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Sunday, December 14, 2014

God's Reactions to Man's Defections # 8

The New Cruse (continued)

We expressed the feeling that, while many would agree with the statement that a general renewal of spiritual life is very much needed at this time, there might not be such agreement that what is needed specifically is a "new cruse", an instrument conformed to the mind of God, solely upon the basis of sympathy with the Holy Spirit's order and requirements. If there were pictured some new exclusive body; some select company; some iconoclastic movement; some spiritually superior class - such reservations would be justified, and might lead to suspicion, fear, apprehension. Such an attitude, though quite unjustified, and betokening the "flesh" and the activity of the Spoiler - the adversary - might lead to much unnecessary loss, and make things more difficult for the Lord than they need have been.

Now, we need to recognize the fact that in the history of the Divine reactions the instrument has always been a definitely related or relative one, not exclusive and isolated. Although it may have been comparatively small in itself, it was representative and linked with the whole company of the elect.

Relative and Representative Ministry

Did Esther represent an instrument brought to the throne "for such a time as this" - the occasion of a satanic plot for the death of God's people and the wiping out of His testimony from the earth? Then her life and the life of the whole company - although they were in captivity and 'out of the way' - were one, however privileged and exalted may have been her calling. She was involved in the testimony, and this brought her into a travail concerning the whole chosen race. We shall have more to say about Esther.

This same relative and representative function characterized Daniel and his brethren. They took the condition of the whole captive nation upon their hearts, and entered into what we might call a vicarious repentance for the sins of all their brethren. They themselves were the 'overcomers' of that time, but all their experience, revelation, and victory was in a deep relationship to the people of God, though apostate.

When Hezekiah was instrumental in turning back the awful idolatry and wickedness made so complete by Ahaz, he first of all instituted a sin-offering "for ALL Israel" (2 Chron. 29:24), and then sent letters throughout all Israel to call them to the Passover at Jerusalem (30:1-10). This is striking when we remember that Hezekiah was king over Judah, not Israel; the kingdom being rent, and entirely schismatic, with Israel much more idolatrous even than Judah. Hezekiah's heart went out to all, and did not allow the grossest idolatry to create a spiritual abandonment of his so greatly erring and sinning brethren.

This principle of relationship and representation can be traced throughout the Word, and it is a most important one. There is no such thing as a 'section' of the Body of Christ. "The body is one", but there are "bands" and "joints of supply", fulfilling special related and representative functions or ministries. All the "members" may not be in equally good heath, development, life, fellowship, but they are not thereby cut off. Christ will never have a mutilated Body.

We are not unaware of the greatness of the difficulty and problem with which we are here confronted. At the same time we make bold to tackle it for the Lord's glory. If only certain principles are recognized and established, there is hope of improvement, at least to some extent. We must, therefore, in the first place keep clearly before us that it is only the really born-anew children of God, in whom there is something of the Spirit, who are in view - not the vast accretions to "Christendom", or "organized" and traditional Christianity, of 'mixed multitudes'. However bad may be the spiritual condition of the former, they are not to be excluded from the spirit of fellowship. That does not mean fellowship in works or that which is wrong, but it does mean earnest and loving solicitude for recovery therefrom. How patiently and diligently and ingeniously has many a surgeon or doctor worked to find some point of contact with life in a patient whose hold and interest was practically imperceptible! Should it be less so with us in this so much greater battle with spiritual death?

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 9)

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