Editor's Letters

by T. Austin-Sparks

December 1926

Beloved of the Lord,

"Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" Thus the Lord.

Have any of you in your walk with Him up to this sepulchre come to a dead halt? You can go no farther. Corruption has presented itself as a present fact: "he (the old man) stinketh." The horrors of what seem insuperable, incontrovertible facts of death and corruption are facing you. And there is more in these words than sense can determine. The Lord has brought you, and in His company too, to the edge of the abyss.

You started out with such a brave confession. When first you met the Lord as related to the revelation of sin, and death through sin, you turned wholly to Him and believed His word "I am the Resurrection and the Life"; and all that should follow from that. In response to His query, "Believest thou this?" you were able freely and sincerely to say, "Yea, Lord, I have believed that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, even He that cometh into the world." And so until recently, you have walked in such company and testimony with Him, so taken up with Him, that the fact of death and corruption was lost sight of.

But now you are facing the actual sepulchre, the cave in the earth, a deeper, more awful grave than men know; for we are speaking all the while in a moral and spiritual sense; and you, who read, know what we mean. The dead, and festering soul of you is now unveiled; and the lord of death, the devil, stands across the path of your further fellowship with the Lord, and has said to your fearful heart, "No farther." For the while you have lost the Face and the Voice of your Beloved, so obsessed are you with the actual facts of this human corruption. The serpent is hissing his challenge out of this awful thing where death reigns because of sin.

This is no exaggerated suggestion as some well understand. And the Lord is in it. He has to allow all those who shall go through with Him into Victory over death and the grave to be thus arrested. It is that they might take the next MIGHTY step of faith, which is not theirs but His: Paradox of our spiritual speech! The halt is necessary for further revelation, that we might know "the energy of the strength of His might." It is necessary we should know our own utter weakness and incapacity. Thus we are confronted with him who has the power of death in the realm of the flesh. The saints must face the actual spiritual forces of evil arrayed against them. They will not be allowed to go through upon a blithe and blind carnal optimism, a make-believe hope that lies in the letter only. It must be wrought out in their spirit. Hence the impasse. The halt before the actual fact of corrupting, horrible, decomposing death.

Yea, our Lord groaned here. He wept: not mild tears of pity, but those of anguish and indignation. "He troubled Himself - being moved with indignation in Himself." Small wonder if the impact of all those principalities and powers under the lord of death well nigh paralyse our faith as we are brought by Him, our Lord, to the brink of the abyss.

This is the situation that is challenging the faith of so many of the Lord's children today - it may be said that the body of Christ now on earth is as a whole meeting this challenge of death.

But it is very much in the order of spiritual progress that might be expected. For as we come up to the crisic hour of His Resurrection Shout and Rapture Calling, we must first face the fact of death in all its spiritual horrors. And so it is that spirits of death are attacking the bodies of the Lord's people, and more powerful spirits of death attack their life and testimony. But it is all one realm and sovereignty of evil under the lord of death. DEATH! But is it not just in this impact of hell that we learn the true magnitude of all that the Cross accomplished, and the mighty powers of its incorruptible Blood?

We read of what we think was the tranquil passing of Enoch into glory. But was it so? One has heard some beautiful imaginations concerning that oblivious passing of a last happy milestone, a dream-like pilgrimage. Beloved, there are no dream-like pilgrimages. Our faith is a fighting faith. And the scriptures correct us - "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death." But be sure death was confronted and its lord. It was then there came by the grace of God that supreme culmination of the faith which had been exercised in the "habitual-walking-with" GOD.

So here. There has been faith all along, and many promises; much blessed fellowship. But NOW? The enemy challenges the farther path. The pit emerges beneath our feet. Advance seems impossible. We even shrink back in sickening fear. And then comes this word - "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of GOD?"

The next step is His. He is the Resurrection and the Life. The faith His; the Word His; the intercession His. We must now simply trust Him, and remember He is not only without but within. Beloved of the Blood-Shedder, He Who resisted unto the Blood agonising against sin, it is He Who also is our Life, and not we ourselves. We turn to HIM again. He is to perform this last act for the Church which is His Body. He is our Translator. Our past experiences, our triumphs in a hitherto unspoiled pilgrimage, our attainments in service, must all be put away as in the face of this challenge of death we turn to Him.

Many of you who read these words are up against IT. You understand. The lord of death seeks to devour the church, the saints who have walked with the Lord by the Spirit, up to this hour. The next step is LIFE, either in Resurrection or Rapture. It is very imminent. But it is just here the pit yawns. The lord of death presents you with all the seeming realities of his power and authority. HE HAS NONE - under the Blood. Believe it! Jesus is Lord! Now, as never before, "Greater is He!" For - "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven" with the Shout of War, the archangel's Voice, and the trumpet of GOD; and first the dead in the Christ shall rise; then we, the living who remain (but stand to it that you remain on the battleground, Eph. 6:13) shall be caught up with them among the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we be forever with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words - even as here we do, oh-we-of-little-faith.

Yet His faith abides; and it is by the faith of the Son of God, and not our own, we live, and shall live.

Yours - with the Lord at these opening gates,
T. Austin-Sparks
T. Madoc-Jeffreys

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