"A Candlestick of Pure
Gold: of Beaten Work" Exodus 25:31
"The Testimony of Jesus" Revelation 1:9
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|July -- August, 1970
||Vol. 48, No. 4
THE MISSION, THE MEANING AND THE
MESSAGE OF JESUS CHRIST
10. IN THE LETTER TO THE GALATIANS
FAMILIARITY with this part of the New Testament, as it does with so
many things, has resulted in the loss of the tremendous impact which it
had when first written, read, and circulated. In its nature, its
purpose, and its necessity there is nothing in the Bible more
contemporary, and suited to Christianity's need. It has been boxed up
in a doctrine, although a fundamental doctrine, and a phrase now
describes it: whereas it is really an earthquake, a revolution, a
cataclysm. As I have meditated with it some vivid pictures have lighted
upon my mental screen.
I have seen a man named Shammah standing in a plot of ground full of
lentils and, singlehanded, mowing down the Philistines with his sword
until none were left to challenge him. I have seen the hordes of
Philistines menacing Israel and taking cover behind the giant Goliath,
who, day after day, struck terror into the hearts of the men of Israel.
Then the youth David resolving that this had gone on too long and too
much and must come to a settlement; which settlement he made to the
discomfiture of the whole Philistine army.
Then to come to much later history in this country, I see that meeting
of barons at Runnymede with King John sitting, pen in hand, at the
table, with a fierce and rebellious look upon his face as the barons
have decided that a long regime of injustice must cease and a new
charter of equity must be signed for all time. There is no way of
escape for the monarch.
These episodes and epochs fit so well into the Letter before us. A
campaign of misconstruction of Christianity has been following the
Apostle Paul from city to city wherever he has gone. He, the most
patient and tolerant of servants of Jesus Christ, has borne long and
humbly with the assaults upon himself; his character and his
credentials; his integrity; but it had reached the point where the very
true and right nature of Christianity itself was being changed. At this
point toleration reached its limit and this New Testament [73/74] Shammah drew his sword and said: 'The day of
reckoning has come. This has gone far enough.' The fire in his bones
had reached white heat. Flaming words leaped from his lips: "If we, or
an angel from heaven preach any other Gospel, let him be accursed; I
repeat, let him be accursed." His sword clave to his hand that day and
he defied to the death the uncircumcised-in-heart Judaizers of all time.
But when we have said all that, and we could say much more like it, we
have yet to come to the real and positive issue in question and battle.
We have to ask what really was, and is, at stake? Many related
questions have to be answered, but the inclusive statement, which
governs all those questions, is nothing less or other than
THE TRUE NATURE OF CHRISTIANITY
That was, and has repeatedly been, the real and true nature of the
Mission, Meaning and Message of Jesus Christ. What really did
He come for? What did His Person mean? And what actually is His message?
May I here insert a brief parenthesis? While this ministry is to all
the Lord's people, I know that many of its readers are servants of God
in positions of responsibility and influence. To them I do address this
message in a particularly earnest way. My brethren, you are surely
aware that there is a very serious and vicious invasion of this world
by spirits of confusion. Nothing is escaping this. While it is
true of nations and internations, it is particularly so in
Christianity. From the general realm of Christendom in ever-narrowing
circles to evangelical Christianity and then still inward to the most
sincere believers, and to any servant of God who counts for God, there
is involvement in complications and perplexity almost to a paralysing
degree. New, exotic, fantastic, extreme, peculiar, odd, unbalanced, and
singular movements, teachings and practices are following rapidly upon
the stage; and many dear people of God are being caught in these, only
to end in disillusionment and cynicism. Bewilderment fills the air, and
because of this, Christianity is growingly in disrepute. It does,
therefore, become imperative that all in responsibility and who have
influence shall know where they are and be committed to making clear to
God's people what Christianity really is. We are here seeking to make
some small contribution to such a ministry.
Coming back to our Galatian Letter, we seek to see what it has to tell
us by way of answering our main question: What is Christianity?
There are subsidiary questions which lead to the answer. Is
Christianity a take-over and continuation or adaptation of the Old
Testament system and economy of ritual sacramentarianism,
ceremonialism, ordinances, vestments? Is Christianity the reproduction
of the Old Testament system in a mystical form? That is, the keeping of
the ritual and ceremonial but attributing to it a spiritual or mystical
meaning, so that it can be said: 'Well, of course, it is not the thing
itself, but what it implies'? This is what sacramentarians say and
teach, and many evangelicals. But a virtue is attached to the actual
means employed. Further, is Christianity an ideology, that is, a system
of ideas, the result of the mental and intellectual activity of
religious minds? In other words, is it a philosophy regarding God, man,
human destiny, good and evil, and human conduct? Is it a system of
regulations, laws, precepts, rules, technicalities, statutes, nice
points? Is it another system of: 'Thou shalt', and 'thou shalt not'? Is
Christianity a tradition, a historical succession, an
inheritance or hereditary?
To all of these, and more, the Letter to the Galatians, and the whole
New Testament say -- or thunder -- a positive and categorial 'NO!' Any
one, or all of these, would make what the Apostle here calls "another
gospel", and he says of such, even if (supposing such a thing might be)
"an angel from heaven" should preach it, let that angel be accursed!
There is no compromise here. The sword is drawn and these "Philistines"
(above mentioned and defined) are to be mown down without mercy. Paul
is, after all, no more vehement and implacable than was His Divine
Master when confronting those who would mislead and distort the truth
of God and confuse the would-be seekers after the truth.
What, then, is the answer? This Letter before us has rightly
been called 'The Magna Carta of Christianity' and that in a brief
statement of doctrine: 'Justification by Faith.' Yes, true; that is
fundamental to Christianity, but we cannot stay there. With every bit
of our being we believe that, but when we have said it, have we really
defined that which has composed and constituted faith? Justification by
faith can be theology, doctrine, creed, a wonderful concept. Look into
this Letter and see what it was that led this apostle to his position.
He based everything in his Christianity, his salvation, his life, his
ministry, his endurance, and his eternal hope, upon one thing, at is
stated as basic to the Letter itself: chapter 1, verse 15: "When it was
the good pleasure of God, who separated me, even from my mother's womb,
[74/75] and called me through his
grace, to reveal his Son in me ..." Or in another translation: "When he
who had chosen me and set me apart even before I was born, and had
called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son within me ..."
What, then, is the answer'?
THE INWARD REVELATION OF GOD'S SON
This is a strong line running through the Letter in various
connections, as indeed it does through all his writings. He says:
"Christ liveth in me." He emphasizes the change from the outward to the
inward, the objective to the subjective in the matter of the Law, the
covenant, the spirit of sonship, etc. Everything now emanates from the
indwelling Christ by the Holy Spirit, and this is what he means by the
great emphasis upon spiritual liberty. He has come into the meaning of
the Lord's words: "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free
indeed" -- freed by the life and power of Christ within! The
Spirit of sonship within makes Christianity, and nothing else does! God
revealed His Son within. We then have to ask what Paul saw initially
when that revelation came to him, and what was its effect?
Of course, all that we have from the pen of this Apostle was by
revelation, but in this Letter there is that which was basic to all the
rest. I must, however, pause for one emphasis. Paul takes pains to
stress that this knowledge of God's Son which made Christianity for him
was personal, direct, and independent. He says: "It was not after man.
Neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came
through revelation of Jesus Christ" (1.11, 12). This is true
Christianity. Whatever God may use as a vessel or channel of
instruction, such instrumentalities can never impart Christ,
put Christ into us, work the miracle of giving the faculty of sight to
the blind. It just has to be something done by the almighty Spirit of
God so that we exclaim in wonder: 'I see!' Apart from that, our
Christianity at best is secondhand and objective. The emphasis of the
true teacher must be upon this personal knowledge of the Holy Spirit as
Lord within . Sooner or later Christianity will be put to the
ultimate test on this all-inclusive ground and Issue.
We can now ask what Paul saw on the occasion to which he refers? What
did he see as to God's Son? The full answer would necessitate a going
back to the Damascus Road epoch; but what does this particular Letter
show? The answer is summed up in one word: the Cross. His three
references to the Cross in 'Galatians' have three connections. "I have
been crucified with Christ" (2:20); "They that are Christ's have
crucified the flesh with the passions and lusts thereof" (5:24); "But
far be it from me to glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom the world has been crucified unto me, and I unto the
The three relationships are: (1) The personal -- "I have been
crucified". (2) The life of the dominion of the flesh -- "crucified the
flesh" (that is the self-life; "flesh" is self-gratification). (3) The
world -- 'crucified to the world'. The standards, systems, and
ambitions of this world.
The Cross in this threefold relationship is Christianity. We can never
cease to be amazed that the man who would gladly and vehemently have
haled Jesus of Nazareth to crucifixion came to see that he was really
going to be crucified himself; but now he is glorying in it for
other reasons. No wonder he says, "called me by his grace".
What is this saying to us? It is saying clearly and powerfully that true
Christianity issues from a devastating experience of the Cross. To see
Christ, 'God's Son' crucified, is to see ourselves transfixed
and desolated. Sooner or later this must come to us if our
Christianity is to be the expression of the indwelling Christ as
crucified, risen and exalted.
The true Christian and the true Church is a crucified person and Body!
What was the effect of this 'revealing of God's Son' in him? It had the
effect of giving Paul a new dimension and a new horizon. It was the end
of one history and the inauguration of another. Formerly the Cross was
an intolerable offense; later it was the power and wisdom of God. The
Cross was the meeting-place of two histories: the one it closes; the
other it commences. The former history has been proved false. The new
begins the true. This Letter says that one Israel has come to an end,
and a new 'Israel of God' has been born. That one Jerusalem 'below' is
no longer the true (if ever it had been) and the "Jerusalem which is
above" has taken its place. The old history was based upon a visualized
new age centring in Israel's institutions, Jerusalem, the temple, the
Law, the Sabbath. The new history is based upon the enmity of all that
demonstrated in the Cross, now centred in a spiritual nation, a
heavenly Jerusalem, a holy, heavenly temple, "not made with hands", a
Law of "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus", and a "Sabbath Rest"
reserved for the new people. This is Christianity according to the New
Testament, and Paul's revelation of God's Son within.
Let us now sum up.
We fully recognize that the real occasion of this [75/76]
Letter was -- and is -- the true ground of man's right standing with
God, and that that issue is here fought out conclusively. Nothing must
be allowed to interfere with that!
But, when we have acknowledged that, we have not settled every relevant
element of conflict. Why is it that, when evangelical Christianity has
rooted and established that doctrine in its fundamental creed and
faith, so much conflict still remains in the evangelical realm? This is
more or less present in early Christianity even when that basic ground
is accepted. Looking more closely into the controversy in this Letter,
we find that it was not only the foundation that was being settled, but
what was being put on the foundation. All the Apostles, even
Peter and James, were not quite transparent on that (see Chapter
2:11-14). There was controversy among the chief Apostles, not on
the doctrine, but as to their innermost position. Outwardly
and doctrinally they assented, but deep down in their religious
constitution a drastic "circumcision" -- cutting round and between --
had not as yet been consummated. There was still a carry-over of birth,
upbringing, tradition, heredity, inheritance. In Paul, who had been
more utterly rooted, and more vehemently absorbed in Judaism than any
of them (1:11-14), this radical severance, this spiritual surgery, had
been effected. The remnants and relics of historical Judaism and
natural religion on the one side, and the thorough-going emancipation
-- by the Cross -- on the other set up a conflict, and the real cause
was the threat to change the true nature of Christianity -- the Gospel.
It was a subtle and dangerous insinuation of mixture; the Old Testament
prohibition by God of ploughing with ox and ass together, or the
wearing of a mixture of wool and cotton. Paul, because the Cross had
ploughed so deeply into his very being, saw through this threat to the
purity of Christianity, and was roused to "the defence of the gospel".
So we come to the age-abiding conflict, not only between Law and Grace,
but the true nature of Christianity and the things which have been
associated with it. People can be called Christians who have no
experience of new birth, regeneration, or personal knowledge of or walk
with the Lord, and there are many whose conduct, appearance, and
associations are not only a denial of Christ, but a contradiction of
common decency. The range is from traditional 'Religion' to downright
worldliness, with varying shades and degrees.
So, we close by saying that the real battle is that for the true nature
of Christianity. The call is for "men whose eyes have seen the King";
men who can truly say: "It pleased God to reveal his Son in me."
Men who will be heart-burdened for the purity of the Gospel, and who
will pay the heavy price of the testimony of Jesus. It will be in
'Christianity' itself that they will meet the forces that make it so
costly. It has always been so.
THE BATTLE FOR LIFE
THE CROSS IN RELATION TO THE ISSUE OF LIFE
Reading: Deuteronomy 30:11-20; Hebrews 2:14-15; Revelation 1:18;
THE matter which we now have before us is the relationship of the Cross
to the manifesting of life. It is very important for us to be clear as
to what that relationship is. One thing is patent, and that is that
life, in this Divine sense, in this spiritual sense, this life called
eternal life, is only to be had as the result of the Cross of Jesus
Christ. On the ground of His death and by His resurrection this eternal
life is given to them that believe. We sometimes speak of this as
simple faith in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus. In the reception of
that life there may be no sense of battle, nor conflict; there may be
no knowledge whatever of this fuller realm where the battle for life
goes on. That is because, in the matter of the gift of eternal life,
the Lord Jesus Himself fought the battle in His Cross, and we receive
the free gift by faith's acceptance of what He did in order that we
might have the life.
That is one aspect of the Cross and the issue of life. That is to say,
by the objective apprehension [76/77] of the
Cross we receive eternal life. All that the Lord Jesus did for us in
His Cross in order that we might pass from death unto life,
appropriated, apprehended by faith, results in our having life.
But there is another side. The Cross of the Lord Jesus subjectively
wrought out results in our having life more abundant. His own words
are: "I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly" (John
10:10). I believe that the first half of that statement relates to the
simple faith-appropriation of the objective work of the Cross -- what
He did for us -- but the second part of the statement carries
us further. Life more abundant requires that what He did for us shall
be made good in us. May we put it in this way: In His Cross He
dealt with our sins, and on the ground of His having so dealt with
them, and of our believing in His atoning work for our sins, we receive
the gift of eternal life. He also dealt with ourselves, but that is
something which has to be made good progressively, and it is as
we ourselves are dealt with in the power of the Cross that the way is
made for that life to express itself in ever deepening fullness. The
fact is that it is self which is in the way of the life and its full
expression. It is the natural life which obstructs the course of the
Divine life. Thus what has been done for us has to be done in
us, and as it is done in us that life becomes more than a deposit, more
than a simple, though glorious possession; it becomes a deepening,
growing power, a fullness of expression.
A STATE OF DISORDER IN THE CREATION
Let us seek to set forth the position. In the first place there is in
the creation a state of disorder with which God is not united. We can
all grasp that. There is nothing very profound about it except as the
fact breaks upon us, and we realize that there is this state of
disorder in the creation of which we are a part, and that God is not
united with that state, with the creation in that condition. It is not
according to His mind. It has ceased to express His thought. It is
contrary to His intention and therefore He is not linked with it.
DEATH AND SATAN POSITIVELY ASSOCIATED WITH THAT STATE
Secondly, there is a positive association of death and Satan with that
state. It is not just a passive mass, in confusion, in chaos, in
disorder. There are active elements in it. We might say that it is a
seething mass. There are forces at work in it and those forces are not
the forces of life, but of death. Death is working, and Satan is
associated with that state.
A NEED ARISES
In the third place, we see that a need arises, and a need along various
lines. Firstly, there must be a judicial setting aside of that
creation . We mean by 'a judicial setting aside' that a judgment
must be passed upon it, and under that judgment it must be put away out
of God's sight. It must come to the place where in its entirety it is
under the Divine ban and not one part of it can come into acceptance
with Him: that is, it must be judicially dealt with, and judicially set
aside. That becomes necessary as a preliminary step to anything which
God will do after a new order. God has dealt thus with the creation in
the Cross of Christ.
Secondly, an actual and a potential destroying of that power of
death and Satan must take place. Let us watch our words -- an
actual, and a potential, destroying of that power of death and Satan.
Well, God did that in actuality in the Person of the Lord Jesus. He
destroyed death and him that had the power of death, that is, the
devil. In Christ it is actually done. Christ at God's right hand
represents and declares that this has been accomplished. Death is
swallowed up victoriously. Satan too has been destroyed. That word
'destroyed', translated in the Revised Version 'bring to naught', does
not mean what some people take it to mean. There are times, when
speaking of destroying, we think of going the whole length of utterly
obliterating, putting out of existence. This word does not mean that.
Bringing to naught means, in the intention of God, to render utterly
abortive, to render incapable of ultimate success. Do not forget that,
so far as the Lord Jesus is concerned at God's right hand, Satan is
defeated. He cannot touch Him personally, and he knows it. The only way
in which he can touch Him is through His members. Satan no longer has
any power to touch Christ directly with death, or with any other
weapon. "Through death he has destroyed him that had the power of
death." It is actually done in Christ.
We have used another word -- potential. That potential destroying of
death and Satan was on behalf of the saints. That is something which is
secured and, though not yet fully entered into in experience, can be
entered into by faith and known in a progressive way. It cannot be said
that you and I at present in the entirety of our being find that death
and Satan have no power. So far as we are concerned it is not an actual
fact that Satan is inoperative. But this has been secured for us
potentially in Christ, that we may become those [77/78]
who more and more experience what Christ has wrought for us, and come
progressively into the good of that work which was potentially done on
our behalf. In Christ, then, we see that destruction to be accomplished
in actuality; in the saints, potentially.
Thirdly, it is essential that there should be a living
representation of the Divine order, which is deathless, and victorious
over Satan, as the pattern to which believers are to be conformed.
That is a necessity, and it is realized in Christ. He is the
representation of the new creation, the Divine order, to which we are
to be conformed, and which is deathless, and victorious over Satan. God
must work to an end, to a pattern, to a model, and Christ is that for
Him. He is working in the saints to bring about conformity to Christ,
which means also conformity to the Divine order represented by Christ;
for we must remember that Christ is the sum total of a Divine order. So
often the Lord's people fail to recognize that. We must in the first
place, of course, recognize that He is a Person. Before all else, He is
the Divine Person, but He is in Himself the sum total of a Divine and
heavenly order. If the tabernacle or the temple of old expressed a
whole system of things: regulated, ordered, appointed, functioning,
related: a wonderful system (do not be afraid of that word, for put in
the right realm it is a very good word), and if the temple or
tabernacle represented that, they were but types of Christ. Christ is
the Priest; Christ is the Altar, Christ is the Sacrifice, Christ is the
Fine Linen; Christ is the Gold, Christ is the perfect Humanity, Christ
is all, and Christ is the order. "Let everything be done decently and
in order", says the Apostle. It is a heavenly planning and appointing.
When we come into Christ, while it is true that we come into the Divine
Person, we have to come into our place in a Divine order, and being in
Christ requires that there shall be a right relationship to one
another; an appointing, a functioning, a relativity about everything.
It is a wonderful Divine system. Death and Satan have their
occasion when anything that relates to Divine order is not obeyed,
recognized or observed. It is quite easy for death to get a chance
amongst the Lord's people when there is a disorder amongst them, when
they are not conformed to Christ in the sense of His being an
expression of an ordered, heavenly system. Surely the New Testament
rather thunders upon that than speaks. If the Corinthian Church is an
example of weak testimony, and indeed it is, the reason is not far to
seek. It was a matter of disorder amongst believers.
So God must have this representation of His Divine order, which is
deathless, and victorious over Satan, and to that believers are to be
conformed. That is conformity to the image of His Son, our Lord Jesus
Fourthly, there is required a vital union with Him as basic, and a
life utterly and continuously in the Holy Spirit. We all accept the
first essential, vital union with Him as basic, but what is just as
important, if there is to be the full expression of life, is that there
shall be a life which is altogether in the Holy Spirit continuously.
Life in the Holy Spirit is the Divine offset to that other life in
death and under the power of Satan. That other life is disordered, and
God is not united with it.
That is the first state: a life in death, under the power of Satan, in
disorder; tremendously active, energetic, and yet God is not in it. It
may even be active in a religious way, and yet God is not in it. I
sometimes wonder if religion is not God's greatest enemy in this world.
It sounds a terrible thing to say, but I am quite sincere in raising
that question. Religion seems to place more people in a position in
which God -- if we may so speak -- is put to a greater measure of
difficulty to reach them by the Holy Spirit than any other thing,
because it puts them into a false position. Over against that God sets
this new Order which is utterly under the Holy Spirit. What does it
mean to be utterly under the government of the Holy Spirit? It means
that everything shall be submitted to the Holy Spirit. You and I will
recognize that if we move any way without our lives completely
committed to the Holy Spirit, we are most likely to function outside of
God's realm; and the end is death. There may be the best of intentions.
Our motives may be all right. We may even do a thing for the Lord; but
there are multitudes of things done for the Lord which are not done in
the Holy Spirit. There is a whole mountain of activity proceeding from
the purest motives for the Lord's interests, but they are not the Holy
Spirit's activities. I believe the Lord is generous and gracious, and
that, because it is a matter of ignorance, He is patient with us and
seeks to lead us into better ways. The mistaken course may be due to
want of light, and while fuller light is not available, or until it
breaks in the Lord continues alongside and gives as much blessing as He
can. But that does not mean that in the long run all that past activity
is going to meet with acceptance and prove to have been for the
accomplishment of Divine ends. At some point it will break down, and
those concerned will come to a recognition of the fact that, after all,
a great percentage of all that work for the Lord has not [78/79]
counted; and the earlier we come to that recognition the better.
THE CROSS: THE ALL-INCLUSIVE ANSWER
All that is gathered up in the Cross. The Cross simply says that an
order, though it be religious, well-motivated, or good-intentioned, but
nevertheless proceeding from man in his natural state (not necessarily
in defiance of God or in conscious rebellion against Him, but just the
expression of man's natural state as he is), the Cross says that this
entire order is set aside. God has judicially judged it and put a ban
upon it. In the Cross of the Lord Jesus God has said finally: 'You in
your natural state cannot serve Me, and cannot bear any fruit to My
glory! It is possible to go out and work, labour, and die of the strain
of trying to serve Me and yet it still remains true that you cannot,
out from yourself, by any natural resources whatever, bear fruit unto
Me.' The only thing that can ever get through to God's end, and that
can be in life -- eternal, Divine, heavenly life -- is that which
proceeds from the Holy Spirit.
How sweeping that is! How that analyses and dissects everything! Of the
things we say, for example, it continually presents the interrogation:
'Was that spoken in the Holy Spirit?' It is not enough to ask
ourselves: 'Did I mean it well? Did I intend it for the Lord?' but:
'Was it said, was it done, in the Holy Spirit, or did I do it?'
It is not a question of motive or of intention, but of the source from
which we did it.
We have daily to recognize that our lives must be subject to the Holy
Spirit, and when we are aware that there has been something of our own
will, we have to be faithful before God about it. I believe that slowly
and surely we shall come to the place where we live with that certain
pause in our hearts which is a check on our impulsiveness, a check on
rashness, a check on acting under excitement, a check on our own way of
reasoning about things. That is a thing for the Holy Spirit to set up
in us. Our business is to recognize that from centre to circumference
our lives must be handed over to His control. The result will be that
the Holy Spirit will all the time work back to the Cross. The Cross,
once for all, settled that position in a comprehensive and detailed
way. It stands for ever as God's judicial ban upon man by nature, in
his unregenerate state. The Holy Spirit will work back to that with us.
Do recognize that the Cross is the end of the risen life, and not only
the beginning. If you forget everything else, remember that. The Cross
is the end of the risen life, as well as the beginning: "That I may
know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his
sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death." People have
been to me with Philippians 3 and have asked: 'Why did Paul put death
at the end? Surely it ought to be right the other way round -- "That I
may be conformed to His death, and know Him in the power of His
resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings"!' No, there is no
mistake. The order is of the Holy Spirit. The power of His resurrection
presupposes that there has been a death, but the very resurrection-life
leads to the Cross. The Holy Spirit in the power of the risen life is
always leading you back to the Cross, to conformity to His death. It is
the very property of life to rule out all that belongs to death. It is
the very power of resurrection to bring us back to the place where
death is constantly overcome. That place is none other than the Cross
of our Lord Jesus Christ where the natural life is put aside. So Paul
says: "... becoming conformed unto his death ...", which means: to have
the ground of death continuously and progressively removed; and that,
again, as we have said, is the fruit of living union with Him. It would
be a poor look-out for you and for me were we to be conformed to His
death in entirety apart from the power of resurrection in us, apart
from our already knowing the life of the Lord. Where would be our hope?
What is it that is the power of our survival when the Cross is made
more real in our experience? There would be no survival were it not
that His risen life is in us. So Paul prays: "That I may know him, and
the power of his resurrection ...", and that means conformity to His
death without utter destruction. The end of the risen life is the
Cross. The Holy Spirit is always working in relation to the Cross, in
order that the power of His resurrection may be increasingly manifested
This is the background of the whole question of life. I am sure, with a
greater certainty today than ever, that the basis in us for life
triumphant is the working of the Cross in the setting aside of all that
which is natural. There is nothing more hated by the enemy than the
Cross. Let us seek to free our minds from all false conceptions of the
Cross! So often there has been this kind of reaction: 'Oh, it is the
Cross; it is death, death, death! This working of the Cross in a
subjective way is all the time leading to death!' That is why we have
already mentioned that it is so important for us to recognize that it
is not that death destroys us, but that it makes the way for a greater
fullness of life. It is the positive side that we have to keep in mind;
not the [79/80] fact that we are constantly
being ruled out, and ruled out, but rather that of necessity that is
being done in order that He may come in, and come in, and come in. It
is the life side which has to be kept uppermost, even in the working of
the Cross with reference to what was set aside by God at Calvary.
Is your need, then, that of life? The Lord, in effect, says: 'Well, let
us get this thing out of the way!' And when He gets that out of the way
there is life. Do you want more life? Well, let us get this thing out
of the way; and you have more life. You very rarely meet people who,
having really laid themselves out before God for an increase of
spiritual life, have not promptly gone into a very bad experience and
had a difficult time. Have you ever come to the place where you have
laid yourself out for that extra thing, that new thing, which God has
been revealing to you, and not gone through some dark, trying and
painful time? It is always so. It is not wrong. The Lord is only
saying: 'Do you want that?' There is always something to be got out of
the way. It may be that you want spiritual increase because it will
make you a happier man. That motive will have to be got out of the way
so that you want it, not for your own sake, but for His sake. If you go
through a bad time, and the dominating element is self, you will say:
'Oh, well, it does not matter. I would rather not have it if it means
this!' That is the selfish way of regarding it. But if you are in a
dark time in relation to something, and you come to the place where you
say: 'Well, whatever it costs, the Lord must have this thing in my
life!' you have come there by way of Christ's victory. The Holy Spirit
always brings that issue. It is life that He is after, and life more
abundant, and this is alone realized by His bringing back and back to
the Cross. The Cross is basic to life, because it was there that the
Lord Jesus conquered death, and brought life forth for the saints.
Calvary is victory, not defeat!
(To be continued)
[W. E. Thompson]
"That ye may put difference between the holy and the
common, and between the unclean and the clean" (Leviticus 10:10).
"Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any
creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean
with them, that ye should be defiled thereby. For I am the Lord your
God: sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy; for I am holy:
neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing
that moved upon the earth. For I am the Lord that brought you up out of
the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am
holy. This is the law of the beast, and of the fowl, and of every
living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that
creepeth upon the earth: to make a difference between the unclean and
the clean, and between the living thing that may be eaten and the
living thing that may not be eaten" (Leviticus 11:43-47).
"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and
more in knowledge and all discernment; so that ye may prove the things
that differ; that ye may be sincere and void of offense unto the day of
Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are
through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God"
LOST in space could have been the fate of Apollo 13. This small
craft, manned by its three occupants in a completely alien environment,
depended almost entirely on external forces to which it was related to
bring it safely home. Here we saw a massive combination of the knowledge
centred in 'Mission Control' and the responsive judgment and actions
of those within the craft. The one supreme objective was to keep it on
course, which was essential to its safe arrival home.
The drama and suspense were heightened by the possible breakdown in the
transmission and receiving of a mass of detail upon which action was to
be based. Contact in a number of realms, moral and electronic, was
vitally essential to the course being maintained.
Herein lies an important parable for the Church today. We live in a
dangerous atmosphere of dishonest enquiring: 'Why should I?' 'Why
shouldn't I?' 'What does it matter?' 'Who says [80/81]
this is important?', etc. For the Apollo astronauts such an attitude
towards 'Mission Control', or to the importance of details -- much of
which they might not have understood! -- would have meant a losing of
the way and a consequent death in a wilderness of space.
God has provided for us against this. In Exodus He acts; the
'blast off' is by His power alone. He delivers His people by a mighty
hand. Against the humanly insuperable, gravitational pull of Egypt they
are thrust forth by His power alone. But in Leviticus -- now launched
-- God demands . The onus for action shifts to the vessel -- to
men in an alien atmosphere destined for the place where they belong. To
be kept on course means action based on an external, concentrated
source of knowledge and power. 'In Him' -- the Lord Jesus Christ --
'are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge' (Colossians
It is for this reason that the Book of Leviticus, with its massive
concern for detail, is vital to the purpose of God. For those who doubt
its validity or relevance, we find it quoted forty times in the New
Testament. It is a fount of spiritual knowledge and truth. Cowper
regarded it thus:
"Israel in ancient days
Not only had a view
Of Sinai's blaze,
But learned the Gospel too.
The types and figures were a glass
In which they saw the Saviour's face."
A powerful New Testament summary of its content and purpose is found in
Philippians 1:9, concentrated in those three key words: 'knowledge
' (external detail), 'discernment' (inward moral choice based on
knowledge), 'proving the things that differ' (putting to the
test, doing the things judged to be right).
What, then, does Leviticus contain and mean?
(A) A MASSIVE CONCERN FOR DETAIL
Concerning the 'whole man', his spiritual worship and soul salvation:
Chapters 1 - 4; his social behaviour and conduct: Chapter 5; his
property: Chapter 6; his food: Chapter 11; his health and hygiene:
Chapters 13 - 15; his family and progeny: Chapter 18; his security:
Chapter 19: and so on, throughout the book.
(B) A DISTINCT RECOGNITION OF PRIORITIES
It begins where all relationships with God begin -- with true worship.
This is the governing core of attitude and behaviour. This explains the
God of the meticulous -- He is altogether different from His creatures.
This explains the vast amount of detailed instruction as to how He is
to be approached and worshipped, which relieves man of any ground for
his own imagination. All must proceed from God, and this alone is found
in Christ who is one fullness of the Godhead bodily, and who alone
meets all the Divine requirements. Worship or prayer which disregards
the Divine detail is 'strange fire' which is as destructive as the true
fire is effective.
(C) IT INVOLVES TREMENDOUS COST
There is nothing cheap with God. It is always the best that He gives
and seeks to receive in return. His values are supreme, be they the
sheep or goats for sacrifice, or the garments of the priests! There are
no 'instant', 'canned', 'quick frozen', 'dehydrated' ways with God. He
gives and seeks reality. Leviticus teaches, above all else, the value
which God places on all that which is related to Him and spells out for
us that which is worthy of His Holiness.
(D) ALL THIS IS GIVEN AGAINST A WILDERNESS BACKGROUND
It is for the present. The details are for the desert, not the destiny!
The fact that they constitute a contrast to their surroundings is
evidence of their true nature and value. We are not excused from
obedience here on the ground that the 'times are bad', 'all is against
us', 'we cannot help it', 'this is how we are made'. Here and now is
our need. Our course lies through the wilderness.
The burden and aim of this book, designed to keep God's people on
course, are summarized by a number of key verses.
1. "That he may be accepted ..." (1:3).
This means unbroken contact with 'Mission Control'. The careful
maintaining of sensitive lines of communication and channels of power
are of the first importance. To sin wilfully or unwilfully breaks the
contact, and cleansing and renewal must be sought. To walk in the light
means to be on course and to prove 'co-ordination' (fellowship). What
would have been the situation in that small space ship had the three
men fallen out with each other? It would only require one to lose his
contact with 'Mission Control' for this to happen, and the result could
have been disastrous. Fellowship means access to the Father and oneness
with Him on His basis. Hence the primary emphasis on [81/82]
worship, and that together'. Thus we have the 'table', a focal point
ordained of God where the tremendous fact of 'being accepted before the
Lord' is powerfully demonstrated, and, alas, tragically weakened by
those whose contact is broken.
2. "That ye may put a difference between the holy and the common,
the clean and the unclean" (10:10).
That we may discern! How do we know what is true and what is false in a
day of imitation and synthetics? It is necessary for us to bow to a
Superior Informer -- we may not be under law, but we are under the God
of law and perfect order, whose purpose is to bring us safely home. It
is vital that we develop taste for what is right and true and clean.
This involves all we see and read. It involves the friends we
make and the places to which we go. If details mean anything, then all,
body, soul and spirit, must be brought subject to Him, and whatsoever
we do -- in any area of life -- must be for Him. We simply learn and
must accept that we cannot do as we like.
This lack of discernment is one of the biggest single factors for
deflecting a Christian off course, and we must in all honesty and
sincerity say: 'Lord, where have I gone wrong?' We may be surprised by
His answer -- we failed to recognize the common and unclean.
3. "To teach when it is unclean" (14:57).
Infection and the danger of contamination where not only to be found on
a person, but in his dress and in his house. It is important to
recognize this. The beginning may be small and undetected, but the end
result can mean a spiritual epidemic. The small root -- many defiled
(Hebrew 12:15). The onus for detection and dealing lies with both the
individual and the spiritual leader, and requires an acute spirit of
discernment with a skilful hand at spiritual surgery. "If a man be
overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one"
(Galatians 6:1). If honest detection of a 'spot' (in person, dress or
house) were to result in 'our going to him alone', and following the
details for disciples in Matthew 18:15-17, infection could be arrested
and healing be secured.
The New Testament has many practical examples of the warnings of
uncleanliness and the removal of the unclean. We must give earnest heed!
4. "The Glory of the Lord" (9:6).
This was to be a foretaste of home! An incentive to get there -- and
for us it is the 'extra'! The reality of God amongst us in power. To
disregard the details will disqualify for 'glory'. Yet this is to be
our experience, and many know that seemingly indefinable 'difference'
between meetings and meetings, and places and places. Is the God of
glory there? Does His glory appear to all the people? This is the
evidence and thrill of being on course. "Being filled with the fruits
of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and
praise of God" (Philippians 1:11). These are not words without meaning,
unattainable, but to prove and enjoy them God has made full provision.
Let us, then, obey and apprehend! - W. E. T.
FOR BOYS AND GIRLS
CAUGHT IN THE ACT
MANY years ago in India there lived a Christian whom we will call Lady
X. She was wealthy and entertained many British officials and other
people of importance in her lovely home. She was very much liked, but
most people scoffed at her devout faith and some were not slow to let
her know of this and to express their own unbelief.
It so happened that she once had several of these unbelieving friends
staying in her house at the same time, and on one occasion the talk got
round to the Genesis story of the Fall of man, and particularly of
Eve's part in being tricked by Satan into eating the forbidden fruit.
"Surely you don't believe that!" one of them remarked. "And you a
woman, too! No sensible woman could possibly have acted so foolishly. I
am surprised that anybody ever invented that story, and still more
surprised that you believe it." The others all agreed and joined in to
pour scorn on this idea of temptation and disobedience by Eve.
Lady X. said little, beyond making her own position clear, but she had
an idea, and next [82/83] evening at dinner she
put it into operation. Everyone had been served, but in the centre of
the table there was a large silver dish which remained covered up. The
hostess noticed several inquisitive looks being directed towards this
covered dish, so she herself looked at it and began: "O yes -- that
dish ", when suddenly a servant came to her side and told her that she
was urgently wanted in another room.
She rose up from her seat and asked to be excused, adding: "That dish
has something really extraordinary in it, but please do not touch it
until I return." With that she left the room, and of course the general
conversation centred on the mysterious dish. What was in it? Various
suggestions were made, but still Lady X. delayed, so nobody knew which
guess was right, if any. She had hinted that she might be absent for a
time and had urged them to proceed with their dinner and not wait for
This they did in a half-hearted sort of way, but all the time they were
far more interested in what was under that silver cover than what was
on their plates. One lady could bear the tension no longer, so she
suggested that surely there could be no harm in lifting the lid and
peeping under. She thought that they could all pretend that they did
not know what was there and so give their friend the pleasure of
thinking that she was surprising them.
At first her suggestion was turned down, but as Lady X. still delayed
they one by one began to weaken until the first lady again urged that
there could be no harm in just taking a peep. "Do lift the lid!" she
begged her husband, adding that the great thing was to replace it in
exactly the same position so that they could not be found out. So at
last her husband did as everybody suggested, and taking hold of the
silver handle he lifted the cover just enough to be able to see inside.
Now India can be very hot, and in those old days there was no such
thing as air-conditioning, as there is today, but only a large fan, or
punkah, which was suspended from the ceiling and went round and round
to stir up the air. The lid was lifted in silence except for the swish
of this punkah, and then a cry of dismay came from the lips of all the
What do you think was in that dish? A heap of feathers! The currents
created by the fan sent these feathers flying all over the table. There
were feathers everywhere. At first the diners instinctively tried to
grab them in order to put them back again in the dish, but they soon
realized that this was impossible. They had thought that they could
cover up their act, but now they saw that the evidence was flying in
At that moment Lady X. returned to the dining-room and saw the
predicament of her guests. She was very amused inside, but she kept a
solemn face and remarked mildly: "I thought that I asked you please not
to uncover that dish!" They all looked rather foolish, and then the man
who had done it apologized, adding that he was afraid that the harm was
done now and the feathers could not be put back.
"Oh, it is all right," Lady X. replied, "but you see my point about Eve
now, don't you?" She went on to point out that if intelligent people of
the nineteenth century could be overcome with curiosity, it was not
surprising that the first woman failed in this way. "That is just how
people do behave," she added, "and if you, why not Eve?"
They laughingly agreed that they had been caught in the act, and that
perhaps there was more in that Bible story than they had realized. One
or two of them appreciated that if their hostess was right about this,
she might be right about more that the Bible teaches, and that perhaps
instead of scoffing they should read more of it. This is, of course,
what Lady X. wanted them to do; not just to take her word or imitate
her faith, but to discover from the Word of God not only the fact of
human sin, but the wonder of the Saviour's love. Don't argue about the
Bible -- read it for yourself! - H. F. [83/84]
The final message by Mr. Madsen at
the conference in Switzerland, September, 1969.
OUR QUESTIONS AND THE LORD'S ANSWER
"But now I go unto him that sent me; and none of you
Whither goest thou?" (John 16:5).
JESUS is here speaking from heaven and saying what He hears His Father
say. Because He has heard His Father say it, He says: "None of you
asketh me, Whither goest thou?" This is quite remarkable, because if
you read John 13:36 you will find that Peter did ask the Lord: "Lord,
where goest thou?", and if you read John 14:5 you will find that Thomas
also asked the Lord where He was going: "Lord, we know not whither thou
goest, how know we the way?" Peter and Thomas had asked the
way, but, according to Jesus, they had not asked anything at all!
Jesus said of Himself: "I am from above: ye are of this world" (John
8:23), so the questions we ask are of the earth and not in the realm of
the Spirit. Therefore you very seldom find that our Lord Jesus answered
the questions put to Him. Again and again in John's Gospel we see that
people asked Him questions and He said something which seemingly had
nothing to do with the question.
Nicodemus was one of these questioners. He put this question to the
Lord: "How can a man be born again?" Had he put that question to us we
would have answered: 'One, if you do this and that, and, secondly, you
must do something else, and, thirdly, you must testify to people, and,
then, fourthly, the Lord will give you new birth.' But the Lord Jesus
did not answer Nicodemus' question! He said: "Verily, verily, I say
unto you, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter
into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). Nicodemus asked further: "How can
these things be?" Again if he had asked us that question, we would have
answered with four more points, and said: 'And then it happens!' But
the Lord did not do that. He said: 'If you do not believe when I speak
of earthly things, how can you believe when I speak of heavenly
things?' If you read chapter three of John's Gospel, you will have
great difficulty in finding an answer to that question that you will
like. That is because Nicodemus asked his questions as an earthly man,
but the Lord never answers questions as an earthly man, so what He says
fails to satisfy man's mind.
It was the same when the Greeks came and said: 'We would like to see
Jesus.' What an answer the Lord Jesus gave them! "The hour is come,
that the Son of man should be glorified" (John 12:23). Is that an
answer? Not to our minds!
It is always like that with the Lord. He does not answer questions. He cannot
do so, for an answer which we would understand would be a means of
keeping us in our world. It would be a hindrance to man if the Lord
answered his questions according to his mind. The Lord wants to draw
the earthly man out of his world, so He cannot give him an answer that
he would understand for that answer would keep him in his earthly
world. The Lord knows what is in man and is not in need of his
questions! We often feel that our questions are very important but the
Lord knows better. Our questions are not vital. Deep down underneath
the many questions there is something that the Lord knows, and that is
what is vital. It might be a hidden sin; it might be pride; it might be
fear of man: it might be superficiality; or it might be some kind of
bondage. Therefore the Lord does not answer questions, and it is as
though we do not ask anything at all.
The Lord's answer is, of course, the word of the Cross, and the Cross
does not answer the questions of earthly-minded people. It was an
answer the disciples had never expected, for it did not answer their
questions, but was a shock to their whole being. The Cross does not
accept the earthly man and his questions, but does away with them. It
is as if the Lord from the Cross says: 'You are nothing and your
questions are nothing. You have never asked one question that is valid
with Me!' That is the way in which the Lord answers questions, and it
seems as if He does not speak at all to the earthly man.
In 2 Corinthians 2:17 Paul gives a remarkable definition of preaching:
"... but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, speak we
in Christ." Where is his audience? Is that not very important? You
cannot find an audience here in Paul's definition of the preaching of
the Cross! He speaks "in the sight of God", and not in the sight of
men. That is very important, because we are so interested in applying
the truth to the status of men. We are always thinking of those who ask
the questions and say to them so kindly: 'I will do what I can to
understand you, and if I say something that you do not understand,
please ask me to explain. Do [84/85] you
understand now? Can I make it clearer? Shall I write it down?' Then we
have all these points, one to four, and (a) and (b), and
at last they understand everything -- and it has not changed them a
bit! All that has just been a means of keeping them where they were!
Paul was much more interested in God's presence. For him it was not so
much: 'Do you, my audience, understand me?' but: 'I am speaking in the
sight of God. Does His Spirit give His 'Amen' to what I say?' That is
the all-important thing; and the more you make things plain to the
earthly man, the sooner the Spirit's 'Amen' disappears.
So the Lord said: 'None of you has asked Me whither I go.' If Peter or
Thomas had interrupted and said: 'Don't you remember, Lord, that I
asked you that question an hour ago?' He would have said: 'We cannot
speak to one another from two different worlds. I am helping you out of
your world into Mine, because all that you do and say in your own world
is as nothing. I speak from above. My words are not a declaration; they
are life and spirit. They go deeper than answers to your questions,
Peter. Can you not, even now, sense that My word is something quite
I think the Lord has graciously allowed us to have this word among us
this week. Many have come with questions, and possibly they have not
been answered. Or perhaps the Lord has said something so surprisingly
different from your question that it is as if He spoke of something
that had no relationship whatsoever to your problem. Hold on to that
word very strongly! In this week the Lord has not been in need of our
questions, because He knows every one of us here. I have been speaking
with quite a number of you at meal-times and a question that has come
up several times is this: 'How do we build the Church?' The Lord has
not answered with four points and then said: 'Now you have the Church!'
I am sorry we have not had such a clear answer! Would it not be
wonderful if we could go back to our different places and say: 'One ...
two ... three ... four ... and then we have the Church'? If we ask the
Lord: 'Lord, how do I build the Church'?' He will answer thus: 'Go and
visit that troublesome old saint down there!' or: 'Pray for those who
persecute you!' or: 'Greet that man in the street whom you do not
like!' Then we would say: 'But, Lord, that is no answer to my question.
How do I build the Church?' To that the Lord would say: 'You
ask questions from the earth, and I can never give you an answer on
that level. But I will give you an answer, and if you have an ear to
hear what the Spirit says, then you will recognize that this is the
answer.' That is a creative answer, an answer with, and in, life.
The word of the Cross is the word from above, and that is like rain
from heaven. It does not return to the Lord void, but it fulfils that
for which He has sent it. Be sensitive to that word which we have heard
this week! It may not answer our questions, but it does answer the
cries that come right from our innermost being.
So anyone who came with such a cry, or -- to speak in modern language
-- with an existential cry, knows that only the word from above
does away with all our questions and touches our spirit. It is that
word that satisfies the crying heart, and we are grateful for it. It is
that word we want to keep: and it is that word, and only that word,
which we want to give to our generation.
It can be done, and it shall be done! - P. M.
THE WILL OF GOD IN RELATION TO HIS
1. OBEDIENCE TO THE WORD OF GOD
THESE messages and this ministry are based upon a three-fold
supposition, or assumption:
1. That you have a very real concern to know the will of God.
2. That you are quite prepared to consider anything that may be a help
to you in that direction.
3. That you are of a mind to obey any light that the Lord may give as
to His will.
Given that foundation, I think the Lord will find a clear way of
meeting us and speaking to us.
The business of any servant of the Lord is, perhaps in many ways, to
bring His people to know what is His will concerning them, and it is on
the heart of this servant of the Lord, if He will [85/86]
help, to give you a fuller understanding of what that good and perfect
will of God is. We will come back to that more specifically as we go on.
The Bible, which is the charter of the Christian faith, is altogether
occupied with that one thing. You can read through your Bible, and
perhaps you will find some of it rather tedious, and other things you
might not understand, but the whole Bible, altogether, is concerned
with that one thing -- the will of God. So it is as well to read the
Bible everywhere in that relationship: What has this to do with the
will of God?
GOD MOVING ACCORDING TO PURPOSE
In other words, the Bible is a revelation of God moving according to
purpose. That is only another way of speaking about the will of God.
God is seen, from the first words in the Bible to the last, moving
according to purpose, moving in and with purpose. He is
a God who is motivated by one final and all-inclusive object, which we
understand in New Testament language as God's eternal purpose.
The first section of the Bible, which consists of the first five Books,
shows us, clearly, fully and meticulously, God moving according to
purpose. It is a section of movement forward, and although in the fifth
book, the Book of Deuteronomy, there is a retrospective aspect, a
looking back with this word: "Thou shalt remember all the way which the
Lord thy God hath led thee" (8:2), even that retrospective aspect has a
forward aspect connected with it, for the remembering is related to
what is yet to be. As you know, it is the book of people between a past
history and a new history of the future, and it is looking back to pick
up the lessons of the past in order to carry them into the future. So
we move into the Book of Joshua with all that the past history has
taught as the foundation, and how meticulous the Lord is in that book
of Deuteronomy! He is reiterating and re-emphasizing, and laying a very
sound and very particular foundation for the future. It is important to
note that in the light of what we are going to say, for we are going to
be occupied with the laws of God by which His will -- which is His
purpose -- is realized, fulfilled and accomplished in His people. So
all this first section has the future in view, with the will of God
The last section of the Old Testament, the Prophets, is occupied with
the tragedy of lost purpose. The cry of the Prophets is that God's will
has not been realized and fulfilled. It is a tragic cry of failure and
disappointment, and you must listen to it, for as you listen to these
Prophets and hear their anguished cry over these people, you are
hearing just this: 'What God meant has not been realized, and that is a
terrible thing!' The Prophets have a voice of tragedy, pathos and
anguish, because God has been disappointed over His purpose in these
people, and they have missed what He intended for them.
So we have the first and last sections of the Old Testament. We are not
here occupied with the whole of the Old Testament, but just notice
these in connection with the will of God. Of course, I am talking about
the big, comprehensive will of God, not about what we might call the
little wills of God with which we are occupied every days when we say:
'What is the Lord's will for me in this, or that?' No, that is not what
I am talking about but, mark you, all those expressions of the Divine
will in the particular matters and situations are gathered into the big
will, and until you get into that big will, you really do not have the
ground for the little wills of God, the particular application of that
Turn over to the New Testament, and in the first section God is taking
up His purpose again. Now He is taking it up in the Person of His Son,
and in Him the purpose and will of God is embodied and personified. Now
it is all gathered into a Person. It has been expressed, as the
writer of the Hebrew Letter says, in many different ways and "by divers
portions" at different times. Now the whole thing is summed up in the
Person of Jesus Christ, who says: "I am come ... to do thy will O God"
(Hebrews 10:7). This whole will and purpose of God, therefore, is
personified, or incarnated, in Jesus Christ, God's Son; and although
you have heard that a thousand times and have listened to many, many
messages about it, it may not have occurred to you that there is one
statement by the Lord Jesus which comprehends all this: "I am the way,
and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). That is a comprehensive
statement as to the whole will of God.
"I AM THE WAY"
What do you have a way for? To get somewhere! A way implies a goal, a
moving toward an object. 'I am the way of this eternal purpose of God.
I am the way of its realization. I am the way, the embodiment of the
will of God.' "I am come to do thy will, O my God." The way is a Person.
"I AM THE TRUTH"
That simple clause, or definition, is so immense [86/87]
that it needs many hours! Men have been preaching on it for centuries.
In effect the Lord Jesus is saying: 'I am set in a realm which has been
deceived and led away from the will of God, from the Divine purpose. I
am in a world that is now a lie in its constitution. I am the truth
over against all that which is false in the human race, in the
creation, in this universe.' If the will of God is all-comprehending,
vast, and great, the lie of the devil is an immense thing, and it is
something that has to be overcome in you, in me, and in the whole race.
Truth has to be put into our constitution to destroy the lie that is
I dare not dwell upon that, but just indicate it in the connection with
which we are concerned -- the will of God. "Ye shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). We talk about
'conversion', and, you know, a fundamental factor in conversion, in
turning round in the opposite way, is turning from what is false to
what is true, coming into the truth of God, as to why we have a
being in His purpose, why He is dealing with us as He is according to
His great will, and what it all means. Do you and I not need every day
to know the good of that conversion, the real and true meaning of God
in Christ for us?
"I AM THE LIFE"
We have far too small an idea of that! There is a marvellous statement
in the Letter of Paul to the Colossians, where he speaks of the life
which God foreordained unto His glory. Before ever the world was
created and man upon it, God's thought was centred in this thing called
'life'. It was in His eternal counsels. That is the battleground of the
ages, and is the key to so much -- what God means by life, the life of
God's eternal purpose, the life of His all-captivating will, the life
which the Lord Jesus is.
This is the day which is called 'Good Friday' and we were reading this
morning of the Lord Jesus, having received the sentence of crucifixion,
walking toward the Hill with Simon carrying His Cross, and the women of
Jerusalem weeping and wailing for Him. I was impressed again with the
way in which He turned to them and said: 'Daughters of Jerusalem, do
not weep for Me. There is no need to weep for Me. You weep for
yourselves and for your children, but not for Me!' What does that mean?
That this Cross, toward which He was going, on which He was going so
soon to be impaled, and all that was going to fall upon Him there, was
not the end. The women may have thought so, but He knew that it was
not. Even then tears for Him were not justified: "... who for the joy
that was set before him endured the cross ..." (Hebrews 12:2). The way
of the Cross was life, not death. This was how He was going to secure
that for which He had come, and which God had intended for man all down
the ages, and from before the world was.
"I am the way, the truth, and the life." Dear friends, we
cannot get outside of that! If we comprehended what those three terms
mean, that would be all that we need. They compass everything.
The New Testament, then, introduces this eternal will and purpose of
God in a Person; but what is the rest of the New Testament about after
the Gospels? It is simply the working out of these three things. All
the rest of the New Testament is gathered into the way that Christ is,
the truth that is in Jesus, and the life that is by His death and
Having said that, we can come to our particular message for this time.
THE DIVINE LAWS OF REALIZING THE DIVINE PURPOSE
We must read some Scriptures to get to this:
"This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth,
but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe
to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt
make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success"
(or, as the margin says, " deal wisely") -- (Joshua 1:8).
"And now, 0 Israel, hearken unto the statutes and unto
the judgement, which I teach you, for to do them; that ye may live, and
go in and possess the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers,
giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither
shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the
Lord your God which I command you " (Deuteronomy 4:1, 2).
"These words, which I command thee this day, shall be
upon thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy
children, and shall talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and
when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou
risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and
they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write
them upon the door posts of thy house, and upon thy gates"
"He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live
by bread alone, but by every word that [87/88]
proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).
The Divine laws of realizing the Divine purpose of knowing, of doing
the will of God, which is the ultimate thing in Christianity. Here it
is perfectly clear that it is the law of the absolute government of the
Word of God.
We have read from Joshua, and we have intimated already that the Book
of Joshua is the resumption, after a nation's failure and perishing in
the wilderness, of the Divine will and purpose, and moving forward now
under that government. Right there at the beginning, the foundation of
this new movement and all that is involved in it, all that it means
against a repetition of the failure and tragedy that has been, is the
meticulous observance of the Word of God. The Word and the will of God
go together, and there is no progress in this great calling into which
you and I are called in the mind, the purpose and the will of God
except by the Word of God. There must be obedience to the Word, the
cherishing of the Word, the binding of the Word upon our lives in all
matters. I have said how meticulous the Lord was in that Book of
Deuteronomy because, on the one side, there was the terrible tragedy
which had taken place and, on the other side, the tremendous prospect.
There, in chapter after chapter, He is saying: 'Remember what I said?
Remember what I said! Call to remembrance all that I have said to you.'
The law of prospect is the government of God's Word. The people had
been forty years on probation in the wilderness, and the one thing that
stood over that forty years was a testing of the heart as to the Word
of God. Remember Deuteronomy 8:2: "And thou shalt remember all the way
which the Lord thy God hath led thee these forty years in the
wilderness, that He might humble thee, to prove thee, to know
what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his
commandments, or no. " In other words: 'Whether thou wouldest obey
His Word, and what place His Word had in thy heart.'
The probation of life is always the testing of a wilderness experience.
The trials of the journey and of the experiences are, in God's mind, to
see what is in our hearts, whether we really have a heart for the Lord
and whether, after all our professions and protestations, the will of
God is really the thing which governs our whole life. The Lord
is trying us out on that -- "Whether thou wouldest keep his
commandments, or no." The testing is by the Word of God, and perhaps we
know something of that daily?
So we come to Joshua, and a new phase begins on the other side of
Jordan with a reaffirmation that the Word of God is to be kept always
before the face, on their arms, on their foreheads, on the thresholds
of their homes. The Word is always there to govern them. They were a
called people, called by God out of Egypt, and called by His name, but
the calling is not enough. We have all been called, but, after the
call, comes the testing; then, when the testing has been proved. we are
THE RESULTS OF FAILURE TO OBEY GOD'S WORD
Everything in the Word of God turns upon this one thing: the government
of God's Word. Where the Word of God was not honoured there was
disaster, and because of failure to do what God had made known as to
His will there was calamity. Again and again in the Old Testament we
find disaster as the result of a failure to keep the Word of God always
before them. Even Moses, who had sacrificed and suffered so much for
those people, was at the last forbidden by the Lord to ask any more
that he might go into the land. Why? Because the Lord had said
something and Moses had not meticulously observed what He had said.
'Well,' you say, 'that is terrible! He is a hard God.' Ah! but you must
remember that it was not just Moses -- Moses has attained and obtained
now, for he was with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration -- but it
was the people for ever afterwards who had to learn this lesson: you
cannot violate anything that the Lord has said without forfeiting and
Then we remember David bringing the ark up to Jerusalem and making a
new cart on which to carry it. But there was a disaster on the way. The
whole thing, about which they seemed to be having such a good time and
feeling that they were being prospered and blessed of the Lord, turned
into that threshing-floor calamity. Uzzah died before the Lord, and
David was angry with Him that day. He turned the ark aside and went and
sulked, nursing his grievance with the Lord. But he got over that, and
we do get over these things! We have those bad times with the Lord, but
when we get over them He is able to show us the meaning of what He has
done. David went back to the Word of the Lord and found the Lord's
instructions about the carrying of the ark. He had not said: 'Thou
shalt make a new cart.' That was not in the Word at all, indeed, it was
another heathen idea. Then David saw and said: 'Oh, it is written that
the Levites shall carry the ark.' The tragedy of that day, with the all
good intentions, was because the [88/89] Word of
God was overlooked and missed, but the Lord never overlooks His Word.
There may be many secret tragedies in our lives, many arrests in our
spiritual progress, not because our motives were not good, but the best
motives may just miss the particular thought of God, and He does not
substitute a good motive for something that He has laid down as law.
This all sounds very terrible, but we must take it further, and this is
where our hearts are really going to be touched. The answer to these
failures was not just a sort of legal, mechanical way of observing some
statement in the Bible. The issue was very much bigger than that! If
you will look at every such instance in the Old Testament, the big and
the small, you will see that it was always a matter of the Lord's
presence. Do you remember Ai? What had the Lord said about the
principles of spiritual progress? You know what He had said! The people
came to Ai, and you know what Achan did. He violated the Word of God,
and the whole of Israel was arrested in their progress, brought to a
standstill and there was a scene of tragedy. But what was the real
tragedy? The manifest presence of the Lord had departed! Is not the
manifest presence of the Lord everything? Oh, we do not want anything
greater than that! Surely there is no heart here which is interested in
anything in this life and all this world apart from the presence of the
Lord! If only we know that the Lord is with us, what a lot of
difference that makes! There may be a lot of victories, a lot of
strength, yes, there may be conflicts, as there were with Joshua
afterwards, there may be many problems and many difficulties in life,
but if only we are assured that the Lord is with us, that is
everything, is it not? I tell you that is my battleground all the way
along. The devil is so cruel, using the very discipline of God meant to
bring us into His greater fullness, using those trials as accusations
against God, and making us feel that because of this situation and
circumstance, this trial, this difficulty, this thing that is so hard,
the Lord is not with us. Don't you listen to that lie! You will be
absolutely worsted, ruled out of all the conflict and the possession if
you take on that lie of the devil.
The presence of the Lord is the battleground. What can we do without
His presence? How can we get on without it? What would our meetings be
but for His presence? If only we are able to say after our
prayer-meetings: 'The Lord was with us. He was there and we
knew His presence.' That is life, and that is strength.
Now all that in the Bible, as you see, hung upon this Word of God. He
is with us according to His Word, on the basis of His Word and He is
only with us as His Word is in our hearts. So the Apostle says: "Let
the word of God dwell in you richly in all wisdom" (Colossians 3:16),
and that is the Presence of the Lord. He stood back at Ai and in the
incident in David's life because of the defaulting over His Word. And
it is always like that.
THE TRUSTEE OF THE WORD
The Holy Spirit! You see, He is present as a jealous Trustee of the
Word, will and purpose of God. I thank God for that! You are probably
thinking: 'This is rather oppressive, rather heavy, exacting, demanding
and rather hard!' Oh, yes, that is true and right, but the Holy
Spirit ...! For what has He come? Why is He here? Why is He in us? He
is, as I have said, the jealous custodian of the Word of God. He is
very watchful. He is referred to as the "seven Spirits of God"
(Revelation 3:1), which means complete spiritual knowledge, discernment
and perception. If I may put it in this way, the Holy Spirit is here in
trust with the will of God, in trust with the purpose of God, and,
therefore, in trust with the Word of God, for these things all go
together. The known presence of the Holy Spirit, and the working of the
energy of the Holy Spirit are all in this connection -- to bring us, by
way of the Word of God, to the end to which we have been called. The
Word of God is the ground of the Holy Spirit's activity. You see that
illustrated here in the Old Testament. The Spirit of God is in charge.
He is the Captain of the hosts of the Lord. In the New Testament the
Holy Spirit has come to dwell within in order to keep us on the line of
the Word of God, and if we are sensitive to Him, without perhaps
knowing the particular Scripture that applies, we shall know that
something is not right. We are just out of adjustment with the Lord.
There is something that does not say: 'That is right and good and
proper.' There is a sort of pause in us. The Holy Spirit knows why that
is, and if we will seek the Lord about it and turn to His Word, He will
just put His finger on something; and we say: 'Why, that has been there
all the time, but here my situation just contradicts it.' So we are
tested by the Word as to the heart, and the Holy Spirit has come for
that. It is the ground for His working.
Let me say to young Christians, out of a long experience, that,
although you may not understand a great deal of the Bible, and you may
not seem to enjoy it, read it! Even if it is labour, read it,
work at it, get down to it. You know, you have a tape recorder inside
you! We have a lot of tapes in the [89/90]
office of messages spread over many years. Sometimes one is asked for
and we look it out, and just occasionally I want to hear a bit of it.
Then I say: 'Did I say that? Oh, yes, it is coming back to me now from
somewhere far away. Yes, I did say it.' Have you tried to remember
something, someone's name, some person or some particular thing, but it
has gone? 'What was that person's name? When was it that that
happened? Where was it? Oh, I give it up!' Do you? If you understand
anything about psychology, you won't give it up. When it happens with
me my folk say: 'He has gone away!' I cannot let go of that thing until
I have remembered it! I am not looking anywhere for it, but I set my
mind to recover it, and then the point comes where I feel utterly
defeated. But I have learnt something, and I let go. Later on, the
thing just comes floating into my mind. Where has it come from? My tape
recorder, speaking back after perhaps many years. Have you had that
The Word of God is like that. I am so glad that in my early Christian
life I set myself to a systematic study of the Bible, book by book. I
did not understand it all, indeed, there are many things today that I
do not understand, but in those days I could often have closed the book
because it did not seem to mean anything. But I worked at it; I
analysed the books without spiritual understanding, but I worked -- and
am I not glad today! If I have any spiritual ministry today it is the
Holy Spirit working upon what is there. The Word is there, and the
Spirit works upon it. In times of need it becomes more than the Word --
it becomes the life.
Young Christians, do not give up the Bible because it is difficult.
Work at it, and the time will come when you will say: 'Thank God for
that hard labour over the Bible!' One of the greatest, if not the
greatest, Bible expositors of this last century said to me once:
'Sometimes it is such a weariness in my work with the Bible that I
almost wish there was no Bible there!' Well, he laboured at it, but the
fruit of his ministry is all over the world.
The Spirit works upon the Word. Give Him His ground. It is the ground
of spiritual progress by the Holy Spirit. There may be an unconscious
control of the Word in the sense that you may not know exactly what a
Scripture is, but you know there is something that has got hold of you.
That is the Spirit working. The thing is written inside you by the
Spirit. The new covenant is written upon the heart.
That is the beginning; but what does this mean after all? It may still
seem objective to you, just things said, but spiritual progress in the
will of God unto the full purpose of God in our calling means that
demands will not be made without a very meticulous observance of what
is in the Bible.
Why this word today? Oh, it is born out of a tremendous amount of
exercise over recent years! Why the weakness of Christianity today? Why
the weakness of so many Christians? Why the slowness of their spiritual
progress? Why the failure of so many? I put my finger upon a large
number of things that are here in the Word of God, as clearly to be
seen as anything can be, and I look at those Christians and find that
in their behaviour, in their appearance, in their conduct and way of
going on, in their relationships there is just as clear and definite a
contradiction of what is here in the Bible as anything could be. The
Bible has something to say about anything that you can think of. If I
mentioned some of the things that the Bible speaks of, you would be
surprised: 'The Bible says something about that?' Yes, it does!
What is the meaning of the tragedy of so many marriages? That is a
practical point! Then you go behind and ask: 'Why did the marriage take
place at all? On what ground? A fascination? An infatuation? An
emotion? An impulse? A desire to be married anyhow?' It is a tragedy,
because that marriage was not based upon a real spiritual relatedness.
The first thing was not given its place, because there were other
interests. The Word says precisely: "Be not unequally yoked with
unbelievers" (2 Corinthians 6:14). Are you going to make spiritual
progress if you violate that? No! There will certainly be tragedy
sooner or later. I take that as an example, but I could mention many
other things that I am seeing in Christianity today.
I am trying to be faithful with you young Christians, because I am
deeply concerned for you that you do not miss God's best, God's
fullest, and so I say that that depends upon your having the Word of
God in you, so that the Holy Spirit can touch something and say: 'Now,
what about this?' I want to be serious on this matter, because it is a
pressing issue in Christianity today. The Christianity that is being
produced now is a terrible caricature of Christ. Young Christians,
having God's fullest and best depends upon your being serious about the
Word of God.
There is the other side, of course, and what a blessed thing it is to
feel that there is no impediment, no restraint with the Lord, that
there is a clear way, and that the presence of the Lord is very real!
Heaven is opened! I know of nothing more blessed in all life than those
times when there is no cloud between the Lord and myself, and His [90/91] presence is so real and so wonderful. I wish
it were always like that! We sing the hymn:
"These were but seasons, beautiful and rare;
Abide with me, and they shall ever be."
Well, that is the wrong way of putting it! It should be:
"Let me abide with Thee, and they shall ever be."
Deviations bring a cloud, but there is nothing more precious in all
human history than this joy of the Lord, this peace of God, this sense
that the Lord is for you, not against you. You have days, hours, weeks
of spiritual ecstacy, and so it is worth it to be obedient and let the
Lord's Word rule in your heart, as the Scripture says.
When the Lord Jesus was dealing with the devil in the wilderness, He
was dealing with an evil person, but He was dealing with very much more
than that -- He was dealing with the whole issue of life and death. The
devil was trying to get Him, coerce Him, tempt Him, constrain Him,
compel Him to take a way which was out of the will of God and would
mean premature death, a death which would be death and not victory. The
Lord Jesus was dealing with this whole issue of life and death, so
underline and encircle the word: "It is written, Man shall not
live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth
of God." Put that in the positive way, ruling out the negative clause:
'Man shall live by every word that cometh out of the mouth of
God' -- and that is God's thought.
Suffer this personal word: I was very near to despair a little while
ago, especially in the realm of ministry. I went to the Lord, and He
turned me to a Scripture which hit me like a sledgehammer: "Preach the
word, be instant in season (that is very easy!), out of season (when
everything says: 'This is not the time'), but preach to reprove,
rebuke, exhort" -- and here we are!
If you have had too much reproof, too much rebuke, well, I exhort you:
Give the word its place. The Holy Spirit will do the rest and you will
go on the way with unimpeded progress.
(To be continued)
EQUIPMENT FOR THE MINISTRY
"And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not
eloquent ... but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue" (Exodus
"And the Lord ... said go, and thou shalt save Israel
... And he (Gideon) said, Oh, my Lord ... behold ... I am the least in
my father's house" (Judges 6:14-15).
"Then said I, woe is me! for I am undone ... And he (the
Lord) said, Go ..." (Isaiah 6:5, 9).
"Then said I, Ah! Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for
I am a child ... The Lord said ... Thou shalt go ..." (Jeremiah
"I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son ... And
the Lord took me ... and said unto me, Go ..." (Amos 7:14-15).
"And he appointed twelve that they might be with him,
and that he might send them forth" (Mark 3:14).
"Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is
come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me" (Acts 1:8).
THE last words quoted above are the answer to all the others. Although
Pentecost marked a new epoch and method of the Holy Spirit's activity,
yet throughout all time God's Work has been done through the Spirit's
agency. Were we asked what is the essential and indispensable equipment
for the work of God we would say unhesitatingly; The anointing and
filling with the Holy Spirit!
In the instances cited above we have men of vastly different types, but
they are all brought to a common basis. Moses was a man of tremendous
natural and acquired ability. There was initiative, drive, passion,
devotion and courage on the emotional and volitional side, linked with
"all the wisdom of the Egyptians" on the intellectual side, and
evidently considerable strength on the physical. Isaiah and Jeremiah
were not without a wealthy endowment of inherited social, religious,
and ecclesiastical advantages and good training. Then what need we say
about Paul on this side? On the other hand, Gideon, Amos and most of [91/92] the Apostles were of humble and simple birth,
meagre education, and few worldly advantages. Of the latter it is
recorded that "they were ignorant and unlearned men". All these, we
have said, had to be brought to a common basis. Through painful and
sometimes long drawn-out discipline and trial the former had to come to
the place where they recognized that only God could do His own work,
and that He never uses any man or his natural equipment except on the
ground of an utter dependence upon Him: that gifts, training, ability
as such do not count with God and are only of service when the man has
been translated from a natural ground to a spiritual through the deep
inworking of the Cross in its principles and laws. Nothing but
spiritual endowments can meet spiritual forces, and this is the
background of all the work of God.
God may use the gifts with which He has entrusted men by nature or
acquisition, but not until they have been brought through death on the
natural plane to life on the spiritual. Moses went that way; Paul went
that way; and so have all who have really been used of God for Spiritual
and Eternal ends; that is, if the worker as well as the work
was to be accepted.
No one will think that we are against all-round training and equipment.
Far be it from us to suggest that this is of no vital consequence. What
we are emphasizing is that though given every possible natural or
acquired endowment, education, natural ability, zeal, evangelical faith
and doctrine, a knowledge of Christian work, etc., there may yet remain
an essential without which all this is going to fail. This superlative
factor is: "filled with the Holy Spirit."
On the other hand, a Spirit-filled man is never one who holds a brief
for ignorance or despises and neglects such acquisitions of knowledge
as will be ground upon which the Lord may work. It is one of the
romances of the Spirit's activity that under His stimulation and
quickening many of the most illiterate have become able and eager to
master things for which they had neither desire nor ability before.
Now these simple basic things lead us on further. The Lord Jesus as
THE MODEL SERVANT
declared: 'I do nothing of myself; as I hear I speak.' 'The words that
I speak, I speak not from myself.' 'The works that I do, I do not from
myself.' Here is even a sinless "myself" refusing to speak His own
words or do His own works. He was deliberately hanging and drawing upon
the Father for everything. It is clear that He realized that even in
His own sinless case this was necessary, and to do otherwise was to lay
His mission open to infinite peril from without. Thus it was an
utterness of God. For such an utterness -- which, let us urge, must
characterize all who are to most closely approximate to God's ideal
servant -- there must somewhere at some time be a zero point on man's
side. This zero point is clearly seen in the life and ministry of so
many of the Lord's servants -- the time when despair of everything
well-nigh engulfed them, and 'God was their only asset'.
But is it necessary that this point should only be reached at a more or
less late stage in Christian life and service, after perhaps, years of
activity? Should there be a considerable degree of ineffectiveness,
failure and abortion because such a large percentage of the effort and
activity is "in the flesh", or of man'? It is necessary that at last,
perhaps at long last, the big framework, the loud hammering, the
feverish busyness, etc., should begin to fall away and the genuine
spiritual and eternal result be comparatively small. We may settle it
once and for all that only what the Holy Spirit does will attain
unto God's end and remain eternally.
Surely God would have zero on man's side reached at the beginning!
Surely this is according to the experience of men in Scripture! At
least it was a definite registering of that point to which they were
continually brought back if they tended to move beyond it in
This, we believe most earnestly to be the true nature of training for
the Lord's work alongside of and in company with, a growing knowledge
of Himself in His word and in experience. The only knowledge of the
Word of God which is of any profit in service is experimental
knowledge. That knowledge is the knowledge of God Himself which makes
the Word live.
Moses was trained for His life work in the hard school of inaction.
Forty years in a wilderness tending sheep for a man of a tremendously
active disposition! He had set out with great visions. His motive was
good and the end in view was right. His filling up of the outline,
however, was mistaken. How to be patient with wrong without condoning
it or losing a passion for right is one of the big lessons to be
learned by those who would deliver men. Not to put a halo of romance
about service for men and to think that there will be a due
appreciation of one's self-sacrifice without becoming cynical by reason
of disillusionment is another. Not in any way, manner, tone or conduct
to suggest superiority is a third. These were some of the minor [92/93] lessons which Moses had to learn, but they
were themselves big ones. Dependence, faith, obedience, humility were
the primary things, and these cannot be got from books or lectures.
Isaiah had to have a vision by which he was overwhelmed with his own
Paul had to come off his intellectual, ecclesiastical, traditional,
official high horse with a tremendous thud and grovel in the dust in
subjection to the hated and despised "Jesus".
The disciples had to learn many lessons as to their own miserable
inability to satisfy the heart of their Divine Master, and, at length,
they all suffered the shame of having been proved incapable of
believing through the cross.
This is all necessary training and preparation. How few there are who
would voluntarily accept a course of training like this! But this
surely ought to be the nature of the work done in a place for the
preparation of God's servants. There should be a handing over to the
Holy Spirit to take into and through all such experiences of spiritual
discipline as are necessary to a deep knowledge of God. There should be
the knocking of the bottom out of our ideas of work and service. There
should be the making of everything inward and not outward; spiritual
and not natural; from God and not from ourselves. If needs be, there
should be the discipline of inaction. It is so easy to be content if
only we are busy and active, but often this only gets in God's way, and
He has to take our work away in order to teach us that it is Himself,
and not service as such. With many the Lord has to adopt a wearing-out
policy, for they will not yield otherwise.
THE IDEAL SCHOOL OF THE PROPHETS
The ideal 'School of the Prophets' is that in which the spiritual life
has first consideration; where the Holy Spirit is dealing with the
individual and where the Word of God is being made necessary for light,
strength, comfort and direction. If we are going to live by the Word,
the Word must live for us, and experience is the meeting-place of life
No training centre is adequate which is only intellectual and practical
in the sense of doing work. There must be primarily the attention to
the spiritual life, its nurturing and directing, and especially the
presence of the Holy Spirit must be sought and guarded for that work
which can never be done from without.
Now, having said all this, we come back to recognize that, in principle
, this was the basis of the mighty activities of God from the time of
the fulfilment of Acts 1:8. The Cross, in all its fulness, was brought
by the Holy Spirit into the lives of those first believers and
witnesses, and the change in the character of the apostles is most
noticeable. They became selfless, humble, fearless, full of love,
patience, and long-suffering. 'Position' or 'place', reputation,
prestige, 'success', popularity, etc., no longer motivated their
service. Note how on everything they are directed and controlled by the
Spirit! The Lord is released when the bands of the self-life in all its
forms in His servants are burnt up by the Fire. As through His Cross He
came to His own personal liberation to the boundless so, as His Cross
is planted deeply in the natural life of His servants, He is free to do
His mightier works. Oh, that we could see early enough in our lives
that when Christ went to the Cross He not only took our sins, but He
took us! and that not just as sinners, but as men; as preachers,
teachers, workers, and everything, so that "henceforth it is no longer
I, but Christ". All too late some of us have had to be crucified in one
or more of these capacities; and through death preaching has had to be
put off the human level and born again from above. And the same with
other things. Oh, for a new company of such who right at the beginning
are put there! Then God will do His new thing and we shall see a fresh
release of the Lord. He is not straitened in Himself, but He is
straitened in the natural activities of His servants, which activities
are brought over into spiritual things by the horizontal method instead
of by the vertical -- that is, along the human line, instead of by the
Cross, the resurrection, ascension and descent from above.
As it was in the time of the types the strictest laws governed the
anointing with the holy oil, and it was repeatedly stressed that "upon
man's flesh shall not the oil come", so the Lord, who is no less
particular today, will not give His Spirit to come upon man's "flesh"
-- man's self-life. All that must first come under the power of the
Blood and be taken to the Cross to give the Spirit a clear way. The
first witnesses had nothing to gain, but everything to lose in this
life by even naming the Name of Jesus. There was nothing that could be
in the slightest degree a sop for the senses. Those at Jerusalem lost
everything very early and were scattered abroad. From without the Lord
kept everything pure and free. But He never departs from His principle,
His original premise, and where He is allowed He will work this state
into the very spirit and life of His servant in order that all things
may be of Himself, and "whatsoever God doeth it shall be for ever". The
law of the corn of wheat most surely operates: enlargement through
limitation, gain out of loss, life out of death. [93/94]
BALANCED CHRISTIANITY (1)
[G. H. Lang]
1. Man is conscious of two worlds, an outer and an inner, a public and
a private, an objective and a subjective. He is conscious also that
these two worlds act and react upon each other, he is influenced by
that world around and he in turn influences it.
2. He is further conscious that his own inner and private world is a
triple realm, each of the three elements of which interact upon one
another. In the one realm work thoughts, ideas, reasonings,
plans. These thoughts upon various subjects arouse feelings, of
love or hatred, likes or dislikes, affection or aversion. In the third
realm of his inner life which man can distinguish he observes the will
at work; he makes decisions for or against a proposed action or course.
This triple and interacting world is termed the heart, because
it is the centre of man's whole life, and out of it flow the issues of
life, as the blood flows from the physical heart to all parts of man's
3. Man is further and painfully conscious that both the world around
and the world within are in disorder. Something is radically wrong with
both. The physical world and its forces now help him, now hurt him. The
moral influences, also, of the beings he touches are now a blessing,
now a bane, now they purify him, now corrupt him; and he thus
4. Moreover, the uniform experience of all mankind, continued through
thousands of years, has proved man's personal and complete inability to
reduce to order either the world without or the world within. The
confusion and corruption of both are more awful today than ever.
Each man knows that his thoughts are never absolutely right,
true, correct, pure. He thinks wrongly, forms opinions that usually
need correcting, has ideas that he knows are foul, or cruel, or
unworthy. These he can never wholly exclude, or dismiss, or purify. He
knows, too, that his feelings are more or less selfish,
prejudiced, deceitful, and are all too likely to hurry him into actions
he knows to be unwise or wrong. He is also aware that his will
is inconstant, unreliable, too easily swayed by his desires or
dislikes, and too often divided, distracted, that is, dragged in
To right-minded persons all this is a cause of grief and deep
solicitude: but what can be done? In his soberer moments man responds
sadly to the cry of the old writer: "Wretched man that I am! Who shall
deliver me?" (Romans 7:24).
5. Now it is a momentous fact that once, and only once since this
disorder entered man's nature, there lived on earth a man whose inner
world was completely and continuously free from disorder. He never had
thoughts that he needed to correct or regret, He never felt feelings
that were unloving; His will was single, undistracted, always directed
to truth, right, purity.
6. Moreover, He manifested also a notable power of control over the
world around Him. He reduced tempests to quietness; He walked serenely
on storm-tossed water, His word of command caused food to multiply,
diseases to disappear, health and vigour to revive; the very dead were
restored to life, showing that His authority extended to that region of
the universe also.
7. But more notable was His influence upon the moral world around. He
read the thoughts of men's hearts; the wicked slunk from His presence
convicted and ashamed; the repentant were pardoned and granted peace as
to the guilty past; the fainthearted were cheered, the sad comforted,
the perplexed guided: there was no sincere heart but was the better for
contact with Jesus of Nazareth.
Even yet more noteworthy was His authority over demons, those invisible
aggravators of human discord and disorder. They trembled before Him,
fled at His command, and their victims became gloriously free from
their debasing influence.
Ample proof of all this is found in the four accounts of His life known
as the Gospels.
8. The advent of such a Man in this disordered universe was of the
highest possible importance and significance. It showed that there is a
life-energy superior to all forces of disorder, though lived under
truly human conditions. "Our Saviour, Christ Jesus, abolished death and
brought life and incorruption to light" (2 Timothy 1:10). Before His
life on earth it had not here been demonstrated conclusively that there
exists a life that corruption cannot reach, for in fact all other life
9. But what life had this Man? It was human life, showing all
the normal, ideal marks of this. But why, then, did His life prevail in
the battle against sin while all other human beings fail in this
battle? One who lived with Him three and a half years and watched Him
closely, by night as well as by day, has left on record the result or
his scrutiny [94/95] of Jesus. He tells us that
he came to see that working through the human life of Christ there was
another and higher life, one that had the impress and marks of eternity
for it showed no trace of that variableness, frailty, transitoriness
that the life of earth displays. It was, indeed that eternal
life, that divine life, which had always existed with God the
Father and was now in Jesus being manifested unto men on earth (1 John
1:2). Unaided human life, even when originally sinless, had always
succumbed to the forces of disorder: human life conjoined with,
suffused with, reinforced by eternal life was superior thereto. The Son
of Mary, the Son of man, was the eternal Son of God, God manifest in
"O loving wisdom of our God!
When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came.
"O wisest love! that flesh and blood
Which did in Adam fail,
Should strive afresh against the foe,
Should strive and should prevail.
"And that a higher gift than grace
Should flesh and blood refine,
God's presence, and His very self,
And essence all-divine."
10. This uniqueness of Jesus Christ involves, as a necessary
consequence, that to Him all other men must resort if they would find
the secret and power of victory, order, peace, for He stands forth the
solitary Man who ever held that secret, secured that victory, enjoyed
that peace. There never has been any other person who has saved sinners
from their sins, or was entitled to say: 'I am the Light upon all your
problems; come unto Me and I will give you rest from disorder and
God sent forth His Son to be the Saviour of the world, and there is
none other. Man must fix his attention upon Christ, as an Object
outside of himself, if order is ever to reign within himself. To such
as will not turn to Christ there must of simple necessity apply His
words: "Ye will not come to me that ye may have life" (John 5:40); for
none other of the sons of men has ever possessed that life or could
impart it to another.
11. This indicates a fundamental principle of the true life of a
Christian: it is a result of occupation of heart with Christ as a
historical Person, the facts concerning whom are learned, believed,
weighed, remembered. It is therefore no marvel that the Prince of
darkness and disorder has ever striven to obscure and pervert the facts
as to the Person of Jesus Christ, for thus he hinders his blinded dupes
from trusting Christ (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
In the second place this involves meditation upon the Bible as the
message from God through which alone those facts can be ascertained.
For it is evident that God has seen fit that the knowledge of the
facts, dispensed at first through persons who had known Jesus, has been
preserved for later generations solely in the Bible. Again, therefore,
it is no marvel that the Father of lies has striven ceaselessly to
spread doubts and denials as to the trustworthiness of these records,
so that his victims should not, through them, come to the knowledge of
(To be completed)
We acknowledge with gratitude the following gifts received for the
ministry of A Witness and A Testimony from the 26th March to
the 31st May, 1970:
Aberdare £2; Arnes, Norway £5 10s.; Auckland, New Zealand
£2; Birmingham £2; Bolton £3 3s.; Bournemouth
£2, £1; Bradford £2; Brighton £1; Bromley
£5, £1, £5; Broxbourne £1; Buckingham £3;
Burnley 5s.; Cabinteely 10s.; Cardiff £2 2s.; Chesterfield
£5; Deal £2, £10; Doncaster £1; Dudley £1
1s.; Edinburgh £1; Erlanger, Kentucky £2 1s. 8d.; France
£40; Glasgow £3, 11s. 6d.; Hastings £5; Hull
£5; Hunter's Quay £1 11s. 6d.; Invercargill, New Zealand
£1; Kamo, New Zealand £1; London S.E.1 £1 1s.; S.E.4
10s., £5; S.E.12 £5; S.E.21 £1; S.E.23 £5,
10s., 10s., £5, 7s., £5, £1; S.E.26 £2; S.W.19
£1; W.12 £10; Macclesfield £1; Manchester 10s.;
Melbourne, Australia £2; Meols 10s.; Newmarket £2;
Penticton, British Columbia £2 14s.; Plumpton, New South Wales
£1 8s.; Reigate £2, 17s. 6d.; Rickmansworth £10;
Riehen, Switzerland £5 5s. 3d.; Ruislip £1; Sandown
£5; Simmozheim, Germany £1; Toronto, Ontario £1;
Torquay 10s.; Tuart Hill, Australia £1; Twickenham £2 2s.,
£8; Utrecht, Holland £2 4s. 4d; Waterloo, Ontario £2
8s. 2d.; Zetten, Holland £2. Total: £215 2s. 11d. (Continued
on page 83) [95/96]
[The following ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS were on the
bottom of page 83.] Altoona, Pa. $6; Arnold, Md. $5; Ashland,
Va. $2; Baltimore, Md. $5; Beaumont, Texas $2, $5; Birmingham, Ala.
$15, $10, $15; Butler, Ga. $17; Casco, Maine $40; Clubb, Mo. $10;
Conway, Mo. $2; Dallas, Texas $1.15; Fort Worth, Texas $10; Gresley,
Colo. $2.60; Haddon Heights, N.J. $50; Irving, Texas $10; Las Vegas,
Nevada $1; Lexington, Mass. $25; Martinez, Calif. $15; North Augusta,
S.C. $20; North St. Paul, Minn. $10, $5; Orlando, Fla. $5, $4; Pinson,
Ala. $20; Portland, Ore. $1; St. Petersburg, Fla. $2; Silsbee, Texas
$3, $4; Smithfield, Va. $1; Somerville, Mass. $20; South Gate, Calif.
$10; Tacoma, Wash. $2; Talladega, Ala. $5; Vermilion, Ohio $5;
Washington, D.C. $20; Woodinville, Wash. $5. Total: $390.75.
Calgary, Alberta $5, $20; Don Mills, Ontario $20. Total: C$45.00.
Tonsberg, Norway NKr. 60.00.
WITNESS AND TESTIMONY LITERATURE
The books and booklets listed below can all be ordered
by post from the addresses given at the end of the list. More detailed
information about the literature is available on application to the
Witness and Testimony office in London.
|By T. Austin-Sparks
|THE STEWARDSHIP OF THE MYSTERY
| Vol. 1 ALL THINGS IN CHRIST
| Vol. 2
||(Art paper covers)
|WHAT IS MAN?
|THE ON-HIGH CALLING or COMPANIONS
| OF CHRIST AND OF A HEAVENLY CALLING
|DISCIPLESHIP IN THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
|GOD'S REACTIONS TO MAN'S DEFECTIONS
|WE BEHELD HIS GLORY (Vol. 1)
||(Art paper covers)
|WE BEHELD HIS GLORY (Vol. 2)
||(Art paper covers)
|RIVERS OF LIVING WATER
|THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PAUL
|FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS OF THE
| CHRISTIAN LIFE
|THE GOLD OF THE SANCTUARY or
| THE FINAL CRITERION
|THE CITY WHICH HATH FOUNDATIONS
|THE RECOVERING OF THE LORD'S
| TESTIMONY IN FULLNESS
|THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
|THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF SERVICE
|THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CHRIST
|IN TOUCH WITH THE THRONE
| (Some Considerations on the
|THE CENTRALITY AND SUPREMACY OF
| THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
|HIS GREAT LOVE
|UNION WITH CHRIST
|THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE CROSS, THE CHURCH,
| AND THE COMING AGAIN OF THE LORD
|THE MORE EXCELLENT MINISTRY
| (Incorporating Union with Christ
| The Ministry of Elijah and Stewardship)
|CHRIST -- ALL, AND IN ALL
|CHRIST IN HEAVEN AND CHRIST WITHIN
|"I WILL OVERTURN"
|THE SUPREME VOCATION
||or 5/- per dozen
|A GOOD WARFARE
||or 5/- per dozen
|WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?
||or 5/- per dozen
|THE BLOOD, THE CROSS AND THE
| NAME OF THE LORD JESUS
|THE ARM OF THE LORD
|CHRIST OUR LIFE
||Free of charge
|By H. Foster (Booklet)
|THE REALITY OF GOD'S HOUSE
|By Various Authors
| (Each volume contains a number of
separate messages )
|THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY
| The three volumes, when ordered
|For Boys and Girls
|By G. Paterson
|GOSPEL MESSAGES FROM THE ANTARCTIC
| (170-page cloth-bound book.
|By H. Foster
| (All with illustrated art paper
|READY FOR THE KING (48 pp. Illus.)
|ON WINGS OF FAITH (52 pp. Illus.)
|BURIED TREASURE (48 pp. Illus.)
|OPENING IRON GATES (40 pages)
|Published by SURE FOUNDATION
|By DeVern Fromke
|THE ULTIMATE INTENTION
|UNTO FULL STATURE
Printed in Great Britain by Billing and
Sons Limited, Guildford and London [96/ibc]
[Inside back cover]
A WITNESS AND A TESTIMONY
The six issues of the magazine, bound together, to form a volume with
light blue art paper cover, are available for the following years:
1967, 1968, 1969. Price per volume (1 year): 5/- ($0.70).
Certain back issues of the paper are also available and will be sent to
those who desire them at cost of postage only. Please indicate the date
of the issue(s) required.
POSTAGE AND PACKING: For postage and packing please add
the following to the total amount of the books ordered:
Orders totalling less than £1 -- please add 2d in the shilling.
Orders totalling more than £1 -- please add 2/6 in the £.
To the U.S.A.: Please add 10 cents in the dollar.
Orders for literature and requests for "A Witness and A Testimony"
should be addressed to:
WITNESS AND TESTIMONY LITERATURE TRUST,
39 Honor Oak Road, London, S.E.23, England.
Telephone: 01-699 5216/4339
Witness and Testimony literature can also be obtained from:
|P.O. Box 68505,
||1505 South Westmoreland Avenue,
|Indiana 46268, U.S.A.
||California 90006, U.S.A.
|Convocation Literature Sales,
||Evangelical Literature Service,
|1370 Ray Street,
||(Mr. Donald J. David),
||158 Purasawalkam High Road,
|Virginia 23502, U.S.A.
||Madras, 7, India.
[Back cover is blank]