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« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2006, 02:46:57 AM »

Chapter 5 - The Governing Law of the House of God

READING: Ezek. 47:1-12; 1 Pet. 2:4-5

We are not going forward now with a further consideration of the major features of the spiritual house of God, but are leaving that for another time. We are going to bring those features already considered to the measuring line of their own governing law, which is that of life and spirituality. "Living," "spiritual," they are two great words in this passage - "a living stone," "living stones," "a spiritual house," "spiritual sacrifices."

Lest anyone should be in difficulty about that second word, spirituality, let us stay for the briefest moment to say that spirituality just means government by the Holy Spirit; but a government by the Holy Spirit in such a way as to make us one with the Holy Spirit in all His standards, in all His ways of looking at things, deciding about things, so that, being one with Him, we are not at all influenced or affected by natural judgments, natural standards, natural considerations, but ours are all the Holy Spirit's judgments and values and ways of viewing things. That in brief and comprehensively is what is meant by spirituality, a constituting of us according to the Holy Spirit, which means on the other hand, the ruling out of all that is merely and purely of our own natural life, mind, heart and will.

Well now, let us look at these four features of the spiritual house of God, which house we are if we are the Lord's, and look at them in the light of life and spirituality.

The Exaltation of the Lord Jesus

The first with which we were concerned was that this spiritual house of God exists for the purpose of setting forth, proclaiming, manifesting the exaltation of the Lord Jesus as God's Son, the exaltation of the Lord Jesus to the throne of the Father. It is for that the Church exists, and it is for that we exist if we are of the house of God. But that is not just a truth, a doctrine to be proclaimed. That is not just a part of the Church's creed - "Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead and exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high." That is not just one of our convictions, as we say. That is something which has to constitute us spiritually and has to be expressed by means of life. The exaltation of the Lord Jesus is, before and above all other things, a matter of life. It was when He was exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high, it was when God made Him both Lord and Christ, it was when He was actually seated at God's right hand, far above all rule and authority, principalities and powers, that the Holy Spirit came out from His presence and made that which was in heaven, a spiritual reality in the Church; and that reality was marked and demonstrated and proved and evidenced by the mighty power of His ascended life. We have to be spiritually constituted on the basis of Christ's exaltation. That is to say, within us something has to be done which brings about in us a living spiritual oneness with the exaltation, the Lordship, the supremacy of Jesus Christ. It is not to remain something outside of us, however true it is. We have to be that in fact; and, as we have pointed out, the impact of the early believers upon this world, upon those around them wherever they were, was the impact of the FACT, not the doctrine, not the teaching, not merely the statement, but the FACT that Jesus Christ was exalted. That came home upon the situation because that fact has its supreme significance in the spiritual realm, and we know quite well that all that is visible, all that is here on this sentient creation, has behind it a spiritual order.

Never has that been more clearly manifested and demonstrated than in the present world situation. There is a spiritual order of things which is driving on, mastering, manipulating everything. It is, as many have been saying for the past months, Satanic in its background. The exaltation of the Lord Jesus finds its first registration there, and it is not until the registration is made there that the foreground is really affected. To arrest men, to arrest a course of things, to bring the yoke down upon situations, to harness developments in the seen, you have to get behind and register some superior reality against those forces which are creating these things.

Now, that is spirituality. The Apostle Paul said much about this sort of thing, and we have his language by which he expressed this reality. For example, "the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds" (2 Cor. 10:4). He did not actually use the word, but it is quite clear that he meant that the weapons of our warfare are spiritual, getting behind the situation: and you know what he was dealing with at the moment when he used those words. Here were Corinthians who were seeking the advantages of natural wisdom, natural learning, the wisdom and the power of this world, in order to give them position, influence, standing. They were carnal in their quest for carnal weapons by which to gain ascendency in this world. That led the Apostle to that great discourse on the foolishness and the weakness of this world's wisdom and this world's strength, and he said that, to overcome this world, you want something more than this world's weapons, this world's men. To overcome the carnal, you must have something more than carnal weapons, and the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God. In other words, they are spiritual. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood in the form of wisdom and worldly power, "but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies." Therefore our weapons must be spiritual, and spirituality means fundamentally the ability to get behind the seen, the tangible, to the unseen, the invisible, the intangible powers of evil, and to register your superiority there: and that superiority is the exaltation of the Lord Jesus far above all rule and authority and principality and power. That is a spiritual thing. The house of God is a spiritual house for that spiritual purpose, namely, to bring home Christ's ascendency in a spiritual way against spiritual forces. Then the instrumentalities of those evil spiritual forces will in turn come under arrest. It is no use going directly at things. You must strike at the cause of things, and then the things themselves will, according to God's purpose and intention, either be destroyed, or be brought under arrest or limitation, just as the Lord intends. It is not the Lord's thought to stop wars altogether just yet, nor much else that is going on in an evil way, but there is such a thing as limiting things to the purpose of God; and I do feel, and appeal to you as the Lord's children, that we ought to be engaged in this spiritual registration of the authority and supremacy of the Lord Jesus in the unseen, in the background of present world situations, with the object of limiting things to God's purpose. I believe it is possible for the Lord's people now to take hold of every air raid on this country and limit it, give it God's limitation, and I believe that that is what is happening. I only use it by way of illustrating my point. It is an amazing thing how things have been limited. We have seen again and again what might have been, and how much the onslaught has been penned in, even where great damage has been done. Oh, how much more might have been, could have been, and the amazement of every day is the limitation that is imposed. Surely that is an encouragement. I believe it is due to something in the unseen which is set in motion through the prayers of the people of God. That is encouraging. Let us be given to our ministry. That is what the Church is for.

Thus the very first thing is that Jesus is exalted above all principality and powers which lie behind this world darkness, and the Church is here, by prayer and testimony and spiritual life, to bring home upon those background forces this superiority of the Lord Jesus. It is a thing, not of words, not of doctrines, not of creeds, but of life, the impact of His ascended life.

Well, we begin there. The principle, you see, the law of the expression of Christ's exaltation, is life and spirituality.
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« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2006, 02:48:32 AM »

The Ministry of the House to God

The second thing which we were noticing with regard to these features of the spiritual house of God was that it exists to minister to the pleasure and glory of God. It is for God's glory, God's pleasure that the Church has been brought into being, for His satisfaction. And here we bring it right down to this rule: God is glorified and God receives that which is to His pleasure along the line of life and spirituality. You can judge of that by the effect. Wherever you have a real ministration of life, you always have the glory of God, God glorified.

That is, of course, true to the Scriptures. You remember that was the one point which the Lord Jesus made central and supreme in the raising of Lazarus. "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God"; and as He came through all the doubt and unbelief which stood between Him and Lazarus and approached the situation, at least He silently lifted His heart to the Father. "Father, glorify thy name!" Then He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" The resurrection of Lazarus, the overpowering of death, was for the glory of God, and that was a spiritual thing, that was the triumph of life in Christ. Now, that is the glory of God. It says afterward that many believed on Him. The glory of God is largely seen through the out-working of this principle of life triumphant over death.

Now, that is a big subject. If you go back to the Old Testament, you will see that, in the case of every servant of God, after that servant of God was apprehended by Him, a process of death and resurrection commenced. You can take any one case that you like. Outstandingly, there is Abraham. How significant are the words that mark the apprehending of that servant of God. "The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham" (Acts 7:2). That sets the standard of God, and in effect says, Now then, it is according to what I am as the God of glory that I am going to deal with you, and the issue of all My dealings with you will be glory to Me! So, no sooner was Abraham apprehended by the God of glory, than this process of death and resurrection set in. It was a process with constant recurrence. Abraham went into a first stage and phase and measure of death, and then, in resurrection, the glory of God was seen. All the way along, there was this experience of death. I am not speaking now about physical death, but of a working of death in his life in a spiritual way; death to things, death to relationships, death to hopes, death to earthly expectations, death to possessions; and every time death worked, there was a resurrection into something larger of the Lord, the Lord coming and making new covenants, giving him fresh revelations. I am El Shaddai! There were all these positive things when other things were going into death, right up to that last great triumph of resurrection in Isaac. Here is death; yes, death to all the promises, apparently, to all the hopes. If Isaac goes, then God in His faithfulness, God in His Word, God in His covenant, God in His promises, has gone too. It was a mighty death to face, and in spirit it was faced, but it was resurrection finally, full, glorious resurrection: and what glory to God!

Well, you can take many other illustrations of the truth from the Old Testament and then carry them over in a spiritual way to the New Testament, and see that this is exactly what happened with Christ. God received the full quota of glory through the death and the resurrection of His Son, and the exaltation of the Lord Jesus is the testimony to the fact that death has been engulfed and overpowered. Christ being there sets forth that fact in fullness. But then the principle has to be passed on to the Church which is His Body, and the history of the Church since that time has been just a history of successive deaths and resurrections, and every resurrection has meant some fresh contribution to the glory of God, some fresh expression of God's glory; and what is true of the history of the Church is true in the history of many an individual member of the Church, and probably of some of you. We have known deaths oft, not in the way in which Paul meant, physical and temporal and natural, but in our own life with God we have known what it means to suffer the eclipse of all things, darkness unto death. But that has not been the end. The end has been the God of glory again and again, and it is along this line that God's glory is ministered to, by life, spirituality, and life triumphing over death. We are here for that very purpose. I hope that does not discourage you, but rather that it will help you to recognize that our very being here means that we have to know death again and again to know life. But we do not end with death; we end with resurrection and glory to God. Let us fasten upon that. Even though the deaths may be many, the end is the glory of God. Eventually, His glory will be displayed in His Son, in His Church, in fullness, when death is finally vanquished, not only in Christ, but in and through the Church.

But this is something for present experience. It is a great truth to contemplate, it is a blessed thing to consider; but let us bring it right home. What I feel to be the important thing now, the Lord's desire where this hour is concerned, is that we should come very close to these things in reality; that what we are saying shall not be truth only, but reality in our case. We are the house of God, we are this spiritual house, and we exist for this very purpose, to minister to the pleasure and glory of God, and that is done along the line of life, and that life is the life which overcomes death. So that, with every fresh uprising and experience of spiritual death, we shall write over it, This is not unto death, but for the glory of God! Oh, may He give us grace to do that. It is easier said than done, I know, but here it is. History sets the seal to this, that this is the way in which the Lord is ministered to in satisfaction and glory, by our being the very vessel in which the power of His resurrection is manifested, and that necessitates experiences of death.

The Ministry of the House to the Elect

Then the third feature of this spiritual house is that it stands for the deliverance and life of others, the others being, of course, God's elect, those who are bound up with God's eternal purpose. We are here to serve the Lord in standing over against the persistent and determined purpose of Satan to bring an end to Christ's life in His Church, and the test of the reality, the spiritual reality, of this spiritual house is just in this direction; How much are we ministering to the life of God's people to deliver them from these recurrent onslaughts of spiritual death? That is the test. We have to get right up close to that. It is all very well to talk about these things, but they have to be true really. It should become impossible to deal with these matters merely as the teaching that goes on in a certain place. The teaching may be all right, quite correct, but what of the practical issue, so far as we are concerned as the Lord's people? The test is not whether we have accepted right doctrine: the test is whether we are functioning according to what we are, whether we are really doing the thing which constitutes our very existence. You see, the Church, the people of God, are not one thing, and the truth another thing, and the Church accepts that truth. It is not that. It is that the Church is that truth or it is nothing at all. I say I am a member of Christ's Body. Well then, I can take the attitude that certain truths are the truths which belong to members of Christ's Body, and therefore I accept those truths: I assent to those truths and henceforth I believe in those truths, and I begin to preach them. That is one thing. Another way is that certain truths are realities concerning the members of Christ's Body, and you cannot divide between the truths and the members, and the very existence of those members means that those truths are operating, and if those truths are not operating, you have serious reason to question the reality of the life of that member of the Body of Christ. Something has gone wrong; it is not normal, it is all wrong. I am not saying that if these truths are not fully manifested in us that has nullified our relationship to Christ as members of His Body, but I am saying that if it is the case that these truths are not being expressed, there is something seriously wrong with us as members of the Body and we are a contradiction to the true meaning of our existence. You and I exist for the life of others and if others are not receiving life through us, then there is something inconsistent in our very existence. That sounds very hard, very severe, but that has to come home to me as much as to you. I never talk to you without having myself very much in mind, and I have this understanding with the Lord, that He will make good all truth in my own case or save me from talking about it.
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« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2006, 02:49:35 AM »

I challenge you, my dear friends, to face this law of your existence. Are you ministering to the Lord's people or are you merely sitting back, or even worse, ministering death? What does your presence mean to the Lord's people? Does it mean life? If so, then the house of God is truly represented by us. If it does not, if it is only neutral or negative or antagonistic to life, then the house of God has broken down where such are concerned. All these things are a matter of life and spirituality, and there is a horrible thing from which we shall pray earnestly and fervently to be delivered, and that is, talking truth, holding truths, accepting truths, being associated with truths as truths, without having the life of those truths manifested in us. I often fear that is one of the great and distressing things where such revelation exists, that people begin to take up the truths, and they stand for the truths that "Honor Oak" stands for. God deliver us from that way of speech and that mentality. That is not it. Either we are this thing, or, however much we may agree with it and talk about it, we are not it. It is life and spirituality that matters, and we must be much before God that all shall be real in our case; that our presence means that life is ministered, life is passed on. We are the vehicle of life to the Lord's people for their deliverance from the onslaught of death. It was for that Paul besought the believers to pray for him. Oh, this throttling work of the enemy in the matter of ministering life to the Lord's people.

An Expression of Christ

Then the fourth thing is that the Church in its corporate life exists to be a present expression of the Lord Jesus Himself wherever two or three are gathered together. I wonder if we have recognized what that word in Matt. 18 really does mean? Here is someone who belongs to the Lord, who is guilty of, or responsible for, something wrong. "If thy brother sin against thee." The margin says that a good many authorities omit "against thee." Thus it would read, "If thy brother sin, go, show him his fault... if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he hear thee not, take with thee one or two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established, And if he refuse to hear them, tell it unto the church: and if he refuse to hear the church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican. Verily I say unto you, What things soever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and what things soever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven... For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

That little word "for" carries with it a tremendous weight of significance. If thy brother sin and after three successive and varied efforts have been made to get him to acknowledge his sin, there is still a withholding, bring it to the Church. Now then, if he refuse to hear the Church, put him out; let him be as a Gentile and a publican, that is, outside the Church, and in your doing that, it is the Lord doing it. "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." It is not that the Church has acted as something in itself. The Lord regards that as Himself acting. He is there in the midst, and it is the Lord doing this. The Church's verdict is the Lord's verdict; the Church's decision is the Lord's decision, when the Church is gathered into His Name.

Now we can leave the specific connection of that and take up the principle. The Church exists to be a corporate expression of Christ wherever He is represented. The Church cannot be represented with less than two, because the Church is a Body, and one brick never made a temple yet. It is a corporate thing, and it is to be an expression of Christ there in its corporate life. That is the purpose of the Church, to be an expression of Christ. That cannot be just official, that cannot be formal. It is not that the Church has a session and in its session has an agenda and discusses certain propositions and comes to certain decisions. No, it is something much deeper than that.

In the first place, the Church is spiritual, that is, the Church has subjected itself to the Holy Spirit and has taken the Holy Spirit for its governance, for its direction. It has put its trust in the Spirit of God to register right courses and right decisions through much prayer. It has altogether submitted itself to the government of the Holy Spirit and in that way become spiritual, so that it livingly functions in a spiritual way; not formally functions, but spiritually and livingly functions, that is, its function is on the witness of the Spirit along the line of life. Issues are raised, difficulties are brought up. How are these going to be met? Well, someone makes a proposition and those who are spiritual feel, Oh, this is death if we take that line! No, we have no liberty to take that line, that would be terrible! It is registered inside. It is not that we have better judgment, but within the Spirit of life says, Do not take that line, that will be disaster! Or someone else may say something and those who are spiritual feel, Yes, that is the Lord's way! It is registered within; the Spirit of life is governing; and that is the basis of the Church's life altogether, and it becomes in that way an expression of Christ, an expression of the mind of the Lord there. The Lord is in evidence along the line, and on the basis, of life and spirituality. But it requires a corporate life for that - "In the mouth of two witnesses or three." That is the corporate principle, you see, at work. I had no intention of going into so much technique about the Church, but it is all to indicate this great truth, that the Church, this spiritual house, exists to be an expression of Christ wherever it is represented by two or three on a corporate basis.

You see, corporate life is spiritual and is life. It is a matter of life. Our union, our relationship with Christ, is on the principle of life. "Unto whom coming, a living stone... ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house." Again I say, God is not dealing with us as bricks: God is dealing with us as with living stones. That means that He is treating us as those who have a common life with the Lord Jesus, and our relationship with the living stone is the relationship of one life. It is a spiritual relationship and it is that life which brings about the corporate expression. It is all the difference between this corporate expression on the basis of life, and a society, a club, an institution. You can join a club, you can come into a society, and you may agree on many things with regard to conviction and procedure, and yet not be bound together by a corporate life. But the Church is this latter thing. One life in all the members links all the members with the Head, and thus by that life it expresses Christ whereever it is. It does not just proclaim things about Christ. It brings Christ in and says that here, though it be but in two or three or more, here Christ has come in. It is not a claim made. You see, the Roman church will make that claim, that very claim, that where that church is, Christ is. Ah yes, but there is a difference. It is not just a claim, but a fact borne out, that where these spiritual and living stones are, the Lord is there in very truth and people know it, and there comes about that of which the Apostle wrote. When someone comes in from the outside and things are as they should be, when they are after this kind, the outsider comes in and falls down and says, "God is indeed among you." Ah! that is what we want. Whether people begin to fall literally or not, that is not the question. The point is that inwardly they go down; prejudices, suspicions, fears, reservations go down. One thing rises supreme with them and brings down everything. I cannot get away from it, the Lord is there! If only we would surrender to that and all that means it would be very much better for us. But that is the great matter, namely, bringing in the Lord. The Church exists to bring the Lord into every place, even where represented by but two or three. May this all be true in our case. I am sure our hearts respond to that. Well, let us get to the Lord about it, that so far as we individually are concerned as living stones, it may be true in our case; that we are a ministration of life, a representation of Christ, that we are bringing glory to God, that we are setting forth the exaltation of His Son.
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« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2006, 02:51:18 AM »

Chapter 6 - The School of Sonship unto Adoption

READING: Rom. 8:14,17,19,21,23,29; Gal. 4:5-7; Eph. 1:5-6; Heb. 1:1-2; 3:6-8,14-15; 5:8-14; 12:5-7,9,11.

Continuing our contemplation of the spiritual house, we are now to consider the matter of the School of sonship unto adoption. I hesitate to go over the ground of technical differences in terms because that has been done so often, but you will suffer just the briefest word in that connection, as it may be necessary for some.

The Divine Conception of "Adoption"

When we come to the things of God, we find that we have to change some of our human ideas, and amongst the many things in which that is so there is this matter of adoption. God's idea about adoption is altogether different from ours. Our idea is that of bringing someone into the family from outside, but that is not God's idea at all about adoption. The word "adoption" literally means "the placing of sons," and you will have recognized, if you were following closely, that adoption comes at the close of things in all those passages of Scripture. It is something which lies ahead. We, who have received the Spirit, wait, groaningly wait, for our adoption. We were foreordained unto adoption as sons. It is something for which we are waiting, according to the Word of God. Thus it is not just the matter of bringing into the family, but it is something which is the result of what has transpired since we came into the family, the result of God's dealings with us as being in His family, and you know quite well that different words are used.

The Revised Version is of peculiar value in this connection. The distinction is made quite clear there that, as children of God, we are such on the ground of birth, whilst we are but sons potentially by that birth. We are actually sons, according to that Divine thought as represented in the word "adoption," after we have been in the family for a time and God has dealt with us. Sonship, in the Divine sense, is something which is being developed in us. To be a child is a question of generation; "child" is a generic term, but sonship is something received, something given, something imparted. That is something more than being born.

The Scriptural Unfolding of the Subject

This word, as you have recognized, is used in different ways in the Scripture. In Romans and Galatians, for instance, we have some light upon sonship. It is seen to have its genesis in a basic relationship with God through our receiving the Spirit. We have received the Spirit, and are called sons because we have received the Spirit, but both in the case of Romans and Galatians the object of those letters was to obviate the grave peril which had come amongst believers of stopping short at a certain point in their spiritual life as born-again ones and not going on to perfection. Their peril was that of being turned aside by the work of the Judaisers, who were coming in to try to arrest the spiritual progress of these believers and bringing in the law again and the Jewish system.

We may indicate here at once that the enemy always withstands very fiercely this matter of spiritual progress unto adoption. The most perilous thing to the enemy is "the adoption of sons." That is the end for him and he knows very well the significance for himself of the Lord's people going on with the Lord unto adoption. These Judaisers were the Devil's instruments to prevent the going on of these people to that glorious end.

So the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle, in these two letters, brings in the light of sonship; that is, he gives the knowledge of sonship in its fuller meaning, and says that basically, by having received the Holy Spirit, we are sons, but that sonship is not realized now in its full meaning and value. That is something unto which we are to go on, in which we are to continue; for the whole creation is waiting, groaning and waiting, for the literal consummation of that which is potential in our having received the Spirit, namely, "the manifestation of the sons of God." When that day comes, the creation will be delivered from its bondage of corruption. But against that deliverance the powers of evil work, and they worked through Judaisers as well as through many other things and people to prevent that glorious deliverance of the creation in the manifestation of the sons of God. So that what we have in Romans and Galatians is light about sonship, the basis of sonship established, but nothing said which carries with it the definite declaration that we have reached all that sonship means. Even in this word, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God," there is no saying that every Christian is a son of God; for is every Christian led by the Spirit of God? It is a spiritual position which is bound up with sonship in God's thought.

Of course, in our birth as children of God, in which sonship is implicit and adoption is prospective, the inheritance is in view, for every one born into this family is a potential heir. If we are children, we are heirs. But it is quite well known that we can be minors while we are heirs, and that is brought out in Galatians. While we may be born heirs, we are still minors, and we cannot have the inheritance until we reach our majority. That is adoption - reaching the majority, coming to full growth, to full manhood.

Full Sonship a Corporate Matter and Greatly Withstood

So that we are brought face to face with this matter of reaching adoption by the development of sonship in us in the School of God, I think I ought to say here that, while this does become an individual and personal matter and must be that in its application, the matter of adoption is one with that of election, and that it is the Church which is in view, not the individual. It is the Church which is the elect body, and it is the Church which is the elect "son," in the sense in which we are speaking of sonship now; and it is the Church which is fore-ordained unto adoption of sons, not individuals as such, although it has its individual application, and it will be with the manifestation of the sons in the corporate sense, the Church, that God reaches His full end. I say that, because I feel that this matter of sonship involves the truth of the Body of Christ in a very real way. In reality, it depends upon that truth. Now, you may not grasp what I mean. I mean that sonship requires the Body of Christ, is involved in that truth of the Body of Christ, and it is in our relatedness in Christ as fellow-heirs that we shall be developed, that we shall come to fullness, to God's full end. You and I cannot inherit singly, individually: we can only inherit in a related way.

I think that truth goes further than I am now intending to indicate; but let us recognize that the enemy has something very much in view in keeping the light of the Body of Christ from the Lord's people. The reason for that, you see, is on account of our being foreordained unto adoption as sons by Jesus Christ unto Himself, and all that it means to the enemy; for to him it means everything. He loses his place, he loses his kingdom, he loses his title, he loses everything, when this "Corporate Son" is manifested in glory, when this work is completed in the Church and it is found in the throne. It is therefore up to him to keep the light of the Body of Christ from believers: and it is for this reason that, when the Apostle has been led to make the declaration of the truth, "fore-ordained unto adoption as sons," he gets on his knees, so to speak, and prays:
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« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2006, 02:53:16 AM »

    "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints..." (Eph. 1:17-18).

It is fervent prayer against this blinding, darkening, withholding work of the adversary as to the light concerning the Church's nature, calling and destiny. You will agree with me that there are comparatively few Christians, when you go over the whole range of Christians today in all the world, comparatively few who have light, the revelation of the Body of Christ, and that represents a most disastrous result of Satanic activity, the blinding of the saints. Oh no, this is not some truth which is an optional thing. This is something which is bound up with the very purpose of God and the undoing of all Satanic work.

Well, Romans 8 is a tremendous chapter along many lines, but that great summing up is immense. The creation, subjected to vanity, is seen groaning and travailing unto the manifestation of the sons of God, when it will be delivered from the bondage of corruption: and then, unto that, the elect instrument is shown - "Whom he foreknew, he also fore-ordained to be conformed to the image of his Son." It is the Church being brought in and it is a thing of immense importance, and it is necessary to see that, before we can appreciate this training of sons unto adoption.

We are in a school for a tremendous destiny. We are in the school which has as its end something of such significance and importance that we can scarce imagine; and so we have not to regard lightly the child-training of the Lord. Oh, again our human ideas must not be brought into the Divine realm when we use the word "chastening." What a poor translation! Even the Revisers have not helped us very much. It is simply "child-training." I think that, as a youngster, that chapter in Hebrews was my pet aversion in the Bible when I heard it read! My whole being rose up against that. I suppose that is quite natural; but if only we had been given the two words instead of that deplorable word "chastening." It might at least have taken the edge off things. "My son, despise not thou the child-training of the Lord." There is something better about that. "Whom the Lord loveth. He trains." He child-trains.

Well, we come to the business of child-training right away. Here, in this fifth chapter of the Hebrew letter, we have these school features mentioned in various words, as you notice.

"Though he was a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered."

That is a school verse.

"When by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers..."

It is another school verse.

"Every one that partaketh of milk is without experience..."

That is a school verse.

"...by reason of use have their senses exercised..."

That is what happens at school. Here we are found right in the School of sonship.


The Practical Difference Between "Children" and "Sons"

Now, in the practical way, let us note the difference between infants, spiritually, called children in the New Testament, and sons. The difference is simply this, that infants or children have everything done for them and they live in the good of that for which they themselves have had no exercise. That is the difference. An infant is one who lives on the good of other people's exercise and has never had any exercise for itself. Everything has been done and prepared for it. Everything is coming to it as from the outside, and nothing has been done by the child itself. I think that is the main mark of an infant. But a son, in the spiritual and Scriptural sense, is one who is in the way of having the root of the matter in himself, who is progressively coming out of the realm where everything is done for him and where he has no exercise at all about things, to the place where it is going on in him and he is becoming one who is competent in himself, and no longer dependent upon what others do and say. Everything is not being brought ready made to him. There is a sense in which it is being made in him and he is making it in his own experience by the exercise of his own senses. That is the main difference, spiritually, between an infant or child, and a son.

These two words here are very helpful words - "senses exercised." As children of God, we are regarded as having spiritual senses, and the object of God's dealings with us in His child-training is to bring those senses into exercise, so that by that exercise we may have experience: and what a tremendous thing is experience, and of what value. They are the people who count, these who have experience, and experience comes through the exercise of the senses.

But there are a great many people who never graduate from spiritual childhood and infancy to sonship; and why is it? You see, God does not sovereignly and by determination make sons of us. Oh no, God is not going to make sons of everybody on His own initiative, by His own power. We have a place in this. The responsibility, as you notice, in every one of these Scriptures, is thrown back upon believers themselves, and it is made very clear in very strong words, that the responsibility does rest upon them. The bringing up so frequently of those words relating to Israel's downfall in the wilderness shows what responsibility rests upon the children of God in this matter.

    "Today if ye shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation" (Heb. 3:15).

That has usually been used as a text for a Gospel address to unbelievers; but in the New Testament, it was never used in that way. It may be legitimate, but it was never used in that way in the New Testament. It was always used for Christians, for believers, as a warning, and to bring home to believers this matter of responsibility, of something resting with us.
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« Reply #20 on: June 20, 2006, 02:56:04 AM »

Purposefulness a Requirement in Would-be Sons

Now, that means there is something basic to sonship unto adoption, and that is a purposefulness to go on with God. There must be about us this sense of purpose, this factor and feature of purpose, purposefulness to go on with God, and the Lord calls for that. Oh, the New Testament might be said to be one continuous urge to that, an urge to be characterized by a spiritual purpose, of meaning to go on, and it is upon that the Lord operates. Now I say that to lead to this. It is just that very purposefulness of heart which brings us into all the trouble. Perhaps if we recognized what that means, it would be as helpful a thing as could be said to us. The people who are not characterized by that spirit of purpose and are just content to be little babes all their lives and to have everything done for them and dished up to them and who never have any exercise for themselves, usually have a fairly comfortable time. They are fairly satisfied and pleased with life and they do not want anything else. But let a man become marked by this sense of earnest purpose, and it will not be long before he is in trouble! If you mean to go on, then you have come out of the nursery into the school, and the nature of this school is a very difficult one.

The Discipline that Makes All Inward and Living

It just means this, that God is going to put and precipitate us into the most difficult situations. A situation is only difficult if you cannot cope with it. If you find the thing altogether beyond your measure; your measure of strength, your measure of wisdom, your measure of knowledge, then you are in difficulty: and that is the sort of thing the Lord does with people who mean business with Him. He puts them into difficult situations, and His whole object is to get their spiritual senses exercised, so that they may gain experience, may have the root of the matter in themselves. Thus all our nice, comfortable line of things falls away at once and we find ourselves in a realm with which we cannot cope, for which we are not sufficient. We have been in the habit of asking questions and getting them answered: now, no one can answer our questions, no answer comes from the outside. Of course, people can say things to us and we may get a measure of help from those who have experience; but God is going to shut us up to the fact that it has to become ours by experience and in truth. It does not matter what anyone else says, we know quite well that we have to prove that for ourselves: they cannot lift us out of our difficulty. We constantly revert to the old childish way of running around asking somebody to solve our problems, but we have to come out of that. That is not going to work any longer. Really, deep down in us, we know that it does not work. We are not getting what we are after. We know now we have not to have something said to us, but something done in us. We have to be brought ourselves to a position, not to a mental solution; and if you are all the time trying to get intellectual solutions to your spiritual problems, you are still in the nursery. If you are going really to come through to God's full and intended end, you have to know the Lord for yourself in an inward way, and unto that it may be necessary for the Lord to suspend all external helps and render all others incapable of coming to your rescue, flinging you wholly back upon Himself; to prove Him, to know Him, to be deeply, deeply exercised in your own spirit. That exercise enlarges capacity, and enlarged capacity means enlarged impartation from the Lord. That is the School of sonship unto adoption.

You see, spirituality, which is the nature of sonship, is not mental at all. That is to say, it is not a matter of having all our mental problems answered for us by somebody who has an answer to give us. You can never reach spirituality philosophically, logically, academically. You may go all over the world and get many questions answered, but that does not mean that you have come into spiritual enlargement. No, that is a very small realm, after all. Most of us have been there. We know quite well it never got us anywhere at all: and what a time we had and how disappointed we were!

In my own experience in that realm, where it was all a matter of getting answers to spiritual problems, or trying to get them, along intellectual lines, with a very wide search for satisfaction of mind and heart along that line, I reached a point that Robert Browning (a very much bigger man than I am) reached, as the goal of all his enquiry along that line, namely, that it is as difficult not to believe in God as to believe in Him. Well, how far does that get you? But that is the boundary of all inquiry philosophically! You may have decided not to believe anything about God: then there is a sunset and all your decisions are tested at once. You have to say, Man never made that; where did it come from? and you are back to your old questions.

The Lord Jesus Christ says, "If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching" (John 7:17). That is only the Gospel way of putting in germ form this great truth of sonship, namely, that you know by experience and not by intellectual inquiry and by people telling you from the outside. You do not come into anything by that way, for what logic can build up, logic can pull down. No, God dealeth with us as with - what? Students in the academic sense? No, as with sons. And where do we locate sonship? God is the Father of our spirits; therefore our spirits are the seat of sonship and all His dealings are with our spirits. Thus it is a matter of spiritual growth, spiritual enlargement: that is growth in sonship unto adoption. Oh yes, it is experience.

A Final Emphasis and Exhortation

Now, I wonder if you have grasped what I have been saying and are going to be helped by it, that, so soon as you mean business with God, you have put yourself in the way of numerous difficulties and all that has been so wonderful to you is going to fall away: all that has been your satisfaction is probably going for a time to cease to be that, and you are coming into a realm where you have to find God in a new way, in a manner in which you have never hitherto known Him, and where you can no longer really get help from the outside; I mean final help. You may just be helped, but the Lord does not allow those ready-made things to come and put you into the position to which He is leading you. You have to get there for yourself. You may be helped as to how to get there, and as to what is God's goal for you, and as to how other people came through to that end; but no one now from the outside can do it for you and you know that God has shut you up to have this thing done in you and it is solely a matter between you and the Lord in your spiritual history. You may be right in the midst of the most mature Christians who have gone that way and who know and you may be as one alone. You know you do not know as they know; but do not despair. If you are marked by this spirit of purposefulness with God, that means He has you in His school, and it is a good indication when you begin to get real deep spiritual exercise. We have all met those people who have lived on the basis of spiritual infancy all their lives, and they can never help us at all in our deepest need. Indeed, everything was so cut and dried with them they would not investigate anything deeper. They regarded anything deeper as quite superfluous and were quite satisfied and had a kind of answer to everything. But in our heart need they could not touch us at all. We have all been that way.

There was an hour in my own experience when I was there, after years of seeking that answer to a deep sense of need; and, not getting it, I began to go the round to try to see if someone could help me, and I went some hundreds of miles to visit a man who was outstanding as a religious teacher, as a Bible teacher, and as a name in Christianity. I went to see him to get spiritual help: I was in desperate need, and it was a spiritual situation; and when I put my case before him and told him of my sense of need of a new knowledge of the Lord, he said, "Oh, Sparks, the trouble with you is that you are a bit overtired. You had better go and play golf." He could not understand, could not enter into the situation. I know now why he could not help me and why I got help from no one during that terrible period. I know that God was shutting me up to Himself. I had to come to the place where I could really be a help to others in their hour of need, at least point the way because I had come the way, explaining what God was doing because I had had an experience of His dealings. In order to be of any use at all to those who are going to be sons, to have a ministry for the sons of God, a ministry which, though so imperfectly, so inadequately, touches that great end of adoption; in order to have the smallest part in such a ministry, God has had to shut us up to Himself so that no one could help us.
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« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2006, 02:56:41 AM »

Do not take that wrongly. Do not take that to mean that you are to cut yourself off from fellowship and from all help that may be available. That would be a misapprehension of what I am saying and might make things infinitely more difficult and put you in a false position. But I am saying that in your heart of hearts you will find, while there may be help given to you by ministries, fellowship, advice, counsel, by explanation, the real thing has to be born and developed in your own self. You have to have the root of the matter in you and no one can bring that about but the Lord Himself by His own dealings with you. So you will be plunged into darkness. I do not mean the darkness of being out of union with God, the darkness of lost assurance of salvation; but you will be plunged into darkness in experience in order to make new discoveries, in order that the Lord may give you light through exercise. God dealeth with you as with - not bricks, but living stones, sons. That is an honour, that is a great thing, that ought to inspire us. If we have boys, they always feel tremendously encouraged if we put our hand on their shoulder and say, "Now, old boy..." and begin to talk to them as responsible persons, not just dealing with them all the time as babes. My son, I want you to do this for me; I want you to take this bit of responsibility; I want you to look after things for me while I am away. Then something rises up and there is a reach out to be what father wants.

Now, in a sense, that is what God is doing. He is saying, I do not want you to be babes always, I want to put responsibility upon you; I have some big things for you to do. Now, come along! He may put us into some very difficult situation, but the very sense of being called to the responsibility will make us seek to know how to meet this situation. A man flung into the sea to learn to swim learns far better than the man who has the doctrine about swimming. The Lord does that in love: but He does it. Whom the Lord loveth He child-trains.

I wonder how many of us would be very pleased if our parents had always done things for us, always sheltered us from having the trouble, the bother, the worry, the necessity of doing things or finding out how to do them for ourselves. I am quite sure none of us would think that was love in our parents. I think we would come to a time when we would say, I have nothing good to say of my parents; they have landed me into very very great difficulty by their false idea of love. Here I am: everybody knows I am no good, and I know it myself! But "whom the Lord loveth, he child-trains."

Look ahead to see all that is going to be. You see, there is a throne in view, there is government in view. I do not know how men manage in the governments of this world. It seems to me that they are able to pass from one department to another in the State. I do not know how that is done, but I do not believe that it is because it is in them. So much is a matter of routine, of form. It can be taken up as something already highly organized and arranged. Of course, I would not say of all statesmen that it was not in them, but I am speaking generally. Now, the Lord is having no official appointments in the great administration of His Kingdom. He is going to have people who have had quality wrought in them. It is unto that the Church, the Body of Christ, is called, and it has to be in us. That is no child's play. That is a thing for full-grown men. If that is not true, then I do not understand the teaching of the New Testament about going on to full growth, nor do I understand the Lord's dealings with His Church. If all that matters is just that we should be born again, have forgiveness of sins, and go to heaven, why all this in the Bible and in our experience? It is certainly not for something here. There may be values here, but they are not commensurate with what we have to go through. It is just at the time when we are beginning to get mature and are a little use to the Lord that He takes us away. We cannot pass it on. There may be some fruit, some value of it here, but not at all commensurate with all this training. No, it is for some other purpose. We say, "Higher Service." Well, yes, that is what it is.

The Lord give us grace then to endure chastening as sons, so that He may have that company upon which He can place the great responsibility which it is His will to give.
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« Reply #22 on: June 20, 2006, 02:58:42 AM »

Chapter 7 - Graduation from the School of Sonship

READING: Rom. 8:19,21-23, Heb. 1:2; 2:5-8, 9-11; 3:1,7-8; 12:5-6; Rev. 12:5.

In our previous meditation, we were occupied with the School of sonship unto adoption. We are now going to follow that on to the next stage.

We were seeing a little of the nature, meaning and need for transition from spiritual infancy to the School of sonship. A very real experience is that transition and a very deep one for those who enter into it. A whole new set of conditions perfectly strange to us is connected with that further movement in the life of the child of God which marks the passage from spiritual childhood to spiritual sonship, or the School of sonship. I suppose most of us remember when we went to a new school, or when we went to school for the first time. Everything was strange, everything was new. We had to take up things from the very first point. It was an entirely new world: and so it is in the life of the child of God. It is an entirely new world, a new set of conditions, something with which we are altogether unfamiliar when that point is reached where God takes us in hand to see that we are no longer children, but are brought into the School of sonship with adoption in view; adoption, of course, according to the Divine meaning of that word, not our natural meaning.

The Purpose of our Graduation as Sons

Now we are going for a little while to consider the graduation from the School of sonship, graduating to that for which school has been going on, all that child-training which, as the Lord Himself knows and let us know that He knows, is for the present not joyous but grievous. But there is the graduation day. The whole creation waits for that graduation day with bated breath and an inward yearning, the day of the manifestation of the sons of God, the PLACING of sons to which we referred in our previous meditation, which is the meaning of the word "adoption"; not bringing into the family, but the placing of sons who have qualified through the school. And what is the graduation of sonship, unto what is it? It is unto the Throne.

"Not unto angels" (not unto angels of any rank, not even the highest rank of archangels) "did he subject the world to come, whereof we speak. But one hath somewhere testified saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou settest him apart?"

That is the true rendering of the latter sentence; not "visitest him" as we commonly use the word, but "settest him apart"; that man, in a word, is in view with God from eternity for this purpose, to have the throne, the government, the dominion over the world to come in union with God's Son, as the sons brought by that Son to glory.

There is the Heir in Hebrews 1:2 -
"...whom he appointed heir of all things..."

There are the heirs in chapter 2 -
"...bringing many sons unto glory..."

The throne is that which is in view at the end of school, the graduation, and it is that which is referred to in Rev. 12. The governing principle of Rev. 12 is sonship brought out to completion, a man child.

"She was delivered of a son, a man child, who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron." (This is sonship.) "And her child was caught up unto God, and unto the throne." That is the graduation.

The Man Child of Revelation 12

Now, I am going to stay for the miserable business of getting rid of a few misconceptions about this chapter. The accepted and firmly held view concerning this chapter is, that this woman is Israel and that this man child is Christ. I will not impute motives and reasons to the holders of that view, but it does seem to me that only a prejudiced mind could hold it, a mind not willing to accept what is, I think, quite patently the truth.

This book of Revelation begins with a pronouncement from heaven that what is going to be shown is "things which must shortly come to pass," and that pronouncement was made years and years after Christ had gone to heaven. It was future. Moreover, when Christ went to heaven, Satan was not cast out of heaven as is the case in Rev. 12; for, nearly forty years after Christ went to heaven, Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians, and in chapter 6 we have this revelation of the nature and sphere of the Church's warfare: "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies." Satan was not deposed when Christ was caught up to the throne. Thirdly, the dragon was not cheated of his prey in the case of the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus was slain by the dragon, and it is a part of the great and glorious truth that it was through death that He destroyed him that had the power of death, namely, the Devil. Satan, the dragon, thought he had swallowed up Christ perhaps, but he discovered that he had been swallowed up. But the Lord Jesus did not escape the great red dragon by a rapture: not at all. The dragon got him so far and slew him. But therein is the glorious sovereignty of God, and that is another line of truth altogether: God's sovereignty wrought in the very presence of Satan's triumph. But that is not this.

Then this woman is a paradox, a contradiction. She is at one and the same time in heaven clothed in glory and on the earth clothed with trouble and travail. She is clothed with the sun in heaven, and yet in the next breath she is travailing on the earth. Is not that just exactly what we have in the letter to the Ephesians about the Church? In the heavenlies, in Christ Jesus blessed with every spiritual blessing, and yet at the same time the letter shows us very clearly right at the heart of it that the Church is down here and in conflict. She has an earthly walk and is meeting things down here while at the same time in the heavenlies. A contradiction apparently: at one and the same time in heaven glorious and yet on earth in tribulation. That is the Church. Well, is not that enough, though there is a lot more here?
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« Reply #23 on: June 20, 2006, 03:00:06 AM »

I know there is another interpretation; that this was not only Israel but Christ Himself, and that we are the seed of Christ. But that is only just allowed to go so far. It does not carry us through satisfactorily. But this is the main position held about Israel and Christ, and I say I do not see how it can hold water in the light of even the two or three things that we have just noted.

You see, you have a correspondence here. In Rev. 2 you have these very words addressed to the overcomers in the Church at Thyatira - "He that overcometh... to him will I give authority over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron." Then in the letter to the church in Laodicea we have these further words: "He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne." There is the throne for overcomers and the rule of the nations. Then those very words are reiterated in Chapter 12 about the man child caught up to the throne to rule the nation with a rod of iron. And I do not see that we can divorce those words from Hebrews 2 - "Thou madest him (man) in order to have" (that is the sense of the word) "dominion over the works of thy hands." Of course there is the union between Christ and His own: that is what Hebrews is speaking about. "Christ as a son over God's house, whose house are we..."

So then, having said that much - and I think it is enough, I am not dealing with all the data and points in this chapter - having said that much, we want to come right to our point in this meditation.

The graduation from the School of sonship is to the throne, and it is that throne, with what it means with regard to vocation, to service, to purpose in relation to God's eternal intention, that is in view while God is dealing with us, when God takes us out of the comfortable, pleasant time of spiritual infancy and childhood, where everything is done for us, and puts us into that experience where the thing has to be wrought in us and where, through this deep exercise of our spiritual faculties or senses, we become spiritually responsible sons of God. It is with this in view that God deals with us as with sons. Now, do grasp the meaning of that, what it implies. It implies one or two rather important things.

Spiritual Increase Related to the Throne and the Glory of the Lord

Firstly, it does mean that the deepening of spiritual life, as it is called, or any other terms used for the same thing, is not a matter which is just to issue in our fuller blessing. So often people will bring it right down there to that level of fuller blessing, and we are very often tempted even there, in the time of fire and adversity, to react to this whole thing by saying, Well, if I have heaven, why need I trouble about all this, and why should I go through all this? Here are plenty of people just very happy and contented, they are saved and they know they are saved, and here am I who have sought to go on with God, and I am having the most awful time. It seems to me that I have got the worst of the bargain, by wanting to go right on with God! If we look at it like that, purely from the personal point of view of blessing, we have missed our way, and we shall get into difficulties; because, as we have always sought to point out, when you come out of this spiritual infancy into the School of sonship, you graduate from what is personal as to your own interest and blessing into what is for the Lord and not for you. From that time forward the whole motive is, not what I am going to get, but what God is going to get. That is Ephesians. "That ye may know what is... the riches of the glory of HIS inheritance in the saints." Not what I am going to get now: that will follow, that will be all right, the Lord will be faithful, but it is something else. We have come into the school on the basis of God's eternal purpose, and God's eternal purpose does not begin and end when He has got us born again. God's eternal purpose is only reached when He has got us in the throne. Thus it is the Lord, for the Lord, and what the Lord is after that is the one consideration. It will be glory for me, but that is not the motive of it now. It is this great purpose with which we are called: that is what is governing everything, and it is in the terms of the throne.

So the transition from infancy to the School of sonship, being a very painful thing, and fraught with all sorts of difficulties, brings us nevertheless into relation with that which has been in God's mind from before the world was where we are concerned. Chosen in Christ Jesus "that we should be to the praise of HIS glory." All the dealings of the Lord with us in this school have that throne in view.

World Dominion the Pressing Issue of the Hour

What I want to say with special emphasis now is that this matter, as I see and feel it - and I leave it to you to judge whether there is any truth in this - is most fitting in relation to what is happening in the world today. It does seem to me that this is a time when this issue is put in a way in which it has never been put before; that is, the issue of the dominion of this world, the issue of Antichrist, is so patent. It is the control and domination of this inhabited earth, and everything connected with this fresh drive to that end is to set aside God and His Christ. It is an evil thing, and it does not need a spiritually minded preacher of the truth to discern that; for many of our leaders of the State today have seen it and are using these words. How far they see, we do not know. But they are seeing that all that Christianity stands for is at stake. They are saying, This is a Satanic thing! and they are using the very phrase - Antichrist. It is discerned by men as to what the nature of things is, and we are able, in a special way as enlightened by the Lord, to see what the end of this is. It is the most far-reaching and terrible bid for the throne of this world that has been known. That is what lies behind it and that is what is in view. Therefore I say that this word is most fit for a time like this, and I am asking myself and I ask you prayerfully to consider whether there must not come something in the nature of a summons to the people of God to recognize this fact, with reference to their calling, namely, that they have to get behind that which is behind the present situation, and that the saints must take the kingdom spiritually now, in a spiritual way, in order that they may come to the place of the throne for the age to come.

We here perhaps - though let us not think too highly of ourselves, more highly than we ought to think - but it may be that our little gathering here with all its earthly insignificance has yet a significance which is very far reaching, seeing that we are here in the audience chamber of God concerning this great matter of the dominion of this world. In a small way, it affects us very seriously. I ask you to pray about this, very earnestly and continually that there might be a movement of God's Spirit within the circle of His own people in a new way, to produce this man child that overcomes and takes the throne. It is quite clear, from Rev. 2 and 3, that all do not come to that position, and equally so from all these exhortations and warnings about Israel missing the goal in the wilderness, falling by the way, as warnings to the Church to beware of the same calamity. "Today if ye shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts." I wonder if any of us have a hardened heart, not against the Lord in a general way, but against this. You harden by using special terms. Oh, how people have sought to close the door by sticking labels on!

Get rid of terms. Call it Selective Rapture, if you like: I do not call it that. Call it Overcomer Testimony, if you like. It makes little difference, if you mean by that, That is an interpretation, that is a peculiar teaching! Well, that is a hardening of the heart. What if this should happen to be true! We have to look this thing square in the eyes. Is there any possibility that this is true? If there is, it is a tremendous thing; the biggest issue in the history of this world is bound up with it, nothing less than the dominion, the throne. I suggest to you that there is a good deal today which would lead us to open the door to possibilities, to suppositions.
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« Reply #24 on: June 20, 2006, 03:01:32 AM »

An Object Lesson and the Need for Open-hearted Inquiry

You know certain nations at our own door are suffering untold misery, because as long as seven years ago they were told of secret propaganda going on within the borders of their own country, and working its way secretly and subtly into high places, but would not believe it. They were told what that was going to end in, what the object was, what the result would be, and they said, No, impossible! I ask you this: If nine months ago a prophet had stood up in some prominent place in this world and prophesied the history of the following nine months, what would have happened to him? Seven or eight countries overrun and surprised, and this final terrible collapse of France! He would have been put in a lunatic asylum or have been lynched, he would have been shut up for safety. But it has happened: the unbelievable has happened and is happening. No one would believe it or accept it. See how they are suffering for saying, Impossible! Ridiculous!

Ah, I say to you that this should be a lesson to us. That is a trick of Satan. It is a part of his strategy, to work subtly and at the same time to make people believe there is nothing, that all is well; to be working underneath to the internal disintegration and downfall of a people, and yet on the surface to be making nice speeches. This is a Satanic method, and again and again Satan has gained his strategical advantage by that same means. And I say to you that at least we ought to come to a thing like this and say, Well, it is just possible that may be right, and if there is the remotest possibility of its being right, it is such a big thing we had better attend to it! I know many have managed to get past that, but I say again, from the lowest level of making this appeal, that it just may be that the Lord's Word is true after all. It just may be that this is the true revelation of God's thought and intention, that He chose an elect people, a company which has come to be called the Church, He chose that company, that Body, that corporate entity in Christ before the world was, with a view to it coming through at length to take the throne as His vessel and instrument for governing His universe. I say, that may be true. All I ask you to do is to consider the possibility of its being true, and if only you will allow that, it will give you real pause: and then to see that this is quite true so far as the Scripture and the experience of the Lord's people is concerned in a spiritual way. God is doing a certain thing in His people, in many at least who are pressing on with Him, those of whom we were speaking in our previous meditation who are marked by a purposefulness with God. In these He begins to do something deep and strange and painful, the end of which is never, never reached in this earthly life, the value of which is never entered into by anybody during their time here on earth. It is unto something: it is the preparation of sons unto adoption to take the throne; and I urge you to pray with regard to your own place in this, and to pray for a movement of God's Spirit within the compass of His people to produce this man child. The Church, as a whole, is moving steadily into this travail.

Then will you not pray that the Lord's people may be enlightened on this matter, enlightened as to what the issue is. It is between Christ and Antichrist, between the Church which is Christ's Body and the whole Antichrist system; for it is quite clear that Antichrist, though he may be an individual opposed to Christ personally, is also a church, a system, a terrible system. Satan has his church opposed to Christ's Church. Blessed be God, we have this assurance, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it"!

The Explanation of the Mystifying and Painful Preparation

Well then, that is the matter before us in this School of sonship, namely, the throne. My dear friends, I want to get hold of that in my own heart, and I want you to get hold of it. You see, we are so prone to make our sojourn on this earth the big thing; I mean in the matter of what we are able to do, how much we can do and realize and see in our lifetime, and when we find the Lord shutting us up and limiting us and seeming to put us in prison, ofttimes under the strain and pressure of it, when the iron enters into our soul as with Joseph, we begin to think we have missed the way. Life is going and it is all unfruitful; we are not doing anything. It is other people who are doing the thing, we are not. Thus we make so much of this present life in the matter of what we are able to do, as though that were everything, whereas (and this, of course, is no argument why we should be slack about doing) so often the Lord has got His greatest effectiveness in those who have been just shut right up, unable to do anything outside. Is not that the truth about Paul himself? Of yes, it is, and Paul, as we have often pointed out, was the embodiment of the revelation which was given to him of the dispensation of the Church, and when we come to the end of his life, we have Paul, who had had such a wide scope of ministry, who had been able to do so much, we have this man, with all the values that are in him put into prison. But we get the concentrated essence of value from those prison experiences. We get the letter to the Ephesians, and that was worth Paul's going to prison, and anything like that will be worth all that we undergo in the School of sonship which sees a very great deal of what is here on the earth closed down, if only the heavenly may become the far more real and valuable as an expression in us and through us.

But I say I want this to get into my heart, into your hearts, that the Lord is not so much concerned - please do not misunderstand me - the Lord is not so much concerned with how much we do now in this life. He is more concerned with the measure of Christ to which He can bring us in this life... "till we all attain unto the... measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). It will be Christ corporate who will come to take the kingdom of this world in the coming ages, and it is unto that - the fullness of Christ - that God is working pre-eminently in our experience, and that is the thing that matters most. It is the most difficult thing for us to accept; a supremely difficult thing for any active temperament to accept. To some it is martyrdom not to be doing something. It may be God's way of getting the enlargement of His Son in His members, the patience of Jesus Christ, among other things.

God has this great thing in view. The issue comes up acutely and in an intensified form as we get near to the great end. In order to answer Satan, to have His answer in a corporate Man, God has to prepare you and me and a company of his people to take the throne, to be caught up unto God and to His throne, to rule the nations with a rod of iron. That, of course, has reference to tomorrow, the tomorrow of the ages I mean, and there is something beyond that, namely, our reigning with Him for ever and ever, another form of reigning. I aspire rather to the day after tomorrow than to tomorrow. Ruling with a rod of iron may appeal to us naturally, but we would sooner have the glorious reign where nothing wants a rod of iron. "Now unto him... be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all the generations of the age of the ages" (Eph. 3:20-21). It is a big thing for which we go to school for a few years and suffer as we are suffering. It is easy to say that, but it is a painful thing, this school. The Lord knows what He is doing with us. It is the matter of this overcoming, and, in the light of this school or this schooling, we can appreciate the word "overcomer." There is a lot of overcoming to be done. We have to get on top of a very great deal, and the getting on top of many things is leading us to get on top of the Devil and his kingdom. Presently, in the great hour when the sons are manifested, when the man child is caught to the throne, the creation is to be delivered from the bondage of corruption.

See then the meaning of the day in which we live. See the meaning of the suffering into which we may go yet more deeply, and how it is to be God's answer to this working of Satan that has been going on ever since he made a bid for the place of God's Heir, the Heir of all things. Ever since Satan made that bid and was cast down from the higher to the lower heavens it has been going on, and now it is being brought out in a new way. That is what it is, and you and I, as part of Christ's Body, are called to be God's answer to that, and it is to be so now in a spiritual way. Presently it will be in the full way, the literal way, that the saints will take the kingdom, and He shall come whose right it is to reign. The dominion shall be given unto the saints of the Most High.
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« Reply #25 on: June 20, 2006, 03:03:34 AM »

Chapter 8 - "Over All - Faith," and a Final Consideration

READING: Eze. 43:1-2,4-5,7; Eph. 1:12, 3:21; 5:25-27; Col. 1:27; 1 Pet. 4:14; Heb. 10:37-39; 11:1.

In these meditations, we have been looking at some of the major features of God's spiritual house in which we who are the Lord's are living stones. We have been seeking to see what our being living parts of a spiritual house means, and there are two things which remain for this present time, which we trust the Lord will enable us to say. One is something which governs all these matters, and the other is the final feature of this spiritual house. I put it in that way because I think it will be most helpful to deal with these remaining matters in that order, and the one will lead quite naturally to the other, as you will see.

This thing which governs all the features, the spiritual features, of this spiritual house of God is faith.

Faith in Relation to
(1) The exaltation of the Lord Jesus

The first feature which we considered was that this spiritual house, of which we are a living part if we are in Christ, stands for the setting forth in a living way of the exaltation of the Lord Jesus. We saw how that was the first great note in the Church's history on the day of Pentecost.

"God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified" (Acts 2:36).
"Being at the right hand of God exalted... he hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear" (Acts 2:33).

It was a glorious expression of, and testimony to, the exaltation of the Lord Jesus, and the Church is constituted for that purpose, to maintain that, not firstly as a part of its doctrine, but as being in itself the living exhibit thereof throughout the dispensation and to hold that testimony in a living way right to the end.

But we shall find that, in that matter, as in all the others, it very soon becomes a question of a living faith. It was not that so much on the day of Pentecost. The Spirit came, and filled them that had believed, baptized them within and without, and in that mighty tidal-wave of the Spirit it was not difficult for them to proclaim and give expression to the exaltation of the Lord Jesus. And that is true in principle, although perhaps not in the same outward way, in the case of every child of God, when they first come into a living union with the Lord Jesus. It is not difficult at that time for us to proclaim, and by our very faces to announce, that Jesus is exalted, Jesus is Lord, Jesus lives. That is our first note of testimony when we receive the Spirit. It is the first thing which expresses itself in a believer. But we all have lived to know that it is not always as easy as that. It does not always come as spontaneously as that. We move into a time when, while the fact remains, we have to hold on to the fact in sheer and grim faith. We have to answer to apparent contradictions to the fact with an attestation of faith; for things rise up and there is a mighty reaction of the enemy to our testimony and to our position, and we have to hold the position in blind faith; not in feeling faith, not in seeing faith, but in cold, blind faith we have to maintain our position that Jesus is Lord, Jesus is exalted, Jesus is on the throne; and it is only by faith being put forth in the fact that we win through, and that testimony becomes a powerful thing in our deliverance, in our very life.

So faith governs this matter, and we shall find that, as we get nearer to the end, the challenge to the Lordship, the exaltation, the Kingship, the enthronement of the Lord Jesus will become intensely severe. It will be a bitter challenge and there will be a situation in which nothing but just faith, naked faith, on the part of God's elect, will keep them standing in the good of that truth, that Jesus Christ, after all, has the reins of government in His hands. If one thing is true about overcomers who do overcome, it is that they overcome by reason of faith; and faith is faith. So let us not, after all that we have heard and all that in which we have gloried, expect that this is going to be anything other than a testimony in faith. It is not going to be a life of knowing by every evidence, by every proof, by every sign, by every sensation, that Jesus is reigning without any question at all. It is not going to be like that. Do not expect that it is going to be like that. The Word of God makes it very clear that it is not the case. Mark the context, for example, of the verses we read from Hebrews 10.

"For yet a very little while, He that cometh shall come, and shall not tarry. But my righteous one shall live by FAITH."

(2) Ministering Unto the Lord

Then we spoke about another feature of this spiritual house, that it is in existence to minister to God's satisfaction and pleasure. That is a very nice idea! It is a very pleasant thought, a very beautiful thing, to think of being in existence to minister to God's pleasure, to God's satisfaction, to God's glory, and perhaps again at the outset we feel it is not such a big proposition. When we are in those first days of the blossom of spiritual experience, we think that the Lord is very well pleased and happy about us, and we are very happy with the Lord, and it is all right, the Lord is getting something. It is not so difficult to think about this matter of ministering to the Lord's good pleasure. But we discover again that, as the Lord's, we are led out into the wilderness. There is a side of our being which has to be dealt with, that side which has been in the habit of having the upper hand, of having the preeminence, of doing all the dictating and the governing, and that has to be put down and another side, namely, that which is of the Lord, has to be brought up, and we come into that realm of which the Apostle speaks - "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other" (Gal. 5:17). There is something going on in us and when we get out there in that wilderness and are in the deep realities of trial, the demand on faith is no light thing. I am thinking of Israel's forty years in the wilderness while the Lord was dealing with them along the line of discipline, to bring them to that aspect of the Cross as represented by the Jordan, where it is no longer just a matter of their being justified by faith, but of being delivered from themselves by faith: and that required a great exercise of faith when the Jordan overflowed all its banks. But it was in the wilderness, and it is in the wilderness that we, under the hand of the Lord, are brought to understand that no flesh can glory in His presence; that in us, that is, in our flesh, no good thing dwelleth, and we have to have that brought home to us so that it is not just a theory, but a desperate and awful reality. So we cry, "Oh wretched man that I am!"
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« Reply #26 on: June 20, 2006, 03:05:15 AM »

At such a time you have great questions as to whether there is any ministry to the glory and pleasure of God. It seems anything but that! And yet, beloved, when we are going through all that under the hand of God, out there in the wilderness, the very fact that we repose faith in the Lord to perfect that which concerneth us, to carry through that which He has commenced unto the day of Jesus Christ, is something which very much ministers to God's pleasure and satisfaction. Just picture it in its figurative setting with Israel in the wilderness. There was the Tabernacle in the midst, and there was God right in that Tabernacle in the Most Holy Place in the Shekinah glory. He was there all the time in the Shekinah glory inside, but on the outside, well, it was a wilderness all right, and there were those horribly ugly covers of the Tabernacle and the glory was hidden. All the beauty was concealed and the outer covers were anything but beautiful and glorious, and the Lord's people were having a very trying time. But at any moment, in the darkest day, the most difficult hour, when things seemed to be most hopeless, at any moment had you looked inside, the glory was to be found there, and it was just a matter of their faith. If they took the appearances as the criterion, they could say, Oh, we cannot see the Lord; everything looks very uninteresting and anything but glorious, and the situation is a very deplorable one and all this that we are going through and all this lack of sight with regard to the Lord's presence - well, there is nothing in it! We give it up! Again and again in the New Testament, the Lord comes back upon that to warn the Church against such an attitude. "They could not enter in because of unbelief" (Heb. 3:19). And their unbelief worked in this way, "Is the Lord among us or not?" That was the thing that upset the Lord so much that He refused to allow that generation to go into the land. They asked the ultimate question, Is the Lord among us or not?

Why did they ask that? Because of appearances and difficulties. The glory was veiled, and it was only at rare intervals that the glory was displayed. For the greater part, the glory was not seen. Ah, what then of that word, Christ in you, the hope of glory! Now, that is the word the Apostle by the Spirit addresses to the Church, in the Church's time of difficulty, adversity, discipline, trial, of going through things, and he says, in effect, "Ah, yes, that is how it is on the outside, that is how it is in the matter of circumstances, but Christ in you is the hope of glory": and hope that is seen is not hope. Even this is a matter of faith. We do not always feel Christ in us. We do not live every moment in the consciousness that the Lord is inside: but He is, as truly as the Shekinah glory was there within the Most Holy Place when there was nothing on the outside to evidence it. At any moment you would have been able to prove it could you have looked within. So is it with the Lord's spiritual house, whose house are we. He is there and you have to take an attitude towards this outside situation by which the Lord is bringing us into a new realm, a new position, that, after all, it is not the ultimate thing, the pre-eminent thing: the Lord Himself has said, "I will never leave thee." Faith laying hold of that when it seems there is nothing whatever that contributes to the Lord's glory and satisfaction in us, faith laying hold of the faithfulness of God and trusting Him to carry His work in us through to perfection, is itself a ministration to God's pleasure.

You see that by the contrary. How displeased God was with that generation. Of them He said, They shall not enter into My rest. Why was He displeased? Because they did not trust Him to get them through. They surrendered to the appearances of things in their own lives.

(3) Ministering to the Life of Others

Then the third thing we spoke about was that the Church is here as a spiritual house for the purpose of ministering to the life of others, of the Lord's people, and here the same principle holds good. It is such a good idea, it is such a fine thought: ministering to the life of others, that is splendid! If only that can be, well, it is a great thing to minister to the life of others, and the very suggestion makes us rise up and feel better. But you remember what the Apostle Paul said: "Death worketh in us, but life in you" (2 Cor. 4:12). You see, it is Gideon's fleece all over again, wrung out, dried, and all around wet, and our ministering to the life of others is like that very often. We are just as dry as dry bones, wrung out. We are not conscious of being full of life and ministering life to others, and yet it is often just then that others do receive something, and that is to the glory of God. Oh, we said, we never thought there could be any blessing in it! Well, the Lord was not letting our flesh glory in the giving of life to others, but they were getting it.

You see, it is again a matter of faith. Do not think that this ministering to the life of others is always going to be something of which we are conscious, that we are just full and overflowing with life, and people are getting it. I think more often than not it is the other way round. For us it is a grim holding on to God in faith and others are getting the blessing and we are amazed. It can be so. Have faith then: fulfil your ministry in faith.

"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." (Psa. 126:6)

Weeping, but in faith. The reward of faith is a great "doubtless."
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« Reply #27 on: June 20, 2006, 03:12:09 AM »

(4) A Local Corporate Representation of Christ

Then our fourth feature of the spiritual house was that it is here to be a local corporate representation of the Lord Jesus. We meditated upon that word of His, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20), and dwelt upon it as a statement pointing on to the great truth of the Body of Christ, that, wherever there are two or three members of His Body, that is a representation and expression of Christ in that place.

But I again see that so often this is only made good by faith. "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst" - but faith has to rise up very strongly and very deliberately and lay hold of that. You see, you may be two or three gathered somewhere, but there may be nothing whatever of an expression and manifestation of the presence of Christ. You have to come together in faith. You have to stand together in faith. You have to put your feet squarely upon His assurance and declare yourself as resting upon that assurance, and as we take hold of the truth that where the Body is the Lord is, it is then that the thing becomes a reality. We do not make it a reality by faith, but we bring out the reality by faith. The Lord looks for a definite standing upon these things and an assertion of faith. We are here; yes, but we are not here just as two or three gathered in the name of Jesus in a passive way. There will be no expression of the Lord's presence when things are like that. We come together in faith and we stand in faith that there is going to be an expression of the Lord by our very being here; and, unless we come together like that, it will be but a congregation, a service, a coming and going. When we come together in a living way with a living faith, it is not an address we have come to listen to, but we have come definitely to meet with the Lord, and the Lord has assured us that, as we are gathered together in His name, we shall meet Him. If that is our spirit, our attitude, there will be something of a living expression of the Lord. Faith is a great factor in the matter of corporate life to make its values real. I cannot go further than that.

(5) Testimony to the Overthrow of Satan

The fifth feature was that this spiritual house is here to testify in a living way to the overthrow of Satan. Well, that is a fact; Satan has been overthrown by Christ. So far as the Lord Jesus is concerned, the overthrow of Satan has been accomplished and established, and on the day of Pentecost there was no difficulty in their believing it, enjoying it and proclaiming it. But they lived to see other days when it was not just like that. They lived to see days when it seemed that Satan was anything but overthrown, anything but disposed. They saw him apparently doing just as he wanted to do, having it all his own way. They saw him bringing to death their fellow-believers and colleagues in ministry. They saw the ravages of the Devil on the right hand and on the left. Does this mean that the thing they once said so strongly and with such conviction is no longer true and they were mistaken even then? Not at all! This matter has to become a matter of the faith of the Lord's people. The overthrow of Satan, so far as this world is concerned, is a matter of the militant faith of the Church.

I simply draw from Ephesians this. When the Apostle has told us of all the armour that we are to put on in this spiritual warfare against the wiles of the Devil, he says, Now above all take the shield of faith. Our English language is poor in expressing what Paul said. Paul did not say "above all" in the sense in which we should mean it. He said, Now over all take the big shield of faith. As you know, the Roman legions had more than one kind of shield. They had the little round shield, which was only for the protection of the face and head against arrows and darts. But then they had the big shield, which could shield them completely, and often an army marched into battle with it over them. As they put the big shields side by side, it was like forming a solid mail roof. They marched under it, the big shield being over everything, covering everything. All else requires this one thing. All else may yield, prove insufficient. With everything, over and above everything - faith! It requires the militant faith of the Church to bring about here what Christ has brought about in heaven, namely, the overthrow of the Evil One. It is by faith now that Satan is overthrown, so far as the Church is concerned, and so far as things here are concerned. But of course, our faith is not in something which is going to be, it is in something which already is, namely, Christ's victory.

(6) Present Testimony to the Coming Day of Glory

Now I come to the last thing, which has not been mentioned. The final feature of this spiritual house, which comes up with the passages we have read, is that the spiritual house, the Church, is here in the light of the coming day of the fullness of Glory, to stand in the light of that, to receive upon itself the light of that, and to reflect the light of that day that is coming.

In Ezekiel's Temple, you notice how we read that, after all those goings in and out and round about and through and up and down, at last the man led him by the way of the gate which is toward the east and toward the glory. The east is the sunrise, the new day, and it is by that way that the fullness of the glory comes in. The house, you see, stands right in the way of the coming glory. It is there with its face toward the sunrise, toward the glory. That is the type in Ezekiel, but we have many other passages.

"We should be unto the praise of his glory." That is the Church in Ephesians. But there is this passage in Hebrews.

"For yet a very little while, He that cometh shall come, and shall not tarry. But my righteous one shall live by faith... Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen."
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« Reply #28 on: June 20, 2006, 03:12:58 AM »

Here, you see, is a standing by faith in the light of that glorious hope, that blessed hope, and knowing in the heart the assurance of that unseen glory. We are here as the Lord's house to be a present testimony to the coming day of glory. But that is not testimony in word, in doctrine: it is to be in life, in reality. But that can only be in a spiritual way, and therefore it can only be along the line of faith. We have to apprehend the day of the Lord, the day of glory, the coming of the Lord in glory; we have to apprehend that in a spiritual way. There are a lot of people who are apprehending it in a prophetical way, but I do not always find that the study of prophecy results in glory. I find very often that it results in a good deal of death and confusion, and it is not all prophetical students who are living in the glory of the coming day. They are living in the belief of it, in the argument about it, but not in the glory of it. It is no mere doctrinal or mental apprehension of that great truth that will bring the glory of it into our lives, but a spiritual apprehension.

I used to study prophecy a good deal, and the book of the Revelation had a very prominent place in it. But the more I studied it, the more confused I got, the more difficulties I found. It did not get me through very far to glory. But then the Lord gave me a clue, and showed me the spiritual principles lying behind the book of the Revelation, and I was able to apprehend that book in a spiritual way. I do not mean that I spiritualized everything, but I was able to apprehend it in a spiritual way. The cloud was lifted and there was life.

Take this matter of the coming of the Lord; and, of course, that is the coming of the Lord in glory, when He shall come in the clouds of glory, when He shall come to be glorified in His saints - the coming in by the east of the glory of the Lord. Have you noticed that in any time in the dispensation, when spiritual people have been gathered together, and in their gathering together have been speaking or singing of the coming of the Lord, how spontaneously the glory rises and comes in? Have you noticed that? Now, I do not believe that is merely psychological, and I do not believe it is because we are all thinking of ourselves, and of how great a day it will be when we are delivered from all our bonds. I believe rather this rising of glory is in spite of a very great deal. We have lived long enough, most of us, to know many people who believed fervently and said with emphasis that the Lord was coming in their lifetime and they would be raptured, and they have been in their graves for years. That is enough to turn you away from the whole subject and say, We have heard that before! It is enough to put you among those scoffers of whom Peter writes, who say, "Where is the promise of his coming? for, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (2 Pet. 3:4). You may take that attitude, if you like; but it is in spite of all that that, when you contemplate the coming of the Lord, something gets the better of your mentality, your arguments, and all that bad history, and you find the glory rising. It is so, in spite of it all. Why is it? It was so at the beginning of the Church dispensation, and it has been so in every age: yet the Holy Spirit knew at the beginning that the Lord's coming would not be for a couple of thousand years, at any rate. But nevertheless there has been this spontaneous breaking out of real joy and glory at any moment when spiritual people have been dwelling upon the coming of the Lord. Why is it? Because the Holy Spirit does not live in time at all, He does not belong to time. The Holy Spirit is outside of time and He already has the end with Him and He is the Spirit of the end, and when we really get into the Spirit we are in the Holy Spirit's end. If we dwell in the mind - oh, this reasoning line of things! - out of the Spirit, there is no joy. But when we let go and we are in the Spirit, we find ourselves with the Holy Spirit right at the end. We are outside of time, we are in the glory already in foreshadowing. The Holy Spirit is timeless and you get outside of time and you have everything; you have your finality, your fullness. Thus, when John was in the Spirit in the isle of Patmos, he got right through to the end of things very quickly, the thing which we in time have not reached yet. That is what I mean by apprehending this matter spiritually. Beware of apprehending prophecy as a mental thing. The Holy Spirit in you in a living way will bring you into the good of things. Thus by the Spirit today we should stand with the light of the glorious fullness of the day of the Lord. We should be here as a testimony, not to prophetic things, not to teaching or doctrine about the Second Advent and all the problems connected therewith, but to the spiritual meaning of that. What is it? Why, that is the end to which God has been working right through the centuries, the one thing upon which His heart is set, in which He has His satisfaction, His glory, His praise, His fullness, and the Holy spirit is always there to make good something of that when we dwell upon it. He is there to be to us "the earnest of our inheritance," and to make us know it is a matter of faith, after all.

We do not always feel the glory of the coming of the Lord, we are not always living in the bright shining of that day, but "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the proving of things not seen," and when we let go our arguments and get into the Spirit, that is, get really into fellowship with the Holy Spirit, the weight of those arguments disappears, all the seeming contradictions in history go out. The glory of the Lord comes in by the gate which is toward the east.

"Yet a very little while, He that cometh shall come, and shall not tarry. But my righteous one shall live by faith."

The Lord then strengthen our faith and keep our hearts in faith.

The End

Next up will be Glorying in the Lord by T. Austin-Sparks
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« Reply #29 on: June 21, 2006, 02:56:52 AM »

Again, this appears in the front of T. Austin-Sparks books.
In keeping with T. Austin-Sparks' wishes that what was freely received should be freely given, his writings are not copyrighted. Therefore, we ask if you choose to share them with others, please respect his wishes and offer them freely - free of changes, free of charge and free of copyright.

Glorying in the Lord
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 1 - The Wisdom of the World[/center]

Reading: 1 Cor. 1:1-31, 2:1-5, 3:18-23.

As we meditate in the first letter to the Corinthians, it grows upon us that the background of the letter is represented by the word “wisdom”. It seems quite clear that it was that which took hold of the apostle as summing up the situation at Corinth, and demanding rectification.

Undoubtedly to the Corinthians wisdom was the pre-eminent, the most important thing. Indeed it was so with the whole Greek world. As the apostle says in this letter “...the Greeks seek after wisdom”, and the Corinthians were a very strong expression of that fact, the quest for wisdom. That which was their natural disposition had been brought by these believers into the realm of the things of Christ, into the realm, shall we say, of Christianity, and that quest, that element, that disposition, that craving, lay behind the whole occasion of this letter. With them wisdom determined value. According to the measure of what they would call “wisdom”, so the value of a thing, or of a person, stood or fell. The whole question of power hung upon the matter of wisdom. For them dimensions were always determined and governed by the idea of wisdom. That is to say, in their eyes a thing, or a person, was great or small, powerful or weak, to be taken account of or to be entirely set aside, according as what of them was accounted “wisdom” was possessed or evidenced by such. It was that domination of the “wisdom” idea which influenced their attitude toward men.

A Wisdom That Issues in Division

It would seem that this is the explanation of the divisions in the Corinthian assembly. The apostle writes, “Each one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” These respective attitudes were governed by this “wisdom” idea. For some Paul was the embodiment of wisdom; for others Peter; for others, though still in a natural way, Christ was the embodiment of wisdom. Thus their attitudes were influenced and governed by this dominating, shall we say, this obsessing, idea of wisdom. The whole tendency of it was to make Christianity a philosophy, and to separate it from the living Person. When that is recognized it is possible to understand and appreciate this letter to a far greater extent, and to see that the whole letter has a bearing upon that issue.

A Wisdom That Issues in Unrighteousness

Further, notice the effects morally of this wisdom obsession, remembering that with them it was natural wisdom, the wisdom of the natural man, or, as Paul calls it, the wisdom of this world. What is the nature of that wisdom? There is one passage in the letter of James which will greatly aid us in understanding this first letter to the Corinthians, and in our answer to that question. The statement is as follows:

“This wisdom is not a wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, sensual (the margin reads ‘natural’, though more literally the word is soulical, or soulish, psychical), devilish.” (James 3:15 R.V.)

There we have the wisdom of this world strongly defined. Look at it. It is “earthly”: that sets it over against the heavenly wisdom. It is “sensual”, soulish, psychical: that makes it entirely of the fallen nature of man and not of the nature of God; not divine nature, but fallen human nature. It is “devilish”: finally, therefore, it is not of God but of the devil.

Carry that back into the first Corinthian letter and you have an explanation of what is found there along those very lines. You see these Corinthians being strongly influenced by their natural propensities, their natural inclinations, their natural desires in the sphere of wisdom, and bringing all that into the realm of Christianity. The outworkings of such a course is that you have sensuality making its appearance in the realm of divine things, and with just such a condition of affairs this letter has very strongly to deal. You know some of the grave touches in this letter, how far even these who were in the assembly, in the Church, went in the matter of sensuality. And the wisdom which led them that way led them into this further state, where they failed to discriminate between what was of Christ and what was directly of the devil, inasmuch as they came into an active touch with demon idolatry in its intrusion into this world, and opened a way for it into the very assembly of the Lord. The wisdom which is from beneath will go that far. What sort of wisdom is this? Sensuality, leading imperceptibly into touch with what is directly of the devil! The temple of God, and idols! The Lord’s table and sacrifices offered to demons! Oh, the blindness of this thing, the utter blindness! Yet they were in the Christian church, in the Christian assembly.

These divisions are another outworking of this “wisdom” matter. Wisdom worked out in schisms. The apostle touches the deepest depths when he says that this wisdom led those who were its devotees to crucify the Lord of glory, and therein is a veiled suggestion that that may happen even in the assembly of the saints, if the same thing is governing, namely that which is of man; that which is of uncrucified natural man brought within the compass of the things of Christ. Even there the cross of Christ may be made of none effect, may be made void, and all that the cross stands for may be countered, contradicted, and these things obtain. The “wisdom” question pervades this letter from start to finish, is the background of it all, and because of the serious outworkings and effects of it the apostle wrote this letter, in order that he might show what the true wisdom is, the wisdom which is from above.
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