In the Divine scheme of
things it is the Church which has the ultimate effect in
the spiritual realm. I mean that individual Christians,
though they may be born again, as individuals will not
get very far in touching the outermost realm of spiritual
forces. There a real registration has to be a corporate
one. It will be the Church eventually which will be the
instrument of Divine government in this universe.
Spirituality means what
the Church is in God's mind. When we come to
contemplate the Church in its wholeness and entirety, of
course, we come mainly to the letters to the Ephesians
and to the Colossians. There we find God's mind about the
Church. We must realize the necessity for our seeing and
apprehending what the Church is in God's mind, not as we
find it in the churches, not as it actually is here; and
we must stand on that ground, or we shall be helpless in
this matter of spiritual impact. I mean that if we are
going to accept what we find in the New Testament as to
the churches as being the expression of all there is, we
are very soon going to give up the fight and shall not
get very far. If we are going to accept that as the
standard, we are going to be crippled, and the measure of
our spirituality will be very small indeed, and therefore
the measure of our impact likewise. The Apostle, who was
mainly responsible for these churches coming into being,
repudiated their condition, would not accept it, was
fighting against it. Why? Because he had seen God's mind,
that was his position, his vantage ground, his strength.
If he had never seen God's mind and only saw this, what a
disheartened, disappointed, despairing man he would be!
He had seen God's mind about it.
It is the Church that is
in view in these epistles, and spirituality in Ephesians
and Colossians means first of all an inward revelation of
God's mind about the Church. It is a tremendous thing for
spiritual strength, for spiritual power, for spiritual
ministry, for spiritual impact, for spiritual food - yes,
for every spiritual value - to have really had a heart
revelation of God's mind about the Church; not simply to
have studied Ephesians and Colossians, but for it to have
broken in upon your heart, to have seen it in an inward
way. I say that is spirituality with an impact; it is
spirituality with a dynamic, and what a dynamic it is!
Look at the Apostle. He
looks out at the end of his life over the churches. He
knows them intimately, and he has to say: ''All that are
in Asia have turned away from me'' (2 Tim. 1:15). They
have repudiated Paul, to whom under Christ they owed
everything. He looks out, and what a spectacle, what a
heartbreak! And the man in his circumstances of
imprisonment and isolation and limitation, looking out on
that, might well have died of a broken heart or have sunk
down into the uttermost despair and written his life off
as a failure, and all his work as for well-nigh nothing.
But this man is not down there, he is in triumph, he is
delivered, he is saved, he is emancipated from all that.
The facts are true and real, and yet he is triumphant.
Why? Because he sees God's mind about the Church and he
knows that if God ever had a mind about a thing He is
going to have the thing like that; and no matter what
appearances say, in the end God will have His Church like
that. God has not conceived a thing and projected it to
be cheated out of it. There it is and it will be!
When you have grasped
that, you are able to get closer to these letters and see
the value of spirituality. A true spiritual apprehension
is an emancipating thing. The spiritual is not the
unreal, it is the most real of all. It is far more real
than the temporal and visible. The eternal, they are the
real things. You do not see this Church here on the
earth; it is not seen, but it is there in the unseen with
God, and it is the eternal thing. If only we saw the
invisible, that as an extraordinary statement: ''He
endured as seeing Him Who is invisible'' (Heb. 11:27) -
if only we saw the invisible, meaning if only we saw in
the spirit what can never be seen in the flesh with our
natural eyes, it would be a tremendously emancipating
thing, because we should see that that is the eternal
thing that must be. When all else passes, that will be.
Spirituality buoys you up.
There is so much
disappointment in the churches, in the things seen, that
you might give up in disgust, close down your work, go
and do some other job; but you do not do that if you have
really seen. You may tell yourself that you are a fool
not to face facts, that you are simply putting on
blinkers, not taking account of realities; but because of
something that God has done inside, you cannot accept
that, you must go on. You cannot accept the total ruin
theory if you have had a revelation.
Extract from "He That Is Spiritual", Chapter 3. First published in "A Witness and A Testimony" magazine, May-Jun 1947, Vol 25-3