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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Shining Face # 1

The Shining Face # 1

Read: Daniel 1:8-16; Acts 6:15; 7:56

"And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai (with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount), that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while He talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him" (Exodus 34:29-30).

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18).

You will notice the common feature of all these passages is the shining face. We have been gathered together for a season up here on the mountain with the Lord and we have to go back, to be scattered in different places, and meet the difficult situations, and we want to go back with shining faces. But we want to know the secret of the shining face. That does not need to be taken literally. We may not always have a countenance that is cracking with mirth, but there is that which even in the midst of adversity and difficulty and suffering and trial speaks of something within the heart that is God's peace, God's rest, God's joy. It is possible to know the peace that passeth understanding. It is possible to know joy unspeakable and full of glory even amidst very great pressure and suffering. It is possible for there to be recognized, even in a pain marked countenance, something that is of God.

What one is speaking of is not necessarily just a shining of our faces, but something shining through our faces, something which our faces indicate which is more than merely human endurance, human bravery and courage; something of the deep strength and grace of God. That is what I mean by the shining face, and in these four instances of which we have read we have the secrets of the shining face in this sense. You know it is that that is the testimony. It is not always the things that we say,but that which is expressed through us in times of stress and trial and provocation and opposition and antagonism and suffering. It is then that that which is caught, as it were back of our faces, that is the testimony.

When it is known that we are undergoing trial, when it is known that we are in suffering, when it is known that others in a different realm would act and speak and react to things in the flesh, as men would react; there is just that betrayal o something of the Lord Jesus. That is the testimony. It is the betraying of the Lord Jesus in the right sense. And it will be very little good to the Lord, very little gain to Him or us, if as we go back and continue in the scenes of our life, and when there is a test, there is not some fuller indication of the Lord Himself in our hearts and lives. People will come to their conclusions on that basis - what we reveal under pressure, under trial.

That is the proof of the thing, not what we know and what we say. But when we pass through intense difficulties and adversity, what is revealed at such times. And in order that the testimony may be maintained, we want to understand what the secrets of the shining  face are. They are four-fold-

"Moses Wist Not That His Face Did Shine"

The first is in the case of Moses. Moses had been up in the mount with the Lord and the Lord had spoken with him. Moses had come to see that upon which the eye of the Lord was resting. He had stood by the side of the Lord and he had looked with the Lord's eyes as the Lord brought before him His own vision, and that vision was expressed in the type, in the tabernacle. It all passed before the eye of Moses in the most minute detail. From the ark, out to the Holy Place to the Court and all its contents, and the priesthood and the sacrifices, and he saw what God's eye was resting upon. And by reason of the Lord's speaking to him about that, he became alive with the very glory of the Lord.

It is a wonderful thing to recognize that the Lord's glory became imparted to Moses by reason of that which became the common object of their eyes. What the Lord was looking at, Moses was looking at, and as they both looked at it together they shared the same glory. When does the Lord's own face light up with glory? When is the Father's face full of glory? When He looks upon the Lord Jesus. The tabernacle was only the Lord Jesus in a representation, and it was the Lord Jesus in all His Mediatorial, Priestly Person and work gathered up in a great system, but it was the Person of the Lord Jesus as relating to man's fellowship with God - the place, the sphere where God and man come into oneness, where God can, without sacrificing His holiness, have fellowship with man and where man can, without being consumed by the very holiness of God, have fellowship with God. From Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, with a central most reality of the mercy seat He will speak with you face to face.

God has set forth Christ as a propitiation. God sees beyond the pattern to the reality, His Son, and it was Christ Who was in the eye of the Father in all His wonderful, mediatorial work to bring men nigh to God and God nigh to man. When that is in the eye of God, His face is full of glory, and when we get what is in His eye, we partake of the glory of the shining face of God.

Simply, it just means that when we are occupied with the Lord Jesus in all that He is from the Father to us and to the Father for us, when are are occupied with Him, then we know the shining face. Be occupied with anything else and you lose the shining face. He occupied with yourself and your own spiritual life and condition, so that you are always self-analyzing, and it will not be long before you have lost the shining face.

Keep your eye upon Jesus and you will know the secret of the shining face. Look around on things as they are in the world and you will lose it. The secret of the shining face is to get God's thought about the Lord Jesus, to get your eye where God's eye is. That is tremendously important.

The only hope for God of the ultimate realization of His purpose is to look at the Lord Jesus. He has all the guarantee in Him. And He says, "Because He is what He is, My end is secure, I have My Sabbath, My rest, My eye is upon Him." And until we have seen that God has reached His end in Christ, and our eyes are upon Him, we have not got the secret of hope and confidence and rest and satisfaction. It is the secret. It is a wonderful reality.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Spiritual Sight # 20

Spiritual Sight # 20

The Right To Redeem

And into a world like that, into a race like that, God, in His Son, in terms of manhood, comes from the outside as the Redeemer-Kinsman. He has, first of all, the right to redeem. Why? Because He is the Firstborn of all creation. He has the First Place. This is no second place kinsman. He has the First Place. This is no second place kinsman. "He is before all things" (Col. 1:17). He is the Firstborn: He has the right because of place, the place He occupies, the First Place. Oh, think again of all that there is about the Lord Jesus as coming first, as being in the First Place, as being the Firstborn, and you will see that constitutes His right,for in the very nature of things in the Bible, it is the Firstborn, who carries the rights with him always. Here is Jesus, Son of Man, the first by appointment and placing of God. He has the right to redeem.

The Power To Redeem

He has also the power to redeem, that is, He has the resources for redeeming. Well, let us ask what is in the nature of things required for redeeming? The inheritance has to be redeemed not only for us but unto God. We in turn are God's inheritance, we are God's possession by right, and not only have we lost our inheritance, but God has lost His inheritance in us, and what we might be satisfied with as a return, God can never be satisfied with. If God is to get back in us that inheritance which He Himself has lost through man's sin and willfulness, its redemption must be according to God, something that satisfies God: and God cannot be satisfied with just anything. It must be something that wholly answers to God's own nature. So let us say at once that "we were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from our vain manner of life... but with precious blood, as of a Lamb without blemish" (1 Peter 1:18, 19). What is it that satisfies God? It is an incorruptible something. That which can alone bring back to God His satisfaction must be incorruptible, undefiled, without spot or blemish. These are words which always relate to Christ: a Lamb, without spot, without blemish. That is the redemption resource, the redemption power. Redemption means by His Blood, because that Blood represents His life which is an incorruptible life, a sinless life, a life which wholly satisfies an utterly righteous and holy God. That is the price of redemption. Oh, to see the humanity of the Lord Jesus in its incorruptibility, is to see the mighty power to redeem. Set aside the Lord Jesus and you set aside the whole power of redemption, the whole right of redemption; there is no hope of redemption. We can never be redeemed unto God with such corruptible things as silver and gold. To be redeemed unto God means that a life must be forth-coming which is according to God's own nature.

Oh, this is where all the blindness is. We spoke in our previous meditation of the terrible blindness which is seen in evolution. But here is the awful blindness of that terrible gospel, which is not a gospel at all, which is being preached, namely, humanism, that it is in man's own power to become like God. The roots and seeds of perfection are deep down in man's own being if only he will dig deep enough for them; there is no need for intervention from the outside at all; it is not necessary for God to intervene, for Christ to come into this world. It is in man to rise, he can improve himself. He is a wonderful creature deep down in his being. WHAT BLINDNESS! You say, Amazing thing in the light of present happenings and present world conditions; amazing thing that any man can believe it, let alone preach it; amazing thing that with one breath they talk about the awful atrocities which are worse than those of the dark ages, and with the next breath they say it is in man to be godlike! Blindness! The real point is this: are men more noble morally today? Are men morally rising? Well, who can say Yes! in the light of what we know today.

And yet they are preaching this gospel of humanism, that man is steadily rising and Utopia is on the horizon; because man has it in himself to rise. That is blindness, terrible blindness. But oh! to see God's Son, the Son of Man, is to see the hope, the direction in which redemption lies; because redemption lies in the direction of another kind of humanity, and in a power to redeem, because there is something there which satisfies God, and anything which does not satisfy God, can never be a redeeming power. Has the Lord Jesus the power? We here all cry with one voice, Yes, He has the power, He has the resource for doing this.

The Liberty To Redeem

But another question arises. Is He free to redeem? One thing is taken for granted in this matter of the redeeming kinsman, and that is that he can only has one wife. If he is already married he is disqualified, because he cannot marry the person for whom he redeems the inheritance. That was the trouble with the other kinsman, in the case of Ruth. He was not free; he was married and had a family. But Boaz was unmarried, was free, and he could take Ruth as his wife, the way was perfectly clear.

Now we come into the realm of sublime things spiritually. "Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might redeem it from all iniquity" (Eph. 5:25); Titus 2:14). "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself up for it." The redeemed is to be joined to the Lord, and the Lord Jesus - may I say it reverently? - is only going to have one wife. There is only going to be one marriage supper of the Lamb. The Church is His only Bride. His redeemed are the only ones to be brought into such a relationship with Himself; and the way is clear. He stands perfectly free to redeem, and to take the consequences of redeeming, even of marrying the one for whom the inheritance is redeemed.

Does not redemption bring us into a very essential position with the Lord Jesus? That is the true significance of the title that attaches to Him as our Redeemer-Kinsman, that we should be joined to Him. Not redeemed as a chattel, not redeemed as a thing, but redeemed to be joined to Him forever in the holiest of all bonds. Married to the Lord. That is the meaning of the Son of Man. Yes, He is free. He can do it.

The Willingness To Redeem

Only one question remains. Is He willing? He has the right, He has the resource, He has the liberty. Will He? Oh, how Ruth and Naomi must have waited with bated breath and thumping hearts while that final question was being met and answered! Will he? Ah, but there may be no thumping heart here this afternoon, no bated breath. Will He? Is He willing? Well, what do we say to that? HE HAS DONE IT, and that answers the question. All that remains, if we are not in the enjoyment of it, is for us to accept it, believe it. He is willing!

May the Lord just ravish our hearts and enlarge our seeing of Jesus, the Son of Man. Amen

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Spiritual Sight # 19

Spiritual Sight # 19

The Arch-Type Of A New Humanity, continued -

The great reality about a true Christian is that he or she is progressively being changed into another, is becoming different. It is not just and only an objective matter of faith in Christ as outward. It is more than that; it is living by Christ inwardly.

So God has come into this realm of humanity in the Person of His Son as representing a new order altogether, a new order of mankind, and, by vital union with Christ, a new race is springing up, a new order.  A new kind of humanity is secretly growing and proceeding unto that day of which the Apostle speaks, when there will be the manifestation of the sons of God, and then the curse will be lifted, and the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

Now the point is the tremendous significance of the Incarnation, of the Word becoming flesh and tabernacling among us, the tremendous significance of Christ as Son of Man, as setting up among men a new kind of being, a new type and form of humanity. There is no hope for the creation save in that new type, that new order. If men saw this, would it not solve all the problems of this time? What are they talking about? What is the great phrase most common on men's lips today? Is it not a new order, a new world order? But they are blind, they talk in the dark: they are groping for something, but they are not. The only new order is the Son of Man. The only hope for this world is that there shall come about this new creation in Christ Jesus.

The Truth Foreshadowed In Israel's History

We could dwell long upon the humanity of the Lord Jesus. There is a very great deal more in the Scripture about it then perhaps you realize. But do notice that God has laid this deep in the very foundations of history. You take Israel as God's great object lesson for past ages - and their history of the past still stands as the great book of illustrations of God's principles - and you find that the very national life of Israel of old was founded upon those things which set forth the perfect humanity of the Lord Jesus.

You go to the Book of Leviticus, and you take up those feasts: you see what a place the humanity (the fine flour) has in those symbols and types. You see that God has said there in illustration that the life of a people which is to satisfy Him is based upon a nature, a humanity; not the old broken down humanity of Adam, but another. Right into the very foundation of the life of such a people, there is laid this reality: there is a humanity that is perfect and incorruptible and out from those feasts must be extricated every suggestion and suspicion of leaven, which speaks of corruption, the ferment of the old nature. It has no place when it is a matter of the very basis of Israel's life God-ward.

Well, you see, there is much about it, but we are not going to explore the whole ground. I simply want to point out the fat that the humanity of the Lord Jesus as Son of Man sets forth some new kind, some new type, some new order, in God's universe which does satisfy God.

Herein lies the tremendous and wonderful meaning of union with Christ through faith, bringing us right into what He is in His acceptability to God. The practical outworking of that must be that you and I - more and more - forsake the ground of the old Adam, of nature, our ground, and abide in Christ. That just means holding by faith to what He is and letting go what we are, and so the pleasure of God is found there. If we get on to our own ground, what we are by nature, and take account of that and try to make something good of that, or even spend our time deploring what a miserable thing that nature is, we lose all the glory of God. The glory of God is in another humanity. Dwell on Christ, be occupied with Christ, let your faith hold firmly to Christ, abide in Christ, and the glory is there. It is the glory of Christ as the Son of Man. What are the most blessed and glorious hours in the Christian's experience? Are they not the hours in which they are contemplating and taken up with what Christ is?

The Redeemer-Kinsman

Then the glory of Christ as Son of Man is to be seen in Him as the Redeemer-Kinsman. Firstly, as the arch-type of a new humanity; then, secondly, as the Redeemer-Kinsman. Your thoughts will at once go to that little classic, the Book of Ruth. I need not tell you the story of Ruth in detail, but it is from there that we draw the great truths and principles of the redeeming activity of the Lord.

The story in brief is this. The inheritance has been lost. The day comes when that inheritance becomes a matter of solemn, sad, but earnest concern to the hearts of those who have lost it. Now the realization has come home to them that the inheritance has passed out of their control and right; and they are deeply exercised in heart about the lost inheritance. There is only one way, according to the law of things, in which that lost inheritance can be re-purchased, and that is that there should be a kinsman - he must be a kinsman, he must be of their own kin - who has the right to redeem, and who has the ability to redeem, and who is willing to redeem. Those who lost the inheritance, and have now become so deeply concerned about its recovery,are looking for that redeemer kinsman who has the right, who has the ability, the resource, and who has the willingness to redeem the lost inheritance. You know how Ruth comes into touch with Boaz, and thinking him to be the redeemer-kinsman, recognizing that if he has the will, he has the resource, she discovers that he has not the right, because there is another who comes first. An appeal has to be made to the one who has the right, and it is found that, while he has the right, he has neither ability nor resource: and he passes over his right to Boaz. This at length the one wholly fitted for the business is found in Boaz. He has now the right, he has the resource and the ability, and he has the will to do it.

But then there is one other thing in the story. According to the law of things, the redeemer-kinsman has to take to wife the one for whom he redeems the inheritance, and the way has got to be cleared for that. The other kinsman could not do it because the way was not clear for that, but Boaz has a clear way to do it.

There are the elements of the story. I am not going to take up every little detail, but just the broad outline. You see how God has placed there such an exquisite illustration of the glory of Christ as the Redeemer-Kinsman. The inheritance has been lost, and all that God intended for man has been forfeited. Man now, through Adam's sin, has lost the inheritance. In Adam, no longer is he heir of all things, the inheritance is gone. The tragedy of this humanity in Adam is just that: once an heir, made to inherit, but now bankrupt, hopeless, having lost all. That is the tragedy of this humanity. That is where we are by nature. We have it written in our beings. Our very nature witnesses to the fact that there is something lacking, something missing, something that ought to be and is not. We are groping for it. It is in the very nature of things to crave, to long for that. Every ambition of man, every quest, every passion of man, is man shouting out of his nature that there is something he ought to have but cannot get. He accumulates all that this world can give him, and dies, saying, No, I have not got it. I have not found what I am after! He is an heir with a lost inheritance.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 20 - The Right To Redeem)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Spiritual Sight # 18

Spiritual Sight # 18

The Practical Issue, continued -

Now, while I am saying that, you agree with me absolutely. You say, Yes, of course we want Christ to be Lord, we want nothing more than that Christ should be Lord, and we know He has to be Lord: we know that God has made Him both Lord and Christ! We assent. Beloved, that is all right, but what about it? When we have assented, when we have agreed, are we still going to assert our own judgments, are we still going to meet others and things in our own strength? Are we still going to be in the picture, are we still going to allow those old dominations to influence us? This establishment of Christ as Lord is a thing which can only be done, not by assent, not by agreement, although that may be required: - it can only be done by our being broken down, and we have to say to the Lord, Lord, You break down everything that You find in the way: take in hand what ever there is that obstructs Your absolute Lordship.

"The dearest idol I have known, 
Whate'er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from Thy Throne 
And worship only Thee"

There may be something very dear, a part of our very being, and it is in the way: our very life, our very self. There is something to be done right in us, but oh, that we should see how much hangs upon the place and significance of Christ in the Divine economy of things. Christ as Lord. What hangs upon that? It is the glory of Christ.

Have you ever got through to a new position with the Lord where His Lordship has been established in some new way, in some new matter, in some new sphere? Have you ever got through and been miserable about it, felt you have lost everything? You know to the contrary. The experience may have been a very deep and terrible one, but when you are through, you glorify God. When the Lord is dealing with things that are in the way of His Lordship, it is a dark time, full of suffering, but you are going to come to the place where you thank God for every bit of it. How can that be? If the Lord should make windows in heaven, might this thing be? That is what we feel when we are in the process, but I am certain, and experience in some degree bears it out, that when we are on the other side of that and the Lord has a new place in our lives, we thank Him for the depths, and we say, You were right,faithful and true. You can say that as a bit of your faith, but it is a great thing to say it as a bit of your experience. Faithful and true!

The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, the glory of Christ, the gospel of the glory of Christ as Son of God is all brought to us in terms of life and light and Lordship - the three "I's" of the glory of God's Son. The Lord lead us into that.

Seeing the Glory of Christ As Son Of Man

Read: Hebrews 1:1,2; Hebrews 2:5-18; Hebrews 3:1; 2 Corinthians 4:4, 5

In our previous meditation we were seeing the glory and significance of Christ as the Son of God, having vested in Him the prerogatives of God, firstly, the power of Life; secondly, the power of Light, and thirdly, the power of Lordship.

In this meditation we shall spend our time with another aspect of the glory of Christ, namely, the glory and peculiar significance of Christ as Son of Man. It is here also that we need spiritual sight. If men could really see from God's standpoint, with God's own knowledge and understanding, the Lord Jesus Christ as Son of Man, all the problems of this world would be solved: for really there is a sense in which all problems are solved when we see. And God's solution is His Son. Let us be found here this afternoon in our hearts waiting on the Lord that we might see. Let that be our attitude: to see Jesus in an inward way with the eyes of the heart enlightened, the Spirit of wisdom and revelation being given us in the knowledge of Him.

If I might say so here, I feel that the burden of our hearts should be that the eyes of the Lord's people should be opened first. Oh, if only their eyes were open, what different attitudes they would take, what great possibilities there would be for God, what a lot of things would disappear which are dishonoring to the Lord! If only they could see! Let us pray much that the eyes of the people of God may be opened. And then, to the end that the eyes of men at large might be opened, let us pray that there might be an eye-opening ministry like that of Paul - "...unto whom I send them, to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light" (Acts 26:17, 18). Let us pray along such lines continually.

The Arch Type of A New Humanity

I think there are two or three particular aspects of Christ as Son of Man. Firstly, this is the human title of Christ, and it brings to us at once the conception of Him as man, or as humanity, and the thing needed to be seen about the Lord Jesus is the Divine meaning in His humanity. As Son of Man it is not only that He has come alongside of us, taking flesh and blood, and so becoming a man, and just being here as a man among men. Oh no, that is not it. True He is man, true He has become partaker of flesh and blood, but there is a difference, a vast and infinite difference. Humanity, yes, but not exactly our humanity. The significance of Christ as Son of Man is that He is an arch type of a new humanity.

There are now in God's universe two humanities, whereas there was only one. The Adam humanity was the only one, but there is Another Humanity now, a different humanity; flesh and bone, but without the sinful nature of this humanity, without any of that which has estranged and alienated this humanity under judgment from God, a humanity upon which God, in His infinite holiness and perfection, can look with pleasure and utter satisfaction. "My beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased? (Matt. 3:17). It is a Man, but such a man as is not common among men, but altogether different. The significance of Christ as Son of Man is that God has started a new humanity according to His own mind and perfect thought, and in His Son there is the arch-type of that new humanity to which God is going to conform a race - "conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 19)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Spiritual Sight # 17

Spiritual Sight # 17

God's Prerogative of Light Vested In the Son, continued -

Some of us know what it is to have something in the Word of God. We sense there is something in that passage that we have not got; there is the Divine meaning, but we cannot get it: and we have walked round it, we have looked to see if anybody could help us. We have gone to all the authorities on that particular passage, but we have not got it. There are a lot of good things being said, but somehow we are not getting what we sense is there. We put it back to the Lord and say, Now, Lord, if you want us to have that, you show us at the right time when it is necessary, not just for the sake of information but when it is going to serve a purpose. And we have gone on and left it with the Lord, and going on quietly, perhaps occupied with something else, the whole thing has just come up and been broken upon us, and we have seen it, and our faces have become wreathed with smiles. We can put our finger upon many things like that in the course of our life. They have just come and we have received them. You cannot take that away from us.

Now my point here is simply to illustrate what a tremendous thing this breaking in of light upon us is, how it lifts us out, how it fills us with glory, how it changes the outlook when there breaks in spiritual light, light which never was on land or sea, light from above. And the Lord Jesus is the sum of that Divine light. He is the light. If only our eyes were opened to see the significance of the Lord Jesus, what a tremendous difference it would make, how we should be emancipated. The need is that, to see the Son of God as having vested in Him the prerogative of Divine light-giving, because He is the light. It is with Him to come right into our scene of darkness and drive the darkness out. That is His glory, and you can know the glory of the Son of God, you can worship Him, because your eyes are opened.

He is here. Just as He, being the resurrection and the life, means resurrection at any moment, and not merely at the last day - you remember Martha said, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day," and the Lord, in effect, said, Stop, "I am the resurrection and the life," and I being here, the last day may be here so far, as the resurrection is concerned; it is no time matter when I am present, it can be now! - so He, being here, there may be a new creation now with a new creation light: not, I shall get light later so, but now; by this glorious intervention from without.

The glory of Jesus Christ which He had with the Father before the world was, the glory of the Son is that; that He has this sole Divine prerogative, right, power and ability to bring light. No one else can give it; it is not possible to attain unto that light. It is His gift, it is His act. That is His glory.

God's Prerogative of Lordship Vested In the Son

One final word with reference to the glory of Jesus Christ as God's Son. The Divine prerogative of government is vested in Him. The third prerogative of God is government. In the last issue, the decision is with God in all matters. Over and above all things, God is: He rules, and He rules in the kingdoms of men and among the armies of heaven. He governs, but He has now vested that government in His Son. "Neither doth the Father judge any man, but He hath given all judgment unto the Son" (John 5:22). This Divine prerogative of government, therefore is vested in Christ.

What does that mean for us now? "The gospel of the glory of Christ." "We preach Christ Jesus as Lord." That is in substance one statement - the glory of Christ. Christ Jesus as Lord. I think I must leave a great deal of the detail and leap right to the end of that. The glory of Christ is only recognized when He is Lord, but it is recognized when He is Lord. I mean that God is satisfied when His Son comes unto the appointed place, and God can never be satisfied in any one direction without the one affected being aware of it. There is always an echo here of something in the heart of God which affects us. I mean that if heaven rejoices over one sinner that repenteth, that sinner will never fail to have the echo of heaven's joy. The joy which comes to a repentant sinner is not just his own joy, it is the joy of heaven, it has come of what is going on above. When the Father is well-pleased, it will be witnessed in the one in whom He is well-pleased. "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). The Son knows in His own spirit, His own heart, the delight of the Father. "The Father loveth the Son." He can say that without any conceit or presumption and when the place to which the Son has been assigned by the Father is given to the Son in any life, or in any company, or in any place on this earth, then you may take it that the heaven is opened there, and the Father's gratification will be registered there. You never get through a struggle and battle on some question of His Lordship without knowing a new Divine joy and peace and rest in your heart. A struggle has been going on over a matter of obedience to something in the will of God, something the Lord has said: there has been a battle over it for a long time and at last you get through - "My stubborn will at last is yielded" - and you are through. The Lord's Lordship is established, and what is the result? Rest, peace, joy, satisfaction. You say, What a fool I was to keep that up for so long. What is it? It is not just a psychological relief, that you have got past a difficult place: it is the Spirit of God bearing witness within. It is the Father's good pleasure witnessed to in your heart, the Lordship of God in Christ established. We can never in reality believe in the absolute Lordship of God and not give Christ His place. That is a contradiction. For the Lordship of God is to be a reality, Christ has to be Lord in our hearts. We need to see that.

The Practical Issue

What I really want to leave with you in this last word is this: do pray for the Lord to open your eyes to the meaning of the Lordship of Christ. You know, beloved, all our troubles circle round that issue. Other lords have had dominion over us. What are those other lords? There are lords many. Our own souls may be having dominion, our own sentimentalities, our own likes and preferences and judgments, our own dislikes and antipathies, our own traditions, our own teachers: these may be governing us. Oh, the lords are so many, and they may just be governing. The Lord is desirous of bringing us into a larger and freer place, and a place of an opened heaven:something is still tyrannizing: we are in the center, the natural self life is on the throne, we have a horrible way of drawing everything to ourselves. Immediately anything is raised, we step into the center of the arena, the self-life ruling on the throne: and what kind of life is it? Well, it is a life of shadows, to say the least of it; it is a life of limitation, of variableness, up and down, of weakness and uncertainty. If we want to come right out into the light, the full light, to go right on in the full light, in the glorious liberty of the children of God, all those other lords have to be deposed, and Christ has to be Lord.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 18)



Friday, August 4, 2017

Spiritual Sight # 16

Spiritual Sight # 16

The Prerogative of Life, continued -

To all this the great enemy of men's eternal glory would blind them and keep them blind. One of the blinding lies of the devil is the lie of evolution. While we all believe in a certain development and progress, the doctrine which declares that man started with the amoeba and in the course of many thousands - perhaps millions - of years passes through numerous stages - eg. the ape, primitive man, civilized man, angelic being, and so on - and finally becomes a god, having attained deity! - this is a lie and a deception, and is intended by its satanic inventor to keep men from accepting Christ. For all this progress (?) is said to be made altogether without any outside intervention. Someone writing on this matter has put it in this way: We have heard of a wonderful machine which, with claws, takes hold of so much leather at one end and draws it in and, without any outside intervention, takes it through stage after stage, and pours it forth as shoes at the other end: without any intervention! And, says the writer, that is evolution; the claws take hold on the amoeba and draw it in, and then evolution is supposed to take it through various stages and at last turn it out as angels and gods. But, says he, unfortunately the amoeba at a certain point gets caught in the mesh and in the end beasts come out, tearing one another to pieces! Are men really nearer angels and gods today after these thousands of years? Only the very blind will say it is.

Ah, it is just in that little clause "outside intervention" that everything is found. There will never really be any true conformity to God's likeness without outside intervention. It will not work like a machine. This outside intervention is set forth in the words of Christ: "I am come that they might have life" (John 10:10). There is no hope of man reaching God by himself, but God has intervened in the person of His Son and with Him offered the life which has in it the power to bring us into oneness with Him in likeness and fellowship.

God's Prerogative Of Light Vested In The Son

The second prerogative of God is light. It was God Who said, Let there be light, light shall be! Light is with God. Of course, there are many intimations in the Scriptures of that in the natural realm. God makes darkness and light, and God, when He chooses, can break into the ordinary course of things in that matter and turn light to darkness or darkness into light. He  can divide in the same territory between light and darkness; when all Egypt is in darkness, gross darkness, with the plague resting upon it, the children of Israel have light in their dwellings. Right within the same land, light and darkness simultaneously existed by a Divine intervention from the outside. Yes, light can be preserved and maintained by God beyond the due course, and darkness can be brought in prematurely when it ought be be light.

There is much in the Old Testament about that, and it is carried over into the New Testament. When the Son of God was crucified, darkness was over the face of the land until the ninth hour. Put out God's Son and you put out God's light. That is the point. Light is God's prerogative.

What is illustrated by God's dealings in nature is the great truth of spiritual light; that spiritual light is God's prerogative, that He can bring light into darkness at any given moment, He does not have to wait for a course of things: and He can shut out the light at any given moment. It is in His power to do that.

Thus this second prerogative of God, namely, that of light, is also vested in Jesus Christ, His Son, and bound up with Him. "I am the light of the world" (John 9:5). "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him," "He hath revealed Him" (John 1:18). It is the glory of Christ to be able, at any given moment, to break in upon our darkness, and has it not just been that which has brought His glory into our hearts and brought glory out from our hearts to Him, when by that blessed touch of His finger (the Spirit of God) we have been able to say suddenly, I see! I never saw it like that! What is then the spontaneous desire of our hearts? It is to worship Him.

We revert to that man born blind, to whom the Lord gave sight and eventually interrogated him with the inquiry, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" He answered and said, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe on Him?" And Jesus said unto him, "Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He That talketh with thee." And he said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshiped Him (John 9:35-38). Why did he worship? Because the Son of God for him was one thing with having his sight. The two things went together. Having his sight was bound up with this One Who could be none other than the Son of God to give sight. That is what the Lord meant by having that incident included in that gospel, the whole purpose of which is to give evidence that Jesus is the Son of God. You know how John concludes his gospel - If everything was written that could be written, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written; but these things are written, "that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in His name" (John 20:30). And this is written in the book which has that as its object. When the disciples say, Lord, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind?, the Lord Jesus dismissed that superstition by saying, "Neither did this man sin, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." And the Son is the instrument of the works of God. The Lord Jesus had already said that the Father works, and the works that the Father does, the Son also does, and greater works than these will He show Him. The works of God - giving sight, through the Son, to those born blind, leading to worship, and God does not mind you worshiping His Son, He will not be jealous of His Son, because He has bound Himself up with His Son and put His Son on an equality with Himself, and vested His own rights and prerogatives in His Son. To worship the Son is to worship the Father, because the Father and the Son are one.

Well, that Jesus is the Son of God is evidenced by people getting spiritual sight, and that is the glory of Christ, to be able to do that, leading, as we were saying, to worship. It is a great thing to recognize even a little of this. It is a great thing to have our eyes opened. It is a great thing to have our eyes opened initially and foundationally; it is a great thing as we go along to have our eyes opened again and again to see what no one has been able to show us, what we have struggled to see and understand;and then God sovereignly, by intervention from outside, touches our spiritual eyes and we see. Is it not a great day when we see like that?

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 17)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Spiritual Sight # 15

Spiritual Sight # 15

Seeking the Glory of Christ As Son of God

Read: Hebrews 1:1, 2; Colossians 1:13-17; 2 Corinthians 4:4, 5; John 1:3, 4; John 5:20, 21, 26, 27; John 17:5

There are three main directions in which spiritual sight is necessary; firstly, with regard to the place and significance of Christ in the Divine scheme of things; then, with regard to the place and significance of man in that scheme; and thirdly, concerning the reality, ways, and objective of the evil spiritual powers in this universe. These three things very largely comprehend the Scriptures. Here, we shall be mainly occupied with the first of these.

The Place and Significance of Christ

There are two sides to Christ's person and work. (1) Christ as the Son of God. (2) Christ as the Son of Man. When we have gathered up all that is said and intimated in the Scriptures about Jesus as the Son of God we are led to one comprehensive conclusion. It is this, that God's sole rights and prerogatives have been vested by Him in His Son, and God has bound Himself to be personally and definitely known only Sonwise. There is neither access nor knowledge of a personal nature, nor fellowship, apart from the Son. "No man cometh to the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6). "No one knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal Him" (Matt. 11:27). That revelation is in the Son alone. "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). Then we have to ask, What are those unique and sole rights of God which are vested in the Son?

The first is:

The Prerogative of Life

When we really come to deal with life, we come to deal with God. While there is something of life present man may have a place. He may help, stimulate, feed, and cooperate with it; but when life has departed, man has no more place and it is God's matter alone. Only God can deal with that situation. The question of life from the dead is God's matter alone. For a whole generation this question raged as a battle, and very largely it raged around one man - Louis Pasteur. During the whole of his life time the question of spontaneous generation flamed and fumed and divided men into schools of fierce antagonism. But before he died the question was settled and today no knowledgeable person believes otherwise than that life only comes from life, and never from death - that is, in the realm of nature. Thus the field is left clear for the supernatural, and life out of death is God's unique sphere. What is true in the natural is also true in the spiritual. The life which we all have in common as the life of soul and body is one thing, and the above law holds good with regard to it. But there is another life; it is uncreated life. Divine life, what we call spiritual life. That is another thing altogether. A hundred or more people may be here together, all of them alive in the first sense, but only a few may be alive in the second sense. The majority, while very active in the life of soul and body, may be quite dead with regard to uncreated, Divine, life. Thus are people divided, and in this way they are two entirely different orders of creation, species of beings.

Much has been said and written about the immorality of the soul. The Bible does not teach this. Continuity and immortality are two distinct things. Immortality is a Divine prerogative and feature. "Who only hath immortality" (1 Tm. 6:16). Immortality is that Divine nature which is characteristic of Divine life. It is something altogether higher than just survival of physical disintegration and the grave. This latter without immortality or immortal life must be a very horrible thing. It is what the Bible means - metaphorically - by being "naked" and "ashamed." So the apostle speaks of immortality as being "clothed upon," that "mortality may be swallowed up of life."

Thus the giving of that life is with God alone, and those who have it are thereby different in an inward reality from all others. They possess the basis of a complete transformation, which is the meaning of being "glorified."

But our particular message is that God has vested this life in His Son Jesus Christ, and that it cannot be had apart from Him. "As the Father hath life in Himself, even so gave He to the Son also to have life in Himself" (John 5:21). The gospel of the glory of Christ is that God has given Him the glory of being able to give eternal life, incorruptible, immortal life to those who believe on Him. "This life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath the life" (1 John 5:11, 12). Once that life has been imparted all the glorious thoughts and purposes of God for men have been started on their way to realization. So what comes in with Christ is the life of a new creation, a new universe. Everything is to be realized on the biological principle, but it is a life which is different in nature, capacity, and consciousness from all other life. Being peculiarly God's own Divine life it is the basis and link of true inward fellowship with Him. In this way we are able to see something of the immense and vital significance of Christ.

To accept Christ in a living and positive way is to receive a life which means an inward and secret difference in our very constitution, and to be in the way of possibilities which are denied all others.

To reject or neglect Christ is to lose or miss all that God ever intended when He created man and put him on a probation of faith. Herein lies the immense peril of prevarication or procrastination. It is not in man's power to say when that life shall be offered to him. When Christ is presented, that is the time when life and death are in the balances of our acceptance or rejection, and the very greatest eternal values and issues are bound up with that decision.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16)