Called into the Fellowship of His Son

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 4 - The Prospect of the Call

1 Corinthians 1:9: "God is faithful through Whom you were called, you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord". Called into the fellowship of His Son.

Our way has been, from morning to morning, to consider first the Person of the Call and the fellowship: His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we have traced from eternity to eternity. Then the people of the call, then the purpose of the call and the process of the call and fellowship. This morning: the prospect of the call and fellowship. This falls into two phases: the present prospect and the future. And may I just bring immediately into view the ultimate of this call and fellowship so that we can work our way toward it again, tracing the course.

The Bible, the Word of God, which is our charter in this great calling, teaches us quite definitely that the end of this call and this fellowship is a reigning together with Christ. "If we suffer (with Him), we shall also reign with Him." It is the fellowship, not only in His kingdom as a sphere and a condition, but His thought, intention, will is the sharing of His dominion, being one with Him in His eternal government, governing together with Him. That is the full idea in the call and in the fellowship. Made perfectly clear also in the Bible is, that being the will of God, nevertheless, many will not arrive at that. However, this is what we are called unto: to share with Him His Throne.

It is possible to be citizens, it is possible to be subjects, but it is also possible to be of the royal family which is very much more - associated immediately with the Throne. And that is revealed very clearly in the Word as the intention of the Lord for those who are called, who will go on in the fellowship to its ultimate fulfillment. We bring that into view, we will probably come back to that before we are through in this time, but the present prospect of the call and the fellowship, and that again divides into two: it divides into the reconstituting for that position, for that responsibility, for that association with Him in its ultimate fullness; a preparation, a training. And preparation or training is what I have called:

A Reconstituting.

For it is a making again on a different basis altogether from what we are naturally. We've got to be reconstituted. You cannot now live on the moon as you are naturally because now you have to have a lot of apparatus, breathing apparatus and what not, in order to exist there. In the stratosphere, you need another kind of lung, a different mechanism and organism to live in that realm, to stay there. And so it is in this matter.

You and I as we are at present would have a bad time if we were immediately translated to heaven. We would feel altogether out of place. You know that's quite true, don't you, simply of unbelievers coming amongst believers. That is, if the believers are of the right kind, the heavenly kind, the heavenly Life is there, how uncomfortable unbelievers feel. They will either desire to be changed and be like these people or they will want to get out as quick as they can so they don't come. And it's just like that, an entirely new constitution has to be inculcated, and this (as we were shown so fully, I couldn't improve on it, I can only walk round it and comment upon it, as we were shown so fully last night) is a condition of conflict. A condition of conflict all the way along between two constitutions which are in us and between two regimes around us.

Well now, you have got to be very patient this morning, and this is where your new constitution perhaps comes in! Because I am going to traverse again much of the ground which we covered yesterday by way of indication. I was only pointing things out yesterday morning, indicating them, not staying to consider. We are going to do that this morning, for this is very vital.

Do you agree with what I've already said just now, that we have got to be made all over again? But why? Why? Why can't we just come in as we are and go on as we are and stay as we are, and be in without all this fuss and trouble and business of being changed? Why? Well, the answer is just this - that it is only the Lord Jesus, really, who can occupy that heavenly kingdom and occupy that heavenly Throne as being of a different order of humanity. He is a different order, nature, constitution; shall I use the word: species. He's different! You know that, don't you?

If we know anything about relationship with the Lord Jesus, we know that He is different from what we are, and so different, that it is very difficult to be like Him. We are all the time trying to be like Him because we know that we are different. Is this too simple, too elementary? But it's basic, you see, to this whole thing.

So that, when we are called into the fellowship of our Lord Jesus Christ God's Son, we are called into a relationship with some order to which we do not belong naturally and to which we have got to be conformed. That's the scriptural word, you see, "conformed" to the image of God's Son. In another word: reconstituted all over again from the beginning. Now there this is a tremendous battle.

We are therefore called into conflict, into warfare, into battle. As Paul said to Timothy, "No man who is called to be a soldier, called to be a soldier goes on in the way of this world and this life, that he may please Him Who called him to be a soldier." Called to be soldiers, of course that's a great idea, isn't it? A great, wonderful idea, called to be soldiers, to join this heavenly army. Oh well, let us have all our hymns, if you like: "Onward Christian Soldiers", but when you come back to practical politics, it's not just like that, walking about in a uniform and so on.

I remember in the first world war when I went out to the Mediterranean. I went right through France and right through Italy and I stopped in Rome on the way; had to, to get my further connections, to stay overnight there and so on. And I went to the restaurants, not that there was very much to have in the restaurants, but I went to the restaurants for my meal. And here were these little Italian officers , just got up, as we say, to the nines. They're just dressed up you know, in all their gold braid and I don't know what, and their sword at their sides, strutting about, coming in and standing at the door of the restaurant saluting before they walked in and then unstrapping the sword and hanging it up; a real good show! Well, you know, when it came to the real business, they were not in it, they would very soon opt out. They couldn't stand up to the business when it came on, they had to find stamina that was not in themselves to go through. Well, forgive me if there's any Italian here today, but I'm just illustrating that that's not the kind of thing to which we're called and the appeal is no romantic thing, it's downright grim warfare day by day. But the warfare begins inside, in ourselves.

Before we can do anything outside, this thing has got to be done inside - a settling of the battle between two natures, between two constitutions, the war is there. Isn't that where we got to yesterday?

We came to this Corinthian letter, and we saw by this very letter and its allusions, definite allusions here and there, the Holy Spirit looked upon these Corinthian believers as in the position that Israel was in, in the wilderness. That is referred to in this letter very definitely, with warnings to the Corinthian believers.

And when we go back to Israel in the wilderness, although they had not yet arrived at the objective warfare of the land, they were in the place and period of preparation for that. And before you can go in and touch principalities and powers (and make a careful note of this) before you can have any power or authority over the external forces of evil in this universe - the principalities, powers, world-rulers of this darkness, hosts, hosts of spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies - before you can touch that, all this matter of preparation for that and reconstitution for that has got to be completed.

It took God forty years to get these people anywhere in that, and they got nowhere in the end. They perished because they were not constituted for what lay beyond. They had not allowed the constituting to be accomplished in them. They perished in the wilderness and a new generation, a reconstituted generation, went over to do the other business, the objective business, because during that time one constitution was dying, was being put aside. One kind of person was being dealt with and brought to nothingness, ruled out in the wilderness, and this other kind was being formed from birth, from birth and growing, so that it could go over and do the other business.

Now, don't be disheartened because it need not be forty years, friends. Just get rid of the geography, just get rid of the temple, the time factor, and remember that this work of reconstituting is not necessarily a time matter at all. I find this, you see, that some Christians who have been on the road for years and years and years, are nowhere near being able to cope with the evil forces of this universe. They're out of that objective battle. The church is very largely out of it today. Christianity is out of it today, it's not able to touch these world-rulers of darkness effectively, not really standing up to the evil powers, they are just having their way with Christianity.

But you'll come upon here and there, I trust, some... there are some of these here, perhaps a young Christian who, because of some secret, some principle, some wonderful reality, has leapt ahead into the things of God, and really does represent a positive factor against evil and evil forces. In a short time, they have grown, they have almost compassed the whole distance of the wilderness in a very short time. It's just wonderful how some younger Christians seem to get ahead of the older ones in spiritual maturity, spiritual growth! Isn't it wonderful? Don't you sometimes say, "Where has that young man, that young woman, that younger man, or younger one got it all? They've got it, where did they get all that? Why, they've got what many a believer, far more mature so far as time is concerned, people have got; they're leaving us behind!" Why? Well, it isn't a time matter, it depends upon certain things.

The thing that we laid down as the basic thing and principle of all spiritual maturity and growth, we laid it down yesterday, is a heart undivided. An undivided heart; a heart that is wholly and utterly for God, and has no secondary considerations. "I must go on with God, even if it costs everything." A circumcised heart. That word is governing this whole period in the wilderness, as we shall see.

So, that time in which the Corinthians were, mark you, which brings it very much nearer our time than Israel in the wilderness, by a few thousand years. And seeing that this Word of God is still alive and hasn't been all used up in the apostolic age, it comes to us. It comes to us! So that this thing comes right down to our own day, our own time, our own lives, this thing. And it's a matter of whether we are going to be in "Corinthian" conditions and position, or whether we are going to gravitate from that, from Corinthians, into what? Colossians? Ephesians? It's a mighty gravitation from the one to the other, you know, it's a tremendous transition. But you cannot, as much as you may read and enjoy and take pleasure in Ephesians and Colossians (and how many people get tremendously taken up with the ideas there, it's marvelous, you know, the prison letters of Paul, yes!) you cannot, you cannot get into those until you have come out of Corinthians. You've gone through Corinthians. Do you understand what I mean? Until you've gone through what is here, the wilderness position and been reconstituted.

I anticipate what I have to say a little, it doesn't matter, does it, if you get a bit out of order, so long as we get the message over. You see, a lot of people have taken up this idea of warfare with Satan and warfare with the powers of evil, and they have set up what they call "warfare clinics." And they call it, "the warfare", the warfare! And their phraseology and their ideas about this are that if you use certain words for Satan and throw them hard enough at him, he is going to run away. Don't make any mistake about that; you be very careful about that, Satan will bide his time and hit back and make an awful mess of that kind of thing. I've seen it done, the "warfare". We have no, no power against Satan while we are on natural ground, while we are in the wilderness, while we are in the Corinthian position. That is why the letters to the Corinthians, especially the first one, are a shocking revelation of the need for correction of the things that are wrong.

Well, that's all not very happy is it, but let's get on, and go back over our ground again of yesterday with a little closer attention to what we were saying. Here we have then, this call and this fellowship which involves us in this two-fold warfare; they may overlap. It's a two-fold warfare because it's a double aspect: the inward, the inward conflict and triumph, and ascendancy and then the outward is the result: power against the power of the enemy. This was this first aspect, the inward was what was going on in the wilderness with Israel and what was going on with the Corinthians in their first state of spiritual life: conflict and victory and then the outward which results in power against the enemy.

Israel, as we have seen, were out of Egypt; they were out. That is, they had positionally left the world. Positionally left the world, they had taken ground with God positionally, objectively, outwardly. They had, by the blood of the Lamb, by the Passover, by the mighty work of God for them, come out to be God's people. Simple, elementary. They were out of the world positionally, but, as we said, the world was not out of them. Egypt was still strongly in them constitutionally. They were constantly thinking and harking back to Egypt for the onions and the garlic and so on. It was still a part of their constitution, and now God has taken them in hand, God has taken them in hand to do what? To make real in them as a people corporately, collectively, what He had been doing with individuals.

Here we go back, and we'll start with Abel again. The twos; we saw the pairs up to this point, the twos and how these two in every case divided, parted company, chose different ways and represented the two different principles.

Cain and Abel

We would like always to reverse the order: Abel and Cain, wouldn't we? But you see, the principle is quite true, first the natural and then the spiritual. The natural man is first, then that which is spiritual. The earthly is first, then that which is heavenly. We leave that.

Here you have the two principles of the natural and the spiritual, the earthly and the heavenly, in these two men, and they part company. And they become absolutely hostile, for the one becomes hostile to the other. The earthly is hostile to the heavenly, and the spiritual is hostile to the natural. There is a hostility which is found in these two, and they go different ways and have two different destinies.

Abel is the man of the Spirit, the man of heaven, and the man who places everything upon the work of Another for his salvation. He is the man who knows full well that his own works will never get him through with God. The whole great question of history all the way through is right standing with God, isn't it? Right standing with God! And Abel is the man who knows quite well that in himself there is no right standing with God. He is utterly dependent upon another, upon a lamb, to get through to God. Well, that's very simple.

But Cain, what does he do? He brings works, and his own works. They may be very beautiful. I should think in that basket that Cain brought there were some very beautiful oranges and apples and pears and what not - the fruit of the land, the fruit of the earth - very good. The apostle Paul could say that before he was being very good. There was nothing wrong with the law, you know, as such, and the works of the law; nothing wrong about that. And he was perfect so far as that was concerned; he brought the works of the law, his own works to God, like Cain, and never got through. Cain was dependent upon his own fruit, what he could produce, what he could do, and you know where you are in, don't you, in the New Testament on that. You are in the letter to the Galatians and the letter to the Romans. Now, that's very simple, but you see, here's the conflict arising.

The point is: there's a battle between these two, and a battle in which Abel forfeits his life. He is slain. But was he? Was he? In the long verdict of history, who lives? Who survives? Who stands with God? Who is in right standing with God? What is the verdict at the end? Read your book of the Revelation, the book of the Revelation, the last book of the Bible, the end of the Bible: "they have gone the way of Cain." They've gone the way of Cain; there's a stigma upon this man, a stigma upon this "earthboundness" of life. Upon Abel: no stigma, he stands well with God in the end, "By faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain by which..." what? He was justified. The Amplified Version is, "in right standing with God."

There is a conflict even unto death, and it is a conflict unto death between the earth man and the heavenly man, the natural and the spiritual. That's what was going on in the wilderness and you can see it so clearly when you read this first letter to the Corinthians, can't you? The contrast and the conflict: "The natural man receiveth not" - he cannot, there's no right standing in that natural man with God. "But he that is spiritual understandeth, judgeth all things...". Well, he's got an open heaven, the spiritual man. There's conflict between the two.

We view the teaching, the doctrine objectively of the conflict between these two natures, we view the doctrine of this, and say, "Well, yes, that's quite clear you know", but dear friends, that's what's going on in us! It's going on in us. Do you not know (and I do know!) that there is no power against the evil one while there is any dispute within between the natural and the spiritual. We will come on that again presently in another connection.

Here's Cain and Abel in the first dividing of these things. We come then to Abraham and Lot, and we're on the principle in another form.

Abraham and Lot

There comes a point in their history and their course where they divide company. They part company, and one takes one direction, and the other another. With Lot, it's only, first of all, a gesture. You know, these things, these histories and these destinies are not all precipitated in a moment; they just have a very, very simple beginning. Beware young people! Beware, right there, the very gesture. How did it begin with Lot? Well, Abraham just told him to make his choice; look. Take a look and make a choice. All Lot did was he looked round. He just looked round and then he took a position like this in a certain [dimension], "his face toward the cities of the plain," his face toward Sodom - his face toward the world. That's all! A gesture; a gesture! So simple, but once that's insinuated into the life, the enemy's behind that. That's the force of the prince of this world. And the next thing is he moves in that direction and pitches his tent; pitches his tent toward Sodom. And he doesn't stop there, for the enemy is in this, old Screwtape is on his business, and he presses further. So he goes in through the gate and joins himself to the elders, and becomes one of their committee, committee of counsel, sharing their whole system of things. And now he's left his tent outside and has bought a house; he's got a house inside. See?

See the course of this? See the course of this, steady, slowly, I don't know how long it took. It began simply, but the start of the course is just a gesture, and then a drawing, drawing, an inclination, and following that constitution to his end. You know the end, don't you? You know the end, it took heaven, an intervention from heaven to take him out of that situation and save his very life, but he remains, he remains in history as a man who was not very honourable. We don't think of Lot with a high esteem, do we? We leave him there, because that's the one course.

Abraham, Abraham chose another course. He speaks to us of another principle, and you can test your own life, your own heart, by this. Right into the very constitution of Abraham, there had been planted something, it's going to grow and grow and grow; but down there at the very bedrock of his being, there has been planted a sense that this world is not everything, this life is not everything. There's something more, and more, and that there is no satisfaction whatever with things here - the sense of being a pilgrim and a stranger in the earth - no ability to settle down here. There's this magnetism inside, this magnetic needle of the Divine compass always gravitating toward a certain direction. Inside there's an instinct, shall I say, an instinct of the heavenly, of the Divine; and though he may stay here for a little bit, he can't stay long. He must move on, and ever on, and the principle of Divine discontent is rooted in his being.

Discontent can be a very evil thing, but there is a Divine discontent. God can never be satisfied with anything less than His full, final, and ultimate. And the Holy Spirit is always inwardly urging toward that: "More! I must have more. I must go on. I must know more, into the realm that I may know Him! That I may know Him, I have not yet attained. I am not already complete. This one thing I do, leaving behind those things that belong to the behind and pressing, pressing, pressing...". You see? Another constitution that has come in, that has that inward urge always for the "more" that is of God. Is that too simple? Do you know anything about that? I'm sure many of you do, you do know.

And although some people think they have got it all, and they've arrived, the true Spirit-governed people of God are those who, while they're satisfied with the Lord in Himself, they can never think of life without Him, He has become their finality in that sense, yet, yet He is so much bigger. The territory of Christ is so much greater. The Spirit is inwardly urging to go on. It's constitutional, is that, that's Abraham, that's Abraham who becomes known as the friend of God. That's a little extra upon what we said yesterday about these two.

Isaac and Ishmael

Now, what is Isaac to say to us again? Just this. Just this. If you had met Isaac on one of his daily walks out, looking for old wells that the enemy had filled up that he could open again, the well maker, the water provider, the life giver, if you met him and said, "Isaac, tell me something of your history, will you?" I think Isaac, spiritually, would have put it something like this: "My history? My history began on an altar where I was, in effect, slain. Slain! Came to death. In another instant, in a moment of time, in a flash, a drop of the hand, my life would have been ended. But for God's intervention, I wouldn't be here today. I am a living miracle, a living testimony to the power of His resurrection. I am, because of God, and He is the answer and the explanation. My very beginning and existence in this world has a miracle right at its roots: a supernatural happening, event. I, I represent something that is wholly and utterly of God because resurrection is the alone prerogative of God."

That's Isaac, the man who knows that he owes his very existence to God. There would be no survival for him, but for God, if it had not been the Lord. But he has known the miracle of new birth, that supernatural thing which accounts for him. That man is going to be the instrument of God, the vessel of God, in opening up wells of water for others. It's constitutional. I think about always, I enjoy a humorous story that I like to fit into this. There was a dear old servant of God in the city of Glasgow whose name was Dr Wells. And he had to go into hospital for surgery, serious internal surgery. And he had the operation, and for some time they thought he was getting better, but then it was discovered that the operation had not been wholly successful. And so they had to open him again and complete the job. And a dear old saint in his church thought, "It must be very wearisome for dear Dr Wells to be lying there in weakness, I'll send him something to comfort him." So she bought a book of daily devotions. [audio missing here]

Ishmael? Isaac was God's act from the very beginning. Ishmael was Abraham's attempt to do God's work, to realise God's purpose. And I need say no more, you've come down to earth, haven't you? You've come to natural man. For Sarah argued, reasoned, on natural grounds entirely, and Abraham fell into it. It stands, of course, over his life as one of those mistakes that the most devoted servants of God sometimes make. And God has sovereign grace, it's a wonderful thing, but Ishmael goes down in history as a mistake, doesn't he? A mistake of natural recourse, while Isaac stands as the great testimony to what is wholly of God.

The Lord Jesus is the Isaac of the ages - begotten from above, born of God, the intervention of the supernatural - and then the opener of wells of Life for the thirsty. He is the Great Isaac, but I am afraid, I'm afraid in the same tent with Isaac there is an Ishmael so often in the church, there's this other thing. Now you must interpret and see how true this is as we move on toward the climax of all this as of Ishmael.

Jacob and Esau

The parting of their ways, as we said yesterday, whatever we have to say about Jacob and about Esau, I think Esau wasn't, from a natural standpoint, such a bad fellow, you know. I like a lot of things about Esau, don't you? Look at his whole history, there are some fine things about Esau naturally. Isn't it often true, have you noticed it, that there may be in a family, perhaps two brothers, and one of them is naturally a fine fellow. He is strong, he is honest, he is straight. Naturally he is greatly respected. In the same family, there is another brother who is not quite like that. He is weak. There are many things about him that you could criticise. Before the world, he is not accepted like the other one; and yet, the other one, the fine fellow, has no interest in God and God's things. In the end he is not interested in that at all. He goes on and lives his life, a good, strong, straight sort of life; but there's no place for God. And if you talk to him about God, he doesn't want to hear about that, he wants to live his own life.

This other one, naturally not so fine and admirable; yet, somehow or other in him there is this instinct for God and the things of God. You watch these two histories. One goes on in his natural course. He may be successful in work, in business, and stand well with the world. Then he dies, and there's nothing - nothing left for eternity, nothing for heaven. That's that. This other one? The world may despise him naturally, but there's that out of his life which abides forever, which God has. It doesn't go when he goes, he's left something: a deposit of God behind. Isn't it like that so often?

You can see these two, can't you, either in families or in the world generally, these two types. Esau was often a fine fellow, you know, in that way. Don't you like the way he treated Jacob at the end? I do, I think that was magnanimous, that was fine of Esau. He had been tricked out of the birthright, he'd suffered at the hands of this brother of his - lost so much and yet, yet he wants to give him a lot, and help him on his way, and forgets all that. There's something fine about Esau; and yet, what's history's verdict? See? And why? Because in Jacob there was planted this instinct for heavenly things, for the things of God - this something that, with all his faults, with all his wrongs, with all his deceptions, and all that, he eventually comes right out in this position where God says, "I am the God of Jacob," because Jacob was God's man.

This battle is going on in us, in you, in your friends, it's going on in you, it's going on in me. There's a bit of Jacob in all of us, there's a bit of Esau in all of us. And the conflict goes on, and the divide has got to be made before God will get a people.

Now we can leave the individuals and come to:


And all these things Abraham and the rest, all these principles, spiritual principles, are taken up in Israel collectively, in the nation. And in the wilderness, this battle of the two things is going on and the great issue is: "Which way are you going? Which way are you going? Are you going your own way? Are you going to be dictated to by your own natural interests?" Look at Israel again in the wilderness and see all these things: the pull, the pull of the natural and the pull of God. "Which way are you going, Israel?" It's the issue of Carmel, and the prophet Elijah cries, "If God be God, serve Him. If Baal, serve him. Why limp you, limp you like a lame man between the two things? Why don't you come down with both feet on one side or the other?"

That's the issue in the wilderness. That's the issue in Corinth. [Are you of the world], Christian? You say "No sitting on the fence..." do you understand that phrase? Are you going to be utter? Is God going to have all? What is in the balances of such a question? Whether you are going to reign, whether you are going to have power over all the power of evil and darkness, whether the devil is going to regard you as someone to be reckoned with and pay you a lot of attention for that reason, or whether he is going to ignore you and leave you aside in his contempt. This is the issue that's being fought out in the wilderness and at Corinth, and I believe in the church today, I believe in Christianity today, it is just this same thing. Oh, the world is so much on the inside, crippling and paralysing.

Now shall we for a moment or two come over to the issue when you come to the end of the wilderness to Kadesh-Barnea, you know what happened. The old generation has been put aside, ruled out as unfit to go and tackle the situation over the other side of Jordan: as without competence to meet these other forces in the universe. That's been set aside, and a new generation has been raised up, coming to Jordan overflowing all its banks, and being taken through. One little phrase I do like so much, it always makes such an appeal to me, one little phrase, we passed over it, says: "When all the people were clean passed over Jordan." That's fine isn't it? Clean passed over - no stragglers, no compromisers - they are over!

Now what happens? They come to Gilgal, and the whole of that generation is circumcised. That generation, that whole generation growing up from childhood during that time in the wilderness had never been circumcised. The sign, the sign had never been put upon them; the mark of the Cross (because that is what the meaning of circumcision is, look at Colossians chapter 2, verse 10 [11-12] and you'll see) in all buried with Him in baptism,says the apostle, and he calls that the circumcision of Christ - baptism a symbol of the circumcision of Christ. What is it? Well, simply the Cross, the Cross making a circle around the life and putting away one kind and bringing in another.

And this whole generation is now marked with the Cross which says, "That's that; finished with; that's that. That history, that dividedness of heart is finished with. That is over there now, buried in the wilderness. Now it is all for God." That's the meaning of the Cross, the meaning of baptism. "One died for all; therefore, all died... that they which live should henceforth live not unto themselves but unto Him". It's all the Lord now. They're over, and the mark of the Cross is put into the bodies of every one of that generation. Well, that's the ground, that's the position, you see. All this duplicity, doubleness, is finished with, and they're over, "clean passed over."

What's the next thing? Two things follow, there appears a Man with His sword drawn. And Joshua goes to Him and says, "Art Thou for us or art Thou for our enemies?" and He doesn't answer him. The Lord Jesus never did give an answer straight like that. Notice how often the Lord Jesus, being asked a question, said something that never looked like the answer to the question: He went around the question and come in at the back and got home with what He did say. Well, I won't take you into that, but this Captain of the host of the Lord didn't give the answer and say, "I am for you," or "I am for your enemies." He said, " Captain of the host of the Lord am I come." What is this? The establishment of the absolute Lordship of the Holy Spirit on this new ground, in this new position. "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." Captain of the Lord, of the hosts, and all this that is ahead of these battles, now by the absolute Lordship of the Holy Spirit in the life on the ground of that Cross.

Oh, how much truth that we know is right there, isn't it? The Cross, the circumcision of the Cross, the Holy Spirit taking full possession and full charge. That's the new situation. That's the first thing we must notice, everything now is by the energy of the Holy Spirit and no energy of the flesh, and that is so thoroughly established in the second thing, Jericho.


Now they come to Jericho. Now, Jericho is high and walled up to the heavens - strong, closed, a tremendous proposition. And Jericho is at the gateway of the land and symbolises all the seven nations of the principalities and the powers in the heavenlies all concentrated at the very beginning; Jericho. Now, what are you going to do with that situation? For here, right at the beginning, you are really in effect meeting all the forces of evil that you ever will meet. They are all concentrated symbolically in Jericho; and the Lord in His own way, knowing His own principles, makes it very clear in the symbolism of all this.

He says, "Now then," to the host, "walk around the city, just walk round, don't talk." (Good thing they were not Americans, it would be hard work!) "Don't whisper. Make no sound, keep quiet, just walk round. You do it once today, and you do the same thing tomorrow. Silently hold your tongues and walk around. The only sound that is to be heard is that gentle murmur-like sound of the horn, the ram's horns of the priests tomorrow. Do that seven times, and then on the seventh day, do it seven times."

Seven, as you know, in the Scriptures is the number of being complete; what is spiritually complete - the completeness of what is spiritual. This is so spiritual this, it's so spiritual, that the occupants of Jericho could laugh and smile and say, "What a feeble lot." So spiritual and yet that's the language of the natural, isn't it? He is so spiritual. "All right, they may despise, but walk around seven times on the seventh day and encompass the whole range of spirituality, and spiritual forces of the spiritual nature of this warfare that you are entering upon." For our warfare is spiritual, not carnal. It's a spiritual warfare.

Then they shouted and you know what happened, but what I am getting at, is this: what does this all mean? In the knowledge of God, in the full knowledge of God, what does this mean? They did not understand it or know, probably. And when you read it, it's like a natural story, but what was behind this? Do you know, dear friends, when the Lord Jesus went to the Cross, when He went to the Cross, He compassed the whole, entire, utter range of the cosmic forces of evil sevenfold! The completeness of victory over every power of evil - a cosmic victory. It was not just a historic act on the earth. He was not just dealing with things down here. He stripped off principalities and powers and made a show of them, openly triumphing over them. It was a mighty, not only of the world, earth, but cosmic victory, Calvary was.

And the Lord is saying at Jericho, "Put that under your feet in faith: the completeness of My victory. That must be fundamental. That must be at the beginning. You must in faith appropriate that for all that is to follow. You are starting from a victory, not working toward one." That's the position of faith; and unless you've got there, you had better not go on from Jericho, or we're gone.

You see that the great universal victory of the Lord Jesus is implicit in Jericho, and is implicit in all spiritual warfare. Therefore, and note this: if the enemy, the enemy can find anything whatsoever that is his ground, that belongs to his kingdom, in a person, a child of God, the victory is suspended. There you come to Ai, Ai and Achan, do you remember?

Achan coveted a Babylonish garment, and a wedge of gold, and hid it in his tent. Hid it from whom? From whom? Hid it from Joshua? That's what he thought. Hid it from the other people, the priests? That's what he thought. Hid it from men? That's what he thought. He didn't hide it from God! God saw into that tent and He saw it beneath the covering, and it held up everything. "You'll go nowhere from here." The enemy has got a foothold, something that belongs to his kingdom, a bit of this world that's his kingdom, and it is secretly there. Secretly, a secret thing in the constitution, a thing that we are not prepared to bring to the Light. And is this true in our lives? It's suspended. And seeing that this was a corporate thing, of course, the whole nation was paralysed by one man's act. We don't know how much we affect and influence the whole body of Christ by our own personal lives, but we leave that, here it is.

If Satan can just get a foot in, something that is his right, that belongs to him, then he can suspend this tremendous progress of fellowship with the Lord and victory over himself and his kingdom. He can! He can. Many a life is held up because of something hidden, secret, they're not prepared to have out in the open and Satan has got his foot in there behind many a life. Well, that must go, and Achan must go with it because he is the old constitution. And all that belongs to him must go, and then on we go in the victory.

Now, all this is perhaps well-known spiritual teaching, Bible teaching, but here we are called into the fellowship of His Son, the uncompromising One, the One utter for God, into that fellowship, called into that. And in order that progressively, progressively we may learn to overcome and at last stand with those who have overcome, joined with Him in His Throne: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne...". That's the final issue of the call and the fellowship.

Well, I've tried to crowd in so much, but I do trust that you've just got hold of something. The main issue is the divide that has got to take place, this inward separation, this circumcision of the heart, in order to bring us into the power of His Kingdom and the power over all the power of the evil one.

We'll pray. Lord, we hand back to Thee the Word and ourselves with it. We know that the enemy makes it difficult for such a word to be uttered and received and understood, but we pray that the Spirit of God may enlighten us and strengthen us, both to apprehend and to obey, that we may not be disobedient to the heavenly vision. Go on with Thy work in us. Deep work is needed, continuous work, but may we grow in grace, may we advance in victory. In the Name of the Lord Jesus, amen.

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