"A Candlestick of Pure
Gold: of Beaten Work" Exodus 25:31
"The Testimony of Jesus" Revelation 1:9
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|March -- April, 1971
||Vol. 49, No. 2
THE HOLY SPIRIT'S BIOGRAPHY OF CHRIST (3)
(A) THE TRUE LIFE AND THE FALSE LIFE
AS you know by now, we are occupied in these morning meetings with what
we are taught through the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 3.3, that is,
that the Holy Spirit is writing a spiritual biography of Jesus Christ
in every member of the Body of Christ. To put that in another way, the
spiritual history and experiences of true believers are a repetition of
what was true of the Lord Jesus, excepting His deity. So we have to
understand that the Holy Spirit is repeating the life of the Lord Jesus
So far we have been occupied with the first chapter of that biography:
the eternal link with the Lord Jesus, which is by the gift of eternal
life. That means that what was true of the Lord Jesus in His eternal
life becomes true in every believer.
Now I did not say all that I wanted to last time, so I will add just a
few things and then hope to be able to go into the second chapter of
ETERNAL LIFE ALL-GOVERNING
Let me, then, repeat this truth. Eternal life does govern the history
and destiny of humanity. Without that eternal life there is no hope;
humanity is in a hopeless position. The destiny of those without this
gift of God is a very hopeless thing, for it is eternal death. That
does not mean annihilation, nor extinction, but it does mean eternal
separation from God; and if you want to know what that means, look at
the Lord Jesus in the last moments on the cross and hear Him cry: "My
God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"! But this other side, eternal
life, is the basis of eternal hope, so it is just exactly the opposite.
Thus eternal life is the governing factor in history and in destiny.
That is indicated in two ways in the Bible. It is indicated on the
first page and on the last page, [25/26] which
means that the whole of the Bible lies between this one thing. All that
is in the Bible of history and destiny lies between chapter one and the
last chapter, and in both of those chapters this one matter of life
governs everything. It is therefore all-governing. In the beginning it
is indicated in the tree of life in the Garden; at the end it is
indicated in the tree fully grown in the city -- the tree of life in
the midst of the paradise of God.
As to that tree in the Garden at the beginning (and, of course, it is
only a figure, or type), it is the centre of life, so God indicates
that this thing called life is at the centre of everything. Life is
centred in that tree representatively, and you notice how very jealous
God is about that tree. He is so jealous that, when man sinned against it,
He set a wall of fire around it, and took every precaution against man
touching it. He said: "Lest he put forth his hand, and take also
of the tree of life", and put a cherubim there with a flaming sword. It
would be a very dangerous thing to touch that unless man was in full
fellowship with God! God is very jealous over this matter of eternal
life! That tree, symbolically, is a test of man's relationship with
God. It is a challenge to man as to his relationship with God, or, in
other words, as to whether he is in right standing with God. The whole
issue hung upon man's fidelity to God, for that was the test. You see,
man was put on probation. This life was to be given on one condition
only: was man going to be faithful to God, or not?
Let us get away from the symbol and the type. That tree is a type of
the Son of God, Jesus Christ, for He is the tree of life, and our
attitude towards the Lord Jesus is going to determine our destiny --
whether we have eternal life or eternal death. We know from Genesis
that on that day when man showed that he was not faithful to God, that
in spirit and in mind he was not true to God's Son, he died, and the
whole race died in him. In Romans 5 Paul says that death entered into
the human race because of one man's disobedience; so the destiny of the
human race was settled on that day. The Lord had said: "Of the tree of
the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the
day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17).
Thus man died spiritually, because death is separation from God.
So we are brought to this, as our New Testament teaches us so fully:
the Lord Jesus is the test of our relationship with God, and that
relationship determines whether it is to be life or death. The Lord
Jesus is set up in the midst of the human race to determine life or
death for mankind. So eternal life governs everything.
ETERNAL LIFE RESERVED IN JESUS CHRIST
Now note the next thing. The Lord took action and set a fence around
that tree of life. In so doing He said: 'No one shall have life apart
from that tree.' In other words, it is impossible for anyone to have
eternal life apart from the Lord Jesus, for this life is in God's Son.
"He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God
hath not the life" (1 John 5:12). Life, then, is reserved in Jesus
Christ and cannot be had outside of him. Well, of course, that is very
simple and elementary but we have not finished yet!
You notice what happened in the Garden: Satan was there to make God a
liar. Jesus said that Satan "is a liar, and the father thereof" (John
8:44), and he was there in the Garden to make God a liar, Did he do it?
Mark you, this is something very important for us to notice today, for
this is always Satan's way. He did not accept the situation in the
Garden, and he never does accept a situation. There will come a time
when he will have to accept a situation and will not be able to do
anything about it, but all through the ages he has refused to accept
this situation and has told a lie. So man has fallen a victim to the
lie of Satan. What is Satan's lie in connection with life? He offers
false life, another kind of life that looks like the true one. Satan
falsifies true life, and, instead of being spiritual life, it is just
soul life. Do you know the difference between spiritual life and soul
Satan attacked the soul life of Adam. You know what the soul is, do you
not? It is your reason, your emotions, your will. Satan began by reasoning
with Adam, and, oh, what a dangerous thing it is to argue with Satan!
Never reason with the devil, or, in other words, do not listen to his
arguments! There is a sting in his tail! So Satan first came to man's
reason and started an argument: "Yea, hath God said?" (Genesis 3.1).
Immediately a question about God was lodged in the mind. There is a
terrible destiny bound up with that question!
Then Satan appealed to Adam's feelings, and, pointing to the
fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he said: 'You see
how lovely and full of juice that fruit is! How much it is to be
desired!' So Adam looked at the fruit and said: 'How lovely! I think I
would like some of that.' His emotions went out to it, and when Satan
has got your mind and your emotions, it is not far to your will!
The next thing was that Adam took the fruit. He used his will, and the
damage was done.
It is all symbolic, but, you see, it contains eternal principles. The
whole kingdom and reign of [26/27] Satan are
built upon that basis. The mind, the heart and the will of humanity are
captured by the devil, but it is false life. What about all the emotion
in the world, even in Christianity? There is a vast difference between
spiritual, eternal life, and soul life. There is such a thing as false
life, and that thing is the master-stroke of Satan! You will remember
that there was a time in the history of Israel in the wilderness when
certain sons of Aaron brought false fire and offered it upon God's
altar. You know what happened! You know all about God's jealousy. There
is a vast amount of false fire in this world today. It looks like true
life, true fire, what is of God, but there is a lie in it, and the
fruit of that tree is bitter fruit in the end.
I think this is a time in the world's history when we need to
understand this more than ever. How can we discern the difference
between the true life and the false life? Well, I think John is the
great messenger of this, because his writings were particularly in this
connection. He wrote in a time when everything in Christianity was
being falsified. There was Christ and anti-Christ. In fact, there were
many antichrists, for many false spirits had gone abroad. It was a time
when Christians were being deceived, and John, writing for that time,
said: "The anointing which ye received of him abideth in you, and ye
need not that any one teach you" (1 John 2:27). In effect, John was
saying: 'By the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of the true life, you
will be able to discern between the true and the false.' Even when they
look so much alike, the Spirit in you will say: 'There is something not
true about this!'
I think that one of the things that indicates whether it is true or
false is whether man made it or not. You see, those sons of Aaron made
their incense, and they did not make it of the same ingredients as
those with which the true incense was made. It was something which
looked like the true, but it was false, and the Spirit of God knew the
difference. We have to be very careful that we do not create false
fire, for that is the danger of strong personalities. Do you notice how
many of these things which look like life have come from strong
personalities? They are uncrucified Christian men! Is that a
contradiction in terms? No, the Cross has to divide between soul and
spirit, and if you see the fire coming from strong, forceful soulish
men, you have reason to doubt the reality of it. When the true fire
comes, it is always through crucified men.
I think the Apostle Peter could have created a lot of false fire. He
was a man who was always trying to get things going! He would rush in
in front of someone else, and would even tell the Lord Jesus where to
get on and where to get off! It would have been a poor lookout for
Christianity if it had come through Peter! But Peter had to go to the
Cross, and the true fire of the Holy Spirit did not come until he was
an utterly broken man.
Well, perhaps I have said enough on that matter, but it is something
that should be an instruction to us in these days. We do verily need to
know the difference between the true life and the false life, for
Satan's master-work is to imitate God.
Now can we go on with the next chapter in this spiritual biography?
(B) THE CRISIS OF BETHLEHEM
I want you to read these passages very carefully. You may think that
you know them, but before we have finished I think you may find that
you do not!
Luke 1:26-34, 37, 38.
There has to be a Bethlehem in the spiritual history of every believer.
What is the Bethlehem of the child of God? It is not in Luke's Gospel,
for that is the Bethlehem of the Lord Jesus. John's Gospel is the
spiritual history, and the Bethlehem of the child of God is in chapter
3: 'Most truly I say unto you, you must be born anew.' That is our
THE RENUNCIATION OF THE LORD JESUS
Things did not begin with the Lord Jesus at the little town of
Bethlehem in Palestine. I have called that a 'crisis', for it was a
turning-point in Christianity, but it all began in heaven. You have to
go back behind Bethlehem and into heaven, and see what was happening
there. The eternal Son of God was there, and He was equal with God. He
was one with God in position, having all heaven's fullness and Divine
glory. In John 17:5 the Lord Jesus prayed in these words: "Father,
glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with
thee before the world was", and that was before Bethlehem! In
heaven, then, before this world was, there was the Son possessing the
glory of God, occupying the very throne of God, the throne of the
universe. Then, speaking in human language, the point came when
something needed to be done in this little world. God had lost His
place, had been rejected, and man had lost what God had intended for
him. He had forfeited the eternal life which God had intended him to
have. So to speak Satan and man together had turned God out of this
world, and it [27/28] was in pride. Satan had
said: "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my
throne above the stars of God ... I will be like the Most High"
(Isaiah 14:13-14). We know the result of that! And man entered into a
complicity with Satan and God's place and God's life were lost to man.
There is so much more in that word 'lost' than we are accustomed to
thinking! We sing: "I was lost, but Jesus found me", but when were you
lost, and what did you lose?
Here we are in an eternal setting. Jesus said: "The Son of man came to
seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10), and as we go on we
shall see what that was.
In this situation in eternity the Son said: 'I will undertake to bring
it all back. Father, I will do this service for You. I know what it
means. Because it was pride that did all the mischief, pride must be
destroyed in Me. Because it was disobedience that resulted in all this
trouble, obedience must be the law of My life.' Well, to make it short,
away there in eternity the Lord Jesus made the great renunciation. He
relinquished His position, emptied Himself of His fullness, humbled
Himself, and then came forth to do this service for God, which was to
recover God's place in this world and in this universe. That was the
crisis of Bethlehem!
Can it be true? Is that little babe in that manger in the innermost
reality of His being that eternal Son who occupied the place of supreme
authority in the past ages? Is this little baby the same One who was
filled with the glory of God and all heaven? Oh, wonder of wonders, He
has indeed taken the lowest place! What ought He to have had? But what
He did have was a manger in a stable! There was no place for Him in the
world that He Himself had created. "He came unto his own things, and
they that were his own received him not" (John 1:11). What a crisis in
That is what took place in heaven, so you are not surprised that heaven
is interested in this crisis! To begin with, an archangel, Gabriel, is
interested, and then we read of a "multitude" of angels who are
interested, for they know something of the meaning of it.
Well, we have to come to the really important thing. Where was all this
focused? In a simple Galilean woman, whose name was Mary.
You know, for two reasons we have lost something very wonderful in this
connection. It is the devil's trick again! Satan will always try to get
hold of something Divine and discredit it, and the Church of Rome has
discredited this living thing by the worship of the Virgin Mary. If you
go into Roman Catholic countries and see the place that the Virgin Mary
has, your whole being revolts against it and you do not want to talk
about her. This is a great triumph for the devil, as you will see in a
moment or two.
There is another thing that has made us very hesitant to dwell upon
this birth of Christ, and I think it is either a right or a wrong
sensitiveness. We are so nice and so good, you know, and we do not like
to read and talk about this Virgin Mary! I wonder how you felt when we
read that passage from Luke just now! 'It is very wonderful and very
beautiful, but don't let us dwell upon it too much! Let us be very
sentimental, very proper, very good and very nice!' Do you know what I
So, for these two reasons, we have lost something that is very Divine,
and I think poor Mary needs to be redeemed. She needs to be brought
back to her right place, and we have to get a new appreciation of this
young woman. I have a friend who is a Mother Superior in a very high
Catholic body. When I last went to see her she took me into the chapel,
and as she went in she bowed to the Virgin Mary. I cannot tell you how
badly I reacted to that! She did it again when we went out, and, no, I
did not bow! My reaction to that was very bad, but I have had to
recover something about Mary.
There is a link between that which happened in heaven with the Son of
God when He emptied Himself, and Mary. Do not make any mistake! Mary
had to make a great renunciation, for she knew what it meant to have a
child without a husband. Is that not the deepest shame that a woman can
know? Does that not mean that she has sacrificed all that is noble and
honourable about womanhood? Supposing it became known that this child
was born and Joseph was not the father! Who was the father, then? That
is something for people to talk about! I am not sure that the people in
wicked Nazareth had not already spread a rumour, because at one time
some of the enemies of Jesus Christ threw this thing at Him, when they
said: "We were not born in iniquity" (John 8:41). Is that not horrible,
terrible? Ah, Mary knew what it meant! She knew that if this thing got
out into the world she would be counted as one of the world's most
disgraceful people. Everyone would look down upon her. She was afraid,
and, more than that, "greatly troubled". The angel Gabriel read what
was going on in her soul and said: "Fear not, Mary." Never in all
history did a woman need that word more than Mary did that day! She had
taken in the situation and realized in what she was involved. [28/29] The angel Gabriel said: 'Mary, you are a very
specially favoured woman. God has favoured you more than other women.'
And the word that the angel used was 'grace' -- 'God has put His grace
upon you more than upon any other woman.' Well, she considered the
whole thing, realizing what it meant, knowing that if she had to go out
into the world, and the world knew about it, it would talk (and the
world never gives a Divine meaning to a thing like that! You know the
kind of world we are in!), and she said -- note! -- "Behold, the bondslave
of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." I put a mighty
emphasis upon that word 'bondslave'! Did Mary empty herself of a
woman's glory? That is what it meant naturally. Did Mary humble herself
to be obedient unto death? For, you know, a woman like that would have
been stoned in Israel, and she knew it. Did she humble herself and
become obedient unto death? Oh, yes, she did. She went down to the
lowest place. But what is the word? "Bondslave of the Lord" --
the servant of God.
Now the whole Bible is opened up! Before the Bible began the Divine Son
was saying: 'I will be Your servant, Father. I will go down to be Your
bondslave.' And right from the beginning God has sought to have servants
. You have a long line of servants of God in this world's history:
Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and on you go to
Isaiah, the Prophet, who says: "Israel, my servant" (Isaiah 41:8). They
were the people of service.
That is what God is seeking, but it is always a very costly thing. It
cost Abel his life, for he was obedient unto death; Enoch found it was
no longer possible to live in a world like this; and so you could go on.
WHAT IS SERVICE?
But what do we arrive at? The point is: What is service? What is the
meaning of being the servant of God? Can you put your finger upon it?
Go to Mary again. What is the law? To bring God back into His world,
and that is the only service of God. Service is comprehended in that
one thing -- making a place for God, bringing God back into His right
place, seeing that He is not excluded from His world. The presence of
God is the great law of everything in service. Mary brought God back
into this world, so she was "highly graced", supremely honoured. It was
not just an angel, or a little cherub, that was sent to her, but the
archangel Gabriel was sent from God to this woman Mary, because
she was to be the vessel and the channel of bringing God back into this
world. Is that not tremendous? Is Mary redeemed now? Has she got a new
place? But it is not Mary herself. It is Mary as the bondservant of
God. And it is not what we are in ourselves, but just a matter of how
much of God is brought back to this world by our being here.
Dear friends, is that what the service of God means to you? It is not
the place, nor the person. The place may be a stable and the person a
simple woman. It is nothing of the glory of this world. Oh, how men
have made a mistake over this! They think that in order to have God
present they must have a very elaborate building, with some very
important persons, Lord this and Baron that, with a cathedral here and
a cathedral there -- and the Word says: "The Most High dwelleth not in
temples made with hands" (Acts 7:48). Where is God? "Wheresoever two or
three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of
them" (Matthew 18:20). That can be anywhere, in anything, but the point
is this: we are here, dear friends, as the Lord's people to be His
servants, and true service is bringing God back where we are. Do you
understand that? Why am I here? Why are you here? Why are you wherever
you are? Our presence ought to mean the presence of the Lord.
You see, God has been seeking a place for His feet all through the
ages. He raised up the men I have mentioned in order that He should be
brought back to this world. He raised up Israel in order to bring Him
back, and said: "Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among
them" (Exodus 25:8). The Old Testament is just about that one thing --
a few men bringing God back. That is the meaning of the priesthood, for
it was just to bring God back. That is the meaning of the kingship. The
supreme king said: "I will not come into the tabernacle of my house,
nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber
to mine eyelids; until I find out a place for the Lord" (Psalm
132:3-4). David was a very imperfect man, and Mary, I expect, was a
very imperfect woman, but it was where their hearts were and what was
the purpose of their lives that mattered, and that was to bring back
the Lord. Israel was raised up to bring God back into the midst of the
nations. In the end they failed, and you close the Old Testament. Then
you open the New Testament with Mary of Nazareth, and God coming back
through this simple woman.
I repeat, it is a costly thing to be here for God, but it is a glorious
thing, because heaven is interested. The angels of God are
rejoicing if there is anything of God in this world. The wise men and
the [29/30] poor shepherds were all wondering
what this thing meant. They did not understand it -- but there was
another one who knew what it meant, and this that represented the
presence of God was a mark for Satan. Satan had an evil man in
Jerusalem, and that man massacred all the little boys in order to get
hold of this One. The fear and the hatred of hell were focused upon
this that was of God, and if hell could drive it out, it would. Does
that not explain a lot of spiritual experience? Surely you can now see
the biography being written in spiritual experience! If you are
standing for God here, heaven is on your side, but men will not
understand you. Hell will hate you and do everything to get you out.
Oh, does this not throw a lot of light upon what is happening?
Communism is anti-God, and is the most satanic thing that history has
known. It is saying: 'Get rid of God!', and is the great instrument of
Satan in the nations. The battle for holding the ground for God is
becoming very intense.
Let this test everything. Let it test your own life. How much of the
Lord has come into this world by our being here? That will determine
whether we are the Lord's servants, or not. In the little assemblies of
God's people where they live or work together, it is not the outward
things that matter, but how much of the Lord is there. In the places
where God puts you in this world, does the fact that you are there mean
that the Lord is there? That is the crisis of Bethlehem.
I think I have said enough. It is something to search our hearts, and
we must just say: 'Lord, make me a point where You are in this world!'
(To be continued)
ON KNOWING THE LORD
"... that I may know him ..." (Philippians 3.10).
"Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not
know me?" (John 14:9).
"So that ye may approve the things that are excellent,
that ye may be sincere and void of offence unto the day of Christ"
"And they shall not teach every man his fellow citizen,
and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: For all shall know
me, from the least to the greatest of them" (Hebrews 8:11).
"And ye have an anointing from the Holy One, and ye know
all things ... And as for you, the anointing which ye received of him
abideth in you, and ye need not that any one teach you; but as his
anointing teacheth you concerning all things, and is true, and is no
lie, and even as it taught you, ye abide in him" (1 John 2:20, 27).
IT is of the greatest importance for the Lord's children to recognize
fully that, above all other things, His object is that they should know
Him. This is the all-governing end of all His dealings with us, and
this is the greatest of all our needs.
It is the secret of strength, steadfastness and service. It determines
the measure of our usefulness to Him. It was the one passion of the
life of the apostle Paul for himself. It was the cause of his unceasing
striving for the saints. It is the heart and pivot of the whole letter
to the Hebrews. The secret of the life, service, endurance and
confidence of the Lord Jesus as Son of man was the knowledge of the
All these facts need looking at more closely. We begin always with the
Lord Jesus as God's representative, the Man after His own mind. In His
life on earth there was no part or aspect which did not have its
strength and ability rooted in, and drawn from, his inward knowledge of
His Father, God. We must never forget that His was a life of utter
dependence upon God, voluntarily accepted. He attributed everything to
the Father: word, wisdom and works. He was God manifest in the flesh;
but He had accepted from the human and manward standpoint the
limitations and dependence of man so that God might be God manifested.
There was a subjection here because of which He was able to do nothing
of Himself (John 5:19, etc.). The principle of His entire life in every
phase and detail was His knowledge of God. He knew the Father in the
matter of the words He spoke, the works He did, and the men and women
with whom He had to do; with regard to the times of speaking, acting,
going, staying, surrendering, and silence; with regard to the motives,
pretensions, professions, enquiries and suggestions of men and of
Satan. He knew when He might not, and when He might, give His life.
Yes, everything here was governed by that inward knowledge of God. [30/31]
There are numerous evidences in the "Acts" as the practical, and in the
Epistles as the doctrinal, revelation of God's mind, that this
principle is intended by God to be maintained as the basic law of the
life of the Lord's people through this age. This knowledge in the case
of the Lord Jesus was the secret of His complete ascendency and of His
Masters in Israel will seek Him out and the issue which will
precipitate their seeking will be that of knowing. "Art thou the
teacher of Israel and understandest not these things?" (John 3.10).
Nicodemus has come to One who knows, and whose authority is superior to
that of the scribes, not merely in degree but in kind.
Towards the end of the Gospel of John, which especially brings into
view this very matter, the words "to know" occur some fifty-five times.
Our Lord makes the statement that "this is life eternal, that they
should know thee the only true God, and him, whom thou didst send, even
Jesus Christ" (John 17:3). This does not mean merely that eternal life
is given on the basis of this knowledge. There can be life with very
limited knowledge. But life in fullness is closely related to
that knowledge, and the increasing knowledge of Him manifests itself in
increasing life. It works both ways: knowledge unto life and life unto
Seeing, then that the Lord Jesus Himself, as Man, represents man
according to God, we are well prepared to see that
THE DOMINATING OBJECTIVE OF THE DIVINE DEALING WITH US
is that we may know the Lord.
This explains all our experiences, trials, sufferings, perplexities,
weakness, predicaments, tight corners, bafflings and pressures. While
the refining of spirit, the development of the graces, and the removing
of the dross are all purposes of the fires, yet above and through all
is the one object -- that we may know the Lord. There is only one way
of really getting to know the Lord, and that is experimentally.
Our minds are so often occupied with service and work, we think that
doing things for the Lord is the chief object of life. We are concerned
about our lifework, our ministry. We think of equipment for it in terms
of study and knowledge of things. Soul-winning, or teaching
believers, or setting people to work, are so much in the foreground.
Bible study and knowledge of the Scriptures, with efficiency in the
matter of leading in Christian service as the end in view, are matters
of pressing importance with all. All well and good, for these are
important matters, but, at the back of everything, the Lord is more
concerned about our knowing Him than about anything else. It is very
possible to have a wonderful grasp of the Scriptures and a
comprehensive and intimate familiarity with doctrine; to stand for
cardinal verities of the faith; to be an unceasing worker in Christian
service; to have a great devotion to the salvation of men; and yet,
alas, to have a very inadequate and limited personal knowledge of God
within. So often the Lord has to take away our work that we may
discover Him. The ultimate value of everything is not the information
which we give, not the soundness of our doctrine, not the amount of
work that we do, not the measure of truth that we possess, but just the
fact that we know the Lord in a deep and mighty way.
This is the one thing that will remain when all else passes. It is this
that will make for the permanence of our ministry after we are gone.
While we may help others in many ways and by many means, so far as
their earthly life is concerned, our real service to them is based upon
our knowledge of the Lord.
The greatest of the problems of the Christian life is
THE PROBLEM OF GUIDANCE
How much has been said and written upon this subject! The last word for
so many is: 'Pray about it, commit it to God, do the thing that seems
right, and trust God to see that it turns out all right.' This to us
seems weak and inadequate. We make no claim to ability to lay down the
comprehensive and conclusive basis of guidance, but we are strongly of
the conviction that it is one thing to get direction for the events,
incidents and contingencies of life, and quite another thing to have an
abiding, personal, inward knowledge of the Lord. It is one thing to
call upon a friend in emergency or at special times for advice as to a
course to be taken it is another thing to live with that friend so that
there is derived a sense of his mind in general that will govern in
We want instructions and commands, the Lord
wants us to have a 'mind'. "Have this mind in you"; "We have
the mind of Christ." Christ has a consciousness, and by the Holy Spirit
He would give and develop that consciousness in us. The inspired
statement is that "his anointing teacheth you concerning all things".
We are not servants; we are sons. Commands -- as such -- are for
servants; a mind is for sons.
There is an appalling state of things amongst the Lord's people today.
So many of them have their life almost entirely in that which is
external to themselves -- in their counsel and guidance, their [31/32] sustenance and support, their knowledge, and
their means of grace. Personal, inward and spiritual intelligence is a
very rare thing. No wonder that the enemy has such a successful line in
delusions, counterfeits, and false representations! Our greatest
safeguard against such will be a deep knowledge of the Lord through
Immediately it is things for which we reach out; e.g.
experiences, sensations, "proofs", manifestations, and so on, and we
become exposed in a perilous realm where Satan can give a false
conversion, a false 'baptism of the Spirit'(?), a false evidence and
guidance such as is found in spiritism. Then, with the withdrawing of
those, he immediately suggests the unpardonable sin. If this suggestion
be accepted, the value of the Scriptures and of the Blood is annulled,
and the assurance of those involved is lost, and it may, after all, be
all a lie.
To know the Lord in a real way means steadfastness when others are
being carried away -- steadfastness through times of fiery trial. Those
who know the Lord do not put forth their own hand and try to bring
things about. Such are full of love and patience, and do not lose their
poise when everything seems to be going to pieces. Confidence is an
essential and inevitable fruit of this knowledge, and in those who know
Him there is a quiet restful strength which speaks of a great depth of
To close, let me point out that in Christ "are all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge hidden", and the Lord's will for us is to come to
an ever-growing realization and personal appreciation of Him in whom
all the fullness dwells.
We have only stated facts as to the Lord's will for all His own, and
their greatest need.
The absence of this real knowledge of the Lord has proved to be the
most tragic factor in the Church's history.
Every fresh uprising of an abnormal condition has disclosed the
appalling weakness amongst Christian people because of this lack. Waves
of error; the swing of the pendulum to some fresh popular acceptance; a
great war with its horrors and many-sided tests of faith; all these
have swept away multitudes and left them in spiritual ruin.
These things are ever near at hand, and we have written this message to
urge upon the Lord's people to have very definite dealings with Him
that He will take every measure with them in order that they might know
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE WORD OF FAITH
LAST time we considered the spirit of faith that links us with eternal
reality, and most real of all realities is the fact that Jesus was
raised from the grave. Sin, Satan and death have been conquered, and,
as we have already heard, the argument that that cannot be proved is
without any basis at all. It is so real that it does not fit into this
The first person to proclaim the resurrection was Peter on the Day of
Pentecost, and he did not try to prove it. He just said that it was
impossible that death should hold the Lord Jesus, and no further
argument was needed in the world of truth and reality. Jesus Christ is
risen, and the implications are glorious! Because of that, all things
work together for good for us who belong to Him, and even the most
difficult things serve His purpose for us. Also, all things work
together for good for the work that He has given us to do, for it lives
on in eternity. He is actually the One who has done the work through
us, and so all things work together and make a glorious weight of
eternal values for us all.
THE CHARACTERISTIC EXEMPLIFIED BY THE LORD JESUS
Now we are going to consider what are the characteristics of this word
of faith, and first we will go to our Lord Jesus Himself. After His
resurrection we see Him, full of the spirit of faith and of the spirit
of reality, meeting His friends. Having conquered Satan He stands there
amongst them -- and what does He not say? What He does not say
is not the word of faith: 'I had a remarkable experience in Hades!'
Well, did the Lord not miss His opportunity? What material He had about
which to speak! What a lot of stories He could have told! That could
have been the best-seller of all times, far surpassing the Bible, for
no one would read the Bible if stories of the Lord in Hades were
available! The very idea of the Lord doing such a thing is ridiculous,
it has nothing to do with the word of truth and the spirit of faith.
Yet so many have small experiences -- nothing compared with a visit to
Hades -- and make a lot out of them. If you say [32/33]
to them: 'Don't do it, brother!', they answer: 'Well, it draws the
people and gives them the Gospel.' They think they are drawing people
to the Lord, but they are not.
That was the first thing the Lord did not speak about after His
resurrection, and no one who has the spirit and the word of faith would
Another remarkable thing was that the Lord did not go to the disciples
and say: 'Here I am, risen from the dead. What more do you need?' But
what did He do? We will find the answer in Luke's Gospel, chapter 24:
"Then he said to them, O fools, and slow of heart to
believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have
suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at
Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the
scriptures the things concerning himself.... And he said unto them,
These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you,
that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of
Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me. Then
opened he their understanding that they might understand the
scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved
Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day" (verses
The Lord was risen and stood in the midst of His disciples -- and he
took time to expound the Scriptures. This is very remarkable, and quite
contrary to what we would do. We would have said: 'Well, here I am! All
discussions are ended. Just have a look at me, and what more do you
need?' No, He did not do that. Why not? Because He understood that they
needed more than the fact of His resurrection, and so He did not give
them the resurrection as an historic fact alone, but as an historic
fact understood in the light of all the Scriptures. That is, He gave
them the meaning of His resurrection, and showed them what God intended
it to mean. So after His resurrection He worked hard to make them
understand. He did not give them stories, treating them like children.
He did not even give them the facts alone, but He started with Moses,
went through the Prophets and through the Psalms. He had the "spirit of
faith, according as it is written", and therefore He spoke from the
Scriptures. By expounding those Scriptures He made those disciples men
of God. He knew that if He did not give them all that the Scriptures
told about His resurrection they would never become men of God, even
though they knew that He was risen.
This is the spirit of faith, which is quite contrary to what we would
think and feel. We think that the spirit of faith means that we must
tell stories: 'I was healed ... I was baptized in the Spirit. I spoke
with tongues ...' It does not take very much of a spirit of faith to do
all that, and it certainly does not need the word of faith to say it!
It is only in the realm of illusions that this is called the spirit and
the word of faith. But with Christ it was totally different. He
expounded the Scriptures, hour after hour, for you cannot go through
the Old Testament from Moses in just five minutes.
The word of faith is not what we might call a 'little' word. Sometimes
when I visit a home in the evening and we have had coffee, my hostess
will give me a Bible and say: 'Will you give us a little word?' My
answer is always: 'I cannot find a little word in the Bible.'
In the Bible we only find eternal words of abiding value, and they give
a full and total revelation of enormous depth. The spirit of faith
links us with that wonderful revelation and makes it possible for us to
do as Christ did -- to take of the Father and give unto others.
Christ wanted to make real men out of His disciples, as I want
my son to become a man some day, a man who understands me, a man with
intelligence, a man lifted out of pettiness and smallness. Therefore
Jesus did not draw the attention of His disciples to Hades and to all
the things He experienced there. It takes very much faith to keep quiet
about such things, and we have to be filled with the spirit of faith
not to speak as perhaps we would feel inclined to do. We must know the
Lord so well, and know the real need of men so well, that we speak out
from God in Christ before God. It does not appeal to the flesh. It is
not popular and does not draw thousands of people to big halls. After
His resurrection the Lord was satisfied with one hundred and twenty
THE CHARACTERISTIC EXEMPLIFIED BY PETER
Let us think about Peter on the Day of Pentecost, and notice what he
did not say to the people: 'When this flame of fire came upon
my head I had a wonderful experience! It was like a current of
wonderful joy through my body, and, I tell you, when I started speaking
in tongues it was just heaven upon earth!' He did not say that at all.
In Acts 2:40 we read that 'with many other words he testified', and, of
course, when we hear that word 'testimony' we know exactly what he
said: 'I am so happy. This is my testimony. I have now found what true
happiness and joy are, and I love everyone!'
We have a dear brother in Denmark who always gives his testimony thus:
'I am happy and I love everyone.' I am sorry to say that he tells a lie
every time he gives his testimony! I know him very well; he is not
always happy, and he has many battles [33/34]
with other people. However, people like his testimony very much -- and
it does not help them a bit!
Peter testified here, but he did not say one word along that line. He
could have said: 'I am happy', but why say so when everybody could see
it? Why speak about love when it can be seen that we love everyone? We
only speak about it when it is not true! Peter did not say: 'I am
drunk, not with wine, but with the happiness, the fullness and the joy
of God, and I want you to be drunk in that way also.' There was not a
word along that line! What did he say? He had the spirit of faith, he
spoke the word of faith "according as it is written", so he did exactly
what His Master did after the resurrection. He said: 'This is what Joel
has written about; this is what David saw, and this is what all the
Prophets saw.' The word of faith is not magic, nor some mystical word
coming in a flash of fire and doing the thing without the hearer being
aware of what is happening. Because it is the word of truth it
enlightens, it throws the light of truth into the hearts of men, and
whenever the spirit of truth gives light into the hearts of men a work
of abiding value is accomplished. We take of Him and give to others.
Not even the giver of the Word, the Lord Jesus Himself, allowed Himself
to interpret His resurrection apart from the Scriptures. He is the
giver of all the Scriptures, so He could have put them aside, but He
interpreted His own resurrection, the mightiest reality in history,
from the Scriptures.
We go to people and say: 'I have true joy, happiness and peace.' If you
meet a modern young man he will say: 'LSD also gives joy, peace and
love.' We are unfaithful to the word of truth if, when we give a
message, we concentrate on ourselves, in that way we never help other
people. If we think that is the power of the Spirit, then we do not
know what the Spirit is.
THE CHARACTERISTIC EXEMPLIFIED BY PAUL
We think about another brother, Paul. In 2 Corinthians 12 he says that
he was caught up into the third heaven, into paradise. What a chance,
dear friends! Here is material for evangelism! We would say: 'Let us
have some pamphlets printed about that experience and distribute them
by the thousand! If you speak about having been in the third heaven,
people will be dumbfounded and sit admiring you!' What did Paul do? He
had the "spirit of faith, according as it is written", and therefore
for fourteen years he missed his opportunity. He did not use that
wonderful material he had from the third heaven. What a discipline of
faith! What a spirit of faith to look through all the illusions of men
and all their illusionary expectations! Being so disciplined he would
not feed illusionary expectations. Could you keep quiet about such an
experience for fourteen days? Paul was capable of keeping quiet for
fourteen years, and not until men made him a fool, as he says, was he
forced to speak about it.
So now we have advice from Paul: Whenever a man or woman comes to you
saying that they are in the third, or the seventh heaven, you just --
with a Bible in your hand -- call him or her a fool! Then it will be
discovered how humble they are! Perhaps you will not follow this
advice, but at least you will not be influenced by such stories, for
you do not need them. They do not help you, in fact, they do you harm,
for they draw your attention from the essential thing, and draw you
from the Lord to man. "We preach not ourselves", says Paul. 'We don't
preach our experiences. They are always petty and small compared with
the eternal plan of salvation revealed in the Scriptures. We do not
preach our happiness, nor our emotions. We are not sentimental. We do
not consider our small experiences of very much value to other people.
We have the spirit of faith, so we take up our Father's words, revealed
by the same spirit of faith in the Scriptures, and give them to you.'
Wherever such a work is being done faithfully, something of eternity,
of abiding value is being wrought. Out of such a word men and women are
being created, men who do not waver, men who have true love and
therefore do not speak about it, men who have deep-rooted joy and
therefore do not testify about that, men who know that God is God,
holy, exalted and mighty, men who walk consciously with Him as He moves
through the history of mankind.
This is the spirit of faith and the word of faith. It is foreign to
this world, a stranger to the thoughts and ideas and philosophies of
men, but it is needed more than anything else in the churches and in
THE CHARACTERISTIC EXEMPLIFIED BY MARY
Let us turn to a simple woman of faith, Mary. In Luke 1 you hear Mary
speak in this spirit of faith: "My soul doth magnify the Lord", and
that wonderful song goes on until she finishes by saying: "He hath
given help to his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he
spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever" (verses
Here we have an uneducated young woman speaking in the spirit of faith;
what is it that is so wonderful about what she says? They are her own
words, but, at the same time, they were the words [34/35]
of Hannah in the Old Testament. It is God's word, and Mary's word, so
it is the word of truth. There are not two fountains from which these
words come, but they come from the same fountain. Through the spirit of
faith God's words have become Mary's words, and that tells us how close
Mary was to God. She was as the mouth of God. His words, through the
spirit of faith, became, in a personal way, her words. How close to the
Lord she must have been to be His mouth! That is the spirit of truth,
which relates us to the Lord in the most personal way. The Lord speaks,
therefore we speak. The Lord is quiet, therefore we are quiet. The Lord
has His material. We have not got any material of our own, but we are
one with the Lord.
Thus Mary was used for a tremendous work. She was very weak in herself
and an immense burden was put upon her, but through the spirit of faith
she was one with her Lord and so was enabled to serve all generations.
That is the work of faith, and it can never be undone.
How weak we are in ourselves! But if we have this spirit of faith truly
, and not a travesty of it, then, as God speaks, we speak. Perhaps only
one or two hear that word, but it will have eternal values. It goes out
of God's mouth through our mouth and will never return to Him void.
So through that spirit of faith Mary overcame, although she was weighed
down with burdens. I do not believe that anyone understood her. She
hardly understood it all herself, but all things worked in God's way
for good to that little woman. The Lord was ready to be alongside of
her and to help her, and all things worked together for that work to
which she was called. Jesus was born, and all things worked together
for an eternal weight of glory to Mary.
"We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I
believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore
speak, knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us
also by Jesus, and shall present us with you" (2 Corinthians 4:13-14).
What a word! What a spirit! What an honour to be called to be the
mouthpiece of that spirit and of that word! There is nothing more
important in the life of the Church than that kind of ministry, and it
is the thing about which a great battle is being fought. Today we see
in all four corners of the world a real onslaught upon that word of
faith, that word based upon the Scriptures as a complete, wonderful
unity; that word which does not meet the need of sensational man but
goes much deeper down to the conscience, down to the deep fountains of
the will and character of man inside himself, circumcises him in his
heart, gives him a new heart, a new understanding, a new light, a new
life, a new outlook, and makes him a real man, a man of God in these
I ask you to pray very much that the Lord will keep that word of faith
in the churches and raise up men of that stature. It could be called
the prophetic word. Without it we will all degenerate. With it nothing
can crush us, because that word is just as real as God Himself is real,
and meets the real need of all of us in the most realistic, Divine way.
- P. M.
FOR BOYS AND GIRLS
LOST IN A MAZE
MARGARET and her sister lived in East Anglia, and from time to time
they liked to visit places of interest in that area. One day they were
invited to join a coach party which was planning to visit an
interesting place called Somerleighton Hall. They had never been to
this historic spot before, so they agreed that this would be a happy
thing to do.
It was certainly a happy thing while they walked through the lovely
grounds and while they saw the house, but it was far from being a happy
thing when they decided to go into the maze. It was like this. They saw
that they still had half an hour before the coach was due to drive back
home, so, instead of standing around doing nothing, they thought that
they would just take a look in the maze, not expecting to be there for
more than ten or fifteen minutes.
So in they went, and in no time they had reached the central point. It
was all quite easy. Then they turned to find their way out again. This
was certainly [35/36] not easy. They lost count
of the number of times when they thought that they were on the right
track only to end up again in the centre. Margaret would suggest one
way, only to find that it was wrong, then her sister would make other
suggestions, but whatever they did and whichever way they turned it
always led them back into the middle of the maze.
The hedges which made up the maze were quite high, but among those who
were wandering around there was a very tall man who was sure that he
knew the way and was ready to help others. So he raised his hand high
with a paper in it, so that people could follow his movements. The half
hour was almost gone, so the sisters were greatly relieved to have
found a guide at last. 'Keep your eyes on my hand', he cried out
confidently, 'and we shall be out in no time at all.'
Well, they kept the paper in view and carefully followed the various
turns to the left and right, but in the end where should they find
themselves but back in the centre again. O dear! What would the rest of
the coach travellers be saying, for by now their time was up? They grew
hotter and more worried, feeling as though they never would find their
way out again. It was with great relief that at last they did so and
hurried to the coach. They were ten minutes late! They grew red and
ashamed when black looks came from every side.
That evening, as they were discussing their adventure, Margaret
remembered that she had a leaflet describing the place. They had bought
this when they first got there, and as a matter of fact it was one of
these leaflets that the tall man waved when he vainly tried to help
them. She reached for her handbag, took out the pamphlet, and to her
amazement discovered that it showed a map of the maze with instructions
on how to find one's way out.
'To think of that!' she exclaimed to her sister. 'While we were
wandering about thinking we were lost I had the instructions in my hand
all the time. What a pity I did not think to open the bag and look at
them!' Then something struck her sister: 'That tall man,' she almost
shouted, 'that tall man was waving the leaflet around in his hand. Yet
he led us and himself astray. Why didn't he look at it instead of
waving it above his head?'
How they laughed! And how silly they had been! Yet it is a strange fact
that many boys and girls are wandering around in a muddled state, not
knowing the right way to go, while all the time it is clearly shown in
the Bible. They have one, but they do not open or read it. Some even
wave it about for others to see, but do not themselves obey what it
says. This world is a maze, with no way out, for those who do not open
their New Testaments and find God's answer to their problem. The Lord
Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). - H.F.
THE FAMILY OF GOD
[Roger T. Forster]
Reading: John 1:49-51; 1 Timothy 3.15-16.
ABRAHAM'S four altars helped us to discover the face of God behind the
universe. Isaac's four wells revealed to us the finger of God. So God
has a face and a hand. Now Jacob's four pillars are going to help us to
discover something about God's family.
These four pillars represent the house of God, God's place of
relationships. If God has a face, that means that He is a Person, and
if He extends His hand, it is to do things, but primarily to take hold
of men and women and bring them into a relationship with Himself. So
this particular habit of Jacob's, of setting up pillars everywhere he
went, is going to help us to understand something of those
relationships in the house of God.
Jacob is sometimes a very difficult character to understand. He seems
to have an ability to do everything wrong! That is very encouraging,
for the Church of God is made up of people like that, and that is why
he is one of the best people to teach us what the house of God is all
about. Of course, all these three great men that God used were very
weak and fallible, but it was through these men that God was bringing
such tremendous truths to us. Abraham was very easygoing, but that is
just the sort of man God uses in His Church. He has a wonderful way of
dealing with hopeless material, so He takes all the easygoing, sanguine
[36/37] Abrahams and puts them up on
the Cross, saying: 'It is all right, Abraham. If you trust Me you will
go right through.' Then there was Isaac, who was full of self-pity, but
God can use that sort of material. It is a wonderful thing to be in the
house of God!
But perhaps Jacob seems to us to be the worst of all. For instance, he
was so tied to his mother's apron-strings that he was not married
before he was seventy-seven! Well, you cannot do much with that, but
God can, and that is the tremendous thing about the house of God. Who
is in this house is what really matters, and that is God Himself,
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF TRUTH
1 Timothy, verse 15, is a very difficult verse in some ways, for it
says: "The house of God, which is the church of the living God" -- and
then, is there a full stop or a comma? In the Greek we cannot tell.
Perhaps there is a comma and the verse goes like this: "The house of
God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of
the truth." Ah, so the Church, the house of God, is the pillar and the
ground of truth! But perhaps there is a full stop there, so that the
verse reads like this: "The house of God, which is the church of the
living God. The pillar and ground of the truth; and without controversy
great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh ...",
and that is Jesus, who was "justified in the Spirit, seen of angels,
preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into
glory". So perhaps Jesus is the pillar and ground of truth! Perhaps the
answer is that both are the pillar and ground of truth. The
Church is the pillar and ground of truth, but so also is the Lord
Jesus, because all that matters about the Church is the Lord Jesus, and
all that the Church is is found in the Lord Jesus. The Church is His
Body. He fills all things, and He is the truth and the ground of truth,
but He is found in us, so we are the pillar and the ground of truth.
Perhaps that is why Paul, when he writes to the Corinthians, says: "For
as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that
body, being many, are one body: so also is the Christ" (1 Corinthians
12:12). There the Body is called the Christ. All that matters about our
bodies is what is inside them, and if they had no one inside them, they
would not be worth anything at all. In fact, they would soon fall to
pieces. They would not exist, and if the Lord Jesus did not exist
today, neither would the Church; but He does exist, and is alive for
evermore, so that is why the Church is still in existence, and what is
in Him is the pillar and the ground of truth.
Now, if we had followed the story of Jacob and looked in the first
place where Jacob's pillars are mentioned, in Genesis 28, and noticed
that he put up a pillar on the ground where he had slept, we would have
found that he said: "This is none other but the house of God, and this
is the gate of heaven" (verse 17). So, the place where he set up his
pillow to become a pillar was the Church, the house of God, and to make
quite sure that we would understand this he poured oil over the top and
anointed it. He 'Christ-ed' it. And this setting up a pillar he did
four times in all. Now, you notice that it is not just the pillar that
is the house of God, but the pillar and the ground.
Many churches have two things: a steeple pointing to the sky, and a
graveyard. So, believe it or not, has the Church in the Scriptures. It
has a ground in which there has been a burial, and it has a pillar
which points up to heaven. The ground is the place where the Lord Jesus
has died and been buried, and the pillar is where He is risen again and
ascended to His Father's right hand, and that is the pillar and ground
of truth. As we live in the Lord Jesus we live in His death and burial,
in His resurrection and ascension, and it is all that which is the
Church. There is that in Jacob which has to be identified with Christ's
death. Although Jacob was seventy-seven, he was feeling lonely on that
first night away from home, for things had come to a bad end and he was
afraid. He had reached an end of himself, and he was tired of trying to
do God's work for Him. But in his tiredness he lay down, and there he
was finished. There was nothing more that he could do. Then God gave
him a dream, and he saw a ladder set up between heaven and earth. He
could see that there was something else apart from his tiredness and
his deathliness, and it was something that God had raised up which
opened heaven. That is why Jacob rose from where he slept, and on the
ground of his death he established the ladder that he had seen in his
vision. God could do something in that dead man because Jesus also rose
and went up to His Father's right hand.
Some years later Jacob was fleeing from his uncle, Laban (Genesis 31),
but Laban caught him up and was very angry. However, at last they came
to an agreement in that place. They buried their differences there, and
heaped a lot of stones upon the place. This pile of stones could be
translated 'grave', and on the top of the grave they put a pillar,
which they called 'Watchtower', and said: 'God will watch over us.' Do
you see it again? [37/38] There was a place of
burial, and a place which rose up to God Himself.
Later, in Genesis 35, Jacob reached Bethel again, and we read that
Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died, and was buried there. Then Jacob raised
up another pillar, poured on oil and wine, and called it the house of
God. Once again there was a burial, and something rising up to meet God.
Then, also in chapter 35, Jacob moved down towards Bethlehem, and on
the way his wife, Rachel, died. He placed her in the grave, and on it
he placed a pillar. Once again there was a ground of burial, and once
again there was a resurrection that rose to God.
On each of these four occasions Jacob is showing us something about the
house of God, but it all comes out of his own negative experience.
1. DEATH TO ISAAC'S HOUSE
Let us move back into that house of Isaac for a few moments, and there
we find Isaac and Rebekah, of whom we thought last time. They were not
very close in their spiritual life, and now we see Rebekah listening at
the tent door to Isaac, who is complaining that he cannot see any more
and that people might be taking him in, which, in fact, is just what
Rebekah is doing. Then Isaac tells Esau to go out and get the venison,
after which he will bless him. Rebekah hurries out to Jacob and says:
'We must do something in a hurry, for God's purpose is going to be
lost. If we do not do something quickly, you will not get the blessing,
and it is quite certain that God means to bless you. I had a vision
about it, but if we do not do something about it, everything will be
lost.' So they quickly make up some food out of a little kid and
flavour it up with spice to make it taste like venison. After all,
Isaac's taste is not as good as it used to be, so it is all right.
'Come on, Jacob,' says Rebekah, 'you go in and take it into him. It is
all in a good cause. We are doing God's will, and we must cheat your
father somehow.' 'But, Mother,' says Jacob, 'I have a smooth skin, and
Esau is a hairy man.' 'Oh, that is nothing. Just put these skins on.'
So Jacob comes in to Isaac, Isaac is deceived, and Jacob receives the
blessing. When Esau arrives and Isaac understands what has happened, he
lets out a great cry, the cry of a man who knows that God is greater
and has accomplished His will, despite his hardened heart, his
resistance and ignorance. This is a house full of intrigue, unhappiness
and deceit, and of man trying to do God's will for him. Ah, Jacob, that
is not the house of God! There is hatred in that house, and
Esau is going to kill you. You are not learning much about
relationships in this family, Jacob! Rebekah had better deceive Isaac
again by saying that Jacob must go and get a wife from her brother's
family. Isaac believes her, but really Rebekah does this to save
Jacob's life from Esau. Is that the house of God?
It may be that the church you are in has difficulties, but God is
trying to teach you something from that church. He is trying to show us
from the negative what exists in the positive, and that in Christ there
is another, totally different, realm of relationships, but we do not
understand them, nor appreciate them, until we discover the negatives
first of all. That is why the Church always looks a mess, and why there
is always pain and difficulty in relationships. God is showing us what
the house of man is like so that we might understand what He has given
us in Christ. I do not think that any of us are spiritual enough to
believe in our relationships in Christ until we have experienced the
negative, and it is not a matter of just changing from smooth flesh to
rough flesh, for it is all flesh. But the Church is Christ, and
that is where our relationships are, with God and with each other.
Jacob lay down on that first night, tired of trying to do God's will
with clever ways, intrigue, and deceit, with forcing himself, trying to
get round people and keeping them in ignorance. It was all hopeless, so
he said: 'I will go to sleep. I cannot go on!', and that is the death
of a man who has seen that he cannot do the will of God. It is in that
moment of despair, despondency and darkness that we get a vision of
Christ. The ladder is Christ -- the Lord Jesus said so in the first
chapter of John's Gospel. Christ is a ladder set up from earth to
heaven. You see, Jacob had been trying to take steps horizontally to
get God's work done and His will accomplished, but there is really only
one step to take, and that is the vertical one, which is the Lord
Jesus. That step has the will of God accomplished in it. It has an
opened heaven. It has the voice of God, and not the voice of Isaac,
Rebekah or Esau, nor of all the members of the church shouting at one
another. In Christ there is the voice of God and He says: 'I will give
you ...' In the vertical ladder God gives, and when He gives we only
have to take. That is the house of God. If for us the house of God is a
place where we are doing all the engineering and are trying to
accomplish God's work for Him, then we have not really discovered that
the Church is Christ; but once we have discovered that we hear God
continuously saying to us: 'I will give ... I will give ...' It is the giving
God who is found in His house. [38/39]
2. DEATH TO LABAN'S HOUSE
But Jacob still has a lot to learn -- and I think that is true of most
of us! God sends Jacob down to Laban. Well, if Jacob was a twister,
Laban was a double-twister! If we have to learn something like this
from God, He will get us all involved with someone who is twice as bad
as we are, or, at least that is how it will seem to us. But God is
trying to say something to us, and it is that word which we are so deaf
to hear, because we always think that God is saying: 'Laban is a
double-twister!' Somehow, though, that does not seem to live in us, it
does not do anything in us, and it does not create anything in
us because we are not really hearing what God is saying. He never tells
Laban off. All He has to say is to Jacob, and when Jacob really hears
the message, then he can finish his apprenticeship and go home, but it
takes him many years.
You remember that he wanted to marry that little ewe-lamb, Rachel --
because that is what 'Rachel' means -- and you can imagine what a nice
girl she was. But Rachel had a sister, Leah, which means 'bleary-eyed',
or 'cross-eyed', so you can imagine what she was like! For seven years
Jacob served Laban for Rachel; then the marriage night came -- and in
the morning he found that it was Leah and not his little ewe-lamb after
all. It must have been a terrible psychological shock but, you see,
Laban was a double-twister. You know now what it feels like, Jacob, to
be twisted, and you thought you could do the will of God by twisting
your brother! It must have been a terrible thing for Jacob to realize
that outwardly he could embrace Leah, but to find that internally he
was not really joined to her in his own heart's love. Has God shown you
that in the Church? Outwardly we can embrace so much, and then it
suddenly dawns on us: there is no heart relationship. We have gone
through all the outward motions, but our love for Christ is so thin,
and our love for the brethren is so weak. 'Oh, I thought I loved that
brother so much, but suddenly God has shown me that it is an empty
form.' Well, these were the things that Jacob was learning.
Then there was the trouble over Jacob's wages. They were changed ten
times! And when he agreed with his uncle to take all the spotted and
blemished animals, Laban said: 'Oh, yes, I will sign the paper. Where
is it?' and whispered to one of his sons: 'Go quickly and take the
spotted and blemished animals three days' journey away.' So when Jacob
went to get his animals, all the spotted ones had gone. But God gave
him a dream: 'I am still going to give you a lot of spotted animals',
but do you think that Jacob could trust God? Oh, no, he had to help Him
on a bit, so he tried an old wives' trick of taking some sticks and
peeling off the bark, putting them in the troughs of the animals so
that they all got dazzled as they went down to drink, and that was
supposed to produce spotted animals. Well, it did, because God had said
they would be, but He did not need Jacob's help nor any old wives'
trick. Jacob was trying to help God again, but all he did was to make
the sons of Laban angry with him. He became a very rich man and decided
that it was time to go back to Canaan, so off they went, but he did not
say 'good-bye' to his uncle. So Laban was angry and hurried after him,
but when, on catching him up, he could not find the images that had
been stolen by Rachel, his anger cooled down a bit and he and Jacob
buried their differences. They put a lot of stones on the ground and
Jacob set up his second pillar, both of them saying: 'God will watch
over us, whether we do each other harm or not, and whether or not we
cross this sign to damage one another. God will look after our
That is the second thing about the house of God. While we are looking
after our own interests all the time, whether we have Leah or Rachel,
whether we have the right wages or not, whether we have outdone Laban,
or whether he has outdone us, we are not understanding the relationship
that exists in the house of God. 'I will watch over you. I will look
after your interests, for I know what your best interests are. I will
look after your reputation, and your justification. Stop trying to
outdo one another!' The house of God is the place where Father looks
after His children's interests.
When I go home, my little boy of four and my little girl of two are
quite likely to have a squabble, and they fight with one another, but
they never solve any problem by fighting. I resolve the
problem. I pull them apart and make sure that the board of education is
applied to the seat of learning! Thus I look after their interests.
They get a fair deal, and what is really good for them. That is true of
the house of God. Do you not think that the Father knows what is best
for us? Do you think that He is not interested in our interests,
although natural fathers are interested in their children's interests?
Surely the house of God is such a place as that!
So a pillar was raised up on the death of the differences between Laban
and Jacob: 'God will watch over us.' Christ has His eye on it all and
will ensure our interests in being conformed to His Image. [39/40]
3. DEATH TO REBEKAH'S HOUSE
But there are still many things to learn, and Jacob has to move on. He
has to meet Esau soon, and he is afraid. He prays: 'Lord, You told me
to meet Esau, for it was You who sent me back to the land of Canaan.
Now please look after me!', and then he goes out and divides his
company up into little bands. The first psychological trick is to send
a few animals along, the second is to send a few sheep, and the third
is to send a few donkeys, and on it goes. As the first servant meets
Esau he says: 'To my lord Esau, from Jacob.' So does the second, and
the third, and Esau wonders how many more are coming! His anger gets
less and less! Ah, Jacob, you cannot trust God, can you? You just have
to trust in yourself! That is not the house of God. The house
of God is Jesus, and there is nothing else to trust in but Him. There
is no point in trusting yourself, for it is not there. It has been
crucified, put underneath and buried, so you had better trust in the
resurrected Christ, the ascended Lord.
This time God and Jacob came face to face and Jacob's thigh was touched
so that he limped away. Jacob really learnt something then: 'I cannot
trust myself.' When, a few months later, Dinah, his daughter, was
defiled by the son of the leader of Shechem, and her brothers took
their swords and went through the city of Shechem, destroying
everything by a very foul trick, Jacob said to them: 'You have made my
name stink. This was not the way to do it!' I think Jacob had learnt a
lesson! You cannot get Dinah's virginity back with a sword, and you
cannot make the Church pure by cutting people with the Bible. You can
get your revenge, but it does not purify, and if you try to destroy one
another with the sword -- 'I am right and he is wrong' -- that attitude
has to be put right out. This person has a wrong doctrine' -- and so we
divide one another with the Word of God. That cannot do God's work, for
something has been lost which can only be recovered by death and
resurrection. That is the Church. It is not a confidence in what I can
do, nor what I can do with the Word, nor what I can do by calming
Esau's anger down. It is done by setting up a pillar again and
recognizing what the Church of God really is.
Do you remember that I said that this time it was Deborah, Rebekah's
nurse, who was buried? That nurse came with Rebekah all the way from
the distant land to the house of Abraham. She had nurtured Rebekah and
her children, and Jacob learnt a lot from Rebekah! He was very much
like his mother, and Deborah had helped that to continue. This dear old
soul was still alive, even after Rebekah had gone! Well, Jacob is an
old man now, but his nurse is still around. You are going to be in
trouble, Jacob, until Deborah is in the grave! She was the nourishment
of what he was by his mother, the conditioning of what he had through
Rebekah. It has taken a number of years, Jacob! You have tried to do
God's work for Him, but now you have learnt that what has been
cherished by Rebekah's nurse can only go to the grave. What you are by
your mother's flesh, by your nurse's conditioning, has to go, and it is
only there that you can set up the pillar once again.
You see, the Church of Jesus Christ is the place where God says: ' I
will keep you, not that nurse. I will bring you through. You were here
many years ago, but now I have brought you back.' Do you know that the
Church of Jesus Christ is the place that will keep you? Jesus is the
'keeper of Israel', and He will not let us go, but what He salvages is
always without the flesh.
4. DEATH TO JACOB'S HOUSE
Lastly, you remember that Jacob has to place his beloved wife, Rachel,
in the grave. They are on their way down to Bethlehem, but they do not
quite get there, for Rachel is with child, the labour pains begin, and
Rachel cries out in her pain: 'Oh, this is the son of my sorrow!' But,
although she dies, Benjamin, the 'son of my right hand', lives. On the
one hand, he was the 'son of sorrow' to his mother. On the other hand,
he was the 'son of my right hand' to Jacob. On the one hand, the Lord
Jesus is the 'Man of sorrows' who lays the foundation of the Church in
His death, and that means our death, for we were crucified and buried
there with Him. On the other hand, He rises up as the 'Son of My right
hand', and there is the pillar again. There is Christ on the Throne,
the One who must have the first place in the Church. The Lord Jesus
says that when we are prepared to take His glory, it will mean the
death of our glory, for that was what Rachel was to Jacob. The wife is
the glory of the man, and as his glory is placed in the grave, so, by
the power of the Man of sorrows, we see, at the right hand of God, the
glory of the Son of Man who says to His Father: "Father, the glory
which thou gavest me I give to them." The Church of Jesus Christ is the
place of the glory of the Lord Jesus, and not the place of our glory.
In our companies both these sorts of relationships exist. Thank God for
the negatives, for they are driving us to that relationship with Him
where [40/41] we find the true family of God,
the true appreciation of His house, and the sons will delight the
Father's heart throughout eternity. We are learning from each other
just what a great salvation it is that Christ has procured, and what
satisfaction it will give God when we bring our earth-learnt truths
into heaven's eternal glory. It is never us, but Christ raised up in
us, that makes us God's family where He can be at home. Let us go back
to our churches and be willing to accept that a lot of the chaos of
Jacob's house will be found there, but seek to live by faith in Christ
and be able to demonstrate that God is building a different sort of
house. Do not be disappointed with your fellow-believers! God took a
long time over Jacob. Probably your fellow-believers think that He is
taking a long time over you, too, but we are all in together, and He is
in it with us. - R. T. F.
THE BATTLE FOR LIFE
THE DIVINE PURPOSE IN THE CONTINUATION OF THE CONFLICT
Reading: Judges 1:1-26; Colossians 2:15; Ephesians 6:12; Exodus 23.29,
WE come to a closing word on this matter, the nature of which is
indicated by what is contained in the passages we have read.
The first thing we have to grasp fully is the fact which is brought
before us in the Colossian passage: that in the case of the Lord Jesus
the battle is a finished thing. So far as He is concerned, the victory
is secured in absoluteness, in fullness and in finality. He did strip
off from Himself principalities and powers, and made a show of them,
exhibiting them, triumphing over them in His Cross. That brings us to
the ground represented by Israel when the Lord said: "I will drive them
out ..." That means that the Lord is in the place of complete
possession already. So far as He is concerned, the victory is secure.
Now from that point there is this other side of the progressive
realization of that victory by the Lord's people. We have the victory
in absoluteness in Him, but we are to enter into it progressively
ourselves; and it is the progressive aspect of this conflict, and the
great need in relation to it, that is to concern us for a little while
at this time.
THE PROGRESSIVE NATURE OF THE CONFLICT
1. The Fact
The progressive character is clearly seen; that is, we see it to be a
fact. That is perfectly clear from the Old Testament type as well as
from the New Testament statement. The words in Exodus 23 are true to
what we find later in the latter: "I will not drive them out from
before thee in one year ... by little and little I will drive them out
..." (verses 29-30). We may cite Ephesians 6 as a chapter in the New
Testament that indicates this progressive nature of the conflict: "...
our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the
principalities, against the powers ..." (verse 12). In spite of the
fact that the Lord Jesus has Himself stripped them off, overcome them,
displayed them as defeated, we are still in conflict with them. We are
not represented as having sat down with the battle over, we are still
in it. Of course, that hardly needs to be said to those who have
spiritual experience; but here is the fact of the progressiveness of
this battle for spiritual life, spiritual ascendency, over the forces
of spiritual death. We need not dwell more upon the fact.
2. The Divine Reason
Seeing that the Lord Himself has gained an absolute victory, and that,
so far as He is concerned, there is nothing more to be done -- all the
enemies have been met and vanquished in His Cross -- why could He not
just give that victory over to us in its completeness and we go happily
on through life without any spiritual conflict at all? That may sound
rather a foolish question! But we have to bring that question to the
Lord and ask Him to explain [41/42] why it must
be that in His will, in His ordaining, conflict should go on and
victory be progressive, instead of absolute all at once. Why must the
fight go on to the end? Why must it continue? This passage in Exodus
explains the matter for us: "I will not drive them out in one year;
lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply
against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before
thee, until thou be increased ...". The Divine reason, then, is
that there must be development in order to possess the ground which the
enemy still usurps. Our full possession of the victory tarries because
of inability to occupy, because of lack of capacity, because of
spiritual limitation, spiritual immaturity.
Now let us pass from the Old Testament literalism into the New
Testament spirituality, and, if we can, think in terms of spiritual
territory, see territory occupied by spiritual forces. No material
forces can dispossess them, nor occupy that territory. Spiritual forces
alone can occupy spiritual territory. If such are found in possession,
and the only thing that can supplant them is what is spiritual, then
there has to be that which is at least equal to such forces in order to
occupy the place which they as yet occupy. Therefore it becomes a
matter of spiritual measure, spiritual capacity. What the Lord says
here in principle is that He will make spiritual ascendency contingent
upon spiritual growth. So often in the battle we go to the Lord and
pray, and plead, and appeal for victory, for ascendency, for mastery
over the forces of evil and death, and our thought is that in some way
the Lord is going to come in with a mighty exercise of power and put us
into a place of spiritual ascendency as in an act. We must have that
mentality corrected. What the Lord does is to enlarge us to possess. He
puts us through some exercise, some experience, and takes us by some
way which means our spiritual expansion, an increase of spirituality
and spiritual capacity, and as we increase spiritually so we occupy the
larger places spontaneously. The statement in Exodus makes that so
The figure is interesting. Here are people who are called to victory,
to conquest which is progressive and ever developing, and the Lord is
doing the dispossessing, and is going before: "Behold, I send an angel
before thee ..." Now supposing the Lord goes in advance of His people,
drives out all the enemies and leaves the territory unoccupied, but His
people are so small that they can only dwell in a part of it. What is
going to happen? Neither God nor the devil believes in a vacuum. Leave
yourself in a state of passivity and lack of definite occupation, and
you will soon find yourself in trouble. So far as the Lord's people are
concerned, the devil does not believe in having a vacuum, so he fills
it. The principle of this is seen in the story told by the Lord Himself
about the man in whom there was a demon: the demon was cast out, the
house was left without an occupant, and the demon went wandering in
waterless places seeking rest. Finding none, the demon at length
returned to the man out of whom he had been cast. He found the house
swept and garnished, but unguarded, so he promptly took possession. But
this time the evil spirit entered with seven others. It is quite clear
from the Lord's illustration that the enemy does not believe in a
The Lord likewise does not believe in a vacuum. He believes in things
being filled. He believes in full possession, full occupation. That
demands, in a spiritual matter, that there shall be spiritual
enlargement before He can give greater space. I am afraid that
Christendom has twisted things round the other way and has made large
space, hoping to grow to it. So great buildings are put up, and then an
immense amount of work and labour is set in motion to try to fill them.
The Lord does not do things in that way. First of all He enlarges, and
then He gives accordingly. Let us not, however bring the matter down on
to so low a level, but keep it in the realm of spiritual conflict and
warfare. The law which the Lord sets forth here in this passage is that
spiritual ascendancy over the forces of darkness and death corresponds
to spiritual growth, and spiritual growth is essential to spiritual
ascendency, to enlarged territory. The challenge with which the Lord
meets us is this: 'Can you fill it? Can you occupy it? Can you possess
it? Are you able, if I give it to you?' The disaster would be all the
greater if the Lord gave large territory and we could not occupy it and
fill it. How important is spiritual growth, spiritual maturity,
The whole question of progressive victory rests upon progressive
spiritual development. It does not rest upon our having the gift of
ascendency from the Lord. Ascendency is, in effect, developed in us by
spiritual growth and enlargement; it is a matter of capacity. Hence
those who know most of victory are not always those who talk most about
it, but are those who have been through experiences and processes by
which they have been mightily extended in Christ spiritually. Turning
that round the other way, it should be a comfort to know that
everything the Lord does with us which is in the nature of a painful
stretching: that cutting of deeper channels, deeper furrows; that
leading into depths; that breaking up and breaking open; all that which
[42/43] is in the direction of making
for a deeper, wider, higher energy of the Lord through suffering is
intended to bring into a place of spiritual power, spiritual
ascendency. Thus the power of the enemy becomes weaker, because the
power of the saints is becoming greater through their growth in grace
and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The power
of the saints becomes greater only on that ground. We have to be built
up unto power, unto ascendency, unto conquest. It is quite evident that
if there is not an adequate spiritual background to the life of those
who make assaults upon the enemy, they will be knocked to pieces, for
they will not be able to stand up to him. It requires that there should
be spiritual competence, spiritual wealth, spiritual background and
spiritual fullness in order to stand up to the enemy and force him to
quit the position. It is important that we should recognize that.
We must be enlarged to occupy. The Lord will not give otherwise. He is
governed by infinite wisdom in the way in which He deals with us: "I
will not drive them out from before thee in one year ... by little and
little I will drive them out from before thee until thou be increased
..." The measure of spiritual ascendency is the measure of spiritual
3. A Deterrent if Regarded in a Wrong Way
We hurry on to note another thing. That progressive character can
become a deterrent if it is regarded in a wrong way. It seems clear
that many of Israel were deterred and discouraged from going on in the
fight and in utterly driving out the enemy because it was a
progressive, or a slow business. Somehow or other this human nature of
ours likes to get things done with one bound, to have it all cleared up
with one stroke, and the long-drawn-out process of spiritual growth is
often a very discouraging thing to the flesh. So they did not utterly
drive out those nations, simply because it required persistence. It
required, as we say, a pegging away at it, a steady devotion. It
demanded a continuous prosecution, ever something more yet to be done.
It is like that with us. We are so often discouraged and deterred from
going on because we seem to make so little progress; because there
always seems to be more before us than behind; because we seem, after
all, to have gained so little; because we see so much still to be
gained. Mark you, that is a part of the Divine, sovereign ordering. So
long as we are here the Lord will not give us any occasion whatever for
saying: 'Now we can settle down! Oh, but how we are expecting that
almost any day! Our thought is that it will not be long before we come
to a place where we have got the upper hand, where we are in
ascendency, and the fight will then be over, at any rate in the main,
and we can come to rest. I want to tell you in all faithfulness that
right up to the last stroke in this battle you will feel practically
nothing has been done in comparison with what there is to be done. You
will have a sense that the forces before are still well-nigh
overwhelming. No matter how far you progress spiritually, you will
often come to the place where you feel that you are being almost
overwhelmed and that the real back of this thing has not been broken.
The pathway to the glory is the pathway of increasing conflict, and the
most bitter part of that conflict will take place just before entering
the glory. The Lord will never give us reason for settling down.
That is another phase of Israel's failure. On the one hand, while many
were discouraged because of the progressive and long-drawn-out
character of the conflict, it is quite clear that many others entered
into a state of unholy content. They said: 'We have fought, and we have
got so far, and that will do.' Discontent can be both holy and unholy.
There is such a thing as holy discontent. While there remain spiritual
forces to be driven out, to be dispossessed, and while the whole range
and realm of what is spiritual still has in it that which is opposed to
the Lord, you and I have no right to be content. We must not settle
down and say: 'Oh, that is the ideal, but it is impossible! It is all
very well to see what ought to be, but it is no use setting up a
counsel of perfection, and expecting and aiming at what is not possible
amongst the Lord's people or in our spiritual experience!' If we begin
to reason like that, we shall find ourselves in a very sorry state.
During the four hundred years occupied by the Judges, an attitude of
that kind produced misery, continuous defeat and weakness, and a
terrible state of up-and-down experience throughout that long period.
Look at the account in this book of the Judges, and mark the periods
under which Israel laboured in bondage and defeat! Why? The explanation
is found in the first chapter. Read through the chapter again, and note
how repeatedly it is said of certain tribes of Israel that they "drave
not out" their enemies. The result was that they had this long time of
defeat, failure, and misery. What had happened? They had entered into a
state of unholy content. They had said: 'Well, the ideal, of course,
would be to possess the whole land, but the present measure of
occupation seems to be all that is possible, and we must accept things
as they are.'
That comes to us as a very serious challenge in relation to the Lord's
testimony. We look out on [43/44] the world
today, on what we call the Christian world, and we see its state, which
is indeed very like that in the days of the Judges. We see divisions
and failures in what is called the Church, and the question arises: Is
it possible to have a whole testimony, a full testimony? Is it possible
to have a complete expression of the Lord's mind? The answer that is so
often returned may be stated thus: 'Well, that is the ideal, but you
are setting yourself an impossible task if you attempt it. You had
better accept the situation, regard it as all in ruins, and make the
best of it!' Are you content with that? I am not, and I have decided
that even if I die in the attempt I will give myself to the obtaining
of a fuller expression of the Lord's mind. In so far as my own life is
concerned, it is going to be poured out to the last to get His people
to the fullness of His will, and I am not going to accept this
situation which is so far short of it. It is an unholy thing to enter
into contentment of that kind. It is that failure to go on, in spite of
the seemingly impossible, which has produced the terrible paralysis and
spiritual ineffectiveness of the Lord's people that is almost
THE NECESSITY FOR FELLOWSHIP
We come to the final word which we feel to be the note which must stand
above every other note. We see the reality of the battle, we see the
many laws which govern the battle, but what is it that we need if we
are to win? You might answer in different ways, but what I see as being
a dominant need, if not the predominant one, is that which is at least
suggested in the first part of the first chapter of the book of Judges.
There the question is asked: "Who shall go up for us first against the
Canaanites, to fight against them? And the Lord said, Judah shall go up
... And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my
lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go
with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him. All Judah went up, and
the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand:
and they smote of them in Bezek ten thousand men." Here you have real
business, real effectiveness. What was behind it? It was fellowship and
co-operation. Here you have the spirit of brotherhood manifesting
itself in mutual helpfulness and support in the battle. The enemy has
held the position and withstood the people of God because of the lack
of that. One of the strategies by which he has gained his end has been
to keep the Lord's people from a downright spiritual co-operation in
the battle; to get them scattered, divided, disintegrated, and on
individual lines instead of coming right in as a corporate and
collective instrument for God and dealing with the issues in a mighty
way together. We cannot lay too much stress upon that.
This is the burden of my heart: The Lord's great need is of a prayer
instrument that comes together with one object, and that is the driving
of the enemy off the ground. Not just offering petitions, nor just
pouring out words which are intended to be prayers, for however good
they might be, however right they might be, such prayers fall short of
this mighty laying hold of the Lord's own victory and bringing it into
operation where the enemy is. The victory is in the Lord's hands. He
did strip off principalities and powers. He has said: "I will drive
out." What has to follow? There has to be a coming together, and, in
faith, a laying hold, as it were, of that victory; an appropriating of
it, and a bringing of it to bear upon the spiritual situation. Until we
get something like that we are not going to see the spiritual
counterpart of this mighty sweep of triumph in Judah and Simeon. Here
is real progress. Here we see the enemy having to quit.
Oh, for the coming together of God's people for real business in
prayer; coming in business-like spirit, with a business-like mind, with
full purpose of heart and as one man in a spirit of fellowship, because
of the testimony of the Lord which is at stake, which is involved, and
which is bound up with it. The Lord's need today is this coming
together and squaring right down upon Satanically ridden situations to
clear the ground of the enemy. I feel that to be the Lord's pre-eminent
need. We do not take the thing enough to heart. We have not got the
Lord's testimony sufficiently at heart. If we really were concerned for
the Lord's testimony in this earth, we should only need to hear of the
impact against the Lord's people and the prevailing of death in any one
situation for us to get down on that situation with such purpose that
we would not give the enemy any rest until he withdrew from it. But we
can hear of such situations, hear of need, hear of our brethren in the
fight pressed out of measure, and can be content with a mere momentary
petition: 'Oh, Lord, help them! Oh, Lord, bless them! Oh, Lord, come to
their rescue!' when the Lord is saying quite definitely, if only we had
ears to hear: "Wherefore criest thou unto me? ... lift up thy rod ..."
(Exodus 14:15-16). We have the rod of the Lord's victory in our hands
-- or we ought to have. We have the rod of the mighty name of Jesus,
and we come with cries to the Lord, when the Lord is saying, in effect:
'Bring to bear upon that situation this victory which is in Me for
you!' The need is for the coming together in fellowship, [44/45]
in co-operation, to bring to bear upon the situation the great victory
which is in the Lord's possession for us.
Oh, may the Lord stir you in this matter unto this mighty prayer in the
name of Jesus, and get an instrument, a vessel, in which and through
which there will be this registration of the power of His throne upon
those situations which are under the domination of the enemy! That is
the Lord's great need. There are many of the Lord's people and many
places in this world where the Lord's testimony is defeated, arrested,
locked up, smothered and unable to break through; everything is at a
standstill; the enemy is holding the ground, and it is as much as the
Lord's people can do to hold their own, to stay there. There needs to
be some power coming through to clear the ground of the enemy, and that
power will come through only when the Lord's people take up the matter
in such a mighty fellowship of prayer that through that prayer the
throne will operate.
There are many who know they are not getting through in their prayer
life on their own and that they cannot deal with the situation
themselves. Many are deeply and terribly conscious that what they need
is a mighty reinforcing by prayer cooperation in order to get through,
but the trouble is as to where such reinforcement is to come from?
Those who are sufficiently concerned are not to be found. There are not
those who know how to pray like this in the power of the name. Forgive
me for being so emphatic, but the prevailing conditions demand strong
words. The need is to recover a prayer instrument by which the power
that is in the hand of the Lord Jesus shall be released upon situations
which are locked up in the power of the enemy. The Lord rouse us, stir
us deeply in this matter, and make us at least a part of such a prayer
Let us purpose to come together for prayer! Let us not wait until we
are called! If it is possible to get together, and if there are those
around us whom we can call together for prayer, let us do it. Do not
wait for the appointed meeting of prayer. If you can get prayer
fellowship with anybody, get down on the Lord's interests with them,
and lay yourselves out in this matter for the deliverance of situations
from the domination of the power of the enemy.
"AS AN EAGLE ..."
NATURE often provides a mirror of man's soul and his relationship to
Moses, for example, chose an eagle for the illustration given in
Deuteronomy 32:11-12, to clarify God's dealings with men. "As an eagle
stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her
wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did
lead him, and there was no strange god with him."
Those to whom Moses was writing would have little difficulty in
picturing an eagle and her care of her brood, and the parallel of God's
concern for His people. Likewise we also should have little difficulty
in understanding the analogy. It certainly is not beyond our
Yet with all the obvious comparisons which come quickly to our minds,
it would be well for us to pause and examine carefully some specific
Notice the first action of the eagle. "An eagle stirreth up her nest."
When her young have matured to the point where they are able to learn
to fly, the eagle stirs the nest, making it just as uncomfortable as
possible and shaking the eaglets loose to accept the challenges of
flight more readily.
As the eagle must stir up the nest to dislodge the young who will not
of their own accord fling themselves out into space, so the Lord must
stir up our nest to free us from the easily acceptable comforts and
securities which we enjoy so that we may see and accept the challenges
of a closer fellowship with Him.
However, the eagle does not simply shake the eaglets loose and then
leave them to their own resources and experiments to learn the art of
flying. Rather she flies over the nest, giving her brood practical
examples to follow. "An eagle ... fluttereth over her young."
Is there any better parallel to the Lord's training of us? He never
stirs us loose merely to cause grief or ruin, nor does He leave us
without example. [45/46]
If the Lord has stirred your nest, dislodged you from your comfortable
rut, keep your eyes wide open for His training example.
In the third comparison there is a glorious confidence. "An eagle ...
spreadeth abroad her wings." This speaks of the eagle's
self-sacrificing protection for her brood. Many writers have indicated
that if danger seems imminent the mother bird will place herself in a
position to receive the enemy's onslaught before her young are attacked.
There are few pictures which reveal more of the Lord's care and
protection for us. Certainly we are aware of this care in the physical
realm. Everyone can point to at least one particular event in his life
when the Lord demonstrated His protection unmistakably.
But beyond this, in the spiritual realm, the Lord has placed Himself
again and again between us and our soul's enemy to keep him from
destroying our spiritual life. When he attacked at our weakest point,
when failure seemed inevitable, the Lord Himself hedged us in under His
The final parallel re-emphasises and expands the third. "An eagle ...
taketh them, beareth them on her wings." It has long been noted that
when a young eagle is learning to fly and for some reason, be it lack
of strength or lack of confidence, it suddenly flounders in air, the
parent will dive under the young one and spread her wings, offering
support to the infant bird.
What a peace-giving promise this is! As we can expect the Lord's
stirrings, as we can look to Him for a guiding example, so we can trust
for His speedy and sufficient support in time of weakness and failure.
We may not always understand all the Lord is doing. He will provide an
example, a call, which we cannot follow in ourselves. Yet He will not
desert us. Rather He has promised to be our ever-present help. Why then
do we hesitate to follow Him?
As with all the Lord's dealings with Israel, so with us; He has a
specific purpose which dictates His actions. Moses concisely stated
this purpose: "The Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange
god with him."
The Lord dealt with Israel in this eagle-like manner -- stirring them
loose from the comfortable nest in Egypt, leading them through the vast
wilderness, protecting against their numerous enemies, always providing
His strength, His support -- in order that Israel might follow the Lord
alone. None of the attachments of Egypt, none of their own strengths,
none of their own abilities, was to be their god; the Lord alone was to
His purpose has not changed. When we would become too attached to the
nest of this world He stirs us. When we would wonder how or where to
follow He provides an example. When we would be overcome by the enemy
He protects us. When our own strength is insufficient He supplies His
-- all for one purpose: that Christ alone would be our God.
Can you see yourself in the picture of the indolent, ignorant,
defenseless, frail eaglet? Can you see the Lord's stirrings, lessons,
protection and provision in your experience? Are you accepting each of
them as His best for you?
Is Christ alone your God?
Selected from The Alliance Witness [46/47]
We acknowledge with gratitude the following gifts received for the
ministry of A Witness and A Testimony from the 27th November,
1970, to the 26th January, 1971:
Abergavenny 7s. 3d.; Ashford £5; Athens, Greece £1;
Barnstaple £2; Barry £1; Bearsden £3; Beckenham
£10; Beirut, Lebanon £7 13s. 6d.; Belfast £1 18s.
6d., £1, £2, £2; Bideford £1 10s. 6d.;
Birmingham 10s., 10s.; Bromley £5, £5; Brynmawr £1;
Burnley 5s.; Calgary, Alberta £1; Chardonne,Switzerland £1
18s. 4d.; Clacton-on-Sea £1 10s.; Constantia, South Africa
£3; Coulsdon £1; Croydon £1 5s., £1 4s. 6d.;
Deal £1 17s., £5; Dorking 9s. 4d.; Dublin 10s.; Durham 13s.
10d.; Eastbourne £1 3s. 10d.; Edinburgh £5 5s., £1;
Felixstowe £4; Filey £2 10s. 6d.; Glasgow £1,
£2, £5, £5; Grimsby £1; Hassocks £5;
Hastings £5, £5; Herrenberg, Germany £2; Hertford
£1 5s.; Hilterfingen, Switzerland £1; Hove £10; Hull
£1; Hyderabad, India £2; Ipswich 11s. 8d.; Islington,
Ontario £10 3s. 3d.; Kenley £1; Kings Lynn £5;
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Leicester £4; Liverpool £2; Llandrindod Wells 5s. 10d.;
London E.3 6s. 6d.; N.7 £2; S.E.4 £1; S.E.6 17s. 8d.;
S.E.15 £1; S.E.22 10s.; S.E.23 6s., £1, £5, £5,
£10, 6s., S.W.l £1 10s., £5; Louth £1 11s. 6d.,
15s. 6d.; Neuchâtel, Switzerland £1; New-castle-on-Tyne
£2 10s.; Newport, Mon. £1 7s. 6d.; Northampton £2;
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Warminster £1 1s. 9d.; Wigan £1; Wollongong, Australia
£1 7s. 10d.; York £3; Zaandam, Holland £2 19s. Total:
£254 16s. 2d.
Ashland, Va. $6; Birmingham, Ala. $10, $5; Brooklyn, N.Y. $5, $10;
Charlotte, N.C. $6; Cleveland, Ohio $2; Clubb, Mo. $6; East Orange,
N.J. $5; Ephrata, Wash. $5; Fairfield, Ala. $10; Fair Oaks, Calif.
$315.18; Flushing, N.Y. $2.50; Fort Collins, Colo. $5; Fort Worth,
Texas $20; Glen Head, N.Y. $13.40; Hebron, Maine $25; Hickory, N.C. $5;
Highland Park, Mich. $12.50; Irving, Texas $8; Jackson, Ore. $18.30;
Kokomo, Ind. $5; Livermore, Calif. $10; Los Angeles, Calif. $5;
Mentone, Ind. $10; Monroe, Mich. $9; North St. Paul, Minn. $10; Old
Saybrook, Conn. $10; Pinson, Ala $20; Richmond, Va. $20, $18.40; St.
Charles, Mo. $5; Sarasota, Fla. $10; West Covina, Calif. $10; Wichita,
Kansas $10. Total: $647.28.
Reggio, Italy Lire 3,000.
Kaleden, B.C. C$2.00.
St. Gallen, Switzerland Fcs. 20.00. [47/48]
WITNESS AND TESTIMONY LITERATURE
The books and booklets listed below can all be ordered
by post from the addresses given at the end of the list. More detailed
information about the literature is available on application to the
Witness and Testimony office in London.
|By T. Austin-Sparks
|THE STEWARDSHIP OF THE MYSTERY
| Vol. 1 ALL THINGS IN CHRIST
| Vol. 2
||(Art Paper covers)
|FOUR GREATNESSES OF DIVINE REVELATION
|WHAT IS MAN?
|THE ON-HIGH CALLING or COMPANIONS
| OF CHRIST AND OF A HEAVENLY CALLING
|DISCIPLESHIP IN THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
|GOD'S REACTIONS TO MAN'S DEFECTIONS
|WE BEHELD HIS GLORY
| Vol. 1
||(Art Paper covers)
| Vol. 2
||(Art Paper covers)
|RIVERS OF LIVING WATER
|THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PAUL
|FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS OF THE
| CHRISTIAN LIFE
|THE GOLD OF THE SANCTUARY or
| THE FINAL CRITERION
|THE CITY WHICH HATH FOUNDATIONS
|THE RECOVERING OF THE LORD'S
| TESTIMONY IN FULLNESS
|THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
|THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF SERVICE
|THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CHRIST
|IN TOUCH WITH THE THRONE
| (Some Considerations on the
|THE CENTRALITY AND SUPREMACY OF
| THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
|THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE CROSS, THE CHURCH,
| AND THE COMING AGAIN OF THE LORD
|HIS GREAT LOVE
|UNION WITH CHRIST
|THE MORE EXCELLENT MINISTRY
| (Incorporating Union with Christ
| The Ministry of Elijah and Stewardship)
|CHRIST -- ALL, AND IN ALL
|CHRIST IN HEAVEN AND CHRIST WITHIN
|"I WILL OVERTURN"
|THE SUPREME VOCATION
||or 30np per dozen
|A GOOD WARFARE
||or 30np per dozen
|WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?
||or 30np per dozen
|THE BLOOD, THE CROSS AND THE
| NAME OF THE LORD JESUS
|THE ARM OF THE LORD
|CHRIST OUR LIFE
||Free of charge
|By H. Foster (Booklet)
|THE REALITY OF GOD'S HOUSE
|By Various Authors
| (Each volume contains a number of
separate messages )
|THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY
| The three volumes, when ordered
|For Boys and Girls
|By G. Paterson
|GOSPEL MESSAGES FROM THE ANTARCTIC
| (170-page cloth-bound book.
|By H. Foster
| (All with illustrated art paper
|READY FOR THE KING (48 pp. Illus.)
|ON WINGS OF FAITH (52 pp. Illus.)
|BURIED TREASURE (48 pp. Illus.)
|OPENING IRON GATES (40 pages)
Printed in Great Britain by Billing and
Sons Limited, Guildford and London [48/ibc]
[Inside back cover]
A WITNESS AND A TESTIMONY
The six issues of the magazine, bound together, to form a volume with
light blue art paper cover, are available for the following years:
1968, 1969, 1970. Price per volume (1 year): 25np ($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 20 per cent.
Orders totalling more than £1 -- please add 10 percent.
To the U.S.A.: Please add 12 cents in the dollar.
Orders for literature and requests for "A Witness and A Testimony"
should be addressed to:
WITNESS AND TESTIMONY LITERATURE TRUST,
39 Honor Oak Road, London, S.E.23, England.
Telephone: 01-699 5216/4339
Witness and Testimony literature can also be obtained from:
||1505 South Westmoreland Avenue,
|Indiana 46205, U.S.A.
||California 90006, U.S.A.
|Convocation Literature Sales,
||Evangelical Literature Service,
|1370 Ray Street,
||(Mr. Donald J. David),
||158 Purasawalkam High Road,
|Virginia 23502, U.S.A.
||Madras, 7, India.
[Back cover is blank]