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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Four Stages in the Life of the Lord's People # 4

4. Definite, Final Movement Towards the Land

This is the stage, where, Jordan having seen the voluntary laying aside of the exposed flesh, we go over into the land. It is not until we get a taste of the land, begin to know something of what spiritual life is; we have to know something of what it means to have the Lord working by us, and not our working for the Lord; to know what it is to have the Lord on command of things; to know what victory is; and to become partakers of more of the real fullness of Christ. We should be able to value our past history since we came out of Egypt. When we come into the land we see the wilderness in quite a different light. While we were in the wilderness, all we were able to think of was discipline, judgment, being emptied, broken, poured out. We wondered what God was after. There was a battle even to believe that the Lord was interested in us at all. Now we get through, and begin to taste of possessions, of Christ, the Land, and we can look back and say it was all right. That was necessary unto this. We should never have come to this position, this spiritual wealth, this spiritual knowledge and understanding if the Lord had not dealt with us as He did deal with u in the breaking and the emptying. We are able to appreciate it when we get there, but not before.

You know quite well your most cherished possession is a deep, real, inward spiritual knowledge of the Lord, it is something deeper than thought, emotion, argument or words. You have come to possess the Lord. You have a life between yourself and the Lord which is a very real life. It does not mean that now you can explain everything, interpret everything, but you know the Lord. People may ask you for an explanation, and you will have to say: "I cannot explain it, I cannot put it into words, I cannot argue it out, but I know, and this that I have the Lord inwardly is more to me than anything else. I know the meaning now of an opened heaven. I know what it is to have spiritual revelation of God through His Word. I am learning more and more of the fullness of Christ". You know that is more to you than anything in this universe, and you know, as well as you know that you have a being, that that was never possible until the Lord brought you to Jordan, and broke you, smashed you, emptied you, poured you out, and you said: "Oh yes, I understand that wilderness! I know it was quite right!"

It is another stage of things, in the light of which you understand the difficult times through which you went in the leading of God. Now you are moving to the land. You have not compassed all the land yet, but you are moving on.

In which stage should we put ourselves? It may be some are in the present enjoyment of the initial blessings of the Christian life, and their danger is to say: "You people may talk about a lot of wonderful, deep things and I do not know what you are talking about; I am perfectly satisfied with what I have". We rejoice in all that you are enjoying of the Lord, as in the first stage of the spiritual life. We would not discourage you for a moment by saying that the blossom will blow off sooner or later, but we want to tell you that there are stages.

It may be that some are in the second stage, and they are knowing blessing in the service of the Lord. They know a great joy in seeing what the Lord is after, and being actively at work with Him in it. This experience is not marked too much by difficulty. It is a good stage to be in, but it is inevitable that sooner or later you will pass into the third stage.

This is where the Lord begins to show you old Adam still in you, and that that old Adam has first to be recognized before it can be repudiated. And then sooner or later you come to Jordan, quite willingly, and say: "Jordan is a very necessary thing for me; I must die; there is nothing for me but to die". When you come there, accept death in union with Christ, you are in a very hopeful place. Death is not despair when it is recognized in that realm. When the Lord Jesus died He took our old man away, and made a way whereby you and I can go out, and Christ becomes the new Man - all the Lord Jesus. It may be, then, that some are at the third stage, having a bad time of exposing, breaking, emptying, and you are wondering if there will be anything left. You are wondering if all the joy of service is gone, and all the real joy of spiritual life has disappeared for ever. It is an important, necessary phase.

There is something beyond  that, and the day will come when you will begin to taste of the positive side, and you will say: "Now I understand why it was I went through that darkness; it was necessary; it has led to this". The fourth stage is that of beginning to know that heavenly life with the Lord Jesus. It is only a beginning, for it goes on for all eternity. There is no end to that stage. It begins here, and goes on hereafter, and you will discover as you go on more and more of the riches of Christ.

This word is just to help you to recognize the movements of the life of the child of God from one stage to another, to perhaps interpret your own experience and encourage you to go on to  God's full end. The Lord help us all to do so.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

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