Editor's Letters

by T. Austin-Sparks

November-December 1930

To Our Readers

Beloved of God,

This issue of the WITNESS AND TESTIMONY marks the passing from one year to another. We do not make too much of this, being people of Eternity and not of time, but these time-marks do serve the purpose of helping us to register the progress and development of the "Eternal Purpose." The year 1930 has been one of marked intensification. This surely is realised by all the Lord's people. Things are becoming more and more tense. The process of this feature as foretold by Our Lord in the parable of the Wheat and Tares is - despite the strong delusion - clear to all who have spiritual discernment.

There is no doubt that, whether they like it or not, whether they openly admit it or not, whether they surrender to it or put it back and seek to go doggedly or despairingly on, a great number of the people of God and the spiritual leaders are aware of a breakdown, a hold up, a paralysis upon the institutions and agencies of long standing; a famine period, a bankruptcy, and a desperate need for some new thing of God. There is an almost universal sense of such a need. This sense has been the occasion of an organising of Christian forces to pray for revival. What concerns us is, What kind of a revival does the Lord desire? Every true initiation of God has - so far as we can see - been marked by a specific emphasis. We have elsewhere pointed out that each such successive breaking in of God has been to bring in some lost spiritual reality which was in the original pattern. If our own registration of the will of God is a true one, we believe that every fresh activity of the Holy Spirit will be to have things more utterly according to Christ. This is undoubtedly the objective of God as revealed everywhere in His Word, and this is the goal of all the Spirit's energies. Wholly according to Christ; that is the divine end in view! Such as have this as their vision, dominating all work and living, are in line with the resources of God, and will wax stronger and stronger. It is not a movement, a testimony - as such - an interpretation, a teaching, a sect, an enterprise. It is Christ! During the past year more than ever in our experience we have been occupied by the Lord with His Son, our Lord Jesus, and we can truly say that it has been a year of unequalled depth, joy, strength, and spiritual progress. There has come a sense of solidarity and establishment which was a conscious need.

Beloved, the Lord is coming! But His Word everywhere makes it unmistakably clear that unto His coming there must be that here which shall be wholly according to His mind. "The Bride has made herself ready." Rebekah must be in an absolutely detached and responsive state. The Holy Spirit pleads for a decision saying, "Hinder me not" (Genesis 24). There must be a state of enrapturedness with the Lord Jesus before there can be a rapture to Him (see same chapter and 1 Peter 1:8, 2 Cor. 11:2, Rev. 19:6-8). One of our perils today is that we should seek to reconstruct or resuscitate things and methods which are no more God's way, and be unwilling to put everything into the melting-pot to have something more utterly than ever according to Christ brought out by the Holy Spirit. We have travelled a long way from the New Testament position. Evangelism has become mainly a matter of getting men saved for the sake of their being saved. The "deepening of spiritual life" has become a matter of having Christians sanctified.

These and other things have become ends in themselves. In the New Testament it is not so. The Apostles and first Christians had a definite vision of a heavenly pattern for the fellowship of the Lord's people, and their corporate vocation, and everything was related to that. The end in view was not individualistic in any sense, it was the Church conformed to Christ. Corporate companies of the Lord's people under the government of the Holy Spirit are a necessity to the Lord; just as necessary to Him as is a laboratory to the chemist or scientist for the demonstrating of certain laws and properties. The manifold wisdom of God is to be made known to the principalities and powers by the Church NOW. What the devil hates is companies of believers according to Christ. What "Laodicea" sees is NOT an individualism as against fellowship, but personal responsibility to see that we are where Christ is and that we know what the Spirit is saying.

The "Revelation" does not contradict the entire teaching of Christ and the Epistles, but consummates it. The only individualism there is that of responsibility. The final word is "as you see the day approaching assemble yourselves together so much the more." Surely, then, the end must see a gathering to Him here leading unto our gathering unto Him at His coming. "A great falling away" must be the signal for a tightening of the bonds of fellowship on the part of the faithful. If the Lord will enable us to fulfil a ministry by which there is made clear what is according to Christ, we feel that we shall have served the highest possible end. This is our desire.

This little paper has readers in practically every nation, and many in most. It is usually only sent by request, which means that it is meeting a need. To all you dear fellow-heirs of Christ we send our warmest greetings in His name. Many of us have not met in the flesh, but we shall meet, and if in that day we can say that the link by the WITNESS AND TESTIMONY here on earth meant a deeper and fuller appreciation of our One Blessed Lord Jesus, then we shall have the greatest possible occasion to rejoice together.

The Lord be with you.

Yours in His love and hope,
T. Austin-Sparks

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