by T. Austin-Sparks
We are living in a time when many great changes of complexion are taking place in every realm. It is certainly no time of stagnation. Not only has the face of things greatly changed in half a life-time, but there is in these immediate days a tremendous acceleration in this change, so that we do not know what the world situation may be from one day to another.
What obtains in general is no less true - perhaps even more true - in Christianity. Everything is in a realm of question and uncertainty - that is, so far as the framework, the form, the work, the way and the earthly prospect are concerned. We can go further and say that - most probably in the sovereignty and providence of God - conditions (already so far advanced in the East) are literally compelling Christians to reconsider their foundations, and driving responsible people to face the whole question of demanded reorientation.
If we are nearing the consummation of this age, then this is exactly what we may expect. Only truth in its very essence will stand the test which will be forced upon everything by God Himself, and this "judgment must begin at the house of God". All the accessories, appurtenances, accompaniments, paraphernalia and 'etceteras' of Christianity will be stripped off, and only stark reality remain at the last. There is mentioned in Scripture a "fiery trial which shall come upon all the inhabited earth, to try the dwellers thereon". The tragedy of our time is that so many responsible leaders either are too busy and preoccupied with work or are so superficially optimistic that they are not aware of the real emergency implicit in world developments.
There is a growing need for such a stock-taking in many connections, but not least in the matter of the Gospel itself. Let us hasten to make clear that we are not implying that there is any need whatever for a reconsideration or reorientation of the essence of the Gospel. No, emphatically No! It, in its essential nature and constituents, remains 'The everlasting Gospel'. But there is a very real need for a fresh apprehension of what that Gospel really is. The very word or term "Gospel" has come to imply something less than "the whole counsel of God", and to be applied almost exclusively to the beginnings of the Christian life.
When the Apostle who wrote the Letter to the Hebrews had set forth the transcendent greatness of Christ, God's Son, in every realm, whether of Patriarchs, Prophets, Angels, or whom you will, he summed up everything - a vast everything - in one phrase: "so great salvation"; concerning which salvation he declared that even to neglect it - not necessarily to oppose or resist it - would involve in an inescapable doom.
In the pages of this little volume we have sought to serve this need of recovering, or re-presenting, something - only something - of the greatness of the Gospel, and to show that everything for life, service, progress, and victory depends upon our real grasp of its greatness.