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Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Fight of the Faith # 12

The Liberty of Sons (continued)

I wonder what that phrase means to you, what it is becoming to mean to you - the liberty of sons. Oh, if you have known bondage to legal Christianity and the Lord led you in any measure into spiritual liberty, that is a very cherished phrase - the liberty of sons. It is a great, great position to be in. You are not being brow-beaten in your conscience for a moment about what you must do or must not do, this whole tremendous, colossal system of shalts and shalt nots that has come into the midst of Christianity, making Christianity into something that is put on you. They bind heavy burdens and grievous to be born, and lay them on men's shoulders (Matthew 23:4). That is what the Lord said about the Jews, but that is what many Christians are doing, and it is very easy for us to slip into the position where our Christianity and the Christian life becomes a burden almost grievous to be borne.

To be emancipated from that into the liberty of sons; what does this mean, and how is it brought about? You go after the Lord, that is all. It is not a thing, a system, it is Himself, Christ. Skim through this Galatian letter and put your pencil mark under every mention of the name of Christ, and you will get a surprise; and you have got the message of the letter, for it all resolves itself into this - it is the Lord, not Judaism, not Christianity, not a system at all; it is the Lord. And if it is the Lord, you are emancipated; you need not worry about anything else. You will not go wrong on any of those thousand points, if it is the Lord upon Whom you are set. You are bound to go right, if you are after the Lord. That is liberty, and that is deliverance.

You see the nature of the conflict. The fight of the faith is not fighting with modernism in the first instance, nor standing for the virtues of the Christian faith. It may work out that way, it may at times have to do with that, and doubtless it does include that, but there is something very much deeper than that. Right in the innermost part of our being we know there is a spiritual conflict going on, and that spiritual conflict has to do with whether we are going on with the Lord, and that going on with the Lord is the development or outworking of sonship, it is coming to the consummation of sonship. That is where the challenge is, and anything the enemy can bring in to stop that, he will.

The Lord give us light on all this.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13 - "Revelation In Relation to Sonship")

Repentance is First

This is what the Sovereign Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, says "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it." Isaiah 30:15

Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He has not called us to a life of burdens but to a place of peace. Our salvation is not found in a list of works or good behavior. Strength is not found through building our bodies or having all our bases covered. Over and over, the Lord calls us to a place of repentance and to rest in Him. "In repentance" means that we are in agreement with Him that our ways are not right.  We fall short of His standards. Repentance also means to turn from our ways as we accept Jesus and accept that His sacrifice on the cross is all we need for salvation. There is nothing we can add. This leads to the next part of the verse: "rest" in His work.  We develop inner strength by our stillness of soul (quietness of mind, emotion and will) as we are convinced that He will help us (trust).

Living out this verse goes completely against our nature. We want to do and to fix.  We find comfort in feeling that we are in control. It is hard to accept that we have nothing to offer. That is why the verse concludes with, "but you would have none of it."

Isaiah 30:15 is a great verse to test your faith. Where are you today? Why do you do certain things? Is your mind at rest? Do you have a stillness of soul because you trust the Lord for your circumstances today? This is not easy. But that is why a repentant heart is needed every day, for we do fall so short of His standard.

Meditate on it: "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:29-30

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Fight of the Faith # 11

The Liberty of Sons (continued)

A Legal System Works Against the Faith

When you come to the letter to the Galatians alone - and I am led there very definitely at this time - you know Paul has hardly got through his introductory word before he says, "I marvel that you are so soon brought to a standstill, that your going on has so quickly been arrested." The whole letter is on that matter, namely, their arrest, and Paul's urge that they should throw off the thing which has come upon them to arrest them, and go on.

And what is it that has come in to arrest? Well, it is the same thing you find in so many other directions in the Church of the New Testament times. It is those Judaizers from Jerusalem who were following Paul wherever he went, coming after him and in among the fruits of his ministry, his converts, and saying, "Except ye be circumcised, ye cannot be saved," bringing in the old traditional system of religion, a fixed thing, in all its legality, and seeking to impose it upon them. And the tragedy, the shame, the grief of it is this, that it is so infectious that even a Peter can become contaminated; even a Peter, a pillar in the Church, a foremost apostle, a good and godly man, devoted to and serving the Lord. Here in this letter to the Galatians, Paul says, "Certain came down from James, and Peter was infected, and he compromised, and I withstood him to the face." That is a terrible passage, a terrible situation. But do you see what it implies? There are few people so good, so high up spiritually, so distinguished for their service to the Lord, and their relationship with the Lord, so few who cannot be infected with this something which works so insidiously against the faith in its essence: good men, godly men, devout men, Peters, men of the first three, touched by this thing that is at work. What is it? A legal system set and fixed, be it Jewish or Christian, which straddles the path of going right on with the Lord to His full thought, which just comes right in the way of all that sonship means.

For you see how the Apostle leads right off on his matter of sonship in the letter to the Galatians. He is dealing with this spiritual, heavenly seed. His introduction is all concerning that. "Paul, an apostle, not of men but of God, Who raised Jesus from the dead ... to deliver us from this present evil world." How significant is every word. There is something here that is not of this earth, not from down here at all, something not of men - "I received it not of man, I was not taught it of man." There is something here that is from heaven. This thing from heaven was on the basis of resurrection; and that is of God, and God only, something above all that is here. We are delivered from this present evil world or age, and Paul in his mind was not only thinking of the vast, sinful world of paganism and heathenism; he was thinking also of the religious world. "It pleased God to reveal his Son in me." We mark, then, all the spiritual elements about his very introductory words.

Where the Fight of Faith Arises

And then, when he has struck tremendous blows at this system of things, this religious system, and has challenged Peter over it, in respect of his dissimulation, he goes on about this heavenly and spiritual seed. "We are sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ" (Galatians 3:26). Then he moves to Ishmael and Isaac, the seed after the flesh and the seed after the Spirit, and brings in this whole matter of what sonship really is, as being something after the Spirit. What he is saying in this whole letter is just this in a word: Sonship, with all that God means by sonship, is what is in view, and over against it there is this breaking in continually of things religious, subtle, beautiful, with all the argument that God is in them; but, nevertheless, breaking in with one object, all hidden from sight, namely, to cut right across the path of the believer in his going right on to God's fullest thought in sonship; and it sets up a warfare.

Let us be perfectly frank and plain. Beloved, it is true that there are many good people, many leading evangelical people, many Peters if you like, touching whose devotion to the Lord we can have no question: their zeal, their consecration, is not open to discussion; and yet they are so tied by a fixed system that they become points of conflict where the matter of going right on with the Lord is concerned. They oppose, they make the difficulty and the trouble: and it is not themselves personally but the thing which binds them. Its principle it is this Judaism cropping up again, a fixed system which has held for generations and centuries, a tradition which is established, and anything that seems to require a superseding of that tradition - I choose the word carefully - at once provokes antagonism and conflict. Is it not strange? Why do I use the word supersede? Because of what Paul says here. He says there are those who have come in with another Gospel, which is not another. He means this, that all that came in with Israel was intended to lead right on to Christ, but not it is being used to hold back from Christ. The effect of it is to obstruct the way of realizing the end for which it exists. It is not really two things that are here. Christ is the complement and the fulfillment of all that came in through Moses, and if only you understand and interpret Moses right, you will go right on with Christ. But now this thing is brought in as though it were another thing. Really, in essence the two things are one, intended to be one, in the thought of God, bit it is being made two things now. But the intention of God is that there should be this glorious issue - Christ in fullness: so that, what can lead to Christ is to be superseded by Christ. You are not going to say that Judaism is all wrong, you are not going to say, all the Old Testament is wrong, is false, you are not going to say that what came in through Moss is all error. Not at all! But you are going to say that it was intended to come to a place where all that to which it was pointing would supersede it.

Oh, the conflict is there, and the fight of the faith comes right in among Paul and Peter in principle. That is a terrible thing. The fight of the faith! Oh, you would never find Paul and Peter fighting one another over any of these fundamentals of Christianity; the inspiration of the Scriptures, the Person of the Lord Jesus, the coming again. Oh no! You would find them absolutely one on all those matters, however many they were. But here, strangely, we find Peter and Paul in conflict, one having to withstand the other to the face, and it is the faith which is involved.

What the Faith Is

What is the faith? The faith is this, that Jesus is the Son of God. But that is something more than a personal, objective relationship. That is a spiritual reality which has to come into expression through Him in the Church, in His members as representing the heavenly seed, coming to the fullness of Christ; which being accomplished, is to supplant and oust all this other seed which satan has introduced into God's universe. That is the faith. The faith comes down to this, namely, what we are spiritually in God's universe. That is the faith.

What are we intended to be? We are intended to be in our experience, in our spiritual  life, in our presence here, a living proof that Jesus is the Son of God; not just to declare this as a tenet of our faith and creed, but to be here as children of God growing up into sonship, by which sonship His sonship is put into expression. Do you follow what I mean?

Oh, it is over this that there is all the conflict, and I say again, the conflict gets right in inside, among godly people, godly men and women, devout men and women. Why? Because some are so held by their traditions, by their fixed system, by the thing established here in Christianity. Somehow or other that very thing gets in the way of what Paul calls here in the Galatian letter "the liberty of sons."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

continued with # 12 - "The Liberty of Sons")

Game of Thorns

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

Satan sends messengers to inflict thorns of temptation into the most spiritual followers of Jesus. His timing is shameless, as he attacks those most susceptible to spiritual pride. Perhaps a significant prayer has been answered or a loved one has just come to faith. Be on guard for the tormentor does not sit still when we experience special moments with the Lord and His people. Satan tempts mature believers, so if they fall they fall far,  disillusioning the faith of novices.

It is these thorns in the flesh the Lord uses to keep us humble and faithful. Pride yearns to take credit and feed conceit, but humility gives all credit to Christ and remains meek. What’s best for us is not the removal of our afflictions, but the integration of God’s grace into our heart and mind. We can plead in prayer for relief, but not grouse in disappointment when our condition remains the same or worsens. God’s grace is sufficient in our weaknesses to perfect His power.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Furthermore, health issues can be the thorn in your physical flesh that challenges your faith. Fatigue and feeling bad wears you down and demoralizes your determination. You weary over time as you get sick and tired of being sick and tired. Chemo can kill your spirit in the process of killing your cancer, thus you cling to Christ and trust Him in your torment. Turn treatment and therapy into a platform of God’s grace to share with your caregivers. Trust in God triumphs over thorns!

Above all, look to the cross at the crown of thorns Christ wore for you. Each drop of His precious blood was shed for your soul’s salvation and for your hope and healing. Thorns in the flesh are not foreign to your Savior. Indeed, He suffered through their pain, but rose victorious from the grave. You win the game of thorns when you rest in the sufficiency of God’s grace. He makes you the most powerful for Him, when you feel the weakest within. Bow at His throne of grace, unperturbed by a thorn of disgrace. Yes, God’s glory shines through your surrendered life!

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10

Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach me to appropriate Your grace in the middle of temptations and trials. 

~Wisdom Hunters Devotional~

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Fight of the Faith # 10

The Nature of Sonship (continued)

I think perhaps we could very well close there just now. Do not forget that satan is out to bring the effect of sonship under arrest in his kingdom. He cannot destroy it, that is something beyond his power, but he can nullify its power so far as his interests are concerned, and he does that by trying to get us to violate the very laws of sonship. Those laws of sonship we have mentioned. They are shown in the life of the Son Himself, so clearly - nothing in Himself, but dependence upon the Father, altogether dependent upon the Father. A life in which the law of resurrection is a daily and hourly operation and experience, a life without personal name, reputation, standing or vindication, a life wholly handed over to God, these and many other things comprise sonship, and are the marks of a life in the Spirit.

The Lord make us good sons for His own glory and satisfaction.

The Liberty of Sons

"Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead) ... I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but through revelation of Jesus Christ ... it was the good pleasure of God ... to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles; straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood ... but they only heard say, He that once persecuted us now preacheth the faith of which he once made havoc" (Galatians 1:1, 11-12, 15, 23).

In this time together so far, the Lord has directed our attention to that little clause - "the faith". The passages basic to our meditation have been those in the two letters of Paul to Timothy, first his exhortation to Timothy to fight the good fight of the faith, and then his on statement as to himself at the end - "I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith," and it is into something of the meaning and significance of that phrase, "the faith," that we are being led to inquire at this time.

Here it is again in Galatians 1:23 - "He that once persecuted us now preacheth the faith of which he once made havoc." What was it that Saul of Tarsus sought to destroy, of which he set himself to make havoc? Well, he was a Jew, and of the Jewish party in Jerusalem, who summed up their charge and accusation against the Lord Jesus in those words - "He made himself the Son of God" (John 19:7). As we said before, it was not just the coming in of a new and rival religion, but something very much deeper than that, and all that is contained in that designation "the Son of God" (Jesus, the Son of  God) is what is meant by "the faith." In a word, it is sonship, and all that sonship means as something that is out from God, and which has come into this world, and which being here, is altogether other than that which is already here: different in nature and different in position, and therefore different in destiny; something in this universe which i unique - sonship.

All the forces of hell, and of this world which lieth in the wicked one, are set against that sonship; in Christ primarily, preeminently, and then in those who are begotten of God, sons of God, through faith in Jesus Christ. It is that spiritual reality, that spiritual thing, namely, sonship which is the object and occasion of all hostility that makes it necessary for believers to fight. The contention is not for a creed, not for a system of truth, not for fundamentalism, but for a spiritual position and a spiritual nature, and for all that sonship means from God's standpoint; and for all that that sonship means from satan's standpoint. As we said before, wherever we come on this matter of "the faith," we find ourselves at once in very close proximity to the element of conflict. Wherever it is mentioned, nearby there is warfare.

May I just repeat one word said in our previous meditation when we were thinking about our Lord's words recorded by Luke - "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find the faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). The question does not relate to what is called in faith on the earth. The Lord Jesus would have been a bad prophet, and have had very little foresight, had His question meant that in the day of His appearing there would be very little Christianity on the earth, in that general sense. No. His question went much deeper than that, and it is a very real question, if we recognize that sonship is something which has to be brought to fullness in believers, something which relates to Christ coming to fullness in His own and of His members coming into His fullness, unto that ultimate manifestation of the sons in full growth. If that is the meaning of sonship, then indeed there is room for the question - "Shall he find the faith on this earth?"

That could be put in other words. Shall He find on the earth a people who are really going right on in sonship to the fullness of Christ? And I do not think there is any doubt about the answer. He will certainly find a great many Christians who are not going right on, who have stopped short. It will not be so easy to find these who will go right on.

My trouble this morning is lack of time, and I really do not know where to begin and what to say, because the whole New Testament gathers around this very thing.

The New Testament as a whole - of course, I am referring to the Epistles - the New Testament as a whole just comes right down on this question of who is going on, or who is going to come under this terrible arresting effort of the enemy, in the matter of spiritual growth.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 11 - "A Legal System Works Against the Faith" )

Go Again

1 Kings 18:43
Go again seven times.
Success is certain when the Lord has promised it. Although you may have pleaded month after month without evidence of answer, it is not possible that the Lord should be deaf when His people are earnest in a matter which concerns His glory. The prophet on the top of Carmel continued to wrestle with God, and never for a moment gave way to a fear that he should be non-suited in Jehovah's courts. Six times the servant returned, but on each occasion no word was spoken but "Go again." We must not dream of unbelief, but hold to our faith even to seventy times seven. Faith sends expectant hope to look from Carmel's brow, and if nothing is beheld, she sends again and again. So far from being crushed by repeated disappointment, faith is animated to plead more fervently with her God. She is humbled, but not abashed: her groans are deeper, and her sighings more vehement, but she never relaxes her hold or stays her hand. It would be more agreeable to flesh and blood to have a speedy answer, but believing souls have learned to be submissive, and to find it good to wait for as well as upon the Lord. Delayed answers often set the heart searching itself, and so lead to contrition and spiritual reformation: deadly blows are thus struck at our corruption, and the chambers of imagery are cleansed. The great danger is lest men should faint, and miss the blessing. Reader, do not fall into that sin, but continue in prayer and watching. At last the little cloud was seen, the sure forerunner of torrents of rain, and even so with you, the token for good shall surely be given, and you shall rise as a prevailing prince to enjoy the mercy you have sought. Elijah was a man of like passions with us: his power with God did not lie in his own merits. If his believing prayer availed so much, why not yours? Plead the precious blood with unceasing importunity, and it shall be with you according to your desire.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Fight of the Faith # 9

Sonship - Indestructible in Itself. The Work of satan to Nullify Its Power (continued)

Oh, lay hold of this! Sonship is something which satan cannot destroy in itself. Sonship, is something inviolate, lying outside of satan's realm and satan's power. What then is the nature of the battle? Oh, satan is not so foolish as to think that he can destroy sonship as a fact, but all his efforts and methods are employed to nullify the effect of it as he can, as he will, in his domain. After this manner, therefore, he started with the last Adam - "If thou be the Son ...". The sting is in that "if". If only the Lord Jesus would admit an "if", satan has scored, and while the sonship is not destroyed, the effect of it in his kingdom is.

That can be put in another way. Admit a doubt, admit a question, and you are undone, and the thing which in itself is inviolate is put under arrest with regard to its effect against satan. Doubt, unbelief, a question, an uncertainty, suspends the tremendous potency of sonship as against the enemy, even though the sonship position cannot be destroyed. If satan can find a people here who believe on the basis of sonship, and persist in believing, and refuse to doubt and question, he has found sonship there which corresponds to what he found in Christ, Who said, "The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me" (John 14:30). Hath nothing! What is he looking for? The ground of a question or a doubt, is what he is after; and he found nothing.

So the faith you see, is faith which is reposed in God's Son and which makes that sonship a mighty power in the one who believes.

Now, what we are saying is that the existence of this thing called sonship is the occasion of all the conflict because it is something which in itself is beyond satan's power, and unless in some way its effect in his kingdom is neutralized, it is going to be his ultimate expulsion and undoing. Let us say again that, lying right there at the heart of sonship, is no less a thing than the ridding of this universe of satan and his kingdom. That is the issue of sonshp. Therefore let us look at the nature of sonship. What is it? It is a life in the Spirit. satan will constantly try to provoke unto a life in the flesh. A life of dependence: then satan will try to make us independent. A life of humility, meekness, drawing wholly upon the Lord for everything: then satan will try to provoke us to pride, to have it in ourselves, to be something ourselves, to care for our reputation, to fight for our own vindication. Remember that every tendency, inclination or attempt to secure our vindication - we may be right, but that is not the question - anything in the directing of securing our vindication is against sonship. "He made himself of no reputation" (Phil. 2:7). He did not seek to vindicate Himself or to be vindicated. He left the matter of vindication altogether with God, and became obedient unto death, yea, the death of the Cross. "Their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord" (Isaiah 54:17). Oh, for this grace of self-emptying, seeking no title, no name, no reputation, no vindication, no justification for ourselves. It cuts the ground from under the feet of the enemy, robs him of that which he needs to save his own position and to nullify the effect of Christ's presence. Let us ask the Lord for that grace of selflessness, and of joyful acceptance of a life of dependence upon the Lord in terms of daily resurrection. That is the way of sonship. It makes room for the Lord and for the fullness of Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 10)

If Peace Be In The Heart

In me... peace (John 16:33).

There is a vast difference between happiness and blessedness. Paul had imprisonments and pains, sacrifice and suffering up to the very limit; but in the midst of it all, he was blessed. All the beatitudes came into his heart and life in the midst of those very conditions.

Paganini, the great violinist, came out before his audience one day and made the discovery just as they ended their applause that there was something wrong with his violin. He looked at it a second and then saw that it was not his famous and valuable one. He felt paralyzed for a moment, then turned to his audience and told them there had been some mistake and he did not have his own violin. He stepped back behind the curtain thinking that it was still where he had left it, but discovered that some one had stolen his and left that old second-hand one in its place.

He remained back of the curtain a moment, then came out before his audience and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen: I will show you that the music is not in the instrument, but in the soul." And he played as he had never played before; and out of that second-hand instrument, the music poured forth until the audience was enraptured with enthusiasm and the applause almost lifted the ceiling of the building, because the man had revealed to them that music was not in the machine but in his own soul.

It is your mission, tested and tried one, to walk out on the stage of this world and reveal to all earth and Heaven that the music is not in conditions, not in the things, not in externals, but the music of life is in your own soul.

If peace be in the heart,
The wildest winter storm is full of solemn beauty,
The midnight flash but shows the path of duty,
Each living creature tells some new and joyous story,
The very trees and stones all catch a ray of glory,
If peace be in the heart.

~L. B. Cowman~

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Fight of the Faith # 8

The Nature of Sonship (continued)

The Law of Faith and Dependence

Adam was created with sonship in view, sonship after this king, but he was placed upon the basis of dependence upon God, faith and dependence. That was the law of his life, and that was to be the law by which he would come to the realization of sonship in its full sense. satan came and suggested to Adam that he could have it in himself if he liked. He need not have it of God and have to look to God all the time. If Adam did but follow his advice, there need be none of this servitude to God, but he could be as God and have it in himself, and be delivered from the bondage of this life of dependence and faith, and obedience. Adam accepted that suggestion and sought to take it, to have it in himself without reference or deference to God. Sonship was lost for Adam and his race. The last Adam comes and accepts a life of absolute dependence upon the Father, and obedience to the Father in an utter self-emptying. "He emptied himself ... and became obedient"; He took "the form" of a bond-servant" (Phil. 2:6-8). He had it not in Himself, by His own choice: He had it in the Father; and sonship was established, realized and expressed in fullness in Him.

We, beloved, are called on to that basis. Oh, there is nothing which will work against the spirit of sonship, God's purpose of fullness in us, like pride, the pride which wants to have it in ourselves. Pride hates a life of dependence. Pride cannot bear to have to look outside of itself for everything. Pride must have the root of things in itself. "He not wise in your own conceits" is a phrase the Apostle used (Romans 12:16). What is conceit? The very word itself means "having the seat of things in yourself"; wise by having the seat of things in yourself. The Lord Jesus, Who had the highest place in heavenly glory, the highest and greatest title and name - all rights were in His power - accepted the position of girding Himself with a towel and putting water into a basin and kneeling down to wash the feet of His disciples. That is the mind which was in Christ Jesus. That is sonship. It is not nice for the flesh, nor for our reputation, it is not pleasant to our education; we look for something better than that. But that is sonship. That is a life in the Spirit. That spirit will be the mark, the hall-mark, of spiritual growth, of spiritual maturity. The person who is really growing spiritually is not the person who is becoming something important spiritually. The one who is growing in the servant dependent spirit more and more. The one who can get down lowest is the one who is really getting up highest.

That is the nature of sonship. It is something which is wholly of God, exclusively of God, not of ourselves. We cannot produce it.

Sonship - A Spiritual Thing

It is, therefore, in the next place, a spiritual thing. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). Sonship, therefore, is essentially a spiritual thing and is always connected, in the Word, with the Spirit. The new birth is connected with the Spirit - "born of the Spirit". As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:14). Born; led. You come to Galatians: Galatians is just full of these things, full of sonship and the Spirit. "Because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Then you know Paul's argument about Hagar and Ishmael, and Sarah and Isaac; the one born after the flesh, the other born after the Spirit; and the one born after the flesh is to be cast out, that the one born after the Spirit may be established (Galatians 4:21-31). It is sonship and the Spirit again. Sonship, therefore, is a spiritual thing. It is obvious that this kind of sonship is not a natural thing.

Sonship - Indestructible in Itself The Work of satan to Nullify its Power

But the point that I want to get at and emphasize is this, that because it is a spiritual thing, it is something which interests satan in a particular way. Being exclusively of God and being wholly spiritual, it is something which, shall I say, tantalizes satan; it is a cause of tremendous annoyance and grievance to him.  He cannot get at this thing directly, it is beyond him. You notice that in the Word of God there is no denial from any realm that there is such a being as the Son of God or as the Christ. There is no denial; that is recognized, acknowledged and accepted everywhere. There is a denial that Jesus is the Son of God, but the fact of sonship as a reality in God's universe is never questioned. antichrist is not the denial of the existence of Christ, but the counterfeiting of Christ: and that is a tremendous admission, a tremendous acknowledgment. If you counterfeit something, it is your way of admitting that there is something real. You do not counterfeit if there is not the genuine thing. You see my point. There is something in God's universe which is never questioned or denied, but which is an established thing, which cannot be touched as a reality, and that is sonship. To get at that - well, anything can be done to nullify it in its effect - but the fact is there, and it is that fact which is satan's aggravation and annoyance, the fact of the existence of this sonship, in God's universe, and that that sonship has invaded and come into his domain. There is sonship right in the very domain of satan, in the kingdom of this world, this world which "lieth in the wicked one". Sonship has invaded and come into it; and there is a fact which cannot be destroyed, it is inviolate in itself.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 9)

How to End Well

Many people think about the last years of life as an opportunity to just relax. But this does not align with God's purpose for us; He wants us to serve Him all the days of our lives.
Let's look at the apostle Paul's journey and explore what it means to finish well. He spent time pouring into others until the very end of his life. Consider the letters he wrote to Timothy from a prison cell prior to being executed. In every season of life, God calls us to serve others.
And notice how, when writing about his life, the apostle chose words descriptive of a battle. He understood the human struggle against sin as well as the challenges of pain and persecution in the trials we all face--even in doing kingdom work like preaching Christ to a fiercely resistant society.
This godly servant's life was also marked by surrender. His mindset is obvious in these words: "present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship" (Rom. 12:1). He was not afraid of Nero, nor was he struggling to stay alive. Paul trusted God to determine everything about his life, including where he would go, what he would do, and when he would die. Death did not scare him, because he knew he would dwell with Jesus forever.
God doesn't require our lives to be perfect in order to finish strong. We can live life fully and be ready to meet our Maker by surrendering, walking victoriously with Christ, and serving others. If Jesus called you home today, would you--like Paul--be confident that you lived well until the end?

~Charles Stanley~

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Fight of the Faith # 7

Sonship - Essentially and Exclusively of God (continued)

Now, God is going to be very true to that principle and position, and we will discover that a life in the Spirit, which is the life of sonship, cannot be a life in the flesh, cannot be a life out of nature and nature's springs. A life in the Spirit, which is the life of sonship, has continuously behind it the realization that we cannot live save out from God, that we draw our very life from Him every day. The more we go on with God, which means the more we live in the Spirit, and the more spiritual growth and maturity takes place in us, the deeper will be our consciousness of utter dependence upon God for our life, and for everything in the realm of our relationship with Him. Self-resource, self-strength, self-confidence, self-ability, self-wisdom, self-esteem, self-reputation, will be steadily undermined and sapped and drained by the Spirit of God, and we shall come more and more to the place where we know that it is not in us to be Christians, not in us to live a life in the Spirit, not in us to go on with God. It must all come right out from Himself. Sonship is the most dependent thing of which you can have any conception. He said of Himself, in words perhaps all too familiar to us; "The Son can do nothing out from himself" (John 5:19). Again, "I can of myself do nothing ... because I seek not mine own will, but the will of him that sent me" (John 5:30). The Apostle, in the spirit of a true son, will say, "I know nothing by myself ..." (1 Corinthians 4:4). "We have this treasure in vessels of fragile clay, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not of ourselves" (2 Corinthians 4:7). "Who is sufficient for these things? ... our sufficiency is of God" (2 Corinthians 2:16, 3:5). Now, that is sonship, and that means living continually on the ground of resurrection.

Sonship - Based on Resurrection

And so we come to Romans 1:4: "... declared to be the Son of God in power ... by the resurrection of the dead" - sonship based upon resurrection. That is wholly of God, only of God. The Lord Jesus, in putting the truth of sonship into operation, said and did several things which are full of significance in the light of what we are saying. You remember in those early chapters in John how He said, "The hour cometh, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son ... and ... shall live" (John 5:25). Why? "As the Father raiseth he dead, and giveth them life, even so the Son also giveth life to whom he will" (John 5:21). This relationship with God in terms of sonship means that by dependence upon God, by a life in God, a life in the Spirit, that which is God's sole and exclusive prerogative of raising the dead becomes an actual fact in the sphere of sonship. The Son becomes the sphere in which the Father's power and right of resurrection operates. But, while that is true, that resurrection life is working through the Son from the Father, the Son is still saying in the very same parts of the Word, "The Son can do nothing out from himself, but what he seeth the Father doing" (John 5:19). That is in the early part of John.

You get well on in John and you have the case of Lazarus, and Lazarus is taken up, as you know by the introduction to the incident, with one object. The Lord Jesus states the object of Lazarus' sickness and death. "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified" (John 11:4). And so Lazarus is not healed. The Lord Jesus does not come to the home in Bethany as the doctor to give a remedy, and to recover Lazarus. He stays away deliberately until Lazarus is not only beyond hope in this life, but is beyond this life itself, and then, when the Lord Jesus knows that he is dead, He says, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth". The disciples misunderstood and thought He meant that he was having a sleep: so Jesus said plainly, "Lazarus is dead". Then, when He knew in His spirit that Lazarus was gone, He came to Bethany. He was acting out now what He had said before, and the thing which governs the action is "that the Son may be glorified". Then John sums up the whole of that Gospel in the words of chapter 20:31: "These things are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." The whole of John's Gospel is written with that object in view.

Now John has written the statement which we have about the Son raising the dead by His relationship and life in the Father, and dependence upon the Father, and John too has written about Lazarus; and he says, I have written all these things and all the other things with one point in view, namely, "that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God". Sonship is all the time on this basis of resurrection.

What was true in the case of the Lord Jesus is true of the spirit of sonship, wherever that spirit is found. Turning to Galatians again, the Apostle says, "Because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:6). We are sons. But how many of the Lord's people are willing to live on that basis? How many there are who want to have it in themselves; the strength, the wisdom, the ability, the efficiency; everything in themselves, not a life of utter dependence and daily resurrection. "When the Son of man cometh, shall he, find the faith ..."? You see the point - something which is exclusively of God; and God takes pains to undercut every tendency and inclination to have it in ourselves, because that is the way in which at the first this very purpose of God in sonship was set aside.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 8 - "The Law of Faith and Dependence")

Five and Two

Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude. - Luke 9:16

One day I was walking my dog and as I looked down at the ground, I saw a nickel and two pennies. At that moment, all I could think about was five and two. I picked them up and walked home. That evening, as I opened my daily Bible, the verses recounted the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand—with five loaves and two fish. I knew at that point that the Lord had a message for me personally, but what exactly was He saying? The numbers five and two kept coming to my mind.

Just recently, I was reading this same story, and once again the numbers five and two jumped out. At lunch on that same day, someone left a nickel and two pennies on the soda machine. Okay, Lord, what does this mean? Well, the message began to unfold in my heart and mind as I continued to mediate on the Word of God. The disciples gave Jesus all that they had, which was not enough; two fish and five loaves could not feed five thousand men. But, Jesus took what they had and did three things with it. He looked up to heaven and blessed it; He broke it; and He gave it back to the disciples to hand out. The men did nothing with the fish and the bread but handed them to Jesus. Jesus performed the miracle. Not only did they have enough to eat, but also they had twelve baskets left over—one for each disciple.

The nickel and the pennies reminded me that Jesus takes what seems so insufficient and works miracles in ways that I cannot. It is not up to me to make things work; it is up to Him. When I have less than enough, then He has an opportunity to be more than enough. When I hand things over to Him, He blesses, breaks and then hands back, in abundance. Isn't it interesting that when He broke the bread, it multiplied. We need to remember that sometimes when things seem to be breaking, maybe that is because Jesus is trying to bless and multiply His provisions for us. Ask the Lord today to help you see His provisions and may He bless you in abundance to meet your needs and desires.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Fight of the Faith # 6

The Nature of Sonship

"When the Son of man cometh, shall he find the faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8)

Place that passage alongside of those read in our previous meditation (1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7; Jude 3; Rev. 2:13); we will not repeat them in full just now. Just be reminded that the two passages in Paul's letters to Timothy were among them; first, his exhortation to Timothy to fight the good fight of the faith, and then his own statement that he had fought the good fight and had kept the faith; and we were and are occupied with this phrase - "the faith".

I am quite sure that, in the light of what we said in our previous meditation, the passage in Luke 18:8 takes on new significance and we are better able to understand it. "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find the faith on the earth?" That certainly does not mean, shall He find a Christian system of doctrine on the earth. He will find plenty of that. And it certainly does not mean, shall He find faith in the sense of people who believe in Christianity or in general in Christ. There would be no point, I think in asking that question, if He meant that. There are multitudes of people who believe in a general way in Christ and Christianity, if that could be said to be the meaning of faith, and I do not know that we are to expect that kind of Christianity to diminish very greatly, at least to such a point where it is really a question whether He will find any of it at all when He comes.

But when we look into this phrase, "the faith" as we were doing earlier, and really understand its essence and nature, then the question has some point, and it i really concerning the point of the question that we are going to spend a little time now.

We have sought to see that the faith in its essence is the essential and the unique nature of Divine sonship. It is over that that the fight goes on, rages and intensifies, and that sonship is something into which believers are initially brought by new birth, and thereafter progressively by a life in the Spirit, and it is therefore saying that sonship, in the New Testament sense, is something more than being born into a family; it is growing up in that family, and carries with it the feature of spiritual maturity. A phrase used so frequently in our New Testament is "perfection"; go on unto perfection" (Hebrews 6:1), or as the margin expresses it, "go on to full growth". Really it means the consummation of things, coming to the full end for which you exist.

Seeing then, that that is sonship - going right on to the full end for which you exist as children of God; which, again, implies a life in the Spirit continually - then you have room for the question, shall He find the faith on the earth? In other words, shall He find on the earth a real going on in the Spirit unto full growth? I do not think the question was meant to suggest that He would not find it, that it would not exist at His coming, but I do think that the question contains this factor, namely, that it would be far from being a general thing and that you would have to look for it. In order to find it, you would have to look for it; it will not be there in such a way that everybody can see it. That, I think, is the point of the question.

Well then, we want to look a little more closely at this matter of sonship, seeing that everything is bound up with it. It is the faith, it is the occasion of the conflict, it is the cause of the question of the Lord. What is the nature of sonship? We can answer that by two or three quite simple statements.

Sonship - Essentially and Exclusively of God

Firstly, it is essentially and exclusively of God. We are familiar with the statement in John 1:13: "who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God". Not this, nor that, nor that, but of God! You might very well put in there - "but exclusively of God". Sonship, therefore, is something exclusively of God. It lies altogether beyond the power and possibility of man to achieve, to attain, to reach unto it. It is not in man to produce it or arrive at it. The secret of sonship is not resident in man. The seed of sonship is not in man by nature, in spite of all that of which we spoke in our previous meditation that is the generally accepted doctrine concerning man today. The fact is that this sonship is something which belongs to another realm altogether.

We know that the Word of God sees man as dead, so far as God is concerned, and nothing short of a miracle an change that situation, for life is God's prerogative and gift alone, and resurrection something which is alone in the power of God. Therefore the principle, the law, of sonship is an experience of resurrection which, to those who have it, is such an experience as to settle forever in their convictions that everything they have in relation to God is a sheer miracle of God's own working.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7)

Describing Our Spiritual Inheritance to Others

Joshua charged them that went to describe the land - Joshua 18:8

In every age of the Church's story, God has sent forth men to walk through and describe the land of our spiritual inheritance. They have become dissatisfied with the low attainments of their brethren, and with great desire have followed the Divine suggestions which pointed to a wider knowledge and enjoyment of the possibilities of Christian living. In the first ages, this was the work of men like Chrysostom and Augustine; the later ones, of the Reformers; in later ones still, of men whose names are still fresh in the memory of the Church.

But there is a sense in which all the experiences of life, all our walkings through the land of promise, all our discoveries of springs and valleys and far-stretching champaigns of territory, are not intended for ourselves alone, but for others. We are led by a certain path, that we may know how to direct a poor wanderer on his way. We are comforted, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble. Our Father has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ, that we may communicate those blessings to our fellows. We are shown the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, that we may be able to unfold their joy and helpfulness to others. We are saved that we may become workers together with God.

The books which come to us from holy men who have traversed the land are of priceless value, like this Domesday book which Joshua prepared. But we who cannot write books should yet describe the land. "Come and hear, all ye that fear God; and I will declare what He hath done for my soul." There is a Divine warrant for experience meetings of the right sort, where the form is subordinate to the fresh and living Spirit. 

~F. B. Meyer~

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Fight of the Faith # 5

The Nature of the Challenge - Destiny Bound Up with Sonship

Well, there is a challenge in sonship, because in that sonship there is all that is included in the destiny of satan and the destiny of Christ. satan's destiny is a dark and terrible one. Christ's destiny and the destiny of His own is a glorious one. But these two destinies are not just automatic, they are spiritual. Sonship is something which means a full attainment to a certain relationship and a certain nature.

It is very interesting to note the different usages in the New Testament between the word "child" and "son"; child being one born, son being the child a grown up, coming to maturity. The son, meaning a full-grown one, is sometimes used in this very connection of which we have spoken; meaning that those given to doing evil have come to full growth in it; and you will see that is exactly what happened with the Jews and with Israel in the days of the Lord Jesus. I do not want to become too detailed, but I just indicate it. When the Lord Jesus was speaking to the rulers and the heads of the Jewish nation who were so opposed to Him, He did not speak to them as being children of the devil, but called them sons. He used the word about them which meant that they were something more than just offspring. They had come to a far measure of maturity in their devilish relationship and work, and when that sonship came to fullness, then Israel is dealt with, judged and cut off.

In the same way, when born from above, we become children of God, and are sons potentially, and when sonship in relation to God has come to full maturity, then the issue is glory, full deliverance. The whole situation is changed with sonship.

Now satan and his kingdom are coming to that place where the final judgment rests upon the final development of his iniquity. It is sonship in principle. The Old Testament description that answers to it is 'the cup of iniquity being full.' That is only another simile. It is coming to fullness. Sonship, on the side of evil and iniquity, means iniquity full grown, over flowing, mature -destruction.

On the other hand, sonship in relation to the Lord, being brought to maturity, means the hour of the Church's maturity, Christ coming to fullness in the saints - "till we all attain unto the unity of the faith ... unto a full-grown man" (Ephesians 4:13); Christ coming to maturity in His saints. And then what? Well, just the opposite of the destiny of satan. That is destruction, and this is glory.

The two destinies are bound up, let me repeat, not with some mechanical thing, but with a spiritual nature and development called sonship, and satan recognizes the destiny of sonship, and that is why he challenges it. "If thou be the Son ..."

So, the heart and the essence of the faith is the significance of sonship. When again you hear or think of "the faith", always remember in the first place that "the faith" is what Jesus Christ is in the uniqueness of sonship; and, so far as we are concerned, "the faith" is what we are in Him in the uniqueness of sonship. I am not touching upon deity. Do not misunderstand me in that. That is a sonship of His in which we have no part, in so far as that sonship means deity, but the relationship with God in terms of sonship is shared by us with Him. He is the Heir. "God ... hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things" (Hebrews 1:2). And then, we are "heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17). The principle of sonship is the heart and essence of the faith.

We will leave it there for the time being. But I can say once more that it is in this that the born-anew ones are unique in God's universe this is what separates them from all others, and with which so great a destiny is bound up. It is upon this that all the conflict rests, and around it all the battle rages. It is because of this we suffer. Do you want less conflict? You can have it at the expense and the meaning of your sonship. If you will not go right on to full growth, you can have a very much easier time, but if you are going right on, you may have the worst time. You are going to know more than any others what spiritual conflict is. You cannot get out of it. Demas evidently found things too hard. "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world" (2 Timothy 4:10). Well, Demas goes back, but those who go on do so by having to accept what Demas found himself unable to accept - an intensifying conflict.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6 - "The Nature of Sonship")

Building Bridges to the Kingdom

Scripture refers to "the kingdom of God" frequently, but many people are unclear as to its meaning. Let's look at the past, present, and future reality of this concept.
The first thing we must realize is that the heavenly kingdom refers to everything under Christ's control. At the moment of salvation, we are transferred from the reign of darkness to the bright authority of Jesus. And we are eternally secure in Him.
As today's verses explain, Jesus' kingdom and reign have been planned since the foundation of the world. From the beginning, God has been preparing mankind for what is to come. One way was by using prophets to foretell how He would redeem humanity and sovereignly rule over heaven and earth.
Once Jesus came and gave His life, He established the "present" kingdom. This isn't a geographical locale; it's a term describing the heart, where God's Holy Spirit indwells believers to guide, counsel, and empower.
But there is also a future aspect of the kingdom, which we can anticipate with excitement. You are probably familiar with the words "Thy kingdom come" from the Lord's Prayer (Luke 11:2 kjv). This speaks of the new heaven and new earth, where we will enjoy freedom from pain and sin. There, we will worship Jesus with gladness and joy for all eternity.
As God's kingdom ambassadors, we who are His children have the responsibility and privilege of sharing the good news: Through Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, all who trust in Him are forgiven of sin and assured of eternal life with God. Whom can you tell about this amazing gift?

~Charles Stanley~

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Fight of the Faith # 4

The Principle of Sonship - the Heart of the Faith

This is something specific, unique, peculiar in God's universe, which marks out those associated with it as being different in position and nature, and we must get closer to this, with regard to what the faith was and is. I think the best point at which we can approach it and get help is to note just where the fight came to light. I do not mean where the fight began; it began long, long centuries before this. It began in the Garden; it began perhaps even before the Garden. But, while it was there all the time right through the ages, it came to light in its nature and meaning at a certain point. The Lord Jesus dragged it out into the light by coming Himself, by Himself begin present.

In Luke 4 we have the point at which the fight came most clearly to light, and it is couched in this interrogation repeated by the enemy - "If thou be the Son of God ..." The occasion was a battle in the wilderness between Christ and satan, the battle of all the ages now joined in its fullest and deepest and most malignant sense, and that battle is concentrated in this word - "If thou be the Son of God ..."

What then, is "the faith"? It is gathered into that phrase "the Son of God". Now, Jesus Christ as the Son of God - that is, the deity of Christ - may be a tenet of the Christian faith, a part of Christian doctrine; but oh, it is something more than that! It is something around which this battle has raged in unabated fury. It is the occasion of all the conflict. Jesus, the Son of God: that is "the faith". That is something far more than a statement. I have said it is an experience. Sonship is something immense in God's thought, and it is upon this whole question of sonship that the battle rages, both in His case and in ours. If you want to know what the occasion of all the trouble is, it is gathered into one word - sonship; all that that means with God, both for the Lord Jesus and for the many sons whom He is bringing to glory. That word "sonship" carries with it everything that stirs and rouses hell to its depths, and explains all the trouble,all the suffering, all the conflict. It came to light on that point. There had been an announcement made from heaven - "This is my beloved Son" (Luke 3:22). Then, into the wilderness, and to the challenge - "If thou be the Son ..." And so intense was  the spiritual conflict in the wilderness that angels had to be sent from heaven to minister unto Him.

Well, we may know just a little bit about that. Have you never known spiritual conflict which has made it necessary for the Lord to minister life to you in such a way that, but for it, you could not go on. That often times is the effect of spiritual conflict. His, of course, was an experience far beyond ours, but we share that, and the focal point of it all is just the same in our case as in His - although He was the consummate center of it all - sonship. "If thou be the Son ..."

In that challenge and that language, there is a recognition of the uniqueness of this Sonship. What I mean is this: One of the strategic, cunning, subtle methods of satan, to deal with this whole matter to its nullification, is to propagate the doctrine of the universal sonship of mankind. You can hear it on the TV almost any morning you like. We are all God's sons, if we will look deep enough into our own natures. All we have to do is turn inward and go deep and we shall find God! Then, by the holy exercises of prayer and the sacraments, we will bring God up out of the depth of our own natures, and bringing Him up, we shall have fellowship with Him! That is the stuff that is preached worldwide today. It is a clever move of the devil's to get rid of this unique element in sonship, that it is something peculiar, particular, unique. There is no Divine continuity in man. That has been severed, and only by a miracle can union with God be recovered. But satan, you see, by his false doctrine, and doctrine of demons, has sought to subvert the truth. Is it not of that that Paul says to Timothy, "... in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1)? Of course, on the face of it, that sounds terrible: they must surely be very terrible doctrines. No, they are very lovely doctrines! One of them is this doctrine that you have God in you by nature and, if only you will turn into your own heart you will find God and you can bring Him up by holy exercises, and if you will but habituate yourself to this practice, you yourself will become Divine. A lovely doctrine, swallowed by the multitude, but a doctrine of demons! It is the satanic move to get rid of this unique nature of sonship, because that is something apart in God's universe. satan cannot touch that; it is something outside of his realm, it is unique. "If thou be the Son ...". "The Son" and "the faith" represent something exclusive. In refuting one error I am not going to fall into anther. Even by being born anew we are not made sons of God in the sense that Christ was the "only begotten" of the Father. We do not partake of deity, but we are made children of God in a sense that is not true of men generally by nature.

In this challenge - "If thou be the Son..." - there is not only recognition of the uniqueness of sonship, but there is the realization that in that sonship there is a challenge. There is not much challenge to satan in this other doctrine of the continuity of the Divine in man!But in this sonship of Christ, and of those who are begotten of God, in whom, as Paul says to the Galatians, the Spirit of His Son is ("God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts" Galatians 4:6), there is a tremendous challenge to satan, and that is why satan assailed in this way, and does assail. He would seek in some way to neutralize the spiritual reality of sonship, because it is such a challenge and threatening menace to him and his kingdom.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5)

Lord Help Me

“The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.”Matthew 15:25

A life lived well requires help from the Lord. Life is like a ship on the open sea: we navigate through calm waters, rough waters, uncertain waters and beautiful waters—but all the time trusting its Creator.  The source of our strength must be Christ, or we grow chronically tired. Faith in the Lord triumphs over fear and frustration—this especially is true when someone we love suffers severely and all we can do is lift them up to Jesus.

Indeed, His help happens to those who kneel in humble dependency and cry out to Jesus, “Lord help me!” When the body writhes in pain, we cry for help. When a critical word crushes our spirit, we cry for help. When unanswered questions stalk our minds, we cry for help. When relational conflict emaciates our emotions, we cry for help. Help from heaven gives hope, healing and the energy to push through tough times and trust Him.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him” (Psalm 28:7).

His help gives joy where laughter has left. His help gives confidence in the middle of crisis. His help forgives when hurt has severed another’s trust. His help harnesses grace and bridles a toxic tongue. His help reaches to the poorest of the poor, the richest of the rich and everyone in between—with His saving grace in Jesus Christ. His help helps.

How can Jesus help you? Do you need wisdom? Ask Him with a humble heart and He will hear and answer your request. His response may come in the form of godly friends who give you wise advice—so look around and listen intently—for the Lord speaks through those who truly love you. Jesus helps those who humbly seek out and trust wise counsel.

“When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge” (Proverbs 21:11).

Furthermore, who do you know that needs the Lord’s help? Have you, on bended knee, petitioned Jesus on their behalf? Be bold for their sakes and for the glory of God. Go to Jesus so someone can get to Jesus in healing and forgiveness. Be an advocate for others, as some don’t know what they don’t know—ignorance requires bold belief on its behalf.

“May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day”(2 Timothy 1:18a).

Prayer: What help do I need from the Lord? Whom can I seek help from the Lord for on their behalf?

Related Readings: Psalm 30:2, 10; 33:20; Isaiah 41:13-14; Acts 20:35; Hebrews 13:6

~Wisdom Hunters Devotional

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Fight of the Faith # 3

The Faith - A Spiritual Position

Then it resolves itself into two things. Firstly, it resolves itself into a spiritual position. The faith is more than a doctrine; it is a spiritual position. Those who are in the faith, and of the faith, are a people who occupy a position which is recognized by all the spiritual intelligences which are in another position, and, because they occupy that position, they are marked out, and without inviting it they know what spiritual conflict is. Their very position brings that upon them.

By way of illustration in the type, the antagonism of the nations toward Israel of old was simply because of Israel's spiritual position. They represented a heavenly position as apart from this world, as in union with God and His Christ, and ultimate supremacy was bound up, not with them just in a people, but with them as a people in the spiritual position which they held. When they lost their spiritual position, the destiny was suspended, the realization of the purpose was made impossible. But, while they preserved the spiritual position, that, in itself, brought everything against them. You might have said, Well, these people, somehow or other, are the most provocative people in the world; somehow or other they stir p trouble wherever they go! That may be said to their disadvantage, to their discredit, but the fact is that they could not help themselves. It was not that they were inviting hostility, but their very position precipitated it, and brought it upon them. 

And we must recognize that there is something even more in the antitype than in the type; I mean in the case of the Church. The Church is a far more spiritual thing than was Israel on the earth. The Church is a far more heavenly thing in reality that was that which was only heavenly in type, and we shall be very provocative people if we are in the faith. I mean that we shall be the cause of trouble; there will be spontaneous antagonism. We shall not have to be awkward people who cannot get on with anybody. We shall be here as a challenge, and we shall not be able to avoid or evade spiritual conflict. It becomes spontaneous.

It is like that in the type. You remember the smitten rock, the waters gushing out, and the Psalm "Spring up, O well" (Numbers 21:17) - a foreshadowing of the Holy Spirit coming in fullness into the life of the Lord's people. What is the next thing? "Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel" (Ex. 17:8). There is nothing between. "Spring up, O well"; that is one phase. The next phase is, "Then came Amalek, and fought ..." Pentecost, then persecution! The Spirit, then the wilderness and the devil! It is always like that. A spiritual position precipitates spiritual conflict, and the faith was always in that very atmosphere and realm. Every time you have the faith, you have the fight. It is a position.

The Faith - a Nature

But of course it is also another thing. It is a nature. A kind of being has come into God's universe which is not welcome, the universe being as it is. To spoil that kind, to change that nature, will be the one object of those antagonistic forces; to bring down from the position by corrupting, polluting, tainting, changing the nature if possible. That was the enemy's objective in and with the very Son of God Himself in the wilderness; to get Him to forsake His exalted position by coming down on to another level of life and nature.

The faith, then, represents a kind of people who must be got rid of, if possible, anyhow: and therein lies the conflict. So the faith is not just a subject preached or taught; it is a power let loose. That is the faith - a power let loose. Paul says, "I have fought the good fight... I have kept the faith"; and he exhorts Timothy to "fight the good fight of the faith". The article occurring three times in that statement is impressive - "Fight the good fight of the faith, lay hold on the eternal life".

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - "The Principle of Sonship - the Heart of the Faith")

A Good Understanding

1 Corinthians 1:30
Who of God is made unto us wisdom.
Man's intellect seeks after rest, and by nature seeks it apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. Men of education are apt, even when converted, to look upon the simplicities of the cross of Christ with an eye too little reverent and loving. They are snared in the old net in which the Grecians were taken, and have a hankering to mix philosophy with revelation. The temptation with a man of refined thought and high education is to depart from the simple truth of Christ crucified, and to invent, as the term is, a more intellectual doctrine. This led the early Christian churches into Gnosticism, and bewitched them with all sorts of heresies. This is the root of Neology, and the other fine things which in days gone by were so fashionable in Germany, and are now so ensnaring to certain classes of divines. Whoever you are, good reader, and whatever your education may be, if you be the Lord's, be assured you will find no rest in philosophizing divinity. You may receive this dogma of one great thinker, or that dream of another profound reasoner, but what the chaff is to the wheat, that will these be to the pure word of God. All that reason, when best guided, can find out is but the A B C of truth, and even that lacks certainty, while in Christ Jesus there is treasured up all the fulness of wisdom and knowledge. All attempts on the part of Christians to be content with systems such as Unitarian and Broad-church thinkers would approve of, must fail; true heirs of heaven must come back to the grandly simple reality which makes the ploughboy's eye flash with joy, and glads the pious pauper's heart-"Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." Jesus satisfies the most elevated intellect when He is believingly received, but apart from Him the mind of the regenerate discovers no rest. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." "A good understanding have all they that do His commandments."

~Charles Spurgeon~