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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Faith: A Spiritual Position # 3

Then it resolves itself into two things. Firstly, it resolves itself into a spiritual position. The faith is more than a doctrine; it is a spiritual position. Those who are in the faith, and of the faith, are a people who occupy a position which is recognized by all the spiritual intelligences which are in another position, and, because they occupy that position, they are marked out, and without inviting it they know what spiritual conflict is. Their very position brings that upon them.

By way of illustration in the type, the antagonism of the nations toward Israel of old was simply because of  Israel's spiritual position. They represented a heavenly position as apart from this world, as in union with God and His Christ, and ultimate supremacy was bound up, not with them just in a people, but with hem as a people in the spiritual position, the destiny was suspended, the realization of the purpose was made impossible. But, while they preserved the spiritual position, that, in itself, brought everything against them. You might have said, Well, these people, somehow or other, are the most provocative people in the world; somehow or other they stir up trouble wherever they go! That may be said to their disadvantage, to their discredit, but the fact is that they could not help themselves. It was not that they were inviting hostility, but their very position precipitated it, and brought it upon them.

And we must recognize that there is something even more in the antitype than in the type; I mean in the case of the Church. The Church is a far more spiritual thing than was Israel on the earth. The Church is a far more heavenly thing in reality than was that which was only heavenly in type, and we shall be very provocative people if we are in the faith. I mean that we shall be the cause of trouble; there will be spontaneous antagonism. We shall not have to be awkward people who cannot get on with anybody. We shall be here as a challenge, and we shall not be able to avoid or evade spiritual conflict. It becomes spontaneous.

It is like that in the type. You remember the smitten rock, the waters gushing out, and the Psalm "Spring up, O well" (Numbers 21:17) - a foreshadowing of the Holy Spirit coming in fullness into the life of the Lord's people. What is the next thing? "Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel" (Exodus 17:8). There is nothing between. "Spring up, O well:" that is one phase. The next phase is, "Then came Amalek, and fought ..." Pentecost, then persecution! The Spirit, then the wilderness and the devil! It is always like that. A spiritual position precipitates spiritual conflict, and the faith was always in that very atmosphere and realm. Every time you have the faith, you have the fight. It is a position.

The Faith: A Nature

But of course it is also another thing. It is a nature. A kind of being has come into God's universe which is not welcome, the universe being as it is. To spoil that kind, to change that nature, will be the one object of those antagonistic forces; to bring down from the position by corrupting, polluting, tainting, changing the nature if possible. That was the enemy's objective in and with the very Son of God Himself in the wilderness; to get Him to forsake His exalted position by coming down on to another level of life and nature.

The faith, then, represents a kind of people who must be got rid of, if possible, anyhow: and therein lies the conflict. So the faith is not just a subject preached or taught; it is a power let loose. That is the faith - a power let loose. Paul says, "I have fought the good fight ... I have kept the faith"; and he exhorts Timothy to "fight the good fight of the faith." The article occurring three times in that statement is impressive - "Fight the good fight of the faith, lay hold on the eternal life."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 1 - "The Principle of Sonship the Heart of the Faith")

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