"A Candlestick of Pure
Gold: of Beaten Work" Exodus 25:31
"The Testimony of Jesus" Revelation 1:9
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|July -- August, 1971
||Vol. 49, No. 4
'T. A-S.' AN APPRECIATION
(By H. F.)
AFTER forty years of active association with brother Austin-Sparks in
the things of God, it fell to me to lead the praiseful funeral service
on April l9th, when a large number gathered at Honor Oak to magnify the
Lord for our brother's long life and fruitful service. During most of
those years I have been a contributor to A Witness and A Testimony,
so I have gratefully accepted the opportunity of writing a short
appreciation of our brother and his work for God.
Those who are familiar with his books will recollect that one of them
is entitled The School of Christ. The very words suggest his
conception of what the Christian life is all about, for He taught that
God's principal purpose for us all is directed towards eternity and
directed to conforming us to the image of His Son. Brother Sparks was
able to help so many of the disciples in Christ's school because
throughout his many years of service he was ready to occupy the place
of pupil as well as teacher.
His discipleship began when, at seventeen years of age, he walked
dejectedly down a Glasgow street on a Sunday afternoon and stopped to
listen to some young people witnessing in the open air. That very night
he committed his life to the Saviour, and the next Sunday found himself
standing with the same eager young Christians in their open-air
meeting. He continued with them, and before long opened his mouth to
speak some simple words of testimony, so entering on a life of
preaching the Gospel which lasted for sixty-five years.
Those years were filled with many activities for God, but preaching was
his greatest gift and his chief joy. He read widely in his desire for
spiritual understanding, and above all he studied his Bible, always in
an eager quest for the treasures new and old which can be found there
by those who are instructed in the kingdom of heaven. One of his first
choices for the supplementary hymn book which he prepared for use at
the Honor Oak Christian Fellowship Centre was the hymn which carries [69/70] as its refrain Pastor John Robinson's famous
reminder to the Mayflower pilgrims that "the Lord has yet more light
and truth to break forth from His Word". How often we sang those
inspiring words at the beginning of an Honor Oak Conference! And how
often they proved true to the appreciative listeners!
Brother Sparks always set great store on "revelation", by which he
meant not the original disclosure of truth by inspired writers of the
Scriptures, but Spirit-given illumination and insight into what the
Word really teaches. For this reason most of his books, and almost all
the articles published in this magazine were transcriptions of spoken
messages which had been given with some real sense of divine enabling:
they seemed to him to be more likely to have a spiritual impact if they
came not only from studying but also from involvement in some practical
situation. Probably his greatest helpfulness was when he was speaking
of his own experiences, drawing lessons from what he had learned, not
from study only, but from what had happened to him in Christ's school,
where the Father treats His children with that chastening, or
child-training, which alone can prepare them for true sonship according
to the pattern of the perfect Son. He was often able to interpret to
people the meaning of what they had been going through, showing them
the significance and purpose of God's dealings with them.
Especially in his earlier years, brother Sparks used to lay great
emphasis on the need for the inward application of the Cross to the
life of the believer. He preached a Gospel of full salvation by simple
faith in Christ's sacrifice, but he further stressed that the man who
knows cleansing by the blood of Jesus should also allow the same Cross
to work in the depths of his soul in order to release him from himself,
and lead him into a less carnal and more spiritual walk with God. He
himself had gone through a crisis of self-undoing by his acceptance of
the Cross's verdict on his old nature, and had found this crisis to be
the introduction into an altogether new enjoyment of Christ's life so
great that he could only describe it as "an open heaven". In the church
life of the people among whom he ministered he had also seen a striking
transformation produced by this message of the Cross to the believer:
it was no wonder, therefore, that he took every opportunity of
affirming that there is no other way into the full experience of the
will of God than by union with Christ in His death. Again and again he
would revert to the teaching of Romans vi, not just as a favourite
topic, but out of a conviction that such union was the sure means of
knowing the power of Christ's resurrection.
The Cross is always painful, so we can appreciate that brother Sparks
often found God's dealings with him hard to bear. Until 1950 he was
frequently prostrate with pain, and unable to continue his work; yet
again and again he was raised up, sometimes literally from a sick bed,
and no one could fail to recognize the added spiritual impact which
came from such a background. We prayed much for him during those years,
but with no lasting relief, until he was able to have the surgical
treatment which proved to be God's gracious means of answering our
prayers, so that from then on he had a further twenty years of activity
in many lands, and until his last illness was a remarkable example of
how divine life can energize the mortal body.
For various reasons many other sufferings came into his life, but this
was consistent with his own teaching that in the School of Christ one
learns more by suffering than by study or listening to messages. If,
however, the Cross involves suffering, it is also the secret of
abundant grace, as he certainly proved. His last annual motto, prepared
for this year of 1971, was devoted to the theme of the sufficiency of
God's grace. In November he wrote an editorial in this paper, recording
the fact that for him 1970 had been a year of unusual pressure and
difficulty. Perhaps as an onlooker I may be permitted to comment that
in the eyes of those nearest to him it was also a year of new and
fuller evidence of the grace of God, and that for my part I have been
left with blessed memories of fellowship in conversation and prayer
which could never have been possible between us without the triumph of
divine grace. To God be the glory!
The Cross is not only painful; it is unifying. Brother Sparks believed
and preached that by it the individual believer is not only led into an
enlarging personal enjoyment of resurrection life, but also into a true
integration into the fellowship of the Church which is Christ's body.
He could never think of himself as an isolated Christian, nor of
assemblies as isolated groups, but he tried to keep before him the
divine purpose of redemption, which is the incorporation of all
believers into vital membership of the one body. It has sometimes
happened that Christians most anxious to express this oneness have yet
contradicted its spirit by being betrayed into an attitude of
superiority towards other Christians, so allowing themselves to be
wrongly divided from their fellows in Christ. We here have had to
confess our own failures in this respect, realizing that our very
eagerness to be [70/71] faithful to the
Scriptural revelation of what the Church ought to be may have
unintentionally produced something of a separateness among the people
of God. If brother Sparks at times tended in this direction, he
certainly moved farther and farther away from it as he came nearer to
eternity, being growingly careful to show a proper appreciation of all
true believers, whatever their connection.
He must have been tempted at times to move away from practical
fellowship with the church here at Honor Oak, for perhaps we limited
him and we occasionally irked him, but God gave him grace never to
succumb to this understandable temptation: he stayed with us to the
end, keeping the bond of fellowship intact, showing a loving interest
in the coming generation, and taking his share with us in worship and
prayer so long as he was physically able. We owe much to his prayers
for us, and he was deeply appreciative of the prayer support which we
were able to give him, especially in his conference ministries in many
places. His last messages to the church, entrusted to me from his sick
bed, were of great gratitude for our prayers. In the final days of
great weakness, when he often seemed unable to cope with any other sort
of communication, he never failed to give a whispered "Amen" when
prayer was made, showing that when everything else was growing
increasingly unreal, he could still respond to the great reality of
prayer "in the name".
In fact, prayer had been his life, even more than preaching: in this
matter he laid a foundation for the work and set a standard which by
God's grace we will seek to maintain. While he was still pastor of the
local Baptist church he used every Tuesday to travel up to spend the
lunchtime praying with his two colleagues, George Paterson and George
Taylor, who both worked professionally in town at that time. After the
church had moved into the present premises in 1926, first Mr. Paterson
and then Mr. Taylor resigned their posts in order to be fully free for
spiritual work, which left still more opportunity for the united prayer
which became a prominent feature both of life in the church and also in
the adjoining Guest House.
To brother Sparks prayer had many aspects as is shown by his book In
Touch with the Throne. He set us an example of the prayer which is
adoration, not requesting or interceding, but just offering to God the
worship and love which are His due; he constantly stressed the
importance of what he called "executive prayer", by which he meant not
just wishful thinking with the tag of "Amen" at its end, but the bold
claiming of God's promises in the name of the Lord; he introduced many
of us to the reality of "prayer warfare", for he knew that only by
getting to grips with the unseen enemies of God's will can the Church
apply Christ's victory to actual situations. Because prayer is a battle
he was sometimes saddened when our prayer meetings tended to flag, but
he would rally us anew to the fight, and was always ready to rejoice
when we seemed to break through into the victory of faith and to get
"in touch with the throne".
Perhaps one of the earliest of his books can best give us a real clue
to his whole life and ministry. It is called The Centrality and
Supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was where he began, and
this was where he ended, for it became noticeable in his closing years
that he lost interest in subjects and concentrated his attention on the
person of Christ. Christ is central! None of us will claim always to
have been "on centre", and he certainly made no such claim, but it was
his life's objective and the aim of all his preaching and teaching to
recognize that centrality and bow to that supremacy. At his funeral
service there were hundreds who responded wholeheartedly to the
suggestion that brother Sparks had helped them to get to know Christ in
fuller and more satisfying ways. If anyone can make men realize
something more of the worth and wonder of Christ, so that they love Him
more and serve Him better, then such a one has not lived in vain. Many
worldwide can truthfully say that through the spoken or written words
of 'T. A-S.' this is what happened to them and, especially with those
who first trusted Christ as Saviour through his ministry, they will be
his rejoicing in the day of Jesus Christ. Moreover, some of the truths,
which were by no means accepted when he proclaimed them years ago, have
now become widely accepted among evangelical Christians, so it is
possible that in the long run his ministry may prove to have been more
fruitful than at the time appeared to himself or to others. It is the
steward's business to be faithful, and that he sought to be: only the
Master is competent to judge of his success.
The very first message which I heard him give in 1924 was an appeal to
those present to press on towards the mark for the prize, and it
concluded with a reference to the abundant entrance into the
everlasting kingdom which is promised in 2 Peter 1:11. Now, after
forty-seven more years of the joys and trials of living for Christ, he
has finished his course, and we trust that his entrance has indeed been
rich and abundant. Although he has gone from us, his message still
brings its challenge to [71/72] us who are left
behind, and although his lips are now silent, his prayers for us will
still be answered.
There seemed something significant in the fact that he went to be with
Christ immediately after the Easter holiday, for the closing service of
our Easter Monday Conferences was always a highlight, as many who were
present will agree. Brother Sparks could give long messages, and often
did so, but his closing message then was invariably brief and to the
point. The point was so often the Second Coming of Christ, and as we
gathered in large numbers around the Lord's Table and concluded with a
triumphant song about "The hope of the coming of the Lord", truly
heaven came down and glory filled our souls. On this Easter Monday
there was no such meeting, but early on the following morning our
brother passed peacefully into the presence of Christ, to await there
the moment when the hope will have become a glorious reality and we
shall all together meet the Lord "in the air".
Brother Sparks' voice is no longer heard among us, but at the funeral
service the voice of his Lord and ours seemed to ring through our
halls, crying "Surely I come quickly!" As one man the whole concourse
answered together: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." On this note we went
out into the sunshine to lay our brother's body to rest and to sing
triumphantly round his open grave: "One day He's coming, oh, glorious
THE MEMORIAL SERVICE OF THANKSGIVING
AS it was not possible for a number of friends to be present at the
funeral of Mr. T. Austin-Sparks, we felt it right to arrange for a
special thanksgiving service to be held on May 1st. This took place at
Honor Oak and was blessed with fine weather, as also the funeral had
been. Mrs. Sparks and her family were present, and the halls were
filled to capacity with friends who had gathered from near and far,
including some from France and Holland.
We commenced at 2:30 p.m. with the wonderful hymn of praise: "Christ is
risen! Hallelujah!", and the note of thanksgiving was sustained
throughout the whole time, although of course some of the recollections
of our beloved brother's long life and fruitful ministry were very
Mr. C. Fischbacher, an old and valued friend who had travelled down
from Scotland, read the Scriptures from Philippians 3:7-14, a passage
which had frequently been on brother Sparks' lips. Following the
reading, Mr. Paul Wolff from Strasbourg led us in prayer. Mr. Wolff has
had long associations with Honor Oak and Kilcreggan, and served brother
Sparks as his interpreter at the Swiss Conferences. He was enabled of
the Spirit to lift the whole gathering into true worship in which all
the glory was given to God, so setting a tone for the whole service.
Naturally there were many cables and letters from sympathetic friends:
it was not possible for more than two to be read, one from the Atlantic
States Christian Convention in the U.S.A., and the other from the
elders of Jehovah Shammah at Madras, India. Mr. Fred Flack, who
works in India and the Far East, read these letters to us, adding his
own tribute in which he confirmed what the Indian brothers had written
about the rich blessing which many had received through brother Sparks'
visits to that land, as well as through his printed ministry. Mr. Flack
spoke also of how a door of opportunity had opened for him in the
Philippines through brother Sparks' presence and ministry of the Word
in Manila. He then led us in further prayer, this time offering thanks
for all God's mercies to Mr. and Mrs. Sparks in their numerous journeys
to carry God's message East and West, committing to Him the many lives
touched and influenced by our brother's labours.
Following this, some reminiscences were given by Mr. John Paterson, the
younger son of the man who, until he went to be with Christ in 1951,
was brother Sparks' closest colleague. Continuing, Mr. Paterson said
that his sense of outstanding indebtedness to brother Sparks was for
what he could best describe as "The Grand Design", that is, the
realization, based on the Scriptural phrase "the eternal purpose", that
God is working to a plan. He stated that what he had personally
received and what he is quite clear that he did not get anywhere else,
indeed what he barely heard hinted at anywhere else, was the sense of
things hanging together in the spiritual life, all being underlaid by
one single purpose and moving towards one single goal which God has set
for Himself. In this way [72/73] he had, he
felt, been given an insight into "the goings of God", and further
asserted that those who had come to see something of this eternal
purpose of God had found themselves striking a distinctive note among
God's people wherever they went. He proceeded to stress that, although
brother Sparks had laid down spiritual principles for us, he had not
described the way in which they should be put into operation, but had
left us with a research frontier, so that the task of the present
generation is to get from God guidance as to how this should best be
After this, we rose to sing our second hymn: "Jesus, Thou joy of loving
hearts", and then Mr. Harry Foster spoke of brother Sparks as a pupil,
as well as a teacher, in The School of Christ, remarking that
perhaps the most helpful feature of his preaching was when he was able
to interpret to people the divine meaning of their own experiences,
explaining to them from the Word just what lay behind the things they
had been going through. Those who were perhaps puzzled as to what it
was all about received fresh understanding of God's intentions and an
interpretation of how God was dealing with them in the light of His
eternal purpose. Mr. Foster reminded us that while brother Sparks'
chief gift was concerned with a teaching ministry, he was deeply
concerned to win men for Christ, not only in his teenage witnessing
activities, but all through his life, until he fulfilled his very last
preaching engagement this year, which was to a group of London City
missionaries. He had a wonderful ability to convey the nearness of the
Lord, and the melting tenderness of His love, which has left fragrant
memories to those who listened on such occasions. "The old, old story
of Jesus and His love" was ever new and precious to him.
Mr. Foster made no apology for speaking entirely about the past, since
many friends were gathered especially to express their gratitude to God
for all His blessings, but he pointed out the need to face the future,
and for this purpose introduced two of the younger generation.
The first was Mr. Roger Forster, who gave a brief message on the
passage of Scripture which had been read earlier, particularly
stressing the need for the singleness of purpose represented by the
phrase: "This one thing" (Philippians 3:13). He said that he had first
met brother Sparks thirteen years ago, and after some hours of
fellowship in which each told the other of God's dealings with him,
brother Sparks closed the time with prayer. He knew that Mr. Forster
was going to take a meeting, really a very small affair with a handful
of youngsters, but he prayed for the coming ministry as though it was
the most important in all the world, as though indeed it might be the
last. By that prayer he conveyed this quality of dealing with each
apparently trivial moment as truly important in God's eternal purpose,
and though Mr. Forster could not claim always to have lived at that
level, he was constantly reminded, and wished to stress to all present,
that the true spirit of Christianity is the maintained attitude of
"this one thing". The "one thing" is, of course, the prize, and the
prize is Christ Himself. Mr. Forster sought to reinforce Mr. John
Paterson's earlier plea that we should try to discover from God how to
bring the power of His eternal purpose right down into this confused,
permissive age of ours. Paul found how to do it in the first century;
brother Sparks sought to exemplify it in his generation; now, although
in such new conditions, the present generation must heed the call to
serve God in the same way.
To follow this, Mr. Alan Barrow, another of the new generation, brought
the whole matter to God in a final prayer of thanksgiving and
rededication to the "one thing" of God's eternal purpose. On this note
the service ended as with great enthusiasm we sang: "HOW GREAT THOU
Men (and women) of stature -- (Isaiah 45:14; Ephesians 4:13). In whom
the Cross has done a deep work as to self-interest. Who are not so
concerned to preach, or to try and influence others to a doctrine or
theory, but whose main influence will be one of LIFE. Who have come to
know the Lord in a way of proving. Whose reaction to every situation,
circumstance, and proposition is: 'Does it glorify God?', and whose
Touchstone by which all things are tested and determined is: 'Can it
work out to an increase of Christ?' For such there is a pressing need,
in the Church, in the Lord's work, and in all the nations.
Enquire in The Secret Place. Basis of consideration: Romans 6. [73/74]
THE HOLY SPIRIT'S BIOGRAPHY OF CHRIST (5)
OUR HEAVENLY VOCATION
Reading: Matthew 3:13 - 4:11
AS you know, we are in these mornings occupied with the Holy Spirit's
biography of Jesus Christ which He is writing in the spiritual history
of believers. Last time we commenced a new chapter in this biography,
the chapter which contains the baptism, the anointing and the
temptation of the Lord Jesus, which, as we saw, are three parts of one
thing. Each depends upon the other, and they should never be separated,
but, because of lack of time, we had to break off after the second
part. So now we shall take part three, the temptation of the Lord Jesus
in the wilderness.
It is very important that we should recognize what is the setting of
the temptation, for it is not something in itself, nor just an incident
in the life of the Lord Jesus. It has a very long history, going right
back to the Garden of Eden and the first Adam.
May I just say here, to help you in your Bible reading, that it is
always important to see any part of the Scripture in relation to the
whole, and to see how it fits in to the whole revelation. This is a
very special example, for this temptation in the wilderness, as I have
just said, takes us back into the Garden of Eden and brings us
alongside of the first Adam. As you know, that man was put on
probation. The question he was going to answer was: Would he live by
Divine life, or would he live in himself and not in God? Would it be a
matter of God being everything, or, as Satan suggested, man being
self-sufficient. That was the issue of the two trees. The one tree, the
tree of life, was a symbol of the Divine life by which God wanted man
to live, and the other tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil, was the symbol of man being sufficient in himself. So it was a
question of whether man would be absolutely dependent upon Divine life,
or whether he would depend upon himself. Well, we know that Adam
failed, and the immediate result was that he was driven from a garden
into a wilderness, and the Lord said that the ground would bring forth
thorns and thistles -- in fact, everything that spoke of a curse upon
the earth. So the first Adam, because of this wrong choice of life,
found himself in a wilderness, and the wilderness represents man making
a false choice. Adam broke down in his probation.
Now we pass over some centuries and come to Israel, and this same issue
was presented to them. It is the key to their history. When they were
brought out of Egypt into a wilderness for forty years (and I hope you
are reading Matthew 4 in this: Jesus was in the wilderness for forty
days and forty nights, so the same principle is there) the question
was: Would they live by Divine life, or, in rebellion, seek to be
self-sufficient? Well, we know that in that probation Israel also
So God presents the same question to a man and to a nation: 'Will you
live by My life, or will you be sufficient in yourself?' The wilderness
is certainly a good place to test that! God is very practical. If He
puts us in a wilderness the question does indeed become very practical:
Can we meet the situation here, or will it only be possible by God
being our sufficiency? That was the question with the first Adam and
the first nation, at least, it was the first nation so far as the Bible
Now we come to the third thing. First Adam, then Israel, and then the
last Adam, and we find Him in the very place where both the first Adam
and the first nation failed. He is in a wilderness, and He also is on
probation for forty days and forty nights. You know that the number
forty in the Bible always means probation, a time of testing. Now the
issue with the last Adam is exactly the same as it was with the first:
Will He live in absolute dependence upon God His Father, or will He
take up this life-vocation in His own strength? That test was a very
practical one, for it becomes very practical if you have not had
anything to eat for forty days and forty nights! It is a matter of how
you will get something to eat, for it looks as though you will die. So
at that point it was a question of life or death, but the question, of
course, was deeper than just the matter of bread, which is what we come
to here: "Man shall not live by bread alone." It was a question of
whether He [74/75] would face this life work
just on a natural basis or on a Divine basis, of whether He would try
to find the resources in Himself alone, or in His Father.
The Lord Jesus answers that in John's Gospel when in chapter five He
says: "The Son can do nothing out from himself", for that is
the force of the Greek word. It is not in Him to do it, and that is the
position that He has accepted voluntarily -- absolute dependence upon
His Father. 'The works that I do, I do not out from Myself. The
words that I speak I do not speak out from Myself: It is the
Father who doeth the works, and it is the Father who speaks the words.'
Jesus had accepted that position, but there was a tremendous battle
connected with it.
That is the issue which confronts every one of us, and it ought to be
the issue governing the life of every believer. We were saying that we
were all called to the same vocation, and that the service of God is
gathered up into one thing, which is bringing the Lord Jesus into a
situation. That is the service of God comprehensively. Can you do that
of yourself? Can we bring the Lord into a situation in our own
strength, in our own wisdom, out from our own resources? Well, you know
the answer to that! The very justification of your being a Christian is
that through you the Lord is brought into this world, that where you
are the Lord comes in. He comes in through you against all the forces
of this world and of Satan, and it is because you are there that He
comes in. Now, if that were put to you individually, what would you
say? 'No, impossible! That can never be where I am concerned!'
I think there is a lot of history behind that. The Lord takes away our
own strength and our own wisdom, and makes us dependent upon Him. That
is the principle of heavenly vocation.
Now we come to the three temptations, and we must remember what is the
issue that is involved. The issue is vocation, that for which we are
here, and, as I have said, we are here to make a place for the Lord.
These three temptations are immediately connected with that vocation.
We must see how each temptation is related to this vocation, because
the object explains the methods of Satan. Do you understand that? Satan
knows what our presence means to his kingdom. He knows quite well why
we are here, just as he knew why the Lord Jesus was here, and so he
must defeat that end in some way. He works very subtly and increases
his temptation as he goes on, but he knows what he is after at the end.
The whole question is that of the basis of life. The basis of the
Christian survival, and the great basic factor, is Divine life, and
Satan has always wanted to defeat that. In the Garden of Eden and with
Israel his one object was to defeat Divine life.
LIFE FOR OUR VOCATION
In the first temptation Jesus is in physical weakness through lack of
food, and this is a question of His very life. Satan comes to Him in
His weakness and says: 'If what was said at the Jordan be true, and You
are the Son of God, command these stones that they may be made bread.'
What did Jesus answer? "It is written that man shall not live by bread
alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
The first thing about this life-bread is that it is a different kind of
life from natural life. That is what is hidden in this first
temptation. There is a great deal of difference between natural life
and Divine life. I think we should notice that the Lord Jesus, in
quoting that Scripture from Deuteronomy 8, quoted it correctly.
Presently Satan is going to quote the Scriptures, but he is going to do
so incorrectly, and that is one of his ways. He takes up Divine things
and gives them a twist. In quoting that Scripture the Lord said: "Man
shall not live by bread alone." He did not say: 'You do not need any
natural bread.' There are certain kinds of Christians today, and have
always been through the ages, who think that they are very spiritual
because they starve themselves. They fast as much as they can, usually
looking very miserable. They are always very finicky about their food
-- and they think that is being very spiritual! But the Lord does not
say that that is what we are to do. He says that there is the natural
bread, but that is not the only thing, for there is a bread which is
much more important, and that is the true bread. That is quite
different. How men are trying to fulfil the work of God on natural
grounds! Their resources are natural resources which are produced by
themselves and the Lord says: 'No!' There is all the difference between
the earthly and heavenly worlds, between natural life and Divine life.
But that life is not only different; it is something extra. It is not
bread only, but something more than that, something extra to the
natural. You may have your breakfast in the morning -- and there is
nothing wrong in having a breakfast, or any other meal -- but if you
think that you are going to do the work of God on a good breakfast, you
make a mistake. Do you see what I mean? This is something extra to the [75/76] natural, something much more than anything
that natural food can give us. It is the great Divine extra.
You see, we are repeating the life of Christ, and I can give you
examples from His life. Just take one: His meeting with the woman of
Samaria. The Lord Jesus, being wearied with His journeys, sat on the
well and sent His disciples into the city to buy bread. Then the woman
came from the city, and you know the conversation they had and how the
whole of the life of the Lord Jesus was poured out to that woman like
living water. As He spoke of heavenly things, as He gave to that woman
the heavenly secrets, and as He spoke about the heavenly life, deeper
than that well and more eternal than the water of that well, although
it was Jacob's Well, all His weariness went and He was a renewed Man.
The disciples came back to Him with their loaves and said: 'Master,
eat.' Then they looked at Him. 'Has anyone given Him bread to eat? What
has happened to Him? Why, He is a new man and He does not want our
bread.' You see, He had been talking about life, and it is no use
talking about life if you are not an example of it. He said: "I have
meat to eat that you know not.... My meat is to do the will of him that
sent me" (John 4:32, 34). Think about that for a little and remember
that you are dealing with these eternal principles. This is the extra
bread, which is more than the natural.
Some of us who minister a great deal find that when we face new
ministry we often feel very weary, and naturally the question is: 'Can
we do it? Can we get through that long conference?' But when we get to
the end of the conference we have new life. It really is like
that. The fact is that when tomorrow night comes and this conference is
over, I shall have just as much in hand as I have given all the week --
and we shall want another week! Well, I am not an example, but I am
trying to enunciate the principle: "Not by bread alone, but ..." This
is one of those very many occasions when those two words are put one
against another -- "Not ... but ..."
There is one other thing: This Divine life is a matter of faith. The
Lord Jesus said: "By every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of
God." Well, there is the word in writing in the Bible, but do you think
it is enough for it to be the Word of God, written in the Bible? No,
you have got to lay hold of it by faith, and we have to lay hold of
this life by faith. You remember the woman who came to the Lord Jesus
in the crowd and said: "If only I could touch the hem of his garment I
would be made whole", and although the multitude was pressing on Him,
there was no one else in that multitude who received that life. It was
that woman's hand of faith, and the Lord Jesus said: "Thy faith hath
made thee whole." Laying hold of the word of life by faith is
something that we must ever do. Paul says: "Lay hold on eternal
life" (1 Timothy 6:12), for it is there. Really exercise faith about it.
These things may seem very simple to you, but they are very important
The passage that the Lord Jesus used in answering Satan is from
Deuteronomy 8:2 and 3, and you need to look at the setting of it. It is
at the end of the forty years in the wilderness, and says: "Thou shalt
remember all the way which the Lord thy God hath led thee these forty
years in the wilderness, that he might humble thee, to prove thee, to
know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his
commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger,
and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy
fathers know, that he might make thee know that man doth not live by
bread only, but by every thing that proceedeth out of the mouth of the
Lord doth man live."
What have we here? The people are not going into the wilderness now,
for they are going over Jordan into the land, but there is a history
behind them. For forty years God has proved that there is a life other
than the natural. Do you not think that that is a good thing? You might
say to me: 'You are talking about this Divine life, but prove
it.' Well, I can give you more than forty years -- but no, I am not
talking about myself. I am talking about the history of the Church, and
that is two thousand years. Has the Church continued through these many
centuries by its own strength? Has the Church been in many a
wilderness? Has there been much starvation? Yes, again and again the
Church has been in a terrible wilderness, with death all around, and
with nothing in this world to support it. It could have died again and
again, but it has not died. It is alive today, and there is a great
history of the Lord's Divine support. And what is true of the Church is
true of the history of many a believer. Many of you could say: 'If it
had been left to me I would have been dead today. My very survival is a
testimony to something supernatural.' Is that true? Oh, yes, it is
true, and it has to be true to the end.
So here we have a history behind what the Lord Jesus is saying, and He
is able to put the strong proof of history into His words when He
Now the Lord Jesus is in a wilderness, but what [76/77]
is He going to have to meet in the next three and a half years? I do
not think that Satan is going to stop at anything to kill the testimony
of Divine life in Jesus. Again and again he makes an attack upon His
life in every possible way in order to quench the testimony of Jesus,
but He goes through. He lives, and He lives today, for that Divine life
has triumphed over everything.
That biography has to be written in your heart and in mine. We are in a
wilderness -- or do you think that your Christian life is the Garden of
Eden, with everything so lovely and with everything in the world that
you can want? Is that how it is with you? Well, of course, it is very
nice here at Hilterfingen, but you know quite well that you have to go
back. You may feel like Peter: "Let us build three tabernacles and stay
in Hilterfingen for the rest of our lives!", but it may rain next week,
and, even if it does not, you know you have to go back to your
difficult situation. That may be very much like a spiritual wilderness,
but you have this great truth: there is a Divine life, which is a
different life, an extra life, and you can live by that life wherever
I suppose there are few more difficult situations than those in which
our dear brother Watchman Nee has been for eighteen years. As far as we
know, he is alive, and I believe that his spiritual testimony is still
alive -- and that is a miracle. We may not have his experience, but we
may know the wilderness, and God can prepare a table in the
The point, then, of the first temptation was this: Would the Lord Jesus
use His own powers to save His own life, or would He depend upon God?
Later on He will say: "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find
it" (Matthew 10:39), and that is the principle. Satan has failed on
that ground, so he is going to change his position, for he is not
giving up yet.
THE METHODS OF FULFILLING OUR VOCATION
Now we come on to the methods of fulfilling our vocation. Satan took
the Lord Jesus into Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple
and said: "Cast thyself down." Now Satan quotes Scripture, trying to
take Christ's own ground and defeat Him there: 'You believe in the
Scripture, do You? You are thinking of the Word of God. All right! Now
it is written: "He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and on
their hands they shall bear thee up, lest haply thou dash thy foot
against a stone."' I say that Satan misquotes the Scripture, for is
that what Psalm 91 really says? If you read that Psalm you will find
that Satan left out the most important clause: "He shall give his
angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways " (verse
11). There are some ways in which the Lord will not keep people, but
Satan leaves that out.
Yes, Satan is quoting Psalm 91, and what are "the ways" in that Psalm?
I think it is very impressive and almost humorous. That Psalm begins by
saying: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High", and that
is the man referred to throughout the Psalm. Jesus had chosen to make
His dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, and every Christian
knows what that is. You have a hidden life with God, and you abide in
that. Have you a hidden life with God, a life that this world does not
see, a sanctuary with God, a secret place with the Most High? Will you
come out from that? You see the subtlety of Satan! 'Come out from Your
secret place and adopt some worldly methods of fulfilling your
vocation! Cast Yourself down and everybody will say: "This is something
very wonderful!", and You will have all the people in Jerusalem rushing
to You. They will say that You have come down from heaven, and You will
be the most popular man in Palestine!' -- and it will have been done by
a trick. It would mean that the Lord Jesus was party to something in
the natural man which likes to have evidences and proofs, for, you see,
everyone in Jerusalem sought for a sign. They said to Him: 'Show us a
sign and we will believe. Give us some evidence. Give us some proof
that we can see and we will be Your followers.' This is the temptation:
Use some methods in the work of the Lord which will make you popular,
something that will appeal to the sensational in man, some tricks. Do
you see what I am talking about? Is this not what the Church is trying
to do? It is trying to recover its lost power by a lot of tricks, by
playing to this thing in man that wants the sensational. Surely we can
see that this is what is happening! The methods that are employed in
the work of God to attract the crowds, to get big meetings, are to
satisfy this desire for proofs and evidences. Perhaps never in the
history of the world has there been so much of this. I do not want to
be critical, nor to judge too much, but I have a very great question
about the guitar, and a lot of other things that are employed to try to
make the work of God successful.
That was what was in this pinnacle of the temple. You will get the
crowds if you do that kind of thing, but you may come out from the
secret place of the [77/78] Most High, that
hidden place from the world which is the place of power.
I can only just drop these hints, but I know what I am talking about,
and I do believe, dear friends, that all we need is the power of the
Holy Spirit in the Gospel. I do not believe that it is necessary to
have all this other stuff. I believe that where there is reality,
people who really want reality will go there, and people who do not
want reality, well, just let them stay away! Perhaps you do not agree
with that, but I am talking on Divine principles, on the principles of
the life of Jesus Christ, and I am saying that these principles of
Christ have to be written in His Church.
THE PURPOSE OF OUR VOCATION
We come to the third temptation, and Satan is now moving his position.
He is gradually being uncovered and it is now going to be manifest what
it is he is really after. He himself knows what he has been after all
the time, and he has been moving steadily towards it. He took the Lord
Jesus up into a very high mountain. I do not know, of course, how that
was done, though I do not think that it was done literally. I think
that the Lord Jesus was seeing all this in a spiritual way. However, in
that high mountain Satan showed the Lord Jesus all the kingdoms of the
world and said: 'I will give You all this if You will fall down and
worship me.' Ah, now it has come out! Satan knows what Jesus Christ has
come into this world for, and that is to bring in the Kingdom of God.
He knows that this One is destined to be the Divinely-appointed Lord of
the universe. If Satan knew the Scriptures in Deuteronomy and Psalm 91,
he also knew them in Psalm 2, which shows the final exaltation of God's
Son. Satan knew that before the world was. His demons know this One,
for on one occasion they said to Him: "What have I to do with thee,
Jesus, thou Son of the Most High God?" (Luke 8:28). So the ultimate
issue is world dominion, and that is the one thing that Satan is
against, for he is the god of this world and he is not going to have
that position taken from him by anyone.
But see how clever he is! 'I will give it all to You without You having
to go to the Cross. You can have it all without suffering if only You
will do one thing -- put me in the place of Your God and worship me.
And if You do that I know quite well that You will not get the kingdoms
of the world. My kingdom is established, and what You came for
will be defeated.' That is what lies behind it all but what is Satan
really saying? 'Compromise with me as the prince of this world' -- and
if we compromise with this world we are going to lose our spiritual
dominion now and afterwards. You see, it is the Church that is going to
There are some things in the Bible that I do not understand. For one
thing I do not understand what Paul meant when he said: "Know ye not
that the saints shall judge the world? ... Know ye not that we shall
judge angels?" (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). I do not really understand that,
but I do know that it is in keeping with the whole revelation of the
New Testament: "If we suffer with him we shall reign with him" (2
Timothy 2:12). He will give us the Throne with Himself.
That is what we are called to, and is the purpose of the vocation: to
govern this world in the place of Satan. Is that not a tremendous
thing? That is the destiny of the Church. So Satan sees that the way to
defeat that destiny is to compromise with the world, but you cannot
cast out Satan by Satan, nor can you cast out the world by the world.
The Church has tried to do that, and it has lost its position and its
power. It is in a poor state today, and the reason is that it has
compromised with this world. It may have had a right motive -- trying
to win the world on its own grounds -- but it takes more than a guitar
to beat the devil! You will never overcome the world by worldly means
'Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God only.' You must give Him
the supreme place in this universe. 'And Him only shalt thou
serve,' not Satan, nor the world.
What is the service of God? Remember Mary's service -- bringing the
Lord into His right place, taking ground for the Lord and holding it
for Him. But what a battle! The enemy and all his powers are set
against it, but thank God for the anointing! It is said that the Spirit
which had come upon Him drove Him into the wilderness to be
tempted of the devil, but it does not say: 'to be defeated by the
devil'. He was anointed to test out the strength of this great enemy
and break it, and the anointing carried Him through in victory.
Dear friends, we have the anointing. Let us believe in it! There is nothing
impossible with the anointing: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my
spirit, saith the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6). - T. A-S. [78/79]
THE REALITY OF THE WORD OF FAITH
DURING this week, from morning to evening, we have been concerned with
realities. We have a risen Lord who loves us, even though He knows us.
We have not been gathered here to discuss religion, nor to teach one
another pious attitudes, nor to pray pious, unreal prayers, nor to
teach one another pious, false humility. We have not been here to speak
to one another about illusions, for the Kingdom of God is not in words,
but in power.
Reality is the real power. There is not much power in speaking about
joy, but there is a lot of power in having joy. There is not a lot of
power in speaking about peace, but what a power there is in having and
knowing peace! There is not much power in speaking about redemption,
but to have and to know redemption is power indeed!
It is the same with the resurrection. It is one thing to talk about it,
but quite another thing to know the power of His resurrection.
That is what we have been gathered around during this week -- power.
Not the popular conception of power, which is spectacular and
emotional. Actually, there is not very much power in working ourselves
up emotionally for if we try to do that we find that it does not last
very long, and we come down again. But we do not need to work ourselves
up if we know that the Kingdom of God is power and we know that power
-- the power of eternal life, of reality, of joy, of peace? of
righteousness, of the risen Lord Himself. That is the power of reality
based upon the mighty acts of God in which men have played no part at
all. We read about them in 1 Corinthians 15, verses 3 and 4: "For I
delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that
Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, and that he was
buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the
scriptures." As Paul saw that, through the spirit of faith and in
living contact with his risen Lord, something wonderful happened. We
read his testimony in verse 10: "By the grace of God I am what I am."
Does that sound proud? No, not at all, for it is real. It would have
been false humility to say: 'By the grace of God, I am nothing.' Is
there not more power in the grace of God than that?
"By the grace of God I am what I am." you know that God's name is I AM.
When He met Moses at the burning bush and Moses asked: 'What is Your
name?', the Lord answered: "I AM." Now Paul says: 'That is also my name
-- "by the grace of God I am what I am".'
You see how wonderfully real this is! Now Paul knows what life is, what
being in living relationship with the risen Lord means, and so he calls
himself "I am", without pride, full of gratefulness, knowing what he is
speaking about. It is a mighty act of grace -- 'I am what I am. I am, through
Him, and in Him.'
What was Paul? Perhaps you will say he was steadfast. Of course he was,
for eternal life is steadfast, so he could not be otherwise. You might
say that he was unmovable. Of course he was, for eternal life, the "I
AM", is unmovable. It would be false humility to say: 'By the grace of
God I am very unstable', or: 'By the grace of God I never come through
any hindrance.' It is just ridiculous to talk like that, and yet many
Christians, perhaps not directly, but indirectly speak and pray like
that, which only proves that they speak out from themselves, without
Christ, and pray out from themselves, without Christ. Therefore their
words and prayers are illusions, not real. It is as if they would say
to God: 'You have done nothing, Lord. You have given me nothing.'
But what about Paul? Paul was "always abounding in the work of the
Lord". Of course he was, for eternal life is like that. Would you like
him to testify: 'By the grace of God I accomplish nothing!'? Would it
be humble to speak like that, or pleasing to our risen Lord? Would it
have been very humble for him to say: 'I have done everything I felt I
should, but I feel that it was all in vain.' 'Ah,' you say, 'that is
very humble! Nothing comes out of what I do, for I am so small and
insignificant.' You know, when we say that we are insignificant, it
almost always proves that we want to be significant!
"By the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was upon me
was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not
I, but the grace of God which was with me."
We must speak like that if we have the spirit of faith, and,
therefore, through that spirit we are humble, boasting only of the
Lord. We do not speak very much about ourselves, but of the Lord as
Paul did here. It is all real, it is power. Therefore, it is quite
reasonable for Paul to say in verse 58 of this chapter: "Therefore, my
beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding [79/80] in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know
that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
I ask you to notice what Paul does not say: 'My beloved brethren, try
to be steadfast, try to be unmovable, and do your very best to be
always abounding in the work of the Lord.' Neither does he say: 'Be
steadfast some day.' No, he does not talk like that. This is not an
appeal to the 'old man', but just a reminder to the 'new man' to remain
what he is, and to use this grace out from what he is in the Lord. It
would be a contradiction in terms to say: 'I have eternal life, but I
am not steadfast. I have eternal life, but I am easily moved.' There is
a real logic in the world of realities, and therefore if you have the
spirit of faith you cannot speak words of doubt. You must speak as Paul
speaks here: 'By the grace of God you are linked with the risen Lord.
You are here now and He is your very life. You share His name and His
power, and therefore you are steadfast, and because you are steadfast, be
steadfast. You are unmovable. Recognize that and be unmovable.'
This is the spirit of faith, and is what John means when he says: "This
is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4).
As we are filled with that spirit of faith, so, even before we enter
into any kind of work, we know that it is not in vain, and that it is
purposeful. We have done it and accomplished it before we start doing
it! It is not an experiment that can be either a success or a defeat,
for it is prepared by the Lord. We are what we are in Him, and
therefore we are not living in the world of experiments. Jesus did not
experiment when He walked down here, for He walked with His Father. He
knew that what He was doing would lead to the goal, and we know the
same. By the grace of God we are what we are, and His grace has not
been in vain. We have worked, but it is the grace of God and not we
ourselves, so it bears eternal fruit. That does not make us full of
pride, but neither are we humble in an illusory way. We are free to be
ourselves in the Lord, giving all the glory to Him, feeling that it is
a miracle of grace that we are in touch with reality, out of the world
of illusions and in contact with God day by day, doing His work through
the spirit of faith, both on good and on bad days.
I once met a lovely young Salvation Army girl. I only met her once, and
have never spoken to her, but she made an unforgettable impression upon
me. She had blue eyes, fair hair and red cheeks. She was in a tramcar
in which I was also travelling. As she sat there her cheeks became
redder and redder, her eyes became more and more strained -- and as the
tram stopped she took out a tract, gave it to me, and jumped quickly
off. She was the Lord's servant! She did her very best -- and I
suffered with her! She had been sitting in that tram for ten minutes
thinking of the tract in her pocket and of me in the tram, and there
was a struggle going on. At the last minute I received the tract and
off she jumped!
Well, I am sure that many of you are in that kind of ministry! It is a
ministry of pressure, where you are doing your very best -- and you
wake up every morning hoping that you have no more tracts in your
pocket! Ah, there is a better way if you have the spirit of faith. That
spirit does not think so much about whether or not you should
distribute tracts, but it keeps close to the risen Lord and fills your
heart with confidence, so that, as you leave the matter to Him, all
fear disappears and you tell Him about the tracts: 'I have faith in You,
Lord, and if You want me to distribute tracts, You will prepare the
way. You will not only allow me to distribute them, but You will remain
in me so that my person is a tract. If my person is not a tract, then
the tracts I hand out are not perhaps as powerful as they ought to be.'
By the grace of God we are what we are, and in Him we are steadfast and
unmovable. Rely on Him! Do not experiment in one way or another, but
walk with Him, and He will give you the words to speak.
A friend of mine got a new job in an office about two months ago, and
he asked the Lord to give him opportunities to speak for Him, but
everyone was so busy and day after day went by without any opportunity
being given. He began to be a little troubled, but the Lord gave him
grace to remain unmovable, and he told the Lord from his heart: 'I have
faith in Thee, Lord. I believe that at Thine own time Thou wilt open up
an opportunity for me. If Thou hast risen from the grave Thou art
Master of all things. I will not experiment.'
Then came our friends from Operation Mobilization to buy a Danish ship,
and they went to my friend's office to have all the papers put in
order. Then not only just one person, but all the people in that office
came into contact daily with people who were buying a ship for use in
the work of the Gospel. They had never had that sort of business
before, so they asked questions, and my friend could speak about the
Lord to one after another, without shivering with fright and without
counting how many tracts he still had in his pocket.
By the grace of God we are what we are. His grace is not in vain. "Have
faith in God." Be what you are -- a Christian, one who is spiritually
risen from the dead, risen from sin, Satan and fear, [80/81]
and living just this very moment with that risen Lord.
An English brother came to us once in Copenhagen and said from the
platform: 'I wish missionaries would tell the truth! I always hear
wonderful stories from the mission field. They pray and God answers;
they are in a difficulty, and God intervenes. I would like them to tell
the truth and say: "We were in a difficulty and the Lord did not
intervene. We prayed, and it was as if we could get no answer."'
Wonderful stories are good, but not good enough, for they do not convey
the whole truth. We live with the risen Lord, so we can have
difficulties, we can have darkness, we can have unsolved problems and
we can carry burdens. We live with the supreme Lord, but He cannot
always spoil us. He must train us, discipline us. He does not answer
our prayers, so our faith is tested, but we have Him and we learn. Then
the life we have which, in some way, is already full and complete,
grows through our experiences, through our testings, through
discipline, through unanswered prayers, and through problems, but it is
all grace, for the Lord governs everything. He is supreme. He can take
the burden away this very moment if He wants to, but if He does not,
have faith in Him.
It is very important to speak the word of faith. Do you know what the
Lord Jesus said on the very last night? He said: "Righteous Father"
(John 17:25). That is the last thing that we would have said, for He
was being treated in the most unrighteous way, darkness was falling
upon Him, and yet He did not say: 'Holy Father', or 'Mighty Father.' He
said: "Righteous Father" -- 'You are right.' That is the word of
We have a risen Lord, but He was crucified, and the marks of the
crucifixion can still be seen in His hands and feet. He has given us a
Divine calling. Peter defines part of that calling in words that we do
not normally like: "For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience
toward God endures grief suffering wrongfully, for what glory is it if,
when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but
if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is
acceptable -- this is grace -- with God, for even hereunto were
ye called" (1 Peter 2:19-20). Is it not wonderful to realize one's
calling? Do you know anything more satisfying for a man than to reach
that for which he has been called? He feels life abundant in himself,
and satisfaction to the utmost degree.
Here is one part of our calling: To follow our Lord, not grumblingly,
not with fear that would paralyse, but with faith.
"By the grace of God I am what I am." I am His. He is my Lord. What an
honour to be identified with Him! I have His name, so why should I not
share His fate? There is nothing about which to be fearful, but we
should rather glory in Him. So James speaks the word of truth and
reality, the word of faith, when he says in chapter 1: "My brethren,
count it all joy when ye fall into divers testings, divers trials."
That was not a piece of good advice, nor was it James saying something
which he did not mean for himself. He meant it, for it is the word of
reality, of truth. When we have taken that in there is nothing more
that has any power over us. All things belong to us, whether they are
the things that are now, things that will come, or death itself.
Everything belongs to us, and we belong to Him, and so we say: 'By the
grace of God, and that grace only, I am what I am, and His grace has
not been in vain. I have worked, yet not I myself, but the grace of
God.' And so we go on, steadfast and unmovable, knowing that our
labours in Him are not in vain. The Kingdom of God is powerful. We do
not speak very much about joy now, because we have it. We do not speak
very much about peace, because we have that, but we talk all the day
long about our wonderful Lord in whom we have found everything. We do
not say to Him: 'Father, please excuse me. I cannot do Your will
because You have not given me the power.' No, rather we say: 'Speak,
Lord, for Thy servant heareth and doeth, through Thee.' - P. M.
|Lord Jesus, Intercessor,
||Lord Jesus, Intercessor,
| O teach us how to pray:
|| Creator of the sea,
|Not wave-like, rising, falling
||Teach us the tide's great secret
| In fitful clouds of spray.
|| Of quiet urgency.
|The mighty tides of ocean
||Spindrift of words we ask not;
| A deeper secret know,
|| But, Lord, we seek to know
|Their currents undefeated move
||The conquering patience of the tides
| Whatever winds may blow.
|| Whatever winds may blow. [81/82]
FOR BOYS AND GIRLS
SPLASH! As Donald leaned over the side of the ship he could just see
where the anchor had fallen into the water, and presently he watched
the chain tighten up as the vessel was held firm to its position. Their
journey was near to its end; in most of the ports the ship had drawn
alongside the quay, but on this occasion they had to wait out in the
bay for a whole day, and so the ship was still and steady, riding at
His friend, a fellow passenger, was not there when the anchor was
released, so later on when the two walked around the deck and remarked
on the steady position which they were holding, Donald explained it all
to him, adding: 'It makes you feel safe, doesn't it, being anchored to
Now Donald's friend knew more about anchors than he did, so he
immediately challenged this last remark, commenting: 'anchored in the
mud would be more correct'. They were both members of a Crusader class,
and Donald had often sung the chorus: "We have an anchor ...", so he
rejected his friend's correction, insisting that of course their anchor
was embedded in the rock, for otherwise the ship would be drifting
away. His friend said that this was nonsense, for the anchor had to
grip into the soft sea bottom, and then it could be hauled up again
when the ship wanted to sail. Donald disagreed; the argument became
fierce and as neither knew much about it they were glad to see the
third officer approaching and decided to ask him.
His answer made fun of Donald's idea for he confirmed that the anchor
was gripping into the muddy bottom, and said that if the bed of the bay
had been rock, then their anchor would have just bounced off it, and by
now the ship would have been dragging out to sea again.
Oh dear! Was the chorus wrong? Was the Bible perhaps wrong? What could
he believe? Donald's sense of doubt and insecurity grew. He felt that
he had been misled, and he got into such a state that when the voyage
was over and he was back home again he almost decided not to go to
Crusaders any more, as he felt that he was not told the truth.
Happily, though, he did go again, and he was sensible enough to ask the
leader what was the truth about anchors. The class leader was not sure
himself, but he promised to make enquiries, if possible before the
He found the right man, and when he had put his question he received an
answer which helped him in his own spiritual life as well as settling
Donald's doubts. Around the world's coasts, including our own, there
are lightships which must remain in a fixed position in order to give
navigational help to sailors. These lightships do not have an ordinary
ship's anchor, the kind that can be raised and lowered, for they are
not made to travel, but to remain stationary. For this purpose they
have to be held by special anchors which bore into the rock or solid
ground, so remaining permanently fixed.
So the Crusader leader was able to explain this to Donald and to point
out to him that it all depends what you want to do with your life. If
you want to be always nerving about spiritually, shifting and drifting
from one thing to another, then it will be good enough to have an
anchor in the mud; but if you want to be spiritually steadfast, giving
out to other travellers a light to guide them on their way, then you
must have a different kind of anchor, the one that goes deep down into
the rock and stays there.
He hardly needed to add to Donald: 'Of course, Christ is our Rock. If
we really lay hold of Him by faith', he said earnestly, 'then it will
be true that the billows will not move us and -- like the lightship --
we shall be grounded firm and true, just as the chorus says.'
This is not only true for Donald, but for every reader of this story.
The lightship needs firm ground for its anchor; we need the spiritual
Rock, the Lord Jesus, so that we can be anchored firm and deep in the
Saviour's love. "Which hope we have as an anchor to the soul, both sure
and steadfast ..." (Hebrews 6:19.) - H. F. [82/83]
THE GLORY OF GOD
1. HOW TO SEE THE GLORY OF GOD
Reading: John 11.
Out of that chapter we will just pinpoint two verses:
"But when Jesus heard it, he said, This sickness is not
unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be
glorified thereby" (verse 4);
"Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if
thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" (verse 40).
"For the glory of God ... thou shouldest see the glory
YOU probably know that chapters 11 to 17 of this Gospel are chapters of
summation, and consummation, that is, a gathering up of everything into
finality, and what comes out with great clarity in this consummate part
of the Gospel is the priority which governed the whole life, the
teaching and the work of the Lord Jesus. It seems that that is what
John had in mind when writing, for he placed this priority right at the
beginning of his Gospel, worked steadily along that line, and then
brought it all out in this full and conclusive way at the end. Although
the Lord Jesus had been governed by this priority for thirty years and
more, there came a crisis point in His life at which He made a complete
adjustment of everything upon this one thing that we are calling the
priority where He determined that everything should be focused upon it,
and that there should be no deviation at any point from it.
And what was His all-inclusive priority? It was the glory of His Father
-- the glory of God.
As I have said, John struck that keynote right at the beginning when,
writing after it was all over and seeing the whole content and
significance of that life, work, teaching and conduct, he started off
by saying: "We beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the
Father" (1:14). That is bringing the Father right into view in the
matter of glory. Then John went on writing the Gospel, like a great
harmony or symphony tuned to that keynote, and all the way through he
kept true to it -- the glory of the Father.
And I believe, dear friends, that that is the keynote that the Lord
wants me to strike at this time. It is a very considerable burden with
me in these days.
THE COMMITTAL OF THE LORD JESUS TO HIS FATHER'S GLORY
Let us turn to the Lord Jesus Himself in this matter. There was in His
life that hour of His great committal, which took place at His baptism.
He there and then committed Himself utterly to the glory of His
Father. He gathered every detail of His life from that moment and
centred it in this thing, as though He were saying: 'From this moment
there is to be not one deflection from that motive and object. My
Father's glory is to govern everything.' And it was so.
1. IN HIS INNER LIFE
Firstly, the committal was in His own personal, inner life, in His
secret walk with His Father. This is a most impressive thing as you
read through the Gospel. You find all the way along that everything is
coming out from His personal, secret life with His Father. "The Son",
He said, "can do nothing of himself [or, out from himself], but
what he seeth the Father doing " (5:19). Mysterious language, but
those who know anything about life in the Spirit know what it means.
"For what things soever he doeth, these the Son also doeth",
and not in His own way, but "in like manner." How meticulous and how
exact! His committal as to His own relationship with God His Father
meant that there was nothing out from Himself, but only that which He
knew in His own heart, and from His secret history with God, the Father
wanted Him to do and to say. The background, inner sanctuary life with
the Father was maintained unbroken.
2. IN HIS CONDUCT
As to His conduct, He behaved Himself on this ground: 'How I behave,
how I conduct Myself is going to be altogether a matter of how it
touches My Father's glory. The impression I make upon others, what they
see in Me and about Me, must never for one moment veil the glory of My
Father, hide that glory, or detrimentally affect that glory. My
behaviour must always be for the glory of My Father.' This was as to
His conduct, His walk. You know, John made a special note of His walk,
for it was not just an outward progress. John said: [83/84]
'He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk even as
He walked" (1 John 2:6). There was something about His very
movements that was governed, and His walk, His movements, His behaviour
were always for the glory of His Father.
3. IN HIS WORKS
As to His works, we have already quoted Him: "The Son can do nothing
out from himself, but what he seeth the Father doing: for what things
soever he doeth, these the Son also doeth in like manner." And His
words: "The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's who
sent me" (John 14:24).
4. IN HIS TIME
Then His times for doing things. Ofttimes we read that He put back
suggestions from others that He should do things now, at this time.
When something seemed to be demanded of Him, and people expected Him to
do it at that time, He put it back: "Mine hour is not yet come" (John
2:4), but He did it very quickly afterwards. He was waiting and in His
spirit He was saying: 'Father, is this Thy time?' You know, dear
friends, you can do a right thing at a wrong time and it just does not
work out. We do a lot of things, and they fail because it is not the
time for them. You remember the great incident in the Apostle Paul's
life: "They assayed to go into Bithynia; and the Spirit of Jesus
suffered them not" (Acts 16:7). They were "forbidden of the Holy Ghost
to speak the word in Asia" (Acts 16:6). Paul was diverted, for it was
not the time. They got to Asia and Bithynia subsequently, in God's
time, and when God's time is registered things are very much more
fruitful, for you do not waste time. When we do things so often in our
own time, we really are only putting them off to God's time, for
nothing happens until God wants them done. That is by the way, but that
is how the Lord Jesus worked: "Mine hour is not yet", and then the hour
seemed to come so quickly afterwards.
5. IN HIS FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
Here He is, moving, speaking, working, timing, by His fellowship with
the Father. He brought everything else on to that ground. He brought
His family on to the ground of the glory of His Father. The people came
to Him after He had been speaking in a house and said: "Thy mother and
thy brethren stand without, seeking to speak to thee" (Matthew 12:47).
Now that is a natural appeal. It may be sentimental and quite a right
kind of appeal, but wait a minute. He answers: "Who is my mother? and
who are my brethren? ... Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which
is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother." He puts it on
another ground. 'How far do My family relationships, as far as I am
concerned, reflect the glory of God?'
6. IN HIS ATTITUDE TO MEN
He was governed in the same way in His attitude towards men. As to the
religious world, He would commend what was sincere and go as far as He
could with it in sympathy. A young man came and told Him that he had
kept all the commandments from his youth up, and Jesus "looking upon
him loved him" (Mark 10:17-20). He did not condemn. He was sympathetic
to sincerity, but bring hypocrisy into His presence and His commending
changed into condemning! There was nothing that brought out His wrath
more than hypocrisy in religion, because it is a thing which robs God
of His true glory.
7. IN HIS JUDGMENTS
These are all things that made up the life of the Lord Jesus, and, as
you see, His priority governed everything and was over a lot of things.
It was over natural judgments -- not always sinful or evil judgments,
but just natural judgments, when suggestions were made to Him, when
persuasion was brought to bear upon Him, and when men projected their
minds. But He knew the truth: 'My thoughts are not your thoughts. My
ways are not your ways. There are two worlds. I live in one and you
live in the other.' And so His concern for the Father's glory often
necessitated the setting of natural judgments on one side and seeking
His Father's judgment on the matter.
8. IN HIS FEELINGS
Natural feelings had often to be set aside. He understood them all
right. We shall come to that in this eleventh chapter of John, with
Lazarus and his sisters. He was very sympathetic and He understood how
they were feeling. He truly entered into their human life, but when
they sought to persuade and influence Him to act simply on the basis of
natural feelings, He thrust it back. He stayed away two days, and did
not move until the fourth day when, humanly speaking, it was all too
late. The sorrow had run its course. He was not unsympathetic, [84/85] as the chapter shows, and yet, because He has
some greater thing in view, He could not just surrender to human,
natural feelings. He had great principles which were governing Him.
9. IN HIS PERSONAL INTERESTS
As for His natural, personal interests, He was all the time thrusting
them back. It would have been greatly to His personal interest to
accept the devil's offer of the kingdoms of this world and the glories
thereof, but He repudiated the whole thing. When speaking of His Cross,
it might have been to His natural advantage if He had listened to Peter
when he said: "Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall never be unto
thee" (Matthew 16:22). But He said to Simon Peter: "Get thee behind me,
Satan!" You see, personal interests must take a back place: but He was
not governed by these things, for His constant motive was His Father's
WHAT DOES GLORY MEAN?
Now before I can go on any further I must return you to the definition
of that word 'glory'. It may be that you have heard me give this
definition before, but I do not know of a better. What does glory mean
where God is concerned? What is the meaning of that word 'glory' when
it relates to God? It just means the rebound of God's complete
satisfaction. When things have answered to His nature, His mind, when
He is satisfied, He is delighted, He is well-pleased, then there comes
back something of His own satisfaction, His pleasure. You can put that
to the test in your own lives, in more ways than one.
Take your Bible and begin at the beginning. When God had created all
things for His pleasure, for His glory, and all things were as He
intended and commanded, and everything was governed by: 'And so it was
... and so it was ... and so it was as the Lord commanded and said it
should be', the end of that was: "And God saw every thing that he had
made, and, behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). I would like to
have been in the atmosphere of that, in the realm where everything
satisfied God, emanated from Him, and there was this sense of His
complete satisfaction and pleasure. That is glory!
When we come into the new creation, are born from above, on the ground
of our recognition and acceptance of the perfect, finished work of the
Lord Jesus for our sin, for our salvation (and very often we are better
believers at the beginning than we are later on!), when we come on to
that ground of the new creation in Christ where everything answers to
God's pleasure, do we not have the sense of the glory? The beginning of
the Christian life is so often like that. While we could not explain it
theologically or doctrinally, we feel it! 'It is wonderful to be saved!
This is glorious!' It is something that just wells up inside of us. And
what is it? It is the Holy Spirit bearing witness to God's satisfaction
with His Son whom we have embraced with all the knowledge and
understanding of Him that we have. We have accepted the perfection of
Himself and His work, and there is a reflection, an emanation, of His
glory, the satisfaction of God in our hearts. When we get away from
that simple trust in the Lord Jesus the glory often fades -- but I must
not go on to that for the moment.
Move on in the Bible, and you have God's mind completely and perfectly
revealed in pattern form in the creation of the tabernacle in the
wilderness. It was meticulously prescribed to a detail, to a pin, to a
thread, to a colour, to a position, to a measure, and it was all given
by God. And the last chapter of that reads: "As the Lord commanded
Moses ... as the Lord commanded Moses ... as the Lord commanded Moses."
It becomes almost monotonous! It was done as the Lord commanded Moses,
and the glory filled the tabernacle. God was satisfied! And you and I
know that that tabernacle was only a foreshadowing in type of the Lord
We move on to the temple, and, again, the prescription, the pattern,
was given to David, and it was all perfected through Solomon. When it
was finished according to the heavenly pattern, the glory filled the
temple, and even the priests could not abide in it. God filled
everything with His satisfaction.
The Lord Jesus came to His baptism and His great committal, and as He
came up out of the water the heavens opened and the Father's voice
pronounced: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased"
(Matthew 3:17). God was well pleased. That was indeed a good
foundation for starting His life work! God's satisfaction is the glory,
and John says: "We beheld his glory."
Then we come to the perfection of His work on the Cross. There is
nothing further to be done after Calvary. It is all finished.
Oh, believe this, and believe it with all your heart: there is nothing
remaining to be done for your eternal salvation. If you try to add
something you will lose the glory and get out of the place of God's
satisfaction. When the work on the Cross was accomplished, the work of
redemption was a finished work, and the sacrifice was well pleasing to
God. Calvary was finished, that Son was raised from the dead, and it
would [85/86] not be long before the temple
received the glory of the Day of Pentecost -- and then what glory
filled the house of God! Why? Because Jesus was glorified. Until then
"the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified"
(John 7:39). But when He was glorified the Spirit was given.
There you have the Bible background. At the end this glory is seen
coming down in the new Jerusalem: "The holy city Jerusalem, coming down
out of heaven from God, having the glory of God" (Revelation 21:11). It
is the perfected work in the Church, having the glory of God. It is all
over, all finished, the battle is won, the course of Christian trial
and discipline and suffering is all over, and the glory crowns
everything at last because God is satisfied.
Have I, on the side of Scripture at any rate, proved the definition
that glory is the expression of God's perfect satisfaction?
WHY NO GLORY IN OUR LIVES?
Now I said that you could put this to the test in your own experience.
Some of us have had to go through this experience to learn these
things, for they are not just theories. What has been the most
miserable time in your life? Well, I can tell you what was the most
miserable time, lacking in glory and having all that is not glory, in
my life. It was when I allowed the devil to succeed in putting me
outside the finished work of Christ by accusation. 'The Lord is
displeased with you. He has it against you. The Lord is really, because
of this affliction, suffering, trial, and sorrow, not well pleased with
you.' Go down under that and the glory goes. And while you stay there,
there is no glory, simply because God's ground is this ground of the
absolute finality of the work of His Son for our redemption. Get off
that ground by any accusation or condemnation of the devil, forsake the
ground of Christ, and the glory goes and will never come back while you
stay there. Make no mistake about that! If you are occupied with
yourself how long is it going to take you to learn that that is not the
ground of glory? Well, it will take just so long as you stay there on
the ground of this wretched, miserable self that God has finished with
in the Cross of His Son. If we move over on to the ground of Christ and
His perfection, and by faith put our feet down on that, then the glory
We have only opened the door to this matter, but we really have to
apply all this, for I do not want to give you a lot more teaching for
you to put into your heads. I have prayed that the Lord will use His
word as a shaft to cut in and really do something.
IS GOD TO BE GLORIFIED IN OUR LIVES?
Dear friends, do we, you and I, really want God to be glorified in our
lives? You say: 'Yes!', but there are some who say: 'Well, let us see
what it means and then we will say Yes.'
First of all, it means exactly the same for us as it meant with the
Lord Jesus, for He was here as our representative Man before God.
Therefore it means the great and utter crisis committal. Oh,
let that word get hold of us! There are Christians, and there are
committed Christians -- and I must just leave that with you.
The great crisis experience in the life of the Lord Jesus was when He
made the great committal to the glory of His Father and said:
'Everything from this day is going to be judged by the value of how
much glory there is in it for My Father.' That was a crisis, and then,
as I have said, everything did fall into line with that where He was
concerned. He saw to it that His conduct, His own life with His Father,
His secret life which no one saw or knew, and His life before the
world, before people and before His disciples, were governed by this
one thing -- His Father getting the glory. His behaviour, the way He
spoke and the way He acted were all governed by this one thing. If He
had been a business man, it would have governed His business
transactions. Were they to the glory of God? If not, He would not have
had anything to do with them. His family, His brothers, sisters, mother
-- 'Is My family to the glory of God?' Is the behaviour in our
families, in us, in our children, in our husband and wife relationship,
in how we go on as a family, to the glory of God? How do people looking
on view it? This is searching!
But if you come to a position like that where you really have a
transaction with the Lord, do not think that it is going to mean a life
of loss. No, you are going to see the glory of God. That is the upshot
of this eleventh chapter of John with Lazarus and his sisters at
Bethany. Difficult as the way to it was for them, the last picture is
of an emanation of the glory of God. What a delightful scene that is in
chapter twelve! Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus, whom He had
raised from the dead, lived, and they made Him a supper. Martha served,
in a new spirit of service, and Mary and Lazarus sat with the
disciples. It must have been a beautiful time -- real glory in
resurrection life. But they had been through something to get to [86/87] that! They had been tried and tested on this
question: "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou
shouldest see the glory of God?" Do you want to see the glory
of God in your own life? It is not going to mean a life of loss, for if
you have the glory of God you cannot get anything beyond that, or
better than that. - T. A-S.
(To be continued)
RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHAT WE HAVE
They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them....
If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be
persuaded, if one rise from the dead" (Luke 16:29, 31).
THAT is a strange parable, or illustration, that our Lord gave about
the rich man and the poor man and their places and conditions after
having passed from this life! How much speculative teaching has been
read into or made out of it! And yet, in truth, the Lord was not
propounding a doctrine of life after death. Anything in that connection
was quite incidental.
What He was really touching, as the context shows, is the matter of
responsibility. Whenever He came into touch with the existing
traditional religious system this was the issue which He deliberately
raised and pressed. If the after-this-life factor does have a place in
the above story -- and it certainly does -- it is this factor of
responsibility which dominates the situation.
The rich man represents those who:
1. have had every facility and possibility of obtaining a wealth of the
things of God:
2. have accumulated all that information, or a great deal of it:
3. have, by reason of it, come to a place of spiritual complacency,
smugness, and contentment, or even pride and superiority:
4. have not grown spiritually although so well provided for:
5. have failed to realize that every bit of spiritual provision is a
trust; it must not stay with them, but must enrich the needy always at
the gate, as represented by the beggar -- the sufferer, the suppliant,
There is no need to spend many words in order to try to make the Lord's
meaning clear. It just amounts to this:
A. Have we available to us those Divine resources, those riches of
Christ, those ministries -- personal or printed -- which are intended
by God to make us spiritually wealthy and of Christly stature?
B. If so, are they just things to us, 'teachings', subjects,
themes, 'lines of truth', Christian tradition, interesting and
informative treatises, etc? How much are we really 'growing
C. What is the interest value to the Lord who gave them? Do they stop
at us, or is 'our profiting' the gain of others? Not the passing on of
truth as such, but the value of our life with the Lord.
The Lord has been strong, almost severe in His warning that a very big
responsibility lies at the door of everyone who is in touch with His
Divine resources, and that what has issued from them will find us out
in eternity. - T. A-S.
"THE LOVE OF CHRIST CONSTRAINETH"
"WHAT was it that carried this sensitive man (Paul) with his difficult
temperament and ailing body through it all? He tells us about this as
he tells us about everything else; it was nothing else but the love of
Christ. It is doubtful whether Paul made as many converts in his whole
ministry as Wesley made in a year or two; certainly the great world
took but little notice of him, and Christian [87/88]
literature in the centuries which followed, while it could not ignore
him, proves that neither the Church of his own day nor that of
succeeding generations really understood him.
The Christianity which conquered the world was indeed not Pauline, it
was a compromise, and it won the world by incorporating alien elements
of which it has not yet rid itself.
But, his posthumous influence has been like the man himself, a volcanic
ferment rising every now and again to destroy the shelters in which the
organised Church takes refuge, and force her out into deep waters again.
But all this was hidden from him; his ambition was not to found so many
churches, much less to turn the world upside down, or make Corinth a
place fit for Christians to live in, but simply to 'share the
sufferings of Christ', that is, so to preach Christ that when he saw
Him at last, he might not be too much ashamed.
It is strangely true that the men who have changed this world have been
other-worldly men whose hearts were in Heaven." - Selected.
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[Inside back cover]
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)
|FOUR GREATNESSES OF DIVINE REVELATION
|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)
| Vol. 2
||(Art Paper covers)
|RIVERS OF LIVING WATER
|THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PAUL
|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
|IN TOUCH WITH THE THRONE
| (Some Considerations on the
|THE CENTRALITY AND SUPREMACY OF
| THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
|THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE CROSS, THE CHURCH,
| AND THE COMING AGAIN OF THE LORD
|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
|CHRIST IN HEAVEN AND CHRIST WITHIN
|"I WILL OVERTURN"
|THE SUPREME VOCATION
||or 30np per dozen
|A GOOD WARFARE
||or 30np per dozen
|WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?
||or 30np per dozen
|THE BLOOD, THE CROSS AND THE
| NAME OF THE LORD JESUS
|THE ARM OF THE LORD
|CHRIST OUR LIFE
||Free of charge
|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)
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:
1968, 1969, 1970. Price per volume (1 year): 25np ($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 20 per cent.
Orders totalling more than £1 -- please add 10 percent.
To the U.S.A.: Please add 12 cents in the dollar.
Orders for literature and requests for "A Witness and A Testimony"
should be addressed to:
WITNESS AND TESTIMONY LITERATURE TRUST,
39 Honor Oak Road, London, S.E.23, England.
Telephone: 01-699 5216/4339
Witness and Testimony literature can also be obtained from:
|Ministry of Life,
|Box 74, Rt 2,
||1505 South Westmoreland Avenue,
|Indiana 46120, 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.