by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 5 - Zion's Unity and Fellowship

Reading: Psalm 50; 84; 122.

"Till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him, who is the head, even Christ; from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love" Eph. 4:13-16.

"Not holding fast the Head, from whom all the body, being supplied and knit together through the joints and bands, increaseth with the increase of God" Col. 2:19.

The more literal translation of Psalm 122:3 is something worth mentioning: "Jerusalem, that art builded as a city that is compacted together!" That implies that God's emphatic thought is now about to be expressed. Looking upon the historic literal Jerusalem, this is the impression that the Psalmist had about Jerusalem. You can see behind it a spiritual thought and for our present spiritual purpose, we see clearly that here is a setting forth of Jerusalem as God sees it. Then follows a description, "Jerusalem, a true city all joined together as one". Zion representing the Divine thought sets forth the basis and nature of the true spiritual unity and fellowship. When you read the psalms you will be impressed with the delight and joy that is characteristic of the Lord's true people when they contemplate Zion, the joy there is in these psalms of Zion; what joy there is as the people move towards Zion. There is the joy of a common objective, the joy of a mutual interest. It seems that as the people are moving from their distinct places towards Zion, they have left all that is personal - all that is individual disappears - and they are found as one in a great common joy. This seems to have matured into a most joyous fellowship, because their eyes are all on one common object and their hearts are all in one direction. They meet at one focal point which is Zion. In heart and spirit they have already come to Zion.

Their progress is progress in fellowship. They have not yet reached Zion, they have still a long way to go, but get your heart set on Zion and you will soon find fellowship. We become units and fragments as we lose sight of Zion, but this disappears as our hearts are dominated by Zion.

These passages which we have read in Ephesians 4 and Colossians 2 bring us directly and definitely into touch with the Head. His headship governs everything and all else follows. "Hold fast the Head". Zion means Christ as the centre and the Head. Every believer must be under the domination of the Head completely. We must ask ourselves in every matter whether we are seeking the Lord's glory or our own. The Lord is King in Zion. So we cannot be part of Zion without Him being King in us, we must bow utterly to His kingship, and this means progress and joy.

Zion is the Lord expressed as Head in a people, a fellowship. Zion is a Divine order, a working and moving together under the headship of Christ. There is nothing independent. The very headship of Christ demands mutuality among the saints and no individualism. The test of whether He is dominating in our lives is when we come up against difficult people. We must submit ourselves to one another. This is the test as to whether the Lord is supreme in our lives. This finds out as to how far the Lord has got His grip upon our hearts. It must be a giving way of personal feelings and no standing up for our own personal rights.

Progress towards Zion, (that is, towards Christ in full expression), is a matter of letting go all that is personal and individual. This people are making progress and are going on together because they are dominated by one thing, that is the fullness of Christ. This people went up as one solid whole and that in great joy. They sang the songs of ascent. They were progressing full of joy and they only made progress because their hearts were set on the fullness of Christ. Their hearts were set upon Christ being fully formed.

Paul's own spiritual life is worth looking into. Colossians 1:28-29 dominated his life. Upward progress is the nature and expression of Zion (Ps. 84:5b "In whose heart are the highways of Zion"). The heart is delighting in the ways of Zion. There is a heart concern for the fullness of Christ, and the heart is set on this fullness. This is fellowship.

Fellowship ceases when one stops going on, it is the going on that makes fellowship, not the spiritual point reached. It is not the measure of revelation, but the heart movement and direction. The basis of this spiritual unity is stated in Psalm 50:5. The Lord has made the covenant by sacrifice; it is not anything that we do in the first case. The word "made" is not a perfect translation. It is better: "Ye that have solemnized My covenant by sacrifice". It is our entering into the meaning of His Cross. Such a movement is a costly thing, it is costly to the flesh; it costs friends, reputation, etcetera. It cuts clean across tradition. It means suffering of different kinds.

In Revelation we see a Lamb standing on mount Zion. The Lamb dominates Zion; the Lamb is pre-eminent. It is, too, a slain Lamb. This is a type of the Cross which alone brings a people to completeness. We can only come to Zion by way of the Cross, and solemnly so.

There is perfect fellowship in Zion. The unity of the members of Zion does not begin with anything down here in any outward way. It begins in Himself in heaven. It is a heart moving towards the Lord that finds fellowship, whether you have met others before or not. It is spontaneous. All over the world hearts are going out to the Lord. Real oneness can only be constituted by the Lord dominating the hearts of His children in fulness.

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