"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




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.


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".


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 entirely, earthly.

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 2:4).

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 Corinthians 4:18).

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 God-forsakenness.

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


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 Messianic mentality.

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


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 the ages."

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".



Chapter 4


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.


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."


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 6).

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 around them.

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 life.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 true.

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)


[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 1:35):

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 practice:

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 Him:

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 glory:

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 2:11-13).


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 perils.

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.

For example:

(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 John 2:17).

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 Christ."

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. Lang



[Harry Foster]

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 hear.

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.



"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 2:5-11).

"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" (Philippians 3:8-9).

"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'.


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.


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 others do.

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 they not?

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.


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?


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 humanity.


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.


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 fullness.

The Lord give us understanding and help from His Word!

(To be continued)


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" (Philippians 3:13-14).

"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 remember."

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 remember that!'

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.


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 years.

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:

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Cape Town, South Africa Rands 2.00. [118/119]

Ready in September 1970


T. Austin-Sparks

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]


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    
   Vol. 1 ALL THINGS IN CHRIST   8/6 ($1.80)
   Vol. 2 (Cloth boards) 7/6 ($1.60)
  (Art paper covers) 6/- ($1.28)
WHAT IS MAN?   7/6 ($1.60)
  Vol. 2 5/- ($1.07)
WE BEHELD HIS GLORY (Vol. 1) (Cloth boards) 6/6 ($1.39)
  (Art paper covers) 5/- ($1.07)
WE BEHELD HIS GLORY (Vol. 2) (Art paper covers) 3/6 ($0.75)
OUR WARFARE   4/6 ($0.96)
   CHRISTIAN LIFE   4/6 ($0.96)
   THE FINAL CRITERION   4/- ($0.85)
   TESTIMONY IN FULLNESS   3/9 ($0.80)
THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST   3/9 ($0.80)
   (Some Considerations on the Prayer-Life)   3/6 ($0.75)
   THE LORD JESUS CHRIST   2/9 ($0.58)
IN CHRIST   2/- ($0.42)
HIS GREAT LOVE   1/6 ($0.32)
UNION WITH CHRIST   1/6 ($0.32)
   (Incorporating Union with Christ in Consecration,    
   The Ministry of Elijah and Stewardship)    
CHRIST -- ALL, AND IN ALL   8d ($0.15)
"I WILL OVERTURN"   6d ($0.10)
THE SUPREME VOCATION 6d each ($0.10)
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A GOOD WARFARE 6d each ($0.10)
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WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN? 6d each ($0.10)
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6d ($0.10)
2d ($0.04)
CHRIST OUR LIFE   Free of charge
By H. Foster (Booklet)    
2d ($0.04)
By Various Authors    
   (Each volume contains a number of separate messages )

THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY Vol. 1 3/- ($0.64)

Vol. 2 3/3 ($0.69)

Vol. 3 3/6 ($0.75)
   The three volumes, when ordered together:   9/- ($1.92)
For Boys and Girls    
By G. Paterson    
   (170-page cloth-bound book. Illustrated)   5/- ($1.07)
By H. Foster    
   (All with illustrated art paper covers)    
READY FOR THE KING (48 pp. Illus.)   1/6 ($0.32)
ON WINGS OF FAITH (52 pp. Illus.)   2/- ($0.43)
BURIED TREASURE (48 pp. Illus.)   2/- ($0.43)
OPENING IRON GATES (40 pages)   2/3 ($0.47)
Published by SURE FOUNDATION (U.S.A.)    
By DeVern Fromke    


Printed in Great Britain by Billing and Sons Limited, Guildford and London [120/ibc]

[Inside back cover]


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 Cor. 3:5

"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 rates.

Orders for these cards may be placed immediately. They will be despatched as soon as available.

[Back cover]


The six issues of the magazine, bound together, to form a volume with light blue art paper cover, are available for the following years: 1967, 1968, 1969. Price per volume (1 year): 5/- ($0.70).

Certain back issues of the paper are also available and will be sent to those who desire them at cost of postage only. Please indicate the date of the issue(s) required.

POSTAGE AND PACKING: For postage and packing please add the following to the total amount of the books ordered:
Orders totalling less than £1 -- please add 3d in the shilling.
Orders totalling more than £1 -- please add 2/6 in the £.
To the U.S.A.: Please add 10 cents in the dollar.

Orders for literature and requests for "A Witness and A Testimony" should be addressed to:
39 Honor Oak Road, London, S.E.23, England.
Telephone: 01-699 5216/4339

Witness and Testimony literature can also be obtained from:

M.O.R.E., Westmoreland Chapel,
P.O. Box 68505, 1505 South Westmoreland Avenue,
Indianapolis, Los Angeles,
Indiana 46268, U.S.A. California 90006, U.S.A.
Convocation Literature Sales, Evangelical Literature Service,
1370 Ray Street, (Mr. Donald J. David),
Norfolk, 158 Purasawalkam High Road,
Virginia 23502, U.S.A. Madras, 7, India.

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