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Friday, October 31, 2014

The Holy Spirit's Biography of Christ # 10

Life ... Promised Before Times Eternal (continued)


Now you are wondering what the next phase in the Old Testament can be! Well, of course, I leave out a lot, and come to the phase of the Prophets. That is really a longer phase than the part of the Old Testament which is called the Prophets, for Samuel was a Prophet. You go though the whole school of the Prophets, and when you listen to them what do you hear? Can you hear the Prophets? They are crying, they are groaning, they are in pain. What is all this about? It is the travail of life. It is the mature, the manhood phase of the Old Testament.

That phase - the travail of life - began immediately as Jesus moved from the Jordan. The battle for life began then, and from then on to the Cross it was the travail of life. This great thing called "eternal life" has entered into a great conflict in the universe, and Calvary became the center of the whole universe. It was not just something that happened in a small place called Palestine, just outside Jerusalem. It reached out into all the world, and then it reached beyond the world. Calvary was a great cosmic battle. Paul says that He stripped off principalities and powers in His Cross (Colossians 2:2). It was the great travail of life.

Now, dear friends, this ought to help us to understand what the Holy Spirit is doing with us. I do not want to discourage young Christians, nor do I want to cast a shadow over your growing Christian life, but I must say this: the further we go with the Lord, the longer we live with Him and the closer we walk with Him, the more intense becomes this travail of life. Is that true? What do you know about that? We have sometimes said, when we are having a very difficult experience: 'It does not get easier as we get older!' You would think that, having walked with the Lord for so many years, He would let us have a little easier time at the end, but He does not do so. Does that explain something? Things are getting more difficult and sometimes the devil says: 'Ah, this is because the Lord is not with you. If that great Lord that you believe in was with you, you would not have these troubles!' That is exactly what the devil said to the Lord Jesus when He was on the Cross. 'Your Father has left You. You are suffering like this because He has given You up. You see how the devil twists things! But spiritual maturity involves intensive conflict.

I have said that the third period in the Old Testament, that of the Prophets, is the travail of life. How the Prophets are suffering to bring back that Divine life in fullness to the people of God! Yes, the Old Testament closes - but what are you going to say about closing the Old Testament? It closes in tragedy, in hopelessness? Not at all! It closes in order that the New Testament may open, and what does the travail work out to in the New Testament? A new history begins. Out of the travail "a Child is born, a Son is given," the Old Testament is lifted up onto the heavenly plane, and the Holy Spirit begins all over again in the spiritual realm. He begins with our new birth, takes us on into the period of spiritual growth, where we learn the laws of spiritual life, and then on into the travail of life that the Kingdom should come, and we are called upon to share this part of the biography of Jesus Christ - "If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him" (2 Timothy 2:12). And what was the suffering of Jesus? It was the travail of His soul that He should see His seed, prolong His days, and be satisfied. That is what He is doing in us now by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is working toward that end - that He should be satisfied, and we shall be satisfied when we awake in His likeness.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 11 - (A. The True Life and the False Life)

The Value of Play

I think we would all agree that the Christian life is one to be taken seriously.  But in our desire to go all out for Christ, we can get to a place where we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained.

God does not intend for us to live our lives that way.  In fact, in 1 Timothy 6:17, Paul tells us,

God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.

You and I need to take time to enjoy the things God gives us.  In fact, Jesus said this to His disciples in Mark 6:31, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while."

It is so easy to live our lives believing that somehow it is more spiritual to be on the edge of exhaustion all the time.  But God clearly tells us that we are to take time to rejuvenate and to enjoy the things He has put into our lives.

When I was a young minister, I had the chance to meet with a seasoned minister who had literally changed the world for Christ.  I thought, "Man, this is my golden opportunity.  I'm going to ask him some questions."

So I said to him, "Look, I'm a young man in ministry.  You have had decades more experience than me.  You have impacted the world.  What is the best advice you could give me as a young minister?"

And he said, "Well, Bayless, you have a nice golf swing.  My advice is that you get some lessons.  And whatever it costs you, join a country club and play golf regularly."  Then he looked at me and said, "Golf is the only thing that's kept me alive."

It was some of the best advice I had ever received.

You need to make sure you live a balanced life.  Take time for rest and for play. Recharge your batteries.  You are in this thing for the long haul.

~Bayless Conley~

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Holy Spirit's Biography of Christ # 9

[very interesting and enlightening reading]

Life ... Promised Before Times Eternal (continued)

Babyhood (continued)

The whole earth was full of iniquity. The heart of every man was evil, but there was one man and his family which stood on one ground only. Noah, says Peter, was a "preacher of righteousness" - a preacher of right standing with God. The whole world was not in right standing with God, so it had to die, but Noah and his family, who were in right standing with God, were saved from death and from judgment.

Did I say that this was infancy? I think there are a great many Christians who have not got further than infancy yet! However, it is a great thing to have got that far!

The Corinthians had not got beyond Noah, for Paul said that they were still infants. They were the Lord's, because they had apprehended the truth of justification by faith, but the biography stopped at that chapter. They were still in infancy long after they should have gone on into the next chapter.

Do you see the point that I am trying to make? It is that God has ordained the whole history of humanity upon this basis of life, and the beginning of it is on the ground of right standing with God.


The second stage in the life of the Lord Jesus on this earth was His childhood, His boyhood. We have not a great deal about His boyhood in the New Testament. There are only one or two things said about it, but it was a long period, and we cannot believe that it was an empty period. It does say that He "grew in stature, and in grace with God and men" (Luke 2:52). He grew in right standing with God.

The second period of the spiritual biography of Jesus Christ is much fuller than that, indeed, it occupies practically all the rest of the New Testament, for it is the period between being born and being perfected. It states that He "was made perfect" (Hebrews 5:9). What does that mean? It may create a problem for you in that He Who was without sin, Whom we think of as being perfect, should have to be "made" perfect, but, of course, our idea of the word "perfect" is not the New Testament idea. The New Testament meaning of the word "perfect" is "being made full, or complete." While for us it may mean being made different in nature, it was not that with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit was working upon that which was not yet complete to make it complete.

I wonder if I am going to get into trouble over what I am going to say now! I am going to ask those of you who have been saved for, say, sixty years: 'Are you better in yourself today than you were in the beginning?' I have been saved for sixty years and I think I am a great deal worse today than when I was saved! Does that sound terrible? But you know what I mean - I am no more perfect today than I was sixty years ago. If you are speaking about my human nature, what I am as a child of Adam, well, old Adam is as troublesome to me today as ever he was! And yet, something is happening in us. I sometimes say: 'Well, I may be pretty bad today, but the Lord alone knows what I would have been if He had not saved me!'

This is the period of infancy to manhood. I believe that the Lord Jesus had many a temptation and many a trial during those thirty years. We just have a little glimpse of His home life, in that He had some brothers and sisters, and, you know, brothers and sisters can really put you on the spot! I had some brothers and sisters and I was not the eldest of the family, so they were often a very big trial to me. Jesus had some brothers and sisters and we are told that His brothers did not believe in Him. It is not easy when people in your own family do not believe in you. 'Oh, he thinks he is somebody! He has a lot of strange ideas, but we will knock all that out of Him!' Is that not the way they talk? Jesus was not without those difficulties and trials, and that lasted for thirty years. I do not know how much Mary told her other sons and daughters about Jesus, or whether she still kept it all in her heart, but they could see that He was different, and that was enough to provoke opposition.

Well, I need not say more. The period of boyhood was a period of discipline, a period of learning, a period of education. The Old Testament has that period and it is quite a long one, for it is the period of the Patriarchs.

Who are the Patriarchs? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. Do you not see what a period of education that was? God had these men in His school and He was teaching them the laws of Divine life. Visit Abraham at school and see what he is learning about the laws of Divine life! Was Isaac at school? Was he learning the great laws of Divine life? Let me put that in another way. Was Isaac being taught the principles of resurrection life? You know, we have some wrong ideas about these men, and we often think that Isaac was a little boy and Abraham could pick him up and put him on the altar. From our standpoint he was a grown man at that stage, not even a teenager. He had grown to have a will, a mind and feelings of his own, and he could have resisted his father. He could have rebelled against him. He was in a hard school, for he had to surrender everything to death in order that he might learn the law of resurrection life.

From Isaac we go on to Jacob. Need we say anything about Jacob? Was he at school? He was in a very hard school indeed! The discipline in Jacob's life was very severe, for God put him through it. However, he came out all right in the end and became the father of the nation, of the twelve tribes. That was resurrection! That was life out of death! That was victory out of adversity!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 10 - (Manhood)


One of the great truths of the Christian life is that you and I can know the peace of God in our lives because we have peace with God.  As believers, we need not live our lives without God's peace.

Are you worried right now about anything?  Finances?  Kids?  Marriage?  Job security?  Your health?  What somebody said about you?  How a situation is going to turn out?

If you are worried about anything, here are some instructions for you found in Philippians 4:6-7,

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything [that means in every circumstance] by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Talk to the Lord about your problems, offering thanks along with your requests.  He promises to give you peace if you will.

Let me leave you with these words from Dr. Stanley Jones:

"I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear.  Fear is not my native land; faith is.  I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil….  A Johns Hopkins University doctor says, ‘We do not know why it is that worriers die sooner than non-worriers, but that is a fact.'  But I who am simple of mind think I know;  We are inwardly constructed…for faith and not for fear.  God made us that way.  To live by worry is to live against reality."

~Bayless Conley~

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Holy Spirit's Biography of Christ # 8

"Life ... Promised Before Times Eternal" (continued)

Babyhood (continued)

One simple thing governed the babyhood of the race, and it is the characteristic of all spiritual babyhood. In doctrine we call it "Justification by Faith." I am afraid I am rather tired of that phrase, for it sounds so theological! Justification by faith is the mark of spiritual infancy, the beginning of spiritual history, but I think some of the music has gone from that phrase. What is justification? Another word used is, as you know, righteousness. But what is righteousness by faith? I love a certain translation, which translates that word "righteousness," or "justification," like this: 'Right standing with God.' Is that not lovely? 'Being in right standing with God.' Is not that what the whole world is craving for? Is that not what the whole human race longs for? Is that not what we all desire more than anything else? God, being what He is, so perfect, so holy, so particular, is it possible that you and I, being what we are, should be in right standing with Him?

You know, in business that is a very important thing. In the commercial world, if one business is asked to do something for another, they look at their books to see what transactions they have had with them before, and they say: 'Are they in right standing with us? Have they paid all their accounts? Are they in our debt? Are they on good terms with us? Are we quite satisfied with them? Can we trust them? Can we commit our business to them? It all depends upon whether they re in right standing or not.

That is how it is between humanity and God. So far as humanity is concerned, God may very well ask: 'Are they in right standing with Us? Are they in debt to Us? Have they been right in their business transactions?' That is all gathered up into one word, so far as God is concerned: "Are they in the Lord Jesus? If they are it is all right. All the debts are paid and all the business is clean. We can go on with them. We can commit out interests to them." That is right standing with God, justification by faith, righteousness by faith.

Now you notice what Paul said in that passage in the Letter to the Romans which we read. What is the basis of the New Testament? Life because of right standing with God. That is wonderful! Can it be true? Brother, or sister, worried to death about yourself and how God looks at you, worried because you think that God looks at you as you look at yourself, here is this wonderful word which is the beginning! The antediluvians just received life on the basis of right standing with God. That is all!

What about Abel? Do you think that he was a perfect man? But the whole of Abel's life is gathered up into one thing: he believed God, and he knew that he was in right standing with God (Hebrews 11:4).

What shall we say about Enoch? I think he was a very wonderful person. If you read the chapter in Genesis where Enoch is mentioned, you find that it is all about people who are dying because of sin. This one lived so many years and died, that one lived so many years and died, and you are ready to go on with the whole miserable story - but it is interrupted. It just says, in Genesis 5:24: "Enoch walked with God - he was in right standing with God - and he was not; for God took him." Then you go back to more of the miserable story, until you come to Noah.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 9)


In yesterday's devotional, I challenged you to live life with passion.  Today I want to give you one other perspective on that. 

Take a look at 2 Corinthians 9:2 where Paul writes these words,
For I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority.
Did you notice those last eight words, and your zeal has stirred up the majority?  Passion is contagious.

What do you think might happen if a community saw a church that was utterly on fire?  Where all the members in that church were passionate about their worship, passionate about their relationship with God, passionate about serving one another, passionate about real deal Christianity where the rubber meets the road?
I believe there is a divine attraction to that!  And I believe that it would transform a community.

Sadly, most communities witness just the opposite—compromise, apathy, and boredom—not passion.

Now, rather than complain, I want to challenge you to live life with real passion.  Go all out for God.  It only takes one person to ignite the fire of passion in others.
I heard the story of a man who came to hear D. L. Moody preach.  While sitting there the man next to him asked, "Do you come out here because you believe the things he's preaching?"

His response was, "No.  I come out because he believes it."

Passion is contagious!  Are people catching it from you?  Is your zeal for Christ stirring up those who come in contact with you?  If not, ask God to put that passion into your heart today and watch what happens!

~Bayless Conley~

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Holy Spirit's Biography of Christ # 7

Life ... Promised Before Times Eternal (continued)

Eternal Life the Governing Factor

I want to look at two or three fragments of Scripture:

"For if, by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; much more shall they that receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the One, even Jesus Christ. So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life" (Romans 5:17-18).

"... in hope of eternal life, which God, Who cannot lie, promised before times eternal" (Titus 1:2). That life, then, links us with what is eternal.

"Paul, an apostle to Christ Jesus through the will of God, according to the promise of the life which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 1:1).

Now I want to say one or two quite important things at this point. This that is called eternal life is the factor which determines everything in history and destiny. Not religion, nor ritual, nor orthodoxy, but "life" determines history and human destiny. It governs everything. The Bible is God's Book of world history and human destiny, and it is wonderful how universal the Bible is. It comprehends the whole human race, it governs the destiny of all the nations which make up the human race, and it contains the principles of destiny. And the center of the Bible, from the beginning to the end, is this that is called eternal life. It is the all-governing factor.

Life determines whether God is present or not. The question, down to the smallest detail, is a question of life.  Begin with the individual and the individual's personal experiences. If we understood rightly we should know that this matter of life is governing our personal experiences. We are individually involved in this great governing matter of life, and that determines whether God is with us. The same is true of any company of God's people, or any company of religious people. The thing that determines whether God is there is this matter of life. God is the source of life, and He cannot be present and life not be there. That, surely, is a very searching thing for our assemblies! Thus, in every sphere, this question of life governs.

Now we are going to look at the Bible along three lines. The earthly life of the Lord Jesus was divided into three sections, and each one of those sections has to be repeated in the life of the believer. First, there was His birth and infancy; secondly, His childhood; and thirdly, His manhood. These are three distinct sections in the biography of Jesus Christ, and the whole Bible is divided into those three main sections. The issue in each of the sections is life.


The first section is what we call the time of the antedivuvians, that is, the people before the Flood, and the great antediluvians were Abel, Enoch and Noah. That was the infancy of the people of God, of the Divine biography which was being written by the Holy Spirit. That infancy is marked by very simple things, as one would expect. We do not expect very much when we are dealing with babies, and here we have, in that particular period, the babyhood of the people of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 8)

Use Your Cross as a Crutch

"Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Mark 8:34).

The cross which my Lord bids me take up and carry may assume different shapes. I may have to content myself with a lowly and narrow sphere, when I feel that I have capacities for much higher work. I may have to go on cultivating year after year, a field which seems to yield me no harvests whatsoever. I may be bidden to cherish kind and loving thoughts about someone who has wronged me--be bidden speak to him tenderly, and take his part against all who oppose him, and crown him with sympathy and succor. I may have to confess my Master amongst those who do not wish to be reminded of Him and His claims. I may be called to "move among my race, and show a glorious morning face," when my heart is breaking.

There are many crosses, and every one of them is sore and heavy. None of them is likely to be sought out by me of my own accord. But never is Jesus so near me as when I lift my cross, and lay it submissively on my shoulder, and give it the welcome of a patient and unmurmuring spirit.

He draws close, to ripen my wisdom, to deepen my peace, to increase my courage, to augment my power to be of use to others, through the very experience which is so grievous and distressing, and then--as I read on the seal of one of those Scottish Covenanters whom Claverhouse imprisoned on the lonely Bass, with the sea surging and sobbing round--I grow under the load.
--Alexander Smellie

"Use your cross as a crutch to help you on, and not as a stumblingblock to cast you down."

"You may others from sadness to gladness beguile,
If you carry your cross with a smile."

~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Holy Spirit's Biography of Christ # 6

"Life ... Promised Before Times Eternal"

You ought to look up all those references to "before the world was," before "times eternal." "Whom He foreknew, He also foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29)' and the first thing in that image is the eternal life which is in Him. So John begins his Gospel with: "In Him was life" (John 1:4), and later in that same Gospel Jesus will say: "I am come that they may have life" (John 10:10). In both of those statements it is taken for granted that no one outside of Jesus Christ has that life. If they already had life why should He come from heaven in order that they should have it?

This is very elementary, I know, but we have not got very far yet. This is the beginning of the biography of Jesus Christ which is being written by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers. Of course, it is very simple when you come to think about it. It is very wonderful, very profound, but very simple, for the very first thing that a newly born again child of God realizes is that something has happened which makes him know that he does not belong here any longer. He has a new home, a new nativity, a new genealogy, and it goes - not back to Adam. Thank God for that! - but back, past Adam, into the eternity of Jesus Christ. You understand that I am not talking about the deity of Jesus Christ, but about His Sonship, and I said before that that Sonship relates to humanity. I am not going to argue that out now, but the purpose of God in creating man was to bring Himself into the relationship of Father and children, and by childhood to sonship. That is another thing that I am not going to argue about! I think that will come out as we go on.

So we begin the biography in eternity. I wonder if you are aware of that! We have a hymn which says:

"I am a stranger here, within a foreign land,
My home is far away, upon a golden strand."

As we go on our life-journey, we do find that we are getting further and further away from our natural birth, further and further away from this world, and we are becoming more conscious of our heavenly relationship.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7 - (Eternal Life the Governing Factor)

Keeping Your Focus

Yesterday we discovered that God does have a purpose for each of our lives.  Yet even once we discover our purpose, we must remain focused.  Luke 4:42-44 says,

Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place.  And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; but He said to them, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent."  And He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.

I want you to notice that statement of Jesus,  "For this purpose I have been sent."  Jesus knew His purpose.  He said, "I must preach the kingdom."  But notice the people tried to distract Him from that purpose.

I am sure the people meant well, but they were trying to divert Jesus from His purpose.  But Jesus knew His purpose; therefore, He did not stay.

People will innocently divert you from doing what God has called you to do.  It is only when you know your purpose that you will not be sidetracked, and you will not be distracted from what you are supposed to do.

The apostle Paul knew his purpose.  In fact, he said this in 1 Corinthians 9:26, "So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step" (The Living Bible).  He was not about to get distracted from God's purpose for his life.

Our lives are not to be aimless, but they are to have purpose and direction, and we are to stay focused on that purpose, running straight at that goal.  Keep focused on the purpose for which God has created you.

Be able to say like Paul, "I am running straight to the goal with purpose in every step."

~Bayless Conley~

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Holy Spirit's Biography of Christ # 5

"Life ... Promised Before Times Eternal"

2 Corinthians 3:3

We have seen that the Holy Spirit is writing a spiritual life of the Lord Jesus in the hearts of believers, and we proceed now with this spiritual biography. 

The Beginning of the Biography

When a biography is being written of some important person, we always want to know their beginning - something about their birth, their home and their journey. That is very important to us where the Lord Jesus is concerned, for what we are trying to see is that what was true of Him the Holy Spirit is seeking to make true in us. His beginning has to be our beginning; His home has to be our home; His country must be our country. All that was true of Him at the beginning has to be made true of us, that is, in a spiritual way.

Now, we open our New Testament, we have the biography of the earthly life of the Lord Jesus in three of the Gospels, and two of those Gospels tell us of His earthly beginning and birth. They give us His genealogy, tracing Him right back to the beginning of His ministry, but has nothing to say about Bethlehem, nor His earthly mother, nor His home. It just begins with the ministry of the Lord Jesus, when He was thirty years of age. But the fourth Gospel ignores all that. It has nothing to say about Bethlehem, nor about Nazareth. It says nothing about David, nor Adam, but just leaps right back over all earthly history and takes us into eternity before time was. You know that I am speaking about the Gospel of John, which begins with that dateless time before the world was, and shows us that the Sonship of the Lord Jesus was not a thing of time only, but that it was eternal and supernatural, and not natural. John describes it in this way (and he includes us with the Lord Jesus in this matter): "...which were born, not of bloods (that is, the blood of Joseph and Mary), nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). Born of God! When was the Lord Jesus born of God? Not at Bethlehem only, but away back there before time was. And the wonderful thing is this: that the deepest truth in the life of a child of God is that he or she is not a child of time, but a child of eternity, born from above - not in Bethlehem, nor in Switzerland, nor England, nor Germany, nor in any other place here on this earth - but born from above. That is a supernatural act of the Spirit of God.

What does it mean to be born? It is to receive life. If, then, we are born from above; if ours is a supernatural birth, then the link with the Lord Jesus is the link of eternal life.

We must get hold of this! You may think that when you were born again it was in some place that you can mention, but that is only something to do with this earth. You were not really born again on this earth. You were born where the Lord Jesus was born. You were not really born on any date which you can mention in the earthly calendar. You were born in eternity. Your home is not here at all. Your home is outside of this world and outside of time. In this matter we, like the Lord Jesus, are born with eternal life.

This is a very wonderful thing. If the Bible is true, it is a very wonderful book. If Christianity is true, it is a very wonderful thing. We are so familiar with these things about Christianity that we have lost something of the wonder of it all. I think we need to sit down with our Christianity again and really think about it in this way: the Holy Spirit is reproducing what was true of the Lord Jesus in us, and the beginning of His history and the beginning of our history is in eternity.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6)

Live and Walk In the Spirit

Galatians 5:25
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
The two most important things in our holy religion are the life of faith and the walk of faith. He who shall rightly understand these is not far from being a master in experimental theology, for they are vital points to a Christian. You will never find true faith unattended by true godliness; on the other hand, you will never discover a truly holy life which has not for its root a living faith upon the righteousness of Christ. Woe unto those who seek after the one without the other! There are some who cultivate faith and forget holiness; these may be very high in orthodoxy, but they shall be very deep in condemnation, for they hold the truth in unrighteousness; and there are others who have strained after holiness of life, but have denied the faith, like the Pharisees of old, of whom the Master said, they were "whitewashed sepulchres." We must have faith, for this is the foundation; we must have holiness of life, for this is the superstructure. Of what service is the mere foundation of a building to a man in the day of tempest? Can he hide himself therein? He wants a house to cover him, as well as a foundation for that house. Even so we need the superstructure of spiritual life if we would have comfort in the day of doubt. But seek not a holy life without faith, for that would be to erect a house which can afford no permanent shelter, because it has no foundation on a rock Let faith and life be put together, and, like the two abutments of an arch, they will make our piety enduring. Like light and heat streaming from the same sun, they are alike full of blessing. Like the two pillars of the temple, they are for glory and for beauty. They are two streams from the fountain of grace; two lamps lit with holy fire; two olive trees watered by heavenly care. O Lord, give us this day life within, and it will reveal itself without to Thy glory.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Holy Spirit's Biography of Christ # 4

The Parchment, the Pen, and the Purpose (continued)

The School of the Holy Spirit (continued)

Now, have you got this clear at the beginning? You see, during this conference I am going over the life of Christ and will take up a number of His experiences and will try to show you how those experiences are reproduced in believers so that we become the living biography of Jesus Christ, for that is what those words mean.

I would like you to think about this. The four Gospels have a literal biography of Jesus Christ, but they were written after the epistles. They tell us of the earthly life of the Lord Jesus, but when you have that you have not got everything. Indeed, you have only a very little. The epistles were written in order to show us that all that which was in the Gospels has to be made real in us. I have always had a question about going to the Holy Land! If you do not agree with me, well, that does not matter! But, you know, I have been to the Holy Land spiritually. I have seen so much of it in my inner life. I do not need to go to Mount Calvary, for I understand much more of Calvary by not having gone there. I need not go up to the high mountain of the Transfiguration, for I have seen that in my heart. All these things that happened to the Lord Jesus only happened in a temporal way, in order to lay the foundation. The Holy Spirit had not come down then, so in the Gospels He was only writing a historic life of Jesus. He was not writing the inner spiritual experience of that history. That is what He came down to do, and that is very much better than going to Palestine. Well, go to Palestine if you want to, but remember that the Holy Spirit has come to write Palestine in us, and we are going to think about that this week, if the Lord helps us.

Are you clear about what I have tried to say? "Ye are an epistle [or biography] of Christ ... written not with ink ... not in tables of stone," and we may add, 'not on sheets of parchment, not by the finger of man, but by the Spirit of God, Who is writing upon the tables which are hearts of flesh.' Does that give you a new idea about what is happening?  Remember, then, that if you are in the hands of the Holy Spirit, He is trying to write the life of Jesus Christ in you so that all may be able to read.

The Christians in the early days were known by different names. They were known as Christians, and by other names, but one of the names by which they became known everywhere was: 'The people of the way.' I wonder where than name came from, and how people got that idea? Was it the Christians' different way of life? Yes, perhaps so. Was it their teaching and their practice? Yes, perhaps. But was it because Jesus said: "I am the way," and the Christians were going the way of Christ, and people saw that they were going that way? Perhaps that was what it was, and that is what it is meant to be. These people were going the way of Jesus Christ, and not trying to follow His example. That may be important, but they were going that way because the Holy Spirit in them was taking them that way. The Lord Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. There is, or should be, in us an inward urge to go in a certain way, and that way is the way of the Lord Jesus - and in that way we learn Christ. We are 'People of the Way.'

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5 - (Life ... Promised Before Times Eternal)

What of My House?

"Believe on the LORD Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31).

This gospel for a man with a sword at his throat is the gospel for me. This would suit me if I were dying, and it is all that I need while I am living. I look away from self, and sin, and all idea of personal merit, and I trust the LORD Jesus as the Savior whom God has given. I believe in Him, I rest on Him, I accept Him to be my all in all. LORD, I am saved, and I shall be saved to all eternity, for I believe in Jesus. Blessed be Thy name for this. May I daily prove by my life that I am saved from selfishness, and worldliness, and every form of evil. But those last words about my "house": LORD, I would not run away with half a promise when Thou dost give a whole one. I beseech Thee, save all my family. Save the nearest and dearest. Convert the children and the grandchildren, if I have any. Be gracious to my servants and all who dwell under my roof or work for me. Thou makest this promise to me personally if I believe in the LORD Jesus; I beseech Thee to do as Thou hast said. I would go over in my prayer every day the names of all my brothers and sisters, parents, children, friends, relatives, servants, and give Thee no rest till that word is fulfilled, "and thy house."

~Charles Spurgeon~

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Holy Spirit's Biography of Christ # 3

The Parchment, the Pen and the Purpose (continued)

The Testimony of Jesus (continued)

We sing: 

"Thine be the glory, risen, conqu'ring Son!"

and we put everything on that! He is the risen, glorious Son of God, reliving His life, by the Holy Spirit, in us.

Perhaps that is not very encouraging to us, but that is because we are trying to get it all at once. No, this is a whole lifework of the Holy Spirit, and then, after this life, there is that wonderful parenthesis, that interval between this life and the next when we shall all be changed. So we are back at the beginning: "Foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son," and we are being "changed into His likeness" (2 Corinthians 3:18). That is going on through this life - or, it ought to be! - and then there comes the interval when we leave this world and we awake in His likeness.

So the testimony of Jesus in this world is not only that Jesus is alive, but He is alive in us.

Now let me repeat: The life of the believer is intended to be the history of Jesus Christ rewritten. "Ye are an epistle" - or a biography.

The School of the Holy Spirit

That leaves us with two things. It brings us into the school of the Holy Spirit, where we are learning our lessons, but we are not learning them from a book. We are learning them by what the Holy Spirit is doing in us, which means that when we are in His hands everything that comes into our spiritual history has in it a lesson about Jesus Christ.

So the second thing is that we have to look at our experiences and ask: 'What have I to learn about Christ in this? In what way does this experience provide the Holy Spirit with an opportunity of teaching me something about Jesus Christ?'  Sometimes we cannot see the meaning of an experience, but if we are really in the hands of the Holy Spirit, our experiences are going to lead us on to know the Lord better. Therefore we must not reject our experiences; we must not think of them as unnecessary; we must not rebel against them; we must not think that they have no meaning; but we must take every experience into the presence of the Lord and say: 'Now, Lord, You must teach me what You mean by letting me have this experience.' That is the foundation of this ministry: learning Christ, but not just in our heads. You may have your heads and your notebooks full of information this week, but it has to go down deeper. The New Testament speaks about "the eyes of your heart" (Ephesians 1:18).

So often at the beginning of a conference people come to us with a lot of problems and questions, and they would like to take all our time getting answers to their problems and questions. They are not always very pleased when we say: 'Wait until the end of the conference, and perhaps you will have no more questions to ask!' If the Holy Spirit is with us He is going to enlighten the eyes of our hearts, and we are going to see with our hearts. That is the best way to see, and the only way.

You know, a mother sees in one way, and a woman who has had no children sees in another. When our eldest daughter was a little baby she  was in her carriage, crying very loudly, and a lady came along and said: 'What is the matter with her?' She had not got a wedding ring on. My wife said: 'Oh, she is just tired,' and the good lady said: 'Well, why does she not go to sleep, then?' The mother understands what someone who has not the heart relationship cannot understand.

The best knowledge is heart knowledge. That word: "The eyes of your heart" is sometimes translated: "The eyes of your understanding," and understanding is the best knowledge.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4)

Created for a Purpose

Many Christians today are not living the successful life God intends because they have missed the purpose for which they were born.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us,

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

If you are going to live successfully, you have to know what you are all about. Any tool that is used for something other than what it was created for will not be effective. And it is liable to get damaged.

At times I have needed a hammer to pound in a nail, but I have been too lazy to go out in the garage to get one (don't get too self-righteous, you've done it too!).  So I have ended up using whatever I had handy, like a wrench.
Well, you can get the nail in, but you are not going to be very effective.  You are liable to dent the wall, and you are liable to damage the wrench.

Too many Christians today are not functioning or flowing in the thing they were created for, and consequently, they are not effective.  And sometimes they get hurt and damaged.

You do have a purpose.  In fact, the word in Ephesians 2:10 translated workmanship literally means you are handcrafted by God.  The Greek word is the same word we derive our English word poem from.
In other words, your life is not to be without order or symmetry or rhyme or reason.  God has some specific things mapped out for your life.  You are not an accident.  You are not excess baggage.  You have a purpose. 

Ask God today to show you that purpose, and then develop the gifts God has given you to fulfill that purpose.

~Bayless Conley~

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Holy Spirit's Biography of Christ # 2

That Which Is Being Written

The next thing that we note is that the spiritual experiences of believers are a repetition of the life of Jesus Christ, and it is upon that statement that our morning meetings this week will be founded. It may take you some time to understand it, but I do want you to recognize what this word is saying. The Holy Spirit is writing a biography of Jesus Christ, and it is a spiritual biography, written in the spiritual life and experience of believers. All that which was true of the Lord Jesus, excepting His deity, is going to be written in our spiritual experience. That is a tremendous statement! And it is going to be a tremendous thing to recognize. You have spiritual experiences; things come into your spiritual history; but if you understand what the Holy Spirit is doing, you should realize that He is writing something about the Lord Jesus, and that something that was true of the Lord Jesus is being reproduced in you.

You will recall the passage which we read: "Foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son ... Christ fully formed in you ... that He might fill all things." Our spiritual life belongs to the "all things," and your spirit is one of the "things."

Let me repeat: The Holy Spirit is now writing a biography, the life of Christ, in the spiritual history of the Lord's people.

Sonship The Basis of All God's Work

The first great thing about the Lord Jesus was His Sonship, and the Holy Spirit is writing sonship in us. Remember that sonship always relates to God's purpose, for it is the beginning and the end of His purpose, which is in humanity. While Jesus Christ, as Son of God, is God Himself, sonship relates to humanity. It is in the incarnation of the Lord Jesus that His Sonship is manifested. You see, I am leaving deity aside, for the deity of the Lord Jesus is not something that will be reproduced in us, but, leaving His deity aside, the Holy Spirit is writing His sonship in us. The little fragment that we read said: "That He might be the firstborn among many brethren," and by new birth we receive the gift of sonship.

So, sonship is the basis of all God's work. It begins in Jesus Christ, and then it is carried on in the born-again believer.

The Testimony of Jesus

We often use the word "testimony" in relation to the Lord Jesus. The "testimony of Jesus" is used in various ways, but i is not a system of doctrine. It is the continuation of the life of Jesus. You can have the doctrine of the testimony and not be an example of the life of Jesus. Our basic word says that we, as living epistles, are to be read and known of all men, but what are all men to read and know? Is it a system of doctrine? Is it a form of Christianity? It is not one of the many things that are said about it, but just Christ going on living in His people.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

The Unveiling

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

In the Old Testament book of Exodus, Moses describes the building of the tabernacle. This tabernacle is to be built on earth as a copy of heavenly things, a place where God can dwell with His people. Its design and construction are described in great detail in Exodus Chapters 26 through 28, then again in Chapters 34 through 38. One of its most beautiful pieces was a veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Sanctuary. The veil represented man's separation from God; man at that time had no real fellowship with God. Only Moses could enter into such personal fellowship with God. He would come in such intimate contact with God that even his face shone with the glory of the Lord. Moses would use a veil to cover his face. 2 Corinthians 3:13 says that Moses used the veil to keep the people from seeing what was passing away, but the next verse states that their minds were blinded. It was as though the minds of the people had their own veil that kept them from really seeing the truth. Years later when Jesus died on the cross, this veil, still used to separate the two sections of the temple, was torn in two. Jesus died so that we may have personal fellowship with God. No longer was a veil needed, because there was no longer a need for separation. The only veil left is the one that we keep, over those areas we have not yet surrendered to God.

Do you have a veil covering part of your heart or mind? AsChristians, we might be quick to say, "Of course not, I love Jesus and I know His Spirit lives within me." I am one of those Christians who not only would say it, but also would believe it with all my being. How can I be veiled in any area when I so desperately want all that the Lord has for me? How can I be blinded when all I want is to see with spiritual eyes? But the closer I walk with the Lord, the more I understand how blind I really am. A veil does not have to be thick. The veil in the temple was about three feet thick. I have learned that the veils that cover my heart and mind can be quite thin, enough to let me see through but not enough to let me see clearly. The problem comes when I think I am seeing clearly but am really only seeing through a fog. Then the Lord begins to show me things so crystal clear that I can barely look at them. The Lord begins to unveil parts of me.

We must go through this process with the Lord if we want to continue to grow in our walk with Him. Breakthroughs come and strongholds are broken when we get through these types of trials.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Holy Spirit's Biography of Christ

The Parchment, The Pen, and the Purpose

Romans 8:29; Ephesians 4:10; Galatians 4:19; Colossians 1:27; 2 Corinthians 3:3

It is very important for us to recognize just what those last words are saying. What is the meaning of 2 Corinthians, chapter three and verse three? To begin with, we can break it up into three things.

Firstly, it says that the Holy Spirit is writing a life of Christ. Secondly, this writing of the life of Christ is in the inner experience of believers. Thirdly, this biography of Jesus Christ is for all men to read. Is that perfectly clear? Well, let us break it up again.

The Parchment

We will begin with the parchment. You know that the New Testament was written originally upon parchment. At one time the Apostle Paul asked someone very particularly to bring his parchments to him, and probably they were his epistles. Now he says that the Holy Spirit is writing a life of Christ on parchment, but this parchment is in the inner life of believers. He says: "Not in tables of stone," and although he does not actually say so, he means that it is not on parchment. The writing material of the Holy Spirit is the inner life of believers. The born-again believer has a new inner life upon which the Holy Spirit can write, but the one who is not born again is not suitable parchment for the Holy Spirit. The Apostle said quite a lot about that in the First Letter to the Corinthians. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them" (1 Corinthians 2:14). In other words, the natural man is not suitable writing material for the Holy Spirit, and it is only the spiritual man who is suitable for the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Lord Jesus said this to Nicodemus, who was very familiar with the parchments of the Old Testament. He knew all about those manuscripts, but the Lord Jesus told him that he was not suitable material for the Holy Spirit. He could not receive Him, and therefore he could not understand what He was doing. The Lord Jesus told him: 'You must be born again, for you must be a new man to understand what the Holy Spirit is saying.'

This new man is made alive to the Holy Spirit and is sensitive to Him. We have here a tape recorder, and all that is being said is being received because the tape is sensitive. If anyone coughs in this meeting we will hear it for months, and perhaps for years to come! So it is with the spirit of the new man in Christ. The Holy Spirit is writing a life of Christ, and I do trust that we are all going to be very sensitive to Him in these days.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - (That Which Is Being Written)

Parents Responsibility

As we saw yesterday, words are but a small part of parental communication. Now let's look at two types of messages we should purposefully model for our kids.
First, boys and girls need affirmation that they are loved, accepted, and competent. In today's passage, God the Father spoke those very things to His Son. It is essential that our children gain a sense of security and belonging at home so they won't seek acceptance elsewhere. And the way we care and provide for them will help them grasp the heavenly Father's love.

Second, parents are responsible for presenting the principles needed for living a godly life. One way to do so is by reading Scripture aloud and sharing stories of the Lord's involvement in our lives. But actions must match what we say. For example, we cannot expect children to truly understand the golden rule if we act with selfishness, arrogance, or insensitivity.

Modeling a godly life is oftentimes an intentional pursuit, like reading Scripture or serving as a family on a mission trip. It can also be as simple and unplanned as picking up a piece of trash on a neighbor's lawn. But keep in mind that actions and words aren't always perceived correctly. Check that your children's understanding matches the message you hope to communicate.

Your words and actions are teaching lessons. Do your children know, beyond any doubt, that they're treasured and capable? Are you giving them the tools they need to follow Christ? Remember, God doesn't expect perfection. He will guide the willing heart—and cover missteps with His grace.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Into the Heart of God # 23

Oneness With God In His Passion

Genesis 22:1, 2; John 3:16; Hebrews 11:17; Colossians 1:24

 During these meditations we have been moving along the line which heads into the heart of God. We have been letting Abraham be our teacher in this matter and have seen how he moved step by step toward that place where God could speak of him as "My Friend." No more glorious crown could be put on the head of anyone than that!

I want now as quickly as possible to dwell upon the last step into the heart of God, which is oneness with God in His passion - one with God in His suffering and in His joy. All the other aspects of oneness with Him meet at the Cross, and the deepest fellowship that can be had with Him is found in fellowship with His sufferings. When Abraham was obedient to the Lord's command: "Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest," he certainly did reach the point of absolute fellowship with God, Who Himself gave His only begotten Son.

Abraham had been called upon to make many offerings in his life; many sacrifices had to be made from the day that he left his own country, but there was no sacrifice like this one, which touched him at the point where it cost him more than anything else. This was more than all the other sacrifices, and so, at last, he stepped right into the heart o God.

That Scripture which we read from the Letter to the Colossians - with many others like it - makes it very clear to us that we are called into the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. This is not His sufferings which were atonement for sin; there is never any atonement about our sufferings. But leaving that aspect out, it is quite clear in the Word that we are called into the fellowship of His sufferings. The sufferings of Christ are a gift to His people. The Apostle Paul says: "To you it hath been granted in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer in His behalf" (Philippians 1:29).

Jesus offers us the cup and says: 'Will you drink of My cup?' While it is the cup of remission of sins - and we would grasp that with both hands - He also says: 'This cup is fellowship in My sufferings,' and too often our hand is very slow to take that cup.

I think I have told you before of an incident I experienced in India. We were gathered at the Lord's Table and there were two very fine young Indian men sitting in front of me. I explained what was the meaning of the cup and the loaf, and then everyone rose to receive them. These two young men rose, and, having explained what the cup meant, I offered it to them. They both hesitated for a moment - they were weighing this matter up - and then one of them bowed his head and accepted it. The other shook his head, as much as to say "No, I cannot." One went out of that meeting with much joy in his face, and the other went out with his head bowed and no joy.

Fellowship in the sufferings of Christ is something that is offered to us as a gift, and it is always fruitful. The sufferings of Christ are always fruitful sufferings. We could not get many more people in here this morning, but this packed room is a testimony to the fact that the sufferings of Jesus are fruitful sufferings, and we know that this could be repeated thousands of times all over the world today. And we have a picture in the Word of God of how it will be in the end: "Ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands ... a great multitude, which no man could number" (Revelation 5:11; 7:9). Indeed, the sufferings of Christ are fruitful sufferings.

Although we may not always feel it to be so, fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is the way of fullness of blessing. Did you see what followed those words to Abraham about offering his only son? "And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said, By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore" (Genesis 22:15-17). Fellowship with Him in His sufferings is the way of fullness of blessing. There is always a second time with the Lord. The first time was: "Take now thy son...and offer him," and the second time was: "Because thou hast done this thing ... in blessing I will bless thee." The Lord commits Himself to those who commit themselves to Him. You can see that in verse 16 of this chapter, and here is one of the many "I wills" of the Lord. How often the Lord says "I will"to His people! It is usually some blessing, but here it is Himself. The Lord gives Himself to those who share His sufferings.

But this blessing is not just a personal thing for ourselves. See how extensive this blessing was! 'Abraham, how ever much you may be blessed, you will not just be one by yourself. Many, many others will come into blessing because you have shared My sufferings.' It must be like that, because God is like that. If we want to be a blessing to others we must accept fellowship with our Lord in His sufferings, and if we will accept it, we shall certainly be a blessing. The Word of the Lord is not "I will bless thee" only, but "I will make thee a blessing." The Cross always cuts deeper channels in our lives, but God does not cut deeper just in order to leave it like that. It is in order that there may be more room for His fullness.

It is a universal law in all creation that increase only comes by travail. You may think this is rather a depressing note on which to finish a conference! I am sorry if it seems like that, but I cannot offer you any other way of blessing. There is no other way of coming into that fullness which we all desire, so this is not a message of despair. God only knows how much it may cost us, but where there is cost there is preciousness, that which is precious to the Lord. Paul says: "I ... fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake." May we have grace to take the cup and go forth to suffer, if needs be, for the sake of our Lord, because it is not only the sufferings of Christ: it is the joy of Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Our Needs

Jim saved for a long time to take an Alaskan cruise. At last he was on board with two carefully packed suitcases. The first evening, when he heard "Dinner is served" announced over the loudspeaker, he took peanut butter crackers from his suitcase and sat at the table in his small cabin. Every day at mealtime, he repeated the ritual. It wasn't that Jim didn't like the ship's tasty banquets. He simply didn't know that his meals were included in the price of the ticket. For two weeks he enjoyed beautiful scenery off the decks but ate dry, stale food in his cabin.

This sad story is a metaphor for how some believers live the Christian life. God has promised to meet every need of His children—His riches are included in the price Christ paid for their salvation(Eph. 1:18). Yet many folks are trying to live out of their own resources. They don't know that the wealth of God's love, power, and provision is on their menu.

A believer's relationship with the Lord is one of complete unity. Jesus is our life. His Spirit lives through us. Therefore, everything that is available to Him is also available to the brothers and sisters in Christ—all power, strength, and endurance, as well as whatever is required to fulfill physical and emotional needs.
Jim didn't know he had the right to satisfy his hunger in an extravagant way. Learn from this exaggerated example. Read your Bible to learn what riches you are entitled to through faith. God offers believers everything required for living well and wisely. Trust Him for all your needs.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~