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Friday, February 28, 2014

Christ - All, and In All # 6

4. The Explanation of Christian Growth

What is spiritual growth? What is spiritual maturity? What is it to go on in the Lord? I fear we have got mixed ideas about this. Many think that spiritual maturity is a more comprehensive knowledge of Christian doctrine, a larger grasp of scriptural truth, a wider expanse of the knowledge of the things of God; and many such features are recorded as marks of growth, development, spiritual maturity. Beloved, it is nothing of the kind. The hallmark of true spiritual development and maturity is this, that we have grown so much less and the Lord Jesus has grown so much more. The mature soul is one who is small in his or her own eyes, but in whose eyes the Lord Jesus is great. That is growth. We may know a very great deal, have a wonderful grasp of doctrine, of teaching, of truth, even of Scriptures, and yet be spiritually very small, very immature, very childish. (There is all the difference between being childish and child-like.) Real spiritual growth is just this: I decrease, He increases. It is the Lord Jesus becoming more. You can test spiritual growth by that.

Then again this word is -

5. The Explanation of All Service

What is Christian service according to the mind of God? It is NOT necessarily our having a very full program of Christian activities. It is NOT that we are always busy in what we call "things of the Lord." It is NOT the measure and amount of our activity and business, NOT the degree of our energy and enthusiasm in the things of the kingdom of God. It is NOT our schemes , our enterprises for the Lord. Beloved, the test of all service is its MOTIVE. Is the motive, from start to finish, that in all things He may have the preeminence, that Christ may be all, and in all?

You know the temptations and the fascination of Christian service; the fascination of being busy, of being occupied with many things; having your program, schemes, enterprises; being in it, and always at it. There is a peril there which has caught multitudes of the Lord's servants. The peril is that it brings them into prominence, it makes the work theirs; it is their work, their interests, and the more they govern the thing and run it the more pleased they are.

No, there is a difference between going the round of the clock in Christian service as the mere enjoyment of activity, with the fascination of it and all the advantages and facilities it provides for ourselves, and its gratification to our flesh - there is a great difference between that and this, "Christ all, and in all." Sometimes this latter is achieved by our being put out of action; and then is the test, as to whether we are, or are not, quite satisfied to be altogether put out of work if only the Lord can be the more glorified thereby. If only He can come into His own, it does not matter a scrap whether we are seen or heard. We are getting somewhere, in the grace of God, when we are quite content to be put up in a corner, unseen and unnoticed, if thereby the Lord Jesus can come into His own more speedily and fully.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7)

His Life for His Enemies!

Daniel 9:26
The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself.
Blessed be His name, there was no cause of death in Him. Neither original nor actual sin had defiled Him, and therefore death had no claim upon Him. No man could have taken His life from Him justly, for He had done no man wrong, and no man could even have lain Him by force unless He had been pleased to yield Himself to die. But lo, one sins and another suffers. Justice was offended by us, but found its satisfaction in Him. Rivers of tears, mountains of offerings, seas of the blood of bullocks, and hills of frankincense, could not have availed for the removal of sin; but Jesus was cut off for us, and the cause of wrath was cut off at once, for sin was put away for ever. Herein is wisdom, whereby substitution, the sure and speedy way of atonement, was devised! Herein is condescension, which brought Messiah, the Prince, to wear a crown of thorns, and die upon the cross! Herein is love, which led the Redeemer to lay down His life for His enemies! It is not enough, however, to admire the spectacle of the innocent bleeding for the guilty, we must make sure of our interest therein. The special object of the Messiah's death was the salvation of His church; have we a part and a lot among those for whom He gave His life a ransom? Did the Lord Jesus stand as our representative? Are we healed by His stripes? It will be a terrible thing indeed if we should come short of a portion in His sacrifice; it were better for us that we had never been born. Solemn as the question is, it is a joyful circumstance that it is one which may be answered clearly and without mistake. To all who believe on Him the Lord Jesus is a present Saviour, and upon them all the blood of reconciliation has been sprinkled. Let all who trust in the merit of Messiah's death be joyful at every remembrance of Him, and let their holy gratitude lead them to the fullest consecration to His cause.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Christ - All, and In All # 5

3. The Explanation of Redemption (continued)

Beloved, the Cross was intended only to make the Lord Jesus all, and in all, for us; and is it not true that, because of the way that the Lord has dealt with us, the way in which He has applied the Cross, planting us into that death and burial, we know Him in a way in which we never knew Him before? Is it not by that way that He has become what He is to us, ever more and more dear to our hearts? The increase of the Lord Jesus in and to us is by the way of the Cross. We know quite well that our chief enemy is ourselves, our flesh. This flesh gives us no rest, no peace, no satisfaction; we have no joy in it. It obsesses, engrosses, constantly struts across our path to rob us of the very joy of living. What is to be done with it? Well, in and by the Cross we are delivered from ourselves; not only from our sins, but from ourselves; and being delivered from ourselves we are delivered into Christ, and Christ becomes far more than we. It is a painful process, but it is a blessed issue; and those among us who may have had the greatest agony along this line would, I believe, testify that what it has brought to us of the knowledge and riches of the Lord Jesus has made all the suffering worth while. So the work of the Lord for us! and the work of the Lord in us, by the Cross, is only intended in the Divine thought to make room for the Lord Jesus.

The brazen altar of the Tabernacle, as that of the Temple, was a very big altar. You could get all the other furniture of the whole Tabernacle inside it. Yes, the altar has to be a big one; there has to be a big place for Christ Crucified. He is to fill all things and He is to be the fullness of things, and there is going to be no room for us in the end. Does that strike you with dismay? Surely not. So the Cross, the work of redemption through that Cross, has for its explanation just this, that Christ may be all, and in all; that in all things He my have the preeminence.

This, then, is the explanation of our experiences - why the Lord deals with us as He does; why believers go through the experiences that they do go through; why they go through things that no one else seems called upon to go through; why sometimes they almost envy unbelievers the easy time that so many of them have. This explains the Lord's dealings with Israel in the wilderness. Even after their deliverance from Egypt's bondage and tyranny, there was heart-break and agony. Why this chastening? In the wilderness, they still hark back to Egypt. The work the Lord is doing in them is in order that He may be everything in and to them. If He cuts off their natural supplies, it is only to show what their heavenly supplies are. If He cuts off their natural power, it is that they may come to know the power of the heavens. Whatever He may take them out of or lead them into, is with a view to taking them out of themselves and that He Himself may be all, and in all.

This is the explanation of our difficulties. The Lord knows how best to deal with each one of us, and He does not use standardized methods. He deals with you in one way and with me in another. He knows how to lead us into experiences which are most calculated to bring us to where the Lord is all, and in all.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6 - "The Explanation of Christian Growth")

The Higher Court

Psalm 109:4
But I give myself unto prayer.
Lying tongues were busy against the reputation of David, but he did not defend himself; he moved the case into a higher court, and pleaded before the great King Himself. Prayer is the safest method of replying to words of hatred. The Psalmist prayed in no cold-hearted manner, he gave himself to the exercise-threw his whole soul and heart into it-straining every sinew and muscle, as Jacob did when wrestling with the angel. Thus, and thus only, shall any of us speed at the throne of grace. As a shadow has no power because there is no substance in it, even so that supplication, in which a man's proper self is not thoroughly present in agonizing earnestness and vehement desire, is utterly ineffectual, for it lacks that which would give it force. "Fervent prayer," says an old divine, "like a cannon planted at the gates of heaven, makes them fly open." The common fault with the most of us is our readiness to yield to distractions. Our thoughts go roving hither and thither, and we make little progress towards our desired end. Like quicksilver our mind will not hold together, but rolls off this way and that. How great an evil this is! It injures us, and what is worse, it insults our God. What should we think of a petitioner, if, while having an audience with a prince, he should be playing with a feather or catching a fly? Continuance and perseverance are intended in the expression of our text. David did not cry once, and then relapse into silence; his holy clamour was continued till it brought down the blessing. Prayer must not be our chance work, but our daily business, our habit and vocation. As artists give themselves to their models, and poets to their classical pursuits, so must we addict ourselves to prayer. We must be immersed in prayer as in our element, and so pray without ceasing. Lord, teach us so to pray that we may be more and more prevalent in supplication.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Christ - All, and In All # 4

2. The Explanation of Man

Then, in the next place, as a central part of the creation, we have man. What is the explanation of man? What is the explanation of Adam as the first man? There is one little passage of Scripture which answers that. "Adam ... who is a figure of Him that was to come," that is, Christ (Romans 5:14). A figure of Him that was to come; that is the explanation of man. God intended that every man entering this world should be conformed to  the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Multitudes will miss it, but there will be multitudes  such as no man can number, out of every tribe and kindred and nation and tongue, who will realize it. What a high calling! What a different conception of man that is from that which is popularly held, and what a thing to be missed! And yet there are many who say complainingly that if they had had their way they would never have come into this world. There have been those who, in an hour of eclipse, cursed the day that they saw the light. Ah, but something has gone wrong there; that is not how the Lord meant it to be, and however much we may have blue days, when we wonder whether really it is worthwhile after all, let us come back to God's thought in our very being. It is our tremendous privilege, the highest honor that could ever have been conferred upon us from the Divine standpoint, that we should have been born.

We do not always feel or speak like that, but we are constantly compelled to bring ourselves back to God's pint of view about this and to remember that His purpose is to have a universe peopled with such as are conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, a people who are a universal manifestation of Christ glorified with the glory of the Father. That is a privilege, an honor, something to be born for! That is the explanation of man.

We can only touch many of these matters lightly, and pass on.

3. The Explanation of Redemption

Further, this word, "Christ is all, and in all," is the explanation of redemption. Things of course went wrong: God's purpose was interfered with. It could never be finally thwarted, but there was another who did determine that, so far as it was in his power, that universal display of Jesus Christ - that 'all-in-all-ness' of the Lord Jesus - should never be; one who desired to have that for himself - that he should be universal lord of heaven and earth. That interference for a time has made a great deal of difference. It has interfered with man and made him other than God intended him to be. It has spoiled the image.

But there is redemption through the Cross of the Lord Jesus. What is the explanation of the Cross? What is the explanation, on the one hand, of all that atonement, that redemptive work of the Lord Jesus in dealing with sin, and having universal sin laid upon Him, and being made a curse for us, in our place?

And then, on the other hand, as the complement of that, what is the explanation of that Cross being wrought in the believer so that the believer becomes united with Him in the likeness of His death and burial as a spiritual experience? - all that application of Calvary which is so painful, so terrible to pass through: yes, the disintegrating of the "old man," the cutting off of the "body of flesh," that inward knowledge of the power of the Cross, so terrible to the flesh. What is the explanation? Beloved, it is that Christ may be all, and in all.

Why are we broken? To make room for the Lord Jesus. Why are we brought down to the dust by the Holy Spirit as He works Calvary's death into us? In order that the Lord Jesus may take the place that we in the flesh have occupied. We get wrong sometimes about this application of the Cross. The enemy is always at our elbow to insinuate and suggest the unkindness of God to smash us, to humiliate us, to bring us to nothing, and to say that there is no end to this thing, seeking thus to get us down.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5 [very, very informative])

It's No Accident

And the Lord appeared unto Isaac the same night (Genesis 26:24).

"Appeared the same night," the night on which he went to Beer-sheba. Do you think this revelation was an accident? Do you think the time of it was an accident? Do you think it could have happened on any other night as well as this? If so, you are grievously mistaken. Why did it come to Isaac in the night on which he reached Beer-sheba? Because that was the night on which he reached rest. In his old locality, he had been tormented. There had been a whole series of petty quarrels about the possession of paltry wells. There are no worries like little worries, particularly if there is an accumulation of them. Isaac felt this. Even after the strife was past, the place retained a disagreeable association. He determined to leave. He sought change of scene. He pitched his tent away from the place of former strife. That very night the revelation came. God spoke when there was no inward storm. He could not speak when the mind was fretted; His voice demands the silence of the soul. Only in the hush of the spirit could Isaac hear the garments of his God sweep by. His still night was his starry night.
My soul, hast thou pondered these words, "Be still, and know"? In the hour of perturbation, thou canst not hear the answer to thy prayers. How often has the answer seemed to come long after the heart got no response in the moment of its crying -- in its thunder, its earthquake, and its fire. But when the crying ceased, when the stillness fell, when thy hand desisted from knocking on the iron gate, when the interest of other lives broke the tragedy of thine own, then appeared the long-delayed reply. Thou must rest, O soul, if thou wouldst have thy heart's desire. Still the beating of thy pulse of personal care. Hide thy tempest of individual trouble behind the altar of a common tribulation and, that same night, the Lord shall appear to thee. The rainbow shall span the place of the subsiding flood, and in thy stillness thou shalt hear the everlasting music.
--George Matheson
Tread in solitude thy pathway,
Quiet heart and undismayed.
Thou shalt know things strange, mysterious,
Which to thee no voice has said.
While the crowd of petty hustlers
Grasps at vain and paltry things,
Thou wilt see a great world rising
Where soft mystic music rings.
Leave the dusty road to others,
Spotless keep thy soul and bright,
As the radiant ocean's surface
When the sun is taking flight.
~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Christ - All, and In All # 3

The Explanation of the Creation Itself (continued)

In the former passage there is a definite statement and a clear implication. The statement is that the creation was subjected to vanity, and its state is the bondage of corruption. The implication clearly is that there was a definite time when, because of its corruption, the whole creation was brought into a condition in which it was caused to groan and travail unto an end that could not be reached. It is in that connection that there is given room for the whole range and nature of the satanic interference with the creation with a view to challenging the ultimate divine purpose in the creation and to frustrating it by bringing in corruption. So universal was that corruption that a sentence of vanity was pronounced upon "the whole creation." The effect of this was, and is, that the creation can never realize the object of its being, save on the ground of holiness and Divine likeness.

Here there comes in also the whole range of "the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"; the universal work which He accomplished by His Cross in the destruction of the work of the devil, and, potentially, of the devil himself; with all the sin-destroying and corruption-destroying power of His sinless nature and life, the efficacy of His incorruptible Blood, and the providing of justification and sanctification for all who believe, these by regeneration becoming "a new creation in Christ Jesus" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

By this means alone can the creation be delivered. When these sons of God are manifested - their number complete - and all who have refused this salvation are dismissed from God's realm, then shall the creation be delivered and its original intention be realized, Christ being all, and in all. 

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - "The Explanation of Man")

He Goes Before Us

He putteth forth his own sheep (John 10:4).

Oh, this is bitter work for Him and us -- bitter for us to go, but equally bitter for Him to cause us pain; yet it must be done. It would not be conducive to our true welfare to stay always in one happy and comfortable lot. He therefore puts us forth. The fold is deserted, that the sheep may wander over the bracing mountain slope. The laborers must be thrust out into the harvest, else the golden grain would spoil.
Take heart! it could not be better to stay when He determines otherwise; and if the loving hand of our Lord puts us forth, it must be well. On, in His name, to green pastures and still waters and mountain heights! He goeth before thee. Whatever awaits us is encountered first by Him. Faith's eye can always discern His majestic presence in front; and when that cannot be seen, it is dangerous to move forward. Bind this comfort to your heart, that the Savior has tried for Himself all the experiences through which He asks you to pass; and He would not ask you to pass through them unless He was sure that they were not too difficult for your feet, or too trying for your strength.
This is the Blessed Life -- not anxious to see far in front, nor careful about the next step, not eager to choose the path, nor weighted with the heavy responsibilities of the future, but quietly following behind the Shepherd, one step at a time.
Dark is the sky! and veiled the unknown morrow
Dark is life's way, for night is not yet o'er;
The longed-for glimpse I may not meanwhile borrow;
But, this I know, HE GOETH ON BEFORE.
Dangers are nigh! and fears my mind are shaking;
Heart seems to dread what life may hold in store;
But I am His--He knows the way I'm taking,
More blessed still--HE GOETH ON BEFORE.
Doubts cast their weird, unwelcome shadows o'er me,
Doubts that life's best--life's choicest things are o'er;
What but His Word can strengthen, can restore me,
And this blest fact; that still HE GOES BEFORE.
HE GOES BEFORE! Be this my consolation!
He goes before! On this my heart would dwell!
He goes before! This guarantees salvation!
HE GOES BEFORE! And therefore all is well. 

--J. D. Smith
The Oriental shepherd was always ahead of his sheep. He was down in front. Any attack upon them had to take him into account. Now God is down in front. He is in the tomorrows. It is tomorrow that fills men with dread. God is there already. All the tomorrows of our life have to pass Him before they can get to us.
--F. B. M.
God is in every tomorrow,
Therefore I live for today,
Certain of finding at sunrise,
Guidance and strength for the way;
Power for each moment of weakness,
Hope for each moment of pain,
Comfort for every sorrow,
Sunshine and joy after rain.
~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, February 24, 2014

Christ - All, And In All # 2

1. The Explanation of the Creation Itself (continued)

It is a happy thing when as a company of the Lord's children, we can be together for hours on end or even days on end; when we are occupied with the Lord as our one common interest and are all taken up with Him. When we have a time like that and go back into the world, what a different atmosphere we find! How chilled we feel! It is a fine thing to meet the Lord in His children and to be shut up to Him like that; but even then it is only in part. But the eternal day is coming when there will be no going back into the world on a Monday morning after a day in the courts of the Lord; when we shall be touching nothing else but the Lord Jesus, and the whole universe will be full of Him - "Christ all, and in all"! That is God's end. That is what He has determined; all displaying the Lord Jesus; all for Him.

We see much that is not the Lord Jesus in one another now; the day is coming when you will see nothing but the Lord Jesus in me, and I shall see nothing but the Lord Jesus in you; we shall be "conformed to the image of His Son": His moral glory will shine out and be displayed; Christ will be "all, and in all." God has determined it, and what God has determined, He will have. This, then, is the explanation of the creation, that Christ may be all, and in all, and among all have the preeminence.

In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul has a very remarkable statement in this connection:

"For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of Him Who subjected it, in hope, that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (8:19-22).

Note what this really says and implies. The creation is possessed by an earnest  expectation. This expectation is with groaning as in travail, an expectation of hope - not of the dissolution of the universe, of which certain scientists say so much. Nevertheless the hope and the groaning "hereunto are deliberately put under a reign of vanity - made to be all in vain - until a fixed time and goal. That climax is in two parts: one, the revealing of the sons of God; the other - linked therewith - the deliverance of the creation from the enslavement to corruption.

All this is taken back to eternity past and linked with the Lord Jesus as the Son: "For whom He foreknow, He also foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren" (8:29).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Godly Living in an Ungodly Age

Our Founding Fathers created a governing framework based upon biblical principles. Slowly, we have changed from “one nation under God” to a group of people who no longer want Him to be involved.

Tragically, we’ve become, in numerous ways, an ungodly nation: many are driven by materialism and power; immorality and rebellion are prevalent; empty philosophy and false doctrine are widely acceptable. Underlying it all is a vocal decision to take God out of the nation’s “official business.”

Yet even in an unbelieving society, people can, as individuals, follow Jesus. But the world will continually disseminate faulty teachings, so believers must be discerning. Otherwise, erroneous messages can lead Christians to compromise their convictions. Then affections and priorities may change. Don’t let the world’s clamor make the Spirit’s voice less audible. Without His guidance, our minds become vulnerable to lies.

The Word of God is a compass that keeps us headed in the right direction—even in the midst of confusing messages all around. We need to be consistently filled with truth by reading, believing, meditating upon, and applying Scripture. God also tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). If our minds are focused upon Him, unholy beliefs will not be able to take root.
The Word is our guidebook. We will still face difficulty as we live in this imperfect world—it is a confusing, dark place that entices us but never fulfills our true longings. Yet God’s truth will bring confidence and boldness, and His Spirit will direct and strengthen, enabling us to live victoriously.

~Charles Stanley~

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Christ - All, And In All

"And He is the Head of the body, the church: Who is the beginning, the First-born from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence" (Colossians 1:18)

"Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all" (Colossians 3:11)

There has been a great deal done in recent days to bring the greater magnitudes of the universe within the intelligence of the ordinary man and woman. This means that many people are interested in the explanation of the universe, and, no doubt in particular, of the course of this earth and of the creation and history of man; but we believe that we have the positive and final answer to the inquiry. For us there is but one definite and conclusive explanation of the universe, and that explanation is the Person - the Lord Jesus Christ, with all that is eternally related to Him. However much we read and study we shall never get the explanation of the universe, in whole or in part, until we come to see the place of the Lord Jesus in the eternal appointment of God. The simple but all-embracing words, "Christ is all, and in all," sum up the whole matter from eternity, through all stages of time, unto eternity.

Firstly, then, that "Christ is all, and in all" is -

1. The Explanation of the Creation Itself

This letter to the Colossians makes that very statement in other words. It tells us that "In Him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through Him, and unto Him; and He is before all things, and in Him all things consist (hold together)" (1:16-17). That is a comprehensive statement, and it clearly shows that Christ being all, and in all, is the explanation of the whole creation. Why were all things created? Why did God through Him bring the universe into being? Why does this great universal system exist and continue? What is the explanation of the world? The answer is that Christ may be all, and in all.

The intention in the heart of God in bringing this universe into existence was that, ultimately, the whole creation should display the glory and supremacy of His Son, Jesus Christ; and this one little fragment, "and in Him all things hold together," says quite clearly that but for the Lord Jesus Christ the whole universe would disintegrate, fall apart; it would be without its uniting factor; it would cease to have a reason for being maintained as a complete and concrete whole. Its holding together, its failure to disintegrate and break up, is because of this: God has determined that the Lord Jesus shall be the center, the governing center, of this whole universe, and He - God's Son - is the explanation of creation. But for Him, there never would have been a creation. Take Him out, and creation loses its purpose and its object, and need not go on any longer. "Christ is all, and in all," was the thought, the ruling thought, in the mind of God in the creation of the universe.

That may leave you cold in some measure and not get you very far, but I venture to think that what I am now going to say will get you a little further and warm your hearts; for the prospect is this, that when God has things as in eternity past He determined to have them - and He is going to have them so - every atom of this whole universe will display the glory of Jesus Christ. You will not be able to look at anything or anyone without seeing Christ glorified. A blessed prospect!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

A Believer's Peace

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things where with one may edify another. - Romans 14:19

Today, believers and unbelievers alike are looking for peace. But how do we follow after the things of peace?  Since everyone is longing and searching for peace, let’s first define the difference between the peace of the unbeliever with the peace of the believer.

The unbeliever is looking for peace in the outer circumstances of their lives. “If only the world was a peaceful place to be, if only we had a leader that would establish peace, if only everyone else would be kind to one another….then we would have peace” are the hopes and thoughts of the unbelievers. So, they look for leaders who could bring this kind of peace to their environment. We all agree with this kind of thinking to some extent. Wouldn’t we all be happy with world peace and conflict free circumstances? But Jesus tells us that in this world you will have tribulation and the Bible teaches that the only leader who will bring world peace is the spirit of the antichrist. World peace cannot last under his reign for Satan is the master of division, destruction, disaster and death.

A believer’s peace is different. Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you.” The kind of peace Jesus gives is peace of heart. Christians should have great peace knowing that they are unconditionally loved and that God has a purpose for them. There is great peace seeing prayers answered and understanding the things of God. As a believer begins to meditate upon the things of God, the peace they receive in their hearts starts training their minds to think differently. We start hearing praise songs going through our minds and thanking God for His lovingkindness and goodness towards us. Finally, this peace of Christ is lived out through the believers’ behaviors. Their attitude is not negative and they smile for no reason. They are focused but not self centered. And their behavior starts reflecting a trust in God that all things will work together for good because they love God and know God loves them. A believer understands that it is not about conflict-free circumstances that bring peace but about Jesus who brings peace in the midst of all kinds of circumstances. So, we follow after the things of peace leading us to follow the Author of perfect peace Himself.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Battleground of the Soul # 3

The Need for Persistent Determination (continued)

I think that does say to say that a position has to be taken inclusively and over many things where the will of God is concerned. We have to come very definitely and positively to such a position, and then realize that from time to time there will be, by one means or another, an effort of the enemy to change our minds, to weaken us in that course, to make other suggestions, to get us to reconsider it in the light of various issues and interests. We shall meet this offending, this stumbling, this hindering thing and have to be very ruthless with it. The way the Lord dealt with Peter was, in a sense, ruthless. Really there was no weakness in His attitude over that. Discerning its true nature, He saw clearly that, if He yielded to this suggestion, then He would go neither to Jerusalem nor to the Cross. It is a question of whether we have settled that such and such is the way of the will of God, and then, will this or that arising mean in the long run that we never get there, never do that will? If so, it has to be handled very ruthlessly and put out of the way and put behind us. The Cross comes to us in many connections and different terms.

Then, if we are really going to come through to the place of spiritual power as did Peter, that ground of the enemy must continually be forsaken and refused. The enemy has to be robbed of that which will destroy us and give him power to destroy us, and we have to be very ruthless with anything that arises to give him that position and defeat God's intention where we are concerned. This battle of heaven and hell, God and satan, goes on in our souls, but there is for us this consolation, that we have a High Priest ever living to make intercession. We have a great asset in the continual intercession of the Lord Jesus for us. Let us close on that note of encouragement and assurance.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Comfort Ye

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God (Isaiah 40:1).

Store up comfort. This was the prophet's mission. The world is full of comfortless hearts, and ere thou art sufficient for this lofty ministry, thou must be trained. And thy training is costly in the extreme; for, to render it perfect, thou too must pass through the same afflictions as are wringing countless hearts of tears and blood. Thus thy own life becomes the hospital ward where thou art taught the Divine art of comfort. Thou art wounded, that in the binding up of thy wounds by the Great Physician, thou mayest learn how to render first aid to the wounded everywhere. Dost thou wonder why thou art passing through some special sorrow? Wait till ten years are passed, and thou wilt find many others afflicted as thou art. Thou wilt tell them how thou hast suffered and hast been comforted; then as the tale is unfolded, and the anodynes applied which once thy God wrapped around thee, in the eager look and the gleam of hope that shall chase the shadow of despair across the soul, thou shalt know why thou wast afflicted, and bless God for the discipline that stored thy life with such a fund of experience and helpfulness.
God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.
--Dr. Jowett
They tell me I must bruise
The rose's leaf,
Ere I can keep and use
Its fragrance brief.
"They tell me I must break
The skylark's heart,
Ere her cage song will make
The silence start.
They tell me love must bleed,
And friendship weep,
Ere in my deepest need
I touch that deep.
Must it be always so
With precious things?
Must they be bruised and go
With beaten wings?
Ah, yes! by crushing days,
By caging nights, by scar
Of thorn and stony ways,
These blessings are!
~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Battleground of the Soul # 2

a. The Ground of satan's power - the World (continued)

Firstly, then, it is very evident that any ground of the world, which in its nature is a kingdom without suffering, without the Cross, without the setting aside of natural life, is the realm of satan's power and authority. It is perfectly clear that, in the case of the Church, speaking fairly generally, and in the case of countless individual Christians, the weakness, defeat and dishonor which characterize them, and which became so manifest in Peter's case, are due to occupying the ground of satan's strength. That ground may be said to be compromise with the world in its principle.

b. Uncrucified Self

In the second place, there was Peter's own self-strength, self-confidence. "Lord, with Thee I am ready to go both to prison and to death." He later found out how unready, how unprepared, he was for that, but at the time it was a case of self-confidence, and that ground brought his undoing and satan's power. The self still alive and dominant instead of dead, put to the Cross, is the ground of satan's power. Not until the soul has been denied and laid down is the power of satan destroyed and spiritual power established in the life of the child and the servant of God. It is a question of the ground - whether it is the world or whether it is the self (another word for the flesh) - that determines how far satan has power and how far we have spiritual power.

The Need for Persistent Determination

Now, what the Lord says here to Peter is very indicative and, I think, very helpful. "Thou art a stumbling block (an offence) unto Me." The Lord had fought out this battle, had taken His ground, put both His feet down upon this way of the will of God for Him, namely, by the Cross to the Kingdom; and it was for Him no easy way. It was not just the being crucified and being killed, but being made sin and all that is involved of ultimately suffering the forsaking of God. It was no easy way, and He had to keep Himself rigidly in that direction, and anything that came along to influence Him otherwise only brought up the new demand for resolution and persistence. Thus it offended Him in the sense that it made it difficult for Him, it made it hard for Him, it was not helping Him. It may have been intended to help, so far as Peter was concerned, not knowing what he was saying, but behind it the Lord saw that it only raised the old issue again, the old battle, and therefore it offended His sense of the will of His Father and stood across His path to make the way more difficult.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Serve the Lord with Gladness

Psalm 100:2
Serve the Lord with gladness.
Delight in divine service is a token of acceptance. Those who serve God with a sad countenance, because they do what is unpleasant to them, are not serving Him at all; they bring the form of homage, but the life is absent. Our God requires no slaves to grace His throne; He is the Lord of the empire of love, and would have His servants dressed in the livery of joy. The angels of God serve Him with songs, not with groans; a murmur or a sigh would be a mutiny in their ranks. That obedience which is not voluntary is disobedience, for the Lord looketh at the heart, and if He seeth that we serve Him from force, and not because we love Him, He will reject our offering. Service coupled with cheerfulness is heart-service, and therefore true. Take away joyful willingness from the Christian, and you have removed the test of his sincerity. If a man be driven to battle, he is no patriot; but he who marches into the fray with flashing eye and beaming face, singing, "It is sweet for one's country to die," proves himself to be sincere in his patriotism. Cheerfulness is the support of our strength; in the joy of the Lord are we strong. It acts as the remover of difficulties. It is to our service what oil is to the wheels of a railway carriage. Without oil the axle soon grows hot, and accidents occur; and if there be not a holy cheerfulness to oil our wheels, our spirits will be clogged with weariness. The man who is cheerful in his service of God, proves that obedience is his element; he can sing,

"Make me to walk in Thy commands,
'Tis a delightful road."
Reader, let us put this question-do you serve the Lord with gladness? Let us show to the people of the world, who think our religion to be slavery, that it is to us a delight and a joy! Let our gladness proclaim that we serve a good Master.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Battleground of the Soul

Matthew 16:13-25; Matthew 16:23; Luke 22:31-34

We have before us the spiritual history in the making of a servant of God, and this can be seen in the representative and very human case of Simon Peter.

The thing which comes out of the passages above is the fact that, in the life of one who stands related vitally to the Lord's interests, heaven and hell have a very great concern, and such a one becomes the battleground of both realms; God and satan, heaven and hell. You could hardly have anything which more vividly illustrates that than the tremendous contrasts here. At one moment - "Blessed art thou, Simon BarJona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven"; and, it would seem, within a few minutes - "get thee behind Me, satan: thou art a stumbling-block (an offence) unto Me: for thou mindest not the things of God,but the things of men" (Matthew 16:23). Then in connection with this we have the other passage in Luke. Literally the words are, "satan obtained you by asking, that he might sift you as wheat: but I made supplication for thee." You hardly know what to make of such a swing of the pendulum in one man, but it has its lessons, and the very seriousness of the case accentuates the lessons which it teaches.

The Ground of satan's Power

a. The World

You see it is a matter, in the first place, of the ground which is taken and occupied by the one concerned. When Peter took heavenly ground - "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" - he was in a very strong position. The keys of the kingdom of heaven, binding on earth and binding in heaven, were his. He was weak, and in a very weak position, when he took earthly ground, the ground of men, the ground of his own judgment and of his own selfhood. The ground taken decided whether he was spiritually strong or weak, and whether satan had power over him or not. It would seem that, when the Lord was speaking to them about what was going to take place in Jerusalem as to His death, Simon just took Him apart quietly, and in a very kindly and consolatory way, and yet with a certain amount of patronage, one would feel,told the Lord that He must not be so depressed and gloomy, that He must take a brighter view of things, and that this sort of thing would certainly not happen to Him. But in Peter's attitude, on Peter's ground, the lord saw quite distinctly a recurrence of what He had met so terribly in the wilderness in His temptation, when satan had offered Him the kingdoms of this world without the Cross - had sought, that is to say, to divert Him from the way to which He had committed Himself. Peter became but the voice and instrument of that same arch-enemy to turn the Lord away from the Cross. Hence the word following about saving the life. But taking this ground of having the Kingdom and the Throne on any other line but God's ordained line, which is the way of the Cross, is alliance with satan, and will put anyone in that alliance into the power of satan and destroy them spiritually.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

Fall On Your Face

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly."  Then Abram fell on his faceand God talked with him. Genesis 17:1-3 

Notice what the last verse says: "Then Abram fell on his face." The Lord has appeared to Abram and has begun to speak to him. As soon as Abram hears the Lord, he falls on his face. It does not say that he knelt down or bowed to the ground. It says he "fell on his face." We are not told from the Scriptures how the Lord appeared to Abram or how He spoke to him, but we can assume that Abram recognized the appearance and voice of God Almighty. At that moment, Abram lost all composure. Then, God talked with him some more. As the chapter continues, God continues to speak to Abram. What an awesome experience to be in the presence of God!

How do you react to the presence of God? When was the last time you fell on your face before the Lord? Many Christians today have never heard the Lord speak to them and have no idea of what it means to be in God's presence. Just saying you heard the Lord speak at all can bring raised eyebrows and concerned looks from other believers. Does the Lord still speak to His people? Can we really be in His presence and know it is Him? The answers are yes and yes. Yes, we can fall on our faces in the presence of holy God and yes, He will talk to us. 
We wrote and taught a study called "Practicing the Presence of God," and in the study we included two sections on how to Practice the Presence of Hearing God's Voice. The response from Christians was enlightening and encouraging. Those who had never experienced an intimacy with the Lord learned how to worship and pray. Those who were not sure how to know if they were hearing God's voice learned how to find confirmation in the Word as well as other ways that God confirms His message to us. Most of all, we learned how to fall on our face in worship, how to come to His throne in reverence, and how to know His presence.

Today, find time to fall on your face and worship the Lord. Ask Him to speak to you through His Word and to confirm His message to you through His Spirit. Your day will be blessed and nothing else will matter as much as it once did. 

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Altar (The Cross) Governs Everything # 4

The Cross Is The Defense Against the World

And then we note another thing, the altar was the great defensive against the enemy. If you look in the Book of Ezra in chapter three, at verse three, you have this: "so they set up the altar on its foundation, for they were terrified because of the peoples of the lands ..." Because fear of the peoples of the lands was upon them they put the altar in its place. The Cross is a great defensive - The Cross defends us from the world. The world is the great enemy of the Church. The spirit of the world has always been the Church's great enemy. satan has always tried to get the world into the Church and so wreck the Church and its ministry, to destroy the influence of the Church in the world. It is a very clever and subtle move of the enemy to destroy the influence of the Church in the world by bringing the world into the Church. For Paul said, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Galatians 6:14).

A truly crucified people are never in danger of the world. It is only when the Cross has not done its work that the world has a place. The world has no place with a crucified man or woman, or a crucified company of believers. The Cross is a great defense against the world. If you want to keep the world out, put the Cross in its place. If the Cross is truly in its place in fullness, then everything else will come into fullness, then everything else will come into order. The Cross is the great defensive against the world. The Cross is the great defensive against evil powers. The Cross makes everything safe; it makes everything safe for the Lord.

You see, the Lord wants to commit Himself. He wants to trust Himself to His people, but if the Cross is not there at work, the Lord cannot trust Himself to them. The Lord says, "It is not safe for Me to give Myself there, or I should be involved in their un-crucified condition." The Cross makes everything safe for the Church. If the Cross is really at work in all of us, we can trust one another. It is quite safe to trust yourself to a crucified man or woman.

Now I close  by emphasizing that the Cross i not a doctrine to be taught. It is not a subject to be preached. Of course, it will be taught, and it will be preached. But in the first place, it is not a subject to be taught. It is not just a doctrine. The Cross is power. The Cross is an experience. The Cross is an event in our lives. The Cross is a crisis. The Cross is a revolution. The Cross is an earthquake. There was an earthquake when Jesus was crucified. If the Cross comes into our life, there will be an earthquake. Everything will be shaken, everything will be overturned. The Cross is an earthquake. It is something tremendous. The Cross is not just a theory, not just a doctrine: The Cross Governs Everything. Well, that is our message about the centrality and universality of the Cross.

The Lord grant that we shall all be crucified men and women. The assemblies to which we belong - may they be crucified assemblies. The Lord grant that His whole Church may see and view the meaning of the Cross. Amen

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Glorify Our Father

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16  

I was meditating on this verse today and saw something different. Jesus has just finished teaching the beatitudes, "Blessed are the poor in spirit…. Blessed are those who mourn…. Blessed are the meek…." Then He summarizes this section by encouraging the believer to continue doing all those things that are making them poor in spirit, mournful, meek and persecuted because the prophets were treated the same way. This leads into being salt and light. Jesus is instructing the believer to remain salty and bright, to keep burning and stinging for Him. The transitions in the message flow beautifully and make perfect sense. However, when I would read Matthew 5:16, I wondered: "How would the ‘men' glorify the Father in heaven as a result of seeing the believers' good works? If these same men are the ones causing the believer to be poor in spirit, meek and persecuted, how can they be hurting the believer while glorifying God?"

Today, I realized that the believer is the one who is instructed to glorify the Father. We, as believers, are to remain faithful to continue on regardless of the reaction of the people. We are to remain diligent, to stay sharp and be alive in living for Jesus. We don't hide who we are or apologize for what we believe. We stand strong and continue. Not only will men see our good works which will bring glory to our heavenly Father, but also we glory in our heavenly Father that we are able to endure in His good works.

There will be times that others will also glorify the Lord because of your good works.  Jesus' ministry caused others to thank God. But we don't look at others for affirmation to know that the Lord is blessing… we look to God. We need to be faithful to things God has called us to do and leave the results with Him, as we glorify our Father who is in heaven. 

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Altar (the Cross) Governs Everything # 3

The Cross in Its Place (continued)

In the Letter to the Philippians, the Cross is applied to that which is spoiling the harmony of the Lord's people. There is a painful dislocation inside the Church. There is  a spot where things are unhappy, and that is because of personal interest and pride. Some people will not let go their personal interest. Some people will not let go their pride. They have been offended, and they are not going to forgive. So the apostle brings the Cross in there over against this discord, and the dislocation; and he points out that if only the Cross were in those lives, everything would be put right.

The Letter to the Colossians - this letter shows that the Cross delivers from all false spirituality. The Cross sets aside all that is mere mysticism, and everything that would make Christ less than He is.

Then we have the Letters to the Thessalonians. Here the Cross is the strength for suffering - an inspiration unto the coming of the Lord. There may not be much said about the Cross actually, but the principle of these letters is the principle of the Cross. The people were suffering the loss of all things, and they had thought that the Lord would have come to deliver them, and the Lord is delaying His coming. So the apostle tells them that their suffering for Christ's sake: it is fellowship in the Cross, but the sufferings issued in the glory. The Lord is coming, and then it will be all right. The Cross has a very real message for suffering believers. And then we just conclude with the Letter to the Hebrews.

In the Letter to the Hebrews, the Cross shows how everything is brought to fullness and to finality. Now all of this relates to the house on its inside. It touches conduct. It touches character. It touches order. It touches ministry. If the Cross is in its place, everything will be effective.

Now I have not just given you some Bible teaching. The Cross is the key to everything. Then what is true on the inside is also true on the outside. It is the Cross which effects the whole range of the Church's influence. The river comes by way of the Cross, that is, the influence that goes out from the sanctuary to the whole land. It is the Cross which gives effectiveness to the ministry to the whole world. So the apostles preached everywhere Christ crucified.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - "The Cross Is the Defense Against the World")

Setting Goals for Fruitful Living

In the 70s, I experienced a turning point in my walk with Christ. It started with 2 Samuel 7, which inspired me to follow in King David’s footsteps. He spent time alone with God, offering praise and thanksgiving. He would also listen as the Lord revealed truth and offered insight about the future. Because of what he learned, David was able to set goals and stay aligned with them.

Desiring that kind of solitude, I spent several days alone in a camper at Georgia’s Stone Mountain. Most of the time, I was silent, listening intently for God’s voice. I asked Him to speak to me regarding my future, and He answered. Using a journal, I recorded the goals He inspired. The things He communicated so impacted my choices and so greatly blessed me that I continued the discipline every couple of months.

Let’s discuss how to establish aims in this manner. First, come before the throne of Almighty God with a repentant heart, praise, and thanksgiving. Then, ask Him for direction in areas such as spiritual life, career, and family. In silence, wait patiently and attentively—as you read and meditate upon God’s Word, He will speak. Most often, His guidance is experienced as a prodding or conviction in the heart. When that happens, be sure to write down what you’re “hearing” so you can review it later.

In order to stay on the path God intends for our lives, we should plan times to stop, ask, and listen for guidance. The world throws confusing messages at us all day long, and we need to check our course frequently. These conversations with the Lord are vital for a thriving life of godly impact.

~Charles Stanley~

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Living Hope

Believers are born into a living hope. However, people who are without Christ have no foundation for their
expectations and desires. Many live with a false sense of security. They assume that what is important in this life is the physi-cal and material. But there is no safety in things (1 Tim. 6:9). Those who pursue wealth and health rather than God find that their dreams either go unfulfilled or fail to satisfy.

Believers anchor their hope in the solid rock of Jesus Christ. His words are always true and His promises always kept. I'll sometimes hear a person project his or her unfulfilled desires on God and then argue that He came up short. But Christians who make a request and submit to God's will always get an answer—yes, no, or wait.

The Lord does not disappoint those who seek His will. Don't misunderstand that statement. We might feel temporarily let down when something we hope for is not in God's plan. But He doesn't go back on the biblical promise to give His children the best (Isa. 48:17; 64:4). When one door closes, there is another about to open with something better behind it. Friends, the Lord cannot be outdone. We can't even wish ourselves as much good as God has in store.

The best choice a Christian can make is to fix his or her hope on the Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome whatever fits His will for your life, and turn away from all that does not. Circumstances may shift and change, but Jesus never does. He is a living hope who never disappoints.

~Charles Stanley~

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Altar (The Cross) Governs Everything # 2

The Cross In Its Place (continued)

I do hope that you are writing that in your minds. You may meet disorders in the House of God. You may meet the natural man in the House of God. You may meet conditions which are all wrong in the House of God. How are you going to deal with them? You can only deal with them by the principle of the Cross. You cannot deal with the people themselves, you cannot deal with the things themselves; but if only you can bring the Cross into that situation, you have solved the whole problem. It is like that. We do not start from the outside. We do not start with the people, we do not start with the order of the Lord's House, we do not start with the ministry - we start with the Cross. And if only people see the Cross, everything else would put itself right. Everything is judged by the Cross.

The Letter to the Romans is the message of the Cross in its full measure. In that letter to the Romans, you see the great measurement of the Cross. There the Cross comprehends all things. It brings the whole race in Adam to an end, and it begins an entirely new race in Christ risen! It is very impressive that the first of the New Testament Letters should put the Cross there in its full measurement. You all know that the Letter to the Romans was not the first letter written by Paul, but the Holy Spirit has put it first in the arrangement. I think the Holy Spirit had something to do with the arrangement of the books in the New Testament, and in His sovereign arrangement of this  book, He has put the altar in its fullness right at the beginning. Well, of course, you have to recall all that you know about the Letter to the Romans to see that.

In the First Letter to the Corinthians, the Cross is applied to the natural and the carnal man inside the Church. The natural and the carnal man has come in where he has no right to be. This unrighteous man  has slipped in through the gate, and so the apostle brings Christ crucified over against the natural and the carnal man. The Cross in 1 Corinthians had to do with that man, not outside the Church as in Romans, but inside the Church.

The Second Letter to the Corinthians sets the Cross in relation to ministry. That letter shows us that ministry flows out of a broken and humbled vessel. I can only say these things and leave the full explanation of it.

In the Letter to the Galatians, the Cross is brought down upon making Christianity into another legal system, and bringing Christians into bondage. How strong the apostle is in that letter, but see how he uses the Cross? He uses the Cross tremendously against that effort to make Christianity into a legal system, and to bring believers into bondage again.

In the Letter to the Ephesians, the work of the Cross is to put the Church on heavenly ground. The Cross in Ephesians completely cuts the Church off from all earthly ground. It puts the Church outside of time. It puts the Church outside of the world.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

We Can Never Out Give God

The Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him - Genesis13:14

Abram's life was one of an ever-perfecting separation. But out of these experiences sprang his rarest joys. The separate and obedient soul may reckon on:-Fresh Revelation. - Whenever Abram dared to step out in obedience, the Lord spake freshly to him. But in Egypt we find no trace of the Divine voice. If God spake there, it would be in warning and rebuke. Has the voice of God long been silent to thee - no fresh command, no deeper insight into truth? See to it that thou art not in Egypt. Separate thyself, not only from Haran, but from Lot; not only from what is clearly wrong, but from all that is questionable; and the Lord will speak to thee things it is not possible for men to utter.
Further Vision. - Lot lifted up his eyes to espy what would make for his advantage and well-being, and beheld only the plain of Sodom, which indeed was well-watered, but the seat of exceeding sin. But when Abram lifted up his eyes, not to search out ought for himself, but to see what God had prepared, he looked northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward-words which remind us of the length, and breadth, and depth, and height of the love of Christ. The single eye is full of light; the far climber gets the widest horizon; if thou wilt do His will, thou shalt know. Hundredfold old Compensation.-Whatever Abram renounced, when he left his home, or gave Lot the right to choose, he received back in the usual measure of God, with an overflowing overpass. God gave him the entire land, including Lot's -portion. We can never give up for God, without receiving in this life more than we gave.

~F. B. Meyer~

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Altar (The Cross) Governs Everything

Ezekiel 43, in verses thirteen to twenty-seven, we have the great altar and its service. We will not read the whole section, but just the first verse of that section: "And these are the measurements of the altar by cubits (the cubit being a cubit and a handbreadth): the base shall be a cubit, and the width a cubit, and its border on its edge round about one span; and this shall be the height of the base of the altar." Then we are given more particulars about the measurement and the ministry. We all understand that the altar in the Old Testament is always a type of the Cross. This altar is the place of the whole burnt offering, and this corresponds to Hebrews, chapter 10, where the Lord Jesus is likened to the whole burnt offering. So we are going to think about the centrality and the universality of the Cross.

Now we have seen that the whole area of the temple was square. If we draw diagonal lines from each corner, those lines meet at the place where the great altar was. The central place in the whole area was the altar. You will recognize that this is different from the tabernacle in the wilderness. The court of the tabernacle was not square, and the altar of burnt offering was right at the gate; but in this temple, the altar is right in the center of a square. It is important to realize that. All the lines meet in the altar, and all the lines go out from the altar. The central place of everything is the altar.

The altar governed everything. It governed everything as to the house; that is, all that was actually in the temple was governed by the altar. It governed all that was immediately around the house. If you had a plan of this whole house, with the different course and the whole area, you would see that all the chambers of the priests were round about; and the places where the offerings were prepared were all around. Everything was gathered round the house, but everything in the house and in the whole area was governed by the altar.

And then, all the ministry of the house was governed by the altar. We could say that there was no ministry that was not related to the altar; and then beyond the house, and beyond the immediate area, right out to the whole land, everything was governed by the altar. We shall see this when we see that the river, which came down through the whole land, came by way of the altar; but we turn inside the house first.

The Cross In Its Place

Here we have a very important and vital truth. When the Cross is in its place with its full measure, everything else will be in order, and everything else will be given its meaning, and its value. I feel that I cannot say this too strongly. We are so often concerned about the outside of things, about the order of the House of the Lord, about the ministry of the House of the Lord, about the people who are related to the House of the Lord. We are always beginning on the outside. We are trying to set up an order of the House of God. We are trying to put the people of the House right. We are very much concerned about the ministries, and the ministries. But if the Cross was really in its place with is full dimensions, all those things would see to themselves. The people would be right if the Cross was in its place. The ministries would be living if the Cross was in its right place. The order of the House would be right if the Cross was in its place. It just does work that way. If the Cross is right at the center, in full measure, and note that it is a large altar, then everything else will come into its right place, and into a living relationship.

Although it is not said so here, I think we are right in concluding that this altar was of brass. The altar in the tabernacle was of brass, the altar of Solomon's temple was of brass, and I think that we can assume that this altar was of brass. We have already met brass. We have met brass in the Man in the gate, and we have said that with His reed He measured everything according to what He was. Brass is the type of the righteous judgments of God. This great altar represents the fullness of the righteous judgments of God. This altar of brass is measured by the Man of brass, so that this altar represents God's thoughts in judgment.

I this altar of whole burnt offering, the one unrighteous man is completely removed. That altar of brass sees one man brought to ashes. The ashes were taken from this altar and emptied onto the ground at the side of the altar. That is a picture of God's Mind about the unrighteous man, or the natural man. He is consumed in the fire of God's judgment, he is reduced to ashes, and he is poured out on the ground. That is God's Mind about the natural man. On the other side, it is only the Righteous Man that can stand here in the presence of this altar. Of course, those are the two sides of the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus. On the one side He was made sin for us, and in that capacity He was wholly consumed and brought to ashes. When He cried, "My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?" - it was the cry of the ashes! He had been brought to ashes, and poured out on the ground.

But then there was the other side of the Cross - "He knew no sin." In Himself, there was no unrighteousness, and, therefore, He can go through the altar, He can live after the fire! "Thou wilt not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption." Because in Himself there was no sin, He could not be holden of death. His Holy Nature could overcome all the righteous judgments of God! This is the meaning the great altar: one man is brought to an end, and Another Man stands in his place. Everything had been judged at the altar. Everything is judged in the Cross.

We have been judged in the Cross of the Lord Jesus, and in our own selves we have been brought to an end. Everything of the natural has been judged and brought to an end in the Cross of the Lord Jesus. It is a very important thing to recognize that. You see, that makes anything possible. That is why I have said that if the Cross is in its place, everything else would be right. The House will be right; that is, the Church will be right. The ministry will be right. The order will be right. You will not have to go to work to try and bring about a right order. It spontaneously comes out of the work of the Cross.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)