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crsschk
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Joined: 2003/6/11
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Santa Clara, CA

 Men Whose Eyes Have Seen The King ~ T. Austin-Sparks

Hi Annie,

Quote:
You transcribing these is a ...


... misnomer. This has all been culled from http://www.austin-sparks.net/

Hearing him indeed is wonderful. It forces one to slow down and listen, something I find very refreshing with so much being at such a fast clip in our day.


_________________
Mike Balog

 2006/4/2 19:55Profile
crsschk
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Men Whose Eyes Have Seen The King ~ T. Austin-Sparks

[b]Transfigured Through The Liberation Of The Spirit[/b]

That is the test and the proof and the challenge of the Holy Spirit's presence, and of the Holy Spirit's liberty to work. You see, the apostle says that here, just in a sentence earlier: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (II Cor. 3:17). He is, of course, making a comparison, or a contrast, with the old dispensation of the Law - Moses coming down with the Law. There it was all compulsion; there it was all 'you must' and 'you must not'; bondage, thraldom, limitation, suppression, repression, and anxious fretful striving. Now, all that has gone, and the Spirit comes and has His way. Moses, even, as representing that order of things, and that dispensation, had to put a veil over his face - not to hide the glory, but to hide the departure of the glory, and pretend, pretend - for you know it was a dispensation of pretending, on the outside. That was what the Lord Jesus was up against in His day, with the Scribes and Pharisees. He called them 'hypocrites', that is, pretending something that was not true; it was all put on, on the outside. The glory that had gone was not seen through this veil of pretense.

But with Christ, says the apostle, all that has gone; the Spirit has come, and come within; now we are set free from all that sort of thing. When the Spirit is Lord, it is liberty; everything is spontaneous, it is free, it just happens. You do not have to make believe, strive, fret, worry, and suppress: it happens if the Holy Spirit is there. And what happens, what happens? The glory of the Lord - that is, the Perfection of His Manhood - begins, and continues, to express itself in us spontaneously. That is the 'life of the Spirit'. It is 'normal Christian life'; there is something subnormal if it is not up to that, and something abnormal if you are putting on to that. But the 'normal' is that the Holy Spirit, having His way, does this one thing: He makes Christ more and more manifest in our mortal bodies.

So that is the heart of this. Now, the point is that this is the work of the Holy Spirit. That helps us very much, that the Holy Spirit has taken the responsibility for this into His own hands. You and I have not to strive to be Christ-like. With all due respect for Thomas a Kempis, it is not an 'imitation' of Christ - something that we TRY to do. It is this: to a true child of God, who is not putting something definitely in the way of the Holy Spirit, it is as natural to become more Christ-like, as it is to breathe. Now, you do not stop to discuss the question of whether you are going to breathe, how many more breaths you are going to take; whether you are going to breathe now, or save it up till later on, and make a theory of it - you just do it without thinking. And it is as natural as that, because the Holy Spirit is our breath, our life. Set that over against the many difficulties that people find to be Christ-like!

[b]Transfiguration Through Trials[/b]

Now what is said here is these two things: First of all, there is the Pattern, perfect, complete - Christ glorified. The Holy Spirit comes to work that pattern out progressively in the children of God. He has come for that purpose, to take it over, and to do it. We are not allowed to say how He shall do it; He chooses His own way. That will lead to this next thing. The apostle goes on: 'We have this treasure in vessels of fragile clay, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves' (II Cor. 4:7). Now, how is it going to be done? how are these vessels of fragile clay going to contain, and increasingly contain, and manifest, this glory of the character of Christ? Not in the way that we would think, perhaps, or choose: 'We are pressed on every side... we are perplexed... we are pursued... we are smitten down... we are always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus... we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake... death worketh in us...' (verses 8-12).

That is rather a disconcerting, discouraging view of things, but that is how the Spirit does it. The fact remains, whether we like it or not just this: being pressed on every side means that we are pressed into something more of the Lord Jesus, and that something more of the Lord Jesus is pressed into us. It means that you and I would never come to this transfiguration, only through these trials and these adversities. These are the Holy Spirit's means of our perfecting, of our growth in Christ.

It is a pity that it has to be like that; a great pity that we cannot be Christ-like, without being put into difficulty and trouble and suffering, but that is how it is! Give people absolute exemption from all kinds of difficulties and troubles, and see what kind of people they are - self-centred; self-sufficient; self-assertive. People who are never ill have very great difficulty in being sympathetic and understanding with the sick. They have, at least, to make a great effort to be patient with them - that is why I like doctors to be ill sometimes! But sympathy, understanding, patience, come to us along this line of painful experience; it is a matter of character, is it not?

And so the apostle puts alongside of our transfiguration, all these difficulties and adversities, and in effect he says, This is the Holy Spirit's material; these are the Holy Spirit's instruments for working Christ into us. If we are not rebellious, if we do not allow bitterness to creep into our spirit, it works out that way. Under the government of the Holy Spirit, suffering and trial, difficulty and adversity, will effect this.

[b]Occupation With The Lord[/b]

But then the apostle checks us here; he says: 'We all, with unveiled face, BEHOLDING as in a mirror...'. The revisers have had some difficulty here, as the translators of the Authorized Version had, and they have not settled their difficulty. Here is a matter in which they did not really know exactly what Paul meant, so they put it in these different ways - what we have in the text, and what we have in the margin. Did he mean that we are a mirror? that the image is thrown upon us as upon a mirror, and then rebounds - is that what he meant? Or did he mean that Christ is the mirror, and we are looking into Him, and He is reflecting the glory of God? I think that is what he meant. He spoke about the 'glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ' - I think the word 'face' there is really equivalent to 'mirror'. I know that it is not the same Greek word, but it is just another word in meaning; it is 'in the face of Jesus Christ'. 'And we BEHOLDING, as in the Face of Jesus Christ' - that is what the apostle is talking about here.

Now the word 'beholding' is a strong word; it is not just taking a look, it is 'fixing our gaze'. That is what the New Testament means by beholding, behold. We all, fixing our gaze upon Christ, as He mirrors in His own Person the glory of God, the satisfaction of God, the mind of God in perfection. The point is that you and I must contemplate the Lord Jesus in spirit, and be much occupied with Him. We must have our Holy of Holies where we retire with Him. We must have a secret place where we spend time with Him. And not only in certain special seasons, but we must seek, as we move about, ever to keep Him before us. Looking at the Lord Jesus, contemplating Him, we shall be changed into the same image. The Holy Spirit will operate upon our occupation.

You become like that which obsesses you, which occupies you. Is that not true? You see what people are occupied with, and you can see their character changing by their obsessions. They are becoming like the thing which is obsessing them; they are changing; they are becoming different. Something has got a grip on them; they can never think about anything else, talk about anything else; and it is changing their character. Now Paul said, 'For me to live is Christ - being occupied with Him'. It is the wrong word to use, but nevertheless it would be a good thing if He became our 'obsession', our continuous occupation. As we steadfastly fix our gaze upon Him, the Spirit changes us into the same image.

[b]'This Ministry' Is For All: A Matter Of Character[/b]

Notice the context of these words in II Corinthians. The apostle here is mainly concerned with the effect of the life of believers in this world, on this earth. He calls the effect 'this ministry'. Perhaps that word needs transfiguring for us. Note that when he says, 'we ALL, beholding...', he includes all believers in that word 'ministry'. It is ALL believers he is speaking to about ministry. And herein lies a tremendous difference. Our technical, professional conceptions of 'the ministry' are mostly external: that is, you give a title; you, more or less, put on a uniform; and so you are 'the minister'. It is all put on the outside, therefore it can be artificial. But what the apostle is saying here, is, that the ministry is not something that you put on, but something that comes out from within. We ALL - and that includes you, my brothers and my sisters - are called to the ministry. Any special application of that word would only be permissible, in the New Testament, in MEASURE, and not in kind. That is, some have a special ministry, and they are God's ministers in that particular way, with that particular measure. It is not that they are a class called 'ministers', and other people are 'laity' - such ideas are altogether foreign to the New Testament. 'We ALL, beholding', have the ministry, resultant from the beholding. And so we are all called to the ministry; it is just the effect of our being here.

Now, what is the apostle saying about this? He is clearly saying that the personality and the ministry must be one. How searching that is, but how very meaningful. The ministry must not be some 'thing' - preaching, teaching, and all those things that are called 'ministry' - something just done, whilst the man himself is different, and the person is apart. What Paul is saying so emphatically here is this, that when you meet a truly Spirit-indwelt and Spirit-governed man or woman, what they say comes out of their life - is a very part of their life. Their teaching can be seen to have been wrought into their history and their experience. When that man or that woman seeks to teach, to 'minister', to say something to someone else of a Christian character, it is known that that has come out of some secret history with God, something that the Holy Spirit has done in them. Their ministry and their character are identical.

That is very important indeed; it is indispensable. That is why the Holy Spirit is so meticulous about character, so careful about the personality, about the inner man, the inner life. That is why, if we are under His government - and this does not apply to everyone who ministers, or is in Christian service - but if we are really under the government of the Holy Spirit, if we, in word, exceed what is true in our own lives, the Holy Spirit will soon take us up on that, and, in effect, will see to it that we are brought abreast of our teaching - that the thing is kept in correspondence and balance. Have you ever said something, and the Holy Spirit has checked you up, and said: Is that true of you? is that something you have said? It is very important, and, if we were honest, we would not really have it otherwise. We want it to be like that.

[b]The Impact Of The Glory[/b]

But this is something that involves the glory - that is the point. There is such a thing as the POWER of the Holy Spirit in the glory. We spoke of it on a previous occasion as the 'impact' - the impact of the transfiguration upon those men; and the impact of a seeing of the Lord by anyone afterward - what it registered of power. Now, you and I perhaps covet and crave as much as anything that there should be impact in our lives, that there should be power, that our lives should register, that our presence should not just leave things as they were. We long that, as we go on, and when we have passed on, something may have been left of an impress, at least through our presence, and perhaps through our ministry - something that shall remain. Yes, impact is a very good word.

That is bound up with the glory - that IS the glory. It registers; it is something that remains. Things may come in, and for a time the glory may be veiled, but there is something there that will come up again. I confess that I have had difficulty in understanding - and yet there is some understanding, because we are all made alike - how three men, and one of them in particular, could be on the mount of transfiguration, yet in His hour of need they all could forsake Him and flee for their very lives; or how one amongst them, who by a revelation of the Father had declared that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God - how that man could yet, when it came to it, deny Him with oaths and curses. And yet all this was only a veiling for the time being; the glory came up afterward. It came up with Peter at the end. Many years afterward he remembered: 'We were with Him in the holy mount'. It remained. There was a temporary eclipse, but it was something that they did not forget. God forbid that such an eclipse should ever be true of us; perhaps we shall never have to go quite the same way as they went. But there is a permanence about this matter - an abiding effect of really having Christ revealed in the heart; and, by that inward revelation of Him, there is a manifestation of His character, something that remains.

Now it is clear that we cannot say this of all that is called 'ministry'. It is a sermon, an address, something given, and it passes. And it goes on like that in a routine, week after week, week after week. But, of course, we do not want it like that; we really do not want that we should come and go, should be just passing things, and not leave any abiding mark. No, there is an impact bound up with this. So, it is not a matter of what we call 'the ministry' - something external. The 'ministry' with Paul is nothing less than, nothing other than, what is true of Christ coming out of the life of His servants, of His people; being there, and coming out.

"Therefore seeing we have this ministry, even as we obtained mercy... we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God" (II Cor. 4:1-2).


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Mike Balog

 2006/4/2 20:00Profile
crsschk
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 Men Whose Eyes Have Seen The King ~ T. Austin-Sparks

[b]Chapter 5 - Born of God[/b]

[i]"The power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also that which is to be born shall be called holy, the Son of God"[/i] (Luke 1:35).

[i]"As many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God"[/i] (John 1:12-13).

[i]"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit"[/i] (John 3:6).

[i]"These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world"[/i] (John 16:33).

[i]"Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God: and such we are. For this cause the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if He shall be manifested, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him even as He is"[/i] (I John 3:1-2).

[i]"For whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world"[/i] (I John 5:4).

In bringing these Scriptures together, that about the birth of the Lord Jesus and those about the birth of believers, I am not failing to recognize a great difference. One has always to safeguard this matter of the Person of the Lord Jesus. He was Very God of Very God; 'God manifest in the flesh'; 'Emmanuel, God with us'. In that He stands alone, unique; there is not another like Him. His birth was different, even, from the new birth of every child of God: it was different in kind; it was different in degree.

[b]The Correspondence Between Christ's Birth And Ours[/b]

Nevertheless, there are factors in His own birth which constitute the nature of the birth of every believer. Deity apart - Godhead left with Him - there is yet something in these passages about the believer's new birth that corresponds to His birth. It is to some of these features that we are now to give attention. You will not confuse the two, I trust, at any point, on that matter of His uniqueness. At the same time, and on the other side, I do trust that you will be able to recognize what John said, that that which is true in Him is, in its own realm, and after its own kind, also true in us (I John 2:8). And, in this matter of the birth and the new life of the children of God, we shall be able to understand better if we recognize some of these features in the birth of the Lord Jesus. For His birth does, as I have said, hold all the factors which go to make up a true child of God.

[b]The New Birth A Divine Intervention[/b]

The first thing, which is quite patent, is that the birth of the Lord Jesus was a Divine intervention in human life: and that is true of the new birth of every believer; it is nothing less than a Divine intervention in human life. We do not stay with all the minute details of Christ's birth, but it is perfectly clear in this way, that out from Heaven there came a Heavenly Visitant, making an announcement; and, from the same heaven, the Holy Spirit came into human life and intervened, and did something - something that we shall see, I trust, in a minute. The point is that here is a breaking in of Heaven into human life.

Perhaps you wonder why this should be stressed, and given such emphasis. But let us be clear that that is not what is very largely conceived and taught about the new birth. Even with the best intentions the new birth is so often placed to man's side - it is what man does. Man has got to do something - either raise his hand, or make some statement, or sign some document, or make a decision, make a profession, accept certain things that are being stated, and so on. Perhaps such things are meant to open the way for God; but, even if we allow that, people are often left with this idea that it is something they have done. They have accepted Christ; they have accepted Christianity; they have made a gesture; they have done something; they have become Christians by what they have done, by their own act.

[b]Born Not Of The Will Of Man But Of God[/b]

Now, being fully generous, and not critical at all, it is very important to recognise that the new birth never necessarily takes place by anything that we do. It never really is consummated by some act of our own will, or of our own desire, or of our own mind - not at all. 'Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man...' - the man being the case in point, or the other man who would seek to bring it about - '... but OF GOD'. If God does not intervene in human life and in human history; break right in, as it were, from Heaven; if the Holy Spirit does not overshadow, and Himself produce that new life, that is not new birth; there is something lacking.

You are wondering, perhaps, why this message. I will tell you why. With a growing concern - and concern is a weak word - as one moves about the world touching Christians and Christianity, the one thing that is borne in upon one's heart, overwhelmingly, sometimes almost to the point of despair, is the need that those who bear the name of 'Christian' should know the real nature of what it means to be a child of God. They seem, so many of them, to have taken on something from the outside, by their own volition, choice and act, and so many have really not the faintest idea of what it means to be 'born' out from Heaven. And in all the needed work of recovery, in every department of Divine purpose at this time, this is one of the needs - a recovery of the real meaning of new birth, of what it is to be born from above, to be a child of God.

[b]The Coming Test Of Our Standing[/b]

I have sometimes wondered - maybe wrongly - whether the enemy is not very pleased with putting countless multitudes of people in a false Christian position, because he knows the day is coming when the winds will carry them away; and for a Christian to fall away is a greater reproach to the Lord perhaps than anything. Oh, how we do need to get our roots down; how we need to be grounded in the truth, and in the truth of our very nature as children of God. That is why we come to this message. The day is coming when our standing as Christians will be deeply and terribly tested - there will be a great shaking. The Prophet Ezekiel is very up-to-date; I believe these words will have perhaps a larger fulfilment in a not very distant future, than they had when Ezekiel uttered them: 'I will overturn, overturn, overturn... until He come whose right it is' (Ezekiel 21:27). There is going to be a great overturning of what is not true - of what is false. This judgment must begin at the House of God. So you will understand this present emphasis.

We begin here. As with Christ, so it must be with every child of God: they must, at the very beginning of their Christian life, be the result of a Divine intervention in human history, in their own human history, in their human life. But that is the great basic fact. Thank God that there are many who understand that, and know what it means. They are able to say: 'God intervened in my life; God broke into my life; God came out, even, as it were, from Heaven, into my life.' If we have the experience, we know the truth; but it is sometimes helpful to have it defined. This is it: When you and I were saved, God broke out of Heaven - nothing less than that. It was as though God Himself came out of His Heaven into a human life; broke into its world, and interrupted its course of history. Things could never be the same after that.

[b]Not Only A Newness, But A Difference[/b]

That is perfectly clear, is it not, in the case of the Lord Jesus? An angel indicated this intervention of the Holy Spirit from heaven - and it is no less than that in principle and fact with each new birth. But the next thing that is clear in the case of the Lord Jesus is that this was something different; it was not only something new that had not happened before, but it was something different. This birth is different from all other births. We cannot dwell too much upon the details of the account, but that is what it amounts to. The angel made that perfectly clear, and Mary knew it; that was her problem, her perplexity, her wonder - How? how? It was the perplexity of Nicodemus, his great question - How? This contains a profound mystery which constitutes a deep, a mighty difference. This is not the common thing; this is not the usual thing; this you cannot find, except here; it is different.

And that which results from this intervention contains this fundamental difference in its very constitution. Oh, that all who bear the name of Christian, all who are children of God, were fully alive to this! I think this is where the weakness lies with so many, and it will not hurt us, even though we know it well, to be reminded of it, to face it again. It is something that we need to keep with us in our consciousness continually. Our new birth is different from all other births, and by new birth we are made fundamentally and constitutionally different from all other beings. You know it perhaps in some measure in experience. The birth of the Lord Jesus was so patently a different kind of birth. It was not in the usual natural way; nature had nothing to do with it; man's will, choice, decision, had nothing to do with it. And 'that which is born shall be HOLY': can you find THAT in nature anywhere? It is of a different kind and a different order of being - that which is, in its very essence, HOLY. That is the contrast with every other creature and every other birth. The Psalmist cries: 'I was born in sin, shapen in iniquity' - and that is true of us all.

cont.


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Mike Balog

 2006/4/4 0:12Profile









 Re: Men Whose Eyes Have Seen The King ~ T. Austin-Sparks

Quote:

crsschk wrote:
Hi Annie,
Quote:
You transcribing these is a ...


... misnomer. This has all been culled from http://www.austin-sparks.net/

Hearing him indeed is wonderful. It forces one to slow down and listen, something I find very refreshing with so much being at such a fast clip in our day.



Shalom~Shalom, as our dear friend Ron brought out and we Messianic types say. :-)


Yes, his voice does that. Thank God.
It's when we get in that 'fast clip' that we all lose our Shalom. Indeed. Sometimes, it almost can't be helped ... but Thank the Lord for a chance to get a breather.


I was just posting to Diane's Chip Brogden thread much earlier, that I found Chip years ago doing a search for TAS, and then found SI looking for TAS last year. Ha ~ Romans 8:28 [u]is[/u] 'For' 29.


NEAT and [u]Thank you[/u].

Shalom~Shalom.

 2006/4/4 0:39
Manfred
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Joined: 2005/4/4
Posts: 342
Continental Europe

 Re: Men Whose Eyes Have Seen The King ~ T. Austin-Sparks

Mike,

Thank you so much for posting these tremendous messages. I think that TAS is a special voice that needs to be listened to and heard. Not necessarily in a literal sense, as I find that indeed he does speak to me and others through his written ministry in a unique way. How much we need such ministry that dispenses nothing else but... Christ!

Manfred

 2006/4/4 13:07Profile
crsschk
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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re:

Quote:
How much we need such ministry that dispenses nothing else but... Christ!



Yes.


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Mike Balog

 2006/4/5 0:23Profile
crsschk
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 Men Whose Eyes Have Seen The King ~ T. Austin-Sparks

[b]The New Birth Brings Into A Heavenly Kingdom[/b]

Now when I say that that principle holds good in every new birth, it needs this explanation. We know quite well that it is not our bodies that are born again; therefore they are not holy. We know that it is not our souls that are born again: if our souls are our minds - our reasoning powers, and our emotions, and our power of choice - well, they are not different. It is the trouble of our whole Christian life that we still have so much of that which is not holy with us, in mind and heart and will. It is the realm of our conflicts, our battles, our sorrows. Nevertheless, something, somewhere, has happened, something has come in, that is not of that kingdom at all, that is of another heavenly kingdom; and THAT, which is born of God, is holy. Do you know that? Even if it has never been explained or defined to you, you know it in experience. You know that there is that within you that revolts against sin and unholiness; you know that one of the great blessings of your life is an inward power of reaction when things are not right, not good. As we go on, we do become more and more sensitive to evil, to the sin of this world. Our peril may be sometimes to accept its presence; to take it just because it is there.

Now, we are in a world like that, but nevertheless it is true of every child of God that there is that feeling about it - something of a tremendous inward revolt and reaction to sin, to evil, to unholiness. What a safeguard that is! what a gift of God it is to have that! God forbid that ever we should lose our sensitiveness in that realm, or cease to be moved by the sinfulness of sin.

[b]The Need For Sensitiveness To This Difference[/b]

Beware, young people, that you do not blunt the edge of your new birth, by accommodating yourself to this world's ways, its forms and customs and acceptances, and taking it all as something inevitable. Ask the Holy Spirit to keep you very sensitive to sin, very sensitive to evil; to keep alive this DIFFERENCE, which is your birthright - a part of your very birth. If you are a true child of God, you know something about the difference, as you go out into the world, not only in the matter of sin, but in all kinds of ways. You are different; something has happened to you.

At some point, this difference should have become quite clear to you, so that you know it - not just because you are told, not because your parents are Christians and do not like you doing certain things and you have got a sort of conscience which is your parents' really, and not your own - but in your own heart, in your own self, you have got this consciousness of being DIFFERENT, fundamentally different, from those who are not the Lord's. If that is not true as to a crisis in your life - for all do not have a violent breaking in as in the case of Paul on the road to Damascus - nevertheless, there has to arrive at some point this sense: 'I am a child of God; I am different; something has happened; a great difference has been made deep down somewhere; I am not the same; and I am not the same as those who are not the BORN AGAIN children of God.'

But, also, it is the nature of spiritual growth that that difference becomes more and more accentuated. It is the thing that is making this world more and more a 'strange and foreign' land to us - it is not our home, not our place; and conversely, 'making heaven' truly more and more to be our home. Now, where heaven is I cannot tell you; but I do know this, that, whatever heaven means, that is where I belong. And more and more I am discovering that I belong there, and that I do not belong here.

[b]The Divide Of The New Birth[/b]

I speak to young Christians particularly, that this is the very nature of your new birth, that more and more it must be like that. And do not be afraid of it; do not rebel against it; accept it. It is a proof of something, of the greatest thing that God is doing in human history - breaking in to make this tremendous difference. It is on that ground that the Great Divide is going to be set up. We get our mental pictures of the judgment; well, we will not argue as to the material side of that. But I do know that this judgment has already begun, and it is going on (I Peter 4:17), and the finality of it will be here: that there are those who belong here, and there are those who belong there, and there is no mistaking to which realm these people belong. The great divide has been made. The Lord is seeking to bring that about now. But oh, the tragedy of many Christians, and many young Christians, trying to bridge that gap - to hold those two things together; instead of allowing the gap to widen, whilst they stand on the side where they are moving further and further away from a judged world.

[b]An Inherent Power To Overcome[/b]

The next thing that comes out in this matter of Christ's birth, and the birth of the children of God, is that by this birth there comes into us an inherent potency, an inherent power. Now, the Lord Jesus said: 'Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world' (John 16:33b). And John says: 'Whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world' (I John 5:4). In Christ, in the born anew child of God, there is an inherent power and virtue which is going to overcome the world. It is there in the very nature of things, in the very constitution of the new life: it is going to overcome. There may be failure - there may be frequent failure; there may be falling in the battle; there may be some casualties; there may be some dark patches; there may even be some going away. But it is a most remarkable thing, and a most heart-ravishing thing, to see how this life persists.

I sometimes have to smile. People tell me that they are going to give it all up; they cannot go on any longer; and off they go, and you do not see them for a little while. But they are back again. And that happens a hundred and one times. How many people have said to me, and quite recently, 'I am giving it all up; I am finished; I am going.' And as far as they knew themselves, they meant it. But they cannot do it; they are just like moths round the lamp - they cannot keep away; back they come, and, yes - crestfallen and ashamed! You know, if it were natural, they would not do it; I would not do it; for very face saving, I would not come back again, show my face again after that. But there is something else, something more, that is stronger than our shame, stronger than our self-reproach, stronger than our self-despair, stronger than our constant delinquency: there is a persistence that brings us up, and brings us back. It is the history of most children of God. 'That which is born of God overcometh the world.'

It was true of Jesus. How did He overcome? Not by physical force; not by resolve of will, not by power of brain and mind and argument. He never did bring the world under His feet in those ways. By sheer force of Divine character; by the kind of Man He was; by the Divine nature in Him, He overcame. And so, with every child of God: in so much lesser degree than in His case, perhaps; so much slower in expression and manifestation; nevertheless it is there. Every true child of God knows quite well that, had it not been for that inward grip of something, or Someone, not themselves, they would not be where they are today, still seeking the things of God. No! It is inherent in that which is born of God to overcome!

[b]The Inevitable Antagonism Against Heaven[/b]

The next thing, of course, is the inevitable antagonism. It was not very long after the birth of the Lord Jesus before it broke out. The kingdom of Satan knew who He was, and what He was. That kingdom had many a powerful instrument and means at hand, and Herod was one such. We are not to know what happened during the thirty years of His boyhood and young manhood - that is passed over. It would not be surprising if there were many narrow escapes even then. But we do know that, from the moment of His stepping out from His anointing at Jordan, to take up this work of bringing 'the other sheep', bringing the other sons to glory, all hell was on His track. Whenever He came into a place, the atmosphere became charged with antagonism. We perhaps know something of those atmospherics, but how infinitely worse it must have been for our Lord, with His very sensitive spirit, to have known this terrible hatred and animosity of the evil powers toward Him, and working through men. Oh, the constant, almost monotonous repetition: 'They sought to destroy Him... they sought to destroy Him... they sought how they might destroy Him.' That was the atmosphere in which He lived. Why?

Well, it might be put down to many causes, but the fundamental cause was this: He belonged to Heaven, and the destiny of the Heavenly One and the heavenly ones is to possess this world and govern it, by the final abolishment of its prince and his whole kingdom. And they know. Said they: "I know Thee Who Thou art, the Holy One of God" (Mark 1:24). And they know every one who is holy, in that sense. There is an inevitable antagonism in the spiritual realm. Often it cannot be traced to any physical, material, or temporal cause, or to people; it is just there in the air. We know something of the antagonisms of a spiritual kind that the Christian has to meet in this world, without provoking deliberately or knowingly or really, by words or deeds. When you are born again, somehow or other the consciousness comes alive that you are a speckled bird, a marked man or woman. And so John says about these that are born of God: 'For this cause the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not' (I John 3: 1b). It 'KNOWETH' us not. There is a deeper meaning in that word 'knoweth' than just being aware of us, knowing who we are. It is being able to place us; being able to explain us, being able to trace us, as to what we are and where we came from. To the world there is something about us that is inscrutable; and that constitutes an antagonism.

Let me appeal once again to young Christians. Do not try to cut out that kind of antagonism. Be careful not to give unnecessary offence; try to 'commend yourself to every man's conscience in the sight of God' (II Cor. 4:2b); do things honourably before all men (Rom. 12:17b); give them no occasion for accusing you fairly as a Christian. But when you have done all, do not think that you will not meet this antagonism - if you are a child of God you will. You just cannot avoid it. Do not try to eliminate it; recognize that this is a part of the very fact, a wonderful evidence of the fact that you are in the company of Jesus Christ. The world knew Him not; therefore it knows us not.

[b]The New Birth Is All Of Grace[/b]

In conclusion, let us think for a few minutes of Mary herself, because she is characteristic in some ways of the vessel of the new birth. To whom, to what, upon what ground, will the new birth take place? Here there is a correspondence between the birth of the Lord Jesus and the new birth of every child of God. We have, of course, to recognize the Divine sovereignty of eternal election: 'chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world'. Let us accept that, and leave it for the moment. We come into the operation and activity of God in time. Upon what ground in time, in our own lives, will this thing come to us? Are there some grounds, are there some occasions, are there some conditions which will always obtain where God comes in in this way?

Yes, always. One of the beautiful things about Mary, as characteristic of a vessel of new birth, was that which the angel said to her: 'Hail, thou that art highly favoured of God.' The margin perhaps gets nearer to the true meaning: 'Hail, thou that art endued with grace'. That is the beginning of every new birth - ENDUED WITH GRACE. If there was one person in that little country in those days who was aware - and this comes out so clearly - of the wonder of this, the condescension of this, and her own unworthiness of it, it was Mary. 'How should this thing be?' Before this wonderful thing can happen to us, we have often to be brought to the place where the only word that suits the situation in our consciousness is GRACE; it is God's grace; it is all of grace. 'Thou art endued with grace'.

That is simple, I know, but that is the beginning of everything for the Christian life, for this wonderful miracle of God: that we must see and be deeply impressed, as she was, with our own utter worthlessness in this matter: that this could never be to us if we, in ourselves, in our own state, were the deciding factor. It is only God's infinite mercy, His infinite grace. That is a humble and a contrite spirit, and God is with that. But the new birth is but the beginning. This which is of God and of Heaven, has to grow and grow; more and more there is to be an increase of Him; but it is all on the same basis - the emptying of ourselves, the pouring out of all that is selfhood, to make way for the grace of God.

[b]Submissiveness And Simplicity[/b]

The next thing about Mary is her simplicity and her submissiveness. There is something very beautiful about her simplicity, is there not? We are often too complicated about all these things. We make the Christian life far too complicated - projecting our mentalities and our arguments, our contentions, and our demands for explanation, and what-not - and we are standing in our own light as we do so. The Lord cannot get on; that is all rubbish in the way. He needs a heart like Mary's (and I am not setting up Mary to be worshipped): a heart that is simple, in this sense, that there is nothing argumentative, querulous, awkward, about it. It is an open heart: perplexed, it is true; not understanding; wondering how it can be, and saying so. Nevertheless, because of the simplicity, honesty, purity of her heart, she arrived at this: 'Be it unto me according to Thy word' - absolute submission, even to the mystery, and what it would involve. The trouble with so many of us is that we are so slow in our submission, our surrender, our giving way, our letting go. We will argue; we will demand an explanation. We go round and round this eternal circle, getting nowhere, because we will not let go - we just will not let go; and so we come back to the point from which we started a thousand times. Mary put her whole life into this: 'Be it unto me according to Thy word'. And the angel departed. That was what he was working toward.

It involved Mary in suffering - it involved her in suffering immediately. And then, forty days after the birth, Simeon told her: 'A sword shall pierce through thine own soul; that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed'. I think there is something there that is very helpful. When the Cross is at work in a life, people begin to betray themselves; their thoughts begin to accuse, to make charges; to say, This is because of so and so.... When someone is having a bad time, thoughts come out: people divulge what they are thinking and feeling about the one concerned - some are sympathetic and some antagonistic. 'A sword shall pierce through thine own soul; that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.' It was necessary that men should show themselves, show where they stood, on that day of the Cross; Mary's suffering was a part of that.

This may seem to us something of a mystery. But the point is that this kind of thing that happened to her, and which happens to us, involves us in suffering. It involves us in the offence of the Cross; it involves us in much misunderstanding, even much ostracism. The angel left her. She knew what it meant then. But later on Simeon told her what was coming, along the line of this child. What it amounts to is this: that to be a child of God is no ordinary thing. It is something unusual, something different, something of God. It is the result of an intervention of God from heaven.





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Mike Balog

 2006/4/6 0:28Profile
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 Re: Men Whose Eyes Have Seen The King ~ T. Austin-Sparks

[b]Chapter 6 - The Glory of the Lord[/b]

Reading: [i]Ezekiel 1

"Above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and upon the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above" (Ezekiel 1:26).

"That working of the strength of His might which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and made Him to sit at His right hand in the heavenlies, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come: and He put all things in subjection under His feet" (Ephesians 1:19-22).

"We behold Him Who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus... crowned with glory and honour" (Hebrews 2:9).[/i]

Let us focus, for the moment, upon the twenty-eighth verse of Ezekiel 1:

[i]"As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness roundabout. This was THE APPEARANCE OF THE LIKENESS OF THE GLORY OF THE LORD."[/i]

That fragment seems to me to sum up all these prophecies. Not only does it apply to the first chapter in particular, but it can be taken all the way through; for everything in these prophecies is being governed by THE GLORY OF THE LORD.

There is a very practical and immediate relationship between this word and ourselves. I am quite sure that most of us have a deep and strong sense of the need for the Lord to do a new thing. I believe that is felt very widely. What that new thing is may be given different interpretations. In the evangelical world there is much prayer and talk about 'revival'; that is perhaps only another way of expressing this sense of a need for the Lord to move in, in a new way, and do a new thing. Others would put it in other ways. But it is there amongst Christians everywhere: the Lord must do a new thing; the Lord must take a fresh step.

[b]God's End Is Glory[/b]

We need to be very intelligent and understanding about this matter. The Lord has His ways and His means, and we need to know something about them if we are going to be in line with the Lord in any movement that He purposes to take. This word is therefore very appropriate to the situation. For whenever God has moved in a new and further step in His Divine purpose, He has prefaced that movement by bringing, first, an instrument, and then, through such an instrument, His people, to a fresh apprehension of His glory.

That is a statement which will bear investigation and confirmation. GOD'S ONE END IN ALL THINGS IS GLORY. Make no mistake about that. If you want to know what God is after, what He is moving toward, in all things - and that compasses countless details in every realm; in personal life and corporate life; in the nations - the answer is that God's end is GLORY. That being so, it is to be noted that He always establishes that principle at the outset of every movement. He sets it there as the thing which is going to govern the step, or movement, or whatever it is, that He is about to undertake: it is going to be governed by the end which He has in view, in this as in every new beginning. That may sound a little difficult for the moment. But let us take some instances.

[b]Some Examples From The Old Testament

(a) Abraham[/b]

We would all agree that, when God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, and separated him to Himself, that was a new movement of God. There is no doubt about that. It was a clear-cut and defined breaking-in to human history on the part of God, with a further stage in the Divine programme in view. Now Stephen tells us that "THE GOD OF GLORY appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia" (Acts 7:2). Why the God of GLORY? The end toward which God was moving was GLORY - His own glory in a people, to be manifested among the nations. And so, as the God of glory He appeared to Abraham. He put the glory there as the principle, the law, the basis upon which He was taking that step, and upon which He was going to follow it through.

[b](b) Moses[/b]

Some centuries later (revealed to Abraham even to the very period: see Genesis 15:13,16; Acts 7:6), the Lord had that people out of Egypt. He brought them to Sinai; and there He changed them from a rabble crowd, an unconstituted and unorganized multitude, into a corporate nation. That was the new move at Sinai. By the law and the testimony and the revelation given in the mount, the people were constituted a nation. And it was done in GLORY. Moses went into the mount, and saw the God of Glory, and came down with that glory on his face. Again God had put the principle at the beginning of His new move: He was moving on the pathway of glory.

[b](c) David And Solomon[/b]

A further step in the Divine plan was reached in the days of David and Solomon. The temple was indeed a development of the Divine thought in representation; and it is all in GLORY. The issue there is GLORY: "the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord" (I Kings 8:11, etc.). It was a glorious time; it was a glorious place. It was all just enunciating and preserving this principle: God is moving all the time with this thought governing - GLORY!

[b](d) Ezekiel[/b]

But we are told that the day came when the glory departed from Jerusalem. We know why. And that brings us to the prophets of recovery, and to this prophet Ezekiel in particular. Here, at the opening of these prophecies, in the day when the glory is eclipsed amongst the Lord's people, as lifted up and departed from Jerusalem (9:3,11:23), the Lord of Glory appeared to Ezekiel: 'This was the appearance of the likeness of the GLORY of the Lord.' It is impressive that that comes right at the beginning of the prophecies, is it not? Now everything that follows is going to be but the outworking of that law of glory. God is more concerned, and in these various ways He is showing His concern, for the end of GLORY to be reached.


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Mike Balog

 2006/4/12 22:10Profile
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 Men whose eye's have seen...

[b]Some Examples From The New Testament

(a) The Incarnation[/b]

So much for the Old Testament. When we come to the New, we shall all agree that the Incarnation - the birth of the Lord Jesus into this world - is a new movement of God. That is indeed a great step forward in the Divine programme. And therefore it is accompanied with glory - heavenly glory: 'Glory to God in High Heaven!' (Luke 2:14). We sing it in our Christmas hymn. There is glory again at the inception of this new, mighty movement of God, because the end of that thing is indeed going to be glory: He has come for the recovery of the glory of God in this earth. That is Heaven's psalm.

[b](b) Pentecost[/b]

We move on still, and again we will all agree that the Day of Pentecost is another great step forward in the plan of God. God is moving on, and this is a clear mark of that progress of God through the ages. The Day of Pentecost was a step of God from Heaven. And what glory! John tells us quite clearly that the coming of the Holy Spirit was upon the basis of Jesus being glorified. He said: 'The Spirit was not given; because Jesus was not yet glorified' (John 7:39) - implying that when the Spirit was given Jesus was glorified. It was on that ground. God is moving on this basis all the way along.

[b](c) Peter[/b]

And so we could go on. We think of the individual instruments of God's new movement. We will agree that a new movement was in hand through Peter. There is no doubt about it. It is a real new movement. Though Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, we must remember that Peter opened the door for the new dispensation both to Jew and to Gentile, in Jerusalem, and in Caesarea. It is a mighty new movement. But Peter had his ministry set in this glory. He tells us that he was with Jesus in the Holy Mount, and beheld His glory (II Peter 1:16-18). That had undoubtedly been a tremendously dynamic thing in Peter's life. The Holy Spirit interpreted everything to him on the Day of Pentecost. He got a new Bible, because he had got a new Lord, and an opened Heaven! It was this great principle of glory which accounted for Peter's ministry, and Peter's work, and Peter's endurance to the end.

[b](d) John[/b]

That is clear, too, in the case of John, who was with him for so long as his co-worker and fellow-apostle, in Jerusalem at least. When we come to the beginning of the Book of Revelation, we once again recognize that we are in the presence of a new movement - a new movement for the recovery of the GLORY, which has become so limited and obscured in the churches. The Lord comes to John in vision in Patmos; but it is such a glorious thing, and the visions are so glorious, that more than once John is down in utter prostration before the Lord, and has to be lifted up, helped to rise, because of the overwhelming impact of the vision of the glory (1:17; 19:10; 22:8).

[b](c) Paul[/b]

And what shall we say of Paul? That wonderful ministry, so full, so rich, so glorious, was all born in the day when he saw the GLORY on the Damascus road.

The point is this. The Lord displayed the glory upon every occasion when He was going to move again with some new step in His purpose. All these things that I have mentioned were steps onward of God in His age-long purpose, and every one of them was based upon a new apprehension of the glory of the Lord by those who were concerned. So that, in the case of the prophets and apostles, their ministry was a ministry of the greatness and the glory of the Lord; and as those to whom they ministered saw that, they became a people with a very great significance in this world. It was this apprehension of the glory of Christ that gave character and meaning and power and value to their being here in this world. All this, then, has but one meaning: God's end and God's object is GLORY, and everything that He does is governed by that.

This is something that must really take hold of us, and of which we must take hold: that God intends that all things - ALL things, to the minutest detail of our life, should work out, under His hand, for glory; that God, in everything, is working with glory in view. Do you believe that? No doubt you believe it as a statement and a truth; perhaps you believe it in your heart; but it is not always easy to believe that, because we just do not see how it can be. Indeed, what we do see convinces us that anything but glory will come out of this! Oh that the Lord would just grip us with this - grip me, grip you - individually, and as companies of His people where we are: that what He is doing, what He is allowing, is under the control of this one law and principle - He intends it to be for His glory. That is what He has in mind, and what He will do, for He will not be finally thwarted in His purpose.

[b]Ezekiel And The Glory[/b]

True, everything may seem to contradict this. We come to the prophecies of Ezekiel, and there is plenty that seems to contradict this glory. But you cannot get away from the fact that the glory is disclosed in the very first chapter. It is not reserved to the end, so that you have to wade through all the wearisome tale of judgments and woe, and then at last find that God comes out with things in His own hands - so to speak just manages to survive. You are told right at the very beginning that everything is governed by GLORY. In everything that is going to happen, everything that is going to be said, right on to the end, the governing thing is THE GLORY OF GOD; it is there as the very foundation of everything. We must take note of that. What is God's end? Paul has seen it, and has given it to us in a matchless fragment: "Unto Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all the generations of the age of the ages" (Eph. 3:21). You cannot get beyond that! That is finality; that is the end - 'unto the age of the ages, GLORY in the Church and in Christ Jesus'.


We come then to Ezekiel. There is much here to help us as to God's own concern for His glory. WE may have a concern for the Lord's glory, the Lord has a far greater concern for His glory than we have. This book is a book just full of God's own concern for His own glory. Notice how precise Ezekiel is, even to the year, and the month, and the day of the month. "The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi..." (1:3) - where he was, when he was, how he was. It is like the Lord, moving so exactly, so meticulously, in this matter, and laying hold of this man. Remember, it had to be a laying hold of him, because it resulted in a complete change in his whole vocation. Ezekiel was a trained priest; he belonged to the priesthood; he was a young man, who was expecting that through his life he would fulfil the ministry of a priest. This broke in and upset his whole career and his whole vocation: he had to change his whole manner and method of life, from priesthood to prophet. It was something very strong in this man's case. It is interesting to notice that his name, Ezeki-el, means 'God will strengthen'. For the glory of God that is very necessary, especially in conditions such as those in which Ezekiel lived.

Ezekiel, thus, as a young man, was carried away with the captives to Babylon, and was 'among the captives by the river Chebar', he tells us (1:1,3); and, from what we know, and what we read, it was a pretty hopeless situation. We know something of the conditions in Jerusalem from the prophecies and ministry of Jeremiah: it was pretty bad there; poor Jeremiah had his heart broken, as he had ministered in Jerusalem. But there are reasons for saying that, whatever it was like in Jerusalem, it was even more difficult in Babylon - that is, so far as the people were concerned to whom Ezekiel ministered. They were a difficult, recalcitrant people. Read these early chapters; see Ezekiel's encounter with them, and the measures to which he had to resort.

[b]An Unpopular Man[/b]

I do not want to stay with too much detail, but it is very necessary, for our encouragement, that we should get the setting of the glory of the Lord. Here he is with these captives. Now, a man who has to bring home to a people the reasons for their condition and for the judgments of God; to speak faithfully in the name of the Lord, without compromising on any principle; who will put his own very life and future in the balances of his ministry and be thoroughly faithful. He will not condone any wrong. He will not compromise on any principle in order to preserve their favour and his own position. The man who really has the glory of God at heart at any cost is a very unpopular man.

And Ezekiel was an unpopular man among the exiles - so unpopular that he had to resort to all sorts of seeming tricks in order to gain their attention, to get a hearing. Look at the things to which he resorted, and had to do - spectacular things; unusual things; unnatural things. Sometimes he seemed to act the fool to draw attention, so that people should look in his direction. It was a hard time to get a hearing, to have any attention at all; he was the most unpopular man, perhaps, in the country. It was a desperately difficult situation that he was in amongst his own people there.

[b]The Heavens Opened In Difficult Situations[/b]

In the midst of such a situation - which I do not think I exaggerate; indeed, I could add much more to it from these very chapters - in the midst of such a difficult and, for the time being, seemingly hopeless situation, he tells us that the heavens were opened, and he saw visions of God! There is no situation so hopeless as to make it impossible for the glory of God to break in; no situation that can shut God out and be too impossible for a fresh manifestation of His glory. Do you not take heart from that, if it is true? Well, here it is! It is an amazing thing when you take the whole setting, and the whole circumstances, and the whole provision. You could say, Well, that is altogether beyond any hope; that has broken Jeremiah's heart; that has brought the wrath of God - destroyed Jerusalem and sent the people far away: what can you hope for in such a situation? And, right in the midst of that, Ezekiel says: 'I saw the heavens open, and visions of God.' And he sums it all up: "This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord."

Now, difficult as it is for us to take hold of that, really to believe it, this may be a message to us. Perhaps we are sometimes very near to despair over the whole situation. Let it come to us as a message from the Lord. In our own lives, or in the place where we are, perhaps as a company of the Lord's people, things create such difficulty that sometimes we get near to giving it all up. Ezekiel might well have done that, for he had far more occasion for doing it than you or I have; but right in there - THERE - "This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord". "The heavens were opened!"

We have thought and said much about an 'open Heaven'. All we will say about that, for the present, is that, if there is any indication at all that the Heavens are open, that is always the most hopeful thing in any situation. You may be having some difficult times in your company of the Lord's people; perhaps you have some difficult people - well, Ezekiel had some difficult people; you may be having much discouragement; there may be things which you feel to be very wrong, and so on. And yet, when you come together and give yourselves to the worship of the Lord, there is a wonderful sense of unction. You just become occupied with the Lord! For the time being, at any rate, you let the other go, and the Lord becomes your Centre - the Heavens are opened! While that lasts, there is every hope for your assembly; there is every hope for the future. There is nothing more hopeless than a closed Heaven.

Look at Calvary: 'There was darkness over the whole earth... and Jesus cried with a loud voice, My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?' (Matt. 27:45-46). Heaven was closed, because of what He was doing there - taking the sin of the whole world. Heaven was closed down, was shut; there was no way through. That is the most hopeless situation that could ever possibly be. The hopelessness of that situation killed Him. That was the final stroke to bring about His death. It was not the nails; it was not the thorns; it was not the action of men: it was the broken heart, because He had lived all His earthly life with a clear way through to the Father - with an open Heaven. All His days He had been in communication with Heaven, with the Father; He had never known until then one moment when He could not instantly get through. Here that all ended: there was no way through; no response; no answering voice: a closed Heaven. That is hope-less.

If you and I have any answer to prayer, any little indication or token that the Lord has not forsaken, given up, shut down on us; if we have anything like that, then Heaven is still open, and that is very hopeful for the future. Let us cherish the open Heaven in our times of worship. Many dark things may be about; many difficult things; situations, like Ezekiel's, may be full of evil, or perplexities, or problems, or difficulties, or sufferings. Yet when we come together, and focus upon the Lord, we sense His presence: that is our open Heaven; and an open Heaven is always a sign that there is hope yet; there is still a future for glory!

The Lord forbid that we should ever come to the time when we are closed down by Heaven, and cannot get through. 'I saw the heavens opened...', and that meant God had not finished with things yet; God had not closed down yet. There may be judgments; as the following chapters show. There may have to be judgments; there may have to be discipline; there may have to be chastening; there may be much yet to be done. But whatever it is that has to be cleared up - perhaps by the jealous wrath of God for His glory; whatever hard things, sufferings, afflictions, have to be gone through, because of the wrong; nevertheless, it is all governed by this: A HOPE OF GLORY - a hope of GLORY - if the Heavens still remain open.


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Mike Balog

 2006/4/13 15:32Profile
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Joined: 2003/6/11
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 Men whose eye's have seen...

[b]The Supremacy Of The Lord On The Throne[/b]

"I saw visions of God" - that is, visions given by God. What did Ezekiel see? What was it that comprised those visions of God? Well, as we have seen in chapter 1, he saw a throne; and then he saw "a likeness as the appearance of a [i]MAN[/i]" upon the throne above (1:26). And then he saw a two-fold symbolic medium of the administration of that throne - the cherubim and the wheels. (We shall hope to return to these things later). Then, as we know, he saw a 'house' - [i]THE[/i] House - which he was commanded to show to the people of Israel (43:10). He saw the House in later glory. He saw the river coming from under the threshold, circling the altar, passing through the court, and away down, broadening and deepening, and making everything live whithersoever it came (47:1-9). Then he saw the land and the inheritance possessed (47:13-48:29). And finally he saw the City, and the name of the City: "[i]The Lord is there[/i]" (48:30-35). That is the end of it all - the Lord is there!

What I want to emphasize and stress particularly is that all that we see in this book is the result and the expression of that throne, and of the 'Man upon it above'. Of course that is very simple to understand: everything emanates and results from the great, inclusive fact that there is One in the place of supreme government and authority. And for us, and for them, and for all time, by the eternal appointment of God, that One is the Lord Jesus, the Son of God. He has been exalted to the 'right hand of the Majesty in the heavens' (Heb. 1:3; 8:1). 'We see Jesus crowned with glory and honour' (Heb. 2:9). 'God raised Him and set Him at His own right hand, far above all rule and authority, dominion and power, and every name that is named' (Eph. 1:20-21). Everything comes out of that. If that is true, then everything is all right; it will be all right in the end.

Now, this is very up-to-date, is it not? We have spoken of the conditions in which Ezekiel spent his life and fulfilled his ministry - the time and place and the state of things. Yes, he had a very difficult situation. But the Church has got a pretty difficult situation now; things are far from easy today. There is now, as then, very much that is wrong, and much that is evil. Who will say today that the [i]GLORY[/i] of God pervades His people? Ezekiel's was a difficult time; but it was at that time, and in those circumstances, that this instrument, under the government of the throne, was brought in for a new movement of God. Or we might say, that this apprehension, on the part of an instrument, of the supremacy of the Throne and of the Man upon it led to the wonderful result that, in time, the whole situation was changed, and God had something for His glory.

[b]The Vision Of The Glory Saves From Despair[/b]

That vision - the opened Heaven; the throne, and the Man upon it above - had a tremendous effect upon Ezekiel. It saved him, in his day, from despair; it saved his ministry; it saved his testimony; it saved his life. And it is only that that will save us; only that [i]CAN[/i] save us. Perhaps that sounds a little pessimistic. I do not want to be a pessimist; but you cannot be acquainted with the state of things on this earth today, even amongst what is called Christian, or Christianity, without sometimes feeling fairly hopeless about it. Is it possible that the great revelation given to us of the Church, as we have it in the New Testament, can in any way be realized in our time? Look at the divisions; look at the quarrels; feel this awful atmosphere that has grown up and spread. In the United States, for instance, some 35 years ago, there seemed to be such an open, clear way for something new of the Lord: the atmosphere seemed so clear, and hearts seemed so open. But in that land today, everybody is suspecting everybody else; the spirit of criticism has got into the most devoted Christians, both about other Christians and about Christian things. You cannot have half-an-hour's conversation even with those who are most devoted to the Lord, without somebody being lashed, somebody being mentioned for warning, as suspect. It is like an awful miasma, or fog, that has crept in amongst Christians over the whole world. You cannot go into your religious bookshops without seeing line upon line of pamphlets and books that are occupied with denouncing something. Men are giving their whole lives to this horrible work of trying to expose what they think to be error.

That is strong language, but it is not too strong. It is the state of things, and you might despair of the realization of that which you have seen to be God's purpose. And yet you cannot; the Lord will not let you. If you really have seen the Lord, you just cannot give it up. You may say, like Jeremiah, that you will not speak in this way any more. He resolved that he would never speak again of the Lord. But then - "If I say, I will not... speak any more in His name, then there is... a burning fire shut up in my bones... and I cannot contain" (Jer. 20:9).

You and I may have often decided that we should just have to stop talking about it, and give it up, because it does not seem to work; things seem to go from bad to worse, and worse to awful! And yet we are still here. We cannot help ourselves; we are back again in full view of God's declared purpose. The Spirit will not give it up, and will not let us give it up, however bad the situation is. The Heaven is not closed yet; the Man on the throne has not evacuated the throne yet; there is still hope. We have got to have the mastery of that great reality that He is still there, where God put Him. And if this is true, difficult as it sometimes is to believe it, or at any rate to see it, - then He [i]IS[/i] 'far above all rule and authority, and dominion, and power, and every name' - world dictators or anybody else - 'that is named, in this age or in the ages to come.' Only as that gets hold of us, and we take hold of it in turn, will there be any prospect at all; but that is the prospect.

[b]Strategic Revelations Of The Glory[/b]

To reveal the glory is always a strategic movement of God in a difficult and unpromising day and situation. I think that was the meaning of the Transfiguration. It was a difficult day; things were closing in on the Lord and His little band of men; the atmosphere was impregnated with hatred; and the Cross was there immediately before. How will they meet it? How will they survive it? The strategy was the Transfiguration - they 'saw His glory'. And although for a time afterward it seemed to be eclipsed, nevertheless, when He was risen from the dead, they understood all things. In the light of the resurrection the Transfiguration took on its full meaning.

Things were going very hardly for the church in Jerusalem on the day that that wonderful young man, Stephen, was dragged outside and stoned to death, with that so vicious hatred of the Lord Jesus. But Stephen saw the Heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56). It saved the situation for him, and I think it had a much farther reach than just himself; I think it handed on something. At any rate, one man there became a very potent factor in the Church for all time. He was tremendously affected by what he saw in the face of Stephen, and heard through the lips of Stephen; he never got over it. And he never forgave himself. He confessed afterwards: 'And I, I was standing by and giving my vote, my consent!'(Acts 22:20). The seeing of the glory was a saving thing in a dark and difficult day.

Paul is in prison; he is nearing the end of his long, full life and ministry. He thinks of all those many churches - far more than we have tabulated by letters addressed to them - which he had been used to bring into being; of all his many converts, and of the many who owed everything spiritually to him and his ministry. Now he is in prison, shut up, and he cannot go to them; the churches are in a state of decline; many are turning against him and away from him as he is there. He is a lonely man - 'only Luke is with me'; a man in difficulty, if ever a man was, speaking naturally. What a situation, what an end, for a man like that! What saves him?

It is astoundingly impressive, that, in the midst of all that, knowing it all - knowing his own position, knowing his own prospects, which were pretty poor for this life; knowing the state of things far away in the churches; getting news of these secessions; faced with the seeming breakdown of his work; disappointed with believers and with churches - I say that it is an amazing thing that with all that, out of that, in the midst of that, enough to crush a man in despair, he has an open Heaven, and says: 'To Him be the glory unto the ages of the ages!' (II Tim. 4:18). He is saved by the glory; he is delivered by the glory. What a different end it might have been but for this apprehension of the glory!

Here he writes then, that this One, this Man, is in the glory on the Throne above, far above all rule and authority. Caesar may be there next door, governing the whole world, bringing it under his mighty and evil heel, and seeming to be able to carry out all his fell designs against the Church of Jesus Christ. Paul, right along side of Caesar and Caesar's city and stronghold, says: 'He hath set [i]HIM[/i] far above all rule and authority, and every name - Caesar or any other - in this age, or in any other age... hath put all things in subjection under His feet...' That is a saving vision of the glory.

It was that that saved John in his difficult and desperate situation in Patmos, for it was indeed something to break a man's heart and send him deep down in dark despair. John was the one lonely survivor of the whole apostolic band. They have all gone, he is cut off from his beloved church; alone; isolated; exiled; with all the conditions which must have accompanied that exile. That is enough to make a man despair, to feel that he has lived his life in vain, and that there really is no hope at all. But he had an opened Heaven, and saw a vision - and what visions he saw! It was the opened Heaven that saved him. [i]The Lord give us that, and a new apprehension of the Throne and of the Man upon it.[/i]




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Mike Balog

 2006/4/16 15:32Profile





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