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Shammu
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« Reply #1665 on: December 19, 2008, 03:24:40 AM »

Theyíre here, of course if you were reading your Greek New Testament you would be more impressed than with the English translations. The Greek words are simply ďpsucheĒ or ďpsuchikosĒ - soul or soulish. The other word: ďpneumaĒ or ďpnuematikosĒ - spirit or spiritual.

Soul or Spirit

Now, in our translation that Greek word ďpsucheĒ or ďpsuchikosĒ is translated ďnaturalĒ. But what weíve lost in that translation! Natural... the natural man... thatís poor isnít it?  The natural man. Ah no, this is a species of humanity, this is a kind of person, or race; a soulical humanity. This isnít a very far cry, itís only the cry of a change of a letter from "psuche" to "psychic". Getting clearer now? A phsychical, soulical humanity - or in contrast, the contrast of a different species of being, of spirit. A people of spirit, not just and only of soul. I say the whole letter is built upon that contrast, that distinction and that helps us right into this letter doesnít it?

Why all this situation in Corinth? Why this declension, this spiritual decline, why? This state of things... why these quarrels and contentions and schisms and divisions and this constant expression of the ego? ďI am of Paul! I am of Apollos! I am of Israel...Ē I! For every one of you professes ďIĒ, every one of you says ďIĒ! Thatís a type of humanity. It's the humanity of Selfness, of the ego, of the assertion of manís soul, and you know what the assertion of the soul is or what the soul is, look again. In this letter youíve got it so clearly defined. Theyíre craving for worldly wisdom. We know all that the apostle has to say right at the beginning of the letter about the wisdom of this world.

The wisdom of this world... why talk to these people so much about the wisdom of this world? Oh, because theyíre very interested in the wisdom of this world. The wisdom of this world (philosophy if you like but thatís too technical a term) natural, soulical wisdom... the wisdom of the soul which is just the intellectual realm to begin with, intellectual Christianity. It covers a lot of ground, a lot of things. But just this, this projecting of the mind into things with its thousand and one, more than eleven questions; curiosity and interest you know, and playing with Scripture in a mental way... going out in the natural mind into the realm of the things of God. And the apostles had something to say about that. The intellectual side of the soul, an intellectual Christianity, a mental thing after all. After all, interest in Christian things, in Christian truth, in the Bible; all has to do with Christianity, an interest that is merely mental interest. Not only that, but you go from the intellectual and you find yourself immediately in the next sentence in another aspect of the soul, that is: the desire for power.

The Desire for Power

Ah, look at the world today and youíll see what that means. The desire, itís a lust for power, power politics, and power this, and power that... to have power in your hands, to wield power in this world and over lives, coming from yourself. The assertion of yourself to get it, and donít tell me that any one of us here, any one of us, is not infected by that naturally. You will come to me, someone will come to me and in a very humble and lowly voice tell me what a poor creature he is or she is and all along that line and that tone and I am listening more inwardly and what am I really hearing? Iím hearing the murmuring of an inferiority complex and an inferiority complex is one of the most evident signs of the desire for power.

It is indeed an advanced Christian who is saved from this desire of being somebody and something, or let me put it the other way: of not being ignored. Not being ignored... Oh, it's a testing thing isnít it? This being ignored, taken no notice of, walked over, walked past... "He didnít even look at me!" Ah, hereís your desire for power, as subtle and deep as the devil himself.

Thereís a false humility you know, which is the essence of pride.  ďI thank thee Lord that I am not as other men...Ē thatís the voice of the hypocrite, of the Pharisee. This desire for power... and the apostle puts his finger upon this in this letter: power, the power of God and the power of men are in two different realms altogether and the power of God is seen mainly in the weakness of the Cross. The Cross, because it is the symbol of human weakness, is the symbol of heavenís mightiest power. But how can men look at it like that?

But leave that a minute, coming back, and another aspect of the soul, the soulish humanity in the emotions. Now, youíve got to be very patient with me... you really have, Iím going to get it! In the emotion, and that can be so much of the soul in the physical realm, for it says these people more than any others were blessed with spiritual gifts, tongues, what-not - charismata, the gifts. Oh, what is this? What is this? A people like this, a people like this? Boasting of their gifts, glorying in their spiritual gifts, in these powers? No doubt so much in that realm that often they would obsess you with it and challenge you with it and put you really on the spot over it; that if you havenít got these gifts, well, youíre written off as a Christian! The emotional aspects of this, and let me say it, and this is where Iíll get myself into trouble, but Iíve got to face it, to say it. Spiritual gifts of this type are no necessary proof of spiritual character and spiritual paradigm. You may have them all and be an immature child if this letter means anything. They are not proof of spiritual maturity at all because the apostles had them before Calvary! They healed the sick, cast out devils and the rest of it with divine powers before ever the tragedy of their break down, the crucifixion, and their being scattered all abroad and forsaking Him and leaving Him, every one. They had had the gifts. No guarantee of places. You understand? It can be just so much soulical emotion and interest and fascination.

Iím not saying that there are no true spiritual gifts, but you see where we are, this is all on a natural basis after all, in the Christian world, the Christian life. It can all be, all be, intellectual, volitional, emotional. All this and yet such a  poor spiritual condition. And I get it out of the Word of God, I wouldnít dare to say these things like that, but here it is.

This is a humanity on the other side over against that, with such emphasis, such emphasis the apostle places, ďhe that is spiritualĒ. The Corinthians would have so much speaking, so much given to them of divine truth. To them he said ďHe that is spiritual discerneth all things. He is able to weigh things up and come to right heavenly conclusions about things. He has spiritual judgment, spiritual perception. But this soulical man, (the natural man is our translation) cannot! Cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. He cannot know them. Itís only the spiritual man who knows, who sees, who understands.Ē
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« Reply #1666 on: December 19, 2008, 03:25:36 AM »

Two Humanities

Is it hard to receive dear friends? I donít think Iíd be altogether wrong in saying thereís a great deal of this kind of thing amongst Christians. Christians in the world today, if not here, like this: the inconsistencies, the contradictions, the limitation of spiritual life and understanding. You can be evangelical, in America you call it "fundamentalist", you can be that and not be a spiritual person. I have met many who would lay down their lives for the fundamentals of the faith, the deity of Christ, the inspiration of the Scriptures and what-not and I canít have any fellowship with them on the things of the Lord. Thereís a bigger gap, it seems to me, between an evangelical Christian and a spiritual person as there is between an unsaved and a saved one.  You know what I mean. A really spiritual person... well! Things flow and you can talk and get on with the things of the Lord in the most blessed, living fellowship... it just comes out; a spiritual person! And with an evangelical Christian so often if you begin to talk about the Lord they raise their eyebrows and open their mouths as though youíre talking in another language. That is not untruth, that is truth, that is truth. There are many, even in what is called "the ministry", leaders of Godís people, with whom you cannot have real spiritual fellowship on the things of God. You can only just go so far. Theyíre interested in Christianity, theyíre interested in foreign missions, theyíre interested in things, but when you want to get down and really have spiritual food to your heartís gratification, you cannot get it. Theyíre evangelical right enough, but theyíre not spiritual.

Itís so difficult to get this over. I think that you have enough understanding to appreciate what Iím saying. And this is the thing. I put all those things, you see, on this: that the explanation of the incarnation is that God brought into this world a different humanity from ours, another humanity of heaven and not of earth, of God and not of man. Another humanity which this world could not understand or follow or appreciate. The words ď...it knew Him notĒ - it knew Him not! The incarnation was the introduction of a different humanity.  A matter to dwell upon for many hours. Yes, the incarnation. The baptism. The baptism is the setting aside in its entirety of one kind of humanity and the bringing in of another. Paul explains it, the later New Testament explains everything. Why, why bury something thatís good? Donít do that! No, itís rejected. Itís a humanity that is discarded, rejected by God. Unacceptable. Its only place is burial and the bringing in of another humanity, thatís a baptism.

The anointing... thereís all the difference of two races between an anointed and an unanointed person; wants a lot of dwelling upon doesnít it? What is the anointing? Well in a word, it is God committing Himself. Committing Himself. And to what does God commit Himself? The Anointed. Ah, the battle, you see immediately the battle set in after the baptism and the Anointed and it was on one issue: to try to get this Man who had taken heavenly ground through death, burial and resurrection under the government of the Holy Spirit, to get this Man to go back onto natural ground. You read of it, study it again; get Him off His heavenly ground. What a battle all through life that is with us! ďCome downĒ is ever the word of the tempter, ďCome down from the Cross, we will believe! Come down from that position you have taken. Come down, itís to your advantage to come down; youíll gain everything if only youíll come down...Ē And how intense is that battle sometimes isnít it? When youíre up against it, when youíre on the Cross in weakness, in suffering, in agony... and although the Cross is meaning that to you, the battle does rage to take easier ground, to sacrifice something, to compromise somewhere, to get out of the ďoffense of the CrossĒ as Paul calls it.

The Battle

The battle of two humanities. What kind of person are you going to be? Of heaven or of earth? See the battle? The Cross gathers all this together. And again the Holy Spirit... why the Holy Spirit? Why the Holy Spirit? Whatís your answer to that? Itís all been put into little categories, the Holy Spirit this and that; if you donít do this you havenít got the Holy Spirit, you donít know anything about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Well why the Holy Spirit? To make a different humanity of you; a spiritual person! A spiritual person by the Spirit of God. It may include many things but itís just that: the difference in what we are by the Holy Spirit.

And then I spoke about the training... what is the meaning of our training because as soon as we really get into the hands of the Spirit (donít be discouraged in what I am going to say, young Christians who are here) youíre in for it. Youíre in for it! Youíre in for real difficulty, real training. Youíre going to get into a hard school for your natural life, for your soul life. Ah yes, itís going to be real training... what the writer calls "chastening", child training, discipline. Oh, what a hard school this is for the natural man when our soul life is being starved. The mental side: "I cannot understand, I cannot see why, I cannot explain the dealings of God. My whole mental ability is thwarted and frustrated and I just donít know what to think or to make of it." Yes, the soul is being starved. Itís going to come through only, only on the ground of your spiritual life. That is what the Lord is after, to get us away from living on things to living on Himself alone.

The starvation of our emotions... my word, how we go into the deep freeze sometimes spiritually. You know? Am I saying wrong? I donít want to cause anyone to stumble, but there can be times, there can be times in the life of a child of God when it seems the Lord has departed from him; when you cry like Job, ďOh, that I might know where to find Him... I go on the right hand and He is not there and on the left and He is not there!Ē Where is the Lord? Today? Here?  True... why? Well this is a part of the training of the new man, the different kind of man. The emotions are sometimes frozen. All your lovely feelings have gone and you agree with the man who wrote, God forbid that we should invite it, but he did write: ďWhere is, where is the preciousness I knew when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing dew of Jesus and His Word? Return O Holy God, return...Ē Have you felt like saying that sometimes? Oh, itís the normal spiritual life!

Thereís nothing abnormal about that, nothing really in the design of things strange about that. This is normal for anybody who is going right on with the Lord, you will have these times when the whole of you is in great distress and the only way out and through will be what you know of the Lord in your spirit; how much spiritual Life you have, how much spiritual measure you have, that He is working in us, training by setting aside this natural, soulical, psychical life and building up the spiritual man. Those are the two words representing two humanities and now you see the Cross is introduced.

This is not my philosophy, my construction; this is just what is here in this letter. I beg to repeat: the letter is built and constructed upon these two words, two different humanities - the soul humanity and the spiritual man.
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« Reply #1667 on: December 19, 2008, 03:26:03 AM »

The Natural-man Humanity and the Christ-man Humanity

The apostle begins with a distinction, presses it home all the way through as the ground of challenge, instruction, and counsel and advice and warning and concludes it, the whole thing, in the most glorious way! In effect he says by this letter: you have to begin by becoming a spiritual person, your spirit born anew from above, the whole spirit in charge of you making you at the beginning a spiritual person and right through growingly a spiritual person, and then what? Chapter fifteen, ďFirst that which is natural...Ē oh, here we are there again, that which is soulical. ďAfterward that which is spiritual...Ē and where does that land us? The spiritual body. The spirit is sown, that living spirit is sown, that which has been the work of the Holy Spirit in us, which we are really and truly in the innermost part of our being, what is called ďthe inner manĒ.

The inner man, that all developed as a seed and given a spiritual body, a spiritual body. Ah, that raises questions, donít worry. Iím so often asked: do you think people will know each other in the life afterwards? Yes and no. If you think that youíre going to know me by seeing these features, no, no not this body, not this body but a body given of a different order: a spiritual body. I canít define the spiritual body, Iíve no time for it for one thing, if I were able. Flesh and blood cannot, says the apostle, inherit the kingdom. No, but He gives to each seed a body as it pleases Him, oh thank God! Itís going to be in a body that after all pleases the Lord! Oh, what troubles in this body!

You see what the apostle was saying in the course of this letter and more in the next letter: Our outward man perisheth but our inward man is renewed day by day, our inward man. And as we groan waiting to be clothed upon with our body which is from above, every seed a body given, and then in that spiritual body (which, I suppose, is like the body of the Lord Jesus after His resurrection, thatís all I can say, or the body of the Lord Jesus on the mount of transfiguration is that it?) a different type, a different humanity - it will be a humanity! Youíll know one another as human beings not as angels. Donít sing again ďOh to be an angel,Ē oh thatís an inferior thing to what you're called to! Oh no, we are not going to sprout wings, this is something far, far higher; a spiritual man with a spiritual body. I think we may be the only lot, I donít know. In our time weíve lived now to see men going into space, getting out of their spacecraft and floating in air, with the law of gravity absolutely nullified. But for them there has to be a special equipment, artificial equipment to live in that realm. Well, we will need no artificial equipment when we are caught up to meet Him in the air and to live in that rarified atmosphere of heaven. It will be quite natural, you see what I mean?

Well, this is the difference in the humanity, it requires a different type of person to do that doesnít it? A different species. And to finish... yet again itís the Cross that effects this. Right at the heart of the two humanities, to bring one progressively down, less and less. Thatís whatís happening. How far weíve got in this, how you say, ďOh, Iím beginning to feel myself less than nothing, the poorest, most inferior kind of being.Ē Have you, and this is not exaggerating, have you groveled in the dust of the consciousness of your own worthlessness? Thatís alright, that's quite alright, provided, mind, that thereís a corresponding spiritual growth of another species, another order, another kind. The Cross is working on the one side, as ever it was meant to do, to bring one kind of man to an end and on the other side to bring in a new kind of man. The Cross does it.

Now, I must safeguard all that Iíve been saying by this: donít anyone go away saying it is wrong to have a soul, wrong to have a mind, wrong to have feelings, wrong to have a will; if thatís all the soul then I must kill my soul. That difficult principle... the governing principle, as you know, of Buddhism is the final annihilation of desire. Oh God save us! No, Iím not saying itís wrong to have a soul. What Iím saying is: the soul is not to be the governmental thing; the spiritual is to be the governmental thing, to control even our soul, to say to our reasoning to say ďNow look here, you may be thinking altogether differently from the way in which the Lord thinks, letís take this to the Lord and get His mind about it.Ē Our mind, our reasoning will say: yes, this is right, this is good, this is it. But wait a minute. Let us subject this to the Holy Spirit and we may discover that our thinking was all out of line with the Lord. Oh, we may have strong feelings and emotions... now letís get hold of this, theyíre not going to run away with us, control us; letís bring this to the Lord. Is this right? All this, this emotional soul has got to be controlled by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit in our spirit. No, itís right to have a soul, there is such a thing in the Word of God as the salvation of the soul, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your soul. My word donít they need saving? They do. How then? The work of the Cross, building up the spiritual man, the spiritual life.

I think thatís good enough for tonight, enough for us to get on with isnít it? But you see the Cross in this first letter to the Corinthians had a very, very pertinent word to say; a very far reaching issue to secure. If youíve not been able to understand, grasp, follow anything or everything, donít turn it aside: ďWell I canít understand all that...Ē No, if you are a true child of God youíre going to learn this because itís true. It will be set right over your life and it will be the very best thing that can happen. The greatest thing is the consummation, the consummation of it all, the manifestation of the sons of God. We collect that from Romans donít we? And bring it into Philippians, the new species, the new humanity; sons of God. I donít know whether weíll get to Galatians this week but thatís the issue there. So we leave it for the time being. Shall we pray?

Lord we do turn from all the words and the ideas and the thoughts, even the truths as such in themselves, and pray Lord, from our hearts: give us spiritual understanding. Oh, may we be amongst the spiritual men who discern all things and have a capacity that no natural man at his best could get it... the deep things of God revealed by the Spirit to spiritual men. Lord, teach us whatís of You and help us in this way, that we may become a different order of being from that which is of Adam. We ask in the name of the Lord Jesus, amen.
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« Reply #1668 on: December 19, 2008, 03:27:20 AM »

Chapter 4 - The Cross and the Ministry of the Unveiled Face

Thy servant heareth... be not silent, Lord. "Wait my soul upon Thee for the quickening word.  Fill me with the knowledge of Thy glorious will. All Thine own good pleasure in Thy child fulfill..." Lord this we make our individual prayer. No words could better express our desire at this time so we say again: Speak, Thy servant heareth. And when Thou dost speak give us the enlarged heart and the quickened faith to run in the way of Thy commandment for Thy Nameís sake, amen.

We are well launched into this matter of the place and meaning of the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ as it is in these various letters of the New Testament. Thereís a wonderful thing about these letters and their message Ė it is that although they were just the immediate outgoing of the heart of an apostle to companies of the Lordís people here and there in relation to some existing situation and need, under the Holy Spiritís sovereign government and all unbeknown to the writer, the apostle, they were documents for the whole dispensation; as much for us as for those to whom they were written.  The apostle did not know that he was writing the Bible.  He did not realize that people down through thousands of years would be studying every word that he put down and every syllable that he put down and would be having their lives affected one way or another throughout all the centuries and the effects and fruit to appear in the coming eternity.  He had no idea of that, but the Holy Spirit did.  And we are found here, a little company, in that sovereign ordering in relation to these writings, these personal letters of a shepherd apostle concerned for the sheep.

Another thing which we have already indicated which is quite wonderful, is how that same sovereign Spirit of God governed and controlled the arrangement of these letters. Altogether out of chronological order the Holy Spirit saw to it that this one came first, and that one came second, and that one came third, and that one came fourth - in a precise spiritual order - a sequence of wonderful progressiveness in the spiritual life.  We have noted that.

We have considered the place of the Cross in the letter to the Romans, how foundational it all is there and all-inclusive of what follows throughout the New Testament. And then in such wonderful wisdom and understanding, the Holy Spirit saw to it the first letter to the Corinthians came next, beginning the break up of the inclusive foundation of the Cross in Romans, to apply it. And every body of us here surely has seen that this is the next thing. The Cross and the two humanities is something that has got to be settled before you can get any further. Everything waits upon the recognition and the response and reaction to this very wonderful thing as the Corinthians (in their condition, perhaps at least six years after the apostle went to them) drew out this letter and in it revealed for all time that there can be and often are as there was in Corinth, two kinds of Christians.

Two Kinds of Christians

Christians in two categories: the soulical Christians called the natural, and the spiritual Christians. And they are in two very definitely different categories as this letter shows. If you want me to read again to see what the one class is and what the other class is, they are so clearly and definitely defined. And the one is shown through necessity the application of the Cross right into the very heart of Christians.  Yes, right into the history of those who are the Lordís.

The Cross is called for in a very serious and solemn way in many, many Christians who, like these Corinthians, were Christians.  And God only knows how they needed the work of the Cross to change them from the one kind of Christian to another, from the one category to the other, from the natural or the merely soulical (which is, in another word, the wholly Self kind of Christian) into the spiritual men and women of the Spirit.

Now, Iím not staying again to emphasize that distinction. Itís here and that is the first practical application of the Cross after itís inclusive meaning has been set forth. Itís being broken down now, and this within the whole circle of the meaning of the Cross, this is the first thing that has got to be settled. We canít go on until that is settled.

Weíre coming this evening to the great transition from the first letter to the second. And what a transition it is. Itís really a progression as well as a transition. That is, itís not only a change over on the same level, it is the development of the new level or kind of Christian. A wonderful transition or passing over, a wonderful progression in the spiritual situation and what is now possible.

Now let me say again, and I trust that you are seeking to take very careful heart notice of what we are saying, because I want to say once more to you dear friends: I am not here just to give you more doctrine, and teaching, and information. If God does not carry these things into our being and create a real issue in us, weíve failed - this conference or convocation has failed and we would never want to have another one. Itís very vital that this thing should be plowed right deep down into us and to have its effect. So I repeat that this difference, this distinction, which is brought out so clearly and fully in the first letter (and I would ask that you go back to your room and read that letter again in the light of what we have pointed out and read it carefully, not only verse by verse, but sentence by sentence, and you will see how true it is) that we have, before we can move on, we have to have a settlement about this matter of the distinction that is brought to light in letter number one to the Corinthians. Thereís got to be a settlement with us about this: a recognition of the fact that there are two kinds of Christians possible. One kind a purely soulical type of Christian; they are a fact. And another type a truly Holy Spirit kind of Christian. Very distinct are these kinds. And the fact of that difference has got first of all to be faced, settled, accepted, before we can go any further.

The Lord wonít get us any further until weíve recognized it as a fact revealed in the Word of God that you can be what Paul calls carnal or spiritual; natural, soulical, or people of the Spirit.  Of course we could spend a lot of time on that, but we have tried just to touch on it, to indicate what is meant by it.

No, let me pause, may I pause to just add this word: A truly spiritual person (that is, a person who is governed and led by the Holy Spirit, who lives in the Spirit) is one who brings everything to the Lord to ask His mind about it. Even your dress and anything else about your personal presence - your manner, your behavior, your talk, or your silence... a great deal of soulishness is in just chatter, frittering away the values of eternal meanings by just standing around those that talk.  You know the Cross needs very really to be planted right into the tongue of many Christians. And not mischievous tongues essentially, not evil tongues essentially, but just tongues that are not controlled by the Holy Spirit. The power of the Spirit to be quiet and silent when itís right to do so. Thatís what I mean.

The difference between a soulical (and that is not necessarily an unsane person but a soulical Christian) and a really spiritual person... and until that difference is recognized Ė seen and accepted - and we have had a transaction with the Lord about it and said, "Now Lord, if thatís the truth Ė itís in the Word and I believe it must be true, I commit myself to You to be made a truly spiritual child of God in all that that means." Youíve got to do that and then you can pass into the second letter to the Corinthians. You see, the Cross comes in there doesnĎt it? The Cross comes in. My, yes itís the Cross indeed when it touches us in these matters, very practical matters. Itís the Cross. That is the transition as a fact. Now we have to go on to consider the nature of the transition and its necessity. And the second letter to the Corinthians is occupied with what? It is the ministry of the Lordís people.
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« Reply #1669 on: December 19, 2008, 03:28:39 AM »

The Ministry of the Lordís People

The whole letter is occupied with this matter of the Lordís people in ministry. Iím going to stop to define that, but I want you to notice this to begin with, that while the apostle has more to say about himself personally in this letter than in any other letter that he wrote, (you know more of Paul after youíve read this letter than you would ever know by reading all his other letters put together; itís the most autobiographical of his writings) it is as though he has so much to say about himself he is saying it in the first place about himself as the Lordís servant. As the Lordís servant. And in the second place he is transmitting all this to the church at Corinth and in effect he is saying, "What is true of me as the Lordís servant has got to become true of you. Not special people amongst you, but you as a church." That is, each individual making up the church in Corinth.  For this ministry is corporate ministry, it is not just individual. Itís corporate ministry. And so he is speaking here about the ministry of the Church in its localities which, of course, you can at once mentally make objective and say well, a group of people. No; you, me. This applies as much to us as the whole Church. It comes down to the individual. There cannot be a church without the individual. It demands all the individuals to make up the Body Ė the members to make up the Body. So, I must underline this, that you get very clear that what is here about ministry is shown by this letter to apply not only to Paul, though to him in the first place, but to every member of the church at Corinth and that means to every member of the Church down through the ages into this very hall tonight.

Itís the ministry that is before us. Well, first of all, what is the ministry? What is the ministry? Could you answer that question? Well, itís getting a Bible, studying it, getting to know something about it, putting it under your arm and off you go to preach. Is that the ministry? Is it putting on a certain kind of collar and a tie, attire, and now youíre a minister; thatís the ministry? One of the most pathetically traggio comedies that I have ever met (tragedy, yes, to me comical it was also) some years ago I knew a man who for thirty years had been ministering the word of God, here, there, all over the place. And he had been the leader of what was called the "spiritual clinic" in conferences. Oh, he was fully occupied with this.  All his time was given to this. And then one day I went to a convention and I saw this dear man coming toward me down the road. And he made his way to me, put out his hand and said, "You see, brother? Iím now in the ministry." He was wearing a clerical collar. "Iím now in the ministry." See what I mean? I said, "tragedy of tragedies" - and in a certain sense, comedy of comedies. Thatís not the ministry. Thatís a false conception of the ministry.

Forgive me. I donít mean to draw laughs or make things humorous. Itís too sad to have these false conceptions and notions of what the ministry is. If you were asked now to put down on a slip of paper your definition of the ministry, what would you say? Now here you have the great New Testament document as it has turned out to be, on the ministry of the Church and its members, which comprises us all. What does it reveal to be the ministry? What is it? It is just and only this, but this definitely: the ministration of Christ to other people. The ministration of Christ! Bringing Christ into view, not mentally, but livingly and giving Christ - so that where you are and where you have been, something of Christ is left behind. Something of Christ is left behind. They do not know mentally something more about Christ but they have felt the presence of Christ. They have realized Christ by your presence. Now Iím going to show that in a minute in this letter.  But thatís the ministry, if there is anything at all in this letter that speaks of ministry, it is just that people who come into contact with us and with whom we come into contact, come into contact with Christ. And that as we go on through life Ė what poor creatures we are and Paul takes account of that concerning himself Ė yet, somehow or other, we are leaving a trail behind us of the influence Ė the "sweet savor" as Paul called it Ė of Christ.  The sweet savor of Christ. The people will at last, who have known us thus will just have to say "Well, yes, plenty of human faults if you like, but thereís something of Christ Iíve come into because of that woman Ė that man."

Thatís very testing, isnít it? Very challenging.  It wants spiritual people to be like that, but that is the ministry. Get clear out of your mind all these other ideas: professionalism in ministry, ministerialism and all the rest of churchianity and ecclesiasticism. The whole lot! Get rid of it and come right down to this: my presence has to be a ministry of Christ in this world, and if people are in real spiritual need I have something to minister to their need; something of Christ. Christ by the Spirit is ministered through me.

That sounds very simple, doesnít it? It upsets a lot of our high-flown ideas about the ministry. But itís very practical, very real. That is the ministry in this letter. You see, the apostle gives us some illustrations of this in the letter. I wish youíd all read it before you came here this evening so that it was all fresh in your mind, because we have only an hour. (By the way then, read the letter to the Galatians before tomorrow night.) But here the apostle gives us some illustrations of the meaning of the ministry in the terms which I have used.

First of all, he takes up this wonderful matter of Moses coming down from the mountain with the table of stone of the law, and the glory of God being on his face.  He came down with glory on his face - his face was shining with the glory of God. He came down and as he moved toward the camp that glory on his face was so strong that the people could not bear to look. When he went in to read the law, the people could not dare to look because of the glory and it was necessary for Moses to put a veil over his face when he read the law of the testimony.

A face full of glory, but the people unable... unable to live in the good of it and live by the power of it... and to appreciate it, and to enjoy it, and for it to abide with them by reason of the lack of spiritual capacity. It says, "They could not look on his face." They could not... they could not. They hadnít the capacity required for looking at the glory of God.

Now, you know the rest of the story. Paul outlines it and brings it over into this dispensation and he says, "When you shall turn to the Lord, the Lord Jesus, the veil is taken away." And then he says this wonderful thing, this marvelous thing upon which, dear friends, you can dwell for the rest of your life without any exaggeration, "God, Who said: Let Light shine..." Let light shine! The great fiat at the beginning, "Let there be Light..." "God Who said: Let light be, hath shined into our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." And thereís no veil! We have now spiritual capacity! Weíre spiritual people! We have the Holy Spirit! The face of Jesus Christ holds the revelation of the glory of God. My, what revelation of the glory of God the face of Jesus is! That word "face" of course, is only symbolism.

You know, you know by a personís face. You know a good deal about the person, donít you?& A great deal about the person... The face is supposed to be the index of the person, the character and the content of their life. Thatís how itís used here. There is in Jesus Christ an unveiled revelation of the Father and that is shined into our hearts. Shined into our hearts! It is not an objective thing Ė a sun, or aura, or halo outside. Itís come into our hearts! In other words, by the blessed Holy Spirit we have come to see the Lord Jesus in the spirit, to appreciate the wonder of God in Jesus Christ! Itís shined into our hearts! And the apostle is saying by implication, "If that Light of Godís glory came upon the face of Moses and was seen by all the people, in the same way, what has shined into our hearts ought to be seen by people." You cannot have the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God shining in your hearts without people knowing something about it. Thatís the ministry!

And we could dwell a great deal upon that part of the letter about the veil and so on. Thereís a lot more to do with it but Paul is saying, "Thatís the ministry!" It's the ministry of the glory of Christ revealed in our hearts. And then he uses another illustration. Itís already been mentioned in this conference: the Living Epistles. Heís moved into another realm. Heís perhaps moved into the realm of what is called the Ostraca Ė the broken pieces of earthenware which were cast out of every home in what you call, the... what is it, the place where you put your rubbish? We call it the dustbin, you call it the, well, yes Ė rubbish tin. They were thrown out there. On these pieces of earthenware messages were written and sent like letters. Thatís how they communicated their messages and their information. They were taken many, many miles.

A boy was in the army, the Roman army far, far away. His letter wasnít a nice thing like your air letters, you know. His was a bit of pottery with a message written on it for father or mother. And when these were received and the message was taken, the pottery was broken, and it was thrown outside. It was called the Ostraca, thatís where we get our word "ostracism" from - something thrown out.
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« Reply #1670 on: December 19, 2008, 03:29:49 AM »

Now Paulís taken that up and he is translating it into the life of the believer in the matter of ministry. Not referring as a sideline, heís getting his metaphors a bit mixed up, he usually does, Paul, heís too much in a hurry to sort things out and put them all in proper order. He refers again to Moses, tables of stone, pen of iron.... No, not on tables of stone, or the pen of iron, but on tables which are hearts of flesh, written upon by the Spirit of the Living God, the finger of God, from the heart. And you become a living letter! You will personally say, "We have this Treasure in earthen vessels." Here you have your earthen vessel with a message written on it. We are earthen vessels and in us has been written by the finger of God the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, with the effect: we are living epistles read and known of all men! And what do these documents say?  What do these human vessels say? These vessels of fragile clay, what are they saying? Theyíre making known the glory of God in Jesus Christ! We are that. Thatís the ministry!

I say again, itís challenging... itís testing. But that is the ministry according to this letter. He illustrates, you see, the ministry - the living letters. And thereís a transition having taken place, first of all a transition from the outward - tables of stone, written with a pen, outward Ė to the inward: the heart, hearts of flesh. This ministry is something inside now first, not objective. Itís not your library. Not your collection of commentaries. Pull them down and make a stone. Itís what the Holy Spirit is saying to you in your heart about the Lord Jesus. These things may be useful afterward, but first of all, what is the Lord saying inside of me? What is the burden, to use the prophetic language? What is the burden of the word of the Lord in my heart? In my heart... "Thy word is like a fire in my bones", said the prophet.

A transition from the outward to the inward - thatís the ministry. What youíve got inside - that makes the ministry. From the outward to the inward; from the letter to the Spirit, and the apostle draws that contrast, "The letter killeth, the Spirit maketh alive". From the letter (that is the mere verbiage of truth, even though it be Christian truth) to the spiritual meaning and interpretation and power of that truth; the livingness of that thing.  Not the dead letter but the livingness of it in us. That is the ministry. Transition from death then (the letter killeth) unto Life!

It all amounts to this, to use Paulís own words here and elsewhere, the inward revelation by the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ as the manifestation of God the Father. Iím not saying apart from the Scriptures, or independently of the Scriptures, or as a substitute for the Scriptures. I have had in my life of ministry very sad instances of people who come to me and say "The Lord has shown me so and so..." And I have said but that "so and so" is not according to the Scripture; thatís contrary. "No, it doesnít matter. That doesnít matter. The Lord has shown it to me." And youíre not surprised that thereís confusion in a life. No, through the Scriptures... oh, keep living the Word. Live in the Word. Let the Word of God dwell in you richly, that in all wisdom and spiritual understanding it is, dear friends, through the Word the Holy Spirit reveals.

Some of us know quite well what it is to have a fairly large, comprehensive knowledge of the contents of the Bible so that we could take a blackboard and outline any book of the Bible at any given moment and never to have seen in the way that has completely revolutionized our lives what that means. What that means... thatís a very different thing, isnít it? What it means from just what it says; understand that? But it is the Holy Spirit through the Word revealing Christ within. That is the ministry of the Church and that is the ministry.

Well now, the transition, the nature of the transition, the cost of the transition. It is here, of course that the Cross comes in because such a life, such a life of testimony, such a life of influence, such a life of ministering Christ, such a ministry! This kind of ministry is a very costly thing.  Donít make any mistake about it, and we should dwell long and earnestly upon this fact: the cost of such a ministry. Ministry, as it is called, is not always a costly thing to those who carry it out; itís mechanical. Mechanical! No, but this kind of ministry is very costly and as I say, that is where the Cross comes in.

Now, isnít it rather impressive, it takes nothing away, but is rather impressive that in this second letter to the Corinthians the Cross is not mentioned once by name. And yet there is no letter in the New Testament where the Cross is more implicit or as implicit. Everywhere the Cross is implied, or powerfully implied. And so you find that the outstanding words in this letter are: the sufferings of Christ. "The afflictions of Christ, which abound to us." You can look that up. I believe youíll find that some nine times the sufferings and the afflictions of Christ are referred to in this letter. Itís only another way, isnít it, of speaking of the Cross... the Cross in the life of the servant, and the service of the Lord. And if the apostle Paul is keeping himself in a right and proper sense in view in relation to service, what a lot he says in this letter about his sufferings. My, you havenít perhaps studied it, what this dear man had to go through. He gives us later a catalog of the outward adversities: shipwrecks and the privations and the nakedness and the perils on sea and on land - robbers and all that kind of thing. Well, thatís pretty hard.

But thereís another list that you collect from this letter to which he refers but not completely, you have to arrive at it by deduction. And the strange thing is that it came to him from Corinth. The things that these dear believers, who owed everything spiritually to him, the things that they said about him! First of all, there was a clique, or two or three cliques in Corinth which wouldnít have Paul. They said, "We are of Apollos" or "I am of Apollos" and "I am of Cephas", and another superior clique "I am of Christ", meaning "We are not of Paul."  Two or three sections who were not having Paul.  Not having Paul. And then the things they said about him, they said his personal presence is despicable. I suppose referring to his body, his physical appearance, the scars and marks of his sufferings and of his physical affliction. They said, "His personal presence is despicable. His letters are very bold, but his personal presence is despicable. Heís an autocrat. He is turning everything to his own interest, trying to get a following for himself. Heís even using the funds for his personal ends. And..." Well, shall we go on? All of these things are in this letter, you know, they're all there. The man discredited by those who owed him so much, despised, rejected, humiliated but he says, "The more I love you the less I be loved by you."

This letter is the cry, you might say the sob of a broken heart, because of what he met - not from the world alone, he could get on with that, go through with that - but from inside... false brethren, false friends, treacherous and disloyal, and many other unkind things. And these are all called the sufferings of Christ... the afflictions of Christ, which came upon him. And then that one outstanding incident and he said, "I would have you know, being that they fail me, I was pressed beyond my measure of endurance. I had the sentence of death... the sentence, that it was death." Pressed out of measure, and the sentence of death.

And one more thing: the thorn in his flesh which did not come either from the world or from Christians; something that the Lord allowed. "There was given me a stake." Thorn is not the word - itís not big enough! "A stake in my flesh! A messenger of satan to buffet me, for which thing I sought the Lord thrice that He would remove it." Can you visualize it? A man going, "Oh, Lord, can You not be pleased to relieve me of this thing?" Begging the Lord - no answer. Back again, "Lord, Lord, do, do something about this thing! Take it away." It does make the going so hard, so difficult... "Take it away, Lord!" And no answer. Third time, and we see our Lord in Gethsemane three times, "If it be possible..." The sufferings of Christ, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." And the third time... and then the Lord answered. And how did He answer? "No. No, My grace is sufficient for thee. My strength is made perfect in weakness." And the apostleís response: "Most gladly, therefore, will I suffer."  Afflictions, the afflictions of Christ.

Now, have I said enough? I havenít said all, mark you, to show that a ministry like this that is being set forth here, is a costly ministry. And suffering is inevitable. But why? Why? God is more concerned with quality than with quantity. God is supremely concerned with the essential, the intrinsic value; not the broad sweep and straight over of the superficial, but the deep. The real. The thing that is going to reproduce because of its intrinsic value; that when this man has gone, what God is doing in him will last for two thousand years at least, and grow and grow and grow till it fills the whole world. Through the sufferings of this man!
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« Reply #1671 on: December 19, 2008, 03:30:28 AM »

Itís a costly ministry this kind of ministry about which you ask for ministry. Well, it depends upon entirely what our hearts are set upon, dear friends, whether we just want to be ships that pass in the night and speak to each other in passing and then disappear forever out of sight. If we want to be just some butterfly flitting across the world without any vital impact, effect, influence. If you want to be like that, is that what you want to be? Come and gone and nothing very much to show for it when you're gone? Or do we really in our hearts want it to be like this - something that will live on and grow and grow when we are gone. When weíre gone... thatís the most testing thing, you know, for anybody; to live for a time to come when youíll not be here to know about it. I wonder... Maybe he does know - I donít know those secrets of whatís known when youíre gone in the presence of the Lord, but I sometimes wonder if they donít know, if Paul were to come back here in this world today and see all the world full of books written about his letters and all the churches and Christians, whether they be spiritual or otherwise, who are just reading him and studying him and talking Paul - I wonder what he would say?

Well, you know, itís the afterward very largely thatís going to tell what the value of our ministry, what our life here has been. So, the apostle has something to say about that, "We have this treasure in vessels of fragile clay. Our outward man is perishing", and so on. The test is the eternal values. Perhaps in a short lifetime or a full lifetime, at most an altogether inadequate thing, as far as we are concerned... poor vessels of fragile clay. And if youíve ever said to the Lord as I have many times, "Lord, youíve got a poor piece of clay here. A very poor piece of clay, I donít know why ever you chose it." Yes, and yet, and yet, the great apostle Paul would call himself a poor piece of clay, a vessel of fragile clay, "That the exceeding greatness of the power might be of God and not of ourselves". And he goes on with his catalog of troubles... We are persecuted, we are... we are... we are, but! The intrinsic value - the fruit of suffering. The fruit of suffering! Well, Iím not mincing matters, as we say. Iím not hiding from you. It depends on what kind of ministry, and surely you know friends, if you have any experience at all, you know that itís the people who have helped you most, most deeply in your spiritual life, have been people whoíve gone through the fires, who have come to know the Lord in suffering. Isnít that true? And you know quite well the people who havenít suffered canít do any good for you, canít help you! You know that. You have to say, "My, they havenít been through suffering yet, and they canít help us." Isnít it true?

Well here it is, hereís the kind - what ministry is. What it is... its nature, its meaning, its value, its eternal work, its spiritual character of life to these, and the cost of it. The cost of it. I would not for anything depress you. I would not leave a cloud over your heart, God forbid. But I know this is true, and I believe that there are enough people here, if not all, enough people here who would really, really respond and say, "Lord, do make my life of some account, some eternal account. Lord, do, do... whatever you donít do, do this one thing: that when Iíve lived my life, leave spiritual and eternal values behind. That they may show themselves again in other lives. Iíll not be here to see it, or know anything about it, but nevertheless, Lord, that is not the point.  My pleasure, my gratification, my satisfaction is not the point; itís Yours, what You get." Are you, are you really committed to the Lord in that way?  And would you, therefore, take up your cross? Thatís of course the Gospel way of putting it: itís a figurative way. You donít get it like that after, the actual cross, but what it means you do get, taking up your cross, denying yourself (your soul) and following Him.

I wonít add more. I think you have enough to see this is the ministry: the seeing of the Lord by the Holy Spiritís illumination in our hearts - and the spontaneous, the spontaneous effect of it. Itís spontaneous! Oh, thank God for the spontaneity of this! You see, you donít have struggle and strain for the ministry, I did that for years - having to get up the sermons and find the straw for the bricks and keep the thing going because I was paid a salary to be a "minister"! Oh, the agony of it all, until that great crisis of Romans 6 and the Cross!  Since when, that strain, that kind of strain has gone out, itís spontaneous, itís an opened heaven! It's an open heaven. Itís spontaneous, living.

Well, is that enough? The Lord give us silent and serious exercise about this, or committal, so that when weíve gone from this scene everything is not gone with us that we were here for. Shall we pray?

Lord, there may be that which has to be corrected or straightened out, or more clearly apprehended, but we have sought to convey to Thy people something of what Thou has laid upon our hearts, and we can only commit the issues to Thee. Blessed Lord, take this night and really count it profitable... that there shall be intrinsic value from these lives. Oh, make us these living epistles, read and known of all men... make our hearts these tables upon which the Spirit of God writes the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. All that this figurative speech really means, make real in us we pray. And give us grace that we may triumph... triumph in the afflictions, triumph in the sufferings, triumph in the adversities, and know that they are the sufferings of Christ, the fellowship of His sufferings. And they must, therefore, be very profitable, very fruitful, if they are His. So be it. And now, let Thy hand be upon us as we leave this place, not wanting to quench anything that is really living and spiritual; nevertheless, do save us from in any way dissipating, dissipating what Thou, Lord, has tried to say. So be it, for Thy glory and praise and honor, forever and ever. Amen.
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« Reply #1672 on: December 19, 2008, 03:31:30 AM »

Chapter 5 - The Cross and the Battle for Sonship

For now may I just remind you of two things: the possibility (at least the possibility) that the Lord may be speaking in this place tonight. If our prayers are answered, it will be so. And, if it should be so, we have accepted a solemn responsibility in allowing ourselves to hear the Lord speak. It may be a very blessed thing to have the Lord speak but it is a very responsible thing, for we can never be the same before the Lord should He speak. And we together Lord, have said: speak. Speak Lord, in the stillness while I wait on Thee... Give us then hearts that are wholly touched with the precious blood of Jesus, minds that are guarded, and grace that we may receive and obey... We ask in the name of the Lord Jesus, amen.

As there are quite a few who have joined us since last evening, it might be helpful if I were just to hurriedly review the course that we have been following in these evening hours under the general title, "The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ". Our object has been to see how the Cross is presented to us in the letters of the apostle Paul and what each letter sets forth as a particular application and meaning of the Cross.

With the letter to the Romans we began noting how comprehensive and all-inclusive the Cross is. And then out of the all-inclusiveness we began in the second place the break up, so to speak, and the application to particular and peculiar situations and needs; the first of which was in the first letter to the Corinthians. And we noticed that in that letter there is a great divide made: the divide between the situation and the condition of the Corinthians as they were when Paul wrote, and the situation and condition to which he sought to bring them by way of the Cross - repeatedly emphasizing that the Cross was the way of transition from the one to the other. And we headed that consideration with the two humanities, even where Christians are concerned, that type of Christian which Paul describes as the natural man... which literally, in his own language, was and is the man of soul, the soulical man, the type living wholly upon the basis of the soul. And then on the other side, the other kind of humanity: the spiritual man, the man of spirit and governed by the Spirit. The letter falls apart into those two categories, the two humanities within the compass, mark you, of the Christian community. And we saw what a difference there is between the two, even as Christians, and of how the Cross cuts clean in there to make the division between soul and spirit. Iím going to say just a few extra words in that particular connection.

You must remember that with the apostle Paul, being the man that he was with his very thorough Jewish training and knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures, what we call the Old Testament, there would always be that background to his mentality. The Holy Spirit would be taking of that background and although perhaps not quoting always the Old Testament or referring to any particular book in the Old Testament, it is there all the time. If you look beneath the surface you will find it. And in this particular connection of which we are thinking of now, it is so evident that there is a background of that kind to what the apostle wrote in the first letter to the Corinthians.

Here in this letter he brings into view that phase of Israelís history which was in the wilderness and its tragic issue. In chapter 10 of the first letter he brings that forward as a warning to the Corinthians.  You remember it, he speaks about their failure and falling in the wilderness after having come out of Egypt, after having been redeemed with precious blood. This is not my interpretation; this is exactly what Paul said. They fell in the wilderness, they died in the wilderness, and they did not go through to that for which God brought them out. And I say again, he used it as a very solemn warning to the Corinthians and says in effect: Be careful! You are now in exactly the same position as Israel was in at that time and Iím warning you that your destiny can be the same as theirs. You may fail to go through to what God has called you unto. You may (using his own word) perish, in the wilderness.

I know that will raise some questions in your mind, and I expect you would want to ask me those questions if you had the opportunity, if I gave you the chance, about final perseverance and being once saved and lost and all that. But donít forget, we are not talking about salvation. That is settled with the Corinthians. We are talking about inheritance; the purpose of salvation. And Paul will make it very clear that you may be on the foundations, heís saying it here in chapter 3, you may be on the foundation which is Christ but when you are on the foundation you may put up a superstructure which will be entirely lost with all your life work going up in smoke. And thatís only another way of interpreting Israel in the wilderness.

Now then, what was it that lay at the root of that tragedy of Israel?  And you have the answer in the fourth chapter of the letter to the Hebrews. Now you know, men have struggled all through the centuries to get Paul out of the letter to the Hebrews! Weíre not going to argue about the authorship, but thereís something here that is very similar, if not identical, in this tenth chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians and the fourth chapter of the letter to the Hebrews. You notice in that fourth chapter, the writer (whoever he was) the writer is speaking about this very same thing: "So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief..." and he enlarges upon the tragedy of Israel perishing in the wilderness and not going in to possess. And then he uses that conjunction to which I drew your attention the other evening without enlarging upon it as I am now:  For! "For they entered not in because of unbelief... they perished in the wilderness." "For the Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit." There are your two characters again. Two humanities: the soul people perished in the wilderness. The spiritual people which were raised up, went over and went through. Very impressive isnít it?

That little "for..." That mighty little "for"... "the Word of God divides between soul and spirit". The implication of the actual statement is: soul... thatís the cause of all the trouble in the wilderness. If you remember the history of those years, those decades in the wilderness, oh how much soul! The soul was always this: what am I getting out of it? How do I benefit by this? "I..." In Corinth, "every one of you says I"; what am I getting out of it? The spiritual... and you remember the change over, the transition, with Joshua: "If the Lord delight in us then He will bring us in". Oh, itís the Lordís delight not mine!  The difference between soul and spirit...  I Ė Thou. And we are to come on that very definitely as we come into the letter to the Galatians presently.

I want you to notice that that is the big issue amongst the people of God, redeemed by precious blood, brought out of the world and bondage to satan, and yet... And yet failing to go right through to the purpose of that redemption and all that God meant. And the Cross comes in to save us from falling in the wilderness, by the way, and missing the inheritance, by acting like a two-edged sword dividing asunder between soul and spirit. Thatís the Cross in first Corinthians. And then we saw afterward, last night, that when that issue is fundamentally settled (because these issues are not settled all at once you know, they are only fundamentally settled, thereís a lot yet to be done) weíll find there's a lot more in second Corinthians to be done in that connection. But the root has been touched. The axe has been applied to the root, something has been done.
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« Reply #1673 on: December 19, 2008, 03:32:04 AM »

You look at the seventh chapter of the second letter to the Corinthians, you hear the apostle speaking about what happened after they got his first letter. Oh, what humiliation! Oh, what tears! Oh, what sorrow! Theyíre a broken people. They were not broken before, now theyíre a broken people. They are weeping and they are sobbing over what had happened. I say the axe is being planted at the root and something fundamental has been done and therefore they can come over Jordan, so to speak, come over or get through and start on new ground altogether: the ground of the open heaven, the ground of the unveiled face. Remember? The unveiled face... "when he shall turn to the Lord the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is a spirit and where the Spirit is Lord, there is liberty." Youíre over on the other side. Thereís a different atmosphere isnít there in the second letter to the Corinthians from the first? Quite a different atmosphere. And it seems now that there are possibilities now, and so they come into the good of the unveiled face which, in other words used by the apostle, is "God who said: Let light shine in darkness has shined into our hearts". It is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. You canít say that in letter number one, but you can say it in number two! "Therefore having this ministry..." the ministry of the unveiled face.

Iím not going over all that we covered in a full hour last night, but the point is they are now represented in their spiritual position and youíre noticing the spiritual sequence of these letters arenít you? The spiritual sequence is to move forward, with new prospect and possibility, new potentiality, the new testament, a new atmosphere. So when the people got over Jordan thatís how it was, you breathe more freely.

While youíre reading the first letter to the Corinthians, especially those early chapters, you are not breathing freely at all, not at all. But now the atmosphere is fuller and freer and thereís a move forward. It is a great move forward, they are over. And as I have said, something fundamental, although not final, has been done. It's been done. Jericho, the inclusive thing... because you know Jericho did represent in its seven-foldness the seven nations that were to be conquered. Seven is the dominant number there of Jericho and that is spiritual fullness or spiritual inclusiveness. When youíve got Jericho you have, in figure and in spirit and in spiritual position, youíve got the land. Youíve got everything, that is, in the sovereign will of God. So, being over into the second letter to the Corinthians you are over and you have compassed Jericho. That is, the foundation is dealt with.

Now what? And now what? Yes, not now soul or soulical people, but spiritual people. You do not need me to go back do you, to the beginning of the book of Joshua, the man standing with the drawn sword, captain of the host of the Lord and to which Joshua capitulated the campaign... Well, you donít need me to tell you that that is the representation of the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit taking charge of the campaign; no, leave all these details.

This is where we are in the second letter; everything looks wonderfully promising doesnít it? New atmosphere, new prospects, and new potentialities... what next? What next? Ai. Galatians. A hold up. Arrested progress. Brought to a standstill, even reverse. A stepping back onto the old ground. The whole thing is in jeopardy. That is Galatians isnít it? Oh these cries of the apostle, "Oh foolish Galatians! Who has cast the spell over you, the witchís spell over you? You were running well, you had compassed Jericho, what has happened to you?" An arrest. Thatís Galatians. Ai - old ground touched. What our brother Watchman Nee, when he was with us, used to call "the earth touch". Itís an earth touch, going back onto the old ground of death.

The apostle in this letter to the Galatians puts it strangely enough into two words or a phrase: the world. The world! And now how he finishes the letter to Galatians, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ whereby the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world" and he links that very phrase or that very phrase is linked in the spiritual sequence of things to this Ai business.

Of course we know what Achan did at Ai, the Babylonish garment, and the wedge of gold... A touch of the earth, a touch of the world you see; the worldís system. You touch that and even God cannot deliver you from the prince of this world, heíll take full advantage of every contact that you make with this world to arrest your spiritual progress. He does that. Paul calls it "the world". We shall see what that meant as we go on, for itís a very comprehensive and inclusive thing again. It was the arresting hand of something. Leave the book of Joshua for the moment and come to this letter to the Galatians. What was this arresting hand, this spell that brought this beautiful movement to a standstill, to cause rather a reverse than a going on? What was it? Oh, of course you say, "Youíve told us: getting back onto soul ground again". Yes, alright. But what is that? What is that?

Dear friends, if you look again at this letter to the Galatians which you know so well, youíll find it is in the little suffix: an "ism". An ism... in this case: Juda-ism. Judaism. That was it. And tonight in this connection of Galatians I am speaking about the battle for sonship.
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« Reply #1674 on: December 19, 2008, 03:32:41 AM »

The Battle for Sonship

Remember the three major words in this letter: Liberty, Spirit (with a capital S), Son. And we come back to that. The battle for sonship... and the battle for sonship raged around, or on, the ground of an ism. And it was that ism that brought the Galatian Christians to this standstill, to this arrested progress and called out this terrible heart cry from the apostle. Terrible heart cry: "My little children! For whom I am again in travail till Christ be fully formed in you..." It is a pity they (the translators) havenít given us the whole word, they just put "till Christ be formed in you". No, till Christ be fully formed in you. Thatís the issue. 

It was a beginning of the formation of Christ arrested, and the full formation of Christ to sonship has come under a change and all because of an ism. A mighty ism, it was Judaism. I need not, I think, spend any time in explaining and defining Judaism. Youíve read the letter. I trust that youíve read it before this meeting. What Judaism is... what weíre going to say will perhaps define it best as we enlarge this thing, but what Iím saying is it was an ism, an ism that did it. Are you noting that? Youíve really got a hold of that? An ism did it all! Spoilt it all. And isms always have the same effect, they always do... isms.

Recently I came across something written by a very well known Christian leader and teacher, a man who over half a century ago wrote a standard on the lives of Christ and the apostle Paul, who were the great vogue of that time. We donít hear so much about them today. He wrote this, allow me to read it to you because it is so closely related to what we are saying:

    "In the craft and subtlety of the devil and man, Christianity has ever tended to wither away into Judaism into Rabbinism, into scholasticism, into ecclesiasticism, into Romanism, into sectarianism, into dead schemes of dogmatic beliefs, into dead routines of elaborate ceremonial, into dead exclusiveness of parties and party narrowness, into dead formulae of church parties, into dead performances of dead works or dead assent to dead phrases..."

Thatís pretty good isnít it?  There are all your isms... but if he lived today I wonder how many more isms he would have had in it! Iím not going to be so unkind as to give you the extended list but think, think of the ism, this thing which has become defined as an ism and that, and that, and that. Sometimes it is a distinct error. We should mention the errors. Sometimes it is a mixture of truth and error. Sometimes it is truth itself which is become an ism. Yes, the truth! Quite right, the New Testament, but it has become an ism.

And what is the effect of an ism? What do we mean by an ism? Well, that thing has had a fence drawn round it and has in itself become the beginning and the end of everything. And that fence says, "Unless you tow this line, accept this ground, come onto this ground, thereís no fellowship with you. Fellowship is not possible. Only if you accept this interpretation or this experience..." or whatever it is that you can put in the place of circumcision; "except ye be circumcised ye cannot be saved..." Remember that? A thing! It might be right in itself but it has been crystallized into a finality and the wall and door of exclusivism has been set up so that unless you come onto this ground you are excluded.

And that, as Dr Farrah of whom Iíve just referred and given quotation, that is what he meant by the subtlety of the devil. Youíll realize dear friends, that God has never done a new thing in Christian history, brought forth something that was intended to lead His people further on to that ultimate fullness, but what? Sooner or later, and usually sooner, men have fastened upon that and made an Ďismí of it, crystallized it into a teaching, a manner of practice in Christianity, with its own laws and ways and rights, and that thing has brought arrest to the fullness that God intended in Jesus; almost stopped there. Ai... after Jericho.

One of the most pernicious things that the devil has ever done in Christian history has been to make men crystallize living truth into dead formula. And you know, heís clever. Heís clever, Paul took the two-edged sword to that Goliath of Judaism and cut off its head and robbed the devil of his most potent instrument in the days of Paul, which was Judaism. Everywhere, everywhere that the apostle went that was either waiting for him or on his trail; to discredit, to bring in the arrest of spiritual life and progress. A continuous battle. At last it headed up to this Galatian situation and with this Galatian letter of what Paul did as here recorded, that Goliath of Judaism was slain for the time being, it didnít lift its head again at that time. The devil lost a great instrument, a very serviceable means, when he lost Judaism. But do you think he takes that lying down? Well, I have quoted from Farrah twelve isms and I have said we can add many more.

The Lord Jesus said when the unclean spirit has gone out of a man it wanders in empty places. If something better and other does not take its place in that man, in that house, and it comes and looks in through the window, comes back from his wanderings and looks as a specter through the window and sees the house is empty, he goes off  and brings seven others worse than himself. And the last state of that man is worse than the first. When the devil lost Judaism he looked to see what was going to take its place. And because of this vacancy in Christianity, this not going on to sonship, he brought back scores of others worse than himself: the isms.
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« Reply #1675 on: December 19, 2008, 03:33:59 AM »

The "Isms"

Now, Iím not trying to be either humorous or just making up something to pass on to you. Dear friends, make no mistake about it, there are very fascinating and attractive isms, New Testament isms, and non New Testament isms. And, in a somewhat extended life and ministry, again and again I have seen dear people of God who were out in the open going on with the Lord in the liberty of the Spirit with great promise and then theyíve been caught in some ism. You simply are helpless to escape themselves from the tenets of that ism. Again and again Iíve seen it! Tragedy.

British Israelism... whether itís right or wrong, itís a side track!  Itís something with a fence around it and you canít get anywhere with those people beyond that thing. Thatís the obsession. I take that as an illustration, but I mean many others, thereís many others.

Thereís a great ism sweeping right over America and over Europe in these last years. I can dare to mention this one, well Iím going to at any rate: Universalism. Itís an ism which has captured multitudes! And you just canít get anywhere with these people once theyíve got it. But I have known them, oh so promising... so promising and then this thing has come subtly along their way, attractive and fascinating... So appealing: everybody, ultimately, including the devil himself, will be saved. What are you going to do with that? Willy-nilly theyíll be saved... undercutting so many of the very vitals of the Gospel.

Iím illustrating, Iím not just making attack, Iím trying to show what I mean. You may call these things gross errors, but there are things that are not such errors. Not such errors, indeed in themselves theyíre quite true, but they have become the beginning of all and the end of all to the people who have taken them on. You can get no further, no further. They have lost the great ground, the vast ground of Godís full purpose for this dispensation and become stuck on some thing that is only partial at best. Arrested... like Judaism; come to a standstill, or going round and round in a circle, the circle of this particular thing.

It should be a warning to us because, you see, this is the thing that has been the enemy of the fullness of Christ all through the centuries - this sort of thing. The Lord does something; itís right, the Lord does it. Then before long it is crystallized into a system governed by men and unless you come that way, youíre out, youíre not accepted, no fellowship. You must stand on this ground, this ground, or youíre not included at all in the whole compass of things. You understand what I mean? Isnít this true?

Oh, how subtle this is... but we come now to this letter again. You notice that there is a transition in this letter, a transition which is gathered under several words or names. They all mean the same thing, whether it is bondage on the one side and liberty on the other, servant and son, the law and the Spirit. This is the issue, the issue in this letter. What does it amount to? What I have been saying, on the one side the servant, speaking of bondage, limitation. And what word really explains the servant? In the Greek itís the bondslave. What is it? "You must". The servant, you see, has no rights of his own; no liberty. He has to do what heís told: "You must and you must not..." You cannot follow your own judgment. Youíve got to obey this, whatever it is. We call it legalism, but it has so many forms. It is the "must" life, the "must" life of the slave, the bondservant. Thatís the word.

On the other side, over against the slave is the son. And you know as well as I do what a difference there is between those two. I donít know how it is here in America, but I know how it is over our way! The servant goes out in the morning (be he the builder or the roadworker or whatever he is, the employee) and he doesnít hurry to work at all. He goes as slowly as he possibly can without actually making a breach of the law and when he gets there he takes so long to get his coat off... and then so long to get his tools out... and then he looks round, ďA nice time to have a cup of coffee!Ē And you can go along almost any hour of the day and find him having his cup of tea... And so they go through the day; theyíre the servants, the ďmustĒ people and as little of that as possible!

But when you get the son, the son of the owner of the property, the son of the master builder, thereís none of that. No, this thing is a matter of both interest and responsibility and more: of love for the father. And heíll work beyond the appointed hours and heíll work! Heíll work all the hours; no ďmustĒ with him, nothing like that. What is it? Itís his spirit. Itís the spirit carried on by another spirit than the spirit of the servant. Thatís the letter to the Galatians, you see, sonship. Liberty from all this demand, essentials, obligations, the ďmustĒ... it never comes in; never comes in at all.

The liberty of sonship goes on without considering personal interests, without asking any questions as to how much must I, and how much can I not. You see the difference? And we are all in peril of some kind of must, and drive, even in the things that the Lord has done with us. The blessed things that the Lord has done, if weíre not very careful, we will bring them into a systematized form and they will become our prison and itíll be the bondslave. Sonship is Godís goal for the Christian.
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« Reply #1676 on: December 19, 2008, 03:34:46 AM »

Godís Goal

You know, the word is ďthe manifestation of the sons of GodĒ. Thatís the consummation of everything; bringing many sons to glory. God deals with us as with sons. Sonship... thereís no higher thought in all of revelation than the thought of sonship. ďBeloved, now are we the sons of God, it is not yet revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, we shall see Him as He isĒ thatís sonship finally consummated and we are being dealt with on that principle of sonship. Wonderful conception!

The apostle John, you see the old man John in his Patmos exile contemplating his long life. Yes, suffering and plenty of it in his long life in union with his Master, he just does write: ďThereís nothing to compare with this,Ē says he, ďsonshipĒ.  Sonship, the highest thing ever thought of by God for us, for redemption. And weíre in progress of this and if that is true, will the devil stop at anything to prevent us getting to that? Why? You see itís going to be this corporate sonship - glorified in union with the Son Who is going to dispose the whole kingdom of satan and displace it and take its place for the government in the ages to come. And the prince of this world is not taking that easily. And so not only will he bring these persecutions and sufferings from the outside but heíll bring these subtle snares of an ism; arrest our spiritual progress and shut us up to something smaller than God intended. And heís frustrated the end when heís done that.

Oh, the point is, keep out in the open with the Lord! Keep out in the light of the Spirit, the Spirit will not let you go wrong. The Spirit will make known to you all that is intended for you, but donít begin to say to other people when youíve got that experience or that light, ďNow unless you accept this and take this ground... you see, youíre outside the pale, we are the people! We are the people, the truth begins and ends with us.Ē Oh, God save us from the spirit of it... the spirit of it. For you to go and think about the isms, whether denominations are right or wrong, Iím not going to argue. But I will say emphatically denominationalism is wrong. When it becomes an ism, something that binds you, controls you, sets the boundaries for you, then it's wrong. And whatever other things it may be, whether it is right or wrong, as soon as the enemy succeeds in making that the limit, however good, heís defeated the end. There will be an arrest and a reverse.

And I can only take you back to close by reminding you of how Joshua handled the situation. Yes he sifted this thing down at Ai, sifted it down, down, down... to a tribe, a family, a unit in the family: Achan. ďAchan come out, stand hereĒ.  One man... an ism, brought in arrest not only to himself, but to the Lordís people. ďAchan, you must goĒ. And they stoned Achan. And it was a very drastic thing that was done, because of the principle involved you see, the principle involved.

But whatever Joshua did with Achan, I donít think it compares to what Paul did with Judaism in Galatians. Listen: ďIf anyone, be he an angel from the heavens, preaches any other gospel than that which we preach, let him be accursedĒ. The curse was pronounced upon Achan and he died under the curse. Let him be accursed! And I say again, I repeat it with Paul: ďLet him be anathema, let him be accursedĒ. It was the curse upon ďexceptedĒ... of any kind of loose legalism, ďExcept you be circumcised you cannot be saved...Ē Except! Except... oh, be careful of these ďexceptsĒ. There are other kinds of excepts which are quite alright, ďExcept a man be born from above he cannot see the kingdom of GodĒ thatís alright; but not a Judaistic one.

You see how strong the Holy Spirit, the Word of God is upon this matter of keeping out in the open with the Lord as your Government, the Holy Spirit as your Control, your Teacher. And it is safe when the Holy Spirit really is Lord. Thereís liberty, but itís safe, itís safe.

Remember again what John said about this, ďYe have an anointing and the anointing which you have received abideth in you and you need not that anyone teach you anything, the anointing teacheth you all things...Ē Oh be careful! Be careful... ďIím quite independent! I donít need anybody to tell me anything!Ē that is not what John is saying at all; at all. What is John saying? There are many antichrists in the world and an antichrist is not a spurious, fearful creature, you know, with a tail and a pitchfork. No, an antichrist is something that assumes the place of Christ. The devil himself is transformed into an angel of light, there are many. And with the natural judgment, natural powers, you are not able to distinguish between the true and the false. The Christ and the antichrist seem to be so much alike. You canít discern the difference but the Anointing will tell you! The Anointing which you have received, when you come into touch with something false, will tell you if the Anointing is really governing, saying ďbe carefulĒ, not in words but inside. You have a feeling thereís something not quite clear here, not transparent here, not safe here... ďI donít feel happy about this, I canít tell you why but I just donít feel quite happy about this... thereís something in me that says: bewareĒ.

The Anointing will teach you, itís perfectly safe when the Anointing is in charge you see, and here you are: thereís your other humanity isnít it? The spiritual man, says Paul, discerneth all things. And I would close with just saying this, dear friends, that in my judgment the greatest need in Christianity among Christians today is spiritual discernment. I could not say anything beyond that. I am convinced that in a day like this of deceptions and misleadings and all that, the great need is our spiritual discernment; of knowing the Holy Spirit in this way, that Heís able to warn you, just to warn you! Not in words, it might be by words of Scripture, but in your own spirit where He dwells He says, ďThatís alright, go onĒ.

The arbitrator is Life and Peace, but people say, "No, be careful thereís danger there". Then it is for us in our spiritual sensitiveness to take note of that and let me tell you that itís not my experience that the Holy Spirit speaks with a shout. Iíve very rarely known the Holy Spirit to speak out in a way that thereís no mistaking it. Itís been such a gentle thing... Such a gentle thing, itís just something that I could miss if I didnít pause and learn. Thatís the voice of gentle stillness that is so often the voice of the Spirit. That is sonship you see, growing to discern, to sense, to understand; the spirit of sonship.

Well, Iíve said enough, may the Lord help us to understand. And if youíre praying, in all your praying for whatever youíre praying, ask the Lord that by the Holy Spirit He will develop in you a spirit of discernment, give you spiritual discernment so that you, as Paul put it in another place, can discriminate the things which are excellent. Remember that? The difference in things - good, bad, indifferent, best, excellent - that you may be able to discern the things that stick out. The original is, "the things that are excellent". The Lord make us people like that.

Now Lord, there may not have been very much entertainment or fascination or attractiveness about all this, but we know that Thou wouldst be very faithful with us, and we want Thee to do it. And if warning and enlightenment as to peril is Thy mercy and Thy grace and Thy goodness, then weíll be very grateful if such a light, a warning light has been shown; something to save us. Oh Lord, how we want to go on and go through and come out into the ultimate consummation, sons in glory, never arrested, never having our path shortened, never brought short... Oh Lord, we want to go on to full growth, to all that Thou hast called us unto. Now give us understanding, interpret to us Thy meaning in what we trust has been Thy word. Guard our hearts and our minds through Christ Jesus and may grace and mercy and peace from Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with us evermore, amen.
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« Reply #1677 on: December 19, 2008, 03:35:48 AM »

Chapter 6 - The Cross and Emancipation from Circumscribed Horizons

Lord, we can only pray from our hearts under a very deep sense of need, of dependence... of longing that Thou Thyself will stand fully possessed of every moment of this time and of this day to give Thyself with great application, and wisdom, and love, and power for securing the completion, so far as this time is concerned, of what Thou didst have in mind in bringing us together. Thou did say after feeding that multitude: ďGather up, gather up what remains over that nothing be lostĒ. That nothing be lost. We believe that this is Thine own desire that nothing be lost, and we pray that Thou would bring this very definitely into this day: that nothing be lost. We ask in the name of the Lord Jesus, amen.

In our occupation with the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through this week and our tracing of its application to different situations and conditions represented by the letters of the apostle Paul, we have this morning arrived at the letter to the Ephesians and the place that the Cross has and the meaning that the Cross has in that letter.

I hope that you may have read it before the meeting or that at least some knowledge of it exists in your minds so that it is not necessary for me to give you the content of the whole letter. We are not concerned with that at this time but with this one focus: what has the Cross to say to us through this letter?

The actual mention of the Cross in the letter is infrequent but references to it by way of implication are very evident. You will recall that early on the apostle addresses these believers as those who have been quickened together with Christ and raised together with Him. That thought occurs more than once in the letter implying that these believers had come by way of the death and the burial and the resurrection; and that they now stood on the other side of the Cross. The Cross had had its place and largely done its work in them. They, standing on resurrection ground, were now able at least to be shown what the meaning of the Cross is in its greater fullness.

And again we are impressed with the spiritual sequence of things in these letters. We have said the divine arrangement of them is so different from the human chronological arrangement, but you move in real spiritual sequence in these letters as they are given to us by the Holy Spirit in this present order. That, as I have just intimated, is very apparent and patent in the movement from Galatians to Ephesians. In Galatians something had to be got out of the way - the head of that giant, that Goliath Judaism and every other "ism" represented by it - had to be cut off. That giant head had to be decapitated and put aside. All legalisms of every kind, everything that makes Christ smaller than He is, makes the gospel smaller than it is, everything speaking of a wrong limitation, had to be put out of the way before you can get to Ephesians because, we are going to see, Ephesians is the emancipation from all circumscribed horizons.
The Cross and Emancipation from all Circumscribed Horizons

Youíre going to move in a big realm arenít you when you come into this letter! And of course anybody who knows this letter knows what a boundless thing it represents. Iím not going to recapitulate a lot of things that I have said in the little book with which some of you may be familiar, ďThe Stewardship of the MysteryĒ but I can remind you that this is the letter, more than any other in the New Testament, of superlatives. Indeed, this man of such tremendous ability intellectually and in other ways, was hard put to it when he wrote this letter, to find language to express what was in his heart, what he had come to see. His superlatives just topple over one another and spoil all his grammar. He will just build up: exceeding, abundantly, above all, and so on. Itís the letter of superlatives and therefore we can rightly sum it up in this way: as the letter of emancipation from every limited horizon.

I remind you again, there is a real aptness in this sequence... the Ai, going back to the Old Testament, and Aiís issue having been settled and Achan; the element that would pull the people back onto the old Corinthian grounds which we have been seeing. Achan having been removed with all that belonged to him, wife and children. It looks very cruel, very unkind... ruthless to pull Achan out and his family and stone them all to death. But you must remember the Bible moves on spiritual principles and anything to do with this kind of thing, the thing itself, the Achan and any related thing to this that Galatians represents, has got to be wholly and entirely put out of the way. As Paul said, ďLet it be anathema and again I say let it be anathemaĒ. He is not having any compromise with any ďismĒ that limits Christ, or ground that is smaller than Christ. And that all being dealt with so thoroughly, now we can move on, come out into these great expanses of Christ which this letter represents. And if I indicate a few things (and I cannot do more than just indicate them with the most restricted comment) you will have to take it away and spread it over for all your future times with the Lord. But it is one thing into which all these things are gathered with which we are concerned on this last day of the feast, or so far as I am concerned. We get more presently.

Here then, we have in this letter a whole series of transitions from the limited to the unlimited. First of all there is the:
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« Reply #1678 on: December 19, 2008, 03:36:38 AM »

Transition from the Earthly to the Heavenly.

And all who know this letter know that the characteristic phrase of this letter five times repeated is ďin the heavenliesĒ. A tremendous movement has taken place in the horizon here! It has been thrust far back from earth, from the earthly to the heavenly, the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.

Now, I know quite well that that is a difficult idea to grasp. And of course the natural mind immediately gets pictures of something out there far away... the heavens! What do you mean by that? And it is said that some people are so heavenly that theyíre no earthly good. Weíll come onto that in a minute. Let us get quite clear as to what this really means ďin the heavenliesĒ. It is true that Christ now is in heaven. It is true that there is a super mundane realm in which principalities and powers, world rulers of this darkness, hosts of wicked spirits operate... It is true that there is a realm, but it can be very unpractical if it is just a mental conception, a remote abstract idea: in the heavenlies.

The first thing said about this is that we have been made to sit in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. But we havenít in another sense; we are sitting here in this place and very literally so, and probably as the hours go on with the talking you feel it is very literal to have to sit there - very real! And so an element of unreality can come into our mentality when we read this phrase repeatedly ďin the heavenliesĒ. What is really meant by that?

Well of course our names are written in the heavens. In Christ in the heavens we have our place and all our resources are in Him and to come from Him as there. Our government has to be from heaven and many other things. But even so, this has got to be brought more definitely into our knowledge, our experience: the experience of being in the heavenlies... that is the point. And until weíve got that settled, all this about emancipation from limited horizons is but a beautiful conception. What is it?

Now let me say at once, it is - for all practical purposes in the Christian life here and now, in this world, in this life - it is an inward thing. An inward thing. Very simple. If you have really been born again (and you know quite well that that is not the exact translation of the original language, it is "born from above" well, new birth) if you really have come into the experience of the new birth which is birth from above, what is your first consciousness, your first awareness from that time? Something that you come to realize right at the beginning? You know quite well that you've parted with this world and this earth. That is, that you no longer belong here. Something has happened that has been the nature of a translation inwardly. Your interests... those interests which were, are no longer your interests. Your associations... your own people now, your own people are the Lordís people. Your gravitation is toward heavenly things. It is an inward awareness and consciousness and we all know something of that. As we go on in the life with the Lord that becomes more and more real.

We are on a spiritual pilgrimage, a spiritual pilgrimage inside of ourselves and our pilgrimage is away, away, away. We find it increasingly difficult to be at rest, at home in the things of this world and the things which the people of this world have as their ultimate.

Now thatís very simple isnít it? But note: the apostle is saying this to people who had gone a fair way on the pilgrimage. Heíd been with these people at Ephesus, and he said to them, their elders, ďI have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of GodĒ. They had gone quite a way and yet here he is after all, in this particular connection, as we shall see in others, saying to Christians, to Christians well on the way: ďYour life is not here. Donít expect anything here, donít look for anything here. All your resources are outside and are to come to you from outside. As truly as ever the manna had to come from heaven in type and symbol in the wilderness, day by day, so you have to, and you can, learn to live every day from aboveĒ. I say thatís almost elementary and simple but... what is your experience?

I say to you that after - I wonít mention the number of years - of seeking to walk with the Lord, today, today with all the grey hairs and all the years and all the experience, never a day comes but what more than ever before I am conscious that unless the Lord supplies from heaven today, I will not get through. Theyíre not words. It has to be like that. And even after the greatest fullness, we might have had large fullness yesterday, but we close the day with very rich provision from the Lord. We begin the day as though we had never had anything and we start all over again. Itís true! Itís got to be like that. That is the first great horizon into which we are emancipated: from earth to heaven.

Our whole way of life, if it is a true spiritual life, if the Cross has really cut in between us and this world, if we really have reached the sixth chapter of the letter to the Galatians, the last word about the whole situation of the earth touch and the earth bond, ďGod forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ whereby the world is crucified to me and I to the worldĒ. If we really have reached that point of the Cross to cut in, then weíre in a position, really in a position to know this wonderfully enlarged heavenly sustenance, heavenly provision, heavenly fullness... ďhas blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ JesusĒ where inwardly we are seated together with Him. Itís an inward thing, an inward consciousness.

You know, I am tempted to put in a big parenthesis there, ďevery spiritual blessingĒ. But I think it would be impossible to say even a sentence that would be adequate, but I remind you of what the apostle mentions here as some of the spiritual blessings into which we have come by reason of this transition inwardly in the spiritual life.

What does he say are these blessings? Chosen in Him. Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Have you ever tried to contemplate that? Is that a blessing? No accident in our salvation; the working out of an eternal thought... chosen in Him. Dare I mention it: predestinated... to be conformed to the image of His Son. What a blessing! Accepted in the beloved. We could spend a whole conference on that alone couldnít we? Redeemed, in Whom we have our redemption. Redeemed. Enlightened, these are words in Ephesians you know, enlightened. Endowed. Sealed. All in Christ Jesus, a few of the blessings in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. Wonderful things arenít they? Now you see we need to extend the conference for another month or two!

Ah, this is where the conference ought to finish you know, with the twelve baskets full over. Such a conception, such a mighty conception of that into which we have been brought! With our horizon full of that, we go away breathless at the greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, thatís only one of the transitions from the earthly into the heavenly. Next, the:
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« Reply #1679 on: December 19, 2008, 03:37:43 AM »

Transition from Time into Eternity.

Before the foundation of the world is where it begins and unto the ages of the ages is where it ends. Lifted completely out of what time means; its power. You know, in the other summary of the blessings in Christ given by Paul which we have considered this week, he says about the love of Christ, "Shall life or death..." (these are big things, the compasses of this earthly sojourn, life and death) he says no, they lose their power. Theyíre ruled out here in this horizon of eternity! How Iíd like to dwell upon it... before the foundation of the world and of the counsels of God from eternity concerning the Church.

I think I must drop back here for this little bracketed statement. That word ďpredestinatedĒ can limit your horizon if youíre not careful. I see the tragedy of this spread of ultra predestination theology. I have seen, I know companies of the Lordís people going on in the freedom, the liberty, the life, and the joy; all moving on rejoicing, and then this thing has come in: predestination. And it is theological in perpetration and they start going round in their circles. And you canít get anywhere at all beyond that. Itís like a dead hand, a dead hand upon everything. Be careful because predestination has nothing to do with individual salvation. Get that? It has to do with the eternal vocation of the Church. The Church! And thatís Ephesians. And thatís where you get the word.

Well, take that as intended to be helpful, to throw the horizon back to deliver us from this awful bondage. Itís one of the ďismsĒ you know. A great man, good man was Calvin, but when it comes to Calvinism, be careful. Be careful. From time into eternity we are emancipated.

Thirdly,

From the Temporal to the Spiritual.

Something very helpful if we can grasp it, it really is a deliverance this, an enlargement; to realize that the temporal - that is, the things of this life and the things of time, things which make up our daily lives, the events, the happenings, the permissive will of God in so many things, and the directive will of God in other things - all that has to do with our human life here is governed by the spiritual if... if we are in this compass: in Christ.

As I said, in Romans you have the whole thing gathered up comprehensively and then the letters following break it up. And so out of Romans we bring this to here, ďAll things work together for good to them that love GodĒ donít stop there ď...and are the called according to His purpose.Ē And as we shall hear in a minute, that is the great word of this letter.

So that the temporal things, your sorrow, your loss, your disappointments... Oh what a large world of happenings, experiences, trials, difficulties, sorrows, sufferings, perplexities and so on; the things that come into our lives. We call them the temporal things because they belong to this life here if we are in this realm: in Christ Jesus and the Cross has really cut in and emancipated us from the finality of temporal things. And how often the temporal experience becomes a finality with us! We think that spells the end of everything. No, if in this realm in Christ, then the temporal things are governed by spiritual interests. Do I need to enlarge upon that?

Most of us look back upon things that have happened that weíve thought were chances, were tragedies happening to us and they were pretty difficult, very hard... and we thought that they spelled the end and we can now see that they had very real spiritual values and that we should not have come into the knowledge of the Lord which we have today but for those things. They have not been narrowing things but enlarging things! ďThe things which happened unto me,Ē says Paul, ďthe things which happened, the happenings, have worked out, have turned out for the furtherance...Ē a way of saying: ďenlargementĒ.

So this transition from the temporal to the government of the temporal by the spiritual. Thatís a very large realm isnít it when you can get out there, when by the grace of God we can say in the presence of this thing thatís happened which seems so devastating, so desolating, seeming to write over everything: loss, failure, disillusion. And when in the presence of that we, by the grace of God, are able to say: "Thereís some spiritual value in this that would justify it, that will vindicate Godís wisdom in allowing it. There's something in this. I canít see it now, Iíll come into sooner or later, come into it and Iíll look back on this and say: Right was the pathway."

He led them by a straight way? He didnít, He led them round and round and round in the wilderness and yet the verdict is ďHe led them by a straight wayĒ. However circuitous it may seem, if itís going to reach His end, itís straight.

Now itís easy perhaps to say these things but, dear friends, these are things we have to learn to be emancipated from: the domination of the temporal into the government of the spiritual. You follow that up. Yes, and this letter is full of that, you know.  Full of that and a lot of time is wanted to look at it. Let me remind you of chapter four, ďI beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith you were called...Ē Youíve got to walk amidst conditions in this world which are very difficult. Heís writing to Ephesians and God only knows what those Ephesians had to live in, walk about, amongst, and how everything could have dragged them down, forced them down, kept them down: this and that and that which we will touch upon again. No, in the midst of it all, ďWalk worthily of the vocation wherewith you were calledĒ. Let the greater horizon lift you out of these temporal things and give you a motive, an incentive for living here in this world; the incentive of another dimension.

Or, to be very much more practical, lifting out of this letter these temporal things, very practical indeed: husbands and wives. Thatís very practical isnít it? Very practical in the world in which we live, husbands and wives and the relationship there. Oh, what a training ground that is! Just when you get married youíve entered into utopia! Youíre going to have no more trouble; that man is absolutely perfect you know! That woman... thereís never in the world anyone like her! Weíre never going to have any trouble together... Now I donít want to spoil it, and I am not speaking out of a history of disappointment, so no-one pass that on!

But we all know that this, this very relationship, is one of Godís through which we have to learn very much of Jesus Christ. Itís a temporal thing isnít it? But look at the horizon into which this letter puts it: ďEven as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it, so husbands love your wivesĒ. Doesnít that lift it out into a dimension, isnít that a transition? My word! So Paul says, ďI speak of a mystery, I speak of Christ and His Church when Iím speaking about husbands and wives and wives and husbands. Iím speaking about Christ and His Church.Ē Can you bring even your marriage relationship onto the ground of Christ and His Church and His giving Himself for her? For her? And the other way in which this applies, the opposite. But the point is, lifting it out of this poor scene as we know it in the world.

And as perhaps sometimes you are tried by your husband or your wife, sometimes perhaps (may I say it?) almost to breaking point... I donít want you to divulge any secrets but I know human life well enough. Oh yes, I know it. Somewhere away in a box of all sorts of odds and ends, I put it away somewhere, there is a bullet. And I took that bullet from a gun with which a Christian man was going to shoot his wife; workers in the Church! Thatís terrible, thatís perhaps an extreme case but you see you can be driven by the devil to all sorts of things because that relationship is intended by the Lord to represent something so great. Oh if the devil can really get in between husband and wife and smash that, he has succeeded in a very, very big thing. He has robbed Christ of a testimony to Himself and His relationship to the Church.

So Iím going to say that perhaps there are few, if any, relationships that the devil is against more than the relationship of a true partnership of husband and wife and wife and husband. It seems that he stops at nothing to spoil that because heís going to gain a lot because as Paul says, ďI speak of Christ and the ChurchĒ. Isnít that lifting things out of one realm into another? Thatís Ephesians. Suffer the word that we must be very faithful; that weíre not just roving in idealisms, but in very practical matters here.

Then we come to the next transition:
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