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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way # 5

The Crisis as to the Earthly and the Heavenly

Numbers 13:1-3, 23, 27-33; 14:1-3

We have been considering the fact that and nature of the heavenly way. The Bible begins with the creation of the heavens and the government of the heavens. It ends with the emergence from heaven of that which has been formed by heaven, according to heavenly principles: the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, fulfilling this word which we have read in Hebrews 11:16 - "God hath prepared for them a city".

The Clash Between the Earthly and the Heavenly

We remind ourselves here that a characteristic of the Old Testament at every stage is the clash and contrast of two worlds, of two orders: the heavenly and the earthly. All the way through the Old Testament we have this element - of heaven challenging this world, and apprehending, in this world, that which it will take out and constitute according to its own, heavenly, order and nature. It does not require a very profound knowledge of the Old Testament to confirm that. Your minds run quickly over its story and  you recognize that you are in the presence of a clash all the time, a conflict. It is this conflict between heaven and earth. Heaven is not satisfied with this world - very much to the contrary. Heaven is against what is here in this world; but heaven is seeking to take what it can out of this world to reconstitute according to its own standards: and so, while you find the opposition of heaven, the challenge of heaven, you at the same time find heaven, right from the beginning, as it were laying hold of people - a line of individuals and a nation - in order to detach them from the world, even while here in it, and by a deep process to make them a completely different type and kind of people from everyone else; apprehending them, in other words, for heavenly purposes.

The Old Testament men were pioneers of the heavenly way. We have already seen a little of what that involves, but it is upon that particular point that we want to focus all our emphasis just now. It is not only that there is a heavenly way which is different - we know that, we know it in our hearts if we have been born from above, we are learning as we go on how different the heavenly way is from every other way - but the focal point at this time is this: that there is such a thing as pioneering that heavenly way, being called into a relationship with heaven in order to cleave a way, to take possession, to make it possible for God's full meaning to be understood, interpreted; a ministry to others who shall follow on. We said earlier that there is a sense in which everyone born from above is a pioneer, because for every such one the way is a new way, which they and they alone can follow: no one can do it for them; it is a new way for everyone. Our present occupation is with the vocational aspect of this.

There is no doubt about it that the majority of the Lord's children know little, very little, about the heavenly way. Organized Christianity has become very largely an earthly thing, with earthly standards and conceptions and resources: therefore it has become spiritually very limited. In comparison with the heavens, this world is a very, very small thing. I mean that spiritually as well as illustratively. The kingdom of the heavens is a vast thing, far greater than any conception of man. God's thoughts are as the heavens are high above the earth in range, outbounding all earthly conceptions, and not until we get well away from this earth do we realize on the one hand how miserably small we are and on the other hand in what a very much greater realm it is possible to move than that in which we do move - I mean spiritually. The great, great need of this time is that the people of God, the Church of God, should come into its true heavenly position, with its heavenly vision and vocation.

Now there is a great deal in that statement, but it all means that someone, some people, have got to pioneer the way for the Church back again to the realm where it once was at the beginning, the realm which it has lost in succumbing to that persistent tendency earthward. I say, a pioneering instrument is needed, and the way is a costly way.

Now let me repeat, the Old Testament men were pioneers of the heavenly way. That is what is explicitly states by the writer in this letter to the Hebrews, particularly in the passage which we have read. Heaven has its own standard and basis, and earth cannot provide that. One of the great key-words of the Old Testament is "sanctify", and sanctify means to separate, make holy, consecrate, set apart, and in the main that is a spiritual and inward thing, dividing between heaven and earth. God has divided those two things, put them apart, and there is to be this putting apart in a spiritual way, inwardly, also. So you find that these men of the Old Testament were men who were set apart in this sense: something was done right at the very center of their being which separated them from this world and committed them to a course which was altogether different from and contrary to the course of this world; and if, under pressure, under strain, by deception inadvertently, consciously or unconsciously, they touched this earth in their inner being that they were out of the way, and the only thing was somehow to get back. You see that again and again. Heaven witnessed against their position; they were in trouble. Not until they got back could they go on. They were being ruled by another standard, but oh, how different was that standard, and how difficult to understand!

Consider Cain and Abel. From this world's standpoint, Cain's was a very worthy procedure. Looked at from the standpoint of the religious man of this world, it is difficult to see what was wrong with Cain, or how much more right was Abel, or how absolutely right and absolutely wrong these two were. Yet how utterly right Abel was is shown by the issue. One got through to heaven. That is the fact. He got through to God and he got through to heaven, and the other one had a closed heaven and a rejecting God.

You say, What is the standard? Just the difference between heaven and earth, that is all. Heaven's basis and standard of access is altogether different from earth's - even religious earth's. The religious man may have the same God, worship the same God, bring his offering to the same God, and yet get no way to heaven, no way at all on the heavenly road. Heaven has its own basis and standards and provision, and earth can neither find nor provide that. It is different. That is the fact that we are up against when it is a case of getting to heaven. I am not talking about geographical location, but about getting through to God, finding an open way with heaven. You can only come on heaven's own provision, and that will entirely and utterly upset all your own natural calculations. You have to find something that nature cannot provide. If you, like Cain, reason this thing out according to religious reason, and come on that ground, you do not get anywhere. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness born to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect of his gifts" (Hebrews 11:4). Heaven attested.

I am not dealing with all the nature and detail of these things. I am pointing out a fact - that heaven's standards and judgments are altogether different, and they are going to throw us completely into confusion when we try to come, even in a religious way, into heaven. Nicodemus may be the most perfect representation of the religious system, but he cannot get anywhere where heaven is concerned. Heaven makes its own provision for access, and you have to have heaven's provision. You may ask a thousand Why's. There is the fact.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6 -"Pioneers are Leaders")

Falling into Crisis

In 1 Kings we have the story of the prophet Elijah.  In chapter 18, we see a great victory over the priests of Baal, an incredible victory that demonstrated the power of the one true God for all to see.

In the next chapter, we see Elijah on the run (1 Kings 19:1-3),

And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword.  Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time."  And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.

How could Elijah, a prophet of God who had been used in such a powerful way, now be on the run?  (He eventually even became suicidal.)  While there are a number of things we could look at, I want to give you one truth today to consider.

After any great spiritual victory, it is always wise to keep your armor on.  Over and over, there are examples of tremendous trials and temptations after great victories.

King David, after God had supernaturally spoken to him, fell morally, and committed adultery with Bathsheba.  Or there is Samson who, after God used him to bring great deliverance, got messed up with Delilah.  Then there is Jesus who, after being with the Father on the mount of transfiguration, came to the bottom of the mountain and was met by a demon-possessed boy. 
Sometimes we are the most vulnerable after the highest and brightest times we have with God.  So today, let me encourage you to always keep your armor on (see Ephesians 6:11).

~Bayless Conley~

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way # 4

Pioneering Fraught with Cost and Conflict

Hebrews 11:13-16

You are up against the trend of things religiously. See again this letter to the Hebrews. The trend was backward and downward to the earth, to make of Christianity an earthly religious system, with all its externalities, its forms, its rites, its ritual, its vestments; something here to be seen and to answer to the senses. It was a great pull on these Christians; it made a great appeal to their souls, to their natures, and the letter is written to say, 'Let us leave these things and go on.' We are pilgrims, we are strangers, it is the heavenly that matters - you recall that great paragraph about our coming to the heavenly Jerusalem (chapter 12:18-24).

But it is a costly and a suffering thing to come up against the religious system that has 'settled down here.'  It is, I sometimes feel, far more costly than coming up against the naked world itself. The religious system can be more ruthless and cruel and bitter; it can be actuated by all those mean things, contemptible things, prejudices and suspicions, that you will not even find in decent people in the world It is costly to go on to the heavenlies, it is painful; but it is the way of the pioneer, and it has to be settled that that is how it is. The phrase in this letter is, "Let us therefore go forth unto him without the camp" (Hebrews 13:13) - and I leave you to decide what is the camp referred to there; it is not the world. "Unto him without the camp" means ostracism, suspicion.

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar" - i that not the vision of the pioneer - always seeing and greeting from afar; hailing the day, though it might be beyond this life's little day; greeting the day of realization? - "and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own. And if indeed they had been mindful of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed of them" - God is not ashamed of the people who are on the pilgrimage with Himself to His end; He calls them His own and He is "called their God" - and "he hath prepared for them a city" (Hebrews 10:13-16).

That is a marvelous summary, when you come to think about it. "These all" - what a comprehensive "all"! And covering them all, it says of them that they had seen something - and having seen they could never rest, to their last day and their last breath on this earth. They were still pilgrims, they could never rest, this was in them the call of the unseen. It is something that must come into us from heaven in order to get us to heaven. Have yo got it?

Well, as we shall see, that is the key to everything, it explains everything. It is the guarantee - oh, blessed be God for this, would that more of the Lord's people knew it in greater power! - it is the guarantee that all that is in us of longing and of craving and of quest, born of the Spirit of God, is going to be realized.

Are you hungry? Are you longing? Are you dissatisfied? That is itself a prophecy of more to come. Are you contented? Have you settled down? Is your vision short and narrow? Can you just go on here? Can you accept things as they are? Very well, you will be left to it, you will not get very far. God calls Himself the God of those who are pilgrims. He is the God of pilgrims, and, divesting ourselves of all the mentality of a literal pilgrimage - if you like, of a literal heaven, for I do not know where heaven is, but I know that there is a heavenly order of things and that I am being dealt with in relation thereto every day of my life - let us leave out the literal side, and see the spiritual, which is so real; and let us ask the Lord to put this spirit of pilgrimage in us mightily.

You will find as you go on that, whereas at one point in your spiritual life everything was so wonderful and so full that you felt you had reached the end of everything, there will come a time when that will be as nothing, and you look back upon it as mere infancy. Things that you were able to read then and feed upon: you say, 'How was I able to find anything in this at all?' Do not mistake me: there is nothing wrong with that, that is all right for people at that point - but you have gone on, you must have something more. We ought to be growing out of things all the time, going beyond. We ought to be people of the beyond. That is probably the meaning of the word 'Hebrew'. This letter is called the letter to the Hebrews, and it speaks about pilgrims and strangers, and if the word 'Hebrew" means a person from beyond, well, we are people from beyond, our gravitation is beyond. We are pilgrims here, pilgrims of the beyond.

May the Lord make this helpful, and on the one hand move us out of any lethargy or false contentedness, or undue longing to reach an end here, and, on the other, keep our eyes and our hearts with those who have pioneered before, seeing and greeting, and, if needs by, dying, in faith.

~ T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5 - "The Crisis as to the Earthly and the Heavenly")

How To Cry Out to God

The phone rings, and you answer. A sullen voice informs you of a tragedy. Your heart is so heavy that you feel as though you could die. What do you do?

Bad news, danger, and pain all cause us to look for help. As believers, we dwell with the almighty God, who is able to aid us. At those moments when we are sideswiped by life’s circumstances, we should cry out to Him.

In the Bible, crying out refers to speaking audibly with great emotion concerning an urgent need. God invites us to use this form of prayer to communicate that we desperately need His mercy.

It takes both faith and humility to share our heart’s concern aloud. Crying out, then, is a way for God’s children to express trust in the Lord’s ability and willingness to help. By calling upon Him with such urgency, wealso lay down our pride and any attitude of self-sufficiency.

The Word of God assures us that our Father hears our cries and responds. In Psalm 3:4, for example, David wrote, “I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered from His holy mountain.” When we call aloud for help in Jesus’ name, we invite His power into the situation. Remember that there is strength in just speaking His name.

When we cry out to God, He may remove the problem immediately, yet we often have to wait for His perfect timing. Harsh circumstances might even be allowed to remain for His good purposes. But we can always count on His comfort and presence, which enable us to live with joy and hope.

~Charles Stanley~

Monday, July 29, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way # 3

Hebrews 11:13-16

The Heavenly Realm Unknown to Us by Nature

That other realm, the consciousness of which has come into our hearts, the gravitation toward which has commenced in our spirits, is an entirely unknown world to us by nature. To nature it is another realm altogether different, unfamiliar, unexplored. It does not matter how many have gone on before us, it does not matter how many there are who have started on this way and gone a long way in it: for every individual it is an altogether new world and it can only be known by experience. We may derive values from the experience of others, and thank God for all those values, but with all their experiences they cannot get us one step further on that way. For us it is new, utterly new, and strange. We have to learn everything about i from the beginning.

That makes pioneering - what pioneering always is - a lonely way. No one can hand down to us a heritage. We have to obtain our own in that world, strange and unknown as it is; demanding basically a new constitution according to that world, with capacities that are not possessed by nature. No man searching can find out God (Job 11:7); we have not the capacity. It must be born in us from heaven. We have got to make the discovery for ourselves of everything. We have to discover God for ourselves, in every detail of His willing relationship to the human heart.

Light may come through testimony, light may come through the Scriptures, help may come through counsel, inspiration may come to us from those who have ploughed through and gone ahead, but in the last analysis we have got to possess our own spiritual plot in the heavenly country, subdue it, cultivate it and exploit it. You know that is true; that you are going that way in the spiritual life. You are having to find out for yourself. Oh, how we long for somebody to e able to pick us up and put us through on the good of their experience! The Lord never allows that. If really and truly we are on the heavenly road - if we have not just started and sat down or given up: if we are moving on the heavenly road, we are all pioneers. There will be values in which others will come into because we have pioneered, but there is a sense in which every one, no matter how far behind, has got to make discoveries for himself, and it is best so. Ultimately, there is nothing second-hand in the spiritual life.

Pioneering Fraught with Cost and Conflict

So we come to the third feature of this pioneering. All pioneering is fraught with great cost and suffering, and, this being a spiritual course or way, the cost of this pioneering is mainly inward.

Perplexity; yes, perplexity. I have been reading a translation of a message by our brother Watchman Nee. In it he says, in effect, 'There was a time when I had such a high idea of the Christian life that I thought for a Christian to be perplexed was all wrong; a Christian to be cast down - that is all wrong; a Christian to despair - that must be all wrong; what kind of Christian is that? And when I read Paul saying he was perplexed and in distress and in despair it constituted areal problem for me, in the light of what I had taught myself a Christian ought to be; but I had to see there was nothing wrong with it, after all.' Yes: a Christian, and such a Christian as the Apostle Paul, perplexed, and cast down, and in despair. That is the way of pioneers.

Perplexed. What does perplexity imply? It implies a need for capacity or comprehension in some realm in which at present there is none. There is a realm that is beyond you. It does not mean that you will always be perplexed in the same measure over the same thing. You will grow out of your perplexity on this matter, and you will understand; but there will be to the end perplexity, in some measure, simply because heaven is bigger than this world, vaster than this natural life, and we have to grow and grow. Perplexity is the lot of pioneers.

Weakness. Brother Nee asks, 'A Christian in weakness and confessing to being weak? What kind of Christian is that?' Paul speaks much about weakness, and about his own weakness - meaning, of course, that there is another kind of strength which is not our own, which has to be discovered; something that we do not know naturally. It is the way of pioneers: to come to wisdom which is beyond us and which for the time being means perplexity; to a strength which is beyond us and which for the time being means weakness in ourselves. We are learning, that is all. It is the way of the pioneer, but it is costly. The cost is inward, like that, in so many ways.

But while it is inward, it is also outward. This letter to the Hebrews is just full of these two aspects of the pilgrimage. "These all ... confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Heb. 11:13). It was a spiritual journey, a transition from the earthly to the heavenly, that the Apostle was writing about. There was an inward aspect. But there was the outward aspect for them, and it is the same for us. The whole trend of nature, if left to itself, is downward. Leave things to themselves, and down they go, in all nature. Is that not true? A beautiful garden will become a wild desolation, a riot and a chaos, in no time, if you take the upward-ordering hand from it. And that is true of us in a spiritual way - gravitation earthward, always wanting to settle down, always wanting to end the conflict and the fight, always wanting to get out of the atmosphere of stress in the spiritual life. The whole history of the Church is one long story of this tendency to settle down on this earth and to become conformed to this world, to find acceptance and popularity here and to eliminate the element of conflict and of pilgrimage. That is the trend and the tendency of everything. Therefore outwardly, as well as inwardly, the pioneering is a costly thing.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4)

No Place for Pride

 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world.

Some people always have to get the most attention, always have to be the star, always have to be better than everyone else.

But the Bible says, "Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy" (Romans 13:13, emphasis added).

"Strife" refers to persistent contention, bickering, petty disagreement, and enmity. This reflects a spirit of antagonistic competitiveness that fights to have its own way, regardless of the cost to itself or others. It is really the desire to prevail over other people. This is the person who wants the highest prestige, the greatest prominence, and the most recognition. This is someone who must be the top dog.

The word "envy" refers to someone who can't stand being surpassed and begrudges others success and position. They are pretty happy with the way things are going until someone else gets something they want. It has been said that envy shoots at another and wounds itself. In the end, the only one who gets hurt is you. The person you envy probably doesn't even know (and probably could care less).

A crab fisherman was once asked why he didn't put a lid on the bucket that held his day's catch. He replied, "The moment one of them climbs out, the others reach up and pull it back down again."

We do the same thing, don't we? You come back down here with the rest of us! How dare you succeed? How dare you do well?

The apostle Paul warned, "But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!" (Galatians5:15).

As believers, our competition is with the world, the flesh, and the devil (see 1 John2:15–16), not with fellow Christians.

~Greg Laurie~

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way # 2

A Pilgrimage Related to Heaven

And what we find in the Old Testament is a pilgrimage, all the way through: a pilgrimage in relation to heaven. Let us step right back to the beginning. You see, the Divine intention in creation was that such a harmony should obtain between heaven and earth that God could be here in this world in pleasure, in happiness, in rest, just as much as He could be in His heaven. He made it for His pleasure, He made it for Himself, He made it that He might come and go in perfect satisfaction and rest and joy. The first picture is of God being pleased to come to the world which He had created. He made it, it was His work, and we are told that when He had made it He entered into His rest. His rest was found in being here in His creation.

Ah, but since the tragedy of the fall, heaven and earth have lost their harmony; they are now at variance. This world is in conflict with heaven. Everything here on this earth has been changed. So far as the world is concerned, God has no pleasure in being in it or coming to it. His presence here is in testimony, not in fullness - in testimony that this is His rightful place, in testimony to the fact that "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" (Psalm 24:1), in testimony that He made it for His own pleasure. But God is here only in testimony, in token. He must have that testimony, but He is not now here in fullness. In a very real sense and in a very large degree, God is outside of this world, and there is conflict between heaven and the world; and even while there is testimony here, that very testimony is here and not here. It is outside. The very vessel of the testimony of God's presence is something that does not belong here. Here is has no dwelling; here it has no city. It is 'in', but not 'of'. It is a stranger in this world. So it has been since the fall.

Now the whole history of Divinely apprehended instruments for that testimony, whether they be individual or whether they be corporate, is the history of spiritual pioneering in relation to heaven. Have you grasped that? Let me repeat it. The whole history of vessels Divinely chosen and apprehended for the testimony of God, whether they be individual or corporate, is the history of pioneers breaking a way, cleaving a way through, doing  something which was new so far as this world was concerned, breaking fresh ground, making fresh discoveries in relation to heaven; pioneers of a heavenly realm. How much history is gathered into a statement like that!

For Pilgrims the Center of Gravity is in Heaven

Let us look at one or two of the features of this pioneer vocation. First o all, those who are called from heaven, apprehended by heaven, to serve the heavenly purpose, find that their center of gravity has been inwardly and spiritually changed and transferred from this world to heaven. Inside there is a deep-seated  sense that we do not belong here, that this world is not our resting place, that this is not our home and this is not our center of gravity; we are not drawn to it inwardly. Within the spirit of the pioneer there is this sense of conflict with what is here, of being at variance with it and unable to accept it. I repeat: inwardly and spiritually, the center of gravity has been transferred from this world  to heaven. It is an inborn consciousness, and it is the first thing in this heavenly calling, the first effect, the first result of our calling from on high. We are going to come back to that again later on.

And we can test by this. Of course, it is true of the simplest child of God. The first consciousness of one born, truly born, from above, is that the center of gravity has changed. Somehow or other, inwardly, we have moved from one world to another, Somehow or other, that to which we have hitherto been related by nature no longer holds us: it is no longer our world. Put it how we will, that is the consciousness, and unless it is so there is something very doubtful about any profession of faith in the Lord Jesus. And this inborn sense of a new center of gravity has to grow and grow and grow and make it more and more impossible for us to accept this world in any way. Again I say, it is a test of our spiritual progress, of our pilgrimage and our advance in it. But that is elementary after all.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - "The Heavenly Realm Unknown to us by Nature")

The Pit of Pride

The fifth and the final reason your life may be in the pits is pride.  We always need to check our hearts for pride.

In Isaiah 14:13-15 we read,

For you have said in your heart:  "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High."  Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.

This passage records God's rebuke of Satan when he was kicked out of heaven.  Satan was talking real big with pride oozing from every word that he said.

But God said, "That's what you think.  I'm going to throw you down to the pit."  And because of the pride in his heart, Satan will indeed be thrown down to a pit for all eternity (read Revelation 20!).

Pride is a dangerous thing.  In fact, so dangerous we are told in 1 Timothy 3:6 to not put a novice into a leadership role in the Church, lest being puffed up with pride, he or she falls into the same condemnation as the devil.

Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Pride is a weird thing.  It's like bad breath.  Everybody seems to know you have it before you do!  But pride will not only get you into a pit, it will destroy you.

I want to challenge you today.  If your life is in the pits, check to see if it is because of your pride.  If so, humble yourself, otherwise you are not going to get out!

~Bayless Conley~

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way

The Fact and Nature of the Heavenly Way

Hebrews 11:13-16

Some time before these messages were given, desiring to be quiet and away from many things, I went down into the country with my heart very much to the Lord for His word. In the early hours of the morning it seemed as though the heavens opened and everything became alive: it all open up wonderfully, and centered in one phrase - "Pioneers of the Heavenly Way." That really does sum up the verses that we have just read, and, while we are going to think and perhaps say much about the heavenly way, it is this matter of pioneering the heavenly way that will be our main concern. It is necessary, to begin with, for us to consider to some extent the heavenly way itself, but I repeat that it is this whole tremendous business of "pioneering" that way that I believe to be the main concern of the Lord, and hence of ourselves, at this time.

The Earth Related to Heaven

The Bible begins with the heavens: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" - not 'the earth and the heavens'; the heavens come first. The Bible closes with the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven (Revelation 21:2); and, just as heaven stands t the beginning and at the end, so everything in between, in the Word of God, from the beginning to the end, is from heaven and to heaven. As it is in the natural realm, so it is in the spiritual. The heavens govern the earth and the earthly, and the earthly has to answer to the heavenly. It is the heavens, it is heaven, that is ultimate: everything has to be in the light of heaven, to answer to heaven, to come out from heaven. That is the sum of the Word of Go, the whole content of the Scriptures.

This world, this earth, is not unrelated and alone. However important it may be in the Divine scheme of things - and certainly it is an object of great heavenly concern; perhaps the greatest things in the universe have taken place on this earth: God has come here in flesh, has lived here, has given Himself for this world; the great drama of eternal counsels has to do with this earth - nevertheless i is not apart, alone, it is related to heaven, and all its significance is by reason of that relationship. It takes its significance and importance from being related to something greater than itself - to heaven.

The Bible teaches that God is located in heaven. "God is in heaven (Eccles. v. 2): that is the declaration. It teaches that there is a system, an order, in heaven, which is the true one and which is the ultimate one. In the end, it will be the reproduction of a heavenly order upon this earth which will be the consummation of all the counsels of God. Christ came down from heaven and returned to heaven. The Christian, as a child of God, is born from heaven and has his life centered in heaven, and the life of the child of God will be consummated in heaven. The Church, that masterpiece of God, is of heavenly origin, of heavenly calling, and of heavenly destiny. In all these things, and in many others, "the heavens do rule" (Daniel 4:26). This great factor of heaven governs everything.

Children of God Related to Heaven

As for ourselves, if we are children of God our whole education and history is related to heaven. That is one of the matters we must follow out presently in greater detail; but let it be said, and let it at once be recognized, that our whole history and education as children of God is related to heaven - and by that I do not mean simply that we are going to heaven. We are related to the kingdom of the heavens, by birth, by sustenance and by eternal vocation. All our education, I have said, is related to heaven. All that you and I have to learn is as to how it is done in  heaven; as to what the Lord meant when He said, "Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth" (Matthew 6:10) - a great comprehensive fragment covering all the education of the child of God, for that prayer begins with "Our Father who art in heaven". For as things are in heaven, so they must be here; but a whole lifetime of education, deep and drastic training, is involved in conformity to heaven.

The Bible of the Christians in New Testament times was the Old Testament. When we read in the New Testament, as we so often do, about the Scriptures - "that the Scriptures might be fulfilled", "as it is written in the Scriptures", and so on - it was the Old Testament that was referred to. The Old Testament was the only Scripture, the only Bible, of the first Christians, the Christians of the first decades. They had not got our New Testament. For them the Old Testament was the Bible, and it was continuously drawn upon, referred to, taken up and used in order to exemplify the spiritual experience of Christians. This letter to the Hebrews, from which we quoted at the outset, is just that. From beginning to end it is packed with the Old Testament; the Old Testament is being unceasingly used to illustrate and set forth the meaning of the spiritual life of the New Testament Christian.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "A Pilgrimage Related to Heaven")

When Trouble Comes

When we are afflicted, suffering, or in trouble, God tells us what we should do: Come before His presence and pray. Why? For one thing, it may just be that God will remove that problem because of our prayers. That is not to say that God will always take away our afflictions, suffering, or troubles; but sometimes He does.

By simply bringing our circumstances before the Lord and acknowledging our need and dependence upon Him, we can see God intervene in the situations that most trouble us. Prayer can also give us the grace we need to endure trouble and be brought much closer to God.

James 5:13 tells us, "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray." The word suffering used here could also be translated "in trouble" or "in distress." Is anyone among you in trouble? Are you distressed? Then you should pray.

So when the bottom drops out, when you feel you are hanging by just a thread, when circumstances have become incredibly difficult, or when they have grown worse by the minute, what should you do? You should pray. Come into the Lord's presence, humbly and thankfully, and pray. Pray when you are afflicted. Pray when you are sick. Pray when some sin has overtaken you. Pray when specific needs occur.

Pray, and don't give up.

~Greg Laurie~

Friday, July 26, 2013

An Assured Hope

An Assured Hope is a True and Scriptural Thing

First, then, I will try to show you that an assured hope is a true and Scriptural thing.

Assurance, such as Paul expresses in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, is not a mere fancy or feeling. It is not the result of high animal spirits, or a sanguine temperament of body. it is a positive gift of the Holy Spirit, bestowed without reference to men's bodily frames or constitutions, and a gift which every believer in Christ ought to aim at and seek after.

The Word of God appears to me to teach that a believer may arrive at an assured confidence with regard to his own salvation.

I would lay it down fully and broadly, that a true Christian, a converted man or woman, may reach that comfortable degree of faith in Christ, that in general he shall feel entirely confident as to the pardon and safety of his soul, shall seldom be troubled with doubts, seldom be distracted with hesitation, seldom be distressed by anxious  questionings, and, in short, though vexed by many an inward conflict with sin, shall look forward to death without trembling, and to judgment without dismay.

Such is my account of assurance. I will ask you to mark it well. I say neither less nor more than I have here laid down.

Now, such a statement as this is often disputed and denied. Many cannot see the truth of it at all.

The Church of Rome denounces assurance in the most unmeasured terms. The Council of Trent declares roundly, that a "believer's assurance of the pardon of his sins is a vain and ungodly confidence;" and Cardinal Bellarmine, the well-known champion of Romanism, calls it "a prime error of heretics."

The vast majority of the worldly among ourselves oppose the doctrine of assurance. It offends and annoys them to hear of it. They do not like others to feel comfortable and sure, because they never feel so themselves. That they cannot receive it is certainly no marvel.

But there are also some true believers who reject assurance, or shrink from ti as a doctrine fraught with danger. They consider it borders on presumption. They seem to think it a proper humility never to be confident, and to live in a certain degree of doubt. This is to be regretted, and does much harm.

I frankly allow there are some presumptuous persons who profess to feel a confidence for which they have no Scriptural warrant. There always are some people who think well of themselves when God thinks ill, just as there are some who think ill of themselves when God thinks will. There always will be such. There never yet was a Scriptural truth without abuses and counterfeits. God's election, - man's impotence, - salvation by grace, - all are alike abused. There will be fanatics and enthusiasts as long as the world stands. But, for all this, assurance is a real, sober, and true thing; and God's children must not let themselves be driven from the use of a truth, merely because it is abused.

My answer to all who deny the existence of real, well-grounded assurance is simply this, -What saith the Scripture? If assurance be not there, I have not another word to say.

But does not Job say, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God"? (Job 19:25, 26).

Does not David say, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me"? (Psalm 23:4).

Does not Isaiah say, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee"? (Isaiah 26:3).

And again, "The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever" (Isaiah 32:17).

Does not Paul say to the Romans, "I am persuaded that neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, not height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord"? (Romans 8:38, 39).

Does he not say to the Corinthians, "We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens"? (2 Corinthians 5:1)

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 2)

Peace, Joy and Contentment

Discouragement can rob peace, joy, and contentment. But I have great news if you feel disheartened: You’re not stuck!

I’ve known people who appeared to be in an impossible situation. A few years later, however, they were in a terrific place, either in terms of their circumstances or their emotions. The reason? They never gave up. Instead of sulking in self-pity, they chose to believe God, step out in faith, and climb out of the emotional pit.

Nehemiah is a good example. He had every reason to feel defeated, because his people were in trouble. After receiving news that the city wall had been destroyed, this man of God acknowledged profound disappointment and grieved. Though pain flooded his soul, he didn’t allow himself to stay in that low place. Instead, Nehemiah cried out to God, seeking direction.
Sadness in the presence of royalty was punishable by death. But the Lord answered Nehemiah’s prayer with amazing power, prompting the king to notice his servant’s sad countenance and then toask what he could do to help. This miracle led to the rebuilding of the wall and the redemption of God’s people.

The Lord can take an impossible situation—no matter what it is—and move in ways mightier than you can imagine.

Do you live in eager expectation of what the Lord will do? Or have you chosen to linger in the depths of despair? Like Nehemiah, turn your disappointment into a petition for God’s help. He can restore your hope and prevent negative emotions from gaining a stranglehold on your life.

~Charles Stanley~

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Abiding Meaning of Pentecost # 4

The Second Part of the Training - The Forty Days After the Resurrection

Back of men is the devil, he is involved in all this, and he has exhausted himself and resorted to his last weapon, death. The answer to that is the Resurrection: "I am ... the LIVING ONE; and I became dead, and behold, I am ALIVE FOR EVERMORE, and I have the keys (authority) of death and hades." (Revelation 1:18).


This was the testimony being brought home those forty days; HIS SOVEREIGNTY in all these things. He was making them know the literalness of His Person in resurrection to be equal to that in the days of His flesh; He was not a spirit, but literally as real in Person as before His death. Pentecost is the climax to the literalness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

Next, the emancipation from the limitation of time and space. Still training an instrument for future usefulness! He is no longer bound by limitations of time, and He is seeking to bring home to them that, though not seen, His absence is never to be taken for granted. He is there all the time, and there is no time when He is not with them!

Next, the establishment on the ground of their world commission. Forty days is the period of probation which ends in a demand to assume responsibility. After forty years in the wilderness, the Israelites were commanded to occupy the land.

The Third Part of the Training - The Ten Days After His Ascension

Probation and training issue in the taking up of responsibility. Ten is the number of responsibility. See the boards of the Tabernacle ten cubits high and covered with gold. Here you get the type and teaching concerning man's responsibility towards God; man is only able to meet that responsibility (but he is able to meet it!) on the ground of redemption and in the power of the Divine nature.

Ten days were spent in praying, entering into this thing by prayer, busy with no other burden! And oh! with all the revelation He has given us, should it not bring us to our knees in prayer? Pentecost did not come one day short of full prayer preparation; forty days of revelation and then ten days' prayer; a clear manifestation of Himself and His new thing; and the first carrying of that responsibility in ten days of prayer.

And what was the result of that praying? A thrusting out by an in the power of the mighty Holy Spirit, resurrection revelation, a seeing the fields white unto harvest, and then a giving of themselves unto prayer, until sent forth of the Spirit. Vision, prayer, go; yes, that is the Lord's order.

Here is a threefold preparation, and Pentecost is the climax to that preparation, and the ground upon which the Holy Spirit comes.

"Ye are witnesses of these things but tarry ye ... until ye be clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:48, 49).

"He was received up, after that he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen; to whom he also shewed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, ye heard from me ... ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence" (Acts 1:2-5).

"Then returned they unto Jerusalem these all with one accord continued steadfastly in prayer, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(the end)

What You Say Comes from Your Heart?

It has been said that in an average day, from morning to night, we speak enough words to fill a book of about 50 or 60 pages. In an average year, our words could fill 100 books consisting of 200 pages.

But I don’t think it is necessarily a good thing to say so much, because the Bible says we will be held accountable for everything we say. Jesus said, “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak” (Matthew 12:36).

Our words determine where our hearts are. Jesus also said, “What you say flows from what is in your heart” (Luke 6:45). If your heart is hard, then it will show by what you say. If you are bitter, then you will find yourself talking about it, because bitter people love to spread it around.

Watch out for the Esau syndrome. Hebrews 12:15–16 warns, “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal.” Esau traded away God’s lifelong gift to satisfy a short-term appetite. The weeds of bitter discontent can ruin a whole garden in no time.

If your heart is filled with bitterness, then it will come out in your words. And if your heart is filled with lust, that will come out in your words as well. For some people, everything is a sexual innuendo or a double entendre. Everything they say seems to have a sexual connotation.

But if you have a heart that is filled with grace and love and wisdom from God's Word, that, too, will come out. And that should be the goal of every believer.

~Greg Laurie~

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Abiding Meaning of Pentecost # 3

Pentecost is necessary to put things into another realm, where the "I" is utterly out and the Lord is utterly in. Pentecost is the climax to this. This was all accompanied by and headed up to a complete breakdown and personal failure on the part of the disciples, they failed Him all along the line; see them with the Syrophoenician woman, distraught with trouble, crying unto them, "Have mercy on me!" and they "besought him saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us."

Again, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? until seven times?" "Lo, we have left all, and followed thee; what then shall we have?" Bargaining to get more than they gave up! and caring not for the others, only let us be first; ambition for a place of prominence; this is not the spirit of Him who emptied Himself, and humbled Himself unto the death of the Cross!

Now Pentecost come to rule them out utterly; it is no longer themselves but HIM; now they can follow to the death, now they can forgive, the personal has gone, no longer are their interests the predominant thing even in the things of God; but solely and utterly HIS GLORY at any cost.

Pentecost demands that ground, speaks of that ground - we are finished! There is no place for mere soul-force here; soul-force in the things of God is a denial of the Holy Spirit; He is the "Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:2).

It is no longer our efforts, our achievements, we are out of it, and it is henceforth, The LORD did it! That is Pentecost.

The Lord is seeking to get an instrument, by and through which to present the Lord Jesus to the nations as "PRINCE and SAVIOUR." (Acts 5:31). And there must first be a realization of the absolute sovereignty of the Lord Jesus in the life before there can be such a presenting of Him to the nations.

Contradiction in life brings weakness in testimony, and there can be no ruling in prayer through being in touch with the Throne. Where there is any contradiction, authority in prayer is paralyzed. All this is preparation and training to gain an instrument; an instrument for the enthroned Lord, to meet His need and to establish His sovereignty in the earth.

The Second Part of the Training - The Forty Days After the Resurrection

This is another phase of their training; note the feature of this. It was an establishing in their experience of what He said He was - Resurrection in PERSON.

In the days of His flesh, He had claimed power over His life, "no one taketh it away from me ... I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment received I from my Father" (John 10:18), and for forty days He was establishing in their experience what He said He was, and all He had claimed to be. It would have been a catastrophe without those forty days, they would have lost the reality of the living presence of the Lord.

It was also the establishment to them of all He had promised in relation to His resurrection; "I will never leave you." "I am with you always - all the days." "Because I live ye shall live also." He had made many promises on the ground of resurrection, and came back and established them all; and theirs was a faith in a risen, living and present Lord, and not only in a historic Jesus.

Next, He established the fact that he is Lord of men; and we see the inclusiveness of His claim. All forces that could be used of men were brought in by them to put Him out of existence; but He came back! Man cannot get rid of the Lord Jesus. He is Sovereign of men.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4)

The Lord Shall Forgive Her

The Lord shall forgive her. Numbers 30:5,8,12

If the father or husband disallowed the vow a woman made, it would not stand, nor would she be held responsible for its fulfillment. God would not keep her to a promise which was hindered from execution by causes over which she had no control. This is a profound principle.

You may feel that a certain step is required of you by Christ; that indeed you are bound by your allegiance to Him to take it; nay, you have already promised Him that you will take it; but, suddenly and most unexpectedly, you are prevented from taking it. The express prohibition of those who have a right to determine your action, or the verdict of the physician, or the evident call of duty in another direction, makes it needful for you to relinquish your project. What then: is God grieved and angry? Not so; He understands the whole of the case perfectly, and accepts your will for the deed, and bids you go in peace. This, however, does not affect matters in which conscience is clear in demanding or prohibiting a certain line of conduct.

Sometimes God's silence is consent. You made your solemn dedication in His holy presence: there was no answering voice, or rush of emotion, or witnessing seal; He held His peace from day to day. But in that silence He established all your vows, all your bonds.

If parents capriciously forbid their children carrying out solemn resolutions and vows, the burden of blame must rest on their shoulders. They must render their account to God, and give answer for their action. It will go hard with those who put needless hindrances and obstacles in their brothers' pathway.

~F. B. Meyer~

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Abiding Meaning of Pentecost # 2

Pentecost was the introduction of the "Day of the Lord" on the GRACE side of His sovereignty, and in the Apocalypse it is the JUDGMENT side of His sovereignty - ONE DAY, but in two halves; and as surely as the Lord Jesus has commenced His reign in grace, so surely He will take the rod of iron to smash the nations in judgment who resist and reject His reign in grace.

The DAY of the Lord is in our hearts now, He is SOVEREIGN LORD; and so He is offered to the nations in grace, but also we have a message of authority, and if there is  refusal of His grace, there must be an acknowledgement of that sovereignty in judgment; for everything shall confess Jesus Christ IS LORD.

"Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name ... and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:9, 11).

In another part of the same record the link is with David and Solomon. With David and Solomon you have introduced a revelation of grace, glory and wonder; it needs the two persons to illustrate the reign and work of the Lord Jesus; and you come into Pentecost where it has its fulfillment and spiritual realization. 

David and Solomon are types of the Person of the Lord Jesus, in His work and reign He is David and He is Solomon, but He transcends them both; He takes up all that is typical in them and fulfills it in His own Person; Pentecost is the climax to the Old Testament Scriptures concerning Christ.

Now as to the Person, life and teaching of the Lord Jesus in the days of His flesh.


All the spiritual value of that comes by Pentecost into its full vindication.

His claim to sovereignty is established by the moral and spiritual results of the Holy Spirit coming into the life of a child of God and transforming it, by causing it to know in experience (not by intellectual argument) the life of His sovereign triumph, that inward reigning in life by Christ Jesus. All that the Lord Jesus taught and did is vindicated by the Holy Spirit inworking into the life of the believer the victory of that resurrection life of the Lord Jesus.

The Lord Jesus was vindicated by a mighty experience of the Holy Spirit! It is the spiritual and moral value of the Person, and the bringing of the fruits of that by the Holy Spirit into the life; it is the change the Holy Spirit makes in the moral life that is the vindication of the Lord Jesus. You cannot divorce moral responsibility and spiritual experience, there is no vindication thus, but chaos and contradiction. Pentecost is the climax to the Person, work, and teaching of the Lord Jesus in the days of His flesh, as it gives spiritual and moral value to those in whom He dwells; i.e., proved in experience by the Holy Spirit.

Why did the Holy Spirit come? To make experimental in the life, by the same Holy Spirit, all that Jesus is for the believer. This is the progressive and constructive work of the Holy Spirit, the transforming of men and women.


The first chapter ends with the presentation of that instrument; the completion of the Apostolate with the inclusion of Matthias. An instrument had been trained and prepared for the continued work of the enthroned Lord. This preparation is in three parts:

1. In the days of His flesh;
2. The forty days after His resurrection;
3. The ten days after His ascension.

The First Part of the Training - In the Days of His Flesh

One year after He started His public ministry, He called and had in training for about two years those whom He chose. What were the chief features of that period of training? First, a seeing and a hearing without understanding; a very real thing. As we read the Gospels we see it was a time of laying in of a subconscious store of not understood deeds and words. Oh! but did not the Holy Spirit work on that afterwards? What does the Holy Spirit coming into our life mean?  An explaining of who Jesus is; "He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you," and until He comes words have not that potent force; "the Spirit giveth LIFE."

Second, being allowed to participate in the works and supernatural powers, and being given flashes of spiritual revelation; "flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." Only flashes, immediately passing, but a knowing something of "the powers of the age to come."

Do get the principle of this. Very often the Lord antedates things for us, and then we find them go down into death; but this is training; and has to be in order to get us, our flesh-hold out of it; it is a principle of training, and so the Lord brings us into spiritual cooperation with what He is doing.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Differences in Foundations

Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. . . . Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. -Matthew 7:24, 26

Differences between wise and foolish builders are more important than the similarities. The greatest differences are the types of foundations the builders choose. One selects a solid expanse of bedrock—stable and unmovable. The other selects sand—unstable and very movable.

The house built on a foundation of rock is a life that believes and obeys Jesus’ sermon and places all its hope in God. The sand, by contrast, represents paying little or no attention to the Word. The house built on that foundation is a life that relies on self-righteousness and trusts in changeable human opinions.

The indicator of real discipleship is not merely hearing and professing, but believing and doing. True converts fit James’s picture: “One who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25). False disciples, however, fit the other picture James paints: “merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was” (vv. 22–24).

We can be assured of salvation only when we build on the rock of truth and obedience, not on the standards of human opinions and speculations.

Ask Yourself

Do you have a current undertaking—no matter how large or small—that’s tempting you to hurry up and build without spending much time on the foundation? What will every effort or enterprise suffer from if more thought is given to wallpaper than to substructure?

~John MacArthur~

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Abiding Meaning of Pentecost

Acts 2:1-36; Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 16:28; Acts 2:34; 1 Corinthians 15:25

Acts is preeminently a book of principles; and it is just here we so often go wrong in looking for the repetition of the form by which those principles were expressed; forms of expression change, but the principles abide.

Though the Lord may do a fresh thing, He will not necessarily use the same form, but He will do it on the same principles; these principles are eternal, changeless; they abide forever.

We are so often wanting a repetition of Pentecost in the form it took then, of manifestations and demonstrations on the outside. The Lord will do a new thing; and things basic to His activity then will be basic to His activity always. Principles, and not forms, are the things for which we are to look.

The basis of everything at Pentecost centered in and related to one thing, the enthronement of the Lord Jesus in heaven in the full virtue of His universal triumph. So far His universal triumph has not reached its full end: "Sit thou on my right hand UNTIL ..." (Psalm 110:1). He sits there in virtue of His universal triumph; and that triumph in this age is working out to its full issue; "until ..."

1 Corinthians 15:25, 26: "For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." "But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." He must reign until - His reign has now begun!

Everything that took place at Pentecost centered in that and related to that enthronement of the SON OF MAN.

Acts 2:22, 32-36: "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God ... this Jesus did God raise up ...being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He hath poured forth THIS, which ye see and hear ... let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made HIM both LORD and CHRIST, this Jesus whom ye crucified." That is the center, pivot and heart of all that took place at Pentecost.

Too often our attitude suggests that the Lord Jesus is hardly equal to the situation, and that principalities and powers, and the devil have the dominion and authority, or that it is a very big fight with an almost doubtful issue!

Pentecost represents the beginning of the heavenly sovereignty of the Lord Jesus, and some of them saw the Son of Man coming into His kingdom ere they tasted of death. Jesus said unto them, "Verily I say unto yo, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." (Mark 9:1).

Pentecost presents a crisis and a climax, connected with which are quite a number of things. In Acts 2 see the different connections with the Old Testament Scriptures and the climax to them; link Acts 2 with Ephesians 3:8, 9: "To make all men see what is the dispensation of the MYSTERY which for ages hath been hid in God ... to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Let us trace the connections and the climaxes:

1. As to the Old Testament Scriptures;
2. As to the Lord's Person and work;
3. As to the training and preparing of His instrument - the Church.

Firstly, the climax in relation to the Old Testament. Notice how it is taken up in this record in Acts, and read Luke 24:26, 27, 44:

"Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself ... and he said unto them, These are my words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me."

Pentecost Linked with all the Old Testament Scriptures, and was the climax to all that had been written. The Holy Spirit came with the full virtue of everything that had been written in the Old Testament concerning Christ to make them real and to fulfill them; to bring those fulfillments into the personal experience of the believer. The Holy Spirit's advent was to make all the Old Testament a manifested fulfillment in the Person of Christ Jesus.

In this record of Acts 2 there is a breaking up and opening of the meaning of the Scriptures. Joel; what was the burden of the Word to Joel? "The Day of the LORD." "But this is that which hath been spoken through the prophet Joel." "THIS is that," the day when the Lord came into His own. We speak of having our day, the Lord comes into His day. Pentecost is the Lord coming into His day, He is enthroned; and this Day of the Lord is in two parts; the former took place at Pentecost, and the latter part is in the Book of Revelation.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)