Editor's Letters

by T. Austin-Sparks

April 1926

Beloved of the Lord,

Following upon our plea, that we should seek to realise, by the Spirit, the essential "Oneness" of the Body, the Lord's only church in this age, comes the call to corporate fellowship in prayer.

By this we do not mean the fellowship in prayer incidental to our gathering together in physical assembly, though this becomes more and more important to observe as "the Day" approaches. Indeed, we would pause here, to warn the Lord's people who may be in association in one place, as we are at Honor Oak, to beware of Satan's subtle devices in depriving us of the corporate fellowship in prayer which is essential for the united testimony in one place. The prayer-gathering of the entire local assembly is an indispensable means of grace: the enemy knows this. And so he would even encourage us to be so taken up with special interests that demand much of our time, and at such seasons, as to prevent us from meeting "Our Lord" in the midst of His people. Thus the church is spiritually divided. We get out of touch with one another in the Spirit, and the edification and sanctification of the Body of Christ is hindered. Moreover the individual believer, so side-tracked, will gradually have his vision taken away from the central and supreme purpose of the Spirit in this age, and the nature and extent of the warfare in the heavenlies will also be lost sight of, so that he ceases to function in the Body, though otherwise very active in so-called Christian work. Corporate fellowship in prayer is vital, and where there is any means of a local assembly, our gathering together is imperative to our life and vision.

But thank God, we live in a realm that transcends the bounds of sense and time. We are in the heavenlies; Oh, yes, but we must meet there. We must gather together there. And so by corporate fellowship in prayer we do not refer merely to the local assembly, but to that sensitiveness to the Spirit's call which causes us to respond to the needs of other members of the Body in other places and even in distant parts of the world.

Again and again, we are proving that as we walk with the Lord He makes us alert to the needs of the Church in all parts of the earth, bringing up names or faces, or placing before us definite cases and circumstances, which call for our personal co-operation in our own private prayer-life.

We turn to Paul again as the example of what a member of the Body should be in prayer sensitiveness and response, "For I would ye knew what great conflict (lit.: agony - striving in spirit) I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh," Col. 2:1. In the last sentence we have the most striking example in the New Testament of what we mean by corporate fellowship in prayer. Paul was sensitive, by the Spirit, to the life and needs of other members of the Body of Christ, the One Church, who were unknown to him personally. Oh, for a like sensitiveness in all who may read these words!

In the close personal fellowship of our joint ministry, if you will permit the reference, we are proving the essential "oneness" of our testimony and life, and how true it is that if one member suffer, all suffer with that one; and if one rejoice, or exult in life, and ministry, all benefit. But it is possible to be unconscious of this definitely operating law of the One Life in all members of the Body.

Corporate fellowship in the Spirit will make us aware of those "calls" to encompass one another at critical times, and in crucial needs. As the climax of the age comes to its intensity, the Church of God will be assailed by all the malignancy of Satan and his forces, but the secret of our "overcoming," as those who are alive because they remain unto the coming of the Lord, will be found, not in our personal individual apprehension of truth, even though that truth be what we call Calvary's Victory, but in our corporate fellowship in that Victory.

Oh, Lord, help us all to discern Thy Body.
Yours in that Fellowship,

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