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Monday, August 31, 2015

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another # 24

The All-Governing and Dominating Vision: The Seeing of Jesus Our Lord

"Lord, we have to appeal to Thee again for Thy compassion. What a pathetic thing it would be if we tried to do heavenly work with earthly means; Divine work in our own human strength. And that is just where we are now. We need Thy sympathy, Thy compassion, for our speaking and our hearing will really profit us nothing, will have no eternal value. O Lord, help us with Thy Divine help at this time that we may speak under the anointing and with the unction of the Holy Spirit; and also in the same way hear. Anoint our ears, anoint our ears, and give us a hearing that is not just our natural hearing that we may this morning by the power of the Holy Spirit hear the voice of the Son of God and live. Grant us this mercy for Thine Own Name and Glory's sake. Amen"

We have been occupied in these morning hours with the great transition from an old discredited humanity as in Adam to a New accredited Humanity in Christ. Our first attention was with the exposure and the devastation of that discredited humanity as we saw it representatively gathered around the Cross of the Lord Jesus In Caiaphas, Pilate, Judas Iscariot, Peter, and the two on the Emmaus Road. Then we saw what a devastation the Cross was or an exposure of the old humanity at its highest, at its best; and there could have been nothing worse when we were finished. Then we went on to the battleground of the two humanities as we have it in the two letters to the Corinthians: on the one side, "the natural man" which is the old humanity; on the other side, "the spiritual man," the New humanity.

We stood and did little more than look into those letters in a general way, pinpointing a few things in the letters where the carry-over of the old to the New is shown, the conflict being between the natural man and the spiritual man or that which is natural and that which is spiritual, the natural touching so many things, even the most sacred things. The things of the Spirit touched by the hand of the natural man and taken up and used for the natural man's gratification and glory. That is what is in the First Letter to the Corinthians.

There is much more detail, with which we are not going to deal; we have only touched it in order to indicate something. I trust that you have seen the indication of how dangerous it is and with what tragic consequences the touch of the natural man on spiritual things can be. We brought out that most terrible warning, the warning to Christians as in Corinth: to "born again" people called "saints," separated unto God, came that terrible warning where Israel's tragedy in the wilderness is taken as the ground of the warning. They perished in the wilderness, and the apostle uses that to warn the Corinthians that the battle can be lost in the wilderness if there is any compromise between the natural and the Spiritual. If you are still in Egypt, while being geographically so to speak out of Egypt but Egypt not being spiritually out of you, then you are positionally where the Corinthians were.

Now that is all the negative side, however we came yesterday morning to point out that the answer the apostle gave concerning the whole compass of things in the First Letter, the answer he gave to the ten questions raised by the Corinthians in a letter to him, was not in a code of rules and laws like the Mosaic, but in principles. And all the principles gathered into one principle which amounted to this: how much of Christ is in this? How much of Christ is in your divisions? "Is Christ divided?"

Paul, pinpointing the whole question of division, said: "Is Christ divided? Were you baptized into Paul?" Christ is the principle of solving that problem of divisions and all the other matters which I am not going to reiterate now. The answer he gave to the solving of these difficulties is focusing on Christ. The answer he gave them was how much does this minister Christ? How much does this represent of "Christ"? Everything is tested from that standpoint, judged and settled. Paul said these things are answered by principle and the principle is Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 25 - ("Have I Not Seen Jesus Our Lord?")

Not To Be Passed Over

Not to be Passed Over

Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ. Jude 1

The book of Jude is small, containing only 25 verses, and is positioned between the three letters of John (First, Second and Third epistles) and Revelation, the last book of the Bible. Jude writes his letter to the church exhorting them to beware of the false teachers who are corrupting the people. Jude covers much interesting territory in his short letter; he writes of the supernatural realm and the Archangel Michael, and then brings us back into the Old Testament with Enoch, the seventh from Adam. It is a great book, packed with a powerful message to all of us believers today.

Sometimes in Scripture, I think we pass over some of the most powerful words in verses that we take for granted. For example, today's verse is the opening introduction to Jude. It identifies the author as a bondservant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, and then it addresses the reader. This introductory point can often be overlooked, but I want to focus on how "those" (the reader) are described. "To those who are calledsanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ." Those who are called are the first ones addressed. Called means appointed or invited. We have been invited to receive Jesus Christ as Savior. We were appointed for this invitation even before the world was formed (Romans 8:29-30).

Next are those who are sanctified. Sanctified means holy, purified and set apart by God. We are made holy when we receive Jesus as Savior and we are set apart from those who do not believe. Finally, those who are preserved are preserved in Christ. The root of this word in the Greek actually means to watch or keep an eye on. We are being watched and kept an eye on by Jesus Himself. As Christians, we are called for the purposes of God, we are sanctified and set apart by Him for His purposes, and we are preserved by His Son who watches over us and keeps us in His care.

What awesome comfort this verse should bring to all of us today! There is so much to glean from these words. Write it down and really pray over it as to what God is saying to you personally. Maybe you did not know that this verse was written just for you. Take time to study this short book and ask the Lord to teach you His word. And remember, even the introductions are packed with power. Do not skip over any part.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another # 23

Battleground of the Two Humanities (continued)

Conformity To His Son

Some of you, and some of us, have gone through deep deep waters, dark waters under the Hand of God. We have cried out and asked, "Why should this come to me, Lord? Does this come to other Christians? Why?" - Well, I have only one answer: "He is working all things out to the counsel of His own will" - conformity to His Son. And on the other side, the side of the Cross, this is getting rid of something, breaking down something, emptying you of something; you were too full, you had to be emptied on the other side. You may not see it, but Heaven knows a bit more of the Lord Jesus in your softness, in your patience, in your sympathy, in your understanding, in your heart going out for others and for the Lord. And I suppose I ought to say that the most perilous thing that the Lord could allow for us is for us to know how good we are getting. Is that not true? I will have something more to say about that later on. Shall we pray:

"Our Lord, there is so much here; it does need Thy covering, and Thy handling, Thy protection. It will need grace in Thy dear people, much grace. Give them that grace to receive, to understand. Protect us all as to just how much it is Christ, not even, not even Christian things. He is our Object and Goal. Be it so for Thy Name's sake. Amen

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 24 - (The All-Governing and Dominating Vision: The Seeing of Jesus Christ Our Lord)

They Would Dance With the devil and Dine With Christ!

They would dance with the devil all day--and then dine with Christ at night! 

(John Trapp)

"Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!"  Numbers 23:10

Some faint desires, and short-winded wishes, may be sometimes found in carnal men--but the mischief is that they would break God's chain, and would sunder . . .
  holiness, from happiness,
  sanctification, from salvation,
  and the means, from the end.

They would dance with the devil all day--and then dine with Christ at night! 

They would live all their lives in Delilah's lap--and then go to Abraham's bosom when they die!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"There are many who desire to die the death of the righteous--but do not endeavor to live the life of the righteous. Gladly would they have their end like theirs--but not their way. They would be saints in Heaven--but not saints on earth. If you resolve to serve God--you must renounce all competitors with Him!" (Matthew Henry)

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"I hope none of you calculate on serving the devil all their lives--and cheating God with their dying breath. You can't cheat God by giving him the last snuff of an expiring candle!" (Edward Taylor)

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"He who would die well, should live well; for a bad death must be the outcome of a bad life!" (Adam Clarke)

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"A Christian is not afraid of death--but of sin!
 An unconverted man is not afraid of sin--but of death!" (Brownlow North)
"It is appointed unto men once to die--but after this the judgment!" Hebrews 9:2

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money!" Matthew 6:2-4 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another # 22

Battleground of the Two Humanities (continued)

Corinthian Questions: The Enunciation of a Principle

Now from that point, we begin on these things about which the Corinthians wrote to Paul. At sometime they sent a letter to him with a whole list of questions, and I am not going to try to answer them all; but I want you to note one thing - how did Paul really answer all of those questions? He did answer them, and while he said some things about some of these matters, giving advice and discussing the thing with them, he did not answer them in the form of something that you could put into a book as a book of regulations, as a book of laws. He did not just write a blue print to answer, for example: "Should a woman who has become a Christian and has a non-Christian husband, leave him?" Or the other way: "Should a man who has become a Christian and his wife has not accepted the Lord, should he leave her?" "Should a slave who has become a Christian, give up his position as a slave and try to be free?" "Should we refuse to eat meat that has been sold in a market, but previously offered to an idol?"

There are a lot of questions like that in the letter, and evidently there had been one question about what is today called "Charismatic", "spiritual gifts." Paul has somethings to say about this, but do you feel that he is conclusive in the things that he says? I do not think so. Paul never intended that here, and he never intended to be another Moses writing ten commandments over against ten questions. He had a far better way of answering them than that, if only they would recognize it. In all these things, what was his real way of approach and answer? - the enunciation of a principle. If only you can get hold of the principle, you have got the answers. Please get this, whatever you forget, please get a hold of this: the answer to it all is a principle.

Now I am coming down to that question of gifts, tongues, and so on. It was a problem, a question, at Corinth. Paul had been asked something about it, and so he uses a part of his letter and says: "Now concerning the spirituals ..." He says some things about tongues, apparently quite a bit about tongues; but as far as I can see he does not finally answer the question on tongues. However, he does enunciate a principle about it and all the gifts, and he answers it in this way, this is the effect of it, this is really the answer: on the one hand, none of these things -none of the gifts of God, are ends in themselves. If you draw a circle around either one or all of them and say - this is the "know-all and the end-all," you are going to come to an impasse, sooner or later. You are going to find that you are held up, and your spiritual maturity is arrested.

Brethren, however supernatural and precious it might be, beware of an experience becoming the beginning and the end. None of these things are ends in themselves, and the apostle says about this particular thing, and about gifts as a whole as he deals with them, that is is the principle concerning them: - ARE THEY LEADING TO A GREATER MEASURE OF CHRIST?

In this letter, the apostle uses a word which I am sorry that the translators have left out and put another one in its place. The word they have used is "edification," and, of course, if you give a very strict explanation or definition of the Greek word for "edification," you will get the true meaning of the apostle's thought. What Paul did say and mean was "for building up." For building up what? - the increase of Jesus Christ. Are these things ends in themselves, wonderful as they may be? Are they leading on to a greater measure of Jesus Christ? Are they building up the Body of Christ? That is the challenge of every gift: How does it minister and effect an increase of Jesus Christ?!

Now they had every one of these things at Corinth and over against them was this low moral level: this poor spiritual standard. Here at Corinth they had the gifts and came behind in no spiritual gift, but were is Christ, where is the increase of Christ? Paul had to say: "I have to speak to you as babes." What the Lord looks for, what must be, is the increase of the measure of the fullness of Jesus Christ. The question is, after all, how much of Christ is in the individual, in the assembly? How much of Christ, and not the obsession with things even though they be the supernaturals, but the captivation of Jesus Christ - because He hath appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man Whom He hath ordained. It must be just the Lord, the kind of Man that He is, the kind of Humanity that He is.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 23 - (Conformity to His Son)

Dear God, Make Me An Extraordinary Christian!

The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him (2 Chronicles 16:9).

God is looking for a man, or woman, whose heart will be always set on Him, and who will trust Him for all He desires to do. God is eager to work more mightily now than He ever has through any soul. The clock of the centuries points to the eleventh hour.

"The world is waiting yet to see what God can do through a consecrated soul." Not the world alone, but God Himself is waiting for one, who will be more fully devoted to Him than any who have ever lived; who will be willing to be nothing that Christ may be all; who will grasp God's own purposes; and taking His humility and His faith, His love and His power, will, without hindering, continue to let God do exploits.
--C. H. P.

"There is no limit to what God can do with a man, providing he will not touch the glory."

In an address given to ministers and workers after his ninetieth birthday, George Mueller spoke thus of himself: "I was converted in November, 1825, but I only came into the full surrender of the heart four years later, in July, 1829. The love of money was gone, the love of place was gone, the love of position was gone, the love of worldly pleasures and engagements was gone. God, God alone became my portion. I found my all in Him; I wanted nothing else. And by the grace of God this has remained, and has made me a happy man, an exceedingly happy man, and it led me to care only about the things of God. I ask affectionately, my beloved brethren, have you fully surrendered the heart to God, or is there this thing or that thing with which you are taken up irrespective of God?

I read a little of the Scriptures before, but preferred other books; but since that time the revelation He has made of Himself has become unspeakably blessed to me, and I can say from my heart, God is an infinitely lovely Being.
Oh, be not satisfied until in your own inmost soul you can say, "God is an infinitely lovely Being!"
I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian.

~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another # 21

Battleground of the Two Humanities (continued)

The Way the Old Humanity Does It: A Realm That Is NOT Allowed (continued)

Do not make too much of human intellectualism. I think one of the most deadening things today is theology as such; I think that is where Christendom has gone astray, intellectualism in the realm of Divine things. The power of the brain has made an awful mess in Christendom. Yes, they were intellectual with the philosophy of the Greeks. They were clever, they were efficient; but this letter is saying, that is out - that kind of wisdom is NOT allowed in here. There is Another Kind of Knowledge here, and how utter the apostle is in this matter when he says: "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, they are spiritually discerned" by the spiritual; that is the spiritual man - the man of the Spirit. And he says: "As it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him."

I suppose you at once would think that that must be after this life - what He has prepared for us afterwards. Oh, I do not believe that; I believe that begins now. It is for us now. The things that the eye, the natural eye, the hold human eye, have never seen and never can see, the things of the Spirit that have never entered into the natural heart, the old humanity heart, "God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit": "hath revealed" - "hath." This is not hereafter: "hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit." You are standing in the good of that - the open heaven, the Anointing Spirit, and God revealing His Son in us; and in so doing He is devastating us, but He is also opening a new vista entirely of possibilities, of wonder. It is like that all the time in our going on. Can you say that is going on in you? Yes, I am seeing in my heart more and more of His Son, not the truth as a theory but His Son; and seeing His Son is undoing a lot of my own conceptions and my ideas and my valuations. It is just making them shrivel up; I see Him to be an entirely New Conception, and in Him I have a new conception of the Church.

The Church Is a Person Expressed in Mankind

I must reiterate that the Church is not a thing; it is not an institution; it is not a denomination, nor is it all denominations put together. It is not anything like that. The Church is a Person expressed in mankind, expressed in human life. The apostles never went anywhere with the preconceived idea: "We will have a church here; we will set up a church here; we will form a church here." No, they went and preached Jesus Christ; and when people saw God they began to see Jesus Christ, He became the Cohesive Power drawing together, and if they were really on that ground, what did they meet? They met Jesus Christ. They met Jesus Christ - that is the Church, and there is no other Church in the New Testament.

Well, it comes back to this - the natural man cannot see and is debarred from the things of the Spirit, "but he that is spiritual judgeth all things." He that is spiritual has this New spiritual capacity; and it is, as this letter teaches, the increase of that spiritual capacity, of spiritual measure, which is the thing that is the ground of appeal to these people in Corinth. Paul says: "While you talk 'as men,' while you behave 'as men,' are you not babes?" And as in Corinth, so today, we are to recognize that though that natural man should be the greatest brain that has ever been produced - compassing all the bodies celestial and terrestrial, this "nuclear age" man developed to the dimensions of humanity today - though he be a man like that, he cannot know, he cannot see, the things of the Spirit of God. There is a limit on the natural man. That is how it is, but there is a world, a realm, open to the spiritual man of the New Humanity which is beyond anything else of which the old humanity is capable.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 22 - (Corinthian Questions: The Enunciation of a Principle )

The Signs of Drifting

The Signs of Drifting

Regularly gathering in the house of the Lord with brothers and sisters in Christ provides an "anchor" of support and accountability. But skipping church in order to pursue other interests is an obvious sign that a believer has begun to drift away from God. Less apparent are the men and women who mentally skip the worship service. The act of attending means nothing unless we make a deliberate decision to receive God's Word and apply it to our life. As the writer of Hebrews warned, if we do not pay attention to what we have heard, we will drift away from it (2:1).

However, Sunday morning is not the only time for receiving a steady diet of nourishing principles and encouragement from the Bible. We should be in its pages every day, reading and meditating for ourselves. When our interest in what God has to say decreases, we're already slipping out into troublesome waters. The only way to keep our way pure is by following His Word (Ps. 119:9).

If Bible reading is neglected, a prayer life has usually faded as well. Prayer is the way believers communicate with the Navigator. If we stop talking with Him, the God who once seemed so close soon feels far away. That chasm in our spirit is one more sign that we're far from shore and safety.

I've watched many a captain guide his cruise ship through a narrow channel. The crew members are intensely focused on their tasks because drifting means disaster. Life is full of narrow channels to navigate. We cannot afford to drift away from God and His Word. Only He can bring us safely through.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another # 20

Battleground of the Two Humanities (continued)

The Battleground Is Between Two Men (continued)

Now we bring in the Other Man, and what is the Other Man saying about this? Go back to John 5 where He says: "The Son can do nothing out from Himself" - the Son of God can do nothing out from Himself. And this great servant Paul, who wrote the Corinthians letter, said: "Of mine own self, I can do nothing; when I am weak, then I am strong; I glory in my weakness that the power of God, Christ, may encamp upon me."

The strength of the power of this old creation, this old humanity, is utterly undercut in the New Humanity. And, whether you have reached it yet or not, if the Spirit of God gets hold of you - and you want Him to, perhaps you pray that He will - but let me tell you, you are in for something; if He rally gets hold of you, the day is coming when you will feel utterly helpless in yourself. You are at the end of all you ability for anything in yourself, and you will come to the place where you will say: "Lord, if you don't ... this is the end." All this power idea for which the first Adam made his bid - to be as God, powerful in himself - all that has been undercut in the New Man, "Christ crucified."

Power! Dear friends, keep the positive in view that the power be of God. Unto these Corinthians, the apostle states: "I was amongst you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." Why? He answers the way - "that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."

The Way The Old Humanity Does It:

A Realm That Is NOT Allowed

Wisdom is another great word in this second chapter; it speaks of the wisdom of this world, the wisdom of men, (and that quest for wisdom, wisdom and their philosophers, that was almost lust with the Greeks and with the Corinthians). "Wisdom" is "the power to judge, to discriminate, to determine, and to decide"; but the wisdom in their procedure was of themselves in Corinth. Their wisdom was their own and the wisdom of this world.

There is something here that I confess I do not understand, something beyond me. To this Corinthian assembly, the apostle comes down on one of the other points of this carry-over. If any of you have a matter, do not ask a worldly man with worldly wisdom to decide your affair; that is the way the old humanity does it. Now you in Corinth ought as an assembly in the New Humanity in Christ to have an ability that this world has not got in the matter of wisdom and judgment. And here is the thing that I do not understand; it is this phrase: "Do you not know that we shall judge angels?" Have you thought about that? Oh, I thought they were superior beings to ourselves; obeying God in everything, but the time is coming, the apostle says, "when we shall sit in judgment upon angels." We shall judge angels, and he uses that here to show that there is Another Kind of Wisdom altogether from the wisdom of the best in the old humanity - Wisdom he says which is not "of this world," for in Christ He "is made unto us" the Wisdom of God.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, and, therefore, the spiritual man ought to have the power of judgment, discrimination, discernment, and understanding that even a magistrate in this world has not got. Yes, this humanity in the New Man is very different! However, the Corinthians brought in this old humanity, their worldly wisdom, for their driving force was of their own souls in Corinth. It was soul force, and that is the principle of this world. Soul force - that is something to dwell upon. Soul force - have we not in the last part of the age seen what that can do? Yes, we have seen it extended to literally terrible, frightening proportions, soul force in the nations. That soul force is with us all, but I am not going to start on soul and spirit. I am beginning to feel that there is a little too much being said about that. There was a time when it had a real point, it has that today; but it has become a subject, a fascinating subject, and we want to be very careful not to be taken up with the subjects. But here is the fact that at Corinth, the driving force was soul force; it was not the force of the Spirit. These people were clever people, they were intellectual people, they were efficient people; but it was in a realm that is NOT allowed.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 21)

Fruit Begins with Relationship?

Fruit Begins with Relationship?

by Charles Stanley

Ephesus was the home of a tremendous ministry. Despite harsh persecution, the church planted by Paul endured opposition, spread the gospel, and was quick to challenge false prophets. But 30 years after the apostle left, John’s revelation included a stern warning for those believers.

Imagine how the words of Revelation 2 must have struck the Ephesians when they read them. After complimenting their service to the gospel, Christ said, “But I have this against you . . .” That phrase was no doubt extremely disconcerting. The Lord warned them that they had left their first love. In other words, all of their work was being done with wrong motives.

Christ called the Ephesians to remember their love for Him and their delight in His salvation. Service is no substitute for an intimate relationship, but modern believers continue to fall into this subtle trap. The commendable things that we do count for nothing unless they stem from a vibrant personal connection with God. Our work can’t be effective or fruitful unless He is in it.

In fact, God is more interested in you and your personal relationship with Him than in a thousand lifetimes of good works. He desires to be the satisfaction and delight of His children so that their service is a result of loving devotion.

There are plenty of wrong reasons to labor for the kingdom. However, God is satisfied only with service motivated by love for Him. He wants those with selfish intentions to return to their first love. In that way, hearts and minds can be renewed, and service to the Lord will be more fruitful.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another # 19

Battleground of the Two Humanities (continued)

Paul says: "Corinth, you come behind in no spiritual gift." All the gifts are there - "supernaturals." Later, the apostle in answering one of the ten questions that they present to him says: "Now concerning the spirituals ..." Now let us move slowly, carefully, for these are all truths that were Israel's while they were in the wilderness between Egypt and the land. Yet, with all that was true of the Corinthians, the apostle had to gird himself up and gather himself together and make one positive resolution. To these people with all this, he said: "I determined, I have made up my mind, to know nothing amongst you save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." To Christians with all this, redeemed by the precious blood, positionally separated unto God, within the Sovereign rule of His Kingship and His Kingdom, and objectively knowing much of His sovereign, supernatural activities in their history - to them the apostle has to say this categorical thing: "To you I have made up my mind, I resolved, I determined, that amongst you it shall be nothing but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." What is all this about? It is this cleavage in chapter two between what the apostle designates "the natural man" and "he that is spiritual"; and the battle is between the two. That is the battleground between these two men.

I wonder if you people in this country ever have time to sit down and think. I know your tremendous activity, but I wonder if you ever have time to just sit down and think. Now I would recommend something to you, for your own need, for your own quiet time, not for public reading or anything like that, but I would recommend to you that translation of the New Testament in "The Amplified Bible." If you remember, the translators of The Amplified Bible state in their introduction: "Our object is to get inside of the original language which is so much richer than the English and has so many shades of meaning that no English words can convey and give that amplification which is true to the sense and meaning of the original language. It takes a lot of words and a lot of shades to explain the Greek there, the original language, and so we have given the amplification which is true to the sense of the original language." Now you will need a lot of patience to read that, but if you would sit down with that Bible, you would be searched and illuminated as you think your way through clause after clause of your New Testament.

Now, why am I saying all this? Because I look at Christians today, and I think many have not read their New Testament. My word, look at Christendom! Here (as in the Corinthian letter) there is an utter contradiction; they are not seeing, yet they hold this New Testament as their charter.

Now, why is this? The answer is in a phrase. When Paul wrote this First Letter to the Corinthians speaking about the condition there, he pinpointed and said: "When you do so and so, are ye not 'as men?' You say, 'Must I not be as men?'" No, not after a certain humanity, that man is not allowed in here to be "a man." The Cross has stripped him of that manhood, " have put off (and the Greek language again is) you have taken off the clothes; you have put off the old man and his doings and have put on the New Man," and so there is a manhood that is not allowed in here at all.

"Are ye not as men?" Paul says: "You are talking like men, as men talk; behaving as men behave; and it is not allowed, that kind of humanity is not allowed." That man is an intrusion, and he is under a Divinely imposed embargo; and this second chapter indicates the embargo. "The natural man" - that is the man, and "he cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them." Would to God that Christendom would imbibe that. This natural man is an intrusion into the place where he has no standing with God; it is an assumption which has led to a presumption. It is presumption for us to come into this realm of the New Humanity with ourselves, to bring ourselves in in any way. You see the strength of this natural man is shown here in this chapter two, and I am keeping close to the text although I do not quote the actual wording. It is the truth that is here: the strength of the natural man in his proceeding is of himself. The apostle is talking about power, and these Corinthians had a great idea of power-politics. Power! Yes, power is all right if it is the power of God; bu their idea of power was the world's idea of power, and their power was of themselves which meant that it was of the world.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 20)

Blind Spots

Blind Spots

by Charles R. Swindoll

All of us played follow-the-leader as kids. But even then, when the guide in front was too daring or foolish, we would step aside. There were definite limits on how far we would follow.

Sadly, this is not always true in the spiritual realm, where leaders unworthy of the name sometimes command blind devotion. (Remember Jonestown and Waco and those fallen televangelists?)

No one ever defined that follow-no-matter-what syndrome better than our Lord in Matthew 15:14: "Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

Remember now, Jesus warned us against blind guides, not all guides. God still uses strategic, trustworthy, dedicated leaders, and they deserve our respect.

But how can we tell when "blindness" starts to set in? What are the symptoms to look for in strong, natural leaders that tell us trouble is brewing? After thinking about this for quite a while, I am ready to suggest six blind spots we dare not overlook.

Authoritarianism. Take care when a leader begins repressing your freedom. If there is the lack of a servant's heart, of a teachable spirit, pride is in control. Be especially wary of one who seems to have all the answers.

Exclusiveness. Watch out for the "we alone are right" and the "us four and no more" attitudes. They reveal themselves in an encouragement to break commitments with your mate, family members, and long-standing friends.

Greed. Moneygrubbing is another telltale sign. Especially if funds wind up in the leader's pocket and become "nobody's business."

Sensuality. Moral purity is a must if the leader claims God's hand is on his life. A holy life is never optional.

Unaccountability. Leaders who refuse to be accountable to anyone forfeit the right to be trusted and followed. Every leader needs counsel and occasional confrontation.

Rationalization. When wrong is justified with a defensive spirit, when inappropriate actions are quickly glossed over, when scriptural truth is twisted to fit a sinful lifestyle, when gray-black facts are whitewashed, stop your support.

Take Christ's advice: "Let them alone"!

If you're going to follow the leader, look where you're going.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another # 18

Battleground of the Two Humanities (continued)

The Expression of Jesus Christ (continued)

Here in these letters to the Corinthians, as we have pointed out, we see the tragedy that can come about among Christians, Christians as individuals and Christians as a company. The tragedy is because of this one thing, because of a carry-over of that old rejected and discredited humanity into the realm of the New humanity. This is a terrible tragedy. See, the Spirit of God has caused this to be written in Corinthians. It is unpleasant reading, and I do not like reading a lot of this letter. When I read what is here, when I read about what they are doing in this Christian assembly, that there is such a thing as incest in a Christian assembly (and all the other things, some of which we shall touch upon); when I read, I think - what an awful tragedy among Christians.

You are not going to tell me that belongs to Corinth two thousand years ago alone. Are we not meeting this in Christian companies continually, adultery and what not? It is a terrible tragedy when you ignore that great gap that God has placed by the Cross between one humanity and Another, when you do not recognize how utter is that cleavage which the  Cross has made. When you bypass the Cross in this matter of human life, you are in a way of tragedy, the tragedy of your whole spiritual life and testimony. This is very testing. The Cross is more than a teaching, a doctrine - it is a terrible setting forth of the great thing that God has done and is after; though, on the other hand, a very glorious setting forth, for here is the New Man introduced. And we must keep Him in view even while we speak about this tragedy, and the battleground of these two humanities.

The Battleground Is Between Two Men:

"The Natural Man" and "He That Is Spiritual"

Now we must spend a little while getting our position, as is represented by this First Letter to the Corinthians in particular. Their position (and what might be our position) is undoubtedly the position of many Christians today. What is the position in which the apostle, or the Holy Spirit through the apostle, puts the Corinthians? I wonder if you have noticed that in this First Letter to the Corinthians, Israel's history in the wilderness is mentioned fourteen times, as it is recorded in Exodus to Deuteronomy, and is pinpointed in a very particular way. Here the Corinthians are shown to be in that period between Egypt and the land. That is their position spiritually; that is, they are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and have come out under its covering. The Corinthians are there, and the apostle takes note of that as he introduces the letter unto the "saints". Now you revise, if necessary, your mentality about that word "saints"; it simply means the "separated ones," those who have come out unto God. That is all! That is a saint, one who has come out to God, been separated, redeemed by precious blood, positionally separated and out. How? They are redeemed by the precious blood.

In First Corinthians, chapter ten, Paul says: "I would have you know, brethren, that all our fathers were baptized into Moses in the cloud, and in the sea." Baptized - the Corinthians have been baptized and had come under the regime of the Spirit, the Cloud, the regime of the Holy Spirit. These are Christians positionally, if not conditionally. Positionally they are separated; they are baptized, but they are in the wilderness as we find them here in Corinth. They are Christians positionally, they are under the regime of the Holy Spirit, the era of the Spirit; they are in the Kingdom of God, and if the Kingdom of God means the Sovereign rule of God,  as it does, they are under the Sovereign rule of God. They are positionally in the Kingdom of God - not in the general sense of Divine Sovereignty of the universe, but in a more particular sense of Divine Sovereignty. Yes, they are all that, and they are experiencing supernatural activities of God; objectively supernatural things are happening to them.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 19)

Institutionalism of Sin

Institutionalism of Sin
We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. 1 Timothy 1:9-11

I am an optimistic and hopeful person by temperament. But I struggle with where our culture is trending morally. I have friends who have an orientation toward homosexuality, but are not practicing. I love a family member who is a practicing homosexual and I have a good friend whose son is transgender. John Piper explains how our orientation to pride is not the same as committing the sin of pride. In the same way, an individual’s orientation toward homosexuality is not the same as practicing homosexuality. But the institutionalism of sin is another level of concern.

What does it mean to institutionalize sin? It's when the rule of law in our land recognizes as acceptable behavior what God and civilization has called sin for thousands of years. When abortion became legal our government institutionalized the murder of innocent children. When same-sex “marriage” was declared right—our nation institutionalized a redefinition of what God defines as one man and one woman through vows to: one another, their community and their Lord. The institutionalism of sin solicits the judgment of God on man’s shameless arrogance.

Paul understood the serious nature of seeking to conform the gospel of Christ and the glory of God to sinful behavior. The gospel was entrusted to him by the Lord to steward vigilantly in fierce love and obedience. An emasculated gospel is no gospel at all—it is only a place holder for hellish consequences. Yet 2,000 years later the church is still tempted to compromise truth in the face of relentless and radical persecution. Believers in Jesus are called bigoted for defining marriage as only heterosexual. Religious liberty is subject to the rights of a sinful society. Even so, light shines brightest in darkness. We are the light of Christ to help our confused culture.

“In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7).

The practice of homosexuality is sin. To elevate it to the level of what God intended for marriage is to desecrate a divine institution. We cannot continue to dishonor holy God and not be judged. Sodom and Gomorrah received a temporary reprieve from the Lord’s wrath, because His righteous remnantremained faithful. But eventually, the cities were severely judged for their open endorsement of sexual immorality and perversion. What sins await institutionalization by our country? Prostitution, polygamy, transgenderism and euthanasia? Lord have mercy on us!

There are other sins listed as serious acts of rebellion against God: murder, sexual immorality, slavery, lying and perjury. But sins against the body are most grievous. So, in the midst of our country’s moral crisis—what is our role as Christ followers? Daily we pray and repent of sin in our hearts so we can reflect the heart of a righteous God to those who need Jesus. Moreover, we arenot ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God to those who believe in Christ. We are bold to stand against sin with loving firmness. We overwhelm dark institutions with millions of lights united around the Lord Jesus. We face temporal trials with trust in our eternal Father. Sinful society scoffs at saints who hold true to truth. But the last word comes from The Word.

God’s institution of righteousness—the church—will weather gale force winds from evil forces. Jesus the bridegroom takes care of His bride the church. Persecution from the world will purge the world from the church. Our role as Christ followers is to grow in grace and truth. When we love well, we are attractive to those seduced by inferior lovers. When we hold firm to truth, others are drawn to Christ’s saving faith. Jesus is and always will be the answer. Let’s stand on God’s truth by obeying His truth. Let’s represent our Lord well by loving everyone well.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that” (Luke 6:31-33).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, deliver us as a nation from our pride and arrogance in redefining what You say is wrong and making it right—and rejecting what You say is right and making it wrong.

Related ReadingsRomans 6:12; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 5:3; 2 Timothy 1:8

~Wisdom Hunters Devotional!

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another # 17

The Battle Ground of the Two Humanities (continued)

The Expression of Jesus Christ (continued)

A local church is intended to have the values of Jesus Christ, which are never capable of being just localized. They must - not by their effort, organization, machinery, or anything of that kind, but because they are that - they must have an expansive influence beyond themselves and beyond their own time: spiritual values. Now I want to get to this matter of how that is reached and what it is that makes the Lord's people like that, both individually and collectively.

You see, the heart of this whole matter is not a system, either of teaching or of practice. It is not an ecclesiasticism: that is only another word for church order. It is not that or any of the things which Christianity has become, not all the accretions and the developments and the forms, but the heart of this whole thing is the PERSON - the PERSON of a Man with a capital M. Manhood is God's great thought from creation. He has put His supreme value upon this form of creation - humanity - and bound up all His interest with a kind of humanity that He wants to possess to represent Him. "Let Us make man in OUR own image, according to Our likeness." What is an image, what is a likeness? It is a representation. God said: "Our image, Our likeness, a representation of Us." But I am afraid the representation is more or less very poor at Corinth. God expressing Himself in a species called humanity - to that He has committed Himself and all His interests; and if you want to know really what the Holy Spirit's coming and operation is for, it is just that - To Get Hold Of A Mankind After This One Man.

So it is a Person; always focus your eyes on the Person, keep your eyes on the Person. The New Testament is all about that. It is always the Person, and this Person is repeatedly saying and affirming: "I AM." Whatever the capacity, Shepherd or Door or Vine, these are only aspects of His Person, of what He is, "I AM". He has stepped right into the arena of history and is the only One Who is allowed to do it, to say: "I AM." Tremendous things are said concerning this, and God hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness not by, but in a Man of His Own choice. The judgment of this whole world is going to be on the ground of Christ. Not what sins you have committed, more or less what you might call small or big. No, that is not the ground of judgment. The ground of judgment is where do you stand in relation to Jesus Christ, and how much of Him is there. He will judge the world in the Man. Now think about that. It is the Person which we must keep all the time in view as we proceed!

This Man is utterly and absolutely different from the whole race of humanity; hence, as we have seen, because of that immense difference, there has got to be the undoing of the one in order to make room for the Other. God's full and utter beginning all over again is with this Man. You notice that this implies or indicates that at the time the Lord Jesus came into this world, God had considered and decided that the human race had become big enough and large enough to wind it all up. Here is this great multitude, Jews and Gentiles, filling the world that then was, and it was enough to represent the whole world, a race, a great race. Then the Lord God said: "Finish and We will start with One Man all over again, One Man, the last Adam, a New Race." The whole humanity is set aside and a New Race brought in by its first Man, "the Firstborn among many brethren."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 18)

Distrust or Trust In Him?

God... calleth those things which be not as though they were (Romans 4:17).

What does that mean? Why Abraham did this thing: he dared to believe God. It seemed an impossibility at his age that Abraham should become the father of a child; it looked incredible; and yet God called him a "father of many nations" before there was a sign of a child; and so Abraham called himself "father" because God called him so. That is faith; it is to believe and assert what God says. "Faith steps on seeming void, and finds the rock beneath."

Only say you have what God says you have, and He will make good to you all you believe. Only it must be real faith, all there is in you must go over in that act of faith to God.
Be willing to live by believing and neither think nor desire to live in any other way. Be willing to see every outward light extinguished, to see the eclipse of every star in the blue heavens, leaving nothing but darkness and perils around, if God will only leave in thy soul the inner radiance, the pure bright lamp which faith has kindled.
--Thomas C. Upham

The moment has come when you must get off the perch of distrust, out of the nest of seeming safety, and onto the wings of faith; just such a time as comes to the bird when it must begin to try the air. It may seem as though you must drop to the earth; so it may seem to the fledgling. It, too, may feel very like falling; but it does not fall -- it's pinions give it support, or, if they fail, the parent birds sweeps under and bears it upon its wings.

Even so will God bear you. Only trust Him; "thou shalt be holden up." "Well, but," you say, "am I to cast myself upon nothing?" That is what the bird seems to have to do; but we know the air is there, and the air is not so unsubstantial as it seems. And you know the promises of God are there, and they are not unsubstantial at all. "But it seems an unlikely thing to come about that my poor weak soul should be girded with such strength." Has God said it shall? "That my tempted, yielding nature shall be victor in the strife." Has God said it shall? "That my timorous, trembling heart shall find peace?" Has God said it shall?

For, if He has, you surely do not mean to give Him the lie! Hath he spoken, and shall He not do it? If you have gotten a word -- "a sure word" of promise -- take it implicitly, trust it absolutely. And this sure word you have; nay, you have more -- you have Him who speaks the word confidently.

"Yea, I say unto you," trust Him.

~L. B. Cowman~

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another # 16

Battleground of the Two Humanities

Lord, Thou knowest that this very act of prayer as we pause at this point is our acknowledgement and confession that we cannot go on without Thee, and we have no wish to do so. Lord, for the speaking of Thy truth, for the reception, understanding, and obedience, we need Thee; we cannot do without Thee. We rest back upon Thy faithfulness, Thy mercy, Thy grace, and we believe that trusting in Thee, Thou wilt not fail us; and we shall come through by the help of God, so be it. And seeing that it is so, the glory will be Thine alone through our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

We in these hours are being occupied with the climax of humanity as represented in the appearing in this world of God's Son in human form, and we have reached the point in these meditations where we are at present occupied with the battleground of the two humanities, that battleground being particularly focused in the two letters to the Corinthians; that is their place in the sovereign ordering of God. Other letters have particular aspects, but here in Corinthians we find the focal point of the great controversy between the Old and the New, the first Adam and the last Adam, the one humanity and the Other.

Let me say here before we proceed that our consideration may seem to be very much of a destructive character, hard, exacting, not pleasant at all to our old humanity. These letters are drastic; and as we have said, devastating to the old humanity; and the apostle is really hitting very hard, saying some very strong things - while in love, yet being very faithful. I do want to very definitely point this out that the apostle took that attitude and handled the situation as strongly, forcefully, radically as he did, not because he wanted to hurt anybody, not just because he did not agree with these people, but because he had seen - he had devastatingly seen the Lord Jesus in Glory. This man's whole life and ministry were actuated by what he called "the heavenly vision," and he had seen the greatness, the immensity of the significance of Jesus Christ in the whole economy of God in this universe.

Beyond Paul's power to explain and express (for he exhausted all language in his attempt to do so), Jesus Christ for him had appeared and was continually in his heart being revealed in such magnitudes as to make him feel that anything that gets in the way of our attaining must be ruthlessly dealt with. He said: "Brethren, I have not attained, I am not already complete, I press toward the mark, the  prize of the on-high calling." What was it?

Utter conformity to the image of God's Son - the real apprehension in his own experience of the wonder and glory of Jesus Christ - to attain unto that was the all-consuming object and passion of his life because he had seen!

Now my point this morning is not intended to be destructive and negative and only against. If we are seemingly being very hard on this old man, it is with the positive always in view; it is unto something - unto the image of God's Son. Now having said that, let us proceed with this battleground of the two humanities as gathered into these two letters to the Corinthians which we will only be able to touch so lightly and so imperfectly this week, but I think sufficiently to indicate a great deal more which you will grasp.

The Expression of Jesus Christ

So here we are in the midst of the whole business of the New Testament, the transition from one humanity to Another and that where Christians are concerned. You must remember these letters were written to a local assembly, and while individuals in the assembly are picked out and pinpointed and spoken straightly to about their conduct, their behavior, their manner of life, it is the assembly that the apostle is concerned with and what a local assembly should be as an expression of Jesus Christ. That is the only object for the existence of any local assembly - the expression of Jesus Christ. The apostle was concerned with that nucleus in Corinth of the whole Body of Christ, and I think that it is very impressive that down through twenty centuries
in ever widening circles from nation to nation, country to country, to the farthest bounds of this earth, the ministry to the Corinthians has expanded and today it is dealing with us. A local assembly ought to take on that character and not just be a localized thing. It ought to have a universal significance, to say something. Oh, that every local company of the Lord's people said something for all time and for all eternity and to all the world as to the meaning of Jesus Christ!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 17)

Leave It To God

Leave It to God

by Charles R. Swindoll

Philip Melanchthon and Martin Luther were once deciding on the day's agenda. The former was disciplined, intellectually gifted, serious, and goal-driven; the latter was equally intelligent but much more emotional, risky, even playful.

Melanchthon said, "Martin, this day we will discuss the governance of the universe."
To which Luther responded, "Philip, this day you and I will go fishing and leave governance of the universe to God."

What wise counsel!

I love Jesus' model of balance. He arrived on the planet with a mission more important than any soul who has drawn a breath of earth air. Yet He didn't really get started until He turned thirty. What about all those "wasted" years? He left them to God.

There's a great scene in Luke when a bunch of His disciples returned from their practical work project. They were all excited about their success, especially that "even the demons are subject to us in Your name."

Ever so graciously Jesus offered this mild rebuke: "Do not rejoice . . . that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven" (Luke 10:20). They felt good about themselves because they had done well. Whereas Jesus implied, "Leave all that to God . . . you have nothing to prove; you are approved. Your names are in the Book and that's what really matters."

I used to feel driven and drained by the never-ending demands of ministry. If folks weren't changing, I felt responsible. If some drifted, I felt at fault. If there wasn't continual growth, I ached as if I needed to make it happen. If a sermon failed to ring with clarity and power, I struggled all of Monday and half of Tuesday. Talk about wasted energy. I've learned to place those cares in the hands of One who can handle them.

Let's declare today the day you and I give ourselves permission to relax without being afraid or feeling guilty . . . and leave the stuff we cannot handle or change to God. Is it a deal? Great! But what shall we do about the person who thinks we are slacking off too much? You guessed it. Just leave it to God!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Great Transition From One Humanity to Another # 15

Practical Devastation of Our Old Humanity (continued)

The Dividing: "He That Is Spiritual" and "The Natural Man" (continued)

Perhaps there is a lot of this in a conference like this - this man's name and that man's name and this teacher and that teacher. We have our preferences and attachments, but we must drop the whole thing. Paul is saying nothing but "Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." We must drop all that personality complex business which in the development only means division in the Body of Christ, and division is weakness and defeat. We must restrain from this sort of thing, for this is moving along the wrong line. This is moving from the outside - trying to gather around personalities and calling that "unity" instead of dealing with it from the inside; and after all, if only, if only we saw Jesus Christ, we would see what the Church is.

Dear friends, the Church of Jesus Christ is not an "it." It is not a system of teaching. It is not something ecclesiastical. It is not an institution. (Oh, I thank God for the day when He showed me this.) THE CHURCH IS A PERSON AND THAT PERSON IS JESUS CHRIST IN CORPORATE EXPRESSION.

We must revise our mentality when we talk about the Church, the Body of Christ. What are you talking about? - not an "it", a something, as though it were a something in itself, and a teaching in itself. No, it is this Man with a family, with children, brothers and sisters, begotten of God, that is the Church.

Oh, how much ecclesiasticism we can have without the family life, but the Church after all, when you come to the final Word, is just the measure of Christ that there is in those who make it up - "till we all attain unto ... the measure ... of Christ" - every one of us. That is the Body of Christ, that is the Church.

Now I am going to close this morning. We have seen the very first thing that you meet at Corinth is this carry-over of an old humanity in personality complexities, and the Lord says "No" and the apostle says: "No ... only Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." The Lord search our hearts concerning these two humanities. Let us pray ...

"Now, Lord, this can very quickly and very easily be all covered over in the next moments when we go away and have to think back as to what it was about in that hour. Spare that; save us from that. Lord, we are not wanting to impose upon Thy people and kind of suppression, but we do pray that the Holy Spirit will solemnize our hearts in the presence of such great issues in the greatest issue of all time and eternity. Give us quiet meditation, prayerful meditation in our hearts to see where we are, where we are in this whole Bible. So help us, God, for Thy Son's sake, Amen

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16 - (Battleground of the Two Humanities)