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Monday, June 30, 2014

The Persistent Purpose of God # 6

God's End Is Always Present In His Beginnings

The principles that we are considering this morning are the key to the Book of Ezekiel in a special way. We begin by indicating one of those principles in another way - God's end is always implicit in all His beginnings. Thus, we have Genesis in the Book of the Revelation and the Book of the Revelation in Genesis. Let me repeat this principle again: God's end is always present in His beginnings. Perhaps you would like an illustration of that. We have it in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Exodus. Chapter fifteen, verses thirteen and seventeen:

"In Thy lovingkindness Thou has led the people whom Thou hast redeemed; in Thy strength Thou hast guided them to Thy holy habitation ... Thou wilt bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Thine inheritance, the place, O Lord, which Thou hast made for Thy dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Thy hands have established."

Now do you recognize what that has said? Israel is just out of Egypt, they are just over the Red Sea; this is the song of Moses and all Israel when they escaped from Egypt and Pharaoh. They had only just begun their journey. But here it says: "In Thy strength Thou hast guided them to Thy holy habitation ... the place, O Lord, which Thou hast made for Thy dwelling, the sanctuary,  O Lord, which Thy hands have established." That takes us right on to the end of their history. Hundreds of years would have to pass before the Temple was built, before Jerusalem - the holy mountain - was secured. They had to go a long way, for a longtime, before they came there. But here, right at the beginning, it is spoken of as though it were already accomplished. So we can see from this instance what I mean by God's end always begin right there at the beginning. Heavenly things always govern ALL the earthly things. Invisible things govern ALL the visible things. Spiritual things govern ALL the temporal things. Universal things govern ALL the local things. That is something you must always remember when you are reading the Bible. And that is something which must be kept in mind as we approach this book of Ezekiel.

Human history is not just human history, but it is God's history! This book of Ezekiel seems to have a lot of earthly history in it, but the truth is that it is all governed by the Divine End and Purpose. Now the big question which we meet right at the beginning of this book is "Does this book have a message for the Church in this dispensation? - Does it just elate to a period in the past history of the people of Israel? Does it relate to the future dispensation in the matter of prophecy? - Or is its main message for the Church in this dispensation?" We shall be compelled to face those questions as we move into this book, especially in those parts of the book which we are going to particularly consider. The answer is found NOT in the earthly, BUT in the Heavenly; NOT in the temporal, BUT in the Spiritual.

So we come to the setting and reason for this book: we must recognize when the book was written, and why. What is in this book happened at a time when a whole system had broken down and failed. The reason for that breakdown and that failure was because that system became something in itself. It lost its Spiritual and its Eternal meaning. We must recognize that this is something that constantly recurs in the history of the things of God. It happened in Israel. It has happened in Christianity generally. It has happened in many movements and in many pieces of the work of God. Such began with a great testimony, just as Israel began. It was a wonderful testimony to the Lord with which Israel's history began, but then that whole thing broke down. It completely failed because it lost its Spiritual meaning and became something in itself. The same is true of Christianity. It had a wonderful beginning, but, speaking generally, Christianity has broken down and failed because it has become an earthly system - something in itself, and has lost its Heavenly meaning.

Now we return to this book of Ezekiel, and we find God moving away from Jerusalem; and God is found outside and not inside, and the thing in which God once was has now become an empty shell. That which was once vital and effective, and was greatly used of the Lord, has become a merely formal and empty thing with God on the outside. That is the setting and the occasion of this book.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7 - "A Prophet Represents the Full Mind of God")

All Things Possible with God

The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. (Luke 18:27)

All hangs upon this one thing (as simple as it may seem) that if Christ is present (which means nothing else than that God is present) anything is possible at any moment. Are you waiting for some day when things will be better? It is not a matter of time at all, it is a matter of Him. He says, "I am time and eternity all in a moment, and you need not accept anything in the matter of time; you accept Me, and you may be well-nigh dead in the morning and be very much alive before the day is over. 'I am the resurrection and the life.'" Mary said, “I know that He will rise again in the last day.” For her resurrection was a matter of time. Oh no. Resurrection was right there....

As long as it takes to break a loaf you have gone from seed-time to harvest. "'Do you not say, There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest?' (John 4:35). I am here, and there can be harvest at any moment when I am here." It is not a matter of time, of circumstance. We are dealing with God, and He is not bound by anything that is known to our human life at all. Eternity dwells in any moment when He is present. All things are bound up with any moment when He is present. The centurion said, "Just say the word and my servant will be healed." "You need not come. Distance does not matter, time does not matter, just speak the word and it will be done." The Lord said, "Ihave not found such great faith, not even in Israel." The word was uttered, and when the enquiry was made as to when it happened it was found to synchronize with the moment when He spoke. He takes everything into His hands, and says "My hour..." and when that comes, there is no postponement. Oh, that we should lay hold of that more, live on that, never surrender to conditions, never surrender to the inevitable from the standpoint of the human, but say, "We have Him; He is our future, He is our circumstance." Anything can be at any moment with the Lord present.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Persistent Purpose of God # 5

"God's Full Intention Governs Everything That He Does" (continued)

5. The Only Real Value Is the Spiritual

Now I come to the last principle for the present, number five: the only real value is the spiritual. We must remember this when we are reading and studying the Bible, and we must keep this in mind in these times in which we are together. We must not come here just with a thirst for more information or a craving for more and more knowledge and education. Now that constitutes a danger. That is exactly how Adam was caught. You see, satan said: "If you take of this tree, you will know"; it was "the tree of knowledge." And there is always a danger in eating of that tree. It might just lead us into death and not into life. So, I repeat this principle of Biblical interpretation: the only real value is the spiritual. And spiritual value is just how something affects our life with God! I do wish that Adam had recognized that! When satan tempted him to take of "the tree of knowledge," if only Adam had said, "How will this affect my life with God?" he, and we, should have been saved all the trouble!

So, let me say this again, spiritual value is just how something affects our life with God. Shall I put that in another way - spiritual value is just how much something increases the measure of Christ. If Christ is the interpretation of the Bible, then the spiritual knowledge of the Bible results in an increase of Christ. If our days together do not result in an increase of the measure of Christ, we have missed the Way. If we do not go away more Christ-like men and women, with a larger measure of the Lord Jesus, this training course has failed. So I beg of you to pray all the way through that this time together may mean spiritual increase, and not intellectual enlargement, but spiritual knowledge.

Everything has got to be judged by how much it contributes to the Ultimate Purpose of God. We have to ask, "Where does this lead us? Is it leading us anywhere? What is it leading us to?" All spiritual knowledge leads to an increase of Christ; it contributes to the ultimate purpose of God. The question always is "How much of Life is there in it?" It is not a matter of interest; it is not a matter of fascination with Bible truth; it is not a matter of making us more important people, by the enlarging of our natural statue, but it is just a matter of the measure of Christ. That is the real spiritual value.

Now, let us go over our five principles of the interpretation of the Bible. In our second hour together we shall take them over into our special subject for study, just as we will continue to do in the coming days: 1. The Eternity of God; 2. The Comprehensiveness of Christ; 3. The Interpreter is the Holy Spirit; 4. The Final Mention of Everything containing all its Meaning; and 5. The Real Value is the Spiritual.

Also, brethren, before the next session, I would like for you to read the first three chapters of the Prophet Ezekiel. You will have to read them more than once in these coming days, but it would be a help if you will refresh your minds with what is in those three chapters.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6 - "God's End Is Always Present In His Beginnings")

Don't Be Offended


 
"Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me" (Luke 7:23).
 
It is sometimes very difficult not to be offended in Jesus Christ. The offenses may be circumstantial. I find myself in a prison-house -- a narrow sphere, a sick chamber, an unpopular position -- when I had hoped for wide opportunities. Yes, but He knows what is best for me. My environment is of His determining. He means it to intensify my faith, to draw me into nearer communion with Himself, to ripen my power. In the dungeon my soul should prosper. The offense may be mental. I am haunted by perplexities, questions, which I cannot solve. I had hoped that, when I gave myself to Him, my sky would always be clear; but often it is overspread by mist and cloud. Yet let me believe that, if difficulties remain, it is that I may learn to trust Him all the more implicitly -- to trust and not be afraid. Yes, and by my intellectual conflicts, I am trained to be a tutor to other storm-driven men.
 
***
 
The offense may be spiritual. I had fancied that within His fold I should never feel the biting winds of temptation; but it is best as it is. His grace is magnified. My own character is matured. His Heaven is sweeter at the close of the day. There I shall look back on the turnings and trials of the way, and shall sing the praises of my Guide. So, let come what will come, His will is welcome; and I shall refuse to be offended in my loving Lord. --Alexander Smellie
 
***
 
Blessed is he whose faith is not offended, When all around his way
The power of God is working out deliverance For others day by day;
Though in some prison drear his own soul languish,
Till life itself be spent,
Yet still can trust his Father's love and purpose,
And rest therein content.
Blessed is he, who through long years of suffering,
Cut off from active toil,
Still shares by prayer and praise the work of others,
And thus "divides the spoil."
Blessed are thou, O child of God, who sufferest, And canst not understand
The reason for thy pain, yet gladly leavest
Thy life in His blest Hand.
Yea, blessed art thou whose faith is "not offended"
By trials unexplained,
By mysteries unsolved, past understanding,
Until the goal is gained. --Freda Hanbury Allen

~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Persistent Purpose of God # 4

"God's Full Intention Governs Everything That He Does" (continued)

4. The Final Mention

The final mention of any particular matter in the Bible is usually a key to all its meaning. That is something that we must think about! We find certain things mentioned again and again in the Bible; but when we come to the final occasion where that thing is mentioned, we usually find the key to all that has been said about that matter before. If you take a particular matter, where it is mentioned for the last time, and then note the setting and the context and the relationship, you will get the full meaning of all that has been said about that before.

Now that is a statement that I have made, and you will need to think and to work on that, but I will help you by taking just one illustration. In the last chapter of the Bible, Revelation twenty-two and verse two, we have the last reference to "the tree of life." Now when we go right back to the beginning of the Bible, we have "the tree of life" mentioned, but we are told nothing about it - it is just referred to as something that exists. We have no explanation, we are not told what that tree is, or what it means; it is just referred to as "the tree of lie." We have to go to the end of the Bible for the explanation, and when we come to this last chapter of the Bible, by the context and relationship, we have a very large explanation.

Let us look at the passage. Revelation 22: "And He showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb," - note the context, "the throne of God and of the Lamb." You have got to read the whole book of the Revelation to understand that! There is a tremendous amount in the early chapters of this book about "the throne of God and of the Lamb." And you need to understand what the throne of God is and what is the significance of the throne of the Lamb - in the midst of the throne is a Lamb!

Now in relation to "the throne of God and of the Lamb," there is "a river of the water of life ... in the midst of the street thereof. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve manner (kinds) of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be therein: and His bondservants shall serve Him." There is "the tree of life." It bears immortal fruit. There is no place for death here. Its fruit is born every month: that is fruit immortal, or fruit without death. The leaves of this tree are for the health of the nation. I am sorry that in most versions the word "healing" is wrongly translated. I do not know what the word is in your translation, but the original is not the "the healing of the nations," but for "the health of the nations." You may ask, "What is the difference?" Well, one is the removal of disease, and the other is the prevention of disease.

In Revelation 22, we have come to the time when the spiritual diseases of the nations have been healed, but the health of the nations needs to be preserved. It is a state that is to be maintained. Thus, the leaves are not for healing, they are for preservation. And so it says: "And there shall no longer be any curse."

You see, you have got the whole history of the Bible in those words. You have got all that came on the nations through Adam's sin. You have corruption and death - moral disease - the result of a curse. All that is now cleared up, and "the tree of life" represents Victory of Live over all that, Life Triumphant, and Life Abundant. Here the full meaning of "the tree of life" is revealed. And it is like that with all other matters. When you come to the last mention, you have the key to the whole subject. That is a principle of the interpretation of the Bible.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5 - "5. The Only Real Value Is the Spiritual")

The Spiritual Fight Against Fear


Now the Lord said to Joshua: "Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.” Joshua 8:1


The Lord told Joshua to go up to Ai. Actually, He was telling Joshua to go back to Ai. Since their earlier defeat at Ai, the men of Israel have been through a tragic experience because of the disobedience of one of their men, Achan. The punishment for Achan's sin no doubt left a fearful impression upon all these men, who must now be prepared for war. So the Lord tells Joshua to "not be afraid, nor dismayed." In other words, He is saying, “Get back up and let's take care of the business at hand. Let's complete the job we have started.” The Lord promises to be with Joshua and his men, even going so far as to tell Joshua that He has already given the king, the people and the land into their hands.

In the second part of this verse, the Lord tells Joshua to "see." This is not a physical seeing because the battle has not yet even begun. This form of seeing requires spiritual eyes of faith to believe that what the Lord is saying is true, even though it cannot be physically seen at this time. For Joshua, this is an important step of faith. He has just been dealt a severe blow through what happened with Achan and now he must get back up. He must continue to fight. He must take each step with the Lord.

God is faithful and just. He will complete the work He has started. Do not let fear, anger or discouragement keep you from following the Lord. Get back up, trust Him and take that next step. The enemy will do whatever he can to keep you from taking that next step, but the Lord will help you to "see" that He has delivered you and will lead you forward.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Persistent Purpose of God # 3

"God's Full Intention Governs Everything That He Does" (continued)

3. The Interpreter of the Bible is the Holy Spirit

Now we come to number three: the interpreter of the Bible is the Holy Spirit. I have said that Jesus is the interpretation of the Bible. I am saying now that the Holy Spirit is the interpreter of the Bible.  We are familiar with the words in the Letter to the Corinthians, but let us just look at them again now. The First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter two and verse thirteen: "Which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words."

Now I do not know if you have marginal references in your Bible, but the more correct translation of those words is this? "interpreting spiritual things to spiritual men." Let us read the whole passage again in that way:

"Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; interpreting spiritual things to spiritual men."

That scripture is a very important statement, and it definitely affirms the principle that we are now setting forth - the interpreter of the Bible is the Holy Spirit. First of all then, the Bible is the Holy Spirit's Book. The Bible is not firstly man's Book, it is not our Book, we have not got the Book. We have got certain writings which are called Scripture, but in truth we do not possess the Book.

You remember the case in Acts of the Ethiopian eunuch. When Philip came near to his chariot, he heard the Ethiopian reading. He was reading the Book at Isaiah 53. Philip said to him, "Do you understand what you are reading?"  and he said, "Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?" Here is a man who had the Book in a certain sense, but in a real and profitable sense he did not possess the Book. We can have the Book as a volume, and yet we may not possess the Book, because the Bible is the Holy Spirit's Book first. The mind of man and the Mind of the Spirit are two altogether different things!

Do you know that there are many, many Christians who do not recognize that ! There are many Bible teachers who do not recognize that! And this is the cause of very much confusion, and the reason for very much spiritual smallness and weakness. I think this may lie at the bottom of most of the controversy. The Bible is a closed book to all but spiritual men and women. This is the principle that the Lord Jesus set before Nicodemus: You must be born from above before you can see what is above.

Our measure of understanding of the Bible will be just in accordance with the measure of our spiritual life. This is why the Lord takes us through experiences in order to bring us to understanding. The measure of our death to the natural mind will be the measure of our understanding of the things of the Spirit. Please remember that in these days which are before us - something has got to happen in us before we understand the Scripture. We cannot understand the Word of God by just deciding that we are going to have a training course, that we are going to have some classes for Bible teaching. No, that is not the way in which we come to understanding of the Word of God. We shall only understand according to the measure of our spiritual life. That is the third principle of Biblical interpretation. Now we come to the fourth.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - "The Final Mention")

Your Crown of Glory


 
"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb . . . and they loved not their lives unto the death" (Rev. 12:11).
 
When James and John came to Christ with their mother, asking Him to give them the best place in the kingdom, He did not refuse their request, but told them it would be given to them if they could do His work, drink His cup, and be baptized with His baptism.
 
Do we want the competition? The greatest things are always hedged about by the hardest things, and we, too, shall find mountains and forests and chariots of iron. Hardship is the price of coronation. Triumphal arches are not woven out of rose blossoms and silken cords, but of hard blows and bloody scars. The very hardships that you are enduring in your life today are given by the Master for the explicit purpose of enabling you to win your crown.
 
Do not wait for some ideal situation, some romantic difficulty, some far-away emergency; but rise to meet the actual conditions which the Providence of God has placed around you today. Your crown of glory lies embedded in the very heart of these things--those hardships and trials that are pressing you this very hour, week and month of your life. The hardest things are not those that the world knows of. Down in your secret soul unseen and unknown by any but Jesus, there is a little trial that you would not dare to mention that is harder for you to bear than martyrdom.
 
There, beloved, lies your crown. God help you to overcome, and sometime wear it. 
 
"It matters not how the battle goes,
The day how long;
Faint not! Fight on!
Tomorrow comes the song."

~L. B. Cowman~

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Persistent Purpose of God # 2

"God's Full Intention Governs Everything That He Does" (continued)

2. The Comprehensiveness of Christ

The second law of interpretation is the comprehensiveness of Christ. Christ is the interpretation of all the Bible, to know Christ is to understand the Bible. Men like Peter and Paul knew the Bible, but they did not understand it until they knew the Lord Jesus. We first know the Lord Jesus, and then we take Him back into the Bible, and He is the interpretation of the Bible. Therefore, we cannot really understanding the Bible until we know the Lord Jesus. That results in this - that the Bible is really a Person, and not a book. The Bible is a Living Person, and not a dead letter. Because this Person is inexhaustible, He makes the Bible inexhaustible.

Now that is a more important principle than perhaps you realize. It is possible to exhaust the Bible as a book. We have known great Bible teachers who went through the Bible teaching it again and again, but at the end of their lives they were having difficulty in finding something fresh; and they were only repeating again and again things that they had said in past years. The reason for this is that they dealt with the Bible as a book. That will never happen if you know the Lord Jesus and see the Bible in Him, and Him in the Bible. I repeat that the Lord Jesus can never be exhausted. As the Holy Spirit reveals the Lord Jesus to us, the Bible is always more alive. So, we have our first two principles of interpretation: 1. The Eternity of God and 2. The Comprehensiveness of Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - "3. The Interpreter of the Bible Is the Holy Spirit")

Fear Not


Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days (Dan. 10:12, 13).

 
We have wonderful teaching here on prayer, and we are shown the direct hindrance from Satan.
 
Daniel had fasted and prayed twenty-one days, and had a very hard time in prayer. As far as we read the narrative, it was not because Daniel was not a good man, nor because his prayer was not right; but it was because of a special attack of Satan.
 
The Lord started a messenger to tell Daniel that his prayer was answered the moment Daniel began to pray; but an evil angel met the good angel and wrestled with him, hindering him. There was a conflict in the heavens; and Daniel seemed to go through an agony on earth the same as that which was going on in the heavens.
 
"We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers… against wicked spirits in high places" (Eph. 6:12, margin).
 
Satan delayed the answer three full weeks. Daniel nearly succumbed, and Satan would have been glad to kill him; but God will not suffer anything to come above that we "are able to bear."
 
Many a Christian's prayer is hindered by Satan; but you need not fear when your prayers and faith pile up; for after a while they will be like a flood, and will not only sweep the answer through, but will also bring some new accompanying blessing.
--Sermon
 
Hell does its worst with the saints. The rarest souls have been tested with high pressures and temperatures, but Heaven will not desert them.

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Persistent Purpose of God

God's Full Intention Governs Everything That He Does

We are going to occupy the first part of this morning with preparation for what we are going to consider later, and I want to speak now about some principles of Biblical interpretation. It is very important for us to be able to know how the Bible is to be interpreted, and this will be especially seen in what we have to consider later on. Unless we do understand the principles of the interpretation of the Bible, the Bible is not an open book: we may know what is in the Book as a book, but we do not understand it until we have the principles of interpretation. So I ask you to try and remember what I am going to say now and bring it over into our later study. We will consider five important principles of interpreting the Bible:

1. The Eternity of God;
2. The Comprehensiveness of Christ;
3. The Interpreter of the Bible is the Holy Spirit;
4. The Final Mention;
5. The Only Real Value is the Spiritual.

1. The Eternity of God

The first principle of the interpretation of the Bible is the eternity of God. We must always remember that all time is present time with God. There is no past and future with God: all that is past and future with us has been present with God always. At any moment in what is time to us, eternity is present with God.

The architect always has the complete plan before him. If he is the designer of a ship, he has a model made of that ship before anything is done. He sees in the model the completed object, that is, exactly how the thing will appear when it is finished. If it is a great building, or even a city, it is the same. The architect draws what we call a scale model, and he sees in that model exactly how the building, or the city, will be when it is finished. The builder works day by day according to that completed plan. Those who only see the parts cannot understand, and must not take the parts as being the whole. Sometimes when you look at the parts of a building, you cannot for the life of you understand what it is going to be. It is only as the completed thing is seen that you can understand the parts.

Now the Bible is just full of parts, but they are all the parts of something that God sees in completion. God is the Great Architect, He has the completed and perfect plan before Him before He begins any work. God's eternity is in every part. So we must realize that God has His full Mind behind everything that He does! God's full intention governs everything that He does! God's full intention governs everything He does! You must realize that God's Mind never grows - God Himself is incapable of development.

The temporary form of anything contains the eternal and full thought of God. You must realize that there are always two meanings in anything that is in the Bible. There is the present meaning, that is, how that applies to the present situation; but there is also the future meaning. Everything in the Bible, while it has a present application, has a fuller meaning in the future.  That is the first law of interpretation: it is the eternity of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "2. The Comprehensiveness of Christ")

All That Believe Are Justified

Acts 13:39
All that believe are justified.
 
The believer in Christ receives a present justification. Faith does not produce this fruit by-and-by, but now. So far as justification is the result of faith, it is given to the soul in the moment when it closes with Christ, and accepts Him as its all in all. Are they who stand before the throne of God justified now?-so are we, as truly and as clearly justified as they who walk in white and sing melodious praises to celestial harps. The thief upon the cross was justified the moment that he turned the eye of faith to Jesus; and Paul, the aged, after years of service, was not more justified than was the thief with no service at all. We are to-day accepted in the Beloved, to-day absolved from sin, to-day acquitted at the bar of God. Oh! soul-transporting thought! There are some clusters of Eshcol's vine which we shall not be able to gather till we enter heaven; but this is a bough which runneth over the wall. This is not as the corn of the land, which we can never eat till we cross the Jordan; but this is part of the manna in the wilderness, a portion of our daily nutriment with which God supplies us in our journeying to and fro. We are now-even now pardoned; even now are our sins put away; even now we stand in the sight of God accepted, as though we had never been guilty. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." There is not a sin in the Book of God, even now, against one of His people. Who dareth to lay anything to their charge? There is neither speck, nor spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing remaining upon any one believer in the matter of justification in the sight of the Judge of all the earth. Let present privilege awaken us to present duty, and now, while life lasts, let us spend and be spent for our sweet Lord Jesus.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 61

He Must Reign (continued)

Israel vaunted itself against Him and His Lordship - where is Israel? Can Israel lift up its head? Through all these centuries it has been bruised, unable to lift itself up; impotent; paralyzed; it vaunted itself against the Throne of the Exalted Christ. Rome entered into the battle to try this thing, and there was Caesar, with all his mighty power and resources, determined to destroy that Name and that power. Where is Caesar? Where is Rome and all its mighty power? It has gone down into shame and into the dust, and has not been able to lift itself up again. So we could go on. In our own life time, many of us have seen men who have made a bid for world-dominion, and Heaven says: That is reserved for One only! And what has happened? Man after man has ended his career in ignominy, and worse than that, who made that bid for the place of God's Son, for the Throne, right up to date. And it will be the same thing with the rest of them. It is reserved to Him - Jesus Christ. "He must reign, till He has put ALL his enemies under His feet." And He will do it!

How does Ezekiel put it? Right in the midst of his prophecies, right at the very center of the book, with Israel in captivity; the captivity itself; the mighty power of Babylon and all these world powers enthralling, holding, seeking this place of absolute supremacy - Ezekiel cries, as from God: "i will overturn, overturn, overturn ... until He come Whose right it is to wear the crown!" (Ezekiel 21:27).

"HE MUST REIGN, till He has put all His enemies under His feet." May that transfigure the way for us.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

NEXT: "The Persistent Purpose of God")

True Worship


The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:19-24


The Samaritan woman was really asking Jesus, "Where is the appropriate place to worship God?”  Her people, the Samaritans, worshiped on Mount Gerizim while the Jewish people worshiped at the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus was very clear that the Jews had the appropriate place of worship at that time because all of the laws of God and prophets of God came through the Jewish race. However, Jesus was quick to explain to her that the "where" would soon change. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, His death restored us to be able to have a personal relationship with God. We do not need to go to a certain mountain or a specific church to worship Him. Because of Christ, God goes with us—everywhere. So wherever you are, you worship.

The next part Jesus explains is "how?" How are we to worship God? His answer is "in spirit and in truth." Because God is Spirit, no matter how good our efforts or good deeds are, sinful man falls short in being able to please a Holy God. We must have the Spirit of God to commune with a God who is Spirit. Therefore, accepting Christ to receive His Spirit is the first step to true worship. The next step is to be trained in the ways of the Spirit. This training process is called sanctification, or being set apart for the works and service of God. Jesus said in John 17:17, "Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth." We learn the ways to remain in the Spirit by reading, studying, meditating and applying His truth of the Bible.

We need to be born of the Spirit of God, to receive the Spirit of God, in order to understand the ways of the Spirit of God, written by the Spirit of God in the Bible. The Bible is the truth that sanctifies us (or sets us apart and makes us holy) for His service. The only way to make it through the sanctifying process is by relying on the Spirit of God. Our service is one of worship as we become living sacrifices. A true worshiper is one who worships in spirit and truth, every day and every way. A true worshiper worships daily, from the depths of their heart in their prayer closet to the choices they make every minute of the day.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Monday, June 23, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 60

He Must Reign (continued)

The second thing He is doing is that He is constituting the life of that people on heavenly principles. We wish He had freer, fuller scope to do it. But He is doing it. That is, He is inculcating the life and laws of Heaven into that people. And again the illustration is Israel at Sinai, and in the Wilderness. There the heavenly laws were given, and they were constituted according to heavenly principles. They were tested, tried, proved according to the laws of Heaven. Their very daily bread had to come out of Heaven: they had to live out of Heaven, live on Heaven; their life had to be, indeed, a heavenly life. There was nothing here to constitute them God's people. They had to be constituted on a heavenly basis. And that is what the Risen Lord is seeking to do with His people. If only we understood, again, our experiences, we should see that that is the explanation and interpretation. He is seeking to reconstitute us on a heavenly basis of life. He is energetically trying to do it. Because we do not understand what He is doing, we are so slow in the changeover. Let us recognize the fact and take it to heart.

The third thing that He is doing is putting all His enemies under His feet. And that takes us, with Israel, over the Jordan, into the Land. See there how those nations were put under the feet of Joshua through the people. The counterpart of that now is that it is through His Church that the Lord Jesus is bringing His enemies under His feet. Oh that we were more efficient in this! That is a challenge; it is a truth. But He is doing it, putting His enemies under His feet, and doing it through His church - so imperfectly and with such limitations, but that is His way. Old William Gurnall, the writer of "The Christian in Complete Armour", speaking of the serpent's head being put under the Lord's heel, pictures the Lord saying to His Church: "I have put him under My heel, come you and put your heel upon him!" We should be cooperating with the Lord Jesus in this matter.

See how He has done it through the centuries. It is a tremendous story! The very long-term nature of it, the extension of it over time, may rob it of some of its in our consciousness. But if you could just put it all together, the story of how He has done it through the centuries, what a story it would be!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 61)

Joy Cometh In the Morning!

Psalm 30:5
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
 
Christian! If thou art in a night of trial, think of the morrow; cheer up thy heart with the thought of the coming of thy Lord. Be patient, for
 
"Lo! He comes with clouds descending."
 
Be patient! The Husbandman waits until He reaps His harvest. Be patient; for you know who has said,
 
"Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be." If you are never so wretched now, remember

"A few more rolling suns, at most,
Will land thee on fair Canaan's coast."
 
Thy head may be crowned with thorny troubles now, but it shall wear a starry crown ere long; thy hand may be filled with cares-it shall sweep the strings of the harp of heaven soon. Thy garments may be soiled with dust now; they shall be white by-and-by. Wait a little longer. Ah! how despicable our troubles and trials will seem when we look back upon them! Looking at them here in the prospect, they seem immense; but when we get to heaven we shall then
 
"With transporting joys recount,
The labours of our feet."
 
Our trials will then seem light and momentary afflictions. Let us go on boldly; if the night be never so dark, the morning cometh, which is more than they can say who are shut up in the darkness of hell. Do you know what it is thus to live on the future-to live on expectation-to antedate heaven? Happy believer, to have so sure, so comforting a hope. It may be all dark now, but it will soon be light; it may be all trial now, but it will soon be all happiness. What matters it though "weeping may endure for a night," when "joy cometh in the morning?"

~Charles Spurgeon~

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 59

Christ Is Actively Reigning Now 

And He reigns. Christ is reigning. Christ is active. On several occasions He is spoken of as having, on His ascension, "sat down" in heaven: He "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3); He "sat down". But if you notice, whenever it is said that He "sat down," it is invariably related to the finishing of His redemptive work. That is done. On the other hand, He stands. There is no contradiction; it is only an implication of a different meaning. Stephen saw Him - "I see the heavens opened, and the SON OF MAN STANDING on the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56). He is spoken of as "standing." When it is a matter of the work of redemption, it is finished; there is nothing more to do - He can sit down. When it is a matter of the working out of that redemption here in this world, He is on His feet. When there is a challenge to what He has done, He rises up. Stephen is in the presence of that challenge, and the Exalted Lord is on His feet, for the sake of His testimony. He is active, that is the point. He is not just passively sitting down, waiting till His enemies are put under Him: He is putting them under! He stands to work this thing out.

Now, the activity of the reigning Lord is seen in several ways, only to be mentioned. Firstly, He is "taking out from the nations a people for His Name" (Acts 15:14). The great illustration in the Old Testament, of course, is that of Israel in Egypt. The taking out of a people for His Name is a tremendous business - you cannot do that sitting down! He extended the prince of this wold, exhausted all his power and all his resources and all his endurance, and got them out. We are left in no doubt about it that that was the Old Testament demonstration that exceeds that, and that is New Testament - "the exceeding greatness of His power when He raised Jesus from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand." That is exceeding greatness of power! But it was a tremendous thing to get Israel out of Egypt as a people for His Name.

And it is no less a thing to get this people out of the nations for His Name. The prince of this world withstands and challenges at every point, in every way. No soul is going to be released from that bondage and that kingdom without a fight. It is often made out to be far too easy; people are put into a false position by it being made too easy. If we did but know, we have got to stand into the Throne for souls, to get them out. Perhaps you have some experience of those parts of the earth where the prince of this world has a terrible hold, a very terrible hold, and so much at his command; and you know something of what it means to get just one soul out of that. The suffering, the travail, the anguish, the cost bound up with getting one soul out of a nation for His Name! It needs the Throne, the mighty Throne. But, in spite of so much, He is doing it. The point is that there is so much like Pharaoh and Egypt - but even greater than that - set against this; and yet He is doing it.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 60)

The Comfortable Church



I think it’s fairly evident that the society we live in is very self-centered, and this same characteristic can be present in a church. Whenever a local body of believers develops an inward focus, its fruitfulness in ministry begins to decrease, and each member’s Christian walk is hindered.

Many believers want their church to be cozy and comfortable. They come to listen to a nice sermon, fellowship with friends, and have their needs met. But Godnever intended for the gathering of His people to be like a country club; He calls us to join an army that will bring the gospel into enemy territory.

An effective church—one that poses a real threat to the Enemy—is a body of discipled people who have been taught the truth of Scripture, trained for service, and helped to mature spiritually. But all this is accomplished for the purpose of going out into the world, not for becoming a self-contained sanctuary of Christian comfort.

The urgency of the Lord’s command and the desperate condition of humanity should motivate us to leave the safety of our Christian fellowships and deliver the message of salvation through Jesus. To avoid this responsibility is to miss the Father’s plan for your life and the opportunity to help build His kingdom.

None of us want to waste time or energy on trivial things and thereby miss the exciting fulfillment of God’s will. He has called us, not to a life of comfortable tradition, but to an adventure of obedience. Answer His call—you’ll help fill His kingdom with people from every tribe and nation. 

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 58

He Must Reign (continued)

Paul's Understanding of the Church, And Concern for the Churches

I believe that this also was the key to Paul's understanding of the Church. Paul, as no one else, perhaps, had the greatest comprehension and understanding of the Church "from eternity to eternity." He goes right back into the Divine counsels "before the world was," and sees it there in the heart and thought of God; he comes right through and sees it in the great consummation of the ages of the ages. He of all the things he says - the highest things, the fullest things - the most complete expression of the meaning and vocation of the Church is contained and summed up in this matchless phrase: "Now unto Him Who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us (the Church), unto Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever" (Ephesians 3:20, 21). "Glory in the Church" - what glory? The glory of the glorified Christ! I could stay long with that matter of the Church and its eternal vocation and election, to be the vessel of the glory of Christ. John saw it at the end, in characteristic symbolism, in terms of the City it is simply the glory of Christ in expression at last. It is that for which the church was chosen; it is that to which the church is called - to be the vessel, the seat, of this authority, this government, and this glory. Christ in glory gave to Paul the clue as to the church, and an ever-growing explanation of its meaning.

This same thing accounted for his concern for the churches. No one will question that Paul had tremendous concern for the Churches. He says that he travailed for them; he wept day and night for them; he longed and yearned over them, spent himself for them. But why? What was the motive? What prompted all that? Ah, it was the glory of his Lord Jesus! The churches existed for the glory of Christ He said so. It was all just for that one thing - THE GLORY OF CHRIST. And if there was any deflection, if there was anything that was not right in the Church, or in the churches; if anything whatsoever could be done to help them, it was all motivated by this one thing, that the Lord Jesus should in all things be glorified.

And if we pass to the end of it all, and look at Paul's writing about the Lord coming again, what is it that is uppermost with him in relation to that coming? Is it the end of his troubles? Is it just his own joy and pleasure in getting to heaven? Oh no, it is the reign of His Lord the fact that His Lord is coming into His own, coming into His kingdom, coming into His rights, coming into the place that He ought to have, to be ceded that place universally - that is the great thing, the one thing giving birth and giving rise to everything else. "He must reign."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 59 - "Christ is Actively Reigning Now")

All Things Are Possible to Him that Believeth

All things are possible to him that believeth (Mark 9:23).

The "all things" do not always come simply for the asking, for the reason that God is ever seeking to teach us the way of faith, and in our training in the faith life there must be room for the trial of faith, the discipline of faith, the patience of faith, the courage of faith, and often many stages are passed before we really realize what is the end of faith, namely, the victory of faith.
 
Real moral fiber is developed through discipline of faith. You have made your request of God, but the answer does not come. What are you to do?
 
Keep on believing God's Word; never be moved away from it by what you see or feel, and thus as you stand steady, enlarged power and experience is being developed. The fact of looking at the apparent contradiction as to God's Word and being unmoved from your position of faith make you stronger on every other line.
 
Often God delays purposely, and the delay is just as much an answer to your prayer as is the fulfillment when it comes.
 
In the lives of all the great Bible characters, God worked thus. Abraham, Moses and Elijah were not great in the beginning, but were made great through the discipline of their faith, and only thus were they fitted for the positions to which God had called them.
 
For example, in the case of Joseph whom the Lord was training for the throne of Egypt, we read in the Psalms:
 
"The word of the Lord tried him." It was not the prison life with its hard beds or poor food that tried him, but it was the word God had spoken into his heart in the early years concerning elevation and honor which were greater than his brethren were to receive; it was this which was ever before him, when every step in his career made it seem more and more impossible of fulfillment, until he was there imprisoned, and all in innocence, while others who were perhaps justly incarcerated, were released, and he was left to languish alone.
 
These were hours that tried his soul, but hours of spiritual growth and development, that, "when his word came" (the word of release), found him fitted for the delicate task of dealing with his wayward brethren, with a love and patience only surpassed by God Himself.
 
No amount of persecution tries like such experiences as these. When God has spoken of His purpose to do, and yet the days go on and He does not do it, that is truly hard; but it is a discipline of faith that will bring us into a knowledge of God which would otherwise be impossible.

~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, June 20, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 57

"He Must Reign" (continued)

Paul's Transfigured Bible

From that crisis, that encounter, that vision, that "seeing" - that transaction, shall we call it - everything else took its rise in the life of Paul the apostle. Everything from that moment was transfigured, transformed, seen in an entirely new way, in the light of Jesus as on the Throne. After that, Paul went for a little while to Damascus, and then he went away into Arabia; and he went there with his Bible, I am quite sure; there are all the evidences of it. And he spent a long time there, with the Bible in one hand, and Jesus on the Throne, so to speak, in the other. If you want to know your Bible, that is the way; that is the key; that is the door - Jesus on the Throne, and the Bible. And Paul got a new Bible, a transfigured Bible! He saw his Bible, his Old Testament, with which he was very familiar, in a new and a living light, through that great truth - Jesus on the Throne! And as he went back over the Bible that he had, he saw this inherent everywhere. "Yes, yes, that is what is here!" He saw that the Bible was really the Book of one thing - God's intention to have a Man and His kind in dominion, reigning in glory. This matter of the glory of a Man in Heaven interpreted everything, explained everything.

After all, when you come to think of it, it does open the Bible. Why these awful conditions that we see? Because that is contrary to what God intended; it declares it. We look out on the world, and see the awful conditions in the nations, and around about us in our own country - the terrible conditions of suffering, of misery, of evil and we may feel inclined to ask the question of the doubter, of the cynic: Why? Why? Why does God allow it? The answer is here: God allows that which is contrary to Him to shout at men that it is contrary - He never meant it to be like that. When something goes wrong, God does not just pass it over, smooth it over, let it go as though it did not matter: He makes it shout its own crime and its own tragedy. The world is screaming with its own tragedy, and it is the tragedy of a missed purpose of God. Interpret that to the world, and you have an effective way of bringing in the Gospel.

But the Bible sprang into life for Paul, and it is an amazing thing how, from that moment, as he took his Bible with him everywhere, the one thing he is preaching is: "Jesus is Lord; Jesus Christ is Lord!" The exalted Lord, the exalted Christ, the glorified Christ, was his theme; and Paul preached from the Bible. It had changed his Bible for him. It was responsible for, and accounted for, his whole mission and work. What was the great business to which he was committed? What was it that constituted him an apostle? Well, his mission and his work was impassioned and motivated and controlled by just this one thing - the absolute glory of the Lord Jesus; that Jesus should come into His rightful place in this world and in human hearts. That was the one motive, the one object, the one dominating thing in all his work, in all his mission. It was not this and that, and a number of other things; it was one central, but all-inclusive passion - Jesus as Lord, to be that in human lives. His work and his mission were both transfigured and controlled by this that had come into his experience.

His sufferings and his endurance were made possible by this vision. Sometimes he makes light of his sufferings. If ever a man suffered, I think that man suffered. I do not know that there were many ways in which he did not suffer; he suffered greatly, many sufferings, and heavy sufferings. But listen! "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen" (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18); and among those "things not seen", supremely and over them all, was that Exalted One in the glory, "Whom", says his fellow-apostle Peter, "having not seen ye love; on Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8). But the point is - how was it tat he was able to endure and suffer triumphantly? It was just because of this basic and central consciousness - the deep, strong conviction that Jesus was on the Throne.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 58 - "Paul's Understanding of the Church, and Concern for the Churches")

Miracles in the Everyday


Behold I do a new thing; now it shall spring forth. Do you not perceive it?  Isaiah 43:19

There are many times that I just want to quit. There is no real reason but I just don't feel like continuing on the same path. I want to see new things, do new things, feel new things and think on new things. I look for the miracles to come and, at times, I seem to end up more miserable than when I started. Sounds like moments of a mid-life crisis, doesn’t it? Maybe some of you deal with similar feelings at times. Wouldn't it be great to have a relationship that changes from being filled with tension to all of a sudden being filled with those loving feelings? Wouldn't it be great to suddenly wake up every morning early, bright-eyed to spend an hour with the Lord and to hear Him answer you? Wouldn't it be great to be able to eat whatever you want without worrying about gaining weight or needing to exercise? That would cause a whole new way of thinking and feeling and doing and even living. Those miracles can happen–and do. I have seen the Lord do those things, which is why I look for those kinds of miracles every day. But I have come to realize that God uses the boundaries in our lives to teach us victories in entirely new ways. I hate to admit it, but I have come to learn that the victories in life come mostly in the everyday things.

I was reading the book of Zechariah along with the book of Revelation and cross-referencing similar passages. I knew that the Lord was speaking through them to me. I got this great feeling that He was going to be doing something great in my life that day. As time went by, I was looking for the miracle. And God is so faithful; I realized that He did do a miracle that day. There was something I have dreaded to do every week, but all of a sudden, I was excited to go and participate. It was a miracle. I didn't have any of those feelings of dread or insecurity, just excitement. Why did God choose to reveal His blessing to me in this way? Because He values our everyday lives and wants to have us enjoy His blessings in them. That new thing may seem so small but it yielded so much peace. God is in the business of granting peace.

Look for the Lord in the little things. He wants your revelation of His works to become bigger as you look for Him in the every day. And believe me, living on the same path but now with peace is living in the miraculous.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 56

"He Must Reign" (continued)

We have said that, for the apostles, the reign of Christ had already begun; it did obtain in their time. How did they come to that conviction, to that knowledge? We will keep, for our purpose, to the man whose words we have extracted, the man Paul. Paul's knowledge of Christ as reigning sprang out of  his personal experience of that fact. He had had an encounter in his life with the reigning, glorified Lord; and the Lord from Heaven had had an encounter with him. It had become something in his own personal experience, history and life. It was something very personal; and it has to be that. Until it is that, it can be very theoretical. It has to be personal and experimental. And it was so with Paul. In that encounter, on the way to Damascus, two very personal words had been used, and I think it all centers in that fact.

Two Personal Words

First of all, Paul had been spoken to by his own personal name: "Saul, Saul!" His own name was called and reiterated. He is being nailed down to this personally; he is not getting away with it; he is not being allowed to mistake what he hears. It is being directed to the man in his own personal name. He is not mixed up in a crowd; he is not just met in a teaching: the thing has come quite straight at him as a man, as an individual - "Saul, Saul!"  I am not suggesting that we all have to have the same form of encounter. But we all have to have the same crisis; that is, we are all to have, and can have, a point in our life when we come face to face with the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ; and there is the crisis upon which all the future turns. It is a tremendous thing to come face to face with the Lordship of Christ; it is a greater thing than coming face to face with His Saviourhood. There are many people who are saved by the Saviour, and own Him as Saviour, but whose lives are seriously lacking in the power of His Lordship. That is a statement - we leave it.

The other very personal word to Saul was the one that came when he asked, "Who art Thou, Lord?" The answer came: "I am Jesus ..."; and, lest Saul should prevaricate, try to evade, get around it, by saying, "yes, but our country is full of men by that name; which Jesus do you mean?" - the Lord safeguarded it by adding: "...Whom thou persecutest" - "the Jesus Whom you are persecuting - that is the One!"  And Saul knew Who that One was, right enough. He had but one Jesus in all his thoughts and in all his plans, and that Jesus he was determined to blot out and wipe out from the world's memory; he was out to eradicate every trace of that Jesus. "I am Jesus - the One that you are persecuting." You see how personal the Lord made this matter. He brought it right home, first to the man himself, and then to the very purpose of his life - the very object to which he had dedicated all his strength of mind and body for its destruction: "I am Jesus."

Something like that is really necessary if there is to be any kind of repetition, in the Church and in us, of the after results in the life of Paul. There has to come a point where, instead of being just one of a multitude, we come, personally and individually, under His absolute personal domination and Lordship. Our whole life - all our ambitions, all our enterprises, all our commitments, are now brought under His Lordship. It is a tremendous thing, but the glory of that Throne waits upon the acceptance of its Government, its Lordship.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 57 - "Paul's Transfigured Bible")

Just Believe


Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." John1:50


What does it take for you to believe? For some, we want the small things like a peaceful day. For others, we want our bodies healed. And for others, we want God to appear to us and give us direction on what to do next. All of these requests fall on the lines of appeasing our flesh. Our flesh doesn’t want to struggle or guess; we want clarity, peace and a life that is pain free. But that is why many do not believe.

At times, God does perform these kinds of miracles, but God doesn’t need to prove He is God as much as we need to prove we believe He is God. Despite how we feel, what we see or how we think, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Faith goes beyond the senses to a deep understanding and knowing that He is God in the midst of a hassled day and in the hurts from life’s circumstances. Faith is believing without seeing.

The Lord asks us today, “Do you believe?” If the answer is yes, He will spiritually open your eyes to see in faith what He has for you. He might not show you through a burning bush or through an earthquake, but it is that still small voice that will testify within your spirit His will and ways for you. Sometimes He says, “Wait.” Other times He will say, “Go.” But every time, the Lord Jesus Christ will say, “Just believe.” He knows what is best. Trust Him today with that issue you want to see God work through so badly. Give it to Him. Lay it down at His feet. Just believe and you will see greater things than these.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 55

"He Must Reign"

"He must reign, till He hath put all His enemies under His feet" (1 Corinthians 15:25)

In these past messages our eyes have been turned to that Throne that was seen by Ezekiel through the open heaven, with the "appearance as of a Man upon it above." And we have seen, I trust, how everything that follows is just the expression and manifestation of that Throne - of the absolute exaltation of the Lord Jesus above all things.

Now, when Paul wrote these words that we have quoted above, he was not thinking of some future time when Christ would reign and put all His enemies under His feet. He was not thinking of Jesus as waiting for a time to come, when something would be done that would put Him in that position and bring about that result. Whenever Paul - or, for that matter, any of the apostles - referred to Christ's exaltation and Lordship, he and they always regarded it and spoke of it as a present thing. While they looked on into the future and saw something more of its outworking, in its beginning and in its actuality it was not to them a future thing; to them it was now. And when Paul said, "He must reign," he meant, "He is reigning, and must continue to reign, until He has put all His enemies under His feet."

That is something that has to be recovered in our consciousness and in our conviction. That is the thing that needs to be restored to its place in the Church's life and consciousness continually. For, to a very large extent, while the Church adheres to the doctrine of the exaltation of Christ, His Kingship and Lordship, the reality, the power and the consciousness of it has been to a very large extent lost. The Church, in the beginning, lived in the consciousness and the power of the fact - as it was to them - that Jesus was on the Throne; undoubtedly, unquestionably He was on the Throne; He was Lord of all. Peter affirmed it: "He is Lord of all!" (Acts 10:3). Paul said: "God did set Him far above all rule and authority" (Ephesians 1:20, 21). It was something accomplished. That was their view of the matter; that was their conviction; that was their consciousness; and it was so powerful with them as to affect every aspect of their lives.

And until that is as true in the life and realization of the Church in our time as it was at the beginning, the same results and effects will not be found in the Church or through the church today. If the mighty impact and registration of Christ at that time was something incomparably greater than the deplorable state today in the Church, it was due to this one thing. If you wish to trace the secret of their power, their influence, their progress, their onward march - for in spite of a world of terrible hostility, persecution, martyrdom and every other kind of adversity, they marched forward "terrible as an army with banners," and were described as the people who had "turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6) - if you wish to discover the secret, you will find it here: "He must reign - He must reign, till He hath put all His enemies under His feet." He is reigning!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 56)