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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Persistent Purpose of God # 14

The Persistent Energies of God Toward His End (continued)

The Heavens are Opened to Him

That brings us back to this first part of the vision: "The heavens were opened." Now you have heard me say quite a lot about the open heaven, but I want to say a little more about it. We all know that in the symbolism of the garden at the beginning, the heaven was closed to the man who sinned. The garden stands to represent the kingdom of the heavens. It is an order which God Himself has created. It is the true representation of heavenly things. But when Adam sinned, he was turned out of that realm, and the door was closed behind him; and that door has remained closed to all the sons of Adam. BEHIND that door is the place where God is, BEHIND that door is the place where Life is, BEHIND that door is the place where Divine order is. Outside of that door is death, outside of that door God is not, outside of that door is no Divine order; and that door is closed, it is closed to all the sons of Adam.

But that door has been opened again. We know when it was opened; it was opened to "the Son o Man." You remember His words right at the beginning, His words to Nathanael? He said to Nathanael, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man" (John 1:51). Of course, that was a picture. It was a picture taken from the Old Testament. Nathanael knew what it meant. He knew it was taken out of the life of Jacob. Jacob was in the place of the closed heaven; at Bethel, he saw the heaven open, he saw the angels of God ascending and descending. Nathanael knew all about that.

Now Jesus said, "I AM THAT LADDER. It is over Me that the heavens are opened; all communications between heaven and earth and earth and heaven are related to Me: no one comes to the Father, but through Me, no man gets anything from the Father but by Me." And so, on the banks of the Jordan, the heavens are opened to Him; and Jordan is a figure of His Cross. In the Cross of the Lord Jesus, one man has been put to death and buried, that is the man to whom the heavens are closed. On the other side of the Cross, a New Man rises and to Him the heavens are opened: it is over the Lord Jesus as a new kind of Heavenly Man that the heavens are opened.

We know that is exactly what the Lord was saying to Nicodemus - to Nicodemus, the very clever man; Nicodemus, the very educated man; Nicodemus, the very religious man. But there is another aspect, and that has to do with ministry. There is the opened heaven for ministry, and that is what we are talking about in the case of Ezekiel. For him, the opened heaven related to his ministry, and this is a matter that you and I need to understand. This is a special aspect of the Holy Spirit. We receive the Holy Spirit when we are born from above, but the anointing of the Spirit relates to ministry. Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit, but He was anointed of the Spirit for His ministry. I do not want to draw too great a distinction between being born of the Spirit and being anointed, but there is a difference!

Here it is the effect of the Holy Spirit in us in relation to ministry. This is what the Apostle Paul meant in Ephesians when he prayed for the Church. You are so familiar with the words that I hardly dare read them; nevertheless, let us look at them again. You notice that the apostle has been saying these tremendous things about the calling of the Church. It is the great vocation of the Church that is in view. It is not just the salvation of believers - that had taken place; but now he is dealing with the matter of the Church and its great ministry, its ministry now and its ministry in the ages to come. That is what we have in this letter to the Ephesians. Do recognize that what is in this letter is not something to individual Christians. It only applies to individual Christians in a related way. None of the things that are in this letter can be fully true of any individual; no individual Christian can be blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies. It takes the whole Church to have all the spiritual blessings. And you will only come into all the spiritual blessings in a related way; that is, by your fellowship with all the other members of the Church.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 15)

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