"A Candlestick of Pure
Gold: of Beaten Work" Exodus 25:31
"The Testimony of Jesus" Revelation 1:9
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|September -- October, 1970
||Vol. 48, No. 5
THE MISSION, THE MEANING AND THE
MESSAGE OF JESUS CHRIST
11. IN THE LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS
IT is not our intention to enter upon a general exposition of this
Letter. Our present concern is with some of the questions which it
raises in the light of history, and that history at, and from, the time
when the Letter was written.
Firstly, there was the situation at the end of the Apostle Paul's life.
Here is a man writing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit about the
greatness of the Church; its eternal election and vocation; its Divine
unity, interrelatedness, manifold function, and spiritual warfare. All
this and much more, with a background of his relationship with churches
in Asia, and particularly with Ephesus. We remember his extended time
of ministry in Ephesus and the wonderful response thereto (Acts 19:19).
Later he said to the elders there that he had not 'shunned to declare
(unto them) the whole counsel of God' (Acts 20:20), and when meeting
those elders on his journey to Jerusalem, we read of the very touching
farewell to them and how they wept and sorrowed at his departure. And
now, at most seven years later, he writes to Timothy that "all
they in Asia be turned from me" (2 Timothy 1:15). If Paul died (by
execution) in the year A.D. 67 and John wrote the Revelation in the
year A.D. 95 (as is most strongly believed) then in less than thirty
years a very big spiritual change had taken place in Ephesus
(Revelation 2:1-7): "Thou hast left thy first love ... From whence thou
art fallen ..." etc. Paul's triumphant ministry; Paul's departure
sorrowed over; and now Paul repudiated, discredited or forsaken. And
yet, this Letter is Divinely preserved and blessed to countless
believers through all the centuries!
But what of subsequent history? Through all these centuries to what
degree has there been in this world a representation and expression of
the Church as we have it in "Ephesians"? Where in all the world can we
find such an expression in our day? It would seem that the last and
least company of [97/98] Christians is involved
in the struggle for unity, for impact, for spiritual ascendancy!
Anything precious to the Lord is so bitterly assailed that its
fellowship and fullness are all too soon disrupted. It is quite evident
that when Paul wrote his last Letters -- to Timothy -- there was an
incipient movement toward what has now become almost general -- the
institutional Church with form but without organic life. With all the
books that have been written on "Ephesians", and all the extolling of
it as "the greatest document ever penned"; with all the acclaiming of
it as the greatest revelation of the Church, where can we find
anything that approximates to it in reality?
The questions confronting us with this Letter in hand are:
Is it just idealistic? Do we have to say in regard to it what Dr.
Campbell Morgan said about Ezekiel's Temple: "It is just what God would
have had if He could have had His way"? or again: Is this Church of
"Ephesians" for the future in the "ages of the ages", a phrase used so
much by Paul? In which case is it futile to labour and hope for it now?
Are we to accept the "total ruin" theory? Comprehensively, with all the
wonders and glories of the beginnings of Christianity, was there ever
anything wholly corresponding to this Letter? Are you shocked with
these questions? Do you think that, after all, it is just a comparative
approximation, more or less? That position can hardly satisfy those who
have stood for the revelation in the Ephesian Letter.
Therefore, is there some other answer? Is the answer in the direction
of a misunderstanding and misapprehension of the Letter? It is here
that we touch what will not only answer our distressing questions, but
put us into the realm of the immense spiritual values and dynamics of
the revelation contained in this document. But let there be no
misapprehension here. It will be the greatest challenge and test to
Christendom and Christianity, while at the same time involving in a
very real conflict with all the cosmic forces which have so bitterly
fought against the true understanding of this Divine revelation!
Far from being only idealistic or mystical, we shall see as we proceed
that it is an intensely realistic document. There are one or two things
that must be recognized before we can proceed to consider its answer to
the confrontations mentioned.
THE COMPREHENSIVENESS OF EPHESIANS
This is not a new and different presentation of truth, but an inclusive
embodiment of all New Testament teaching. The Gospels are here. (See
our early chapters.) "Romans" is here, for the total setting aside of
the first Adam is implicit here. "Corinthians" is here, for the
"spiritual" man is demanded, and the "natural" man would spoil
everything here. "Galatians" is here, for there can be no compromise,
no mid-course, no perversion or two contraries here; and so on.
Having pointed that out, let us proceed to consider four factors which
support the present-age validity of "Ephesians".
THE STANDPOINT OF EPHESIANS
This can prove to be the most testing, searching, and revolutionary
factor in Church history. The point of view certainly does determine
everything. Five times in the Letter the word "Heavenly" is used (1:3,
20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12), relating respectively to the believer's
blessings; Christ's exaltation; the believer's position; the Church's
vocation; and the Church's warfare. Everything is viewed from above,
but that 'aboveness' is not confined to location. It means another way
of estimating, defining, judging. It is a different mindedness from the
earthly. On this matter the statement of God is: "My thoughts are not
your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as
the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your
ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9). It becomes
necessary, therefore, for us to be brought to the place where we see
what God is looking for and at, as so vastly different from our own
mentality. This is the key to everything, and, as we have said, most
revolutionary. Our mentality as to the Church is almost, if not
What are we looking for and at in this respect? Let us sift
down from what may be the largest to the smallest. Is it a national
Church, Roman, Anglican, Greek, Dutch (Reformed), etc.? Is it
denominational, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian,
Independent, etc.? Is it 'Free' or 'State', Undenominational,
Interdenominational? Is it 'Open' or 'Exclusive'? Is it something with
certain particular characteristics and techniques of practice, form,
and behaviour? Is it a 'New Testament Church', or churches, with
certain things taken from the New Testament to constitute it? Is it a
cathedral or a building, great or small? Is it a place at all, whether
simple, plain, or ornate? Is God looking down from the "Heavenlies" and
focusing His attention upon, or looking for, any of these? Is
this what He wants? Do these things interest Him at all? Is He
impressed with the [98/99] regalias and
adornments; with the pomp and processions of display? Do our
ecclesiastical and ministerial attire and dress, robes, vestments,
gowns, hoods, impress the Almighty? Does He look down upon them with
admiration and wonder? Does He view them at all, or ignore them? If He
does behold them, may it not be with pity, or even amusement? Poor
little people playing at churches and chapels, like Jesus' children in
the market-place playing at weddings and funerals! Is any or all
of this what takes the eye of "He that sitteth in the heaven"? (Psalm
All or any of this may be our way of viewing the Church, and it is
wholly an earthly view! If we saw from Heaven's standpoint, how foolish
so much of it would become to us. Just as the biggest things of earth,
whether people or mountains, are all the same in elevation when we look
down from a high aerial position, so the things so important to man
down here lose their importance when we see God's standards of values.
The verdict of history is clearly that God does not either tie
Himself up with, nor preserve things on this earth in themselves
. Tennyson, the poet, said:
"Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be."
Paul said: "The things which are seen are temporal [transient]" (2
History's verdict upon things which have ceased to fulfil the
essential purpose of their existence, however greatly they may have
served a Divine purpose at some time, is that God has left them and
they have either been destroyed or left desolate. So it was with the
Tent at Shiloh, the Temple in Jerusalem, the 'Churches' in Asia, and
numerous other places and things. Nothing is sacred to God if it does
not fulfil its Divinely intended purpose. The world, and history, are
strewn with such relics; desolation, abandonment, death, and coldness
declare God's 'No interest'. Men strive to keep something going; try to
live on a past; but the responsibility is left with them, and the
limitation of God's sponsorship will slowly wear them out unless the
Divine intention is recovered. The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem is a
symbol of history's verdict, and centuries of tears testify to
That is all very sad and tragic, and we yearn to get away from it,
learning its lesson, and to come to the answer to it all. We ask again,
what has been
HEAVEN'S FOCUS THROUGH THE AGES?
We have seen that the Letter to the Ephesians (so-called -- it was a
circular letter) bounds all the ages from eternity to eternity. Its
range is from "before the foundation of the world" (1:3) unto "the ages
of the ages" (3:21). But what is the focus of this Letter in that
eternal context ? There is no missing it. One fragment focuses all
"Unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all
generations for ever and ever" (margin: "unto the ages of the ages").
You must read this whole Letter (which you can do in a few minutes)
with the object of seeing the place and mention of Christ in it. (And
the companion Letter, Colossians, with it.)
This Letter goes back before Genesis, and takes up Genesis. In both a
Person is brought into view and that Person is never again lost sight
of. By personal figures; by types, symbols, prophecies, and a thousand
means; in feasts and ordinances, that One Person is ever present,
latent or patent! By name He is the Messiah, the Anointed One, the
Christos. Every anointing points to Him. He is the focus of the ages
and the eternities. What is Heaven exclusively looking for and
looking at? Emphatically, only that which is essentially that Person.
Not now symbols, figures, types, representations, but reality,
actuality! No, not the "Church" as something objective! No, not the
Kingdom of heaven as place and object of perception! "The kingdom of
heaven cometh not with observation" (Luke 17:20). It is a fallacy to
think and speak of the Church without meaning Christ Himself. They are
not subject and object! They are one. The Church is His Body, His wife;
they are "one flesh" (5:31). This is "Ephesians". It is equally
fallacious to think and speak of the Kingdom of heaven and not mean
Himself. They are the same. In the Gospels the two are brought
together. The Messiah is present both as King and Kingdom. The very
nature of the Kingdom corresponds to that of "the Son of Man". It, as
He, is from heaven.
All this, and what it implies, was an absolute revolution in
How does it all answer the tremendous questions with which we began, in
relation to the Letter to the Ephesians? In this way. What God and
Heaven are looking for and at is not something called the
Church, nor for local churches, as such. God and Heaven are
looking for Christ, in His nature, heavenly nature; in spirit
and truth; in eternal life an conduct and behaviour; in virtues
and character; in influence and impact; and in victory over sin, Satan
and the world. It is positively not locality in [99/100]
terms of geography , but "Wheresoever two or three
are gathered together in [into] my name, there am I." That may
be on a ship or in an aeroplane, neither of which can be fixed in
locality. Christ may be in Ephesus, or Laodicea, or any other
place, but it is the Christ which defines the Church, not the place!
Christ may be in the congregation, the institution, the denomination,
while none of them -- as a whole -- may be in Christ. We seek
Him. We gather unto Him. He is the Ground; we meet on Him.
There is a vast amount in "Christendom" and "Christianity" to which we
have to deliberately close our eyes, and "not know after the flesh",
while we seek for what there is of Christ in people. "Our
fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son." If we cannot find
Him, then there is no heavenly fellowship.
How well I am aware that many questions will be provoked by what I have
said, and perhaps the most difficult is the one concerning gathering
together, and what has become the problem of local churches. The
procedure of men has been to start from the outside or from some more
or less advanced point of Christian development. To form a
church or churches. The names may vary; churches, assemblies;
congregations; meetings, etc. Some form, either of doctrine, creed, or
practice and procedure has been conceived, often with a greater or
lesser degree of Scriptural authority; sometimes with a reading into
Scripture of an interpretation or meaning which is not really there in
truth. Sometimes there is a part of the whole truth, so that it is a
certain aspect of the truth for which the particular group stands. The
reasons and occasions of the numerous 'bodies' or sects or companies
are as manifold as there are such bodies. Too often it is something '
formed ' by men, and something which they set out to do. To
say this is to touch the root of most of the trouble in Christianity.
But let us approach it positively.
We are being taught by the Letter to the Ephesians, and what is it
saying? We have seen that the Church is Christ, all its parts being
parts of His Body. Is that true? Do you believe that? Not that He
has no personal existence apart from His Body, but He is the very
personality within the Body and only death can separate the two. If
this identification with Christ is spiritually true, as the New
Testament teaches, we have to ask: How did Christ come into being? Did
He appear as a full-grown man? Was He made with hands? Was He put
together as a composite entity? Did someone, or a group of people, get
some ideas as to what He should be and then get to work to give them a
form? Perhaps you are smiling, or are scandalized that such things
should be asked. But is that not that which largely expresses the
mentality concerning the Church and churches? But how did
Christ come into this world? Was it not simply by birth? There
was a seed (that is a Scriptural word about Him from Genesis onward)
and that "seed" held the life in which was all the nature, the
complexion, the capacity, the form, the purpose, and the destiny of
that Entity. That seed was born, and for reproduction was 'planted',
fell into the ground and died (John 12:24). The Church is the issue of
that seed, holding the same life and potential. The true Church --
wherever found -- must follow the history of Christ
spiritually. It must be born, "not made with hands". "God dwelleth not
in temples made with hands" -- a statement for which Stephen forfeited
his life. It must be begotten of God, born of the Holy Spirit,
circumcized (in heart), baptized into His death; raised together with
Him, anointed for its ministry; led into the battle of the ages, and
joined with Him on heavenly ground. It is Christ, always, everywhere!
This is "Ephesians". But one word more remains to be said. It concerns
THE BASIS OF ALL
This Letter to the Ephesians (so-called) is a kind of culmination, a
summary. The spiritual sequence is right, if the chronology is
not in order. The Cross stands central, universal and supreme. The
Church here as the Christ corporately expressed stands on the full
ground of the Cross. It is not just the local Cross, the historic
Cross, it is the cosmic Cross. In that super-mundane realm Christ -- by
His Cross -- stripped off the principalities and powers (Colossians
2:15) and "led his captivity captive" (Ephesians 4:8), and by His
victory placed His Church above all. But this is inclusive of Romans,
Corinthians and Galatians. See what the Cross means in those
situations, and then gather that together and you have "Ephesians".
Our "Church ground" must be Christ, only Christ, and this must decide
everything and be the answer to all our "Church" problems. But let us
hasten to add, that the Letter before us does show how very great are
the values of a corporate expression of Christ anywhere. These
values are to the individual believer and to the world around. Such
matters are bound up with this body presence of Christ as protection
and covering; building up and maturing; rooting and grounding;
spiritual power and ascendency; mutual functioning and ministry; a
testimony and impact in the realms of satanic and angelic
intelligences. All this is in the Letter as related to a true
expression of Christ. If [100/101] we ask: 'Can
such an expression be?' our answer is: 'Yes, if not in perfection and
completeness, it can be in vital measure.' The tenses of "Ephesians"
may help us. The past: "You did he quicken when you were
dead." That was the beginning. There is much that is retrospective as
to their hitherto spiritual history. The present -- the continuous
present -- the bulk of the Letter is concerned with growth, building
up, "unto the full-grown man". Future, "that he might present to
himself a glorious church". "Glory in the church ... unto the ages of
Note: The eternal and present criterion or test of
"Church", whether universal or local, is the presence of Christ. Is He
found there? If we are in the Spirit, can we meet Him, and truly say:
'The Lord was there today!'? The presence of Christ determines whether
that is the true Church. The measure of Christ will determine,
not basic relationship, but the measure of fellowship,
spontaneous spiritual mutuality.
The standpoint -- a heavenly position, not earthly.
The focus -- "Christ -- all, and in all."
The basis -- the Cross, initial and continuous.
The dynamic -- the "power that worketh in us".
THE BATTLE FOR LIFE
FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH IN TESTIMONY
Reading: John 17
KEEPING this chapter well before us, let us turn to two other passages:
"And without controversy great is the mystery of
godliness; he who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit,
seen of angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world,
received up in glory" (1 Timothy 3:16).
Before we pass to the other passage, let us notice that the word
translated "godliness" in this passage is unique in the New Testament.
It is not the word which is commonly used for piety, but the word which
means the Divine nature, and the more correct rendering would be:
'Great is the mystery of the Divine nature, which was made visible in
flesh.' We mention that because it removes the difficulty which has
surrounded this passage for so long.
"... because we are members of his body. For this cause
shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife;
and the twain shall become one flesh. This mystery is great: I speak in
regard of Christ and of the church" (Ephesians 5:30-32).
In those two passages I think we have an interpretation of chapter 17
of the Gospel by John. You may take this passage in Timothy and note
its clauses, and carrying everything back into that chapter in John's
Gospel you will see that there is a twofold connection: firstly, the
connection with Christ personally; secondly, the connection with those
who constitute His Church.
"MANIFESTED IN THE FLESH"
The Divine nature was manifested in flesh. We need hardly spend time in
applying that phrase to Christ. There is no doubt that it belongs to
Him, that He is the One who fits in there, that He verily was God
manifest in the flesh, and that the Divine nature did become incarnated
in Him. John 17 quite definitely alludes to the fact: "... they have
believed that thou didst send me" (verse 8).
Then John 17 carries things forward to the Church, and while it does
not give the full unveiling of the later New Testament writings when
the Holy Spirit had come to open up the fullness of the truth, it
clearly intimates the truth about to find fulfilment. We can even say
that it introduces that truth: "I in them ..." (verse 23). That clearly
indicates a company constituted as an organism, as a body, of which
they are the first members, the nucleus to which others should be
continually added through the preaching of the Gospel. Taking their
place in the Body thus formed, those who believed would in turn become
the vessel of the testimony, the embodiment of Him. Later the Apostle
will express it in this way: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding [101/102] great and precious promises: that by these
ye might be partakers of the divine nature ..." (2 Peter 1:4). While
there is, and ever will remain, a cleft, a division, a distinction
between that and any supposition of our thereby becoming God and
partaking of Deity, it is none the less true that the great and
wonderful reality into which we are all called is the forming of a Body
for the indwelling of that Christ of whom it says the Divine nature was
manifested in flesh. In this, one object in view was that the
manifestation should not cease in this world with the return of Christ
to glory, but that there should be a continuation of the earthly
manifestation of the Divine nature in Him, but now in Him in His Body
here. That is a wonderful and glorious truth. It is a marvellous
calling to embody Christ in the Spirit.
But such things are always tests as well as testimonies, always
challenges as well as glorious truths. What the Lord is constantly
seeking to do with His people, and seemingly more and more so toward
the end, is to bring them face to face with the real nature of their
calling, and to require that they should face up to it: as we say, toe
the line. The very first thing for which the Church is called in its
relationship to Christ is to be the manifestation of Him, the Divine
nature manifested in flesh: "I in them ..." The Church's calling is to
maintain here on the earth a witness to the presence, the living
presence, of the Lord. That may sound elementary, but it is not so
elementary when you consider how things are today. One would be led to
think from what does exist today that the Churches purpose on the earth
is to hold religious services and to do all sorts of good, charitable
works, and to keep religion alive in the earth. Well-meaning and
well-intentioned! But much can be brought, and is brought within a
compass like that. Almost anything can be put within that range.
I was reading of a church in America where a famous dancer was invited
to dance the sermons, to dance the truth of the New Testament, before
the congregation. It is pathetically and tragically awful, but there by
one in dancing apparel, dancing before a congregation was supposed to
be acted New Testament truth: and it is argued for by Scripture --
"dancing before the Lord" (2 Samuel 6:16). Brought right out of the
theatrical world into what is called the Church to do that! That is an
extreme case, but it can find a place within this idea of keeping
religion alive and can be argued for as good. That is a terrible and
solemn departure from the truth and in the light of such a thing we
need to turn again and consider closely what it really is that the
Church is here for. The church is revealed in the New Testament as
constituted for the maintenance in this world of a witness to the
living presence of the Lord, the Christ of God -- to be the embodiment
of Him. Nothing less than that, nothing other than that, justifies the
continuation of a thing which goes by the name of the Church. As men
and women meet the Church, whether in assembly or the individual
members thereof in the common walks of life, they should register the
presence of the Lord; they should be obliged to recognize the presence
of 'something' which is not just ordinary or natural, and not just the
men or the women. The presence of the Lord in the assembly of the
Lord's people should mean that strangers, the ungodly, coming in should
say: 'God is in the midst of you!' That is the witness for which the
Church is called into being.
We cannot continue on any other ground. We are not now alluding to
certain prevailing conditions in a general way; we are facing this
matter ourselves. The only thing which will justify our being together
as the Lord's people is that the one uppermost, predominant feature
among us shall be that of a witness to the Lord's presence in life in
our midst, and that it must needs be confessed: 'The Lord is in the
midst of that people!' If we lose that we have lost our calling. Oh,
that we should see to that! "I in them ..."
Thus we have the mystery of the Divine nature, which was manifested in
the flesh in Christ, continued now in His own. "This mystery is great:
I speak in regard of Christ and of the church."
"JUSTIFIED IN THE SPIRIT"
What does that mean? When was the Lord Jesus justified in the spirit?
For undoubtedly it refers to Him in the first place. What is the
meaning of His being justified in the spirit? I think the answer is
this: His resurrection. I believe the justification of the Lord Jesus
is to be found in God's raising Him from the dead. There may be a
broader meaning, a wider explanation, but I believe that is the heart
of the matter -- that His justification was when God raised Him from
the dead. Peter speaks of Him as having been crucified in the flesh,
and quickened in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18). When, with regard to that
death, God intervened and raised Him from the dead, God justified Him.
That was His justification. He stood then in a place with God where all
sin, the judgment of which He had voluntarily endured, was put away;
where all and every kind of condemnation which had been made to light
upon Him when made sin for us, was destroyed. All sin which was made to
rest upon Him having [102/103] been put away by
His Cross, God raised Him; He is in the place where He is justified: He
is the justified One, Jesus Christ the Righteous. That applies to
something other than the righteousness, the holiness, which was
inherent in Himself; it applies to the righteousness, the holiness,
which is His as having been made Man, and made sin, and having borne
that sin away in judgment, so that God can be just, and the justifier
of all them that believe. When God raised Him from the dead it was His
great act of justifying the Lord Jesus.
Now where do we find "resurrection" in John 17? "Even as thou gavest
him authority over all flesh, that whatsoever thou hast given him, to
them he should give eternal life" (verse 2). There is no eternal life
except on the ground of Christ risen, and He here speaks as though
already He is in resurrection. How often in this chapter does the Lord
use this phrase: " ... whom thou hast given me ..." He gives three
things to those whom the Father has given him:
1. He gives them eternal life (verse 2).
2. He gives the revelation of the Father's name (verse
3. He gives them the words of God (verse 8).
He gives eternal life. Eternal life is the fruit of His death and
resurrection. It could not be said to be eternal life had not death
been destroyed and all the possibility of its being corrupted been
utterly abolished. This life is ours on the ground of Christ's
destruction of death, and of His having entered for us into that life
which is deathless.
What is the Church's calling? It has been raised up to maintain the
testimony in this world of a life which is triumphant over death. How
often that has been said! That is the heart of the Lord's word to us at
this time -- the power of a deathless life, a life which cannot be
conquered and quenched by death. That is set in John 17 against the
background of a world that is hostile, inimical, hating: "... the world
hated them ..." (verse 14); "I pray not that thou shouldest take them
from the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one"
(verse 15). (The word "evil" being in the masculine it is justifiable
to add the word "one".) Here is an evil one, and a hating world, and
any spiritual person will tell you that, in effect, that is death --
the spirit and power of death encompassing the Lord's people. Now the
Lord does not ask that His Church should be taken out from the world,
but that, being in it, it should maintain a testimony against, and
contrary to, the spirit of it. The testimony is that of life in the
midst of death. The supreme challenge to the Church's faithfulness, to
the Church's ministry, to the Church's true vocation, is as to whether
its condition bears true witness that it is not being overcome of
spiritual death, that it really is expressing a life which is more
powerful than the power of death that is all around it.
Do not allow the word 'Church' to mislead you, and think of some entity
apart from yourself. We must make an individual application, because if
we are in living union with Christ we are His members, a part of the
Church which is His Body, and what we are saying applies to us
individually as well as collectively. It is not possible for all to
have the advantage of a collective fellowship of the Lord's people.
Some have to live in places where they are desperately alone. It may be
that there is not very much spiritual life where we are, and not much
help along the line of spiritual fellowship; nevertheless this word is
for such. We have to do, not only with the responsibility and the
challenge, but with the glorious fact that this into which we are
called, and which is provided for by the Lord, and ordained, is that
His people here, whether they be able to gather together with all the
advantages of so doing, or whether they be scattered and isolated shall
have in them the power of His life to transcend the power of death
If that is revealed as the Lord's will, let us first of all readily
admit the possibility of its realization and then accept the fact that,
since it is the Lord's will, it must be possible. As for you and me,
let us stand in our spirit for that life expression from the risen Lord
which shall transcend the death that is all around us, and which
presses upon us -- the evil one and the hatred of men. The Lord said:
"I pray not that thou shouldest take them from the world, but that thou
shouldest keep them ..." The power in them is the power of His risen
What we have been saying is so very much in accord with the fuller
revelation of the Ephesian letter: "The exceeding greatness of his
power to usward who believe, according to that working of the strength
of his might which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the
dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far
above all ..." (Ephesians 1:19-21): "... to usward who believe ..." We
must stand for that strongly and definitely, because that is the
testimony of the Lord Jesus.
"Justified in the spirit"! What is the Church's justification? It is
that it stands on resurrection ground, manifesting resurrection life.
Blessed be God, so far as our salvation is concerned, we are justified
on the ground of being risen together with Christ. We take it that if
we have been raised together with Him, we have been justified. God
would [103/104] never have brought us into
resurrection union with Christ apart from justification. But so far as
our calling, our vocation, is concerned, we are justified by the
maintaining of the witness of His resurrection. That is the
justification that applies to service, to instrumentalities.
"SEEN OF ANGELS"
After His resurrection He was seen of angels. We hardly need go back to
the Gospels to indicate the record of the angelic attendants after His
resurrection. There was the angel who rolled away the stone. There were
two who sat on the stone. There were the angels who spoke of the risen
Lord and told certain women exactly where they would find Him. Yes,
angels saw Him after His resurrection. Now where in that connection
does the Church come in? Oh, the Church is related in a wonderful way.
Come again to the letter to the Ephesians and read: "To the intent that
now unto the principalities and the powers in heavenly places might be
made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God" (Ephesians
3:10). I think there is little doubt that this reference to
principalities and powers includes the unfallen celestial bodies, and
not only the diabolical ones. I do not know that angels of Satan need
instructing about the manifold wisdom of God, but God is revealing
Himself in a wonderful way to His own angel ministers by what He is
doing through the Church. I cannot understand that; I cannot comprehend
that; it is far beyond me. But there is the statement. It is a clear
declaration that God is teaching principalities and powers concerning
Himself by His activities in the Church; which means that there is a
realm of spiritual intelligence, very high spiritual intelligence,
angelic intelligence, receiving instruction through the Church. For
what, I do not know, but it represents some tremendous values. It
evidently represents something of great meaning.
Very often it may seem but poor comfort to us in times of suffering,
times of trial, times of adversity, times when Satan is pressing hard,
to be told that, while we can see nothing of the meaning of all this,
God is instructing angels, and that principalities and powers are
deriving the benefit of it all. We do not draw a great deal of comfort
from that, but if we understood I think we would realise that, while we
may not at such times be fulfilling a very big ministry on the earth,
there is a big ministry going on towards principalities and powers
through our instrumentality. Do not think that running about taking
meetings, and doing work for the Lord, is the only kind of ministry
that members of the Church can fulfil. Ministry may be equally being
fulfilled when these things have been brought to a standstill, and all
earthly activities for the Lord stopped, and we are in one of these
painful periods of inaction. Do not conclude that because of such
inaction no ministry is being rendered, or that everything of that kind
is cut off at such a time. Here is the word: "... that NOW unto the
principalities and the powers in heavenly places might be made known
through the Church the manifold wisdom of God" -- not in the coming
age, but now. They are learning from the Lord, by reason of those very
difficult and trying experiences through which the Lord is taking us,
what He is doing in the Church.
Supposing the principalities and powers, these angelic ministers that
wait upon Him, should one day come to us and thank us very much for
going through that dark time, and say: 'I came to know a lot through
that. I came to understand the wisdom of God in a wonderful way through
that bad time which you had.' You would be surprised, would you not?
You would say: 'Well, I never imagined that anything could come out of
that! I thought everything was dried up, and that nothing was happening
at all.' Oh, that angel minister would say: 'You were very mistaken. I
was getting a great deal of benefit out of your bad time.' That is not
a flight of imagination. Surely that is the logical outworking of a
statement like this. There is a ministry that the Church fulfils which
is altogether apart from platforms and meetings and the numerous kinds
of activity as here amongst men. There is a mighty ministry which
reaches out and touches the fringes of the universe. God is doing
something out there through His dealings with the Church here. That is
a ministry in which we do well to desire to be. Remember that unfallen
angels know nothing in their experience of grace. Grace -- marvellous
grace -- is something which they can only know by observing it at work.
"PREACHED AMONG THE NATIONS"
I think we need not tarry with that. The Church's ministry is to be in
all the nations, and its ministry is Christ in all the nations. Its
testimony to Him is to be in all the nations.
"BELIEVED ON IN THE WORLD"
That certainly was true of the Lord Jesus. John 17 says: "... the words
which thou gavest me I have given unto them; and they received them, [104/105] and knew of a truth that I came forth from
thee, and they believed that thou didst send me" (verse 8). He was
believed on in the world.
In verse 21 we have the words: "That they may all be one ... that the
world may believe ..." There is a believing on the part of the world as
a result of His being in the Church. I am quite certain that the Church
will not be believed on, or believed in, until, and unless, there is a
manifestation of the spirit of Christ in mutual love. The world is put
back from Christ so much by failure in that direction. While we may
view the situation as hopeless in general, that does not excuse us from
standing for a true testimony, and realizing that faith in the Lord
Jesus will be begotten by the expression of His love amongst ourselves.
"RECEIVED UP IN GLORY"
That was true of Him, and, blessed be God, that is going to be true of
His Church, His Body. 1 Corinthians 15 gives us a grand revelation: "We
shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the
twinkling of an eye, at the last trump ..." We shall be caught up to
meet the Lord in the air. That may not be so far ahead as many people
think. It may be very soon: the sooner the better so far as His people
are concerned. Our hearts really do say from their depths: "Even so,
come, Lord Jesus." There is no hypocrisy about that. There was a time
when we used to be scared of the thought, but we have come to see that
His coming is the way of all hope. This world will never see a better
state, but an increasingly worse condition, until the events subsequent
to, and consequent upon, His coming have taken place. There is coming
an age when every evil thing will be blotted out from this cosmos. Wars
shall be no more. Strife shall be no more. Hatred shall be no more. Sin
shall be no more. Pain shall be no more. Sorrow and tears shall be no
more. Death shall be no more. Oh, what a day! What an age! We can
hardly imagine it, but our hearts surely leap at the thought of it.
Do you say you are afraid of that? Do you dread to think of that? The
Lord must come for His Church first, and then things will rapidly
hasten to that day. It may be a very terrible passage. Things may
become very awful in the earth for a while after the Church has gone,
but things will happen very rapidly, and very vividly, and move on
toward that great day when He makes a new heaven and a new earth. But
the day of the Church's being received up into glory is imminent. No
one who knows His Bible and has spiritual perception, or even good
common-sense with the Bible before him, can fail to see that that day
hastens. The counsels of men are being blown to pieces by God. They
cannot hold their decisions together for a week or two. Their most
solid decisions, and intentions, and agreements, fall to pieces within
a short time. God bringing the counsels of men to naught, but the
counsels of God, says His Word, stand for ever. In the eternal counsels
of God this is one of the things determined: "... we ... shall ... be
caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air ..." (1
Thessalonians 4:17). "Received up in glory"! His end is going to be our
end. The Church is going to know the counterpart of her Lord as her
Head in His experience of being received up in glory.
Now, it may be that some unsaved ones have been looking in at the
window and have become envious. Are you going to stand outside? Do you
want to be apart from all this? Why, here is a revelation of Divine
calling. Here is a presentation of the Word of God as to what it is
that has been made possible for you by the Cross of the Lord Jesus, if
you will believe. Are you going to let it all go? Surely you are
wanting to draw near! Surely you are wanting to come in! Surely those
on the fringe of things will want to be more in! Surely all of us will
want to be more faithful, more devoted in the light of that day which
at longest cannot now be far off. God's Word has always been fulfilled,
and proved true, and this will not break down; this will be equally
The Lord draw us right into the purpose of our calling! There is very
much more which could be said on this matter, but we have said enough
to see that the mystery of Christ is carried over into the Church which
is His Body in all these respects, and that a part of the mystery --
such a mystery to the men of the world, to the unbeliever, to the one
who does not know spiritual secrets -- is the translation of His
waiting Church to meet Him ere He comes again to the earth. Translation
to glory is ridiculed and ruled out as a fantastic idea by the world.
But those who know the mystery of being born again; who know the
mystery of being preserved and kept by Christ through the intensity of
well-nigh universal opposition and antagonism, who know also that it is
not in themselves at all to keep on, but that it is the Lord alone who
so enables, He Himself being their very life -- those of us who know
these mysteries find no difficulty in accepting that extra part of the
mystery related to the consummation of our lives, namely, to be caught
up, received up in glory. It is a strange thing that men of the world
can accept as commonplace today things which at [105/106]
one time they would have laughed at: radio, flight, television, moon
visits, and all such things. Had you spoken of such things a century or
two ago men would have mocked. Jules Verne was regarded as a sort of
wonder man at one time, but all that he forecast has come true. Things
he spoke of are commonplace today. Men will believe these things, yet
they cannot credit the translation from this earth to the presence of
God of a company whom He has redeemed. We are looking for it, and we
are hastening unto it, and we shall hail it with joy. The cry is in our
hearts: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
(To be continued)
BALANCED CHRISTIANITY (2)
[G. H. Lang]
12. Christ is God's appointed Head of a new order of mankind. Adam, the
first head of the human race, disobeyed God, and dragged his whole
kingdom into disorder and darkness. Christ reverses this for all who
enter His kingdom. The Son of God was manifested on earth that
He might annul the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), and set free all of
Satan's slaves who long for freedom. (Hebrews 2:14-15) The first man
Adam is of the earth, as are all his sons: his being and life were of
and for the earth, and partook of the weakness of things created. The
second Man is of heaven, and, by becoming a man, He brought into human
nature the authority, energy, liberty, security of the heavenly, the
eternal life (John 8:23: 1 Corinthians 15:47). This life He imparts to
them that obey Him.
13. Being thus appointed by God as the Head of a heavenly order of men,
He is their acting Representative. It is as such that He acts as Man,
and it is only that, but all that, which their Head has
suffered, done, or received which is available for them, or properly
belongs to their heavenly life. The major experiences of their Head,
made possible to them by faith and obedience, are:
a. He was born into humanity by the act of the Spirit of God (Luke
By the act of that same Spirit they are born anew into the new,
heavenly race of men (John 3).
b. He by the Spirit and by faith lived in holiness of heart and
They are called to holiness of spirit and of flesh, the inner life and
the outer life, and to them the same Spirit is granted that by faith
they may so walk even as Christ walked.
c. He died unto sin once for all. On the cross He took its heavy burden
upon Himself as if it had been His own. By His atoning death He put sin
away as from before God, so being no more responsible for it, seeing
that He discharged its full penalty, death (Romans 6):
They who rest on this His work are given by grace the benefit of it;
they are deemed in law to have discharged their penalty by the act of
their Surety. Thus they have peace with God, and are called to regard
themselves as having died with their Representative (Romans 6:
Colossians 2 and 3).
d. He was raised from the dead and was removed in Manhood to that
heavenly world whence He had come:
They are seen by God as being where their Representative is, on the
same principle that a party to a suit is deemed to have appeared in
court in the person of his advocate. The Spirit of Christ is imparted
to His people to make this effective in their present experience of
heart. Thus do they know and feel themselves citizens of that
world (Ephesians 1:15 - 2:10: Philippians 3:20).
e. He lived and lives in the full consciousness of His eternal Sonship
to God: [106/107]
They are given the spirit of adoption that they also may know God as
their Father, and may feel and act harmoniously with this their high
calling (Romans 8:12-17: Galatians 3:23 - 4:7).
f. He was the Light of this world, as He had ever been of that world
above; and therefore the Prince of darkness hated, persecuted, and slew
They, in His absence, are called and enabled to be the light of the
world, and as such are granted the privilege to suffer with Him (John
8:12: Matthew 5:14-16: Philippians 2:14-18; 1:27-30).
g. He is to be the Sovereign of heaven and earth, actually, visibly, in
They who share His cross shall share His throne; if we suffer with Him
we shall be glorified together with Him (Romans 8:17: 2 Timothy
14. Two great principles are involved in the Christian life, referred
to earlier as objective and subjective.
The objective outlook is that which dwells upon what Christ Himself is:
what He is to the Father, what He did for us in His great work of
redemption and our eternal security as brought through Him into the
family of God. The danger here is not of an over-appreciation of
Christ, for this is impossible. It lies in our resting in our standing
or our faith, satisfied that all is well because we are told that none
can snatch us out of His hand.
The fault here is that the heart is not engrossed with the person of
Christ, that He is not the Object of affection. It is to be feared that
in many cases (most particularly in children brought up in Christian
homes) there has not been deep exercise of heart as to sin, and
consequently there is little just appreciation of the magnitude of the
salvation effected by the Lord and no saying in heart: "I will arise
and go to my Father ." Thus there is no real enjoyment of the
Father's home as the sweet present abode of the soul, and there is
lacking the normal reaction of walking with God in glad and humble
subjection to His holy will, with the happiness of heart which this
brings. Is not this why many souls are spiritually at a stand-still,
accompanied often by much worldliness and a marred testimony to Christ?
15. The subjective aspect deals with our actual present state, as
distinct from our standing in Christ. Its importance lies in its
effects upon our actions. It is introduced in such exhortations as:
"Abide in me and I in you ... Let us cleanse ourselves from all
defilement of flesh and spirit ... I exercise myself always to have a
conscience void of offense ... the kingdom of God is righteousness and
peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
The danger is not in over-stressing such passages of Scripture but in
building a theory of sanctification on isolated texts, especially when
the mind is occupied too largely with oneself, looking inward,
emphasising a daily dying. Such souls do not realise that a dead person
cannot die. The Word says " Ye died, and your life is hid with
Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). Our part is to reckon one is
dead, and then, by the power of the Spirit, to make to die the
sinful doings formerly done through the body, and which the old
nature would gladly continue (Romans 8:13).
16. Thus as regards the experimental realisation of our possible
privileges, so as to enjoy them in one's own soul, there are two chief
a. There are such as rest content with assent to the objective
historical facts as to Christ, and receive little or no corresponding
subjective inward experience.
b. There are others so engrossed with their inward subjective condition
that they give too little regard to the facts as to Christ.
(a) Some acknowledge Jesus to be the Son of God and to have made
by His death atonement for sin, and here they leave the matter. They
neither know nor seek peace with God.
(b) Others moan and groan because of their sins, fear the wrath
of God, long for peace of conscience, strive to be good and to do good,
diligently practice religious ceremonies, pray perpetually for pardon
as "miserable offenders", but make no spiritual progress. Nor will they
ever do so until they turn the mind from self to rest upon the
objective facts concerning Christ, and what God, in His Word of truth,
states as to those facts. Upon doing this they will have assured peace.
The subjective state must rest upon the objective facts. Otherwise any
sense of peace, if any be reached, will prove baseless and deceptive.
(c) Others are satisfied with theoretical acceptance of their
presumed position and blessing in Christ, and pay too little attention
to their inward state and their practice. Assent to the objective facts
contents them, if contentment it can be called: they are not much
distressed that their inward experience is earthly, worldly,
unheavenly, or they take the dope that this cannot be bettered till
they [107/108] "get to heaven". They may even
deserve the rebuke: "Thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches,
and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched
one and miserable and poor and blind and naked" (Revelation 3:17). Thus
may the soul beguile itself by saying it has all in Christ. As if
holding title deeds dispensed with obtaining possession.
(d) Yet others think they have made much progress in inward
holiness and are in themselves free from sin. To themselves
their subjective state is satisfactory. They have not weighed that God
does not say that our "old man" is crucified in us,
but that it was crucified in Christ at the cross.*
(*[footnote] Romans 6:6. The "is" of the Authorized Version is wholly
indefensible and very misleading. It is the past tense, as Revised
Version.) Because they think they stand, these are ever liable to fall;
and many do fall, sometimes to a lower moral depth than in their
unregenerate days, and into despair. The objective did not underpin the
subjective, and the latter collapsed.
(e) Some will speak (not to say sing) with complacence
about being children of God the Father, yet, as if orphans cast upon
this cruel world, they worry daily as to food, clothes, and the
possible troubles of tomorrow. The subjective condition of mind is not
yet rectified by the relationship avowed.
(f) Others talk of sitting in the heavenlies in Christ, but
experimentally know nothing of His authority over the powers of
darkness, those wicked spirits that Christ has defeated, but who still
defeat these easy-going Christians by inducing absorption in this earth
and conduct very unheavenly. Happy is he of whom that can be said which
one said of R. C. Chapman: "We talk about the heavenly places, but he
lives in them."
(g) But others are dreadfully and rightly alarmed at defeat, and
they muster all their own energies for the daily conflict; yet
unavailingly, because they do not see that we can get nothing
except what our Head has gained, and that we come to share in His
victory and authority by resting upon and appropriating Him as revealed
and offered in God's Word.
17. These instances suffice to illuminate spiritual life. They all
reveal the fundamental principles:
a. That only what the Head is, has done, and is doing is available for
man: but that all that the Head is ought to be the personal
experience of His members.
b. That the Holy Spirit of power makes experimental what faith accepts,
and no more than faith accepts, upon the basis of the promises of God,
the obedience of faith proving it to be genuine faith. "Arise and
walk," said Christ to a man who could not walk. Faith at once obeyed,
and strength to walk was instantly granted.
18. It is balance that is needed. The mystic dwells disproportionately
upon inward experience. His tendency is to be ever regarding God
within. This advances easily to a pantheistic identifying of God and
self, and may lead on to the virtual worship of "the divine in man",
which is self worship, a phase of the bait offered at Eden -- "ye shall
become as God".
On the other hand, the believer may be a credal formalist, accepting
all the facts declared by the Father concerning the Son, agreeing to
all the derived doctrines, but experiencing little of their living
power to cleanse the heart from sin and to cause Christ to dwell there
to be our life, displacing the old self life.
It is balance that is indispensable. There must be the conscious,
persistent, unconditional acceptance of, dependence upon, and
expectation from Christ, the historic Christ. He must be the Object of
confidence and affection; the Satisfier of the soul; its Saviour from
disorder, corruption, unregulated desires; the One sanctified in the
heart as LORD. Then the Spirit of Christ can cause the thoughts,
feelings, decisions to be derived from and to centre in Christ, the Man
who in person is at the right hand of God, but who is thus developed
morally in the believer on earth by His moral features growing
progressively in the Christian's character and walk.
19. Christ is God's Deliverer for the world: this is God's method of
deliverance. He gives us in Christ a new centre, and the wheel of life
runs truly and smoothly because it is truly centred. But because Christ
is the centre of the whole kingdom of God, in heaven and on earth, the
life that is centred in Him is thereby in harmony with God and all His
kingdom, the world of order, harmony, peace, joy, the world where one
will alone prevails, the will of God and which is therefore eternal (1
But for the same reason such a life is ec-centric, out of centre, with
that portion of the universe, heavenly and earthly, not centred in
Christ. If two sets of powerful machinery were at work in the same
space, there would arise friction, clash, damage. In this age, this
situation induces conflict of spirit and practical trouble for the
Christ-centred man. But he can endure with patience and confidence,
seeing that he knows that Christ has conquered this world, and that His
world, the heavenly, will prevail finally.
Christ is God's Saviour for the individual and for the world:
association with Him, by faith and [108/109]
obedience, is God's method of salvation. There is no other, nor can
there be. John 3:35, 36.
"Christ! I am Christ's! and let the name suffice you;
Ay, for me, too, He greatly hath sufficed.
Lo, with no winning words I would entice you:
Paul has no honour and no friend but
The all-inclusive doctrine and power of the true life is: "Ye died with
Christ ... ye were raised with Christ ... Christ is our life ... seek
the things that are above, where Christ is" (Colossians 3:14). - G. H.
FOR BOYS AND GIRLS
MR. SIMPLE lived too near to Crystal Palace. Not that this had ever
seemed to matter, except that some days when he went into his garden he
was worried by the whine and roar of racing cars on the circuit there.
What began the trouble was the tape-recording instrument which was
given him. That made him aware of some very unwelcome sounds.
His first use of his tape-recorder was to make copies of recordings of
some special Easter messages which had been given in his church. This
he did by playing them from another machine which he had borrowed and
recording the messages directly into his own instrument. When he had
finished, he sent the tapes off to two interested friends and returned
the originals. So far he had not needed to use the microphone at all.
He soon had to use it, though, for he had been asked to record a few
short talks for blind people, so one Saturday afternoon he put a new
tape into the machine, set up the microphone on the table and began to
talk into it as the tape slowly revolved. The first message, with a
brief closing prayer, took about twenty minutes. He stopped the
machine, ran the tape back again, then set it off and sat back to
listen to his recording.
Of course his voice sounded strange to him; he expected this and was
not surprised. What did surprise him, however, was to hear another
voice talking at the same time, then another, and then several voices.
He had thought that the tape was a new one! He had also thought that in
any case old recordings are automatically rubbed off with a new
recording. Had he been wrong?
Poor Mr. Simple! He tried several times over, but each time there were
these other voices. One of them was talking about "Brand's Hatch" and
the other seemed to be discussing the World Cup. it was no good! He had
to give up the attempt to record his message.
Next week a friend who had received the Easter tapes wrote to say that
they were quite useless, since the messages were drowned by other
voices. Now Mr. Simple had not even used the microphone to prepare
these tapes, which he was sure were new ones, so this puzzled him all
the more. Then the other friend also wrote about the Easter tapes. He
was not so downright and even said some nice things about the messages,
but at the same time he made it plain that they were very difficult to
understand. "Next time you record," he wrote, "make sure that the T.V.
set is not working in another room." This puzzled Mr. Simple even more,
for he had no T.V. set in the house.
Perhaps by now some readers will have realized what was happening. As I
have said, Mr. Simple lived too near to Crystal Palace. Every time his
machine was set to record it took in the T.V. commentary from the
station there and included it on the tape. No wonder those messages
were difficult to understand! It was all due to the strange and
unwelcome voices which were coming over the air and registering
themselves on the tape.
When he realized the truth Mr. Simple sat down to think out how he
could conquer this "invasion" of his home. If he moved to another house
it might solve the problem, but he could not do this. He had an idea
that if he could completely encircle his recorder with a copper screen
that would keep out the invisible waves. The high price of copper and
of the workmanship made this quite impossible. There remained only one
remedy. He would have to do his recording before B.B.C. 1 was on the
air. This was the only way. [109/110]
And for Christians who want to hear God speaking to them it is also the
only way to hear His voice clearly. There is a hymn which says:
"Often through my heart is pealing
Many another voice than Thine,
Many an unwilled echo stealing
From the walls of this Thy shrine."
In the case of Mr. Simple the voices were certainly unwilled, and they
were unwelcome, too, for they spoiled the messages which he needed to
How true this is for us all! It was not that there was anything wrong
with the Sports' Commentaries which the tapes picked up, but the
trouble was that they blurred and drowned the true messages. Like Mr.
Simple, we cannot free ourselves from such voices by moving away. Nor
can we live in insulated chambers cut off from the rest of the world.
What then can we do? We must be sure to give God the first place. We
must take care to listen to Him before the other voices start, and
before the world can get at us. We must seek Him early. We must give
Him the priority. This is what the Psalmist did -- "O God, thou art my
God, early will I seek thee" (Psalm 63:1) - H. F.
THE WILL OF GOD IN RELATION TO HIS
2. THE LAW OF RENUNCIATION
"Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
who, being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an
equality with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a
bondservant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in
fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death
yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and
gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in the name of
Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth
and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians
"Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the
excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I
suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I
may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of
mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through
faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith"
"By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be
called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to be evil
entreated with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin
for a season; accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the
treasures of Egypt" (Hebrews 11:24-26).
IN this message we shall be occupied with the realization of the Lord's
full will, unto which He has called us. We have already considered that
great law of realization and fulfilment, the law of the government of
the Word of God. We were able only just to touch the very fringe of
that matter, and I can only trust that it at least introduced you to a
new consideration, and that, because of that emphasis, you will have a
much closer and more devoted regard for the Word of God in every matter
of your life. All those who have been of service to the Lord to others
have been people of the Word, and not just of the letter of the Word,
but of heart relationship with the Word of God. All who have in any way
fulfilled the function of spiritual leadership, like Joshua, have, as
we saw, been based so strongly and utterly upon the Word of God. It has
been like that all the way through, but the greatest Servant of all,
the Lord Jesus, was meticulously careful that in everything He moved
according to the Word. The Scriptures had such a place in His whole
life, conduct, teaching and work, that He became known as "the Word of
God". The Word is not only something written in a book. It has to
become personal, personified in life, in character, and in every way if
we are going to be of use to others, to be able to fulfil any
responsibility at all like those men in the beginning of the Church in [110/111] Jerusalem and in Antioch, who were men who
waited on God for His Word. They did not organize the Church, nor did
they decide upon programmes, plans and schemes. They never introduced
anything until they had waited upon the Lord for His Word about it,
asking: 'Is this according to what is revealed?' That is the only way
of the growth of the Church and its building up.
Well, as you see, that opens a very large door, but we are not going
any further with that matter. I just re-emphasize that a binding law of
spiritual progress in the individual life, in the church life, local
and universal, is the absolute government of the Word of God, to the
law and to the testimony. If it is not according thereto, then there
will be a hidden peril in it.
So we go on now to another law of this progress in the will of God unto
its ultimate realization. We must remember that we are called unto
this. It is inherent in our calling, and not something extra to the
Christian life, nor something optional in the Christian life. It is
fundamental, intrinsic, in the Christian life. So is what we are going
to say now about another law of the will and purpose of God in our
calling, and it is what is presented to us in the Scriptures which we
selected for this purpose out of many others and what I am going to
call 'the law of renunciation'.
THE GREAT RENUNCIATION
In Philippians 2 the Lord Jesus is presented to us in terms of the
great renunciation. He was equal with God, but, as the margin says, He
regarded that not as something to be grasped, or held on to,
tenaciously gripped, but He "emptied himself". He made the great
renunciation in heaven.
The Apostle Paul has caught that mind, which he exhorts Christians to
have. He has seen the point! It came to him in the great encounter with
the Lord at the beginning of his Christian life. He saw, and then all
the other things, however great they were -- and they were many and
they were great, as he tells us in that Letter to the Philippians --
lost their grip on him, because something else had a grip on him, and
he says that he made the great renunciation, perhaps not in the same
dimension as the Lord Jesus, but for him it was everything, as it was
for the Lord. Our everything may not be as great as was the Lord's
everything, but if it is everything, well, that is full and final. Paul
says that he counted all these things, this catalogue of advantages
which were his by birth, by upbringing, by training and by acquirement,
as refuse. He renounced them all. And by the great renunciation of his
Master and of himself the Church has benefited through all these
generations -- and that is the point we have to come to before long.
Then we read of Moses, though we could have mentioned many others in
that chapter 11 of Hebrews. We picked out Moses, who renounced all that
he had in Egypt, the learning of the Egyptians, the court of Pharaoh,
and all the advantages that were there. He made the great renunciation.
Why? Again, because of the people of God.
THE DISTORTION OF GOOD INTO EVIL
Now, that is the point, but before we come to its application, let me
remind you that one of the clear marks and traces of the devil and his
handiwork is the distortion of good into evil, of good things made into
bad things. Satan creates nothing, for he is not a creator, but
he attempts to turn what has been made for good into bad. Hence you
have a whole list of paradoxes in the Bible, and it is fascinating to
follow them through, but I am not going to do so. I will just give you
a hint. There is a whole list of paradoxes, of seeming contradictions,
and they are in this realm of good things in Divine intention turned
into bad things.
Take the matter of ambition. Ambition indeed is the parent of many
evils. Look at what ambition in the world leads to! There are so many
ambitious men and women who, to realize their ambition, will tread upon
all principles and will ride roughshod over all sensibilities. Ambition
is a driving force to get, to be, to master, to dominate, to rule, and
have we not in our lifetime seen something of that? My, these ambitious
people whose names we could mention, who have thrown the world into the
most distressing and awful state! Literally multitudes have been
murdered for one man's ambition! We need not dwell upon it, but that is
what ambition can be, and it has come into the Church of God. Men, as
Peter calls it, "lording it" over God's heritage, wanting to be
something in the Church, and to have power. They are just fulfilling
some secret ambition, and perhaps do not mean it or realize it, but
Well, here is something that is evil, but God created ambition!
It is a Divine thing. Our translations do not help us too much in this,
but Paul said: "We make it our ambition ... to be well-pleasing
unto Him" (2 Corinthians 5:9 -- R.V. margin). Paul, you have redeemed a
bad word! You have salvaged something that has gone astray, that the
devil has captured and turned to his own use, for it was ambition in
Satan before his fall that led to that fall, and he, like a serpent,
has injected that [111/112] poison into human
nature. Surely we should keep that word 'ambition' out of the sacred
language? No! It is something Divine.
We could go on with a whole lot of paradoxes and contradictions like
that. Paul gave us a list in one place: "As sorrowful, yet alway
rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet
possessing all things" (2 Corinthians 6:10). Those are paradoxes, are
Here, in this very chapter, Philippians 2, and in this very
consideration of the great renunciation, we are in the presence of one
of these things which have been distorted. Satan has taken hold of
something that God created and put into man and into His universe. What
is it? The desire to acquire, to possess, to have. It is not wrong in
itself to have, to acquire, to possess. Do you not have many battles
over this very matter, whether you ought to have this, and whether it
is right to possess that? In your very nature there are the traces of
this Divine thing, this acquisitiveness. Yes, God put that in. The
Bible is full of it. We were looking at Israel earlier, and what a lot
the Lord said to them about 'having'! 'I will bring you into a land
flowing with milk and honey, and this is for you to have. I
mean you to have it, to be a wealthy people. It is all for you. Every
place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon I have given to you.'
Over against that there is the great renunciation. Is that a
contradiction? Renunciation is a law of having -- the Lord Jesus let
go, and He was given. He renounced, and was endowed with all the
fullness of heaven.
Satan, then, uses this Divine thing, twists something which is of God
and is quite right in its own nature, and gives it this distortion to
make it an evil thing, so that in this world now we have this terrible
assertiveness, this wanting to get control, to possess, to have.
WHAT IS IT FOR?
The answer to that question is the answer to the paradox. What do you
want it for? And, you see, it is just there that the enemy has done his
work by introducing the selfhood power, this drawing to self, having
for self, holding for self, prizing it for self. So when we read: "He
emptied himself ", there is the whole story of redemption in
the emptying of self, and of the wonderful issue in this universe along
the line of the redemption -- what man is going to have by God's gift
and what we may have now by His gift in a spiritual way. Every blessing
of the spirit in the heavenlies in Christ and the fullness into which
we are called in the will of God comes along the line of the conversion
of self, this turning round from self to God.
Now please do not let that principle work wrongly! This is where Peter
slipped up, because he was not converted at the time. I know I am going
to be challenged on this, for I have been, but there a real sense in
which Peter was not converted until the Day of Pentecost. We will not
argue that out, and you can say what you like about it, but when the
Lord came with the basin of water and the towel to Peter in order to
wash his feet, Peter said: "Thou shalt never wash my feet!" Then the
Lord said: "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me" (John 13.
8). 'Oh, well', said Peter, 'I want the part.' Do you see the point? In
a very few hours after that it was proved that it was really Peter who
was in view, who wanted all that he could get, even of Divine things.
And when I say that you will get a great fullness if only you will
learn the lesson of renunciation, be careful as to your ambition for
fullness! Who is it for? What is it for? Is it for
self, or is it for the Lord?
GOD'S VINDICATION IN THE CREATION OF MAN
The principle lying behind Philippians 2 is just this: The Lord Jesus
let go of all that He had of heavenly glory and equality with God, not
for Himself, for it was His already and there was nothing whatever that
He need do to enhance His own position and rights, but for the
vindication of God in the creation of man. God created man and took a
tremendous responsibility in doing so. Have you not often felt bad
about this? Oh, some of your natures are better than mine, but
sometimes I have been tempted to think: 'Was God justified in creating
man, collectively as he is today?' I think of the history of man, and,
really, it hardly bears thinking about! But God did it. He took the
risk and the responsibility of making you and making me. I have to turn
that back on the Lord sometimes and say: 'Lord, You made me! You gave
me a being! It was by Your law that I came into being! It was Your
responsibility!' Well, that is helpful sometimes, but we will leave it.
God had got to be vindicated in His creative responsibility, and,
therefore, He had to save this man that He had made. Further, He had to
be glorified in this man, and there is no salvation and no
glorification while man is a selfish creature. Selfishness spoils
everything and robs of all glory everywhere. Therefore that deep thing
had to be touched and dealt with, not theoretically, not doctrinally,
not theologically, but actually, and there is no way of dealing with
anything actually [112/113] except by
taking it and destroying it in your own person and work, and being the
opposite yourself by a mighty, deep work of God. So the motive that led
the Lord Jesus to the great renunciation, the letting go, was the
vindication of God, the justification of creation and the making
possible of man coming to that glory in fellowship with the Father in
heaven for ever. It was outward, first for His Father's vindication,
and secondly for man's redemption from that twist that the devil had
brought in and by which so much mischief had been made. It was your
salvation and mine from some thing that the devil had planted
in the race which was a contradiction to what God meant. All that was
outward, and not for the Lord Jesus Himself.
Now read His life again. All that is included in this description in
Philippians 2: 'He emptied Himself ... He humbled Himself ... He took
the form of a bondslave ... He was found in fashion as a man ... He
became obedient unto death' -- and the most shameful and ignominious
form of death that the world has ever known! It has always been known
that crucifixion is the worst form of death possible. But He went right
down to that! That is letting go of self and all self-interest, is it
not? That is renunciation! And all that was for the Father first, and
was why He was always speaking on this earth of 'My Father ... My
Father'. It was for the vindication of the Father, and for the
redemption of man unto glory, the transformation and transfiguration of
Now, dear friends, you and I are in the way of this. Have you not
noticed that the Lord's dealings with us when He gets us in hand, when
He really does get a purchase upon us, are along this line? Again and
again in the course of our Christian experience we come up against a
situation where it is: 'Are we going to hold on or let go?' Are we
going to let go? Can we let go? Can we really renounce? We are stuck
until that is settled! We just cannot get past it. It may be an
incident in our life, or it may be what we might call a small thing in
comparison with other things, but there it is. 'Must I let go? Shall I
keep hold? Shall I get this bone between my teeth and worry it to
death, and not let it go?' I must repeat: there is no way on until that
thing is settled.
Have you not, on the other hand, experienced what it means when at
last, having sought the grace of God, you let go and say to Him: 'All
right, Lord, my hands are off. I am not just resigning.' Be careful
about becoming resigned to your fate! That is not the will of God.
There must not be a negative or passive attitude, but a positive one:
'Lord, if this is what You want, You have it, and I believe You have a
purpose in bringing me to this position of letting go, of renouncing.'
When we get there something breaks in, and all that we had been wanting
we get! It is strange that it works like that, but what about Abraham
and Isaac? Could Abraham not have held on? Could he not have argued
with God? Could he not have supported his tenacity about Isaac by
reminding the Lord of what He had said? Oh, yes, he could have built up
a tremendous argument against offering Isaac, but he came to the point
of the great renunciation. He let go to God, and what did he get? He
not only got Isaac back, but he got a nation! "In thy seed shall all
the nations of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 22:18). It was from
inward to outward.
You see the range, the tremendous potential of renunciation? We have
picked Moses out from all those mentioned in Hebrews 11, and he could
have argued with the Lord on the ground of sovereignty: 'Well, Lord,
Your sovereignty ordered that when all the babes were being slaughtered
I was spared, and that girl of Pharaoh's came along that day. It was in
Your sovereignty that I was rescued and taken right into the
palace and brought up in Pharaoh's house, educated according to the
wisdom of the Egyptians. Your sovereignty was in this!' But the point
was -- he left it all, and it was a big 'all'. He renounced it all.
Why? Because he had become converted, not in the New Testament sense,
perhaps, but converted. He turned round, inward, to people. His race,
the people of God, were, as we know, on his heart: "Choosing rather to
be evil entreated with the people of God" -- and there you have his
motive: the people of God. 'What I may lose does not matter so
long as the people of God get the benefit and the blessing.'
Do you see the point? Christ was repeating Himself in these men's lives
on the one principle of renunciation; and because He, the Son of God,
made the great renunciation, "wherefore" -- and what a
'wherefore'! -- "God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name
which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should
bow, of things in heaven, and things on the earth" -- and here is a
peculiarity -- "and things under the earth". You know, things like that
are said quite often in the Bible, but the third dimension, "things
under the earth", is left out on other occasions when the heavens and
the earth are mentioned. I will leave that for you to think about! But
in this case the underworld is also going to bow to Him! His [113/114] renunciation means that the full dimensions
of the universe are affected. What a range is affected by the ability
to let go unto God!
I think I hardly need say more than that. To let go is one of the most
difficult things that you and I have to learn! The Lord Jesus was "meek
and lowly in heart", and meekness is just selflessness, the outward
aspect of life. Not having things for ourselves, but thinking how much
others can gain if we have to lose them, and if by our loss the
Father can gain what He ought to have and the people whom He has
created may be benefited.
THE LAW OF ENLARGEMENT
That is the law of enlargement. You noticed that I stopped short in the
reading from Hebrews 11 about Moses at a certain point, because I am
always afraid of this wretched self-interest of ours! It is always
there, and ready to pounce upon anything. I did not read: "He looked
unto the recompense of reward." The Lord has promised enlargement along
the line of renunciation and loss, but we should not be motivated by
reward, should we? No servant of the Lord should be motivated by what
he is going to get out of his service. "When ye shall have done all the
things that are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants."
Nevertheless, we can put a right and proper emphasis upon it because of
where we started. Are you following the train of thought? It is God's
will for you, for me, for mankind, to be enlarged with all His
fullness, to have all that He can give, but not selfishly, not
for our own use, but for His glory, His vindication, and if you and I
get to glory and He is able to give us then of His fullness, endow us
with heavenly riches, I am quite sure that we will have found in the
discipline of renunciation the right ground upon which to be rewarded.
You see, anyone who has really been through this, has been right in
that deep and desperate reality of facing the loss of some thing,
some possession, something which meant very much to them, indeed, it
might be everything to them, might have made or marred their lives, for
they have been faced with the question of willingness to let go unto
the Lord. It has meant devastation to selfhood, to ambition, but when
that devastation has taken place and we come out on the other side, it
is all right. There is no battle now, for it is done, and then the Lord
has His ground for rewarding, for giving. It is safe for Him to do it.
I wonder how many of you, especially you servants of the Lord, whoever
you are, have sometimes said to the Lord: 'Lord, can You trust me with
this? Can You trust me with that blessing? Can You really trust me to
do this for You? I know my own heart. I know its pride, its
acquisitiveness, its love of place, position, influence, and so on, and
I'm afraid that if You do bless, I may, all subtly, take some
gratification to myself. Can You trust me?'
The Lord is working to get us to the place, dear Friends, where He can
trust us with eternal, heavenly responsibility, and He knows when that
deep, evil thing in our nature has been dealt with by the discipline of
renunciation. It is very true to spiritual life, is it not?
There are so many tensions! Are we not suffering in this life from
nervous tensions and strains? Yes! but what is many a nervous breakdown
and a lot of this wrong kind of intensity that does us so much harm,
nervously and physically, due to? Not getting what we want! We are not
having what we have set our heart upon! God is not giving it to us, or
doing it for us, and so we get into this state of tension, strain, in
life. Life becomes a strain, and even the Christian life becomes a
terrible strain. If you do not know anything about that you are a very
fortunate person, but it is true for us all. We meet people everywhere
who are under strain. You can see it in their faces. And what is the
matter? They have not learnt to let go to God. We know, by experiences
that we have had, that when we have come to the place where we let go
to the Lord (and I am very particular about saying 'letting go to
the Lord!'), a wonderful calm comes, wonderful rest and wonderful
peace. The battle is over and the strain has gone. That is very true.
The great renunciation made by the Lord Jesus was that He identified
Himself with fallen man. Temptation has no meaning at all if there is
not something to work upon, and so when the devil came to Him in the
wilderness and offered Him the kingdoms of the world, it was no
temptation if He had no heart for the kingdoms of the world and could
say: 'You can have them. I am not interested in them. The kingdoms of
the world do not matter to me at all.' There would be no temptation,
would there? But if the kingdoms of this world were the very object for
which He had come, there is a temptation, and a subtle one, appealing
to the soul life. The Son of Man became identified with man, knowing
quite well the temptations of man and man's natural ambition. He was
tempted in all points as we are, sin apart, but He conquered.
How? Not by saying: 'I am not a bit interested in that. That is no
temptation to Me!' But by saying: 'I am going to have the kingdoms of
this world, but not at your hands, Satan! Not by your gift, and [114/115] not along your line. I am going to the
Cross, and there I will destroy you and get the kingdoms on a proper
ground.' So He came in the likeness of man, knowing man's temptations,
without the sinful nature, yet with a human soul which can have
ambition for itself or for God. In that temptation, then, it was the
Father and every word that the Father had spoken which came first. The
battleground was: 'Not for Me, but for the Father and for others.'
I wonder if you have followed me? I think we are touching things that
are very real in the spiritual life! This whole matter of the Lord's
identification with us was in order to save us, and to save us from our
selfhood, our self-towardness, by conversion turning God-ward. The life
of a Christian, then, is simply the life which is for God. We are
tested on that so often, and when we get through we come to rest, to
peace, to quietness. The battle is over -- until the next time! But
that is the way we grow. The next time will be more severe, I am sorry
to say, but when you go into it you have learnt something. You do not
go into the more severe without the knowledge of what it means, and you
are able to say: 'Oh, well, I had something like this before, and I
have learned how to get through by the grace of God. This is a bit more
difficult, but it is the same principle. I am not going to fight for my
own way, nor for my own interests. I am not going to exercise this
bulldog disposition of mine to get hold of this and not let go, but I
am going to be ready to put it on the altar for God.' The solution
comes that way. It is the law of renunciation in progress toward Divine
The Lord give us understanding and help from His Word!
(To be continued)
REMEMBERING AND FORGETTING
Reading: Deuteronomy 8.
"And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy
God hath led thee ..."
"Brethren, I count not myself yet to have apprehended,
but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and
stretching forward to the things that are before, I press on toward the
goal, unto the prize of the on-high calling of God in Christ Jesus"
"THOU shalt remember ..." "Forgetting the things which are behind ..."
Remembering and forgetting!
In these two passages, which look like a contradiction (though we shall
see that they are not), we have, firstly, an exhortation to grateful
recollection. "Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God
hath led thee." Then there is an exhortation to profitable resume --
gathering up the lessons for the future. And, finally, an exhortation
to purposeful resolve: "Forgetting ... I press on toward the goal."
In both places, Deuteronomy and Philippians, we have one particular
point of likeness and similarity: they both mark a point of transition,
or, if you like, of crisis. In the former case, a big change was about
to take place, and all that Moses said, as you have read in this long
chapter, was said in relation to that transition.
There was about to take place a change in leadership, which involved a
change from a period of deep and drastic preparation, from a phase of
pioneering the way and laying the foundations for the future, to a time
of proving the value of all that had been and of taking up
responsibility by means of it. It was a transition from a period of
child-training, or what is called chastening, discipline, to the
possession of the inheritance and an exercise of stewardship.
If you gather all those features together, you will see quite clearly
that they represent the stages and phases of any normal Christian
experience. A true Christian life or pilgrimage should be marked by
those characteristics; it has its stages, which are Divinely-appointed
economies for these different phases of the Christian life. At one
time, certain things obtain, and are the governing, outstanding and
quite conspicuous ways of the Lord. The time comes when these lose, or
pass from, their particular place of prominence, and other things take
their place. But within those changing economies there [115/116]
are always these two things that I have mentioned -- preparation and
fulfillment, or responsibility. There is the laying down of a ground,
the providing by God of experience, of instruction, and then comes the
point at which all that is going to be put to the test as to its real
meaning to those concerned; and it will be put to the test as they are
forced into the way of new responsibility.
It may be that this is the experience of an individual, and it very
often is, for most of us can see the stages and phases of our Christian
life as we have moved on through various crises, going from one phase
to another. It may be true of a company of the Lord's people. It may be
true of the whole Church. And at such a time, when the Lord brings us
face to face with the issues of all that has been in the light of a new
day, with its new demands and new responsibilities, there is a great
value in remembrance. At such a time the Lord says: "Thou shalt
There are two sides to the remembrance, or recollection. There is the
human side. That is here in this chapter: "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." It was not, as we
have often said, that the Lord did not know what was in their heart,
and had to put them into situations to discover it, but more correctly:
'That He might make thee know.' The later statement about the basis of
man's subsistence -- "that he might make thee know that man doth not
live by bread only" -- can well govern this earlier statement: 'To make
thee know what was in thine heart.' That is an essential uncovering and
disclosure if there is going to be all that the Lord intends, and it is
certainly the most painful experience, or part of life, when, under the
hand of God, by His dealings, by His ways, by His methods and by His
means with us we come more and more desperately to recognise what kind
of people we really are. There is such disillusionment about ourselves
if we were ever at all proud or self-sufficient, if we had any opinion
of ourselves, or thought that we were anything. But this devastating
uncovering of our true selves as God sees and knows them, while it is
perhaps the most terrible aspect of a life under His hand, is
absolutely essential to the purpose of God. There is no doubt about
that; and there is no doubt that that is one of the things that the
Lord does with a life when He gets it into His hands. Sooner or later
He lays that life bare to itself so that it has no confidence in the
flesh whatever. 'To make thee know what was in thine heart, whether
thou wouldest keep His commandments, or not.' And what was the verdict
upon the forty years in the wilderness? It was 'No!' They were not
capable of doing it in themselves, and they proved to themselves and to
everybody else that it was not in them to do it. 'And thou shalt
Too easily, in the day of blessing, as the chapter goes on to show, we
forget that work of humbling, of emptying, of breaking, which the Lord
did as a part of the very foundation of everything. That is human
nature, how we are made, so the word comes with tremendous emphasis:
"Thou shalt remember." There are very many of those phrases
with God: 'Thou shalt ... thou shalt ...!', and this is one of His
imperatives: "Thou shalt remember!" You must keep in mind
always that the foundation of everything is your own unworthiness of
anything at all. You will never, never come to appreciate all the grace
and mercy of God, all His goodness and kindness, His patience, His
longsuffering and His forbearance (of which the forty years are such a
history) unless you have come to realise what Paul said of himself,
that 'in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. There is no
merit for this in me.' Thou shalt remember that side!
But then, over against the human side of self-discovery, so much
weakness, so much failure, so much shame and breaking down, there is
the Divine side. Oh, what a story of faithfulness on God's part! The
faithfulness of God is magnified as the true nature of man is revealed
under His hand. 'Thou shalt remember ...' that, while it was true that
you could not be relied upon, depended upon, at all, that you failed at
every point of testing and of trying, and that you proved yourself to
be utterly worthless under every trial, God did not give you up; God
did not abandon you; God did not wash His hands of you. He remained
faithful. "The Lord, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and
plenteous in loving-kindness" is written large on the, so to speak,
Divine banner over all the tribes for forty years. 'Thou shalt remember
... His infinite patience, His infinite long-suffering!' This is the
foundation, and is, as I have said, necessary whenever it is the Lord's
purpose to lead into something more of His glory and honour. It is a
work of bringing home two things: that we are not the people,
and better than any others; and that God is infinitely merciful to the
poorest stuff of humanity.
THE FORWARD LOOK
Paul, in the passage in Philippians, is also at a point of transition.
As we know, when he wrote that [116/117] letter
he was in prison. He felt that the time of his departure was at hand,
and he did not know from day to day whether he would be led out to his
death. He had hopes that there might be an extending, but he was
writing as though the end was very near. So it was a time of transition
for him and for the churches. The leadership was changing, and all that
had come in by way of the pioneering, the foundation-laying, the
teaching and the training, was now to give place to the proof of its
value by those to whom it had been given.
Paul knew that his course was run: 'I have finished my course; I have
kept the faith', and yet for him it was not the end by any means. I
think it was very wonderful that Paul did not close down at that point
and say: 'This is the end!' Instead, it was: 'Even if I have only got
another hour, another day, another week, I press on. I am not
closing down now; I am going on!' And why? Because as Moses had done,
he had seen far, far more ahead than ever had been before, far more
than that which lay behind, and because that which lay ahead far
outweighed all that he had come into thus far, even after all those
You see, these are the two great lessons of life. Where does hope lie?
Negatively, you have to say: 'Well, looking at myself, as I now see
myself in the light of God's uncovering of everything, I have to say:
"There is no hope there! There is no hope in me! I have proved that I
am hopeless in this realm of things."' And that is what Paul was
referring to when he said: 'Forgetting ...' What was it about which he
said: 'Forget ...'? Look at the chapter again and you will see. It was
all the things in which there was no hope. He was recounting those
things which he said, 'were gain to me' in the old life, all the
things that made up this world for him in the past, and was saying: 'I
have come to see that these things were no ground of hope at all. I
have come to see that, though I may have had everything to which people
in this world aspire, things that men are ambitious to get, there is no
hope at all in them.' That is the great lesson of life, on the one side
-- to discover where there is no hope and to leave it. Leave the
hopeless ground! Forget it! Oh, for this grace of forgetfulness, in
this matter at any rate! Forgetfulness is a great trouble to some of us
as we get older. But here is something which we are bidden to forget.
And on the other side, of course, we have to learn where hope lies.
What is the ground of hope? And here Paul is but the counterpart of
Moses. Moses is bringing into view the land -- the wonderful land
flowing with milk and honey, with all its wealth, all its fruitfulness,
all its depth and fulness. All that was in view. And now today we know
that all that was but a prophetic pointer to the spiritual. We have
heard hundreds of times, perhaps, that that land depicts, typically,
Christ, the 'heavenly country'; Christ, in whom all the fulness dwells.
Hear Moses talking about the riches and wealth in the land, and then
hear Paul crying: "O the depth of the riches ...!" Oh, the fulness he
had seen in Christ! The land and Christ are part and counterpart. Where
is the hope to deliver Moses and Israel from despair? It lies in
Christ: "Christ in you the hope of glory." What is the hope with Paul?
Well, his outlook was not too inspiring, you know. He had many things
that made up a ground of very real depression: 'All they that be in
Asia be turned from me', and then he mentioned different ones who had
left him. And then, looking at himself in his situation, it was not too
inspiring from the natural point of view. He was shut up in prison,
tied to his chain, and reduced to pen and paper, but he was not for a
moment cast down or depressed. Why? Because he had seen how much more
there is in the Lord Jesus than he had ever attained unto. Christ is
bigger than it all. His Christ is bigger than everything, bigger than
all the accumulated discouragements, so he says: 'I have counted
everything as loss, as refuse, that I may gain Christ and be found in
Him ...' -- "Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching
forward to the things that are before, I press on towards the goal unto
the prize of the on-high calling of God in Christ Jesus." There is the
hope, and that saves from despair.
I wonder, dear friends, if this is all words to you? What would be your
salvation in a time of severe trial, disappointment, discouragement,
opposition, perhaps of disillusionment? I suggest to you that it is
that the Christ whom you have seen and come to know is bigger than all
that. You just cannot give up everything because of the difficulties,
for what you have seen of Christ is so real. It is not theory, nor mere
teaching. It is not mere verbiage. No, it is your own heavenly vision.
You have seen, and what you have seen you just cannot un-see. What has
come to you, you cannot let go as some mere thing, for it is your life.
And when I say 'it', I mean Him. What the land was to Moses Christ was
to Paul -- very, very real, very wonderful and very great. And that was
hope in a day when it might well have been despair and deep depression.
So, what is it? It is the fulness of Christ that has got a grip on the
heart, is pulling at the heart strings and drawing on, getting through
the transition, and disappointment, of sorrow, of anguish, and of all
that into which we have been brought in [117/118]
those training ways of God when it would have been so easy to give it
all up -- if it were not that we have seen the Land; that we
have been to Pisgah's mountain, and viewed the Land; that we have had
some revelation of Jesus Christ to our hearts that just cannot be given
up as something that does not work, and does not matter.
"That I may know Him!" says Paul in this chapter. That is not
the quest of a beginner, but of a man at the end of a long and full
life of learning Christ. Here, at the end, with that so full and rich
knowledge of his Lord, gained through all the years of training, he
says, in effect: 'My knowledge of the Lord is such that I see far
beyond my present attainment and experience. I see that He is far, far
greater than anything to which I have yet come.' So it is that he says:
"That I may know him!"
There does come a time in the Christian life when the Lord says: 'Now,
look here, I have been dealing with you. I have been making you know
and understand very much, and now the time has come when all that is
going to be put to the test as to its real value. Have you learnt the
lessons? What do they amount to now in your being able to take
responsibility in spiritual things?' Those crises arise from time to
time. They are very real, for a new phase of things is breaking upon
the people of God. I do not think I am wrong if I say that the time has
begun when the people of God are going to be put to the test as to
their inheritance, as to what they have received from the Lord.
Now, let us gather up all the values of our past experience of the Lord
and His past dealings with us and bring them to this resolve:
'I press on ... I press on ... I press toward the goal of the prize of
the on-high calling of God in Christ Jesus.'
I wonder if we can come to that resolve! Individually, you may have
been in the fires and have been having a pretty hard and painful time
in your spiritual life, but that only means that God has seen preparing
you for something more. No, God is not a God who believes in bringing
everything to an end. He is always after something more. He is made
like that, if I can put it so. Something more, and then something more
-- that is God! And if He has to clear the way for something more by
devastating methods, well, that is all right, for it is something more
that He is after. There is so much more, far, far transcending all our
asking or thinking.
I said that individually you may have been in the fires, but it may
also be as a company. The Lord does deep, deep ploughing, but it is
always in order to do deep sowing. He wants a harvest, a crop, and his
past dealings, though they may seem to have been devastating, are only
in the light of that so much more that He would have. But there must be
this resolve to go on, and not give up: 'I am going on, by the grace of
God. I press toward the goal!'
May that spirit be found in us!
We acknowledge with gratitude the following gifts received from the 1st
June to the 27th July, 1970:
Belfast £2; Blackburn £2 10s.; Bournemouth £5;
Braunton £2; Bristol £2, £2, £1; Bromley
£5; Buntingford £2; Chelmsford 15s.; Clitheroe £2
10s.; Eastbourne 10s.; Edinburgh 18s.; Glasgow £5, £8 6s.
8d.; Gy, Switzerland £10; Hastings £5, £5;
Hildenborough £5; Horley £1; Hove £1; Inverness
£5; Ipswich £1 10s.; Kaleden, Canada 18s. 4d.; Keith, 10s.;
London N.W.3 £5; S.E.23 12s., 10s., 10s., 10s., £1,
£5, £2, £5, £1; Maidstone 10s.; Nairobi, Kenya
£1; Northwich 1s.; Norwich £3; Pontypool 10s.; Port
Colborne, Canada £4; Pretoria, South Africa £2 10s.;
Sicamous, Canada £4; Simmozheim, Germany £1; South Park,
Western Australia £4 13s.; Surbiton £5; Teignmouth
£1; Teufen, Switzerland £4 15s. 8d.; Toronto, Canada
£1; Winterthur, Switzerland £3. Total: £133 9s. 8d.
Amarillo, Texas $1; Beaumont, Texas $7.25; Bernardsville, N.J. $10,
Birmingham, Ala. $15, $10; Cleveland, Ohio $1; Detroit, Mich. $4;
Flushing, N.Y. $25; Fort Worth, Texas $25; Glendora, Calif. $5;
Hampton, Va. $5; Kansas City, Mo. $2; Lake Isabella, Calif. $2;
Livermore, Calif. $3.30; Long Beach, Calif. $40; Louisville, Ky. $10;
Martinez, Calif. $15; Monroe, Mich. $18.30; Sacramento, Calif. $5; San
Diego, Calif. $5; Shawnee, Kansas $5.30; Waltham, Mass. $6. Total:
Cape Town, South Africa Rands 2.00. [118/119]
Ready in September 1970
OF DIVINE REVELATION
We have pleasure in announcing the above new book (112 pages),
which will be available at the end of September.
Price: 8/- per copy (40np) ($1.60)
Postage on one copy: 1/- (5np) (10 cents) [119/120]
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)
|FOUR GREATNESSES OF DIVINE REVELATION
|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 [120/ibc]
[Inside back cover]
MOTTO CARD 1971
The wording of the new motto card will be:
"My grace is sufficient for thee"
2 Cor. 12:9
"Our sufficiency is of God" 2
"Always having all sufficiency"
2 Cor. 9:8
"We may find grace to help" Heb. 4:16
Printed in blue and gold.
Large size -- 9d. each
Postage and packing -- on one card: 6d.; up
to a dozen cards: 1/4d.
Small size -- 4d. each
Postage and packing -- up to a dozen cards:
4d.; up to 3 dozen cards: 6d.
The postage on cards sent overseas is a little higher than the above
Orders for these cards may be placed immediately. They will be
despatched as soon as available.
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:
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Telephone: 01-699 5216/4339
Witness and Testimony literature can also be obtained from:
|P.O. Box 68505,
||1505 South Westmoreland Avenue,
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|Convocation Literature Sales,
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