesians 5:4). "Be not conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2). You do not wait to receive something; if up to this moment you have been conforming to the world, you must stop.

People have often come to me about this and said, "You know, I've been trying so hard, but I can't get this experience." To which the reply is that the Scripture commands you to abstain: "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded" (James 4:8). And I repeat that these injunctions are quite pointless and a sheer waste of ink if sanctification is something that I can receive. If it is, we would surely be told, "You need not worry about this question of sin - you can receive your sanctification in one act, and all you do then is to maintain it and abide in it." But this is most certainly not the New Testament teaching.

A Thought to Ponder:

The Scriptures place great emphasis on OUR part in sanctification.

~Martyn Lloyd-Jones~

Two Witnesses

Lord, help me push aside every needless thought and concern as I turn my heart toward You and Your Word.

"And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth" (Revelation 11:3)

In the midst of the Tribulation, God is going to raise up two mighty witnesses, significant characters in the saga of the last days. God also uses them to convey some practical truths for Christians today.

First, they are actual persons - not angels or some sort of figurative beings. God always chooses people to do His work.

And when God chooses a person, God anoints him and works through him. These men are described as olive trees and lampstands (v. 4), symbols of the Holy Spirit of God. God's Spirit rests upon these men - they are anointed with supernatural power.

The specific powers the are given (v. 6) point to something very interesting. These two witnesses could in fact be Moses and Elijah, who have come back from the dead. For it was Elijah whom Go used to shut out the rain in the Old Testament, and it was through Moses that He brought the plagues upon Egypt. If it seems strange to think of men coming back from the dead and giving testimony here on earth, consider that Moses and Elijah have already come back from the other world as witnesses! They were present at the transfiguration of Jesus (Luke 9:28-33).

Again, this reminds us: nothing is impossible with God. He is going to raise up two anointed witnesses and endow them with power to proclaim His truth in this day of great judgment. Whatever God calls a person to do, God empowers that person to do.

God's callings are God's enablings. And if He has called you to do something today, He will give you all the strength you need to accomplish it!

~Adrian Rogers~

School of Christ # 34

Learning Under the Anointing

Reading: Matthew 11:29; John 1:51; Matthew 3:16; John 1:4; Romans 8:2; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

The School of Christ; that is, the School where Christ is the great lesson and the Spirit the great Teacher; in the School where the teaching is not objective but subjective, where the teaching is not of things but an inward making of Christ a part of us by experience - that is the nature of this School.

The Meaning of the Anointing

"Ye shall see the heaven opened." "He saw the heavens opened and the Spirit of God descending upon him."  What is the meaning of the anointing of the Holy Spirit? It is nothing less and nothing other than the Holy Spirit taking His place as absolute Lord. The anointing carries with it the absolute lordship of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Lord. That means that all other lordships have been deposed and set aside; the lordship of our own lives; the lordship of our own minds, our own wills, our own desires; the lordship of others. The lordship of every interest and every influence is regarded as having given place to the undivided and unreserved lordship of the Holy Spirit, and the anointing can never known, enjoyed, unless that has taken place. That is why the Lord Jesus went down into Jordan's waters, into death and burial, in type, taking the place of man in representation, from that moment not to be under the government of His own life in any respect as He worked out the will of God, but to be wholly and utterly subject to the Spirit of God in every detail. Jordan's grave set forth the setting aside of every independent lordship, every other influence, and if you will read the spiritual life of Christ in the Gospels you will see that it was to that position that He was every moment adhering. many and powerful were the influences which were brought to bear upon Him to affect Him and govern His movements. Sometimes it was the full force of satan's open assault, to the effect that it was necessary that He should do certain things for His cause, or for His very continuance in life physically. Sometimes it was satan clothing himself with the arguments and suasion's of beloved associates, in their seeking to hold Him back from certain courses, or to influence Him to prolong His life by sparing Himself certain sufferings. In various ways influences where brought to bear upon Him from all directions, and many of the counsels were seemingly so wise and good. For example, with regard to His going up to the feast, it was urged, in effect: It is the thing that everybody is doing: if you do not go up you will prejudice your cause. If you really want to further this cause, you must fall into line with the accepted thing religiously, and you only stand to lose if you do not do that; you will curtail your influence, you will narrow your sphere of usefulness! And what an appeal that is if you have something very much at heart, some cause for God at heart, the success of which is of the greatest importance. Such then were the influences that were beating upon Him. But whether it be satan coming in all the directness of his cunning, his wit, his insinuation, or whether it be through beloved and most intimate disciples and associates, whatever the kind of argument, that Man cannot be caused to deflect a hairs-breath from His principle. I am under the anointing; I am committed to the absolute sovereignty of the Holy Spirit, and I cannot move, whatever it costs. Cost it my life, cost it my influence, cost it my reputation, cost it everything that I hold dear, I cannot move unless I know from the Holy Spirit that is the Father's mind and not another mind, the Father's will and not another will, that this thing comes from the Father. Thus He put back everything until He knew in His spirit what the Spirit of God witnessed. He lived up to this law, this principle, of the absolute authority, government, lordship of the anointing, and it was for that the anointing had come.

That is the meaning of the anointing. Do you ask for the anointing of the Holy Spirit? Why do you ask for the anointing if the Holy Spirit? Is the anointing something that you crave? To what end? That you may be used, may have power, may have influence, may be able to do a lot of wonderful things? The first and pre-eminent thing the anointing means is that we can do nothing but what the anointing teaches and leads to do. The anointing takes everything out of our hands. The anointing takes charge of the reputation. The anointing takes charge of the very purpose of God. The anointing takes complete control of everything and all is from that moment in the hands of the Holy Spirit. We must remember that if we are going to learn Christ, that learning Christ is by the Holy Spirit's dealing with us, and that means that we have to go exactly the same way as Christ went in principle and in law.

So we find we are not far into the Gospel of John, which is particularly the Gospel of the spiritual School of Christ, before we hear even such as He saying, "The Son can do nothing of himself."  "The words that I say unto you I speak not from myself. The works that I do are not Mine;" "the Father abiding in me doeth his works."

"The So can do nothing out of himself". You see, there is the negative side of the anointing; while the positive side can be summed up in three words only - the Father only. Perhaps that is a little different idea of the anointing from what we have had. Oh, to be anointed of the Holy Spirit! What wonders will follow; how wonderful that life will be! The first and the abiding thing about the anointing is that we are imprisoned into the lordship of the Spirit of God, so that there can be nothing if He does not do it. Nothing! That is not a pleasant experience, if the natural life is strong and in any way in the ascendant. Therefore Jordan must be there before there can be an anointing. The putting aside of that natural strength and self-life is a necessity, for the anointing does carry with it essentially the absolute lordship of the Spirit.

You notice the issue of that in 2 Corinthians 3:16. "When it shall turn to the Lord" when the Lord is the object in view, "the veil is taken away, and we all with unveiled face beholding us in a mirror the glory of the Lord are transformed into the same image. ... even as from the Lord the Spirit?, or "the Spirit which is the Lord"; You are in the School and you can see Christ and learn Christ; which is being transformed into the image of Christ under the lordship of the Spirit. "When it shall turn to the Lord", when the Lord is our object in view! But with us, with us Christians, with us very devoted, very earnest Christians, what a long time it takes to get the Lord as the sole object. Is that saying a terrible thing? We say we love the Lord; yes, but we do love to have our own way as well, and we do not love to have our own way thwarted. Have any of us yet reached that point of spiritual attainment where we never have a bad time at all with the Lord? Oh no, we are still found at the place where we so often thing it is in the interests of the Lord that our hearts go out in a certain direction, and the Lord does not let us do it, and we have a bad time; and tat has betrayed us absolutely. Our hearts were in it. It was not easy, absolutely easy and simple for us to say, "Very well, Lord, I am just as pleased as though you let me do it, I delight always to do Thy will! We are disappointed the Lord does not let us do it; or if the Lord delays it, what a time we go through. Oh, if we could only get at it and do it! The time is finding us out. Is that not true of most of us? Yes, it is true. We do come into this picture, and that just does mean that, after all, the Lord is not as verily our object as we thought He was. We have another object alongside and associated with the Lord; that is, something that we want to be or to do, somewhere we want to go, something we want to have. It is all there, and the Holy Spirit knows all about it. In this School of Christ, where God's objective is Christ, only Christ, utterly Christ, the very anointing means that it has to be Christ as Lord by the Spirit. The anointing takes that position. Well, so much for the moment for the meaning of the anointing. It was true in Him, and it has to be true in us.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 35 - "Lordship" and "Subjection")

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Life of Elijah # 1

Elijah appeared on the stage of public action during one of the darkest hours of Israel's sad history. He is introduced to us at the beginning of 1 Kings 17, and we have but to read through the previous chapters to discover what a deplorable state God's people were in. Israel had grievously and flagrantly departed from Jehovah, and that which directly opposed Him had been publicly set up. Never before had the favored nation sunk so low. Fifty-eight years had passed since the kingdom had been rent in twain following the death of Solomon. During that brief period no less than seven kings had reigned over the ten tribes, and all of them without exception were wicked men. Painful indeed is it to trace their sad course, and still more tragic to  behold how there has been a repetition of the same in the history of Christendom.

The first of those seven kings was Jeroboam. Concerning him we read that he "made two calves of gold," and said unto the people, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not the sons of Levi. And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made ..." (1 Kings 12:28-32). Let it be duly and carefully noted that the apostasy began with the corrupting of the priesthood, by installing into the Divine service men who were never called and equipped by God!

Of the next king, Nadab, it is said, "And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin," (1 Kings 15:26). He was succeeded on the throne by the very man who murdered him, Baasha, (1 Kings 15:27). Next came Elah, a drunkard, who in turn was a murderer (1 Kings 16:8, 9). His successor, Zimri, was guilty of treason (1 Kings 16:20). He was followed by a military adventurer of the name of Omri, and of him we are told, "but Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him. For he walked in all the way of Jerobaom, the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel o sin, to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities" (1 Kings 16:25 26). The evil cycle was completed by Omri's son, for he was even more vile than those who had preceded him.

"And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him" (1 Kings 16:30, 31). This marriage of Ahab to a heathen princess was, as might fully be expected (for we cannot trample God's Law beneath out feet with impunity), fraught with the most frightful consequences. In a short time all trace of the pure worship of Jehovah vanished from the land and gross idolatry became rampant. The golden calves were worshiped at Dan and Bethel, a temple had been erected to Baal in Samaria, the "groves" of Baal appeared on every side, and the priests of Baal took full charge of the religious life of Israel.

~A. W. Pink~

(continued with # 2)

School of Christ # 33

The Mark of a Life Anointed by the Holy Spirit

Now what is then the mark of a life anointed by the Holy Spirit? You remember when Paul went to Ephesus, he found certain disciples and without giving us any explanation of the reason for his question, he immediately said, "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?" Their reply was, "We did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was": Then Paul's next question is full of significance, taking us back to Jordan. "Into what then were ye baptized?" Baptism is bound up with this vital reality. If you do not know the Holy Spirit, what can your baptism have meant? Oh, we were baptized with John's baptism; Oh, I see: well, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus." Then when they heard that, they were baptized into the Name of the Lord Jesus, they were baptized into Christ, and the Holy Spirit came upon them. Thus they came into the School of Christ, and the mark of a life anointed by the Spirit is that you know Christ in this living and ever-growing way.

Oh, listen to this, this is not so elementary and unnecessary as it may seem. Some of us, of course, are very poor scholars, and we take such a long time to learn. It took decades in my case t come to a true realization of this. We know so much, and we discover that our real personal knowledge of Christ is a poor thing. We are constantly brought up against that. At last, sooner or later, you and I are going to come to the place where we exclaim, "Oh, it is not doctrines and truths and themes and subjects and Scripture as mere matter that I need to know!" It is all very wonderful when you are taken up with it; but let a man come into the fires, into deep trial, into trouble and perplexity and then what about all your doctrines and all your themes, and all your Bible study? What is the value of it? It does not really solve your problem, it does not get you through. This is a tragedy. It is true of many of us who have got certain doctrines, who have gone through the doctrines of the Bible and worked them out, and who know hat is in the Bible on these things; regeneration, redemption, atonement, righteousness by faith, sanctification, and so on. It is true that after we have gone though them all, and have got them all well worked out, and we come into a terrible spiritual experience, the whole thing counts for nothing, and we come to the place where but for the Lord we could easily throw the whole thing over and say, This Christianity does not work! Yes, for those who have known the Lord for years, so far as the accumulation of truth is concerned, that is about the value of it in an hour of the deepest spiritual distress. The only thing then that can help you is not your beautiful notebooks full of doctrines but, What do I know of the Lord personally and livingly in my own heart? What has the Holy Spirit revealed in me and to me, and made a part of me, of Christ?  Sooner or later, that is where we are coming to. We are going to be brought back to the living, spiritual knowledge of the Lord; for He alone personally, as revealed in our very being by the Holy Spirit, can save us in the deepest hour. The day will come when we will be stripped of everything but what is spiritually, inwardly known of Christ; stripped of all our mental and intellectual knowledge. Many of those who have been giants in teaching and in doctrine have had a very, very dark hour at the end of their lives, a very dark hour indeed. How they have got through has depended upon the inward knowledge of the Lord as over against mere intellectual knowledge. How can I explain what I mean by that?

Well, for example, you discover something in the realm of food that really does help you. You have gone all around trying everything, all that the food people can provide to help you in a specific malady or weakness, and nothing has helped you. Then suddenly you discover something that really does help you, and the next time you are put to the test you take some of that and find you can go through on that. It is in you, something that gets you through your ordeal. That is what I mean with reference to this question of how and what Christ is to be to us. He is to be IN us, that upon which we can rest back in confidence and assurance, and, doing so, He gets us through. We are to know Him in that way. That is the only way in which to learn Christ. "Ye shall see the heaven open." The Holy Spirit has come to make for us an altogether new order of things, so that Christ is being revealed in us as our very life. Ye shall see when the Spirit comes: that is the mark of an anointed life. Ye shall see! And those are great moments when we do see. Some of us have had those great moments in specific connections, and some of us have been taught it, and have had it drummed into them for years; and then after years suddenly it has broken upon them, and they have said, Look here, I am no beginning to see what has been said all this time!

I remember a man brought up in a most saintly family, whose father I always used to liken to Charles G. Finney. He was like Finney inspirit, soul and body; and one of his sons brought up in that most godly home was a great friend of mine for years. WE had real fellowship together, always talking about the things of the Lord. One day - I can see it now right at the corner of Newington Green - I was going to meet him, and as I came toward Newington Green I saw him in the distance. I saw him smile, and we met and shook hands. He was one big smile. Do you know, I have made a discovery, he said. I said, What is your discovery? I have discovered that Christ is in me! Christ in you, the hope of glory! has become a reality to me."  Well, I said, I could have told you that years ago. Ah, that is the difference, he said: I see it now, I know it now. 

You see what I mean. It is just that. Oh, that the world were full of Christians like that! Is this not the need? But in as much as this was said to Nathanael, it must before us all. It was not said to Peter, James and John up on the Mount of Transfiguration: it was said to Nathanael, one of the general circle. It is for all; and if that wants strengthening, proving,notice what the Lord Jesus said - "Ye shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." What has happened? A tremendous transition has taken place in the course of a few sentences. Behold, an Israelite indeed! That is the Israel; for Jacob, yes, the father of Israel; for sons of Jacob, the earthly Israel. Ah, yes, but that is purely within the limitation of earth, purely within the limitation of a people here among the nations, and within the limitation of types. Yes, but now for the tremendous transition. The Lord has cancelled out something Nathanael said, "Thou art King of Israel", said he. King of Israel? That is nothing. Thou shalt see greater things than these. Thou shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man! That is something vastly greater than Israel. Son of Man! That is racial, that is universal; that is for all men who will come in, not just for Israel. Thou shalt see greater things! Heaven opened - and for whom? Not just for Israel, but for all men in Christ. The Son of Man!

That title, Son of Man, simply represents God's thought concerning man. Oh, the great thought and intention of God concerning man. The open heaven is for man when he comes into God's thought in Christ. The open heaven is for man: God revealing Himself to man in the Man. It is for all of us. Let no one thing that this open heaven, this anointing, is for a certain few. Oh no, it is for everyone. God's desire, God's thought, is that you and I, the most simple, foolish, weak among men and women, the most limited naturally, with the least capacity naturally, should find that our very birthright is an open heaven. In other words, you and I may in Christ know this wonderful work of the Holy Spirit in an inward revelation of Christ in ever growing fullness. That is for us, every one of us. May the most advanced Christian have a new movement toward the Lord in this matter, and all of us really come to this first crisis where the dome over us is cleft and we know an open heaven, the Spirit revealing Christ in our hearts for His glory.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 34  - "Learning Under the Anointing"

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bible Study - verse by verse # 63

Matthew 22:35-40 The Pharisees, who had classified over 600 laws, often tried to distinguish the more important from the less important. So one of them, a lawyer, asked Jesus to identify the most important law. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. By fulfilling these two commands, a person keeps all the other laws. They summarize the Ten Commandments and the other Old Testament moral laws.

Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus says that if we truly love God and our neighbor, we will naturally keep the commandments. This is looking at God's law positively. Rather than worrying about all we should NOT do, we should concentrate on all we CAN do to show our love for God and others.

Matthew 22:41-45 The Pharisees, Herodians and Sadducees had asked their questions. Then Jesus turned the tables and asked them a penetrating question - who they thought the Messiah was. The Pharisees knew that the Messiah would be a descendant of David, but they did not understand that He would be God Himself. Jesus quoted from Psalm 110:1 to show that the Messiah would be greater than David (Heb 1:13 uses the same text as proof of Christ's deity). The most important question we will ever answer is what we believe about Christ. Other theological questions are irrelevant until we believe that Jesus is who He said He is.

Matthew 23:2, 3 The Pharisees traditions and laws had become more important to them than God Himself. The problem arose when the religious leaders took man-made rules more seriously than God's laws. They told the people to obey these rules but did not do so themselves. Usually, Jesus did not condemn what the Pharisees taught, but what they were - hypocrites.

School of Christ # 32

A New Prospect for a New Man [Woman]

That word, "thou shalt see heaven opened," is the new prospect for a new man/woman. A new man, a new prospect! In the Authorized Version, a word is added which has been left out in the Revised Version. I take it for the simple reason that it is implicit in the original, without the word necessarily being introduced. In the Authorized it says, "Hereafter ye shall see heaven open." In the Revised Version, that first word is left out, and it simply reads, "Ye shall see". "But ye shall" is something prospective, it is a tense pointing on to a future day. Not "ye are seeing", but "ye shall see ...". It is a new prospect for a new man; and therein lives a new era. It is the era of the Holy Spirit, for by the coming of the Holy Spirit, the open heaven is made a reality. The Cross effects the opening of the heavens for us, but it is the Holy Spirit who makes it good in us, just as was the case in that typical or symbolic death and burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus in Jordan, when the heavens were opened to Him. Coming up on new, resurrection ground. He had the open heaven. The Spirit then alighted and abode upon Him, and the Spirit became, shall we say, the channel of communication, making the open heaven all that it should be as a matter of communication. It is the era of the Holy Spirit, making all the values of Christ real in us. "Ye shall"' and blessed be God, what was prospective for Nathanael is present for us.

That era has come. We are in the era of the Holy Spirit, of the open heaven.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 33 - "The Mark of a Life Anointed by the Holy Spirit")

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What a Prayer!!

O Lord,
I hang on Thee; I see, believe, live. when Thy will, not mine, is done;
I can plead nothing in myself in regard of any worthiness and grace, in regard of Thy providence and promises, but only Thy good pleasure.

If Thy mercy make me poor and vile, blessed be Thou! Prayers arising from my needs are preparations for future mercies;
Help me to honor Thee by believing before I feel, for great is the sin if I make feeling a cause of faith.

Show me what sins hide Thee from me and eclipse Thy love; help me to humble myself for past evils, to be resolved to walk with more care, For if I do not walk holily before Thee, how can I be assured of my salvation?

It is the meek and humble who are shown Thy covenant, know Thy will, are pardoned and healed, who by faith depend and rest upon grace, who are sanctified and quickened, who evidence Thy love.

Help me to pray in faith and so find Thy will, by leaning hard on Thy rich free mercy, by believing Thou wilt give what Thou has promised; Strengthen me to pray with the conviction that whatever receive is Thy gift, so that I may pray until prayer be granted;

Teach me to believe that all degrees of mercy arise from several degrees of prayer, that when faith is begun it is imperfect and must grow, as chapped ground opens wider and wider until rain comes.

So shall I wait Thy will, pray for it to be done, and by Thy grace become fully obedient. Amen

~A Puritan Prayer~

The Little Book

Help me to take in Your life-giving Word today, Lord. Amen

"Then I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter" (Revelation 10:10)

This book in the hand of God's mighty messenger angel, the Lord Jesus Christ, also represents the Word of God. And this passage tells what we as Christians are to do with His Word.

Here in these verses John represents us, God's people. John is instructed to take the book and to eat it (Revelation 10:8-9). Likewise we are to appropriate the Word of God and then assimilate that Word. We take this book and feed upon it.

Now, many of us have Bibles we never open. The words of life God has given to strengthen and sustain us can do us no good if we don't read them. Jesus said, "an shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).

The Bible is to be eaten. It is to be digested. It is not enough to read the recipe book; we've got to cook, eat, and digest the meal.

When you take in the Word of God, it will be both bitter and sweet. In the Bible you find some sad things, some horrifying things. You can't read the book of Revelation without seeing God's justice and judgment. But many want to choose only the parts of the Bible they find palatable. Heaven and hell, death and life, salvation, condemnation - it's all in the Bible. We must take it in.

Then we are to give it out. John was told to disseminate the truth he'd been shown (v. 11). And how can we not share the Word of God? If we read the Bible and truly believe it is God's Word, how can we be silent in a hell-bound world?

~Adrian Rogers~

School of Christ # 31

The Breaking of the Self-Life

There is one passage which I cannot get away from. It has been with me for a long time. It has been here as the basis of our meditation. It is John 1:51, and it seems to me that those are words which introduce us to the School of Christ, namely, those words of the Lord Jesus to Nathanael. I think it would be helpful to read the whole section from verse 47: "Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and saith of him, 'Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile'. Nathanael saith unto him, 'Whence knowest thou me?' Jesus answered and said unto him, 'Before Philip called thee, when thou was under the fig tree, I saw thee.' Nathanael answered him, 'TEACHER, thou art the Son of God; thou are King of Israel.' Jesus answered and said unto him, 'Because I said unto thee, I saw thee underneath the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.'"

Here we are approaching the School of Christ, and there is one thing which is essential before we can even come to the threshold of that school, and that is what is marked by those words, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" That put alongside the final words ' "the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" - gives us a complete picture of what spiritually lies behind.

At the time when Jacob in guile - you remember the story of his guile - stole the birthright and had to escape for his life, he saw a very great truth, though but dimly as in type or figure, and a truth moreover into which he was not then able to enter. Jacob at that time could never have entered into the meaning of what he saw, namely, the House of God, Bethel; that place where heaven and earth meet, God and man meet, where the glory - uniting heaven and earth, God and man - is the great link, where God speaks and makes Himself known, where God's purposes are revealed. Why was this the case with Jacob? He was in guile. Let him leave it there then, as he must, an go on, and for twenty years come under discipline, and at the end of twenty years' discipline meet the impact of heaven upon his earthly life, his earthly nature, the impact of the Spirit upon his flesh, the impact of God upon himself at Jabbok, and let that fleshly, natural life be smitten and broken and withered, to bear the mark for the rest of his days of its having come under the ban of God; and then with the Jacob judged, the Jacob smitten, wounded, withered, he can go back and pour out his drink-offering at Bethel, and abide. The guile is dealt with. He is now not Jacob but Israel, in whom, speaking in type and figure, there is no guile. The work was not finished, but a crisis was met.

The Lord Jesus is saying here, to put it in a word, just this: to come into the place of the open heaven, where for you God is coming down in communication, and the glory of God abides, and where you enjoy what Bethel means, is nothing else than to come into Me. And to come into Me and abide in Me as the Bethel, the House of God, and have all the good of heaven and of God communicated, means you have come to the place where the natural life has been laid low, broken, withered. You cannot come into His School until that has happened, and it is necessary for the Lord to say to us in Christ as we come to the very threshold of that door, Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no Jacob; you shall see the heaven opened! To speak of the Jacob-life, is, after all, only another way of saying the self-life; for self is the very essence of the natural life; not just the self-life in its most positive evil forms, but the self-life in its totality. Jacob was in the elect line. He had a knowledge of God historically, but the transition from the natural to the spiritual was through discipline and crisis.

Let me stay with that. Here is the Lord Jesus. No one will dare to say that the self-life in Christ was like our self-life, polluted, corrupted, sinful. Not at all! And yet He had a self-life, a sinless self-life. For Him the self-life simply meant that He could act and speak and think and judge and move out from Himself! That is all. Not with evil intent, not as motivated or influenced by anything sinful or corrupt, but simply independently. He could have done and said a lot of good things independently. But He took the attitude, the position, that, although there was no sin in Him, He could not and would not at any times act or speak apart from the Father. That would be independence, and give the enemy just the opening that he was working for. But we can leave that.

My point is this, that you and I must think of the self-life only as something manifestly corrupt. There is a great deal done for God with the purest motive that is done out from ourselves. There are many thoughts, ideas, judgments, which are sublime, beautiful, but they are ours, and if we did but know the truth, they are altogether different from God's

And so, right at the very door of His school the Lord puts something utter. It is Jabbok. Jabbok was a tributary of the Jordan, and the implications of Jordan are right there at the very threshold of the School of Christ. He accepted Jordan in order to enter into that School of the Spirit for three and a half years. You and I will not get into that School of the Anointing in any other way. It has to be like that. If you and I are going to learn Christ, it will only be as the Jacob-nature is smitten. I am not talking to you mere doctrine and technique. Believe me, I know exactly what I am talking about.

I know this thing as the greatest reality in my history. I know what it is to have been laboring with all my might for God and preaching the Gospel out from myself for years. Oh, I know; I know what hard labor it is with the dome over your head. How many times have I stood in the pulpit and in my heart have said, 'If only somehow or other I could get a cleavage through this dome over my head, and instead of preaching what I have gathered from books and put into my notebooks, and having to study it up, I could scrap the whole thing and, with an opened heaven, speak out what God is saying in my heart! That was a longing for years. I sensed there was something like this, but I had not got it until the great crisis of Romans 6 came, and with it the open heaven. It has been different ever since then, altogether different. "Ye shall see the heaven opened"; and all that strain has gone, all that bondage has gone, that limitation; there is no dome there. That is my glory today. Forgive that personal reference. I must say it, because we are not here to give addresses. We are right down on the reality of this matter of the Holy Spirit directly and immediately revealing Christ to us, and that every-growingly. And this cannot be until we have come to our Jabbok, until the Jacob-life has been dealt with through that crisis, and the Lord is able to say, 'An Israelite indeed, in whom is no Jacob; thou shalt see heaven opened!' There is that dome, that closed heaven over us by nature, but, blessed be God! the Cross rends the heavens, the veil is rent from top to bottom, and Christ is revealed through the rent veil of His flesh. He is no longer seen as the Man Jesus; He is seen in our hearts in all the fullness of God's consummate thought for man. It is a tremendous thing to see the Lord Jesus, and it is a tremendous thing to go on seeing Him more and more. That is where it begins - Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile, no Jacob! Thou shalt see heaven opened!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 32 - "A New Prospect for a New Man")