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Friday, August 31, 2012

God's Spiritual House # 21

I believe it is possible for the Lord's people now to limit, give it God's limitation, all destructive forces against their own countries. It is an amazing thing how things have been limited by the prayers of God's people. I believe it is due to something in the unseen that is set in motion through prayers of the people of God. That is encouraging. Let us be given to our ministry. That is what the Church is for.

Thus the very first thing is that Jesus is exalted above all principality and powers which lie behind this world darkness, and the Church is here, by prayer and testimony and spiritual life, to bring home upon those background forces this superiority of the Lord Jesus. It is a thing, not of words, not of doctrines, not of creeds, but of life, the impact of His ascended life.

Well, we begin there. The principle, you see, the law of the expression of Christ's exaltation, is life and spirituality.

The Ministry of the House of God

The second thing which we were noticing with regard to these features of the spiritual house of God was that it exists to minister to the pleasure and glory of God. It is for God's glory. God's pleasure that the Church has been brought into being, for His satisfaction. And here we bring it right down to this rule: God is glorified and God received that which is to His pleasure along the line of life and spirituality. You can judge of that by the effect. Wherever you have a real ministration of life, you always have the glory of God, God glorified.

That is, of course, true to the Scriptures. You remember that was the one point which the Lord Jesus made central and supreme in the raising of Lazarus. "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God"; and as He came through all the doubt and unbelief which stood between Him and Lazarus, and approached the situation, at least He silently lifted His heart to the Father. "Father, glorify thy name!" Then He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" The resurrection of Lazarus, the overpowering of death, was for the glory of God, and that was a spiritual thing, that was the triumph of life in Christ. Now, that is the glory of God. It says afterward that many believed on Him. The glory of God is largely seen through the outworking of this principle of life triumphant over death.

Now, that is a big subject. If you go back to the Old Testament, you will see that, in the case of every servant of God, after that servant of God was apprehended by Him, a process of death and resurrection commenced. You can take any one case that you like. Outstandingly, there is Abraham. How significant are the words that mark the apprehending of that servant of God. "The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham" (Acts 7:2). That sets the standard of God, and in effect says, Now then, it is according to what I am as the God of glory that I am going to deal with you, and the issue of all My dealings with you will be glory to Me! So, no sooner was Abraham apprehended by the God of glory, than this process of death and resurrection set in. It was a process with constant recurrence. Abraham went into a first stage and phase and measure of death, and then, in resurrection, the glory of God was seen. All the way along, there was this experience of death.

I am not speaking now about physical death, but of a working of death in his life in a spiritual way; death to things, death to relationships, death to hopes, death to earthly expectations, death to possessions, and every time death worked, there was a resurrection into something larger of the Lord, the Lord coming and making new covenants, giving him fresh revelations. I am El Shaddai! There were all these positive things when other things were going into death, right up to that last great triumph of resurrection in Isaac. Here is death; yes, death to all the promises, apparently, to all the hopes. If Isaac goes, then God in His faithfulness, God in His Word, God in His covenant, God in His promises, has gone too. It was a mighty death to face, and in spirit it was faced, but it was resurrection finally, full, glorious resurrection: and what glory to God!

Well, you can take many other illustrations of the truth from the Old Testament and then carry them over in a spiritual way to the New Testament, and see that this is exactly what happened with Christ. God received the full quota of glory through the death and resurrection of His Son, and the exaltation of the Lord Jesus is the testimony to the fact that death has been engulfed and overpowered. Christ being there sets forth that fact in fullness. But then the principle has to be passed on to the Church which is His Body, and the history of the Church since that time has been just a history of successive deaths and resurrections, and every resurrection has meant some fresh contribution to the glory of God, some fresh expression of God's glory; and what is true of the history of the Church is true in the history of many an individual member of the Church, and probably of some of you. We have known deaths oft, not in the way in which Paul meant, physical and temporal and natural, but in our own life with God we have known what it means to suffer the eclipse of all things, darkness unto death. But that has not been the end. The end has been the God of glory again and again, and it is along this line that God's glory is ministered to, by life, spirituality, and life triumphing over death. We are here for that very purpose. I hope that does not discourage you, but rather that it will help you to recognize that our very being here means that we have to know death again and again to know life. But we do not end with death; we end with resurrection and glory to God. Let us fasten upon that. Even though the deaths may e many, the end is the glory of God. Eventually, His glory will be displayed in His Son, in His Church, in fullness, when death is finally vanquished, not only in Christ, but in and through the Church.

But this is something for present experience. It is a great truth to contemplate, it is a blessed thing to consider; but let us bring it right home. What I feel to be the important thing now, the Lord's desire where this hour is concerned, is that we should come very close to these things in reality; that what we are saying shall not be truth only, but reality in our case. We are the house of God, we are this spiritual house, and we exist for this very purpose, to minister to the pleasure and glory of God, and that is done along the line of life, and that life is the life which overcomes death. So that, with every fresh uprising and experience of spiritual death, we shall write over it. This is not unto death, but for the glory of God! Oh, may He give us grace to do that. It is easier said than done, I know, but here it is. History sets the seal to this, that this is the way in which the Lord is ministered to in satisfaction and glory, by our being the very vessel in which the power of His resurrection is manifested, and that necessitates experience of death.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 22 - "The Ministry of the House of the Elect")

Legalism Crucifies Christ Over and Over

"Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law" (Galatians 5:1)

Legalism always crucifies Christ afresh because legalism cuts out the greatest word in Christianity. The word over the door into true Christianity is the word: "GRACE". Legalism always wipes out grace, and puts in its place "law". Grace is the chief word in the vocabulary of the Christian. Do you notice that where legalism reaches its fullest expression, it always puts the crucifix in the place of the empty tomb? The badge of the legalism is a crucifix, "a dead Christ." Legalism always brings death, and the chief thing about Christ is resurrection. It is Life from the dead. This was something that Paul came to see when it pleased God to reveal His Son in him. And he said, "Let me get out of all this legalistic system. Jesus of Nazareth Whom we crucified is alive. He has been revealed alive in my heart."

If we really see the Lord Jesus, we shall be emancipated. Some of us have had that experience. We were in legal systems; our horizon was that system. Then the day came when the Lord opened our eyes to really see the significance of Christ. And that whole system fell away as being all nonsense. No, it is not our business to say, "Come out of this and that, and come into this other." The word "must" or "thou shall" does not belong to this realm. That belongs to the old legal realm. The "must" becomes a spiritual thing, not a legal thing. We could say of Paul, there was a mighty "must" in his spirit. "I have seen the Lord, and I am seeing more and more of what the Lord is, and this is creating in me this great imperative. This one thing I do, leaving the things which are behind, I press on toward the mark of the prize of the on-high calling." "So we do not say, 'Change your system." But we do say, "Ask the Lord to reveal His Son in you." Then the great work of emancipation will begin.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Thursday, August 30, 2012

When the Odds are Against You

"Now the Midianites and Amalekites, all the people of the East, were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude" (Judges 7:12)

Do you need special encouragement today? Does it feel like all your sources of security have crumbled around you? Gideon understood feeling like all the odds were against him. He faced the challenge of his life: fighting the mighty battalions of Midian with an army of only three hundred men.

Judges 7:12 reported that the Midianites and the Amalekites appeared as numerous as locusts. Their camels appeared as numerous as the sand on the seashore. Can you imaging how Gideon's heart must have sunk upon seeing the awesome view? However, God did not allow Gideon to remain discouraged. When he returned to the camp, he heard two men discussing a dream that, being interpreted, was of God giving Midian over to the Israelites. Upon hearing this, Gideon worshiped God.

Gideon's boldness was renewed. Yours can be too. Such courage is available to you, though all the odds appear stacked against you. This is because you can know for sure that God will not leave you to face your foes alone. No matter what you face today, God is greater. "Trust Him, and He will use you in a mighty, wonderful way to effect victory.

Thank you, Lord, that You will use me today to effect victory in Your name. I move forward with confidence and trust. Amen

~Charles Stanley~

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Concept of the Trinity: Infinite Love Poured Out

"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ ..." (1 Peter 1:2)

We are surely aware that as human beings we can never know all of the Godhead. If we were capable of knowing all of the Godhead perfectly, we would be equal to the Godhead.

The early Fathers in the church, in illustrating the trinity, pointed out that God the eternal Father is an infinite God, and that He is love. The very nature of love is to give itself but the Father could not give His love fully to anyone not fully equal to Himself. Thus we have the revelation of the Son Who is equal to the Father and of the eternal Father pouring out His love into the Son, Who could contain it, because the Son is equal with the Father!

Further, those ancient wise men reasoned, if the Father were to pour out His love on the Son, a medium of communication equal both to the Father and to the Son would be required, and this was the Holy Spirit!

So we have their concept of the Trinity - the ancient Father in the fullness of His love pouring Himself through the Holy Spirit, Who is in being equal to Him, into the Son Who is in being equal to the Spirit and to the Father!

Thus, all that man can know of God and His love in this life is revealed in Jesus Christ.

~A. W. Tozer~

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

God's Spiritual House # 20

The Exaltation of the Lord Jesus

The first with which we were concerned was that this spiritual house of God exists for the purpose of setting forth, proclaiming, manifesting the exaltation of the Lord Jesus as God's Son, the exaltation of the Lord Jesus to the throne of the Father. It is for that the Church exists, and it is for that we exist if we are of the house of God. But that is not just a truth, a doctrine to be proclaimed. That is not just a part of the Church's creed - "Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead and exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high." That is not just one of our convictions, as we say. That is something which has to constitute us spiritually and has to be expressed by means of life. The exaltation of the Lord Jesus is, before and above all other things, a matter of life. It was when He was exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high, it was when God made Him both Lord and Christ, it was when He was actually seated at God's right hand, far above all rule and authority, principalities and powers, that the Holy Spirit came out from His presence and made that which was in Heaven, a spiritual reality in the Church; and that reality was marked and demonstrated and proved and evidenced by the mighty power of His ascended life. We have to be spiritually constituted on the basis of Christ's exaltation. That is to say, within us something has to be done that brings about in us a living spiritual oneness with the exaltation, the Lordship, the supremacy of Jesus Christ. It is not to remain something outside of us, however true it is.

We have to be that in fact; and, as we have pointed out, the impact of the early believers upon this world, upon those around them wherever they were, was the impact of the fact, not the doctrine, not the teaching, not merely the statement, but the fact that Jesus Christ was exalted. That came home upon the situation because that fact has its supreme significance in the spiritual realm, and we know quite well that all that is visible, all that is here on this sentient creation, has behind it a spiritual order.

Never has that been more clearly manifested and demonstrated than in the present world situation. There is a spiritual order of things which is driving on, mastering, manipulating everything. It is, as many have been saying for the past months, satanic in its background. The exaltation of the Lord Jesus finds its first registration there, and it is not until the registration is made there that it is not until the registration is made there that the foreground is really affected. To arrest men, to arrest a course of things, to bring the yoke down upon situations, to harness developments in the seen, you have to get behind and register some superior reality against those forces that are creating these things.

Now, that is spirituality. The Apostle Paul said much about this sort of thing, and we have his language by which he expressed this reality. For example, "the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4). He did not actually use the word, but it is quite clear that he meant that the weapons of our warfare are spiritual, getting behind the situation: and you know what he was dealing with at the moment when he used those words. Here were Corinthians who were seeking  the advantages of natural wisdom, natural leaning, the wisdom and the power of this world, in order to give them position, influence, standing. They were carnal in their quest for carnal weapons by which to gain ascendency in this world.  That lead the Apostle to that great discourse on the foolishness and the weakness of this world's wisdom and this world's strength, and he said that, to overcome this world, you want something more than this world's weapons, this world's men. To overcome the carnal, you must have something more than carnal weapons, and the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God. In other words, they are spiritual. For our wrestling is not against flesh, and blood in the form of wisdom and worldly power, "but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).

Therefore our weapons must be spiritual, and spirituality means fundamentally the ability to get behind the seen, the tangible, to the unseen, the invisible, the intangible powers of evil, and to register your superiority there: and that superiority is the exaltation of the Lord Jesus far above all rule and authority and principality and power. That is a spiritual thing.

The house of God is a spiritual house for that spiritual purpose, namely, to bring home Christ's ascendency in a spiritual way against spiritual forces. Then the instrumentalities of those evil spiritual forces will in turn come under arrest. It is no use going directly at things. You must strike at the cause of things, and then the things themselves will, according to God's purpose and intention, either be destroyed, or be brought under arrest or limitation, just as the Lord intends. It is not the Lord's thought to stop wars altogether just yet, nor much else that is going on in an evil way, but there is such a thing as limiting things to the purpose of God; and I do feel, and appeal to you as the Lord's children, that we ought to be engaged in this spiritual registration of the authority and supremacy of the Lord Jesus in the unseen, in the background of present world situations, with the object of limiting things to God's purpose.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 21)

The Discipline of Dismay

"As they followed they were afraid" (Mark 10:32)

At the beginning of our life with Jesus Christ, we were sure we knew all there was to know about following Him. It was a delight to forsake everything else and to throw ourselves before Him in a fearless statement of love. But now we are not quite so sure. Jesus is far ahead of us and is beginning to seem different and unfamiliar - "Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed" (10:32).

There is an aspect of Jesus that chills even a disciple's heart to its depth and makes his entire spiritual life gasp for air. This unusual Person and His face set "like a flint" (Isaiah 50:7) is walking with great determination ahead of me, and He strikes terror right through me. He no longer seems to be my Counselor and Friend and has a point of view about which I know nothing. All I can do is stand and stare at Him in amazement. At first I was confident that I understood Him, but now I am not so sure. I begin to realize that there is a distance between Jesus and me and I can no longer be intimate with Him. I have no idea where He is going, and the goal has become strangely distant.

Jesus Christ had to understand fully every sin and sorrow that human beings could experience, and that is what makes Him seem unfamiliar. When we see this aspect of Him, we realize we really don't know Him. We don't recognize even one characteristic of His life, and we don't know how to begin to follow Him. He is far ahead of us, a Leader who seems totally unfamiliar, and we have no friendship with Him.

The discipline of dismay is an essential lesson which a disciple must learn. The danger is that we tend to look back on our times of obedience and on our past sacrifices to God in an effort to keep our enthusiasm for Him strong (see Isaiah 1:10-11). But when the darkness of dismay comes, endure until it is over, because out of it will come the ability to follow Jesus truly, which brings inexpressibly wonderful joy.

~Oswald Chambers~

Monday, August 27, 2012

Silent Adoraton

"My soul is silent unto God ... My soul, be thou silent unto God; for my expectation is from Him" (Psalm 62:1-5)

When we in our littleness and God in His glory meet, we all understand that what God says has infinitely more worth than what we say. And yet our prayer so often consists in the utterance of our thoughts of what we need, that we give God no time to speak to us. Our prayers are often so indefinite and vague. It is a great lesson to learn that to be silent unto God is the secret of true adoration. Let us remember the promise, "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength."

"My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him."

"I will wait for the Lord; my soul doth wait, and in His word do I hope."

It is as the soul bows itself before Him to remember His greatness and His holiness, His power and His love and seeks to give Him the honor and the reverence and the worship that are His due, that the heart will be opened to receive the Divine impression of the nearness of God and of the working of His power.

O Christian, do believe that such worship of God - in which you bow low and ever lower in your nothingness and lift up your thoughts to realize God's presence as He gives Himself to you in Christ Jesus - is the sure way to give Him the glory that is His due and will lead to the highest blessedness to be found in prayer.

Do not imagine that it is time lost. Do not turn from it, if at first it appears difficult or fruitless. Be assured that it brings you into the right relation to God. It opens the way to fellowship with Him. It leads to the blessed assurance that He is looking on you in tender love and working in you with a secret but Divine power. And as at length you become more accustomed to it, it will give you the sense to testify for God. Someone has said, "No one is able to influence others for goodness and holiness, beyond the amount that there is of God in him." Others will begin to feel that you have been with God.

"The Lord is in His holy temple; be silent before Him, all the earth" (Hab. 2:20).

"Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord: for He is raised up out of His holy habitation" (Zech. 2:13).

Dear Father, my prayer is that I may learn to be silent before Thee. Amen

~Andrew Murray~

Sunday, August 26, 2012

God's Spiritual House # 19

(c) The Sphere of Divine Government and Authority

Then the temple was the place of God's government. Things were brought there to be decided upon, to be judged: and Peter says, "Judgment must begin at the house of God"; and that is Matthew 18 again. Tell it to the Church, let the Church decided on this. It is the place of Divine government. I cannot stay with that, but you see that the corporate company, livingly constituted according to Christ, is of very real and practical consequence to God in this world now: and oh, how important it is for life's sake, for light's sake, for power's sake, that we all be consciously and livingly a part of such a local expression of God.

I do want to say this to you from my heart, that it is necessary for you, dear friends, to be a part of, to be in the midst of, to have behind you, a living, functioning company of the Lord's people on this basis. I know the difference it makes in depth, in strength. For many years, I was a minister, as we say, of different churches, congregation, but oh, I know the difference between that and what has obtained since. It is not a difference of the natural caliber of the people at all, but a difference in kind. The one was a part of a system largely organized and run by man for religious purposes: the other is something formed of the Spirit; and that is an immense difference. I know the difference when I meet things. All you can say is that those who have a living local company of the Lord's people of whom they are a part, have something that other people have not. There is measure about them. There is something about them that is more than you will find in the other things of which I have spoken, where it is purely individualistic or formal. It is very important. The Church intended to be this, and  thing can only know its Divinely appointed resources as it functions according to God's intention. If therefore we are called for this as the Church, then we must be the Church in order to fulfill our great purpose and know our great fullness. I do ask you to think about this very seriously. It is a thing of no little importance, is this matter of the local fellowship of the Lord's people.

I know it may raise problems for some of you. "There is nothing in our neighborhood and I do not know how it is possible." But there is an answer, and the answer is a simple one, although it may test you. If this is God's mind, you go to the Lord about it. "Lord, if this is Your mind, either bring me into such a thing or bring about such a thing where I am." Hold on to the Lord for that.

Brother Nee, when he was here, speaking about this matter and talking with one and another about it, spoke of how in one place this very thing arose between someone and the Lord, and how that one held on to the Lord for several years over the matter; and then how that, after holding on for so long, gradually the formation commenced, a second being joined to the first, and then a third, and then another. But they were greatly exercised for a long time, standing themselves into the meaning and value of God's thought and holding on to Him for it to find expression and become a reality. You see, that is just it. That is our ministry; through prayer to bring into being what God intends. If we can be put off easily, well then, we have not seen the vision, the thing has not gone very deep. That is only said by way of helping with the problem that arises. Let us to exercised about the Church and let the Church be of greater importance to us than the problem, then I think we shall find a way through.

The Governing Law of the House of God

Ezekiel 47:1-12; 1 Peter 2:4-5

We are not going forward now with a further consideration of the major features of the spiritual house of God, but are leaving that for another time. We are going to bring those features already considered to the measuring line of their own governing law, which is that of live and spirituality. "Living," "spiritual", they are two great words in this passage - "a living stone," "living stones," "a spiritual house," "spiritual sacrifices."

Lest anyone should be in difficulty about that second word, "spirituality", let us stay for the briefest moment to say that spirituality just means government by the Holy Spirit; but a government by the Holy Spirit in such a way as to make us one with the Holy Spirit in all His standards, in all His ways of looking at things, deciding about things, so that, being one with Him, we are not at all influenced or affected by natural judgments, natural standards, natural considerations, but ours are all the Holy Spirit's judgments and values and ways of viewing things. That in brief and comprehensively is what is meant by spirituality, a constituting of us according to the Holy Spirit, which means on the other hand, the ruling out of all that is merely and purely of our own natural life, mind, heart, and will.

Well now, let us look at these four features of the spiritual house of God, which house we are if we are the Lord's, and look at them in the light of life and spirituality.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 20 - "The Exaltation of the Lord Jesus)

Jesus Christ: Our Chief Joy and Delight

"Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous; and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart" (Psalm 32:11)

I must agree with the psalmist, even in our modern day, that the joy of the Lord is still the strength of His people. I do not believe that the sad world around us is attracted to spiritual sunshine - the genuine thing, that is!

Some churches train their greeters and ushers to smile, showing as many teeth as possible. But I can sense that kind of display - and when I am greeted by a man who is smiling because he has been trained to smile, I know I am shaking the flipper of a trained seal.

But when the warmth and delight and joy of the Holy Spirit are in a congregation and the folks are just spontaneously joyful and unable to hide the happy grin, the result is a wonderful influence upon others. Conversely, the reason we have to search for so many things to cheer us up is the fact that we are not really joyful and contentedly happy within!

I admit that we live in a gloomy world and that international affairs, nuclear rumors and threats, earthquakes and riots cause people to shake their heads in despair and say, "What's the use?"

But we are Christians and Christians have every right to be the happiest people in the world!We do not have to look to other sources - for we look to the Word of God and discover how we can know the faithful God above and draw from His resources.

Why should the children of the King hang their heads and tote their own burdens, missing the mark about Christian victory? All this time the Holy Spirit has been wanting to make Jesus Christ our chief joy and delight.

~A. W. Tozer~

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Messenger of Victory

"Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent." (Acts 18:9)

Corinth was a difficult place to live, especially for a believer. It was a port city, one that embraced visitors and businessmen from all over the known world. Along with an atmosphere of open commerce, was a very liberal view of religion. Paganism and cult worship were common practices.

Warren Wiersbe writes, "Corinthians reputation for wickedness was known all over the Roman Empire. Money and vice, along with strange philosophies and new religions, came to Corinth and found a home there."

God is not afraid to send His messengers to places where evil abounds. These are the very places the gospel message is needed. Therefore, God sent Paul to Corinth, but the ministry was under tremendous attack. The conversion of Crispus, a well-known Jewish leader, was the evidence that Paul needed to continue preaching God's message of truth. We must never abandon the post God has given us.

In Acts 18, the Lord spoke to Paul through a dream, encouraging him not to let fear hold him back from speaking (verses 9-10). This was just the encouragement that Paul needed, and it is the same encouragement He has for you.

God is aware of your situation. Take courage and be full of hope. His truth will be taught or spoken. You are his messenger to those who need it most, and you will be victorious in your labors.

Lord, let me be a light in darkness, bringing the message of the gospel to those who need it most. Amen

~Charles Stanley~

God's Spiritual House # 18

That is the story in brief. But what has come to me is this: Is that our conception of things? You see, in that the suggestion is that the Church is one thing and Christ another, and that the Church can be in all sorts of respects certain things, and Christ quite another. Oh no, that is NOT God's Church. God's Church is CHRIST, and where you find the Church according to God, there you will find Christ, and no disparities, no inconsistencies, contradictions; it is the Lord. All the other is not Christ at all. The Church is Christ,  and if it is Christ who is preeminent when the Lord's people come together, God is there Himself. It is on the ground of Christ and Christ's presence that men meet with God. You know as well as I do that men cannot meet with God in us as we are. We cannot of ourselves bring men into touch with God. No priesthood as such can bring men to God. But if the Lord Jesus is in us, and we can bring men into touch with the Lord Jesus, we have brought them into touch with God. But if He is not there in us either personally or collectively, we may talk about God till doomsday, but men will not meet Him. That is what the Church is when truly constituted. It is the ground upon which men meet God and God meets men, and that ground is Christ Himself; and there is peculiar and special value and significance bound up with this corporate expression of Christ in the matter of men meeting God. I believe that a far greater impact of the Lord can be registered upon men by a company of Christ-indwelt men and women being together in the power of the Holy Spirit than can be by any number of isolated Christian units. A meeting place between God and man, the vehicle of Divine life.

You see Ezekiel's temple. The house is now finished according to God's mind, and it is out from the house, down the steps, the river flows, deepening an widening on its way, and wheresoever the river cometh everything lives. Trees are seen on either bank and everything is living, until at length it empties itself into the Dead Sea; and even that death is swallowed up in the life that is out from the sanctuary. It is this corporate expression of Christ, the Church, from which there is the ministration of God's life to men, and that is why the enemy wants to break it up. That was our point in our previous meditation. The scattering or dividing of the Lord's people, the making of the Lord's people into so many individuals and units alone, without a real corporate life, is a strategical move on the part of the enemy against that life. We know in our own experience that, if the enemy can get in between even two of us to set us apart in spirit, our life is under arrest and the river is not released until we mend that bridge, heal that division. That is very significant. The enemy is after that sort of thing. He is against the life, because the Church is the vehicle of God's life.

(B) The Embodiment and Expression of God's Thoughts

Then again, the temple was the embodiment and expression of God's thoughts. Every stone, everything used, all sizes, dimensions and measurements, materials, they all represented some thought of God. God's mind was expressed in all. It was a symbol of a spiritual attribute.

Peter, following up that word which is before us - "a spiritual house" (1 Peter 2:5) says a little later that the object of the spiritual house is to "show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." The  temple was to show forth the excellencies of the Lord, the embodiment of Divine thoughts, and the Lord's people in any place should be the embodiment and expression of Divine thoughts. There should be there a disclosing of God's thoughts in a very blessed way, a coming to know the mind of the Lord for His people, a rich unveiling of what is in the heart of God concerning His own. That is how it ought to be; not just addresses or sermons, but a ministry of revelation under the Holy Spirit through an opened heaven. That is of value to the Lord and to His people. But it wants a living company for that; and oh, how we know it! Sometimes we are not all alive to the Lord for some reason or other when we come together. Perhaps we are tired, or have been bothered, something has come in to cast down, and although the Lord has prepared for us some rich feast, something He wants to make known, He cannot; He is held back, and there is just a state of lifelessness. But let us come together in the Spirit, alive unto the Lord, and the Lord's thoughts come out and they flow. The condition of the company of the Lord's people very largely determines what kind of time we have. It very largely depends upon us how much the Lord can give us. The company of the Lord's people is to be the expression and embodiment of God's thoughts. That is what it exists for.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 19 - "(c) The Sphere of Divine Government and Authority")

Friday, August 24, 2012

God's Spiritual House # 17

The Purpose and Function of the Church, As Also of Its Local Expression

So we have to see exactly what the purpose and the function o a local expression of the Body or the Church or House of God really is, and we can see it if we look at the type that leads to the anti-type. What the temple of old was in figure, the Church is in spiritual reality, and what the Church is in spiritual reality as a whole, the local company is to be. It is remarkable that local churches in the New Testament are always viewed in the light of the whole Body. Thus Paul will say to the local church at Corinth, "Ye are the body of Christ." Now, it would not do for Corinth to take hold of that and say, You see, we are the Body of Christ! That would be giving a wrong meaning to it. The point in the inspired declaration is this, that every local company is in representation what the whole Body is; what the whole Body is in God's thought is to be seen here and there and there.

The Meeting Place Between God and Man

Now we continue by way of analogy from the temple. What was the temple? In the first place, the temple of old was the meeting place between God and man. That is the first function of the temple, of the House of God. Christ was that in the fullest sense, in a far greater sense than was ever temple of old. Here is Son of Man and Son of God blended in one Person. It is tremendously significant that in Matthew 16, that very fact comes to light. Christ, interrogating His disciples, uses one term, and, in getting the Divinely-inspired response through Peter, the other term is used. "Who do men say that the Son of man is?" Peter said, "Thou art the Son of the living God." "Son of man," "Son of God": and that is by revelation of God. Here is God and Man met together in one Person, in once place. And of Himself the Lord Jesus later said, "Destroy this temple, this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up again." Carnally minded Jews thought He was speaking of that material temple, but He was speaking of Himself, His own body. This temple - transition of thought from the temple in Jerusalem to Christ personally, the meeting place of God and man - that is Christ.

Now Christ corporately expressed is the Church according to revelation in the New Testament, and therefore where Christ is corporately found in representation, and livingly functioning, there God should be met with, there God and man should come into a peculiar touch and relationship. The testimony of all who come into such a realm where Christ is really corporately expressed ought to be, I find the Lord there! and that ought to be enough. There is the answer. Do you find the Lord there? Does the Lord meet with you there? Ah, that is the first governing thing, and not other questions associated with gathering together or congregations; no, the Lord Himself, and that not now s a personal thing between myself and the Lord, seeing that I personally can have touch with the Lord anywhere, but now as a matter of the Church. Do I meet the Lord in the midst of that people? If so, I have come into the realm where God's thought is having expression; and that is a realm of tremendous possibilities.

Have you read that little book by A. J. Gordon, "How Christ Came to Church?" It might do you good to read it, though rather perhaps from an objective or outside point of view. But let me tell you as quickly as I can the content. Dr. Gordon one Saturday was sitting preparing his sermon for the following day in his study, when he fell asleep; and he dreamed that he was in his own church and in his pulpit on the Lord's day. His was a very fine church with its Gothic pillars and arches. The church was crowded, and he was in the pulpit about to commence the service, when the door opened at the back and a stranger entered and walked down the aisle looking from side to side for a seat. As he got nearer the front, someone stepped out and showed him a vacant seat.

Dr. Gordon goes on to describe how he went on with the service, and how his eyes constantly turned to that stranger. If he looked in some other way, he found his eyes coming back to him. Dr. Gordon said, "I registered the resolve that I would go down to speak to the stranger after the service." After it was over, and without showing noticeable hurry, he just as quickly as he could made his way down and tried to intercept the stranger, but before he reached the door, the stranger was gone. With great disappointment, he said to the man at the door, "Do you know who that stranger was you let in this morning?" The man at the door said, "Don't you know who that was? That was Jesus of Nazareth." Oh, said Dr. Gordon, why did you not detain him? I would love to have  spoken to him." "Oh," said the man, do not worry; He was here today. He will come again." (Well, as an aside, that double reply bore fruit in two volumes from Dr. Gordon's pen; the one on "The Work of the Holy Spirit", and the other on "The Coming of the Lord."

Dr. Gordon says he went away with these musings - Jesus of Nazareth has been in my church today. What was I saying? I was talking about Him. How did I talk about Him? Did He discern in anything that I was saying the faintest tinge of unreality? Did I speak of Him, not knowing He was present, as I would have if I had known? What did He think of my manner, my matter, my conducting of the service? What did He think about our choir, our singing? It was all about Him, but was it worthy of Him? I wonder what He thought about our Gothic building?

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 18)

Is He Really My Lord?

"... so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus ..." (Acts 20:24)

Joy comes from seeing the complete fulfillment of the specific purpose for which I was created and born again, not from successfully doing something of my own choosing. The joy our Lord experienced came from doing what the Father sent Him to do. And He says to us, "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you" (John 20:21). Have you received a ministry from the Lord? If so, you must be faithful to it - to consider you life valuable only for the purpose of fulfilling that ministry. Knowing that you have done what Jesus sent you to do, think how satisfying it will be to hear Him say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21). We each have to find a niche in life, and spiritually we find it when we receive a ministry from the Lord. To do this we must have close fellowship with Jesus and must know Him as more than our personal Saviour. And we must be willing to experience the full impact of Acts 9:16 - "I will show him how many thing he must suffer for My name's sake".

"Do you love Me?" Then, "Feed My sheep" (John 21:17). He is not offering us a choice of how we can serve Him; He is asking for absolute loyalty to His commission, a faithfulness to what we discern when we are in the closest possible fellowship with God. If you have received a ministry from the Lord Jesus, you will know that the need is not the same as the call - the need is the opportunity to exercise the call. The call is to be faithful to the ministry you received when you were in true fellowship with Him. This does not imply that there is a whole series of differing ministries marked out for you. It does mean that you must be sensitive to what God has called you to do, and this may sometimes require ignoring demands for service in other areas.

~Oswald Chambers~

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Everything Is Going To Be Shaken

"Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens" (Hebrews 12:26)

Everything is going to be shaken in earth and in heaven, with a view to finding out how much there is of Christ living in it. These Jewish believers were going to see the temple and the whole temple system wrecked, and then they would discover just how much they had got of Christ, or how much of their life was bound up with earthly things. They would see what was left  when that was all gone. God is not only going to shake Judaism, but this heavenly thing. He will shake heaven and earth, and we shall find out by that shaking what we have left when the earthly system passes, when even the representation of heavenly things in Christianity is tested (for Christianity has developed a representation of heavenly things, just as Judaism has). Men have made an earthly representation of the New Testament revelation of the church, and ministry, and priesthood. It is all going to be tested. For many it is now in the melting pot. The issue is the shaking of heaven and earth. What have we got left? The issue is Christ. Whether you like all that we have said, or agree with it or not, does not worry me; but I am concerned that we have come to Christ, to show that Christ in heaven is our Life, Christ in heaven is our ALL, and appointed to be so by God, and nothing here can take the place of Christ. God will bring everything to an end that takes the place of Christ. He has determined from eternity that in all things Christ should have the preeminence, and have the fullness, and that nothing shall glory before Him or take His place. The Lord bring us into a larger measure of Christ, and a larger measure of Christ into us.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

God's Spiritual House # 16

(b) The Prevailing "Church System"

Another fatal thing is that which is represented by the present "Church System." The present system which obtains in the largest realm is almost entirely a matter of congregations and preaching places, places where people gather together or congregate in a religious way - yes, maybe an evangelical way, yet but congregations - and they come together to go through a certain rota and, in the main, to hear something preached, and they go away. Now, while there are variations and degrees in that system, that very largely is the position; and that is not a corporate expression of Christ. That is a congregation. That is not a body. That is not the Body locally expressed and functioning. It is something less. What is the result? The same result as in the other case, namely, very little spiritual growth.

I am being very frank now. I want to talk out of my heart because I feel the Lord wants to get us somewhere in this hour on this matter, and I must run the risk of treading upon sensibilities in order to get there. The result spiritually in this second instance is very largely the same as in the other case of the merely individualistic, and we are everywhere finding people today in that present Church system who have not a glimmer of light on the Lord's fuller purpose and do not know what you are talking about; and multitudes of them have no interest in anything else. This thing, this going to church, this congregation, this going through a rota, this place of the public worship line of things has come into the place of the true local expression of the Body of Christ, and has set that aside. Today, speaking of the Church in that sense, it is the Church like that which is in a state of terrible spiritual infancy and immaturity and unenlightenment after all these centuries, and people born and brought up in it do not grow spiritually. I know there some who do grow despite it, but I am speaking of the thing itself. It has become a fatal menace to the real purpose of God.

(c) The Making of "The Gospel Mission" to Be Everything

Now, there is a third thing, and that is "The Gospel Mission", which also takes the place of the local church as spiritually formed. Now, this is no denunciation of Gospel Missions, and I am not saying that Gospel Missions ought not to be. I am far, very far from saying that. I am, of course, not speaking now of those evangelistic missions that are held among the churches from time to time, but of that which has assumed the character of a permanent institution in numerous places. If then you take the Gospel Mission and have that as though it were everything that there is, and you remain satisfied just to go to the Gospel Mission where the Gospel is preached to the unsaved, and keep on the Gospel Mission line of things; well, you are simply dwarfing your own spiritual life. It is a thing which has in multitudes of cases just become a substitute for the spiritually formed local expression of Christ. Christ is much more than that, and you note that the people who live all their lives in the Gospel Mission are the people who are most terribly immature, spiritually ignorant and unenlightened. Oh yes, rejoicing in Christ as their Saviour - I do not question that - glorying in personal salvation; but oh, where is vocation, where is the fullness of Christ, where is God's eternal purpose being worked out? Not there. That just goes one step, and one step is not the whole road to God's end. Let there be these things, but let them be as auxiliaries to the fuller thought of God, as instrumentalities of the Church, and let them not be the whole thing. If they are, they will fatally affect the life of God's people and spiritual progress.

You see, the difference is this. Take a bunch of flowers, a bunch of roses  or any other particular kind of flower. They are of the same species, and they have the same life in them. That is a congregation, not a body! The difference between a bunch of flowers which are all alike, all sharing the same life, and the root and the plant, is a very big one. Give me the rose, root and plant of bush, and what shall we have? Well, I shall have this difference that, whereas the bunch of flowers has the life, it just goes so far. That is all and there it ends. It will never go beyond that. Give me the plant or bush, and it will grow. It may pass through a paroxysm of death for a season, but net year it will be back again and there will be more; and then another experience of dying and resurrection, and again there will be more, all in the same plant. That is a body, that is an organism, not a bunch. And that is the difference between a congregation, so many Christians, units coming together as units, and a spiritual organism, a local expression of the Body of Christ; and it is the Body which is God's thought, not a congregation, not the bunch of flowers.

But oh, the Lord's people are so much like the bunch of flowers! It is true they are all of the same species: They are Christians, they are children of God, they are all sharing the same life; but oh, they are not there as one organism in one place growing with the increase of God, passing through corporate convulsions of death and resurrection and making spiritual increase in that way. What I have said about the present system and the missions is just like a bunch of flowers. Yes, they belong to the Lord, and they have the same life, they are all the Lord's children; but they just come to a certain point and they never go beyond that. That is true. I have had enough experience to make me sure it is true. Alas, many of them do not want to go any further, and many of them resent the suggestion that it is necessary to go any further. However, that is not God's thought about it. God's though is of the root and the plant as a whole, a living organism here and there as representing and expressing Christ Himself. The plant grows and makes increase. The bunch simply goes so far and then it stops.

Now, satan is not adverse to meetings as such, but satan is adverse to local families, local expressions of the Body of Christ. Hence you have the great history of satan's persistent effort to scatter the children of God and break up their corporate life, to bring an end to their practical functioning together.

~Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 17 - "The Purpose and Function of the Church, as Also of Its Local Expression")

God's Voice Still Entreats Lost Mankind

"For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8:19, 22)

Why is it that the shining world of which men have dreamed, and that every man secretly believes is somewhere before him, is nevertheless lost to men?

It can only be because we are out of the way.

The world we inhabit is a lost world. It is a sick, fallen planet upon which we ride. The sacred revelation declares plainly that the inhabitants of the world are also lost, by a mighty, calamitous visitation of woe which is still upon them.

But with this, it also tells us a glorious fact - that this lost race has not been given up!

Thankfully, there is a voice that calls, a voice that entreats! If we are not lost, there would be no voice behind us saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it.!

I say again that we have not been given up. That is plain from the Book of Genesis. Recall that the sound of God's gentle voice was heard saying, "Adam, where art thou?" - and that voice has never died out!

All of His entreating calls blend into one, whether it be the voice of God's love, or the voice of Jesus' blood, or the voice of conscience, or the voice of the lost or of the saved!

So, the holy writer says the lost planet is full of vanity and has lost its meaning, crying like a woman in travail - but waiting, as it were, to be born again into the liberty of the sons of God, and saved from decay and corruption!

~A. W. Tozer~

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

God's Spiritual House # 15

You must bring these two things together. Here is someone guilty of remissness in spiritual life. Well, someone go and tell him, and if he does not hear, take one or two more, and if he refuse to hear them, tell it to the Church.

If he refuse to hear the church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican. Verily I say unto you, what things soever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and what things soever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:17-20).

The Lord is in the midst in an executive way in the Church's administration, where two or three are gathered together. I am not going to deal with that phase of Church functioning, but I use it to bring out this principle, that there is a specific value bound up with a corporate expression of Christ, and a value of very great importance.

Some Fatal Hindrances to God's Purpose

(a)  Individualism

Now, let me stop here for a parenthesis. There are some fatal mistakes into which Christians have fallen, and one of these is the principle of the individual line in the place of the corporate. I say that has been a fatal mistake. It has been fatal to spiritual growth, fatal to spiritual fullness, to spiritual power, to spiritual light and to spiritual life. There are many Christians who are only concerned with individuals. Concern for the individual is of course right, but the Lord only saves the individual with the Church view, with the corporate Body in mind. We must settle it and be very clear that this dispensation, from the ascension and exaltation of Christ, and the giving of the Holy Spirit, to the taking away of the Church at the end, is marked out by God as the period in all the periods of this world's history for securing, not individuals as so many saved men and women, but as one Body - the Church. Individuals only figure before God in the light of the Church, the one Body, and if you and I fail to recognize that as the governing law of God's dealings with men in this dispensation, we are going to forfeit a great measure of what the Lord intended for us, limit and straiten our spiritual lives and experiences, and cause weakness in the very work of God itself.

I hope you have understood that. It is of very great importance that we should settle this. You will notice that these two things usually go together. It is the salvation of the individual that engages and occupies so many, and when they have got the individual saved, brought to the Lord, they have no further concern but to go and get more individuals and bring them into salvation. These two things go together, individualism and salvation in its merely initial sense of souls being brought to the Lord. After that, there is no more. That has proved a fatal thing in the history of God's interests, and today we are finding it to be one of the things which is representing the greatest difficulty
 to Christians themselves and to any fuller work of God. I mean this, that you everywhere meet a large number of people who have just gone that far. All that they have is just their own personal salvation, in the sense of forgiveness of sins, peace with God, those rudiments of the Gospel, and they have been there ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years; and today as you meet them and speak with them, you come up against one of two things.

On the one hand, there is an utter inability now to apprehend anything more than the simple elements of salvation; they have not got ability to do it. All those spiritual senses and faculties which ought to have been developed so that they could receive much larger and fuller revelation from God have been stunted, have never been developed by exercise, and in spiritual faculties they remain simply infants after all those years. I am only giving you the Scripture in saying that You know, Paul had to say that very thing to the Corinthians - "I ... could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not with meat" (1 Corinthians 3:1). To the Hebrews it was the  same: "When by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of mile ... solid food is for full grown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil."

Paul had to deplore in his own day that there had been this fatal arrest and he said, in effect, Here I am, just full of Divine light for you, and I have to keep back all this that God has given me for His Church because of that! I say that is fatal for the Church - that the Lord should give abundant revelation for His Church's growth and fullness and functioning, and that there should be, after years and years and years, such a state that people are totally incapable in themselves of receiving it, understanding it. You meet that condition today everywhere. They cannot, after so long a time.

On the other hand, of course, you find those who after a lifetime turn to you and say, Oh, that I had known this before! Oh, that I had been told this before! Oh, that I had had this years ago! Why Not? It has been here all the time. It is because of this fatal individualistic line. For the greater part, the work of God since the early days of the Church, with the exception of very small things here and there, has been just on this line of getting individuals saved and leaving them there.  It is fatal in the long run to all that God intended; and then people come up against the fact that it is so. Oh, that I had known it long ago! Well then, while the individual is very important, and has to be dealt with in the light of the other as an individual, we must note that, if the individual is put in the place of the corporate, nothing but the most sorrowful consequences can follow. This is one fatal mistake.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16 - "The Prevailing 'Church System'")

A New Beginning

"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:1)

There is nothing more hope-filled than being given a new beginning, especially after we have suffered defeat. This is what God gives to those who seek His forgiveness.

He provides a chance to begin again. While it is true that there are consequences to sin, God will never condemn us for our bad choices (Romans 8:1). Nor will He leave us in the mess that our sin or doubt has created.

The key to living above your circumstances is realizing that God has a plan for your life even when you make a mistake. He never stops loving you, and He will never give up on you. He may not change the results of a poor decision, but He certainly knows how to take a bad circumstance and bring good out of it.

Jesus made a point of meeting with the woman at the well. From a human perspective, her life was filled with failures. Jesus, however, only saw potential. Even though the woman had been married several times, Jesus did not hesitate to express His love for her.

While God's love for us is unconditional, it is not without responsibility. Love like this demands our complete devotion. Jesus came so that this woman - and each of us - might know and experience the eternal love of God. We are transformed when we draw near to God's amazing love.

Oh Father, Your love is so deep that I cannot comprehend it, yet I know that it is that love that is transforming me. Thank You. Amen

~Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

God's Spiritual House # 14

A Representation of Christ in Every Place

Matthew 16:16-18; Matthew 18:17; Matthew 18:20; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 John 4:17

In continuing our meditation in connection with the spiritual house, I have an emphasis now in my heart which I feel peculiarly to be of the Lord. For quite a few, it will be no new word, or truth, but even for such the fresh emphasis may be of the Lord. In any case, they must seek to cooperate in the word of the Lord for those for whom He may especially mean it. Let us, nevertheless, all seek to enter into the word in a new way.

We are looking at some of the major features and purposes of God's spiritual house to which we belong, and the one which is to occupy us now is this, that this spiritual house is here as being a representation of Christ in every place. We have seen that the Church is Christ. He is the Church, He is God's temple, God's dwelling place. It is in Him that we find God. He serves the purpose of all that the Church is intended to mean. The Church is Christ. But now, so far as this world is concerned, the Church is Christ is distributed, though not divided; that is, Christ as in all His members by His Spirit; yet not so many Christs, but remaining one Christ. The apostle raised the question among the Corinthians, as you know - Is Christ divided? - and there is almost a tone of scandal at the very idea that Christ should be divided. He remains one, and He is one, though in so many, and in that oneness of Christ in all His members we have the Church. Men will only find the Lord, where we are concerned, so far as Christ is in us. That is the purpose of the Church.

The Vital Character of the Local Assembly

But now we come to consider the special importance of local corporate expressions of Christ, Christ as represented corporately in every place. It is a well-known and understood thing among us that what the Lord Jesus said as recorded in the Gospels was but the truth in germ form. Because the Spirit was not yet given, He could only speak as in an objective way, putting things in a figurative form or in an undeveloped way. All that is in the gospels is like that, awaiting the day of the Spirit's dwelling within believers so that the much larger meaning contained in His utterances might be imparted. And, among all the rest, there is this fragment which we have read in Matthew 18:20 - "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." We shall lose a very great deal if we take that simply as it stands in the Gospel. It was never intended to be taken just in that form.

In the later revelation of the Holy Spirit, that passage, with all others, is taken up and its earlier meaning is made clear, and what we have as the fuller revelation is this, that Christ is peculiarly present when two or three are gathered together, because He has committed Himself to His Body. To put that around the other way, it is the Body of Christ which is necessary for the bringing in of the fullness of Christ. "The Body," says the Apostle, "is not one member, but many" (1 Corinthians 12:14). But then the same Apostle says, "Ye are the body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:27); and he is speaking of a local company. Christ is peculiarly present when it is a corporate expression. The Lord has bound Himself up with His Church for manifestation. It may be true that the Lord is in us individually; it is true; and it may equally be true that the Lord, as in us individually, will express Himself in us and through us as individuals, but the Lord is limited, and very severely limited, when it is only an individual matter. His thought is otherwise, and so He makes this statement. He might have left a thing like this unsaid. It would seem to have been quite unnecessary, quite beside the mark. But no, He said it, and when He has said a thing, it means something. Indeed, it bears all the significance of such a One as He is having said it. That means it carries tremendous weight if He says it; and He has said this thing in these precise words - "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." He might have said, Wherever there is one in My Name, there am I! Well, that is true, but the Lord did not put it in that way; and you notice that He is dealing with practical matters. He has used the word "Church". Certain people have to be dealt with by the Church, and when the Church deals with them, it is the Lord. That is what He is saying.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 15)

Intercession: A Divine Reality

"And another angel came ... and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne" (Revelation 8:3)

Are the thoughts to which this little book has given utterance not a sufficiently grave indictment of the subordinate place given to intercession in the teaching and practice of the Church and with its ministers and members? Is it not in very deed of such supreme importance as to make it an essential, altogether indispensable element in the true Christian life? To those who take God's Word in its full meaning, there can be no doubt about the answer.

Intercession is, by amazing grace, an essential element in God's redeeming purpose - so much so that without it the failure of its accomplishment may lie at our door. Christ's intercession in heaven is essential to His carrying out of the work He began upon earth, but He calls for the intercession of the saints in the attainment of His object. Just think of what we read: "All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation." As the reconciliation was dependent on Christ's doing His part, so in the accomplishment of the work, He calls on the Church to do her part. We see how Paul regarded intercession day and night as indispensable to the fulfillment  of the work that had been entrusted to him. It is but one aspect of that mighty power of God which works in the heart of His believing people.

Intercession is indeed a Divine reality. Without it, the Church loses one of its chief beauties, loses the joy and the power of the Spirit life for achieving great things for god. Without it, the command to preach the Gospel to every creature can never be carried out. Without it, there is no power for the Church to recover from her sickly, feeble life and conquer the world. And in the life of the believer, minister, or member, there can be no entrance into the abundant life and joy of daily fellowship with God, except as he takes his place among God's elect - the watchmen and remembrancers of God who cry to Him day and night.

Church of Christ, awake, awake! Listen to the call, "Pray without ceasing." Take no rest, and give God no rest. Let the answer be, even though it be with a sigh from the depths of the heart. "For Zion's sake, will I not hold my peace." God's Spirit will reveal to us the power of a life of intercession as a Divine reality, an essential and indispensable element of the great redemption and therefore also of the true Christian life.

Dear Heavenly Father, help us to know and to fulfill our calling! Amen

~Andrew Murray~

Monday, August 20, 2012

God's Spiritual House # 13

But unto that, we have to watch these points where our intercession is assailed, and the points at which intercession or prayer is assailed are numerous. Remember, a basic point is this matter of access. We have to be sure of our access unto God, and to be sure about it, we have to know the infinite value of that precious Blood, and we must not be deterred by anything, for the Blood forbids us to be deterred. That Blood exists to deal with anything that would deter us. yes, we may fail, we may blunder, we may break down; there may be those things which grieve us and grieve the Lord, but oh, let us recognize that the precious Blood makes possible the keeping of the shortest accounts with those things, so that instantly, right now, and not waiting until we have got over the violent reaction and sting of our mistake and feel a bit better, that precious Blood must be appropriated to deal with that.

Let us remember that all this persistence of the enemy to lay us low has something more in view than just laying us low. It is to destroy our spiritual vocation in prayer and thereby to give him opportunity for assaulting and oppressing the saints. We are responsible for the life and deliverance of the Lord's people. That is what we are here for.

The Church and the Power of the Throne

Seeing that is so, it is necessary for us always to bear in mind that, while for ourselves, as sinners God's throne is a throne of grace, it is also a throne of judgment for the enemy. What to us is the throne of grace is the throne of destruction to satan. We have not only to come in boldness to the throne of grace for ourselves and for the Lord's people needing grace, we have with equal boldness to come to that same throne as the throne which spells the undoing of satan. Always remember there are two sides to that throne. There is the grace side and the judgment side; the grace side for us because of the precious Blood, and the judgments side for the adversary.

This latter aspect of the throne is that which comes so prominently into view with Esther. It had to do with the undoing of Haman's devices. We have to recognize that the throne has not only to be in the midst of the Church as the throne of grace, but in all its meaning as the throne of Divine power for undoing the work of satan. It is a different aspect of prayer, a very important one. You and I should know the touch with the throne against the enemy on behalf of the Lord's people. That throne must be in the Church.

A Final Word on the Trust Committed to the Church

Well now, we must close, and we do so by just gathering it up in this way. This whole trust of the life of the people of God is given to the Church. That is a tremendous thing to say, and an equally tremendous thing to contemplate. I know that, in a very true sense, all is secured in Christ in glory, but it is equally true, according to Divine revelation, that there has to be an outworking, and this latter is committed to the Church. We are workers together with God. We were created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God foreordained that we should walk in them. The Lord has put this tremendous trust upon His people, the working out of His purpose, which is the deliverance and life of His people unto that glorious consummation - the display of the greatness of Christ in His people, through His people.

You see, when Christ comes, He is not just coming to be seen in glory, to be  manifested as the glorified, glorious Christ; not just that. He is coming to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all them that believe. Christ's glorification is to be something in the Church at last. Unto that, you and I and all the Lord's people are given the trust of working it out. The Lord gives us light. Then, while He is not out of touch with us, in a sense He stands back and says, Now then, that is your business; I have given you light, now get on with it! We are all the time appealing back to the Lord to do it. Lord, come in and do this! Lord, come in and do that! The Lord's attitude is, 'Get on with it! I am here, I give you the supply of the Spirit, but I have made known to you what your business is: Do your business!'

Oh, that the Lord's people would rise up and recognize that He has committed to them this great trust of working out His purpose, of ministering to the life of His people unto that glorious consummation, when the very greatness of Christ shall be displayed in that people. That is our business; and so it is apart from us, but for us to get to the business of prayer and intercession, and in this way minister His life to His people, bring about the deliverance of His people by prayer, standing in touch with His throne for their deliverance from the evil one and the power of death.

Now, if the very deliverance and life of God's people is at our door by God's appointment, that is no small thing. I believe that the Word clearly reveals that the Church exists for the purpose of taking up this question of the Lord's glory, the Lord's triumph, the Lord's, the Lord's greatness, as that which is to be ultimately displayed in the triumph of His people. It is our responsibility. The Lord gives us grace to accept it and to commit ourselves to it, and may we be very much before Him that we shall be found, not as those coerced to pray, but marked by the spirit of intercession as the very evidence of our life.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 14 - "A Representation of Christ in Every Place")

Anticipation of Heaven: More Than Eschatology

"But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city" (Hebrews 11:16)

We have come to a wretched emphasis in the Christian church, so that when we talk about the future we talk about "eschatology" instead of heaven!

We must confess that Christians are living too much in the "present now" - and the anticipation of better things to come has almost died out of the church of Christ.

We find ourselves so well-situated now, that we don't really need any tomorrow's heaven. We don't need to hope - we have everything well enough now!

In this kind of emphasis, the fact remains that the true Christian is one who is kind of sick of this world. When God works a miracle within the human breast, heaven becomes the Christian's home immediately, and he is drawn to it as the bird is drawn in the springtime to fly north.

The Christian does have a homeland, and the fact that we are not anticipating it and looking forward to it with any pleasure is a serious mark of something that is wrong with us.

When I find someone who is settled down too snugly into this world and its system, I am forced to doubt whether he has ever been born again.

Actually, it is true that all of the Christians I meed who really amount to something for God are those very  much out of key with their age - very, very much out of tune with their generation! Remember, you are on earth and God is in heaven - so don't be afraid to dream high spiritual dreams, believing what your Bible says.

~A. W. Tozer~

Sunday, August 19, 2012

God's Spiritual House # 12

We must be very careful of our deductions, and in one connection especially, namely, with regard to the fact that the Lord gives the enemy a good deal of rope, and the enemy gains many advantages and has a large measure of success. But, remember, satan's power and satan's success are not in spite of God but because of God. If you can draw that distinction, you will be greatly helped. satan's power is not in spite of God, but because of God. God is allowing it. It is under the sovereignty of God. God is simply drawing it out, extending it, and when the cup of iniquity is full, then God will come in and show how overwhelming He is. That is the end. Beware of your deductions when you see evil having a great measure of success. Understand what God is doing. He is not going to show His power against the thing in its infancy. What power of God would that be? No, God displays His power when a thing is full grown.

Now, while I must not diverge and get on to another very important aspect of what we are considering, I would here point out a very startling fact with reference to the matter of sonship. While sonship, which is full-grown manhood, is a Divine end, and with sonship comes the manifestation of glory, (that is, when things have become full, then glory is manifested - [waiting] for the manifestation of the sons of God,") sonship is also a principle operating on the side of satan. The Lord Jesus said to those Jewish rulers, "Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is become so, ye make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves" (see Matthew 23:15). He chooses His word - full-grown expression of hell. A terrible thing! But, you see, all that happens on that side under the sovereignty of God is bringing things to maturity before judgment comes in. The sovereignty of God requires that iniquity must come to the full, and its coming to the full is not because God is impotent or unable to cope with the thing. It is not in spite of God but because of God; and God is going to answer the sum of satan's power through the Church. Thus, in the end, it will be "unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all ages for ever and ever" (Ephesians 3:21).

The Church's Vocation

Now, then, what is the vocation of the Church in relation to all this? We are here, as we said at the outset, for the purpose of ministering to the deliverance and life of the elect. The real ministry arises in a day like this. It is the ministry of intercession, priestly intercession: "a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices." We are being launched into our vocation now perhaps as never before as we see the  enemy coming out more fiercely and terribly against the life of Christ in the Church. We are here to stand in God for that life, and we have to be very careful in this matter that we are not put off our ministry by any subtle, secret working of the enemy. We cannot say too much about this secret internal activity, this propaganda of the spiritual powers to put the people of God out of action by breakdown and collapse from within, and it is in this very connection that we have those assurances and exhortations with regard to our access unto God. Let us remember that these comforting words about access, of being allowed even boldness to draw nigh, are not just for our own comfort and and satisfaction.

It is this vocation that is in view, and I believe that is proved again by the action of the enemy. Is he not continually trying to get the people off their ministry of prayer by throwing some doubt upon their acceptance, their access, bringing them under accusation and raising up the sense of some kind of spiritual barrier between them and the Lord so that the very heart is taken out of prayer? "What is the good of praying? There is that and there is that and the other thing about me; my very state keeps me from prayer." Ah, yes, and if we act upon that accusation, on the one hand, it s a sheer denial of the value of the Blood, setting it aside, which is what satan wants, and on the other hand it is playing into his hands and giving him the advantage over the people of God. Remember, all interference with our prayer life is a strategic movement on the enemy's part to destroy our vocation and to gain the advantage over the people of God. We are here for the deliverance and life of God's people. This is the very purpose of the Church's existence.

Now, will you take that as more than something just said? Will you listen to that from within? If you truly are a child of God, will you pray at this time that you may both see and accept all the meaning of the fact that you are a part of Christ's Body, a living stone in the Spiritual house, and that your very existence as such is in relation to the life and deliverance of God's people everywhere. You are not an individual, you are a part of a house, and that house is God's means of deliverance and life for His people everywhere in this intensifying conflict with the power of death and darkness. We exist for that, and if we are not ministering to that, we are denying the very object of our existence. Do take that to heart, because thee is no option about this. It is not an optional matter whether we fulfill an intercessory ministry or not, and pray for all saints at all seasons. You are not invited to come and do that if you like. That is not the House of God. We have to see that the House of God is not some inanimate lifeless thing. It is living, and the very marks of its life are that it is active, energetic, in a spiritual way; and it is characterized by the spirit of intercession. The position is not that you have prayer meetings at different times and people pray or do not pray according as they feel like it. The House is characterized by intercession, and it is that which determines whether we are corresponding to the very nature of our life as God's children. If we were really living up to what we are in Christ, whenever there is an opportunity to pray, we would be on the mark. At the least we should be alive to it, and, whether we prayed audibly or not, we would be in it; if would be spontaneous. Life is spontaneous; and so intercession is a part of life, which is spontaneous. If the Spirit of the Lord really has His way in us, we will be people of intercession. We cannot help it, it will be so.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13)