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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Seeing Governs Spiritual Growth

Spiritual Sight

Let us pass on to growth. Just as the beginning is by seeing, so is growth. Spiritual growth is all a matter of seeing. I want you to think about that. We have to see is we would grow. What is spiritual growth? Well now, answer that carefully, in your heart. I think some people imagine that spiritual growth is getting to know a great deal more truth. No, not necessarily. You may increase in such knowledge as you grow it is true, but it is not just that. What is growth? Well it is conformity to the image of God's Son. That is the end, and it is toward that that we are progressively and steadily and consistently to move. Full growth, spiritual maturity, will be our having been conformed to the image of God's Son. That is growth. Then if that be so, Paul will say to us, "We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18). Conformity by seeing, growth by seeing.

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

Now that contains a very precious and deep principle. How can we illustrate? That very passage which we have just cited helps us, I think. The last clause will give us our clue - "as from the Lord the Spirit." I trust I do not use too hackneyed an illustration in trying to help this out when I go back to Eliezer, Abraham's servant, and Isaac and Rebekah, that classic romance of the Old Testament. You remember the day came when Abraham, getting old, called his faithful household steward, Eliezer, and said, 'Put now your hand under my thigh, and swear that you will not take of the women of this country for a bride for my son, but that you will go to my own kith and kin.' And he sware. And then Eliezer set out, as you know, with the camels for the distant country across the desert, praying as he went that the lord would prosper him and give him a sign. The sign was given at the well. Rebekah responded to the man, and when, after tarrying a bit and being confronted with the challenge quite definitely, she decided to go with the man, on the way he brought out from his treasures things of his master's house, things of his master's son, and showed them to her, and occupied her all the time with his master's son and the things which indicated what a son he was, and what possessions he had and what she was coming into; and this went on right across the desert until they reached the other side and came into the district of the father's home. Isaac was out in the field meditating: and they lifted up their eyes and saw; and the servant said, There he is! The one of whom I have been speaking to you all the time, the one whose things I have been showing you: there he is! And she lighted down from the camel. Do you think she felt strange, as though she had come from a far country? I think the effect of Eliezer's ministry was to make her feel quite at home, to make her feel that she knew the man she was going to marry. She felt no strangeness or distress or foreign element about this thing. They just merged, shall we say? It was the consummation of a process.

"As from the Lord the Spirit." The Lord Jesus said, "When He is come ... He shall take of Mine, and show it unto you."  "He shall not speak of Himself; but what things soever He shall hear, these shall He speak ... He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you" (John 16:13, 14). The Spirit, the faithful servant of the Father's house, has come right across the wilderness to find the bride for the Son, of His own kith and kin. Yes, there is room for wonder here. "Since the children are sharers in flesh and blood, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same" (Hebrews 2:14). "Both He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one" (Hebrews 2:11). The Spirit has come to secure that bride now, one with Him, His flesh and His bone. But the Spirit desires to be occupying us with the Lord Jesus all the time, showing us His things. To what effect? That we shall not be strangers when we see Him, that we shall not feel that we are of one kind and He another, but that it may just be. "This is the last step of many which have been heading to this, and every step has been making this oneness more perfect, this harmony more complete." At the end, without any very great crisis, we just go in. We have been going in all the time, and this i the last step. That is conformity to His image, that is spiritual growth; getting to know the Lord, and to become like Him, getting to be perfectly at home with Him, so that there is no clash, no strangeness, no discord, no distance. Oneness with our Lord Jesus deepening all the time unto the consummation: that is spiritual growth. You see, it is something inward again, and it is but the development of that initiation, that beginning. We have seen and are seeing, and seeing and seeing, and as we see we are changed.

Is that true of everything you think you see? We have to test everything we think we see and know by its effect in our lives. You and I may have an enormous amount of what we think to be spiritual knowledge; we have all the doctrines, all the truths. We can box the compass of evangelical doctrine; and what is the effect? It is not seeing, beloved, in a true spiritual sense, if we are not changed. Yes, seeing is to be changed, and it is not seeing if it does not bring that about. It would be far better for us to be stripped of all that and to be brought right down to the point where we really do see just a little that makes a difference. We must be very honest with God about this. Oh, would we not sooner have just a very little indeed that was a hundred percent effective, than a whole mountain of knowledge, ninety percent of which counted for nothing? We must ask the Lord to save us from advancing beyond spiritual life, advancing, I mean, with knowledge, a kind of knowledge presuming to know. You know what I mean. Real seeing, Paul says, is being changed, and being changed is a matter of seeing as by the Lord the Spirit. So we will pray to see.

Some of us knew our Bible, knew our New Testament, knew Romans, knew Ephesians, thought we saw. We could even lecture on the Bible and these books, and on the truths in them, and did so for years. Then one day we saw; and people saw that we saw, and said, What has happened to the minister? He is not saying anything different from what he has always said, but there is a difference; he has seen something! That is it.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with - "Seeing Governs Ministry")

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