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Monday, December 3, 2012

The Church According to God's Thought # 3

God Himself Man's Life and Entire Good

What is God after? It is Himself which He is seeking to establish as the object of man's life, and not the things that have relation to Himself: and I say again, you meet something intensely fierce if you touch a thing, even though you are touching it maybe with a view to getting people to move on with the Lord Himself. To put that in the other way, if your appeal for moving on with the Lord seems to people to involve their having to move away from this or that or some other thing, then there is warfare; which shows that satan in his eternal campaign of idolatry, has got a footing among Christians in relations to things which take the place of the Lord Himself, good things though they be in themselves; and you find, if you are spiritually sensitive, that you are not just encountering the established institutions, but you are encountering a terrific spiritual force. Is that true? It is true. Had I never come up against it, never would I have believed the terrific force there is lying behind Christian institutions if your ministry touches them. You meet something which turns upon you, and it is not just the thing or the people. It is something that threatens your very life, to slay, and this in principle and essence, beloved, is idolatry; because its ultimate effect is that even the Lord cannot have what His heart is set upon and get His people spiritually where He wants them, because they are so bound up with His 'things.' They are not able to discriminate between His things and Himself.

The Cross will deal with all that, and the wonderful thing is that this is just the spontaneous effect of a real work of the Cross, when it is by the Holy Spirit. Now, put it to the test, or bring in your test cases. What about Saul of Tarsus? You touch the institutions of Saul of Tarsus, Judaism and its whole system, you touch it and see what you meet. You not only meet the strength of a bigot, you meet the spiritual forces of hell: and so it was. What is there in God's universe that can meet that, deal with that, break that down, put that out of the way, so that it no longer has any power over the man? There is no force in God's universe save the Cross of the Lord Jesus. That will do it; and it did it, and it did it right there on the spot. It was not a case of growing out of Judaism, absorbing new ideas which supplanted the old; the thing was done. The Cross, Jesus Christ crucified, did it. Yes, and there are many other cases like that. The Cross does come with shattering power, it if gets a chance, upon those things which take the Lord's place, and gives Him a real way to become Himself the life, as He has determined to be, the ALL which He has claimed to be. The Cross does that. It gets rid of idolatry, not only in its various forms, but in its very principle, and in this way destroys the works of the devil, removes the ground of satanic strength. The Cross of the Lord Jesus gives God His full place, His utter place.

This may further explain why it is that the Lord has to take away things which He Himself gave, His own gifts, why the Lord seeks to have us hold everything in relation to Himself, and not as something in itself; that is, to keep us in that detached way inwardly, so that at any time we can without any difficulty let go our position, our ministry, our work for the Lord - anything, everything. We hold it for the Lord. Others can come and take our place, and there be no jealousy, no debate. That is why the Lord could speak so highly about Moses. Moses, My servant! Moses, the man of God! These are the titles, the designations, of Moses. Why? Well, you remember Moses' position was challenged by certain [ones] in Israel. "Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath He not spoken by us also? And again later, when the company of Dathan and Abiram chided with both him and Aaron: "Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?" What did Moses do? Fight for his position, seek to vindicate himself? Did he go into dark despair because he saw that his place was being usurped or challenged? No, he just went to the Lord and, in effect, said, 'If You put me into this position, while You want me her You must look after me and see to it that I am able to fulfill my ministry: if You want me out of the way, I am quite ready to stand out; if You want them in, it is all right!' Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets! He took that position, and the Lord said, 'I can come along side of a situation like that, I can commit Myself there': and He did. You know what happened to the company of Dathan and Abiram. The meekness of Moses is the great feature of his life. "The man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth" (Numbers 12:3). What did that mean in Moses' case? He held everything for the Lord, in relation to the Lord Himself, not for himself; and there is no difficulty whatever at any time in letting any given thing go when that is the case.

But oh, that is not always so with Christians. You chance to touch their work, or get in the way of their ministry, and you meet something. It is idolatry. Well, the Cross deals with that, and when the Cross has done its work in us, we will be very meek; in this sense, that we hold things only in relation to the Lord and His glory, and we have no difficulty in letting them go. We can stand back quite easily and let others go on. It is for the Lord to decide, and we give the Lord a clear way. The Cross does that. Beloved, no one need ever worry about the fulfillment of their ministry if, by the work of the Cross in them, they are thus abandoned to the Lord's interests. The Lord will see to that, in the long run, that which He intended will be realized through that life, whatever men and demons do. It may not be as they thought it would be, but it will be. The values of their lives will be conserved by God, and not lost. All that is to the contrary is in principle idolatry, and the Cross is against it. That is why, as we were saying, the Lord so often has to take away His own gifts, because in the course of time they have taken His place.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - "The Cross Removes The Curse of Babel")

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