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Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Watchword of the Son of Man # 6

6. The Instrument of the Ultimate Purpose

John 17 is a chapter of great range. Back to the Past Eternity, "And now, Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own Self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was" (verse 5). On Through All Time, "I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and lovedst them, even as Thou lovedst Me" (verse 23). Unto Eternity to Be, "Father, I desire that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world" (verse 24). Heaven, earth, hell, believers, unbelievers, and the evil one, are all touched.

With all these in full view the Great High Priest stands by the altar of the Cross and prays. He is praying a prayer of universal and timeless dimensions. And yet He focuses it all upon a point in time which He calls "the hour." To what does that hour relate? To the glorifying of the Son, Who is praying. What is one of the prominent factors in that glorifying? That the world might know that He had been sent by the Father, and that He should be believed on in the world.

By what means will that be brought about, furnishing the ultimate proof that He came, and that He accomplished His work successfully? By the triumphant manifestation of His own unique, deathless and indestructible Life, by which the Church, which is His Body, is constituted a living organism. The heart of this far-reaching and many-sided chapter would seem to be the constituting of an effectual testimony concerning the Lord Jesus to the nations in and through the  Church in virtue of His Cross.

This testimony is seen to have as a primary and basic truth the organic oneness of all members of Christ. The nature and pattern of this oneness is revealed in verse 21. It is oneness in God and in Christ. It is not merely the presenting of a united front to the world, but the impact of a mighty Presence. Christ dwelt in the Father, He had His life in the Father, in the days of His flesh. He said, "I live because of the Father" (John 6:57). It was the effect of this that demonstrated the oneness.

The oneness is a spiritual power, not an organized force. A world governed by "the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience" will not bow to a common testimony to objective truths, however many may represent them. The conviction that Christ has come rests upon the abiding power of His imparted Life, which is the common possession of all who are truly His by new birth. To know God, and Jesus Christ Whom He did send, is a matter of Life - "This is Life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3). It is not life resultant from knowledge, but knowledge resultant from Life. When the Lord Jesus prays that the world may know and believe, He makes that consequent upon the living manifestation of the believer's union wit, and abiding in, the Father and Himself, which relationship would issue in a common witness to the living reality of Christ.

This then is a full consecration chapter, based upon His own model "For their sakes I sanctify (consecrate) Myself" (John 17:19). There may be different aspects of the oneness in the chapter. Verse 21 relates to basic oneness in Christ: "That they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us: that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me." Verse 11 may that manifest oneness as on the Day of Pentecost: "And I am no more in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as we are." Verse 23 is a process and a consummation - ultimate oneness. "I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and lovedst them, even as Thou lovedst Me."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7)

Teach Them Diligently

"And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”  Deuteronomy 6:6-7

My children got into the car after a day at their Christian school and told me that a friend of theirs was going to hell. They said, “He lies, mom, and liars go to hell.” I asked, “Why do you think that?” Then the two kids broke out in a song that has a line that says, “Liars go to hell…liars go to hell…Revelation 21:8, 21:8…burn burn burn.” I thought to myself, “How can my kids believe this when we know we each fall short everyday?” Well, the subject changed and I never addressed it.

Around 4:30 the next morning, I woke up with this thought racing in my mind: “You need to teach your children about grace. They are not being taught how to live in God’s grace at their Christian school. The gospel is about God’s grace to sinners. Your kids don’t understand how to extend grace to others or themselves.”

After much prayer, I approached the subject of grace and what Revelation 21:8 says. My son said to me, “Are you telling me that I sin everyday (lying included) and God doesn’t hold that against me? Are you telling me that I can do whatever I want, and because of the blood of Christ, it is covered and God sees me as righteous anyway?” Immediately I prayed, “Oh Lord, I really want my 13 year old son to completely get this but this Truth can lead to poor choices…help.” And the wisdom of the Lord came upon me as I opened my mouth and said to him, “Yes. That is exactly right. However, if you really love the Lord and know Him, you won’t want to sin and hurt Him. Your heart should respond back to His love and as a result, you will live a life that is pleasing to Him.” Both of my kids nodded in agreement and said, “Cool.”
I thanked the Lord when my daughter then said to me, “Mom, school teaches us about God but you teach us how to know Him better and love Him more.” God gets the glory because I ignored it initially.

Today, we need to realize the responsibility we have to give our children a strong biblical foundation. We have to role model to them the love of Christ from our hearts and we have to teach them how to know Him better. Be sensitive to the conversations you have with your children. God will lead you in what to say…just be diligent!

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Watchword of the Son of Man # 5

5. The Mind and the Method of the Ultimate Purpose (continued)

That is what is significant in this. Do you say that is imagination taking flight? Then come again to Philippians 2. There He is in the Throne with God. "He counted it not a thing to be grasped to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself ..." He laid aside the garments of Glory. He rose from His Throe of equality with God and took upon Himself "the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men." There is the towel of our humanity. In essence He was always equal with the Father, but in ministry He accepted our dependence. He came forth, and poured out His blood to wipe the stains of sin from the universe. That is why there is this basis - "Knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He came forth from God, and goeth unto God." You see, that is the background of this thing. "What I do thou knowest not now," but they did understand afterward. All this was set before them as showing that this is the way of the highest service - not to be important, not to be high and lifted up above everyone else. This was a blow at their attitude at this very time, when no one would take upon himself the form of a slave and wash the others' feet.

Now recognize this one central thing. Pride was the source of all human sin. It began with satan. "Thou saidst in thine heart ... I will be like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:13, 14). he who had no right to equality sought to grasp it. He Who had the right to it did not think it a thing to be grasped, and saw a need for laying it down. Pride was the source of all human sin, and the wreckage of the world; so Christ must needs provide an antidote for the source of sin. What is that? - His own humiliation. He reverses the order, and ends all this work of the devil by and in His own humiliation.

Now He says in effect to them, and to us, 'Do you want to remove the ground from the devil?Then pride must be torn from your hearts, and you must pour yourselves out unto death; pour yourselves out for the sake of the Name, and for the sake of others. Position, prestige, reputation, these must be of no concern whatever. The spirit of victorious service is this.' So here you have the mind and the method of the ultimate purpose.

"Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, counted it not a thing to be grasped to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, yea, the death of the Cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted Him and gave unto Him the name which is above every name" (Phil. 2:5-9)

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6 - (6. The Instrument of the Ultimate Purpose)

Things to Come

Thus says the Lord, The Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: "Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons; and concerning the work of My hands, you command Me. Isaiah 45:11

It has taken most of my life, my Christian life, to finally realize that if I want to know something from the Lord, then I just need to ask Him. Sounds kind of like a no-brainer, but for some reason, I spent most of my time with the Lord dealing with my personal requests. I have prayed pretty much my whole life. I have prayed very specifically at times and I have prayed in the bigger picture at times, but I have always prayed. What I did not necessarily pray about, though, were of "things to come." I think many of us tend to pray about the “here and now” issues, or the things that we want "to come," not necessarily asking the Lord to reveal what He is doing "concerning the work of My hands."

Why is this so important to understand? When I see verses that say to "ask" the Lord for something, then I know that must be His will. Today's verse even says, "you command Me." Instead of just focusing on the issues in our immediate path, let's ask the Lord about what He is doing down the road. I have been immensely blessed and have had huge increases in my own level of faith because I have learned to ask the Lord "of things to come" and have seen Him answer through circumstances or situations that have come to pass. My role is to ask, then to pray for wisdom and discernment in how to go forth in what He shows me.

We need to know that the Lord is more than willing to reveal things to us, if we are seeking Him with all of our hearts. As we grow in our walk with Christ, He will teach us His ways and mold our character into more of His image. When we spend time in His Word, we begin to see how verses like Isaiah 45:11 take on a completely new meaning to us personally. When the Holy Spirit impresses a verse upon your heart, take it to prayer and seek the Lord in what He is saying to you. Maybe God wants to reveal something to you—maybe even "of things to come."

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Watchword of the Son of Man # 4

The Basis of the Ultimate Purpose

Let us now turn to Matthew 26:18. Here the Master is preparing for the Passover, and sends a messenger to a certain man whom He evidently knows in secret, and He says to this man, "My time is at hand; I keep the Passover at thy house with My disciples". The Passover; here the blood is again in view. But what is the most conspicuous thing relative to this particular Passover supper and the shed blood? It is a covenant. We read, "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many unto remission of sins" (Matthew 26:28). "The blood of the eternal covenant" (Hebrews 13:20). It is a covenant in view now in the Passover.

In the case of Israel and the Passover, in that blood of the Lamb there was a covenant between the Lord of Life and His people as against the lord of death and his authority, and in that covenant with His people made in the blood of the Passover Lamb they were secured from the tyranny of "him that had the power of death, that is, the devil," and were brought out from death into Life, from darkness into Light, from bondage into Liberty, from shame into Glory, from desolation into Fruitfulness. That covenant was the basis of their emancipation, and all of that is bound up now with this - "a new covenant in My blood" (Luke 22:20).

This is the covenant between Himself, the Lord of Life, and His own elect ones, by which they are going to be made victorious over death in their union with Him as members of His Body; the covenant with His Church by which death is robbed ultimately, finally of its power. Here you have the basis of His ultimate purpose; and it will be upon the basis of that covenant in His Life that we are maintained victorious. That is, here you have the thing made in the blood and in the life of the eternal Son of God, Whom "God ... brought again from the dead with the Blood of the eternal covenant," which is the absolute ground of your victory.

He is a God Who keepth covenant. This covenant is as everlasting  covenant, the eternal covenant of a Life which cannot see corruption, and upon that basis we are bound to go through triumphantly. He will not break this covenant with us. This covenant stand to bring us into that union with Himself which is going absolutely to triumph.

Now you see, what He secures here in His covenant is a basis - that relationship in life by which He is going to work out all that was wrought in the Cross, and in the Resurrection. We have anticipated this, but here the stronger emphasis comes. How is He going to demonstrate throughout the cosmos that He has triumphed over death? He will do it in and through those who are in covenant relation with Him upon the basis of this one Life. So He sits down with His disciples, and in this testimony He declares that oneness in His death and in His burial and in His resurrection is the way of victory. He says, in effect, 'What is true of Me is going to be true of you - that is, victory over death - and here I make the covenant which cannot be broken that we together are going to display the victory of this life throughout the universe.' A covenant in Life. That is the Hour. "My time is at hand."

5. The Mind and the Method of the Ultimate Purpose

Now let us turn to John 13. Here you have the account of the feet washing. "Jesus knowing that His hour was come ... and that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that he came forth from God, and goeth unto God ...". How rich that is! But that is the basis of what is going to take place now. With all things delivered unto Him of the Father, and knowing that He came forth from God and returned to God - upon that basis He rose from supper, laid aside His garment, took a towel and girded Himself, and poured water into a basin and washed the feet of the disciples. Then, coming to Simon, He made this remarkable statement, so full of significance: "What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt understand hereafter" (John 13:7). Then this  must be a symbolic act, a sign. It is a sign of Jesus. It ranges the ages and the  eternities, and could truly be paraphrased in this way:

'He rose from His Throne; He laid aside the garments of Light. He took the poor towel of our humanity and wrapped it around His Glorious Person, and poured His own Blood into the basin of the Cross, and set Himself to wipe from the universe the foul stains of sin.' Or put round the other way, 'He is about to lay aside the garment of humiliation, and to enter into the presence of God, girded to make abiding intercession - in virtue of His shed Blood - for the maintenance of a life, walk, work, and fellowship of holiness on the part of His servants.'

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5)

Opening Our Ears to Hear

God said to Isaiah: "Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.' Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed" (Isa. 6:9-10, NIV).

This type of judgment is articulated by Paul in Romans 1: "Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done" (v. 28, NIV).

The worst punishment that can befall us is to be given over or abandoned to our sin by God. This anticipates God's verdict at the final judgment: "Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile" (Rev.22:11, NIV).

Every time God's Word is proclaimed it changes all of those within its hearing. No one ever remains unaffected by God's Word. To those who hear it positively, there is growth in grace. To those who reject it or are indifferent to it, calluses are added to their souls and calcium to their hearts. The eye becomes dimmer and dimmer, the ear heavier and heavier, and the mystery of the kingdom more and more obscure. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Coram Deo: Living in the Presence of God
Ask God to open your ears to hear His voice, to clear your spiritual eyes, and to let you understand with your heart.

For Further Study
Isaiah 6:9-10: "And He said, 'Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed."
Romans 1:28: "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting."

~R. C. Sproul~

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Watchword of the Son of Man # 3

3. The Law of the Ultimate Purpose

Pass on hurriedly to John 12:21-24. The Greeks inquired for Him saying, "Sir, we would see Jesus." His response to the inquiry is "The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified ... Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die," etc. Perhaps there is no more familiar passage to us than that - a corn of wheat issuing in the resurrection body; the Son of man thus glorified; the triumph of Christ over death in a bodily form. It is true that in an isolated capacity, and apart altogether from others, He triumphed personally over death, but that is not the only method of God to demonstrate the fact. The fact of His triumph over death is also in a corporate resurrection body with all the members sharing that Resurrection Life. That is the testimony to the fact that He has risen; that is also an instrument by which it is to be proved to the universe that He is alive from the dead.

The law of the ultimate purpose is here seen: Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die...

The sign of the ultimate purpose. The security of the ultimate purpose. The law of the ultimate purpose. What does all that amount to? LIFE THROUGH DEATH.

Now we are so familiar with this truth that it hardly needs further emphasis or words; but let it be said as we pass on, that everything, to the most minute detail, which relates to that ultimate purpose of God has to be born in the power of His Resurrection. Oh, how we are tested upon that! A relationship - and the Lord calls upon you to let that relationship go. The Cross and your position relative to the Lord Jesus costs you that, and that is to go down into death. Relationships are all tested down there; and then what is of God comes back, it must survive. What is not of God we become quite content to do without. We come up in the Victory of His Life.

If a thing has been sown of God in the grave of the Lord Jesus, it rises in the power of a Life that cannot see death and corruption; it will come up, but  this time on a higher level. That is the history of many a personal experience. What happened? We have been baptized into death since then, all of us, aye, and we have been baptized into hell, for all hell seems to have been let loose upon this thing, and we pass through the darkness, the bitter agony, and the spiritual antagonisms to a point of almost intolerable pressure. Where are we? We are coming up, and praise God, we are higher than ever.

This is the continual order, the cycle of the law of this progress of the ultimate purpose. I think the Church will be baptized into a deeper death, just before the Lord comes, than ever it has known before, and then it will go higher than ever; it will not be able to get any higher, for it will bound to the utmost heights. This is the law of the ultimate purpose which is wrought out in individual lives in every relationship, in everything. It results in this, that you do not come back to the single plane, you come back to the multiple plane - increase - the one corn changed to the many, all sharing one Life.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - (4. The Basis of the Ultimate Purpose)

The Real Food

But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.   But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 1 Corinthians 8:8-9

 How often do you think about food?  What types of cravings do you get for your favorite foods?  Midnight snacks and mad dashes through our favorite drive-thrus are part of our lives and culture.  Hunger is a drive necessary to sustain life while appetite is a desire to satisfy our cravings for food.  Food is a necessity to our physical bodies and to enjoy good food is one of our greatest pleasures. However, even with all its necessity, this earthly food has no value to us spiritually.

If Paul is saying that what we eat, or do not eat, has no effect on our relationship with God, then why can we not eat whatever, drink whatever and be merry? One reason is because the choices that we make impact others. We must realize that our actions are being watched by others and that we have a responsibility as Christians to set godly examples for others. God does care about the behaviors and attitudes we exhibit that affect those around us.

There are numerous examples of this behavior in our churches today. Movies and television choices can influence our families and friends.  What kind of example do we set for those in and out of the church? Would seeing certain movies stumble others? What about drinking alcohol? Many Christians have no problem with limited alcohol consumption. But, would it not influence the Christian who feels that this type of drinking, without exception, is wrong?  Some might argue that the Christian church in general stumbles non-believers, because much of our behavior is not just in the world, it is of the world.

Food is not the real issue, but it is certainly representative of how our behaviors as Christians can greatly affect those around us, even if there is technically “nothing wrong” with certain activities. Jesus gave His life for us so that we can have the real food—the bread of life.  If we follow Him, our choices in this world will bring glory and honor to His name while also setting the right example for others.  We should pray not to get hung up on things of no value spiritually but to get caught up in the Spirit of God so that we may be a blessing to others, not a stumbling block.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Watchword of the Son of Man # 2

1. The Sign of the Ultimate Purpose (continued)

This beginning of signs related to His glory. Then if He takes hold of this thing and turns it thus to be a sign, the meaning is that He projects upon the screen, as it were, all the purpose of His coming - a marriage relationship upon the basis of Life, and that Life is found in His blood - and the ultimate purpose looms into view. The hour in which He is glorified is the hour when He gets that which stands in relationship to Him as a bride; and this throws you right on into that unveiling through Paul, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25). That is the end of this. His hour is related to that, and His glory is related to that. In simple words, it is that which the Son of man requires for the manifestation of His glory  - that Church, which stands in this relationship to Him upon a basis of one Life, and for which He gave Himself.

He takes hold of this which otherwise would have been an ordinary occasion of social festivity, turns it to account, and makes it the occasion of the sign of His ultimate purpose. "This beginning of signs" - that is what it signifies here; and the miracle of Death and Resurrection by which He gets His Church is foreshadowed, foreseen, in this - the Life poured out, the basis of a union. "Mine hour" - that is "the hour;" and He has, as we have indicated, deliberately stepped out to that.

As we pass on, let us take with us this central thought that it is a Life which is in question, which is to be shared by a corporate company in a marital union with the Lord Jesus in His Resurrection; a Life, a Triumphant Life, by which the Church is secured triumphantly over death. Now we cannot stay for anything more about that, but we take up the clue and pass on with that in our hands.

2. The Security of the Ultimate Purpose

The next is in John 7:30. "They sought therefore to take Him: and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour was not yet come."

What was His own later comment upon that? "No one taketh (My Life) away from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power (authority) to lay it down, and I have power (authority) to take it again. This commandment received I from My Father" (John 10:18).

No man laid his hand upon Him because His hour was not yet come - the hour of His authority for laying down that life. The death of the Lord Jesus Christ was not just to be murder. The murderer - he, the devil, of whom the Lord said, "he was a murderer from the beginning" - was out to murder the Son of God, and he was seeking all the way through to bring about His untimely death, His destruction, and you notice how varied were his methods.

The first such temptation was - "Cast Thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee ... On their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest Thou dash Thy foot against a stone (Luke 4:9-11). You see, the devil was trying to bring about His undoing and His death by not keeping in the way of God. If the Lord had acted upon the basis projected by the devil, the angels could not have upheld Him: He would have been dashed to pieces. That would have been the been the untimely end; and the Master saw through it. From that first time of temptation onward the devil was out to murder Him; but the death of Christ was not to be murder. His death, when it came about, was to be deliberate and in the will of God, and therefore victorious, not in defeat.

Now, as you have the sign of the ultimate purpose in the first occasion, here you have the security of the ultimate purpose. That Life cannot be touched by man; it is a thing which man cannot interfere with. The laying down of that Life is a deliberate act of authority, and in the same authority it will be taken up again - the triumph of that Life in resurrection, because it is in the will and purpose of God, and neither devil nor man can touch that.

It is very blessed to know this as a practical thing, that if we possess that Life and are keeping in the way of the Lord, there can be no untimely end. Everything will be deliberate, however it may appear. The murderer is defeated, the purpose is secured in that Life, in the triumph of that Life, as it is kept sheerly in the way of the Divine will. Deviate from that way and there is no guarantee of protection from the murderer. Keep in that way, and "no man laid his hand upon Him, because His hour was not yet come." The security of the ultimate purpose is in that Life maintained in the will of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - (The Law of the Ultimate Purpose)

Follow Me

After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he left all, rose up, and followed Him. Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. Luke 5:27-29

A tax collector was not an honorable position during Jesus' time. Tax collectors were known for their shrewd and fraudulent ways. This passage says that Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi. Jesus obviously got his attention as He commissioned Levi to follow Him. It is amazing that the passage says that Levi left all, rose up and followed Him. There is a sense that Levi had immediate action with little thought. He seemed to abandon all for the call of Christ. Think of what it took to go from a tax collector with a negative reputation, to a disciple of Jesus Christ. Questions come to mind such as, "How did Levi do that? Did he just quit his job, sell his house or what? Where did He follow Jesus to?"  Levi's next steps are right there in the next verse. Verse 29 says that Levi followed Jesus to "his own house." Levi brought Jesus to his own home, so, Levi followed Jesus back home.

The first step to being Jesus' disciple is by becoming His follower at home. Not only does Jesus meet us right where we are, but also Jesus becomes part of where we are. When we come to know Him and follow Him, Jesus leads us back to our own homes. Home is our training ground. It is in our homes that we first speak out about Jesus, so the change in our lives needs to become evident at home first. 

Jesus saw Levi and Jesus sees you. Jesus called Levi and Jesus is calling you. Are you willing to answer His call? Are you following Jesus in your home? Levi gave Jesus a great feast. There was preparation and planning for this party as he made a public profession that he was following Jesus' ways, starting immediately. For you today, it may be that you stop watching certain shows or stop saying certain words. It also will mean that you start sharing your faith with your family.  Levi is an example of someone with the kind of commitment it takes to follow Jesus. Levi became one of the twelve apostles whose name was changed to Matthew. He was the man who wrote the Book of Matthew, leading many others to follow Christ just like he did.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Watchword of the Son of Man

1. The Sign of the Ultimate Purpose

We are to consider briefly that solemn watchword of our Lord's life on earth by which the stages of His advance toward His ultimate purpose were governed and marked: for He went toward that ultimate purpose by stages governed by a consciousness which found its expression in a familiar phrase, "Mine Hour." That was the solemn watchword of our Lord's life and progressive movement into and unto His ultimate purpose, and we shall look at some of those movements as defined by that expression.

In the first place let us turn to John 2. You know this is the account of the miracle of turning water into wine at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the thing upon which everything turned was this utterance, "Mine hour is not yet come." Mary, His mother in the flesh, had come to Him saying, "They have no wine." Whether she was anticipating a miracle on His part or not, we need not stay to discuss. Probably she was not, for His answer is illuminating. It is a very harsh in our English language, which does not convey a certain softness that really was in His own words. Our language bluntly puts it this way, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come."

Literally He said this, "What is there in common between you and Me?" - which being expounded means this, You are thinking of one thing and I am thinking of another. Your mind is in one realm, My mind is working in another. You are wanting one thing, I am after another. What is there in common between you and Me? We are in two different realms of thought, of inclination, of intention, of desire." That, I say, is very significant and very suggestive, as the original language makes it perfectly clear that is what He said and therefore you come to this conclusion, that He had a mind, a very clear and settled mind, as to what He would do. What He was after and the thing that was going to happen had a significance in His mind which far transcended anything that was in the mind of anyone else: there was really no comparison or relationship between these other thoughts and His. He had something in mind which they did not discern or perceive.

When you realize that this was the beginning of His ministry, and that this was the first manifestation of that Divine Sonship in its sovereignty, then you have a clue. You recognize that He is making this first thing a very significant thing indeed - that in His mind this is full of eternal significance, which no one else saw, but He knew; and He was moving in a definite and deliberate act and stage toward that ultimate thing which He was now projecting in this positive and definite way.

Now you break the thing up, and you find that the keywords are, "Mine Hour," and the last words, "manifested His glory." Then the miracle, or the sign, as you notice, had wine as its occasion and basis. Wine is a symbol in the Word for blood and life, very often interchangeable words, and very often synonymous terms. As we gather around the Lord's Table we recognize that the wine is the symbol of the blood which contains the life; and this symbol was the basis and the occasion of this act, this sign, which issued in His glory relative to  His hour, and marked a definite step toward an ultimate purpose.

Here He ceased to be a private person, and crossed the line into public life, and from this moment He was a marked man. On the one hand, He was sought after because of certain benefits which He was considered capable of bestowing. On the other hand, He was sought after for His destruction. But from this moment He was out in the open, and it was this deliberate stepping across the line, with this thing which was in His mind relative to "the hour," that committed Him to the battle which had its consummation in the last declaration of this watchword:

The hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners (Matthew 26:45).

He crossed the line in Cana of Galilee and related this to the first expression "My hour," "the hour," and in between the events that were marked by the first and the last utterances of His watchword thee was progressive movement onward. Now what is the thing that is in His mind? Everything that the Master did was deliberate; there was nothing casual; there were no side-shows in His life; there was nothing that was merely incidental. Everything was in the direct line of His ultimate purpose, and He would not accept an invitation to a marriage festivity just on sentimental grounds. This thing was not a social incident in His life, it was brought right into direct line with His ultimate purpose, and that is why all was made to center in this "Mine hour."

This beginning of signs related to His glory.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

Peace In Him

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Most of us would agree that tribulations are very much a part of life. They come at different times for different reasons, but they no doubt come.  Do you ever wonder just where the peace is that Jesus was speaking about?  How about in your own personal life? Do you have peace in your daily routines? Jesus tells us that we will have tribulation in this world, a definite promise not just a possibility. But our only hope for peace is in Jesus. We must claim this verse as a direct promise from Him. He has overcome the world; therefore, we can overcome those things that try to take our peace by living for Him.      
Yet the words sound easier to do than the reality of actually living our lives this way. For me, my life seemed to be much better when I was in control of my circumstances. If I could somehow control the factors that influenced my day, then I could produce the peace I desperately needed. For a long period of time, my day consisted of doing those things that either mattered most to me or to others who expected a level of performance from me. I believed that being in control led to greater stability and less turmoil, a win-win for everyone around me.  
There were clues along the way that maybe this way of life was not so great for everyone else around me. One major clue came one night several years ago when my husband asked me if I was okay. Of course, I was okay. Our lives were good. Our marriage was fine, rarely a conflict or cross word. Our jobs were more than sufficient to meet our needs. We were young, owned our own home, had money, and enjoyed many of the world’s amenities. Why was he asking me what was wrong? He began to express his concerns to me about—me.  I could not listen to him without becoming defensive. After some discussion, I confessed to him that I often felt like an android, a machine on the inside but normal looking on the outside. Still, I was not ready or willing to accept that maybe I needed to change, that I needed help.      
Over time, the Lord has led me to make many, many changes in my life. I was deceived into thinking that I could make my own peace by controlling my circumstances and situations. The changes have come by surrendering my control to Jesus. There is no peace in this world without the Lord. I have known Jesus as my Savior most of my life, but only when I made Him Lord of my life did I begin to know His peace. He left us His peace. May we all let go of our need to be in control and trust Jesus to help us get through all things….both good and bad.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Persistent Purpose of God # 59

"The Lord Is There" (continued)

Now you must study that with your New Testament in your hands. When Jesus went to His baptism, He said to John the Baptist: "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." His baptism was, as we know, a type of His Cross. Therefore, His baptism and the Cross represent the fulfillment of all righteousness - that is, through judgment the death of one man and the putting of a New Man beyond the reach of judgment. That is where we are by faith in Jesus Christ. That is where the Church is. In the beginning of the Letter to the Ephesians, the Church is seated together with Him in the heavenlies. The Church is seen as on the other side of judgment because it has been raised together with Him. For the Church, all judgment is fulfilled. That is the first thing that makes way for glory in the Church. All judgment fulfilled, and that makes the way for God to commit Himself.

Now to another aspect of God committing Himself: it is where Christ is glorified. God will commit Himself where Christ is glorified. Here is a law of God. If Go is to give Himself by His Spirit, then Jesus must be Glorified. When the glorifying of the Lord Jesus is our only object, then the Father will come in by the Spirit.

Then there is this third aspect. God will commit Himself where Jesus is enthroned in government. Where His Man is on the Throne and is Himself Governing, then God will commit Himself. Where all the authority committed to His Son is recognized and accepted, there God will commit Himself.

And then there is a fourth thing. God commits Himself where things are "according to Christ," where things take their measure from Christ. You see, these things are in this book of Ezekiel. We have been just looking at the House. We have not studied it in any detail, but what we do know about the House is that it was measured by the Man of brass. Where things take their measure from Christ, there God will commit Himself.

And then just one more thing: God will commit Himself where the Cross governs. We saw how the altar governed everything within and without the House. So where the Cross governs, God will commit Himself. The Lord Jesus is the great example of all this. God committed Himself to His Son. The Word says that God did not give His Spirit by measure to Jesus; that is, He gave His Spirit fully without any reserve to Him. When the meaning of the Cross has been laid down and established, then God commits Himself. That is God's ground.

You notice how Jesus measured everything according to heaven. We have so often pointed this out. Jesus would never be governed by the mind of man. He would never do anything, say anything, or go anywhere at the advice of man. He was all the time pushing away from Him the suggestions of men and women. He did that with regard to satan. He did it with regard to everything. He pushed back everything that would come from man. He would only take His way and His words and His works from the Father. He measured everything according to Heaven. His was the closest walk with heaven. For every detail in His life, He took the government of heaven. Therefore, the Father committed Himself to the Son of Man.

And then we have His perfecting. He said: "I must work today and tomorrow, and the third day I must be perfected." We are told that He was made perfect through sufferings. Of course, we understand that this was not moral perfecting, for He was already perfect. It was not the making perfect of His nature, it was bringing Him to fullness, the fullness of the Will of God. He was walking every day in the Will of God. He said: "Lo, I come to do Thy will." But the Will of God was making ever greater demands upon Him until, at last, the Will of God requires that He should drink the cup, that He should go through Gethsemane to the Cross. He was being made perfect or complete as to the Will of God, God gave Him that fullness for the Church. "God gave unto Him the Name which is above every name." God committed the fullness of Himself to Him. I think that is all quite clear. Jesus is the great Example!

Now we bring this study to a close. We do so by noting three necessities for the end of God to be fully and finally reached. The Church must have three things. First of all, it must have  a clear apprehension of God's purpose. It is absolutely necessary that the Church sees what God's purpose is. That is why Paul prayed that great prayer for "a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him," that the Church might have "the eyes to (its) heart enlightened." It is absolutely necessary that we have a clear apprehension of God's purpose, that purpose being that the Church should be the fullness of Him that filleth all in all, that God should have a full place in the Church. That is the first necessity - that we should see that, and that we should be governed by that vision. So it is a matter of spiritual vision or spiritual understanding, a revelation of God's purpose concerning the Church. This is why we read those scriptures at the beginning that the Church should be "a habitation of God through the Spirit," that God should be resident there and that it should be said, "The Lord is there," a dwelling of God. Unto that, we must see what God's purpose is.

The second thing is a clear apprehension of God's Way to His End, which is a clear apprehension of His House, a House suitable to Himself. That is an absolute necessity for God's End. And, thirdly, it is essential that the Church has a clear apprehension of the Cross. These three things are essential to the end that God shall be there!

Further, there are two aspects of those three things: there is the present progressive and the future perfect. Just at this present, this is not all fully true, and yet, what is in the Letter to the Ephesians has a present application. At present, this is only progressively true. That means that the Lord is more or less present as these things are true. Where there is a clear apprehension of His purpose, where there is  a clear apprehension of His House, where there is a clear apprehension of the Cross, there you will find the Lord! At the present, these things determine the measure in which the Lord is present, but the time is coming when these things will be complete, when He shall come to be Glorified in His saints. Then He will be manifested in His Church in fullness. And so you notice that at the end of Ezekiel, it is the city that is mentioned: "The Lord is there." The city represents the vessel in and through which God is present in government.

Well, we have given a broad outline. We have tried to make these lines as clear as possible, but comprehended in this outline there is a tremendous amount; and as I pass it over to you, I do say to you, "Go away and pray over it, do not just take it as some Bible study. Everything must have spiritual and practical value. So I say, brethren, pray over it, think over it, and ask the  Lord to make it all true where you are.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

(Next: "The Watchword of the Son of Man)

Hold Fast the Truth

John 17:17
Sanctify them through Thy truth.
Sanctification begins in regeneration. The Spirit of God infuses into man that new living principle by which he becomes "a new creature" in Christ Jesus. This work, which begins in the new birth, is carried on in two ways-mortification, whereby the lusts of the flesh are subdued and kept under; and vivification, by which the life which God has put within us is made to be a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. This is carried on every day in what is called "perseverance," by which the Christian is preserved and continued in a gracious state, and is made to abound in good works unto the praise and glory of God; and it culminates or comes to perfection, in "glory," when the soul, being thoroughly purged, is caught up to dwell with holy beings at the right hand of the Majesty on high. But while the Spirit of God is thus the author of sanctification, yet there is a visible agency employed which must not be forgotten. "Sanctify them," said Jesus, "through thy truth: thy word is truth." The passages of Scripture which prove that the instrument of our sanctification is the Word of God are very many. The Spirit of God brings to our minds the precepts and doctrines of truth, and applies them with power. These are heard in the ear, and being received in the heart, they work in us to will and to do of God's good pleasure. The truth is the sanctifier, and if we do not hear or read the truth, we shall not grow in sanctification. We only progress in sound living as we progress in sound understanding. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." Do not say of any error, "It is a mere matter of opinion." No man indulges an error of judgment, without sooner or later tolerating an error in practice. Hold fast the truth, for by so holding the truth shall you be sanctified by the Spirit of God.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Persistent Purpose of God # 58

"The Lord Is There"

Now we have to bring these studies in Ezekiel to a close, and I think we cannot do better than come right to the end of the book itself. The last clause of this book reads like this: "And the name of the city from that day shall be, THE LORD IS THERE." We might just put alongside of that some words from Ephesians, chapter two, verses nineteen to twenty-two: "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in Whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in Whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit."

And the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is There.

And, again, in Ephesians, at chapter three, verses seventeen through twenty-one: "So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints  what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him Who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the Church, and in Christ Jesus to all generations for ever and ever."

And the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is There.

The end to which all God's works move is this End. Everything that we have in these prophecies of Ezekiel points to the one end, "The Lord is there," but that is also true of the whole Bible. The whole Bible moves toward one end. It is the end for which all things were created, and that is the presence of God in fullness and in finality. The purpose of God is that He shall fill all things. So then the end is "The Lord is there."

Now there is one particular thing which is necessary for this end to be reached. God must be able to commit Himself to man. That is what God wanted to do at the beginning. It is perfectly clear in the beginning of the Book of Genesis that God wanted to commit Himself to man. He wanted to be with man. He wanted to trust man. He wanted to put all His interests into the hands of man; in a word, God wanted to trust Himself to man.

So the great question that is now before us is this, "To what kind of man will God commit Himself?" The  whole Book of Ezekiel is the answer to that question. In the first place, the answer is given in a negative way. God will not commit Himself to that in which satan has a place. From the beginning, satan has always tried to put man in God's way. satan had gained a place in the nation of Israel and in the nations outside, but man was made for the very purpose that God should be with him. However, satan captured man, and he has made man the greatest hindrance to God; therefore, the glory is removed, and it goes right outside. Man as he is now defeats God's purpose. God cannot commit Himself to that kind of man. God will not commit Himself to that in which satan has a place. satan and his works had to be destroyed before God would commit Himself. The Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the devil in order to make way for God, in order that God should have His place and reach His End, because God will not commit Himself to that which has not been judged in righteousness.

Now you will recall all that we have said about brass in these prophecies: the brass in the cherubims, the brass in the Man of brass, the brass of the great altar. God will not commit Himself to anything that has not been judged in righteousness. That is the negative side, but there is the positive side to our question. To what will God commit Himself? The positive answer has several aspects. Firstly, it is where Christ is on the other side of judgment. The Man in the Throne represents Christ as on the other side of judgment. There is a rainbow around that Throne. That rainbow is the symbol of redemption. In the Book of the Revelation, it is represented by the Lamb in the Throne. The Lamb is the Man and the Man is the Lamb. He is there as on the other side of judgment, and that is the first thing related to God committing Himself. I say, again, that God will commit Himself where Christ is on the other side of judgment - that is, where all judgment has been fulfilled.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 59)

Listen As A Disciple

The Lord God has given me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple. Isaiah 50:4

Do you ever find yourself knowing deep within the depths of your heart that God wants to bring about change, and even though you have been the one praying for it, you aren’t ready when He is ready to answer your prayer? Well, that happened to me today.

In the mornings, I spend time reading the Bible, praying on my knees and worshiping. Then I allow time for silence so that the Holy Spirit can minister to me in the quietness. Sometimes that’s all there is…quietness, which in itself is such a blessing before the day begins. But this morning’s quietness was different. This morning the Lord wanted to impress something on my heart that I didn’t want to hear. My quiet time was cut short by my choice this morning. But the Lord didn’t quit, and right before I left the house, I got a strange impression that I was going to have to face something that I was refusing to hear from the Lord. And that is exactly what happened. Within two hours of my devotional time and one hour from the impression, I heard things that I wished I had heard first in the presence of the Lord. And then I found myself repenting to Him and shocked that it was actually going to come about. Foreknowledge would have eased my heart regarding this matter.

God’s intention is always for our best. We all have to remember that God does nothing without revealing His plans to His servants, the prophets (Amos 3:7). He desires to include us in His plans and He even places those desires within our hearts first. God wants to give to us whatever we ask in Jesus’ name to bring Him glory, as He fulfills the desires He has placed within our hearts. If we are in His Word and quiet in worship before Him, we can also be included when He unfolds His plans. Today, take time to just be still before Him and listen. Quiet your heart and allow His heart to minister to you. And I am sure that your day will go better than mine did today.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Persistent Purpose of God # 57

A River That Could Not Be Passed Over: The Fullness of the Spirit (continued)

He Caused Me to Go

The second thing necessary for fullness is represented by the banks and the trees. The banks of the river are referred to. This is a river that is flowing between banks. It is not just a flood spreading itself all over. This river is running between banks. You know the Holy Spirit has a way, He has a way that He will take, He has His Own Mind as to which way He will take, He has His Own Mind as to which way He will take. If the Spirit says, "I am going this way," it is no good our saying, "Well, we are going another way." You have a lot of that in the Book of Acts. Paul spoke about assaying to preach the Word in Bithynia, and going toward Asia, but he said, "The Spirit of Jesus suffered us not," and it turned out that the Spirit was going to Macedonia at that time. Now if Paul had gone to Bithynia, or Asia, he would have gone away from the Spirit. The Spirit was saying, "I am going this way at this time. If you want to be with Me, you must come My way." And that is what happened to Peter. The Spirit was moving toward the Gentiles, but Peter wanted to go his way. The Spirit said in effect, "If you want to go with Me, you must go My way. I am not coming your way. I am not coming the way of your tradition and your prejudice. Today this is the way that I am taking." And when Peter went that way, he found the Spirit in greater fullness than he had ever known before.

I think you see the principle.The banks represent a definitely and clearly defined Way that the Spirit is taking. He may change His direction from time to time. The River may not be just one straight line, but it will always flow between the banks. The Spirit always knows exactly what He is doing and what He is after. How important it is for us to be in the banks with the Spirit!!

And then we have the trees on either side of the river. Of course, these trees in the New Testament are the living witnesses. I suppose a passage which best sets that forth is this one in Ephesians four:

"And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."

Here are living witnesses on the banks of the river. Here are those along the banks of the New Testament, and God has had His trees all down the centuries. They are the living witnesses bearing testimony to the fullness of Life in Christ, leading on toward spiritual fullness, the fullness of Christ.

There is a rather interesting thing to note here in verse nine of Ezekiel forty-seven: "And it shall come to pass, that every living creature which swarmeth, in every place whither the rivers comes, shall live." I do not know whether you have got a mark in your Bible against that word, however, in the Hebrew it says, "whither the two rivers come." It is in the plural in the Hebrew, and my Bible gives me a reference in the margin which says, "whither the two rivers come." That is the Hebrew.

Now that seems to upset everything, does it not? But I think again, it is a symbol. Perhaps this river did divide into two, but "two" in the Bible is the number of adequate testimony. Wherever you find the number two, you find sufficient testimony - "in the mouth of two witnesses everything thing shall be established ... What by two." You see,  two is the number of sufficient testimony in the witnesses. So, you see, the effect of it all is Life. Of course, I would like to say a lot about that, but we must leave it. The test of everything is Life. The test  as to whether the House is in order will be in the Life. The test as to whether the Spirit is having His way will be the Life. The Life is the testimony. Thus the testimony is this, that God has given unto us eternal Life.

And so we close for the time being. Ezekiel had been told to show all this to the House of Israel. In order to show it all to others, the prophet had to be caused to go that way himself. You notice what Ezekiel said, "He caused me to go." You and I must be caused to go this way before we can show it to anyone else. This is not just objective truth for teaching: this is the experience of the servant of the Lord.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 58 - ("The Lord is There")

Step Into A New Land

Now the Lord had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan. - Genesis 12:1-5

The Lord called Abram out. He told him to leave his country, not just his home, but his country. God told Abram to leave his family and head towards a new land. Can we begin to imagine how Abram must have felt? I wonder if his family thought he was crazy. Let's see now—you are going to leave your home, family, country and head to a land that you have not seen yet? Abram did leave his home and country behind and went as the Lord directed him. Abram was a man of great faith. He believed in the promises of God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.
In the New Testament, Jesus told his disciples a similar message when he said, "Follow Me." 

To follow Jesus meant leaving everything else behind, including homes and families. Some did and some did not. The same is true today. How many of us are truly willing to forsake all for the gospel of Jesus Christ? Do we really have to go to such extremes in this day and age? In our hearts, we must answer those questions. Despite our behaviors and outward appearances, God knows our hearts. If we are willing to surrender all to Jesus, the Lord will do the rest.

Think upon these verses today. Maybe God has a new land that awaits you. Without a doubt, God has blessings planned for your life, planned from before you were born. Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone? If so, this could be the step that changes your life in amazing ways.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Persistent Purpose of God # 56

A River That Could Not Be Passed Over: The Fullness of the Spirit (continued)

The River (The Holy Spirit) Makes All Things New (continued)

If you study Ezekiel forty-seven, you will see that there is no situation for which these waters are not equal. And yet one must make a reservation in that statement. It says later in the chapter that there is something that will not be healed but will be given over to salt. There is such a thing as resisting the Holy Spirit. Judas did not come into the good of the day of the Spirit; and that is in the New Testament, this possibility of sinning against the Holy Spirit. Where that is deliberately and persistently done, then there is not Life but death. But provided there is no deliberate and conscious refusal of the Spirit, the Spirit is equal to every situation. How great is the Spirit, He is altogether incomprehensible!

The prophet said it was a river that could not be passed through. This is something that is altogether impossible to cope with. How true that is in Acts two. The coming of the Spirit is likened to a mighty, rushing wind. The Spirit came like that on the Day of Pentecost. This thing cannot be managed by man. You cannot bring the Holy Spirit within the compass of your ability. Ezekiel said: "a river that could not be passed over." This is too much for man. Oh, that we knew the Spirit like this! And yet in principle, this is what the Spirit does. He refuses to be tied up to our human systems and our human measure. He refuses  to be limited to our natural man. He refuses to be limited to our traditions and our prejudices. That is what we find in the Book of Acts. The Holy Spirit is too much for the people of Jerusalem. He is too much for Peter, and all Peter's prejudices. He is too much for Herod the king. He is too much for everything that gets in His Way - a River that you cannot control!

Now for the Spirit to be like that, to be expressing Himself in that way, two things are necessary; and this is a very true principle. There will only be this fullness and power of the Spirit if these two things exist. The first is the absolute authority of the Throne, that is, the absolute authority of the Man in the Throne. We have said again and again that the Man in the Throne governs everything. Everything in the whole Book comes under The Man in the Throne. In the Book of Acts, we see the Man in the Throne governing everything. It is the absolute Lordship and Headship of Jesus Christ.

Now God will not give His Spirit in fullness and in power to something that does not correspond to His Mind. So this thing is essential: the Man governing in the House. Therefore, what this increasing measure says to us is this: the Lord never desires to leave His people ankle deep in the Spirit. It is not the Lord's Will that we should have the Spirit and Life just up to our ankles, neither is it His desire that we shall have the Spirit up to our knees, nor yet up to our loins. The Lord's desire is fullness, waters to swim in, but waters that are too much for us.

Of course, this is rather a terrible situation. I think that you might detect in Ezekiel that he was a bit frightened. To him, this was a terrible situation, and  when it gets like this, of course, it is terrible. We want to keep our feet on sure ground. We do not want to be swept off our feet; the Church wants to have its feet on this earth, to be quite sure of its ground. Well, you know what that means spiritually, but the Lord's thought is that we should be swept right off our feet, that we should be carried out into depths for which we have no measure. Let us thing about that. There are two little words here, "a river that could not be pass through." There is the great "could not" of the Spirit. That "could not" stands over all human capacity.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 57)

What Motivated Paul to Surrender to Christ?

Saul of Tarsus underwent a radical transformation—the zealous persecutor of Christians became a passionate follower of Christ. Later known as Paul, he dedicated his time, energy, and talent to spreading the gospel message. What motivated him to surrender his life wholeheartedly to Jesus?

Jesus’ sacrifice of love. Before salvation, Paul had opposed all who believed in Jesus as the Messiah. At his conversion, this persecutor of Christians realized that Christ willingly died on the cross because of His love for mankind. Jesus left His heavenly home, suffered, and died so we might be reconciled to God. The Lord’s sacrifice on the cross motivated the apostle to tell others about His all-encompassing love (Ephesians 3:18).

Gratitude for salvation. On the road to Damascus, Christ’s enemy became a member of His family. Paul called himself the worst of sinners, acknowledging that he was unworthy of salvation and undeserving of mercy or favor (1 Timothy1:15–16). It was gratitude for salvation that fueled his devotion and dedication to the cause of Christ.

Power of the gospel to transform lives. The apostle’s own experience made him long to see others rescued from slavery to sin so they might experience God’s grace. He wanted many to benefit from the saving and transforming power of the gospel.

We’ve been entrusted with the responsibility of spreading the gospel. When inadequacy, doubt, or complacency keeps us silent, let’s remember what motivated Paul. Then imagine a day when loved ones will experience the peace of God, the love of Christ, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Persistent Purpose of God # 55

A River That Could Not Be Passed Over: The Fullness of the Spirit (continued)

The Source of the River is the Man Hidden In the Sanctuary (continued)

For the world, in this dispensation, Jesus is still a mystery and the Church is a mystery. The Church is not understood, but this is the mystery: "Christ in you, the hope of glory." And perhaps the Bible students know that the literal translation is: "Christ in the midst of you, the hope of glory." Of course, Christ is in us personally and individually, but the Word in Colossians is "Christ in the midst of you" - the Church is the context of those words. The mystery which is great among the nations is Christ in the midst of the Church. That is the hope of glory. So Paul said, "Unto Him be the glory in the Church by Christ Jesus." The world can only know the mystery by the life which flows out from the Church.

That is what happened on the Day of Pentecost. By the river (the Spirit) which came out from the Church, the world became aware that Jesus is alive; Christ is the only Way in which the mystery is made known. The waters come out from the Sanctuary. That is what it says in Ezekiel 47:12: "because the waters thereof issue out of the sanctuary." In the Sanctuary, they are a mystery. The mystery is made known when they come out of the House. This is all so true to the teaching of the New Testament.

The River (The Holy Spirit) Makes All Things New

So we see that the first detail of he House is the Source of the river, and then the second is that the waters flow toward the east. It says there that the temple was toward the east. So the waters moved by the south to the east. Now that is also an interesting point! Why was the House built with its gate toward the east? Why does everything look toward the east, and why do these waters move toward the east? Well, of course, the east is always the symbol for a new day. The sun rises in the east, the world's day begins in the east. Therefore, the east is the symbol of a new day, and it is quite clear that this River meant a new day for everything and everybody: it is that new day of the Spirit to which the Lord Jesus referred. "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit." When Jesus was speaking about the coming of the Holy Spirit He said, "In that day." How often He used those words, "In that day," that is, the day of the Spirit; that is, the new dispensation - the dispensation of the Holy Spirit.

It is this dispensation that God is offering a new day to everyone. Of course, it is new in many respects. All the old things of that past generation are gone - the old things of types and symbols, the old things of forms and ceremonies. Those old things are passed away: "Behold, all things have become new," and this is the river that makes all things new. It is the day of the Holy Spirit. So it flows toward the east, and the Spirit brings in a New Day.

Then the next thing: "Wheresoever the River cometh, everything lives":

"When the Man went forth eastward with the line in His hand, He measured a thousand cubits, and He caused me to pass through the waters, waters that were to the ankles. Again He measured a thousand, and caused me to pass through the waters, waters that were to the knees. Again He measured a thousand, and caused me to pass through the waters, waters, waters that were to the loins. Afterward He measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass through; fr the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed through" (verses 3-5).

This Man of brass measured "a thousand cubits" four times. He measured a thousand, and the waters were up to his ankles. He measured another thousand, and they were up to the knees. Another thousand and they were up to the loins, and He measured another thousand and there were waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. Well, I think the symbolism is very simple. This sets forth the progressive fullness of the Spirit, or the progressive fullness of Christ.

In the beginning there is immense intrinsic potentiality. It may be small in Jerusalem, it may be small at its beginning, but that is only a comparative matter. Of course, it was a very great thing that happened on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, but compared with what came afterward it is but small. The beginning is small in comparison with all Judea and Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. But in that small beginning, there are all the potentialities to meet the whole world. The scope of this river increases. It grows fuller and fuller and wider and wider, but what is here in the waters is sufficient to meet all the need, however great. The Spirit of Jesus is sufficient for all. That is what it says, or that is what it means. There is sufficiency in Christ ministered by the Spirit to meet the greatest need. There is no need, however great, which cannot be met by this river. It does not matter where the river comes: "wheresoever the river cometh, everything lives."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 56)