Editor's Letters

by T. Austin-Sparks

July-August 1944

Beloved of God,

I am sure that, if you are alive to the present situation, you, with us, are greatly burdened and distressed over it. This must be true with regard to that which obtains in the world, but with many it is equally or more so with regard to the Lord's people. The clearer the perception of the mind of the Lord, the fuller the vision of His purpose, the greater the spiritual sensitiveness, so much the more acute is the suffering over the state of things now. While the world is torn with disruption and warring factions, both in international war and in national internal strife - political, industrial, social, and other ways - the people of God are no less disrupted and weakened by schism, divisions, suspicions, prejudices, personal and party interests, jealousies, rivalries, and misunderstandings. Half truths and untruths about one another - individually and collectively - are everywhere destroying the hope of an adequate fellowship unto the impact of a practical love upon the world.

The consciousness of spiritual weakness, resultant from paucity of conversions and expansion has led many to pray for revival. So there is, on the one hand, a great outreach for revival, and on the other, big efforts to bring it about by large-scale movements and meetings. But what is the position of the Word of God regarding this? Have we anything in the Scriptures which corresponds to this state of things? Surely there is more than enough. It was like this in the time of Eli, when Samuel was brought in, and subsequently David came to the throne. It was like this in the latter days of Israel and Judah when the Prophets prophesied. And it is like this in the first chapters of the Revelation when the Lord addresses the churches in Asia. In any of these places is it Revival that is firstly sought and organised for? That might be an ultimate issue, but in every case the word to the Lord's people was firstly Repent! Seven times that is demanded in those messages to the churches (which number itself is significant).

While that repentance is called for in relation to various specific things, put together they represent a position from which the whole Church (with a few individuals as exceptions) had - and has - fallen and departed. Those seven churches were brought into being by the Lord through the instrumentality of His servant Paul. To that servant He gave a specially full revelation of His eternal purpose, and the vessel of its realisation - "the church, which is his body". From Paul, and therefore his revelation, they turned away. "All they in Asia be turned from me" (2 Tim. 1:15). But it was from the Lord in His full thought that they turned. It is to them that the Head of the Church, moving amidst the seven lampstands (churches) addresses His challenge demanding repentance; and the repentance is for leaving "the first works", or original position. That primal revelation had two main aspects or emphases.

1. That the Cross of Christ meant the setting aside of man by nature and the exclusion from the realm of God's things of all that is of the Adam creation, so that "all things are of (out from) God".

2. The oneness of believers as an organic body, interrelated, interdependent, by the power of a common life and the government of a common Head in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Number 2 depends upon and is impossible apart from number 1. Number 1 should lead spontaneously to number 2.

"Union" as brought about from the outside is not it, and will most certainly fail. "Evangelical Union" is inadequate, for it is only a matter of certain doctrines, the selecting of a few foundational truths.

The only hope for the release of the Divine life, the resultant spiritual growth, the reproductiveness in the matter of new births, the rebuff to the schismatic and paralysing work of the Devil, and the recovery of a convincing testimony to the world (for the world no longer believes in the Church) is in a recovery of the position and truth of the great twofold revelation mentioned above.

It will be costly, revolutionary, and terrifically upheaving. All kinds of lesser and contrary grounds and lines will have to be reconsidered. A "Body" is a man, not an institution, organisation, society, denomination, inter-denomination, or "undenomination" (as something apart). It is "The One New Man", and a man or body for effectiveness and full functioning demands an organic co-relatedness of all parts in life. Even the Lord does not seem to expect that all His people will do what is necessary in this matter, but He addresses all, and then says that to those who respond He offers the full outcome of'perfect conformity to His mind; and the others - "He will remove their lampstand", or "spew them out of His mouth". There is no promise of revival apart from adjustment to the Lord's revealed mind.

Dear friends, we need to pray, but prayer must be with inquiry - "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" May He find us amongst those who will "Follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth".

Yours in the quest for His fullest,

In keeping with T. Austin-Sparks' wishes that what was freely received should be freely given and not sold for profit, and that his messages be reproduced word for word, we ask if you choose to share these messages with others, to please respect his wishes and offer them freely - free of any changes, free of any charge (except necessary distribution costs) and with this statement included.