Editor's Letters

by T. Austin-Sparks

May 1927

Beloved of our Lord,

"Ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye may receive the promise."

How many of us become weary and faint in the tests of our faith, not recognising their necessity and import!

The will of God, as revealed in the Cross, has been accepted by us, and our integrity in this consent to our own death is before Him. We are conscious of nothing as against ourselves, for we have come to His Light, and dwell in IT; and though the experience be a constant humiliation on the one hand, on the other the Blood is speaking and cleansing, and we have peace. Yet are we still hedged in, our path is trouble-thronged and straitened. There is no break into service, fruitfulness, the open ways of blessing, the prosperity of His kingdom. What is the meaning of it all?

Beloved, this is it. Now is the vindication of God's grace in us. He is able to say before principalities and powers concerning us, "Hast thou considered My servant?" He knows the sacrifice is fully upon the altar. But will that "love of God" as now within us keep us bound there? Will Isaac, the son of promise, consent to his own execution, so to speak? For this is the test of sonship, the trial of His grace. The triumph of the Cross must first of all be made manifest in us ere we can become the public proclaimers of that triumph. Fear not therefore because of present straitening. The works of our salvation are all complete. By one offering He hath perfected to perpetuity them that are sanctified. We have free and blessed access into this continual grace wherein we stand as in the Presence of God in His Son, but to the glory-praise of His grace this thing must be tested, tried, proved.

For this reason is it not added to the full declaration of our salvation? "And not only so, but we exult in the tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience."

It is well to correctly discern this word "patience." It is not the "long-suffering" we usually designate as that virtue. The New Testament discriminates between these two phases of Christ's grace in us. Both words occur, for example, in Colossians 1:11. This "patience" is steadfast endurance, fortitude, or literally "an abiding-on-top" during trial. It is the unconquerableness of faith. "Ye have heard of the patience of Job?" But Job was not merely long-suffering. Indeed, one does not always discern that virtue in his speeches. But he had the fortitude of his faith; he endured and believed in God despite the confusions of his circumstance and the contradictions to his former experience of God, and in this patience he said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." This is Biblical patience, the steadfastness of saints. We also have need of it, and more so as the conflict thickens.

Recently we saw a mighty battleship newly launched, a magnificent and costly piece of worldly armament, perfect in all its parts and fully equipped for service. But we were told that although perfect it was going for its "trials." Its engines, its boilers, its guns, and the whole fabric of the vessel had to undergo the strain, prolonged and real, of a thorough testing. There would be heavy seas and hard driving and utmost pressure, severe demands made upon all its parts and equipment, before it could be passed into active service.

So with us. We also are on trial, and we have therefore need of steadfast endurance, patience. And in this the apostle is quite plain, as to the reason, for "patience" says he, works, "experience," - or as the Revised Version has it, "probation." So we are going through probation. The Lord sometimes allows the devil to experiment upon us in this way: he experiences the truth of God's grace in us, and we discover also with thankfulness that the faith of the Son of God that weathered Calvary can meet other storms.

Wherefore, "Stand fast in the faith; quit you like men; be strong." In your patience gain possession of your souls, for he that endureth unto the END, the same shall be saved.

Yours in the joy of the Warrior,
T. Austin-Sparks
T. Madoc-Jeffreys.

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