Total Pageviews

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 18

Let us take Abraham and Isaac as an illustration.

Abraham bound Isaac, his son, and laid him on the altar, and then he raised the knife to plunge it into Isaac. At the moment that Abraham raised the knife Isaac was dead, and the moment that the angel of the Lord got hold of Abraham's hand Isaac was alive. It was as precise as that.

I do not know why it is that the Lord is compelling me to speak so much about the beginning of the Christian
life. It is not what I had thought of originally, but, against my own premeditation , I was compelled to communicate this. It may put a big strain upon the patience of the older Christians, but we must take nothing for granted. We must not take it for granted that everyone really understands the nature of the new birth, so we repeat, the true beginning of a true Christian life is nothing other than a resurrection from the dead. It is the receiving of a life which is called resurrection life.

The next thing is that resurrection is God's unique act. Resuscitation of not resurrection. Wonderful things are being done in our time. We hear of people whose hearts stop beating, and then by some artificial means they are started again. People are calling that "bringing them back to life from the dead". Then there are people who are drowned. After some artificial application there is given what has come to be called "the kiss of life," which means that someone breathes into their mouth and inflates their lungs again, and they come back to consciousness. Men are calling that "raising from the dead." But is it that? Let them stay in their condition for four days. Let the blood run cold, and then, after four days, try artificial respiration. Well, you can work at it forever and they will not come back to life. Lazarus was dead and in the grave for four days, and Jesus refused to go near him during that time, so that no one would be able to say: "It was resuscitation." It had to be resurrection.

That was why God left Abraham so long before He gave him Isaac. If we had read from the fourth chapter of Romans we would have come to these words: "He (Abraham) considered his own body now as good as dead (he being about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's  womb" (Romans 4:19). God made the promise to Abraham that he would have a son, and then He went away and left him for years, until it was absolutely impossible for him to have a son naturally. What was God doing? He was demonstrating that this was not going to be a resuscitation but resurrection, that is, life out of death.

What we are saying is that resurrection is God's act, and not man's act. It is something which only God can do, and if the beginning of the Christian life is a resurrection, then only God can do it. It is absolutely hopeless for anyone to try to be a child of God without His help. If this is true - and it is true! - how foolish for anyone to say: "Well, I will become a Christian tomorrow", or "Later on in my life I will consider this matter." If God comes to us at any time and offers us this life, it is not in our power to say: "Not today, but some other day." We cannot fix times for God.

We must leave that there now and go on.

We pass from this crisis and the act to the process, because spiritual resurrection is not only a crisis at the beginning, but something which is carried on throughout the whole of the Christian life.The apostle Paul put it in this way: "Always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body" (2 Corinthians 4:10). That word "always" spreads itself over the whole life of the Christian. After the one fundamental crisis there are many more crises on this matter. You  notice that the apostle said "Always ... in the body the dying", so that the life of Jesus is operating over against something that is always in the body.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 19)

Profiting From the Word # 14

6. We profit from the Word when we evoke the hatred of the world.  What pains are taken in the world to save appearances and keep up a seemly and good state! Its conventionalities and civilities, its courtesies and charities, are so many contrivances to give an air of respectability to it. So too its churches and cathedrals, its priests and prelates, are needed to gloss over the corruption which seethes beneath the surface. And to make good weight "Christianity" is added, and the holy name of Christ is taken upon the lips by thousands who have never taken His yoke upon them. Of them God says, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me" (Matthew 15:8).

And what is to be the attitude of all real Christians toward such? The answer of Scripture is plain: "From such turn away" (2 Timothy 3:5), "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord" (2 Corinthians 6:17). And what will follow when this Divine command is obeyed? Why, then we shall prove the truth of those words of Christ: "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:19). Which "world" is specifically in view here? Let the previous verse answer: "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you". What world hated Christ and hounded Him to death? The religious world, those who pretended to be most zealous for God's glory. So it is now. Let the Christian turn his back upon a Christ-dishonoring Christiandom, and his fiercest foes and most relentless and unscrupulous enemies will be those who claim to be Christians themselves! But "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you ... for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad" (Matthew 5:11, 12). Ah, my brother, it is a healthy sign, a sure mark that you are profiting from the Word, when the religious and the unbelieving world hates you. But if, on the other hand, you still have a "good standing" in the unbelieving or "pretending" believers there is grave reason to fear that you love the praise of men more than that of God!

7. We profit from the Word when we are elevated above the world. First, above its customs and fashions. The worldling is a slave to the prevailing habits and styles of the day. Not so the one who is walking with God: his chief concern is to be conformed to the image of His Son". Second, above its cares and sorrows: of old it was said of the saints that they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing that they had "in heaven a better and an enduring substance" (Hebrews 10:34). Third, above its temptations: what attraction has the glare and glitter of the world for those who are "delighting themselves in the Lord"? None whatever! Fourth, above its opinions and approvals. Have you learned to be independent of and defy the world? If you whole heart is set upon pleasing God, you will be quite unconcerned about the frowns of the godless.

Do you really wish to measure yourself by the contents of this chapter? Then seek honest answers to the following questions. First, what are the objects before your mind in times of recreation? What do your thought most run upon? Second, what are the objects of your choice? When you have to decide how to spend an evening or the Sabbath afternoon, what do you select? Third, which occasions you the most sorrow, the loss of earthly things, or lack of communion with God? Which causes greater grief, the spoiling of your plans, or the coldness of your heart to Christ? Fourth, what is your favorite topic of conversation? Do you hanker after the news of the day, r to meet with those who talk of the "altogether lovely" One? Fifth, do your "good intentions" materialize, or are they nothing but empty dreams? Are you spending more or less time than formerly on your knees? Is the Word sweeter to your tastes' or has your soul lost its relish for it?

~A. W. Pink~

(continued with # 15 - "The Scriptures and the Promises")

Friday, June 29, 2012

Profiting From the Word # 13

4. We profit from the Word when our hearts are weaned from it.  "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world" (1 John 2:15). What a stumbling-block is to the traveler in the way, the weight to the runner, so is the love of the world to a Christian in his course - either wholly diverting him from, greatly enticing him in, or forcibly turning him out of it. The truth is that until the heart is purged from this corruption the ear will be deaf to divine instruction. Not until we are lifted above the  things of time and sense can we be subdued unto obedience to God. Heavenly truth glides off a carnal mind as water from a waterfall.

The world has turned its back upon Christ, and though His name is professed in many places, yet will it have nothing to do with Him. All the desires and designs of worldlings are for the gratification of self. Let their aims and pursuits be as varied as they may, "self" being supreme, everything is subordinated to the pleasing of self. Now Christians are in the world, and cannot get out of it; they have to live their Lord' appointed time in it. While here they have to earn their living, support their families, and attend to their worldly business. But they are forbidden to love the world, as though it could make them happy. Their "treasure" and "portion" are to be found elsewhere.

The world appeals to every instinct of fallen man. It contains a thousand objects to charm him: they attract his attention, the attention creates a desire for and love of them, and insensibly yet surely they make deeper and deeper impressions on his heart. It has the same fatal influence on all classes. But attractive and appealing as its varied objects may be, all the pursuits and pleasures of the world are designed and adapted to promote the happiness of this life only - therefore, "What shall it profit a man if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" The Christian is taught by the Spirit, and through His presenting of Christ to the soul his thoughts are diverted from the world. Just as a little child will readily put down one toy when something more pleasing is offered to it, so the heart which is in communion with God will say, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord ... and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Phil. 3:8).

5. We profit from the Word when we walk in separation from the world.  "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4). Such a verse as this ought to search every one of us through and through, and make us tremble. How can I fraternize with or seek my pleasure in that which condemned the Son of God? If I do, that at once identifies me with His enemies. Oh, my reader, make no mistake upon this point. It is written, "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15).

Of old it was said of the people of God that they "shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations" (Numbers 23:9). Surely the disparity of character and conduct, the desires and pursuits, which distinguish the regenerate from the unregenerate must separate the one from the other. We who profess to have our citizenship in another world, to be guided by another Spirit, to be directed by another rule, and to be journeying to another country, cannot go arm in arm with those who despise all such things! Then let everything in and about us exhibit the character of Christian pilgrims. May we indeed be "men wondered at" because "not conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2).

~A. W. Pink~

(continued with # 14)

God's Seed-Plot # 3

Let us therefore regard these sufferings as penalties - as judgments - but as the Lord's chosen means by which to bring us to the knowledge of His glory - the fullness of God in Christ - in order that there may be a ministry of Christ. There is beauty to be seen in the garden, and we must have exercise in relation to that beauty for its display to others. There is fruitfulness in the garden - the lusciousness of which is to be ministered. We discover some of the sweetest things of Christ in the hour of suffering.

"Who comforteth us in all our afflictions, that the comforts wherewith we are comforted of God may abound unto you" (2 Corinthians 1:4). How have you been most comforted? Who has been of the greatest comfort to you in your distress - in your trial? Has it ever been a person who has never known the need of comfort himself? No, it is the one who, having been in the depths and having been at the point of extremity, has discovered the comforts of God and is able to speak out of experience about the comforts of God to your experience; one who has been in the garden and has been in exercise about what was in the garden, and has come out with something healing and comforting; one who has been into death, who knows what the apostle meant when he said: "Always bearing about in the body the putting to death of the Lord Jesus ... always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be manifested in our mortal flesh ... death worketh in us but life in you."

You get the benefit. That is ministry. That is going into the garden. That is knowing Christ through suffering in order to have the fruit of the garden - the good of the garden, the riches, the benefits of Christ - for others.

That explains why it is we have so much of trial. It is in order that we might have a very much richer ministry. It is in order that what is in Christ should come to the knowledge of others. He is the Light of the new creation.

The learning of Christ, as we have said, is in the school of suffering - in exercise through trial. What will be the result?

There may be some little luster here. We may wonder sometimes if the Lord gives us much light when there seems to be so little result, but that is not the end of the story. Chiefly our schooling is unto a ministry which is to be a ministry of Christ to the whole universe throughout eternity. The whole universe is to derive the benefit from our sufferings, according as these are the the sufferings of Christ which abound unto us so that the comfort also may abound. Yes, there are values beyond.

That is the only explanation of that deep, deep, painful problem of why the Lord's children so often suffer right on to the end, and very often the period of the end is the time of the most severe suffering. Can it be that these are ministering Christ at such a time? Sometimes it is so. But so many are called to suffer out of reach of anyone else. Their sufferings are not in any way immediately related to anybody. Yet they are making discoveries of Christ.

For what purpose, then, are these sufferings? The suffering is going to produce the fruit afterward; the value of that discovery of Christ is going to be the nature of their ministry in that sphere where "His servants shall serve him and they shall see his face."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 17

Oneness with God in His Method and In His Power

We are now coming near to the end of these meditations. We have been occupied with the spiritual journey of the Christian life from the world, through its various stages, until it reaches the heart of God, each stage and phase being some further aspect of union with Christ. Having covered so much ground, we cannot, of course, go back.

Latterly we arrived at three phases of this journey: Oneness with God in His purpose, which purpose we saw to be the securing of a heavenly people on the basis of sonship, firstly, the birth of sons, secondly, the training of sons, and thirdly, the manifestation of sons. We are letting Abraham be our teacher in this whole matter.

The two phases to which we now come are oneness with God in His method, and oneness with God in His power; and I want that we should read two fragments of Scripture, each of which touches on these two phases: 

"By faith Abraham, being tried, offered up Isaac: yea, he that had gladly received the promises was offering up his only begotten son, even he to whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called; accounting that God is able to raise up, even from the dead; from whence he did also in a parable receive him back" (Hebrews 11:17-19).

"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death; if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:10-11).

We are going to put these two things together, and you will notice that they bring us to the sixth phase of this spiritual pilgrimage: the method and the power of God. The method is resurrection, and the power is the power of resurrection life, or the Holy Spirit as the power of resurrection.

When we come to this matter of resurrection we have to recognize that it is the crisis in the life of the child of God. In the case of Isaac, and in the case of every child of God, the beginning is resurrection. It is the giving of a life which has already conquered death, and that is what Isaac stands for, as a type. He was, in a parable, brought back from the dead, and the life which he lived from that day onward was a life which he lived from that day onward was a life which triumphed over death. And so it is with every true child of God. By the resurrection of Jesus Christ, every true child of God received a life which has conquered death, a life over which death has no power. It is called "eternal life" in the New Testament.

Life can only come from life and can never come from something which is dead. This is true in the spiritual life. We can only have resurrection life from where that life comes. The Lord Jesus Christ truly died and was raised again as a first one of resurrection, and, being the first one of resurrection, life can only come from Him. This is a crisis in the experience of a child of God.

To begin with, it is not a process, but a definite, precise act. It is so definite and so precise that at one moment you have not got it, and the next moment you have it. At one moment you are what God calls "dead", and the next moment you are what He calls "alive". It is as definite as that.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 18)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Profiting From the Word # 12

Out of many, the following reasons may be given as to why the world must be overcome. First, all its alluring objects tend to divert the attention and alienate the affections of the soul from God. Necessarily so, for it is the tendency of things seen to turn the heart away from things unseen. Second, the spirit of the world is diametrically opposed to the Spirit of Christ; therefore did the apostle write, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God" (1 Corinthians 2:12). The Son of God came into the world, but "the world knew Him not" (John 1:10); therefore did its "princes" and rulers crucify Him (1 Corinthians 2:8). Third, its concerns and cares are hostile to a devout and heavenly life. Christians, like the rest of mankind, are required by God to labor six days in the week; but while so employed they need to be constantly on their guard, lest covetous interests govern them rather than the performance of duty.

"This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4). Naught but a God-given faith can overcome the world. But as the heart is occupied with invisible yet eternal realities, it is delivered from the corrupting influence of worldly objects. The eyes of faith discern the things of sense in their real colors, and see that they are empty and vain, and not worthy to be compared with the great and glorious objects of eternity. A felt sense of the perfections and presence of God makes the world appear less than nothing. When the Christian views the Divine Redeemer dying for his sins, living to intercede for his perseverance, reigning and overruling things for his final salvation, he exclaims, "There is none upon earth that I desire beside thee."

And how is it with you as you read these lines. You may cordially assent to what has just been said in the last paragraph, but how is it with you actually? Do the things which are so highly valued by the unregenerate charm and enthral you? Take away from the worldling those things in which he delights, and he is wretched: is this so with you? Or, are your present joy and satisfaction found in objects which can never be taken from you? Treat not these questions lightly, we beseech you, but ponder them seriously in the presence of God. The honest answer to them will be an index to the real state of your soul, and will indicate whether or not you are deceived in supposing yourself to be "a new creature in Christ Jesus.

3. We profit from the Word when we learn that Christ died to deliver us from this present evil world" (Galatians 1:4). The Son of God came here, not only to fulfill the requirements of the law, to destroy the works of the devil, to deliver us from the wrath to come, to save us from our sins, but also to free us from the bondage of this world, to deliver the soul from its enthralling influence. This was foreshadowed of old in God's dealings with Israel. They were slaves in Egypt, and "Egypt" is a figure of the world. They were in cruel bondage, spending their time in making bricks for Pharaoh. They were unable to free themselves. But Jehovah, by His mighty power, emancipated them, and brought them forth out of the "iron furnace". Thus does Christ with His own. He breaks the power of the world over their hearts. He makes them independent of it, that they neither court its favors nor fear its frowns.

Christ gave Himself a sacrifice for the sins of His people that, in consequences thereof, they might be delivered from the damning power and governing influence of all that is evil in their present world; from satan, who is its prince; from the lusts which predominate in it; from the vain conversation of the men who belong to it. And the Holy Spirit indwelling the saints cooperates with Christ in this blessed work. He turns their thoughts and affections away from earthly things to heavenly. By the working of His power, He frees them from the demoralizing influence which surrounds them, and conforms them to the heavenly standard. And as  the Christian grows in grace he recognizes this, and acts accordingly. He seeks yet fuller deliverance from this present evil world, and begs God to free him from it completely. That which once charmed him now nauseates. He longs for the time when he shall be taken out of this scene where his blessed Lord is so grievously dishonored.

~A. W. Pink~

(continued with # 13)

God's Seed-Plot # 2

All are in that ministry who are in the Last Adam: "If any man be in Christ, there is a new creation." What the man in Christ is led to discover in Christ has to be appropriated in the first place by himself, as was the case with the former Adam and then ministered. That is our ministry. Such  fact destroys the entire conception of a special class called ministers. It means that all who are in the Last Adam are in the ministry, just as the first Adam was an all-embracing man and was called to the ministry of the garden. We are in the ministry of the Garden, which is Christ.

Now you see what the new creation is. The new creation is conformed to Christ - the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ revealed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This is the new creation in Christ Jesus. That former garden was lost, but all of its meaning and value has been preserved and presented in Christ.

While it may be true that in the end we shall be in a garden - while it is true that the Bible closes, even as it opens, with a garden - we are not now giving literal meaning to that. We are not thinking that going to heaven - going to glory - is to issue literally in an everlasting walk about a beautiful garden. Paradise at the end - the garden at the end - is the same as at the beginning; in the thought of God it is Christ. Our eternity is going to be enlargement to the full of all that God has stored up in Christ, without the intrusion of sin or death or any evil thing. That is the king of garden to dwell in forevermore. There will be the tree of life. There will be the river of water of life, clear as crystal. There the leaves of the tree will be for the health of the nations. The whole creation will be benefited therefrom; for on each of the four sides of the city - east and west, north and south - are three gates open to the whole creation. It is the universal glory of God in Christ that is to be our ministry through eternity; we are to minister of that fullness.

We are training for that ministry now. We are learning in a practical way how to minister Christ, and it is in the school of affliction  that we are learning. We are discovering, through suffering, what is in Christ. The way of the knowledge which issues in ministry is the way of suffering - the discovery of the riches of Christ in afflictions.

We have said that the former garden was lost, but that all its values and meaning have been preserved in Christ - and in Him presented to us. But now all this has to be entered into through travail. We come back, as it were, into the garden through travail - through suffering. I doubt whether there is any other way. Things being as they are, there is no other way.

Let us not be narrow in our apprehension of the word "suffering." What is suffering to one would not be suffering to another. Suffering has its own meaning for everyone. Some can  suffer with very little distress what others would find intolerable agony. Suffering covers a wide ground. Paul seems to have had a taste of every kind of suffering. He was a representative man. The Lord knows what to us is suffering and the most suitable means of bringing us to the knowledge of Himself in Christ, and He chooses for us the path which is most likely to bring us there. Whatever form the suffering may take, there will be no doubt as to its reality, but suffering is the way to this ministry of Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 (and last post) next)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

God's Seed-Plot

[This is a most beautiful, in-depth study! I think you will be very "awed" in reading]

"And the Lord planted a garden ..." (Genesis 2:8)

A new world has been brought into being: there is no fault to be found with it - it is all good - there is no sin in it; everything is for God ... the whole satisfied God's mind up to that point; that is, there was nothing about it that was contrary to the mind of God.

Yet, having brought into being the whole world - all the earth in primal beauty and light - the Lord God chose a certain spot in the whole and planted a garden ... placed a garden in the heart of His world, His creation. He planted that garden, enriched it, and filled it with everything that was good. Why?

That garden was an epitome - a microcosm - a representation of God's thought for the whole world. We might say it was a kind of seed-plot for the world. God's mind for the whole world was gathered up in fullness in that garden: trees pleasant to the eye - the beauty of the Lord in the garden; herbs for food - the sustenance of the Lord for man; fruit to rejoice the heart. The Lord never stops at bare necessities for maintaining life. His thought is fullness - something more luxurious - full maintenance of life and health in herbs and shrubs. Nourishment, beauty, rejoicing - life on a high level is His provision for us.

Then there was a river to water the garden; and going out from the garden and parting into four, it was to benefit the whole creation. All that is in that garden is for the whole creation; it is God's thought for His whole creation. A tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. All this, with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was to be cultivated - exploted, if we may use such a word - to be turned to account, to be exercised in relation to the whole earth. God placed in the garden the man whom He had created to keep, to cultivate, to tend the garden - to exercise himself in the garden - so that what was there should be of practical value. This was the starting place of the knowledge of God.

Look at that garden ... contemplate it (and remember that the word "Eden" means "delight") ... and you see that it is a revelation of the glory of God. All the thoughts symbolized there in the garden are thoughts of God's glory, God's nature, God's grace, God's goodness, God's beauty. They are expressed in the garden. If you want to know what God is like, to into the Garden of Eden. God's thoughts are written there - God's nature is there.

A dim reflection of God is to be seen in any lovely garden in this creation. It is dim at best; but nevertheless, if you contemplate it for the fleeting moment of its existence, you have cause to wonder. But go back into the garden, where death as yet had never come nor sin entered - where things are in their pristine glory and beauty - and you have something to think about as to what God is like. That garden therefore was a revelation - an illumination - of the knowledge of the glory of God.

Who can fail to see that this garden is a type of Christ? Is He not the tree of life? Is He not the river of life? Is He not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Is not such knowledge in a secret way bound up with Him, to the end that through Him it should be known? Are not the deepest secrets of God concerning good and evil bound up in the mystery of the person of Christ? He is the fruit, He is the health, He is the nourishment. In a word, He is the sum of the knowledge of the glory of God.

Christ is set forth in type by that garden. All that the garden speaks of is in Him ... and is for the whole creation. The creation is to take its character from Him. That is God's thought. Out from Him to the whole creation God intends the fullness of His own likeness to go forth. That is how the former creation should have been, and that is how all is to be at length. The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, and it is all going out through Christ. Christ is, so to speak, God's seed-plot for the whole creation - the microcosm of God's universal thought and intention. He shall fill all things. Out from Him all things shall be filled.

It is all summed up in Him, but it has to be expanded. It is, after all, but a garden in the midst of God's universe. It has to be expanded - increased - and that by exercise. What was Adam's ministry? It was to care for that garden in relation to the whole creation - to develop in the creation, so to speak, the good of that garden, to make that garden and its contents of practical meaning and value to the whole creation. That was Adam's ministry.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

A True Knowledge of Jesus

"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning" (John 15:26-27)

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bear witness concerning Jesus Christ. All the work of the Holy Spirit centers in Jesus Christ. It is His work to magnify Christ to us, to glorify Christ by taking of the things of Christ and declaring them to us.

It is only through the direct testimony of the Holy Spirit in the individual heart that any man ever comes to a true and saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:3). No amount of listening to the testimony of men regarding Jesus Christ, and no amount even of studying what the Scriptures say about Christ, will ever lead anyone to the knowledge of Jesus Christ unless the Holy Spirit, the living Spirit of God, takes the message of men, or the testimony of the written Word, and interprets it directly to our hearts.

It is true that the Holy Spirit's testimony regarding Jesus Christ is found in the Bible. In fact, that is exactly what the whole Bible is, the Holy Spirit's testimony to Jesus Christ. But the Holy Spirit must take His own testimony as it is found in the Word of God and interpret it directly to the heart of the individual and make it a living thing in his heart, or he will not come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

If you wish men to get such a true view of Jesus Christ that they will believe in Him, you must seek for them the testimony of the Holy Spirit, and you must put yourself in such relations to God that the Holy Spirit can bear His testimony through you. No amount of argument and persuasion will ever bring anyone to know Jesus Christ.

And if you wish to have a true knowledge of Jesus Christ yourself, it is not enough that you study the Word and what the Spirit of God has said about Jesus Christ in the Word: you must seek for yourself the testimony of the Spirit of God directly to your own heart through His Word, and put yourself in such relations to God that the Holy Spirit can bear His testimony directly to your heart.

Precious Jesus, all around me are people whom I care deeply for and who desperately need to come to know You, but they don't even realize it. May You work in my life so powerfully that they might see something of Your Spirit and be drawn to You. Amen

~R. A. Torrey~

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Knowing or Knowing About

"For I know when I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Timothy 1:12)

In religion more than in any other field of human experience a sharp distinction must always be made between knowing about and knowing. The distinction is the same as between knowing about food and actually eating it. A man can remain spiritually dead while knowing all the historic facts about Christianity.

"This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent" (John 17:3). We have but to introduce one extra word into this verse to see how vast is the difference between knowing about and knowing. "This is life eternal, that they might know ABOUT thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent."

That one word makes all the difference between life and death.

We dare not conclude that because we learn about the Holy Spirit we for that reason actually know Him. Knowing Him comes only by a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit Himself.

The Spirit is an imperative necessity. Only the Eternal Spirit can do eternal deeds.

~A. W. Tozer~

Profiting From the Word # 11

The Scriptures and the World

Not a little is written to the Christian in the New Testament about "the world" and his attitude towards it. Its real nature is plainly defined, and the believer is solemnly warned against it. God's holy Word is a light from heaven, shining here "in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19). Its Divine rays exhibit things in their true colors, penetrating and exposing the false veneer and glamour by which many objects are cloaked. That world upon which so much labor is bestowed and money spent, and which is so highly extolled and admired by its blinded dupes, is declared to be "the enemy of God"; therefore are His children forbidden to be "conformed" to it and to have their affections set upon it.

The present phase of our subject is by no means the least important of those that we have set out to consider, and the serious reader will do well to seek Divine grace to measure himself or herself by it. One of the exhortations which God has addressed to His children runs, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2), and it behoves each one of them honestly and diligently to examine himself so as to discover whether or not this be the case with him. Nor are we to be content with an increase of mere head-knowledge of Scripture: what we need to be most concerned about is our practical growth, our experimental conformity to the image of Christ. And one point at which we may test ourselves is, Does my reading and study of God's Word make me less worldly?

1. We profit from the Word when our eyes are opened to discern the true character of the world. One of the poets wrote, "God's in His heaven - all's right with the world." From one standpoint that is blessedly true, but from another it is radically wrong, for "the whole world lieth in wickedness" (1 John 5:19). But it is only as the heart is supernaturally enlightened by the Holy Spirit that we are enabled to perceive that that which is highly esteemed among men is really "abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15). It is much to be thankful for when the soul is able to see that the "world" is a gigantic fraud, a hollow bauble, a vile thing, which must one day be burned up.

Before we go further, let us define that "world" which the Christian is forbidden to love. There are few words found upon the pages of Holy Writ used with a greater variety of meanings than this one. Yet careful attention to the context will usually determine its scope. The "world" is a system or order of things, complete in itself. No foreign element is suffered to intrude, or if it does it is speedily accommodated or assimilated to itself. the "world" is fallen human nature acting itself out in the human family, fashioning the framework of human society in accord with its own tendencies. It is the organized kingdom of the "carnal" mind which is "enmity against God" and which is "not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:7). Wherever the "carnal mind" is, there is "the world"; so that worldliness is the world without God.

2. We profit from the Word when we learn that the world is an enemy to be resisted and overcome. The Christian is bidden to "fight the good fight of faith" (1 Timothy 6:12), which implies that there are foes to be met and vanquished. As there is the Holy Trinity - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - so also is there an evil trinity - the flesh, the world, and the devil. The child of God is called to engage in a mortal combat with them; "mortal", we say, for either they will destroy him or he will get the victory over them. Settle it, then, in your mind, my reader, that the world is a deadly enemy, and if you do not vanquish it in your heart then you are no child of God, for it is written "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world" (1 John 5;4).

~A. W. Pink~

(continued with # 12)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Profiting From the Word # 10

6. We profit from the Word when the soul is moved to pray earnestly for enabling grace. In regeneration the Holy Spirit communicates a nature which is fitted for obedience according to the Word. The heart has been won by God. There is now a deep and sincere desire to please Him. But the new nature possesses no inherent power, and the old nature or "flesh" strives against it, and the devil opposes. Thus, the Christian exclaims, "To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not" (Romans 7:18). This does not mean that he is the slave of sin, as he was before conversion; but it means that he finds not how fully to realize his spiritual aspirations. Therefore does he pray, "Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments; for therein do I delight" (Psalm 119:35). And again, "Order my steps in Thy word, and let not any iniquity have dominion over me" (Psalm 119:133).

Here we would reply to a question which the above statements have probably raised in many minds: Are you affirming that God requires perfect obedience from us in this life? We answer, Yes! God will not set any lower standard before us than that (1 Peter 1:15). Then does the real Christian measure up to that standard? Yes, and no! Yes, in his heart, and it is at the heart that God looks (1 Samuel 16:7). In his heart every regenerated person has a real love for God's commandments, and genuinely desires to keep all of them completely. It is in this sense, and this alone, that the Christian is experimentally "perfect". The word "perfect" both in the Old Testament (Job 1:1, and Psalm 37:37) and in the New Testament (Phil. 3:15), means "upright", "sincere," in contrast with "hypocritical".

"Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble" (Psalm 10:17). The desires of the saint are the language of his soul, and the promise is, "He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him" (Psalm 145:19). The Christian's desire is to obey God in all things, to be completely conformed to the image of Christ. But this will only be realized in the resurrection. Meanwhile, God for Christ's sake graciously accepts the will for the deed (1 Peter 2:5). He knows our hearts and sees in His child a genuine love for and a sincere desire to keep all His commandments, and He accepts the fervent longing and cordial endeavor in lieu of an exact performance (2 Corinthians 8:12). But let none who are living in willful disobedience draw false peace and pervert to their own destruction what has just been said for the comfort of those who are heartily desirous of seeking to please God in all the details of their lives.

If any ask, How am I to know that my "desires" are really those of a regenerate soul? we answer, Saving grace is the communication to the heart of an habitual disposition unto holy acts. The "desires" of the reader are to be tested thus: Are they constant and continuous, or only by fits and starts? Are they earnest and serious, so that you really hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Matthew 5:6) and pan after God )Psalm 42:1)? Are they operative and efficacious? Many desire to escape from hell, yet their desires are not sufficiently strong to bring them to hate and turn from that which must inevitably bring them to hell, namely, willful sinning against God. Many desire to go to heaven, but not so that they enter upon and follow that "narrow way" which alone leads there. True spiritual "desires" use the means of grace and spare no pains to realize them, and continue prayerfully pressing forward unto the mark set before them.

7. We profit from the Word when we are, even now, enjoying the reward of obedience. "Godliness is profitable unto all things" (1 Timothy 4:8). By obedience we purify our souls (1 Peter 1:21). By obedience we obtain the ear of God (1 John 3:22), just as disobedience is a barrier to our prayers (Isaiah 59:2); Jeremiah 5:25). By obedience we obtain precious and intimate manifestations of Christ unto the soul (John 14:21). As we tread the path of wisdom (complete subjection to God) we discover that "her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace" (Proverbs 3:17). "His commandments are NOT grievous" (1 John 5:3), and "in keeping of them there is great reward" (Psalm 19:11).

~A. W. Pink~

(continued with # 11 - "The Scriptures and the World")

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 16

You see, God took very great pains that it should be like that. As we have seen, Abraham tried to do this in other ways, but it was a tragic failure. God pushed this thing so far that it was absolutely impossible naturally; and if we have not seen that to become a child of God is a miracle, we have never understood what Christianity really is. All that, and much more, is in this simple word that we know so well: "You must be born again." There is no substitute or new birth.

When we have commenced the life of sonship, then we commence the life of the training of sons. There is one chapter in the New Testament which especially deals with this - the twelfth chapter of Hebrews. There it says: "My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art reproved of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. It is for chastening that ye endure; God dealeth with you as with sons" (Hebrews 12:4-7).

I think we have a wrong idea of that word chastening. We think, perhaps, that it represents God as having a big stick in His hand and knocking us about all the time. You have only to make a mistake and down comes the big stick! That, of course, is a wrong idea of God, and is mot what the word means. The word "chastening" just simply means "child training." It is not a sign of love for your child if you never train him. If you do not train him he will not be liked by anyone later on, so it is unkind not to train him. While training does, of course, mean correcting, and sometimes using the stick, the idea is to do anything and everything to make that child a responsible man or woman. It is a poor kind of man or woman who can never take any responsibility, whom you can never be sure of, who is not reliable and who always has to be told what to do, not having any intelligence in himself or herself. The idea of sonship in God's mind is to have people who are absolutely reliable and responsible, who know in their own hearts what is right and what is wrong, and do not have to be constantly told.

You see, dear friends, God is going to put very big responsibilities upon us in the coming ages. The Word says: "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him" (2 Timothy 2:12), and what do you think "reigning" means? Do you think it means sitting on some kind of a throne and doing nothing for all eternity? Well, if that is the idea, I'm afraid I don't want it! I want to have something to do that is worth doing. There is a word near the end of the Bible which just says: "His servants shall serve him; they shall see his face" (Revelation 22:3, 4). There is a great work of government in the eternal kingdom for which we are being prepared; the great part of our experience as Christians in this life is training for eternity. There are many things which cannot be explained if that is not true. Here is someone whom we think is indispensable to the work of God. We cannot do without him! He is so useful and so necessary .. and then God puts His hand on him and lays him aside for months, or even years, or He takes him right out of the work to Himself in heaven. We cannot understand those things. We would say that that person was absolutely necessary. We cannot get on without him - but God has greater service in His presence that He has here.

You see, there is this phase of sonship which is child training. I wish we could always look on our difficulties in the light of this! It does seem that the life of a Christian is more difficult than any other life, and more troubles come to us than to anyone else. God does not protect His children from troubles, but, whether we recognize it or not, and whether we like it or not, these difficulties and troubles which come to us are to train us for something and to develop in us the spirit of sonship, that is, to develop spiritual intelligence and spiritual ability in us.

Now I must come to the third phase, which will not take very long. It is what the apostle Paul calls: "The manifestation of the sons of God" (Romans 8:19). Here are the words: "For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God... for we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8:19, 22).

Here is a very wonderful idea. No one will question that the whole creation is groaning. The apostle pictures it in a state
which is saying: "Oh, I wish it would happen soon! Why does it wait so long? When will this thing happen that I feel is going to happen? I am just in agony about it all." That is how the apostle explains the conditions in creation, and it is like that, isn't it? This poor creation is in a very bad way. It is groaning and travailing in pain and then the apostle, with the light which God has given him, tells us why it is in that condition. God has a purpose hidden in the history of this world, and in the history of the nations, hidden from the eyes and the understanding of men: God is doing something through the ages which men of the world do not understand. What is this thing that God is doing secretly? He is securing sons, who are hidden from the world, but the very existence of the world demands that this thing shall come to light one day. This secret purpose and work of God must be made manifest, and Paul says: When that happens the whole creation will be delivered from the bondage of corruption (Romans 8:21). What is this thing for which the whole creation waits? Here it says: "The manifestation of the sons of God." The sons of God are going to be the explanation of all the groanings of the creation, and when they are manifested the whole creation will say: "This is what I have been waiting for!"

The apostle John says: "Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him" (1 John 3:2). That is the full meaning of sonship - we shall be like Him, God's Son.

I think you will agree that what I said at the beginning is right: It is a very great thing that God has called us unto in fellowship with His Son.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 17 - "Oneness with God in His Method and in His Power")

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Today's Sleeping Giant # 4

In a brilliant sermon called "Discipleship," G. Cambell Morgan says, "Jesus Christ could speak to the sorrow-burdened heart of humanity words so full of mother-love that father-love as to make men crowd and press around Him. On the other hand, He could suddenly speak words that flashed and scorched and burned until men drew back in astonishment. "Bracketed in the last group would be these two commands: "Take my yoke upon you" and "My disciple, take up your cross and follow me." Both of these words imply discipline.

When we sing in a sunlit church "Oh to be like Thee; Oh to be like Thee," we get weepy and feel an emotional lift. But permit this simple challenge: Do we really mean "Oh to be like Thee" - like the Christ of God, who was a man of discipline? Do we really mean "Oh to be like Thee" - fasting alone in the desert? Do we mean "Oh to be like Thee" to touch the depths of prayer that make us cry, "All Thy billows are gone over me." Do we mean Oh to be like Thee" - to become habituates of the fastness of the prayer chamber? Do we mean "Oh to be like Thee" - in a will like His, for He said, "I always do the will of my Father." Is that not discipline?

The religious sentimentalist who sings, "Just a closer walk with Thee" but walks close to the ungodly and sits with the blasphemers, is not taken seriously in either heaven or hell. Be very sure, friend, that this vile world is NOT "a friend to grace to help unto God." We need to pray the Father to put some blood into his "water" that runs through our veins. Our Simon-like natures need the Upper Room fire to clean us out and the discipline of the Spirit to shape us into soldiers.

Twenty-five years of discipline in a crow's nest of an office up behind his church in Chicago brought about a Dr. A. W. Tozer, who produced a book, The Pursuit of God." This in turn produced on the ocean of spiritual teaching waves that lap their way to the ends of the earth.

After I spoke at a session in the Bible School of Wales, Mrs. Rees Howells called me for a private talk. We stood on the veranda of her home overlooking beautiful Swansea Bay. I can see her finger upheld as she said, "Many talk of my husband's buying this place with a shilling (fourteen cents) in his pocket. What they forget is that he prayed twelve hours a day for eleven months to know the mind of God." Brethren, that's discipline!

Today, immediately when one gets out of step with a nearby Christian, he is considered a legalist. Just remember, in "that great day of Judgment" when we must stand before His throne, no man will be ashamed he was dubbed over-spiritual, though many will weep, groan, and "suffer loss" because of lack of discipline. Discipline is a harness by which we enable the Spirit to get the best out of our frail humanity. The apostle Paul was a disciplinarian like his Master: He disciplined his body: "I keep my body under." He disciplines himself to loneliness: "All men forsook me." He disciplines himself to scorn: "We are fools for Christ's sake." He disciplines himself to poverty: "We suffered need." He disciplined himself to rejection: "We are despised." He disciplines himself to death: "I die daily." He disciplines himself to suffering: "Persecuted, but not forsaken."

May this be our prayer, "Oh Lord, I bow my neck to Thy Yoke!"

Since the hour Adam first rose to his feet, man has not stood, as today, between such potential and such peril. America is still the richest nation in the world. It is a mighty crucible into which refugees of almost all modern nations are poured. it has far more Bible schools than any other nation. In these Bible schools is dedicated manpower. Here, too, is wealth to get this manpower to the ends of the earth, and here is linguistic ability unmatched in and annals of time.

Even the gathering at Pentecost had not the potential, humanly speaking, that this vast nation has. Do you wonder, then, that from every angle, hell has America under cross fire?  This mighty land is cursed with blessings. I fear that unless she awakens, repents, and puts on the whole armor of God, she will be blessed with cursings. Already other nations are in the slavery of oppression. Can America and Britain long remain free? Unless we are to have the war of wars that will usher us into the night of nights and the judgment of judgments, we must have the revival of revivals. Pale, pathetic, palliating preaching must be driven from the church like the idols it promotes. It is time for the church to cry again, "Where is the God of Elijah?"

Ambrose Fleming called the resurrection of Jesus Christ "the best attested fact in history". Yet at Easter time, vain effort is made to rationalize the stupendous event of the Resurrection in order to try to save face before pseudo-intellectualism, which boggles at the fact that the Lord of glory died and rose again, triumphant over death, over hell, and over the grave. Who, then, can dispute the following biting statements of Murdo MacDonald in his book, The Vitality of Faith: "Ever since the Renaissance, men have been trying to water down the Christian creed. Give us a religion purged of everything that defies logic, a religion stripped of the supernatural and emptied of miracle, a religion that is smooth and palatable and rationally acceptable - this has been the popular cry" Surely the church, weak in heart and courage, has gone out of the way to oblige!

The doom of this decaying civilization is spelled out in our crowded divorce courts, our all-time high of alcoholics and drug addicts, the number of illegitimate births or the number of abortions. A Gallup poll shows that these days most people accept lying as part of everyday business. Virtue is scorned! Truth lies fallen in the street!

Somewhere in the archives of the British Admiralty at Whitehall, London, they have the record of a fine piece of maritime strategy. Ships of five nations were anchored in a bay in the South Pacific. A fierce storm was gathering offshore. The British captain decided to run, not away from the storm but into it. Everything available was battened down. Out crashed the ship into the boiling seas - pitching, tossing, rolling, and shuddering. Indeed, she did everything but go down. A couple of days later, buffeted but not broken, she returned to the port to find the ships of the other nations piled up on the beach.

The storm of the ages is about to break. Let the church call its crew to a new dedication. Remembering that Christ is at the helm, and with Christ's Crest as our ensign, let us run into the storm. After the storm, we, too, shall return to see upon the shores of time the battered, piled, wrecked, hell-inspired ideologies of the hour.

~Leonard Ravenhill~

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 15

If you were to try to sum up the whole meaning of the life of Abraham, you would have to do so in one thing. Why did God call him out of Ur of the Chaldees and deal with him in the way He did through his long life? The answer is found in one thing: The purpose of God was to secure a heavenly people on the basis of sonship. Abraham was the first of a new race of heavenly people. God said to him: "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 22:18), and that was to be realized through his son Isaac - a people of a heavenly nature in terms of sonship. Here again we touch perhaps the greatest thing that has ever been revealed to man: God's intention and purpose to have at last a race of people who are His sons ["sons" meaning men and women. In heaven there will be no male or female]. There is nothing greater in all God's revelation than this - that He would make us into His sons.

We have said that in Abraham's case this was to be realized through Isaac, but those of you who know your Bibles know quite well that Isaac was a natural impossibility. If Isaac was to be at all, an absolute miracle had to be worked by God from heaven, and when he did come Abraham was more than ninety-nine years old. Sarah was just ten years younger, and that speaks for itself. The apostle Paul put it in this way: "He (Abraham) considered his own body as good as dead" (Romans 4:19). Isaac was impossible - but Isaac was born. It was a miracle of God - and all the sons of God begin there. It is absolutely impossible to be a son of God unless He works a miracle.

That brings us to our well-known Scripture. Well might Nicodemus say: "How can a man be born when he is old?" But Jesus just brushed aside that word "how?" and said: "Nicodemus, it must happen. You must be born again. You, Nicodemus, are thinking of the natural, while I am speaking about the spiritual. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit, and that is what I am talking about. That is a miracle of the Spirit of God. Therefore it is possible for you to go right back and start life all over again like a little child."

Every child of God is a miracle. Nothing, and no one, can make you a child of God but a miracle of the Spirit of God. You will not become a child of God by going to church every week, or by adopting the sacraments of the church, whether that sacrament be the sacrament of baptism or of the Lord's Table. Those things do not make us children of God. They are in the New Testament as things which children of God do when they are children of God, but you can accept all the sacraments, you can go to all the services and may know in your head all the doctrines, and NOT be a child of God. A child of God is one that is born by a miracle of God. All these other things to which I have referred may, after all, be things of the flesh. The first phase of a true child of God is supernatural, spiritual birth. It is one of those wonderful things of God which lie at the very foundation of the Christian life.

So the first phase of sonship is spiritual, supernatural birth. You see, it was in Isaac that Abraham came to sonship, for Isaac represents the spirit of sonship. "God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts" (Galatians 4:6), and the receiving of the spirit of sonship is a divine act: not a process, but a crisis. There may be a process leading up to it. You may be a long time on the way to it, but when you do come to it, it is a definite, positive experience. Abraham was a long time coming to Isaac, and Isaac was a long time coming to Abraham, but when Isaac was born he was not a process - he was an act. I suppose it happened within twelve or twenty-four hours of one day: this morning Isaac is not - this evening Isaac is.

Now, I know that many of you older Christians are not at all interested in this, for you know all about it. But while we all need a fresh realization that our Christian life begins with a miracle, and that our very existence as Christians rests upon a supernatural basis, the young people need to understand this very clearly. I feel that I must take time over this, because the Christian life is being made all too easy. All to often the tremendous thing of new birth is not made clear. To become a child of God is not to put something on the outside, even the name of Christian, but to have something done INSIDE that no one but God Almighty can do. That is the beginning of sonship, and Abraham's experience with Isaac, his son, is the great illustration of this truth.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Profiting from the Word # 9

4. We profit from the Word when we not only see it is our bounden duty to obey God, but when there is wrought in us a love for His commandments. The blessed man is the one whose "delight is in the law of the Lord" (Psalm 1:2). And again we read, "Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in His commandments" (Psalm 112:1). It affords a real test for our hearts to face honestly the questions, Do I really value His commandments as much as I do His promises? Ought I not to do so? Assuredly, for the one proceeds as truly from His love as does the other. The heart's compliance with the voice of Christ is the foundation for all practical holiness.

Here again we would earnestly and lovingly beg the reader to attend closely to this detail. Any man who supposes that he is saved and yet has no genuine love for God's commandment is deceiving himself. Said the Psalmist, "O how love I thy law!" (Psalm 119:97). And again, "Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold" )Psalm 119:127). Should someone object that that was under the Old Testament, we ask, Do you intimate that the Holy Spirit produces a lesser change in the hearts of those whom He now regenerates than He did of old? But a New Testament saint also placed on record, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man" (Romans 7:22). And, my reader, unless your heart delights in the "law of God" there is something radically wrong with you; yea, it is greatly to be feared that you are spiritually dead.

5. A man profits from the Word when his heart and will are yielded to all God's commandments. Partial obedience is no obedience at all. A holy mind declines whatsoever God forbids, and chooses to practice all He requires, without any exception. If our minds submit not unto God in all His commandments, we submit not to His authority in anything He enjoins. If we do not approve of our duty in its full extent, we are greatly mistaken if we imagine that we have any liking unto any part of it. A person who has no principle of holiness in him may yet be disinclined to many vices and be pleased to practice  many virtues, as he perceives the former are unfit actions and the later are, in themselves, comely actions, but his disapprobation of vice and approbation of virtue do not arise from any disposition to submit to the will of God.

True spiritual obedience is impartial. A renewed heart does not pick and choose from God's commandments: the man who does so is not performing God's will, but his own. Make no mistake upon this point; if we do not sincerely desire to please God in all things, then we do not truly wish to do so in anything. Self must be denied; not merely some of the things which may be craved, but self itself! A willful allowance of any known sin breaks the whole law (James 2:10, 11). "Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments" (Psalm 119:6). Said the Lord Jesus, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:14): if I am not His friend, then I must be His enemy, for there is no other alternative (Luke 19:27).

~A. W. Pink~

(continued with # 10)

Today's Sleeping Giant # 3

Let us remember, too, that Samson, who began in the Spirit, fell into the flesh, and so had a prison term to bring him to his senses. Finally, by one last mighty miracle, he finished in the Spirit. Backslider, this is a word for your recovery, for God can restore the years that the canker worm and the caterpillar have eaten. He who is able delights in mercy.

Samson's final act of power was the crowning achievement of a spectacular life's work. After he had slipped out from under the harness of obedience, he was forced into separation from the world in a prison. Once an army trembled at his very sight; later a single boy came to lead the blinded Samson into the temple of Dragon, the fish-god. How the mighty had fallen!Yet now, God took this "weak thing" into a temple full of lords of the Philistines and set him between the pillars. "Samson took hold of the pillars ... the one with his right hand and the other with his left ... and he bowed himself with all his might" (Judges 16:29-30). Holy jealousy gripped him. Mighty as he had been in other things, Samson now proved mightiest in prayer: "Lord, strengthen me ... this once!"  Would to God that every professed believer in the whole of Christendom would borrow this prayer and mean it. Then with dramatic conclusion, Samson sealed the doom of many more of the  enemies of God in his dying than in his living.

Is this the dying hour of this dispensation? Many say it is. Some Christians have already hung their harps on the willows, and yet others seem to delight in speaking of the Church's present lapse as a proof of divine inspiration. But I myself believe that if the Church will only obey the conditions, she can have a revival any time she wants it. The problem of the Church is the problem in the garden of Gethsemane - sleep! For while men sleep, the enemy, sows his seed through his cults. Lest men sleep the sleep of eternal death, Oh arm of the Lord, Oh Church of the living God, AWAKE!

If the Church is going to attain to her potential in this last hour, it is apparent that we are going to have to dust off an old word that many of us have forgotten is in the English language - DISCIPLINE! To some, this word "discipline" will have a monastic flavor, for it smells of the Middle Ages or throws onto the screen of the mind a picture of an unwashed hermit or a hollow-eyed anchorite. Be not deceived. Every smart "top brass" military expert has arrived because he wore a harness of discipline. Leonard Bernstein in his music takes hold his baton like a magic wand over mesmerized millions because of discipline. This brings to mind the words of the poet: The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight.

But they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward through the night!

If any man wants to write a bestseller, let him attempt a book on How to be a Saint in Six Easy Lessons. Such a writer would be fishing with bait that this generation of believers wants; but I, for one, would not swallow it.

~Leonard Ravenhill~

(continued with # 4)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Profiting From the Word # 8

The grand and glorious miracle of salvation is that the saved are regenerated.  A transforming work is wrought within them. Their understandings are illuminated, their hearts are changed, their wills are renewed. They are made "new creatures in Christ Jesus" (2 Corinthians 5:17). God refers to this miracle of grace thus: "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts" (Hebrews 8:10). The heart is now inclined to God's law: a disposition has been communicated to it which answers to its demands; there is a sincere desire to perform it. And thus the quickened soul is able to say, "When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, thy face, Lord, will I seek" (Psalm 27:8).

Christ not only rendered a perfect obedience unto the Law for the justification of His believing people, but He also merited for them those supplies of His Spirit which were essential unto their sanctification, and which alone could transform carnal creatures and enable them to render acceptable obedience unto God. Though Christ died for the "ungodly" (Romans 5:6), though He finds them ungodly (Romans 4:5) when He justifies them, yet He does not leave them in that abominable state. On the contrary, He effectually teaches them by His Spirit to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts (Titus 2:12). Just as weight cannot be separated from a stone, or heat from a fire, so cannot justification from sanctification.

When God really pardons a sinner in the court of his conscience, under the sense of that amazing grace the heat is purified, the life is rectified, and the whole man is sanctified. Christ "gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). Just as a substance and its properties, causes and their necessary effects are inseparably connected, so are a saving faith and conscientious obedience unto God. Hence we read of "the obedience of faith" (Romans 16:26).

Said the Lord Jesus, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me" (John 14:21). Not in the Old Testament, the Gospels or the Epistles does God own anyone as a lover of Him save the one who keeps His commandments. Love is something more than sentiment or emotion; it is a principle of action, and it expresses itself in something more than honeyed expressions, namely, by deeds which please the object loved. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments" (1 John 5:3). Oh, my reader, you are deceiving yourself if you think you love God and yet have no deep desire and make no real effort to walk obediently before Him.

But what is obedience to God? It is far more than a mechanical performance of certain duties. I may have been brought up by Christian parents, and under them acquired certain moral habits, and yet my abstaining from taking the Lord's name in vain, and being guiltless of stealing, may be no obedience to the third and eighth commandments. Again, obedience to God is far more than conforming to the conduct of His people. I may board in a home where the Sabbath is strictly observed, and out of respect for them, or because I think it is a good and wise course to rest one day in seven, I may refrain from all unnecessary labor on that day, and yet not keep the fourth commandment at all! Obedience is not only subjection to an external law, but it is the surrendering of my will to the authority of another. Thus, obedience to God is the heart's recognition of His lordship: of His right to command, and my duty to comply. It is the complete subjection of the soul to the blessed yoke of Christ.

That obedience which God requires can proceed only from a heart which loves Him. "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord" (Col. 3:23). That obedience which springs from a dread of punishment is servile. That obedience which is performed in order to procure favors from God is selfish and carnal. But spiritual and acceptable obedience is cheerfully given: it is the heart's free response to and gratitude for the unmerited regard and love of God for us.

~A. W. Pink~

(continued with # 9)

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 13

What does this say to us? "The situation seems to be impossible naturally. Let us then try by the energy of the flesh to realize what seems impossible in the spirit." So Abraham descended from the level of faith in God to a level of faith in his own works. It was a case of trying to be spiritually fruitful by fleshly methods. Thus Hagar was introduced.

Now there are two things to note about this chapter. Hagar was an Egyptian, and how did they come to have an Egyptian in their service? When did an Egyptian come into the family? Well, we cannot answer that question with certainty, but we know that Pharaoh did not send Abraham away empty-handed. That may answer the question. But what does Egypt represent? I have only to remind you of Israel in Egypt! The one word which always described Egypt was "bondage." If we descend to the level of the flesh to try and help God out, we will only get into worse bondage; and there resulted the terrible tragedy of Ishmael and Hagar. The apostle Paul makes a great deal of this thing in his letter to the Galatians, where he speaks of Hagar as the bondwoman and says: "With freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1). So Abraham learned the great lesson that we, being heavenly people, must stand on heavenly ground. We must not come down on to the ground of the flesh to try and help God out of what we think is His difficulty.

Abraham had to learn this lesson by failure, but did he learn it? I am terribly sorry to have to say that he did not seem to have done so very thoroughly, because some time afterward we find him going down to the country of the Philistines and, strange to say, he resorted to the same old subterfuge. Again, it was exactly the same thing: "Sarah, you say that you are my sister." You can hardly believe it, can you? How slow we are to lean these lessons!

Well, he went to the country of the Philistines and Abimelech just came out on the same ground - to took Sarah from Abraham. How merciful and faithful God is! That night He appeared to Abimelech in a dream and said to him: "Abimelech, you are a dead man," and Abimelech explained to Him why he had taken Sarah, as Abraham had said that she was his sister. When Abimelech got up in the morning he called Abraham and said: "What is this that you have done? You have lied to me and have brought me near to destruction." The details are almost exactly like the Egyptian occasion, but not quite. These are not the Egyptians, but the Philistines. All that you know about the Egyptians tells you that they would never have anything to do with what was of God. As with Pharaoh in the time of Moses, who would fight God to the last moment, Egypt would never have anything to do with divine things - but the Philistines were always trying to get their hands on divine things. They tried to get possession of the land. They were always invading it, even until the days of David. Their one ambition was to get hold of the ark of the covenant, and when they did get it, they opened it to have a look inside. These people were always very interested in divine things, but do you remember the description which was always applied to them? The "uncircumcised Philistines" (Judges 14:3). They represent uncrucified flesh trying to get hold of the things of God. They are that which wants to "see with the natural eyes, hear with the natural ears and handle with the natural hands", while their hearts have never gone to the Cross to be circumcised.

Abraham went down to the Philistines. What a descent from a heavenly level to an earthly, from the spiritual to the natural! When a servant of God does that, he always brings God into dishonor.

I think Abraham did learn his lesson this time, for we do not read again anything like that.

Do you see the way into the heart of God? I said that I would give you an explanation of the whole thing.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 14)

Today's Sleeping Giant # 2

Now turn back ten chapters in this wonder book of Judges and have a little peep into the life of Gideon. Surely as a boy, Gideon had heard from his father the hair-raising stories of a mighty Deity. In Judges 6, Gideon is older, and while threshing corn, is fearing an attack of the Midianites. For seven years, the once liberated slaves of Pharaoh had again become captives. Dens an caves were their homes. No longer were they able to sing the Lord's song.

It must have sounded like a fairy tale when that angel appeared to Gideon and informed him, "God is with thee, thou mighty man of valor." Yet he shot back the answer, "If God be with us, where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of?" This answer makes clear that Gideon was expecting some supernatural evidence. To him, the seal of the Lord's presence would be something that could not be rationalized.

Alas that today there is more evidence of religious sensation before our eyes than evidence of spiritual regeneration and supernatural phenomenon! Not many Christians today can forget the fact that the devil goeth about as a roaring lion, but we seem to have lost sight of the fact that the Lion of the tribe of Judah has defeated the roaring lion of hell, and therefore every anointed Samson or Gideon or church can also slay the lion of hell. Though wicked men are doing wickedly, God's promise to us is that "the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits" (Daniel 11:32).

This much is sure: If we could merit revival by fasting, there would be many martyred by starving. If we could organize revival, we would pool our thinking to outwit the powers of darkness. If we could buy this elusive revival with the mammon of unrighteousness, we could get a score of what we call Christian millionaires to underwrite the thing for us. If we could blast the devil from this present world, we would pledge the politicians for an atom bomb.

God pity us that after years of writing, using mountains of paper and rivers of ink, exhausting flashy terminology about the biggest revival meetings in history, we are still faced with gross corruption in every nation, as well as with the most prayerless church since Pentecost.

This is a plea for the return of the supernatural; but I must also give this a word of explanation. For a decade, all over this land there has been a ministry of the miraculous (more or less), and thank God for all who honor Him and remain faithful. But having said that, here is a plea for sane thinking and a spiritual evaluation of the evangelistic field. To a large degree, have we not substituted seeing for hearing? In Acts, Philip the evangelist could have transferred the Ethiopian eunuch to a city seething with revival fever where the eunuch could have seen "the lame leap like an hart and the tongue of the dumb sing." Instead, he pitched right into the Word of the living God, and beginning at the same Scripture preached unto him Jesus. We need the miraculous but we also need Christ-centered teaching. Our crucified, exalted Christ must have preeminence over all other slants of truth, for while the Church is languishing, the world is perishing. "Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord ..." (Isaiah 51:9).

Again let me say, Samson's size was not the secret of his strength. The fact that he was the same size after he backslid negates the idea that he was a giant. His only external peculiarity was his long locks, uncut because he was a Nazarite. Nor had his long hair in itself any abnormal power. Samson's secret was obedience. As long as Samson trod the straight and narrow path of obedience, he was invincible.

~Leonard Ravenhill~

(continued with # 3)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 12

The first one recorded in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Genesis. Abraham had been commanded by God to leave his own country and go to another country which God would show him. He obeyed and went into the land of Canaan where he lived for some time. Then there arose a famine in that land, and that meant quite a serious crisis for Abraham. Naturally the question would arise: "Did God send me here to let me starve to death? This looks like an absolute contradiction on His part. All that He has commanded and promised now seems to be a big question. I am in the place where He has put me, and circumstances say that it is impossible for a man to live here." It certainly was a big test of faith! We shall come to the explanation later on, but it is here that Abraham made his first great mistake. He took his journey down into Egypt. Now, it must have been something that was very carefully thought about. You will remember that later on Israel took that journey in the opposite direction, and it says then that it is eleven days' journey from Egypt just to the border of Canaan, but Abraham was not just on the border. He was right in the land, so that he had to contemplate an eleven days' journey across the desert at least, and you do not do that sort of thing without serious thought. I only say that to indicate how serious this thing was.

Abraham went down to Egypt, for he thought that that was the way to save his life. But do you know, when we do things like that we only - as we say - jump out of the frying pan into the fire!

On the journey something came to Abraham's mind. He looked at his wife Sarah, and he said to her: "Sarah, you know, you are a very beautiful woman, and when you get down into Egypt Pharaoh may take notice of you. You know, Sarah, you are not only my wife; you are also my sister, so if any questions arise about you when we are in Egypt, you just say you are my sister."

Now there are two things in that connection. Abraham was prepared to compromise his own wife to save his own life, and he was not only going down geographically, he was descending from the high level of principle to the low level of policy. When we sacrifice people for policy, we do not get out of our difficulties: we make them worse. Let me say to the young men and young women, as to everybody, that it is never a safe thing to compromise on people. If God has called you to Himself, He has called you on to heavenly ground, and that ground is the ground of heavenly principles. The peril of many a young man or young woman is to compromise with this world in order to gain some advantage, and to compromise is always a half-truth. It is what we call "a white lie." It was quite true that Sarah was Abraham's sister, but that was only half the truth. So Abraham resorted to a half-truth to gain some advantage, as he thought. We shall be tested sooner or later on this thing - as to whether we will compromise in order to gain some advantage in this world.

You can read what happened. God plagued Pharaoh because of what he did over Sarah, and Pharaoh said to Abraham: "What is this you have done? You have told me a lie." Abraham brought dishonor upon the name of the Lord before the world because of compromise. Pharaoh sent Abraham away and he had to take that long journey back to the place where he had built his altar. The altar always represents the Cross, and the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ always represents no compromise with this world. There is no place for a lie in the Cross of the Lord Jesus! Let us learn this lesson! To arrive at last in the heart of God we have to stand very strongly, even if we die for it, on the truth. We will come back to that again presently.

The second great mistake that Abraham made was with Hagar, and Ishmael was the result. You know your Bibles well enough that I recap just a little. God was trying Abraham's faith on the ground of patience. He had promised Abraham a son by Sarah, but the years went on. Abraham, ten years older than Sarah, was an old man, and Sarah was getting an old woman, so the situation seemed absolutely hopeless. As they were talking it over and wondering how God's promise could ever be fulfilled, Hagar passed by the opening in their tent, and an idea came into Sarah's mind: "It is impossible with me. Try it with Hagar, and Abraham accepted the suggestion.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13)