The Spiritual Resources of the Church For Its Heavenly Mission
A Spiritual Challenge to be Answered
There is a challenge in this present time which is, perhaps, more acute and serious than at any other time in the history of this world. No doubt in the early days of the Church the challenge was very strong, but then the surface of the earth invaded by the Gospel was very small compared with the range in our time, and in many other ways things were far less developed than they are now. The development of the centuries has provided so very much more of ground and means for the operation of the kingdom of darkness in relation to this world, and that challenge of the kingdom of evil is very, very serious and intense in our time. In many ways the Church of God is aware of it - perhaps not completely conscious of the cause or the reason, but aware of the fact that she is being stifled, resisted, in a very large degree nullified; made aware of a certain impotence and ineffectiveness and of the absence of authority and power to meet a spiritual situation which is becoming so intense. I say that is a challenge of this present time which does threaten to make the Church a thing which, speaking comparatively, is not to be taken very seriously. The world can pass on and ignore her, and situations can arise here and there with which she cannot cope, before which she is impotent and helpless - and knows it.
That challenge represents a need, and, while we have not the conceit to imaging that that need can be met by us, yet it behoves us to face the challenge and consider the need, and if God will take up the weak and the small and make them to count for something far, far beyond what they would do naturally, then there may be possibilities where we are concerned, if we really seriously face this matter before God.
We have spoken of a spiritual situation, and it is not necessary, I think, to say to you that, while we are very conscious that the temporal situation is increasingly difficult for the work of God, behind all the external difficulties is a spiritual rulership. The things seen are, after all, only the foreground, the stage, of something far greater behind. "World rulers of this darkness" is no meaningless phrase. It is there that the trouble lies, and, until there is in existence that which can touch things there with the authority of Christ, the situation for the Church is hopeless. We can recite so glibly - it is the slogan of all missionary enterprise - "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations." I think the emphasis, at any rate the deduction in practice, is mainly on "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel," and not upon "All authority hath been given unto Me in heaven and on earth." "Go ye therefore ..."; the word "therefore" has not been given and is not given its real and sufficient place. It is the link between the undertaking and the "all authority" vested in the Lord Jesus. And as for the Church standing in the good and value of that "all authority" - well, it does not say much for the authority if the present impact of the Church is the standard of judging it. It is that that constitutes the urgency of this present time.
The Challenge Answered In a Spiritual People
Now, having indicated again that this whole thing is a spiritual matter to be fought out in the spiritual realm, the work of God must in consequence be seen in the spiritual realm before there can be any meeting of the temporal situation and overcoming it. We are brought right here to the heart of things. We have spoken in our previous meditation of a body of Christians, of a certain kind, in a certain position, doing a certain work. What do we mean by that? Well, to use mere words is not necessarily helpful. We must explain our words. If we say, a spiritual people, in spiritual relatedness, occupying a spiritual position, preeminently meeting spiritual forces to their overthrow, that word "spiritual" eludes us at once. What does it amount to in practical outworking?
(continued with # 8 - (The Marks of A Spiritual People)