issue of the little paper we enter upon one more year of
its ministry. To have 'continued unto this day' is a
testimony to the faithfulness of God in the 'help
received', for, indeed, behind these forty-seven years
there is a history of His wonderful grace and sustaining!
More than that, as we review the way travelled with Him,
we are deeply impressed with the growth downward, upward,
and outward of the ministry. It was a simple beginning
those years ago, when the message of the Cross was fresh
(with us), born out of a revolutionary crisis. That has
remained basic, but the light has increased and 'the open
heaven' has brought ever greater fullnesses of light as
to God's eternal counsels. I think that it is not only
the natural sense of shortening time and the
"course" being far run that makes us feel that
His Coming must be getting very near, but rather does it
seem that things just cannot go on as they are doing
indefinitely. On one side the "cup of iniquity"
is fast filling up. The challenge to the very existence
of God or of His rights is extending and intensifying so
greatly that He will answer it when the "cup"
is full. At the other end there is such a great
intensifying of evangelism - even if of a broad and
elementary nature - expressive of the great
"drag-net" which, by its various means -
evangelists, radio, literature, etc. - seems to mean that
the world must, at least, have heard the Gospel of
Christ. Between these two poles two other features are
noticeable. There is the great cry for reality which is
having the effect of shaking and discrediting much of
traditional Christianity. There is also a very intense
testing of the faith of the true people of God. This last
is shown in the Scriptures to be truly characteristic of
the end time. It is in this last context that we feel
that our ministry relates.
Recently a dear soul wrote to us asking that the paper should no longer be sent because (it was alleged) we do not teach the Second Coming of the Lord. The fact is that for these forty-seven years all this ministry has had definitely in view the preparation of believers for His return! Attendance at our conferences through the years would have left no doubt about this, when, at the end of the last gathering the conference has reached its peak of joy and glory in the singing of a hymn of His coming again. And, by the way, is not that atmosphere of glory the answer to every argument on the matter? The Holy Spirit is not the Spirit of time, but outside of time. Not of fixed dates, but of heaven's "hour". Not of "a thousand years", but of eternity. He is "the Eternal Spirit"; therefore He lives now in that dateless "day". Thus, whenever we speak or sing of the Lord's coming, it is not only the hope that inspires, but the Holy Spirit bears witness and is present as the Spirit of Glory. Some of us in early childhood were told that 'the Lord may come tonight'. All those who said that have been in their graves for many years, but still the teaching has gone on. Still He tarries. But His sure coming is a very special ground for the Holy Spirit's witness. This answers all possible scepticism and that "Where is the promise of his coming, for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning". It is the Holy Spirit who says through the Apostle Peter: 'Thou fool, know ye not that a thousand years is as but a day with God, and a day as a thousand years.' Time is out of it with the Spirit, and His witness of life is the answer. But He will come, and "In my heart I have the witness that His coming draweth nigh".
So, to have as much spiritual maturity at His appearing, or at our appearing before Him, we will pursue our little part and aspect of ministry. Appreciating everything other that can serve the ultimate purpose, we just seek to have grace to 'fulfil the ministry which we have received of the Lord'. What this new year holds we do not know. Perhaps some of us will be with Him, or it may be that His elect will have been caught up together to meet Him ere the year closes. We do solicit your prayers, as this ministry does not go on unchallenged.
There is much and widespread hunger amongst the Lord's people, but there are many and strong adversaries to their receiving true bread!
So much gratitude is due to the many friends who have strengthened our hands by their prayers, their expressions of appreciation, and in other ways. I cannot write to you all individually, but I want you to know that you are not just lost in the crowd. I know full well that I could not have gone on without your help.
The Lord bless you very greatly this year.
Yours in His grace,
P.S. Mrs. Sparks and my helpers in the office join with me in greetings and gratitude.
- T. A-S.