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Friday, September 30, 2016

Lord, Teach Us To Pray # 1

Lord, Teach Us To Pray # 1

or: The Only Teacher

The disciples had been with Christ, and seen Him pray. They had learned to understand something of the connection between His wondrous life in public, and His secret life of prayer. They had learned to believe in Him as a Master in the art of prayer - none could pray like Him. And so they came to Him with the request, 'Lord, teach us to pray.' And in after years they would have told us that there were few things more wonderful or blessed that He taught them than His lessons on prayer.

And now still it comes to pass, as He is praying in a certain place, that disciples who see Him thus engaged feel the need of repeating the same request, 'Lord, teach us to pray.' As we grow in the Christian life, the thought and the faith of the Beloved Master in His never-failing intercession becomes evermore precious, and the hope of being like Christ in His intercession gains an attractiveness before unknown. And as we see Him pray, and remember that there is none who can pray like Him, and none who can teach like Him, we feel the petition of the disciples, 'Lord, teach us to pray,' is just what we need. And as we think how all He is and has, how He Himself is our very own, how He is Himself our life, we feel assured that we have but to ask, and He will be delighted to take us up into closer fellowship with Himself, and teach us to pray even as He prays.

Come, my brothers! Shall we not go to the Blessed Master and ask Him to enroll our names too anew in that school which He always keeps open for those who long to continue their studies in the Divine art of prayer and intercession? Yes, let us this very day say to the Master, as they did of old, 'Lord, teach us to pray.' As we meditate we shall find each word of the petition we bring to the full of meaning.

'Lord, teach us to pray.' Yes, to pray. This is what we need to be taught. Though in its beginnings prayer is so simple that the feeble child can pray, yet it is at the same time the highest and holiest work to which man can rise. It is fellowship with the Unseen and Most Holy One. The powers of the eternal world have been placed at its disposal. It is the very essence of true religion, the channel of all blessings, the secret of power and life. Not only for ourselves, but for others, for the Church, for the world, it is to prayer that God has given the right to take hold of Him and His strength. It is on prayer that the promises  wait for their fulfillment, the kingdom for its coming, the glory of God for its full revelation. And for this blessed work, how slothful and unfit we are. It is only the Spirit of God can enable us to do it aright. How speedily we are deceived into a resting in the form, while the power is wanting. Our early training, the teaching of the Church, the influence of habit, the stirring of the emotions - how easily these lead to prayer which has no spiritual power, and avails but little. True prayer, that takes hold of God's strength, that availeth much, to which the gates of heaven are really opened wide - who would not cry, Oh for some one to teach me thus to pray?

Jesus has opened a school, in which He trains His redeemed ones, who specially desire it, to have power in prayer. Shall we not enter it with the petition, Lord! it is just this we need to be taught! O teach us to pray.

'Lord, teach us to pray.' Yes, us, Lord. We have read in Thy Word with what power Thy believing people of old used to pray, and what mighty wonders were done in answer to their prayers. And if this took place under the Old Covenant, in the time of preparation, how much more wilt Thou not now, in these days of fulfillment, give Thy people this sure sign of Thy presence in their midst. We have heard the promises given to Thine apostles of the power of prayer in Thy name, and have seen how gloriously they experienced their truth: we know for certain, they can become true to us too. We hear continually even in these days what glorious tokens of Thy power Thou dost still give to those who trust Thee fully, Lord! these all are men of like passions with ourselves; teach us to pray so too. The promises are for us, the powers and gifts of the heavenly world are for us. O teach us to pray so that we may receive abundantly. To us too Thou hast entrusted Thy work, on our prayer too the coming of Thy kingdom depends, in our prayer too Thou canst glorify Thy name; 'Lord, teach us to pray.' Yes, us, Lord; we offer ourselves as learners; we would indeed be taught of Thee. 'Lord, teach us to pray.'

'Lord, teach us to pray.' Yes, we feel the need now of being taught to pray. At first there is no work appears so simple; later on, none that is more difficult; and the confession is forced from us: We know not how to pray as we ought. It is true we have God's Word, with its clear and sure promises; but sin has so darkened our mind, that we know not always how to apply the Word. In spiritual things we do not always seek the most needful things, or fail in praying according to the law of the sanctuary. In temporal things we are still less able to avail ourselves of the wonderful liberty our Father has given us to ask what we need. And even when we know what to ask, how much there is still needed to make prayer acceptable. It must be to the glory of God, in full surrender to His will, in full assurance of faith, in the name of Jesus, and with a perseverance that, if need by, refuses to be denied. All this must be learned. It can only be learned in the school of much prayer, for practice makes perfect. Amid the painful consciousness of ignorance and unworthiness, in the struggle between believing and doubting, the heavenly art of effectual prayer is learned. Because, even when we do not remember it, there is One, the Beginner and Finisher of faith and prayer, who watches over our praying, and sees to it that in all who trust Him for it their education in the school of prayer shall be carried on to perfection. Let but the deep undertone of all our prayer be the teachableness that comes from a sense of ignorance, and from faith in Him as a perfect teacher,and we may be sure we shall be taught, we shall learn to pray in power. Yes, we may depend upon it. He teaches to pray.

'Lord, teach us to pray.' None can teach like Jesus, none but Jesus; therefore we call on Him, 'Lord, teach us to pray.' A pupil needs a teacher, who knows his work, who has the gift of teaching, who in patience and love will descend to the pupil's needs. Blessed be God! Jesus is all this and much more. He knows what prayer is. It is Jesus, praying Himself, who teaches to pray. He knows what prayer is. He learned it amid the trials and tears of His earthly life. In heaven it is still His beloved work: His life there is prayer. nothing delights Him more than to find those whom He can take with Him into the Father's presence, whom He can clothe with power to pray down God's blessing on those around them, whom He can train to be His fellow-workers in the intercession by which the kingdom is to be revealed on earth. He knows how to teach. Now by the urgency of felt need, then by the confidence with which joy inspires. Here by the teaching of the Word, there by testimony of another believer who knows what it is to have prayer heard. By His Holy Spirit, He has access to our heart, and teaches us to pray by showing us the sin that hinders the prayer, or giving us the assurance that we please God. He teaches, by giving not only thoughts of what to ask or how to ask, but by breathing within us the very spirit of prayer, by living within us as the Great Intercessor. We may indeed and most joyfully say, 'Who teacheth like Him?' Jesus never taught His disciples how to preach, only how to pray. He did not speak much of what was needed to preach well, but much of praying well. To know how to speak to God is more than knowing how to speak to man. Not power with men, but power with God is the first thing. Jesus loves to teach us how to pray.

What think you, my beloved fellow-disciples! 

Would it not be just what we need, to ask the Master for a month to give us a course of special lessons on the art of prayer? As we meditate on the words He spake on earth, let us yield ourselves to His teaching in the fullest confidence that, with such a teacher, we shall make progress. Let us take time not only to meditate, but to pray, to tarry at the foot of the throne, and be trained to the work of intercession. Let us do so in the assurance that amidst our stammerings and fears He is carrying on His work most beautifully. He will breathe His own life, which is all prayer, into us. As He makes us partakers of His righteousness and His life, He will of His intercession too. As the members of His body, as a holy priesthood, we shall take part in His priestly work of pleading and prevailing with God for men. Yes, let us most joyfully say, ignorant and feeble though we be, 'Lord, teach us to pray.'


Blessed Lord! who ever livest to pray, Thou canst teach me to pray, me to live ever to pray. In this Thou lovest to make me share Thy glory in heaven, that I should pray without ceasing, and ever stand as a priest in the presence of my God.

Lord Jesus! I ask Thee this day to enroll my name among those who confess that they know not how to pray as they ought, and especially ask Thee for a course of teaching in prayer. Lord! teach me to tarry with Thee in the school, and give Thee time to train me. May a deep sense of my ignorance, of the wonderful privilege and power of prayer, of the need of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of prayer, lead  me to cast away my thoughts of what I think I know, and make me kneel before Thee in true teachableness and poverty of spirit.

And fill me, Lord, with the confidence that with such a teacher as Thou art I shall learn to pray. In the assurance that I have as my teacher, Jesus, who is ever praying to the Father, and by His prayer rules the destinies of His Church and the world, I will not be afraid. As much as I need to know of the mysteries of the prayer-world, Thou wilt unfold for me. And when I may not know, Thou wilt teach me to be strong in faith, giving glory to God.

Blessed Lord! Thou wilt not put to shame Thy scholar who trusts Thee, not, by Thy grace, would he Thee either. Amen

~Andrew Murray~


Monday, September 26, 2016

Standing Firm In The Lord # 2

Standing Firm In The Lord # 2

mention should be made of the uniform height of the boards, which was ten cubits. It seems that in the Scriptures the number Ten speaks of responsibility under test. We remember that the young Daniel, when first he stood up in the Lord's Name, asked fora test of ten days to prove the practical value of his abstemious life. In the New Testament we have the Ten Virgins, the Ten Pounds and the ten days of tribulation for the faithful church at Smyrna. So the phrase "standing up" has also this sense of those who can bear responsibility and stand the test of time. This is the kind of material which God uses for His building.

God's Call To Us

The challenge of this symbolism is very simple but it is also very searching. It means that I must face the question as to what would happen in my case if all coverings and all the supports were stripped away, if I were suddenly bereft of even the God-given aids to strength and unity, and I were left quite alone. I would be a solitary board. Yes, but would I still be standing up? This would be the ultimate test.

We are all being tested - there can be no question of that. God's people are passing through all sorts of strange and painful experiences, and the indications are that these will increase rather than otherwise. What does it all mean? It means that our own personal life with God is being exposed to every kind of test, and that if we are to be worthy elements in His building we are expected always to be found standing up, even if we seem to stand alone.

It is not enough to have been cut down and shaped correctly as a board. It is not even enough to be gold-covered and radiant with His glory. It is essential that we remain standing. satan's work is to shake us, to bring about our collapse, to confront the Lord with the sorry spectacle of prostrate boards, lying down in the face of wicked wiles and threats. Even an Elijah, able so boldly to declare that he was a man who stood before the Lord, was at one point so disheartened and discouraged, so stumbled by God's strange dealings with him, that he was found lying down under the juniper tree. He who had stood so boldly for so long, had now collapsed. And why? Largely because he looked around at the rest of the people who were all lying down in unbelief and fear. There were none who would rally to his support. He seems to have given way to self-pity, for he complained to the Lord, "I, even I only, am left" (1 Kings 19:10). This was not in fact true. It is seldom true that God's servants are as alone as they seem. But even if it had been true that was no reason why Elijah should lie down with the rest of them. And there is no reason why we should allow our difficulties and apparent lack of support from others to make us collapse. His House is made up of those who know how to stand - if necessary to stand alone.

It is quite true that in the normal experience of the Tabernacle boards they were all joined together by the supporting cross-bars. These bars gave solidity and strength to the structure, and it is generally thought that they typify the spiritual facts which bind God's children together in their life of faith. We need these divinely given helps, and we do well to make full use of them as we are able. Nevertheless, although it is essential that we learn to stand together, it must equally be true that in the Lord we can stand alone. Fellowship life is a divine provision, and it is almost impossible to exaggerate its importance in our spiritual life. We need one another, and the Lord needs that we recognize and maintain the unity which He has provided. But every spiritual blessing carries with it a corresponding spiritual peril, and it is a great peril of fellowship that we may misuse it and lean on one another instead of standing in the Lord. There is no substitute for a personal life with the Lord.

The truth is that fellowship life is only strong when individual components are themselves rooted and grounded in God. It would not be difficult to find in both Old and New Testament examples of those who made a great contribution to the corporate life of God's people just because they could stand alone. Israel was saved because at the critical moment Gideon and his men stood firmly in their places, undaunted by the great odds against them. The spiritual life of God's people was maintained by the faithful few who in the night watches stood before the Lord in the intercessory work of the sanctuary. What importance is attached to this simple fact that the individual boards contribute so much to the whole because they have been made to stand!

Standing In Redemption

A further look at the Tabernacle boards will show us that although they have been cut off from their previous natural roots, they are not rootless - far from it. The boards would not have stood up for long if they had just been balanced, especially as they would have been balanced in sand. No, they were not taken from their natural roots to be left in a precarious and unstable condition but were each given two sockets of solid silver. Silver remands us of redemption, and none of us can ever stand in the purposes of God unless we are firmly upheld by the redeeming power of Christ. The boards were shaped in such a way that each of them had its own means of penetrating into the sockets, and so, as it were, appropriating their strength. Each board had its own sockets. There was not along bar of silver with holes for each board but a separate  block for each of the two "hands" or tenons of the board. Here, then, was the secret of the stability of each board, it had its own solid foundation and it had an individual rooting in that foundation.

Redemption means that we do not belong to ourselves, we are purchased ones. Let the hands of our faith reach down well into this glorious truth and let us know for ourselves the reality of being bought by God for Himself, and we shall find stability even in the midst of the desert sand. Let a group of Christians stand in the good of this same glorious truth and at the same time stand together, and God will have a dwelling place among them.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Standing Firm In The Lord # 1

Standing Firm In The Lord

"He made the boards for the tabernacle of accacia wood, standing up" (Exodus 36:20)

"Elijah said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before Whom I stand" (1 Kings 18:15)

"They stood every man in his place round about the camp" (Judges 7:21)

"Behold, bless ye the Lord, all His servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord" (Psalm 134:1)

The Tabernacle represented the totality of the people of God, the sum of them all, in their life together in Christ. It was, however, a moveable erection, not fixed in any permanent way, but built and taken down again, then rebuilt and again taken to pieces, according to the journeyings of the people as determined by the will of God. Every time this dismantiling process took place, there was a moment when the essential nature of the building was uncovered and found to consist of boards - boards standing up.

When the four outer coverings which masked the Tabernacle were removed, the essential structure was seen to be made up of three wooden walls with their curtains. After the curtains had been taken down, it could be seen that the rows of boards were held together by various bars which ran horizontally along the inside of the boards to join them up. In the dismantling the time came for these bars to be removed, but it is important to realize that when this was done the boards did not collapse, they remained standing. Even when their connections were removed and all outward supports taken away from the individual boards, they did not fall flat.

One by one the boards were then lifted up and prepared for the journey, until at last there was only one board left. It was not necessarily the same board on each occasion, but there was always a time when only one remained. This was now all that could be seen of the Tabernacle representation of the House of God- just one board. But it was still standing. "He made the tabernacle of boards of acacia wood, standing up." Thus, with the final uncovering and separating, it was seen that, reduced to its simple minimum, the hidden secret of God's building is boards which are always capable of standing up.

Preparation of the Boards

Each board, of course, had its own history, just as every one of us who has a part in God's spiritual House must also have a personal history under God's hand. It was a history of severance, for at one time the tree had grown on its own roots and depended on them for its life and support. It may have been a good tree and stable enough, but when it stood by virtue of its own natural strength it had no place in God's building. Nature, however, was dealt with, dealt with severely and even ruthlessly, as the felling axe cut away the tree from its own standing and left it prostrate and helpless. Nor was this the end of the story, for the cutting process had to go on, reducing and shaping the wood until it was suitable for the sacred task for which it had been chosen.

The spiritual application of this felling and shaping process is familiar to us. We know that we can have no vital place in the purposes of God until the sharp knife of the Cross has done its work. It is essential that we should know ourselves to be cut away from our own natural resources, removed from the realm of what we are as men,and it is also essential that the Lord should be able to reduce us and re-shape us according to His own mind. We cannot do this for ourselves, but we can recognize our need and cooperate with the Lord in humble faith and patience as He works upon us. In the case of the board, it was a once-for-all operation. In our case the work of the Cross must go on all the time. Not till we get to glory shall we be able to claim that no more of this work is needed.

Reduction is, of course, the negative part of God's dealing with us, but it is all done with the positive purpose of making us fit for the work in hand. Every one of the boards was made to measure up to a certain prescribed standard; to all appearances they were all alike and all according to the divine measurements. In the spiritual outworking we must appreciate that God neither desires nor produces outward uniformity, that is not His purpose at all. For us the divine standard is an inward matter, but there is nothing haphazard about it, for the divine measure is the measure of Christ. This is the positive objective which the Father has in view in all His dealings with us, He is conforming us to His Son.

Then the boards were completely covered with gold. This, of course, had the effect of giving them a value which was altogether beyond themselves, a glory which did not belong to them by nature. This is another important feature of life in Christ, the bestowing upon us of the glories of Christ's own nature. Gold always represents the very nature of God. Christ, as the true Son of the Father, is pure gold. By His redemptive work He has provided this gift to us of His own very life. The humble, ordinary tree could only provide a very humble and ordinary board, but the glorious gold of His beauty gives an entirely new significance and value to it. So with us. The true spiritual values of our lives are those which we receive by faith as a gift from Christ. As we stand up like the golden boards in God's house our testimony is, 'Not what I am, O Lord, but what Thou art.'

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Pray Without Ceasing (and other devotionals)

Today's ReadingGenesis 41Matthew 12:1-23

Today's Thoughts: Pray Without Ceasing

Pray without ceasing. - 1 Thessalonians 5:17

How do we do that? Well, I studied prayer for a while as if it were a science. I read about men who were known to be prayer warriors. But I noticed that by the end of their lives, many of them said that the one regret they had was that they didn’t pray enough. Immediately I prayed, “Oh Lord, don’t let that happen to me. Do not let anyone quote me saying that. Teach me to pray without ceasing. Teach me to tap into Your heart at the mall as much as when I am in trouble or in pain. Teach me that You are listening at a rock concert as well as at the beach. Teach me to include You in everything and take nothing for granted. And oh Lord, teach me to thank You for it all.”
God has given us His Holy Spirit on earth and has a will for us that He wants fulfilled on earth as it is in heaven. So, what does it take to have God’s heart so much in mine that He can fulfill His will on earth as it is in heaven with me? Verses like “Ask and it will be given,” “Whatever you ask, it will be given,” allowed me permission to ask for everything. I realized that He was with me wherever I went. He just wanted to be included. He heard my words but knew the desires of my heart. He might not answer my words but He would fulfill the desire. And as time passed, I realized that He placed a lot of those desires in my heart just so He could fulfill them. The key was learning to pinpoint my true motivation. God looks at my heart and He weighs the thoughts and motives of the heart. If I was asking out of selfishness, He didn’t answer. If I told Him that I thought my motive was selfish, He answered. And He would answer those prayers just like I asked. So I got another piece in the puzzle. God rewards honesty.
I could not have learned these lessons without writing out my prayers.  Prayer Journaling helps to clarify your thoughts, intents and motives. Writing allows you to focus and really understand who you are and what you want before the Lord. We have prayer journals that have helped us. And we have instructional CDs to teach you how to get started. Our heart’s desire is that you may learn to pray God’s heart and for you to see heaven open up on earth as He uses you, for we serve an Awesome and Faithful God.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT)
You can have all the gifts and be very immature. Spiritual increase is not by knowing all these things, the way of growth is not by faith's power externally manifested, but more by inward endurance. Do you want to know the way of the increase of God? It is by love. What the Lord needs is an open, pure spirit towards Himself, and love toward all saints; the Lord will bring into His greater fullness where there is a genuine love one to the other - in Him.... The Ephesian letter in which there is the fullest unveiling of heavenly truth in the deepest teaching concerning the Church, the Body of Christ, there is from start to finish the golden thread of love running all through; this is significant when you consider what the letter contains. 1 Corinthians 13 is the great chapter on love, and is put over beside all the "gifts". Love is the real spirituality that is spirituality. Love is the most difficult and the greatest of all gifts. "Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own affections" (2 Cor. 6:12 ASV). You are so narrow, so limited, like a closed hedge, pent up, cramped! "Our heart is enlarged, ye are not straitened in us."
The measure of our spiritual life is no greater than our heart; the knowledge that is in the head is not the measure of spirituality, the way for your release, emancipation, increase, abundance is the way of the heart. Spirituality is not mental agreement on things stated in the Word, it is the melting of one heart to another – to all saints. The devil has locked up a number of the Lord's children as in a padded room of their own limitations; frozen their love by something between them and other children of God. The way out is by increase of love; and we shall remain locked up until we are there.... True spirituality is the measure of love of God shed abroad in the heart, all the spirituals rest upon and have their rise out of love. Not power, or knowledge, or different gifts, these are not the first things, the first thing is love. That leads to the increase of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Job 42:1-6

(1) Then Job answered the LORD and said: (2) "I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. (3) You asked, "Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?"
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. (4) Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, "I will question you, and you shall answer Me." (5) "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You. (6) Therefore I abhormyself,
And repent in dust and ashes."
New King James Version  

The images Job held both of God in His relationship with Job and of himself in his relationship with God and fellow man are shattered into an unrecognizable mass of pulp. Above all, Job now knows that God owes him only what He determines that He owes him. God is not beholden to mankind for anything.
Will we claim that God owes us anything because of our good works? God does not owe us a thing, even if we do obey Him perfectly! Our covenant with Him is not made on that basis. The covenant is made knowing that we owe Himeverything. We have nothing to bargain with. Do we receivesalvation because we trade keeping the Sabbath or paying tithes for it?
Job is truly humbled. Do we recognize humility when we see it? Do we know what it really is? Humility is an internal matter, one of the heart, not one of outside appearance.Moses was a humble man, but he also had a commanding presence. However, a person's humility greatly affects what those watching him see and hear emanate from him.
Godly humility is not a giant inferiority complex, as some believe it to be. Man by nature is not humble; by nature, we are well-pleased with ourselves and insane enough to think that we deserve something good from the hand of God. This describes almost exactly what Job thought of himself in his relationship with God. Men think that as long as God allows them to conduct their lives in a civil way, keeping themselves from the grosser sins, then everything is fine in their relationship with Him. The important reality of true humility is far from what men think, as Job certainly discovered.

~John W. Ritenbaugh~

I once learned a precious lesson from a little girl!

(George Everard, "Victory in the Battle!")

I once learned a precious lesson from a little girl. I was walking along a road in my town, when a little girl came walking by my side. I saw that she was not a poor child seeking relief, so I wondered what she needed. After a few moments I bent down and asked her if I could do anything for her; but I only heard a sob. Soon I tried again, and, after a little delay, I just heard the words, "Rough men! So frightened!" 

I looked around and saw some railroad workers returning from their work, and I imagine they were not very sober, and had been fighting or quarreling along the way. So I took hold of the child's hand, and inquiring where she lived, I took her to the gate and saw the little girl cheerfully run up the garden and enter her house.

It seemed to me just a type and picture of the way in which a Christian should act in temptation. Go near to Christ, and put confidence in Him. Go and nestle by His side and under His wing--and remember that He cares for you, and will go with you and protect you. Take hold of His hand and tell Him your trouble--and look to Him to go with you every step of your homeward journey. And He will do it. He won't reject your humble suit. He won't turn away from you and leave you. Oh no! He delights in those who flee to Him and trust in Him! He will keep them from their fears and dangers, and bring them to the Father's house in peace.

His name shall be called Wonderful.

The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth. - Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

They shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. - JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. - God ... hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. - Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet. - He had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself ... KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out. - What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?

ISA. 9:6. John 1:14. -Psa. 138:2. Matt. 1:23. Matt. 1:21. John 5:23. Phi. 2.9. -Eph. 1:21,22. Rev. 19:12,16. Job 37:23. Prov. 30:4.

The Lord's portion is his people.
Ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's. - I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me. - I am his. - The Son of God ... loved me, and gave himself for me.

Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. - The LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.

Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. - Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. - A spiritual house, an holy priesthood.

They shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels. - All mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. - The glory of his inheritance in the saints.

DEUT. 32:9. I Cor. 3:23. Song 7:10. Song 2:16. Gal. 2:20. I Cor. 6:19,20. Deut. 4:20. I Cor. 3:9. Heb. 3:6. I Pet. 2:5. Mal. 3:17. John 17:10. -Eph. 1:18.

~Samuel Bagster~

Did you ever hear the dream of Gutenberg?

(George Everard, "The Importance of Reading")

Did you ever hear the dream of Gutenberg? He was just about to put forward his invention of the printing press, and it seemed to him as if an angel came and spoke to him:
"John Gutenberg, you have made your name immortal--but at what a cost! Think well what you are doing! The ungodly are many more than the godly. Your work will but multiply their blasphemies and lies. You have uncovered the bottomless pit--and a swarm of seducing spirits shall henceforth come out and turn earth into Hell. Oh think of millions of souls corrupted by your achievement. See the poison of fiends distilled into the souls of boys and girls, making them old in the experience of sin! See that mother weeping over her depraved son, and that grey-haired father hiding his face from his daughter's shame. Destroy your press, for it shall be the pander of blasphemy and lust! Destroy it, and forget it! Forbear, by multiplying the resources of the wicked, to make yourself through all ages the partaker of their crimes!"
We are all aware that the dream has had a very sorrowful fulfillment. Amidst the vast amount of printed matter sent forth daily, it is to be feared that the evil sadly exceeds the good. None can tell how the minds of multitudes are corrupted by the publications that they peruse. Therefore, my friend, be careful what you read!

Give heed as to what you read. If you knew that on the table there were poisoned dishes, as well as food that was wholesome and nourishing--you would be on your guard, and touch nothing about which you were doubtful. Just so, exercise wise forethought as to the books and magazines you take up and peruse.

It is true that "as a man thinks in his heart, so is he." But it is no less true that as a man reads--so very much will he think. Mind, memory, conscience, imagination, will, affection--all will be influenced by that which you read.

The questionable novel, with its picturing of the worst passions of the soul, as is too often the case--ought not to be devoured as if it would leave no bad impression behind. I know quite well, that we all need recreation, but it is not genuine recreation to spend hour after hour pouring over that which is trashy, nonsensical, and worse--and will only unfit you for anything higher and holier.

Books Worth While
J.R. Miller
Much is said in commendation of books. But, as in other matters, there is need for wise discrimination in what one reads. Not all books are worth reading. There are many that are utterly empty of anything that is noble or worthy. One might read them continually all one's life — and yet be no wiser and no better. A hundred of them do not contain a dozen sentences that it is worth while to keep in one's memory, or that can be of any help or cheer or strength in one's life. This is true of many novels. They may excite a passing interest or emotion as they are read — but when they have been laid down, they have left in the life no trace of beauty, no inspiration, no visions of loveliness, no impulses toward higher things, no enrichment. The best that can be said of such books, is that they are harmless. They could not be indicted for bad moral quality. They leave no debris of vile rubbish behind. Yet the effect of such reading is really harmful. It vitiates the mental appetite, and destroys the taste for anything solid or substantial. It enfeebles the power of attention, thought, memory, so that the mind is less able to grapple with important subjects.
Then there are books which are most pernicious in their influence. There are all grades and degrees of evil in this class. Some of them carry a subtle poison in their atmosphere which even seems delicious to those who breathe it. We need to keep most careful watch over our hearts, so that nothing ever shall tarnish their purity. Any corrupt thought, dallied with even for a moment, leaves a stain upon the mind which may never be effaced.
If we would keep the tender joy of our heart experiences unbroken, we must hold rigid watch over our reading, conscientiously excluding not only whatever is obviously impure — but all in which lurks even a suggestion of evil.
A writer says: "Never read a book that is not worth reading for some end beyond the short-lived pleasure of a little excitement. A book is mainly to be judged by the gold dust which it leaves in the mind, as it sweeps like a river through its channel." Here is a word also from Richter: "The wish falls often warm upon my heart that I may learn nothing here that I cannot continue in the other world, that I may do nothing here but deeds that will bear fruit in Heaven."
When we think of the influence which our reading has upon our lives, we see at once the importance of selecting only books that are worth while. At the best, none of us can read one book in a thousand of those which are within our reach. Manifestly this one book ought, then, to be the best in all the thousand.
Yet many people make no choice whatever. They take the "last novel," regardless of its character. Many books are made only to sell. They are written, set up in type, printed, illustrated, bound, decorated — all for money. There was no high motive in the writer, no thought of doing good, of starting a noble impulse in some life, of adding to the treasure of the world's knowledge or joy. They were made simply to sell. So it comes to pass that every year, a flood of really worthless publications is poured over the country. People go into ecstasies over trivial works which please or excite them a day, and are then old and forgotten; while books every way admirable are passed by unnoticed.
Young people should read tried and proved books. Many who have not the courage to confess ignorance of the last novel, regard it as no shame to be utterly ignorant of the classics. It is quite safe to say that not one person in a hundred now reads Milton's Paradise Lost, and that not one in a thousand has ever read a translation of Homer's Iliad. With all our glorifying of Shakespeare, how many really read even his great masterpieces? The Pilgrim's Progress is known to the masses of the people, only from being referred to so often. Very few read it. We should get courage to remain ignorant rather, of the mass of ephemeral books — than to miss reading the great masters in poetry, science, history, religion, and fiction.
No book is really worth reading, which does not either impart valuable knowledge, or set before us some ideal of beauty, strength, or nobility of character. The ancients were accustomed to place the statues of their distinguished ancestors about their homes, that their children, by continually seeing them, might be stimulated to emulate their noble qualities. Noble lives embalmed in printed volumes have a wondrous power to kindle the hearts of the young, for, as a writer says, "A good book holds as in a vial, the purest efficacy and instruction of the living intellect that bred it." There are enough great books to occupy us during all our short and busy years. If we are wise, we will resolutely avoid all but the richest and the best.
"We need to be reminded every day," writes one, "how many are the books of unapproachable glory, which, with all our eagerness after reading, we have never taken in our hand. It will astonish most of us to find how much of our industry is given to the books which leave no mark — how we rake in the litter of the printing press, while a crown of gold and rubies is offered us in vain."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Shining Face

The Shining Face

Daniel 1:8-16; Acts 6:15; 7:56

"And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai (with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount), that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while He talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him" (Exodus 34:29-30).

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

You will notice the common feature of all these passages is the shining face. We have been gathered together for a season up here on the mountain with the Lord and we have to go back, to be scattered in different places, and meet the difficult situations, and we want to go back with shining faces. But we want to know the secret of the shining face. That does not need to be taken literally. We may not always have a countenance that is cracking with mirth, but there is that which even in the midst of adversity and difficulty and suffering and trial speaks of something within the heart that is God's peace, God's rest, God's joy. It is possible to know the peace that passeth understanding. It is possible to know joy unspeakable and full of glory even amidst very great pressure and suffering. It is possible for there to be recognized, even in a pain marked countenance, something that is of God.

What one is speaking of is not necessarily just a shining of our faces, but something shining "through" our faces, something which our faces indicate which is more than merely human endurance, human bravery and courage; something of the deep strength and grace of God. That is what I mean by the shining face, and in these four instances of which we have read we have the secrets of the shining face in this sense. You know it is that that is the testimony. It is not always the things that we say, but that which is expressed through us in times of stress and trial and provocation and opposition and antagonism and suffering. It is then that that which is caught, as it were back of our faces, that is the testimony.

When it is known that we are undergoing trial, when it is known that we are in suffering, when it is known that others in a different realm would act and speak and react to things in the flesh, as men would react; there is just that betrayal of something of the Lord Jesus. That is the testimony. It is the betraying of the Lord Jesus in the right sense. And it will be very little good to the a Lord, very little gain to Him or us, if as we go back and continue in the scenes of our life, and when there is a test, there is not some fuller indication of the Lord Himself in our hearts and lives. People will come to their conclusions on that basis - what we reveal under pressure, under trial.

That is the proof of the thing, not what we know and what we say. But when we pass through intense difficulties and adversity, what is revealed at such times. And in order that the testimony may be maintained, we want to understand what the secrets of the shining face are. They are four-fold.

"Moses Wist Not That His Face Did Shine"

The first is in the case of Moses. Moses had been up in the mount with the Lord and the Lord had spoken with him. Moses had come to see that upon which the eye of the Lord was resting. He had stood by the side of the Lord and he had looked with the Lord's eyes as the Lord brought before him His own vision, and that vision was expressed in the type, in the tabernacle. It all passed before the eye of Moses in the most minute detail. From the ark, out to the Holy Place to the Court and all its contents, and the priesthood and the sacrifices, and he saw what God's eye was resting upon. And by reason of the Lord's speaking to him about that, he became alive with the very glory of the Lord.

It is a wonderful thing to recognize that the Lord's glory became imparted to Moses by reason of that which became the common object of their eyes. What the Lord was looking at, Moses was looking at, and as they both looked at it together they shared the same glory. When does the Lord's own face light up with glory? When is the Father's face full of glory? When He looks upon the Lord Jesus. The tabernacle was only the Lord Jesus in a representation, and it was the Lord Jesus in all His Mediatorial, Priestly Person and work gathered up in a great system, but it was the Person of the Lord Jesus as relating to man's fellowship with God - the place, the sphere where God and man come into oneness, where God can, without sacrificing His holiness, have fellowship with man and where man can, without being consumed by the very holiness of God, have fellowship with God. From Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, with a central most reality of the mercy seat He will speak with you face to face.

God has set forth Christ as a propitiation. God sees beyond the pattern to the reality, His Son, and it was Christ Who was in the eye of the Father in all His wonderful, mediatorial work to bring men nigh to God and God nigh to man. When that is in the eye of God, His face is full of glory, and when we get what is in His eye, we partake of the glory of the shining face of God.

Simply, it just means that when we are occupied with the Lord Jesus in all that He is from the Father to us and to the Father for us, when we are occupied with Him, then we know the shining face Be occupied with anything else and you lose the shining face. Be occupied with yourself and your own spiritual life and condition, so that you are always self-analyzing, and it will not be long before you have lost the shining face.

Keep your eye upon Jesus and you will know the secret of the shining face. Look around on things as they are in the world and you will lose it. The secret of the shining face is to get God's thought about the Lord Jesus, to get your eye where God's eye is. That is tremendously important.

The only hope for God of the ultimate realization of His purpose is to look at the Lord Jesus. He has all the guarantee in Him. And He says, "Because He is what He is, My end is secure, I have My Sabbath, My rest. My eye is upon Him." And until we have seen that God has reached His end in Christ, and our eyes are upon Him, we have not got the secret of hope and confidence and rest and satisfaction. It is the secret. It is a wonderful reality.

I cannot tell you what a blessing this brought to my own heart when the Lord showed me what He had made the Lord Jesus to Himself on my behalf. I was always craving to bring to the Lord something that would satisfy Him in myself. If I could bring to the Lord a perfect life, that would please Him and satisfy Him, and He could be perfectly satisfied with me! But it was impossible and it seemed no good trying. The more you try, the further away you seem to be, and the longer you live the more you know the utter deceitfulness of your own heart.

Oh, to be able to come before the Lord with something that would please Him! And now the Lord says, "I have made the provision for all that. I have provided you with absolute spiritual and moral perfection. I have found those in One, and I have put them into your hands. I accept you in Him, I am satisfied with you in Him, you are accepted in the Beloved." You can not bring perfection to God, and that is the only thing that will satisfy Him, but the Lord Jesus fulfills - fills full - all the Divine requirement.

In Leviticus, God speaks about the offering. "If any man desires to bring an offering," then the Lord provides as to the offering. You have got to desire to bring an offering. And you know quite well it is no use bringing to God anything that is not absolutely perfect, and where will you find that? That only which is according to Christ satisfied God. When this breaks upon us, it is rest. It is the shining countenance. When we get to the perfections of His Son, we have found the good pleasure of God and we stand, not looking at God askance, (with an attitude of suspicion or disapproval) but we stand by the side of God and we are both looking at the same thing and sharing the same glory. God's objective is the Lord Jesus.

Moses did not know that his face was shining. It is a great thing to be occupied with the Lord Jesus inside, and people will take note of it. "He wist not that his face shone, but others did, and that is the important thing.

Daniel's Secret of the Shining Face

Daniel has learned the secret of the shining face, and there is something deeper here, more testing. Daniel is in Babylon. Babylon is in the ascendancy. Jerusalem is in ruins. We know what these things mean spiritually. We know that that which really is wholly according to God, that which was at the beginning, is not to be found today - that where the Holy Spirit absolutely governs and where it is all the Lord Jesus. You do not find that in the ascendancy today. It is the other religious system made by man that is in the ascendancy. That is Babylon. And the mass of the Lord's people are in captivity to it, a man-made Christian system.

And here is Daniel, seeing that which is according to God broken, ruined, and he sees this other thing, that is not according to God, holding sway and engulfing the mass of the Lord's people. The wonder of it all is that Daniel did not accept Babylon. He repudiated Babylon and clung to Jerusalem. If Jerusalem is literally in ruins, to Daniel it is not so. He does not accept the things seen. He knows that Babylon is only a temporary thing and that God is going to have His testimony again. And God is going, through a remnant, to get His house again. He knows that God cannot be defeated and so he will not defile himself with the king's dainties. God is his life and he repudiates that which seems to have the upper hand for the time being and clings to God.

Daniel also sees beyond and sees when Babylon and all the other kingdoms will be shattered. If you accept Babylon you will lose the shining face. If you accept religion as it is today and say, "It is the best there is," you will get involved in something that is not of God. And people more and more today are revolting, and  are not satisfied. People say, "Oh, to be out of it, to find the real thing." God is going to have His real thing. God cannot be robbed of that thing which He has set His heart upon. Let us set our hearts upon it, and not accept anything else. It is so easy to say, "Christianity is in a mess, but we must make the best of a bad job." But there is no joy along that line. God is working today secretly even in Babylon. And when we come to the Book of Ezra, we find that God acts sovereignly. He stirs up the spirit of Cyrus and he make a proclamation. That is God's outside action. But there is a company with whom God has secretly worked in Babylon.

And God is seen working in Babylon today with His own remnant and they are gradually moving in a detachment from this system so that when God's time comes He will have that which is after His mind. But Daniel was the first one. He represented that company. He stood for what was of God although it might not be manifested at the moment. Do not accept anything less than what God has set His heart upon. Daniel's secret of the shining face was in that He looked onto God's sure end and believed that in a dark day the ultimate purpose and thought of God was certain of realization.

Stephen's Secret

Stephen - all that were in the council, looking upon him, saw his face as it were the face of an angel. What is the secret? I believe the second passage is the secret, "And lifting up his eyes he said, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." Stephen was a man full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and the Holy Spirit had drawn Stephen's attention to the Lord Jesus in glory. Read Acts 7. It is almost matchless in New Testament literature, and see the place that he gives to the Lord Jesus. He heads it right up to the Lord Jesus in glory and, while he is under the test, that is the thing that sustains him, and when he comes to the last moment he sees literally with his eyes what he had been seeing with his heart all the way through. And that just means this - when we see the Lord Jesus in glory we have seen this, that God having got Him there, the Son of Man, having got one all-inclusive Man there, it is all right for us. He can get us there.

That One has simply fathomed all judgment, all death, all the power of satan and the grave. He has exhausted all and God has got Him there. He had all the sin of all the creation from Adam onward heaped upon Him, and then that One came to glory. He had all the power and fury of the devil heaped upon Him, and God got that One to glory; the power of death and hades being liberated upon Him, and God brought that One to glory. We will never have to go through all that He went through. Stephen saw that One Man in the glory, being such a One as He was, is the guarantee that God could get him there, let all hell rush upon him. It is the secret of the shining face.

Sometimes we may, by reason of many things, wonder if we shall get to glory, if we shall hold out to the end, but, blessed be God, He is capable of getting us there. It is not our doing, it is the Lord's doing. Why? Because He has already got our Forerunner in His presence. That bears you up in the time of opposition. And men filled with the Holy Spirit are especially the object of stones.

Paul's Secret

And now, finally, what Paul says about himself and about us. "We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory" - transformed. It is by the Lord, the Spirit. And what is the secret of this shining face? 2 Corinthians 4:6, "God hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The secret of the shining face in this case is not Christ objectively but Christ subjectively. It is a blessed thing to realize that the One Who has gone up there in His great triumph is within us. It does not depend on what is outside of us. But the Lord is inside us, Who has already overcome. We are familiar with the terms, but it is a great day when suddenly we wake up to know what Christ is in us. Has it ever come to you by a sudden flash of light? Christ "in" you! "Know ye not as to your own selves, that Christ is in you? (2 Corinthians 13:5). "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" (Ephesians 3:17). Get that, spiritually apprehended, and you have got the shining face. All that which is around you is no match for Him."Greater is He That is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

Ask the Lord to make this live. To know this means a wonderful lot to the life. May the Lord take us back with that in our hearts which speaks of the Lord Jesus! That is the testimony. Our eye is upon what God's eye rests upon, our hope is set upon God's hope, our assurance upon God's assurance. And it is all the Lord Jesus.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Christ In Heaven and Christ Within # 1

Christ In Heaven and Christ Within # 1

The Need for Balance

"Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:20).

"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (Romans 6:1-6).

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1, 2).

"Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us" (Romans 8:33, 34).

We feel the importance of saying a word with regard to Christ in heaven and Christ within the believer, that is, what is objective and what is subjective. It is tremendously important that we should keep a proper balance of truth. A very great deal of our trouble is because of there being an unbalanced emphasis upon some aspect of truth. It is good to know the truth, and it is good to rejoice in it, but it is just possible that even truth may get us into trouble. There are many perils lying in the direction of truth, even spiritual truth; and there are not a few of the Lord's  people who have fallen into those perils. It is not that they suffer from want of light, but they are suffering very much because they have not got their light properly adjusted and balanced. Thus it becomes very necessary for us to get things in their right perspective and proportion. Preponderance on any one side will always lead to spiritual injury, and very often disaster. The history of many instrumentality's which have been raised up and used by the Lord is eventually the sad story of a loss of power and effectiveness because of striking an unbalanced emphasis, of putting some side of truth in a place out of proportion to that which is complementary to it.

Complementary Truths

It is not just a matter of being all round, that is, of having everything and being in everything; but in the constitution of a body we find that one law is balanced by another. All the laws, of course, are necessary, and it is important to give due place to every function in our bodies; but there run parallel laws and functions, one balances the other. There is that which is complementary to something else. These two things are, as it were, twins, running together, and to over-emphasize or overdevelop one means to throw the whole order out, and to bring about quite serious limitation and weakness, and to make things far less effective than they should be.

So it is in spiritual matters. There are always balancing truths. There is one thing, but there is something which goes with it in its right measure, and causes it to fulfill its purpose and to serve its end most effectively. There is this order in the Divine creation - one thing is necessary to another to make that other fulfill its purpose to the full. That is where balance has to be observed and maintained.

The Adversary Using God's Work Against Him

Then we must remember that the adversary is always wanting to use God's own work and God's own truth against God Himself. That fact is made very clear in the Scriptures, and we may observe it in experience and in spiritual history. This line of action is more successful for the adversary than perhaps any other, because the result is that he immediately prejudices God's work and God's truth. He closes the door to the acceptance of what is of God simply by using it against God, and one of his most successful methods  is that of securing an over-emphasis or an unbalanced apprehension of Divine truth. You will see what I mean as we go along.

A Peril With Every Blessing

So that with every Divine blessing there is a peril. Wherever there is something which is really from the Lord, that has linked with it its own peculiar peril.

Now these are merely general observations, as leading up to this brief meditation along the specific line of what is subjective as to the work of the Lord Jesus for and in the believer. We will look at both of these separately very briefly, seeing what the blessing is and what the perils are.

The Objective Side

We take the objective side first, the Lord Jesus presented to us as in heaven. We know that He is there, and we know that a very great deal is said in the Word about His being there; but why is He there? In the first place: How did He get there? Now you will notice if you look into the Word that whenever the heavenly side of the ascension of the Lord Jesus is presented, that is, whenever the matter is looked at from above, it does not speak about His going up or His ascension, but it speaks about His being received up. In the first chapter of the Book of Acts it is recorded that as the disciples were looking up into heaven after the Lord Jesus had been taken up from among them, two angels appeared and said to them: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, Who was received up ..." (the Authorized version says: "taken up.") That is an angelic, or a heavenly, standpoint, and the word "received" represents something more than just the fact that He ascended to heaven. It carries with it this fact, that it would be impossible for the Lord Jesus to be received in heaven if He had not perfectly accomplished the work which He came from heaven to do. In effect, heaven would have been closed to Him; heaven would have had to say to Him, 'But You have not done the work; there can be no reception until You have.' But it was because He had perfected the work which He came to do, and there was nothing more to be added to it, that heaven received Him, and it was a great reception! Psalm 24 gives us some idea of what that reception was:

"Life up your heads, O ye gates;
and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting 
doors: and the King of glory will
come in. Who is the King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle."

You see, it implies the work that he has done by His Cross, in overthrowing all His and our enemies, meeting all the demand of human need in the matter of salvation, perfecting our salvation. And so He is "received up", and is at the right hand of God; and the right hand is always in Scripture the place of strength and honor. He is at the right hand of God because the work which He came to do was finished. That is, our salvation has been perfected by and in the Lord Jesus. There is nothing whatever for Him to add to it. That is the most elementary thing to say, and yet it is so foundational. So many of the Lord's people have not yet entered into the joyful appreciation of that - that the Lord Jesus really has given the last stroke and the last touch to our salvation; that when heaven received Him, heaven set its seal to the perfected work of His Cross; and that He is there in possession of a salvation which has not still to be accomplished but which is final, full, complete, utter.

Perfect Salvation When We Believe

Our salvation rests upon our faith acceptance of that, not of anything subsequent to that. In the day in which we believe in the Lord Jesus on the ground of the perfection of the work of His Cross, we receive perfection of salvation, and enter into all that salvation to its very last degree. We shall never - though we were to live for centuries on this earth, - we shall never in Christ be one little bit more perfect than we are in Him in the very moment that we believe. All that is made good to us in the day that we believe. There are no questions, no hazards, no risks, the thing is settled, it is ours: full and complete in Christ. The Blood of the Lord Jesus has dealt with the whole sin question, root and branch, once and for all,for us. The question of condemnation has been for ever settled. You cannot have anything more utter than this - no condemnation! "There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." It does not say: 'There is no condemnation to those who have faithfully been going on with the Lord for years.' It says: "to them that are in Christ Jesus". And when are you "in Christ?" You are in Christ the moment that you believe in relation to His work on the Cross for your salvation, and in that very moment you enter into the place of NO CONDEMNATION, and freedom from condemnation cannot be more complete than that.

The tremendously important thing is for us to have that settled in our own hearts. We are saved, we are forgiven, we are delivered from condemnation. In Christ we are perfect. He is our perfection, and that perfection of His is ours through faith. The people who have the purest, clearest, fullest heart-grasp of that are the happiest people, the people who know joy. The people who have not grasped that are disturbed people, they have not the fullness of joy, they are always afraid, anxious, worrying about their salvation, doubting; and the enemy plays many tricks with people who have not settled that once and for all.

Now that is the blessed truth of what is objective in salvation for the believer as in Christ. I am so glad that He is in heaven "far above all" with this matter. If He were here in this world I might think that anything could happen: but He is not, nor is He in any realm where anything can happen; He is beyond all happenings in the matter of salvation. That salvation of ours in its perfection has been put beyond the reach of anything that can throw a doubt upon it, or raise a question about it - beyond the touch of anything that can bring it into uncertainty.

The Perils of the Objective Apprehension

But there are perils associated even with that blessed truth, because it is only one side of the truth. It is the first side; it is the thing which must come first, but it is only one side, and therefore it is just possible to make salvation one-sided by putting all the emphasis upon that and not giving due place to the other side.

1. The Peril of Shallowness

What are some of the perils? Well, we begin with the simplest, the peril of superficiality, of shallowness. What Christ has done for us may be a matter of very great joy and rejoicing and satisfaction; but contentment in that realm and with that side alone may just prevent that deep work which is necessary, which comes by the complementary side of the truth of Christ's work, the subjective. Thus it is found that many people, who are rejoicing to the full in the finality of their salvation in Christ, are living very much upon the surface, and not learning a very great deal about the deeper realities and fuller meaning of Christ. That is the first and perhaps the simplest form of peril.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - The Peril of Delayed Maturity)