"A Candlestick of Pure
Gold: of Beaten Work" Exodus 25:31
"The Testimony of Jesus" Revelation 1:9
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|September -- October, 1968
||Vol. 46, No. 5
"Christ! I am Christ's! and let the name suffice me,
Ay, and for me He greatly hath sufficed;
. . . . . .
Yea, thro' life, death, thro' sorrow and thro' sinning
He shall suffice me, for He hath sufficed:
Christ is the end, for Christ was the beginning,
Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ."
F. W. H. M.
FEW words more aptly express the motive and object of the ministry
which this little paper has sought to express through these many years.
As we get nearer to His coming, and the conclusion of the ministry,
there is an increasing burden and urge to bring Him more and
more into view. We believe that the books of the last things, e.g.
'Revelation' and John's Letters, indicate that, with the coming of
Anti-Christ the Spirit's movement will be a concentration and
intensification of focus on Christ Himself. Surely this is the deepest
movement of the Spirit today! So many of God's people are feeling, if
not saying: 'We do not want systems of teaching, nor your techniques
and particular forms; we do not want your orientations of Christianity;
but "we would see Jesus"!' They are using the word 'Reality', but what
they mean is Christ! The non-Christian world is turning out and
repudiating Christianity as a system. But it cannot turn Christ out
where He is a life and a spiritual power. The Church began by a 'seeing
of Jesus', and its apostleship and expansion was essentially through
that spiritual vision and seeing. The chief Apostle based his
whole life and ministry upon his having had God's Son revealed in him.
If there is to be, what so many are praying for, revival, we are
convinced that it can, and must, only come by a new seeing of Jesus; a
new apprehension of His significance in the Divine economy. If
individuals are to come into an enlargement of spiritual life, and if
the Church and churches are to recover, or enter upon, a state of
fuller life and power, unto more effective testimony, [93/94]
it will only be by a new and fuller seeing of Christ unto a new
captivation by Him.
The writer of the poem quoted at the head of this editorial has a
stanza which contains the essential feature of this 'seeing':
"Oh, could I tell, ye surely would believe it!
Oh, could I only say what I have seen!
How should I tell or how can ye receive it,
How, till He bringeth you where I have been?"
If it is true that 'Christianity is Christ', and that the Church is
Christ in corporate expansion, then, not from without, by forms and
organization, by human efforts, but by a Holy Spirit work of inward
eye-opening and inward revelation of Christ will Christianity be what
it really is in the mind of God. We cannot do this, but our labours
may, and must, be to provide the Holy Spirit ground to work upon by
seeking to 'present' Christ in His greater fulness to the Lord's people
in these serious times. This will we do, by His grace and enabling. So
help us, Lord!
Do pray that this ministry may be maintained in this vision and
vocation until the Lord sees that its need is no more. We are much
exercised about the continuance of the ministry, when the present
personal channels are called to 'higher service', and we would ask your
prayers concerning this. 'He takes His workers, but carries on His
Thank you for your wonderful co-operation and fellowship. We often feel
that we would like all our faithful helpers to share the many letters
from far and near telling of the help received through this ministry.
This is not possible, but we want you to know that "your labours are
not in vain in the Lord".
May He bless you yet more! Yours in His grace, T. Austin-Sparks.
THE CUP AND THE FIRE
2. THE CONFLICT OF THE AGES
Reading: Acts 12
"I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it
were already kindled!
But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened
till it be accomplished!" (Luke 12:49, 50).
IN our first message we were mainly occupied with the cup and its
consequence in the scattering of the fire, with a view to taking fresh
account of the relationship between those two things: that there is no
scattering of the fire, and all that that means of the progress of the
Gospel and the growth of the Church, except in so far as the meaning of
the cup is established as the foundation of everything, right at the
very heart of the life of the people of God.
We are now going to look at the twelfth chapter of the book of the
Acts, for this chapter is a microcosm of the history of the cup and the
fire. That, of course, is true of the whole of this book: it is the
cup, undoubtedly -- the Church in suffering relationship with the Lord.
But it is also the book of the scattered fire. This chapter, as I have
said, is a miniature of that whole great truth; indeed, it is a
miniature of the struggle of the ages between the powers of evil and
the invincible spiritual forces which eventually triumph. The
tremendous amount of history and truth packed into this chapter never
fails to move and stir us when we read it. I wonder whether there is a
chapter in the Bible so pregnant with phrases and clauses, piled one
upon another, every one of which could, without exaggeration, occupy
our whole chapter.
Take some of these clauses, only a few of the many: "Now about that
timen ...". What a key that is, and what a lot that key opens if you
stay with it! We shall probably make use of it presently. "Herod the
king ...". There is far more in that than you recognize. "To vex
certain of the church ...". The vexation of the Church or the attempted
vexation of the Church. "Killed James ...". We pointed out previously
that it was this James and John who came to the Lord requesting places
on the right hand and on the left in glory, to whom the Lord
immediately uttered the challenge: 'Are you able to drink of the cup
that I drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism wherewith I am
baptized?' And they said: 'We are able.' 'You shall ...'. "And he
killed James with the sword ...". "When he saw that it pleased the Jews
...". 'It pleased the Jews!' There is a lot in that. "He proceeded
further ...". And so we might go on. The whole chapter is full of
phrases and clauses like that which are just packed with meaning. [94/95]
Let us look at the message of this chapter. "Now about that time ...".
About what time? It is full of significance to put your finger on that
and note the time. The answer is a very large one, but it has two main
features. There is the answer lying within Herod himself, and there is
the answer which lies behind Herod, much more deeply -- the answer of
Satan. Let us consider the answer in Herod.
"Herod the king" (verse 1). There were six Herods in the Bible. All of
them were Idumaean in origin: they are gathered under that symbolic
name of 'Edom'. That is, they were descendants of Esau, not of Israel.
All that is very significant. This man before us was the first and the
last of them properly to hold this title of 'king'. None of them up to
him had officially held that title, and after he died the title of
'king' was taken away.
We are witnessing here the heading up of a long history. The prophecies
of Obadiah should be read in order really to get the substance of this
-- this historic antagonism between the flesh and the Spirit, between
heaven and hell, between Esau and Israel. There is a long history here,
headed right up to this man who now takes the title of 'king'. What
irony that the Jews should come to be ruled by a descendant of Esau and
not of Israel, and that that ruler should be appointed by pagan Rome!
It is something to think about. We are in the presence of a tremendous
drama here, profoundly fascinating -- but oh, how deeply instructive!
"About that time Herod the king put forth his hands to afflict certain
of the church.... And when he saw that it pleased the Jews ..." (verses
1, 3). Now why should Herod do this Jew-pleasing thing at that time? It
might look just like a human story, it might seem to be something very
simple, but we are in the unfolding of this much deeper thing. Satan,
as we know, is very deep, but God is deeper still, and that is what is
happening here. If you look back to the chapter before this, you will
find that there was a great famine. "Now in these days there came down
prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them
named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be a great
famine over all the world: which came to pass in the days of
Claudius.... Now about that time ..." (Acts 11:27-28; 12:1).
The simple answer is this: the Jews were a very difficult people to
rule. That is perfectly clear, of course, we know that. But add to the
normal usual, common difficulty a famine. You know there is nothing
that leads to revolution more quickly than famine and hunger. We are
told later in the story that the people of Tyre and Sidon, in
Phoenicia, were fed from King Herod's province (verse 20). It is a
question of food, and it has become very acute. There is a seething and
surging and a rising, and Herod must do something to get these people
diverted from their troubles, get them preoccupied. Something must be
done for them; there must be some diversion. He cannot provide the food
and avoid the famine; it has come, it is a fact. Then, if he is going
to maintain his position and hold these people and keep them in check,
he must do something to please them. And there is your answer!
It sounds like a human story, a bit of trickery, politics, or whatever
you like to call it; but that is one part of the answer. "Now about
that time ...". Why must he please the Jews? Well, that is the answer.
How will he please the Jews? He knows their hatred for the Christians
-- that is a long story, too -- and so he will "put forth his hands to
afflict certain of the church". The Christians were being used to
buttress up this ramshackle, false kingdom of Herod, to keep his throne
intact. He is using them for his own ends. Well, that is only part of
the answer -- Herod's part. It is a very simple one.
But let us get behind Herod, because Herod is not acting alone. There
is something more, something deeper. The deeper and the more real
answer to the question is found in the satanic realm behind the man.
Let us look at chapter 11 again, verse 19: "They therefore that
were scattered abroad upon the tribulation that arose about Stephen
travelled as far as Phoenicia, and Cyprus, and Antioch speaking the
word to none save only to Jews."
"They ... that were scattered abroad upon the tribulation that arose
about Stephen ...". That is a profoundly inclusive word. There is
something happening. Oh, what a lot has been happening! That takes us
back to chapter 7 -- the martyrdom of Stephen. Stephen is stoned; that
is the cup. It looks like an immense triumph for the devil. Stephen was
a mighty man of the Spirit; there were tremendous hopes for the Church
bound up with the life of that young man. Some have said, after reading
his discourse and studying it, that he was the equal of Saul of Tarsus
at least. And there he is, murdered. It looks as though Satan has
But what after that? From that very point there was a scattering of the
believers far and wide, and they went everywhere, testifying. Saul of
Tarsus is converted, and what a tremendous thing that is! Peter is led
to the house of Cornelius, away up there in the north, and we know what
happened there -- the door is opened to the Gentiles. Things of the
greatest significance are coming out of the cup, the cup of the Lord;
out of the baptism and passion into which the Church has been baptized.
[95/96] Believers were constantly
added to the Church (9:31, 42; 11:21, 24). The thing is growing. The
fire is spreading, Satan's kingdom is being shaken. The kingdom of
Satan is being stirred to its depths, and something must be done about
Someone tersely put it 'The men that have turned the world upside down
have come hither (17:6). "Now about that time Herod the king ..."; You
see? That is the explanation. Out of this baptism of the passion of the
Lord into which the Church has been brought, the fire is spreading; but
the enemy is moved -- deeply moved. Herod 'puts forth his hand' -- and
there is a hand behind that hand -- "to afflict certain of the church.
And he killed James ... with the sword. And when he saw that it pleased
the Jews ..." he proceeded further. I would like to stay with all those
fragments, because there is a message in every one of them. Herod is
carried on by his own momentum. Have a little success, and see what it
will do for you!
However, we turn away from that for a moment to the other side -- the
aspect of this that we may call a drama indeed, that of the sovereign
Kingship of the Lord. It is all summed up in three things: "Herod ...
put forth his hands to afflict ... an angel of the Lord smote him ...
But the word of God grew and multiplied" (12:1, 23-24). That is
tremendous, is it not? We begin the story with Herod putting forth his
hands; we end the story with Herod eaten of worms and giving up the
ghost. You begin with the Church a victim and martyr; you end with the
Word of God growing and multiplying. This is the story of another King.
It is the story of two kings pitting themselves against each other. It
is, as I said at the beginning, the microcosm of this long history of
the conflict between the forces of evil and those invincible forces of
the Spirit, which always triumph in the long run.
But here a pressing question arises. When you think of the beginning --
that he killed James with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased
the Jews he proceeded further to take Peter also -- the question that
clamours for an answer is: Why does God allow this kind of thing? Why
did He not intervene before James was killed with the sword? Why did He
not stop this thing before Peter was thrown into prison? Ah. that is
another key to another large history, is it not? The mystery of God's
permissive will: God allowing His servants, His so useful servants, to
be killed or cast into prison, allowing the Church to suffer like this.
Why does God allow it?
The answer lies deep down within the cup. If you get deep enough into
the cup, you will find the answer. Let me put it the other way -- it is
deep within the Cross. God, in the mystery of His will and His ways,
uses the Church as He used Israel, to draw out the evil forces to their
own destruction. 'God moves in a mysterious way ...' Is it the Church,
or is it the forces against it, that are destroyed eventually? You see
the answer in history. It is here in this chapter in representation.
Here you have Israel in Egypt. What a tremendous extending of Pharaoh
-- drawing him out, drawing him to the limit of his own resources to
give an answer through the magicians, and then going on and going on,
further and yet further, all Pharaoh's resources are exhausted, and
then God smashes him. The sum total of his whole resource is broken and
destroyed -- and God has used a suffering people to draw it all out.
That is the story here. In the mystery of God's ways the Church
suffers, but its suffering comes from the enemy, whom God is drawing
out by means of the Church -- drawing him out and extending him. And
when his cup of iniquity is full, God will smash him beyond repair.
That is the issue of Herod. It is the Church that has brought this
about. It is the sufferings of James and Peter and the Church in these
days that have accomplished that. But is that not found right in the
Cross? Look at the Cross! Is the Cross the extending of all the powers
of evil in earth and in hell? It is that! When you see Him there on the
Cross, dead, and know how it is brought about, and all that has gone to
bring it about -- the whole story of human and satanic malice and spite
-- you ask: Is there anything more that they can do? No! What is the
answer? The scattered fire! That is the answer. It is in the cup, it is
in the Cross, it is an integral part of this whole matter. The
sufferings of Christ which abound unto us, unto the Church, are working
Satan's undoing and for us a 'far more exceeding and eternal weight of
glory' (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Why does God allow it? Wait, if you can, in patience and in faith.
"Here is the patience of the saints" (Revelation 13:10, 14:12). Do you
remember that word? If you can wait, you will see that, on the one
side, your suffering, or your sufferings, wrought havoc in the kingdom
of Satan, brought him to an end of his power: they drew him out, they
were the marks of his coming out. On the other side, the sufferings
have worked glory for you. And in the meantime there has been spiritual
increase, spiritual progress, scattered fire.
God uses the work of Satan for Satan's undoing. But it is the Church
and it is the saints who are the instrument. It is in their soul that
this battle is fought out. "Now unto the principalities and the [96/97] powers in the heavenlies ... made known
through the church the manifold wisdom of God" (Ephesians 3:10).
Something is happening in the unseen.
The progress of the Word of God is a costly thing. It involves much
suffering -- it involves the cup; but that is His way. Here, then, we
see God using Satan's work -- on the one side for Satan's own undoing
and overthrow, and on the other side for the progress of the Word, for
the Church's advance and for the glory of God. All that is wrapped up
in this anguish of fellowship with His sufferings.
You and I have had a good deal of difficulty in understanding why Paul
should long to know the fellowship of His sufferings. It is one of the
most difficult prayers for us to pray, is it not? But Paul knew this
secret, that that is the way of the progress of the Gospel, that is the
way for the destruction of this that is set against it: the fellowship
of His sufferings; for that is the heart of the Cross of the Lord Jesus
And all this is inherent in the cup. The cup ceases to be an object, it
ceases to be just a thing: it becomes something living, something
potent. That cup is a mighty force in this universe. When you and I
come to the Lord's Table next time, may God give us some larger
conception of what a tremendous thing is there, touching every realm in
His universe. It is the representation of something living. This blood
speaks, this blood tells, this blood counts. Blood is vital, it is a
terrific force in this universe. When we take the cup, and thereby
accept the baptism, the passion, let us recognize that in faith we take
also the tremendous victory that it sets forth. It is costly!
Let us now see where this was all wrought out. On the one side, Herod
-- wicked, wicked Herod, with all the cruelty of his long history,
going back to Esau; the Jews, delighted that action was being taken
against the followers of Jesus; the prison, the chains, the strong
guard within and without -- four quaternions of soldiers. These are
things that represent great forces and great difficulty -- all the
things which are against. They are not just words: they are tremendous
things, all of them, viewed from the natural standpoint. That is on the
one side. On the other side, "an angel of the Lord": and Herod, and the
Jews, and the prison, and the chains, and the guard, are as nothing.
Where is it wrought out? In a prayer meeting, as it were right in
between those two. Between the forces of hell and of heaven was the
Church at prayer. The thing would not have happened otherwise. Those
forces of evil would not have yielded to the heavenly authority of the
ascended Christ through an angel, if it had not been for what was going
on in that room. "But," it says, "prayer was made ... of the church
...". But ... But ... Away all the forces! Calculate them, take their
full strength and meaning, and then put one word over it all -- 'But'.
'The Church prayed ...' And in response to that the angel -- and all
the other was as nothing.
The Church at prayer. What do you think about that? It says that
"prayer was made earnestly", but that English word does not really
convey the force of it at all. The Greek word means literally
'extendedly', 'stretched out'. The Church prayed in a stretched out
way; the Church was extended. Satan was extended, heaven was extended,
and these two powers came into collision because the Church was
extended. It will never come about in any other way; it is just like
that. What a tremendous thing is wrapped up with the Church at prayer!
As I dwell upon this story, many, many thoughts that are not in the
story crowd into my mind. How different it might have been if the
Church, instead of getting together and focusing upon the situation in
oneness and in prayer like this, had said: 'Oh, if only Stephen had not
said those things! If only so-and-so had been a little more
discreet.... If only ...!' and a thousand other things of blame:
blaming one and another and holding people responsible for this and
putting it down to that, and that, turning in on themselves until they
had got a whole situation of questions and reproaches and
recriminations, and a 'case'. And the whole thing is sabotaged! Dear
brothers and sisters, whenever this kind of thing happens we must look
deeper. Behind all that is the strategy of Herod to frustrate the
scattering of the fire. When the devil can get us turned in on
ourselves and on our own problems, and upon one another's faults and
weaknesses and failures, and so on, he has defeated the whole business
of the Lord. You may pray and pray and pray, but if there is the
contradiction of division in the background, you pray in vain. The Lord
will not come in.
They prayed as the Church in this 'stretched out' way. There is no
other thing in mind; they are of one mind and heart. They are
concentrated upon a satanic issue. There is a lesson in that. Oh, how
our prayer is paralysed by a thousand and one things which, if we only
knew the truth, are not really the trouble -- they are things that
Satan has got hold of. There may be faults. Was any one of the Apostles
faultless? There may be weaknesses; but if only you are on the Lord's
business, the Lord takes action.
It has been said, concerning the disciples' [97/98]
disputing with Rhoda about Peter, that they had prayed and prayed and
prayed all night, and then when their prayer was answered they did not
believe it, and some people have said that they could not have prayed
in faith. But there are other points of view. Some of us pray with all
our might about a dear brother now in prison. I beg to suggest that, if
someone came to us and said: 'Brother ... is at the door!' we should
say: 'He can't be!' We should want a good deal of verification -- not
because we did not believe that the Lord could do it or would do it:
but, somehow or other, when the Lord does the very that we ask for, our
breath is taken away and we cannot believe it. Have mercy upon these
believers, and do not impute unbelief. The fact is, that, though they
may have prayed like that, and though there may have been faults and
weaknesses, they were on the business, and they were one in it, and the
Lord moved in.
How much came out of this! They saw through the whole situation and got
to the real issue, they pushed aside all other considerations, and out
of their travail something was born. You remember what follows after
chapter twelve. In the previous chapter (11:19-30) Antioch had come
into view: and now from Antioch Paul and Barnabas are sent forth, and
on and on you go. The fire is scattered to the ends of the earth -- out
of this: The Church Prayed .
It is a wonderful story, but I find much difficulty in seeking to
convey it. It is so true to life. There is always so much room for the
mystery of God's ways. Why? Why? Why? If you stay with the 'why's' of
God's wisdom, you will be paralysed. Let me recall what we were saying
at the beginning of our first message. Here is a law enunciated,
declared, established -- that there is no scattered fire without the
cup, and that cup is always a mystery. It always expresses itself in
ways concerning which you can say: 'Why this ...?' 'Why that ...?' 'Why
does He allow this ...?' Those 'why's' will paralyse you if you have
not reached the established, settled position, that the cup has come to
stay; it will be with us to the end.
But, in the mystery of suffering permitted by God, and in all that that
cup means in a crucified Son of God and a crucified Church -- in all
that is the way of Satan's undoing and the establishment of the
heavenly Kingdom. May God settle it in us, and give us grace!
(To be continued)
THE LIVING WAY OR THE LEGAL WAY?
Message as spoken by Mr. DeVern Fromke at the Aeschi
I BELIEVE that we have reached a place in our conference where we do
one of three things. We will either break out in rebellion and
say 'No!', or we will break down in despair and say 'it is too
difficult!', or we will break through into the life in the
Spirit. You know, as you move around various companies of the Lord's
people you find some who have learned the secret of a spiritual edge to
their life, but even among so many who say they really love the Lord
there is such a tendency to a spiritual sag, or let-down. I want to
share with you this morning a principle which I believe will help us to
live with a keen, sensitive edge to our spiritual life.
I will begin with a story about Billy. One morning, when Mother was
leaving home, she turned to her son, Billy, and said: 'I have made some
candy which you may cut when it is hard, but be sure to save
twenty-four pieces for a party I am going to tonight.' At last the
candy was ready to cut, and Billy cut some big pieces, but, after
eating and eating, he counted and there were only twenty pieces left.
He said: 'It is good that I cut such big pieces. If I cut them in half
there will be forty pieces left, and I can still eat sixteen more!'
After he had done all this there seemed so few on the plate, so he
decided to spread them out a little. When Mother came home he could
rest in the confidence that he had fulfilled the law -- there were
twenty-four pieces. He kept looking at his mother all the afternoon,
wondering if she would say something. That night, just as she was about
to leave for the party with the candy, he came running up to her in
tears, saying: 'Mother, my conscience [98/99]
doesn't bother me, but something else deep within tells me that I am so
With this story as background, I want you to turn to 1 Corinthians 8.
We want now to see how many Christians there are who are content to
live in the place where their conscience cannot bother them, but they
hardly move up into the place where they live with a sensitivity to the
Holy Spirit, so we will look at a problem in the church at Corinth.
There were some younger believers who were saying: 'Oh, we could not
eat meat that has been sacrificed to the idols in the temple!' They
kept thinking of these idols as a reality, so their conscience, wrongly
trained, bothered them. Then there were the other group who had more
understanding, but they were very selfish. These older Christians were
saying: 'We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and if we want
to eat this meat we are at liberty to do so.' Thus we see a conflict
between those who were more or less ignorant and those who were more or
less selfish. Here this may be a problem that deals with the eating of
meat sacrificed to idols, but the principle will fit into all the
practices of the Church.
We must see that there are three levels, so to speak, where people can
live. At the bottom there are those who want to break out all the time
and they have to have the law, or something that forbids them.
Then there are those who live in the middle plane, where they fulfil
all that their conscience demands, saying: 'It is lawful.' Then
there are those who push up to live in the 'expedient' level,
and we shall see what that is.
How does Paul deal with this problem in Corinth? There are those who
would like him to write a little book of laws, saying: 'Thou shalt not
do this!' They are the ones who would fit into the bottom group; but
Paul writes to these weaker believers who are ignorant, and to these
others who are selfish, and let us see what he says in verse 1 of this
chapter: "Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that
we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but love buildeth up."
Remember that we were saying last time that there is a knowledge that
the mind can get hold of, and it is this knowledge that 'puffs up', but
we are going to see now that there is a fuller, inward knowledge. These
weaker believers had this outer knowledge. They knew some things about
God but they were still very conscious of idols. These others who had
been going on with the Lord longer had a fuller inward knowledge that
an idol was nothing in the world. In verse 7 Paul says: "There is
not in every man that inward knowledge: for some with conscience of the
idol unto this hour eat as a thing offered unto the idol; and their
conscience being weak is defiled." He sums up the conflict by
saying: 'It is true that you have this fuller knowledge, and you have
liberty to eat this meat', but I want you to notice what Paul says now.
He seems to say: 'I do not live in the middle, "lawful" plane, taking my
liberty. While I could have my liberty, I move up to a plane where I am
You see, the way that Paul teaches them is not the legal way of
imposing restrictions, but it is the living way of love. Can you not
see how some of them who had an inward knowledge were even using this
revelation for their own selfish interests? They would say: 'Oh, we
have had a revelation. The idol is nothing in the world, so we can eat
this meat.' The one who talks in this way is still the centre of his
little world, making every good thing just serve himself. Paul sums up
the situation in verse 13: "If meat make my brother to offend, I
will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to
offend." People are always saying: 'Oh, this teaching gets people
under bondage.' Well, there is the bondage of the rebellious mind, but
there is the wonderful bondage of love.
Now we move to chapter 9 and see the very same principle in operation.
These people could not understand the strange, poured-out life of the
Apostle Paul, and in verse 3 Paul says: "Mine answer to them that
do examine me is this:" Briefly he is saying: 'I have my rights as
a servant of the Lord', and then he names three rights that he has. In
verse 4 he says: 'I have the right to enjoy normal food like others.'
In verse 5 he says: 'I have the right to have normal relationships, a
family and children', and in verse 6 and onwards he is saying: 'I have
the right to have normal remuneration as a servant of the Lord.' Now he
is going to prove that these are his rights. In verse 8 he says: 'Do I
not say these things as a man, or does not the law also say the same?'
In verse 9: "For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not
muzzle the mouth of the ox that treaded out the corn. Doth God take
care for oxen?" Look at the oxen as they are treading out the
grains on the threshing floor! They were not permitted to put a muzzle
on the mouth of these oxen. Why? Because when they went around treading
out, they could stoop down and eat some of the grain. And does God just
give rights to the oxen, or does He also give rights to the servant of
the Lord? And if other servants of the Lord partake of their rights,
does not Paul also have that privilege?
But now Paul drops his bombshell. Listen to what he says in verse 12:
'If others be partakers [99/100] of this right
over you, do I not have this right also? Nevertheless, we have not used
this right; but suffer all things lest we should hinder the gospel of
You see, in chapter 9 Paul is saying: 'I do not live in this "lawful"
plane, claiming my rights, but I have moved up to the
"expedient" plane, where all I am concerned about is His rights in me.'
He goes to great length here to prove that he has his rights. In verse
14 he says: "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the
gospel should live of the gospel", and goes on in verse 15 to say: 'But
I have not claimed any of my rights, neither am I hinting now that you
should give me my rights.'
I think we must see that in the Old Testament there were two kinds of
servants. There was the hired servant who had his rights and certain
recourse when he was wronged, but there was also the bond-slave, who
had no rights, no remuneration, and no recourse when he was wronged.
The Hebrew people were never allowed to make bond-slaves of their own
people, but they could go out and capture other nations and make
bond-slaves of them. It is so wonderful how the Lord Jesus laid aside
all His heavenly rights and came down to earth to become a bond-slave;
and now Paul uses this very same Greek word in verse 19: "For though I
be free from all men, yet have I made myself a bond-slave unto
Can you not see, in the midst of our fellowship with one another, how
often folks say: 'I know my rights!'? And when people live in My
liberty' or in 'My rights' on the 'lawful' plane the conscience
cannot get at them. Look at a tree with its fruits, for a moment. The
fruits on the tree are the things that I do. The conscience works in
the higher plane to tell me that what I do is wrong, but it cannot get
below the soil to the roots of the tree. It is the work of the Holy
Spirit to show me, not so much what I do, but what I am.
Paul says of the Corinthians that some of them had a weak conscience
because they only lived by the outer mind but when the Holy Spirit
comes to work alongside of my conscience with enlightenment, then I can
have a good conscience working on the basis of the inner seeing, or the
inner revelation. Oh, there are so many people today who are saying:
'My conscience does not bother me. I know my liberty and I know my
rights.' They are the centre of their little world and they relate
everything to themselves, but when we break through into the higher
level, where God is our centre and everything is related to Him, then
even the questions we begin to ask are different.
I remember one morning, after I had spoken along this line at a
meeting, a young Bible College girl came to me. she asked 'Do you think
it all right for me to go to such-and-such a place? Is it all right for
me to do this, or that? Is it all right for me to wear this or that?' I
did not say anything, but I just stood there and smiled. She looked up
and said: 'Well, what is wrong with my questions?' I replied: 'Have I
wasted the whole morning? Don't you see that the very questions
you ask tell me the level on which you live? Can't you see how you are
the centre and you are relating everything to yourself?' Tears ran down
her cheeks and she walked away.
Now in chapter 10 we will see the reason for this. There is so much
here, but we will begin with verse 23. Now please notice that when Paul
says, "All things", he is talking about all this eating of meat, all
'my liberty and 'my rights'. All that is in the context here. There are
some things that are definitely forbidden in the Scripture, but in this
verse he is saying: 'This eating of meat, and my rights, are
permissible, are lawful for me, but they are not expedient. All these
things are lawful, but they do not build up my spiritual life. Let no
man seek his own, but every man another's welfare.' And so he would
say: 'I do not live in my liberty, for my rights, or just for my gain,
but I am primarily concerned with His gain in me.' Verse 31
shows us how he relates everything to God: "Whether therefore ye eat,
or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God", and
in verse 33 he says "Even as I please all men in all things, not
seeking mine own profit (or gain), but the profit of many, that they
may be served."
Oh, how my heart goes out to people when I see them so often settling
down just to enjoy their liberty, their rights, and what they gain out
of the Gospel. You see, if we are very legal we say: 'My conscience
doesn't bother me', but this is a conscience that only works on the
mind in the soul. I do believe that an enlightened conscience,
sensitive to the Holy Spirit, will sense this gnawing within that
something is wrong. On this higher level, then, the conscience is
working on the law of the spirit of life, the inner law. There have
been times when I have been in a church where there was a spiritual
awakening, and people were really giving of themselves and I have
anticipated that when I go back the next year they will have gone on
with great fruitfulness unto the Lord, but when I got into the first
meeting I sensed that the spiritual edge had gone, and they were
wondering why the convicting power of the Holy Spirit was not in their
midst. The constraining love of the Lord Jesus was [100/101]
not really gripping them. They had been content to settle down as the
objects of God's blessing instead of being a channel of His blessing.
Through the years I have learned that whenever the edge seems to have
gone in my own life the Holy Spirit is pointing and saying: 'You have
just settled down to the "lawful level.'
Is it not wonderful that no one ever demands that you must move
up to the higher level? Paul says, and I think it is with real
gladness, "I made myself a bond-slave." You see, it is when we
have really seen something of the Lord that our whole being goes out to
satisfy His heart. I think I have been like little Billy so many times
-- just fulfilling the requirements, and I could say: there are just
twenty-four pieces. Mother said I was at liberty to eat, and I had my
rights, so I enjoyed my gain.' But all the time I was talking with my
lips there was something else speaking deep within. The Holy Spirit,
who unveils the roots of the tree, is always saying: 'Give! Give!'
I hope that when we go back to our church, or the people with whom we
have fellowship, this will become a living principle in us. The living
way is the way of real joy. The legal way is the way of inward hurting
all the time, because we know that we are not living unto the fullness
that God expects. - DeV. F.
FOR BOYS AND GIRLS
SAYING "THANK YOU"
H. F. [Harry Foster]
ON Saturday, June 29th, a Frenchman arrived at Ballykelly Air Station
in Northern Ireland and asked to see Squadron-Leader John Bulloch. He
had travelled all the way from France to say two words. He felt so full
of gratitude that he could not be content with writing a "thank you"
letter, and no wonder, for he was thanking the Squadron-Leader for
saving his life. You see, his name was Joan de Kat, and he had been in
danger of perishing when his trimaran broke up in the Atlantic. His
appeal for help had been picked up and a tremendous sea search was set
in motion, with planes and ships from various parts of the world
joining in the search. At last, and just in time, the Shackleton from
the R.A.F. Station in Ireland had spotted him, and so he was saved from
perishing. It was a costly operation, but the French yachtsman did not
go to ask how much he owed for his rescue. This was just as well, for
the estimated cost was £150,000, which would have meant that,
even if he could have promised to pay £20 a week, he would have
had to live for another 150 years to pay off the debt. No, he could
never hope to pay for being saved, and he was not asked to do so. All
he could do was to say those two words: "Thank you." That was enough.
That is all that we can do to thank God for sending His Son to save us
from perishing. It is no use our trying to repay God, for the price He
paid was much more than £150,000. He so loved us "that he gave
his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have
everlasting life" (John 3:16). We can never begin to repay Him, but
what we can and should do is to say "Thank you". We do not need to
travel across the sea, as Joan de Kat did. All we need to do is to
kneel down and thank Him for Christ the Saviour.
Of course, we cannot thank Him for salvation if we have not yet got it.
When a missionary called Willie first went to Brazil he soon learned to
say "Thank you" in Portuguese, but he had a shock when he tried to use
his knowledge. It was in a cafe where he had given the waiter a large
note to pay a small bill. Very soon the waiter brought him the change
on a plate and he said "Thank you", expecting to have the money handed
to him. To his surprise the overjoyed waiter no sooner heard him speak
than he pocketed the change and went off, beaming with pleasure. Poor
Willie! He had lost his money by saying "Thank you" too soon. In that
country his action was the same as saying "No, thank you", so the
waiter thought that he was being told to keep the change. Willie
resolved that in future he would never say the words until he actually
held the object in his hands.
This is the kind of "Thank you" that God wants from us. He wants us
first to accept His forgiveness and love, and then to be sure to say
"Thank you". And to keep on saying it by our devoted lives. - H. F. [101/102]
DIVINE ORDER -- IN CHRIST (3)
WE began these messages with a fresh contemplation of the greatness of
Christ; and then we went on to remind ourselves that everything which
has to do with the realization of God's purpose in creating man, and
this world, and its universe, is a matter of knowing God in Christ,
which, of course, means knowing Christ. Every aspect and detail of
God's will and God's way and God's end is a matter of knowing the Lord
Jesus. All progress, as all life, rests upon that -- knowing Him. The
Christian life here is meant to be one of continuous growth and
development and progress, but that only takes place as we come to know
more, and still more, of the meaning of the Lord Jesus. This progress
will not stop when we leave this world, and when time gives place to
eternity: "Of the increase of his kingdom there will be no
end." Stagnation is no mark of life, and life there will be ever
manifesting itself in new and more wonderful fulnesses and forms.
Therefore, the knowledge of Christ which will, in time and eternity, be
the secret of growth and progress, will continue in heaven, and it will
take eternity to exhaust it. Well, that was our next thing -- all
growth, progress, fruitfulness, rest upon this growing knowledge of the
That brought us to this: Seeing He is so vast, so immense, so
many-sided, we can only see Him from one standpoint at a time; we have
to move round to see Him from every angle. And at this time we are just
looking at the Lord Jesus from one of the many angles, or points of
view, which is this particular aspect of His significance: that He, in
His Person and in His work, stands related to an eternal, heavenly
order. He Himself, in His wonderful, complex Person, is the very
embodiment of all the principles and laws of a great heavenly order.
When everything is conformed to Christ and takes its character from
Him, it will be one glorious harmonious whole, perfected into one, just
one glorious unity.
So that is what we are seeking to grasp at this time: the relationship
of Christ to this eternal heavenly order. We have, of course, laid our
foundation in the Word of God; we have allowed that to come to us in
one marvellous statement through the apostle Paul that 'in the fulness
of the times -- the fulness of the times -- God has determined
to gather together (or, re-gather together) all things in Christ'.
Seeing that the very word contains that idea of re-gathering, it
implies, if it does not declare, that there was a glorious order at one
time when everything was as God meant it to be. All the sons of God
shouted for joy as they beheld the marvel of His creation and His
order. That word implies that that order has been lost, and in its
place there has come disorder, and it declares that the order is going
to be restored in Christ. That is the great significance of the Lord
Jesus from this standpoint. We repeat: He personally is the embodiment
of that; and His work is related to that.
That led us to the place where the great river of revelation divides
1. God is the God of order. We dwelt a little while on that, although
it altogether defeats us, for it is so great and so full. This fact, of
God being such, is revealed clearly, firstly, in His creative
Secondly, in the great representation that we
have in type and symbol in the Old Testament;
Thirdly, in His redemptive work;
Fourthly, in the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
In all these four ways there is a wonderful
revelation that God is a God of order.
Let us think for just a minute or two on the first of those -- revealed
While, of course, we are confronted with so much in this present world
and system which seems to shout disorder, derangement, discord and
confusion, even in nature, there is still discernible in nature a
wonderful background of an ordered system. That is something which has
engaged men for their whole life, and is a marvellous universe itself
of instruction and of fascination. Here is an extract from a big work
by one of the most outstanding biologists. He writes thus:
"The hosts of living organisms are not random creatures. They can be
classified into battalions and regiments. Neither are they isolated
creatures, for every thread of life is intertwined with others in a
complex web. This is one of the fundamental biological truths, the
co-relationship of organisms in the web of life. No creature lives or
dies to itself. There is no insulation in nature. One organism gets
linked on to others, and becomes dependent upon them for the very
continuance of its race. Flowers and insects are fitted together as
hand in glove. When we learn something of the intricate give and take,
supply and demand, action and reaction, between plants and animals
between flowers and insects, we begin to get a glimpse of a vast
organization in the creation." [102/103]
Well, take it for what it is worth. You will see that that gathers up
into a few sentences something that is capable of tremendous
enlargement. You see it everywhere. Behind this creation there is a
Mind that loves to have things properly ordered and related. Behind
this creation there is a perfect, spiritual system. God is the God of
order, and what is true in natural history is seen to be true
everywhere else . God has arranged the year in seasons. He has arranged
the co-operation of heaven and earth in that the heavenly bodies govern
the movements of the earth, the tides; and so on.
We would not know where to stop if we were to allow ourselves to go on
with this! There is one hymn in our hymnbook which begins: "The
spacious firmament on high ...". You notice that the conclusion of that
hymn is: "It all declares a Mind Divine." Well, if we wanted to go on
with this we do not need to go far away to the celestial bodies or to
objects outside of ourselves, we have only to have a little
intelligence about our own human bodies, and to see that the human
body, in health, is a marvellous system of related, dependent,
inter-dependent, co-operative functions, principles and elements. I
think that anyone who really has any knowledge of the human body ought
to be a great worshipper! It is a marvellous unity in diversity. It all
speaks of this 'hand in glove' principle, of one thing fitting into
another in perfect harmony and symmetry. There is another side to that,
I know, and I am going to speak about it presently.
We have done no more than stated a fact: that wherever you can trace
the Hand of God before the other hand comes upon it -- either the hand
of man or the hand of the devil -- you find this beautiful harmony,
this wonderful order.
We come to the Old Testament, and anyone familiar with it will not need
an exhaustive proof of this great truth. In the Old Testament
representations of God's Mind we begin with Him bringing order out of
chaos, for that is where everything begins. God, who is the God of
order, reacts against this state of chaos, and His reaction issues in a
wonderful and beautiful order. And what is true as to God bringing
order out of chaos where the earth is concerned is seen to be a
principle that is working all through the Old Testament. You see it at
work in a representative people -- and here is the glory and the
tragedy of Israel. The glory of Israel is that they were taken out of
the nations to be the embodiment and the manifestation of a heavenly
order on this earth, and the tragedy of Israel is that Israel has come
to chaos. You see them in Egypt, and what was true in nature was true
spiritually and morally of Israel in Egypt -- chaos; no order;
barrenness; frustration, confusion; hopelessness. Exodus is the book of
emergence from all that, and they are not a rabble, a crowd of refugees
going out into the wilderness. They are ordered, and ordered by their
ranks. You can trace these marks as you read carefully. No, they are
not just a mixed-up crowd, a disorderly crowd, running amok to get out
of Egypt. See them marching like an army, in their serried ranks and
their appointed order! It is order out of chaos. See them at Sinai,
when God has given His pattern for their national life. Just take a
look at one of those pictures that we have of Israel assembled around
the Tabernacle. And then, the order of the service. Leviticus is the
book of the ordering of worship. And what a marvellous system that book
is of the order of worship! It is not just that God said this,
and that, and that is to be in the way of sacrifices and offerings and
feasts, you will notice that there is a marvellous sequence, an ordered
sequence, and that need is supplied at every point. It is a
progressive, ordered development of worship, of approach to God, under
a specified and particularized government. That book of Leviticus is a
wonderful book! You move into the book of Numbers, and the very name of
the book indicates what it is all about. This is the book of the
marchings through the wilderness, and everything is numbered, tabulated
and ordered. I just indicate the details and you will pick them up.
Pass over the many years until you come to the Temple and this is one
of the things that almost overwhelms you! The marvellous. meticulous
order about this Temple -- every detail, every measurement, the size of
everything, the place of everything; the material of everything. And
what shall we say about the 'courses of the singers' and the 'courses
of the priesthood' -- all in course round the clock. Everything is
prescribed for. And when the Queen of Sheba came and looked at the
order of the house there was no more breath left in her! That was the
impressive thing. Everything here was so quietly, harmoniously and
beautifully regulated. It all speaks of a master-mind, and that was
God. He gave the pattern for that, and He gave the revelation. And
although that was disrupted and the people went into captivity, passing
seventy years in exile, the return of the remnant, the rebuilding of
the wall and of the house were again marked by this order. We have read
and studied the book of Nehemiah from other standpoints and have
perhaps not been impressed with the wonderful organization in it. You
notice that one whole chapter is taken up with 'next unto him ... and
next unto him ... and next unto him ...' It is [103/104]
all arranged and ordered. It is, if you like, all organized. We can use
that word in the Old Testament if we cannot in the New Testament.
Nehemiah represents a master-organizer in the things of God. This is
all under Divine direction, and it all points to this: God is a God of
order. We must be impressed with this, dear friends. It is not
something to be contemplated objectively and historically. You and I
have to be tremendously impressed with this, and see that God is very
particular about how things are done, what things are
done, and who does these things, and also about the
relationships that obtain amongst those who are employed. God is very
particular, and, as we have said, this is not because He loves to have
things 'just so', but because He is made that way. We know quite well
that real progress, real fruitfulness and real achievement demand
order. If we come into a place that is all upside down, disturbed, with
everything all over the place, we know that we have got a job on hand,
and we begin by saying: 'Well, we cannot do anything until we have got
this straightened out.' That is God: 'We cannot get on until we have
got it straightened out! We shall never get anywhere until things are
But I do not want just to be piling a lot of data upon you. It is of
very vital spiritual consequence that we get it into us that God is
particular, and He is not going to overlook anything, or by-pass
anything. He will have it so, or He will not have all that He desires.
He will be patient; He will work, He will wait, He will do a lot to get
it so; He may take years to get it so, but that will be our loss. If He
could have it His way, He would get on with His job forthwith by having
things according to His order. Frustration, delay, unfruitfulness, are
always due to this absence of God's way of doing things, or of His
object in doing things, or of what He wants done, or of the way in
which He wants it done. Let us never deceive ourselves in false
satisfaction because God gives some blessing!
That is perhaps enough by way of emphasizing the fact that God is the
God of order. I have only opened a window to you through which you can
see a universe.
We come to the next thing: the disruption and disorder. There is a
sense in which the Bible throughout is occupied with the confronting of
this long-drawn-out, obdurate, incorrigible disorder, and with the evil
forces that are behind it. You meet it everywhere -- the dealing with
interfering forces is found almost everywhere in the Bible. The Bible
shows the source of this disruption and disorder. And we are all too
aware of this disorder. Everywhere in this universe, in this creation,
there is a disrupted order, a dis-order. There is a great schism
everywhere. That is true, is it not? Well, taking it that you agree
that it is so, the Bible shows us where it came from, the range of it,
the entrance of it into this world, its development in this world, its
nature and its effects, and its main cause.
This disorder, the Bible shows us, began in heaven. It was a rebellion
against God; and we know how it entered into this world. The first
result was that man himself became a divided creature, a centre of
civil war in his own nature. Man is, by nature, no longer a unity. He
is himself a clash of two worlds. The Psalmist prays: "Unite my heart"
(Psalm 86:11). 'Unite my heart !' Our hearts are divided
things. Man is a division, and he is himself a conflict. And when I
speak of man, I am uniting the man and the woman, for with both of them
this became true in themselves individually, and then, of course, it
became true of them as two. The enemy sought to divide the husband and
the wife -- and he did it. He struck right home to that marvellous
oneness. You see, the Scripture goes out of its way to describe and
emphasize the oneness: 'They shall be one flesh ... the twain
shall be one flesh.' It has so much to say about that oneness
of husband and wife, but this disruptive influence and power came in
and divided them. It is a real lesson! From the husband and the wife it
reached to the family, and it is not long before you find the family
disrupted. Cain and Abel -- the one murdering the other, and destroying
the family life. From the family, it reached out to embrace the whole
race, and you know how the book of Genesis contains the story of racial
disruption and confusion. This thing spread and it has become
universal. The sprit of it is in the lower heavens: 'The spirit that
now worketh in the children of disobedience'; it is in the air:
'the prince of the power of the air'; you can breathe it and you can
sense it in this world, the antagonism, hatred and malice, and much
more like that. It has come right into the human life of the
individual, and into human relationships, into the nearest two. It has
come right into the family -- and what a problem family life is now!
And what a key it is to so much more! -- until the race is shot through
and through with this disrupting and dislocating spirit and power. Yes,
it is here. We have seen where it came from, how it started, its range,
its development, its nature and its effects -- to set every man's hand
against his brother.
Its main cause. This is something that we must stay
with for a moment. Do remember that the Bible always regards this
matter as a rebellion, for it is the spirit of rebellion. The more we
know of [104/105] our own natures under stress,
under trial, under pressure, the more true we know this to be. Right in
our constitution there is something that rebels, and would even rebel
against God and His ways, would question His wisdom and His love. It is
in us. And the seat of this rebellion is in man himself. He is a
disrupted being, not only disrupted in his relationship with God, but
disrupted in his own personality. Man is a divided creature in himself,
for the spirit of rebellion came in. The word 'iniquity', which is such
a characteristic word of the Old Testament, has its roots in this very
idea of rebellion.
Now the real nature of this thing lies here -- and perhaps we can
illustrate this best by looking at the physical body, because those who
know something about this -- the laws of physical health and disease --
tell us that it as all a matter of the environment of the living cells.
This is a quotation: "It is the cell environment that is responsible
for whatever disease affects the human body, either in the immediate
environment of the cells, the presence of a poison, or the absence of
some essential ingredient." All these millions of living cells are
environed by this lymph stream, which provides what is necessary for
their life. This lymph stream is their environment. If some poison gets
into that stream, or if something essential to their life is lacking,
then the living cells fall into disease, and the body in its whole
order is upset. And sickness is only disorder, is it not? Now, I have
taken this illustration, for God has written His spiritual laws in all
His creation, and, I think, preeminently in the human body.
You see, all this disorder, and resultant sickness, all the pain and
agony due to this disruption, are because man left his environment. God
is man's true environment. In Him there is no darkness at all, and no
poison. In Him is all that we need for our life and for our health. But
man left his environment. He took himself out of his environment in
God, and took his life into his own hands, to say what he would do and
not do, what he would have and not have. He became a law unto himself,
rebelling against God as his law and his environment. What happened? He
entered into an environment of poison and of fatal lack of what is
necessary to his very life. Salvation -- which is the word for health
-- is a return into God. Hence Christ emphasized the need to "Abide in
Now start again with that thought. You see, this whole Bible is about
bringing man back to God, bringing him into God, and restoring him to
his environment. 'In Him we live and move and have our being' is the
fundamental truth of the spiritual life. There is one thing I suggest
to you, or hint at, which, if you grasp it, would be such a tremendous
help to you. When the Lord says anything it may look on the face of it
something very simple, and not at all profound and wonderful, but
anything that comes from the Lord, though it be apparently very simple,
contains all the vast knowledge and understanding that the Lord has,
and not to take account of that 'simple' thing may bring you into a
vast amount of trouble. When the Lord Jesus says: "Abide in Me" it
sounds so simple and so ordinary, but it contains all this history, and
this great principle and truth: 'If you get out of your environment you
are exposed to all the poisons and all that creates spiritual disease.
Abide in Me for your health's sake! for your life's sake! for the sake
of everything! Abide in Me, and I in you!' Have you got that? You look
again at any seemingly 'little' thing that the Lord says, and if you
could see you would find that you have a universe of meaning in it.
Well, the main cause of all the disorder is getting out of your
rightful sphere in God, and that is what happened at the beginning. The
cure, as we shall see when we come to the redemptive work, is to get
back into your place, into your cover, in God. Forsake your wandering,
which is outside. Leave your independence, and come in.
Now, you see, this carries with it the whole matter of the absolute,
undivided, unquestioned supremacy and sovereignty of God in and through
Jesus Christ. Put that another way: the absolute surrender,
yieldedness, unquestioning acceptance of the authority of the Lord
Jesus Christ as Head. That is the way of life, the way of health, the
way of fruitfulness, and the way of progress. And we know so well that
frustration, limitation, arrest, barrenness are because there is still
unyieldedness to Him in the life. Adam took things into his own hands
and said: 'I will be the lord of my life', and we are like that by
nature. And I am afraid we have not got so far away from it in grace.
We meet one another, and what do we meet? We meet a man and a woman who
have got a mind of their own, a will of their own, and a way of their
own, and will never be taught by you, or told by you, what they should
do. Unteachable, stubborn, mulish, knowing best!
Let me close with this: Pain, all pain, is because of disorder. Pain is
nature shouting: 'There is something wrong!' It is true in the
physical. You may kill pain. There are lots of things provided for
killing pain, and I am afraid I am one who says 'Thank the Lord for
that!' Nevertheless, no sensible person believes that the killing of
pain is getting rid of the trouble. No, you may kill the [105/106]
pain and silence the cry, but the trouble that is there may work itself
out in your death. The killing of the pain does not mean that you heal
The world is trying to silence this cry of pain, to numb this ache, to
kill it, and go on as though there is nothing wrong; but it is there.
What is true in the physical is true in the spiritual. Pain in our
spiritual life, in our corporate life, is the cry that there is
something wrong, there is disorder somewhere, and things are not as the
Lord intended them to be. There is a dislocation in the joints, there
is a fracture in the fellowship and there is a disease of sin in the
Body. We cannot just take something to numb the pain, silence the cry,
and go on as though it were all right. No, the thing will work itself
out. We have got to stop and say: 'What is it? Where is the disorder?
Where are things wrong? What is it that is against God's Mind?' Until
we can get our hand upon that, there is no hope for clearing up the
situation at all. That is the need. Remember that the Bible says that
the end of the age will see disorder -- rebellion -- come to the full.
(To be continued)
"THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE
POWER, AND THE GLORY, FOR EVER"
5. BRINGING FORTH THE FRUITS OF THE KINGDOM
"Now when Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea
Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Who do men say that the Son
of man is? And they said, Some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah: and
others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But who
say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the
Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto
him, Blessed art thou Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not
revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I also say
unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my
church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it"
"Therefore I say onto you, The kingdom of God shall be
taken away from yow and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the
fruits thereof" (Matthew 21:43).
THE CHURCH IS MENTIONED
WE have been saying very much about the Kingdom of God, and have
remarked more than once that the Gospel by Matthew is peculiarly the
Gospel of the Kingdom. Now here, right in the middle of this Gospel
which is all about the Kingdom, suddenly and without any explanation or
introduction the Church is mentioned, and it is mentioned as though
everybody understood what it meant. Jesus does not say: 'Now I am going
to speak about something else. I have been speaking about the Kingdom,
but now I am going to speak about the Church, and then I shall have
some more things to say about the Kingdom.' There is nothing like that.
It is taken for granted that these people understood what He meant by
the Church, and, indeed, it was no new idea to them. It may surprise
some of you when I say that the Jews knew about the Church. In that
long and very interesting discourse of Stephen's which ended in his
being stoned to death, Stephen said that God was "in the church in the
wilderness" (Acts 7:38).
The point is: is it the same thing here or is there a difference? Of
course there is something new here, because Jesus says: "I will build My
Church", so that whatever the other church was, the one that He was
going to build was something other. Indeed, He had come to constitute a
I have often been asked the question: 'What is the difference between
the Kingdom and the Church?' I am not going to enter upon that subject
now, that is, I am not going to discuss the technical points in the
matter. If there is a difference -- and I believe there is -- it will
come out in what we are going to say.
What is the purpose of our having conferences? We will answer that by
asking some other questions.
Firstly, why is the New Testament so very much occupied with ministry
to Christians? Of course, [106/107] you
recognize that that is a fact. By far the greater part of the New
Testament is concerned with Christians.
Another question of the same kind: Why were Peter and John and Paul so
intensely concerned about Christians? Indeed, they were deeply and
strongly concerned about Christians. Paul at one time says that we
should be 'anxious for nothing', but another time, included in all his
difficulties and troubles, is 'anxiety for all the churches'. These men
had a real anxiety and concern for Christians. Paul said about the
Christians in Galatia: "Of whom I am again in travail" (Galatians
4:19). If you can answer this question you can answer my first one: Why
is it that for many years we have had conferences?
The answer is found in the two passages of Scripture which we read. In
both of those Scriptures we have a transition. In the first it is a
very beautiful transition; in the second it is a very tragic one. Let
us take the second first.
"Therefore I say unto you" -- and this is to the Jews of His time --
"The kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to
a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."
That is a tragic transition -- the taking of the Kingdom of God away
from a nation and giving it to another. We will come to the first
transition in a minute, but let us say without any further delay that
the Church is the concentration of the truths of the Kingdom of God.
You may not quite understand what I mean by that, but the Church
contains the concentration of all the truths of the Kingdom.
Now we will look at this second transition. The old Israel had all the
oracles of God. We can say that they had all the truth, for they had
all that came through Moses, all that came through the Prophets, and
they had the full content of the Old Testament, which was the content
of the Kingdom of God in the old dispensation. They had all the
teaching and all the truth, all the law, the Psalms and the Prophets,
but they did not bring forth the fruits thereof, and there is a very
big difference between having the truth and bringing forth the fruit of
the truth. There is a very great difference between having the
knowledge of the Kingdom and having the fruit of the Kingdom. You know
that the New Testament is always aware of a great peril in the history
of God's people, for three times the dying of the first Israelite
nation in the wilderness is used as a warning to Christians. That
nation had had all the signs in Egypt, and all the testimony of the
Passover Lamb and the precious blood, and all the experience of being
brought out of Egypt and through the Red Sea by the very power of God.
They had had all the supernatural provision of God in the wilderness,
but that generation perished in the wilderness. It did not make the
great transition, and I say that that is used three times in the New
Testament as a warning to Christians. Then the last book of the New
Testament sees the Christian Church in a state of decline, and the Lord
Jesus appearing to the Apostle John with strong warnings about this
So the New Testament contains this warning, this fear, for Christians,
and it is because there is something so much more for them and that
they might miss it. That is the answer to the question: Why conferences?
CRISES IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
Let me say to the most experienced and mature Christians here, even to
those who are the leaders, the teachers and the preachers to God's
people: be careful that you never come to the place where it is not
possible for God to do a bigger thing in your life than He has ever
done before. You may have a lot of experience and a lot of history. You
may have been a Christian for many years and have done a lot of
Christian work and preaching, but we never reach a point where it is
not possible for God to do something that He has never done before.
Now we have been giving a great deal of teaching. Do you think that
that is all that we came here to do? Is that what you came here to get?
Did you come here only to get your notebooks full of notes of teaching?
Well, that is not my idea about the conference. We are here for a
crisis. The idea of these conferences is that there should be crises in
lives, and the teaching is only intended to bring us to such crises.
I do not present myself as an example, but so far as I am concerned,
conferences sprang out of a crisis. I did not say over thirty years ago
'Now it will be nice to have some conferences in which we will give the
Christians a lot of teaching.' God had brought about a tremendous
crisis in my life. I had been minister of churches for years. I had
organized a tremendous amount of Christian work. Oh, yes, I was a very
busy minister! And I was a Bible teacher. I was a member of a Bible
Teachers' Association; -- and then God brought about a crisis, such a
tremendous crisis in my ministerial life that all the past was as
nothing. From that crisis everything was changed. There was a new
ministry because of a new life. I have always called that my 'opened
Now I am not saying that I am your example, but [107/108]
I am getting to grips with this principle. I doubt whether there is
anyone here who is more fully occupied than I was before that crisis,
but I repeat, when God did that new thing in my life the past was as
Now our concern and our purpose in having conferences is that Christians
can say: 'God has done a new thing.' We know of a brother in
Scandinavia whom the Lord had used quite a lot. He came to a conference
and God met him in such a way that he says today: 'At that time, and in
that conference God gave me a new Bible and an altogether new vision.'
For years since that time God has been using him as He never used him
What I am saying is that there is a transition which has to be made. I
will begin at the beginning, where the transition really begins, and it
is in this matter of gathering the fruits of the Kingdom into the
Church, that is, the Church becoming the embodiment of the fruits
of the Kingdom.
DISTINCTIVENESS OF TESTIMONY
The first thing about the Kingdom of God, whether it is in the Old
Testament or in the New Testament, is this The Kingdom of God is always
selective and distinctive. The rule of God came down into the nations
and took hold of one nation, selecting it from among the nations.
The first law of the Kingdom of God is separation. You have only to
look at the history of Israel to see that. God said to Israel: 'You are
a separate nation and are different from all the other peoples in the
world.' That Israel lost its distinctiveness, for they intermarried
with other peoples. You read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. What a
terrible business it was to separate the Lord's people from the ones
they had married! They lost their distinctiveness of life and vocation,
and the distinctiveness of their testimony in the world. They lost the
fruits of the Kingdom of God. They had all the tradition, all the
teaching and all the oracles, but they lost all the fruits thereof.
So the first fruit of the Kingdom of God which has to be recovered is
an absolute distinctiveness of life and testimony. Christianity is in a
terrible position today. There are those who are saying that the day of
Christianity is over and it is no longer a force to be reckoned with.
Of course, that is an extreme view, but there is a great deal of truth
in it. The impact of New Testament Christianity has been largely lost,
and it can no longer be said: 'The men that turned the world upside
down have come here.' The best circles of Christianity are troubled
about their lack of power. What is the reason for this? The Church has
got mixed up with the world. It is in captivity to the world. It is
having to use all the world's means, ways and resources to carry on. It
has not got enough of the real joy of the Lord to prevent it from going
to the world for its pleasures.
Now you may think that I am out of date, but I do not believe that it
is necessary to have worldly entertainments and all those things to
carry on Christianity. I believe that it is possible to have the most
living testimony and the most joyful life without any worldly
entertainments. The loss of power is due to the loss of distinctiveness.
DIVINE LIGHT BY DIVINE REVELATION
I want now to come back again to this very vital matter, and I want you
to listen to this, especially my brethren in ministry. Earlier we said
that the Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of light. That was the first
great thing in my crisis. I must speak out of my experience to explain
what I mean. I have told you that I was preaching a great deal and was
a Bible teacher. Well, how was I doing it? I was a member of several
theological libraries and I used to go and spend hours in them,
studying all the authorities on the Bible. Sometimes I studied so hard
and so long that I had to get up and go for a walk because my head was
going round and round. I was having to find the straw to make the
bricks, and it was hard work, but it was deadly work. It was all the
work of my head, my reason -- 'flesh and blood' was revealing all that
to me. And then the crisis came. What was the difference? It was no
longer reason, but revelation. It was no longer just human brain work,
but Holy Spirit inspiration. Yes, the Bible was a new book. Before, I
could have given you a very good lecture on the Letter to the
Ephesians, putting it all out on the blackboard, but when God made that
transition I saw what I had never before seen in that book. My spirit
was released and I had a new world. The transition was from reason to
revelation, and it was a very wonderful transition.
THE FRUITS OF THE KINGDOM FOUND IN THE CHURCH
Now we come back to the first passage of Scripture that we read. Peter,
in a moment of inspiration, said: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the
living God." What did Jesus say? 'Oh, Simon, you are a blessed man!
Flesh and blood did not reveal that [108/109] to
you. You did not get that in the schools, nor by going to the
theological libraries. You did not get that by your own brain effort.
Flesh and blood did not reveal that to you, but my Father in heaven.'
You can go through the New Testament and you will find that phrase
'Flesh and blood' again and again, and wherever you find it you will
see that it is under a veto. It says: "Flesh and blood cannot inherit
the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 15:50), and the first and second
chapters of the first Corinthian letter are an enlargement of that
fact. "The natural man" (which is only another word for flesh and
blood) "receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God ... he cannot
know them " (1 Corinthians 1:14). Flesh and blood cannot know the
things of the Spirit of God, for they are only known by the spirit.
Here is a transition. Peter had been receiving all the teaching of
Jesus and had seen His wonderful works. He knew all of that -- but it
never saved him from denying his Lord! It never prevented him from
being a contradiction to all the teaching, but later on, when Peter got
his 'opened heaven', he was free from Peter. The great transition has
been made. Now the teaching is alive. Before it was truth, words, but
now it is alive. He has entered into the fruit of the Kingdom,
and the fruit of the Kingdom is light. The old Israel went out in
darkness. Jesus said to them: "The sons of the kingdom shall be cast
forth into the outer darkness' (Matthew 8:12), and that is where they
have been for nearly two thousand years -- in the outer darkness with
"the weeping and gnashing of teeth". The Kingdom was taken from them
and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof, and Peter says
that it is the Church that is the holy nation, so that it is in the
Church that the fruits of the Kingdom are to be found.
EMPTYING OF SELF UNTO MORE FRUIT
I must close, but just this last word. I said that this passage in
Matthew 16 represents a great transition. It is the transition from all
that is meant by flesh and blood, the transition from natural energy,
natural wisdom, and all that is of ourselves, even in Christianity, to
that which is in life and revelation. Do you want that? With all that
you may have, do you not want more of that? After the transition in
Peter's life he went on and on and on. We have it indicated that he had
some more crises after that big one, but every new crisis brought him
into more of the fruits of the Kingdom.
What are you going to do about it? Are you going to say: 'Lord! Lord!
make it like that with me!'? Will you do that? Have you the courage
to do that? Do you recognize that immediately after that episode in
Matthew 16 Jesus began to tell His disciples that He must go up to
Jerusalem and be delivered into the hands of wicked men, and that they
would kill Him? Peter said: 'None of that, Lord. Oh, no, Lord, this
shall never come to You.' Peter was at that moment in danger of
shutting the door to an opened heaven, for the opened heaven lies by
the way of the Cross. You will only have more of the fruits of the
Kingdom as you have less of the fruits of self. In the Cross of the
Lord Jesus Peter was emptied of Himself. He was a broken man, but that
was the way to the heavenly fullness.
Will you say: 'Lord, make this all real!'?
(To be concluded)
CHRIST OUR ALL
1. CHRIST OUR LIFE
Reading: Acts 16:6-13, 16-19, 23-26. Philippians 1:1-2.
WE are beginning a meditation in the Letter to the Philippians with its
message as to how the Cross makes Christ our all, for that is what this
Letter really does bring before us. Not any of us can preach from this
Letter as the standard of our attainment, but we must be very quiet and
humble as we speak of it. Indeed, our approach must be that of its
writer: "Brethren, I count not myself to have attained, neither am I
When the Apostle wrote the Letter to the Romans, he set himself to set
forth a great and tremendous theological argument. When he wrote his
first Letter to the Corinthians, he set himself to answer a lot of
questions that had arisen, and to give his judgment on some very
serious matters. When he wrote the Letter to the Galatians, he gave
himself up to issuing a tremendous challenge [109/110]
and to answering a challenge which had been issued. When he wrote his
Letter to the Ephesians, he was pouring out a great revelation which
had been growing and growing and growing until it had reached a great
measure of fullness. But now, in writing this Letter to the
Philippians, he is not doing any one of those things. He does not say:
'Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ', nor: 'I, Paul, the prisoner of
Jesus Christ.' No official designation is used and no great treatise is
in his mind, but he simply takes the position of a man -- with Timothy
he says: "Bondsmen of Jesus Christ" -- and is about to open his heart
as a man to men, as a Christian to Christians, as a lover of Christ to
other lovers of Christ, and to share what is in his heart on common
ground and on a common level with them.
"Brethren" -- he will say presently -- "Brethren, I count not myself to
have attained, neither am I already perfect, but this one thing I do
...". You see, it is the appeal from his own spiritual life and
aspiration. His position is just this: 'Brethren, this is what I have
in view, what I am seeking after, and what I call upon you to join with
me in seeking after!' That is the position of this Letter, and you and
I must come to that position as we approach it, for here not one of us
can give an address. We can only say: 'Brethren, this Letter is beyond
us! All that is here is far beyond anything to which we have attained!
We cannot preach at one another but here is the Lord's thought, and let
us talk to one another about it with a view to encouraging one another
if it may be that we, by any means, may also attain.' So that is our
starting-point. May it be that the Lord leads us on from that to some
increased measure of Himself!
We have said that the message which comes out of the Letter bears upon
Christ as our all through the work of His Cross, and that arises in
several particular connections. Each chapter of the four has a
particular connection. We shall now just look at the first, which
arises in chapter 1, verse 21:
FOR TO ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST, AND TO DIE IS GAIN
'For me to live is Christ.' Then that means that Christ is our very
life, the very motive of our life, of our being. Asked what life means,
the Apostle would say: 'Just Christ!' 'What does life mean to you,
Paul?' 'Christ!' 'What is your outlook, Paul?' 'Christ!' 'What are you
working for, Paul?' 'Christ!' 'What is your hope?' 'It is Christ!'
'Have you nothing else, nothing else at all in this world for all your
days?' 'No, nothing else. Christ, just Christ; that is all! For me to
live, for me to live is Christ!'
I trunk we have already established what we said a minute or two ago:
this Letter is beyond us! I think that if we were put to the test on
that in a number of different connections, interests, associations and
objects on this earth, we should be weighed in the balances and found
wanting. Well, we will not press it. It would be too painful and we
should all be ashamed. But, again, it is an object and an aspiration
that it should be like that.
Before we go further, let us just look over this chapter and see what
place Christ has here:
Verse 1: "Bondsmen of Christ Jesus."
2: "Peace from God our Father and
the Lord Jesus Christ."
6: "Until the day of Jesus
8: "The tender mercies of Christ
11: "The fruits of righteousness ... through
13: "My bonds ... in Christ."
15: "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy
18: "What then? only that in every way,
whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and therein I
rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."
19: "The supply of the Spirit of Jesus
20: "As always, so now also Christ shall be
magnified in my body, whether by life, or by death."
21: "To me to live is Christ."
23: "... to depart and be with Christ; for it
is very far better."
26: "Your glorying may abound in Christ
27: "Worthy of the gospel of Christ."
29: "To you it hath been granted in the
behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer in his
It is Christ everywhere, Christ in every direction, in every
connection; it is all Christ.
CHRIST OUR LIFE BY WAY OF THE CROSS
Now then, we have to see how the Cross had brought Paul to the place
where Christ was his very life, and how it had wrought in him to bring
him to that place. We have read from the account of how this church at
Philippi came into being, and we picked up the story at the point where
Paul and his companions were moving prayerfully, and in [110/111]
the Spirit, forward in their great ministry. They reached one point and
essayed to move on in a certain direction, but they were not suffered
of the Holy Spirit to go and preach in that direction, and, finding
that way closed, they sought to move in another direction, and again
the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not; and so they stayed still. For
the night at least they stayed where they were and prayed, I suppose,
and during that night a vision came to Paul. You notice that he
saw the vision and they came to the conclusion. The man of
Macedonia stood and appealed, saying: 'Come over into Macedonia and
help us!', and they concluded that the Lord had called them to preach
the Gospel there. So they went by a straight course into Macedonia,
into Europe for the first time, and came to Philippi. That all
seems fairly straightforward. They went down on the Sabbath Day by the
riverside, supposing that they would find a place for prayer. I expect
that they were looking in all directions for the man of Macedonia. You
know what they found -- a woman, not of Macedonia at all, but from
Asia, where they had been forbidden to go and preach the Word!
Contradiction number one! And then a girl possessed of an evil spirit
bothered, worried, annoyed and vexed them; not much hope of things in
that direction! Contradiction number two! And then the immediate issue
of Paul's act -- they were thrown into the inner prison and their feet
made fast in the stocks! Contradiction number three! Where is this man
of Macedonia? Where is this open door for preaching the Gospel?
Now I venture to say that you and I might just have sat down and said:
'This is a terrible case of mistaken guidance. It is all a mistake! I
was quite sure that the Lord gave me that vision, that the Lord was in
that matter of our coming this way, but everything now argues to the
contrary! Now, seeking to do what I believed to be the Lord's will,
this is where I get landed. I was trying to follow the Spirit's
leading, and checking up as I went, and this is what obedience to the
Lord results in!' Something like that would go on inside, at any rate,
for the devil would see to it. The situation, the appearances, the
apparent contradictions, on the one hand, and then bleeding sores and a
dark dungeon. These are things which are calculated to raise very
serious questions about your Divine guidance and being in the will of
God. At any rate, they provide good ground for the enemy to encamp
upon. Well, I have no doubt that it was a very real and severe test of
faith for Paul and Silas as to their guidance.
How did they survive? How did they get on top if this situation? For
undoubtedly they were on top of it. At midnight they prayed and sang
hymns. Again, I have to pause and say that this Letter is beyond us,
and this whole matter finds us wanting. I think the answer, at least, a
part of it, to the question of their triumph in such a situation is
this: that the Cross had done a work deep enough to rule out all
personal interests, and personal interests were so thoroughly ruled out
that the Holy Spirit Himself had a clear way to bring up their spirits
in triumph in spite of darkness in circumstances and darkness in
spiritual appearances. The Holy Spirit was able to do this. You notice
what Paul says in this first chapter -- and it does seem to me that
there is much in this Philippian Letter which is an echo of the
Philippian experiences years before -- "For I know that this shall turn
out to my salvation, through your supplication and the supply of the
Spirit of Jesus Christ." 'The supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.' Do
you not think that that explains it?
We do not want to be too analytical or introspective, but it will not
do us any harm to take account of our own disposition. If we are quite
honest with our own hearts, is it not true that a very large measure of
our darkness under trial, our failure, our breakdown, our going to
pieces, our loss of position spiritually, is because we are
disappointed, and our disappointment lies very largely in the direction
of something upon which our hearts were set, something of personal
interest even in the Lord's work; our ministry, the work
-- meaning, of course, the Lord's work and things for the Lord. We
would not call it our ambition -- perhaps we have never used
the word 'ambition' -- but may there not be an element of that lying
behind our vision, something, even though it were for the Lord, which
we had hoped would be blessed and prospered, and the Lord would give
good success? The whole thing is brought, like David's enterprise with
the ark on the new cart, to a sudden hold-up and everything seems to go
to pieces, and we go to pieces; then, when the truth is really
known, we discover that there were really personal interests in it.
It does seem to me that in Paul's case the great factor in his triumph
continually -- for he was a triumphant man -- in the midst of terrible
adversities and trials and difficulties and sufferings all the way
through the years was his utter disinterestedness; that with him there
was no personal interest at all. It was Christ. The Cross had smitten
everything personal, and this Letter to the Philippians is full of
that. Take this fragment, for instance: [111/112]
"Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some also of
good will: the one do it of love, knowing that I am set for the defence
of the gospel; but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely,
thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds" (verses 15-17).
How mean, how contemptible, how wicked to preach Christ with a motive
like that! To preach Christ in such a way as to afflict one of Christ's
servants! What does Paul say? 'Contemptible wretches! The Lord bring
His judgments to bear upon them!'? Not at all! 'Oh, what does it matter
how they preach Christ? Christ is preached, and that is all that
matters. Therein I rejoice and will rejoice!' I tell you that it wants
a crucified man to say that! A man is in prison in bonds; other men are
trying to hit him when he is down and are using the very Gospel or the
preaching of the Gospel -- their manner of preaching the Gospel -- to
that end. Then this man says: 'That is all right. I will simply stand
all that and thank the Lord that, however they preach, so long as
Christ is preached, that is all that matters!' I say that it is a
crucified man who can say that, a man who has no personal feelings or
You know what he says a little later in the Letter about all the things
that were gain to him. 'I was this, and I was that, and I was the
other. I had this and I had that, and I was in a position. Yes, but
these things which were gain to me I counted loss for Christ' -- "Yea,
verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the
knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all
things, and to count them as refuse, that I may gain Christ, and be
found in him" (chapter 3:4-8). You see, the Cross has dealt with name,
reputation, position, advantages and everything that was personal. This
man has come to the tremendous vantage ground of perfect
disinterestedness and selflessness, and it is the working out of the
principle that the Holy Spirit follows the way of the Cross.
THE SPIRIT FOLLOWS THE WAY OF THE CROSS
That is true right through the Word. The Cross leads the way of the
Spirit: the Spirit follows the way of the Cross. We sing:
"Enlarge our soul's capacity,
Cut deeper channels, Lord.
Room for the floods of blessing new,
According to Thy Word."
'Cut deeper channels' -- the Cross cutting the way for the supply of
the Spirit. Here is the message, if we said no more. Paul was a man who
was crucified to self. The Cross had wrought that in him, and the
supply of the Spirit of Jesus did the rest. Oh, I cannot preach at you!
I can only say to you: 'Brethren, will not the Holy Spirit
spontaneously take the course which the Cross has opened up? Will not
the Spirit of Jesus come in and lift us up, even in our sufferings and
our sorrows, when we have got rid of that horrible, hateful,
obstructive self-interest, self-pity, self-consideration,
self-realization and self-strength?' I am sure our hearts must be
smitten by this word if it is true. If you and I -- and this is the sum
of the whole Letter -- can really come, by the grace of God, to the
place where the Cross has wrought in us so that we are delivered from
all self-interest, on its weak side and on its strong side, the Spirit
of Jesus Christ will make a difference in our case in the time of
adversity which will turn the midnight into midday, darkness into
light, and make us sing in a dungeon. At least it is worth thinking
about! In Paul's case the Cross had resolved everything into a matter
Now, perhaps some of you have gone beyond me, and even yet there lurks
somewhere in your mind this question: 'Yes, but those who are most
utter for the Lord, most out-and-out and most thoroughgoing for the
Lord, are very often the ones who have the greatest reason to wonder
whether the Lord is for them.' And yet when that question arises -- and
I must press this again -- there is a tremendous deliverance from the
sting of that sort of thing when you know, and the Lord knows, that you
have no other concern but for His glory. I think the sting of
discouragement, disappointment, despair and doubt is very often found
just in the tail of some self-interest which means disappointment,
personal disappointment as well as disappointment for the Lord. Well,
what I see here in Paul's case is that, with the destruction of these
self-elements, he came to a position which was a very strong one. This
position -- "For me to live is Christ" -- in his case was a very strong
position in the hour of deepest difficulty and trial. "I know
that this shall turn to my salvation." "Now I would have you know that
the things which have happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the
progress of the gospel." That is a strong position!
A STRONG POSITION
What is the strength of it? It is this: that the sovereignty of God is
behind it. If you and I can [112/113] come to
the place where this is true in our case -- "For me to live is Christ"
-- where the Lord Himself knows that it is true and not just something
said by us, then I believe it is a position which has the sovereignty
of God behind it. See them at Philippi again! They were there for the
Lord, and for the Lord only, without any kind of interest at all apart
from His interests. Well, the situation which arose was a very
difficult and perplexing one, apparently full of contradictions, but
look at the sovereignty of God behind it!
How strategic it was, to begin with, in that it was an open door into
Europe! And what an assembly came into being!
"I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you, always in every
supplication of mine on behalf of you all making my supplication with
joy, for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the first
day until now" (1:3-5).
What an assembly! And what a sovereign act to make the first members of
that assembly the very gaoler and his family! Where Lydia came in I do
not know. She was evidently a commercial traveller, and you know that
that meant great possibilities for the Gospel, for she linked up Asia
and Europe. It is all very strategic and wonderful, and God is behind
this whole thing -- and yet what a complication! If you sit down with
the thing at the outset and take the situation which immediately
arises, you say: 'Well, this is a mess! This is a mistake. You have
made a blunder this time! And you give it all up and lose your
confidence in God. Well, Satan knew better than that: and these men who
had not any personal interests did not go down under despair. They
proved the sovereignty of God. And Paul in another prison years
afterwards in Rome wrote this Letter and just touched on the same thing
-- that the sovereignty of God was behind a crucified life: "I would
have you know that the things which have happened unto me have fallen
out rather unto the progress of the gospel." "I know that this shall
turn to my salvation." The sovereignty of God! It is a strong position,
but we cannot be sure of sovereignty unless we are well crucified. If
there is any sovereignty of 'I' or self, the sovereignty of God is set
AN EMANCIPATED POSITION
And then it was a very emancipated position. How unfettered Paul was by
human judgments! It did not matter a scrap to him what people thought
or said or did. He was a free man all the time, whether he was in
prison or out. Why? Simply for this. If you and I know that we
are not out for something here, that our hearts are really for the Lord
and the Lord only, it is a wonderfully emancipated position to be in.
What does it matter? Let these men preach in the manner in which they
mean to bring harm upon us, preach against us, and even use the Gospel
as an instrument against us! What does it matter? We are emancipated;
we are on top of that! All are emancipated who are delivered from self.
If we know that there is no question about our utterness for the Lord,
we are not worried very much about things said and things done.
A JOYOUS POSITION
And I see, too, what a joyous position it was, and I say: 'I see it.' I
am not telling you that I have got it, but I see it. Someone has said
that the Letter to the Philippians can be summed up in a very brief
sentence. It is this: "I rejoice! You rejoice!" And that is the Letter
-- "I rejoice and you rejoice!" It is full of joy right through -- joy
in the Lord. And what is the secret of joy? If you ask what the secret
of misery is I can tell you very quickly: to be occupied with yourself.
The secret of joy is to be occupied with the Lord.
May the Lord lead us into Paul's secret: the supply of the Spirit of
Jesus Christ by the Cross!
(To be continued)
THE PRE-EMINENT MARK OF A LIFE
GOVERNED BY THE SPIRIT
The mark of a life governed by the Holy Spirit is that such a life is
continually and ever more and more occupied with Christ, that Christ is
becoming greater and greater, more wonderful as time goes on. The
effect of the Holy Spirit's work in us is to bring us to the shore of a
mighty ocean which reaches far, far beyond our range, and concerning
which we feel: oh, the depths, the fulnesses, of the riches of Christ!
If we live as long as ever man lived, we shall still be only on the
fringe of this vast fulness that Christ is. That at once becomes a
challenge to us before we go any further. These are not just words.
This is not just rhetoric; this is truth. Let us ask our hearts at
once: Is this true in our case? Is this the [113/114]
kind of life that we know? Are we coming to despair on this matter?
That is to say, that we are glimpsing so much as signified by Christ
that we know we are beaten, that we are out of this, and will never
range all this. It is beyond us, far beyond us, and yet we are drawn on
and ever on. Is that true in your experience? That is the mark of a
life governed by the Holy Spirit. Christ becomes greater and greater as
we go on. If that is true, well, that is the way of life.
We acknowledge with gratitude the following gifts received during June
and up to the 19th July, 1968:
Aberdare £2; Abertillery £1; Balallan £1; Bargoed
£1 15s. 6d.; Bombay, India 10s.; Brighton 10s. Bristol £1
1s.; Bromley £1, £6, £6; Burnley 5s.; Calgary,
Alberta £4 12s. 6d.; Chelmsford 10s.; Doha, Qatar £4;
Dudley £1 1s.; Edinburgh £10, £1; Galt, Ontario
£1 3s. 1d.; Gateshead £5; Glasgow £25, £1 11s.;
Harskirchen, France £1; Hastings £2, £5; Isleworth
5s.; Leominster £3; London E.12 £1; N.19 £1; S.E.22
10s.; S.E.23 £5, £5, £2, 10s.; S.E.26 £1;
Loughton £2; Meols 10s.; Montreal, P.Q. £1; Nairobi, Kenya
17s. 3d.; Portchester £1 0s. 4d.; Sibu, Sarawak £2; South
Shields £1; Strasbourg, France £25; Surat, India 10s.;
Treorchy 7s. 6d.; West Wickham 8s. 3d. Total: £136 17s. 5d.
Birmingham, Ala. $10, $10; Bowling Green, Ky. $10; Covina, Calif. $10;
Ephrata, Washington $3; Hollis, N.Y. $10; Ozone Park, N.Y. $50;
Richmond, Va. $10, $1; Silver Spring, Maryland $5; Syracuse, N.Y. $5;
Tulare, Calif. $5; Wappingers Falls, N.Y. $2. Total: $131.00.
Montreal, P.Q. C$50.00.
IN TOUCH WITH THE THRONE (Some Considerations on the Prayer-Life): We
are glad to announce that his book, on such a vitally important
subject, has now been revised and reprinted. In days such as these it
is surely most necessary for the Lord's people to be strong in prayer.
This book deals with the value, the basis, the difficulties and the
method of acceptable prayer and its place in the spiritual warfare.
Price: 3s. 6d. (postage 6d.). $0.75
(postage 5 cents).
CHRIST IN HEAVEN AND CHRIST WITHIN: This booklet, which has been out of
print for some considerable time, is again available, price 6d.
($0.10) per copy, plus postage.
"I WILL OVERTURN": An important message for today, printed for the
first time in booklet form, price 6d. ($0.10) per copy, plus
THE MOTTO CARD FOR 1969: The wording of the new motto card will be:
"The God of hope"
"The God of peace"
"The God of grace"
"God which raiseth the dead"
"Shall himself ... strengthen you"
Large size -- 8d. each (7/- per dozen)
Postage and packing -- on one card: 6d.; up
to a dozen cards: 1/2
Small size -- 4d. each (3/6 per dozen)
Postage and packing -- up to a dozen cards:
4d.; up to 3 dozen cards: 6d.
The postage on cards sent overseas is a little higher
than the above rates.
It is hoped that the above-mentioned book and booklets will be ready
during September, and that the Motto Cards will be available by the end
of September or early in October. Orders for the books and the cards
may be placed immediately and will be despatched as soon as available. [114/115]
WITNESS AND TESTIMONY LITERATURE
The books and booklets listed below can all be ordered
by post from the addresses given at the end of the list. More detailed
information about the literature is available on application to the
Witness and Testimony office in London.
|By T. Austin-Sparks
|THE STEWARDSHIP OF THE MYSTERY
| Vol. 1 ALL THINGS IN CHRIST
| Vol. 2
||(Art paper covers)
|WHAT IS MAN?
|THE ON-HIGH CALLING or COMPANIONS
| OF CHRIST AND OF A HEAVENLY CALLING
|DISCIPLESHIP IN THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
|GOD'S REACTIONS TO MAN'S DEFECTIONS
|WE BEHELD HIS GLORY (Vol. 1)
||(Art paper covers)
|WE BEHELD HIS GLORY (Vol. 2)
||(Art paper covers)
|RIVERS OF LIVING WATER
|THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PAUL
|WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN
|FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS OF THE
| CHRISTIAN LIFE
|THE GOLD OF THE SANCTUARY or
| THE FINAL CRITERION
|THE CITY WHICH HATH FOUNDATIONS
|THE RECOVERING OF THE LORD'S
| TESTIMONY IN FULLNESS
|THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
|THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF SERVICE
|THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CHRIST
|THE CENTRALITY AND UNIVERSALITY OF
| THE CROSS
|THE CENTRALITY AND SUPREMACY OF
| THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
|GOD'S SPIRITUAL HOUSE
|HIS GREAT LOVE
|UNION WITH CHRIST
|THE MORE EXCELLENT MINISTRY
| (Incorporating Union with Christ
| The Ministry of Elijah and Stewardship)
|CHRIST -- ALL, AND IN ALL
|THE SUPREME VOCATION
||or 5/- per dozen
|A GOOD WARFARE
||or 5/- per dozen
|WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?
||or 5/- per dozen
|THE BLOOD, THE CROSS AND THE
| NAME OF THE LORD JESUS
|THE WATCHWORD OF THE SON OF MAN
|THE ARM OF THE LORD
|THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA
||or 1/6 per dozen
|CHRIST OUR LIFE
||or 1/6 per dozen
|A GOD THAT HIDETH HIMSELF
|By H. Foster (Booklet)
|THE REALITY OF GOD'S HOUSE
|By Various Authors
| (Each volume contains a number of
separate messages )
|THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY
| The three volumes, when ordered
|For Boys and Girls
|By G. Paterson
|GOSPEL MESSAGES FROM THE ANTARCTIC
| (170-page cloth-bound book.
|By H. Foster
| (All with illustrated art paper
|READY FOR THE KING (48 pp. Illus.)
|ON WINGS OF FAITH (52 pp. Illus.)
|BURIED TREASURE (48 pp. Illus.)
|OPENING IRON GATES (40 pages)
|Published by SURE FOUNDATION
|By DeVern Fromke
|THE ULTIMATE INTENTION
|UNTO FULL STATURE
A WITNESS AND A TESTIMONY
The six issues of the magazine, bound together, to form a volume with
light blue art paper cover, are available for the following years: 1956
to 1961, 1964 to 1967. Price per volume (1 year): 5/- ($0.70).
Certain back issues of the paper are also available and will be sent to
those who desire them at cost of postage only. Please indicate the date
of the issue(s) required.
POSTAGE AND PACKING: For postage and packing please add
the following to the total amount of the books ordered:
Orders totalling less than £1 -- please add 2d in the shilling.
Orders totalling more than £1 -- please add 2/6 in the £.
To the U.S.A.: Please add 10 cents in the dollar.
Orders for literature and requests for "A Witness and A Testimony"
should be addressed to:
WITNESS AND TESTIMONY PUBLISHERS,
30 Dunoon Road, London, S.E.23, England.
Telephone: 01-699 5216
Witness and Testimony literature can also be obtained from:
|P.O. Box 68505,
||1505 South Westmoreland Avenue,
|Indiana 46268, U.S.A.
||California 90006, U.S.A.
|Convocation Literature Sales,
||Evangelical Literature Service,
|1370 Ray Street,
||(Mr. Donald J. David),
||158 Purasawalkam High Road,
|Virginia 23502, U.S.A.
||Madras, 7, India.
Printed in Great Britain by Billing and
Sons Limited, Guildford and London [116/ibc]
[Inside back cover]
LITERATURE IN FRENCH
(translated from English)
|By T. Austin-Sparks
||[By T. Austin-Sparks (continued)]
|L'Alpha et l'Oméga
||Questions Fondamentales de la Vie
||Le Service de Dieu
|Ce que Signifie Etre un Chrétien
||Son Grand Amour
|Le Chandelier Tout en Or
||Un Témoin et un Témoignage
|Les Choses de l'Esprit
||La Vocation Céleste
|Christ notre Vie
|Christ -- tout, et en tous
||By H. Foster
|Le Dieu de l'Amen
||L'Eglise que Dieu demande Aujourd'hui
|L'Ecole de Christ
||La Prière de l'Eglise et l'Accroissement
|En Contact avec le Trône
|Il faut qu'll Règne
||La Réalité de la Maison de Dieu
|Un Jeu de Patience
|La Loi de l'Esprit de Vie en Jésus-Christ
||By Watchman Nee
|La Maison Spirituelle de Dieu
||Etre Assis, Marcher, Tenir Ferme
|La Place Centrale et la Suprématie du
||Qu'en sera-t-il de cet Homme?
| Seigneur Jésus-Christ
||La Vie Chrétienne Normale
|Quelques Principes de la Maison de Dieu
|Qu'est-ce que l'Homme?
|Qu'est-ce qu'un Chrétien?
||L'Histoire du Bambou
The above literature in French can be obtained from: Mr. J. C.
Lienhard, 12 rue des Peupliers, 92 Bois-Colombes, France. Telephone:
[Back cover is blank]