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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Life On The Highest Plane

[This lengthy series features the Classic Christian Author: Ruth Paxson. Her style is clear and concise; her in-depth, Spirit-inspired writing, her ability to teach is extraordinaire. I think you will be delighted with her work! This series will be very lengthy. Ms. Paxson starts at the beginning of the Christian life and continues on until the end. Read each article carefully. She has something for everyone! And, by the way, I have changed the background of this blog in honor of Ms. Paxson (sorry fellas if you don't like pink!!) I can change the background back after the series ends - which will take months!

The Story of Salvation Told in Five Chapters

[there are ten chapters in this series]

Chapter 1 
The Sinner in Adam. Without Christ.
The penalty of sin is upon him.
The power of sin is over him.
The presence of sin is int him.
Without Christ
The sinner, without hope.

Chapter 2
The Sinner at the Cross - With Christ.
The penalty of sin is removed by Christ, the Saviour.
Pardon is granted.
Righteousness is imputed.
The sinner's past. Covered.

Chapter 3
The Believer in the Heavenlies. In Christ.
The power of sin is broken by Christ, the Lord.
A new sphere is entered.
A new sphere is implanted.
A new nature is imparted.
The believer's present. Assured.

Chapter 4
The Believer on the Earth - Through Christ.
The place of sin is taken by Christ, the Life.
Dead to sin, alive to God.
Dead to self, alive to God.
The believer's present. Secured.

Chapter 5
The Believer in the Air. Like Christ.
The presence of sin is effaced by Christ, the King.
He is perfected into His likeness.
He is conformed to His image.
The believer's future. Transfigured.

Ephesians 2:8-9

"For by grace are ye saved through faith,
And not of yourselves: It is a gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast."


[this is a brief outline of the series but, believe me, there is much more included!]

In Times of Trial

"To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul" (Psalm 25:1)

No matter whether you are saved or unsaved, you can be certain that you will face problems in life. Because we live in a fallen world, we can expect trouble. But once you become a child of God, yo have the tremendous asset of a loving heavenly Father to guide you. He will strengthen you to face any problem you will encounter.

Since you do not know what the future holds, perhaps the best way to prepare for a crisis is to seek the Lord when your life is problem free. When you become accustomed to seeking God during the good times, then your first response to a problem will become, "Father ..."Calling out to the Lord during both ups and downs reminds us of our position as children of God.

So many people make the mistake of deciding on a course of action before praying to discover the mind of God. Bad choices can be easily avoided by going to our heavenly Father first. We should never let anyone push us into moving forward until we have heard from God. And we can be sure that when we call upon the Lord, He will be faithful to answer.

Sometimes His answer will come in a personal revelation or through godly teaching. Or it could come in the form of advice from a Christian friend. But most often, God reveals His will to us through His Word.

Are you facing a trial? Release it to the Lord in prayer, and He will help you overcome it.

Lord, Your will is a mystery that becomes clearer when I spend time in Your presence. Help me to seek Your counsel in good times, so that I recognize it in difficult ones. Amen

~Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Presence of the Lord # 2

The Lord gave them that mighty victory to begin with in order to encourage them to go on. The victory of the Red Sea corresponds to the victory of the Cross - the victory of death, and burial, and resurrection with Christ. That was the great foundation. And with that foundation behind them and under their feet, they went on. But there came a time when they stopped going on. You will remember that the tabernacle was constituted for transit; it was not a building to be put down in one place and to stay there forever. It was all made so that it could go on. And the tabernacle was the place where the Lord was. So that the Lord's idea for them was to go on.

I wonder how interested you are in the Book of Numbers. The Book of Numbers is a very wonderful Book. If you have not studied it, I advise you to study it. It can be called the Book of Goings-On, the Book of progress with the Lord. And you will come to one chapter, chapter thirty-three, and in that one chapter, you will find one phrase used forty-three times in one chapter. Now if one thing is repeated forty-three times in one chapter, it must mean something. Numbers, chapter thirty-three, and in that chapter, this phrase occurs forty-three times - "And the people of Israel journeyed." It says, forty-three times the people went on. They took their journey. And that is the Book in which you find the Lord so mightily with His people.

Now you know that when they came to the other side of the wilderness, they came to Kadesh-barnea, they came to the border of the promised land, they stopped. You do not read again - and they journeyed. They stopped. All, but two men, of that whole generation died in the wilderness. That is not the idea of the Lord for His people, for His people to die in the wilderness is not the Lord's idea. The Lord is not in that. Indeed, as we have read in Hebrews, the Lord is against that. So the term on which the Lord is with His people is that they keep going on. We have read in Hebrews, chapter four, the terrible warning that the Lord gave because they did not go on. He said, "I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest." They lost everything because they did not go on. So we read in chapter six, "Let us go on." Do not let us stay with our beginnings, but let us go on.

Now what does going on mean? Well, of course, for us it is a going on in a spiritual way. We are in a new dispensation, and this is a spiritual dispensation. But there is one thing that I want to suggest to you as meaning our going on. It is true of Israel in the wilderness, although it was an earthly thing with them, the same thing is true with us in a spiritual way. If you look again into this letter to the Hebrews, you will discover this, that going on spiritually is a matter of putting into practice what the Lord has said. Do you realize that we never go on by being told things by the Lord? Now that sounds like a very  strange thing to say. The Lord can speak to us Himself. We may have His word, we may have all the teaching that He can give us, we may know all the truth of God, we may have had it all, we may be standing still. No, it is not a matter of knowing what the Lord has said. It is a matter of putting that into practice. Doing what the Lord has said, that is the only way of going on.

How are we to go on then? We are to sit down quietly and say, "Now what has the Lord said to us?" Perhaps it may be over these past four or five weeks, or it may be over years past. The Lord has spoken in this place, or to you through the ministry of His many servants. Now through the reading of His Word you may have a great mountain of truth, and yet you may not be going on, and the Lord may not be with us, as He wants to be with us. The Presence of the Lord is power! The Presence of the Lord is life! The Presence of the Lord is holiness! Oh, the Presence of the lord means much, but it is all very practical. The Lord does not believe in theory. He does not believe even in textbooks. The Lord is a very practical Lord. And His attitude toward us is this: Look here, I have said this to you, you have heard it. Perhaps you have rejoiced in it. Perhaps you have believed it to be true. Perhaps you thank the Lord for it. But what have we done about it?

Have we taken each thing that the Lord has said, and brought it up and said, 'I have got to do something about that. We, as the Church, have got to do something about it. We have got to put that into effect. If we do not do that, we will not make progress. And the power of God will not be manifested among us.' We may go on for years, and we may fill the years with teaching, but we may still be years behind. We may not be coming into what the Lord means that we should be in. Why all these exhortations in the New Testament to go on? What is the New Testament just made up of exhortations and encouragements and warnings to the people of God about going on? And why is the New Testament such a practical Book? Because real spiritual progress and the Presence of the Lord depends upon bringing everything that we know right up to date.

I wonder if you could tell me the number of times in the New Testament that that one thing occurs. It is a quotation from Israel's life in the wilderness. And it is this: "Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your heart." Again and again, those words are put in the New Testament. Today! Today! Today! You see, all this is got to be brought into "now." All our progress for the future depends upon what we are doing with what we know "now." So the Lord says to us: I am with you if you are going on. And going on means putting into practice and effect all that I have said to you. Our growing knowledge of the Lord depends entirely upon our daily obedience to the light which we have.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

A Spiritual Rule: Hot Furnace, Cool Chimney

"Now we have received ... the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (1 Corinthians 2:12)

In our Christian fellowship two opposite dangers are to be recognized and avoided: they are the cold heart and the hot head!

For downright harmful effects the hot head is often the worst of the two.

The human heart is heretical by nature. Unless well instructed in the Scriptures and fully enlightened by the indwelling Spirit, it may confuse the fervor of the Spirit with the heat of the flesh, and mistake the scintillations of the overheated imagination for the glow of the true Skekinah.

It may be said without qualification that there can never be too much fire if it is the true fire of God, and it can be said as certainly that there cannot be too much cool judgment in religious matters if that judgment is sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Among the gifts of the Spirit scarcely any one is of greater practical usefulness in these critical times than the gift o discernment. This spiritual gift should be highly valued and frankly sought.

Human sweat can add nothing to the work  of the Spirit, especially when it is nerve sweat. The hottest fire of God is cool when it touches the redeemed intellect. It makes the heart glow but leaves the judgment completely calm.

Let love burn on with increasing fervor but bring every act to the test of quiet wisdom. Keep fire in the furnace where it belongs. An overheated chimney will create more excitement but it is likely to burn the house down. Let the rule be: a hot furnace but a cool chimney!

~A. W. Tozer~

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Presence of the Lord

The Presence of the Lord is Power!
The Presence of the Lord is Life!
The Presence of the Lord is Holiness!

We turn to the Letter to the Hebrews, chapter four, verse one through three.

"Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, as I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world."

Chapter six, verse one through three,

"Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit."

In our first series of special meetings, the Lord led us to be occupied with the matter of His Presence with His people. I think everyone here will agree that the most important thing for us is the presence of the Lord. I expect, when we gather together like this, our prayer in the first place is the the Presence of the Lord. And probably those of you who prayed at the beginning of the day, will always pray for the Lord's Presence. We realize that the all-important thing in our lives and in the lives of God's people is His Presence with us. We should all be afraid to go on unless the Lord is  with us. We cannot think of life without the Presence of the Lord. The Lord's Presence means everything to us.

Now you will remember that we pointed out that this is the greatest desire of the Lord Himself. He said to Moses, "Let them build me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them." The greatest desire of the Lord is to be among His people. But there are some conditions upon which the Lord is with His people. The Lord has His own terms upon which He will be with us. You will notice that this letter to the Hebrews from which we have read is all the time referring back to the life of Israel in the wilderness, that period which was covered by those words to Moses, "Let them build Me a sanctuary." It was the period from the Red Sea to the border of the land to the river Jordan.

Now during that period of forty years, although there were many difficulties, and the Lord had much trouble with the people, the Lord was with them. There were, as I have said, many difficulties during those forty years. There were many very serious times. We read of Amalek coming out to fight against Israel. We remember the story of Balaam, the false prophet who was hired by Balak to curse Israel. There were some of the very critical times during that journey. There was the crisis of bread and the crisis of water. There were the crisis of enemies. But through all that time the Lord was with His people. He did not allow Amalek to succeed in their war against Israel. He turned the curse of Balaam into a blessing. The Lord was with them. That meant victory, that meant support, that meant the supplying of all their needs, that meant that the Lord helped them in spite of their own weakness, the Lord was with them.

There was one reason why the Lord was with them through all their troubles and difficulties. The Lord was with them because of one thing: They were a people who were going on. They had set out to go to a certain goal, and in spite of many hindrances, they were a people going on. Sometimes their troubles just stopped their progress for a little while, but then they went on again. And the Lord was with them, because they went on. When they went on with the Lord, the Lord went on with them. And that is one of the fundamental terms upon which God is with His people. They had started out with a vision. Perhaps you will remember that when they had crossed the Red Sea, and Pharaoh's army had been drowned in the sea, then Moses and Aaron and the people of Israel sang a song. And in that song, the vision arose. They said, "The Lord has brought us out in order to take us in." The Lord has brought us out, not to let us die in the wilderness, that is not the Lord's idea for us. The Lord has brought us out of Egypt in order to take us into the land. They put it this way - "to bring us unto His holy hill" (Psalm 43:3). That was the vision with which they started. And while they kept that vision before them and went on, the Lord was with them.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

Low Tides

Psalm 55

How much like the tide we are! When our  spirits are high, we are flooded with optimism, hope, and expectation. But when low, our jagged barnacles of disappointment, discouragement, and disillusionment are exposed. We struggle to maintain an even keel as the rough winds jerk out sails.

Like the pull of the sea, some of our low tides are almost predictable.

Is that all ... is that all there is to victory?

Elijah asked that. And he was fresh off a great victory at Carmel! It's hard to believe 1 Kings 18 and 19 are connected. Vulnerable and frightened, he suffered the low tide that often follows victory, perhaps the cruelest dart of the devil's quiver.

Is that all ... is that all there is to vision?

Paul asked that. Having taken gigantic strides into the vast regions of Asia, he was caught at low tide. He freely admits this to his friends at Corinth: "For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life" (2 Corinthians 1:8).

Is that all ... is that all there is to valor?

David asked that when, after proving himself a dedicated warrior, unmatched for bravery in Israel's ranks, he was forced to flee from Saul. Reeling in fear and despair, David even disguised himself as insane before the king of Gath. The once-exalted warrior now "scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard" (1 Samuel 21:13).

Low tide ... how painful yet how essential. Without it, we cannot have high tide. Without it, there would be no need for Elishas to minister to victoryless Elijahs ... no need for visionaries to fall in dependence on their faces before God ... no need for the valiant to be reminded of their Source of strength.

Is that all ... is that all there is to low tides?

No, there is more, much more, most of which can never be described ... only discovered.

When it seems like that's all there is, remember all you have in Him.

~Charles Swindoll~

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Is Christianity a Legal System? # 18

"A sword Shall Pierce Through Thy Own Soul"

Here is a conversation between Simeon and Mary, the mother of Jesus. And it is perfectly clear that Mary was recognizing that something of very great importance to God, was being entrusted to her. This was something of great value to God Himself. Then Simeon said, it was something of great value to the world, "A light to lighten the nations." Then it was something of great value to the Lord's people, Israel, "And the glory of Thy people, Israel." All this was bound up with the little baby now in the arms of Simeon. And Mary realized that she had been chosen by God to serve Him, to serve the nations, and to serve His people in some special way. This little Child was set for a sign; and all peoples would come to recognize what Jesus signified.

So Mary had been the vessel chosen by God for that great purpose - an angel had come from heaven and told her of the great vocation to which she was called. Mary was just a simple country girl, who had with her husband been living in a small house in a far away city of Nazareth. Then a little while after Jesus was born, she came up to the city of Jerusalem, took the Child to the temple and we have this further wonderful thing said by Simeon: "This Child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel; and for a sign which is spoken against." As she listened to these things, no doubt her heart was filled with wonder. What a wonderful thing it is that the Lord has called me to! What a great purpose God has called me to serve. It is something far too big for me. I have no natural qualifications for this. I am only a simple country girl. I am the wife of an ordinary carpenter in a little town, and that town is a very despised one. One man said, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" And yet the Lord has called such a one as I to serve Him in this great world purpose. Perhaps there was some fear in her heart, but undoubtedly her heart was thrilled when she listened to these things. She would be saying inside herself, "Can it be possible that I have been called to this?" And then as she looked at her little baby in the arms of Simeon, she would say in her heart, "Little Baby, these are great things that are coming through You. These are very wonderful words that Simeon is saying. It must be a marvelous Life that is here given to us. God must have some very great things that He is going to do through You." So she listened to these words of Simeon, and astonishment and amazement filled her heart.

While she was listening to those wonderful things, suddenly a cloud came over the whole situation, and already she felt something like a stab at her heart. Because Simeon finished with these words: "And a sword shall pierce through thine own soul that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed." Wonderful things, mighty things, precious things, most important things -  but a sword. With them all, a sword shall pierce thine own soul.

I expect Mary often wondered about that in the following days. But we know how this prophecy of Simeon was fulfilled. The day came when she saw that Son of hers despised and rejected of men, taken to the judgment hall and accused of the worst sins; and then led to Calvary to be crucified. It says that Mary  stood by the Cross of Jesus. Yes,she lived to know the meaning of, "A sword shall pierce through thine own soul."

Now our word has got to be a very brief one this morning. I have about seven minutes left. But perhaps you already can see the meaning of what we have said. Was Mary called to be a vessel and instrument of this great world purpose of God? Mary was a woman, a simple woman, without any great qualifications, but chosen of God for this great purpose. Do you know that the Church is always spoken of in the feminine? The Church is always represented as a woman. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church." And always, the Church is spoken of as a woman.

But this Church, the bride of Christ, this Church, the wife of the Lamb, is called and chosen for this selfsame purpose. That through this Church, this CHRIST OF GOD shall be manifested to the whole world. That through this Vessel, CHRIST may be a blessing to all the nations, and a blessing to all God's people. Mary was not called for a greater purpose than the Church is called for. You and I, who form part of the Church of Christ, are called for this very purpose. Paul says, "We are called according to His purpose," and the purpose is exactly the same as that one spoken of by Simeon to Mary. We are called to be a light to lighten the nations, and a blessing to God's new spiritual Israel. Wonderful things are bound up with the Christ Who is entrusted to His Church. If the little Baby was entrusted to Mary, the great eternal Christ is entrusted to His Church. He is committed to us for this great world purpose. If it was a great honor to Mary, it is an even greater honor to us. If it was a wonderful thing to Mary, it ought to be a more wonderful thing to us. Yes, wonderful things, precious things, glorious things - but a sword.

Anything that is really precious to God will have suffering associated with it. Perhaps the first thought of Mary about Jesus were - He is going to be a great public figure Whom everybody thinks wonderful things about. What a wonderful Man He is going to be, everybody will think highly of Him. All people will speak well of Him; but she lived to find it just the other way. A sign that shall be spoken against. And these Jewish leaders in the prison of Paul saying, "This is something that is everywhere spoken against."

We are called to the fellowship of the great purpose of Christ in this world. We are called into the greatest things that ever God has done for this world. Ours is not less an honor and glory than that of Mary. But we are also called into the fellowship of His sufferings. However great this Christ is, and however great the honor entrusted to us in having Him, strangely to say this great preciousness to God will never be popular in this world. There will always be the sign that is spoken against. The Cross of the Lord Jesus is not a popular thing. Man has tried to make it popular, but it is never popular.

So I say to you all this morning, and especially to the younger people here, you are called to a very great purpose. God has called you to a service for Him that is the greatest service in this universe. God has entrusted into your hands His Own wonderful Son. But remember, however wonderful it is, it will never be popular; there will always be suffering attached to it.

In a few minutes, you are coming to the Lord's Table. Is that table the symbol of something popular? No, it is the symbol of the most unpopular thing in this world, Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. He said, "Do this in remembrance of Me. As often as ye eat this loaf and drink this cup, ye do show forth the Lord's death." When we take these symbols, we are only saying, "We come into the fellowship of His sufferings." To be a blessing in this world, a sword shall pierce thine own soul, a sign that is everywhere spoken against. May we be given the grace to share with Him His sufferings.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 19)

Joy Verses Happiness

"Rejoice in the Lord" (Philippians 3:1)

Happiness is related to circumstances; joy if a gift from God.

Not long ago it was common to see bumper stickers proclaiming every conceivable source for happiness. One said, "Happiness is being married." Another countered, "Happiness is being single." One cynical sticker read, "Happiness is impossible!"

For most people happiness is possible, but it's also fickle, shallow, and fleeting. As the word itself implies, happiness is associated with happenings, happenstance, luck, and fortune. If circumstances are favorable, you're happy; if not, you're unhappy.

Christian joy, however, is directly related to God and is the firm confidence that all is well, regardless of your circumstances.

In Philippians 3:1 Paul says, "Rejoice in the Lord". The Lord is both the source and object of Christians joy. Knowing Him brings joy that transcends temporal circumstances. Obeying Him brings peace and assurance.

Joy is God's gift to every believer. It is the fruit that His Spirit produces within you (Galatians 5:22) from the moment you receive the gospel (John 15:11). This joy increases as you study and obey God's Word (1 John 1:4).

Even severe trials needn't rob of your joy. James 1:2 says you should be joyful when you encounter various trials because trials produce spiritual endurance and maturity. They also prove that your faith is genuine, and a proven faith is the source of great joy (1 Peter 1:6-8).

You live in a world corrupted by sin. But your hope is in a living God, not in a dying world. He is "able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy" (Jude 24). That's your assurance of future glory and eternal joy! Until that time, don't neglect His Word, despise trials, or lose sight of your eternal reward. There are key ingredients of your present joy.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for any difficult circumstances you might be facing. Ask Him for continued grace to see them through His perspective and to not lose heart (Galatians 6:9). Be aware of any sinful attitudes or actions on your part that might diminish your joy. Confess them immediately.

For Further Study: Read Acts 16:11-40. What difficulties did Paul and Silas face in founding the Philippians church? How did God use their difficulties for His glory?

~John MacArthur~

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Is Christianity A Legal System? # 17

The Matter Which Is Of Supreme Importance Is: "Christ Fully Formed In You"

Now we have to hurry to a close. We come back to Galatians four, and verse nineteen, because this gathers up everything. What was it that Paul was working for? What had he given his life for? What was he suffering for? What was he so troubled about with these Galatians? You can rule out a whole number of things, and you can say it was not that, and it was not that. He said, "I am again in travail until Christ be fully formed in you." When he uses the word "again," that is, a second time. He means that I was in travail for your new birth. 'It cost me a great deal of suffering and pain to see you truly born again. It meant a great deal to me to see that Christ was really planted in you. Your new birth was a travail to me. But now I am having to go through it all again.'

My real object was not just to get Christ into you, my real object was that Christ should be fully formed in you, that Christ would grow up in you and you should grow up in Christ. And so I am today in travail again because you stopped. You are putting others things in the place of Christ. You are putting "form" in the place of Christ. You are putting mere teaching in the place of Christ. You are putting law in the place of Christ. You are putting a legal system in the place of Christ. Paul says that just throws me into agony.

I am going to apply that to ourselves. If we are suffering at all, what are we suffering for? If as in the case of Paul we have enemies, those who are against us, and who are working against us, why are we suffering? What is the nature of our suffering? Is it because of something personal? Are they working against us? Is it because of some piece of work for which we are jealous? Is it for some place in which we are interested? And against our way of going on? Is it any of these things? Is that why we are suffering? I say, the Lord deliver us from all of that! The only real and true reason for any spiritual suffering is that Christ is being hindered. We see that these things limit the Lord. They dishonor the Lord. And they will cause spiritual limitation. They are against the enlargement of Christ in us. All our suffering ought to be for the sake of the Lord Jesus, and not for anything else, "Until Christ be fully formed." That is the last word I am going to leave with you for this time.

I know something about your troubles. And I know something about the cause of your troubles. But I am going to bring it back here. Are you and I in travail over things, or for the full formation of Christ? Is all our suffering in our hearts related to the increase of the Lord Jesus? Is it that He may have His fullest place? Is it that He shall be fully formed in us? Have we, therefore, got this true kind of travail - not travail for something, but travail for Christ? I ask you a question, if you are suffering at all, and you ought to be suffering, what are you suffering for? Is your genuine concern for the honor and glory of the Lord Jesus? Is it that in every one of  these believers, from the children, to the young men and women, to the grown up people, that in every one of them, Christ should have a full place? Are we travailing in pain for that?

So all that we have said this week about these contrasts: Legalism and spirituality, Judaism and Christianity, all these other differences, they focus down upon this one question: THE FULL FORMATION OF CHRIST. How far does legalism limit the growth of Christ in us? How far does our technique get in the way of Christ? It is all a matter of Christ.

So I leave that question with you. I leave that emphasis with you. Now when I go away from you, the one thing that I want to be sure of is that I preached Christ to you, that I was not just giving you Bible teaching. And I was not trying to put you right on the technique of the Church, or the churches. But I was keeping Christ always in full view, and telling you that the matter which is of supreme importance is: CHRIST FULLY FORMED IN YOU - CHRIST FULLY FORMED IN US!"

A Sword Shall Pierce Through Thy Own Soul"

Will you please turn to the Gospel by Luke, chapter two, verse twenty-five.

"And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon."

And verse thirty-five,

"Yea and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul; that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."

I want to add verse thirty-four to that verse thirty-five,

"This Child is set for a sign which is spoken against." "Yea and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul; that thought out of many hearts may be revealed."

Now turn to the last chapter of the Book of the Acts, chapter twenty-eight, and verse twenty-two,

"But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest; for as concerning this sect, it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against." "This Child is set for a sign which is spoken against." "Concerning this sect, it is known to us, that everywhere it is spoken against"

We do not worship or pray to Mary, the mother of Jesus. We do not ask things from her as though she were God. We do not put her alongside of the Divine Trinity. But we do honor her. We give her respect and honor because of the great service which she rendered unto God. And we find some real help from some of the things which have come to us through her. Some of the things which were said to her by an angel, by Simeon, by others, have very real value in them for us. Some of these helpful things are in the Word which we have read; in the prophecy of this old man Simeon. And we shall this morning seek to draw from what he said about some of the helpful implications.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 18)

Life's Greatest Honor: Following Christ's Call

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name" (Philippians 2:9)

The humblest man who heeds the call to follow Christ has an honor far above that given to any king or potentate, for the nations of the earth can bestow only such honor as they possess, while the honor of Christ is supreme over all. God has given Him a name that is above every name!

This being true and being known to the heavenly intelligences, the methods we use to persuade men to follow Christ must seem to them extremely illogical if not downright wrong.

Evangelical Christians commonly offer Christ to mankind as a nostrum to cure their ills, a way out of their troubles, a quick and easy means to the achievement of their personal ends. The message is often so presented as to leave the hearer with the impression that he is being asked to give up much to gain more. And that is not good, however well intentioned it may be!

We are not called to be salesmen, pointing out the good things that will accrue if the right choice is made. No one can come to Christ with the idea of selfish gain in the transaction.

Salvation comes not by "accepting the finished work" or "deciding for Christ." It comes by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, the whole, living, victorious Lord who, as God and man, fought our fight and won it, accepted our debt as His own and paid it, took our sin and died under them and rose again to set us free. This is the true Christ, and nothing less will do!

~A. W. Tozer~

Friday, October 26, 2012

Is Christianity a Legal System? # 16

The Matter Which is of Supreme Importance Is: "Christ Fully Formed in You"

Then another difference between the child and the son is this: A little child has to have everything done for it by someone else. You have to do everything for the little child, whatever that child needs you provide it and you do it. You provide food. You provide clothes. You provide the family. You provide the home. You provide everything for the little child. The little child provides nothing for himself. The grown up son is different. The grown up son takes responsibility. The father knows that he can have confidence in that son. He does not have to be worrying all the time as to whether that son will do the right or the wrong thing. He is at rest about the son, and he says, 'I know I can trust him. I can put the responsibility on him, he is capable of taking the responsibility.'

Do you see from the history of Israel in the Old Testament, how irresponsible they were? Just look again over their history in the wilderness, and their history after the wilderness. They are having to have everything done and provided for them. They are having to be told everything that they ought to do. It is the law, and the law is written on tables of stone. It is not written on their hearts. They are a very irresponsible people, and neither the servant of God nor God Himself could trust them. Leave them by themselves for one day and they go all wrong. They are like horses. You have to put a bit and bridle on to keep them straight.

You know that is one of the illustrations used in the Scripture. Now growing up in Christ is just altogether different from that. SONSHIP MEANS SPIRITUAL RESPONSIBILITY. Because the Holy Spirit is inside, you are able to say, 'I know that they can be trusted, I know that the Lord is with them. I know that they know that the Lord is in them. And I can trust the Lord in them.' Do not you wish that all thee people were like that? This is the difference between little children and sons. When the apostle says here, that because ye are sons, the Spirit has been given you as the Spirit of sonship. "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts." He was not contradicting this truth of the difference between children and sons. He says when you received the Holy Spirit you received sonship potentially. That is, the Holy Spirit makes the fullness of Christ possible. All the fullness of Christ is in the Holy Spirit in you. But the question is: Are you going to continue as children, or are you going to live in the Spirit and grow up to be full grown sons?

Now the Apostle Paul makes another contrast in this letter. He contrasts sons with servants. And here he is not so much in the first place teaching of Israel and Christianity. He is taking an illustration from Greek life. In the Greek system a servant is one who took the little child of the family by the hand. And took him to the school master. He steered him down the road through all the traffic. He took him across the road and all the dangerous points. He took care of the little child, and did everything for him. And then he delivered him to the one who would educate him. He delivered him into the hands of the principle of spiritual education.

Now Paul says, The law was the servant - intended to take us by the hand and lead us to Christ. As you see, the law has to do with little children. The law does everything for the little child. The law was intended to hand us over to the Holy Spirit, and then the Holy Spirit would bring us to sonship. So Paul makes the difference between the servant and the son. The servant does everything for us on the outside. But the Holy Spirit does everything for us on the inside. So Paul put his emphasis on this, "Until Christ be fully formed in you." The whole character of this new dispensation is Christ in us.

So we are back to chapter two, verse twenty again: "It is no longer I, but Christ liveth in me." The Holy Spirit in us, is with us, in order to make us capable of understanding the things of the Lord. The Spirit is bringing into us spiritual intelligence about the things of the Lord. In another place the apostle will say, "Let the Word of God dwell in you richly in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." Before you can have the wisdom and the spiritual understanding, you have go to have the Word dwelling in you richly. It is the foundation of the Holy Spirit's work that the Word of the Lord should be in us richly. We must have a good and thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. It is the foundation of the Holy Spirit's work. The Holy Spirit is never going to do anything apart from the Word of God.

I cannot tell you how glad I am, that before I ever had a great spiritual crisis, I had very thoroughly studied the Bible. I had studied the Bible systematically right through. I could put on a big blackboard the outline and analysis of every book in the Bible. And I could give Bible lectures, but it was not until I had a real spiritual crisis, that I came to understand the Bible which I knew so well in my head. Then the Bible that I knew became a living Book!

You see that is what happened to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. They were Jews and they knew Jewish Scripture very thoroughly. That is, they knew what was written in the Old Testament. They could have told you all that Moses had written. They could have told you all that David had written. And they could have told you all the prophets had written. But on the day of Pentecost their Bible became alive. They inherited, in a spiritual way, all that they knew in only a mental way. But the Holy Spirit could not have done His work, had they not had the foundation in the Word of God. Do you remember that. Are you reading your Bible thoroughly? Are you really studying the Word of God? Can it be said of you that the Word of God dwells in you richly? (Colossians 3:16). If it is dwelling in you, then you have the foundation for spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Do you notice that was the difference between Jesus and the scribes? Now the scribes were the authority on the Bible. They were the people who had committed the Bible to memory. They knew everything that was in the Bible, which was the Old Testament. And if anybody wanted to have an explanation of any part of the Old Testament, they went to the scribes, because the scribe was supposed to know all about it. Now when Jesus spoke to the multitudes, the verdict upon His teaching was this? "He talked as One having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matthew 7:29). And yet, the people thought the scribes were the authority. But they said of Jesus, "He taught as One having authority and not as the scribes." What was the difference between Jesus and the scribes? He had the spiritual understanding of the Scripture. And they only had the letter of the Scripture. The apostle says, "The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life" (2 Corinthians 3:6).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 17)

Jesus Gives Us Authority

"Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you" (Luke 10:19)

The word "power" is repeated twice in today's Scripture, but it has two different meanings. The first "power" is from the Greek word "exousia" and it has the meaning of authority. The second "power" is from the Greek word "dunamis." We get the English word for "dynamite" from this word.

Jesus gives us authority over the force of the enemy. We do not defeat the devil with strength; we defeat him with authority. Is satan wiser than you? Yes, with a perverted wisdom. Is he stronger than you? Yes, with a malevolent strength. Is satan more powerful than you? Yes, but you can stop him when you stand against him with the authority God has given you. And he knows that.

When you begin to fight your battles, not in your strength, but in God's strength, they you are going to see satan begin to cower before you.

Is there someone in your life who is having a difficult time overcoming a certain area of sin? Pray for them, and then ask God for an opportunity to share what you've learned from today's devotion.

~Adrian Rogers~

"But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him" (John 4:23)

The Father seeks to commune with you in worship. He is not looking for your money, your glory, or your strength. He is looking for your heart.

C. S. Lewis said, "It is in the process of being worshiped that God communicates His presence to men." If you are not worshiping God, but you are serving Him (or so you think), you are making a big mistake.

To pray without worship is mockery. To sing without worship is sounding brass. To work without worship is an insult to God. To teach without worship is ignorance. To serve without worship is hypocrisy. To witness without worship is perjury. God wants you worship.

Begin the next seven days by reading Psalm 95 through 101. The first day, read Psalm 95 and finish with Psalm 101 on the seventh day.

~Adrian Rogers~

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Is Christianity A Legal System? # 15

The matter Which is of Supreme Importance Is: "Christ Fully-Formed In You"

We come to this last morning [this was given at a conference] of our consideration as to the true nature of the dispensation which came in with the Lord Jesus. We have this morning therefore to gather up all that we have been saying into one matter. We have covered a lot of ground, but it all amounts to one issue. It is not a matter of one system over against another. That is, it is not a question of Judaism over against Christianity. It is not a question of legalism over against spirituality. It is not a question of the Old Testament over against the New Testament. And it is not a question of Paul over against his enemies. All these things have come into our consideration, but they are not the special issue. The great battle which began with the coming of the Lord Jesus, and for which the Apostle Paul was a chosen instrument, is not the battle for a special interpretation of Scripture. It is not the battle for a particular form of doctrine. And it is not the battle for a particular form of worship. It is a much bigger battle than all those things.

And so we have this whole letter to the Galatians which touches all these things gathered into one word. The whole letter, and all that has to do with it is gathered into one verse. It is, so far as words are concerned, a very short verse. But you see that it is a very big verse. It is in chapter four, verse nineteen, "My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you." One slight alteration or correction ought to be made in the translation. The word "formed" ought to be translated "fully formed". So that the verse should read, "My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be fully formed in you."

So you will see that this whole battle with all its aspects is gathered into this matter of Christ being fully formed. It is nothing other, nothing less, and nothing more, than the question of the formation of Christ in fullness, the formation of Christ fully in individual believers, and the formation of Christ fully in the Church. So you see, that brings the whole matter down unto one question. Christ is the test of every man and of everything. Christ is the test of the Church and the churches. Christ is the test of every teaching.

Whether a thing is right or whether it is wrong is decided on this one point. How much of Christ is there in it? How much of the Spirit of Christ do you find in it? You can reduce all your questions and all your problems to that one thing. It is always a matter of how much of the Spirit of Christ do I find either in this people or in this teaching or in these tings? I do want you to take special notice of that, because it is the deciding factor. It was the deciding factor in the churches of Galatia.

In this verse which we have read, the apostle does NOT say that I am travailing for one system over against another. He does NOT say I am travailing for one teaching against another. He does NOT say I am travailing for one form of worship against another. He does NOT say I am travailing for one meaning of the Church and the churches against another. He does NOT say I am travailing for Christianity against Judaism. He does NOT say I am travailing for spirituality against legalism. Paul did NOT say any of these things or all of those things put together. It was a very much greater concern than all those things. He says, "I am again in travail until Christ be fully formed in you" (Galatians 4:19). You remember that on more than one occasion we pointed out that the name,  "Christ" occurs forty-three times in this short letter. Therefore, that is the key to everything. We have just been singing a hymn which we sing very often here, "Christ only Christ". And that was Paul's concern.

Now that brings us to the greatest thing that has ever been revealed by God to man. And it is centered in one word in this letter. Six times the word, "SON" or "sons" occurs, and that which is meant by sonship is the greatest thing that God has ever revealed to man. Paul began with that. In chapter one, he laid the foundation for the whole letter. And he says, "It pleased God to reveal His Son in me." That was the thing that made the great change in him as in the dispensation. 

The revelation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the foundation of everything. So Paul laid the foundation by saying, "God revealed His Son in me." Presently in the letter he will say this, "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts" (Galatians 4:6). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of sonship in the believer. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Son of God. And so the Holy Spirit coming within constitutes the believer a son of God potentially.

Now do you notice the word that the apostle uses, "My little children." If you were able to read the Greek, you would notice something about that. The apostle does not say, my great son. He does not even say, my sons. He says, "My little children." And there are two different Greek words used. Children means someone or something that is born, but has NOT grown up; something that is still very small and immature. Another Greek word is used for son, and it relates to those who have grown up. Now you can see how this whole letter turns upon that difference. He says, "O foolish Galatians!" He meant you are like silly little children. You have been born but you have not grown up. You have made the beginning but the full formation of Christ has been arrested. And so he says, 'The Holy Spirit is given to us with the intention of bringing about the full formation of sons.

So in this letter, the apostle contrasts the old dispensation with the new on this one point. He says that in the old dispensation Israel was just a nation of little children. And the mark of little children is this: First of all you have to teach them by illustrations and by pictures and by models. And you have to teach them by everything outside of themselves. You teach them by presenting things to them as objects. And you teach little children by saying, now you must do this and you must not do that. If you want to be a good boy, or good girl, you would do what I tell you.

That is how you treat a little child. The difference between a little child and a grown up person is just the opposite. A grown up son does not always need to be told what he ought to do. A truly grown up son is not one to whom his father has to say, 'You must do this, and you must not do that.' A truly grown up son knows inside himself what he ought to do, and what he ought not to do. It does not have to be presented to him in pictures and illustrations.  In himself he knows. A son who is really a true son knows in himself what his father would like and what his father would not like. The father does not have to keep on day after say saying, "look my boy, this is what I want.' A true son knows in his own heart what his father would have.

It is intuition, not command, and that is the difference. And the difference, therefore, between the old dispensation and the new is one of spiritual intelligence. Because that is the difference between a child and a son. The child does not have the intelligence in himself. The intelligence is outside of himself in other people. But a grown up man has the intelligence in himself. And that is the big contrast that Paul is making in this letter. He says to thee Galatians, 'My little children, you are lacking in intelligence. The true mark of maturity, which is spiritual intelligence, is not found in you yet.'

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16)

The Price of Prayerlessness

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded" (James 4:8)

Have you ever considered the fact that each one of us pays a price when we allow our prayer lives to fall by the wayside? Of course that is not a monetary price, instead, it is a spiritual price.

When we fail to make prayer a priority - essentially forfeiting our time alone with God - we will begin to feel an emptiness in our lives, accompanied by a strange sense of unrest and uneasiness. In contrast, when our prayer lives are active, the weight of these burdens will be lifted from our shoulders by the mighty hand of the almighty God.

With this in mind, why would anyone choose to cease praying? The sad truth is that many of us have become so accustomed to weariness and hardship that we feel lost or uncomfortable without it. Yet, if we continue to nurture this style of living, we will begin to rely upon ourselves instead of upon God, thereby making ourselves vulnerable and at risk for disaster.

The clear solution, then, to avoid these difficulties is to place high priority upon our fellowship and communication with God. After all, we must be in contact with our heavenly Father in order to hear His voice and to understand and follow His will for our lives.

If you have allowed distance to come between you and your heavenly Father, confess this to Him today. When you renew your prayer life - the most important piece o your Christian walk - you will once again be able to experience God's blessings and His best for your life.

Father, I have deliberately distanced myself from You by withdrawing from my prayer time. I am sorry. I surrender this burden of walking alone and seek again Your face. Amen

~Charles Stanley~

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Is Christianity A Legal System? # 14

The Holy Spirit Came Especially for the Purpose of Creating a Spiritual Order of Things

But note this, dear friends, the Christianity with which we are familiar is very largely constituted on the old dispensation. It would take another hour to show that in any fullness. But do you see how Christianity goes to work now. It begins by building religious buildings. They are called "churches", of course, a false name entirely. The Church is not a building made with hands. And then they set up a certain order in it. And then they appoint certain officers to do the work. When they got the building, and when they got the officers, the minister and all the others, and when they have got their order of service, then they ask the Lord if He will come into it. The organization comes first. The outward thing comes first. It all builds upon the principle of the soul. It is all a matter of reason and emotion and doing. That is Judaistic Christianity!

It is just the reverse with God's method. Where does God begin? God does NOT begin with churches even if they are companies of people. He certainly does NOT begin with buildings. And He does NOT begin with ritual, or with a system of things. And He does NOT begin by calling a congregation together. A congregation is NOT God's beginning. God begins by a work of the Holy Spirit in individual lives. It may just be one to begin with, and then another and then another. And if those two or three find themselves in one city, they are joined, not because they have accepted Christianity, but because they have the one Spirit in them. That is the beginning of the Church in that place.

And what is true of the beginning, has got to be true of everything afterwards. Man's hands must be kept off the things of the Spirit. Man must not try to form something that is of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit, Who began this, is perfectly capable of forming what He wants. Hence our responsibility is to be led by the Spirit, to always seek the guidance of the Spirit. And until we are sure that the Holy Spirit is really guiding us, we keep our hands off! We will do nothing about it. This thing must be of the Spirit. This is the order of this dispensation.

Do you see the difference between the beginning and what we have today? In the first thirty years of Christianity, the Gospel spread all over the world that then was. There were churches in almost every country of the world. Thousands and thousands were joined to the Lord. It was a mighty thing. It only took thirty years to do that. We have had two thousand years since then. We have put multitudes of missionaries into the world. We have spent millions of dollars upon this. We have worked tremendously. In two thousand years, there is NOTHING to compare with those thirty years!

Why has it not continued? Because they brought it all back again unto a soul basis (a worldly basis) and not unto a spiritual basis. When things are out of the hands of men, and in the hands of the Holy Spirit things happen. My great concern is that there should be something like that here. That is what I have come to say to you. If things are wholly of the Spirit, you will see something happen, the enemy will be stirred up against it. And that is always a good sign. If the devil feels that there is something that he has got to fight, he knows that means something against his system.

So I must stop now. I have not finished this part yet, we have another day, but do not leave it till tomorrow. This is the word for us today. If I were to go away tomorrow, and never see you again on this earth, I feel that I have spoken to you the most vital word that could be spoken. This represents the complete change from the old to the new, from the natural to the spiritual in the things of God, from the things which are of men to the things which are of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 15 - "The Matter Which Is Of Supreme Importance Is: "Christ Fully-Formed In You")

Can A Saint Falsely Accuse God?

"All the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen ..." (2 Corinthians 1:20)

Jesus' parable of the talents recorded in Matthew 25:14-30 was a warning that it is possible for us to misjudge our capacities. This parable has nothing to do with natural gifts and abilities, but relates to the gift of the Holy Spirit as He was first given at Pentecost. We must never measure our spiritual capacity on the basis of our education or our intellect; our capacity in spiritual things is measured on the basis of the promises of God. If we get less than God wants us to have, we will falsely accuse Him as the servant falsely accused his master when he said, "You expect more of me than you gave me the power to do. You demand too much of me, and I cannot stand true to you here where you have placed me." When it is a question of God's Almighty Spirit, never say, "I can't." Never allow the limitation of your own natural ability to enter into the matter. If we have received the Holy Spirit, God expects the work of the Holy Spirit to be exhibited in us.

The servant justified himself, while condemning his Lord on every point, as if to say, "Your demand on me is way out of proportion to what you gave to me." Have we been falsely accusing God by daring to worry after He has said, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you"? (Matthew 6:33). Worrying means exactly what this servant implied - "I know your intent is to leave me unprotected and vulnerable." A person who is lazy in the natural realm is always critical, saying, "I haven't had a decent chance," and someone who is lazy in the spiritual realm is critical of God. Lazy people always strike out at others in an independent way.

Never forget that our capacity and capability in spiritual matters is measured by, and based on, the promises of God. Is God able to fulfill His promises? Our answer depends on whether or not we have received the Holy Spirit.

~Oswald Chambers~

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Is Christianity a Legal System? # 13

The Holy Spirit Came Especially for the Purpose of Creating a Spiritual Order of Things

What shall we say about spiritual smelling? Do you know what spiritual smelling is? Well, you have only got to go into some atmospheres, no one has to say anything to you, but you sense that something is wrong; you sense that it is not life here, it is death. This is not the Lord, this is man. This is not the Spirit, this is the flesh. You sense this with your spiritual faculty of smell. You may meet another person. You do not have to speak, or they do not have to speak, but you know that there is suspicion in that person. There is prejudice in that person. There is a closed heart in that person. They are not open to you, they are tying to deceive you, they are holding something back from you. How do you know it? You smell it. It is a spiritual sense. But it is a very important faculty. By this faculty we sense  what is of the Lord and what is not of the Lord. You see, the incense in the old dispensation was a sweet fragrance. It was something very pleasant. The corresponding spiritual faculty of smell is: this is very pleasant. This is something very pleasing to the Lord. This is an atmosphere of life.

Therefore, it is a guiding principle. When naturally you go into a place where there is a bad smell, you hold your nose and you say, let me out of this. This is unhealthy. Your nose may save your life from a fever. Your nose may save your life from one of the bad diseases. And that is very true in the spiritual life. If this spiritual sense of smell, or this faculty for spiritually discerning were really keen and alive, we would know what is life and what is death. We would know what is spiritually healthy and what is spiritually unhealthy. I am not going to follow this further. I am just saying that when we are born again, we are given a new set of spiritual faculties. And just as the physical faculties governed in the old dispensation, it is the spiritual faculties which are to govern in the new dispensation.

If you will read the First Letter to the Corinthians, you will see that that letter is built upon this very difference. The Corinthians Christians were living on the basis of natural things, and they were not living on the basis of spiritual discernment. So Paul said to them, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God." The natural man cannot receive those things, because those things are only spiritually discerned. And then he adds, "He that is spiritual discerneth all things, yet he himself is discerned by no man." He is the mystery of the world. A spiritual  man and woman is a mystery to the world, they just do not understand. Paul illustrates it in this way, "What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?" If you and I are going to understand one another as human beings, we have got to be human beings and have human nature. Other orders of creation do not understand the human order. Men understand one another simply because they are men. Now Paul says in the same way, "No one understandeth the things of God except the Spirit of God that is in him."

Now I must get to perhaps the most difficult part of it all. If you will look at the Letter to the Hebrews, we will come to it. Chapter four and verse twelve begins in this way, "For the Word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart". We can leave the second half of the verse for the present, and just note this, "The Word of God is quick and powerful, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit." You notice how that statement begins. It begins with a conjunction. It relates to something. It connects with what the writer has just been saying. What has he been saying? He has been speaking about Israel in the wilderness, and Israel's failure to enter into the promised land. And it says, "If Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another rest." He is saying that Israel after the flesh failed to enter into God's rest. They failed to enter into that for which God had brought them out of Egypt. That whole generation with the exception of two men died in the wilderness. And they never did come into the purpose of God in their redemption. Now that is the statement, that is the background, and then you have this conjunction. For, or because, the Word of God is living and powerful, piercing to dividing asunder of soul and spirit. What does that mean? The Old Israel lived entirely upon the basis of the natural soul. They lived entirely upon the basis of these natural senses. Everything for them was a matter of what they could see and handle down here on this earth. Theirs was an entirely soul life. And the writer says, because of that they failed to enter in.

The Word of God cuts clear in between the soul and the spirit. The new dispensation and the new people who are going to enter into all the purpose of God must be a spiritual people, not a soulish people. They must be constituted on the basis of what is spiritual and NOT what is natural. This whole letter to the Hebrews is built upon the difference between the old and the new. It takes a lot of space to show how the old fails. The old law fails, the old priesthood fails, the old sacrifices fail, the old tabernacle fails,the old temple fails. It was complete failure, because it was built upon natural ground. The ground of the soul.

Now the new is not going to fail, the letter brings in the new order. A High Priest is in Heaven. The One Sacrifice has been offered forever, and so on. It is all a spiritual order. And the Word of God divides between those two. When you get to the end of that letter to the Hebrews, to chapter twelve, the writer is saying this, "We have had fathers after the flesh, they chastened us as it seemed right to them. And we gave them reverence." I wonder if that is true of all of us. When our fathers after the flesh gave us a good thrashing, did we revere them? We did not say, thank you, we felt very bad about our fathers after the flesh. When we grew up to be men, we said, "Father was right, that chastening was the best thing for us."

However, the apostle says, "We have fathers after the flesh, who chastened us as they thought was right and good. And we gave them reverence. Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of our spirits?" The natural is down on that level. The spiritual is so much higher, the Father of our spirits! Is that what happens when we are born again? Not our souls born again, but our spirits. That innermost part of our being which died with Adam, was separated from God in Adam's sin. So that by nature all the children of Adm are dead in that spiritual sense. Our spirits died with Adam.

In Christ they are made alive again. The new birth is not the new birth of our body. It is not the new birth of our soul, because we have got a soul. It is the new birth of our spirits. And God is the Father of our spirits! That is why I pointed out in the Letter to the Galatians - which marks the great divide - the word Spirit occurs twelve times. The Father of our spirits, then we are not the children of Abraham, we are children of God, and that is a very big difference. You see, this is what Paul is arguing in the Letter to the Galatians. He is saying to these Galatians, "Oh! foolish Galatians, how foolish you are! You began in the Spirit, and now you are going back to the flesh, you came out of the old dispensation and out of the old order, you came into the new life of the Spirit, and now you are going back, you are going to forfeit your rest, the very purpose of your redemption. Oh! foolish Galatians, how foolish a thing it is to live in the old dispensation!"

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 14)

Attitude of Worship: Everywhere, all the Time

"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him" (Colossians 3:17)

I have to be faithful to what I know to be true, so I must tell you that if you will not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him on one day a week!

There is no such thing in heaven as Sunday worship - unless it is accompanied by Monday worship an Tuesday worship and right on through the rest of the week.

Too many of us try to discharge our obligations to God Almighty in one day - usually one trip to church Sometimes, nobly, we make it two trips to church, but it is all on the same day when we have nothing else to do - and that is supposed to be worship!

I do not say that you must be at church all of the time - how could you be? I am saying that you can worship God at your desk, on the train, or driving in traffic. You can worship God in school, on the basketball court. You can worship God in whatever is legitimate and right and good.

Surely, we can go to church and worship on one day, but it is not true worship unless it is followed by continuing worship in the day that follow. We cannot pray toward the east and walk toward the west and hope for harmony in our beings! You can name the name of Jesus a thousand times, but if you will not follow the nature of Jesus, the name of Jesus will not mean anything to you!

See to it that there is not an hour or a place or an act or a location that is not consecrated and given over to God. You will be worshiping Him - and He will accept it!

~A. W. Tozer~

Monday, October 22, 2012

Is Christianity A Legal System? # 12

The Holy Spirit Came Especially for the Purpose of Creating a Spiritual Order of Things

We pass over to see the difference in the new spiritual order. What is the essential nature of that which has come in with Jesus Christ? It is a spiritual order. It is no longer a matter of natural senses. This whole new order begins at another point. Now we are keeping very close to the Letter to the Galatians. I suppose it would not be fair if I were to ask you how many have read the Letter to the Galatians right through this week. One of the advantages of knowing the Word of God is that you are able to see what is right. There are many other advantages. But in this Letter to the Galatians, the word "Spirit" occurs twelve times, and that is very largely the key to the letter. It is no longer after the flesh, it is now after the Spirit. This is essentially a spiritual dispensation that has come in.

You will remember our message on the words of the Lord Jesus to the woman of Samaria. She had said, 'Men ought to worship in this mountain, and you Jews said, men ought to worship in Jerusalem.' "Jesus said, "Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father ... God is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.' " That is the nature of what has come in with Jesus Christ. We know from the Word of God, and I trust from our own experience, that men are not born of the flesh in relation to God: But they are born of the Spirit. Not of a man but of the Spirit, that which is born of the Spirit, said Jesus, "is SPIRIT."

In the Letter to the Hebrews, chapter twelve, the writer speaks of the Father of our spirits. He is NOT the Father of our bodies. He is NOT the Father of our natural souls. He is the Father of our spirits. We are going to come back to that later on. But what is it that happens when we are born of the Spirit? What really is the nature of the new birth? This is, of course, the very meaning of the advent of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came especially for the purpose of creating a spiritual order of things. And He begins with the individual. The word to each individual is, "You must be born again," and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. What then happens when we are born of the Spirit? When we are truly born of the Spirit, we receive a new set of spiritual senses. They correspond in purpose to the old senses. But they are spiritual and NOT physical.

We, by the Holy Spirit, receive a new faculty of sight. You know how much there is in the New Testament about having our eyes opened. Jesus pointed to this principle by opening the eyes of the blind. He was illustrating the great spiritual truth that in the new creation, we get a new faculty of sight. And every truly born again child of God ought to be able to say, "Whereas I was blind, now I see." The truth about a child of God is that their first thing is, "Now I see." They have received the faculty of spiritual sight. It goes by different names in the New Testament. Sometimes it is called spiritual perception. But whatever the name is, it means the same thing. I now see what I was never able to see before as to the true meaning of Divine things. I was  born blind, but the Holy Spirit has performed the great miracle of giving me new eyes.

This spiritual faculty of sight has introduced us to a new world altogether, not the material world, but the spiritual world. Listen to what the Apostle Paul says about this, he says, "Things which eye did not see, things which ear did not hear, things which entered not into the heart of man, these things God has revealed to us by His Spirit."

The first faculty of new birth is spiritual sight. Can you see the difference between the old dispensation and the new? You see, Israel had all these things which they could see with their natural eyes. They could see the priests and the sacrifices. They could see the feasts. But they were totally blind to the meaning of those things. And because they were blind to the meaning, they crucified the One Who fulfilled them all. With all their power of natural sight, they were spiritually blind. So the first work of the Holy Spirit in new birth is to give us new spiritual eyes.

Not only is this true of seeing, they heard everything with their natural ears; but they were quite deaf to the Voice of God. It did not go any further than the drums of their ears. Now in the new order of the Spirit, we are given a new faculty of hearing. We Christians have a way of saying, "The Lord has spoken to me." We do not mean that we have heard something with our natural ears. We know what we mean, "The Lord has spoken to me.  I have heard the Lord speaking in my heart;"  that means we have received a new faculty. And this new dispensation is built upon this principle. When Jesus spoke His parables, He finished by saying this, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 11:15). And you know that was His Own Word to the seven churches in Asia. After He had spoken to those seven churches, He repeated seven times, "He that hath an ear, let him hear with the Spirit saith' (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).

But you must remember that speaking to the churches was not with an audible voice. Those churches did not hear a voice from heaven with their natural ears. It was what "The Spirit saith to the churches." And spiritual speaking is spiritual. It is NOT physical. We could illustrate this in many ways. We speak of spirit to spirit speaking. We meet some other child of God, and we do not have to say much with our lips, but we know that is a child of God. Their spirit speaks to our spirit. We have a spiritual language. We know that we belong to the same family. We can discern the Spirit in one another. We have got this new faculty of spiritual hearing. It is not outward hearing, but it is inward hearing. And what is true of seeing and of hearing is true of all the other senses.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13)