Transcribed from a message given by T. Austin-Sparks in 1958.
The spoken form has been retained verbatim.
The letter to the Hebrews, chapter 12 at
verse 26: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath
promised, saying, Yet once more will I make to tremble not the
earth only, but also the heaven. And this word, Yet once more,
signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of
things that have been made, that those things which are not
shaken may remain. Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be
shaken, let us have grace, whereby we may offer service
well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe. Chapter 13 and
verse 14: For we have not here an abiding city, but we seek
after the city which is to come.
Now, into a very few minutes I want to put just a few things
that are on my heart at this time, I believe as partly
introductory to the conference which is ahead of us during this
next week. You, most of you at least, know why this letter
to the Hebrews (as it is called) was written. That is, from the
Divine standpoint, why God had it written and preserved. And that
undoubtedly was in the light of what we have just read: an
imminent, great, shaking... for this letter was written a little
before the end of the Jewish system and regime and dispensation.
The year 70 was fast approaching when the Roman legions would
throw their siege around Jerusalem and reduce it - as the capital
and centre of the Jewish world - to rubble; literally fulfilling
the words of the Lord Jesus, They will not leave one stone
upon another. It was the end of that long, long Jewish era,
and that was on the very near horizon when this letter was
written. And we can see therefore, the infinite wisdom of God in
bringing into view the heavenly and eternal counterpart of that
whole system of earthly things. That system was to be shaken to
its foundations and toppled to the earth. But after all, as the
whole letter shows, at most and at best it was but an earthly
representation of heavenly things and the earthly was passing now
and it was therefore necessary for men and women of faith in the
Lord Jesus to have their anchorage in the heavenly, and the
abiding; the eternal. And that was the purpose of the letter.
But you can clearly see, even from the fragments which we have
read, that that was not the end of the matter. For even here when
that had happened, when it had happened, the whole earthly thing
broken to pieces and passed away, theres a pointing on.
Theres still a future vision, and even these who looked
beyond the figures and the types and the symbols and the earthly
and the temporal, had in view a City which was never of this
earth and of this world: We look for a City, we have here
no abiding City...". That was very evident with the passing
of Jerusalem, but: "...we seek one."
Now, dear friends, of course that opens up far more than I can
put into fifteen minutes but out of that and around that I want
to gather one or two things a little on my heart very much in
these days. If it is true that that shaking was only half
of the great shaking and the other half will be the shaking not
only of the earth but of the heavens also (that is, not only of
the temporal but of the spiritual, not only of the local but of
the universal) then to bring in the setting which is abiding...
everything that is not abiding, that cannot stand has got
to be shaken to its foundation.
When the Lord Jesus was speaking in many words about this very
day of Jerusalems destruction and passing and Israels
scattering, He gave many indications; signs which would clearly
indicate that that day was at hand. He spoke about the signs
of the times as we call them; spoke about a fig tree and
other things which would clearly indicate that that day was at
hand. But then He passed beyond that and carried us to the end of
this dispensation and He gave many further signs of how we should
know that this greater end than the end of Jerusalem and Jewry
was at hand; given us many signs and Im not going to try to
gather up or even mention, but they are indeed very significant.
I think, dear friends, this is the point: I think that we have
today an almost overwhelming amount of evidence that we are on
the point of this far greater shaking. In other words: that we
are at the end of another dispensation.
I always hesitate in the realm of prophecy, you never hear me
say very much about prophecy; Ive had enough of the
confusion of prophecy in fifty years of study of it. But at the
same time, with all that, with all my carefulness about it, I
cannot but feel that everything today is most
portentous. I would not be surprised (if I may say it) if during
this past week one of the most significant things has happened in
relation to the end. There is a great system, the very heart and
core of which is anti-God and anti-Christ. And one of the things
which the Bible tells us will mark the manifestation of the man
of sin who will put himself in the place of God is that he will
be a tremendous showman, calling down fire from heaven. Everybody
can see how easy that could be any day now, calling down fire
from heaven! We are almost familiar with that arent we, and
many other such things.
Now I could dwell on that side of the matter for a long time
but I simply mention that, I think... indicative of so
much more that points to our coming to the end of this
dispensation very soon - the heading up of the final great
shaking of heaven and earth. But what I want to touch upon at
least this morning is what this means to believers. And that
means you and me. What are we to expect? What will be
the spiritual signs of the times? We are fascinated with
the material, the temporal signs; tremendously impressed with the
outward, but what will be the spiritual signs? I just mention it;
you must take it away and think about it.
I believe that the Word of God makes very clear (we shall see
that much more fully later) that as we get near to the end, as
the end approaches, two or three things are going to happen where
believers are concerned. One is, one is that they are going to be
brought very definitely to the point of accountability for all
that God has given them - accountability for all that God has
given. God has given much: a great revelation, a great
deposit in His Word and through His Word, in ministry, ministry
which He Himself has given. Im not speaking just
here, but to His people; a tremendous amount of ministry
that God has given through His Word. But there the foundation and
substance of it is all preserved in a most marvelous way in the
Scriptures and at the end you and I are going to be brought to
our accountability to God for what Hes given us. I believe
the church, the people of God, are really going to have to face
up to what theyve got; what theyve received. There, I feel,
and I could show you from the Word, that that is made perfectly
clear in the Scriptures: that we are going to be brought face to
face in very real and even drastic ways with what weve got,
with what weve received; to answer for it and to it.
Let me carry that further. I believe the Word shows very
clearly that the people of God will pass into a phase of
spiritual experience where what they have is required to be their
very life. What they have is required to be their very life and
their very survival! That could be said in another way: that the
things that you and I have received and think we know are going
to be sifted right down of all mere teaching, interpretation,
mental grasp; stripped of everything. Now then, what about that
that you have taught, you have believed? Now then, what about the
meaning of the Cross? Now then, what about the meaning of the
Body of Christ, spiritual unity and fellowship? What about it?
Now then, what about the sufficiency of Christ? See? I believe
that that is going to happen. Reality! Downright reality
is going to be the emphasis of the Holy Spirit at the end and you
and I and the people of God will pass into such an intensity
of spiritual experience under pressure, under stress, under trial
and testing that we shall be found out as to what proportion of
all that we have claimed to hold is really our being and
our life. Were going to be just stripped down to that.
I believe that is what is happening just now and may be the
explanation. We have spoken of Christ as our Life. Very well
then, the Holy Spirit says, Lets find out how true
that is and how much there is. It may be an explanation of
the physical; something along that line - how much is Christ our
Life physically? Have we proved Christ as our Life for our bodies
as well as for our spirit? Have we? Because there is divine Life
for the body dear friends, some of us would not be here today if
that were not true. There is divine Life for the body to
be had, if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead
be in you... He that raised up Christ Jesus from the
dead shall quicken also your mortal body. Thats
not the dust thats in the earth; thats your body now
"by His Spirit that dwelleth within". Well what about
it? Thats only one point, theres many others.
Were just going to be brought to this: is it real?
Is the Cross real? Is the Life real? Is Christ real? How much so?
Thats going to be sifted out at the end and theres
going to be a shaking of all that can be shaken. And does this
not explain very much? Yes therell be a great falling away
because the large measure of mere profession or claim that is
not justified deep down in the very constitution of those people.
Well, this is it. This letter, this whole letter, puts its
emphasis here: the thing, the thing that matters is the
eternal. All history... the Lord has built up a tremendous
history around that, do you notice? And what a lot of light it
throws upon things, although many problems associated with it.
Have you noticed that whenever, during the whole Christian era
from apostolic times to this day, whenever anything that was
raised up by God at its beginning became crystallized and static,
fixed and set, the Lord had no further interest in preserving it?
The explanation of why things have a wonderful beginning and
their end... what? Well, you dont see the Lord preserving it
intact! Its living on a past. Its simply holding a
tradition. The Lord doesnt care about that. Its
become something fixed down here on this earth and God is only
interested, in this dispensation, in the eternal! The City is not
here, its there. We are come unto the heavenly Jerusalem.
The Lord wont let us, wont let us! And we here have
got to be as careful of this as any others have in their
connection, that what we call or what is called Honor Oak
never becomes a fixed system of things, a rigid, set,
crystallized, boxed compass of teaching and truth: Thats
that! Finished! Complete!. Never! God forbid that ever
anything like that should happen to us. If so, the Lord wont
preserve it; He wont! He will have no interest in our
preservation for that is the history of things: something new
from God (and we could put our finger upon so many couldnt
we?) down through the centuries. Yes, something from God; the
reformation, and Wesley, and the Brethren, and all the rest; but...
but! Has God founded something so dear to His heart that He would
preserve it intact and never allow it to go to pieces and become
confused and divided and mixed up? Not at all. Why? Because it
became Protestantism; an ism. It became an ism
you see. Something like that, fixed, set and rounded off. Hes
not in that at all. This heavenly, eternal, spiritual is His
interest and He wont let it settle down here. No ambitions
on this earth or in this world will be allowed by God in His
people. Have anything like that and youre in for a bad
time, a really bad time.
Now, you see Im defeated entirely trying to range this,
but what I wanted to say, and what is really on my heart that Im
feeling so strongly, is just this: that if we can see anything
that corresponds to this in the experience of the Lords
people today, a sifting, shaking, stripping, getting down to
roots and foundations and finding out where we are - that is
a sign of the times. Its a real sign of the times, an
internal one. The day is far spent, the coming of the Lord is
drawing near. And of course we agree thats right. We say its
right. It must be. Surely its the thing that must happen!
The Lord mustnt come and find us in a false position; mustnt
come and find us in a position where its make-believe, its
not true; not at all.
So the end may be through much tribulation that we enter the
kingdom, the Word says so: receiving a kingdom which cannot
be shaken. A part of the much tribulation through which we
enter the kingdom is just this: finding out, oh by such drastic
ways, in discipline and chastening and hammering and battering
and pressure... finding out how much is real. How much is
real? How much is true? Well, the Lord throw more light