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Friday, August 15, 2014

The Persistent Purpose of God # 49

Christ Is the Great Spiritual Order (continued)

It was when Paul saw Christ that he began to see the Church. These two things went together; and the more he saw of Christ, the more he understood the Church. That resulted in Paul giving us this unique presentation of the Church. It is only Paul who calls the Church "the Body of Christ"; and because the Church is the Body of Christ, I am saying that this can only be seen from a heavenly standpoint by the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

"Behold ... Hear ... Set Thine Heart"

So we come to these instructions, "Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee." What does that mean in New Testament terms? Well, in the Letter to the Ephesians the apostle prays that the Church may come to "the knowledge of Him," that is, as you know, in the original "the full knowledge of Him." The Ephesian believers had a knowledge of the Lord. Paul had been with them for two years, and he had said that he had not shunned to declare unto them "the whole counsel of God", so that they had received very much teaching from Paul; and, yet, in the end he is praying for them that they might be brought to the full knowledge of Christ. And he explained that in his own prayer: "that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of His power." - "That you may know." - Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thy heart upon all that I will show you" (Ezekiel 40:4). So Paul says, "That I may know Him." Right at the end of his life he is still saying, "That I may know Him." - Son of man, behold, and hear, and set thy heart! You cannot as servants of Christ show anything to others until you yourselves have seen. Afterwards the Man said to Ezekiel, "Shew the House to the House of Israel," so that this new ministry to which Ezekiel was called was a presenting, or revealing, of Christ. We can put it in this way. In the first vision Ezekiel had seen the Man on the throne, he had seen the Man in heaven, and now his last great vision was the Man in the Church. He was seeing the Church now, and his ministry at the end related to that, the presenting of the fullness of Christ, and the Church, which is the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. - So the end of that prayer of Paul is "to Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus unto all the generations of the age of the ages: Amen".

"Son of man, shew the House to the House of Israel." What will be the effect of that? This is the test as to whether we have seen. You see, we can talk about the Church as we have it in the New Testament, yet know nothing about it. There was a time when I was doing Bible teaching, and in those days I could give a very good analysis and outline of the Letter to the Ephesians. It was what was in the New Testament about the Church, and I could present it. You see, I was talking about the Church but I knew nothing about it. I had really not seen the Church. All my knowledge of what the Bible taught made no difference to me. What was the result of that? There was very little spiritual value in that ministry. All that ministry certainly did not create a revolution.

Now notice what it says here, "Shew the House to the House of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their ways, and may keep My Word"; and if the effect of the ministry is to have  effect like that, we must have seen in the Spirit. It will not have that effect if we have only seen it in the letter. "The letter killeth, but the Spirit maketh alive." The effect of a ministry of revelation is quite positive; it has an effect upon people.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 50 - (The Altar (The Cross) Governs Everything)

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