the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11,12 NIV)
I wonder what Paul would think... were he to come back today and look over the literature of the past many centuries upon his letters, the systems of truth, of doctrine, the wonderful organizations men have made of the things which he said in a moment of inspiration and need – I wonder what he would say. I think he would look at it with blank amazement, and say, "Well, that ever they could have made that out of what I said! That ever that could have resulted!" I am not sure that he would recognize his own teaching. I am quite sure that he would be very doubtful as to whether it was the right outworking of what he said. I simply raise that as a question, and yet include it as something upon which to reflect. Does not a systematizing of truth result in limitation, in a setness which breathes death? The New Testament themes are far, far too big for our molds. You cannot systematize the Cross of the Lord Jesus, you can only go on your knees and worship, conscious that you see something really far beyond your power to compass. But immediately you have boxed it in a system of truth, you have reduced it from its divine and eternal dimensions, and robbed it of its power, and brought it into a realm of death in that measure. The Person of Christ, the resurrection of Christ – take any one of the great themes of the New Testament – when you have so wonderfully brought together all the fragments and organized them, and put them into a manual, a textbook, you have killed the thing....
When the Lord Jesus came, and in Himself gave some interpretation to the law, some light upon the law, which did not fall within the compass of their system, there was no room for Him, there was no room for God in His own law. There must be room left for God!
By T. Austin-Sparks
God... who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)
The object of our meditation is: Jesus Christ in heaven as our Sufficiency.... Our Lord Jesus’ resources came from His Father when He was here on this earth. He voluntarily lived in a state of absolute dependence on Him. He willed it to be so. He refused to have anything in Himself. Everything He needed He drew from heaven; He received it from above. When we are in resurrection-union with Christ, the Holy Spirit brings us into oneness with Him who is in heaven for us. That means: all the resources upon which the Lord Jesus lived are at our disposal. These resources were secret resources, that is, they were unknown to the world. The people around Him were absolutely in the dark as to the source of His power. There was a secret relationship between Him and His Father which impressed them. They saw that there was something in the background of His life, a mysterious power and knowledge, which was not ordinary to man. He had a whole set of resources at His command which no one possessed. He had a knowledge which was far beyond man’s understanding. And because He lived a secret life, a life in His Father, His resources were mysterious and wonderful to men.
If we live in heavenly union with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, the same resources are at our disposal. Let us remind ourselves of the Word which is at the basis of our meditation: “The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” That means that all the resources which are in Christ are available for us. But we have to learn to live in such close fellowship with Him as He lived with His Father in the days of His flesh.
By T. Austin-Sparks
God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV)
The principle of the New Covenant is a first-hand individual revelation of Christ as the knowledge of God in terms of glory in the heart of the believer. Every individual believer only comes into true Christianity by a revelation of Christ in his or her heart, so that the knowledge of Christ is all their own, and as real as when God commanded light to shine in darkness. But that is not all. That shining must be progressive. Christ is far too vast to be seen in more than minute degrees at any one time. The bulk of the New Testament is taken up with getting Christians to see what an immense realm it is into which they have come, and how they must go on... Christianity can only be kept living and fresh and full of impact as Christians are living in an ever-growing apprehension of Christ as the Holy Spirit reveals Him in the heart.
This apprehension may only come as necessity is laid upon us by reason of suffering and trial. Capacity will increase by the stretching of suffering (see Hebrews 12, and read "child-training" for "chastening"). There is no succession in Christianity other than that of the revelation of Christ to the heart by the Holy Spirit. It is not a system to be perpetuated, but a Life to be possessed. The value of the Scriptures is that they contain depths and fullnesses which have never yet been fathomed; and when we speak of "revelation" we do not mean anything extra to them, but of that which is in them, but only known by the inward "writing" and "shining" of the Holy Spirit.... A thing can be in the Bible, and we can have read it a thousand times, but until the Holy Spirit makes it Life to us it will be unfruitful. Hence, there is a place and need for an inward revelation of the Word of God, and this is the only true succession. Nothing can be preserved alive through generations save as every one entering its realm does so on the basis of such a personal, inward, living, and growing revelation of the truth, so that the origin and beginning is constantly repeated in experience.
By T. Austin-Sparks
For to me to live is Christ. (Philippians 1:21)
That is the good news of the all-captivating Christ. When Christ really captivates, everything happens and anything can happen. That is how it was with Paul and with these people. Christ had just captivated them. They had no other thought in life than Christ. They may have had their businesses, their trades, their professions, their different walks of life and occupations in the world, but they had one all-dominating thought, concern and interest – Christ. Christ rested, for them, upon everything. There is no other word for it. He just captivated them.
And I see, dear friends, that that – simple as it may sound – explains everything. It explains Paul... it explains these believers, it explains their mutual love. It solved all their problems, cleared up all their difficulties. Oh, this is what we need! If only you and I were like this, if we really after all were captivated by Christ! I cannot convey that to you, but as I have looked at that truth – looked at it, read it, thought about it – I have felt something moved in me, something inexplicable. After all, nine-tenths of all our troubles can be traced to the fact that we have other personal interests influencing us, governing us and controlling us – other aspects of life than Christ. If only it could be true that Christ had captured and captivated and mastered us, and become – yes, I will use the word – an obsession, a glorious obsession!
When it is like that, we are filled with joy. There are no regrets at having to "give up" things. We are filled with joy, filled with victory. There is no spirit of defeatism at all. It is the joy of a great triumph. It is the triumph of Christ over the life. Yes, it has been, and because it has been, it can be again. But this needs something more than just a kind of mental appraisement. We can so easily miss the point. We may admire the words, the ideas; we may fall to it as a beautiful presentation; but, oh, we need the captivating to wipe out our selves – our reputations, everything that is associated with us and our own glory – that the One who captivates may be the only One in view, the only One with a reputation, and we at His feet. This is the gospel, the good news – that when Christ really captivates, the kind of thing that is in this letter happens, it really happens. Shall we ask the Lord for that life captivation of His beloved Son?
By T. Austin-Sparks
Christ is all and in all. (Colossians 3:11)
I wonder, dear friends, what you covet and pray for more than anything else. For my own part, my coveting, my praying is more than for anything else, a fresh and mighty captivation of the Lord Jesus, a captivation of Christ. Oh, it is quite true, and we know it, that He is our Life, He is our Savior, He is so much to us and we are right when we say that we could not live without Him. And yet, is there not some margin between that and what I am calling an absolute captivation with Christ? That He is a passion in our lives, that He is a dominating power in our lives. Language fails... that He has just so captured us, so utterly captured us, that not only is He our Life in the sense that we couldn't get on without Him, but that He is a passion for living. This man who wrote these words, just look at him in this way: somehow he had seen Christ at the beginning and through his long years he had seen more and more of Christ, until in prison – with all those terrible sufferings and afflictions and adversities and sorrows and disappointments that had come upon him through those years, his catalog of adversities right at the end; Christ is more than everything. Christ is in the ascendant, it is “Christ will be All, and in all.” Now I say, language fails, I cannot put into words what I mean, but oh, for the positiveness of this passion of Christ....
Such a seeing, a grasping, an apprehending and being mastered by the Greatness of the One to Whom, by the grace of God, we have been united, called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ.May it be more than a mental grasping of Christ; that we know He is Great, we believe He is great, we have experienced something of His Greatness. May our hearts, more than even our minds, be mastered by this Man Jesus Christ and we be His abject slaves in worship and adoration. He is so great!
By T. Austin-Sparks