The Work of God At The End-Time # 3
God's End-Time Work Inclusive Of All Former Values
Yes, the constituting of a new and spiritual dispensation. But I also used the word inclusive - that is, the heritage of all the values that God has ever given. This is, mark you, a dispensation principle. Spiritual history returns upon itself, it goes back to the last point of fullness. Perhaps you do not grasp what I mean by that. If there has come about a decline, whether in our own spiritual life or in the life of the Church, sooner or later we shall be forced back to the point where we left the full measure of God. Cannot you see that happening? We see it in various connections today. Take the matter of literature. There is an increasing demand for the old works. Publishers are finding a great demand for something of years ago, and it is coming into the market. The shelves have been full of cheap,superficial Christian stuff with gaudy wrappers and all that, and times have come when people are aware that this is not meeting the need, and the demand for something more is arising. The call is for some of the books which former generations had. That is happening. History is returning upon itself. There has been decline, loss, superficiality, frivolity, cheapness, in Christianity, and the Church is going to perish for want of solid food unless it is provided. Thus the cry is, 'Let us get back to what there was before.' That is happening in many ways. It is a dispensation principle. If God has really given anything, that will never be lost. Time will vindicate it. Sooner or later we shall have to come back to it. We shall be thrown back for our very lives on what God has given. This is where the new takes up the old.
It is a sorry and a superficial day, and one which will not stand up to things, when you think you can dispense with experience. If young people supposes they can think lightly of those who have gone through the fires and grown grey-headed in the service of God, in learning to know the Lord, and that such can be set aside as back numbers, that is a sorry day for the future. With all that is needed of the new generation, do not let us think they can produce all the past in their own lifetime. God will throw them back upon what has gone before. Do not count the past servants of God as back numbers. They are very much up to date. Simeon was very much up to date when he brought all the wealth, fullness, richness of the past in his hands, and, so to speak, transferred it to the new, to the Babe, Who took it all up, and Who later confessed that He did take it all up. "Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfill" (Matt.5:17). There are always, sooner or later, reactions from cheapness and superficiality, and that usually under duress and compulsion and a sense of being unable to go on without something fuller.k
Infancy in the arms of age, yes, and infancy depends upon those arms. I think I am not going too far in saying that here, in the holding of the infant Christ in these arms, there is this signification, that for the fulfillment of His life and ministry the Christ depended very much upon the past, upon all that God had done before. The only Bible He had was the Old Testament. How He lived on it! When He said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God," He was talking about the only Bible He had, the Word of God, the Old Testament. You see how the Old Testament is used in the New. It is but another aspect of this. One of the richest studies and most profitable lines of inquiry is to mark where the Old Testament is found in the New and why it is found there, the use made of it. Yes, it is a tremendous fat that which is new depends upon that which has gone before.
The Abiding Value Of Every Working Of God
We come to a close for the present by noting this. We must live and we must work with our eye upon the after value of our lives. Thank God that can be. Life would be an enigma and intolerable if all that we have learned through suffering and discipline passed out with us and there was nothing more for it. No, it is not like that at all. There is an after value, and we ought to live, I say, and work, with our eye upon that heritage which we are to give beyond our own time. On the principle that God vindicates everything that He Himself has done and given and makes it necessary, then He is making necessary for His new dispensation what He is doing in you and in me now. That new dispensation is going to be constituted on the basis of what He is doing in his saints now. That is a New Testament principle. What He is doing in the Church now is to be the good of the coming ages. What He is doing in us, it is not presumption to say, is going to be the very life of some beyond our time. So we should not think of this life as something to be got through, to be lived through to ourselves, something in itself. It is something that is to be found again to the glory of God in that which is to be - the passing on of that which has been of God, which can never die but is conserved by Him forever, and will be necessary. I wonder if that is a new thought to you? What the Lord is doing in you by way of increasing the measure of Christ in you is going to be necessary long after you have gone. It is a principle, a law, that anything that God does is forever and will be necessary.
We will leave it there for time being and ask the Lord to exercise us quite strongly about this matter of the intrinsic value of the knowledge of Himself for the time that is to be, through this transition upon which we have now so seriously entered.
(continued with # 4 - The Importance of Vision)