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Friday, October 19, 2012

A Job Experience # 3

He could now say with full assurance and joy in the Lord:


... for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,
therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased,
and I know how to abound:
every where and in all things I am instructed
both to be full and to be hungry,
both to abound and to suffer need.
I have strength for all things in Christ
Who empowers me -
I am ready for anything and equal to anything
through Him Who infuses inner strength into me,
[that is, I am self-sufficient
in Christ's sufficiency]. (Phil. 4:11-13)

Paul says, "I have learned how to be content in whatever state I am." And where and when did Paul learn this? He learned much of this through the experiences which he wrote about in 2 Corinthians; and if Paul and those with him could learn these things, so can we. We can, if we yield to the effectual work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, learn in "whatsoever state" we are in "therewith to be content," for the Holy Spirit will work into our lives the true reality of contentment in Christ - contentment which can say, no matter how difficult our situation may be, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Spiritual Warfare Must Be Fought in Each and Every Age

It was about 27 years after the resurrection of Christ when the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write 2 Corinthians. Rome rules the known world, and the Roman Emperor Nero had been in power for about three years; and, as yet, there was not much indication of the great havoc he would cause against the people of God. However, in the unseen realm, a great spiritual battle was taking place and building to a world-shaking, age-convulsing climax. Two forces - one, Spiritual and Holy; and the other, religious and evil - were battling for the hearts of God's people. This same kind of unseen battle had taken place in Job's time, and in Noah's time, and in Daniel's time. And we know that this spiritual warfare must be fought in each age and generation; and this is because, even though satan knows he was completely triumphed over by Christ's death and resurrection, he is still doing his evil-all to stop the Church from becoming the Fullness of the One Who defeated him - the archenemy of God furiously rages against the Church because he knows he has no place, and never will have a place, in the realm in which Christ is ALL, and in ALL!

Therefore, as Paul was writing his letter to the Corinthians, the Church was about to face its greatest persecution thus far. The malignant hatred of satan against Christ was about to be unleashed upon them. And God was preparing them (and all Christians to come after them) for this great struggle; and through their sufferings, tribulations, and great pressures, they would come to know Him as "the Father of Mercies, and the God of all Comfort."

Beloved, when we are in the midst of great distress, we all need comfort; but we also need to realize that the comfort that proceeds from the natural man will not suffice when we are in the midst of the battle of the ages. Comfort that comes from the natural man, even if it comes from our closest and sincerest Christian friends, will not help us endure - the comfort that springs from the natural man will not produce a people who will endure until God has His End through His Way. And so it is important to know that the true comfort that has its source in God will always bring us into a fuller, and more intimate, knowledge of our Christ.

In Luke 2:25, we are told that Christ, the Messiah, is The Consolation (the Comfort) of Israel. Now what does this mean? Israel had long hoped for their Messiah, the Christ of God: all of the Old Testament points to this. Israel was waiting for the Messiah to come and make their lives a better one in this world. They believed He would be king over the world and that they would be the privileged ones who would rule the world with Him. And they believed all things would then be wonderful and happy, and whatever it was that made them unhappy, weak, insufficient, sorrowful, afflicted or persecuted, would be ended. And, if we are honest, most of us hope for similar things, particularly when we are in a very hard place, a place which presses us beyond measure. When we are in a place where there is nothing that can be done to remedy the situation, oh, how we  desire to be out from under the pressure.

Beloved, Christ said as He faced the Cross, "My Kingdom is not of this world"; which means, if His Kingdom were of this world, there would be no Cross. But the Cross is a settled fact, so His Kingdom is not of this world; His Kingdom is a New Creation in which Christ is ALL, and in ALL.

Thus, Christ is the Consolation (the Comfort) of Israel because the Consolation, the Comfort, is a PERSON. And when we are in a place of being pressed out of measure, it is only as we come to know Christ more intimately and more fully that we can experience Him as the Comfort, "the Consolation of God." -

In tribulation, He is our Peace! In despair, He is our Joy! In weakness, He is our Sufficiency! In death, He is our life! He is our ALL in ALL - He is the Comfort of God!

In the Church, there are many who are teaching of our rewards, of our blessings, and of the place and position of God's Kingdom that we will come into at the "end-time"; and we are not saying it is wrong to learn of this. But, beloved, in this life, and in the life to come, the Highest Calling, the Fullest Blessing, the Greatest Reward, is to intimately and thoroughly know our Christ.

"...that I may know Him - that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understand [the wonders of His Person] more strongly and more clearly. And that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His Resurrection [which it exerts over believers]; and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death ... (Phil. 3:10)

"That I may know Him ..." - this is our comfort, this is our great consolation, from the Father of Mercies and the God of all comfort. And, dear ones, in the measure that we "know Him," that is the measure that we will endure until God has His End through His Way.

~Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - "The Effectual Work of the Holy Spirit")

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