| Vision and Vocation - Brief Messages at Sundry Times|
The People That Do Exploits
by T. Austin-Sparks
"But the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits." - Dan. 11:32
That word "but" marks the climax. It is preceded by visions of the rise and fall of great world powers. Up to this point we see men and their individual influence, armies and their conquests, kings and empires in their far-reaching sway. There is a veritable pageant of the dominions of the world as they proceed and recede. They come in splendour upon the stage, and then pass altogether out of the great world drama. Then finally it reaches this point, and you get a "BUT", and from that onward, the whole scene changes. The outlook is entirely different, the scale of values is revolutionized. From this point it is no longer a question of numbers and wealth or human importance, or any of the things which the world calls great.
There appears now upon the scene a comparatively small company, a group of men and women whom the world will despise and reject, and relegate to the category of the unfit, the inefficient; whom the world will not count among its mighty, its valiant. They will be overlooked when the world is in search of such as it requires to do its big things. On the human side they will be altogether at a discount. There is nothing whatever as a basis upon which they can hope for any success here, nothing whatever which gives them - judged from the human standpoint - any confidence or assurance or hope of success here, and yet, in the unfolding of things, these are the people which count, and it is before these that all the glory and power and might of the world breaks down. This small, despised company move out with some secret vital mystic force at their centre, and they go forth conquering and to conquer. Before them the great systems of the world give way and go down in defeat. There is a mighty change in the picture, swinging upon one word. How often, in the Divine unfolding of the Scriptures, it is that one little word "but", that changes things. "BUT GOD", and then everything changes. Said Joseph to his brethren, "Ye meant it unto me for evil - but God meant it unto good."
Who are this little company, and what is their secret? "But the people that do know their God..." These are they who know their God, and that is the secret. Would that it were possible for us to have the depth of that declaration, that we could realize all that is summarised in that statement, "Do know their God." There is something infinitely more in knowing the Lord than we have yet recognised. "The people that do know their God" - you want to know what that means. It is a knowledge of God in His power as Sovereign, in His executive authority, in His supremacy. But the knowledge goes deeper than that, it is not merely knowing God as Sovereign, it is knowing God in that way that releases that sovereignty and causes it to function through the people that so know Him. It is knowing God in a vital relationship and union and oneness which makes the exercise and execution of the power possible in this world through such as possess this knowledge. God is on the Throne, and He has all power and all the resources necessary for dealing with the world situation, but He has so chosen and ordained, that the exercise and the demonstration of His fulness of power and might and glory, should be through those who have been brought into a vital union with Him on the basis of a personal knowledge of Him in His fulness.
The New Testament is a marvelous revelation of that victory. After the Cross, all the fulness of the Divine power was released upon the world through those who had been brought into absolute oneness with the Lord by that Cross. That is the peculiar kind of knowledge which means the release of such forces and such powers upon the world situation as are unknown by the great world systems.
First, let us remember that this knowledge of God is by revelation. We can never get this knowledge of God merely by reading, by listening, by attending meetings. As one looks out over gatherings of the Lord's people one wonders just how many of those we see at every meeting and every Conference have got this thing by personal revelation, and how many are only standing in that which they have heard the speakers say. If this thing is not given to you by the Holy Spirit's working it into your very being, and making it a part of you in a personal revelation and an inward birth, then you may hear all the truth possible and it will prove ineffective. How many of you who know this thing as a theory, a teaching, from A to Z, are really the via media of that transcendant power of God for the working of it out?
You may understand it all by mental apprehension, know the terms and the verses, and use them - but what about the dynamic of this thing? What does our personal presence in a situation mean? Does it mean that there is the going out of a power which cannot be accounted for on any human basis whatever, but which is a greater force than the forces that are represented by world organizations, world methods, world resources? It is a most important question. Is this thing alive, or have we merely got a little more mental apprehension of it through conferences? Do we know God in this thing by reason of a personal inward revelation on the subject. Paul makes a point of this. "It pleased the Lord to reveal His Son in me" - "By revelation, not from man." "I went not up to Jerusalem to consult the Apostles, I went into Arabia, and this thing was wrought out in me."
Some of us remember well the day of our pressing through fully to experience, when the thing about which we had been talking for so long suddenly, by a marvellous act of the Spirit, became life in us, and we were able to say "This is THAT"! "This is that which was spoken by the prophet." There was a transition from known truth to living truth; from known doctrine to present experience; and the ringing declaration went forth - "This is THAT"!
We have all got to know that transition. We have the doctrine, and now the thing has to be quickened; made life in us, until we independently stand in the power of it. How much do you depend upon conferences and teachers to keep you going? Must you attend meetings just because you feel that the last lot you got has been used up and you must get a fresh supply? Or have you been emancipated from all human props and put into a place of glorious independence, because you KNOW YOUR GOD? It doesn't matter if you are plunged into the middle of the Sahara, you know your God and can stand independently of all natural helps - this thing has become YOU! That is the kind of knowledge that means power. That is the kind of experience which overcomes the world. That is the kind of thing that makes all the other systems go down, and you rise triumphantly above them. That was the secret of the apostolic church. Let kings do what they like, let the people rage - it goes on, and it is the Roman Empire that goes to pieces before this thing, and not this thing that goes down before the Roman Empire. It is an independent personal knowledge of God, resultant from an inward birth, that lives. Not only an objective truth, but a subjective power, and it is a great day when the slightest fragment of known truth becomes a vital personal experience in its working ability. That is what we want. First-hand knowledge, not second-hand truth. May God work this into our very beings until it becomes us. Take it in fragments if you like, and ask the Lord to work it out in you and make it live in you.
Secondly, it comes by the way of pain. You get a thing revealed to you as truth, perhaps something about the Cross of Christ, or victory over Satan, and you think you know it, and you say, This is beautiful! And you begin to talk about it, and it is not very long before something happens - your circumstances are touched. Now you go down with this truth, down into the vortex of awful agony, right down to the gates of hell, your being is upheaved right from the very bottom, and all the time there is the question - "Will that truth hold good?" Is it going to work? And when you have got down as far as you can go, the flesh elements and the self elements have been dealt with, and you grimly hold on to the Lord in this matter of victory - then it comes out, you have tested it right to the very bottom of your being - that thing has become you, and then you can go to others in their grim conflict and their darkness, and say. "I know - I know this thing, and I know God is faithful, I know the victory." You have got a mighty emphasis on your knowledge, it is a thing about which you have no doubt, because you have gone down into the depths with it, and proved it down there, and by the very pain the thing has been proved. It is the people who know their God like that, who count. There is a power which is greater than all the other powers of the universe, and that power is to be mediated through you, but only as you know God on the basis of a personal experience through pain and suffering.
Then this knowledge of God only comes by implicit and unreserved obedience. "If any man willeth to do... he shall know", and you never advance in your personal knowledge of God beyond the point of your will. If there is something upon which the Holy Spirit ever so gently puts His finger, and that thing at once starts debatings in your consciousness, a quarrel as to whether it is right or wrong, - beyond the point of your dealing with that thing, you do not develop one fraction of an inch in your knowledge of God. Your knowledge of God depends utterly and absolutely upon your attention and obedience to every phase and every little bit of Divine revelation. You cannot know God beyond the point of your obedience to what you already know of Him. He will give you no further revelation of Himself beyond that point where you obey what you know. There are a good many Christians today who have stopped growing - who are where they were ten years ago, they are not moving on, the Divine revelation is not growing. If the truth were known, there is something upon which the Lord put His finger, and they did not attend to it. If we are going to know the Lord in this way, we must attend in a practical way to every bit of revelation and see that it is fully obeyed. If we want to know the fulness of an ever-growing power, it will only be as we respond to every dear command of His, answer every bit of revelation, and make it live, and this will give us a wonderful spiritual and moral ascendancy - when everything else is going wrong, then will be the strategic opportunity, and it is in strategic opportunities that we are found out.
| 2005/7/15 8:36||Profile|
| Vision and Vocation - Brief Messages at Sundry Times|
The Three-fold Law of the Cross
by T. Austin-Sparks
"Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit." John 12:24
In these words we have the three-fold universal law of nature which is also the three-fold law of the Cross. This three-fold law is (1) Life through death. (2) Liberty through surrender. (3) Enlargement through loss.
1. Life Through Death
The supreme illustration of this law is in Christ's own case. The real life of Christ is not the life of the three and a half years in which He trod this earth, but it is the life which He has been living in all the world since Calvary. It is an open question whether the record of those three and a half years would have survived or would have taken the place in the history of the world which it has taken, were it not for the romance of His continued activities and triumphs world-wide since His crucifixion and resurrection.
It is this romance that has attracted so much attention to that brief span of His life and teaching on earth, and which has created the world's literature relative to "The days of His Flesh." The greatest truth about Him is that "He was dead but is alive again."
That life through death has controlled the world ever since and has made the world realise that, in spite of most determined efforts to destroy it, here is something which is indestructible. Great world systems, cults, and even empires have exhausted all their resources to blot out the Name and the continued vitality of Christ. But it is they which have perished; He still lives on victoriously.
We never receive the real life of Christ until we too have been to the Cross. The real divine life - the life of Jesus Christ - is only known by what it does in men and women in making them live on a plane which infinitely transcends the human level.
Christ said of Himself that He had "come to scatter fire on the earth", and that He was "straightened until it was accomplished." A baptism was necessary in order that this divine fire or life might be liberated, and the "straightening" of Himself destroyed. He groaned, "Oh, that it were already accomplished." This baptism was a baptism through the passion, and it was through the Cross that He looked for the realisation of all His world-wide mission. The "fire" was to become world-wide in the members of His body. It was thus essential that they should be identified with Him, and identification with Christ is only found at the Cross, where such passages as the following have their deepest meaning:
"I have been crucified with Christ and yet I live and yet no longer I but Christ liveth in me.", Galatians 2:20.
"Having been buried with Him.", Colossians 2:12.
"We were baptised into His death.", Romans 6:3.
"For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.", Romans 6:5.
"Like as Christ was raised from the dead, so also we.", Romans 6:4.
If we are going to manifest that life of Christ, and if that vital indestructible something is going to bear its powerful testimony in the world, if that divine life - that very life of God Himself - indestructible, victorious, is going to bear its mighty witness and make itself felt in the world in the members of His Body, it is only through their oneness with Him in death and resurrection.
Until we know this oneness, our Christian life will count for little. We must take our place in one initial, all-inclusive reckoning with Him in death to the old self, and the old world with all its ambitions, desires, programmes, ideas, and standards, and then allow that death to be wrought out in us daily in order that the resurrection life may be increasingly manifest in us. The life of God cannot come into the old creation, it is the new creation life.
Not only does this apply in the case of ourselves as sinners, but it is a law which works out in every other relationship of Christian life. Take the matter of the knowledge of truth, in spiritual education. We come into the school of the Spirit to be taught. This school differs from the educational institutions of the world, where we go to have a certain amount of knowledge imparted to our brains. In secular education we can be crammed with a vast amount of theoretical knowledge, but the Holy Spirit's method is to have things wrought out in our very beings so that they become us and we become them.
In spiritual education something like this happens: One day being in the spirit, something said, or something read, or by the voice of the Spirit within, you see some wonderful piece of truth and it breaks upon you with all the force of a new revelation. Something you knew in theory before now breaks upon you as a wonderful divine unveiling. You lay hold of it, perhaps go to prayer and thank the Lord for it and feel that you are possessed of a great treasure which is going to be of infinite value in your life. You do not want to lose it, it has brought you such joy.
But after a time it goes! It seems to die and go from you entirely, all the power of it and the joy of it seems to depart, it has become a faded vision.
Unconsciously to yourself, it may be, your life begins to move out along strange lines, things in the nature of severe trial come upon you, a situation of great difficulty arises, and you feel that by sheer force of circumstances you are being carried to despair and to death.
At this point, the only thing that occupies your questioning mind, is that "truth" which had apparently passed away.
In your extremity it grips you and you make one desperate appeal to it, whereupon it comes to life and proves its vitality in bringing you through, up, and out to victory. What really has happened?
You received a revelation of some vital phase of truth. Good! But that truth had to be wrought out in you so that it became you. It was only mentally apprehended before, and in order that it might become your very life you had to be led into such a place of death that only this truth could save you.
So it has become part of your spiritual life and after that you never lose it. It is truth you know, and have proved, and whenever you are led to speak of it to others, it immediately gets home, it is a living thing, alive from the dead in your experience. This is the only basis of effectual testimony. The grain of wheat in which you could not see the life, although you believed in its possibility, goes down to the grave, then the surrounding forces and elements of God's providence begin to work upon it. It is quickened, it germinates, and nothing after that can resist its upward climb.
Take this law again in the matter of service for the Master. We have to die as workers as well as sinners. It is an awful experience when death lays hold of our service. When, as a worker, as a preacher, we go down to death and by sheer force of circumstances, adversity, fruitlessness, spiritual inelfectiveness, we throw up our hands in despair and say, "I am at an end, I have finished."
Here comes the test of ourselves and our service. How much was it a matter of popularity? Were we out to make a name for ourselves? Was it a matter of reputation? Did it matter whether people said nice things about our work, that is, did we feel pleased and flattered? Or did it matter if they said nasty things, criticised, distorted, or detracted, and we went home and had a bad time?
How much were we in the business?
Before the test came, of course we should have said, "I have no such personal ambitions, it is not my interests I am seeking." But when we go down to death and the door of service seems to be closing upon us, then we are laid bare as to our motives, as to our feelings, as to whether we are more concerned for our name than His.
From all this self-life we have to be emancipated before God can use us. We have to get to the place where it does not matter in the least what people think, or say, or do, so long as God is satisfied and we are in the way of His will.
This is the way of peace and this is the way of victory. But we have to go down to the realm of death, the "I" has to be slain. It is just in this measure in which that "I" has been crucified that Christ in the power of His resurrection can be revealed.
To one who asked George Muller the secret of his service, he said: "There was a day when I died, utterly died"; and, as he spoke, he bent lower and lower until he almost touched the floor - "died to George Muller, his opinions, preferences, tastes and will - died to the world, its approval or censure - died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends - and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God."
Then again have we not seen this law at work in great enterprises for the Kingdom which have most certainly been initiated by God Himself, as well as in smaller pieces of service to which He has undoubtedly called us.
That piece of work at some time in its history goes down to death. It may seem that all its effectives are being destroyed and that there will be nothing of it left. Then there comes a swing of the pendulum and from the very lowest depths of the grave of this buried piece of work there is an uprising by the quickening life of God.
Many servants of God have seen the work to which they were sure they were called, go this way. For some mysterious reason it seems that God takes the work down to death before it can live with abiding vitality and victory. Perhaps it is just that the human life must go out in order that the Divine life might come in.
2. Liberty Through Surrender
"Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free."
The whole of Isaiah 53 is a wonderful exposition of this truth.
Here is the suffering Servant of Jehovah. By His own consent He is taken into a many-sided captivity. He has emptied Himself to become obedient to the death of the Cross. He has surrendered His divine rights, and has made Himself of no reputation, but is allowing Himself to be the plaything of all evil forces, in order that going down under them on the human side, He might tear them asunder and rise in transcendant victory over them, far above all principalities and powers.
The Cross is a picture of captivity on the human side. "He saved others, Himself He cannot save." "Cannot" is the ruling word of the Adamic race, but the Cross is the instrument or means by which the complete emancipation is wrought by Christ for Himself as the representative and inclusive Person of the new race.
When the Cross has done its work there is liberation from all human limitations, and Christ breaks forth from the grave in a way which gives Him the mastery of the whole situation.
Those who have been identified with Him in His death are raised by Him to a life on a supernatural level, and through them He achieves such things as were before utterly impossible.
There is no human explanation of the accomplishments of Christ through the ages since Calvary. The human side has been totally inadequate. This is true intellectually, socially, physically, constitutionally in the case of by far the greater number of those who have been used in these transcendent achievements.
They have been the transmitters to the world of things which "Eye saw not, ear heard not, things which entered not into the heart of man", but which God revealed to them by His Spirit. The work done, the range covered, and the undying nature of their services has been in every way utterly out of proportion to the human resources. Not only so, but as we have already pointed out, everything that the devil could utilise, stir up, and rally to their undoing and defeat has only borne out the fact of the supernatural and limitless nature of the work.
3. Enlargement Through Loss
Refer to Isaiah 53 again. Here we see the Redeeming Servant of God going into desolation. The whole picture is one of desolation. He is alone, despised and rejected - terrible aloneness - His Cross has cost Him everything. His own brethren do not believe in Him, His nearest disciples do not understand Him, and yet how did that wonderful chapter close? "He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days; ...He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied."
From that point of the losses of the Cross and its promise of "seed," we move on to the ultimate vindication. "Behold a Lamb as it had been slain, in the midst of the Throne", and around Him "great multitudes which no man could number, out of all nations, and tribes and peoples and tongues." There is the gain, the countless multitude, the result of His travail.
The practical application is this: Very often it does seem that God requires a lot of us; that this Cross makes tremendous inroads, tremendous demands, and sometimes forces the demand to the point of pain, when we have to hand over to Him something very dear. We seem all the time to be giving, giving. It seems that the law of sacrifice is tremendously at work. But this is the road and the law by which, and by which alone, the infinite and transcendent gain can come.
There is the Devil spreading out before the Lord, "all the Kingdoms of the world and the glory thereof", and saying, "all these will I give Thee, if -" and this is the subtle significance of it - "if you will only keep off that Cross." Satan knew what the Cross was going to mean, namely, that he would lose the world kingdoms and that Christ would have them by that Cross. So in effect his words meant, "Keep off that Cross, and I will give you everything."
But said the Master, in effect, I am going to the Cross and I can afford to reject your offer for the time being. So He went by the way that led to the Cross, rejecting the world, denying Himself, and there, according to His own words. "The prince of this world was cast out", and He gained more than the Devil could have given Him. He gets the kingdoms of the world after all, by letting them go.
Are you prepared to let go in order to obtain? Let go the temporal for the eternal, the transient for the abiding, the earthly for the heavenly, the present glamour for the ultimate glory? This is the way to possess all things. Christ now has received of His Father's hands eternal fulness, and by our union with Him through the Cross, even these lives may become transcendently rich and unspeakably full.
Some of us have proved that the things that we were most loath to let go - but which at length we gladly yielded up - have come back to us with a greater fulness or have been the way of an enrichment transcending anything we before knew.
The compensation is overwhelming as at the Cross we lay our treasure in the dust, "the gold of Ophir with the stones of the brook," that the Almighty should be our treasure.
| 2005/7/16 17:56||Profile|
| Vision and Vocation - Brief Messages at Sundry Times|
Set "For a Sign"
"Say ye, I am your sign." - Ez. 12:11.
The mental conception of consecration has come to mean to be blessed and to be made a blessing. That is not a true conception if just left there. These passages, which we have read (see below) contain a proposition which is the central and basic principle of consecration to the Lord, of being given to the Lord. And what is it? That He might make us a sign. They contain this law, which we have often pointed out, that God in His eternal purpose determines that the method of His realisation should be by an incarnation of Himself, that is, a manifestation of Himself in the flesh; and that He should do something in that incarnation which would be a sign to the universe, that should signify something of the infinite Wisdom, Power, and Sovereignty of God - that He should take hold of the form of a man, and in that form do things and say: "Look at that and learn." By what He does in such an instrument He is making that instrument a sign and signification not only to man, but to angels of the two hierarchies, the divine and the satanic. As exampled in Job, that He might do a thing that the whole hosts of Angels and demons should look at and learn, and be made wise; so that in every realm, amongst men and in the heavenlies, the lower and the super heavenlies, God should be able to do a thing in those who are His, which would be the means of instructing, making aware, informing and demonstrating.
Moses was a sign to the Children of Israel. He disobeyed God and God had at once to act, and because Moses stood in such a prominent position before the people, his disobedience was publicly punished. In that judgment he became a sign to the Israelites, lest they should come to lightly regard the sin of disobedience. And with us, there will often have to be a public demonstration and judgment of the flesh, for the warning of others, as well as the vindication of the Truth in its living outworking. Moses was God's sign. It costs to be God's sign. Are we willing? How great the cost to Moses! - but - the afterward!
That this is a principle of Divine dealing is illustrated in these scriptures:
Ezek. 12:6. "I have set thee for a sign."
Ezek. 12:11. "I am your sign."
Ezek. 24:24. "Thou shalt be a sign unto them and they shall know that I am the Lord."
Acts 1:8. "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me."
2 Cor. 3:2. "Ye are our epistle... known and read of all men."
2 Cor. 3:3. "Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ."
1 Cor. 4:1. "Let a man so account of us as the ministers of Christ."
1 Cor. 4:9. "We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels and to men."
Eph. 3:10. "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenlies might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God."
2 Cor. 2:15. "We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ in them that are saved and in them that perish, to one we are the savour of death unto death, and to the other of life unto life."
I believe that the Lord in these days is seeking to gather out a people, and to gather in a people - few they will certainly be, and one does not say that the Lord can do this with all who are His - who shall be His Sign to the "House of Israel." Their testimony may not be a testimony that "the House of Israel" is utterly wrong; but their testimony will be that there is a higher and deeper life in God to which He would call them. One feels this borne in upon one so much in these days, and you will understand the signification of this, that when the Lord calls a people, a small company it may be, when He puts His hand upon one here and one there, adds them one by one to a small company of those who are to be a special sign to His household, He deals with them in altogether different ways from those which He follows with other people, and He says: "I will do a new thing."
Now it is no use you making a comparison with others. They may, in their way, have a certain seal and blessing of God upon them; but it does not mean that the way the Lord is leading you is a wrong way; and you dare not argue according to the ways the other people go. This is the way of the Lord for you. Do not stay to make comparisons. We stumble at that so often, we who have given ourselves wholly to God and then have these exceptional and trying experiences to come up against - the full impact of the wrath of the enemy. We look around upon others who have an easier time, because they are not going the way we are going. Immediately we do that the bottom begins to fall out of the whole thing. The point is, the Lord has His wheel within a wheel, His instrument with which He desires to make a special sign to His people, of His Wisdom, His Power, His Grace, His Methods, His Purpose, so that He can reveal Himself through you to others. Do not have, for one moment, the thought of anyone being on a pedestal, and being in solitary isolation, of special account to the Lord. It simply means that we go deeper down to death, and in humiliation before the world, than anyone else. And because the Lord takes us deeper, He is able to reveal something higher.
God is leading us out into a way which is, unusual, which is, if you like, peculiar; and doing a thing which we know not of as having been done anywhere else. As He leads us thus I believe it is in order that, in doing this thing, with all its cost, with all its pain, with all its need of the slaying of every bit of the flesh, pride and arrogance, and its desire for the approval of men, and all that kind of thing - in His new way He is seeking to have such to go with Him, in order that He may make them a Sign, as something spiritual, and something spiritually powerful; not that men can applaud, not that men may approve, but which perhaps will be like the impact of God from the Throne of God upon the throne of Satan, in these closing days. That is the burden of the Word of the Lord: "Son of man, I have made you a Sign"; "Say unto them, I am your Sign."
It seems to me that this moment is a moment when we should face the implication of this word; as to whether we are going the popular way; or whether we are going the unpopular way; as to whether we are going to be the Lord's Sign. When Paul uttered these words: "God has made us last of all a spectacle", he was taking account of the holidays of the Romans, when they gathered for a day's sport. When all the other things had been got through, the last thing was the turning into the arena of criminals who were made sport of to crown this holiday, for people to laugh at, jeer at, ridicule, make fun of, and Paul says: "Last of all, we are made a 'spectacle'" - the world laughs. Just as the world laughed at Nehemiah in the building of the walls of Jerusalem.
"God has made us a spectacle." Are we ready to be made a "Sign"? The thing which the world laughs at? The cross of the Lord Jesus has proved ever and always to have been the superlative wisdom and power of God. For the time being the sharing of the cross is the real test. The Master endured the cross, and despised the shame, in order to be made a sign.
Was there ever a Sign more glorious and mighty than that cross, - in the heavens, in hell, and on the earth?
So our Master came to the end, and said: "For their sakes I consecrate Myself. For their sakes I give Myself unto the full consecration; and that consecration is the cross; and I am willing to be made a 'Spectacle' to men, demons and angels, for their sakes." The Lord wants us to be Signs. One says this with bated breath, knowing little of what it means, but knowing also that His Grace is sufficient. Beloved, He is just seeking to gather a company of people together of whom He can make a Sign, not only of suffering and affliction, but of Power and Glory, to show to others His Wisdom, His Might, His Sovereignty, His Grace. Will you say on those terms, on that ground: "I am the Lord's." "At Thy feet I fall; to suffer, live or die, for my Lord crucified"? This is what it means to be His witnesses. "Ye are my witnesses" - it does not mean going out and talking; it means the Lord working out in our lives, and others looking on, and saying: "That is the Mind of God: that is the Way of God; that is the Will of God." And as He does it, so demons learn what God is, the Glory of God, the Sovereignty of God; angels bow because of His doings in the Church, and glorify Him on our behalf.
May He lead us to give our assent and consent in a new, fresh act of abandonment and consecration individually, and as a people, for these coming days. What the Lord does will, doubtless, for a while, cost something, test us very deeply, but we shall emerge into a revelation of Himself which has not been seen by us before.
| 2005/7/20 9:31||Profile|
| Vision and Vocation - Brief Messages at Sundry Times|
The World Vision
"All authority hath been given unto Me in heaven and on earth.", Matt. 28:18.
"Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation.", Matt. 16:15.
"Ye are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send forth the promise of My Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high.", Luke 24:48-49.
"He breathed on them, and saith unto them. Receive ye the Holy Spirit.", John 20:22
These commissions, recorded by four evangelists, are not four different records of the same words, but commissions given in different places, each with its specific significance. Together they form the valedictory service of the apostles in their first moving out into the great world purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ. The going forth of men and women is only the outcome of the process of getting every other interest in life subjugated to Kingdom interests. After that you naturally go out in life for that Kingdom. Whether it is a geographical going forth or staying at home, the world can, and will, be touched if the process is complete. You are bound to touch the world, you cannot help it.
These apostles became conscious at this time that they were in a thing that was not smaller than the whole world and the whole creation. So in response to that revelation and conception we find no question as to how their affairs were going to get on. They capitulated to the commission and its accompaniment, and became world factors in the Kingdom which ranges heaven and earth. When we get our spirit there, everything else will follow. Whether we go or stay in the purpose of God, we become part of a thing which ranges the universe.
Now we are in that, if we are in the Kingdom of God. The test of our citizenship in that Kingdom is how far we are counting in spirit to the bounds of creation. That lifts us out of our pettiness and takes the humdrum out of life. It ought to be the big broom which sweeps trivialities from our door.
The Lord Jesus Christ is moving today with a world purpose perhaps more intense than ever before. This is necessarily so if, as we have reason to believe, the end of the age is upon us and the dispensation is nearing its close. If we are near the end, of necessity there must be a mighty intensification of the age purpose of God. There must come to God's people a new world consciousness. The Body of Christ is a world-Body, a spiritual Body, composed of many members, of which He is the Head. It is by that Body, and that Body alone, that the Head is to triumph in the world and take the Kingdoms unto Himself and make of them one Kingdom. The members being in all the world we must have a world relationship (as to dimensions), and not only that, but a world responsibility.
What is the intensive purpose of the Spirit of God today? To bring that world Body into a conscious and intelligent apprehension of its union with a victorious and triumphant Christ, and in the consciousness of that union to take the Kingdom from the usurper for its Lord and Creator. That is a statement of the doctrinal facts. It is going to be thrust on our attention more and more.
Going about, one finds God's people everywhere suffering an intense oppression, deprived of that tremendous kick of power and authority which we have a right to believe is the right of those who are in union with their victorious Lord. There is a disparity. We believe we have a Christ Who met all the hosts of hell, the full force of that entire hierarchy, entered a life and death combat with it, and then threw its monarch, the devil, from his very throne and rose a victor over the last thing that monarch could do, triumphantly ascended to the throne of the Majesty on high, and there reigns. We believe it. We accept it. But here is the Church, baffled, defeated, agonizing in despair at her barrenness, unable to cope with situations, trying every means that ingenuity can suggest, - earnest, honest, sincere believers against mighty odds, unable to deal with them. This disparagement, is a contradiction. It ought not to be. If the Church (not a human organization, but that mystic Body of believers who are born from above, all members of a spiritual order, made so by being baptized into one Body in Jesus Christ) claims a citizenship of the Kingdom of God, our responsibility is to see that that throne is fitly known among the people of God.
What was the first of that series of commissions which the Master gave to His disciples? "All authority hath been given unto Me in heaven and on earth, go ye therefore..." All jurisdiction involves power to choose, power to insist upon obedience, power of government, power to utter the final word. It is that power that is needed in the Church, and such as know the truth have a world reponsibility to make it known. Among Christians the defeated foe is having things all his own way. This is not in keeping with a victorious Lord. What about you? What about me? Many Christians are being continually flung back from the field by repeated disaster there. Those who know victory are few, on the foreign field or at home. But every time the message of Christ's victory over Satan is spoken, it is as if a live wire were touched and the thing was done. That is the message for the Church today. We are heading rapidly up to Rev. 12:11, "- but they overcame him -."
It is important to remember that this commission was given to a type of people who understood His Calvary, had been baptized into His death, had gone down into despair over their own lives. God only knows the black ignominy and remorse that those men went through after His death and resurrection, realizing that they all forsook Him and fled while the greatest thing in the universe was taking place. Then the marvel, - they knew what it was to be baptized by His Spirit into His death, resurrection and ascension. "Jesus Christ is Lord." That is the Gospel. These apostles were in league with that transcendent throne, and it was to function through them. They went forth with one affirmation, "Jesus Christ is Lord." Here in the New Testament are four books describing the life of Christ, one book concerning the evangelistic message, and twenty-one epistles describing the results in the Christians who believed the message. The word went like a flame for one reason only, that Jesus Christ had made world conquest and they were in it.
If you know that truth it is for you to enter experimentally into it, and then know you have something to meet the need of the Body of Christ worldwide. When you do that you are going to meet the need of the Body of Christ in an apostolic way. Even among those who are true there is a sense of tremendous resistance, of being up against forces with which they cannot cope, and which are getting the upper hand. Every country will feel the impact of the gospel as never before when the Church realizes the full-orbed message of Christ's conquest.
We have got to let go all the local, parochial and personal, and expand to a twenty-five thousand mile circumference and beyond that even unto the sphere of spiritual principalities encircling the earth, and remember we are touching the endless ages with the present hour. We are not children of time. We have entered into a life which never had a beginning and never will have an ending. We have entered into that boundless plan which covers this world and enters heaven.
...The only compulsion we would know is, Woe is me if I preach not the gospel. Lay upon us all the passion of the Kingdom... We would stand in Thy presence to minister life to others, to stand against the devil's work, to hold the curse of God over these works of his, to command hands off the children of God. We would stand for the Body of Christ that she be all out of this prison, all chains fallen off. And we would claim perfect protection... May we be fitted into our place in the world purpose of the Body, and find ourselves in the wondrous plan of God, for His name's sake.
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