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Friday, November 30, 2012

The Way to Heavenly Fullness

1 Kings 19:9, 10; 2 Kings 19:29-31; Isaiah 59:17; John 2:14-17

The word we see to be common to those passages strikes the keynote for our present meditation, the Zeal of the Lord, or The Way to Heavenly Fullness. Heavenly fullness in a very real and special  way is set before us in the life of Elisha. This fact will impress us every time we read that life, or anything in connection with it. From beginning to end, wherever Elisha is seen to come into a situation, the result is fullness, living fullness, fullness of life. That fullness is heavenly fullness because it came out from heaven, had its rise in heaven. It was when Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven, and his mantle fell upon upon Elisha, that Elisha's real life and ministry commenced. So that it was a heavenly fullness, and it is of this that his life speaks to us.

Elisha, then, was the outcome and fullness of Elijah. Elijah laid the foundation and provided the ground for Elisha's ministry, and in spiritual things Elijah indicates, therefore, the way, the basis, the foundation of heavenly fullness. Elisha required Elijah. In a very real sense he sprang out of Elijah. Bu Elijah also needed Elisha. He needed that which would be the increased expression of his own life. Here you have part and counterpart. Here you have the ground or foundation, and the superstructure. Here you have the seed, and fruit, and full-grown tree. You need to know the nature of the seed, to know exactly what it is you are planting or sowing, and it is likewise important to recognize what Elijah stands for, in order that you may get the Elisha result. It is very nice to take up what is presented to us of heavenly fullness in Elisha, and be drawn out to that, and to say: Well, we desire with all our hearts to have the heavenly fullness, the resurrection life, the power of His resurrection as brought out by Elisha; but it is quite impossible for us to enter to that, to know anything about the heavenly fullness, unless we stand upon the Elijah ground which provides for it.

The Starting Place of Heavenly Fullness

We therefore look to Elijah, to see the starting place, the foundation, the basis of heavenly fullness. Before we go on in our consideration of Elijah in this particular connection - and there is no doubt whatever that that is the meaning of the life of these two viewed as one life; seed and fruit; foundation and building; root and branch -  there are one or two preliminary words of a general character to be said, though they are of great importance.

God has fixed a starting place. God never changes that starting place, nor does He move from it. The importance of recognizing that to be so is that everything in the matter of progress is determined by the starting place. The starting place governs all the later life. That means that if we take up things at a point beyond God's starting place, we shall have that much to go back upon and to undo, or we shall otherwise be limited as to the measure of Divine fullness forever after.

I am sure that strikes you as being of some significance, for there are undoubtedly a great many who take up things of the Lord a long way beyond God's starting point, and therefore a great deal of time is occupied by the Lord in taking them backward rather than forward, in undoing a great deal of history. They do not immediately move on from the point at which they sought to begin, but we find them being humbled, undone, and their movement for a long time seems rather backward than forward, rather down than up. The explanation is that they have taken things up elsewhere than at God's starting point.

On the other hand, where there is not the yielding to that work of God, that work of the Spirit which seeks to bring back by undoing, but rather a forcing on, a taking of things up at a point other than at God's starting point, if there is an unwillingness to be brought right back to God's basis, and a pressing on and determined taking up of work on the part of such, there remains to the end a limitation. This would explain many difficulties and problems which arise.

There are many who refuse the work of the Cross in its deepest meaning, who will not have it, who have yet taken up the things of God, and the work of God, without that deep work of the Cross in their lives, the need of which they refuse to acknowledge or to recognize. They seek to force their way onward, and to forge ahead with the work of God. They build. What they build may reach great dimensions, and according to the standards of men may appear to be something successful, something big, something full of activity and energy, but when you come to measure it with the golden reed, that is according to the Lord's estimate of its spiritual value, it is very limited, very thin, very superficial, and represents but very little of the fullness of Christ in the lives of those concerned. These builders are full of activity, but they are babes in spiritual intelligence and understanding. The trouble is that things have been taken up somewhere beyond God's starting point, and there has not been a yielding to the Spirit to bring back to that point, and therefore there is a remaining limitation to the end, and tragically enough forever.

These are alternatives which arise from recognizing the fact that God has a fixed starting point which He never changes, and from which He never moves. It is necessary, on the one hand, to come to His starting point. Right at the beginning is the best time to come there, but if by reason of lack of knowledge, understanding, proper teaching, or because of our ignorance, we have been drawn into things without knowing of God's starting point, then in His faithfulness to Himself, and in His faithfulness to us, but always with the highest and fullest interests in view, God will take in hand to bring us back, to undo, if we will let Him. On the other hand, unwillingness and unyieldedness leave the other alternative open, which is to go on, but to be forever in limitation, which God never willed for us.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "Two Practical Issues")

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