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Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 62

The Heavenly Man and the Word of God (continued)

The Life Principle Established in the Case of the Saved (continued)

The Spirit-accompanied Word imparts life, quickens into life where there is a dead state, and does it sovereignly; but the Spirit-accompanied Word requires a response in the spirit in the case of those who have already been sovereignly brought into relation to Christ through the Word. The same life in the Word governs our lives as governed our new birth. The Lord Jesus was begotten truly of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of life, but by the Word, or through the Word. Now, for the governing of His life, the same life through the Word operated as in the birth; that is, the same life that brought into being must be in the Word which governs the life, to bring that being to full growth. It is the life principle which is so important. It is this newness, this freshness that is of such account - if you like, this originality. Do not misunderstand; w are not using that word in the natural sense. We mean that in the birth by the Spirit of life there is something that never was before; it is original, new. We are a new creation in Christ Jesus. We call it the "new birth." It is not just something fresh, recent, but something that was not before.

In relation to the Word it has to be like that. The Word must come with all the force of something that never was before. There has to be a sense of Divine originality and freshness about it that is bringing to wonder, amazement. Again, you can test that. When the Word is in the hands of the Holy Spirit, though you may have read a passage a thousand times, and have had something from that word, you can come back to it again and say: Well, I never saw that before! Why, this is alive with meaning and value beyond anything before! There is all the difference between that, and the stale stuff that we put into books as the result of our Bible study. The Lord would have His ministers in the realm where there handling of the Word of God is in life. It is the Heavenly Man being governed by the heavenly life in the Word, so that everything is constantly new, constantly fresh, constantly original.

How true that is to experience. There have been times when we thought we knew all about a certain thing in the Bible; we have talked about it tremendously, and it has been our theme for a long time. Then a period of time has elapsed when we have left it, and the Spirit of the Lord has led us to that again, and it is as though we have never seen that truth before. We find that we can come back to the old themes, as they are called, with such a newness. Other people may not realize what is going on in us. They may hear what amounts to the old things again, but they say: "There is such a new meaning, a new grip, that it is quiet clear the Holy Spirit has not finished with that matter, and has more to say to us about it." We have to be careful how we react mentally to things like that. We are so often tempted to take this attitude: Oh, well, I have spoken of that so often that people must be tired of it! The Holy Spirit is saying: You say it again; do not take any notice of what they think; if they have heard it a thousand times, you say it! And when you do so, there is something done which, with all the earlier utterances of the same thing, has never been done before. Be careful of pigeon-holing anything in the Word of God, and saying that we have exhausted that. If you are dealing with the themes of the Bible, as such, you may as well pigeon-hole the whole thing right away. If you are moving in the Spirit with the Word of God, there will never be a time when any part of the Word of God becomes obsolete. It is the same new life that never was before, which came into us to constitute us a part of the Heavenly Man, which is so governed by the Word all the way along, unto constant increase, constant growth.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 63)

Wild Grapes

What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why then,when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes? Isaiah 5:4

God used this story about a vineyard to describe the condition of His people. God was saying that He did everything possible to expect the best from His people. He provided them with the best land, complete protection, and the choicest weather conditions; but they chose to live according to their own wants and desires instead of His.

This same thing happens with the people of God today. He has provided for us the best pastors and teachers to be heard through internet, televisions, radios and mass book replication. He has given us freedom of speech and the mandate to learn to read. The Lord has over-educated us spiritually, but for some reason very few are truly seeking God and meeting His expectations. We go to church on Sunday to make ourselves feel better, but are we going to really know and serve God better? Our intentions are important to God who knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts.

I say this because I see more wild grapes in the church today instead of an abundance of good ones. We have sporadic fruit production instead of mass amounts. God has done everything for us but only a few are really sharing in the harvest. The others are willing to encourage and applaud those few. But it’s not about applauding but about sowing and reaping. We use our hands to applaud as well as to sow and reap; however, the angels are given the job to applaud. We are told to be the laborers in the harvest. We need to become fruit inspectors of our own vineyard. If the grapes are good, praise God! If the grapes are wild, ask the Lord of the harvest to send you out as a laborer. He is more than willing to answer that prayer and He expects great grapes in abundance from you.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 61

The Heavenly Man and the Word of God (continued)

The Sovereignty of God in the Creative Word (continued)

That, of course, is the creative Word, and brings us to see that in the Heavenly Man the Word of God is God's act, and not just God's statement. In the Heavenly Man the Word of God is never a statement alone, it is an act. We say many things, and then we look around for the result, with the thought in our minds, "What is the value of all this?" You have never, never to look for the result of God's Word in the Heavenly Man; it is there. You may not see it, but it is there. The Word in relation to the Spirit of life in Christ is an act; something is done; and when that Word has come by the Spirit of life, those to whom it has been directed by the intelligent Spirit can never again be the same, though they may seem to go on in the old way: "...the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). Something has been said; the Word has come, and the thing is done, never to be undone. Sooner or later those concerned are going to come right up against that, and it is all going to be dated back to that hour when the Spirit gave expression to the Word. That is a tremendous fact. That is the value of giving the Word in the Spirit, because it is an act. It is creative. It is something done, not something said. Oh, to recognize that the Word in the Holy Spirit is something done, not merely something said. God's Word is always God's act: "...the worlds have been framed by the word of God ..." (Hebrews 11:3). The Word of the Lord is a blessing. It is not just saying, The Lord bless you. It is a blessing in itself; it brings the blessing. It is an act.

The Life Principle Established in the Case of the Saved

In the saved there is another side. The first side is creative, sovereign. Now in the case of the saved, where those concerned are the Lord's people, the operation of the Spirit in relation to the Word of God is no longer purely sovereign. In the case of believers the Word is not given with a view to bringing about creation, for that is done. We stand because of the Word of the Lord spoken sovereignly by the Spirit into our hearts, having thus been made His children, begotten by the Word of God. That is a sovereign act, but from that time onward, that which is sovereign ceases and growth is by the Spirit of life in the Word; but upon a basis that there is life in us to correspond to the life in the Word. The life in the one, or in the company, concerned is the basis of growth according to the Word of the Lord, which has life in itself. Take a simple illustration from our use of natural food. No matter how you may feed a corpse, you will get no development, no kind of growth. It is of no use feeding a dead man. There must some life in a man that corresponds to the life in the food, takes hold of it, works with it, cooperates with it, before there can be growth. That is what we mean by the activity which bears the mark of sovereignty in the main ceasing. The sovereign act is something apart from ourselves; it is the grace of God to sinners who can give nothing back. Now that the life is in us our growth is on the basis of the life within us cooperating with the life in His Word. You can preach to people who have not much light, and preach in the Holy Spirit, and may not get very much result because of the limited measure of life that is in them. But you get tremendous response to a living word when people are all alive unto the Lord, when there is life in them. Growth comes that way, the life in us corresponding to the life in the Word, forming the Heavenly Man.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 62)

Everything Short of Hell - is a Mercy!

"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud--but gives grace to the humble!" 1 Peter 5:5

The humble man may have anything from God. Who are the humble? Those who have a proper sense of their guilt, emptiness, and utter nothingness before God. Divine teaching has . . .
  brought them into the dust,
  stopped their boasting,
  cropped their pride, and
  softened their stony hearts.

Pride is one of the most mischievous things in creation! It appears to have been the cause of the fall of angels, and it certainly was the cause of the fall of our first parents. Pride does more evil in the world, in the church, and in the domestic circle--than anything else; while humility is one of the most beautiful, beneficial, and pleasing of the graces. Humility pleases God, approves itself to man, and prevents a world of mischief and misery!

"The humble" have low views of themselves. They see so many sad defects on the one hand, and so many glaring inconsistencies on the other--that they are obliged to lay low before God in shame and self-abhorrence. With Job, they cry, "Behold, I am vile!" Or, with Agur, "So foolish was I, and ignorant, I was as a beast before You!"

"The humble" know that . . .
  their every grace is imperfect,
  their every service is polluted and defiled, and
  even their very prayers need to be cleansed in the blood of Jesus.

"The humble" have a vivid and abiding sense of their deserts. They know that if God were to deal with them in pure justice--they must be sent to Hell. They deserve nothing better. Everything short of Hell--is a mercy! They realize this, and it humbles them, it makes them willing to take the lowest place. They feel that all the difference between them and the most depraved person on earth--is to be traced to the free, sovereign, and distinguishing grace of God.
 "By the grace of God--I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10

They have a humility of disposition, so that they do not complain of the Lord. He tries them. He strips them. He weans them from the world. He . . .
  baffles their schemes,
  frustrates their designs, and
  often cuts off their hopes!

But they justify Him, and say, "It is the Lord! Let Him do what seems good unto Him!" 

"The humble" do not cavil at God's Word. They receive the doctrinespromises, and precepts of the Word, just as God has revealed them.

~James Smith~

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 60

The Heavenly Man and the Word of God (continued)

The Word of God Never to be Set Aside (continued)

So you get a twofold aspect of the Word unto growth in Christ. Firstly, the Word is a Spirit-breathed utterance. That is what the Word of God must be, and not just something that has been written. Secondly, the Spirit of life associated with the Word. This raises a very big question, a question that perhaps it is almost dangerous to open in public in these days, and to answer which maybe would require a good deal of explanation. The question is this: How far is the written Word, as it stands, the Word of God? This Book can be taken hold of and the same fragment used in fifty different ways at the same time. The same passage of Scripture can be the basis of a dozen different things, all of which are mutually exclusive and contradictory. Which of these dozen or fifty is the Word of God? You can take Scripture as the letter like that, our from this Book, and you can say: This is the Word of God! How are you going to prove it? All these different people take the Word of God, and get a different meaning with a different result, act in a different way, and justify a different course, and the same Word has brought about terrific conflict and opposition between different sections of people. How far is it the Word of God as it stands? My point is this, that I believe that something extra is necessary to make that the Word of God in truth, in fullness, and that is the Spirit of life in it. That Spirit of life (we are thinking of the Holy Spirit now, not an unintelligent abstraction) must Himself use, and apply, that Word, to make it the Word of God. I do not believe that you can get any Divine result by simply quoting scripture as scripture. The Holy Spirit has to come into that Word, express Himself as in it, and make it live before you get the Divine result, because of the object in view. A living Heavenly Man is not made by mere words, even though they be words of Scripture. That is what people have tried to do. They have tried to make the Church by words of Scripture, constitute the Church by what is here as written, and so you have half a dozen different kinds of churches, all standing on what they call the Word of God, and the thing does not live. It is a living, Heavenly Man that God has in view, and to produce that, the Spirit must operate through the Word. "The words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life," said the Lord to His disciples. "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." On the part of Peter, the spokesman of these latter words, this was a word of discrimination. The scribes and Pharisees had the Scriptures. They claimed that everything they had and held was in the Word of God. Ah yes, but they knew them not as the words of eternal life. There is a difference. This life is in His Son. It has to be in a living relationship to the Lord Jesus that the Scriptures are made effective.

The Sovereignty of God in the Creative Word

That works, in the first place, sovereignly in the direction of the unsaved. You may take the Word of God as it is written and preach it, but you have to leave the whole matter to the sovereignty of the Spirit. Preach it to a crowd of fifty, a hundred, a thousand, and to nine hundred and ninety-nine of the thousand the thing is as dead as anything can be. They see nothing, they feel nothing, but one in the thousand is sovereignly touched. That word is something more than an utterance, than letters, that word is spirit and life. That is no accident, no chance, but a sovereign act. The Spirit of God has come into the Word in relation to that one. That is the foolishness of preaching, in a sense, that you have to preach, and have no guarantee that the many will be touched by the Word of God. You have to commit yourself to the waters, and believe that God will somewhere come into the Word and touch some life, though the majority should be left untouched. That is the extra element, the Spirit of life in the Word of God, sovereignly acting in relation to the unsaved.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 61)

Refined and Tested

This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, “They are my people, and they will say, The LORD is our God.”   Zechariah 13:9

I read a verse like this and ask the Lord, “Why do the ones that you choose and love need to be refined and tested?” In some strange way, I look at love so much differently.

It is not natural in the flesh to look at my children and think that I willingly plan to discipline them. I often succumb to discipline when their actions are not socially acceptable, and it embarrasses me. I really want to believe that they don't need me to discipline them and that they'll grow out of their stage. I want to believe that I can show love by having the self control to not discipline them and patiently wait for them to grow up.  This is what my flesh wants to believe, that this is absloutely wrong because Gos is perfect love and He does not think that way.  So, I need to align myself up with Him: both as a parent and as a child of God.

God says in this verse that He brings His own people into the fire. It is in the fire that we are refined like silver and tested like gold. If He is comparing us to precious metals, then we have to assume that the fire is pretty hot! The Lord does this for our good. He wants us to call on His name and know that He will answer because we are His people. His people have to be trained, disciplined, tested and refined to think His thoughts and to live in His ways. Because our flesh is so strong, we resist His work and end up turning from the Lord or blaming Him. We accuse Him of not being loving or caring. We wonder why He isn’t answering our prayers or rescuing us from those hot circumstances, without realizing that He is the One who has placed us there.

God loves you. He is all powerful and can absolutely rescue you but He cares more about you than you can care about yourself. He needs you to change to be more like Him. Unfortunately that takes time in the fire. Trust Him because this is only for a season. For when you are trained, you will produce a harvest of righteousness and a deep peace knowing that He is your God.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 59

The Heavenly Man and the Word of God (continued)

The Word of God Never To Be Set Aside

But there is a danger of which we need to beware. What we have said does not mean that we can take up a course of trying to walk in the Spirit, and neglect the Word of God. We cannot say: Well, to walk in the Spirit is all we need and we shall be according to the Word of God; we need not bother about that. There are a lot of people who live in what they call their "spirit." The "get it from the Lord." They get something, and act upon it, and afterwards it is discovered that it is a direct violation of the Word of God. How often have we met that. People get things "from the Lord", and do something which they think they got from the Lord, and it is as clear as possible that the Word of God is positively against what they have done.

Thus the matter needs safeguarding. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom ..." (Colossians 3:16) as a basis for the Holy Spirit. If, however, you are doing that you will not always have the exact passage to hand to govern the thing of the moment, but the Holy Spirit will be making good in you what He knows to be the Word of God, and holding you up. How true that is. Some of us have found that our natural memories have in great measure broken down. Very often a misquotation of Scripture does not touch doctrine at all, but the point is this, that there is a governing Intelligence which makes us know the Word of God, though we may not be able for the moment to give a particular passage in its exact phrasing or call it to mind. We are governed by it if we belong to the Heavenly Man. "As He is, so are we in this world" (1 John 4:17). Here is the Heavenly Man governed by the Word of God, inasmuch as there was life in Him.

What is true of the Head, is to be true of the members. If we are joined to the Heavenly Man, we become parts of that corporate Heavenly Man, and that same life is in us, and we shall walk by the Word. We shall be governed by the Word through the Spirit of life that is in the Word, and that Spirit of life is all-knowing, all-intelligent. I wish that all the Lord's people lived on that basis. It would save us from all that deadly heresy-hunting kind of thing; from always being suspicious, little, doctrinal watch-dogs, keeping a look-out for anything that is erroneous, and producing a blight of death over everything. If we were but living in the Spirit, we should know in our hearts whether a thing were right or not, without projecting our analytical minds into things; the Spirit would bear witness in our hearts. That would be life and salvation. The other is a miserable existence for everybody.

Now you see the Heavenly Man, eternal life, and the Word governing throughout. What a difference there is between being governed by the letter and being governed by the Spirit. We may have the book; may possess all the letter; and may be constantly exclaiming, "To the law and to the testimony!" We may thus become very legal, checking up on the letter all the time. The Lord Jesus did not  thus act, nor did the Apostle Paul. Zealous as they were for the Scriptures, for the Word of God, utterly governed by the Word of God, the thing which mattered with them was the living Word. Said our Lord Jesus: "... the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life"; "... the flesh profiteth nothing" (John 6:63). We can kill with the letter. We can kill with the Word, as the Word. Surely we want to be delivered from dealing with the Scriptures as words, as letters, and to be brought into the place where it is the Spirit in the Word giving life. What a difference there is between those tow realms. One leads to nothing but death, paralysis, to the chilling and blighting of everything; the other leads to a positive condemnation, to judgment which is necessary to slay the thing that is evil. It does not leave things in the blighted state without any meaning, which is all too often the case when it is merely a thing of the letter.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 60

The Gift of Salvation

 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,not of works, lest anyone should boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9

Why is a gift of salvation so hard to accept? Why do so many people look for their own way to heaven? Why do people try to make God fit into their own belief system? Regardless of the many who reject these two verses, they are truth. There is only one way to heaven and the only Way is by receiving the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Despite the growing and ever present number of religious groups which believe otherwise, this truth will be the only one that matters when it is all said and done. Because in essence, we as mankind have a hard time accepting the “gift.” The old saying that there is no free lunch sets us up to trust only in those things we earn. Trust is the key word. Where do we put our trust? We either trust in the Lord or we trust in ourselves.

Many today try to blend a combination of the two. They trust the Lord to give them the gift of salvation because they work so hard to please Him. And these works and efforts can really look good. They attend church regularly, serve when needed, give as required, and try to live overall lives that maintain Christian moral values. But they give themselves too much credit. God does not want anyone to do anything for Him because He has already done everything for us. So how do we accept His gift? We need to realize that the gift has been given by grace, and to receive the gift, all we need to do is believe. We just need to believe in our hearts that Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins and that without Him we are spiritually dead and destined to spend eternity separated from Him. Believe in Jesus, not in man’s good works.

Are you tired and weary of trying to please God? Even if you have professed faith and accepted Jesus as your Lord, you still might be trying so hard to please Him. Today, we need to accept His promise and rest in Him. Let’s live today to the fullest in God’s gift by trusting Him in all things and all areas of our lives. Start by talking to Him. Give your heart to Jesus, give Him your burdens today and He will show you mercy. Worship and praise Him and your heart will begin to sense His joy and peace. Why would any of us desire to follow any other way?

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 58

The Heavenly Man and the Word of God (continued)

c. Governed By the Word

Not only was He begotten through the Word, and tested by the Word, but in the third place, Christ was governed  throughout the whole of His life by the Word of God. All the Law and the Prophets apply to Him. Said He to the Jewish leaders, "Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of Me" (John 5:39). The suggestion there does not immediately affect our consideration, but is worth noting. In effect He was saying: In your searching of the Scriptures for eternal life, it is the Person in the Scriptures  that you need to know; it is in Him in Whom the Scriptures are gathered up that eternal life is found. That is the force of the statement: "... these are they which bear witness of Me." Again, when with the two on the way to Emmaus after His resurrection, it is said of Him that "beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."

We mark the fact, then, that all the Scriptures applied to Him. He embodied and fulfilled all the Scriptures. How often will He say, while here on the earth, concerning a certain movement, a certain act, a certain experience, a certain statement, "... that the scriptures might be fulfilled ..." If you have never taken out every instance in which that occurs, you should do so. It is worth gathering up.

The Relation of the Holy Spirit to the Word of God and the Heavenly Man

Now I want you to note this. The Lord Jesus, in the whole of His life, was being governed by the Word of God. How necessary it was, then, for Him to walk in the Spirit, so that the Word of God should be fulfilled. Now what does that mean? Take, for example, the Old Testament. Do you suppose for one moment that every statement in the Old Testament was always present in the mental consciousness of the Lord Jesus, and that when He went to do something He referred to His manual, and said: "Now shall I do this, or shall I do that? What does the Scripture say I ought to do?" Yet every part of the Scripture was controlling His life, and there was a sense in which He was responsible for everything there. It all applied to Him. But He was not carrying all the Scriptures in His head, nor even in a book, and referring to His memory or His manual for His conduct, His utterances, His acts, His experiences, for what He allow and what He did not allow, for what He did and what He did not. Although the Word of God was with Him richly, although He  would have had a great knowledge of the Scriptures - and that becomes perfectly clear as we read His utterances - that is not the way in which the Word of God governed Him; as though he had to call Scriptures to remembrance on every occasion and to act accordingly. He was moving in the Spirit of life, and as He did so He moved according to the Word of God. When necessary the Spirit of life brought the Word of God to His remembrance, and He was able to use it. How He did use it! But apart from any quoting of Scripture, and apart from any present memory of the particular passage which governed any given incident, the Spirit was moving with life, in relation to the Word of God. He was governed by the Word of God, so that even when, as Man, He was helpless upon the Cross, unable to do anything, it says of those very conditions, "...that the scripture might be fulfilled..." Again, it is recorded that when He was dead on the Cross, and they came to break the legs of those crucified, finding Him already dead, they break not His legs, "... that the scripture might be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken" (John 19:36). That Man is under the government of the Word of God in everything because of the Spirit possessing, because of the Spirit directing, and the Spirit taking responsibility.

I can see a danger there, and am going to safeguard what we are saying, but let us first of all stress this law. If we are walking in the Spirit, and are moving according to the life of the Heavenly Man, our lives will be ordered according to the Word of God. Sometimes we shall not know the Scripture that applies to a given moment, but we shall know of something happening; we shall know that at that point we were checked; it was as though within us something said: That is not right, you will have to correct that statement; there is flaw in that, and you will have to make that good. How often we have known that. Afterwards we have discovered where we were mistaken. The Spirit of life does not let anything that is contrary to the Word of God pass, if we are walking in the Spirit. Surely that should be a great comfort to us, and a great help.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 59 - (The Word of God Never to be Set Aside)

Whose Voice Are You Hearing?

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. - Genesis 3:6

It does not always seem clear to us when God speaks. However, when we become living sacrifices who continually worship, pray and seek the Lord, we become more willing and able to hear His voice. As we draw near to the Lord, He draws nearer to us and is faithful to speak in a way that brings peace, 

confirmation and often, He brings changes to our surrounding circumstances.  We have to ask ourselves whom are we listening to? There are so many voices speaking and our minds seem to have a voice of their own. But which voice do you follow? Adam heard the voice of God when He gave the one rule of living in the Garden of Eden. He was told by God to not eat from one tree. But Adam listened to the wrong voice when faced with a choice of disobeying God's command. Eve bought the lie of the serpent's voice and mankind has suffered the consequences ever since. 

Many people in our lives give us many conflicting messages. We each have a responsibility to know what the Lord is telling us, to listen to Him and to act on those commands. We have to make the Lord's Word our guide and not deviate from His truths regardless of how appealing other additional information may sound.  If you have come to Christ, you have His Holy Spirit in you. He is there to lead you and guide you in the ways He has called you.

The Holy Spirit anoints you with His presence and with spiritual gifts which are supernatural. These gifts are not based on your skill or experience. So, you need to be dependent on the Lord to fulfill your calling. Your calling may be completely different than what your family thinks of you. Your calling may be completely different than what you thought it would be. Be sure to follow His voice. Be confident, knowing that He knows what is best. If you listen to other voices than God’s, you could suffer consequences that will have a negative effect on your life. Take your thoughts captive, stay in His Word and trust Him to lead you in the way you should go.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 57

The Heavenly Man and the Word of God (continued)

The Heavenly Man In Relation to the Word of God

Here is life in relation to the Heavenly Man in the full sense. We now come to bring all this life principle in the Heavenly Man into relation to the Word of God. The Word of God is very closely related to this life, and this life is very closely related to the Word of God, both of them as in the Heavenly Man, the life and the Word. So much  is this so that they are not things in Him, but He is them. He is the Word, and He is the life; the life and the Word are in Him as His very being. Yet the Word is utterance as well as person. If you have taken the trouble to study the technique of the point that is raised in the use of the words "Logos" and "rema", you know how difficult it is always to differentiate between the two. You know how they run into one another, and how very often they meet and are one. So it is that the person has the word and the word is the word of the person. There is a difference, and yet they are both bound up with the person. We shall see as we go on what it means.

a. Begotten By the Word

In the first place, as we have been saying, the Lord Jesus as the Heavenly Man was begotten through the Word. The angel visited Mary and presented her with the Word of God, and waited for her to respond to it before there was any living result, and when, after considering and fighting her battle through the problem and the difficulty, and the cost of it, she responded, "Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy Word," then the living Christ was implanted.

b. Tested By the Word

In the temptation in the wilderness, it is clearly indicated to us that, in the background of things, it was the Word of God that was governing the Lord. Every temptation was met with the Word of God: "It is written ..." Life was contingent upon the Word of God: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:). In the Heavenly Man the life question is bound up with the Word of God. If you take the opposite of that, you know that the earthly man dies because he refuses the Word of God; his life depends upon the Word of God and his attitude toward it. Here the last Adam is taken up on the same basis, and inasmuch as He met the three temptations with the Word of God, it is perfectly clear that His life was bound with the Word of God. It was the Word of God that was governing this whole experience, and its issue. The Heavenly Man was being assailed with a view to tearing Him out of His heavenly life, as it were, by getting Him in some way to refuse, or violate, or ignore the Word of God. He maintained His position as the Heavenly Man in life on the ground of the Word of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 58 - (c. Governed By the Word)

Consider Your Ways

Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: "Consider your ways!" You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” Haggai 1:3-6

The prophet Haggai was sent to speak to the group who had come back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of the Lord. The Book of Ezra explains how the first group came back to begin the rebuilding process. Due to great opposition, the work came to a stop over the course of time. Haggai was sent by the Lord to re-start the work and get the people going again. The Lord was telling them to get their priorities straight. They had settled into their lives and homes but the temple was still not finished. They lived in paneled houses while God's house lay in ruins (Haggai 1:4). If they took a close look at their lives, they would see how their efforts had produced little.

Do you ever feel as though you work really hard, try to do the right things, yet nothing seems to come from it? Are you blessed? Do you see the Lord's hand in your work? If you feel as though you work to put your wages in a bag with holes, then maybe you need to "consider your ways." Check your priorities. Are you giving your first fruits unto the Lord? It is not just about your work for God that matters, it is about your heart before the Lord. Is He truly first in your life? Do you do things for Him because you love Him, or is it for other reasons?

These are the questions that we all must ask ourselves. Sometimes we get so focused on our own lives that we lose God's perspective. When that happens, we often begin to sense that things are not quite right. We do not see the blessings as we would expect or hope to see. As the Lord continued to tell His people through the prophets, “Repent and Return.” The message is the same for us today. Maybe it is time to put some new priorities in your life. Pray about what the Lord wants you to re-prioritize and ask Him to help you to make the changes He wants. Instead of pockets with holes, you will see storehouses that overflow with His blessings.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 57

"The Heavenly Man and the Word of God (continued)

Christ The Beginning of the Creation of God

In John twenty, at verse twenty-two we have an incident recorded which has given rise to a certain measure of perplexity: "... He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit ..." We perhaps want an explanation of that act, and of those words, and I think the explanation is that what He did and said was a pattern, and not immediately in actuality; that is, it was a representative act on the part of the last Adam. John twenty sees us on resurrection ground with the Lord Jesus. We remember that it is written, "The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit" (1 Corinthians 15:45). That must, in spiritual reality, relate to His resurrection. Not in the full sense was He a life-giving spirit before the Cross, neither was He the last Adam before the Cross. All that was represented by, and summed up, in Him, but in the sense of generation, this only begins on resurrection ground. There in the fullest sense He becomes the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. So on resurrection ground He performs this representative or pattern act, and utters these representative words as the last Adam, fulfilling in the spiritual sense the words of Revelation three, verse one: "...the beginning of the creation of God." In the literal sense He was that at the beginning of this world. He was the beginning of the creation of God. That does not mean that He was the first one created by God; it means that He began the creation of God literally then, as to this world.

In the new creation He is taking that place in the spiritual sense: "...the beginning of the creation of God." In the beginning of the literal creation there was a breathing into man of the breath of lives. Now, as the last Adam, as a life-giving spirit, He breathes upon them. It is a typical act. It is the last Adam acting in a pattern-way in relation to the first members of the new creation, the beginning of the creation of God. He is typically infusing eternal life into the new creation. It is only a typical act, because the Spirit was not yet given. The full expression of it came later at Pentecost.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 58 - (The Heavenly Man In Relation to the Word of God)

What Is Love?

LOVE IS... being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of others without impatience or anger.

LOVE IS... actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward another while looking for ways to encourage and praise.

LOVE IS... making a daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.

LOVE IS... being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding.

LOVE IS... being more committed to unity and understanding than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.

LOVE IS... a making a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.

LOVE IS... being willing, when confronted by another, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.

LOVE IS... making a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to another is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.

LOVE IS... being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged, but looking for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.

LOVE IS... being a good student of another, looking for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support them as they carry it, or encourage them along the way.

LOVE IS... being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the relational problems you face, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.

LOVE IS... being willing to always ask for forgiveness and always being committed to grant forgiveness when it is requested.

LOVE IS... recognizing the high value of trust in a relationship and being faithful to your promises and true to your word.

LOVE IS... speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack the other person's character or assault their intelligence.

LOVE IS... being unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive in any way in order to coerce the other person into giving you what you want or doing something your way.

LOVE IS... the willingness to have less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be and to do as a spouse, parent, neighbor, etc.

LOVE IS... a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything that is within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding, and active love in your relationships.

LOVE IS... staying faithful to your commitment to treat another with appreciation, respect, and grace, even in moments when the other person doesn't seem deserving or is unwilling to reciprocate.

LOVE IS... the willingness to make regular and costly sacrifices for the sake of a relationship without asking for anything in return or using your sacrifices to place the other person in your debt.

LOVE IS... being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm a relationship, hurt the other person, or weaken the bond of trust between you.

LOVE IS... refusing to be self-focused or demanding, but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.

LOVE IS... daily admitting to yourself, the other person, and God that you are unable to be driven by a cruciform love without God's protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace.  

"Love is patient, love is kind. 
 It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 
 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 Love never fails!" 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

~J. R. Miller~

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 56

The Heavenly Man and The Word of God

Matthew 4:4; John 6:63, 68, 8:47, 14:10; 1 Peter 1:23, 25; Hebrews 4:12, 13; 1 John 4:17

You will notice that what is said in the first four of these passages arises out of the fact that the Lord Jesus was the Heavenly Man. In the temptation in the wilderness, as recorded in the passage in Matthew, we see that it was following the opening of the heavens and the attestation from the Father, "This is My beloved Son ..." that the enemy made his challenge to all that this designation of Christ as the Heavenly Man implied. "If Thou art the Son ..." The temptations had their foundation in the fact of the heavenliness of the Lord Jesus. In the passage in John's Gospel the same feature is seen. As we have already noted, John keeps in view the heavenliness of the Lord Jesus all the way through, from the first words of his gospel to the end. The challenge of the Lord Jesus carries that same meaning: "Believest thou not that I am in the Father ..." The Heavenly Man is brought before us at this point in relation to the Word of God.

We closed our previous meditation by dealing with the vital principle of redemption, and we were saying that that principle, which is eternal life, makes the redemption that is perfect in Christ, progressive in us. Redemption is introduced into us with the receiving of eternal life, and as the life operates, works, and increases, we come increasingly into the good of redemption. The real values of redemption become ours in experience by the operation of the life of the Redeemer in us, the Redeemer operating in us by His own life.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 57 - (Christ The Beginning of the Creation of God)

Crushing Weights Give the Christian Wings

Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon. Descend from the crest of Amana, from the top of Senir, the summit of Hermon, from the lions’ dens and the mountain haunts of the leopards (Song 4:8)

Crushing weights give the Christian wings. It seems like a contradiction in terms, but it is a blessed truth. David out of some bitter experience cried: “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! Then would I fly away, and be at rest” (Ps. 55:6). But before he finished this meditation he seems to have realized that his wish for wings was a realizable one. For he says, “Cast thy burden upon Jehovah, and he will sustain thee.”

The word “burden” is translated in the Bible margin, “what he (Jehovah) hath given thee.” The saints’ burdens are God-given; they lead him to “wait upon Jehovah,” and when that is done, in the magic of trust, the “burden” is metamorphosed into a pair of wings, and the weighted one "mounts up with wings as eagles.
—Sunday School Times

One day when walking down the street,
On business bent, while thinking hard
About the “hundred cares” which seemed
Like thunder clouds about to break
In torrents, Self-pity said to me:
“You poor, poor thing, you have too much
To do. Your life is far too hard.
This heavy load will crush you soon.”
A swift response of sympathy
Welled up within. The burning sun
Seemed more intense. The dust and noise
Of puffing motors flying past
With rasping blast of blowing horn
Incensed still more the whining nerves,
The fabled last back-breaking straw
To weary, troubled, fretting mind.
“Ah, yes, ’twill break and crush my life;
I cannot bear this constant strain
Of endless, aggravating cares;
They are too great for such as I.”
So thus my heart condoled itself,
“Enjoying misery,” when lo!
A “still small voice” distinctly said,
“Twas sent to lift you—not to crush.”
I saw at once my great mistake.
My place was not beneath the load
But on the top! God meant it not
That I should carry it. He sent
It here to carry me. Full well
He knew my incapacity
Before the plan was made. He saw
A child of His in need of grace
And power to serve; a puny twig
Requiring sun and rain to grow;
An undeveloped chrysalis;
A weak soul lacking faith in God.
He could not help but see all this
And more. And then, with tender thought
He placed it where it had to grow—
Or die. To lie and cringe beneath
One’s load means death, but life and power
Await all those who dare to rise above.
Our burdens are our wings; on them
We soar to higher realms of grace;
Without them we must roam for aye
On planes of undeveloped faith,
For faith grows but by exercise in circumstance impossible.
Oh, paradox of Heaven. The load
We think will crush was sent to lift us
Up to God! Then, soul of mine,
Climb up! for naught can e’er be crushed
Save what is underneath the weight.
How may we climb! By what ascent
Shall we surmount the carping cares
Of life! Within His word is found
The key which opes His secret stairs;
Alone with Christ, secluded there,
We mount our loads, and rest in Him.

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 55

The Heavenly Man and Eternal Life (continued)

The Twofold Law of the Life (continued)

We have been speaking of the body. This law of life works to the removing of our natural basis in relation to the Lord, so that even in our physical being w come on to the Lord in relation to His things, and the Lord becomes even our bodily life in relation to heavenly things. That is a fact. Therein is the testimony, that we are brought progressively, on the one hand, to the place where, in the Lord's things, we have no life in ourselves, where even physically we are faced with impossibility. It always has been so from God's standpoint, but we have been thinking that we are doing quite a lot because we had not been brought to the point where the consciousness of natural inability was allowed to overtake us. Now we have come to the place where, in greater or lesser degree, we realize that in the things of God we "cannot," even physically.

But if, on the other hand, eternal life operates to cut us off from our natural life as the basis of our relationship with God, on the other hand, it is perfectly wonderful what is done. It is "the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes." The Lord even comes in as our physical life to the doing of more than would have been possible to us at our best, and certainly far beyond the present possibility, because He has made us know that as men we are nothing, even at our best. Life does that. Life forces off one system and brings on another, making room for it as it goes.

That, I believe is what the Lord meant when He said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). We have thought that just to mean that we are to have abundance of exuberance. We are always asking for life more abundant that we might feel wonderfully elated and overflowing and energetic. The Lord is preeminently practical, and more abundant life means that, having life, you will find the need of more to lead you a little further, and you will need it abundantly as you go on, because that life alone can bring you into the fullness. And it is His will that there should be a full provision of life unto the full end, because the purpose is such an abundant purpose. The life is commensurate with the purpose.

All that and much more is bound up with this basic statement that the active principle of redemption is eternal life, and that while that redemption is perfect in Christ it is progressively in us by the principle of life, and that to come into the fullness of redemption for spirit, mind and body, thee has to be a constant increase of redemption life. This life is redeeming us all the time. It is redeeming us from this present evil age, from all that came in with Adam. Full redemption will be displayed when Christ appears, and we with Him, when seeing Him we shall be like Him. It will simply be the manifestation of that life which is His eternal life in us. Oh, the possibilities of that life to transfigure! As we look at the Lord Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration we see the full display of the life which the Father gave to dwell in us. It blazes forth in its fullness there, and shows you what kind of a Man that Man is in Whom Divine life is fully triumphant. He is a Man full of glory, full of perfection; and when we see Him we shall be like Him.

The word for us as we close is this, that He has called us unto eternal life. We must lay hold on eternal life for spirit, and mind, and body.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 56 - (The Heavenly Man and the Word of God)

Our Undiscovered Faults

"How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from my hidden faults." Psalms 19:12

The Bible speaks of sins of ignorance. So there are sins which we commit, of which we are not conscious. In one of the Psalms, there is a prayer to be cleansed fromsecret or hidden faults. So we have faults which are not seen by ourselves. 
Then we all have in us many things, both good and bad, which our fellow-men cannot see—but of which we ourselves are aware. We cannot reveal ourselves perfectly, even to our own bosom companions. With no intention to hide anything, even desiring to live a perfectly open life, there will yet be many things in the inner depths of our being, which our nearest friends cannot discover. No one but ourselves, know the motives which actuate us. Sometimes neighbors praise our good deed—when we know well that the good was blurred by a self-seeking intent. Or others may criticize something we do, charging us with a wrong spirit—when we know in our heart, that it was true love which prompted it.
We are both better and worse than others think us to be! The BEST things in godly lives, do not flash their beauty before human eyes. None of us can ever show to others, all in us that is worthy. There are countless stars in the depths of the sky which no human eye ever sees. Human lives are deeper than the heavens in which the stars are set; and in the depths even of the most commonplace soul, there are more splendors unrevealed to human gaze, than are revealed. Who is there who says all the truth he tries to say, when he attempts to speak of or for his Master? What singer ever gets into his song all the music that is in his soul, when he sings? What painter ever transfers to his canvas all the loveliness of the vision which fills his heart? What Christian ever lives out all the loyalty to Christ, all the purity and holiness, all the gentleness and sweetness, all the unselfishness and helpfulness, all the grace and beauty—which he longs to show in his life? Even in those who fail and fall in defeat, and whose lives are little but shame and sin—there are yet gleams of beauty, like the shattered fragments of a once very noble ideal. We do not know what strivings, what penitences, what efforts to do better, what tears of sorrow, what hungerings after God and heaven, there are in the heart even of the depraved, in whom the world, even nearest friends, see nothing beautiful. No doubt in every life, there is some good, which human eyes cannot see.
But there is EVIL, also, which our friends cannot detect—things no one suspects—but of which we ourselves are painfully aware. Many a man goes out in the morning to be loved and welcomed by his friends, and praised and honored by the world—yet carrying in his own breast the memory of some deed of sin or shame committed in secret the night before! "If people only knew me," he says, "as I know myself—they would scorn me instead of trusting me and honoring me." All of us are conscious of miserable things hidden within us—secret evil habits wrought into life, the play of unholy thoughts and feelings, the rising up of ugly passions and tempers, the movements of pride, vanity, self-conceit, envy, jealousy, doubt, which do not reveal themselves to any other eye. There are evils in everyone, of which the person himself knows—but which others do not even suspect.
But there also are FAULTS, unlovely things and sins in our hearts, of which we ourselves are unaware. There is an eye which pierces deeper than our own into our souls. In one place Paul says, "I know nothing against myself: yet am I not hereby justified; but he who judges me is the Lord." It is not enough to be innocent ofconscious transgression; there are sins of ignorance. Only God sees us through and through. We must live for his inspection and approval.
We cannot see our own FAULTS—even as our neighbors see them. The Pharisee in his prayer, which really was not a prayer at all, spoke much of other people's sins—but saw none in himself. We are all much like him. We are prejudiced in our own favor. We are very charitable and tolerant toward our own shortcomings. We make all manner of allowance for our own faults, and are wonderfully patient with our own infirmities. We see our good things magnified; and our blemishes in a light which makes them seem almost virtues. So true is this, that if we were to meet ourselves some day on the street—the self which God sees, even the self which our neighbor sees—we probably would not recognize it, as really ourselves. Our own judgment of our life, is not unmistakable. There is a self which we do not see.
Then we cannot see into the FUTURE, to know where the secret tendencies of our life are leading us. We do many things which to our eyes appear innocent and harmless—but which have in them a hidden evil we cannot see. We indulge ourselves in many things which to us do not appear sinful—but which leave on our soul a touch of blight, a soiling of purity—of which we do not dream. We permit ourselves many little habits in which we see no danger—but which are silently entwining their invisible threads into a strong cable, which some day shall bind us hand and foot. We omit self-denials and sacrifices, thinking there is no reason why we should make them, unaware that we are lowering our standard of living, and permitting the subtle beginnings of self-indulgence to creep into our heart.
There is another class of hidden faults. Sin is deceitful. No doubt there are many things in most of us—ways of living, traits of character, qualities of disposition—which we consider, perhaps, among our strong points, or at least fair and commendable things in us—which in God's eye are not only flaws and blemishes—but sins! Good and evil in certain qualities—do not lie very far apart. It is quite easy for devotion to principle—to shade off into obstinacy. It is easy for self-respect, consciousness of ability—to pass over into miserable anger, when the truth is, he is only giving way to very bad temper. It is easy to let gentleness become weakness, and tolerance toward sinners tolerance toward sin. It is easy for us to become very selfish in many phases of our conduct—while in general we are really quite unselfish.
For example: A man may be giving his life to the good of his fellows in the larger sense, while in his own home he is utterly regardless of the comfort and convenience of those nearest to him. Outside the home—he is polite, thoughtful, kindly; within the home—he cares not how much trouble he causes, exacting and demanding attention and service, and playing the petty tyrant, instead of the large-hearted, generous Christian. Who of us does not have secret blemishes—lying alongside his most shining virtues? We do not see them in ourselves. We see the faults cropping out in our neighbor, and we say, "What a pity, that so fine a character is so marred!" And our neighbor looks at us and says, "What a pity that with so much that is good—he has so many marring faults!" Sin is deceitful.
The substance of all that has been said is, that besides the faults our neighbors see in us, besides those our closest friends see, besides those of which we ourselves are aware—all of us have undiscovered errors in our life—hidden, secret faults, of which only God knows.
If we are living truly, we want to find every flaw or blemish there is in us—of whatever kind. He is a coward who shrinks from the discovery of his own faults. We should be glad always to learn of any hidden unloveliness in ourselves. Someone says, "Count yourself richer that day in which you discover a new fault in yourself—not richer because it is there—but richer because it is no longer a hidden fault; and if you have not yet found all your faults, pray to have them revealed to you, even if the revelation must come in a way which hurts your pride."
It is dangerous to allow any faults, however small—to stay in our life; but hidden faults are even more perilous, than those of which we are aware. They are concealed enemies, traitors in the camp, unrecognized, passing for friends! No good, true, and brave man—will allow a discovered sin of fault to stay unchallenged in his life. But undiscovered sin lurks and nests in a man's heart, and breeds its deadly evil in his very soul. Before he is aware of its presence, it may eat out the heart of his manhood, and poison the very springs of his being.
Hidden faults, remaining undiscovered and uncured in us—will hinder our spiritual growth, and we shall not know the reason for our moral weakness, or lack of power. They will also defeat the working out of the divine plan in our life. When Canove, the great sculptor, was about to begin work upon his statue of Napoleon, it is said that his keen eye saw a tiny red line running through the upper part of the splendid block of marble, out of which he was to carve the statue. The stone had been brought at great expense from Paris for this express purpose. Common eyes saw no flaw in it—but the sculptor saw it, and would not use the marble.
May it not be so ofttimes, with lives which face great opportunities? God's eye sees in them some undiscovered flaw or fault, some tiny line of marring color. God desires truth in the inward parts. The life which pleases him must be pure and white throughout. He who clings to discovered faults, refusing to cast them out—or he who refuses to let the candle of the Lord search out the hidden faults in him, that he may put them away—is marring his own destiny. God will not use him for the larger, nobler task or trust—for which he had planned to use him. The tiny red line running through the marble, causes it to be set aside and rejected. What shall we do? God alone can know our hidden faults. We must ask him to search our hearts and try our ways—and to cleanse our lives of whatever evil thing he finds in us. Our prayer should be—"Who can discern his errors? Cleanse me from hidden faults." "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." Psalm 139:23-24

~J. R. Miller~

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 54

The Heavenly Man and Eternal Life (continued)

Redemption Progressive in the Believer by the Life Principle

The next thing, working out from that, is that this vital principle of redemption makes the perfect redemption which is in Christ Jesus progressive in us. In Christ our redemption is perfect. We have a full redemption in Christ. His being in glory betokens that redemption is complete, full and final. But when the vital principle of redemption, that is, eternal life, is introduced into us through faith, this, which is perfect in Christ as redemption, takes up a progressive course in us as that principle of life. Redemption becomes progressive in us by life. That life is a progressive thing. We only come to the understanding and the enjoyment of the full redemption as the life increases in us. It is the work of redemption life in us which is going to bring us to the fullness of redemption. That is going to be proved true in spirit, mind, and body. We are going to enter into the fullness of redemption that is in Christ's present heavenly, physical body. His bod, His present heavenly physical body, is a representation, a standard of the redemption of our complete humanity. We are going to be made like unto His glorious body. By what principle is this to be accomplished? By the working of that redemption life in us progressively.

The Twofold Law of the Life

Now, how does that redemption life in us operate? It operates in two ways. On the one hand, it operates to cut us off from our own natural life as the basis of our relationship with God. That is a big thing, and a big work, and a very deep work. So many in spiritual infancy and immaturity are making their own natural life, energies, resources, enthusiasms, and all such things, the basis of their relationship with the Lord both in life and service. It is a mark of immaturity. We know quite well that the young believer is always full of tremendous enthusiasm, and thinks it to be the real strength of his union with God, and that it really does represent something in relation to God. When presently the March winds begin to blow, and the blossom is carried away, such as these think the Winter has come instead of the Summer. They think they have lost everything. They ask, What has happened to me? The words of the  hymn are perhaps heard upon their lips:

"Where is the blessedness I knew When first I saw the Lord?"

But you do not get the fruit until the blossom has gone. It is the Summer, not the Winter, that follows the blowing away of the blossom. Of course, we all like to see the blossom in its time, but we should have some strange feelings if we saw the blossom thee all through the Summer. We should say: "There is something wrong here, it is time that blossom went." We look closer, and we see something in its place, full of promise, and of much more value. This early blossom may be a sign of life, but it is not the life itself. A sign of early life belongs to the early Spring, showing that the Winter is past and resurrection is at work. It is a sign but it is not the thing itself, and it passes with spiritual infancy. These early enthusiasms are not the real basis of our union with God, but are signs of something that has happened in us. They are of ourselves, they are not of God. He is something other than that. He is not going to blow away. The life is working and will show itself stronger and deeper forms.

All the way through this life we have to learn the change from what is, after all, ourselves in relation to God, to what is God Himself in us. There is a great deal that is of ourselves in relation to God, and I expect there will be in some measure right to the end. There is still something of our minds at work on God's things. We may be thinking that they are God's thoughts, God's mentality, but there is still much that is of our human mind, the mental makeup of ourselves in relation to the things of God, and we shall always find that God's mind is other than that, and we have to give place to new conceptions of the Lord. In will and in heart it is just the same.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 55)

Our Awesome God

In our culture, God’s name is oftentimes mentioned with little reverence. In fact, many people actually use it as a curse. Even among those who love Him, it is far too common to use His name casually, without taking time to ponder who He is. When you say a blessing at mealtimes, for instance, do you realize that you are talking to the almighty Creator God who rules over all things?

Our view of the Lord impacts three areas of life. First, it affects our prayers. As we come to know Him better and better, our desires will start to look like His goals for us, and our petitions will align more closely with His purposes. Furthermore, as we recognize His greatness and power, we’ll become more confident that He can accomplish mighty things—and we will venture to “pray big.”

Second, our understanding of His righteousness and goodness influences our behavior. If God has these attributes, surely it is in our best interest to obey gladly. We will desire righteousness and be quick to repent of sin.

Third, our faith is impacted. Grasping that Jesus is holy, good, and powerful grows our trust in Him. Knowing our awesome God and remembering His great works will further build our confidence in Him.

Do you personally know our loving and holy heavenly Father? He invites you into an intimate relationship with Him. But, as with any good friendship, time and intentionality are necessary to understand Him and learn His ways. The more you do that, the more your prayers, behavior, and faith will be impacted.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 53

The Heavenly Man and Eternal Life (continued)

The Lost Treasure (continued)

Thus the kingdom of the heavens, all the heavenly system, is concerned with this treasure in the field, because of its eternal significance, relationship, purpose. That is an immense thing. Now, of course, you are able to appraise more perfectly the value and meaning of redemption. To see the background of things is not to take away from redemption, it is to add marvelously to it. It is to give to redemption a meaning far removed from that of just being saved as a unit here and getting to heaven. That is a big thing, of course, that saving of the individual. But when we see the redemption that is in Christ Jesus in the light of God's eternal background, how immense a thing it is! If you want really to appreciate, and rightly appraise redemption, you have to set it where Paul set it, and see that it is cosmic. The coming into redemption on the part of every single individual is a coming into something immense, a far bigger thing than the redemption of the individual himself. All the powers and intelligences of the universe are bound up with, and interested in, this redemption. We believe that in order rightly to appreciate and enjoy the things of God, it is necessary to get their universal and eternal background, and not take them as something in themselves. That is how Paul saw redemption.

Eternal Life the Vital Principle of Redemption

The vital principle in redemption has to be implanted. Redemption is not something objective, something that is done for us. It is that, but it is not just that. It is not merely a system carried through, but redemption embraces a vital principle which has to become implanted in the believer, and the vital principle in redemption is eternal life, the life of the ages. So that redemption, bringing with it its vital principle, at once swings us back into relation with Christ before times eternal as the appointed Life-giver, and then we are carried right through with deathless life. Redemption itself, by itself, that principle of eternal life, expresses itself in the bringing back to the place where God can do what He found it impossible to do with the first Adam, to the place where He can give eternal life. When we come into redemption, all the ages of this world are wiped out as a matter of time, and we find ourselves at once made eternal beings, linked back there with the timeless God. The vital principle of redemption is eternal life to be implanted in the redeemed.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 54 - (Redemption Progressive In the Believer By the Life Principle)